The year 2020 was an over the top sensational year for us as a family. We kicked ass and took names! While the world was busy being distracted by a disease that was never isolated or identified, we continued to move forward as a family, building, repairing, organizing, and recommitting our lives to becoming more sustainable.
Sustainability is one of those red flag words used by large corporations to greenwash their products. That’s not the sustainability I’m talking about. Some might call it “primitive” living but that’s a red flag word as well! When we think of primitive, our minds conjure images of living on a dirt floor with no electricity or running water.
Is that really what primitive means? How about technologies from the 1700s? Are they primitive? Dom and I have watched one of our favorite youtube channels for years called Townsends and I love how they have been able to reenact and bring to life American History from the 1700-1800s. Now, I’m not a fan of reenacting and trying to recreate anything historic, however, I’m thankful to those who find it thrilling to geek out when they find obscure historic texts hidden in books long forgotten and then POOF! they bring it to life.
Such, I think is the case with the Townsends. I SWOON over the kitchen they created (pictured below). Not because it rejects modern life, but because it is a truly sustainable kitchen. Would we go without a modernish stove? Nope, we plan on utilizing a stove that was built in the era prior to obsolescence. That’s about how modern I wish to remain.
It’s a melding of different ways of doing things to reach our own specific goals and outcomes.
That’s all we can do really in this life. We have no desire to live fully in some romanticized historical past OR future.
We’re moving forward our way and we’re not interested in maintaining the status quo or just going along with the program. The program sucks and just as the “elite” (I call them bottom feeders) want to push for some great Reset, I would caution against thinking that this is a great idea. Remember it is the World Economic Forum (again, bottom feeders) calling for this reset because they FAILED. They are the biggest failure EVER and yet because most worship money, they think the Klaus Schawb holds the key to a new forged future. No. Just no. He, the biggest bottom feeder of them all has failed so much so that he’s crying for a do-over while blaming the little guy for all the problems. Anyway, the World Economic Forum’s plan I don’t consent to.
But I digress!
Back to my Happy New Year…
We managed to thrive in 2020 emotionally, physically, and even financially. We kicked off last new year with a baby skunk getting to our house, our water heater busting, our toilet needing to be repaired, and some pretty wicked colds. That was just January!
Here’s a recap of our year…
This beautiful little spotted skunk mama kicked off our 2020 New Year with sadness and resolve to save her baby that had died in a trap we had set. The baby, no more than maybe 6 inches from nose to tail found his way into the house and died. Dom buried him out back and she found his little body in a burlap bag and refused to leave the dead baby. She wouldn’t eat or drink and died within three days of exposure to the extreme cold. We heard rustling about a month later only to discover that the baby skunk had a sibling. This little guy thought he was a part of the family. He would come in and out of the pallet walls looking for food or just to sit and watch us go about our business.
We finally caught him and released him a few miles away from our land. That ended the skunk saga of 2020. Haha
With our bathroom out of commission because of a busted temporary water heater and a busted toilet line, it became an opportune time to put walls in, sand and finish the floor, install the new tub, and put in a much-needed window. The windows we found under some garbage that was left on the property.
We started collecting more pallets for future projects. With the price of lumber going through the roof we began to reuse pallets rather than pay through the nose for dimensional lumber, only purchasing it when absolutely necessary. Once insulation, drywall, and exterior siding is installed, does it really matter what the inner wall is made of? Sure we look like hobos for awhile while it is all coming together, but in the end we save thousands of dollars and we get an even stronger structure than if it was just a conventional stick-built building.
This year we will be building out of pallets, a storage shed, a greenhouse, and a large office space off the side of my coffee roastery for my second business, Status Select Professional Services.
Dom started carving spoons. It was something he has wanted to do for years. 2020 was The Year of the Spoon for him. 😉
Our son Noah came home to build his own cabin, save money, buy a car, and go to school to become an EMT and Paramedic. So far, he moved into his cabin not too long ago, and now he’s saving for his car. School starts in the spring! He’s doing fantastic.
The beginnings of the chicken coop was built. However, part of the way through building it, we realized that Noah really needed his cabin first. There wasn’t a reason I could imagine where a bunch of chickens should have a home before my son. So we switched gears and Noah and Dom started building his cabin. See photos of the process below:
We got a very small but productive garden going as well. We didn’t start until LATE, but still, it was good to have my hands back in the soil. Farming and caring for animals is a part of my calling, so to finally be able to grow food again felt like a huge return to my values. We were on such a crazy odyssey over the last five years that no matter where we went, farming was on my mind but it broke my heart that I couldn’t spend the time growing food or raising animals.
We can now! When we first started farming ten years ago, we went all in and bought seed, bought trees, bought animals, and we did so without any infrastructure in place. That meant that we spent a huge amount of our valuable time spinning our wheels getting makeshift housing ready for animals, trying to jerry-rig watering systems, and really didn’t have a full plan in place. Even so, we had a very productive CSA with lots of members as well as retail stores purchasing our produce.
I can’t in good conscience do that to us again. We’ll celebrate our second year on the land in April, and even though we are still putting infrastructure in place, it has been worth the wait!
Below was our tiny experimental garden. I wasn’t expecting much since it was really the first time I was really growing anything on this piece of land, but I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer volume of food produced. We plan on making this little garden area the new Blueberry Sancutary.
As fall and winter approached, we began to shift our thinking a bit. We decided to build the fencing for our ducks and geese. The area would not be used right away for ducks, but instead, we would have dairy goats in the area to take down the weeds in the market garden area. Eventually, we would move the goats to their new area located behind the coffee roastery near where the commercial kitchen would be located.
Dom got busy building the fencing for the goats. We located a farm two hours north of us and planned on purchasing goats from them.
The only thing left to put up are the three gates. Their structure is in place. We need to build them a milking stand, although we don’t plan on breeding the new doelings until they are a year old. We will be purchasing a pregnant Nigerian Dwarf so that we will have milk this year.
Below are our new babies. They were just born a few days ago. We will be bringing them home when they are weaned from their mamas.
We purchased our first cow and helped process it. It was an amazing experience! After we build our walk-in refrigerator, we’ll start processing all our animals on the farm.
I love butchery and now I’m excited to harvest other animals as well. We already process ducks, chickens, and turkeys.
Noah got a puppy from the same people we got our goats. Her name is Zelda. She’s a border collie, blue heeler mix.
Simmi also is getting ready to move into her new bedroom.
Today I’m painting her room. Dom will be laying her carpet soon and putting trim up. We’re getting there…little by little.
Every time something new gets completed, we moved one step closer to gutting the rig. Simmi being able to have her own room is that crucial next part of the plan. It will take a bit of detailed planning to gut the rig because that will involve taking out my office equipment for a few days. I might need to set up my office in my bedroom while the rig is being remodeled.
2021 is looking brighter every day!
“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky. ” Kahlil Gibran
Today was a sad day for us. A towering cottonwood tree that is on our property crashed to the ground. My heart broke a little. Okay, a lot. I cried. When we were deciding where to put the greenhouse, one concern of ours was building too close to the cottonwood tree. We knew that it would need to be trimmed, but we had no idea that with all the rain we’ve had over the last few days caused the tree branches to become too heavy. All the large branches came down.
I was supposed to go down there today to clear the area where we’ll be building the first structure, but with all the rain we’ve been having, I canceled. It was a good thing too, because Simmi would have been playing in that area and who knows what might have happened if it never rained today.
I’ll be heading down tomorrow to take as many cuttings of the tree as I can, and I’ll try to root them to plant next spring. It might be too late to try and root them now, but it’s worth a shot. I know that in the spring the tree will send out new suckers and new growth from where it broke, and if my cuttings don’t root this year, I’ll use next year’s growth to start new trees.
It was such a beautiful tree. It’s commanding presence will be deeply missed.
It was such a beautiful tree.
For perspective, this is Saint standing next to part of the tree. He’s over 6 feet tall.
Cutting and clearing the tree is going to be a huge undertaking!
Last night I finished the stitch work on the second lumbar pillow. With this project now complete, I can begin working on some art to hang above dining room buffet. This weekend we’ll be painting the buffet.
Here are a few photos of each of the pillows:
I’m happy with the outcome. I found a great sectional I’m keeping my eye on. I’m hoping the price comes down on it. It’s currently at a local thrift shop but priced at $200.00. That’s a bit out of our budget at the moment. Dom and I sat on the sectional and it was super comfy, but the color is pink roses, and that’s just a little too fru-fru for my taste. I would definitely reupholster the sectional in a natural linen or soft canvas material. Then it would be perfect for our living room and complement my two chairs beautifully.
I went to the thrift store yesterday and purchased these two botanical prints for the dining room. They were already framed and ready to go home with me. They didn’t break our budget in the least. I got this set for $20.00. A total steal if you ask me!
Here are some of the things left to do in the dining room:
- Paint the buffet
- Complete art to hang over buffet
- Find a budget-friendly 8×10 area rug that will knock my socks off (haha)
- Add linen curtains and bamboo roman shade
- Hunt down a large variegated ficus to balance the awkward picture window
- Eventually, purchase two smaller french crystal chandeliers to replace the one hanging now, and hang the current chandelier in the mudroom. I’m classy like that. Ha
- Enjoy each and every moment surrounded by beauty and love
The headboard that we got for Simmi’s room turns out to be for a full-sized bed. We have a guest bedroom upstairs and I’ll be refinishing the headboard for that room. To my utter embarrassment, I had no idea there were three bedrooms upstairs. The way the second floor is situated there are two staircases. One that leads to Simmi’s room, and the other leads to our room. In the middle is a connecting room which has complete privacy and two doors. For whatever reason, I never even thought of that space as a bedroom. I just thought it was a walk through room to get to Simmi’s bedroom. Its not. Its a bedroom. So, we’ll be making it into a guest bedroom for our family that comes to visit.
I’ll be on the lookout for a twin headboard for Simmi.
Tomorrow marks our one month anniversary of moving to our cozy little cottage in Vermont. Life here is beyond peaceful, filled with love, laughter, light, and great friendships. We’re settling in beautifully and Simmi has made the transition with very little emotional upset.
This past week I found a few must have pieces of furniture that were in my mind quite a steal. A trestle table with 8 ladder back chairs, and two Drexel Heritage wingback chairs upholstered in a stunning crewel. When I saw these two completely separate sets of furniture, I knew they would look stunning together.
We traveled to New Hampshire to pick them up, and they did not disappoint! I got the wingback chairs for $100.00 and the table and chairs for $150.00. Yes, it was insanely cheap, and since we are on a very tight budget, these were perfect for what we needed.
A few years ago I purchased two brass chandeliers for $25.00 with the intention of giving them a makeover, and since I couldn’t leave them behind when we moved from New Mexico, they have been sitting in my garage this whole month begging me to fix them up and use them. I painted the one chandelier, and the other one is awaiting its beauty treatment.
Dom hung the newly painted chandelier yesterday, but he hasn’t hooked it up yet. The dining room is a bit awkward in that it has a large wall space but no real place to put a hutch, and a large picture window set off to the side. The picture window is positioned in such a way that most window treatments won’t work or look right. I’m currently at a loss as to what would work for the large window. We unpacked and hung a few poster prints we had just to warm up the empty wall.
Last week I shared a photo of our dining room buffet and talked about how we are going to paint it red, but after getting the wingback chairs in the dining room, I decided that I wanted to go with a very bold and striking color that you don’t see often. I feel it would complement the chairs beautifully, and its the only time I’ll be using the color…at all. I’m not a fan of orange, and I think that’s why I think its the perfect color to complement our dining room set. I know, I’m weird!
Anyway, the color we’ve chosen is Inferno by Behr. It’s more of a red-orange, but it is orange nonetheless!
Dom will be painting the primer on the buffet this week, and I should have the piece finished by Sunday.
To complement the buffet, I’ve decided to do a charcoal and sepia drawing of a ewe, and frame it in an ornate gold leaf.
<——— This is the photo I’ll be drawing this week
Of course I’m not sure how long it will take me to finish the drawing, but it will be my first art piece in about 13 years. When we lost everything due to mold contamination and infestation in Maryland, I had to throw out all my original artwork. Nothing could be saved. I felt it was time to get new art up on the walls in celebration of our new lives.
The piece unframed will be 30″x40″ and I haven’t decided how large I want the frame to be.
As soon as I finish the stitch work on the lumbar pillow, the ewe will be next.
Dom has been in his glory working for GeoBarns. Here is a photo he sent me of the progress they’re making in Lyme, NH. Today the roof is going on!
Over the last few weeks we’ve been getting settled in and I’ve been working on a few projects. The first project was getting Simmi’s dresser repaired and painted. I finished that last week. I chose to paint it using chalk paint, a stencil in silver, and a top coat of urethane. It’s been curing for a little more than a week now, and soon will be ready to go up into her room.
Here are a few before and after photos:
While the dresser has been curing, I’ve been busy doing a little stitch work on some pillows for our chairs. I purchased two chairs for $25.00 from the salvation army back before we left New Mexico. When I sat in them I knew I had to have them and that some how we would be able to fit them into the trailer for the road trip. They suffered a little damage during the trip and the fabric got a little scuffed, but overall it wasn’t too bad.
I was in JoAnn Fabric and spotted this fabric on sale for $5.00 and knew it was meant for my super high priced set of salvation army chairs. Haha. The only thing missing was some colorful stitch work to really make the fabric pop.
Over the last week, a little time spent here and there, and yesterday I finished up the first lumbar pillow.
The top panel is with stitch work, and the bottom panel is what the fabric looks like without it.
Now the only things left to do with these chairs is to clean up the wood and find a few gorgeous Icelandic sheep pelts to drape over the white fabric and the look will be complete!
My next project while I’m working on the second lumbar pillow, is to paint Simmi’s new headboard. I’m still planning whether it will all be one color, or a few different colors and even a little upholstery added to the center of the headboard. There is a panel that unscrews at the center which would allow me to add some padding and fabric. I found beautiful fabric screaming for some stitch work at JoAnn that would be perfect for her room (and her). Anyway, Simmi already picked out the color she wants for her headboard when we were at Sherwin Williams.
Simmi chose the top color for her headboard.
After Simmi’s headboard is finished, I’ll be painting a buffet our friends purchased for us when we moved here. I was back and forth over whether to paint it or just leave it as it is, but because there is a bit of a musty smell coming from it, we decided it would be best for my health if Dom sealed it up with a mold blocking sealer, and then I could paint it. Being that I’m very allergic to mold, I can’t have contact with this piece of furniture until it has been completely coated and sealed up.
We chose to go with a red. I’m more partial to a Swedish blue color, but I think the piece was calling for something hot and heavy to go with its substantial presence. The photo doesn’t do justice as to the size of this buffet.
We chose Scarlet as the color.
So that’s a list of just some of the projects underway. There’s more, but I’ll save that for another time.
Thanks for reading!
About a month ago, Dom broke the cooktop accidentally while straining some rendered fat into a glass crock for storage. He went to pick up the crock and it slipped out of his hands and broke the cooktop. Since I was skiddish about using the right two burners, we opted only to use the large and small burner to the left until we found the right cooktop that would fit our counter opening and that was similar to the cooktop we had. That isn’t easy to find since glass cooktops cost a HUGE amount of money. Everything we looked at was between $600-$1500.00 and we needed a 36 inch to fit. It was going to take a miracle to find something inexpensive.
While looking through craigslist, we found an Amana to replace the one that was already in the house when we moved in. This one was very nice, had a little stainless steel to compliment our range hood, and had a price tag of $250.00. Not bad right!? The owner was nice enough to take it to a reputable appliance store to have it tested for us and we were able to get the approval of the store in writing that it was in good working order. We bought it and it sat in the house for three weeks, that is, until today! I was so excited that Dom made that the priority this morning. Here are a few more photos:
Yes the cooktop was STILL in the box. The previous owners took very good care of it while they used it for only a few months, and then changed their minds and went with another model. The cooktop sat in the box for a few years. It was impeccably clean and well cared for.
After taking the cooktop out, we were faced with the nasty, grimy disgusting crap that was hanging out underneath! It was so gross. Whoever installed the cooktop never bothered to put high heat silicone around the edge to seal it and keep the dirt out.
Are you digging the old shelf paper in my drawer? Yes those are strawberries. I haven’t gotten around to lining the drawers yet. I’m always amused when I open the drawer though…I don’t know why.
This is the new cooktop straight out of the box before I even cleaned it.
Dom connecting the stove. See the inside of the cabinet door? Yes that is what the kitchen cabinets used to look like.
Smoothing the bead of high heat silicone.
After Dom connected everything, we tested it and everything worked perfectly. We’re very pleased that we found such a treasure on craigslist! I’m also happy that I can work with more than two burners again. On the agenda for today (in no particular order) is taking care of the angora rabbitry roof, more garden clean up, some maintenance and spraying down the courtyard.