Farmtastic Faves · Farmtastic Reads

Farmtastic Faves – Barking to the Choir

This farmgirl loves a good book – whether that book makes you laugh, cry, refreshes your soul, dances with your imagination, or teaches you a history lesson.  Books are just the bees knees.  We’ve had our Farmtastic Faves section for a while, and we think it desperately needs a Farmtastic Reads section.  So in an effort to share one of my absolute all time favorite things – STORIES – here goes.

First up in the Farmtastic Reads category …


Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship – Gregory Boyle

I must admit, up until about a year ago, the chances of me making it through any nonfiction book were slim to none.  For years, my reading was limited to mystery fiction, and I wasn’t really open to exploring much else.  It was my guilty pleasure. Last year, a wise soul turned me onto Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, then Love Wins by Rob Bell, and well my bookshelves – virtual and real – are so much broader, deeper, and richer for it.

With my reading horizons expanded, I’ve found that I am usually reading a book or five (thank you Kindle), and in that mix is always something that speaks to the broader sense of humanity, spirituality, and the divine.  On the recommendation of a friend on Instagram, I added Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship to my list.

Filled with engaging, uplifting, and at times gut wrenching stories of men and women coming out of gang life and into the fullness of seeing their own value and divinity, Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit Priest affectionately known as Father G, reaches straight into the heart of our shared humanity.  He deftly weaves his personal observations and experiences with lessons that we can all take to heart.

You know it’s a good book when you and your highlighter become besties as you try to soak up every last nugget of truth, hoping that just a tiny bit of the goodness you are experiencing will stick to your core.

Father G doesn’t mince words.  He sheds the formality and the perfection facade common in many religious circles and writings, not afraid of using strong language and slang to make his point, and to simply remind us all of the realness and the emotion of life.  Father G strips away the sterileness that modern Christianity can often be wrapped in, and shares the gritty truth about trauma, loss, and hope.  In short, he takes us back to the original story of Jesus – connectedness and kindness, compassion and love.

My emotions ran the gamut while reading this book. At one point, so moved by a former gang member’s story of loss and redemption that I found myself crying. At other times laughing out loud at the sheer smart and witty dialogue of these former gang members who were coming to see the beauty of their true selves, often for the first time.

You’ll also get a feel (or more accurately all the feels) for Homeboy Industries, started by Father G in 1988 as an answer to the question, ““Can we improve the health and safety of our community through jobs and education rather than through suppression and incarceration?”1

Barking to the Choir is a neon reminder that we  make it far to easy to write off the other in our world – the gang member, the mentally ill, the poor.  We’ve come to believe everything is a simple choice, while forgetting the impact of heartbreak, trauma, and fear on the human spirt .  That we are all fragile, and strength comes in our kinship.  Our ability to see and be seen for who we really are. Father G puts these truths front and center and reminds us all that we are the choir.

This is Father G’s second book, and believe you me within an hour of finishing this one, I  ordered his first one, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion.  Come on Amazon Prime speedy delivery, this farmgirl has some soulful reading to do!

1 – History of Homeboy Industries

Featured image Amazon.

 

 

 

 

farmtastic eats · Farmtastic Faves

Farmtastic Faves – 2nd Street Provisions

My Farmtastic Life - Farmtastic Faves - Farmtastic Eats - Second Street Provisions
The prettiest little farmhouse with the the most delightful market and food – 2nd Street Provisions in Hico, Texas.

The farm has been busy this summer with friends and family from far and wide.  And when friends visit, not only do we make time for all the glory of the farm, but we also try to show them a little Texas hospitality and dazzle them with some of the charming small town wonders in our neck of the woods.

My Farmtastic Life - 2nd Street Provisions - Porch with friends
One of my dearest gal pals and me on our first trip to 2nd Street Provisions – good gravy we were hooked. From the cake to the porch, we are all in.

When one of my very best girlfriends spent the weekend, she encouraged me to expand the blog and share the stories of places that we visited.  And since I started the Farmtastic Faves page quite a while ago but never really expanded it, my wheels got to turning and I decided to give it a whirl. I hope you get a chance to visit some of these amazing small town finds and show them some love, put them on your bucket list, or just enjoy a moment of escape in your imagination.

First up in the category of Farmtastic Eats comes to us from one my absolute favorite little Texas towns – Hico.


2nd Street Provisions – Hico, Texas

My Farmtastic Life - 2nd Street Provisions - Sweet tea on the porch
Sweet tea on the porch. Can I get an amen?

A charming old farmhouse, complete with the perfect porch swings and lazily spinning ceiling fans, stands gracefully under a bevy of oaks, just welcoming guests to come and sit a spell and indulge in some down home goodness. 

From the first time I stepped foot on the porch and heard the boards squeak, I was in love and knew this would be a place that I would visit again and again. Inside, the aromas of coffees, teas, pastries, and just good old fashioned yummy food said home.  The proprietor, Haley Rankin, a butcher by trade who raises her own stock on a farm just a couple of miles away, had a vision to create 2nd Street Provisions – a place to, “Shop Local. Eat Local. Be Local.”  And boy did she deliver!

The atmosphere is straight out of an HGTV or Food Network set.  Whitewashed shiplap walls, mix and match dining tables and chairs, charming signs and accessories, and a smattering of different rooms to dine with your entire family or just sit a spell with a good book and a latte.  Not only a feast for your tummy but also for your eyes, as you’ll find interesting and charming light fixtures, fresh flowers tucked in all around, and porches turned into dining spaces. Be still my heart, not only did I want to eat here the first time I visited, but I wanted to move in and take up residence.

Now for the food – oh my stars!  On my first visit, I got lost in a divine piece of dark chocolate Texas sheet cake topped with homemade vanilla bean ice cream.  Just the right texture of dense, but yet still fluffy cake dripping with cold, creamy goodness.  Had I been alone, I might have licked the plate clean, but I am a southern girl and wanted to mind my manners.

My Farmtastic Life - 2nd Street Provisions - Chocolate Sheet Cake
The chocolate cake that introduced me to 2nd Street Provisions and kept me coming back for more.

Next, I came back for their Friday night pizza night.  Haley grew up having Friday night pizza with her family, and turned that deep tradition into a shareable one, and one she says she hopes her children will also pass down.  She uses her mama’s crust recipe to make your taste buds do a jig.  Choosing their Margherita pizza and a fresh salad, I was in heaven and pizza simply has not been the same for me since.  If you like a thin, perfectly crunchy crust, this is your pizza mecca.  Covered in homemade pesto sauce, garlic, mozzarella, and fresh tomatoes, it tasted like your favorite summer garden.

My Farmtastic Life - 2nd Street Provisions - Hico, Texas
A brunch feast in the beautiful front hallway. More than one plate definitely required!

Today, I tried their Sunday brunch.  Since Cowboy had other plans, I decided to take a trip to just savor the goodness and find some writing time by myself.  Walking into the main hall, I was greeted with oodles of fresh food piled high on the brunch buffet. Everything from  from cheesy grits to ooey gooey coffee cake to frittatas to fresh fruit to rosemary chicken and mashed potatoes. The bacon was perfectly crisp and the sausages were filled with fresh spices to tingle your tongue.  Oh, and I would be completely remiss if I didn’t mention the biscuits and gravy – crunchy on the outside and perfectly fluffy on the inside.  And because I’m a people watcher of grand proportions, I loved listening as the guests delighted in the flavors and atmosphere – from little kids excited to try coffee cake for the first time to elderly church couples visiting with friends.

My Farmtastic Life - 2nd Street Provisions, Hico, Texas
Mmmm … fresh rosemary and lemon. Who doesn’t love that?

Between the atmosphere, the friendly staff who makes you feel like you are long lost friends, and the food that will leave you dreaming of it for days to come, 2nd Street Provisions is a gem for anyone who is looking for a great experience for their soul and their tastebuds.

My Farmtastic Life - Farmtastic Faves - Famrtastic Eats - 2nd Street Provisions2nd Street Provisions describes themselves as, “… a full service coffee shop, butcher, farm fresh grocery, and cookery located in Hico, Texas. Come dine in with us and enjoy our home cooked meals, or grab some fresh produce to cook your own. Not hungry? We support coffee drinkers too.”  To learn more, visit their website or follow them on Facebook.

 

P.S. – This is not an advertisement and no money, gifts, or favors were exchanged in return for this post. It is simply my opinion and recommendation of a great little place to enjoy some good food and soul time.

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

Farmtastic Causes · Farmtastic Faves

Farmtastic Faves – Your Silver Linings and the Prayer Ponies

Living on the farm has been downright inspiring for Cowboy and me, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.  Inspiration comes in all forms, and to that end I’ve created a new page to link to those businesses and ideas that we’ve found helpful, inspirational, or just downright fun.  You can click on Farmtastic Faves in the header anytime for a list of links or click on Farmtastic Faves from the category list.  Each listing will be accompanied by a post so we can share why we love each one.   And of course,  we’d love to hear what products help you create your farmtastic life.

First up is in the category of Ways to Give Back and comes to us from the state of North Carolina.  We just can’t say enough about Kim Farmer and her prayer ponies!


Your Silver Linings &  The Prayer Ponies

Kindness and compassion are important to Cowboy and me, and represent the way that we try to live our lives.  Admittedly I fail sometimes, but I keep on trying.  On this journey to make sure we help when and were we can, I discovered Kim Farmer and her beautiful Prayer Ponies on Facebook.  It was through our mutual love of mustang horses that I found her amazingly beautiful mission, Your Silver Linings.
Photo - Your Silver Linings handmade prayer ponies
A sampling of the one-of-a-kind Prayer Ponies.

So what are Prayer Ponies?  They are one-of-kind, handmade ponies designed to bring comfort in the midst of a storm.  The first time I heard about them, Kim was looking for adopters to adopt a set of ponies where one pony would go to the child with a parent serving overseas in the military.  The mission was simple, you adopt a set and one comes to you and one goes to the child.  When you see the pony, you pray for that child and the child knows that someone has their match and is praying for them.

Faith is an important part of Cowboy’s and my life, and we believe in the healing and comforting power of prayer. On top of that, we can’t say enough how much we appreciate our military families and all that they sacrifice so that we can live in this great country.  We’ve both got veterans in our families, so we feel a strong connection and affection for those that serve.

As you can imagine, when I read about this beautiful mission, my heart strings were singing, and I adopted my first set, Amazing and Grace.  Amazing sits in my office and I know Grace is blessing a child who is having to make a sacrifice at such a young age.

Photo - Your Silver Linings Prayer Pony
Amazing – my first Prayer Pony. Grace is in the loving arms of a child with a parent serving overseas in the military.
In Kim’s words, “Prayer Ponies were created from the love of horses and the desire to comfort children and families that are dealing with grief and loss in their lives. Ponies are created in pairs. When you adopt a Mission Prayer Pony, it’s partner will be sent to someone who is suffering a loss in their life. The Mustang Ponies are created especially for children with a parent serving in the military.”
 
Read about Kim’s story and mission on her website about how she found her calling and her way to give back. My personal favorites are the Mission Prayer Ponies and Mustang Prayer Ponies, but equally special are the Celebration and Vintage Prayer Ponies.
Check them out and tell Kim we sent you.  It’s one of the most beautiful ways to give back to someone suffering a loss or needing to know that folks are praying. I guarantee you will be blessed in return.
P.S. – Keep your eyes posted.  I hear that Kim is about have a whole new herd.  Follow her on Facebook.
P.P.S. – This is not an advertisement and no money, gifts, or favors were exchanged in return for this post.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave