Saturday, January 25, 2020

Housekeeping, and Other Health Hazards

Ever have one of those days where you're just doing a random chore at home, and one thing goes wrong, which leads to another, and then suddenly you're contemplating the meaning of life and wondering if your will is up to date?

Here's how today went, over here... Via text convo with our oldest at some point this afternoon:

Am I the only one who can start with sweeping and end up with a freshly scrubbed kitchen, a bandaged hand, and shopping online for a new olive oil dispenser?  That glass was SO sharp, and it definitely seemed like a bad time to... not have secure footing.  

Suddenly I was hearing that old Blondie song in my head ONE DAY. OR THE OTHER.  I'M GONNA GET YA.  I'M GONNA GETCHA GETCHA GETCHA GETCHA, ONE DAY - 

(Also huge wail about the fact that I've had that beautiful oil bottle for like 20 YEARS). 


Monday, March 18, 2019

Solving World Problems, One Train Crossing at a Time

Pondering the meaning of life while the conductor take a lunch, I guess

I'm pretty much convinced that society will not advance one iota until we have people who can figure out the simple science behind putting a railroad fueling depot 1/4 mile from a major traffic crossing and then allowing trains to pull in AND STOP at said fueling depot, which are exactly 1/4 mile, PLUS THREE TRAIN CARS, long.

What the actual heck. I mean, I'm no engineer, but I'm pretty sure this is simple math.

Not to toot my own horn (rim shot), but seriously.  If I'm reading it right, judging by the interpretive dance and/or gestures of the people parked next to me, this is beyond annoying. When I'm driving, I like to keep moving. I like to think of that as a basic goal of driving:  Arrive At Destination Without Unnecessary Delay.  If I have to stop and wait for a train, that's fine--it happens.  BUT to watch a train slowly crawl to a stop, and then sit stopped, blocking the crossing, and then actually back UP a little bit, I can feel parts of my brain kind of ...shorting out.  I need all the parts of my brain.  And I need to keep moving.  What usually happens in this situation is that I will actually duck out of the line of stopped cars and double back like six miles out of my way, to go around and back up to the railroad in an attempt to cross somewhere else. And yes, I have done this, arrived at the next crossing, and found another train coming in the other direction. *Internal screaming intensifies*.

The other day, I couldn't escape, so since I had the time, and in case this is hard for the nice folks at the BNSF Company to figure out, I decided to lay out the solution and make our world A Better Place. 


Get a measuring tape. Have one dude walk from the fueling depot back to highway crossing. Look at the measuring tape. Have another dude walk down the length of the nearest train and look at HIS measuring tape. Write BOTH NUMBERS DOWN and compare.  If the train number is greater than or equal to (>/=) the crossing number, detach several train cars until the train measurement is significantly LESS than the crossing measurement.  So, x </= z - 3 cars.  Put away the measuring tapes, fire up the train, and move. out. of. the way.

The two dozen cars parked on both sides of the closed traffic crossing will thank you, and you'll get a lot less "one finger" waves, especially that suburban full of BNSF employees trapped in line directly behind me in line at this particular crossing.


Option B:  Please pull 250 permits, hold 1,000 meetings, take half a million votes, have 19 years' worth of discussion, write 10,000 memos, invite The Public's opinion (but definitely don't listen to it), and then finally decide NOT to build an overpass at the crossing.

See? Problem solved. That took me like 5 minutes. 


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Let's Get A Mastiff, I Said...

Round up the usual suspect

Okay, I'm aware that some people are going to read this and then chime in and be all You don't deserve such a beautiful dog.  You shouldn't have gotten a dog if you weren't prepared to give it your whole heart.  You suck as a person.  You *fill in the blank*


She has our whole hearts, but there's a caveat.

I'm about to disclose one of the secrets of mastiff ownership that many of us miss or willfully ignore or downplay, when deciding to take on one of these gentle but slobbery giants for a lifetime.

Yes, I'm talking about the slobber.

For the love.

Guys.  I did the homework.  So, so much of it. Believe me, if there's anyone who's more RESEARCH ORIENTED than me, I haven't met them yet.  I research the heck out of things.  Pros and cons.  Blogs.  Lists.  Talk to people with experience.  Wiki-pedia, *yourtopic*.com, "what to know before xyz", ALL of it.  And I still somehow missed it.

We got our beautiful English Mastiff when she was 10 months old; she is now 4+ years old.  She is considered a "dry mouth" dog, which means she isn't drooling all the time (win!), but she IS definitely a drool-y mess EVERY SINGLE TIME SHE DRINKS FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE FOREVER AND EVER AMEN.  No breaks.  Oh, and there's also lots of drool whenever she gets excited or nervous, or eats snow.  (*cough* snowiest-winter-ever).  We knew this would be a thing, and we knew that, sure, we'd need some 'drool rags' around at the door and by her food area.  We literally told ourselves "How hard can it be? You just wipe their mouth now and then."


Seems perfect...

....until you zoom in a little

 What we were NOT ready for was the fact that every time she gets up from a nap, (or sometimes just randomly, because she's a dog) she does that head-shake move that you might recognize from either famous big-dog film -Turner And Hootch or Beethoven - and even from another room, you can literally hear the *smack* of slobber slinging onto the walls, doors, floor, bookshelves, framed open photos, windows, ceiling and anything else within 10 feet.  I've had her do it while I was in the room, and literally had it fly past my face to hit the wall above my head.  You also learn to cover your drink.  Fast.

So, yeah...not as excited about that.

Here's the drink routine.  Every time she needs a drink, (and I mean, every.single.time), one of us (and when I say us, I mean ME) needs to drop what we're doing and rush into the kitchen and stand there until she comes up for air, like a moose in a swamp, then swoop in quickly before she can swing her head around and fling the mess onto the kitchen cabinets, wipe all the drool off, take the slimy bowl back to the laundry room utility sink, rinse it out (it's ...stretchy??? ewwwwwwwww) refill it, and let her do it again.  This usually needs to happen about three times in a row.  Every time she drinks.  Every DAY of your life.  Once she's done drinking, you'll need to wipe her mouth really well two more times before she walks out through the kitchen, then go and repeat the bowl rinse-gag-refill procedure.  By that time, she's wandered back to the living room and is already usually dangling another 6" line of goo that needs wiped, a third time, before it drips on the floor or gets dragged across the arm of our new couch or the sleeping cat.  Unless she shakes her head, then you're too late.

*muffled gagging sound*

For the rest of the time when you're not waiting for her to finish drinking water, if you chose to ignore the several-times-a-day sound of the post-nap and/or random head-shake of the slobber, you also get to spend however long it takes using HOT water, a high concentrate of a strong cleaner, and more elbow grease than you'd expect, to scrub off the caked-on combo of saliva, dirt, and hair that bonds almost permanently to glass and paint and anything else.  I'm literally going to need to repaint my office walls and ceiling (where she sleeps), because I have almost scrubbed the paint OFF in some places.

                             Exhibit A - what I deal with about once a week in my office...

click on these photos to see what it REALLY looks like up close

Also, don't forget that you need to be OK with bringing a ladder INSIDE your house, so you can scrub your high living room ceilings and try not to drip Simple Green in your own eyes while scrubbing hard, directly overhead.  Not that I've done that  (much).

To their everloving credit, though, mastiffs ARE everything else you hear about.  Loving and sweet, gentle and kind, completely and unashamedly just IN LOVE with you (especially if you happen to be Shane--she's got an almost creepy crush on him).  They are sensitive and smart and dorky and fun to play with. They just want to lay on your feet (not "at" your feet.. "ON" them).  They are beautiful to look at, majestic and classic.   They don't require lots of exercise.  They only bark when there's something to bark AT, and then they sound totally badass.  They aren't aggressive and generally accept other animals well, and can be sweetly loving with their much smaller kitty friends.  They give great dog 'hugs' (when they're not covering you in slime).  They want to be wherever you are, no matter where that is.  Best dog ever.  Seriously.

I could we resist that face?

So there you have it.  A real-life tale from a real-life mastiff owner.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Embracing Almost 50 and Falling In Love With My Real Hair

Guys. I turn 49 in ten days, even though on the inside I'm still, 17.  Maybe it's a normal turning point for all of us, when we're staring at the front side of 50 candles on a not-so-distant future birthday cake, but it definitely does seem like this is the time in life when everyone is looking around, reassessing everything, and wondering what the heck? Am I old now? Is it time to get rid of those cropped tops and polka dot wedges? 

Well, no.  Sort of.  I mean YES, it is time to toss the cropped tops and possibly the shoes, and we should all pay attention to how we dress, but no, it doesn't mean we're "old". That's what has surprised me the most about approaching *gasp* middle age (in case I live to be 100).  I don't feel any different.  I have my health, which I'm more and more grateful for every day.  I have a body that, although I've fought it to lose weight for a decade and a half, has served me well and given me no complaints along the way (other than whyyyy can't I lose 35 pounds?).  Even though my teenaged self thought of 40 (or at least 45) as "like, TOTALLY OLD", I don't feel that way now at all.  I have loved my 40s.  They've been probably my favorite decade so far, and I'm feeling like our 50s will be the best decade yet.  I can't believe I even just said that...

During our 30s and even early 40s, we were buried (and I mean buried) in debt.  We were raising kids, paying for private school, getting all of our business equipment paid for, trying to manage keeping our financial head above water from one month to the next and wondering DOES THIS EVER END OR ARE WE JUST ON A TREADMILL TIL WE DIE?  Turns out, it does end--or it will.  The kids are raised; one is married, the other is engaged.  We're empty nesting, and we freaking love it.  We put in the hard time with our business, and we finally have room to breathe and to travel (more on that later, but omg YES).  Our bills are all paid on the due date for a change, and there are actually gaps where we can just chill and not worry about how to pay All The Things.  We even go out to dinner now and then, even though it comes with the accompanying annoyances, or maybe I'm just super intolerant.  Probably that.  I'm definitely super intolerant...#sorrynotsorry

The other huge thing that has sort of suddenly changed for me personally in the last six months is that I've decided to see what my real hair color is.  My family goes grey early, and I think I found my first greys late in my teens to early 20s.  I started dyeing my hair to keep my brown fresh when I was about 26, and I never stopped.  Of course over the years, the grow-out when I go too long (3 weeks, then 2 weeks, ugh) would look like OMG MY HAIR IS WHITE.  I can't.  I was sure I'd dye it until I was 90.  I never wanted to be out to dinner with Shane and have someone tell him "Aw, that's sweet...You're taking your mom out for dinner."  So, I'd grimace at it and quickly spend an hour dyeing it and trying not get brown stain on the walls, counters, sink, floor tiles, carpet, and my shirt, face, ears, and fingers.  Good times.

Then, wonder of wonders (to us *old* people), I started seeing all these younger women dyeing their hair silver.  On purpose.  Just-- what??  You're 20 and you want to have silver hair?  Don't you know you're going to have silver hair later anyway? Why would you do that?  But it started me thinking...OK, these women WANT grey hair, and they're paying to get it.  I HAVE grey hair, and I'm paying to cover it up... hmmm.  I randomly started following some ultra cool women on Instagram and the hashtag #silversisters, and I realized--it's just a hair color.  People find greys starting as early as childhood.  Why are we so worried about what color the hair is that grows out of our heads?  Silver and grey (and blends of the same) in animals are beautiful.  Grey horses? Awesome.  White cats? Beautiful.  Silver fish.  Dogs.  Elephants.  How about snow leopards?  Rare and exotic.  What is with us humans?  Time to be done.

To be fair, the mindset is starting to change.  Revlon named "silver" the Hair Color of the Year for 2019, so I feel like it's time to get ON a bandwagon for a change...Like I'm at the right age, right time, right place, to do this.

I've always thought (and so have most women alive since the invention of hair dye) that it seems, I don't know..UNFAIR...that men go grey at whatever age it happens to them, and they never even think twice about it.  They just rock it.  They're called silver foxes.  Distinguished. Sexy.  Mature.  But when a women allows her grey to just *happen*, she's called old.  Letting herself go.  Too young to go grey.  Granny hair.  Invisible.  Obsolete.  Out to pasture. Unattractive, boring, plain. The heck??  No.  Also, I realized that our mothers' (and grandmothers') generations strongly believe that "Once you go grey, you better go short hair too.  You can't have long grey hair; that's just ugly."  Also not true.  Google "long silver hair" and prepare to be amazed at how beautiful these women are, at all ages.  Follow @annikavonholdt on Instagram and be prepared to never see silver hair the same way again.  I love that she has long silver hair (although she'd be drop-dead gorgeous no matter what's on her head  *insert jealous side-eye here*).  My hair is almost long enough to sit on, and if you (or your grandma) think I'm going to chop it short once it's grey, you are oh-so-mistaken.
Image result for mortianna robin hood
what people tell us we'll look like (courtesy of Google)
Image result for annika von holdt
what it *can* look like (courtesy of

Anyhoo.  There I was after Christmas, in the bathroom with a box of dye, getting ready to cover my roots for the millionth time, and I looked at the metallic threads peeking out at my part line, and suddenly I was just like NOPE.  I'm done.  I want to see what my real hair looks like.  I may be covering up something really gorgeous.  I may have metallic silver hair.  Or stripes.  Or Cruella DeVille hair.  Who knows?  I may BE the hair all these women are paying fortunes to have and maintain.  And with that, I was just finished.  I returned the box dye to the store.  The cashier took it from me and literally gave my 1/2" silver line of new growth on top of my head the side eye, hard, and was like, "Okayyyy."

It has now been 13 weeks today since I dyed my hair.  I spent the first few weeks using a combination of coconut oil masks, and vitamin C mixed with shampoo on my hair under a wrap, to try to fade some of the existing remaining dye.  I can now see my real hair color, for the first time since forever, and it's gorgeous!  I'm not as white as I thought, or even as silver.  My real hair turns out to be a super dark iron-blue-steel blackish color, but there is an ultra-white stripe at my temple, and some heavy silver stripes here are there in the dark hair.  The back has almost no grey at all yet, but oh my goodness it's so DARK.  I've become obsessed with seeing it grow.  It's the slowest process imaginable, especially for my length of hair, but I'm excited to have started.  I always wear it up, and I'm ALWAYS at home, so it's not like I have to worry about going in to work and looking "funny" for awhile during the initial months.  I'm giving it about six months, and then I may (or may not) go in and have a salon who specializes in color correction, strip the dye from my ends and basically re-dye them to match my grown out hair.  But I'm not at all sold on that either, because that involves bleaching and dyeing, and everyone I've seen who has done that has had so much damage that they have to cut off their hair anyway.

Meanwhile, I'm sporting so many different colors on my head. They range from nearly blond, caramel, chocolate brown, to walnut, with my nearly blue-steel-grey and white grow-out (which is fun to watch but also alarmingly odd).  *gulp* It's starting to look intentional, and it has also suddenly opened my eyes to all the women out there, when I go to the store, who are doing the same thing.  I don't know why I never noticed them, or maybe it's a new trend, but there are so many beautiful women who I can tell have just stopped dyeing their hair and are in all the various stages of growing it out.  I feel like we make eye contact and sort give each other a tiny wink and a smile, like "good for you!"

I need to also point out the other giant change that has come of this ditching-the-dye.  Oh. My. Gosh.  You guys.  My hair stopped falling out.  Not just "sort of" quit--I mean, it has STOPPED FALLING OUT.  I thought it was hereditary or something, and I used to lose so much hair that I was literally getting thinning (*gasp* balding?) spots on my head. And then, almost immediately, I started noticing that when I combed it out with conditioner in it after showering, and ran my hand down the length to the end, there were...NO hairs on my hand.  Usually I'd pull off quite a few and have to hang them on the soap rack until I got out, because ewww.  My hair is fuller and bouncier, and definitely noticeably thicker.  My braid literally feels almost twice as thick as it used to. I'm constantly playing with it, because it doesn't even feel like MY hair.  So, no matter what my real hair color is, I'm keeping it, because the trade-off is truly healthy hair.  And nope, it's not wiry, like everyone keeps warning me.  It's silky and sleek and thick and wonderful.

I should point out here, too, that this sort of ties in with my last post on signing up for a serious keto diet protocol with a coach.  I guess I was like, "If I'm going to be grey, I need to have a fit body."  I know, it's vain, but I had the thought that I don't want to be grey AND overweight.  Ugh.  No.  So, my hair is motivation? Or my age? Or both?  Whatever it is, I'm enjoying the new make-over I've started of my outward self, and I'm super excited to see my new improved body to go along with my real, authentic, ultra-cool, on-trend striped hair.

If you're considering embracing your grey hair, no matter what your age, I can't encourage you enough to DO IT.  It's just hair.  You might love it, and there's a great community of #silversisters to meet out there who are on the same path.  And if you don't love it, you can always just dye it back, so where's the harm?  It's time to realize that it's just another hair color, and it doesn't make us old, or un-sexy, or boring.

What a time to be alive, right?

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Sorry It's Been a Minute-

Whoa, that was a long break.   I'm still here, but you know, life.

To recap, the Etsy shop took off after I started it last June and was SO MUCH FUN.  Like, why didn't I do this sooner?  What a perfect way to combine my gardening hobby, my crafting homemade things, and my overflow of herbs into someplace to actually sell them!  I love it, and it's been a nice little side income pretty consistently since.  Once I got started, I thought I'd just jot down a quick list of what I could possibly sell, and the list went to several pages.  Like almost 100 different listings.    whoa

The overflow herb garden last summer

The garden, preserving, and Etsy shipping stuff took up most of my spare time last summer and fall, then we did the family Christmas party for, um, (counts on fingers) 64 of our family again at our house, which was just a blast.  It's always lovely to see everyone crowded into our living room/dining room/kitchen and overflow areas, enjoying food and catching up with each other.  We are probably skipping hosting it next winter, because every once in awhile someone else hosts, which is lovely, and I get to just show up with a watermelon or something. 

So much else...but my most recent news is this.

I went on a Whole30 diet for a few months and lost 16 pounds last spring.  (hold your applause though)... And then, of course, I regained it through the summer with a bit of bread here and a bite of cheese there... because OF COURSE I DID.  I got so pissed about being back at my "Highest Weight Ever" that I angrily jumped back on our exercise bike back in January, thinking I'd kick my own butt into shape.  Not true, fellow bikers.  Not.  True.  After riding 30-60 minutes a day at 12 mph, uphill, six days a week, I...gained 2 pounds.  *insert sound of gnashing teeth here*

SO.  Since Shane was a tiny bit tired of listening to me being super down on myself about it and being frustrated with my general lack of not-having-the body-I-had-15-years-ago, he talked me into signing up for an actual diet plan with an actual diet coach, as a birthday gift.  I was against it, because I've always been all, "If I can't drive myself to exercise more and eat less, then I guess I DESERVE TO BE FAT," which is kind of a bad attitude, apparently.  After a bit of arguing about spending that much money on my bod, I finally agreed to trust him that it will definitely be good for me.  I've proven that I can rock maintaining a weight (sort of), since I've been basically THE SAME DAMN WEIGHT for the last decade, so I guess that's good, right?

I started it today, so I'll keep you all posted, but don't expect before and after pictures, though, because  1) belly rolls aren't fun to look at and 2) I don't know you that well.

Anyhoo, not that any of this matters, but I'm bored and I need something to do to keep busy, so I don't wander into the kitchen and eat all the things.  

I'll probably keep busy by trying to write more often again.  I keep thinking I'm fresh out of funny stories, but oh my gosh, there are so many new things I could tell you...Plus, I haven't finished with my Hippie Childhood saga yet, so stay tuned.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Exciting News and other Rainy Day Projects

So I finally did it.

You guys know I've been making stuff, and growing stuff, and preserving stuff, and knitting stuff, and baking stuff, for like (counts on fingers) A LOT OF YEARS, and of course everyone's always all, "you should totally sell things", but I've always shied away from doing a farmer's market because they have to get up at like 3 a.m. to pick herbs and veggies and then package everything and put them in the car and drive across town and set up a booth and load and unload and sell and explain and count change and all that, and I'm just too lazy for all of that.


In the back of my mind has always been the thought that, yeah, the whole 'homestead' thing is kind of a big deal right now, and since I've been living the homesteady life since as long as I can remember, I'm fairly qualified to profit from my experience, right? Right.  I feel like I've been living this way since way before it was a cool new Movement or a trend or a YouTube lifestyle.  I've even milked goats!  I mean, I don't feel like I want to start filming my whole life and doing a YouTube channel, (although I could and it would probably be awesome, but again--lazy), but I do have the time to set up an online shop at Etsy, and that seems to be a good outlet for All The Things, and since I have such a wide variety of things I could market, I never wanted to be limited to a single stream.  Like, how confusing would it be to go to a farmer's market booth that sells honey and wax, candles, soap, knit hats and socks, possibly sweaters, garden seeds, dried herbs, infused oils, elixirs, body lotion and wound salve, AND jam and jellies?

So- what I DID do was go and open a shop on Etsy, which is still very much not filled out yet because when I sat down to jot down a few things that we grow here that I could sell, (like dried herbs), I ended up with a three-page list of products, just off the top of my head.  And since we're doing bees and honey now, we can add that to the list, so anyway yeah-- I'm on Etsy now.

Bear with me if you want to order things there, and I promise I'm not going to change this blog and suddenly be all-- BUY MY STUFF GUYS-- because I like this blog as it is, and I hate when blogs change and become all sales-y, so don't worry, this is probably the only post I'm going to yak about Etsy, unless I run into funny or weird things there to wisecrack about.  could happen

Excuse me now, while I spend the rest of the week trying to get decent photos and information up at the online store, because I've been on there all day and it's a lot more time-consuming that I thought it would be.  At least it's raining out today and I have some time to fool around with it, so - wish me luck.

Oh, PS, I'm on Etsy at

...and on instagram @northidahohomestead

...and on Twitter @nihomestead

(not doing Facebook, and you can see why here)

See you there,


The herb garden this spring--TOO MANY THINGS for two people

Beautiful chamomile picked yesterday

Chamomile, arnica and sage.  Again--too much, so why not sell it?

Thursday, May 24, 2018

You Too Can Cook Like Me...Now, With Updated Contents...

Cookbook Update, from my prior post where I finally finished the book.  I finally also got around to adding a Contents section, which is not to say I indexed the whole thing, because no, I'm not doing that.  Because I have a life and stuff.  But I DID go through it and add a "Contents" section where at least you can find the general pages in the book where the different recipes will be.  Because on my first four copies for us, I totally spaced it and now I get to thumb through it, in "meal order" to find what I'm looking for.  Which is fine, because I wrote the damn thing so I think I can find my way around.  But for someone who isn', yeah-- some kind of index would be nice, right?  Right.

Also, IN CASE you really want to know all my secret family recipes, the Blurb website gave me an embedded boat-load of HTML garble that should embed in my blog as a link so you can go buy a copy for a million skillion dollars (okay, like $70.00 ish but still), but I can not figure out the embed thing, so it ends up looking like this...

<div class='share-on-blog' style='margin: 2px;vertical-align: top; font-size: 14px; font-family: arial; color: #000; max-width:300px;padding: 20px;border: 1px solid #f5f5f5; text-align: center; display: block;margin: 5px auto;'>
  <a href="" data-bindattr-144="144" target='_blank'>
    <img src="" data-bindattr-145="145" alt='' style='max-height:300px; max-width:300px;border:0;zoom: 50%;box-shadow: 3px 3px 10px 1px #999;' />
  <p style='margin: 5px;'><a target='_blank' style='text-decoration: none; font-size: 18px; color: #00c0be; text-transform: uppercase; border-bottom: 0;'><script id='metamorph-652-start' type='text/x-placeholder'></script>The Book<script id='metamorph-652-end' type='text/x-placeholder'></script></a></p>
  <p style='margin: 5px;'>By <a style='text-decoration: none; color: #00c0be; order-bottom: 0;'><script id='metamorph-653-start' type='text/x-placeholder'></script>Stefanie Smith<script id='metamorph-653-end' type='text/x-placeholder'></script></a></p>

Whatever the heck THAT all means.

Anyhoo, to make it easier, you can go here - instead and buy a bunch of copies right now because I'm pretty sure we're gonna be so rich now, muahahaaaa.

That's all, byeee.