So, I’ve struggled with whether to write and what to write and why to write. Because there are things I want to talk about, but I can tell they’re not the popular things, and I’m just really troubled by this societal tendency toward escapism. I mean, I think social media plays a big part in that – rewarding us with likes to talk about “this” and not “that.” And I totally know that the world is very overwhelming right now, and I’m not saying you should take a bath in it 24/7, but I do think there’s a big difference between coping and ignoring.

I’ve written about this before, more than once, but admitting uncertainty and discomfort is not a bad thing. It’s just a hard thing. It does not make you negative. It does not make you dramatic. It makes you real and whole. I think there is so much benefit to gratitude-based thinking, and to generating positive energy, and to being hopeful, but I also think that “good vibes only” culture is more toxic than it is helpful. I don’t think we should punish ourselves or each other for acknowledging that sometimes things are very bad, or for needing to talk about fear or sadness. We shouldn’t be worried that sharing this aspect of our lives makes us less likable.

I don’t know, maybe I’ll write more about that soon. Or share some other things I’ve learned. I don’t know. I’m tired.

My garden is growing! I have to tell you, I’m surprised. I essentially planted seeds in a clay pit and hoped for the best. I don’t know what I’m doing. I made a bunch of mistakes. That’s okay. I mean, don’t get me wrong – I beat myself up about it some. But I am very grateful to my garden for helping me be a little more gentle with myself. And also, no one breathes coronavirus on me out there, so that’s nice.


David also scraped and repainted our entire shed/garage. He was very grumpy, but he has the patience of a saint, and so it turned out great. ❤️


We’re also getting our downstairs windows restored! We initially looked at window replacement, but the consensus of the old-home experts was that we weren’t really losing any more energy through our windows than we are through our poorly insulated walls, so why not try to maintain the charm of originality. (These windows worked for 100+ years, so I suppose that’s saying something.)  And now, they’re going to work even better, and look so pretty and way less chippy, and I’m quite excited. I don’t have any “finished” pictures yet, because it’s a very long, window-by-window process, but I’ll be sure to share them as soon as I have them.

Projects we’re dreaming of: a pergola/outdoor entertainment area, updated patio furniture and working grill, storm doors (this one keeps getting pushed, you may have noticed), an upstairs addition, a downstairs half-bath, central HVAC, bathroom renovation, restored hardwood floors…

I’m also putting a pool on my 10 (15?) year plan. I’m currently in search of investors (free membership for life!), but I’ll dig it myself if I have to.

Guys, here’s what I’ll leave you with today: Read things. Try to know stuff, but realize you don’t know everything. Ask questions. Get uncomfortable. Change your opinion when presented with new information. Say “thank you,” and wash your hands.

Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.






Definitely not about the house.

I think we’ve all seen the memes. One day (or maybe, one moment) quarantine is just fine; you’re grateful, you’re safe, the abundant free time reminds you of hobbies you’d previously abandoned. Baking! Gardens! Reading! Should I try painting? And then, the next day (or moment), you’re in the depths of hell. You’re isolated, angry, scared. There is no planning ahead, and everything of which you once were certain is now a blurry unknown. What will the summer look like? The fall? 2021? Tomorrow? No one is sure.

I am so relieved to be weathering this crisis in a beautiful, uncrowded area of the country. It’s easy to distance; space abounds. I have had no real trouble acquiring the necessities. David and I were both able to translate our careers to the virtual world. I’ve even had my favorite wine shipped from its California winery. We are really fine. I know that.

And yet. Dealing with so much uncertainty is exhausting. My days are no longer filled with the 27,463 instantaneous decisions I must make in my classroom (some of which have catastrophic consequences, because few things are more combustible than a room full of 7-year-olds) but I’m still tired. Because you know, there’s the Internet. And boy, is it a Dumpster fire.

You know what I think? I think it is so inherently human to sort people, situations, and events into neat little boxes. Like, have you ever been around a toddler who sees, I don’t know, a cow for the first time? And they point to it, excitedly proclaiming, “Dog!” So you gently correct them and say, “No, that’s a cow. The cow goes, ‘Moo!'” And that toddler looks at you like you are stupid, because clearly that four-legged creature with a tail is a dog. After all, whenever you point to four-legged creatures with a tail, you say, “Look at the dog!” Every four-legged creature with a tail has always been a dog. It’s clearly a dog! The world only makes sense if I can classify all four-legged creatures with tails as “dog.”

But alas, everything is not a dog. So our schemas expand, and we make room for other possibilities. Which, you know, thank goodness, because approaching a cow as if it is a dog could be a regrettable decision. And sometimes, in our desperation to ease the mental burden of unfamiliarity, we can put things in the wrong category; we squeeze things where they don’t actually fit at all. But when we’re speaking of novel viruses and never-before-seen circumstances, tiny schemas can make for very regrettable decisions indeed.

I think I’ve mentioned this before (in relation to other life events) but we should all get a lot more comfortable with the not-knowing. Sit with it for a while, please. I understand the urge to become an armchair epidemiologist or even statistician. I often travel down the rabbit hole of reading all the articles and, unfortunately, the comments. (That is how I know the Internet, and specifically social media, is a Dumpster fire.) I understand the temptation to Google some numbers and run percentages on your iPhone calculator. I do appreciate the sudden quest for knowledge, but it’s just as easy to find something that reaffirms your biases as it is to find something that upends them. You can scan the op-eds until you find one that comforts you, and you can fervently scroll until you find the analysis that is the most terrifying.

Reality might lie somewhere in between. It usually does. Again, the not-knowing. We won’t be able to dissect how bad this was or wasn’t until they’re writing it into the history books. For now, it’s still unfolding.

The good news is, that means our actions still matter. And to help you in making those all-too-important choices, I’ll share the idea that guides me when I make mine:

No one lives in a vacuum. There is no such thing as a choice that impacts only yourself.

We can pretend that other people’s problems aren’t also our own, but that just isn’t true. On the other side of this, I hope we remember that. I hope we remember that we are all safer when every child can receive an equitable education, and when every human can access adequate healthcare, and when every household is equipped to weather an economic storm, and when there are safety nets in place for if/when that falters.

I have watched people take food to those in need and make donations that stretch themselves thin and throw themselves into art that brings us joy and comfort. May we approach the future with that same imagination and care and fervor, never letting anyone tell us that we should go back to “normal.”


You Are My Other Me


Our Farmhouse Fixer Upper: COVID edition

I feel like this is awkward. Like, why does anyone need to read our home reno blog during a pandemic? There are certainly other things on your mind.

But, maybe that’s exactly why you’re reading it. And because I’ve had so much thinking time as of late, this is where I choose to word vomit all of it. There will obviously be pandemic discussion, because I’m not a head-in-the-sand type, but there will be non-virus related updates, too.

I’ve been really interested by the varying reactions to these current events. When I thought hard about it, I realized something. No matter the reaction, it’s all rooted in fear. Hoarding canned goods and toilet paper? Fear. Skepticizing “the numbers?” Fear. Scrolling endlessly through social media? Fear. Keeping the television tuned to CNN 24/7? Fear. Pretending nothing is happening and life is per usual? Fear. And I think what I find to be the strangest part of it all, is that nobody wants to actually say that.

So for whoever needs to hear it, here it is: Obviously you are afraid. That is a completely natural response to something for which you have no schema. Being afraid does not mean you are weak or dramatic or negative. It means you are human. We are all afraid.

I guess the trick is addressing it. To be honest, I’m still finding my way through that. I thought I would lose myself in books and baking and my garden. And I’ve done a little bit of that. But the first two weeks had my brain so foggy that I couldn’t focus for longer than a few minutes on any one task. I was able to put down my phone, and turn off the TV, but I’d go to pick up a book and my mind would almost instantly wander. I couldn’t lose myself in a story when the whole world was on its head.

David will tell you that I am a pessimist. I don’t know that that’s true, but I can see how I might give off that impression. I worry a lot. I frequently identify the worst case scenario. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve recognized that as my coping strategy. When a “Well, what if…” pops into my head, my way through it is to actually ask, “Okay, well, what if?” And once I work through what happens next, I tend to find that it’s not as bad as I thought. And if it is bad, it helps me to acknowledge it. I can’t fix something by pretending it isn’t there. And if it’s really beyond my control (a la, global pandemic?) I adopt the “do what you can and leave the rest” strategy. Honestly, sometimes it’s a relief.

What I will support: doing what you need to in order to protect your mental health.

What I will not support: quarantine shame.

No one is superior in their method of handling this, do you hear me? You may use this time to become a concert pianist or exist in one singular pair of sweatpants, and we have to let both be okay. Just stay away from people, wash your hands, and for the love of all things, be nice.

Okay, so house things. I spent the early days of quarantine caring for my indoor plants. 😍 I don’t have nearly enough. If you’re ever thinking, “Hm, what gift might Amelia like?” I can assure you that the answer is plants. (Or wine. 🍷)


Also, I’m going to try a vegetable garden this year. 😬


This is a long awaited dream of mine, but I’m nervous that I will ruin it. When plants die under my care, I feel the most guilty. What if I accidentally kill all of them? How will I live with myself? (This is also why I caution David about us ever having farm animals larger than chickens. If he doesn’t want me trying to bring them inside during bad weather, we probably shouldn’t own them. Most likely I’ll just make him build a barn that’s nicer than our house. But I digress.) I’m starting with peas and beans. I have plans for other things throughout the summer, so I’ll keep you posted.

We’re slowly beautifying other neglected areas of our yard. Thankfully, we scheduled a mulch delivery before the stay-at-home order, so we’ve had plenty of yard work to occupy our time. I love spreading mulch! I hate pulling weeds, which could admittedly be a factor in why I feel so strongly about mulch. Once we have all the flower beds done, I’ll post an update with photos.

David also has visions of turning this area:


into an outdoor entertainment paradise. There is talk of yard games, a fire pit, and a pergola. David sees possibilities in everything, which is why I knew we could buy this house and (most days) not even regret it. As we speak, he’s tearing up some old concrete to make way for activities.

IMG_4655Spring is an exciting time around here, and I’m looking forward to the things I now know exist on our property. (Lilacs! Roses! Peaches!) So even though it won’t be a surprise like it was before, I expect it to still be pretty sweet. (Does that sound like something a pessimist would say? Hmm? 😏)

Anyway, now that we’re feeling a little more focused, I think we can get a little more accomplished. Things may be on a different timeline than they were before (we were supposed to start window restoration this spring – I’m still grieving that delay) but there are good things to come.

Hey, hang in there. It’s hard to see right now, but we’re going to come out on the other side of this. You know, I read a lot of World War II era novels. I love the grit and determination of that time. And I just think, this is that moment for us. When it’s all said and done, I want to be proud of the sacrifices we made and the way we cared for each other. I want it to be a turning point that takes us to a new normal. The old one clearly wasn’t working.

So let this be what you remember when the dust settles – we’re all connected. There’s certainly no denying that now, is there? Let the choices you make from now on always bear that in mind.

Be well. friends. xo

Our individual well-being is intimately connected both with that ...

No good title for these ramblings.

I think I’ll just cut right to the chase here: the holidays are a tricky time. I mean, I love them. Pretty much all of my happiness is tied up in some combination of friends, family, food, and wine. Plus, I really love leggings and sweaters and other comfortable cold-weather clothes that cover my pale, squishy extremities. Fall and winter are my favorite; the time from Thanksgiving to Christmas is my jam. But it can also be hard, right? For a lot of different reasons.

The holiday gatherings. Gatherings of family and friends are a time to catch up, but sometimes the catching up can actually feel more like a comparison game. Milestones are shared and celebrated (new house, car, promotion, vacation!) but sometimes also seem like a ruler by which to measure your own accomplishments. Our house is never going to stop being old. Cars and vacations aren’t exactly in the budget. Neither of us chose career paths laden with promotions and perks. What would our holiday announcement sound like? “We’re still, you know, here.”

And then I started to think, what if that was the kind of announcement we celebrated? In a world of shiny Insta pages; in a world of holiday newsletters, where everyone is achieving and thriving; in a world where talking about challenges is seen as weak or unappreciative; what if we were honest about all of the things, instead of only the best things?

I am finally on the other side of what had so far been the darkest, heaviest time in my life. It wasn’t until I got here that I could see how bad it was back there. What lingers with me is the physicality of it. It was like living without a layer of skin; everything was excruciating. I didn’t even remember what it was like to exist any other way.

Wouldn’t see that in a holiday announcement, now would you?

I have a job that I love. It’s a career that I’m passionate about, and it’s so hard, and I’m only just now righting myself after having the wind knocked out of me last school year. I am so grateful to be able to find some confidence (and joy) in it again.

David is building a small business that he loves. He was passionate about bringing his knowledge and talents here, and even though I was skeptical, I am so grateful to see him helping people in a lasting way. Your health is your wealth.

Our house is still old. There’s a section of roof that leaks. We haven’t started on any of the big projects. Everything is expensive, and most days I’m relieved to drive up and find it still standing. But it’s super cozy, and definitely unique, and I’m never worried we’re going to ruin anything because in 100+ years, it’s probably seen worse. It’s a good house. It’s our home.

Speaking of home, here are some small updates:

David’s woodworking hobby is progressing. From our tables and butcher block, he’s moved into more mixed-media work. He took pipes from our old dairy barn…


…and built a lamp and our a-ma-zing bed.


He also salvaged floor boards from the barn…


…to create my shiplap accent wall.  (Now painted white, as previously seen above.)


And his first custom creation for someone who isn’t us was completed (in collaboration with his brother) and delivered!

IMG_4256That lovely farmhouse table found its way home to Reston, Virginia. Keep an eye out for David Shaffer Designs. 😁


As you get ready to ring in the New Year, remember something. It is oh-so-easy to draw comparisons, and I almost feel like humans have a natural inclination toward “woulda, coulda, shoulda” and “if only.” But just because things could have been different, it doesn’t mean they would be better. Instead of thinking of unknowns as dead ends, try thinking of them as limitless possibilities. And always remember your gratitude. Like I’ve said before – happiness can be more within our reach than we think.

Be well, everyone. Here’s to the limitless possibilities of 2020! 🥂

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Something old, something new.

I’m just going to a call a spade a spade, and tell you that I’m avoiding cleaning and (hopefully the last) weed pulling. I’ve already watched a recorded episode of Dateline and last night’s 20/20 (I love true crime), and I couldn’t sit around anymore. Not in good faith, anyway. I told myself that writing a blog post was the closest I could get to being productive, while still technically sitting around. So here we are. I mean, there’s still coffee in my mug.

Guys, I just have such a #handyhusband. I say random, sometimes absurd things (like, “I want a 9-foot farmhouse table”) and he makes them. He figures out a way. I dreamed of that farmhouse table forever, but we didn’t have any of the power tools you’d normally use for woodworking, and yet – my table lives. David spent two hours on each board, hand-planing old barn wood down to loveliness. Almost a year later, I still sit here and admire it.


So then, I said, “I want matching end tables.” Our living room and dining room are one space, and the Joanna Gaines in my head said that cohesiveness was necessary.

“Except,” I said, “I want metal legs. Like slightly industrial, still farmhouse.” We have black accents in our curtain rods, lamps, chandelier, and fan, and my inside-Jo-voice said this would be perfect.


So then David built those. The tops are the same barn wood he used for the dining room table, and the legs are metal pipes from inside the dairy barn. With help from some Smith uncles, he was able to cut and thread the pipes, and voila! Ah-maz-ing. And one of the greatest features is that they’re narrow enough not to block the doorways into our living room, which was an issue with any standard end table. Custom built furniture for the win!

Now, the next project was all David’s brainchild. When we bought the house, the corner of the kitchen was one massive cabinet. At some point, a double oven was housed there. Once the appliances were updated, it became dead space (or an epic hide-and-seek spot). You can see it in the left side of this photo. I wish I’d taken more pictures!

IMG_2040 (1)

David hated the wasted space, and decided that it should become a pull-out trash can drawer with a butcher block countertop. Big. Dreams.

But remember how I said he figures it out?

IMG_3861IMG_3864IMG_3880IMG_3881That is also barn wood. Like, 100-year-old barn wood. 😧 It’s been planed and sanded a million times, then oiled to perfection. I think we’re both in awe. David made this. What. Of course, it may be a butcher block, but we’re definitely not going to use it. Cut something on it and I will kindly ask you to leave. It must stay beautiful and perfect forever.

While David makes magnificent creations out of reclaimed wood, I use chalk paint. It is arguably the easiest and least technical way to update furniture, which is why I do it. So hard to mess up, guys. Nearly impossible.  We all have our talents, I suppose. 😉

But remember this table?


A lot of sanding (David) and some paint, and it has new life!

IMG_3877IMG_3878I’m thinking a little lamp, a little rug, some plants. Oh, and no air-conditioner. Good riddance, 90 degree weather! I’ll update you as that little space evolves.

I think my favorite part of all of this has been the challenge of doing it on a budget. Now, it’s a little unfair, because our property technically came with lots of old barn wood, and my dad and David’s uncles have graciously loaned tools as necessary. I understand that this isn’t a typical “you can do this too” situation. But I will say that our extremely limited budget has helped us approach this endeavor in a different way, which is something anyone can do.

We don’t really have the means to jump online and buy a lot of things brand new, but we do live in a place filled with antique shops and secondhand stores. Our dining room chairs? $12 each. Sure, they need to be refinished, but we’ll get to it. Where else can you buy a set of six wooden dining room chairs for $72? Accent table? $10. It took an afternoon of painting and some new hardware, but it was worth it to achieve the look and save the cash. Our sofa? Pier 1 sold it for $1000, but we found it for $270 on Facebook Marketplace.


Shopping secondhand takes a lot of patience. Refinishing old furniture or recovering old pillows takes a lot of time. But I am constantly surprised at the pride I feel when we’re able to turn something old into something new. (Don’t worry; I’ll save my spiel about the environmental merits of shopping secondhand for another day.) Really, I have to give most of this credit to my #handyhusband, who is never afraid to think outside the box, put in the sweat equity, and watch endless YouTube videos to teach himself how to do something new. ❤️ Until next time, friends!

No title, many thoughts.

Last time I wrote to you, summer was just beginning. Now, here it is, ending. Rude.

I don’t think any season passes as quickly as summer.  You’ll say, “Well, that’s just because you’re a teacher.” But I don’t think so. I’ve long maintained that there’s a certain magic to summer, and it makes people different. I suppose that could be why it’s gone in a blink. Just like all good magic, it’s over before you know it’s happened.

Anywho, it was a pretty eventful summer around here, but maybe not in the ways we’d hoped. First, we came home from our (very lovely) vacation to see a large section of our maple tree laying across our backyard (and our fence, and David’s car). A raucous storm took care of a very rotted branch, and that rotted branch took care of several other limbs on its way down. Then Hector (our tree guy) took care of the rest, because apparently it was unbalanced and a danger to our home, or whatever. (I’m very bitter over the loss of this tree, if you can’t tell. Plus, tree removal is expensive.)

Then, unrelated to the falling tree, David’s car broke down. So, that was annoying. (And expensive.)

THEN, the pressure tank for our well broke. Also annoying. (And expensive.)

And today, the bulb for our UV light filter went out. An-noy-ing. (And you guessed it – expensive!)

This morning, I told David that I thought we could make a pretty good case for why you should always rent and never buy. Harumph. 😒

Then, he told me that I should write in our blog more, and I said that we hadn’t really done anything to the house lately, and he said it didn’t matter, people just want to read my writing, and then I said that sometimes I feel like I don’t have anything good to say, and then HE said that it’s okay for things to not always be good.

Which hadn’t been what I meant at the time, but feels meaningful now.

The truth is, things aren’t always good (or easy, if that’s a synonym for you). But I am working so hard to actively practice gratitude, and the results are astounding. I mean, like my body actually feels different when I start thinking my grateful thoughts. Sometimes the thoughts come easily (like how my parents have so supportively lightened our load on more than one occasion), and sometimes I have to think a little harder (like how I forgot our property even had a peach tree until the spring, but now I’ve found new joy in all things peach). You can even read about the scientific effects of gratitude and happiness here and here, or maybe listen to it here. It’s okay for things to not always be good, and I stand by that. I’ve pretty openly shared some not good stuff on here. It’s even okay-er to talk about the not good. And yet, it’s empowering to know that something as intoxicating as happiness is more within our control than we think.

But, I digress. (Although maybe not really, because I wasn’t sure of the direction of this post when I started writing it.) Have I showed you my flowers lately? So, let’s start with when I planted them back in May.


They were so cute. David looked at me like I was crazy. “Don’t you need more?” he said.

Well, no. Because:


If you ignore those weeds, so will I. But seriously, 😮. I wasn’t sure how things would grow in our yard (it gets so scorching hot out front), but apparently the answer is “pretty well.” Taking notes for next year, and I hope to get my real garden going out back.

I’m starting a little project for our bay window, too. I’ve been on the hunt for an accent table to give that space some pizazz, and we scored a cute one at D & L Treasures in New Oxford. $10 later, we walked out of there with this guy:


Obviously not the finished look I’m going for, so I’ll keep you posted. Hoping I can fit it in this week, in the midst of all the back-to-school thoughts that are rattling around in my brain. (That’s actually how it feels when I try to sleep at night. I’m starting to hear them clatter.)

Be well and think grateful! ❤️

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Our first house-versary!

“Honestly, I can’t think of anything more liberating than that; knowing that life will look differently than you think it will.”
-Octavia Spencer, Kent State Commencement 2017

Have you all seen that? Octavia Spencer’s Kent State Commencement Speech? Do yourself a favor, and give it a view.

So, yesterday was our house-versary! On June 13, 2018, we closed on #thisoldhouse. It was a beautiful day, but the scene we pulled up to for our final walk through was not-so-much. We reminisced last night, but there’s no need for me to hash it out for all of you. Let’s just say, it was a tumultuous start.

But here we are, a year later! I don’t have any major reveals for you. David says I’ll eventually have to make this blog more about our life than our house, because he doesn’t intend to renovate for the next 40 years. (That’s what he thinks.) I thought maybe I could try to give you an exhaustive list of all we’ve done since that fateful day, though. And we really do have more planned! Just, you know, time and money. Patience is a virtue!

Since June 13, 2018, we…

  • peeled wallpaper in the kitchen, dining room, living room, den, and one bedroom
  • refreshed the plaster on the first floor walls and ceilings (very talented craftsmen did this)
  • painted every room in the house (including ceilings and trim upstairs!)
  • replaced seven ceiling fans
  • replaced two light fixtures
  • changed every light switch and face plate
  • painted the kitchen cabinets
  • put up a subway tile backsplash
  • replaced the carpet runner on the stairs and landing
  • built a farmhouse dining room table (David did this! assembled with family!)
  • pressure washed the house and porch (including a lot of icky mildew on the north side, yuck)
  • painted the shutters
  • pulled many, many, many weeds
  • pulled out scraggly, dying bushes
  • created flower beds
  • planted new bushes and flowers
  • took down a shed
  • took down an old chicken coop/pig barn (which became that farmhouse table!)
  • cleaned out the barn
  • installed various decorations (rehabbed an old desk, turned a sewing table into an end table, hung pictures and curtains, laid down rugs, recovered pillows, etc.)
  • cut down two dangerous trees (very knowledgeable landscapers did this)
  • built 500 feet of fence
  • re-laid/expanded the patio

The other day, David and I listened to a podcast that touched on cognitive bias. One thing it mentioned was the “IKEA effect;” in short, people place a disproportionately high value on things they create themselves. It made me think a lot about what I see when I look at our house, versus what anyone else might see. A home I perceive to be cozy and worn-in might just look old and worn-down to someone else. But when we started this journey, everyone said the hard work would increase my love for this house, and they must have already heard that podcast, because they were right. The darn IKEA effect: we did this,  therefore we love it.

I could never have guessed what was in store for us one year ago. I am not ashamed to say that it’s been the hardest (hardest) year of my life. I will also not pretend to know what’s up next; you know what they say about the best laid plans. But I can promise to share it all here, with you. Be well, friends.

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Hello, Summer!

Guys, I recently made the switch from skim milk to half and half in my coffee, and it is a game changer. I mean, life is short, right?

So the last time I checked in, Spring was upon us. And then I blinked, and we’re heading into Summer. I’m not quite sure what happened to the month of April; it was here and gone in a flash. Now it’s the end (!!!) of May, and we’re looking ahead at summer projects for #thisoldhouse.

Last year, I had these lofty goals of landscaping and planting and beautifying the outside of our property. Ha! I was so cute and naive. But now that the inside of our house is livable, our outside projects are already off to a great start.

The weekend after we closed last June, we weren’t able to work inside the house (it’s a long story) so we decided to tackle the flower beds. I wish I had more pictures of what the house looked like those first few days, but frankly, I was too mortified. Anyway, what you need to know is that we pulled weeds as tall as me all weekend, and that pretty much sums it up.

But look at my flower beds now!


We made a dent last summer, but the persistent rain from July until, you know, yesterday made it pretty difficult to do real work. But over the last couple weeks, we’ve edged new beds, turned the soil, planted azaleas and annuals, and laid down mulch. I’m still adding as we go (last weekend I didn’t plant a single flower and it hurt my heart) but I’m just so happy with the progress.

David also straightened and expanded our patio. It’s nice to have a little bit more maneuverability, and it pleases my love of symmetry. Now we’re acquiring some patio furniture, sprucing up the fire pit, and cleaning off the grill. Who wants to barbecue?


I know that you’re all really here to see the fence, though. Let me tell you, was that a project. I am continually impressed with David, and this was no exception. He meticulously planned and measured for 500 feet of rail fence around our property and then, like, he built it.


The plan is to eventually paint it white, but I foresee that being an “at a later date” project. For now, the pups love having free reign over the yard. And I have to say, as I write this from our patio, with my coffee and some snoozing doggos, I’m a fan of it, too.


This weekend, we might get over to the north side of our house and create some mulch beds around trees and bushes. And, of course, I have more weeds to pull and flowers to plant. Coming soon – sunflowers around the barn!

But I’ve recently thought a lot about what it takes to buy a fixer upper, especially when you intend to DIY it most of the way. Even though we’ve heard from realtors and friends that most people aren’t interested in anything less than turn-key perfection, I thought I’d make a list of some qualities prospective DIY-ers should probably possess (in case that’s you!)

  1. Patience. “Duh,” you might say. But while I have endless patience for other situations in my life, patience on the home front (ha ha) was a tough one for me. Some of my patience is forced, since we can only finance so many projects at once. Yet, surprisingly, prioritizing projects (even out of necessity) helped us be more thoughtful and take more pride in our work.
  2. A sense of adventure. This whole process will be unexpected. Hope you like surprises!
  3. Vision & creativity. It’s not what you wanted – yet. But being able to look past ugly wallpaper or dinged up floors will ensure you don’t miss a diamond in the rough. When buying this house, I constantly compared it to the first home we’d seen. That first house had everything I was looking for, and this one didn’t. It wasn’t until I started saying “yet” that I could see this house for its potential.
  4. Persistence & flexibility. Things will go wrong. Onward!
  5. A sense of humor. Again, things will go wrong. If you can laugh instead of cry (or at least laugh after you cry), it will help.

As the school year winds down, my free time will increase exponentially. Hopefully that means more frequent updates over the next couple of months. For now, I’m off to participate in my new favorite weekend activity: flower shopping.

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Spring is springing!

Last time I wrote, I promised you farm updates and dog pics. I’m happy to tell you that I’m (finally) here to deliver.

This felt like the perfect weekend for a comeback, too. A year ago, David and I put in an offer on the farmhouse. It was my Spring Break, and we figured we should use the free time to start looking at some houses. We didn’t think much would come of it. Little did we know.

Most of you are familiar with the initial saga of this house. I said no, David said yes, and then I had a change of heart to the tune of The Greatest Showman soundtrack. We panicked over Easter, worrying that another offer was going to one-up us, and that the holiday would mean we lost out. My parents were in Kansas visiting my grandmother, and when they returned to Maryland, we greeted them with, “Guess what!?”

We were reminiscing about all of it yesterday, and my mom asked, “So, knowing what you know now, would you do it all again?”


The other day, I told David that I missed our summertime 7 AM trips to Home Depot. He laughed out loud at my absurdity. I do have the tendency to romanticize things, but those are such sweet memories – working on this house together, with our family. To all of those people who told me, when I was sweaty and grumpy and tired, that I would look back on that time with fondness…well, darn if you weren’t right. (I find that annoying.)

But here we are at the end of March, a year since it really all began. After pretty much hibernating for the winter, we (mostly David) are gearing up for some new projects.

There are little things, like our new “security system.” That means we added deadbolts to all of our doors. IMG_2957

Then, there are bigger things, like this massive tree.


Notice how it leans uncomfortably toward our our house. 😬IMG_3160

We’ve never been a fan of the admittedly impressive Norway Spruce, as it crowded other trees on the property. And after the constant precipitation and high winds, we became increasingly worried that it was going to come down on the apartment/barn/house. Based on recommendations from one of our neighbors, we contacted Amigos Tree Service. They came out today, and voila!


It made me sad to see a tree go down, but also relieved to know it wasn’t going to crush our house. That night a while back with the 60 mile an hour wind gusts was a sleepless one.  And working with Amigos Tree Service was a breeze! They were knowledgeable and super efficient. They took down the spruce and a hemlock that was wedged against the house, trimmed our maples, and then cleaned up, all within three hours. 👍

Now that Spring is in the process of springing, our to-do list is growing. I really am itching to get back at it! Here is some of what’s on the horizon:

  • patio update (a little bigger, plus patio furniture)
  • fence (finally!)
  • new mailbox
  • storm doors (for real this time!)
  • general landscaping (annual flowers in front of the house, sunflowers and wildflowers around the barn)
  • butcher block corner countertop (🙌)
  • end tables to match my farmhouse table
  • a shiplap accent wall in the bedroom
  • general organizing and cleaning

I could list forever; David has ideas for days. I think you can expect more frequent posts throughout the spring and summer as we #getstuffdone.

As far as dog pics go, I realized that I never officially introduced the newest pup here on the blog. This is Doc.


He’s a Black and Tan Coonhound/Beagle mix, and his favorite past times include being in your personal space, staring out the window, and annoying Wyatt. Like Wyatt, he was a stray, but presumably for much longer. Our guess is that he’s just barely two, but that he also never had a human or an older dog to guide him. We’re training out some behaviors, but a truly sweet pup is emerging day by day. So we have Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, and we’re still Team Coonhound. They’re the best!

Doc and Wyatt

No rhyme or reason.

Does anyone else feel like it’s been January for 17 years? What is that?

I knew this time of year was going to be tough, but I still wasn’t quite prepared for it. After the chaos of the holidays, in the cold and quiet, there’s a long stretch that I once imagined going differently. When David and I were expecting, we were due in February.

There was a time when I would have described myself as a firm believer in “everything happens for a reason;” you know, it’s all part of The Plan. But that was before I’d witnessed anything truly tragic happen to anyone I love. Or to me.

Because how could this, this tragedy, be part of any plan? A few years ago, a friend was murdered. That is for sure not part of The Plan, ever. “Everything happens for a reason” suddenly seemed so unbelievable. What reason? What reason was worth this catastrophe? Nope. I just can’t.

But geez Louise, if that isn’t scary, amiright? Like, sometimes, there isn’t a reason. Things. Just. Happen. Without your permission! Sometimes, terrible things happen, without your permission, and without a reason. And there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it! Sit with that for a minute, why don’t ya.

This probably seems like a crisis of faith. Like, if there isn’t a plan or a reason, then what is there? Doubt? Fear? Isn’t it overwhelming to know you don’t have any control?

I may not have total control over what happens (good or bad, how or when) but I do have control over what I do in the aftermath. And the grace – what really stokes the fire of my faith – is who shows up to help.

I can’t think of a reason why David and I had to bear witness to this particular tragedy. I haven’t even tried to make our miscarriage part of The Plan. Like I said in my previous post, for some things, there is no satisfactory explanation. And I’ll admit, when it comes to the aftermath, I haven’t been my best self. I’ve been jealous and petty. I’ve been distracted and unmotivated. I’ve been really, really sad. I’m trying not to be too hard on myself about all of that. And I’ve noticed something. I’ve noticed that just when the darkness closes in a little too much, there’s grace. A family member sends a card. A dear friend sends a funny photo. A co-worker leaves a sweet note. People show up to help.

So that’s my philosophy, I guess. Grace. Grace when things are at their most terrible.

Next time, I promise farm updates and dog pics. ❤

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