A monthly list of good things to do, buy, read, watch, and more.
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Welcome to March and Spring!! We've had a few sunny and 60 degree days which has me itching to be out in the garden, cleaning up and planting.
Unfortunately for the garden, the farmhouse is taking DIY precedence right now because we have a goal of moving in by the end of the month - which is another GOOD THING!!
If you are able to get out in the garden, be sure to grab this free spring garden checklist to help you prioritize and get things done. I'll be using it, but won't get to everything on the list (that's why it helps with prioritizing, lol).
On to the list!
Farmhouse Main Floor Finishing Touches
If you're a newsletter subscriber or follow me on Instagram, you've already seen the photo above of our new double windows in the farmhouse living room.
It's the #1 good thing from last month, though, so it belongs here, too.
**all the heart eyes**
Previously, the window on this wall was just one of these large single hung windows that matched the other three windows in the living-dining area of the house. (You can see the window here when we first recreated the original window trim for it - we didn't know how soon we would be adding another!)
It was a large window so we thought we'd keep it for awhile and somehow enlarge it later down the road - we did know we definitely wanted to open up the view more.
I went around and around in my head about window configuration for enlarging that window. It's next to the other windows and right below a set of two single hung windows on the second story.
Plus, I didn't want something too new looking and that wouldn't go with the old house. Big, fancy windows wouldn't cut it here.
Then in the middle of the night (seems my best ideas come then when I should be sleeping...sigh) I could see it - just add another of the windows that was there. Same style and same size.
After one little mishap along the way involving a freak gust of wind and a large new window leaning against the porch rail (if you get the newsletter, you would've heard this story - and the silver lining that came from it!), we got the windows installed.
Cue the gushing movie music...
The double windows are perfect. They let in a huge amount of light and the view while still coordinating with the windows inside as well as from the outside.
I can't wait to cuddle on the couch with a cup of tea, a good book, and this view!
We've been working like crazy getting all the finishing trim, plumbing, lighting, and painting done for our end of March move in date.
SO much has happened in just the last few weeks to make it look so much more like a real home. I thought I'd share a few photos with you to help you envision how far we've come.
Above Photo, First Row:
- The range/stove wall in the kitchen with trimmed out windows and sconce arm lights. For some reason the photo makes the lights look crooked, but I promise they are centered on the windows! These beadboard walls are reproduction to match the original walls in the main kitchen area (this is part of an enclosed porch we utilized for the kitchen).
- Laundry/mud room "freezer wall." Brian built a wall and shelf around the area for our freezer to get the most usable space out of this that we can. I'll add either baskets or vintage crates to hold things above the freezer and the water heater area will hold a clothes rod for air drying, as well as hooks for mops and cleaning supplies. The area with the water heater will be hidden by a curtain I'll make - I'm thinking a black and cream ticking fabric.
- I love how this hole where an old window use to be turned out! It's been trimmed and lined with beadboard waiting for it's custom pull-out air drying rack. It will be such a useful thing to have and only because we had this hole to fill in the original shiplap!
- The vintage 3/4-light door we salvaged has been cleaned up, painted, and trimmed out. It looks like it could've always been here - except for the fact that it leads to nothing, lol. Future deck to come!
- The cute little window in our cedar-lined master closet got it's trim and I love it! I'm so glad we decided at the last minute to add a window to the closet.
Whew! It's been a little over three years since we bought this farmhouse fixer and started the process of bringing her back to life. Think we'll be living in it before the next Good Things List?
The Joy a Dog Brings
I had to snap this photo the other day when our dog, Jynx, was peeking at me from under the bed. She's just so cute and every day we laugh at something she's doing.
The other day I thought about how I didn't want another dog after we lost our Samson - it hurt too much and I didn't want to go through that again. Also, we wanted more freedom to travel, and so on.
But every day I'm thankful that Jynx came into our life through our son - she's a blessing to us. And many years of laughter and love - even when it's inconvenient and hurts at the end?
So worth it - right?
The Dog Toy Mistake + Good Find
Speaking of Jynx, I just had to share this online dog toy mistake with you. Stick with me and you'll see why it's a good thing...
Our son had bought Jynx a dog toy bear when she lived with him that came with her to our house. She loves the bear and plays with it daily.
Which meant after more than a year it was looking worse for wear (see above). It had no stuffing left in the nose and looked pretty dirty.
I searched "Kong bear dog toy" on Amazon and one came up with almost 5 stars for around $10. Sounds good - ordered. It was for small dogs, but there wasn't any measurements given and I didn't look at the reviews.
Which is why I burst out laughing when it came and it was about three inches long! It was so tiny - especially compared to her other bear. The whole family had a good laugh about it, so actually it was a good thing even on it's own, lol.
While she might've enjoyed it, $10 was suddenly not a very good price so I returned it. I decided to hop off of Amazon and that's what lead me to Chewy.com - and here's where it becomes a true good thing!
On Chewy, the same tiny bear I got by mistake was only 1.89 - an $8 difference! And the 10-inch Kong bear that would truly replace her original bear was under $10 (while it was closer to $20 on Amazon...).
I also found a cute Kong moose toy for Jynx that was under $5, which I got for the future since shipping is a flat rate of $4.95 (there is free shipping over $49, too).
Even with shipping, the toys turned out to be much cheaper here and now I know where to look in the future!
I do have to say that I've been on the Chewy site before and didn't think the prices were all that amazing, but I was looking at dog beds, coats, and collars. I guess they rock the toy section, though!
Anyone else had good success finding pet toys on Chewy.com?
Farmhouse Vintage Style Cabinet Hardware
Our main cabinets for the kitchen won't be ready for a few weeks, but we have the cabinets my stepdad built for us all painted and ready for their hardware (and to be installed, but final install is waiting for the butcher block counter to be finished...).
I thought I'd share what I've decided on for the cupboards and drawers in the kitchen.
In the photo above, I've included one of the old doorknobs that came with the vintage doors we bought and had stripped. That's been my inspiration for the finish of the cabinet hardware - a kind of worn, vintage looking brass.
While it would be great to see finishes in person, most places don't have that much of a selection in aged brass (it's mostly silver, black/bronze, or shiny brass), so I had to search online.
Thankfully, all but one of my choices turned out to go nicely. I'm using a combo of:
- A more squared off style bin pull.
- Vintage style cabinet latches in antique brass finish.
- Simple utilitarian style handle pulls.
Stay tuned for how they look on our new cabinets!
I finished six books in this shorter month. A few were longer books (Hidden Valley Road, Scythe) and one will probably be on my best of 2021 list.
Hidden Valley Road, Robert Kolker. This is a super fascinating non-fiction book about a family with 12 kids and their 6 boys who were diagnosed with schizophrenia starting in the late 1950s and 60s. The author looks deep into the family - starting back when the parents met - which puts this on a personal, human scale. You really feel for all the family as the affected boys start displaying symptoms in their teens and early twenties.
It's also a look into the mental health field and the definition of schizophrenia - and how it's changed through the years, often failing patients as well as families. However, the family cooperated with researchers to help them find treatments and methods that have impacted not only the research field, but individuals and families impacted by schizophrenia.
Anxious People, Fredrik Backman. My daughter gave me this new work by Backman who also wrote A Man Called Ove, which she knew was a favorite of mine. This book isn't anything like Ove, except for a few similar cantankerous characters.
The premise is that there has been a bank robbery that went wrong. The robber then took a group of people hostage who had been viewing an apartment for sale. Things aren't quite what they seem, though - both the robbery, the police, and the hostages.
It took me a bit to get into the book because I was put off by the overly snarky interviews with the hostages and the police (flash-forwards). It seemed too much and not very believable. But as I kept reading and saw the lines that connected all the people involved - and then with the twist at the end, the snarkiness started to make sense. The police don't really come off very well in this book, and even though it wasn't my favorite, it was an okay and in the end, meaningful, read.
Scythe, Neal Shusterman. Brian and I listened to this over the last month or so as we drove places (things take longer for us to listen to with the pandemic since we're not driving as much!). It's a YA novel (the first in a trilogy) with a premise that was interesting to us:
In the future, a cloud-based system has taken over the world, benevolently, and all death and disease has been eliminated. If you do get hit by a car or something, you're revived over a 2-3 day period and go about your way. People do age, but they can do a reset and choose any age to become again.
Problem is: no one dies = overpopulation. Enter the Scythes, a group of men and women chosen and trained to humanely kill people based on percentages of people who would've died in the "before time" (30% of kids died in a year, so they try to kill 30% a year, etc.). You can imagine the terrible tension this sets up.
This story is about two teens who are recruited and their experiences training to be Scythes. The Scythes are basically above the law and some inevitably go rouge, setting up a show down between our teen heros and the "other side."
We enjoyed it and looked forward to finding out what would happen. The world building was believable and seeing how people reacted to this new normal was interesting. We didn't like it enough to be interested in reading the rest of the trilogy, though. I just read the reviews of the other two books so we could find out what happened, lol.
These Broken Stars, Aime Kaufman. This was another YA trilogy that I had heard good things about and waited for a couple months to get it from the library. It's about a couple of teens in the future who are aboard a giant spaceship kind of like the Titanic. It goes down and they are the only two survivors on an unknown planet.
So it's a survival story that turns into a love story that takes a supernatural twist. It's also a story of the big, bad, company that has something to hide - and just happens to be run by the heroine's dad.
This was just okay for me. It had a lot of cliches of this genre and I wasn't as invested in the characters as I hoped I would be. Again like the previous book, I'm not reading the other two books, just reading the reviews (and these characters aren't in the second book at all, from what I can gather).
The Flatshare, Beth O'Leary. Oh, gosh, I loved this fun book so much, from the concept, to the characters, and to the narrators of the audiobook. The setting is London where rents are high and two people who need money for various reasons decide to share a flat - and the one bed - though not really together. The guy works nights and will spend weekends at his girlfriend's house and the girl works days, so they shouldn't meet on a day-to-day basis. The girlfriend rents the place, actually, so they literally never meet in the beginning.
But you do have to communicate when you share everything, so they started writing lots of notes to each other about everything from sharing food they made to who's stuff goes where. It was so fun watching them become friends through this old-fashioned communication method! And I couldn't wait for them to meet "in real life" - I was hooked and listened whenever I could!
There are good secondary characters and storylines - one is about a verbally abusive ex-boyfriend which brought in a bit of real-world pathos. The audiobook narration was so good, as the story is told from the differing viewpoints of the two main characters and the narration was done by a man and woman to reflect this - complete with their wonderful English and Irish accents. This is the book that I've starred for my year-end review - we'll see if it makes it!
Stay Salt: The World Has Changed, Our Message Must Not, Rebecca Manley Pippert. Back in the 1980's, Becky Pippert's book, Out of The Salt Shaker, was one that my Christian friends and I were all reading. This is her follow up all these years later that encourages us to keep pursuing and loving people as God pursues and loves them. She shares a lot of her inspiring conversations with people and shows how focusing on the person and really listening is the most important thing.
WandaVision, Disney+ Our daughter bought a month of Disney+ so we could watch this show she had heard so much about. It's been so surprising how much we've ALL enjoyed it!! It's clever, funny, and really well done. If you know about the Marvel characters, that helps, but you don't need to. Just know that in the first three episodes (each episode is set as a sitcom of a certain decade, from the 1950s up to the 2000's) you don't really know what's going on. That's okay - just sit back and enjoy them (they were my favorites) and more will be explained from episode 4 on.
Agent Carter, Disney+ Brian and I saw this show when it aired on a network a few years ago, but our daughter hadn't and it was voted as the best of the Marvel universe TV shows in a recent article so we watched the first episode again with her. It's as good as we remember, about a female agent in the 1940's after the war who is looked over by the men in her division and how she deals with that and gets involved in solving mysteries and getting the bad guys.
The Mandalorian, Disney+ So, I'm not really a big Star Wars fan (more of a Trekkie), but I had heard a lot of good things about this show (now in it's second season on Disney+) even if you haven't watched all the Star Wars movies. We've only watched one episode of this so far and it is really good. There are some characters we know from the franchise, but it's a story on it's own and I didn't feel left behind or anything. It's started quite interestingly and I'm looking forward to watching more.
Note: I'm loving that there are no MA rated shows on Disney+ - it's so refreshing!
The Dig, Netflix. I really loved this sweet movie about a widow in rural England after WWII who wants an archeologist to discover what is under the mysterious mounds on her property. This is based on a true story of the people who uncovered a pre-Viking, Anglo-Saxon ship under one of the mounds, which basically changed the way people thought of Anglo-Saxons.
Space Sweepers, Netflix. This is a silly movie that we thought was going to be more of a comedy from the trailer. Not really. Lot's of space violence, cliched characters and dialog and crazy story. It's in Korean with English subtitles.
One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, Amazon. Both Brian and our daughter recently read this book, so we watched the classic 1975 movie for them to compare. Brian and I had watched it before, and it still holds all the comedy and pathos from the first watching. The movie won a ton of awards and stands on it's own, but we were surprised to find that it didn't really follow the book other than the main points. In fact, the main character wasn't the Jack Nicholson character, but the big, silent Native American.
And we learned that the author, Ken Kesey (who's actually from the area I grew up in here in Oregon - I went to school with one of his sons!), quit the production after a couple weeks when he saw how they were changing it. According to his family, he never did watch it - isn't that amazing?
That's it for another addition of the Good Things List!
If you'd like to see more of what I'm enjoying, you can check out all the Good Things Lists here. I'd love to know what you think - if you've tried any of these or what you'd recommend. Leave a comment below with your thoughts!
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Erin Bottger says
Another book you might enjoy (I listened on HOOPLA Audible) is "Meet Me at the Museum" by Anne Youngson. It's a story told through letters exchanged from an archeologist widower in Norway and an older woman living in England who's just lost her best friend. He's a director of the Sutton Ho Museum in Oslo and she's always wanted to visit there so she starts the letter exchange with some simple inquiries. The narration is told with two voices, as a deepening friendship of trust and affection develops over time. They share and stimulate their correspondent to open up as their longings, fears, small triumphs and regrets come to light. It's a gentle and rewarding look at two ordinary mature lives and how they grow to appreciate one another. A gem of a book.
I'm going to try your Corn Sausage Chowder.
That sounds lovely, Erin - I'm going to look for it, thank you!!
I am getting so excited for you about your move in and pray no hitches, so everything goes perfect. Love the hardware you chose, so perfect for your farmhouse style.
Thank you, Marlene! I'm sure it will all work out - even the hitches are sometimes part of the process. 🙂