Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hello again!

Hello, to any precious person who may have stumbled upon this desolate blog.

We had a nice summer full of painfully hard work building fences, gardening, learning the ins and outs of livestock and everything else that pertains to starting a homestead.  It was so full, we didn't have the time to work much on the house other than do a few of the ugly but necessary type things (not really worth blogging about to me.)  However, we did add transoms over the master bedroom and bathroom doors using glass Jeff salvaged from a building demo.  It's the kind of glass with wire between two panes of glass.  When we've finished trimming it out and painting, I'll be sure to show you all.

The next project we'll soon be starting is the second floor.  It's entirely unfinished right now but the kids have been using it as their bedroom anyway.  For now, the plan is to do one bedroom start to finish then the other bedroom, but we'll see.  Those rooms will be decked out with painted pine walls and built-in twin beds so I'm really looking forward to seeing them done.

Now that fall is here, the kids and I are back to school which seems way more difficult and time consuming than ever before.  It's quite the balancing act, teaching three grade and caring for two little bitty ones plus all the regular day to day stuff, but I'm enjoying it.  It's forcing me to be a bit more structured and efficient with my time which is good for me...I think.

So, what is it that has pulled me out of the deep, dark recesses of life?  A giveaway.  Have you heard about all the Cabbages and Roses fabric giveaways going on right now? I'm sure lots of you have and maybe your posting about it too for all those extra chances to win! There are four give aways in all.

                       These pretty red fabrics are being given away
                                             at Dreamy Whites

these are at My Sweet Savannah

these lovely blues are at French Larkspur

and lastly, these are at Lobster and Swan.

I love them all, don't you?  Pillows come to mind first, of coarse, but I bet there are a multitude of things that could be done with them.

Good luck to all of you who are entering.

See you again soon, I hope!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Can we get a little privacy, please?

Thank you all for the kind comments about my last post.   They were each very encouraging and sweet and I really appreciate them!

We finally finished a pretty simple project that we started two or three months ago.

Jeff and I originally thought we'd go the traditional route and use normal doors in the house, but we ran out of time to install them before we moved in.  Since moving in however, we no longer feel rushed to make decisions about the unfinished parts of the house so we decided to do things we really love and we really love old doors on tracks. (I nearly fainted the first time I saw ALVN's door!)  Naturally this lead us to abandon the traditional door and hunt down an old one for the bedroom.
After a few unsuccessful attempt to get Jeff to go flea marketing with me, I kidnapped my sister for a few hours until and made her chauffeur me around instead.  I'm so glad I did, because she took me to a new flea market I didn't know about where we found this beauty...

It was perfect.  I wasn't necessarily looking for a door with a window in it but because of the window, I couldn't pass it up.  It was love at first site.

Jeff hung the barn door track (purchased from Lowe's) and the door right away because he's a go getter.  Me, on the other hand, I like to take my sweet time getting anything done and waited a good two and a half months to paint it. 

Actually, "running to the store" to pick up a quart of paint with five children in tow is about a three hour task and not having an abundance of spare three hour time slots, I quickly forgot about the paint and got used to having an unpainted bedroom door with a huge window and no glass.  Who really needs privacy anyway?

Then I read that Kim at Twice Remembered is painting a door in her house and she shared some beautiful examples of what she likes which reminded me that I have a door I need to finish too.  Thanks Kim, you were just the motivation I needed.

The technique I used is also how I finished the top of my coffee table but with a lot more layers of watery paint.  The Flea Market Style magazine I got from my friend Lisa had a beautiful example of this type of paint technique in it too.

I love the blue cabinet on the right which actually has fresh paint on it, believe it or not.  It looks like it was painted years and years ago.

So here's my attempt at a lighter colored version of what they did.

First, pick your color in latex paint.  I chose Jade Island from Valspar.  Then mix a little of the paint with water in equal amounts...half paint, half water.  Then paint on layer upon layer, wiping up the drips and puddles as you go.  You'll want to let the layers dry between coats so that the color can build up.

First layer

Second layer.

It's a little bit time consuming, but the goal is to have a paint that's a little bit transparent so you can see each layer which you can't do by painting with undiluted paint.

After about four or five layers of Jade Island, I used two more darker shades of blue plus a little white here and there (each color getting its own layer.)  Those last three colors I diluted with even more water so that there was very little paint in the mixture.  I wanted those colors to be very subtle, almost invisible.  Then I knocked off a little paint on a few edges; the holes, scratches and rusty nails were already there.

For the window, we used plexi glass which Jeff sanded on both sides to an almost opaque finish.  He likes the idea of a little privacy.

So there it is...finally.  I still feel the urge to tweak it a little but I'm sure the urge will pass if I keep putting it off long enough.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Dreaded Post and A Gooseberry Pie

Okay, here's my confession.  I've been putting this post off ever since I figured it would make sense to clue you all in on it.  So here it is.  Please don't judge us too harshly.

Up until two and a half years ago, Jeff and I were entrepreneurs in the new home construction business.  I would design the houses and Jeff would build them.  We were both doing what we absolutely loved and having so much fun with it while it lasted.   Can you already guess where this story is going?  If you haven't heard (ha ha,) the housing market kind of turned into the Titanic and is now resting at the bottom of the ocean.  We were on the ship when it went down and barely made it out alive.  Okay, maybe that's a little dramatic.  We went bankrupt and lost a lot including our house.  I don't care to relive the details but that was a major turning point for us, naturally.  It lead us to where we are now though, which in a lot of ways, is exactly where we always wanted to be...building a modest (albeit weird to some) home in the country.  I say it's weird to some people because there are those out there who just don't get it.  "Country???"  "Wood plank walls???"  "Corrugated metal in the shower???" And the biggest conundrum, "SMALL???"  You all get it though, don't you?  Yes, I'm sure you do.  It's not half as "weird" as we'd like it to be but it turns out weird can also be quite expensive.  Now, I have to stop saying weird because it's almost convincing me that my home is w... well, you know.

(I'm going to interrupt this dreadful post occasionally with pictures of a gooseberry pie my 11 year old daughter made from scratch all by herself today, including picking the gooseberries from a few bushes on the property.)   

Two cups of freshly picked, green gooseberries.

Just days after the bankruptcy closed, and due to some strange mysteriously divine intervention that I won't go into right now, we were jobless and also facing homelessness literally within a day or two (although we had both family and friends who all offered more than once to take us all in (4 little ones at the time, no less!))  Jeff's first day of joblessness we spent hunting for a place to live and by the end of the day we found a home and began moving in the very next morning.  Two days later, Jeff had a successful job interview and was able to start the following Monday morning.  I can't even begin to explain how or why God laid everything out in the way He did so I won't even try, but just let me say, it was amazing.
Gooseberries with 1/2 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of flour and 1/8 tsp. of salt heated over medium heat until thickened.

About a year and a half later, Jeff's sweet grandma passed away leaving him an inheritance that we used as our seed money to finally move out to the country and build a house we can hopefully stay in till we die!  We moved a lot while we were in the business.
Our original goal was to use $15,000 (not including the price of the land) to build the house to the point that it was livable yet unfinished.  During the building process, which was done by Jeff and a few friends and family members on weekends and after work, we decided to push it just a little further than we planned and went ahead and built all but one of our interior walls on the first floor which cost a few more thousand dollars doing it. Yes, we were planning on living in a house with no interior walls (except around the bathroom.  Even I have my limits.)  It was money well spent even if it put us over our budget a little.

Pre bake a pie crust.  We like to use a no-roll crust that tastes similar to a shortbread cookie.  Yum!

Now that we're living in the house, we thought we were ready to finish it.  The weather is nice and the days are longer so we decided to finally go to the bank and get a smallish construction loan to finish the house that would convert into permanent financing in a certain amount of time (six months, I think.)  It would mean another summer of long hard weekend work, but I'd be able to help out since I'm not pregnant.  That's a rare thing for me.  Soooo, about a month ago, Jeff met with a banker who said he thought he could help us and we started getting plans lined out to finish it...hence the May 10th "Recap" post.  Welp, it was a no go "due to the current status of the economy..." we now have to be four years away from our bankruptcy to qualify for a home equity loan.  A decent one anyway.  Jeff thought about looking elsewhere but then things really, REALLY picked up at work and he just got too busy.  As usual, it has turned out to be a blessing that the loan didn't go through because Jeff won't have time to work on the house for several months.  Don't tell Jeff, but I'm alright with not having a home loan, even if it means living in an unfinished house for longer than planned.

Pour the gooseberry filling into the baked pie crust and top with meringue made from two egg whites and four tablespoons of sugar then bake it at 350 degrees F for twelve minutes.

 One of these days I may get the courage to show you pictures of just how unfinished parts of our house really are...but don't hold your breath.  Confessing our financial statuses past and present, has caused me a little mental discomfort and strangely desiring to suck my thumb.

That's were we are in a nut shell.  A big nut shell.  Things will move on as time and money allow which both will result in slow progress.  That's okay though.  I feel like I've kind of left the rat race and it's been nice.  Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go suck my thumb eat a piece of gooseberry pie.

P.S.  Is Blogger acting retarded or is it just me?

Thursday, June 3, 2010


The big jar of flowers are flowers that I picked, the daisies in the bud vase were picked by my 2 and 5 year olds.  The two doilies they're sitting on were crocheted by my grandmother who taught me to crochet and I crocheted the the white blanket.  The sewing table I painted white was given to me by my mother who, coincidentally taught me to sew on that very machine.  The skirt under the table is one of the simpler things I've sewn with those skills.

I've been teaching my children to garden and two of them especially love it and soon we'll be feasting on the fruits of our labor.  I'm amazed at how much I know because the women in my life took the time to teach me homemaking skills and now I'm passing those things on to my children.  It takes a lot of patience on my part because it's always easier to just do it myself, but it's been rewarding to see them taking on more and more responsibility and with a cheerful attitude.  Just this morning, I had the freedom to go take a shower and leave things in the capable hands of my children.  When I got out of the shower, Grace was rocking the baby, Isaiah was playing sweetly with Evelyn and Madison was cooking breakfast for everyone!  My children are only 11, 8, 5, 2 and 8 months yet they are learning already how to behave lovingly and responsibly towards one another.  I can't tell you how it makes my heart sing!

If you have a love for homemaking and learning or passing on those skills you might like to take some time to visit Raising Homemakers.  They're having a fun giveaway right now that you might like to participate in.

I've been taking some time to really enjoy my family and all the things that are going on with the warmer weather and longer days which has somehow all but eliminated time for blogging.  I still intend to share the projects we do to build our little cottage and when I have a few more minutes to spare, I have a confession of sorts for you all.
Right now it's late and time for bed, so I'll see you all later. 
Have a good weekend!

Monday, May 10, 2010


Thanks to everyone that shared advice with me about my last post.  I'm going to give Etsy a try, God is watering my garden this week (thank you Lord) and potty training is just plain hard.

It's time for a reminder of what this blogs all about and where we're going.  Things around the house have slowed down as we've taken time to work around the property.  We'd like to have a well groomed area around the house to enjoy which has required cutting down a few trees and a lot of mowing.  The property is wooded and most of the front two thirds is so thick with woods it isn't mowable, but the area where the house is tucked away is really shaping up.  As far as the house goes, we're hopefully getting ready to kick into high gear again and get it finished by sometime this fall.  We've already got nine or ten months in the house but we've Jeff has done all the work in our Jeff's spare time with the help of friends and family.

This was originally the look I was going for...

Bora Bora.
but it just isn't happening. 
I couldn't convince Jeff to haul in a bunch of sand and flood the place with salt water.

Here's what it still looks like on the outside minus the building debris and the kids zip line.

Things haven't changed since the winter due to the weather and short daylight hours, but we'll be adding siding soon and a front porch that goes across the front of the house.

Amelia Park, Fl.
This has the colors of siding we want and the front porch look we want.

This little cottage is just adorable.

Lowe's Kit House

For my greatest and favorite inspiration you'll have to visit Ross Chapin's super-duper-amazing cottages.  I love the details and the efficiency of his houses.  Jeff and I have been fans of his for a few years and I get weak in the knees every single time I browse his website.  I'd love to incorperate as much similar detail into the exterior of my house (the interior details are wonderful too.)

Another big undertaking will be the upstairs.  Nothing has changed up there but we'll have two bedrooms and a half bath all clad with the wood planks on the walls like the first floor. 

The larger bedroom will have four built-in twin beds with storage under the beds and the smaller bedroom will have two built-in twin beds.  It will be all about efficiency and organization up there because that's how my kids are.  (Ha!  I wish.) 

I love the simplicity of this bedroom.  

Country Living
The kids rooms will have vaulted ceilings too.

Now, back to the first floor.

We need to finish things like trim, floors and kitchen cabinets and when the kitchen is done I'd like it to have a similar look or feel to this one.

Coastal Living
We'll have white painted cabinets and concrete counter tops and, of course, my blue stove.

I'd love to have a Big Chill refrigerator too, but at $3,500 a pop, I'm not holding my breath.

The bathroom is getting closer to the look I love.


Country Living's.

And the master bedroom is coming along too.

  Right now I'm trying to decide if I'd rather have wood or carpet in there.  There are things I love and hate about both and I'm leaning toward wood, but we'll see.  We came EXTREMELY close to buying carpet for it yesterday but I really think I'd rather have all wood on the first floor and a few large area rugs. 
What do you guys think about carpet vs. wood?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Can I get your advice, please?

Busy, busy, busy!  I don't know about the rest of you, but when the days start getting longer, the work load seems to get heavier.  A lot of it is self imposed work like gardening and sewing, and other things, like potty training, have nothing to do with the season, but it always gets busier for us every spring.

Yes, my little two year old is being potty trained.

 You'd think by now I'd have this potty training thing down to an art and we could shave a year or so off the diaper wearing phase, but I figure I'll just keep her outside in a dress without a diaper and let her figure things out and if she's trained by the time she's five or six I'm doing alright.

Speaking of lofty goals, I'm considering selling stuff on Etsy.  It turns out that even though I have a cool, blue 1950's oven, I still just can't get into cooking, so I figure I'll sell stuff on Etsy, become a multi dollaraire and hire a personal chef.  So far, I've made three pounds of soap from scratch and two pennant style banners.  That ought to be enough, right?

Seriously though, I am looking into Etsy and would love to hear what any of you have to share about it.  What works, what doesn't..."don't waste your time"...whatever you have to say, I want to know.  Here's why, every month, several of the women in my family get together for what we call "craft day" and everyone brings whatever craft they're working on and we craft.  Except me.  I bring my children and I talk a lot.  Anyway, we recently decided to put our craftiness to good use and try to raise money to help a particular person who could really use the money.  Without saying too much, she is someone very dear who, as we say around here, has a tough row to hoe and we'd like to help her as much as we can by giving her some cold, hard cash.  Money doesn't make life perfect, but it can help smooth it out sometimes.  The group is very talented (like my mom) and we all have a heart to help so we're investigating ways to sell our wares as a group for her.  Do any of you sell on Etsy with a friend?  How does that work out?  Is it practical? 

Now, speaking of hoeing tough rows, my garden is complete!  Have I ever even mentioned that I was working on that?  Our dirt is made up of mostly rocks, so we had some topsoil brought in and Jeff fenced it in.  At our last house, we had some river bottom dirt hauled in that was incredible.  Zero rocks and zero weeds.  It was extremely dark brown and very easy to work with and the plants seemed to grow well enough in it.  This years dirt has some organic matter and a lot of worms so I hope that's a sign of good dirt.  I only found one or two rocks but weeds are popping up here and there already. >:[  Thank goodness for the hula hoe!

I took on gardening like everything else I do and studied up for at least an hour before I declared myself an expert and then jumped in with both feet.  This is only my second year at gardening and I still know very little about it so we made this years garden even bigger than last years.  What I lack in know-how I make up for with determination and delegation and grand ideas.  "Kids!  Go water my garden.  NOW!"  See how that works?   "Jeff!  Those trees are blocking sunlight from my garden!"  "Now let's plant an orchard there."

So do you all have any gardening plans or tips?

Don't forget to let me know your thoughts on Etsy, pretty please.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My latest finds and a chicken tractor

Here's a quick peek a couple of things we're working on around the house...

I've been keeping an eye out for a vintage fan to mount on the wall in our bedroom rather than have a ceiling fan.  I love having a fan on while I sleep in the summer, especially with a window open too. 

 There are a lot of these old fans floating around.  A lot of them still work just fine and most of them have a little rust, a few dings and chipped paint.  I love rust, dings and chipped paint but when I found this one, I knew it was the one.  It was still in its original box with the tag on it and all its papers and looked brand new.  It had been stowed away for the past 50 years in someones attic in Michigan and now it's back in Missouri, where it started out...where it belongs.

It's like a sweet homecoming.

The door on the barn track is another project we've got going on in the bedroom.  I found the old door at a flea market and Jeff hung it from the track for me.  I've got to decide how I want to finish the wood and put some opaque plexiglass in the window.  I'll have another door on the same track on the other side of the fan for the of these days, hopefully. 

Jeff's a busy man.

Recently he's been helping me get a garden ready and building a chicken tractor.

I, of coarse, "supervised" (skimmed through books) from right here...

for all of about five semi-relaxing minutes.  Then it was back to refereeing kids and animals, playing name that bug and 20 500 questions times four chatty children and fetching tools, drinks, sandwiches and bandaids, nursing baby, changing diapers, etc, etc.

Back to the tractor.  While preparing this post, I realized I didn't have any good pictures of the completed chicken tractor, so I grabbed my camera and headed out to snap one or two shots.

As soon as the girls (hens) heard the clickety click of my camera, they started heading over to the tractor to pose for me.  We let them roam free all day and they typically only come to the tractor to get a drink or lay an egg, unless there's a camera involved, then they're all over it.  Even Petunia, our barn cat, got into the act.

Silly cat, she thinks she's a chicken.
She was snacking on chicken feed when some of the hens spotted her and decided they couldn't let her hog the camera.

"Move over cat!  This isn't about you!"

Before Petunia knew it, she was being ganged up on by the girls and she was run out of town!

The kids named the hen on the far left Eye Pecker, and for good reason.  I'm guessing even Petunia knows about her reputation.  Chickens just can't resist pretty little sparkles, especially that chicken.  "Oh, what's that pretty sparkling thing in your face?" she clucks.  "Here, let me..."  peck, peck.  "OUCH!!  That's my EYE!"  Yep, they're not very bright.

Anyway, for anyone that's curious, Jeff made the tractor out of an old chain link dog pen.  He made an A frame from two of the panels and closed up the ends with chicken wire.  Then made a small coop at one end with a ramp that we pull closed at night.  The roof of the coop is made of left over metal roofing and is only screwed down at the top so we can lift it open to gather the eggs like so...

Every now and then, we find a kid in there, but it's usually just hens and eggs.

He can pull it around the yard with the riding mower when he needs to, hence the name chicken tractor.

Welp, that's all.