Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Guest Room - Before and AFTER!

Cue the music..."At laaaaaaast...."

It has been three months since I last posted.  Things ended up snowballing on the house project until I was completely overwhelmed with responsibilities.  Then things slowed down and I was just tired of remodeling and not even blogging about it sounded palatable.  

I love before and after pictures on blogs.  Rarely can I pass over a suggested blog post or article that has before and after pictures.  I had expected that when the guest room was finally complete, I would feel the same thrill I get from looking at before/after pictures but on an even larger scale.  That might be the case for a lot of people, but I was just tired.  

Now it's been a couple months.  My parents stayed in there for a week and two brothers were in there for a couple weeks.  Now we've moved in.  We couldn't help it - we like the bed too much.  When I wake up and look at the mouldings that I painted and helped hang, and look at the small marks on the floor that indicate where that ugly old closet used to be, I start to feel a little bit of that thrill.  I'm wearily proud of all the work I put into it.  I can't believe I actually did it (with a ton of help!).

So without much more in the way of explanation, I present the completed guest room.  The first room in the house to be complete.

Guest Room Inspiration Board

Day 1



Some stats:

We took out about half the walls and replaced the insulation and dry wall
We added three new light fixtures all with light switches - this room previously had no light switches.
Replaced all the window trim, floor and crown mouldings - painted in SW Westhighland White
Contracted out having new windows put in
Painted the walls in SW Wordly Gray
Left the original wood ceiling
Added a custom stained door with sliding barn door hardwood over the new closet space

I love it!  Definitely glad I didn't know how much work it would entail, or I would never have worked up the courage to start it.  I owe my father-in-law for life for giving up Saturday after Saturday to help me.

Hope you enjoy the pictures!

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Would you believe that the reason I haven't posted for a while is because I couldn't find my computer cord?  I finally found it buried under a stack of mattresses.  Because that's how we roll right now.  Furniture everywhere.  Except the guest room.  The only things in there are tools and dust.  DUST! Oh, and the attic - there's no room for furniture up there around all the clothes.

Speaking of clothes, my friend Jennifer's boyfriend challenged her to wear something new every day until she's worn everything or donated it.  Since cleaning out the guest room closet of horrors has made me come face to face with how many clothes I have, I accepted a challenge that had nothing to do with me.  I'm on day nine (not including weekends) and haven't had a repeat item yet.  I've managed to get rid of about ten items that I didn't want to wear.  Still have a long ways to go.

Things at the homestead have been very exciting.  Not only we do we have four (!) lambs, 25 chicks, and 15 turkey poults, we got a call last weekend from our contractor.  He had an opening this week and wanted to squeeze us in.

Remember when the dining room looked like this?

Now it looks like this!

I know the picture is blurry.  It's raining and the light was fading, but isn't it beautiful?  It is raining, and that room is brighter than it's ever been.  

I'm over the moon with how it's turning out.  

I will post more pictures once the weather clears up and I can find the charger to my camera.  :)

Monday, March 9, 2015


It's springtime which means baby time around here.  (I have to be careful how I say that, because that's how rumors get started).

The first lamb of 2015 was born three weeks ago.  The next day it snowed.  Because our sheep are only happy if they have babies in bad weather*.  We call this ewe Snowy because she was born on a snowy morning March 2013.  We called her baby last year Star, and this year's lamb is Octavia- after the winter storm.

* I live in the land where snow is debilitating.  Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter is practically a banned book

Snowy and her spawn

The Barbardos sheep are skittish and won't let us get very close to them,  However, I did notice that being a Collins-born-sheep herself, Mama Snowy was much more relaxed about us scooping up her baby and taking selfies with her.

Less than 24 hours old.  

After about five days, Octavia herself was fed up with that nonsense and now runs off anytime I come near her.  She's begun running and skipping around the pasture with all the joy and carelessness of a baby animal.

Monday our chickens came in the mail.  So far we are 24 for 25 so I'm thinking we're finally getting this baby animal thing figured out.  My friend Rachel, who knows her way around a camera, managed to snap some pictures while they were still fluffy and adorable.

This is our third spring doing animal babies, and it is amazing how much easier it has gotten.  I'm more aware of my limitations.  I was completely unprepared for the stress of seeing baby animals die right in front of me - of feeling as helpless to save them as they were to save themselves. We've had fewer fatalities this year that any previous year (if you do chicks, you have to look at the Ecoglow.  BEST way to keep chicks healthy and alive in those precarious first days), and cutting back on our layer hens and turkeys is giving me more time to deal with these chicks.

Here's hoping I can carry that discipline and momentum into summer when the tomatoes and okra start to suffocate me.  Longer days are great, but I eat dinner earlier in the winter.

Flowers are starting to push their way up, the guest room has gotten one coat of joint compound, the hall bath ceiling is stained, and we're getting new siding soon!  Spring is pretty fantastic so far.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Audible Giveaway Winner

Congratulations, Becka!  

Please go to www.audible.com, select any audio book, and email me your selection and email address.  I will email you a link to download the book.  I hope you enjoy it!

If you need any suggestions, you know what my favorites are. :)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Audio That Speaks to You Wherever You Are (and a giveaway)

What did you do this weekend?  I hung drywall in the guest room with my long-suffering FIL and then stained the hall bath ceiling after he left.  I had hoped to drive down to Atlanta to see my mom while she was down there, but I was so sore when I woke up that the idea of sitting in the car for five hours sounded unbearable.  

Instead Matt and I took a much-needed day off and did some shopping and pizza eating and coffee drinking.  I finally found a mirror for the hall bath (holla!) and bought yet another throw pillow.  When Matt saw my shopping bag, he said "You do not need another pillow for that bed."

"No, this is for another bed." I assured him.

He might not like it, but he can't stop it.

Saturday night while I stained the bathroom and Matt cleaned the guinea pig cage (yes, we got guinea pigs.  Don't ask) we listened to The Screwtape Letters.  I find listening to audio books while doing mindless(ish) tasks like cleaning, staining, picking okra, to be an almost unbeatable enjoyment.  It helps that I have a 35 minute commute.  The trick to enjoying audio books is having long stretches of time to listen.  If you actually need to focus a little (like fixing pipes) then I like musicals.  But for long stretches of continuum, audio books are the best!

My Audible subscription is the only one I haven't cancelled in a fit of thriftiness (Netflix and Spotify always end up creeping back).  I know some people find it incomprehensible to have an Audible account when the library is full of books on tape for free. But it works well for me. 

Audible has a 100% satisfaction guarantee.  So if you're 1/3 of the way through The Secret Keeper and you decide you really cannot take Australian Caroline Lee's British accent any longer, Audible will let you exchange it for something else.

Here are some of my all-time favorites:

"History is not just facts and events.  History is also a pain in the heart and we repeat history until we are able to make another's pain in the heart our own."

Sue Monk Kidd lives in South Carolina, and I once heard her speak at our local library.  Her books are extra special to me because of the small connection, but this book stands just fine on it's own. The Invention of Wings is inspired by the true story of Sarah Grimke, an abolitionist from Charleston, and the imagined story of her slave Handful.  It has two narrators and both are outstanding.  As usual, Sue Monk Kidd gives an incredible feel for the setting whether Charleston slave quarters or a beach in New Jersey.  Being grounded in fact keeps the book feeling authentic rather than sentimental; and although flawed, both narrators are easy to root for.

"Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one -- the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."

I have a confession: I tried to read The Screwtape Letters three times and always lost momentum in about the third chapter.  Then it was the Audible Daily Deal, so I bought it for $2.99, and I could not stop listening (although, sometimes I had to to go to work.  Pesky details).  I've listened to it almost three times now all the way through, and I pick up something new every listen.  It's a quick listen (3:38), and the narrator's inflections perfectly capture the cunning and intelligence of Screwtape.  I cannot recommend this one enough!

"Oh, calamity!"

Liane Moriarty is my favorite current author.  I read her books for the witty conversations, the sly details that perfectly capture human emotions and interactions, and just the pure craft of how she puts her story together.  Big Little Lies begins with the revelation that a kindergarten parent has died at a school fundraiser, then goes back to the beginning and shows how the events unravel to lead up to the death. It centers around three women: Madeline, Celeste, and Jane and the messiness of modern families.  Caroline Lee is an incredible narrator (when she's using her Australian accent), and I listened to this twice all the way through.  Note: this book does have a few occasions of salty language and deals with some mature themes such as domestic violence.  I highly recommend it , but if you're listening in the car with children, you might want to be aware.  

"But I have told the truth.  Isn't that ironic?  They sent me because I am so good telling lies.  But I have told the truth."

Code Name Verity is another book I've listened to twice.  In fact, I was so eager to know how it ended, I bought the paper copy and finished it in the parking lot of my office before driving home one night.  A young English woman has been captured by Germans in occupied France during WWII.  She exchanges her story for her life, and through her narrative we learn how she ended up in France.  This story is almost perfect - the narration, the characters, the women air force pilots from WWII, the way it challenged my thinking about ethics in wartime.  Really, really good! (P.S. If you read it, can we discuss those ethics, because my head is still spinning a little).  This one has one (maybe two?) instance of strong language and some specifications (although not graphic descriptions) of torture.  

I'm offering one free audio book of choice to one of you! Just leave a comment here telling me what you did this weekend and a winner will be chosen at random.  This post is not sponsored.  I just really like Audible, and I really like all of you!

1. Please leave a comment saying what you did this weekend.  While I always appreciate FB comments, you will have to comment here to be counted in the number generator for the drawing.
2. Contest closes Thursday (3/5) at 11:59 pm.  
3. Winner will be announced on this blog Friday.
4. Winner can select any audio book from Audible, and I will email you a link to claim it.

** This post contains affiliate links. However, all products were purchased by me **

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hall Bath Progress

Thank you so much for all the feedback on the Wood Trim Problem.  We have a plan I'm pretty excited about thanks to the fresh perspective and ideas you gave us.

And thanks to winter storm Remus and my Aeropress, I finally made some serious progress on the guest bathroom.

The last time we had a delay at work, I cut in the hall bathroom.  I, of course, did not think to take pictures before I began to cut in, so here's what we have.

And here it one snow day later:

Aaaaaah.  So much better.

Does that light fixture look familiar?  I bought it from Joss & Main for the guest room.  After removing the old light fixture to paint, I couldn't stand the idea of putting it back, so (after watching three YouTube videos) I hung the new one up instead.  And I LOVE it!

I'm also really happy with Worldly Gray (even if the Sherwin-Williams guy is over it).

Now I just need more snow days and the whole house would be finished.

(Psst, Joss & Main is carrying that light fixture again for a short time. You can find it here.  Just leave a couple for me!)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What Wood You Do?

Guest room progress is steady if slow.  I'm coming to terms with there being random furniture stuck in random places throughout the house. Some I've tried to camouflage.  Such as the dresser that is pretending to be a buffet.

At least now I know I definitely want a buffet in the front room.  I forget how much space I have in there sometimes.

I'm still completely unsure of what to do with all the natural and stained wood in our house.  Matt loves the natural wood look.  Since this is our "forever home," he wants us to decide on a wood tone that we love and stick with that.  Even if it means replacing some of the existing doors, door jambs, trim, and floor moldings.

Just typing that out makes me tired.

It's hard for me to separate the amount of work required to accomplish replacing the wood from the decision of what tone I like best.  But I think he's right that we have to decide and commit and not let the amount of work determine our decision (even if I can't help that it influences it).

I've been looking at pictures on Houzz for some pictures of appealing wood trim.  It's interesting how just the color of the wood completely changes the feel of the room.

1. Here is a beautiful farmhouse kitchen in the natural wood tones Matt loves so much.

2. The stain in this room is pretty close to the existing doors and jambs stained in our house.  It looks Craftsman, which is not our style (nor our house's style).  But maybe that's what the previous owners were going for?

3. This stained wood is far more rustic looking than the cherry stain.

4. And here is a darker stain with the wall paneling.  Usually this look leans toward Victorian, but I like the simple lines of this room.

5. Here the color of the paneling is closer to the red tones we already have.  Also, I want that chair. And those shades.

6. This design tones down the wood with a white door.  I love too how the hall table is a contrasting stain.  And while the vase is a similar color to the trim, it is an interesting texture.

7. And because I can't completely rule it out, here is some painted paneling. I love simplicity of this foyer.  Even though the wall paneling is painted, there is enough natural wood to keep the rustic feel.

8. This room with a brick floor like ours mixes the darker stain and white painted paneling.

Aaaagh.  The more I look at it, the more I love that painted paneling.  MATT!

Help a girl out.  What look do you like best?

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Girly Guide to Surviving Frozen Pipes

If you own a home with pipes in an area that gets below freezing, there is a chance that at some point your pipes will freeze.  If you live on fifteen acres that have six outdoor spigots put in by misguided DIYers, then there is a chance you pipes will freeze more than once a year.  And they will burst and make you miserable.

I've dealt with burst pipes four times now in two years and consider myself something of an expert.  So without further ado, here is a girly guide to surviving frozen pipes.

1. Own a Carhartt jumpsuit.

If you spend any amount of time outside in the winter beyond going to and from your car, you will never regret this purchase. Since in general it makes me look like a giant baked potato, I suggest pairing it with some statement earrings and a Burberry scarf.

The pug likes it too.

2. Have a great playlist.

My favorite choice for long, tedious tasks is musicals.  When you are cold and wet, Les Miserables is always appropriate.

3. Use your hair dryer.

Not on your hair, silly!  Your hair will be dry because you can't shower.  But a hair dryer is a woman's best weapon against frozen pipes.  You'll be in it for the long haul, though, so refer back to number 1.

4. Learn some plumbing terms.

When you get to your home improvement store of choice, it will help if you know a little bit about plumbing parts.  Otherwise labels such as "male outdoor" or "female closet" and "coupling" can be a little shocking.  And you'll know what you're looking for when your neighbor tells you to bring home "two elbows."

Also, remember that these stores are designed by men (quite possibly an accountant).  Everything is organized by numbers - not shape.  The caps are not all in one place.  If you find the 2" caps but need a 1" cap, do not despair as I did. Simply locate all the boxes that say 1" and I promise you the right sized cap is grouped in there.

5. Get a good dry shampoo.

You'll need it.

6. Do not under any circumstances wear your favorite blue ballet flats.

If your yard was recently flooded, do not wear your favorite shoes in an effort to cheer yourself up (unless your favorite shoes are Wellies).  You will inevitably forget that the yard flooded, froze, and then thawed out.  And do not try to improve the situation by rubbing the mud off in the dry grass.

Instead of being the confidence boost you were going for, your feet will merely look tarred and feathered.

Not a good look.

Don't do it.
A hacksaw, primer and epoxy are never a bad thing to have on hand either.

Anyone else have any cold weather tips to pass on?  I hope everyone is staying warm, dry and clean!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

It's Inevitable

Any time I pick up blogging again, I make changes to the layout.  It's inevitable.

I have given the banner a much needed update.

In case you've forgotten, it looked like this:

Grace no longer looks like that (but, oh my word, she is so cute in that picture!), and I didn't even make that pie.  Now there is a picture of our brightly painted chicken coop surrounded by icy trees.  It is our land, and I kind of love it.

I've updated the button to match, so if you want to grab my button to put on your blog, it looks a little more 2015.

(Side note: If you're a blogger and want a button for your blog, you have to check out this incredible feature on Code It Pretty.  I was once up until 1 am coding my first button, but now she's written a program that codes the button for you.  Amazing!)

I finally got around to adding a recipe page to the sidebar.  I didn't realize how many recipes I had on the blog until I compiled them all in one spot!

It turns out that I like writing about cookies and pie waaay more than I like writing about salad.  However, organizing them did help me remember some forgotten favorites.  Such as the lemon caper salad dressing served on butter lettuce with lemon wedges and avocado slices.  That will be happening at my house again soon.

And those zucchini recipes.  I can almost taste tomatoes right now. Forget the magic of ice storms.  I want a heat wave and mosquitoes and fresh produce!

If you can't find a recipe you're looking for on that page, this search feature is pretty handy.

And right below the recipes, you'll find a house tour.  This house tour currently consists of mostly the before pictures that my FIL took during move-in day.  I cannot wait to start adding some after picturs

While I'm tidying up, I might as well mention that I've always kind of hated my blog name.  When I started this over four years ago, I wanted something that had to do with making good use of time, and I wanted it to be a literary reference.  Yeah, I know.  But now, with FB algorithms, it is at an all new low.  Any time I post a link, FB brings up "You May Also Be Interested In: Lady GaGa is Finally Engaged!"

Not what I was going for.

So that might be getting a face lift soon too.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Yesterday morning we woke up to a frozen world.  I'd never seen a true ice storm before moving to South Carolina.  In Michigan, the frozen trees would hang over a powdery blanket of snow.  Here, the freezing rain comes without snow, and everything from the grass to the houses to the trees are glazed in ice.

My office had a delayed opening, so I tried to take some pictures and soak it in: the trees splaying cold fingers against the sky cloudy with dawn and winter.  The chickens pecking hesitantly at the ice.  Our bamboo grove doubled over from the weight.

As I rounded the corner of the house, a bluebird that had been drinking from a puddle flew off: his wings a shock of blue against the glassy landscape.  His breast the red of a summer strawberry.

Then the sun was up. The woods echoed with the cracking and shattering of the trees breaking free.

Meanwhile, inside...

I used the extra time to cut in the bathroom paint.

Fingers crossed for a few more snow days.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Magic of Paint

Soooo, I totally neglected to ever post pictures of the chicken coop after we finished painting it. And believe it or not, we did finish.  Something that I thought would take one or two nights still wasn't completed after a month of tying to do it in the shortening  evenings.  So we both took a day off and made it happen. I still can't get over how great it looks.



The magic of paint, am I right?

The siding is painted in Behr Cajun red and the trim is Behr antique white.  We both liked that it looked barn red, but not in a "burn your retinas" kind of way.

And look who insisted on showing off for the camera.

Part of the reason it took so long was because all the old paint had to be scraped off before it could be painted new.  This little tool came in very handy.  And I didn't have to go to the gym for the entire month.  It also helped to have an extra thick roller to get the paint on the siding.

Painting in a barnyard was not without it's challenges.  Between all the dirt on the walls, the turkeys pecking at my feet, and the chickens drinking the paint, it seemed to take twice as long as an inside paint job.  But we also became privy to some secrets, spending all that time silently painting in the animal's yard.

Late afternoon on the last day of the project, we saw a doe and three fawns in the far pasture.  They were standing perfectly still, watching us.  Then the fawns starting prancing completely without reserve.

In the last hours of daylight, when the sun falls in slanting, warm-colored rays across the grass, three little fawns were hopping and skipping on spindly legs.  The bounced as though they were so full of delight in their own existence, that they couldn't stand still.

I'll probably never see anything like it again.

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