Friday, November 14, 2014

Our Perfect Living Room Transformation

It's been awhile since I last posted. But I haven't just been sitting around, eating Bon Bons and watching soaps. I don't ever watch soaps since they leave me feeling dissatisfied with my reality. And I have never actually seen BonBons, nevermind eaten them.

I have been busy making over our living room. We have wanted a wood burning fireplace for years. Most of the homes we have lived in during our marriage have had a fireplace of one sort or another and we loved that. We love the smell of a fire, the cozy warmth, and the homey look.

During our journey on this project we have changed our minds many times. We bought 2 different cast iron wood stoves. And we sold those 2 different cast iron wood stoves. We found this wood burning insert on Craigslist for only $150. It looked almost brand new as it was in the basement of a newer home. They switched it out for a gas insert. It was much larger than what we were looking at purchasing new but only a fraction of the cost. PERFECT!

I picked it up. The guy was so nice! He left work as a school principal and helped the kids and I load it in the truck even though he was wearing dress clothes. He helped strap it in and away we went. I love Craigslist! We have one of the best in the country, I think. We buy and sell on it all the time and have only run into one jerk. 

Now I've found my way back from that rabbit trail. We also changed our minds on whether it should go in the corner or in the center of the wall, the mantle and surround, the shelving on the side, and what materials we would use for the chimney cover.

Most of these changes took place before we started that particular part of the project. All accept the surround. That we literally made up as we were building it.

The wood-look ceramic tile floor. We laid it. It was a first for both of us, but I think we did a really good job.

The wood surround. We wanted it to look like an old farmhouse would have looked. No frills. I think we accomplished that.

The mantel and the chimney front. We looked at fireplaces in Menards and they have used this bead board as a surround. I loved the farmhouse feel of it, so we went with it.

We used the same materials for the bookshelves on the one side. I had an antique baby bassinet that was missing the lining and the bottom, so I added a heavy-duty canvas bag lining and simple bottom and it's perfect for a day's firewood supply. The ash shovel/ poker set was purchased for $20 at an auction. It was the look I was going for and very sturdy and heavy. I saw the exact set at a fireplace store for several hundred dollars! I am using an old canning pot for ashes for now until I find what I want. The suitcase/box is where I hide my newspaper, fire starters, and lighter. I covered all our electrical components with a black burlap curtain. We tried it without the curtain but they were just so cluttered-looking and odd next to all the antiques.

The other side of the fireplace is our old "blanket chest" and a doctor's bag I picked up.

I repainted the walls, trim, and doors in the living room, dining room, and hallway. Have I ever told you I hate painting? I abhor it! Detest it! But it looks so fresh, clean, and cozy when it's done. And it's almost instant gratification. That's why I continue to paint. I love fairly in-expensive, instant gratification.

And finally, the only part of this project that we hired done was the carpet. It's Silk Strand by Mohawk in Sepia Tones. I have never felt a carpet so luxurious in all my life! I went in to the carpet shop just to look. I made the "mistake" of feeling the silk carpet and a week later it was ordered and installed. If I had to scrimp and save for another year, nothing was going in my house but that carpet! He gave us an awesome deal- one that a dealer friend of ours couldn't even match. It's guaranteed against staining and soil or they will replace it for free.

I still have a lot of decorating to do, but I need to go to another auction or two to find what I'm looking for. I don't even know what I'm looking for specifically, but I will when I see it. I don't see how this project could have come out any more perfectly than it did. We absolutely love it!

UPDATE: After another auction I now have my final wall decorated with an old tobacco basket, and antique mirror, an oil painting, and a hand scythe.

In the evenings now I just sit, watch my fire, and think about how blessed I am to have my perfect living room.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fall Decorations, Some Hand-Built By Me

I got started a little early, this year, with my fall decorating outside. The weather has been so perfect and I came across pumpkins and mums at a local Menonite store. I checked Craiglist and the local paper and found some straw bales nearby. I went to a couple of auctions and found some goodies to use. I also decided to re-do my scarecrow.

Here is the front of the house. 

The old barn door was an auction find. I cut a piece of barn board from our old barn and painted the sign. It turned out pretty cute.

Next is the area in front of the shop. The huge tractor wheel is from the 1920s and another auction find. I only had to pay $15 for it! I love this arrangement!!

Then, as I was proudly showing off my decorations to Mr Farmer, he said, "I think we should build a cabin in the center of the driveway." We have a circle drive with a grassy center and an ugly utility pole.

Well, the next day, I set to work. I climbed into the barn loft and retrieved a pile of barn boards from our old barn, an old barn loft door, and an old barn window sash. I took all the supplies to the shop. I began with the back wall (the cabin front). Once that was built and in place, I went to work on the porch floor. I used boards that were very old and some were rotten. I didn't bother to cut their ends off or make them the same length. I wanted my cabin front to look old, handmade, and a little bit wonky. Kind of like an old hermit went out into the woods and built it himself years ago. The porch posts were next and then the roof joists. I headed down to our other barn and retrieved some of the roof tin from the old barn. By this time, Mr Farmer was home and he helped me cut the tin to size and screw it down. (My poor arthritic hands were done!) He went off to do another project and I "hung" the door and window. I just backed the window with wax paper and black construction paper. All that was left was the decorating, which I finished up the next day.

The potato sack, chair (super cool, old folding chair!), rake, tin tub, washboard, and potato fork were all auction finds at one point or another.

The cabin front took me about 8.5 hours to build altogether, by myself. I am still sore days later! The entire time I was building it, though, I knew Mr Farmer would have done it differently. I knew the way to build it so a tornado wouldn't move it (his way), but I didn't want it all straight and square. I wanted it to look run down. I'm very proud of it.

And finally is the front door/ porch area. This was done later as I cleared out the flower beds for the winter. Another old tractor wheel and the cream can are both from auctions. Actually, all the tools, etc. are from auctions, except the potato fork. We found that at the Salvation Army for $1.99!

The cats have made themselves at home amongst the decorations.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Just Hanging Out My Webs

Walked out on the back patio yesterday to find these beauties just hanging around. 

We had a really heavy dew and low fog and it seemed to weigh down these webs. Wet webs were everywhere but I wasn't going to traipse around, getting my feet wet, to get pictures of them for you. Sorry.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

This Week's Madness

The gardens have been in full madness mode lately. This is just some of the produce brought in this week- mostly on one day! The cucumbers are just going nuts. I think we're set for pickles for the next year or more! I also pickle large slices of zucchini so we can have a single pickle on a hamburger. Works out great.

Here is a close-up of the longer, bigger cucumbers (18 inch) versus the smaller typical ones. You can see the difference and how many less seeds the longer ones have. The one on the far right is the regular type.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bigger In Iowa

I planted a few new varieties of vegetables this year. And I am very pleased, to say the least. 

First up is a new radish. I bought it in bulk and can't remember the name, sorry. Because of the wet start to the season, I asked if the greenhouse would recommend anything so late. They said this one would be good for warmer weather and said no matter how big it got it would not turn" woody or hot." I have to agree. Below is one of the average radishes we pulled. It tasted sweet and delicious.

Next are the cucumbers. I asked the greenhouse what they recommended for cucumbers for pickling. They were almost afraid to mention the one they used as it was "rather expensive". It came in a packet of very few seeds and was priced at about a buck and a half (hardly expensive in my opinion). I believe the variety was "Green Ice". The lady said that they would have few seeds, not turn sour regardless of their size, and were good for pickling. I agree on all three accounts. They are averaging between 16 and 18+ inches long and quite thick, but less seed than you'd think. They remain sweet at this size. Sliced up, they are a nice size for pickling. And they are very prolific! This picture is just one picking!

They were even bigger than the zucchini (in the next photo and darker green than the cukes) I picked! This photo, plus another nine large zucchini, lots of sweet, delicious cherry tomatoes, and another meal's-worth of green beans are this week's pickings. The tomato plants are huge and full of green fruit. I'll try to remember to do another post on them.