Window Project & Ramblings

Our 100 year old farmhouse has had several additions to it over the years from evidence seen in the attic and a from few pictures we’ve received from previous owners and tenants.  The most recent one being a bedroom added over the bath and laundry room that is also not original to the ‘ol farmhouse.

Originally, there was a window over the stairwell which helped illuminate the upstairs landing as well as the stairwell.  With the addition of the bedroom, the window was removed for the obvious reason of privacy for the occupant in the bedroom.

I might’ve been OK with it except that what I saw every time I went upstairs (which is several times a day because all the bedrooms are up there as well as my sewing and craft space) well, it drove me nuts because it literally looked like a window had been removed and boarded up on one side.

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I tried making it tolerable by adding a pretty hand-painted indoor barn quilt that was given to me by a friend.  It certainly helped but it still drove me nuts.  (Short drive, I know.  And, hush up those of you who know me, ha!)

After CountryBoy demoed the well-house…

 

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yikes!!!

 

I saw the window from the front of it leaning against a tree and got the brilliant idea of putting a window back where there was originally a window.

Now, in true Dream Valley Farmstead fashion, we reuse whatever we can on whatever we’re working on so I went to work on cleaning up the well-house window…

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The whole well-house had been swallowed up by a red trumpet vine so there were bits of roots of the vine stuck to the window.  I simply sanded the window down a bit, washed it then handed it off.

Poor CountryBoy, as usual, had to figure out how to turn my vision into reality.  He pondered it briefly then went to work…

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He made quick work of the demo and set about determining where to cut into the paneling on the bedroom side…

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(Please ignore the discoloration of the walls.  We have done nothing to this room short of removing the closet where the head of the bed is and building a bed frame and headboard.  It’s on the to-do list one day!)

After some careful measuring and cutting we now had a hole in the wall and, a big mess on the floors.  Too late to change my mind now!

Before long the window was installed and the mess cleaned up…

I really like how it turned out even though it may seem kinda strange to be able to look into a bedroom from another room.  (See my sewing machine in the picture on the right?)  Since the décor of this room is our ‘ode to Florida’ and all things beachy my plan is to add working shutters in the bedroom.  They will be left open to allow the light to come through but can be closed when we have guests.  Meanwhile, until we actually tackle this room, my plan is to hang a quilt over the window if we have guests.

The stair side of the window still is not finished.  I need to get a piece of drywall next time we’re in town…

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The drywall installation will be up to me as CountryBoy would prefer to have nothing to do with drywall if at all possible.  I don’t blame him, really, as I’m not a big fan either but it’s the cheapest solution to finishing this project and finally, finishing this wall.  As you can see from the stains on the wall, I’ve done nothing to this wall either, short of removing a shelf that was over the window-less window and partially removing a wallpaper border.

I will be thrilled to have this wall finished one day but I am really enjoying the daylight that is helping lighten up my sewing and craft space as well as the stairway.  Yay!

Now for some rambling…

I have the day off so along with plans to write a blog post I decided to whip up a couple of things in the kitchen.  First up, was a batch of oil-pulling discs.

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My mouth and gums have been bothering me lately, as in feeling raw, so I decided to do something about it.  If you’ve never heard of oil-pulling then I suggest you Google it as there are much better sources out there than can explain the benefits of it far better than I could ever attempt to do so.

Anyhoo, it’s very simple to make some ready-to-use oil pulling discs by simply melting some coconut oil, letting it cool a bit and then dropping just less than a tablespoonful into the silicon candy molds.  I chose to add about ten drops of Thieves essential oil to the cooled coconut oil since the clove in this Thieves blend is beneficial for oral care.

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These silicon candy molds are awesome!  I popped out the discs and will store them in the fridge just to be sure the coconut oil doesn’t melt.  Using one a day this batch will last a little over three weeks.

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I also decided I wanted to have a hot chocolate mix on hand.  Some days and/or nights just beg for a cuppa hot cocoa!  Since I don’t like all the ingredients added to store-bought mixes I knew I needed to make my own so I checked Pinterest (what did we ever do before Google and Pinterest?!) and found a dairy-free hot chocolate mix recipe.

Why dairy free?  Well, I don’t have any powdered milk on hand nor do I usually keep it in my pantry.  We also like our hot chocolate made with whole milk rather than water so I didn’t see the need in having powdered milk already in the mix.  Thankfully, I found a recipe that didn’t call for powdered milk and I had all the ingredients in my pantry.

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I did substitute some white chocolate instead of the whole chocolate chips the recipe called for.  I also mixed all of it in my food processor, white chocolate and all, to make for a smooth and powdery mix.  I can’t wait to taste it as it smells so yummy!

Living 30 minutes from anywhere (as my brother likes to say!) it’s important to me to keep a well-stocked pantry.  I have spent the last several years learning what items are handy to have on hand and what, for us, makes a well-stocked pantry.  And, I’m not talking about having a pantry or freezer full of boxed or man-made foods (which really isn’t food but don’t get me going on that…)  It’s things like flours, sugars, home-canned veggies, coffee, tea, unsweetened cocoa, baking goods, yeast, etc.  It’s a good feeling being able to make things, even on a whim, because of my well-stocked pantry.  Yay!

And, in other news, my first column was published the week of Thanksgiving…

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Now that the stress and learning curve of my first article is done I’m excited to write some more.  I’ve had quite a few compliments to the point where I literally felt my cheeks turning red.  In fact, they’re turning red as I type this.  Mercy!  I guess that’s what happens when a shy girl that would rather be behind the scenes and definitely behind the camera is now in the spotlight.  As I often say around here, YIKES!

 

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Be Our Guest

Be our guest, Be our guest, Put our service to the test
Tie your napkin ’round your neck, cherie
And we provide the rest…

Were you singing that as you read it?!

Sorry, I used to work at Walt Disney World and couldn’t resist, hahaha!

Anyhoo, our first guest room is coming along.  Two and half years later but, hey, they tell me Rome wasn’t built in a day (wink!)

We have company coming this weekend and the next so I’ve been working on it bit by bit over the past two months.  First up are my nephew and his lovely wife stopping by for a few days then CountryBoy’s folks are heading this way.  It will good to see and spend time with all of them!

So, let me show you what this room looked when we moved in…

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It certainly was bright with glow-in-the-dark stars stuck to and hanging from the ceiling!

While I do like yellow walls I usually go for more of a buttery yellow so we painted, added some wood panels to the lower part of the wall and painted the floor since I couldn’t get it to look clean and I couldn’t get the paint off.

Here’s what the room looks like today…

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We switched the fan out with the one that was in my sewing room.  Since there is no central heat or air we put a box fan in the window to bring in the cool night air during the spring, summer and fall and there’s an electric fireplace for the winter nights.

We brought the white cabinet with us and I’m using it to store extra quilts and afghans as well as a few baby quilts that are for sale when the opportunity arises to set up a table somewhere since I no longer have my Etsy store.  Which, by the way, is a long story but basically Etsy was asking their sellers to do something I was not comfortable with and since they issued an ultimatum to either comply or be suspended I chose to close my store.  Someday, somehow, I’ll have a venue to sell some stuff.  Meanwhile, they sit in this cabinet and in a plastic tote.

There’s a luggage rack for ease of getting into one’s luggage and the military trunk I refinished stores old work shirts and miscellaneous stuff.

As I was editing the photos I noticed my printer cover draped over the quilt frame.  I promptly went up there and removed it and put it on my printer which has been relocated downstairs.

The quilt top was made by my great–great-grandma on my mother’s side.  My Mom had it finished years later after it was handed down to her.  I’m using it, even though it doesn’t quite fit the bed, because I have yet to finish hand-quilting the quilt I made for this room.  sigh.  Maybe this winter I can work on it.  I’m not sure what I was thinking when I thought hand-quilting a queen-size quilt was a good idea.  Phfft!

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I’m still looking for just the right thing to go over the bed.  I’ll know it when I see it!

There’s a chair in the corner that can be used to either sit down and read or put shoes on and be used as a night stand.  In the other corner is an antique wash stand with basin and pitcher.  Since there’s no bathroom upstairs I’ve got half a mind to fill it!

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We’ve had many guests come visit over the last two and a half years and this is one of the things I’ve learned… that having their own refrigerator would be handy.

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Many travel with snacks and medication that need to be refrigerated.  When we know company is coming we stock up the kitchen fridge to the gills since we live so far from town which doesn’t leave very much room for anything extra.  My solution? a mini-fridge in their room!  There’s a container of water in there for them and plenty of room to keep whatever they brought that needs to stay chilled.

We found this awesome handmade tea-cart at one of our favorite venues in town – the Peddlers Mall.  I thought it was perfect to set the fridge on to make it easy to access.

I also thought it might be nice for our guests to have access to a bit of coffee or tea whenever they like.  Maybe they want to do some reading early in the morning before heading downstairs or after everyone’s in bed and sip a cuppa java or hot tea.

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And, maybe they will want a little snack with it…

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Fresh banana bread with some soft butter!  I got this idea from my B&B employer (wink!)  I made three mini loaves this afternoon and, of course, I had to sample it and man, was it good!  There’s another loaf in the freezer for next weekend’s company.

There are some hooks to hang a few articles of clothing as well as another convenience for our guests… a charging station for all those devices we have now-a-days!

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One too many phone cords have been left behind.  Maybe now they won’t be!

And, of course, a few books to choose from while eating banana bread and sipping something hot!

I also made a sign that welcomes our guests to the farmhouse and has our internet access information on it…

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Tomorrow I will put a couple of fresh flowers in the bottle, put some half & half in the creamer and put it in the fridge and fill the canister with coffee grounds.

We LOVE to entertain so my desire is to make our guests feel welcomed and comfortable during their stay while enjoying the beauty of the farm.  We’ll see if I’ve succeeded in doing so!

 

 

 

A Good Problem

A few years back when we were planning and building out the current pantry space we thought it would certainly be plenty big enough to store all our home-canned goods.  Especially when compared to the original pantry space that was there when we moved in!

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Yikes!  This view is looking from the bathroom into the pantry space.  The door into the pantry/laundry nook/bathroom is to the left, behind the wall beside the dryer.

Many of you have already seen the before and after but for those of you just joining us, here’s a recap… there was a corner closet with some shelves and then the tall green cabinet was there as well.  We tore the corner closet out and replaced the subfloor with thicker plywood.  (The tall green cabinet was repurposed as nest boxes for the chickens!)

We salvaged some old fence boards from the neighbors burn pile and we began putting the pantry back in order.  We chose to do an L-shaped shelving system leaving plenty of space under the first shelf to store stock pots and food-grade buckets and what have-ya’s and what-for’s!

Here’s the space today…

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This view is from the doorway.  (The corner closet would be straight ahead towards the left.)  It’s jam-packed and we’re out of room.  This is definitely a good problem because that means that we’ve had a productive garden and we have the equipment we need to put it all up for winter!

What IS all that stuff you ask?  Stock pots, pressure cooker, water bath canner, a crock full of fermenting pickles, a honey extractor, laundry basket full of potatoes, empty egg cartons, pots & pans hanging, food-grade buckets for flours and sugar, a chest freezer beside the laundry basket and, of course, the canned goods.  There are also shelves beside the egg cartons not pictured.  Those are full of dry goods such as pasta, beans and baking goods.  Below those shelves are crock-pots, a food processor and an old-fashioned ice cream maker.  It’s a mess!  And, for someone like me, that likes everything to have a place and to be in its place you know it’s driving me nuts!  Yea, yea, short-drive, I know, ha!

Here’s the real problem…

I still have lots of stuff to put up for winter… apples, tomatoes, beets, corn, lima beans and pinto beans and I’m almost out of room on my shelves!

Thankfully, the onions don’t need to go in the pantry!

We actually got a decent crop of onions this year…

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The onions in the basket will be used fresh as needed.  The onions in the bowl are in the process of being chopped, put into quart size freezer bags and froze for use in cooking.

This has been an awesome year for the garden.  Just the right amount of rain and sunshine nourishing the veggies yet still allowing us to maintain the weeds.  Well, for the most part!

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We are in the process of planning to extend the pantry to the adjacent outdoor cistern ‘room’.  This means enclosing the space from the outdoors, moving plumbing to put in a door and deciding what to do with the existing cisterns that fill with water every time it rains and the concrete floor.  We’ve got ideas and are tossing them around but, it will take us a while to decide exactly what we want and how we want the space to work.  Then, there’s the funds and supplies needed to get it done.  Maybe by this time next year we’ll have a space large enough to store all our modern-day homesteading goodies.  A good problem indeed!

Till next time you’ll see me knee-deep in apples-n-such!

 

Monday Morning Chit-Chat

I reeaally need to write blog posts more often.

There’s usually something going on ’round here all the time and by the time I get around to blogging I end up cramming a bunch of topics into one post thus, the title of this post.  Ha!

I really enjoy the whole blogging process… from coming up with the topic, to the taking and editing of the photos, to the writing… it’s a creative outlet for me.  Unfortunately, it’s only ONE of MANY creative outlets for me and, as of late, it has become a more distant outlet and pastime, if you will.

I think because the whole blogging process takes me a while I tend to put it off until I have a good chunk of time.  But, since I really do enjoy blogging I am going to make a concerted effort to start incorporating it into my days more often than not!

Speaking of days, about a week ago I started working outside the home again.  WHAT?!  I know!  It’s quite an unbelievable story but let me tell you how it all came about…

As any homesteader knows, creating a self-sufficient homestead can be quite costly these days.  There’s farm equipment such as a hay rake and baler to purchase so that we can harvest our own hay from the lower field for use in the chicken coop or any other farm animals we have in the future; there’s maintenance and fuel for tractors and mowers; there’s plows and tillers to be purchased to make gardening a bit easier as we creep on up in years; a sickle mower is on our wish list so we can keep the creek banks cleared; then there’s a 100 year old farm house that is in need of external repair and siding as well as adding a half bath upstairs for the sake of convenience and renovating the downstairs bath; feed for the chickens; bee equipment; just to name a few things.

With a limited income we were starting to feel the squeeze.  We don’t enjoy being squeezed so tightly so I started praying for a part time job to work alongside my essential oil business.  I spread the word among church members and asked them to keep their ears open for any job openings preferably in a mom-n-pop type business but, in the back of mind, I really wanted to work at a local B&B that holds a special place in our hearts.

See, when we drove from Texas (where we were working at the time) to look at the farm the realtor took us and the seller to lunch at this beautiful B&B six miles down the road (probably two as the crow flies!) and it was there, standing in the parking lot, where our offer was accepted and we shook hands with the seller.  It was totally awesome!

So, I thought if I have to work outside the home to earn a little extra money to put towards some of the things we need then it would be awesome if I could work at the local B&B that, not only holds a special place in our hearts, but is also a place that I have come to respect and, in some ways, can relate to.  How’s that, you ask?  Well, the owner had a dream.  A dream where people could come to their little piece of paradise nestled in the mountains, and rest, relax and rejuvenate.  This dream took a lot of work, perseverance, and some help from family and friends to become a reality.  This dream is now a bustling business and has earned the respect and appreciation of all who enter. Dreams can come true just like owning a farm, Dream Valley Farmstead, was a dream of ours!

Well, the weeks went by and still no job.  I did not want to settle for any job so I kept praying and waited.

I revisited our budget and tightened it up some more.

To bring in a few extra dollars we faithfully set up at our local farmer’s market and continued to sell out of eggs.  We even added some extra produce we had and some of my Jewelweed & Plantain Salve.

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It was at the farmer’s market where I chatted with a fellow vendor and beekeeper the entire three hours!  We talked bees, gardening, Laughlin, Nevada, old farmhouses and tons of other topics, ha!  Towards the end of the market she asked me if, by any chance, I was looking for a part-time job.  I said YES but had no idea what she was about to say.

Come to find out, she knew the owner of the aforementioned B&B and said they were looking for help.  Wait, WHAT?!  Needless to say, I called that evening when we got home and long story short, I started the next morning!

 

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Image snagged from Snug Hollow Farm Facebook page

 

I’ve worked several days doing all sorts of tasks… from cleaning the cabins, to food prep, to plating food, to serving food, to kitchen clean-up, to ironing linens and sheets and it has been a blast!  It is non-stop work and my feet and back are not happy with me by the end of the day but my co-workers are amazing and so very patient with me as I have a lot to learn about the hospitality industry.  I guess that’s another one I can add to my varied list of jobs but talking to the guests and seeing them enjoy their experience at the B&B is so rewarding.  I feel honored and privileged for the opportunity to help keep the owners dream alive and to try and maintain the high standard of service that has been set.  They keep calling me to come in so I guess I’m doing OK!

Back at the farm, CountryBoy has harvested quite a few pinto beans…

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Aren’t they gorgeous?  I just think they are some of the prettiest beans.  I will be canning these in pint jars which can, then, be easily added to soups or chili.  For now, they simply get washed and then put in the freezer until all are harvested.

The grapes are finally turning…

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I can’t wait to have enough Concord grapes to make some jam.  Maybe next year!

The watermelons are making their appearance…

Y’all already know that we’ve been harvesting cucumbers like crazy!  So far, I’ve made and canned Bread & Butter pickles, Sweet Icicle Pickles, Cucumber Relish, and now I’ve got Deli Dills in the crock.  These will ferment for about three weeks.  We’ll see how it goes!  They already smell good – garlic, dill, pickling spices, mmmm!

If y’all are following us on Facebook then you know that I ‘saw a butterfly’ this morning (literally!) and got distracted doing other stuff (like scrubbing the porch table and grill, and hanging a whirli-gig!) all before doing what I had originally stepped outside to do.  One thing leads to another – story of my life!

Here’s that butterfly…

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sneaking a drink from the hummingbird feeder.  Speaking of hummingbirds, they were impatiently waiting for this ‘thing’ to get off their feeder, ha!

Also, before I made it to my photo destination this image caught my eye…

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It makes me want to pour some iced coffee and head outside to sit here and read a book and soak up the beautiful weather we’ve been fortunate to have.  You’ll probably find me there this afternoon!

Meanwhile, THIS is what I had originally stepped outside to get photos of, the greenhouse/porch wall…

More progress has been made!  CountryBoy used salvaged 2×4’s from an old pole shed for the studs; he stuffed insulation that was given to us in between the studs and then he covered it up with salvaged 1/4″ plywood from the old porch ceiling.  So far, I’m liking the cost of this project!

Can you believe those vertical boards were once the original interior walls?  It stills blows my mind!  If you want to read more about box-frame houses you can read about it HERE.

He was also able to straighten the wall up quite a bit both horizontally and vertically.  We feel much better about the structural integrity of that wall now and it will be nice to have another insulated wall in the house.  It should help keep the downstairs warmer during the winter which should also help us conserve the wood we burn in the fireplace.

There’s still the other half of that wall to do but now we’re dealing with the electrical panel and there may or may not be a door put in that goes into the mudroom.  The jury is still out on that but I think it’s an excellent idea making it easy to go snip a few herbs for the meal!

That’s about it for today’s chit-chat.  I don’t have to work today so I’m going to head upstairs and do some sewing – another creative outlet for me – and then look for me out on the porch!

 

 

 

 

Farm Life Musings

What I love about life on a fixer-upper farm is that no two days are alike.

I have always loved variety.  From whatever job I had outside the home to crafts the more variety involved the more I enjoyed it.

We are only half-way through the day and here are just a few things that have taken place…

CountryBoy and I worked on underpinning the front porch this morning.

We used some old, original metal roofing from the farmhouse that we found in the barn and began custom-cutting each piece to fit the uneven ground.

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We had to use the backside of the metal because there was black tar on the other side.

I love it!  It’s kinda rough looking right now but with the addition of some plants and the finishing touches on the porch it’s going to look awesome!

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The BEST part about the under-pinning?  It will keep the cats from using that area as a toilet.  Peeeeuuuu!

We’ve also come up with a solution for this wall.

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Say Hi to Creamsicle posing on the concrete step!

It’s going to take some work but at least we have a plan now.  I know.  What a mess!  But, we are going to add some structural support which means we can also add some insulation.

Tonight is our monthly business meeting and potluck at church.  I had no idea what to bring so I am making a favorite of many that attend – soup beans.  I had never heard of soup beans before moving here.  Of course, I’ve heard of bean soup, you know, with navy beans and ham or a 9 or 15 bean soup but not soup beans which is really nothing but pinto beans ’round here.  I found a recipe online from an Eastern Kentucky gal so it oughta be pretty close to the way the locals make it.  At least I hope it is!  (Trying to get an actual recipe from anyone, phhhttt!  It’s a pinch of this or some of that but an actual recipe?  Fah-getta ’bout it!)

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The secret ingredient?  Bacon grease!  And, thankfully, a farm kitchen always has a jar of bacon grease!

Later on I’ll make some cornbread to go with it and maybe even some sugar cookies.  I love having a well-stocked pantry for occasions like this especially since town is thirty minutes away.  (Just ask my brother about that, ha!)

I checked on my bees since I knew they would need some water.

There was lots of action in and out of the entrance.

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I tried to get a shot of the bees coming back with huge pollen sacks on their legs but they were too fast and my camera is having issues.  Seeing those bees so active and bringing the pollen back is a good sign of a healthy and productive hive.  Maybe I’ll get a bit of honey this year!

While I was checking on the bees I took in the beauty of the blooming irises.

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These are near one of the garden entrances by the grapevine arbor.

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The purple and yellow irises are so pretty together.

Speaking of grapes, I’m hoping for a few clusters this year.

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One of the grapevines shows a lot of promise with lots of teeny tiny grape clusters on it.  The second grapevine has a few but not near as many as this one.

I am purposefully walking to the mailbox each day for a bit of exercise.  (If you read my last post then you know how much I loathe exercise, ha!)  On my way back, I stopped at the barn to check on the girls’ egg-laying progress and FuzzyFoot posed for the camera so I obliged!

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Such a handsome and good rooster!  And, it looks like we’ll have a dozen or more eggs today.

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My days can quickly fill up with all things farm-related but I am conscientiously making time in the afternoons and/or evenings to work on business ventures such as my Etsy shop and oily care packages for my Young Living team members.

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Each day is a different scenario, a different set of tasks but all too soon the day is gone and it’s time to lock the chickens up for the night.

Life on the farm.  I love it!

Projects Galore

OK, maybe not galore but we did manage to get quite a few projects done in the past two weeks.

But first, I want to share with you this morning’s foggy sunrise over the mountain…

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It was magical!

I can’t believe today is the last day of September.  This year has really flown by.  Soon, we will be buried under quilts, stoking the fire, eating the fruits of our labor and relaxing.  I, myself, am also looking forward to doing some sewing and quilting.  My sweet LizzieBelle is already buried under her blanket…

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So cute!

But, back to the past two weeks…  after discovering that our chickens were still not safe even in the fenced in paddock we decided to close off a portion of the paddock and make a chicken run directly off the barn.

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We purchase 150 feet of chicken wire, re-used some metal fence posts from around the farm and got to work.

After a long days’ work we had two sides done.

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Still to do was add the chicken wire to the outside of the fence by the driveway but, at least, they were safe from predators stalking them from the mountain side of the paddock.

While we were purchasing the chicken wire I, of course, had to check out the clearance aisle where I found some lovely perennials marked down to $3.  Score!  So, we took a break from the chicken run to work on some curb appeal.

Our driveway actually ends at the side of the house.  There were a few Hostas and some wild Lemon Balm along the front of the porch and nothing along the back of the house where we and everyone else enters the house.

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I decided to move two of the Hostas, divide them and plant them along the back of the house from the corner of the porch to the door.

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Hopefully, they will fill out again but we’re liking where they are now.

CountryBoy tilled the ground at the far corner of the porch and then I planted my clearance plants.  He added some stones for me to help keep the weeds down.

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It’s easy to mow around and helps show off the flowers.

All of my lovely clearance plants!

Once that project was over we got back to work on finishing up the chicken run.  The girls, and Fuzzy Foot the rooster, are happy and we feel good again about their safety.

The next project was installing a temporary wall to close off the bathroom from the laundry nook and pantry.

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I say temporary because, one day, we have plans to renovate the bathroom after we get a half bath put in upstairs.  We’re not sure when that will happen so in the meantime we decided that we needed to go ahead and close off and separate the bathroom from the pantry.

Continuing the reclaimed fence boards we used in the pantry CountryBoy got to work on sanding the remaining boards down, putting up 2×4’s and cutting the boards to size to create the wall.

He also relocated the door into the pantry/laundry nook/bathroom and used it as the bathroom door.

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SO much better!

Since the wall is temporary I simply tucked the metal rack we’ve been using for towel storage in the wall alcove but removed several shelves to accommodate the wall mounted gas heater.  CountryBoy added some small shelves by the tub/shower for a little bit of extra storage space.

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I can’t tell you how nice it is to NOT see the bathroom when I walk into the pantry for something or when I’m doing laundry.  It’s the little things, haha!

Yesterday, while CountryBoy was re-working our winter dining table (it sits directly across from the wood burning stove!) I got to work on the cover for the crib-bench in the living room.

After mustering up the courage to cut the fabric, I washed it and finished cutting out the pieces that I needed.  If there’s one thing that will make me procrastinate on starting a sewing project is the cutting of the fabric.  You know, that whole fear of messing it up and then what do I do?!  Once that’s done, it’s a piece of cake!

I didn’t quite think the whole thing through when I started but it went together fairly easy and I’m pleased with how it turned out.

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I made it like a pillowcase with snaps on the one end so that it can be removed if it needs to be washed.

Once CountryBoy was finished stiffening up and sanding down the winter dining table I did a final sand and put a couple of coats of polyurethane on it.

I love how the polyurethane brings out the grain of the wood.

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CountryBoy made this table last year out of boards that were salvaged from right here on the farm.

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So pretty and ready for winter!

I’ve also been removing Lavender seeds and flowers from a box of Lavender that we were gifted with as well as working on the ever-present need to get organized and find permanent homes for everything.  Happily, I am finding those permanent homes and feeling a bit more settled in.

I’m sure I’ve missed something else that we’ve done over the past two weeks but those projects were the bigger ones.  Which one was your favorite?

Some Farmhouse Kitchen History & Seed Germination Test

After moving into the farmhouse we decided, rather quickly, to completely gut the kitchen.  Had we known that in a few weeks we would have a massive snow storm we might’ve considered waiting a bit but, that’s neither here nor there.  We gutted it clear to the exterior wall exposing the house to some very chilly temperatures.

During the demo process we removed the drywall and discovered layer upon layer of wallpaper and even some newspaper covering the rough cut wood walls.

We saved a section of them knowing we wanted to display them somehow.

When I was in Florida back in January I had purchased a shadowbox that was 50% off and it has been taking up floor space in the pantry ever since.

The weather today is cold with snow flurries off and on.  Not a good day to be working outdoors if one doesn’t have to.  So, it seemed like a good day to finally do something with the ancient wallpaper.

CountryBoy took on this project and enjoyed sifting through the layers and creating the display.

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Fourteen layers!  The newest is on the left with the oldest, the newsprint, on the right.  He even used the original tacks which were used to hang the wallpaper.  (Yes, we saved a bunch of those, too!)

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Pretty cool!

I’m happy we kept it and now some of the history of the farmhouse kitchen is on display.

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A couple of weeks ago I started a seed germination test on beefsteak & roma tomatoes, green peppers and jalapeno seeds.

The green pepper seeds did nothing and appeared to be molding up so I tossed them and all the seeds as well.  Who knows how old they were.  They were some I had saved a few years back, so, not a huge loss but disappointing nonetheless.  I started another germination test using some seeds I saved a few weeks ago from a pepper I used.  We’ll see how they do and if nothing then I’ll buy a pack of seeds.

The jalapeno seeds also did nothing but they were not moldy so I will let them go a bit longer.  We’ve not had very many sunny days so that may be part of the germination problem.

Both the beefsteak and roma tomato seeds did well with 7 out of 10 seeds sprouting with nice roots.

I went ahead and planted all of them since the remaining seeds appeared to have a root starting to emerge from the seed.  If those seeds end up sprouting then I will have a germination rate of 100% of the tomato seeds.  Currently, the germination rate is 70% which is pretty good.  The beefsteak seeds were purchased last year and the roma’s are from seeds I saved and are, at least, over a year old so I’m happy they did so well.  If the rate remains at 70% I will simply start a few extra seeds to make up for the ones that may not germinate.

CountryBoy saw where someone had used toilet paper tubes to start their seeds in then you simply put the tube in the ground when ready.  Sounds easy enough so we’ve been saving them.

I put ten tubes each in two shoebox size plastic totes, added seed starter soil and placed the tiny sprouts one per tube.

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I think they’re happy to be out of the cramped quarters of the paper towel and baggy!

Now if we could get some sunshiny days to help these guys along.

Have you started any seeds yet?  Are you planning on it?  If so, what are your garden plans this year?  I’d love to hear about it!

Signs of Spring

I wandered around the farm the other day with my camera in hand.

I saw a few signs that Spring is on its way.  Yay!

The daylilies are beginning to peak through the dirt…

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The chickens have done a great job of clearing away all the weeds which saved me a LOT work!  Thank you girls :).

I don’t remember what these are but they are shooting up quickly…

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It amazes me that these plants are so hardy even under feet of snow.  While I was  walking around that day there was still a bit of snow in front of barn…

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It is all gone now but the forecast, as of today, is calling for snow showers on Thursday.  oh boy!  Thankfully, the snow won’t bother what’s already coming up.  whew!

Another sign of Spring is our driveway; or lack thereof …

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The deterioration started last Spring when we received copious amounts of rain and the force of the water coming down off the mountains started washing out the rocks.  Then with each rain then the melting of all the snow it has just continued to deteriorate and here we are almost into Spring again.  It’s hard to tell from the photo but there are some spots where it has eroded a foot or more.

Before spending any money  to fix the driveway we need to address the runoff of the mountain issue otherwise any monies spent would be washed away into the creek.  We got an estimate to have a pond dug at the base of the hill beside the barn, culverts placed where necessary and the driveway fixed but, truth be told, it was way more than we can afford.

I have entered the farm into a contest with Hobby Farm magazine and BobCat where the winner will receive a week’s worth of whatever needs done using BobCat equipment and a crew.  I focused on our need to solve the runoff issue for not only the driveway but also the barn where water goes as well making four of the stalls unusable in rainy season.  Needless to say, I am praying hard that we win!  I’d love it if you’d send up a prayer or two also :).  I think the winner will be chosen sometime in April or May.

If we don’t win, well… I don’t know; we’ll figure something out.

Last Friday and Saturday were beautiful so we took advantage of it and headed outdoors.  More progress was made in and around the chicken coop.

We straightened up a little more and salvaged what wood we could by cutting off rotten ends.

Since our budget is slim to none on the coop redo we are using what’s already in and around the farm.  One such item we were reusing were the roosts for inside the coop.  I liked the poles of the pole shed and wanted to use them for the roosts.  They were well-worn tree limbs or small trees and I thought they would be perfect!  The thickness of them were good where the girls could still wrap their feet around it yet big enough so that their feet would be mostly, if not completely, covered when they hunker down therefore helping to keep their feet warm during the cold, winter months.  I also really like the look of them :).

But, in order to use them we had to get rid of the pole shed.

After we relocated everything from underneath and around the pole shed CountryBoy made quick work of it by simply removing the side braces then pushing it over.  That’s how rotten most of the poles were.

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It looks so different now!

We still have to remove the shingles and salvage what wood we can but that thin white line on the ground is the roof.

Now we had some wood to make new roosts for the girls.

In our efforts to create an efficient coop CountryBoy wanted to relocate the roosts.  Here’s where we originally put them…

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and now they’re over here…

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This arrangement works much better making the coop roomier and giving the girls more room to jump/fly down from the roosts.

We also made it wider to accommodate the chicks we are getting in April.

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This should be sufficient to accommodate our future flock of 26 comfortably.

Here are the girls the first night after the roost relocation…

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I think they like them!  Oh, and aren’t the pole shed poles perfect for roosts?!

Still to do in the coop are adding more nest boxes and building the grow-out coop.  Bit by bit.

The days the weather has not been conducive to working outdoors I have spent some of my time making these cute little card wallets…

I have enjoyed spending time in my sewing room this winter because before long I won’t have the time or the energy to do much sewing once the ground warms up and it’s time to get the gardens going.  Then my days will be filled with mowing, weeding, harvesting and preserving.  To everything there is a season so I am making the most of winter :).

I’m also hoping to be able to open up my Etsy shop again or maybe create my own site therefore cutting out the middle man.  We’ll see.  All in time.  Bit by bit!

Rustic Pantry & Laundry Nook Reveal

At the beginning of September we decided to tackle a portion of the current bathroom, laundry room and wasted space room.

We have one indoor bathroom (and an outhouse!) but part of that bathroom included the washer & dryer and a good size space with a corner closet.  Wasted space if you ask me.

And the corner closet?  I hated it.  I could never figure out how to arrange stuff in there where whatever ended up in the back corner of the closet wouldn’t be swallowed up and forgotten.  It was also scary to me and I wanted it gone.

I wanted to convert the wasted space into a pantry.  A place where we could store all the stuff we’ve canned that was sitting on the floor in the dining room, on a cabinet we tore out of the old kitchen, on a spare table, and wherever else we could find room for the jars.

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So, we decided to go for it and tackle that room (with the exception of the bathroom) so that we could have our dining room back.

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As with any project we started it thinking it would be a fairly simple job.  Pshaw!  You would think we would know better by now.  Ha!

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Anyhow, this is what we started with…

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A bouncy floor that we had to cut into last winter to repair busted pipes and wrap heat tape around.

A wall that we had to cut into to also repair busted water pipes.

And, of course, the corner closet.

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Bye, bye closet!

CountryBoy pulled all the old 1/2 inch plywood flooring up and replaced it with 3/4 inch plywood in the soon-to-be pantry and laundry nook areas.

Much sturdier to walk on now.

Then he spent many hours sanding some old fence boards he salvaged from the neighbors burn pile (with permission, of course) and started covering up the stained and holy drywall.

He covered up the ceiling, hung a new light fixture, put new light switches and outlets in, made and installed shelves, and we both tackled the floor which is peel and stick vinyl.

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I have to say, it looks amazing!  What a transformation of a wasted space into a beautifully rustic and useful space to showcase all our homegrown goodies!

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Yum!

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Pretty and practical.

While we were working in there we spruced up the laundry nook.  Here’s the before…

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The shelf was too high for me to reach; there was a hole to the left of the washer where we had to, you guessed it, repair busted water pipes; and there were ‘lips’ on the side walls leaving gaps between the washer & dryer and the wall.  I wanted it flush.

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So, CountryBoy removed the ‘lips’, extended the wall by the washer which will be part of the future enclosed bathroom wall, added the rustic fence boards and made and installed a shelf just above the washer and dryer for me.

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We found an antique washboard and a Laundry sign to finish off the Rustic Laundry Nook.

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I love it!  I am, actually, one of those weirdos that enjoys doing laundry and this nook makes me want to do a load every day but we just don’t have enough laundry for that, ha!

Just about my only contribution to these spaces, besides design ideas, were helping to carry the 3/4 inch plywood, ‘stocking’ the pantry, helping with the vinyl floor and making the curtains.

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I used pieces of leftover sheer curtains from when I hemmed our bedroom curtains and some burlap that I had.

I originally planned on a valance type curtain for the top of the window but CountryBoy had a better idea of a café style curtain to help with privacy and so he could still look out the window.

So, I added another scrap piece of curtain to the bottom of the burlap to make them longer and into the café style curtain.  I like the way they turned out and I like his idea!

Eventually we will close off the bathroom from these two areas but, for now, 2/3rds of this space has had an amazing transformation.  I’m a happy girl!  And, so very, very thankful to have a handy husband!

Till next time friends 🙂

Laundry Nook & Sewing Room Progress

I am thrilled to be able to tell y’all that some major progress has been made in the laundry nook and my sewing room.

In fact, I am thrilled to say that the laundry nook is D-O-N-E.  Yay!!!!!

But, first, let me refresh your memories as to what we started with…

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Yikes!

The shelf was too high for me to reach so the detergent sat on the dryer so I could easily get to it.

A portion of the wall was removed last winter when our pipes kept freezing and remained that way until we tackled this area.

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We replaced the dryer that came with the house after we thought it wasn’t working shortly after moving in.  Come to find out, the dryer vent was clogged.  oops!

The washing machine was actually in need of replacing but we kept it for a while until we could afford to get a new one.  And, one that matches the new dryer, yay!

It was delivered this morning and I’ve already done a load of wash.  It works good!  And, looks good!

Here’s my new laundry nook…

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Rustic meets modern!

CountryBoy extended the wall beside the washer which, eventually, will become part of the enclosed bathroom, installed the reclaimed wood on the walls, mounted a shelf that I can reach, replaced an outlet and cover plate and hung an expandable peg rack.

There are only two more things that I’d like to find for the nook… some sort of ‘Laundry’ sign and an old washboard.  I might have to make the sign if I can’t find the right one but I think those two items will make it complete without cluttering it up.

The other room that saw some progress today was my sewing room.

Several months ago, CountryBoy and I painted the room then I arranged my sewing stuff so I could do some sewing when the need and/or time arose knowing it was a temporary arrangement until we tackled that room.

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Originally, I brought a metal shelf unit up there to store my fabric on.  It worked but did not look very good.

During the pantry/laundry room renovation I decided that the white cabinet where I was storing the towels would make a good storage piece for my fabric and yarn stash.  So, I brought the metal shelf unit back down and put the towels on it and we moved the white cabinet upstairs this morning.

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Then, I rearranged again and while CountryBoy was helping a neighbor cut some wood I filled the cabinet with fabric and yarn.

It’s looking better but there’s still much to do up there like finding or building a cutting table and more storage.  That will be down the line but, for now, it’s a nice space to do some sewing while the laundry is going!

Bit by bit.

Till next time friends 🙂