Happy New Year

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I don't have the most popular blog on the Internet or the most consistent of posting schedules but I have YOU and that's what's important to me!

Thank you for your support and for following along during the long process of renovation at the farmhouse. I have so many things to be thankful for as 2016 comes to a close and 2017 begins and each of YOU is one of those things.

Thanks for always being there to cheer me on! I wish each of you a year filled with health, happiness and prosperity. Here's to 2017, full of promise and another chance to "get it right" (and who knows, maybe even finish the farmhouse?! Hey, it could happen!)

Thanks for reading,


My 2017 Word of the Year: Minimalist

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As 2017 approaches and I sat down to decide what my word of the year would be, it was actually a pretty easy choice: minimalism.  I began the process of simplifying the way that I live three and a half years ago when we moved to the farmhouse, selling furnishings with our former home and selling, giving away and donating much more as we got ready to move.

Over the course of the last three and a half years, I've lived with about 80 percent of what we own in storage.  I've had a basic wardrobe consisting of about 25 items of clothing and four pair of shoes and boots.  We've lived a pretty spartan existence in a 300 square foot efficiency apartment with our 72 lb yellow lab.

It seems fitting that the concept of minimalism originated in France in 1905-1910 and while it was originally a political statement, it has become a design style that I have come to love and embrace.  I've always been a "plain" decorator at heart. Pattern is used carefully in my home and I prefer classic shapes and natural materials with beautiful color and texture rather than pattern. I've always believed in quality over quantity and I also believe one well chosen piece can make a room.

As the renovation of our farmhouse is drawing to a close and I am finally retrieving our belongings from storage, I find that I'm taking a new look at the items that I choose to allow back into our home.  While family heirlooms and beloved collections will return, I have already begun the process of paring down things like my ironstone collection to only those pieces that have a simple shape or will serve multiple functions. I'm repeating that process with virtually everything that we own.

As I complete rooms here at the farmhouse and begin to share them, you'll likely see a "less is more" approach to my design. However, while I do embrace minimalism, I don't want our home to feel monastic; I want carefully edited rooms, not those that feel cold or sterile.

I'm also learning to allow my belongings to have "breathing room" to better appreciate them and through that process, I have found that there's a fine art to creating spaces that lack "excess" but still exude warmth and beauty. I am making the creation of those types of spaces here at the farmhouse my mission in 2017.

I can't wait to share the completion and unveiling of the farmhouse with you in 2017 and as always, I wish you health, happiness and the love of family and friends.

Thanks so much for reading!


Merry Christmas and a Farmhouse Progress Update

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I can't believe how long it has been since I've written here on the blog. It has been so long, in fact, that a few of you reached out to me to make sure that I was okay. Thank you for that!   Between my day job and working on the farmhouse the days have been long and I've done precious little other than those two things. With what free time I've had, I've to spent time with my family. We've celebrated my mom's 80th birthday, my dad's 81st birthday, Thanksgiving, and now, Christmas.
Since my word for this year was "authentic", and since so many of you have asked, here's a real and raw update on where we stand on our renovation at the farmhouse. Progress has been slow but we are clawing our way towards the finish line with our focus being a final occupancy permit from the village where we live.
In late fall, we finished the majority of the landscaping and laid 12 pallets of sod. Grading and drainage issues which were causing water in the basement were finally addressed and I no longer have standing water in the middle of the back yard! Even though it was more costly, I chose to sod our yard rather than seed because we were running out of warm weather with which to germinate grass seed and because, in order to be able to live in the house, the village requires grass that covers 90% of the soil (for those who seed) or lawn "with roots" for those who sod.

Laying sod was  three long days of heavy work with me working beside my landscaper, Manuel Landscaping but at the end of day three, we were finished and we had "instant lawn".  Fall in Northern Illinois was mild and long this year which was perfect for establishing new sod and I'm happy to report that the roots are established, our final "as built" engineering survey is complete and from the village's perspective, the exterior of our home is finished. Whew!
The mason returned in early December to complete the fireplace and install brick on the hearth and in the bottom of the niche's in the kitchen. This brick is special to me because it was reclaimed from a home which was torn down in the town where I was raised and I was there when it was cut into the pieces that the mason used. 

The floors are "finished" with our floors. There are a few issues with the finish and some of the joints which have yet to be addressed and I've been waiting for over a month but I'm hopeful that at some point, they will be.

The electricians have completed the wiring and hung all of the light fixtures that I have purchased. They put caps on the places where I haven't found fixtures and we have passed our electrical inspection which is another check mark on the journey to occupancy. 

The dining room ceiling has been replastered due to the water damage that occurred last spring when the roof was off.  All of our belongings are out of storage and in the house. The one item that I'm most excited about is our sons' piano which spent just over three years in storage!
I have begun to paint the interior walls. To date, I  have completed two rooms and three hallways. Painting has taken longer than it should have because when the hardwood floor was installed, the installers splattered glue all over the walls. This means that every wall  has to have the splatters scraped off, sanded, patched and primed before it can be painted. The flooring guy promised to send a painter to look at it five weeks ago but that hasn't happened so I've put away the paint until after the holidays. 

We currently have one bathroom that is functional. I waited for over a month for the plumber to show up to connect the fixtures. When he did, I realized that they had thrown away the thermostatic valve for the shower and I had to order a new one. After a couple of more weeks, he completed that bathroom and I have been waiting for five days for him to return to connect the remaining fixtures in the master bathroom and the gas lines for the fireplace starters.  Also, when I turned on our recirculating water pump for the hot water on Monday, it leaked all over the basement floor... obviously, that will need to be fixed.

Plumbing has been one of the worst parts of this project...immediately behind the first mason...but let's not start on that.

I still have no kitchen. No cabinets, counters, or appliances. I have no interior doors with the exception of those that are required by the village for occupancy. I have no interior trim.

With all of that said, what I do have is a home that I love and faith in God's timing for the completion of this project and while this may  seem like a "complaint" post, it's really not.

There is so much about the farmhouse that I LOVE!  I love the way the sun shines in the kitchen windows in the morning and dances in the hearth room in the afternoon. I love looking through the stone arch in the middle of the house to see family walking down the hall toward me at the end of the day and the sense of accomplishment that I have when I finish putting hardware on a cabinet or painting the table for the master bath. Yeah...let's strike that for now since the vanity has to be remade because the plumber cut the holes in the wrong spot today.
My sons are both home for Christmas and I decided a few weeks ago that "house stuff" would wait until after the holidays so that I can spend time with them. Believe it or not, we're actually hosting family on Christmas day! There will be crock pots, coolers, and a microwave but if  I've learned throughout the process of renovating this house it's that what really matters isn't whether or not I have a refrigerator, it's spending time together with family and friends and that the people who love you show up anyway.  

Painting and interior trim will begin again in mid January after my son goes back to college. The kitchen cabinets should arrive in January or February and until then, I'm savoring time with my sons and the sound of piano music in the farmhouse for the first time since we moved here three years ago.

I wish all of you the very Merriest of Christmases, the Happiest of Holidays, and the best for a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous 2017! Thanks again for sharing this crazy journey. It means the world to me.