I am having so much fun as Elegant Ms. US United! I've talked to people I never would have gotten to meet. I've gotten to volunteer at places I never would have been able to volunteer before. I've met some fun people, some people who needed to hear about breast cancer and mammograms. I've made blingy breast cancer ribbons. I've gotten my picture taken with children who are amazed at the crown. I've talked to people about chicken tending, microfarming, and building coops. I've packed so much in my 2 weeks of being titled, and I'm so excited about what the future holds! I want to host a vendor event for breast cancer. My goal this week is to find a time and place for this. I want to talk to people about sustainability through microfarming. I want to encourage people to make a difference. I want to do things I've never considered doing.
It's great being Queen!
Now, I've been Royalty since 1969. That's when Ewing Kauffman started the Kansas City Royals baseball club in Kansas City. I've been a fan...ROYALty...as long as I can remember. The past 2 years have been amazing...much like my Royals in the '70's and '80's. Playoff hunting, game winning, milestone making ROYALS. It's been fun! Today, the last game of the season, we find out we will have HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE throughout the playoffs and World Series. THIS IS OUR YEAR, I hope.
But back to being Queen. I get to dress nicely, and feel comfortable doing it. I smile more. I take time with my hair and my makeup, and I feel so confident. I'm taking my confidence and hopefully affecting other people.
It's great being Queen. Yes, I am a Queen. I am Valerie Gallup, Elegant Ms. US United 2015. But you are royalty, too. How is that, you say? I'm just Joe Smith...Jane Doe...nobody special. Oh, but that's where you're wrong. You ARE a QUEEN. You ARE a KING. You are the child of God, and he has a heck of a life in mind for you.
I've not forgotten to post. I've just been incredibly busy! I want to announce...last Saturday night I was crowned Elegant Ms. US United! I hold a national title! The philanthropy for US United is breast cancer research. My platform is Microfarming for Sustainability. I am still in shock! I have worked so hard for my title for several years. I almost didn't compete this year. I felt different, though. As you will see in future photos, I was completely shocked. I had tough competition this year. I am dedicated to supporting breast cancer patients and research, and I look forward to teaching people about microfarming and chickens and how to bring the farm back into our lives. If you had asked me five years ago, I wouldn't have a clue about urban homesteading, but now, I think about sharing it with all.
Part of being a pageant queen is making appearances. Stepping out of your comfort zone. And I have done that several times already. I helped inventory and count at Monarch Formals in Pittsburg, KS, and helped a bride and her family start looking for wedding attire. Monarch Formals is a charity that helps provide formal wear for girls, women, boys and men in need. They have two locations; Clovis, New Mexico and Pittsburg, KS. They run on donations of formal clothing, shoes and jewelry, and on monetary donations to pay rent and utilities on their building. To be able to volunteer in any capacity is quite an honor.
Today I was able to participate in our local fall festival. I enjoyed meeting other people who want to learn about microfarming, chicken farming, and sustainability. It was a lot of fun hanging out in my community.
So here I am...a pageant queen! A titleholder! I may not be the standard age or size as the contestants you see on TV, but I'm just as dedicated, just as hard working, and just as proud of the difference I will be able to make during my reign.
We are a pageant family. There. I said it. My daughter competes in the Miss America Organization pageant. I compete in U.S. United and American Beauties Plus. Pageant has not only helped both of us to develop amazing skills in public speaking, outreach and self confidence, it has also brought us closer than anything I can think of. It's been a real blessing to us.
Now, I'm a HUGE sports fan, and you can find me watching football on Sundays and baseball during the summer. I always joke that I want to be a sportscaster when I grow up. Seriously, though, many of our pageant friends, Emily and I bomb our Facebook feed with pageant fun during both the Miss America and Miss USA pageants. Tonight was no exception.
Tonight's Miss America 2016 was no different. Unfortunately our Kensie from Missouri wasn't chosen to move on, but that didn't mean it wasn't a fantastic pageant. We were shocked at the plainness of the gowns, as well as the lack of butt glue during swimsuit competition. The On Stage Questions were wonderful. Everything from, "Which woman belongs on the first $20 bill?" to, "Should Kim Davis, the clerk in Kentucky who spent time in jail for not issuing same sex marriage licenses, quit her job?" All great questions, and many good answers. In the end, Miss Georgia was crowned Miss America. She was fresh and fun, and her talent was phenomenal. She sang opera, and it was beautiful.
So, here are pictures of me and Emily competing. Enjoy!
I'm posting two VERY different posts tonight! This one is about the dog house *I* made for Minnie, our lab / German shorthair mix.
Minnie loved the chicken coop the entire time I was building it, and after it was finished, she enjoyed being in there with the chickens. Unfortunately, she made the mistake of taking an egg out of the coop. NOT COOL, MINNIE! I told her I would make one for her, and this weekend,I did!
There is no building left to be done to the coop! As long as I've planned and worked on it, it seems like finishing came REALLY quick. This morning there was no roof, the chicken door wasn't functional, and the people doors couldn't be fully closed. There was no light, and the swing wasn't in yet. Tonight, that is all in the past! Hubby installed the roof and locks, and I installed the swing, the chicken door, and the lights. I LOVE IT! It's even better than I thought it would be!
Obviously it isn't finished. I'm keeping the rusting look, but I'm decorating. I bought some really cute curtains. I have more lights to install. I bought some cute chicken pictures for the walls. It's going to be so nice! And the flooring will be sand.
I'm not sure when the fence will be installed. I hope we can start tomorrow. The sooner the fence is finished, the sooner the girls can move into their new digs. I can't wait.
My chicken friends and neighbors are impressed at how my coop is secured. Some have called it the Fort Knox of chicken coops. There is a reason! One of my biggest fears with my chickens is that a predator will get in there. I have lost one chicken to a predator, and I do not want to lose another. I've been researching how to secure the chicken door on my new coop, and this is what I found. I think it's a great idea!
What I love most about microfarming is how everything works together to create a perfect sustainability environment. Wow, that's a lot of big words...what does it all mean?
My poor chickens. Neighbors started complaining that they were wandering around the neighborhood instead of staying in the yard, and they were getting unhappy, understandably. Not only were my neighbors unhappy, but my chickens weren't as safe as I'd like, since we live in town. They have a coop and a pen area. It's large enough for my brood, but I always feel sorry for them.
As I've alluded to in the past, I create pallet furniture. I have loads of free pallets from my brother's business. Instead of tossing them in a landfill, I recycle them into really cool couches, table, footstools, bars...signs, chandeliers, bottle openers...you get the picture.
With these two facts, of course I decided I could build a Chicken Mansion! er...coop...
Hubby and I started out by building a frame. The coop is 7' long and 5' wide. The height slopes from 7' in the front to 5' in the back. After the frame was constructed, I started cutting down pallets. Hubby decided I was responsible enough to use the reciprocal saw...that makes pallet cutting MUCH easier! Of course, I did have some pretty good blisters, but that was a small price to pay for the ease, perfection and quickness of the pallet dismantling process.
I started siding the coop at this point. I added a "window" opening and vent holes for light and breeze. These have been covered with chicken screen to keep predators outside. We happened to find a bifold door and a screen door in our basement; those have been repurposed into the front door and yard door in the coop. Inside I have already placed the shelf for the brooding boxes. I'm also in the process of working on the roosting bars. I found a really cool piece of wood in my pile that I will use as a swing.
Once the coop is finished, I plan to add a front and side yard to the coop. This should give my girls a good area to roam.
This has been a learning process, but also a lot of fun. Minnie, our big dog, enjoys the coop, so I've decided to use our scraps to build a matching dog house for her. As I get better at this, I'm going to be making small coops for people who want to save money and the environment using self sustainability and chickens in their backyard. I hope to work with a local agency that works with formerly homeless families, to help integrate the families into self sufficiency.
So, that's what's kept me busy lately!
Hosting year has ended...
...and it was NOT all it was meant to be. Honestly, had this been our first hosting experience, we would never have hosted again. Luckily we have learned that most hosting experiences are wonderful, and we just had a rare bad experience. I also learned that no two experiences are the same, just like no two students are the same.
I won't dwell on it, though, because we are going to host...AGAIN! This time it will be through a different organization. I'm determined to work with an organization who has the best interests of the entire group in mind...the parents, the student, AND the host family.
Malte was our first exchange student in 2012-2013. He just graduated from high school in April, and received his test grades last week. So...he's official! In Germany, they do not have commencement exercises, no caps and gowns, etc, so I ordered a mortarboard and tassel for him. He got it just in time for his last class. I have pictures that I should share! He plans on interning with an engineering firm while going to college next year.
In more exciting news...in two years, Malte's little brother will be exchanging with us! I'm really excited because Gerit has grown up before our eyes. With Emily and Matthew away at college by then, Gerit and Michael will have a great opportunity to bond as brothers. They are a lot alike, so it should be fun!
Summer is here. It's rainy and miserable in Missouri. It has rained 30 out of the past 33 days. Houses, streets, creeks and streams are overflowing. Once all the yuck is gone, we will begin our exciting summer. In the meantime, I'm subbing for summer school, and the boys are waiting for dry land. We have our Kids Bowl Free account ready and activated. Have you heard about this? Just sign up at Kids Bowl Free, and every day this summer, your kids get two free games of bowling per day! All you pay for is shoe rental! Then...and this is exciting...for just a total of $25 for ALL SUMMER, you get an additional 4 people on your family account.. So for $25 for the whole summer, and the cost of shoe rental each day, we get to bowl TWO GAMES EVERY DAY! We've done this for years, and are kind of sad that this is the last year Michael is eligible.
So...from hosting to bowling...I guess we covered a lot today!
I'm Valerie, wife to Darren, mom to Emily, Matthew and Michael, host mom to Malte and Vanessa, chicken keeper, pageant person, and all around daughter of Christ. I'm so glad you're here!