Whew. Part 1.

Well, I don’t know about you, but the holiday weekend was a hum-dinger, wasn’t it?

For maybe the 4th time in almost 5 years, I took Saturday off from my second job to go to my Momma’s family reunion.

I can’t lie.  I was only really excited about one part of it.

Seeing the family homestead.

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Ok, that’s a lie.  I was really excited to see family too.  Oh, and to eat.  For sure…eating is important in my family!

But, back to the house.  My Great, Great, x10 Grandparents built this place.  As my Grandpa B. told me, first there was a small one-room cabin, but then they upgraded to a tw0-story cabin before they finally built the current house in 1875.

Now, when the current member of my family moved in (about 8 years ago) it was in less than stellar condition.  It was suffering from the same fate so many old jems do….age.  Flat out, age….it was wearing her down.  Fading her beauty.  But then came along Cousin M….who saved her.  Hands down.

This home is STUNNING!

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The farmhouse is so statuesque.  Bonus, Cousin M. has some serious style in her decor choices.  The entire house has been brought into the 21st century…trust me I was taking notes.

They have Central Air.

SHUT UP.

I know right???

I am jealous beyond words on that fact.

Oh…and jealous of THIS bathroom???? (hey Aunt Pitbull…you’re still safe!)

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At one point, 9 of us were just hanging out in there.  it’s so …so….charming?  Elegant?  Roomy?  All of the above!

This home is so tastefully done, I just couldn’t help drooling over her decor.  I tried to wipe most of my drool marks off of her furniture….but just look at it!

Not to mention, just all of the overall updates and structural repairs that had to be done to the house (there were years of strip mining damage to the house that needed attention).

So, this is my HUGE thank you to Cousin M, her husband and family for saving a piece of our family heritage.  How cool that our family has lived in this house for 141 years!

Just check out this photo from 1910 in front of the farmhouse!

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With all of that being said, it was inspirational to see her back to her old glory.  She is back to standing tall on the hill, showing the world she could stand for another 141 years.  Without the people to love these old places and try to save them…their fate would be much worse.

So, thank you.  To each and every person who has fallen for the old house, barn, business or store front.  Someone…or many someones….probably thought you were crazy.  They might have even told you to your face.  But, if these walls could talk, they would be thanking us endlessly and beaming with pride to share their secrets with future generations!

There will be a Part 2 to this day….just too much fun to share in one little old post! Including the story about these little darling oinkers!

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Peace out peeps.

Meet Chuck.

Ugh.

Grrrr.

Damnit.

Seriously??

Over the last few weeks, I have been diligently working towards putting in a vegetable garden.  I mean, I now live in a place where I can have one.  Planning, reading, researching, prepping.  I’m READY!

My poor father even got drug into it when I needed him to help me get the old cranky rototiller started.  That’s a story in it’s own right.  But after a few battles with the one tire, we were ready to go.  So, back on Mother’s Day, I got my first lesson in how to operate the beast of a machine.

I can’t lie.  It scared me.  It backfires.  You have to shut it off with your foot on the spark plug.  It can drag a linebacker ten feet easily.  It’s just a beast.

But you know me, I am game for pretty much anything.

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As promised…there’s a pic of my Daddy-O.  He’s the best. Truly.

I did the first round on Mother’s Day…while my family watched the Cavs game…just saying!  lol!  Then in the next couple of weeks, I managed to get it tilled two more times….by myself I might add.
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I still have all of my digits and no blood was lost.  Heck, I wasn’t even electrocuted when I shut the damn thing off.

I even have to admit, I kinda like the cranky old beast of a rototiller.  Like everyone in the world…it has personality.  You just gotta learn how to have a conversation with it.

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Finally, this weekend, I bit the bullet and started planting.  Now, some think it might be a scotch to early.  But as usual, I can’t be told NOTHIN’!!

With plants and seed purchased and lots of planning done…I started digging!  I spent about 6 hours on Sunday working on it.

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Total side note, one of the goals of working on projects at this house is to not get into the “rush”.  I really want to learn how to take my time and just enjoy the process as much as the results.  I am normally driven by needing to have something done NOW…so I’m trying to shift my thinking.  Part of the process on this day was enjoying the sunshine and breeze.  Mother Nature must have gotten her life back together.  Because it was perfect.  Bonus, if you look close at the roof of the barn…you’ll see my vultures hanging out.  Meet Larry, Curly and Moe.

After a long and productive afternoon….I was about 90% done!

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I felt so connected at the moment I took this picture.  I thought of Grandpa B. and Grandpa D., who had both had gardens while I was growing up…one more successfully than the other.  I was so stinking proud of that beauty….and it just looks like I threw straw on the ground. In my head though, it was all green, lush, bountiful….gorgeous flowers blooming (zinnias for Grandma B, I just had too!).  It was a glorious feeling.

Until Daddy-O brought me right back to reality.  I texted this pic to both parents and said, “What do you think the Grandpas would have to say!”.  To which my Daddy-O promptly responded “Why can’t the rows be straight?”

Really.

They are straight…IT’S CALLED A DIAGONAL!!

He’s so right though.  Both of my Grandfathers would be less than happy with my artistic interpretation of a vegetable garden.

Fast forward 24 hours.

ARGHHHH!!!

My bubble has been burst.

Meet Chuck.

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Rat bastard.

Or should I say…Squirrel bastard.

They are actually kind of cool…. And if not for anything else, gave me a new topic to learn a little about.

But for the record.   It’s game on Chuck.  This is your eviction notice.

Ask Petunia.

Even the Mice.

Now, it’s your turn.  Pack your back and hit the road Jack…I mean Chuck.

This is MY garden and you’re NOT going to ruin it.

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Peace out peeps.

 

First Solo Canning Attempt

To some of you…that might not sound hard….but for me…it caused a great deal of anxiety.  What if I forget how to much to put in?  Or to wipe the rims?  Or if I process too long?  Or all the jars explode because I didn’t keep them hot enough….blah blah blah.

So, I tackled making a Rhubarb-Orange Jam.  I was so excited about this, because I have an AMAZING patch of rhubarb….well at least according to everyone who has seen it.

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Being a first time rhubarb owner, I have since cut the flowers off, but I was kinda curious to see what they would look like!

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So, I went to cutting.  I have to admit, I am still kind of nervous about cutting too much of it.  But from what I have been told, it’s pretty forgiving.  I have dry packed some for the freezer, made this one batch of jam and a delicious crunch on Mother’s Day.  I have a couple of other recipes I think I might try…so, I would like to think that that is a good start for year 1!

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One interesting conversation the Fam and I had over Mother’s Day dinner was about the leaves.  Who was the lucky duck who got to find out that they are poisonous??  Do you ever wonder things like that?

We do.

We even go so far as to having a conversation (including a potential dare) about how much you would have to ingest before it would ACTUALLY be a problem.  No worries, the parental units didn’t let the 35 ad 37 year old children make such a juvenile dare.

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Cut and cleaned, ready to start.

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It looked so pretty I couldn’t resist!!  The recipe itself was super easy.  But I did learn my first valuable lesson.  Pectin is important.  I mean, I made it work, but it took a LOT longer to cook down.  Second important lesson, make sure you have enough sugar in the house when you are making jam.

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My mom bought me this canning set at least 2 years ago and I am ashamed to admit that I just now was cracking it open.  But the good news….it’s open!  Let the canning season commence!

All my jars popped.  Nothing broke.  No second degree burns.

To boot…the stuff is pretty tasty!

I call that a winning success!!

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With the potential of how much canning I could do this planting season, I am now looking for a hutch of some sort to start storing the cans in, since my basement  is still a mess at this point.  But in the future, I hope to have storage down there for my mini grocery store!

Before I leave this post…a. HUGE thank you to my Momma for teaching me how to can and always being there to help me when I start my escapades.  She is truly a remarkable woman.

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FYI…she is going to hate me for posting this.  So, while we’re at it…

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Might as well make my brother mad too.

I have the best family ever.  No worries…pictures of dad will be coming too!  No one is safe from my documentation of my life!

P.S.  If you have any amazing rhubarb recipes, please share!!

Peace out peeps.

Storm Cellar Vote….HELP!

Howdy!

So, I am on the homestretch of the school year, which means I am in the mad planning stage for what projects will get accomplished this summer.  Now, this summer is a struggle.  Because there is SOOOOOO much I want to tackle and frankly NEED to tackle.  But it’s a matter of priority, budget and time.

One of the biggest projects that needs attention is the storm cellar entrance to the house.

It’s a hot mess.

Honestly, I don’t even know how big of a hot mess.  But I am envisioning a horrible, steaming pile of crap hot mess.  It’s frightening to even think about how bad it is under that contraption.

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This is what it looked like in October when I first got the place.  Trust me, doesn’t look much different now.  I added a few more layers to try to deflect the water from going straight in the basement, but just more crap on the already steaming pile.

I mean I did landscape around it…that helps, right? As dad would say…I’m polishing the brass on the titanic.

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See it over there…on the right…lovely, huh?

Bet you didn’t think it could get worse.

It does.

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This is from the basement.  Yep, that rotting “door” and a bunch of mud from where water has been leaching in over the years.  It does eventually make it’s way to a “drain” in the front of the house.  On it’s way though, it working on carving out my own personal mini version of the Grand Canyon.  It’s awesome.

It also leads me to really wonder what the “condition” of the steps are behind that awesome door!

So, I’ll be tackling that mess in a few short weeks.  But here’s what I need a vote on.

Should I keep the exterior storm cellar entrance to the house?

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See where the weird comic symbol is?  Well, if I get rid of that storm cellar entrance and the tree, if will open up the tight parking area by the house.  If I keep it, the obvious bonus is that I would still have exterior access to the basement?  But is it worth it?  It would be cheaper and easier to just block it up and call it a day.

So, I am reaching out to you.  Anyone who has actually read this far…what would you you???  Feel free to comment below, or if you are getting to this post from Facebook…you can comment there too!

 

Moods and Weather

Listen.

I am a total weather person.  I LIVE for the 70 degree days, blue skies, slight breeze and warmth of the sun.  When those days pop up….I soak up every ounce of EVERY moment of them and I store them.  Like a chipmunk with nuts.  Or is it a squirrel?

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Whatever, you get the point.

Right now is one of the most challenging times of the year for me…mentally.  I know…every day is a struggle, but right now…it’s a damn obstacle course to get through the day.  Like a American Ninja Warrior course. My work as an elementary art teacher is sucking every bit of life out of me.

My patience.  Gone.

My urge to be healthy.  Gone.

My energy.  Gone.

My brain.  Gone.

Most of my urge to care at all.  Gone.

So, I need Mother Nature to step it up.  Quit throwing out these crap days.  I need sunshine…for like DAYS IN A ROW.  I need to be able to play in the dirt.  Mow my yard without trying to coordinate it between two jobs and the sobbing tears Momma Wild is throwing down from those heavy gray clouds.

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My yard is loving it.  My tractor is not. 

I get it, she must have bad days too….but doesn’t she know????  Lots of us feel a lot better when she blesses us with those glorious, amazing and healing days of sunshine and warmth.

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Here’s to everyone in my boat.  Keep bailing those raindrops out.  Hang in there…because there will be one of those glorious days coming soon.  When it does…absorb it.  Harness the warmth and save it…you’ll need it.  Especially if you live in a place like Northeast Ohio.

I mean, there was a VERY specific reason the Ravenna Arsenal was built here.  (Which is a super fascinating place to learn about in the chapters of U.S. history….perfect for a rainy day!  hee hee hee)

Hang in there.  I keep telling myself the following…

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Thanks for letting me dump my emotional baggage on you for a second!

Peace out peeps.

Canning and White Elephants

Hey hey!

What a beautiful evening we are having here in Northeast Ohio!   You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Well then…lazy butt…why aren’t you outside working???”

Trust me, I have already had guilt over this detail.

But, when I made the agenda for the evening, it was dreary and looked like it was going to rain most of the evening.

So, although…I have a whole pile of plant donations (thank you to everyone who is helping to get these gardens in shape!!!) to get in the ground, I decided to get some inside chores done.

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The evening started with this really cool guy coming out to the house to talk to me about the barn!  As I have said before, I LOVE finding other people who have a similar passion for these old buildings like I do.  Big thanks to Randy Smith of Ohio Valley Barn Salvage!  With his expertise, we were able to determine that parts of the barn are from around 1840, while the majority of it was built around 1880.

He called my barn a white elephant.

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So, the house is a Purple Cow and the barn is a White Elephant…what’s going on around here?  Pink Chickens next???

Apparently, it’s unique for a couple of reasons.  First of all, it is a mess of two barns put together.  Two, it has milled beams that are long enough that they would have had to have been cut in the late 19th century.  However, the quirk, it is still assembled with pegs.

Did you know there was such a thing as Sears and Montgomery Ward barns? Just like the houses???  SO COOL! They were being produced at the turn of the century and it was at that time that barns generally started to be assembled with nails.

So, all of this being said.  The bad boy is going to stay exactly where it is for at least the next year.  Just going to wait out the options.  I’m still playing the lottery…still writing Ellen…so there are still possibilities!  Heck, I even chased a rainbow tonight!

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Either way, the best part was having another great conversation with a stranger about something as cool as an old barn.  I can not begin to tell you how many times over the last 7 months, this house and adventure have given me opportunities to meet new people and learn a little more every day!  For that alone, I am so grateful!

So, topics up next…canning, a brief history on mortar (waiting in anticipation….I know!) and gardening.  I am sure, just because I am me…that there will also be at least one random insight on something mixed in there.  Vague, huh?  Luckily for me, that whole ramble made perfect sense…at least in my head!

Back to the canning adventures!

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There’s your hint!  More to come on that!

Peace out peeps.

Wine Cork Recap

Hey everyone!

So, we had another great class last Sunday (holy crap, I can’t believe it’s been almost a week already!) making lots of fun stuff out of wine corks!  I wanted to take a moment and share some of the photos.

I was so excited because it was a nice day out and we were able to get all the doors open on the house…which was a nice change from being cooped up all winter.

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I’m really looking forward to enjoying more fresh air in the house in the next couple of months.

Granted, I’m saying that now, before it is July and 90 degrees and I’m dying of heat. Oh yeah…no AC in this old bad boy of a house.  At least not yet. Hee hee hee!

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We had a small turn out…which is something I am struggling with, but more on that later.

The cork fun was great.  Minus trying to hot glue corks to glass.  Which, I will throw out to you…anyone have an experience in this area?  When I found this craft, it recommended using the E600 craft glue.  So, being the prepared, planning type person I am…gave it a try.  I HATED it.  I did not realize that it took 42 days to set up.  Literally… 42 days.

Well, that’s not gonna work.

Especially since these classes are designed to be completed in one afternoon.  So, out came my trusty 1982 hot glue gun.

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Let’s just talk about that glue gun for a second.

It is unregulated.

It’s a rebel.

It’s dangerous.

Needless to say, we have a lot in common.

All of that translates to… small children should DEFINITELY never get anywhere near it.  Like they shouldn’t even be in the same house.  Maybe even the same zip code.  Many adults should be wary.  Brave adults should be prepared to loose a layer of skin.  There is your warning.  You’re welcome.

On my samples, it worked great!  So, I thought that the hot glue option was the answer to all of my prayers (well, many of them at the immediate moment).   I thought for sure I was prepared and good to go for the class.  Quickly figured out that the low-temp glue guns are crap. Here I am trying to be safe and all…pointless.  The low-temp guns were not beefy enough for this project.  So, for those who wanted to try it, out came the unregulated glue gun.  This is Holly.  She still had function of two of her fingers at this point.  She even seems happy!

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Everyone had fun…no one was seriously injured…so in my book….that’s a WIN!

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I really had a blast and I love sharing my hobby with these wonderful people!

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So, off to go plan the next class….looks like the next one will be a painting class!  Watch the Facebook  page for more info!  I’m excited, I have a fun idea for what we can paint!

Lots going on outside at the house, can’t wait to share pics!  Plus, I’m down to something like 18 days left of school…so soon, it will be full time work at the house!  Get ready!!!

Peace out peeps.