A monthly list of good things to do, buy, read, watch, and more.
Some links in this article are affiliate links and if you click on them I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.
It's been a couple of crazy busy weeks here at our farmhouse fixer as we sprinted to finish what we needed to get done to be able to move in on our goal date of April 1.
The past month has seen us painting, caulking, sewing, drilling holes, making selves, poly coating shelves, finishing floors, and so.much.more.
And I'm so happy to report that we did it - we moved in and spent our first night in the farmhouse on April 1!!
So of course that's the best good thing, but I do have a few others for you, including the linen source I'm SO excited about finding, eight book reviews (lots of time to listen while painting, lol), and more.
Let's get to it!
I'm pretty sure this will be the #1 good thing of this year. Above is the empty(ish) rooms of the manufactured home we've been living in for the last three years while we rehabbed the farmhouse.
We've been so grateful to have this comfortable place to live while we waited on permits, foundation, worker delays, and more.
It was a wonderful interim home for us - and now is home to my brother and sweet sister-in-law, which is so fun. In fact, if it wasn't for their help the last six months on the farmhouse, we wouldn't be living in it yet - so one more good thing to be thankful for - family!
Let's take a little tour of the first floor (look for a video and full tour as soon as we're more settled!):
We were able to set up the living room first thing on move day and it immediately started to feel like home.
We opened the view by adding another window to the side wall - there was only one that size there before. It made a huge difference and we're so glad we added that a couple months ago!
I do have curtains to hang, but they will be hung high and wide to not block the view. We need something for the black holes at night, lol.
This room is something we created from the large single room by adding the wall in between.
While knocking down walls are all the rage, this room is WAY more usable now. We have a place for the shelf you see to the right, as well as coat hooks and a bench for visitors.
It created walls for dining room furniture, but didn't cut anything off because of the 8 foot opening we left.
It also honors the original footprint of the house - a wall did separate the family parlor from the guest parlor, though it was more centrally located than our wall.
There's lots more to complete in this room including wiring and hanging the chandelier, replacing a broken window, and then finishing the trim painting, hanging curtains, and arranging furniture.
The bathroom is pretty much complete and it feels like a spa to use! The tall shower feels luxurious even though the footprint is small, and the huge mirror over the sink is gorgeous to look at and use.
My favorite part is the vintage china cabinet that my sister-in-law painted (matched Boxwood Green) to be bathroom storage behind the door.
I realized as I was adding our bathroom supplies that built-in cabinets would've been better for storage, but I LOVE this and will just have to be creative with our supplies from now on!
You can see more of the bathroom plan here.
(If you've been following along, you know that the doors are not original to this house - almost all original things had been stripped away or covered up over the years. We salvaged these from another 100 year old house in town, had them dipped to strip and rehung. Another of my favorite things.)
This room was created from the original tiny back room and the 8-foot bump-out addition we added. We raised the ceiling and added lots of windows and the end result is pretty stunning.
Even though if I could go back I wouldn't raise the ceiling (it was already 9+ feet) or add the tall windows because they added so much expense and hassle, I can still appreciate the beautiful room this is!
I'm super happy with the faux exposed rafters we distressed - you can just glimpse the end of one in the photo above. We will have a complete tutorial on that soon, since they were super affordable compared to reclaimed beams and are not as fake-looking as some of those foam-type beams I've seen.
Great Source for European Linen
So, see the 10 foot curtain panels in the bedroom? I ended up having to make them since the cost to buy blackout linen panels this long was SO expensive. And polyester wasn't much cheaper.
But when I was searching for ivory linen, I was having a hard time finding any for under $20/yd that was in stock. I mentioned this in my weekly newsletter and a reader wrote back to let me know that Fabrics-Store.com was a good source for linen.
I checked it out and they were not only fully stocked with all the linen, but in different weights AND for a better price than any other place I'd look at (lucky me to have such great readers!) - just over $10/yd.
I ordered some samples of the different weights, signing up for an account at the same time. The next day, I got an email with an offer for up to 15 yards of the ivory linen at a discount that equalled about a $3/yd savings.
I felt like I struck the mother load, lol. You bet I ordered the limit - and the result is the curtains you see above in their glorious 10+ foot length (I found the best price for blackout lining here).
I still need to hem them (a great tip for making curtains is to hang them the first time unhemmed so you can then pin for the perfect length) and fix a couple things, but I'm really pleased with how they turned out. Especially because my cost of materials puts these at $50 per panel - less than half the cost of buying this length!
If you need linen for ANY project do check out Fabrics-Store.com - they have patterns, too, including a project to make your own linen waffle-weave towels I've been eyeing.
(Oh, and that barn door was the last big project Brian completed before moving in - and it wasn't easy! It holds another vintage door we salvaged that came with a full length mirror on one side that's perfect on the closet side.)
Vintage Style Distressed Rug
When we moved we needed to shift around some rugs. The wool-jute rug we'd been using in the living room was a bit big for the farmhouse, but would fit perfectly in our new larger bedroom.
Our daughter needed a rug on the newly refinished fir floors upstairs and the rug we'd been using in our old bedroom would be perfect.
That left me searching for a new rug for the farmhouse living room. Ugh, searching for rugs is NOT easy. Well at least for me - all the rugs I fall in love with are over $1000, ha!
I thought I had ordered another jute rug - this time with black cotton threads - but a few weeks later realized I never actually pushed the 'buy' button (have I mentioned this last month has been kinda crazy?).
Back to square one. I kept returning to the Target website and finding the same vintage style distressed rug again and again. It wasn't a natural fiber, but it did have that aged look I was drawn to. Plus good price and great reviews.
Done. They had it in stock locally, so I had Brian pick it up. The above rug photo is from the website, but reads a much tanner than in real life. You can see in the first living room photo that the background is more ivory.
I like it, it works. But you want to know something really funny?
As soon as Brian rolled it out, I realized it was the SAME rug we moved from our bedroom up to our daughter's room!! We bought it from Target almost six years ago and they still sell it, lol.
No wonder I kept returning to it on the website!
Here is the link to the rug if you'd like one, too.
The Strange Journey of Alice Pendelbury, Mark Levy. This was a pleasant book to listen to while painting. The story revolves around the title character and her unexpected journey to a new place where she finds answers to a past she doesn't remember. The characters live and talk like people in their 20s (in 1950s London), so I was kind of shocked to find out towards the end that Alice was 39. It seems they are still finding out what they want to do and be, so the age didn't really connect with me.
But there was an interesting twist towards the end, plus great descriptions of not only the places they visited but the smells and feel of them. It starts a bit slow, but about 1/3 through you become invested in finding out where the plot is going.
A Gentleman In Moscow, Amor Towels. I've been wanting to read this for awhile and finally got it from the library. The concept was so foreign to me - a titled aristocrat is taken custody just after the Bolshevik revolution of Russia in the early 20th century. Instead of being shot like most others, he is given a lifetime sentence of living in a Moscow hotel and if he ever leaves he will then be shot.
My daughter warned me that it was boring, but I actually found it to be fascinating. How do you live when you have to stay in one place? How do you adapt to your situation? What kind of attitude do you have?
This man had been a person of importance and wealth and then becomes a prisoner in small attic rooms. Throughout the years he lives there, he never is too mighty to befriend the help and even become the help. He actually lives a life with wonderful friends and even a daughter he adopts. It was a great picture of being grateful for what you do have, finding ways to be useful and live a good life anyway.
Ella Minnow Pea, Mark Dunn. I had never heard of this book before my daughter read it for a book club and gave it to me. The premise is that there is a fictional island nation off the coast of the Carolinas where the man who created the phrase, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” - a phrase that uses all the letters of the alphabet.
In the main town square is a statue of this main and the phrase and one day one of the letters fall off. They believe it's a sign from him to stop using the letter - and the story goes from there. The book is told in letters and as it progresses, the written letters get harder to read as more and more letters are "outlawed." A quick, different read that actually has some serious overtones.
Can We Trust the Gospels, Peter J. Williams. This was recommended by the author of a book I read last month (Stay Salt). It is FULL of reasons why the gospels are historically accurate according to the same historical proof we use for all history. While some parts are a bit scholarly (read: dry), it was very eye-opening and affirming.
Maisie Dobbs, Jacqueline Windspear. Many readers have recommended this series to me over the years and I finally got a chance to listen to the first one. I did really enjoy the premise of the book as well as the story. I really liked the fact that Maisie wasn't just sprung on us as someone who can solve cases, but we learn how she was mentored and taught to see things and read people. It just made it that much more beliveable.
As for this story, it sets the stage for the whole series, I'm assuming, so there's quite a bit of backstory. It's all interesting, though, and the mystery she solves isn't really the main story. The one thing that disappointed me, though, was that she didn't visit her sweetheart until the very end. We were sort of led to believe he was killed in the war - but the whole time he'd been injured and she hadn't visited in YEARS. It was odd and didn't really go along with the person's character the author had spent the first part of the book building, in my opinion. I do look forward to reading more in the series, though.
Meet Me At The Museum, Ann Youngson. This was another reader recommendation that I was able to find at the library. It's another story told in letters of an English woman who contacts a museum in Europe and starts a correspondence with one of the workers there. Watching their friendship grow through the letters - as well as the events of their lives over the years they write - is sweet. The ending was a little sad for me - I like things neatly tied up (and happy...) and it wasn't really - but that didn't make me not like it!
The Husband Hunters, Anne DeCourcy. If you've watched Downtown Abbey, you've learned about American heiresses who came to England searching for a titled man to marry and the poor, land-rich men who married them. This is the history of the real women (girls, really) who married into the English aristocracy at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century and I found it totally fascinating.
I was most surprised to learn that women in America had much more power and control of their families than women in England. And that girls were educated more in America than England. All the romance we associate with the "English country life" is brought to reality with the stories of the women who had to go to the drafty, cold, isolated estates for 6 months of the year after being raised in NYC. Not surprisingly, most of the marriages didn't end up as happy as on DA.
The Lazy Genius Way, Kendra Adachi. I've listened and subscribed to Kendra's letters and podcast for years and put her new book on hold as soon as I saw it was available. I still waited a few months for it. She always has such good thoughts about doing only the things that are most important to us - and finding ways to make them as easy as possible. There are so many good nuggets here whether you are looking for how to be productive, entertain, make meals every night, fit reading into your schedule - and much more.
The Crown, Season 3, Netflix. While I'm late to this season, I've enjoyed some of the episodes much more than the previous two seasons. They seem more about what's happening in the world and how that affects the royals than just the gossipy stuff of the first seasons. My favorite episode was about the Welsh town, Aberfan, with the mud avalanche that obliterated a school - it's something I knew nothing about and was heart wrenching.
The Right Stuff (series), Disney+ - We tried this after looking through Disney's offerings and have been pleasantly surprised at how much we've been enjoying it. It's a series that goes into more depth than the movie did and both are based off the same book of the beginnings of the US's space program.
Nate Bargatze, Greatest Average American, Netflix. This is the latest special from this comedian who we always enjoy. He is funny and clean - two important things in our book.
Hamilton, Disney+ - Our daughter bought a couple months of this streaming service mainly to watch Hamilton. Oh my gosh, was this a great musical! It was riveting on the screen - I can't imagine what it would be like to see it live. Wow.
Soul, Disney+ - This was an okay movie - beautiful to look at like all Pixar movies, but some odd ideas for sure. Not sure at all what kids would think about this, 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!
Disclosure: affiliate links in this article will earn commission based on sales, but it doesn't change your price. Click here to read my full disclaimer and advertising disclosure.