The Small Things

I hold that while the big things are nice, it’s the little things that really matter in a relationship. I don’t mean a romantic relationship either. Have you ever had a friend who just got it? The ones who don’t care if your house is messy, they just love having a warm cup of tea with you. The ones who don’t care what you look like, just as long as you can laugh together. These are the people I keep around me in my personal life, and it means the world to me. It never ceases to totally surprise me though when one of these awesome people does something that seems so small to some, but is so meaningful. Recently one of my friends, Meg, did this for me.

When Meg and her husband showed up a few weeks ago to visit with Andy and I, and another couple we love hanging out with, she came with a beautiful old basket in hand. It was stunning. She then handed it to me. I didn’t know why. Her answer was simple: she thought of me when she saw it. That alone meant so much to my heart. Then she told me the story behind it. An elderly woman had passed away on the small island where her family has a home. Meg walked by as the woman’s family was cleaning out the house and spotted the basket. They were getting rid of it. She thought of me and saved it. It was a little mildewy too so she cleaned it, and then painted the outside of it. Simply because she thought I would like it. My heart melted a little bit.

DSC_8147After melting at the little details on it from the hand painting on top (original) to the rusted nails and hinges, I opened it to find something else.

DSC_8137Not only had Meg saved this beautiful basket for me, she then also filled it with other treasures she found along her way that made her think of me…

…sweet vintage napkins…

DSC_8138…a beautiful recipe box…

DSC_8141…with recipe separators still inside…

DSC_8142….she even remembered one my favorite tea, Rooibos.  When I said it was one of my favorites she smiled and said “I know, I remembered.”

DSC_8139Once I got to the bottom I realized it wasn’t a normal basket – it was a pie basket. I had been casually looking for a pie basket that I loved for a while. This basket is going to be something I take good care of so I can hopefully be carrying pies and other yummy things in it for a long time to come. It’s so beautiful, but the meaning behind it is even more beautiful to me.

DSC_8143 DSC_8145 DSC_8144I’m an extremely sentimental person, but it’s something that’s hard for me to admit and express sometimes in person, though I’m never shy of saying a very genuine thank you. Spilling my sentimental guts is where it gets hard for me, so it’s easier for me to write.

The point is, sometimes it’s the smallest thing in life that mean the most to people and I’m one of those people. Then again, I guess that’s why I have the friends I do. We care about each other in the small ways. The ways that we’ll do something just because it made us think of the other and we know they would appreciate it. It’s not about being lovey dovey, it’s not about looking for a “thank you”, it’s simply about expressing appreciation for who the person is. I hope I return this to my friends enough, because they make my life so colorful and wonderful and beautiful.

I’m so thankful for friends. Also, I’m thankful for friends who love salvaging and saving beautiful pieces, and picking the free tables at the dump as much as I do.

Do small things mean a lot to you too? Are you sentimental also?


Equipment Love: Mahindra 2415

A (long, long) while back Andy mentioned I should write about the equipment we own. I told him he should write about the equipment we own, in my never ending quest to have Andy write a blog post which I’m rather certain he never will. That said, writing about the equipment we own is a pretty good idea. He’s right that without some of our equipment we wouldn’t either have certain things done, or it would be a lot harder.

No single piece of equipment we own is bigger than our Mahindra 2415, both in size and how crucial it is to having our little homestead. Unlike my relationship with Troy, I’m on good terms with our tractor who I lovingly call Mah. When Winnie was a puppy she was even featured in Living The Country Life magazine while sitting on her (yes the tractor is a she, says me). I grabbed this photo with my point and shoot, and when I saw there was a call for cute animals I sent it in.

561701_487242111305592_29761995_nWe like to tell Winnie she needs to earn a living and she definitely pulled through, at least once. To this day our dogs like jogging along the tractor in their older age, and still enjoy a lap ride now and again.

To really write about Mahindra I had to ask Andy for his input. Buying this tractor was primarily his gig though I was definitely on board. He had wanted one for a very long time; as in childhood. I more or less saw it as a means to an end, and ended up loving it after we had her a while. When we bought this property we knew we needed a tractor in order to fix up the land and build our house. Then it turned into both a tractor for around our homestead, but also for agricultural use up at the farm. All in all, it’s been well worth the money.

This was one of the very first photos we ever took of our Mahindra, long before the barn and garage were even started and clearly well into my phase of color blocking photos on my point and shoot.

6.8.2008 005Over the years we’ve really loved this girl, though there have been a few times we’ve debated on upgrading to a larger model. We always decide to stick with the 2415 though. It really is the perfect size, both for us, and the farm. While the farmer owns lots of larger models, little red can fit under the barn to muck it out. If we got a bigger tractor we wouldn’t be able to get under the barn, and mucking it out is pretty important.

DSC_4931-01We have a few implements for the tractor that we’ve accumulated over the years including forks for the front end, and for the back a bush hog, a finish mower, a box blade. Andy has even altered the Mahindra to attach to a plow which can be controlled by the hydraulics. Heck, she’s even skidded logs before by a chain.

DSC_4927-01Andy would be the first to tell you my favorite attachment is our 1710 backhoe. I can’t explain why, but I just really enjoy using it. I think it’s the same reason I loved digging holes in the dirt as a kid—there’s something inherently fun about getting dirty and even more so when the thing you’re digging with has an engine.

6.8.2008 027The next implement I’m pushing for is a hydraulic logging winch. My goal is to get a sawmill within the next couple years, and the winch would come in handy, but that’s another post for another day. All in all, Mah definitely earns her keep around here and she’ll be around for a long time to come, I imagine.

6.8.2008 029Do you guys have any pieces of equipment, large or small, that are staples at your place?


Treading It Up

There are also a lot of other dogs in our lives between our two, our friends, and our families. When it came to our new stairs we knew there would be scratches and marks, but let’s just say we weren’t expecting total destruction, at least not so soon.

StairTreads_January (4)It turns out dogs don’t get great grip going down the stairs so it looks like they are running in place a la Wiley Coyote, or they get nervous and fly down them so fast while digging in the entire way. While our girls have become used to the stairs finally, and we’ve taught them how to go down gently, the damage had been done.

StairTreads_January (2)Andy kept asking me to look into options to protect the stairs going forward, but permanent carpet in my house is a huge zero. We had a permanent runner before renovations and the amount of hair/dirt, etc. I found underneath of it when we ripped it up was enough for me to swear them off. Also, I LOVE the feeling of wood stairs below my feet. I do not love however the damage being done to the stairs.

StairTreads_January (3)After looking online and discussing it more, we landed on carpet stair treads that can more or less be held in place with a piece of anti-slip mat beneath the carpet. They fit the bill in three ways:

  1. They aren’t permanent. This means no holes to patch down the line when we refinish the treads.
  2. They are easily cleaned. All I need to do it pick them up, vacuum under them, shake the rugs off, and toss them in the washer and dryer.
  3. They’ll give the dogs security. Our dogs have really appreciated the other two area rugs we’ve put up at the top of the stairs and on the landing. Winnie has definitely felt more comfortable walking around in these areas.

About two months ago I started doing some research knowing I wanted at least partially natural fiber, and a neutral light color. I looked around and found a couple different options, and while nice they were ultimately too expensive. My favorite on Amazon, would have been just right but I couldn’t stomach paying almost $32.00 a tread. It would have come out to $320.00 not including the non-slip mat, tax and shipping. No thanks.

I had put the tread issue on the back burner until Andy asked about it again recently. I gave researching a second shot for something both appropriate in material, color and budget and came across these babies on Sierra Trading Post from Colonial Mills.  Wool blend? Check. Good price? Check. Oatmeal color? Check. Rounded edges? Eh, we’ll live with them. I also picked up the adhesive kit which I might just buy an extra roll of because it is seriously the best adhesive I’ve ever used. Overall the entire cost, including a discount code they had on the website, came to $153 and change.

Earlier this week this box showed up at my house.

StairTreads_January (1)With these inside.

StairTreads_January (5)When it came to installation it might have been the absolute easiest project I’ve ever done in my life. I needed one tool – a box knife.

First, I figured out where I wanted each tread to go and since our treads are the same exact size the whole way up  and we don’t have to deal with a tapering staircase like some people do when they install a runner. I decided to center them after deciding I didn’t like them closer to the wall.

Second, I measured out the adhesive which is sticky on one side and a protective sheet on the other. You can either cut it before you stick it down on your tread, or do what I did and stick it down on the tread while on the roll. Once I had it where I wanted it I simply pulled slightly up and slashed it right below where it came off the roll (so I wouldn’t cut into the next layer on the roll). Note that I did not cut on the stair itself, that would have left a gash in staircase.

StairTreads_January (6)Once it was all laid down I peeled the plastic off, and then laid the carpet tread on top of it. I made sure to press down all over the tread to get good contact and make it stick well.

StairTreads_January (7)

StairTreads_January (9)The dogs are particularly huge fans of them. Winnie and Rosie have realized they don’t have to worry about grip and have been going up and down them very easily.

StairTreads_January (10)StairTreads_January (11)There has been one persistent case of stair related stress these treads won’t fix – Primrose trying to steal whatever Winnie is carrying in her mouth while descending the stairs. What a brat. A brat I love very much and who might be starting to think her name is, “LEAVE IT.”

StairTreads_January (12)Overall we’ve had the treads installed for a few days now. So far we’re really happy with them. They haven’t shifted a bit despite multiple trips up and down by two adults and two dogs. I even used some of the extra awesome adhesive backing to keep the runner at the top of the stairs in place and it too hasn’t budged which surprised me.

As for cleaning, these treads are meant to be spot cleaned but hah, in our house they’ll be thrown in the washer at some point. I’m sure of it. As for design, they fit the bill for what they are. They might not be the most fashion forward decor item you can put up but sometimes function edges out style and truthfully, we really don’t mind them.


Closet Organization Overhaul

When we built our master bedroom we knew there would be one thing that wasn’t very “master” about it—the closet. Before we even started building we knew we would have to run the stove pipe through the corner of our closet and then box it in to protect against the heat and to finish the space. While the other bedrooms have full closets, this one needed to be designed to utilize all the space most efficiently. It also meant cutting down my wardrobe and being honest about what I actually wear. Truthfully it was cathartic. Since we keep our shoes here, I don’t have to worry about closet space for them.

Once the bedroom was done and we moved into it, we knew some of the finish work was going to wait until winter – and that meant a closet system. Until then we moved the wire rack we had been previously using up into the closet, and threw a basket on the floor next to it. It was…uh…well, it worked for the time being.

DSC_7874-01Weeks ago we decided it was time to start building a closet system. Last weekend after all of the holiday hubbub Andy took my plans, changed them around slightly to make things flow better, and built an awesome free standing system that incorporated everything we needed. When it came to building storage for our closet I knew I had to have at least three types of areas:

  1. Two hanging rods for Andy’s shirts, and my suits, button downs, professional shirts, etc.
  2. A smaller but longer hanging area for my dresses so they aren’t wrinkled
  3. Cubbies for my trousers and sweaters, with space on top for sweatpants/shirts

Andy did not disappoint, then again, he has never built something that did. Using Poplar sawed from his grandfathers lot in Ohio, he ran it all through the jointer, the planer and then the table saw to prep all the pieces. He built the system using a series of dado’s, glue and screws.

DSC_8001 DSC_8002 DSC_8008 DSC_8009DSC_8024 DSC_8032 DSC_8040This is where things got a bit hairy for me. This is one solid piece, just as it looks. We had to get it up the basement stairs and around a corner into the main house, and then up the new stairs and into the bedroom. It was heavy, and I’m awkward so it wasn’t the easiest thing for me to help with but a woman’s got to do what a woman’s got to do.

DSC_8044 DSC_8048 DSC_8052It was a feat getting it up the stairs, but also into the closet. In order to get it in we had to remove the wood around the wood stove pipe and very carefully tilt it in and then up, and then replace all the wood around the pipe. In the end it all slid in without having to rebuild anything. Even though it’s free standing, it literally cannot fall out of the closet. It can tilt forward until it hits the header, but it can’t actually come out. That said, we’ll still be securing it with screws we just haven’t done it yet.

DSC_8054 Andy then measured where all the rod holders had to go, screwed them in place, and then cut the wooden rods to fit and installed them.

DSC_8060 DSC_8067On the top we have a larger space and a spot to hang my dresses, and on the bottom we have a larger space and I ended up with a spot to hang my skirts too! The skirt rod ended up being a last minute addition that ended up working perfectly and I love it.

DSC_8069 DSC_8068We’ve had this system in place for almost a week and  it is already way better than the previous wire shelf which has been relegated to a plant stand. I haven’t been able to get a great photo of it filled out yet, but here’s the one I snapped the other day on Instagram. You can see here that Andy has also put a few hooks up so our robes no longer get tossed over the end of the bed.

31ba8c5478c111e381dd1273149d0f6d_8Let’s just look at that before and after again.



31ba8c5478c111e381dd1273149d0f6d_8Junky iPhone photo and everything, and it still looks way better! Here’s to the small things being finished up.


2013: A New Years Recap

I hope you all enjoyed a New Year’s Eve fueled by too much wine and too much food, with those you love or those you love getting in trouble with. To ring in this new wonderful year, I thought I’d take a look back at each month of 2013 and pick my favorite post from that month.


Low Tunnel Hoop Bender
My favorite post of January was most definitely, hands down my homemade hoop bender . It’s no surprise to any long term reader that I really take pride in being able to grow my own food. Part of this is knowing you don’t know and actively learning, researching and experimenting. In January I attempted to build a homemade hoop bender because I’m too damn stubborn to spend the money on one if I decided I didn’t like have low tunnels. This summer I found out I really do enjoy having them, but that I likely have enough hoops to keep me satisfied. This means I don’t need to buy a hoop bender after all. They aren’t perfect, but they’re mine.

IMG_4136Runner Up: Huxtawesome – because who doesn’t love The Cosby’s?


A Paint Color Choice Method Which Is Going to Sweep the Nation Like Those Shamwow Things Which, By The Way, Are Actually Awesome
Some of my favorite posts are the ones I sarcastically write out of my own realization that I’m utterly ridiculous. This is where this behemoth comes into play. It also might be the longest post title on this blog ever.

DSC_1635-01Runner up: Support Local Farmers & The Food Movement. This topic is close to my heart and important to me. In the moments I’m not being sarcastic, and making fun of myself, sincere posts like this are written.


Our Dyed Concrete Hearth, and Lessons Learned
In March we were full steam ahead to laying our reclaimed pine floors, but my favorite post of this month was the  concrete hearth we put in. It was brand new to me, and I think it was the first concrete hearth Andy had ever laid either. He had worked with concrete a ton before, but it was nice to be into something for the first time together. That, and this thing is awesome.

DSC_2073-01Runner Up: Who Needs The Gym When You Can Paint? Paint colors going on the wall after a renovation, if you’ve been there, you get why this was a close second.


With April being such an awesome month I’ve decided instead of a runner up, there’s a straight-up tie.

A New Addition to the Family
A new (to us) Suburban we had been discussing for years, and a new (actually new) chainsaw. I sort of made you guys think I was pregnant though with this one. I’m kind of an ass sometimes.


That One Time We Ate Maple Syrup Over Snow And It Was Delicious
Just go look at the photos and you’ll see why this was one of my favorite weekends of the year. Hanging out in the mountains, in snow, with family, and dogs, roasting meat and boiling sap and then eating the syrup off the snow. Done and done.



Getting The Garden Going
May is a glorious month in my mind. May is the month the soil becomes malleable in my hands. The month I can start planting early harvest items that might withstand a freak frost. It’s the month my whole body lets out a big sigh as my fingers sink into the dirt. It’s also normally the month I fight with that bastard of a tiller Troy. Last May though my favorite post was about getting my garden back in place, putting my new row covers up, and in general letting the growing process begin.

PotatoBox (39)Runner Up: This month was filled with runners up, from another sarcastic post on building a Potato Box, to Easy Homemade Ravioli Filling, to the First Asparagus Harvest.


Beach. Sand. Burn. Dammit
I would be remiss to put together a “best of” post without ridiculing myself for getting a nasty as heck sunburn this summer. I am nothing if not a piece of work.

DSC_4914-01Runner Up: Like a dog post wasn’t going to make it into this recap. Primrose is a master of being all up in our space when we’re renovating. Renovation Photobombs showed that side of this cheeky, loving, helper of a sneaky lab.


A Vacationland Roadtrip: Home Sweet Home” 
Combine the North Woods, our honeymoon spot, a triple goat birth, our dogs, my husband, the suburban, moose, the mountains, and good food and you have officially have my favorite post of July, and in my top favorite moments of the year.

DSC_5617-01Runner Up: The Moose Truth, a very short photo-documentary on the grooming habits of moose.


Locking It Up” 
The moment that the renovation was real and we were about to move into our new room. Also, I got genuinely excited about the new door knobs. Judge me all you’d like, this was still one of my favorite August posts.

image2Runner Up: Limeade, Lemonade, First-Aid: A recipe, and a reminder that I’m constantly hurting myself on nothing.


Braiding Hard Neck Garlic” 
I had never braided garlic before, so this process was a new one for me. Last summer I remember thinking Andy was growing too much garlic, and we would have plenty. Lo and behold, I was way off. We’re planting almost triple what we grew last year, and truth be told it probably still won’t be enough. I see a lot of garlic braiding in my future.

IMG_6556Runner Up: Basil Cashew Cream Sauce, also known as a delicious and healthy vegan alternative to regular pesto and a delicious dip in it’s own right.


The Tasty ‘Tatoe Harvest” 
It may not have happened in October, but I wrote about it in October. Harvesting potatoes from our potato box was pretty great. It was the first year we had tried a box versus rows for potatoes.

PotatoHarvest (9)Runner Up: Wood Stove Maintenance – Gasket Replacement – it’s not the sexiest post, but it’s useful


Vegan Gluten-Free Creamy Tomato Soup {I Swear It’s Delicious}
It’s delicious and you’ll never know it’s vegan.

DSC_7546-01Runner Up: Wheat-Free Dog Treats– a great recipe for pooches at a fraction of the cost of wheat-free treats at the store. Also, I barely wrote in November soo….


Reclaimed Shoe Rack
Reusing an old item for it’s old purpose? What a novel idea! Also, it would have been a shoe rack regardless of what the original use had been, so really, I’m not that clever.

DSC_7677-01Runner Up: Supreme Vegan Nachos – delicious nachos that don’t make you feel gross afterwards

Here’s to seeing what the New Year brings with it! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this year. I’ve enjoyed writing, even those months that I barely wrote. This next year will hopefully allow me more time, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout the last couple years of blogging it’s that I’m not going to say I’ll do anything because frankly, life gets in the way and I like to manage expectations haha.