Hmmmm, it’s been so long since I published a post, I’m not even sure how to start! 😄 I’m also not even sure anyone is still out there—do people still read blogs? I hope so, because creating this way feels like chicken soup for the soul now that I’ve gotten back into the habit of writing again. (More about that at the end of this post!)
Anywho, if there does happen to be somebody on the other side of this screen, hello! How have you been, reader-friend? Are you enjoying the first signs of Spring? We’re keeping as busy as ever over here on the farm.
Did I tell you we moved to a farm? Well, it’s more of a farmette really, but it’s got almost six, sprawling acres and the (nearly) half-century-old house needs just enough TLC to feel absolutely thrilling!
The Lettered Colonial
It’s Colonial in style and the tree-lined gravel drive, which circles around in front of it, had us swooning from the second our tires crunched onto it. And although we had never cared for so many trees and so much land before, the house instantly felt like home, so we decided to give it a go.
It was designed and built for the Stanton family way back when and, rumor has it, Mrs. Stanton taught children from all over the county how to swim in the pool in the backyard. Which brings me to one of our first, big
home pool improvement-related project. About a year after we moved in, the liner kicked the bucket and we replaced it with the Grey Mosaic liner by Latham Pools.
Old liner, new liner. It took 3 days to re-fill it!
It came highly recommended by my friend April, and had everything we were hoping for: no border around the top edge (folks think it’s real tile every time!) and tranquil, muted tones above and below the water line.
The McEwen family bought it from the Stantons in 1990 and lived here until they sold it to us in August of 2021. We were tickled to learn that they had (internationally) adopted one of their children too, and it was their multigenerational family that had started transforming the former two-car garage into an in-law suite.
We’re still in the process of personalizing that area for Jim and Katie (anybody else had a HECK of a time getting carpenters & contractors to show up? 🥴) but fingers crossed, Kevin and I can fumble our way through what’s left to finish. Countertops, a range hood, a few custom cabinets, some custom bookshelves, some open shelving, and the crown & base moulding will round out her cottage-style kitchen.
Katie’s (discontinued) Petite Fleur wallpaper and luxury vinyl parquet flooring
We actually tackled the desk countertop in there this week. We just wrapped some MDF in soapstone-patterned vinyl and we are all so happy with how it turned out! According to the shop I bought it from, the vinyl is waterproof, scratch, tear, and heat resistant, environmentally safe, and can be removed with no sticky residue. It also has a grid on the back to make for an easy application and they included a small tool to get all the bubbles out which worked really great.
Peel and stick soapstone– who knew!?
My Uncle Kevin (a cabinet maker in Minnesota) is actually shipping us one of the base cabinets we need to finish up the sink side of the room this weekend, so I’ll be sure to share a post specifically about their kitchen with more before and after photos in May.
Katie, who recently turned 87-years-young, hasn’t let her unfinished kitchen stop her from partaking in one of her favorite pastimes though. When she isn’t out and about, or relaxing in her chair in the room next door, she can usually be found baking or cooking. Last week, she was inspired to make vegetable soup, and I had to chuckle when I found her standing at her stove boiling meat off the ham she’s had in her freezer since Thanksgiving. (More about exactly why that is so funny at the end of this post! 😉)
I asked her about what else she uses in her soup and she said “Oh! It’s just whatever you want to throw together!” Here’s what Katie had on hand:
1 leftover ham bone
2 cans mixed vegetables
1 bag frozen vegetables
1 chopped onion
2 sliced carrots
5 diced potatoes
1 can of corn
2 cans diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
She started by boiling the ham bone in enough water to loosen the leftover ham meat. Once she had cut it all off, she reduced the heat and began to add the vegetables. She let it cook until the potatoes, carrots and frozen mixed vegetables were done and she and Jim have been enjoying it ever since. Here’s a photo of the recipe she used to make her yummy cornbread too:
She doesn’t add the two tablespoons of flour (when I asked her why, she said “I wasn’t raised on cornbread with flour in it, so I’ve never made it that way as adult either“), and she made a note that if you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, you can add one tablespoon of vinegar to plain milk and to create your own. You may have also noticed that the recipe in her little cookbook didn’t have the cook time listed, so she found that info in another cornbread recipe on the same page and added it by hand. 🥰
Another area of the house that we started working on right away was the foyer. We swapped the old, gray carpeting for three new runners and I’ve been having fun adding to the floral-themed gallery wall ever since.
We also just finished redecorating Kevin’s home studio and, boy, has it been fun to see him come alive in that space! Here’s a photo of the room before we moved in:
Here are links to some of the things we used in case you’re curious or on the hunt for something similiar:
I haven’t quite finished the gallery wall above his desk, but here’s a link to the one we went with:
He loves that it has hooks on one end for his cables and headphones and a storage pocket on the other end for paperwork, mail, etc. Such a great find for under a hundred bucks! We’re going to add a piece of this fabric across the back so that the cables don’t show too.
He’s developed a fervent passion for writing and wakes up early every day to continue crafting his weekly newsletter, which he sends out (for free) every Tuesday morning. It’s called Onward and in it, he shares insights, ideas, and illustrations on happiness, creativity, purpose, and the psychology of well-being. Here’s a photo of some he recently published:
Click the link below if you’d like to hear from him every Tuesday. I promise it will always be one of the highlights of your week!
And speaking of writing, after two long years of thinking, researching, typing, planning, photographing, editing, re-editing, and editing LOTS more, I’m beyond happy to announce that my real-deal, bonafide beacon of a book is finally done! It’s called Coming Home and it’ll be released wherever books are sold on November 21, 2023.
Photo by the incomparable Kyle Campbell @SuddenJourneys
And by excited, of course, I also mean terrified. 😅
I keep thinking of something one of my favorite writers said. Apparently, a mysterious illness, complete with 2-week fever, landed him in the hospital ten times before the release of his first book (when, all of a sudden, he instantly felt better) and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t thought about how sharing vulnerably, without a delete button, might take a toll on my health this Fall too. 😬
That said, I am super proud of what I’ve tucked inside Coming Home and I really do wish I had had a book like this before my garden-variety anxiety spiraled into disordered panic back in 2018. It’s not only filled with soul-suffusing stories, curative quotes, and restorative family recipes, but also with helpful research, practical advice, hope-full poems, inspiring imagery and hand-drawn artwork. I had a blast creating all the doodles and snapping many of the photos. (Kevin contributed a handful of essays and snapped some of the photos too!) And you wouldn’t believe how much fun I had tracking down certain pictures taken by folks I’ve never met. One adventure took me all the way to a tiny village in England and I can hardly wait to share about how I found the person who captured the photo that inspired one particular chapter. It was quite extraordinary and, it turns out, he is too. We chatted for nearly an hour on Facebook Audio the other day and I kept pinching myself during our call to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. 😊
All that to say, Coming Home is not your average memoir, self-help, personal growth, coffee table book, cook book, or gift book. It’s a combination of ALL of those genres and I will be forever grateful to my imaginative literary agent, enthusiastic acquisitions editor, and uber-patient publisher & designers for allowing me to create such a unique and big-hearted book about feeling lost sometimes, and how to keep coming home.
Anywho, Coming Home is available for pre-order on Amazon NOW, and your pre-order today will ensure that it ships to you at the lowest price between now and release day in November. (They’ll refund you for the difference.) And here’s something interesting: because other booksellers use Amazon’s pre-sale numbers to determine how many copies they want to order, pre-orders also play a huge part in how excited they’ll be to come alongside an author when the book is actually released. In other words, THANK YOU SO MUCH if you join me in pre-ordering a copy. Your early support and enthusiasm will make such a difference in the long run, and because it was such a labor or love, I am so, so grateful! 😀
Oh, and if you do happen to order a copy, you’ll find a story about Katie tucked inside too. The chapter is called “An Invitation” and, in it, I say something like “I bet she could stretch a Thanksgiving ham all the way to Easter”- LOL! She certainly made that sentence spring to life this month! 😂
So, there ya have it. And by “ya”, I mean, if there really is someone sitting on the other side of this screen. (I hope you’ll leave me a comment below if you are!) Either way, it’s good to be back, sharing in a way that feels like a little more old-fashioned than “insta”. Feels like fresh air. Feels like coming home.