Thursday, August 23, 2007

You Ask, I Answer

I never learn anything talking.
I only learn things when I ask questions.
-Lou Holtz

Pull up a chair. I've lit some candles, made some sweet tea, and am opening the mail this afternoon.

I was shocked to get home from Mexico Saturday and find 17 packages and letters from you all. Seventeen! Questions, comments, presents... they're increasingly filling my mailboxes- both actual and online. How fun! So how about we take some time today and go through the mail, shall we? Today you ask and I answer.

Q: I was wondering if you could share the paint color in your entry?
-Jen, The Cottage Nest

A: In short, it's called Dune (#8134), and it's a Martha Stewart Signature color. I bought this paint - along with most of the paint for Freeman House - at Sherwin Williams. I stubbornly refuse to paint with anything aside from Martha's colors in Sherwin Williams' SuperPaint Interior. It's durable, washable, goes on beautifully and stays that way. Besides, as the light shifts throughout the day, it's mesmerizing. I love it.

I'm sad to say, however, that Martha's colors are no longer as available at Sherwin Williams as they were a year ago. My local store continues to mix the paint for me as long as I provide them with the paint card number. Yours might, too. Try your local store, or visit Lowe's to check out Martha's new paint line. (I'll warn you, however... the colors seem very dark, odd, and ... of course... you won't get the same depth of color or sheen as you would using her colors in Sherwin Williams' paint. But that's just my two cents.)

(By the way, if you're struggling to match a ceiling color with your wall color, have the paint guys mix up a gallon of paint that's a 25% or 50% formula match to your wall color. The paint will effortlessly coordinate with your wall and save you hours of agony. I've done this in all my rooms, including the entry.)

Q: Where did you learn to sew?
-Cherie, Salt Lake City

A: My mother. She taught me to sew by hand, cross stitch, and craft. She also gave me my first sewing machine and showed me how to thread it and spin the bobbin. The rest I've picked up along the way through much trial and error. If you're new to sewing, let me recommend two current books, with patterns, that will quickly and easily guide you through sewing basics and cute beginner projects. They are: Sew Fast, Sew Easy and Bend the Rules Sewing. You can find new and gently used copies at the Freeman House Book Shop for a fraction of the cover price.

Q: I love your Freeman House garden posts. Was the garden already there or did you plant? Where do your plants come from? What's your favorite garden tip?
-Terrie, Demopolis, Alabama

A: Hoo boy! The garden. When I bought this place in 2005, it came with the following: fig tree, magnolia tree, pecan trees, hydrangeas, hostas, roses, and lamb's ear. I started building on what I had by taking cuttings of the hydrangeas and roses and dividing the hostas. The rest I've added, including all my herbs. I buy my herbs from Pinetree Garden Seeds and start them from seed. It's a snap, really - starting things from seed - and grants you the flexibility of direct seeding, starting things indoors, or transplanting to containers, etc. The herbs I have purchased in pots come from Central Market. Always had great luck with them.

I think gardeners are some of the most generous people around. Dig around and ask people about sharing seeds or cuttings. Jolene shared her thyme, gardenia, and ginger. Sue shared hollyhocks and a host of other breathtaking flowers. Kim shared tomatoes. My mom shared basil. Lori shared dill. It's fun, and makes me pause to realize that this is how the world once worked - seed and plant and harvest sharing. It's wonderful, don't you think?

Favorite garden tip? Yogurt, baby. I smear leftover and soured yogurt (even the vanilla kind!)over everything in my garden: terracotta pots, rocks, bricks, even dirt! In the shade, spread an even coat of yogurt on anything you'd like to age or grow "moss" on. Sprinkle with water occasionally and let the bacteria in the yogurt go to work. In a matter or weeks (or months, depending on weather conditions) you'll have aged pots, moss underfoot, or a brick path that looks as if it's been there forever.

Q: Do you teach a Bible study or class somewhere?
-James (via comment)

A: Uh, no... don't teach Bible studies. I am, however, taking on the third and fourth grade girls' Sunday School class at my church. You're more than welcome to join us... I just hope you like monkey-flavored markers, rollerskating and little plastic chairs. :)

Q: Freeman House looks like a big project and I read you’re single?
Why did you decide to take all this on?

-Lane, Quebec (via email)

A: It never occurred to me that I couldn't. I love this house and love this life.

Q: Where are you?
-Robolady (via comment)

A: In Texas. The piney woods of east Texas. I really hesitate to be any more specific than that. I try, if y'all have noticed, to leave direct references to my full name and hometown out of my blog. I also rarely post pictures of people. My professional background, you may know, is in reporting. I got my share of threats, creepy people at my door, and sperm-filled, vulgar, inappropriate mail. It's nice to feel safe and anonymous again.

Q: When’s your cookbook coming out?
-Susan, Texas (letter)

A: In a few words, I'm not sure. I'm racing to have it completed in December. (Sooner if I can get the tree up and the holiday photographs taken that I need.) To say I'm excited about this book is a huge understatement. I'm convinced the pictures alone will be worth the price... the recipes and straight-forward, honest directions will just be bonus! There's so much I want to show and share with you all that I lose sleep at night over the building excitement.

Okay, so I know I haven't covered them all. But that was a small start, right? We'll try to do this again next week. If you think I've skipped your question or you have a new one, feel free to comment or drop me an email at: As always, I appreciate your feedback, insights, and comments.

Love to you all -Brin


Susan said...

That was interesting!

Anonymous said...

liked the yogourt advice and would like to start sewing so i may have to try those easy sewing books. your such an interesting gal and i admire all you do!! connie

Anonymous said...

Glad things are going well, I feel better hearing your voice and talking to you a bit. I sent the 2 emails Mr. Sanchos and Yoga or "Noga" Cruise. If you don't get them, let me know! Have a great weekend kiddo.
The Cruise Princess

BellaColle said...

oh wow! it is soo nice to learn a little more about ya! lovin' the paint, yeah, I have seen Lowes' matched paint, it's dead on! God Bless.

Unknown said...

Love it! Great to see the progress of your place and know about how you got where you are on it, so far! Love the photos, too!

Alison said...

Enjoyed the question and answer thing. Maybe you should do it more often.

Unknown said...

That was fun Brin, thanks for sharing your mail with us, I'm REALLY looking forward to the book coming out, once again, your living the life I wanted! LOL

Anonymous said...

Thanks again for your post Brin..enjoyed it as usual. I am looking forward to your food book being out in print...won't that be awesome!
Yogurt idea is new to me...thanks!

Anonymous said...

What lucky third and fourth grade have you for a teacher!!

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Always fun to drop by for a visit with you, Brin. Loved reading the questions & answers. I've heard the yogurt thing before, but never tried it. I have lots I'd love to do in our backyard & stones & pavers are involved, so maybe one day.

Have a great weekend!


cammy said...

I enjoyed going through the mail with you today Brin. I keep meaning to try the yogurt thing. I have several pieces of statuary that need to be aged a bit.

Have a lovely weekend. Cammy