Monday, January 25, 2016

Windows, Windows, Windows

When we first saw the house, I loved the window treatments in the living room.  They went with the P.O.'s antiques.  (There's our Hunter, does time fly!)  There are four windows in this living room...not all the same size and not evenly placed or centered.  An issue not to be discussed in today's blogging! The P.O. left the valances and shades for me - the shades lasted a few months.  

Shades and I don't get along.  I can't seem to operate them with any degree of consistency - resulting in a lot of four letter words late at night and early in the morning.  So, rather quickly, the shades were replaced by wood blinds.  

Shortly after that, the P.O. realized those curtains didn't work in her new home so brought them back to me. They didn't work with the furniture I had at that point, so into the linen closet they went until I could fit them in.

In 2006, we tackled the room after having electrical and structural issues worked out.  And in 2007, we got new furniture that suited the age of the house more than our original over-stuffed couches did and I was able to finally use the curtains. 

When the Christmas Decorations came down this year, so did the curtains.  The valances were put away a few years ago.  (That's our Hunter with that cup of coffee on Christmas morning. Wow, does time fly!)

I had recently realized how dark the living room was what with the curtains covering part of the windows (spending four days on a couch will open your eyes to a lot of things!) and decided that it was time to hang those curtains differently.  The new plan was to hang them off to the side of the windows to avoid blocking light during the day but still allowing me to draw them at night for privacy.  I'm ready to get rid of those blinds; living in a farmhouse surrounded by fields means lots and lots of cleaning blinds.  I needed some pretty rods, so after painting the room, David and bought those pretty rods as my birthday gift.  

And we put them up; and we hung those curtains.  And we promptly took them back down.   Four windows of color promptly took over the room; all you saw was those furniture, no trim work, nada.  Just - those - curtains!  So down they came.

I ran upstairs and grabbed the Sheers from the Guest Room and hung them up in one window to verify what I thought I needed to do.  Yep, I needed to go with a curtain that is going to disappear into the walls.

This photo is with the blinds pulled up allowing light to spill into the room and nothing in the way of the view...lovely, but.... it looks awfully nice with the blinds down too.  So, now I have to decide if I really, really want to get rid of those much does the work of keeping them clean really bother me?  I'll let you know in a future post; I think it will depend upon whether I end up with some sheers or with actual curtains.

David swears I knew all along that changing the room color was going to mean new window treatments...but honestly, if I hung those curtains the old way, I think they'd still work but I'd be giving up the light that hanging them off the windows allows into the room.  

Good thing he wants more light in the room as well... So it's off to choose curtains; in the meantime, this is the state of our living room windows...

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Through the Storm

One of the ways I stayed sane during the two years of storm recovery was to photo journal it all.  Just after the barn was raised, I posted this to share with my friends and family through FB/youtube.  

Since then, a few more things changed outside...namely Huffy Got Anther Coop to share with her new friend Gracie....

David modeled it after the old barn you saw in the video above; the "Dutch" style door allows the chickens to come and go as they please during the day while keeping four Labs from going in and stealing their food and water supplies..  These photos show it in the building stage; it since has been sealed with trim pieces and we've begun to add half walls (recycling old four foot fence panels) to the pen area for wind and predator protection.  

I love where the new coop stands; just outside of the Gazebo where we can hear the clucking of the hens and where they feel part of the goings on....!  After all,what with sleeping in the house at night for a full year and blending in the dog pack during the day while she was the lone hen on the place, Huffy is more of a pet than anything else by this point.

Come spring, we'll bring in new hens to up our egg production.  Huffy Puffy is an old girl now and with Gracie nearing 5 we'll be lucky to get enough eggs for one of the three folks living here.  Now that we are back to some semblance of a normal life, it is time to rebuild the flock.  

Friday, January 22, 2016

The story of a room...

In 1909, it was the front porch.

In the 1940's, it became the side porch when the new road was put in by the county; a new much larger and grander front porch replaced it.

In the 1960's, it was enclosed to be used as a bedroom for the elderly farmer because he could no longer climb the stairs to the bedrooms upstairs.

In the 1990's, the grand nephew of that old farmer sheet rocked over the old siding and used it as a T.V. Room.

(Photo:  December 2004  - That's our Hunter who was only 7 on the day this photo was taken. We had returned to take measurements and so on after our contract had been accepted).

In 2004, it became my office space.  That flooring was the original wood flooring of that old front porch.  There was nothing between it and the ground below.  During the winter months, I would have boots and gloves on to stay warm!  I could hardly wait to get to work on this room.

In 2010, we finally tackled this room.  David raised the floor to the same height as the rest of the downstairs rooms and insulated it.  We removed the sheet rock that had covered the original siding and the window you see in this photo.


It seemed that everyone loved this room as much as I did.  That old chair in the corner would be sought out by visitors over and over again.  Always my favorite room in the house, it's new warmth attracted just about everyone.

In 2015, I realized it was time for new colors throughout the house; the custom color of the trim and mustard of the walls had grown tired....and so I searched Pinterest for color ideas....and stumbled upon what I now think is a timeless color for our trim...Benjamin Moore's Iron Mountain!


We began with wisely hiring our son-in-law to paint the green ceiling (something I had wanted to do since 2004 but had not wanted to tackle on my own) took him about 12 hours altogether to get it ready for the final coat of paint; the dark color had hidden all the gaps in the 100 plus year old bead board ceiling.  After painstakingly putting up that first coat, we came to the realization that he had to caulk that thing...David ended up putting the final coat of paint up on day 4 of the job. The walls and the ceiling are now Benjamin Moore's Revere Pewter.

I am currently loading the room and will add more photos when I'm finished with that job...!  Out with the old and in with the new....a perfect start to a new year!


A Fresh New Outlook....

For as long as I can remember I've left Christmas Trees and decorations up until New Years Day.  But not this year -  I was oh so ready to have it all down and packed away until next year.  I had big plans for the new year that I was in a hurry to begin.

You might remember that in May of 2013 we were hit with an F1 tornado that destroyed all our outbuildings.  During the recovery process, we had to make some major changes to ingress/egress due to the death of our Farmer across the street.  All of these changes meant that the total time from destruction to recovery was (a very long) 2 years and 2 months.  Our new "barn" went up the end of June 2015.
Once that barn was built, there were (and are) a few more things that needed doing; we brought in more rock for the new driveway and repaired the last of the damaged fencing that had been being held up by mature Jasmine, but we took our time with these things for the remainder of the Summer.  When Fall rolled around, we pretty much took a vacation from all the work of the past 2 plus years.  And then, right before Christmas, I was hit with a vertigo attack that meant I spent four days lying on the couch and looking at the neglected house. 

The Tornado did damage the house and most of the repairs were taken care of by the Insurance company in the months that followed; but a house that is above grade will show additional damage as time goes on.  Not to mention that 14 months after the tornado, we were hit head on by straight line winds estimated at about 120 mph taking down another of our ancient trees! Anyway, this is what had happened inside; any vulnerable spots in mudding and sheetrock began to show cracks; baseboards shifted and lost their caulking as the house settled back in after being buffeted by major winds twice in less than 2 years.  

Those four days, I was staring at all of that damage that I had been ignoring (deliberately - I had rearranged wall hangings to hide the damage until it could be tackled!) until the outside chaos was back under control. So, the Christmas decorations were away only three days after the celebration!  And I was at the paint store on January 2nd!  And as of today, two downstairs rooms have been mudded, sanded, caulked, mudded and sanded and caulked again and finally painted in brand new wonderful colors!  

And of course, new colors means that old colors may not work any what to do? Grab that crochet hook and some yarn and make it work!
These old lanterns used to belong to my late Mother In Law.  She also lived in a 100 plus year old house where power outages were frequent; they sat in a cabinet built by my Father In Law for their kitchen, so despite the fact that their green base no longer matches my color scheme, I wanted to keep them part of the decor.

I simply crocheted a "jacket" by starting with a single crocheted circle; after that circle was the right size to cover the bottom,  I stopped doing rounds and began doing rows -  increasing and decreasing rows as needed while leaving a side open to use a "string" to draw it tight and tie a bow at the back of the lantern when completed.  I set the lantern on the  table in front of me and continued to place the growing jacket on it to keep the fit snug.  

Anyway, it was time for a fresh new outlook on life and what better way to start off a new year than with freshly painted walls and trim...especially if I was going to have to do all that mudding and sanding and mudding and sanding anyway!  More photos to come. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

I'm back AND there was an egg in that coop!

It's been a few days since the last posting and since Huffy got her new coop. 
I just got internet back.
After four days.
I lost count of how many times I went to check the weather (had to figure out which channel was the weather channel on the TV); at least a dozen times I went to go on Pinterest to gather ideas for our new landscaping (had to pull out old Southern and Country Living magazines instead); and I shot a lot of photos with my camera to share on Facebook or here and realized I couldn't send or upload them.
I knew I was addicted to being connected but I really didn't realize just how much until I was forced to live my life without that connection.  I have no issue while camping or cruising with being cut off from doing the things I usually do, but wow, was this an eye opener.  Anyway, life went on…
Huffy spent her first few nights in her new coop and finally today, I gathered my first egg from a

coop since the storm totally disrupted our lives.  What a good feeling that was.  For almost a year now, unless we knew that Huffy had just laid an egg we would find somewhere in the yard, we didn't eat it.  

We know all about the "float" testing but even when we did that, we just couldn't bring ourselves to eat an egg unless we knew it was freshly laid.  Don't know why we are that way, but we are.  Can't fight it.  Our dogs have quite beautiful coats from all the eggs they've been either finding outside or have been getting in their meals.  Again, what a good feeling it was to get that egg this morning..although I'm sure the dogs will miss their eggs…

Tomorrow night, we will be bringing home a hen from some friends of ours who are willing to share one of their girls so that Huffy will no longer be alone.  I struggled with what to do about her loneliness for a very long time…with the chaos we have lived with I just couldn't make a decision until recently.  

After doing some research about all the different ways to bring in new girls, I realized that I wasn't up for raising chicks at the moment (I've just gotten Huffy out of our mudroom and couldn't bear the thought of dealing with the mess of chicks for the next 8 weeks).  

Bringing in fertilized eggs for her to brood was not a surefire way to go either since a) she might refuse to brood and we'd have to incubate them ourselves - something we are not set up to do and b)  up to 50% of the clutch would likely be roosters and I don't want to deal with rehoming or culling roosters again any time soon.

Bringing in more than one hen could lead to Huffy being the low hen in the future pecking order and since she's my girl that ain't happening!  Which left us two choices - allow Huffy to lead out her life as a lone chicken in that coop or bring in a single hen who would bond with her out of her own loneliness.  This option will apparently allow us to build our flock later because these two would always have that bond limiting the chance that any other group of hens would pick on them (there is safety in numbers in the chicken pecking order!). 

Anyway, the idea is to get through this year with just the two girls and then next year bring in some chicks and have a group of hens again…and maybe adopt a rooster.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Huffy Puffy Gets a Coop

Although our Little Roo, Hecky Pecky and Huffy Puffy all survived the barn coming down on top of their coop in the tornado, only Huffy remains on the "farm" today.  The sole survivor of two nights of carnage by a dog someone dropped off to starve, she is starting to show signs not only that she is ready to sleep outside again but also of loneliness. 

Huffy Puffy will have a coop to sleep in tonight or tomorrow.  She's been sleeping in the mudroom in a puppy kennel since last June.   In five years, she has never brooded but last week we discovered her brooding behind the a/c unit.

I hate to admit it but I will miss seeing her walk in the back door at 6:30 each night and go straight into the kennel where her food and water bowels waited.  I will miss seeing her following the dogs and cats around the back yard getting her companionship from them.  I will not however miss the daily pulling and pushing to get that puppy kennel (designed for a lab puppy so not a teeny little kennel) out the back door and down the steps and off the patio for cleaning.

Now we have to decide how to go about bringing her some companions; our choices are a) bring in little chicks to raise in the mudroom for about 6 weeks or b) ask a friend with an abundance of hens to provide us with two or three of them and go through a week or two of introduction so that they don't pick on her.  

Any chicken folk out there with advice?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

An English Garden….?

One of my favorite memories is of being sent out to the garden that grew along the privacy fence of my English Grandparents yard to pick "new potatoes and mint" for dinner; boiled with salt and the mint,  and then eaten with Salad Cream, those potatoes were something I long for even today and try every so often to recreate.  

My grandparents left the narrow middle of their "yard" for sitting and planted beds along the three sides of the fencing; along with the potatoes and mint and beans, they also had flowers of every color under the sun spilling out and into the pathways.  Coming from acres of land here in the US, I was always amazed at what my grandparents (and Grand Aunts and Uncles as well) could grow in their small back yard.

The new layout of our back end will leave me with a small area to landscape and garden.  While I would love to recreate my grandparent's garden  along the fences of my back yard, there are things that I would have to contend with that my grandparents did not.  Several types of venomous snakes common to our area come to mind first, followed quickly by the fact that there is no neighbor on the other side of the fence taking time to make sure that weeds don't overtake their garden first and mine second!

So, there will be no overflowing combination veggie and flower fence gardening for me.  Instead, I continue to plant flowering jasmine to cover my fences and put fern and bulbs in the beds below them.  The fern grows so thick that it eventually grows on both sides of the fence choking out weeks that grow profusely in the irrigation ditches that surround us.  And every now and then those bulbs will poke up and through with a beautiful amaryllis or lily….but I won't have to reach into an overgrown garden to grab a veggie or herb and worry whether a snake has taken a nap wrapped around my potato…and I'll gaze at Florida Rose Bushes that need little more care than a cutting back every other year or so.

Instead I will plant Rosemary bushes all around the Gazebo and use fast spreading border grass as a ground cover between those plants…and build a rock garden with mint that will spread out to an area where for ten years grass has failed to grow….I'll grow my tomatoes and peppers and everything else in containers that alternate with the rose bushes and bring to mind those days of veggies and flowers all growing together…

I've given nods of acknowledgement to certain things that I loved about those English gardens; I used boxwood to line part of the patio path that leads to the Gazebo and I'm thinking about putting them in the little garden area that juts off the back door of the house.  It used to be used as an herb garden for old Mrs. B I believe but I've had no luck with herbs there…

Will the end result resemble the English gardens I remember from my childhood?  It's doubtful, but as long I can walk out my back door and down a garden path to pick a tomato or a pepper or cut a sprig of rosemary or mint, I'll be able to remember those summers with my grandparent's….and I can be content with that!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Planting a Magnolia Tree….

One of David's co-workers overheard him talking to another about how time consuming the recovery process has been; he then said "the tornado is over, get over it".  You know that old saying "ignorance is bliss"?  That person had not been down here to see the damage; he had never been through a tornado before…his ignorance allowed him to say that to David and allowed him to walk away afterwards without realizing that David stood there biting his tongue. 

We are heading rapidly towards the one year anniversary of the storm that turned our little world upside down; although the "to do" list is a lot smaller than it used to be it is still somewhat overwhelming to us.  

I've written about how the exhilaration of using the Bobcat the first time wasn't experienced the second time we rented it.  That kind of let down is felt quite often around here.  You see, we will spend a three day weekend really pushing through and getting an almost unbelievable amount of work done only to sit down that night or the next morning looking it all over and realize how much more there is to do. 

The driveway is in - three truckloads of road grade dirt have been delivered and spread BUT, we have yet to build the front gate, the bulkhead, complete breaking up the slab, AND still have gravel rock to purchase and spread.  

The shed is moved to its temporarily permanent place (I know…I know…) BUT, we still have to replace that with a new building because it is barely holding together - a tarp is covering the gaping hole in it's roof for goodness sake. 

We won't be finished with all of it by May 4th.  There just isn't time to get it all done.  But at least we now can see the finished product taking real shape.  

And, there is now a Magnolia tree standing where there used to be a Holly tree.  Progress.


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