A monthly list of good things to do, buy, read, watch, and more.
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We have spent the last month settling in to the farmhouse and it still feels so amazing to us that we are actually living here!
I can look around and see all the things we've done, picturing the hours of work and all the hands that helped, and it's that much sweeter. #diylife
We've been working on a lot of little things like installing light fixtures, final door trim, shelves for organizing, hanging things and of course, going through boxes.
The thrift stores have gotten so much good stuff from us! I did purge a lot when we moved into storage as we looked for property, but I didn't know what the house would look like and so I kept things I knew I'd have to go through once we found a place.
And have I been! There just isn't the wall space in this house that our last one had, so LOTS of wall decor has been given away, as well as shelf decor. We had a mantel with bookshelves on both sides in our last place, so I had collected quite a bit of fun decor that just would never find a place here.
It's all good, though - we're just finding our new way in this beautiful home!
The list today includes a few more shots of rooms as we're adding to them, plus some finds that have been really great - including FINALLY finding a cheaper way to have custom mats made.
Good Things List
Settling In The Farmhouse
We hung the curtains hung in the dining room - the saga of the rods and curtain panels are another story all to themselves - and I'm enjoying how the black rod and chandelier look together.
The curtains for the living room turned out a little long (I forgot to account for the drop from the curtain clip when measuring...), so I still have to shorten them but I wanted to be sure to add a photo here because some readers had worried that adding curtains on those windows might block the view.
As you can see above, we hung the rod "high & wide" to show off the pretty window trim as well as that view.
And we do need some privacy from the road at night as well as being able to close off the black holes windows become after dark.
The black and cream ticking fabric finally came, so I was able to sew the curtain for under the coffee bar sink, too. I think it really helps bring this together!
I just set the vintage mirror there to see if I'd like it and I think I do, so I'll be hanging that behind the faucet. Still left to do are to add a couple shelves above the mirror that will connect the two upper cabinets and then add crown molding to the tops.
Oh, yeah - and order the glass for the doors, ha! (Could you tell there wasn't any glass?)
Affordable Custom Picture Mats
I can't tell you how excited I am to have discovered this! I often find cool frames at thrift stores, but usually pass them by because the cost to have something framed is so expensive.
We learned that the hard way after buying our first home and needing wall decor. Brian got a free print from the Portland Art Museum and I found a cool old thrifted frame for it. He took it to a do-it-yourself frame shop to save money and that free print with the $10 frame cost us about $80 to frame it - ourselves!!
But our daughter found the cool pen-and-ink print of Timberline Lodge above when she was helping us clean out her grandma's house and really wanted to reframe and mat it (it was squeezed into an oval mat that cut off a lot of the drawing).
She started saving money after going online to Michaels and seeing that custom framing starts at $80. She did an online calculation and saw that it could cost her $120 to have the black frame she needed (it's a fairly big print) custom matted.
I did a bit of research and read that Hobby Lobby does custom mats for $12-20+, depending on the size. We realized that if we could find a ready made frame that was bigger than the picture, we could have a mat made and the total would be a LOT less.
We visited the store on a week that frames were half off and found a black frame for $22. Then we took the frame and the print to the framing department and the guy there cut the mat for $20. We took it home and my daughter put it together herself using archival tape.
$42 vs. $120? That's a very good thing!
One thing we realized we needed right away was a kitchen clock and we both love old fashioned/classic style clocks with 1950s-type faces.
I found a really nice one from Target that I ordered online, but when it came it was HUGE - the frame touched the ceiling and door trim where we wanted it!
Obviously, I neglected to look at the size and measure our space.
Measurement in hand, I found the one you see above over our kitchen doorway - and we all LOVE how classic it looks there against the 100+ year old beadboard walls.
It is just plastic, but you can't tell when it's hanging, which is okay with me since it was only around $14!
Just the other day Brian walked through the kitchen and said, "That's such a great clock."
When we moved we were still having unseasonably late frosts, so mornings were often in the high 20s and low 30s (F). I realized right away that I was sorry we hadn't had a heat vent added to the walk-in closet - it was freezing in there those mornings!
It made me realize a warm, soft rug was needed so I went on a search for a wool rug. I am super happy with the Safavieh Natura Collection Handmade Premium Wool Area Rug that I decided on.
It's a decent price and is super soft - those bubble/loops make is so nice to walk on barefoot. I got this natural pad for underneath to give a little extra softness and keep it in place.
I'm only in the closet changing for a few minutes, so it really doesn't make sense to have a whole heat vent added, no matter what I originally thought, and this cozy rug helps a lot.
I've used the simple screw-in wire coat hooks you see above for years - they are easy to hang, sturdy, look great, and aren't too obtrusive like some bigger hooks can be.
I also like that they aren't any certain "style" - they would work as well in a modern space as in a cottage.
I used to find them all the time in thrift stores that sell building supplies. But for the farmhouse I had to buy some new, shiny brass hooks and paint them to get an aged brass look. And they still weren't what I was looking for.
Then I found some aged wire hooks on Etsy and gave them a chance even though they were more than I usually pay for new, shiny brass hooks because they looked like the PERFECT finish.
And they ARE. Oh, I love how great these simply hooks look on the salvaged board pictured above! This board will go in our laundry/mud room to hold coats.
The finish of the hooks is so nicely aged, but the hooks are completely smooth, so there will be no catching on fabric.
Definitely worth the extra cost!
Prodigal Summer, Barbara Kingsolver. The only Kingsolver book I've read was Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, that is more of a memoir (and which I LOVED). I thought I'd try a novel since that's what she's known for. This book was just okay for me. There are three separate stories that (sort of) come together by the end and the storylines did hold my attention. But it's pretty heavy handed with the environmental-nature agenda, so much so that at times I felt like I was in a class about it. It's not that I disagreed, per se, it's just that it was supposed to be a novel and I don't think anyone in real life pontificates at length like that. Or if they did, that they'd have anyone in their life left to listen, ha.
Kitchens of the Great Midwest, J. Ryan Stradal. This book was not what I was expecting at all. I thought it was going to be some fun stories of kitchens in the midwest throughout the years. I don't know where I got that, but this is definitely not that. It's actually a pretty sad story that in the end sort of shows hope in that the (kind of) main character makes something of herself. Not to give too much away, but as a mom, I did not get the main storyline at all - it was just hard for me to buy that.
My Oxford Year, Julia Whelan. Julia Whelan is one of my favorite narrators of audiobooks, so when I saw that she had written a novel - and of course narrated it - I grabbed in on Audible. The storyline is about an on-the-brink-of-big-success political adviser who takes a year off to fulfill her dream of going to Oxford. Of course she meets people there that have her rethinking her future. There are some "twists" that I saw coming from a mile away, but it was a fun book.
Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette, Sena Jeter Naslund. Full disclosure: I abandoned this book only 1/4 of the way through. And I love historical novels. This was told in first person, which isn't my favorite in historicals, and then it was just so slooooow. I found I couldn't care less about this person and what she was feeling and doing. I had read good things about this, so maybe it was just me and my state of mind at that point, but I couldn't make myself go on.
Confronting Injustice Without Compromising Truth, Thaddeus J. Williams. This is such a good and important book! I hadn't heard anything about it, but found it while searching in my Hoopla library app, and I'm so glad I did. This is a Christian author so it's from a Christian perspective, but it sheds so much light on the origins of the current no-holds-barred culture and what we can do in light of that (basically, treat everyone as the Image-bearers of God that they are). It was so eye-opening to realize it's been only about 20 years since we were the "no-judgement-zone" 1990s to the current "judge everyone for everything - and then ruin them." Mercy is key and I'm going to go through this book again just to remind myself (I also bought it for my daughter to read!).
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, Therese Ann Fowler. I have been wanting to read this book for a long time. Interestingly, it's a historical novel and told in the first person, but I really enjoyed this one (I know - you should probably try both yourself and decide, ha!). The story of the Fitzgerald's is interesting, of course, and how they were thrust into the spotlight. Also how F. Scott really did use a lot of autobiographical things in his novels. But what was happening around them and with the others in their writer's circle were interesting, too. Now I'm looking forward to watching the movie I read they made based off this book.
This is a Robbery: The World's Biggest Art Heist, Netflix. Our daughter found this and we all watched it together - what an incredible story. We learned a lot about the art world, too, and the interesting museum where the robbery took place.
Thunder Force, Netflix. This is Melissa McCarthy's newest movie and it's only rated PG-13. It was cute and had some laugh out loud moments as well as some squeamish ones (eating supposedly raw chicken...).
Concrete Cowboy, Netflix. This was such an interesting movie staring one of the kids from Stranger Things and Idris Elba. Apparently there's a part of Philadelphia where there are stables, horses, and cowboys. They've been there for years (in real life) and this is the story of a kid going the wrong way in life who's mom sends him, unwillingly, for the summer to live with his father - one of the cowboys. Interesting background for a coming of age story.
Spenser Confidential, Netflix. This was Brian's pick and it's a typical misunderstood cop just trying to right the wrongs of the world - with a lot of gun fights and car chases, lol.
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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