Category Archives: Our Home

“Chook, chook, chook, chook, chook

Good Morning, Mrs. Hen, How many chickens have you got? Madam, I’ve got ten.  Four of them are yellow, and four of them are brown and two of them are speckled red, the nicest in the town.” ~Nursery Rhyme, a favorite with a certain little someone just now.

The coop is complete and now home to eight happy hens (though we are not sure that all of them are hens, two are growing decidedly rooster-ish): Dilly, Captain, Miss Pecks-a-Lot, Monty, Juliette, Buffy, Alys and Vita.  The last two being named by me after two of my favorite gardeners.

Elijah designed the coop and Steve, Iain and Elijah built it.  My sole contribution was to interrupt them when they were making excellent progress to drastically slow them down by requesting they cut scallops in that trim piece, which looked far more charming in my head and far less like the awning of an ice cream shop.  Do I redeem myself at all by relaying that since these pictures we’ve added shutters and I ripped all of the wood for them?  Probably not.

I’m quite enjoying keeping chickens, with the notable exceptions of the pooping on my front steps and eating of my hostas.










A Giant 10th Birthday Post

When I promised extra posting this week, I did not anticipate the wind storm that took out our internet access.  Sorry about that!

Sweater first? “Reversible Revelation” in Wool of the Andes Superwash, color: “Brass Heather”.  As the name implies, it is, in fact, reversible.  There is no right side.  Each has it’s own distinctive look:

This seemed like an excellent idea for a kid who often can’t be bothered with paying attention to what way his clothes go on.  At least for my benefit anyway, since he doesn’t really care if it’s inside out or not.  Hey, he’ll happily walk around wearing just one shoe, while I look on cringing.

The waitress at the college town, hipster, juice bar made a fuss about his “fashionable” ensemble; mama-made pants and sweater, topped with his spiffy hand-me-down brown cord blazer.  Dapper.

Food: This year we decorated gingerbread houses, instead of his usual gingerbread men. Autoimmune Friendly Gingerbread with Creamy Maple Frosting, made fancy with dried fruit and what we call “Yam Creamies”, which I’ll talk more about some other time.  We’re still on the intro diet and not supposed to be consuming sweets, but I made an exception for his birthday (and ended up with several people up half the night with belly aches as a consequence.  such is life.)

And now, the big, top secret project!  It pretty much all worked out as planned. In under three hours, while he was at said juice bar, followed by the music shop with my dad, this space…

became this…

The only part that didn’t quite work out was the light fixture.  I accidentally ordered a plug-in fixture when I meant to get one to wire in.  There are no outlets in that hallway.  But otherwise, somewhat miraculously, everything came together exactly as I had planned.

Both a space to work and create as well as a place to read and relax, plus extra storage besides, was asking a lot out of this petite 38″ x 66″ space.  The window seat has a hinged lid, with lots of storage space underneath, to help lighten the load in Iain’s attic bedroom (hence the boxes in the “before” photo).  I tried to work with what we had as much as possible.  The valence-hung on a rod my neighbor was getting rid of- and the divider curtain were both made from fabric I had on hand.  One of the pillow covers was fashioned from an old work shirt of Steve’s.  My sister painted those sweet pandas several years ago.  I’ve just been waiting for the right place to hang them in this house.  I love how the painting perfectly picks up the colors from all the pillows.  I’m ashamed to say it was an afterthought that just happened to work out brilliantly.

We managed to frame the window seat and build the stool with scraps of lumber from the basement.  We adjusted Ana White’s X-Bench plans to fit the space and finished it with some leftover General Finishes Milk Paint in “Persian Blue”.  It tucks all the way under the $20 cleaned up Craig’s List desk to save space.  A couple of old items refreshed by mingling with a few new accessories and just like that, he has his very own cozy nook crafted out of an area that was previously unused space.  Pretty nifty, that!


Closet Anatomy

Why yes, I do hang my Edwardian nightie up in my closet.  I want to get a hook to hang that empty bag on as well.  I rearranged things so that the line of clothing slants upward to the right, as per Konmarie, which felt really backwards and wrong at first, but now I think I like it.  There is a shelf running across the top, way up out of my reach, holding a small office-sized box of clothes and 4 pairs of shoes I can’t currently wear, but am not ready to part with.  I laid out my favorite necklace to remind myself to wear it more often.

I sorted through all my clothing, from all over the house and threw away a kitchen trash bag worth of items that weren’t fit to give to people with no clothes.  Eye opening.  And I don’t just mean a little stained.  I mean I would be at risk of being arrested for indecency, were I to wear them in public.  At home I would try to layer them so that the holes wouldn’t line up.  I donated a paper bag worth of clothing that never fit or was from another lifetime- one that has nothing to do with my current reality- to charity.  I did not only keep items that I love, as much as I relish the idea of an entire wardrobe composed of outfits I adore.  I’m too pragmatic for that.  But from here on out I hope to replace pieces with great care and that goal in mind.

As it is, I could fit all of my current clothing, all types, for all seasons, in one dresser drawer with ease.  The box on the top shelf is clothing that I wish to keep, but can’t currently wear.  Dresses that I can’t nurse in, outfits that aren’t right for my figure at the moment, but may be again in the future. I know everyone says not to keep clothes that don’t fit, but I think the situation is different for mothers of many.  There are so many phases we go through and from experience I’ve found that my body makes a profound shift around the time my babies turn 2 1/2- 3.  I’m not attached to the idea of reaching a certain goal in wearing them again.  They are just there if I need them.  And if not, it’s one small box that’s out of my way, no big deal.

I would, however, like to cover the box or find a nicer one.  The plain cardboard isn’t aesthetically pleasing and since we haven’t built doors for our closets yet, I see it many times a day.

In that same box are some dresses that I seriously doubt I’ll ever wear again, but they have sentimental value.  I thought the girls might have fun with them when they are older.  I know that as a teenager I used to enjoy mixing my mom’s old clothes into my wardrobe.  It was a fun and funky way to be different and also connected to her and the young woman she was.

And now, where to go from here?  I’ve started gathering ideas for both an Autumn/Winter Capsule Wardrobe and a Spring/Summer Capsule Wardrobe.  There will be some cross over of course.  I’m thinking 10 pieces?  Maybe? I think I’ll have to live with it and see what works.  Someday I will have an entirely home-made dream wardrobe, but my sewing time is very limited at the moment.  I’m going to try to add a custom piece or two each season.  Does anyone have suggestions on where to find good quality clothing that doesn’t cost a fortune?


about a dresser

My Grandmother was a mother of 7, grandmother to 24.  As such I imagine she knew quite a bit about fixing things up and the curative power of paint.

When my mother was pregnant with me, Gram found this dresser on the side of the road, waiting for the trash pick up.  She brought it home and fixed it up, adding a new coat of paint, complete with faux wood grain.  Since that time it’s been a constant in my life.  It’s one of the few pieces we managed to save when we lost just about everything to our mold infested old house.  Once, about a decade ago, I was tempted to paint it.  I slapped on a splotch of primer to see how if it would take and that’s how it remained.  Somewhere along the way I got nostalgic, and once my grandma passed away, I just left it as it was, a symbol of an act of love.  Over the years it’s been moved many times.  During one of those moves we discovered the newspaper stuck to the bottoms of the feet, with little snippets of news from the year of my birth.  Recently we noticed the date stamped on the back, confirming it’s manufacture in 1954.

I/we are working on a long term project, trying to turn the little room off our dinning area into a studio space.  The goal is to purchase only paint for the walls and a light fixture, for everything else we are going to work with what we have.

I’ve been using this dresser for fabric storage for quite a while now.  I seriously considered leaving it as it was.  The main factor that swayed me is that at this point it’s chipping quite a bit and considering it’s age, who knows what’s underneath and with another little one in the house, putting everything into her mouth, it seemed time.

Not bad for something that was considered trash 34 years ago!We used all products that we had on hand.  Once the creamy white (Olde Century Colors in ‘Candlelight’) was on, it looked so fresh and clean that I doubted my plans, hemming and hawing….fuss, fuss, fuss.  I can make myself sick of the simplest of decisions.  But I really wanted the beautiful curvy bits to stand out.  I eventually worked up the nerve to experiment with adding some General Finishes Glaze Effects in Van Dyke Brown on the body.  I compromised by leaving the drawer fronts plain, which gives them a little more pop.  It may be a little strange, but I rather like it.  What do you think?


a space for her


This is the little changing area that we set up when I was pregnant with Seraphina.  I’m considering moving it and wanted to have some pictures of it as is, for her baby book.  Steve made the changing table when I was pregnant with Mairi Rose.  We left it unfinished and as she got older it was used as a bookshelf and general storage in various places around the house.  We decided to spruce it up a bit for our new baby with a coat of paint leftover from our bathroom project and some fabric drawers.  I vividly remembered how crazy making it was to try to keep everything from dissolving into utter chaos when just stacked on the shelves.

We splurged on the diaper pail as well.  Some people treat themselves to things like luxury cars.  Us?  We go in for the fancy diaper pails.  This one was pricey- you know, for a diaper pail!  But I have to say that I’ve been cloth diapering babies for the better part of 15 years now and this is by far the best system I’ve ever used.

The mobile in process…there were supposed to be more bunnies and flowers and leaves and things twined in with the grapevine wreath and maybe some birds or bees or butterflies?  But the truth is I haven’t added anything to it in a very long time.  I think the only way it’s ever going to get finished is if I just start calling it finished.

And really that’s about it.  Simple and sweet, just the way I like things.  A basket of diapers and a little wooden bowl with odds and ends; a toy for entertainment, some healing balm, baby nail clippers, that kind of thing, rounds everything out.  Lately she’s been excitedly talking to the little picture of herself, so cute!


Around the Garden ~ May

The roses have since arrived and been settled in the ground.  That card makes me smile.  Though it still doesn’t beat my favorite piece of kid writing, a story I was once handed that concluded “thee and”.

For Mother’s Day Steve conscripted children to help in the garden under my direction.  I’ve been rather frustrated with my lack of ability to accomplish much out there this year.  It’s not so much just the baby, I’ve worked around that before, as my body’s inability to both carry her and work as well.  I can mostly manage one or the other, at least for short periods of time, but not both.  So for the day they were my hands for the most part (I did manage to sit and weed a bit) and together we accomplished quite a lot.  The front flower garden was a mess and now it’s all nice and tidy and ready for a thick coat of mulch.  This is a much more pleasant sight to come home to!

I didn’t take any pictures of the back gardens, but they are doing amazingly well.  Steve and the kids are working on building new beds, everything is spreading and growing, it’s glorious.  We had our first little asparagus harvest of the year, around the size of a bunch you might get at the store and so fabulously sweet, with the kind of flavor that you would never get at a store.


Elijah’s Equestrian Art Room


When we first moved in this room was the subject of much speculation.  In a house were every other room was painted the brightest, most vibrant colors, this room was beige to the extreme.  Beige carpets, beige walls, beige trim.  Perhaps they hadn’t decided on the right vivid color yet?  I suspect that there was one person in the family who craved a calm neutral space.  Steve’s theory is that it was the punishment room…”that’s it no more color for you young man!”


The details:

He chose the paint color: Yolo Colorhouse Leaf .07.

The flooring is a local wide plank white pine.

I made the valences and the curtain for the closet door for his birthday.  The valences are burlap leftover from the table coverings from our vow renewal.  The horse fabric came from this Etsy shop.

The little bookshelf was built by Steve several years ago.  The desk was another birthday present.  Steve built it by modifying the Narrow Farmhouse Table plans by Ana White to fit the space. (yup, we’re still pretty crazy about Ana here)  Elijah and I talked a lot about how best to finish it.  He wanted both wood grain and color and he wanted it to be unique.  Inspiration finally came in the form of these wooden bowls.  I used General Finishes Water Base Dye Stain in both green and blue, layering one over the other and rubbing it away in parts to give it the uneven appearance, featuring many different shades.

Owl stencil here.  We decided that the shape of the owl was most like a Great Horned Owl.  That’s what I based the colors and shading off of.  After the initial stenciling, I came back in and added some free hand details and connected all of the pieces.

The lamp over the bed.  The desk lamp came from Goodwill.

The hammock chair was a gift from my sister.

The rug by the bed was Galen’s Christmas present to Elijah last year, made of wool roving, woven on a peg loom.  We dyed the wool for the middle with oak leaves.

And all of the artwork, of course, is his own.  He highly recommends the following books: Draw and Paint Realistic Horses and Drawing Horses: A Complete Drawing Kit for Beginners.


around here

Lately I’ve been wishing that someone would come along to write blog posts for me.  I’d tell them what to say and all, they would just have to be the one to come up with the time/energy to actually put it all together.  There are so many things that I love about sharing in this space.  Really the only drawback at all is finding the time to actually do it.  And then sometimes feeling guilty about it or like I’m falling behind because I haven’t, which is just silly… but it still happens.

This week we’ve put aside our regular homeschooling work, apart from the usual early morning math practice, to work on a Martinmas play, get a bunch of food put by once and for all, attempt to put the garden to bed, and settle children in with some new handwork projects, involving new skills all around.  I thought it would be very leisurely and pleasant, it seemed so in my head, but instead the week has gone by in something of a blur.

It seems very much like November here.  There is no other way to describe it.  People look out of the windows or step into the garden and turn to each other saying, “It really does look like November”.

I’ve hired Iain and Elijah for a stone masonry project out in the garden.  It’s coming along beautifully and is making me think that there is a whole new world of possibilities for our landscape, so long as these boys are willing.  So far they’ve been not just willing, but extremely eager.

Today I ordered yarn for birthday sweaters for my 3 winter babies.  Next will be fabric for Christmas pajamas.  Let the season of crafting begin!


Renovation Journal: Our Bedroom

When we first looked at this house, one of the few things that we found off putting were the bedrooms.  I thought about it a bit after we left and realized that in recent years we’ve become rather spoiled with unique, sometimes historical (see here and here for glimpses of the bedroom we shared in a home built in the 1790′s, complete with the original hand carved “nails” holding up the wood beams), sometimes large and stunning, always somewhat unusual bedrooms.  I had to give myself a bit of a talking to because really the bedrooms we had just toured were exactly like most people’s bedrooms; a simple square carpeted room with a closet.  Once that really sunk in, I relaxed about it and began thinking of ways to add charming details that would make our spaces feel less mundane and more uniquely us.  It took a little convincing, but I was able to persuade Steve into seeing that with the two of us working at it, we could find a way to make almost any space special and home-like.  And so we moved forward and I think (hope) that he’s glad we did.  I know I am.


It’s not just a trick of the light, two walls were painted a kind of fuchsia color and two bubble gum.

It is not done yet.  Both the doors still need to be painted.  The closets need baseboards and well, doors.  There is a wall mounted heater that we’d like to get rid of.  But, the carpeted floors are now wide-plank pine, we added some character with a board and batten treatment (tutorials on this can be found all over the web), the cracked plastic switch plate and outlet covers have been traded out for solid wood ones and everything has received many coats of paint….

Paint info: The trim and lower section of the walls are Yolo’s Imagine .04, which is the same classic linen white that we used for trim throughout the second floor.  The upper part of the walls and ceiling are a bit of a mystery.  They started out Yolo’s Sprout .03, which is a beautiful color, but I felt that it was really too dark for the space.  So after painting the entire thing that color and subsequently deciding I couldn’t live with it, I mixed small amounts of Sprout .03 into much larger amounts of Yolo’s Imagine .05, which is an off-white with blue/grey undertones, until I got the color I was looking for.

These photos pre-date our bed moving in and were taken on a day when mother nature was not cooperating, lighting wise.  Due to the cloud cover, the room doesn’t appear nearly as light and airy as it usually does.  I want it to stay fairly simple, but it doesn’t feel quite done as is.  I’ve been studying spaces that I love, trying to determine exactly what it is that appeals to me.  At this point I’m thinking that some curtains of some sort would help.  Perhaps I’ll hang a picture or two.  Our bedding could probably use some upgrading/tweaking.  All of which will have to wait for some room in our budget.  Until then, I am very pleased with how the space is coming along and absolutely tickled pink to be sleeping in our bedroom for the very first time this week!