Breaking In The Back Porch

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

In between working on the inside of the house, I've been trying to get some things done on the porches.  It is difficult as there are almost 1000 square feet of porches and I honestly haven't had a lot of motivation to work on the porches when we are so close and so desperate to finish the inside of the house.

 Recently I had Eldon help me move the old and very weathered picnic table up onto the back porch.  It had been sitting for the last two years in the "yard" in front of our travel trailer where it was very exposed to the elements.  I've been holding out hope that Eldon would be able to build me a really awesome farmhouse table for the porch, but I came to the realization that its not a possibility for this summer.  So.... after lots of sanding, staining a dark walnut, and about eight coats of shellac my picnic table came to life and I love it! 
Then I bought some fun outdoor fabric and made some nice long cushions for the benches.
I attached some ribbon on both ends so I could tie it in place.  I love the finished look.
I went to our storage building and pulled my old wash tubs out and brought them home to the porch!  (I love these - my husband was adament that they were not moving 2000 miles with us when we moved out here to our farm... but miraculously they made it!)  This hydrangea was a gift to us this week and I planted it here temporarily until I can figure out exactly where to plant it.  Obviously, we haven't even thought about our landscaping yet!

About a year ago I bought this old chair and table from  Amy at All Things Home.  I sanded all the rust off, painted the chair white, the table turquoise, made some pillows...

And here it is.  I love, love, love it.  I'm on the look out for another chair so that I can create a better seating area with the table in between.  The turquoise color was a bit of a stretch, even for someone like me that loves color.  But it is such a fun, happy color that I just love it.  (You may remember me talking about painting the ceiling of the back porch a faint blue color?  Well, it is this exact blue but a much lighter tone so this little table actually helps bring that blue out.)
We had company for supper the other night and we were eating outside obviously.  When I went to set the table, I remembered this vintage tablecloth that my mother gave me when we were visiting them in New Mexico this past year.  I had admired it and my mother folded it up and put it in my suitcase.  It had belonged to my grandmother.  When I put it on the table the other evening I couldn't believe how perfectly it went with my colors - even though the pattern and style is completely different, it really worked!  (Oh, and our supper with our company was absolutely lovely!)

I set my table with the dishes that I wrote about over a year ago.  You can read about them here.  They were a wedding gift to us over 30 years ago and have been perfect for camper living.  I will never part with them, but I will be happy to get my pretty dishes out of storage soon and retire these to picnic use only! 
I love how all the colors just came together and made for a very fun table setting.
So even though my porches  are a long ways from being fully furnished, I at least feel some of them coming together.  (I do have a side porch that is our sleeping porch and although it isn't screened it is lovely for sleeping, napping, and laying there to read to the grand-babies!  I have an old iron bed that I've made bedding for and am slowly putting that together too.  More on it soon!)
Here's a quick peek at our completed butcher block counter tops.  I am so completely over the moon happy with them.   And the island that I shed tears over because I was afraid it was too big?  It is incredible and so completely perfect.  Sink and faucet go in tomorrow!
And one final picture for you.  This is Walter.  Born three weeks ago with the assistance of the Veterinarian!  (The Vet's name was Walter - wonder what he would think if he knew we named the calf after him?!)  He is our last calf of the season and what a darling (huge) baby! 
 Eldon and I are headed this weekend to a nearby lake where we'll be staying in a lovely cabin with all of our kids!  We need a break off the hilltop and we can hardly wait!  Hope your weekend is the best.

Custom Range Hood, Chalkboard Tray, and Butcher Block!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

There's a story behind my custom range hood.  It wasn't in the kitchen plans or even in my mind.  When I met with the cabinet shop, I had actually requested a spot for an above range microwave/fan and a small cabinet above that. 

Then one day I had the conversation with both my daughter and daughter-in-law (neither of whom have microwaves) about how I wondered if maybe I didn't need a microwave, but then what would I do since I didn't want an ugly old range hood?  Immediately upon saying that I remembered reading Miss Mustard Seed's blog post on her custom range hood. 
I'm sure you've all read the post, or seen the picture but here it is just to remind you of how beautiful her range hood is. 
This is where I would like to say that I love to look at magazines, read blogs, and look at pinterest and I really love the inspiration they all give.  However, I also really like to have my own ideas and implement them because its what I like, not because its what is popular at the moment.  BUT, I will admit that I printed the above picture and drove right down to the cabinet shop where I changed my order!  I did ask that they not copy the range hood exactly but the one request I had was that I wanted the shelf on the front!
I did prepare my husband, I even showed him the picture and tried to describe it.  However, I was absolutely NOT prepared for the range hood when it was delivered.  It was huge, heavy and actually sort of foreign looking.  It sat on the floor for a few days where we ignored it while we installed the cabinets.  Finally, it couldn't be ignored any longer and Eldon got started. 
By then he had a plan... wall was penetrated to the outside where a vent cover went up, duct work installed on the inside wall, the correct hole was cut in the range hood to fit the fan we had special ordered.... 
and the range hood went up!
And, oh my goodness, I love it!  I have been dreaming about all the things I can put on the shelf....  seasonal decorating will be so much fun!  Then.... an idea hit me!
I bought this awesome huge tray at a tag sale for $2.00 and really haven't found a great use for it. 

So I bought some chalkboard paint....
Did a 10 minute paint job....
Brought in the professional artist in the family (my grand-daughter, Jillian)...
Perfection!!!  Since I don't like my handwriting or my (lack of) artistic skills she'll have to be the one in charge of changing this out each week! 
One last bit of news.  We made a trip to Atlanta (I've NEVER in my life seen traffic like we saw in Atlanta - oh my word it was crazy) and had a great time at IKEA where we bought our Butcher Block planks for the counter tops!!!  Eldon has been fitting and cutting and I have my work cut out for me in sanding and oiling - I will let you know how it all goes!
Hope your week is the best! 
(P.S.  I'm still in manual mode on my camera but I really need some help from my daughter... its getting worse instead of better!)

House On The Hilltop - Part Thirteen

Monday, June 10, 2013

Continued from House On The Hilltop - Part Twelve

{I have a little disclaimer on this post.  I'm trying so hard to follow the advice of my daughter and stick to manual mode on my camera and never use the flash...  so some of these pictures are questionable.  But I figure the only way to learn is to just stick it out!  So please bear with me as I learn.}

I thought I'd start out this post with  my grand-daughters!  They spent one morning with us last week and Eldon needed my help quite a bit with installing our custom range hood so I rolled out some paper on the table, gave them crayons and they were happy for ages.  (And yes, they fought over the red stool!)
One of the things we did this month was install all the exterior lights.  It hadn't been done because I kept dragging my feet on making a decision.  One day Eldon said, "You need to figure out your lights and get them ordered.  I want to install them this week".  Yikes. 
Part of the problem was that we wired the front and side porches for ceiling fans.  Then one of our neighbors on another hilltop nearby told us, "Whatever you do don't put ceiling fans on your porches.  We lost ours to the wind the first winter we moved in."  We sort of didn't take it to heart until we heard the same thing from another neighbor!  (The Tennessee hills can get some high wind gusts in the winter.)  Therefore, my original selection of fan/lights went the way of the wind.  Above is what I chose - it was a very hasty decision from and we LOVE them. 
I had also been waffling on the chandelier in the dining room.  I saw this one and fell in love with it, the burlap shades match the cathedral walls in the living room exactly.  We bought it, installed it and Jillian (my five year old grand-daughter) said, "You have a light just like my Mommy's".  Wow.  I guess thats why I loved it, because I love everything in her house!  So my daughter and I have the same lights in our dining rooms! 
The very last lights to be installed were my gooseneck barn lights from Barn Light Electric.  Honestly, I was a nervous wreck about spending the big bucks after the cord fiasco with the kitchen pendant lights that we purchased from them.  But I took the plunge and they are amazing.  They just completely fit the style and look of the house and somehow they tie everything together. 
Here's a close up.  Don't you love those bulbs?  They are called G40's.  Barn Light Electric recommended them to me when I asked what kind of bulbs to use (they are so visible that regular bulbs just didn't look right).  I ordered mine from Amazon.  I think they are gorgeous.
Do you remember what this panel looked like not too many months ago?  Well, now everything is where it is supposed to be and we passed our electrical inspection and were moved from temorary electrical service to permanent!   No more extension cords!  This had been a niggling stress in the back of my mind...  you run cable all over the house in the walls and into outlet boxes, you sheet rock over those walls, you finish and paint the walls, wire all your fixtures up and THEN see if it works?  I kept asking Eldon, "what if it doesn't work"?  The good news is that with only a little troubleshooting it all worked!  (NOW, I understand why he was so tedious and spent so many hours on the electrical!)
I installed the ceramic tile in the bathrooms.  All. by. myself.  So please don't look too closely as you might  definitely will see crooked lines in the spaces between the tiles.  I pretty much plan to never install tile again. 
When we had our bathroom vanities built I requested that they be sanded but not painted.  I wanted to paint them myself.   Six months ago when I ordered them, I was wanting a very distressed Annie Sloan chalk paint look.  Who would think that in the last six months I would get kind of tired of the distressed look?  So, what I chose instead was a soft yellow color (Weston Flax from Benjamin Moore) and I am so happy with it.  It is very cheerful.  Hardware will be installed after the sink and counter top.
Stair wall complete, stair stringer up as well as risers installed and painted.  I was surprised at the amount of engineering that the stairs require.  I happened to look at Eldon's sketch of the stairs and was pretty shocked at the math figures and drawings!  He is actually working on the newell, treads, rail and balusters now!  Hopefully that will all be up soon and we won't be living in paranoia everytime our grand-daughters are here (see that space above and to the right where there is no wall and no rails - yikes).

Well.... here is the first glimpse of my kitchen cabinets.  I'm not going into details as we are a ways from full completion!  We have some open shelving to install as well as our counter tops and then the cabinet shop guys come back to install doors and hardware.  But this gives you a little glimpse!

This is the center island (Eldon calls it my command center - but by the looks of it now it appears to have become his work bench!).  The farmhouse sink goes in the middle and dishwasher on the right.  It is basically sitting out in the living room right now.  For some reason the center sink section was not built to fit my farmhouse sink - not sure why, as the cabinet shop had my sink on site.  So...  they are having to rebuild the middle face and we are patiently waiting, as we can't do anything else with the island til that's done.  This is all on my kitchen for now; I plan to do a full post just on my cabinets... hopefully not too far in the future!
I have to add this picture of my tiny little kitchen window.  Our house plans did not call for a kitchen window since the kitchen is open to the dining room and living room that both have huge windows, but I felt like I needed at least a little one on the back wall.  If we made it too big it would've cut into my space for cabinets, so we chose to make it the same size as the bathroom windows.  It actually balances out the look on the back of the house.  Anyway, when Eldon was making the stool and apron trim for the window I asked if he could make the stool part a little deeper so I could use it for a little shelf.  He did and I think I'm gonna love it!  What would you put on it??  I've got all kinds of ideas and all of them are red, yellow, orange, green, blue.  Can't wait to get some COLOR in this kitchen!
I'm starting to feel like things are finally coming together (in my mind at least!) and I've been working on some things for my porches.  Trying to furnish 900 square feet of porches is a bit of a stretch for me; especially doing it with what I have, can buy cheap, or what I can sew! 
Have a good week! 

June Monthly Moos {What I've Learned About Cows}

Friday, June 7, 2013

I've had a number of readers email me in recent months asking for more posts on our cows and our farm.  So I've decided to write a consistent monthly bit of "moos" about our farm happenings.

In this first post of "Monthly Moos" I thought I'd share with you some of the things we've learned about our cows and some of their fun personality traits.  We spend a lot of time around our cows - they live in the same pasture where we're building our house, so we've gotten to know them very well!! 
The birth of a baby calf is such an amazing thing to witness; probably the most incredible part is how quickly they stand up. Within minutes of being born the Momma is encouraging them to get
up and nurse.  I don't think I've ever seen an animal that is as maternal and nurturing as a Momma Cow.  They are incredible.

A very calm, friendly cow will turn into a different personality when she has her baby. She becomes a ferocious Momma Bear if she ever feels that her calf is threatened in any way. The dog that was her best friend the day before her calf was born becomes her biggest enemy the next day. (Talk about confusing to the dog! Our dog quickly learned to just lay a safe distance away and watch - with only a little whimpering!)

A Momma will often hide her brand new baby in a safe location so that she can go eat or drink.  The baby will not leave the location, but will quietly wait for the Momma to return.  And of course, they always do.   (I don't have a picture of a hidden baby calf because believe me, they are hidden well!)
Its important to the Momma Cow to have a clean, nice looking calf. She will lick and clean her baby and have it shiny looking on a regular basis. The baby learns from the first few minutes of birth to stand still and let himself be spit-shined! We have a few calves that are half the size of the Momma and they still stand to be cleaned! 
When a new calf is born the other calves love to come and introduce themselves.  There is something really precious about one of the bigger calves softly nudging the newest baby in the herd.  (The big calf on the left in the picture below looks huge next the tiny brand new baby on the right, but she is really only 3 months old - they grow fast!)
Cows are extremely sensitive and if a Momma loses her calf she turns to humans for comfort.  MayBelle, our Momma that had twins, mourned for days when she lost one of her twins.  She was one of our very stand-offish cows, but when one of her calves died, she came to me and literally laid her head on my shoulder and cried.  Of course, so did I.  (The photo below is MayBelle with her twins.  They were darling and precious.  One survived and her name is Mercedes.  She's one of my favorite calves.)
A calf loves to nurse its Momma.  If its in any kind of an intimidating situation it will run and nurse, or even just stand close to its Mommas breast!  
  (That white foamy stuff on the little calf's nose is milk!)
Cows pick their noses with their perfectly formed long tongues!
Its not a myth that Momma Cows will assign one of the other Mommas as a babysitter and leave their young babies while they go to the pond or to graze a little further afield.  Its a very sweet sight to see one calm Momma with five or more babies! 
When Momma Cows have their calf they will hang out with the Momma that has the youngest baby.   They always remind me of  human Mommy's sharing in the stress and worries of having a new little one!
Calves have best friends - and it is usually another calf born real close to the same time.  They will practically become inseparable.  They will often even nurse from each other's Mommas. 
Cows love human companionship.  The minute I drive down to my garden they run to meet me there and will all stand around the garden fence watching me work.  

They want to be where we are.  At dusk every evening they make their way up to the hilltop and do exactly what we do:  enjoy the setting sun and the cool breeze. 

Calves come in all sorts of colors and sizes... and they are all beautiful and precious!

I'm thankful for our sweet Momma Cows and their even sweeter babies.  Our hope is to be the very best caretakers we can be for these sweet, gentle animals.

I hope you have had a wonderful week.  As usual, Eldon and I are working hours every day trying to complete our house so we can set a move in date!  The "to do" poster has more check marks on it now than it has empty boxes!  There will be a farm house progress post coming up soon.