Sunday, May 24, 2015

Hay Bales Are For.... Jumping!

I'm not sure there is anything that makes me happier than listening to my little grand-girls giggling and playing with sheer abandonment.  

We had our first cutting of hay and before the bales were stacked for storing my little grand-girls came and played on the bales.    I'm amazed at how much difference a year makes in a child.  Last year Jillian couldn't begin to clear the distance between the bales.

This year she was flying over those things!

Poor little Rosetta.  She just wasn't sure that she should even try.  Jillian was trying to give her a little sisterly encouragement.  "You do it like this, Rosy.  Lift up your arms...."

"... and JUMP"!

Rosy still wouldn't jump.  So back Jillian came to try to encourage her again.  

She stood right there saying, "Come on Rosy.  Just do it.  It's fun."  Finally she couldn't stand it any longer and she jumped!  

And then... there was no stopping her!

She jumped... and jumped... and jumped!  

And then they held hands and jumped... which resulted in some crashes!

Oh I love those little girls.  And I'm pretty sure Belle feels the same way!

Happy Summer!  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What I've Learned About Porches In The South!

For the last couple years, since moving into our house, I've had a number of comments and emails from readers asking me for a big reveal post on our wrap-around porches on our house.

I've actually stopped responding to this question because I know that I must get some strange looks and eye rolling when I tell people I'm having a hard time with my porches.  I give myself some eye-rolling and a stern talking to every time I complain too, believe me.

I have a love/hate relationship with my porches.  

I really, really love the view.  I love the wonderful breeze that keeps things cool and comfortable on the hilltop all summer.  I love sitting on the porch in my rocking chairs or porch swing.  I love napping on the porch bed.  I love looking up at my house from the road, way down below and seeing the wrap-around porches.  I love the beadboard ceilings on my porches.

  I dislike the spiders, bugs, and mud dobbers that love the beadboard ceilings.  I dislike the concrete floors that I can't keep clean.  I dislike the worms that love crawling up onto the concrete after a rain.  I dislike the wind in a rain storm that blows all my porch furniture and cushions down the hill.

A couple weeks ago on a beautiful sunny day I began the task of spring cleaning my porches.  I scrubbed walls, windows and floors.  I killed spiders and removed webs.  I scraped off mud dobber nests out of the corners, and worms off the concrete floors.  And it took me three days.  

We have over 900 square feet of porches and that is a lot of porches to clean, believe me.

So here is a tour of our porches, just exactly as they are with no prettying them up.  I'm going to share with you the ideas that I had for these porches when we picked our house plan... and the reality of what it really is!  Including mud boots, no landscaping, and farm messes!  It's called "life on the hilltop reality".

I'm actually kind of okay with our back porch.  We do plan to put a railing on this porch to pretty it up a little bit.  And of course we will eventually have flower beds up to the porch and a lawn.  I don't know if you can tell, but the beadboard ceiling is a very light blue (called "haint" blue here in the South) and I really love it.

The back porch is great because it is a little wider than the other porches so there is a lot of room for a large picnic table that comfortably seats about 10 people.

I also love this chippy old wash stand with my Hydrangea bushes in it.  There is just enough sun, shade and protection that these bushes love it here.

Another favorite is my old metal chair, bench and little table that I redid.  They are comfortable and just heavy enough that they don't blow off the porch in a storm!  

We also have room on the back porch for our large natural gas grill that I use just about every single day.  As well as my outdoor canning station.  So the back porch is functional, comfortable and since it is the door that we are continually using, it is a great porch for dropping our shoes as we head in the door - I guess you could call it an outdoor mud room most of the time!  The back porch faces South so it is a little warmer in the wintertime and shady and lovely in the summertime too.

Next we have the side porch off the dining room.  I had originally envisioned that I would have a picnic table here, as it is right off the dining room so is very handy to the kitchen.  BUT, the setting sun beats on this side of the house about 5:00 every evening - the time you would like to be sitting out on a picnic table!  So that idea went right out the window.  

As for now, we've hung our porch swing (which was a special gift to us when we moved in) and we love where it is.  We will keep it here.  Not sure what I will do on the rest of this side porch.  But one idea I have is a long trestle table with benches that would fit under it and scoot up to the wall.  We could use the table for breakfast because the mornings are beautiful on this side of the house!  The table would look pretty and would be heavy enough it wouldn't blow off the porch in a storm!

We love the swing, it is Eldon's banjo playing spot in the evenings!  

Moving around to the front of the porch.  This is the really long porch and it faces North.  Yes North. Now, if we hadn't been placing our house a certain way on the hilltop for the view, we would've never had this porch facing North.  But it is such a lovely view that who cares that you can't step outside the front door in the wintertime?  Smile!

I have literally done nothing beyond placing black rocking chairs and a couple junk tables that work great for setting my glass of ice tea during the day and my coffee cup at night!  I do love having the rocking chairs and eventually Eldon will build some nice tables to match the trestle table he is going to build on the dining room side!  (He doesn't know this yet!)  

This is looking down the length of porch from the other end - facing West.  And yes, that is a sunset you see in the distance.  We get some of the most amazing sunsets up here on the hilltop.  

Here's proof!

Then walking around the corner of the porch we come to the "sleep porch" on the East side of the house.

So here is the deal on my sleep porch.  I envisioned that it would be this really cozy little corner.  It is private since there are no windows on these walls.  I was going to hang outdoor curtains on the open part of the porch to close it off when we wanted - kind of  like a darling little outdoor bedroom.

I bought the bed off of Craigslist, made the pillows, repurposed an old quilt, hung the wooden flag that I made and painted, and then started looking for curtain ideas.

Then in a wind storm the wooden flag was torn off the wall, the pillows blew off the porch and if there had been curtains they would've been shredded.  

So plans for the sleep porch kind of changed!  However, that is okay because I still love it.  I've actually been known to sleep out here at night and it is lovely.  


And why would a person want curtains when you have a view like this?

And this is what I've learned about beautiful Southern Porches:

In real life they don't look like the ones on the cover of Southern Living magazine.

You cannot be afraid of spiders and bugs.  Seriously.

Porches on a hilltop that always have a lovely breeze in the Spring, Summer and Fall have strong winds in the Winter.  You'll be chasing furniture and cushions down the hill.  Make your furniture heavy and your pillows washable.

When you clean your porch ceilings and walls, don't use bleach in the water.  (Or wear waterproof gloves.  I learned the hard way.)

Don't have too much furniture and stuff on your porches or you'll be cleaning around them forever.

You know that song all the little girls in the world are singing - Let It Go?  Yep.  When it comes to trying to keep your porches perfect... just let it go!   And sit in your chairs, nap on the porch bed, swing in the swing... and let it go!

Thanks for coming along on the real life tour of porches on a hilltop farm!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

April Monthly Moos {Storm Shelter Time!}

Do you remember this time last year that I wrote about the  F3 tornado that went through our area, destroying homes, businesses, and killing two people?  When Eldon and I came out of the stair closet where we had been taking shelter and went out on our porch and all we could see were the lights of emergency vehicles, we knew it was bad news.  

I told him that was the last time I wanted to take shelter in a closet.  But, as life happens tornado season passed and so did another year.  

I started thinking and worrying about it early this spring and when Eldon came home from a consulting job in Arizona we sat down to make our list of Spring to-do jobs, and we put tornado shelter on the top of the list!  

So, we scoped out the best spot, using the hill to our advantage and Eldon did the excavating.

Because of rain, muddy roads and a few other issues our shelter delivery was delayed about a week and we had to sit out the first tornado warning of the year in our closet again.  But, it was finally delivered this week!

It was a fun process to watch.  The shelter comes in two halves.

The truck backed up until it seemed to me that it was about to back into the hole.  But then things like that really make me nervous!  

He attached the bottom half to his crane and set it in place.  

I jokingly (sort of) told Eldon we should put our old twin size iron bed in there while the top half was off!  

The top half will bolt to the bottom half in those brackets that are already in place.

And the the top half came down.

This man made it look really easy!

There it is in place.  

Then Eldon started the backfilling.  

I don't know if you can tell in the picture above, but the shelter is located where the ground really slopes down from the house.  This area is where we will be bringing in dump truck loads of fill dirt to begin our landscaping for our yard.  So the shelter will be completely covered (except for the door that is actually in the hill).  We will even be able to plant grass on top!

I love that there is a little tiny window in the door.  It makes it not quite so dark and spooky inside!

Our kids and grand-girls came over to check it out and the little girls immediately decided it was their play house.  They were trying so hard to get Belle to go in with them.  

In the picture above they were begging her to come in and she was arguing with them!  They even threw her frisbees in there, thinking she'd come in for those!

Oh, poor thing.  She wants in there so badly but she just couldn't make herself do it!

So... I'm thinking I want to pretty it up a bit inside and make it a fun place to be.  What do you think?  

So now, we are ready for tornado season to officially start.  And the bad news is my daughter and I have tickets and a day planned to attend the Country Living Fair in Nashville Saturday.... and a day of huge storms and tornadoes are predicted.  The last thing we want to do is stay home with the boys and the little girls hiding out in the tornado shelter.   We're hoping for a change in the weather.  I'll keep you posted!  

Happy April!