Friday, August 26, 2016

Pottery Barn Wish List

If I had a style (other than Millennial Farmhouse) it could be described as "Pottery Barn." Matt and I like Pottery Barn so much that we used to go there every Thursday just to walk around. Back when we lived in the townhouse and didn't have pesky things like chickens and mowing the lawn to think about, we had a standing date night at the mall. We'd eat dinner at Panera, then walk around and poke our heads in at our favorite stores: Banana Republic, J. Crew, Sephora, William Sonoma and Pottery Barn.

We rarely bought anything, but we loved looking around and keeping our eyes open for deals. Several months after we moved, we went back to the mall and the sales associate at Pottery Barn said "There you are! We've missed you!" So, yeah, we were there A LOT.

I just happened to notice that they are having a huge sale on some beautiful things just today (8.26.2016), so I'm dragging you along with me for some online window shopping.

1. Faux Fur Throw

We snagged one of these on sale several years ago (after stalking it all Christmas season), and I love it. It's so warm and comfy, and faux fur is a great texture to add to Farmhouse Millennial decorating. :) The tan and grey colors are only $49 (down from $99).

2. Lansing Leather Recliner

This chair! From the tufted, curved back down to the little round feet this looks like the best kind of chair for curling up with a favorite book (or catching up on the one hundred I've bought and haven't read). And it reclines! There is some serious chair envy going on over here. Also, that little basket turned side table is getting me thinking about my living room set up.

3. Colette Pitcher

I have never met a cream pitcher I didn't like. The little scalloped grooves with the square handle are so charming and modern. If I didn't already have a cream pitcher (OK, three cream pitchers), this might have ended up in my shopping cart.

4. Colette Square Baker

This square baker actually did find it's way into my shopping cart. All my baking dishes are white, and I've never seen anything quite like this. Dishwasher, microwave safe French Provencal for $18.99? It's mine!

5. Colette Pie Plate

I have a beautiful ruffled pie plate Matt bought me one Christmas from William Sonoma. You can see it in this post I did on French silk pie. That one set us back $49, but this similar one is only $18.99 (Psst, I just looked at WS to link to the Emile Henry pie plate, and it's on sale today too).

6. Alana Luster Glass Candlestick Lamp

How pretty is this candlestick-shaped lamp base? It would appear we are moving from the bell shape to a longer, leaner style. I really like this Colonial look.

7. Malta Lantern

Speaking of Colonial, who doesn't need more lanterns in their life?

8. Monroe Vases 

Judging by the rise in mixed metals, we Millennials seem to be a bunch of magpies. These shiny vases are irresistible. More clean modern lines but antique, rustic patina.

And while we're on the topic of Pottery Barn, have you seen the Catalog Living tumblr account? It hasn't been updated in a while, but the archives are hilarious and amazing.

The premier sale is on through midnight today (8.26.16) and you can get free shipping on all order with the code shipfree.

What's going on in your house? Do you like shiny things too? How do you feel about cream pitchers?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

End of Summer Beef Vegetable Soup

If you follow us on Facebook, then you might have seen the picture of the pigs nice and secure in their fence when I got home. That was a relief after rushing off yesterday morning. This farming thing is a string of learning our weaknesses - whether that be the weakness of my arms when carrying 5 gallon bird waterers or the weakness of our fences where we got a little slack in tightening the clamps (because it was 9:00 pm and we hadn't eaten yet).

At times it feels incredibly manageable. More than manageable! Look who can fix pig pens and get to work on time all in one morning! Then other times we feel completely defeated and start browsing realtor.com for a nice townhouse. But we push on and ask question and go to bed hoping it will be better in the morning; and it always is. And carrying the water buckets becomes easier and the fences become stronger.

We are at the stage of the summer where the garden is drying up. The shelves are decently stocked with jam, pickles, sauerkraut and jalapenos. The freezer doors hold rows of corn, green beans, and roasted tomatoes. Now that there isn't enough from the garden to put in bags and mason jars, it's finding it's way into a pot of soup.

These final vegetables represent the conclusion of much planning and labor. What started out as a dream of tender green in the dead of winter, became a dried out seed in Matt's palm, went into dirt that we watered and watered until we finally plucked it from the plant at the end of an hour that I could feel in the small of my back. So the green bean that clings to the spoon, gets scraped back into the pot and eaten.

This isn't a recipe so much as one way that a person could assemble soup. I tend to pick up a chuck roast from our butcher once a month or so and always order an extra lb to cut up into stew beef. Then I throw in some canned or roasted tomatoes, chicken broth, and three cups of whatever vegetables are at hand. Green beans and corn are always welcome. But Lima beans, green peas, diced zucchini, those last straggling okra - they all taste good.

The secret ingredient is butter. Don't raise your eyebrows. Butter makes most things better. It makes this soup better. I've seen someone use a whole stick, but a modest four tablespoons works well with the proportions I've listed below.

End of Summer Beef Vegetable Soup

1 lb of chuck roast cut into 1-inch cubes
1 shallot, or small onion, diced
2 cups of chicken broth
1 quart of canned tomatoes
three cups of vegetables (I used 1 cup of green beans, 1 cup of corn, 1 cup of green peas)
splash of red wine (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons of butter, divided

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a Dutch oven. Add beef and shallot (or onion) and salt and pepper. Cook until meat is brown on all sides. Add a small splash of red wine to deglaze meat, using a spatula to scrape all the cooked bits. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, and vegetables. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook at least one hour and up to four hours. Add the butter, and stir until melted and incorporated.

This is possibly better the next day and freezes quite well.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Really Good, Really Big, Really Cheap Book Sale

Guess what greeted us early this morning.

Nothing like an empty pig pen and a gaping fence to get you running to the woods with food in hand.The pigs had just let themselves out for a little jaunt and early morning chat with the next door horses.

I lured them back in and fixed the fences while Matt held the donkey (she's not a lot of help when it comes to fastening fences). The pigs expressed their gratitude by pressing wed, muddy noses into my leg. I had time only to sponge clean my pants before rushing off to work, and I keep discovering dirt in the creases of my pants. This farm life, seriously.

A couple weeks ago, The Greenville Literacy Society held it's annual Really Good, Really Big, Really Cheap Booksale.

This sale has been going on for fourteen years, but we had never been. I don't really know why. Probably in part because we both hate crowds. The older I get the more I just really like my own living room. With the two of us in it.

Also, I wasn't sure what to expect. I had heard these books sold for $1 each. Were these ratty, falling-apart copies that no one wanted? Would they be completely picked over by the time we hauled ourselves out of bed and showed up? 

But we are on the hunt for books on gardening and farming, so we got up, drove the thirty minutes to "the big town," to see what it was all about.

From the get-go we knew we were in over our heads.  Everyone - I mean literally everyone - was carrying some kind of conveyance into the sale. Matt and I were strolling down the sidewalk hand in hand, and we started to notice that the twenty or so people walking in with us were carrying canvas bags, boxes, little carts, and backpacks. Some people wore backpacks and carried a box. Others had carts stuffed with canvas bags. An older man had a bag slung over the handle of his walker.

"Are they going to even let us in without a bag?" I whispered frantically to Matt.

"I don't know," he said. "Good thing you have a big purse."

Inside, we started to understand the need for the bags. Row after row after row (after row after row) of books ranging in price from $0.50 to $5.00 were crammed on to tables. Some were brand new, and the used copies were so gently used it was almost impossible to tell. The tables full of books went so far back into the convention hall that you couldn't even see the end of the display from the front. 

We had come in the wrong end, so we pushed our way through all the fiction browsers, and started to load up in the home and garden section.

All things considered, the event was very well organized, and as long as we didn't try for a spot at the 50 cent table, the crowds weren't too bad either.

For $26 we got 22 books. Not a bad haul. And thankfully they anticipated newbs like us and had a stack of bags we could pick from. Phew.

No need for a cart when you have a Matt

Here is some of what we left with:

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See // A coworker recently told me this was her favorite book, so I picked it up. I don't actually know much about Chinese culture, so I'm excited to read something outside my usual realm of food writing, memoirs, and modern woman's lit.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion // I had read that this was a book every writer should read, so it's been on my mind to read it for a while. Of course, when I got home there was already copy on my shelf, so I'll be gifting a copy to someone soon.

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi // I've been curious about this one ever since it came out to mixed reviews in 2008. This is my chance to review it for myself, I guess.

The Amateur Marriage and A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler // By this point, I was just following people around and picking up anything they pointed out to their friends and said "oh this one was good!" The woman next to me picked these up and said "Anne Tyler is great if you like southern fiction." Do I like southern fiction? I'm about to find out.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden // I loved this book, but lost my copy years ago. Thrilled to be able to replace it for $1.

The Poinsonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver // I've been enjoying Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, so I thought I'd give her fiction a whirl. There is so much you can learn about someone by the way they write fiction.

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova // If you have not read Still Alice by Lisa Genova, go buy it and read it immediately. It is still one of my favorite things I've ever read. Lisa Genova is a neuroscience and she writes fiction about people suffering from different neurological diseases. Still Alice is about a professor with early onset Alzheimer's disease. The way the author makes you feel the spiral is absolutely mesmerizing. I'm sure she handles Huntington's disease in Inside the O'Briens deals with the same deftness and empathy.

The Blind Side by Michael Lewis // Confession time: I never saw the movie Blind Side. But I'm a huge sucker for memoirs, and after all the positive reviews that movie got, I had to pick this up.

With Bold Knife and Fork by MFK Fischer // Food writing. MFK Fischer. Hardcover. One dollar. Done and done.

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt // Another I've wanted to read for a while.

John Adams by Frank McCullough // We liked the miniseries so much we watched a some of the episodes a couple times. The chance of me actually slogging through this - maybe 5%. But I'm enthusiastic and whoever inherits all our stuff one day will get a copy of what is undoubtedly a really good book.

We did manage to find this cool book on edible landscapes. I am particularly fond of any book with diagrams.

I looks like Amazon has a new edition of this book, which is piquing my interest. It would certainly be interesting to see what has changed between now and the original 1982 print date.

So there you have it. Our haul from the book sale. I'll let you know if any of the books we bought are any good. Have to finish Anna Karenina first, though!

Do you buy used books? What's your favorite way to find new stuff to read? Tell us all about it!

**this post has affiliated links**

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What We're Digging 8.23.16


reading // The Resilient Farm and Homestead by Ben Falk. This one has been tough sledding. It reads more like a textbook than other books I've read on farming, but the author has a thorough knowledge of farming and homesteading. It is a good resource book for anyone interested in permaculture.

drinking // water.

craving // Fried okra. Our okra was planted late, but now we are picking a bunch every day.

wearing // KUHL button down shirt and jeans. My sister-in-law gave me this KHUL button down for Christmas, and it's one of my favorite shirts. It is lightweight which keeps me cool working outside, but is nice enough for the office.


reading // Anna Karenina. I started it, oh, about fifteen years ago, but I'm finally caught up to the part were I quit last time. So that makes it a new record, I guess.

listening // Milk Carton Kids Monterey - apparently I have a thing for discovering music on NPR; I first heard the Milk Carton Kids there on Ask Me Another. There is something so deliciously autumn about them to me, and I find myself gravitating to them as the weather turns cooler. Which, thank goodness, it finally is!

eating // soaked wheat berries. My friend gave me 45 lbs of wheat berries and I've been soaking them over night then eating them with yogurt and jam for breakfast. Really filling.

drinking // Counter Culture Slow Motion decaf coffee. Due to migraines, I try to limit my caffeine intake and Counter Culture Slow Motion is the best decaf I've found. It can be a little pricey, but Fresh Market had it for $9.99/12 oz and we stocked up.

wearing // I bought a denim skirt at Tractor Supply Company this weekend while we were there for hog feed. I am now buying clothes at Tractor Supply. Who am I??

craving // Red Thai bubble tea. My favorite tea shop in the world shut down this spring (RIP Tealoha). And while the jury is still out on their replacement, Chasing Rabbits Tea Co does make a tasty red Thai bubble tea.

currently // I moved the seven ducks out of the "nursery" (ie. back half of the coop) this weekend. They had most of their feathers in and I couldn't take the mess any more. Ducks and water really do belong outside. On grass. Not on coop sub-flooring. They still won't go up into the coop on their own at night, so I have to pick each one up and walk them up the ramp and into the door. It's totally worth it, though, to not have to worry about their water mess damaging the floor of the coop. Guineas are still inside and will be for a while.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Guest Room Update: Art & an Etsy coupon code!

How was your weekend? Mine was a little nuts. Apologies to anyone who tried to access www.hiddenacressc.com and got an error message. I think we're all fixed now. (I hope!) I have added domains and subdomains to this site before, but for some reason this weekend I struggled. After a frantic call to GoDaddy and hours on the computer, I think we're up and running.

Fowarding www.ecollinswriter.com is still giving me trouble, but bear with me Fixed! Oh Internet, you wild, crazy place.

Anyway, I'm super excited for this post. I posted a few pictures right after we got the furniture moved in, but the walls were still bare, so I wanted to share some of the things we hung on the walls.

Our goal for the guest room was to create a retreat where we could be surrounded by some of our favorite things. So, of course, our favorite art made it's way onto the newly painted Worldly Gray walls.

I know these pictures are super dark - this room doesn't get a lot of light on a good day, and it's been raining all week. Great for the garden - not so great for pictures. Just pretend you stopped in on a rainy afternoon, and I gave you tea before showing you around.

We like to buy a piece of art from everywhere we vacation.  We have art from St. Augustine, FL, Hawaii, Charleston, SC, Hilton Head, SCSanta Rosa Beach FL, (we obviously have a thing for beach vacations). We have sprung for original art a few times, but for the most part we tend to buy quality art prints.

Matt's favorite painting is this one we bought in Santa Rosa, FL to celebrate the sale of our townhouse (hallelujah!). It is oil with sand and sea glass. We love how it is a painting of the ocean without being a seascape. It hangs to the left of our bed - "Matt's side."

We do try not to hang anything in direct sunlight. Since the windows of this room (guest room? master bedroom? our room...) look out onto the covered patio and face south, this room doesn't get any direct sunlight at all.

On the right of the bed, is the print of the same picture in the header for this blog. I had wanted some illustration art of Matt and I for a long time, so I ordered this illustration art for for Matt for Christmas last year from The Modern Brush on Etsy (OK, OK, it was really for me). The price includes a print as well as the digital rights which I used for our Christmas cards.

The artist is temporarily closed to catch up on orders, but you can request to get an email from Etsy when he reopens. Hopefully it will be in time to place Christmas orders!

This painting we bought in Hilton Head is probably my favorite. We were in there for just the weekend, and happened to see an art show in a parking lot. We walked around for a little bit, and this piece caught our eye. The artist, and older French gentleman, and his wife talked us through all his paintings. We liked them all, but kept coming back to this one. There is something so soothing about that ship heading towards the patch of blue sky.

Our pastor did a series on I Corinthians that landed us at chapter 13 right as we were doing our remodeling project. The sermons were so helpful and healing for me, that I listened to them over and over as I pulled nails out of bare studs. I knew that I wanted the famous love passage on the wall (if we ever got it up) and searched Etsy for the perfect print-out.

Etsy print-outs are great because they don't cost very much and can be customized to the size you want. I used them before in the You've Got Mail bridal shower I threw for my friend Beth. Etsy seems to have a hundred options for just about anything you want to print out!

In the end, I settled on this one. The artist has lots of different interesting prints, so be sure to check out her shop. The 8x10 frame comes from Pottery Barn (looks like it's on sale as of this posting!).

If you want to listen to those messages on 1 Corinthians 13, you can find them herehere, here, and here.

This final piece was suggested by Etsy algorithms (oh, Etsy, you crafty devil). I fell head over heels over it and gave it to myself as a "You Finished the Guest Room!" present.  The 11x11 frame came from Amazon.

The house in the background is a 'saltbox' house just like ours, and the woman is surrounded by sheep - something I can relate to. When we first moved out here, I felt isolated from our friends in town. I was accustomed to people gathering at our house, and suddenly we were thirty minutes from everyone, looking for a new church, and struggling to figure out the new pattern of our lives.

I was looking for ways to show love to others from our farm in spite of the geographical inconvenience. This picture captured that feeling. And where better to hang it than next to the 1 Corinthians 13 print?

The artist's name is Deborah Gregg and her shop Chicory Skies is full of beautiful prints. I, of course, am especially fond of those with sheep.

And guess what! Deborah Gregg is offering readers of Hidden Acres a special 5% off coupon code on any of her prints. It is good through September 5, so go on over to Chicory Skies Folk Art  and check it out. To save 5% enter the code hiddenacres1 at checkout.

What is hanging on your walls? Family pictures? Finger paintings? Tell us all about it in the comments!

Chicory Skies 5% discount code: hiddenacres1
Good through September 5, 2016

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Hidden Acres Update

We're finally up and running on social media!

This blog has been touch and go for the past four (what?!) years, but I think Hidden Acres is here to stay. I've updated the URL to: www.hiddenacressc.com. If you are following in a feed, you will need to change the address in your feed setting. The old addresses should still redirect here, but just to be on the safe side, you can always subscribe and get all our posts directly in your inbox.

Subscribing is super easy. Just put your email in where it says "subscribe' and you'll get all our blog posts emailed to you. You can also find us on twitter and instagram by clicking on those cute flag icons.

If you're on Facebook, come and follow us there! You can find us by searching: Hidden Acres SC or by going to https://www.facebook.com/hiddenacressc2/. We'll be using that space for posting all blog updates as well as having conversation with you about farming, gardening, food and books.  

Monday we have something really exciting that you won't want to miss. Be sure to subscribe or follow us on Facebook for updates.

See you on the web!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Dining Room: Painting the Paneling

Right away both Matt and I fell in love with the unique brick floors, the vaulted wood ceilings, and the rich wood paneling in our new house. But it didn't take long for us to realize that there was just too much going on. Like waaaay too much.

There were three different wood tones in just one room. The walls were warm-toned, the floors were warm-toned, and the ceiling was warm-toned. While the house had character in spades, sometimes while we were eating dinner it felt like we were being shipped by UPS.

We put together a mood board and slowly started to tackle the steps to make it more balanced.

Adding windows made the room a lot brighter and more "room-like," but it still just did not feel polished or complete.

We spent years going back and forth discussing whether or not we should paint the paneling - polling our friends, researching online.

I found this article by Young House Love and told all my friends "I just discovered the coolest blog!' They were all like "Um yeah. We already know about that."

 Okaaay. So I was super late to DIY blogs. But it turns out that everyone has a strong opinion on painted paneling. The people against painting insisted that you should never, ever paint over natural hardwood. It's a travesty! And the people for painting said it freshened up the room. Better to live in a beautiful room than to preserve hardwood you don't like.

I found pictures on Pinterest, wrote up a blog post with all our mixed feelings about painting, and waited.  The responses flowed in fast, furious, adamant, and divided. But our friend Michelle's comment made a lot of sense to us.

Our minds made up, we went to our favorite paint store (Sherwin Williams for the win!), loaded up on primer, and primed...

and primed...

and primed.

I'm not going to lie. My heart was pounding when I did those first couple rolls, but after taking the plunge, it was easy to see that it was the absolute best choice.

The wood just soaked up the primer. I ended up doing two coats of primer and two coats of SW Westhighland White paint on each wall. The primer was almost impossible to get off myself, so I was going into work with white on my knuckles and in my hair for almost a month.

I painted over the sky blue paint with a nice gray-green. And Michelle obviously knew what she was talking about. Streamlining the colors on the paneling and the walls made everything far more harmonious.

As the walls got covered in coats of paint, the floors and the doors immediately stood out. Those gorgeous features we loved had been completely lost in all the wood paneling.

Here you can see the difference in between our first Christmas in the house and our third.

Doesn't it look more "gracious and open" just like Michelle said it would?

Thank you to everyone who weighed in - especially Michelle who was the one who finally convinced us. Our only regret was that we didn't do it sooner.

And guess what? A few months later I went to a book signing for Loveable Livable Home with John and Sherry Petersick of Young House Love and got to show them the before and after pictures they inspired!

Look how happy they are about all that white paint!
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