Friday, May 22, 2015

Loading Up Weekend...

...is here! I've been too busy to turn around except for getting boxes closer to the front door... and getting my hair under the water in the shower.

While I've sold and donated so.much.stuff this move, the crap I keep just seems to come at me in waves. Books are packed for the new library room. China and fancy dishes are packed for the built-in hutch in the dining room. Pictures are packed for those alcoves in the front room. Everything else is piled and (somewhat) organized all over the house, waiting for me to approach with box and tape.

I told Josh I'm not moving again unless they light the place on fire or come to haul us Christians off to jail. He looked me over without saying a word. But men, you know? He's at work all day and hasn't packed a single box yet. They truly don't understand. No, they don't. *wink*

Hope you have a blessed Memorial Day weekend. See you on the other side! -Brin

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

House Secrets and Purple Potatoes


My, but the kitchen ignited a fire storm.

Josh and I have read every comment and email. It's fun to hear from you- who you are, what you've remodeled (or are living with in hopes of remodeling), what you think about this little kitchen. I think the best advice has been to simply live in the house before changing her. Let the house tell you what it needs, someone said.

Agreed. Maybe it sounds crazy, but I think walls do talk. Have you heard of people who buy old houses and live there and one day decide: I think a doorway should go there, instead of here. And low and behold, the workers come in and discover that the doorway used to be there, after all, and the "new" remodel is actually an uncovering of what was meant for the house in the beginning. Houses are strange that way: if you listen closely, you'll sometimes overhear their secrets.

So we agree: live in the place and get a feel for what's going on. That's the plan. But please, continue voting in the poll if you haven't already. I'm wondering if, in the end, the Yeses will have it.

In the meantime, I'm waist-deep in moving boxes. Josh and I spent some time yesterday taking up the gravel fire pit we built in the place we're in now. Well, correction- he moved the big stones while I yapped and dug potatoes...

Remember my How I'm Growing Months of Potatoes for $3.99? Yeah. Well, I have my months of potatoes now, and I'm trying to get them out of the ground before next weekend when we have to surrender the keys here. The purple potatoes have been especially fun to dig and discover. Have you ever eaten a purple potato? Delicious! Tonight's dinner will feature roasted purple potatoes with thyme and butter. I'll share the recipe and some photos sometime, promise.

Hope your week is going well. And please, keep those comments and emails coming! -Brin

Monday, May 18, 2015

Simple Like a Strawberry


The sun leaked into my room early this morning and I hit the ground running. Our moving truck is coming Saturday and I have so.much.to.do. As in, freeze-the-ripe-strawberries-whole-and-deal-with-them-later much to do. That's how much.

So instead of writing a devotion here this week, I want to introduce you to a gal I wholeheartedly admire: Abbie Jean. Abbie writes a blog called Simple Like a Strawberry, and it's one of the handful of blogs I read regularly.

Go see her and tell her hello for me, would you? I have to get back to it. See you here tomorrow! -Brin

Friday, May 15, 2015

Polls and Pianos



I was genuinely surprised by the comments and emails I got on yesterday's kitchen post. Keep those cabinets! many of you said. Tear them out and update! others argued. So I decided to put it to a vote. The poll is in the sidebar now: if this were your home, would you  keep the cabinets and existing kitchen layout, or would you renovate? The survey is open through the end of the month, so get your vote in soon!

Lots of folks remarked about a window above the kitchen sink. Not happening. There are two rooms beyond that wall, so a window there isn't an option. Any windows will have to be installed on the south wall. The sink is facing east. It's so dark in that little kitchen now though, isn't it? My tentative plan was to relocate the sink to the south wall where there's currently a door leading to the sun room. That means, of course, that the original cabinets are goners. Ack. So much to decide, and soon!

We're days away from moving in and actually getting a real feel for the place. Today we moved my piano into the house. I wanted, so badly, to sit and play and play and play. Didn't happen, but it will soon! I'm itching to play the piano with the windows open. And bake bread in the (new) oven. And pick peaches from the peach tree. And hang sheets outside to dry. Today it was gray and raining and everything was so green. Sitting on that porch was the most solace I've had in a long time.

Soon.

By the way, I wanted to tell you that we already have honey in the bee hive! Update on that next week. Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Vote in the poll, and I'll see you here Monday! -Brin

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Oh HECK no! Or, The 'Before' Kitchen

Oh, my dear friends. Pull up a chair. But...not too close. You don't want to pull up too close. Trust me.

I'm about to show you some current, (read: before) pictures of the kitchen in the new house. 

Seriously, you might want to back up a little farther.

This kitchen is bad. 

Here come the before shots. Are you guys sure about this? Brace yourselves.

The kitchen, as it is currently:





Are you still with me? Are you okay?

Omgosh, y'all. We have a LOT of work to do. "A metric ton", as Josh put it.

But let's focus first on the positives, shall we?

1. The ceilings are 12 feet tall. 
2. There are hardwood floors under that hideous, filthy and chipped linoleum. (Can we save the hardwoods, though? That's the question. Won't know until we rip up the linoleum.) 
3. The kitchen opens up to a south-facing, antique-glassed sunroom. Which is scary right now. But that just means we can bust out that wall to the right of these cabinets and extend the kitchen. Because right now it is pretty small for this big house. (Sorry. Supposed to be focusing on the positive.)
4. ...
5. It has a good roof over it?
6. Anything can be demo'd.

There. We're on top of this already.

So. First order of business in this house is this terrifying monster of a beast kitchen. I have a new layout in mind, but I'm refusing to commit to anything before we move in.

Well. I did start looking for new appliances that would fit the feel of the house and be stylish, well performing partners in this former bakery owner/certified food manager/cooks-dinner-almost-every-night girl's kitchen. And I settled on GE Artistry appliances. In white. It wasn't even a fair fight. The reviews on these beauties are amazing and they are surprisingly affordable. Win. They'll be delivered the week after we move in, which gives us enough time to introduce a sledge hammer to the kitchen and call a plumber.

I seriously hope you folks really were ready for this, because it's about to be on! -Brin

(Have ideas for the new kitchen? Comment below and link away! I'll consider anything at this point....)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Finishings and Startings


We closed on the house. It seemed surreal. There were seven of us around that conference table- talking frantically, shuffling papers back and forth, and checking and double checking lines before we signed. Someone had placed a bowl of Godiva strawberry chocolate squares in the middle of the table before our meeting and there wasn't a single one left when we all stood up. 

Instead of exchanging keys at the end, we exchanged phone numbers. And finally, we got a chance to talk to the seller without the pretense of being yard sale shoppers. In fact, we walked through the house with her and listened to her stories. She explained the attic's two wooden floors, saying that the home had been a two story and, just like Freeman House, had been converted to a one story years ago. She showed me a pipe that needs to be fixed. She unboxed the dining room's original crystal chandelier that someone had taken down long ago. I left so, so eager to move in and tackle all the things she couldn't. It's my house now, after all.

Until then, I'm being an incredible organizer. I am examining every item we own. I'm selling and donating some things. I'm re-framing and re-upholstering and re-staining other things. Today I'm washing every blanket, comforter, and sheet I have and boxing them all. Then, and only then, will I attempt to organize and pack my yarn stash. Omgosh. The yarn stash. 

Good thing there's a wooden floored attic at the new house.


Speaking of yarn, I finished the pillow I was working on a few weeks back. A quick seed stitch and it was done. I couldn't get a good picture with all the dark/stormy weather we've been having- and it looks rather ridiculous here- but you get the idea. I ended up giving it to my Mom on Sunday. She got new furniture and it seemed to fit her house.

So I'm here, washing, packing, selling, and dreaming. We're just two weeks away from the insanity of a new restoration. This week, I'll let you in on the name and the history of the house. I'll show you a few shots inside. Meet me back here?

Let the fun begin! -Brin

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Call to the Hope Bringers


There were storms the past two nights in Texas. Howling, angry storms. They severed limbs from trees and houses from foundations. Sirens sounded and we huddled in halls and bathtubs, listening to the wind and hail and sideways rain. And praying. Always praying.

The wind took all but those few roses above off my rose bushes- roses I intended to make and take to mothers in my life. I was sad as I clipped through the rose wreckage yesterday and stepped over soggy ground littered with thousands of pastel petals. Oh well. There were a few right up against the house that made it. I cut those and put them in a vase with other flowering things and herbs from my garden and drove them to my Mom's. 

But what are a few roses when many lost everything over the weekend? My heart goes out to the people of Van. Homes and schools, destroyed. Bodies, battered and bruised. Hearts, never the same again.

I think it's so important, today and in the coming days, that we don't close down. Give up. Lose heart. That we walk among the shaken things and clip what roses remain and give them to each other. Give them away. Give them all away. Now, unlike ever in our lifetimes, we need people to emerge from storms and riots and darkness and be givers of Light and Hope

The Bible talks about days when things will get very dark. When trouble will touch every corner of the planet. When people will have to choose sides and unimaginable things will happen. But it's also clear that during this time, a people will arise: confident, compassionate, and full of faith. I have a friend who works with CRI and he calls these people the Hope Bringers. I love that. Hope Bringers.

Praying that today you feel strengthened in your heart and glimpse hope in the midst of trouble. -Brin

Monday Moment is a little devotional to help kick start your week. See you again next Monday!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Sweetness

But don't forget, in the meantime, 
that this is the season for strawberries. Yes.
-Clarice Lispector



The first strawberries of the season. They stained Josh's hands with their sweetness.

We have a walk through of the house today at noon, and then a busy weekend ahead. I wanted to stop in, though, and wish you a happy Mother's Day. Even if you're a mother-in-waiting or a mother at heart. Have a sweet Sunday. We'll talk next week. Oh, will we ever talk! -Brin

Thursday, May 7, 2015

House Hours, Planting Plants... and Pesto



I'm now counting the hours until we close on the house. Hours, instead of weeks and days. It's all so exciting I could hardly sleep last night.

All this moving talk got me thinking: I can finally, actually, really plant my plants soon. As in, free their root-bound selves from their terracotta cages and settle them into their permanent homes... the blueberries, strawberries, flowers and herbs. It's one of the things I'm looking forward to most, I think. Finally, the plants I've been lugging from place to place since Freeman House will have a forever home.

Including the basil. I love basil. I've been growing the same sweet basil from seed from my Freeman House crop every year since I left. It's acclimated now to the scorching, humid area that is northeast Texas, and it does well in pots. But how much better will it be to have as much as I want! Especially for pesto. 

Do you eat pesto? I make it from my own basil and love it spread between thick bread on griddle sandwiches and stirred into salted pasta hot from the pot. My recipe is almost exactly like this one. I'll make huge batches and freeze it in my Pampered Chef herb freezing trays and it's easy and there when I want it. If you haven't ever made your own pesto, I'd encourage you to give it a go this summer!

Okay. Crazy brain. Went from house hours to plants to basil recipes in a few sentences. Please forgive the nervous excitement. We close on the house in hours, y'all. Hours!! -Brin

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Home Soon

Home isn't where you're from, 
it's where you find light when all grows dark.
-Pierce Brown, Golden Son


I got these pictures from the home appraiser yesterday, probably because we close Thursday.

We close Thursday. Thursday, I will have a house. A place of light while all grows dark.

It was a long wait, but now it's over. This week, I will have a new home!


There's so much to be done. Just look at the place! Over the weekend, Josh and I showed up to the seller's yard sale incognito so we could look the place over again. Our realtors have been adamant about keeping buyer and seller separate, so we listened to them talk about selling the place and moving and the monster king size bed in the master and nodded and murmured sympathetic things. Josh bought a table saw that was left from the longtime owner. I bought some garden tools. Then we got back in the car, more excited than ever.

The last minute curve ball (and I'm told there always is one) is that the owner requested an additional three weeks after closing to vacate the property. We wanted to say no but couldn't, really. The elderly ladies who are moving are stressed enough as it is, and we were able to negotiate a better price in exchange for allowing them to stay past closing. So we get the keys and access to the house Thursday, but work can't begin until they leave. Or May 31. Whichever comes first.

It's okay. I have so much to do before then, and I'm used to the idea now. Week after Memorial Day. I can wait.

I can't believe the home adventure begins again so soon. I can't wait to take you inside! -Brin