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:

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

"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.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

"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!

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

"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.  

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

"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.

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!
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