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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Farmgirl Paints... what's next?

Hi friends,
Most of you know from Instagram and the newsletter that I said change was coming.  I've been getting so many letters I thought maybe I should just quit being quite so vague and explain some things.  I actually tallied today how many cuffs we've made over the past 7 years and about fell out of my chair.  We've handstamped, handpounded, custom sized, convoed back and forth relentlessly with customer after customer for approximately 25,000 cuffs.  TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND CUFFS!

I'll never forget the first one I made.  I was like... well this is cute, but I'm not doing that again!  The process was lengthy and not all that fun.  I held my breath while stamping.  I worried about getting it just right.  My hands hurt.  My ears rang.  Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine it becoming what it is today.  And the only reason it did was because you wanted them and the Lord opened the doors. So I walked through it...

He gave me a dream a few years in to "let it go and watch it GROW".  That was so hard to do because it was my baby and I truly thought you bought them from me because you knew I was making them all!  Where's my laughing emoji?!?!  But then He sent me my Tamara.  And I remember telling her I'll never hire you because it will ruin our friendship and I just value you too much!  Well 25,000 cuffs or so later and I can tell you it did nothing but bring us closer.  I could never have done it without her, nor would I have wanted to.  I'm sobbing writing this because if any of you've ordered from us you know Tamara is wonderful at what she does...which is to nail down the blank details. She's an artisan.  She does beautiful stamping and CARES so much about getting every detail just right for you and for me.  She's been my solid.  My sounding board.  The one to keep me from leaving this a million times over and I'm forever grateful for her.  I love her with all my heart.  He also brought me Adele, Deanna, Dawn, Nicole, Tisha, Pam, Mike, Meg and Stacie!!  Gracious.  These people are so dear to me.  I don't even know how to express it into words.  They all filled such a need and made this job fun.

That leads me to the next thing.  You've asked if we are going to close the shop for good, and the honest answer is I don't know.  I know I've felt the urging to go deeper.  To make the business more ministry based and He's planted the seeds in me.  I have an idea of what it's to look like, but there are a lot of details to nail out before I can move forward.  I'm going to a quiet place.  A place I haven't known in years and I'm going to listen and obey.  I do know that custom words are not part of it, and that some gifts I've been sitting on for the past 7 years ARE.

We will offer small, very scaled back mini opens a few times a year possibly, but I'm not sure when or how that will look.  So stay tuned for the rest of His story... And it is His story because He's writing something beautiful and I just want to be a part of it.

Be a blessing.

Photo by Meshali
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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Strahle & Smith Familes take on Italy 2017

Hi friends.  Long time no blog:))  My girls started school today and I always ALWAYS feel blue, so instead of moping I'm going to put up pics of my favorite part of our summer!  Still can't believe we did this...but two days after school let out we hopped a plane (with dear friends) and flew to 



Our first stop was Venice and it was everything you imagine and so much more!  I never really thought about there not being ANY roads!  So imagine a maze between buildings and zigzagging forever to get anywhere.  Yep!  That's Venice.  It's rubble and color and ancient.  Every single turn is a postcard.  I've never been anywhere like it.  Still can't believe it actually happened!  

I made an internal momma promise to myself that if we could swing it before the girls graduated we would take them to Europe and since my Big Chick is officially entering her Senior year it was go time.  It was also our 25th wedding anniversary, so the timing was perfect.  It's been a few months since we went, so I don't have a lot of details of exact restaurants etc... So this is not really a travel reference, but if you want pretty pictures and my opinion here ya go! Oh, but Grom I remember...get the grapefruit sorbet. I still think about it.  Our goals was gelato twice a day and we succeeded:)

We stayed at the Hotel American-Dinesen.  Very nice.  Very pricey! 


We spent two days in Venice then hopped a train and went to Florence!  On our train ride we pulled out our watercolors and became traveling artists.  Pinch me!  Italian countryside whizzing by our heads...paint brushes in hand and then when we arrived we're in a CITY with hustle and bustle.  Motorcycles racing right by our elbows, no lie.  You better not accidentally step off the tiny little side walk right by the narrow little streets or you will be mush!  I'm not exactly a city girl, but Florence grows on you.  Our apartment was bigger than our house!  We could sit on the veranda and hear the Italians converse and plates clink because of the little cafe right beneath us.  It was lovely and I truly could have just stayed in the apartment and gazed out the windows all day and been content as could be, but we had placed TO GO!  Duomo's to see! :)  **Oh and the best meal of our trip was on our last night at a place called 4Leoni.  We go the fiochetti.  It was a pear and cheese filled noodle in an asparagus sauce.  Sounds questionable, but let me tell you I DREAM about that dish.  It's worth flying alllllll that way!  If you go you MUST try it!


We stayed in Florence for a couple of days and then decided we just couldn't pass up the Amalfi COAST!  This is basically when I died and went to heaven.  We took a train to Naples. Not really a fan...think crowded, sirens NON-STOP.... and compared to the other places we had visited it was a little grimy.  But we ate at the FABULOUS pizza place in Eat, Pray, Love...which is supposed to have the BEST pizza in Italy, thus the whole world right?!!  And it did!  I can say it was delicious in every way and worth the taxi ride from hell.  After our quick bite it was onto the ferry and the most amazing ride of our lives...  Pulling up to CAPRI!

This was right before my girl Terrica (@terricajoy on IG) fell off the gluten free wagon.  The look on her face. Where's the laughing emoji??;)))  The pure excitement about what was to come... Still makes me giggle.  She suffered majorly after we got home and swore up and down it wasn't worth it, but I'm looking at these pies thinking man... If I could have one of these $5 beauties again I'd do it in a heartbeat, but then again I don't have the gluten thing.


Where do I even begin talking about Capri.  It was our friends Josh and Terrica's special place and they shared it with us.  It was magic.  Everything in bloom.  So lush and vibrant.  It was quaint and blue.  Even my pics all have a blue tint to them.  It was just blueeeee.  There were wealthy people in yachts and waiters that looked us up and down like we weren't dressed up enough to eat there.  There were gorgeous FIT tan Italian woman dressed in bikini tops and long flowy pants.  Cue frumpy, middle age, I don't belong here thoughts.  But aside from those things CAPRI WAS A PIECE OF HEAVEN ON EARTH.  No cars, except for trash and food little utility carts.  It was quiet.  And smelled good.  There were lemonade stands EVERYWHERE because lemons grow the size of your head there!  It was a joy. BLISS! We ate at the Lemon Trees restaurant and it was glorious.  An entire lemon grove as a restaurant. I know!  They had a DESSERT ROOM!  I can't even.  To tell you these memories are fried into my brain is truly an understatement.  It was lovely.


Positano has been on my bucket list for years and lucky for us was only a 45 minute ferry ride away from Capri!  I can't even tell you how giddy we were pulling up to that coast line.  It's like nothing you've ever seen in your entire life!  All those cliffside homes.  So full of color and charm.  We didn't have long.  Just a few hours, so we made the most of our time and took pictures of everything we possibly could.  If I could to it over again I'd love to spend a few days here really exploring.  The beauty is so overwhelming you need to sit with it and let it soak in.  The water looked like a swimming pool.  Everywhere you looked was a photo-op.  Repeat after me...when I go to Italy I won't miss Positano:)))


We ended our trip back in Florence and had the brilliant idea that we needed to see the Tuscan countryside before we left.  So in brilliant fashion we hired Marco.  Cue best idea EVER!  Marco was a private driver and he drove us to all the sweet little Medieval towns.  We went to Sienna and another town that escapes me.  We visited a vineyard and had a wine tasting in TUSCANY!  Yep, stuff of dreams.  I kept thinking about one of my very favorite movies Under the Tuscan Sun and it truly looked just like the movie.  Those towns are OLD!  The churches are beautiful. Nothing has changed in centuries except the throes of people taking it all in.  I'm so glad we made time to do this.  It was so fun!

The best part...

To sum up this experience is a little hard.  The entire time we were there we felt like we needed to pinch ourselves.  It was the trip of a lifetime and we were with friends who ushered the way.  They planned the whole thing, and we followed along just grateful for the memories.  So arrivederci summer 2017 you were really really good to us. Thank you Lord for new experiences.  I will always look back on this trip and think well done.  You did it!  A promise well kept:)

Be a blessing.

Counting my joy list:
25 years with my honey
Another school year and the girls are living large...Senior and 8th grade
We have lots of new fur babies...three dogs now and four cats
Hesed Hill has started to feel like home
Zinnias as tall as me
Hummingbirds and butterflies galore
Night after night of sunsets that blow my mind

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Monday, January 16, 2017

And then someday came...

I had two family members tell me recently that they missed my blog. I miss it too. I miss sharing my thoughts.  Documenting life as it happens. Instagram is great, but it's filtered and only a snippet.  So I'm making it a point to blog more this year.  I wish I could go back with an extra hour in each day over 2016 and write out my heart. It was such a powerful year of transformation for our family with HUGE steps of faith, attacks from the enemy that led to a deeper relationship with the Lord, new friendships, enlarged territory and promises fulfilled.  But with two moves, driving the girls all over the place with school and a major house renovation there just wasn't time.  It's not too late to document it I suppose... So I'll start here with two videos that show our Hesed Hill property.

Let me first start by saying this whole journey started in December of 2015 and honestly years and years before that when God started laying the ground work for us to move to Tennessee.  In 2015 we thought Texas was going to be home.  My honey had a job lined up, realtors were in place on both ends and during a house hunting visit it all fell apart.  There was disappoint, but also immense peace that it was right...there was somewhere else we were supposed to be.

Tennessee kept popping up in my Instagram feed.  The landscape tugged on my heart.  I always envisioned farms around me.  Being closer to family in Illinois was something I really wanted.  My parents are getting older and the thought of being that far away felt wrong. So Tennessee beckoned and then I saw pictures of a cabin in Leiper's Fork and I had a strong pull that we needed to come.  So I booked it as a surprise for our family on New Year's. We made the trip, fell in love and decided to add it to our "maybe someday we'll move there" list.  And then someday came.  We bought the house after a friend and realtor went through it for us.  It has SO much POTENTIAL they said.  There's some negatives...  A road that's almost impassable.  A nasty trailer eyesore that you'll have to deal with and a smell that knocks you over.  But all that can be fixed...  OH MAN!  So here's the beginning and almost the end of our reno journey.  Maybe I'll share some of the in-between sometime because that's where the real story lies.  The waiting.  The hard.  The shake your faith to the ground, what have we done moments.  The oh my gosh we're in hell.  Why did we do this...  But here's the first steps.


AFTER (a decorated version will come;0)

Click below...

Be a blessing.

a view that knocks my socks off
an office space that turned out better than i could have imagined
decisions that could only have come from Him
easy transitions
a new year full of great promise
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