Tuesday, September 29, 2009

There. I HEPT!

Ok so I have some catching up to do. This week I plan on posting pics of all the work that has been going on at my parent's farm where my brother Eli is putting up a building for his new business. Kevin and he have done all the work themselves, with help from other people too of course!
I should explain that the business is "pet services"; that is, pet cremations and memorials. Yes, this is big business; and it is perfectly clean, safe, and tasteful. I will link to their website when it is finally up.
ANYWAY this is the day they poured the concrete slab on which the 8-ton incinerator would go. I totally helped out with this phase. I was so proud of myself. My first construction experience. This was all about two weeks ago, btw.
Later this week: "Moving the 8-ton incineration machine: One tractor, one trailer, three guys, two chains, and a 1-ton dually." Oh yeah. You know you can't wait for that installment. I will just say - it was really hair-raising. Seriously.





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Ya'll come back now, 'hear?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Weekend Travels and Homecoming Surprises!

There is nothing like a refreshing weekend among friends to brighten your day(s). Such was my weekend! My sister Naomi and I traveled to Harrisonburg, VA to visit with our BFFs since girlhood Lis and Su . (Make sure to dig their blogs.)
We four have known each other for over half of our lives. We grew up together, and we grew up with their husbands as well! Our friendship runs deep; and we seem to be more like sisters than friends. I could go on and on about my sentiments about them but I will save it.


Anyway, so Susi and her small daughter Violet just moved here from her home in Washington (state) after her husband Ben deployed to Iraq (for the second time).
Lisi (who happens to be her sister, did I mention that?) and her two children Sofi and Judah drove across the country with Su and got back one week ago. (make sure to read all about it on their blogs.)
Naomi and I hauled a load of furniture "up the mountain" for Susi's rented townhouse there.


Susi made Belgian Waffles for breakfast (with help from Violet.)


Lisi's hubby Jeremiah, Naomi, and friend Nick discuss unloading the heavy pieces from my truck. It was a cold, rainy day for it...........



Naomi admires the walls in the kitchen we all painted together, whilst cracking jokes and remembering old times together.
The weather was nicer on Sunday and we went out for tea. But the Tea Rom was closed, so we settled for tasty "Gilato" instead. (Basically, an Italian form of ice cream.)


It was such a great weekend. It was far too short. I will simply have to return and pick up where we left off.

Of which part of the weekend did I suffer love for the most, you ask?
As Beatrice says in Much Ado About Nothing: "For them all together."

Ya'll come back now, 'hear?

My OTHER nieces and nephews

Ok and now for my semi-"weekly" post of photos of my brother's kids. Most of the time I post Eli's kid's pictures; not so much Noah's kids, as they live in Charlotte. (Far away from me.) So.


This is Emilie; three in December. She thought she was pretty clever to be in the driver's seat.


I don't doubt for a second that she would have tried to drive it, had the keys been in it.


And this? This is Owen. Ethan calls him "Chub-Chub". (I wonder why?)
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More on the lovely weekend I had later after I sort out my photos from it.

Ya'll come back now, 'hear?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For

Last night, I was sitting on the sofa with Kevin, mellowing out after a civic meeting I attended. (I am a board member of the Milton Preservation and Beautification Society in my little historic hometown that is so dear to my heart.)
I had been thinking about this a few days, and suddenly just came out and told Kevin:

"I want another cat."
"I... Want...Another...Cat."
And funny look.
I didn't say anything else.


Sometime during the night I heard my cat Cosette outside fighting with another cat. I went back to sleep.
This morning, as I was trying to get conscious and get up out of bed, I heard a pitiful cry outside my upstairs window.
I bolted straight up out of bed and ran outside in my frumpy pj's towards the cry.
And I discovered this in one of Kevin's hay bines in the side yard/equipment parking lot.


He is about 8 weeks old. He gobbled up a half a cup of cat food with milk, and slept for hours. I think I will keep him, and Splat threw a fit this morning about it. Growling and hissing at him when they were introduced.

I think I will name him Cheddar, or Marmalade. Any good ideas for names?

This is what childless couples do...... collect cats. I promise, I am not crazy..........
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Interior design and my Dining Room, before and after

Sometimes I think it might have been better to just move into an already "modernized", "finished" home. Not that I had any choice, but if I DID......
Other times I love restoring and remodeling because I get to make it "our own".
I dunno. I just have a love/hate thing going on with this Old House.

I have been thinking a lot about the concept of "interior design." People throw that phrase around a lot. I used to think "interior design" was paint, wallpaper, and decorating a space.
Ha! Ha, ha ha. Ha.
THAT is "re decorating".
"Interior Design" is gutting a room down to the wiring and insulation and starting all over again with a totally new concept in mind. Being married to a man who has built several homes, and remodeled many places such as Berry Hill Estate (He built their Blackberry Spa) and Cooper's Landing B&B (He did their 2-storey remodel, I have discovered all that is involved with "interior design."
I am living through interior design right now. I am not just putting paint on my walls, I am deciding where to put walls or remove them, as the case may be.
I am not just deciding about carpet colors, I am stripping new carpet out and making decisions about stripping, sanding, varnish, and polyurethane.
It is exhausting, mentally and physically.

A note before I show the pics of my dining room before and after:

The views expressed in this post are purely my opinion and do not apply to you reader's personal choices in home decorating. BUT.

I hate wall to wall carpet. You should see all the crud I found underneath the carpets when I pulled them up. And they're relatively new, also! The mold and dust in the padding was gross. And no wonder people have allergies.

I hate wall paper. For the most part. I decided I hated it when I ripped it out, piece by piece, shred by shred until it was gone. UGH! Now if I had a great big Victorian place with bigger rooms, I might consider it. Might. And do you know, the Victorians wallpapered their ceilings?!

OK now for pics.

Before: He-LOO particle board and 1980's paneling on my 1890's rafters! Looked like a basement in there!

There is is, all ripped out and piled on the floor.


Be gone, carpet! Yay!


See the crud and mold on the carpet pad? And this carpet is about four years old. And the house has hardly been lived in for those four years.


Ripping and tearing out took two days. Then I painted the revealed original rafters and ceiling. I used plain old drywall primer, as it looks like whitewash and appropriately old-fashioned.

I explained to my sister that the point with this old house is not to make it look like something it isn't - a modern house - but to make it look like the 1920's-30's, only freshened, and improved. Me likey.

Ok, after:


The recessed china shelf used to be the front window of the 1890's cabin. I would like to fit this with doors one day.
All I did was paint the 1980's paneling, for now. We plan on drywalling the walls next year, when we expose the opposite log walls.
I used a flat paint. I thought it was going to be just a little darker than it is, though. Warmer. Browner.
Note to self: always go with the shade darker than you want. Once it gets on the walls, it appears lighter......


Fireplace. The board in front is protecting a beveled mirror in front of the fire place. Until I decide what to do with it.

My new, bright ceiling. No more basement look! Hooray!


I know these pics are not the best, but it was rainy and dark today and I took them anyway. (See Splat on the table? She always seems to find her way into my photos! I promise, I dind't plant her there, she was just there! I think I'll write a Children's book: "Where is Splat? Can you find her? Oh! Look! THERE she is! Where is she now? Under the tree? No. under the covers? No. On the dining room table? THERE she is! :) )

Also, under the carpet, we discovered a piece of old 1950's linoleum made to look like a rug. We decided to leave it for the time being, until we refinish the floors throughout the whole house next Spring.

And these floors? They're not soft pine, they're rare black pine, which is extremely hard.
It took me a whole day just to remove all the staples, tacks, nails, and other fasteners after the carpet was out. A few were so fast in the floor that Kevin had to come in and struggle with them; I could not budge them.

Now all I need is a vintage or vintage inspired lighting fixture; like a smallish crystal beaded chandelier.
Oh and the vintage lace curtains? $2 at the Salvation Army. Uh-huh.
Ok, enough.
Ya'll come back now, 'hear?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Serene Sunday Thoughts


Usually my Sundays are far from serene; today things are quiet and I am alone in the house, painting my dining room and listening to some soothing tunes from my favorite Jane Austen movie soundtracks. *Sigh*. I just enjoyed a delightful BLT and thought I'd post these thoughts before I resume my painting in the other room. (Pics and more later this week.)The following are some things I jotted down in the front cover of my journal last year. The Bacon I ate for lunch made me remember them.

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever" - John Keats (This is my personal motto. It reflects my love of all vintage and antique things. If it is a beautiful piece, it is a joy. Forever. Not just till it goes out of style.)

"I feel like the only pair of boots in a high heels world." - Me. (I wrote this in my journal during a rough time in my life a few years ago, when I felt like my life was falling down around my ears and there was not one thing I could do about it; and suddenly I felt like I "belonged" nowhere..... yeah, one of those cruddy moments in life. I got over it; but the "quote" still pops into my brain from time to time.

"Where there is a Wal-Mart, there's a way." - Mom (This oft repeated phrase from my mom still resounds in my head to this day; especially when going on trips. "Oh no! What if I forget something - like underwears?" No worries. There's Wallyworlds everywhere.)

"Bacon and cheddar cheese make excellent bedfellows." - Me. Enough said.


The End.
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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Just because

My brothers have the most gorgeous kids ever. Seriously. It's because my brothers are so good looking, and they married good looking women, too. Great natural hair is a Pennell trait (my maiden name is Pennell, and of course my brothers are Pennells.) that the kids seem to have inheritied. This post is starring Eli and Sherry's girls Alana and Abigail.
Their son Brendan has blond ringlets. I had blond ringlets at his age too. (Not anymore.) I didn't get a shot of those.
My hair, in this post, is damp and grody from being in the drizzling rain unlading hay half of the day, though.
Also note the "Pennell Nose" we all seem to share...... stubby.




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Movie Review Weekend: I'm Just Not That Into "He's Just Not That Into You".

I had heard all kinds of hype about the romantic comedy "He's Just Not That Into You" being sooooooo funny, so I went and rented it and "State Of Play", picked up my sister Noelle for a evening of movies and black bean Chimichangas.



And after it was (finally) over, all I could think was what a waste of a perfectly good $3 rental fee and two otherwise productive hours.

It was almost as bad as Duplicity, last year with Julia Roberts and Clive (be still my heart) Owen. The last romantic "comedy" I saw that was actually funny was last year's "Bride Wars" with Anne (gorgeous) Hathaway.

But this one? Bleh. Whatever. I don't think I laughed one time.

Next DVD was "State of Play" with Ben Affleck (Ben A Flake) and one of my favorite actors ever ever, Russel (be still my heart) Crowe.

Now, here was a movie I could sink my teeth into! Mystery, intrigue, murder, conspiracy, political scandal, Washington cover-ups, drama, suspense....... oh yeah, definitely.

So. To re-cap.

"He's Just Not That Into You"? Big thumbs down, and zero stars from me.
"State of Play"? Two thumbs way up and ten gold stars. I could buy that DVD for my political, military, espionage, violent danger thriller DVD collection. Mmmm-hmmm.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Portraits from the hayfields

Our main farm crop is hay; cow hay and horse hay. Cow hay goes into huge rolls and is toted from here to there with a tractor. (I love that word: "tote." So quaint and southern. I also love it when people use "carry" in cute ways - like this statement my blacksmith made one day about his top-notch Paso Fino Stallion - "I 'carried' him down to Georgia for the World Championships, and he came in third." Oh. Ok. So, he carried him there. Wow. That must've been exhausting! :)) ANYWAY - the horse hay we pile onto trailers and store in barns until we use it or sell it. It is a tedious, sweaty, back breaking job and we pick up hundreds of bales at a time.


Never let anyone make you believe that picking up hundreds of bales of hay and heaving them onto trailers and then stacking them 20 feet high "isn't exercise". Or that it "doesn't get your heart rate up enough." Believe me, if you told that to my sweat drenched husband, or my brothers, or my sister, or my friends or even me, as we are huffing and puffing and gasping for air and our backs and arms burn with the effort, and your palms sting from the blisters you're getting through your leather gloves, you might just find yourself with a bloody nose and a terrible headache.


While I look like a frumpy Hay Bale Nazi woman with a look on my face like a pro wrestler when I am in the hayfield,


my sister looks ever cute and angelic and like a farm girl calendar photo, even in her Subway t-shirt. (And did she bring a tray of Subway sandwiches with her to the hayfield on her way home from work - I don't think so! *sniff*)


Zander expertly stacks the 250 bale load that towered 15 feet or so above the ground that I drove home by myself and it wasn't even strapped down. Yeah, baby. I can drive me a monster load of hay!

Once the hay is put on trailers it all has to be handled again when it is loaded into barns. So, I get double the exercise from each bale. It works my back, shoulders, core, and heart/lungs. Whoo hoo! We should open the "Blanchard Gym" and get folks to pay us to come work out in our hayfields! I am such a genius!
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Back to work

This week I have been pouring over my stash of Victoria Magazines - pretty much my favorite magazine of all time. Subsequently, I have been royally inspired to start up working on this house again.
A note about the house: It started out as a two-room log home in the late 1800's, and in the 1920's (from what we can figure) it's four front rooms, entry hall, and an enclosed back porch were added. The cabin part is now our kitchen, dining room and "attic" - which is really a "loft" bedroom we're stashing out stuff in for the time being.
Renovations began in the winter or 2008-2009, in the kitchen. We gutted it, exposing the glorious log walls. We liked it and are leaving the wall exposed. We added a cathedral ceiling to show it off more. Renovations are also underway in our one, tiny bathroom.
While Kevin has been in charge of all the major modifications, I have been in charge of piddly stuff like painting, sanding, scraping, demolishing, staining, etc. etc.
This spring I bought paint in five gallon buckets and painted both bedrooms, hall and landing upstairs, foyer down stairs and half of the enclosed back porch. Then I quit, because I got sick and tired of painting every day of my life.
You see, I can't roll the paint, as the front of the house is vintage beaded board..... I have to do it all with a paint brush. UGH.
Fast forward to yesterday.
I painted remainder of the back porch, with the exception of one small area next to the washer that needs to be moved for me, and I began work in the dining room. This involves using a steel pry bar to rip out yucky 1980's paneling off the origional beaded board ceiling and beams. Why someone decided it was cool to cover up this quaint room with gross grayish pink paneling and stick plyboard up all over the ceiling is a mystery to me. But it is all getting ripped out now, baby!
I plan on ripping out the seafoam green carpet as well; I'm assuming the floor beneath is wood as the rest of the floors are in the house.
Kevin promised that as soon as he was done with the hay baling and other crops and livestock issues he has, he was going to get back to the kitchen. We're almost done with it, and I can't wait to do the finishing touches...... unpack all my vintage and antique kitchen stuff.

Here is my list of what I have to do yet:

- Finish ripping out all the paneling and plyboard off the cieling in the dining room.
- Finish painting the walls in the dining room with pale yellow-green paint
- Killz and paint the morbid black mantle piece in the dining room white
- Rip out the carpet and polish the floor underneath
- Remove all the whitewash and mystery paint off the log wall and varnish it
- Finish peeling off the 1980's wallpaper from the bathroom walls and paint them blue
- Paint the bathroom vanity white
- Paint the den/living room light taupe
- Once the kitchen cabinets are moved out of the parlor, paint and decorate in there

So much to do; sometimes I feel totally overwhelmed and then I block it out for a while.
This is not the house of my dreams; but it is the house we have right now and I am ever so thankful for it. If I were to have my way we would have a much bigger, old Victorian farmhouse with wrap around porches, and lots of nooks and crannies; high ceilings and way too much space for just the two of us. I would fill up the rooms with antiques and vintage furniture and entertain all the time just for fun.

Right now I have a farm-cottage and it is charming as can be. I would like a bigger bathroom so I could buy a clawfoot bathtub. I have passed up a few, simply because I have nowhere to put one.

I must trot off and pick up my pry bar once again, as I release this wonderful old dining room from it's 1980's prison. I will get a quick pic for comparison later.
Whoever invinted paneling heed to be examined by a shrink. YUCK!! It give me such a thrill to destroy it..........

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My chippy vintage chairs

OK. Somehow I failed at posting a pic of my sweet vintage chippy white chairs on the MJF Farmgirl Connection forum, so for all you Farm Girls looking for the picture, here it is! Reply in the comments here or back at the forum with your thoughts on what to do next with my cute set. There are four chairs and a table. The guy that gave them to me got them in the 50's, he said, and they were old then. So. I don't want to mess with them too awful much.
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Friday, September 11, 2009

Tasty morsels of vintage delight

I ventured out to one of my fave thrift stores today; one I don't always get to as it is way out of my way on the other side of town. I came away with a few "morsels of vintage delight"! I
I usually love color in combinations.... no single colors for me. I think color is best when combined with complementing colors. For years this has been pink and green.... I just love pale pink and green of any shade. But recently I have been stoked about white and pale blue together; as well as turquoise. As luck would have it, many of my finds today were blue and white, and then I found this classic turquoise ensemble from the 1960's:


The jacket is embroidered with roses on the front; with sheer poet sleeves.


Kevin was actually taking these photos.... and he just had to get this shot of me as I hoisted mt dress form out the door. Ha, Ha, Ha.


I got this sweet blue tulle skirt at my favorite feed store. WHAT?! You ask. FEED store?! Why yes. My feed store sells great equestrian and western fashions. This was marked $34, and I got it for less than $5 on sale. I paired it with a white petticoat I had in my stash. Perfect.



I also picked up this sweet blue cotton nightgown at the thrift store. It has white lace on the bodice..... *sigh* Alas it was too small to fit on my size 6-8 dressform and too see thru to model. This picture does not do it justice.

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I found this old, pale blue embroidered table scarf, as well as this old plate with the blue design. I confess I also bought a pair of size 5 1/2 ballroom dancing shoes ( I wear a size 8) and a pair of black velvet pumps. I have a "thing" for black shoes, and have about a hundred pairs of them. Well, maybe less than a hundred. I also bought two pink floral tea cups and the matching sugar bowl, missing the lid, but old and cute.


Stay tuned for more "blue and white delight" later.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

You might be a farmer IF.........

Now I know where my niece Alana got her ingenuity. My brother Eli (her Dad) of course. It runs in the family. (To see Alana's thinking skills see the post below.) This weekend, Eli and Kevin were baling hay, and they had to figure out how to carry my nephew, Brendan safely on the tractor. After thinking a few minutes, Eli grabbed a ratchet strap and Brendan's car seat and came up with this idea:
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They had waaaay too much fun with it. Brendan had a blast, and even got some naps while the hay was being raked. He's completely obsessed with tractors and making hay these days. He's going to be quite the farmer one day.