Shed Updates.

One of the fun things about buying a house is that when you’re handed the keys, you are handed a blank slate. Whether that simply means you slap on a coat of paint, redecorate, or gut things, it’s your prerogative.

20140203_093555Our homestead came with four outbuildings – a barn (that needs some work), a stellar chicken coop (that we’ve revamped and filled with chickens), and two dilapidated sheds. We’ve cleaned out and filled up one of the sheds (it was a disgusting job – the former owner had used it as his duck massacring station…and had left it mid-massacre). We believe the other shed was formerly a smoke house – it’s got a chimney and rafters (currently from which snake skins hang). It’s 11 feet by 11 feet, has two windows which have been sided over, the floor is spotty in some places, and we believe it has electricity run to it (need to test that). So, what to do with this shed is a project that’s been on my mind – I’d like to un-dilapidate it and give it a new life. We’ve been tossing around ideas, but haven’t settled on anything.

These ideas include:

1. Secondary tool and gardening shed, womp, womp. This just isn’t what I want to do: have two sheds. We need something more interesting, unusual, with pizzazz.

2. Potting shed. I like this idea, but don’t really know if I need an entire shed devoted to potting – right now I already have a little outdoor potting area set up and it suits me just fine. Turning the shed into a potting shed mostly conjures up images of dank, musty, dirt. Hmph.

3. Green house retrofit. This would probably be the most work because it would require taking a significant part of the shed apart – including the roof – to replace with glass…although I guess we could do a partial roof removal. I think we’ll wait and build one from scratch, later.

4. Cozy guest house. I know, this seems impractical, especially since we have several in-house guest options. But isn’t this romantic? We could call it the The Shedroom!

5. Animal housing. On the other hand, this seems quite practical…however the shed is very close to the house and driveway, and I’d rather just keep filling the barn. W has been interested in raising rabbits, and this could be an excellent start to a large hutch/husbandry outfit. BUT I had pet rabbits growing up and just can’t imagine us venturing into rabbits for meat.

6. Restore it to it’s former glory: a smokehouse! Another one of W’s craaazy ideas. Do we need a whole structure devoted to smoking meat? Haha, I bet some of you will say “YES!” I guess if W starts hunting it would make sense…perhaps the electricity would come in handy because we could keep a chest freezer out there too.

7. Studio/craft space. Turn it into a retreat where we can craft (all those reupholstering jobs I have on my to-do list). This is rustic, re-purposed and glamorous all at once (and a tad more grande than our actual shed could probably accommodate, oh Pinterest!). I could bring my craft closet out there. I could set up my sewing machine. Buuut, then I wouldn’t be in the house, so what would my little guy do while I crafted? And if he was napping, would I really want to leave the house to go to my craft shed? Yea, no.

So, what do you think? What have you done to re-purpose an old shed or structure on your property? Any other ideas?

Thanks in advance for your input!

I’m linking up with The Prairie Homestead blog for another Homestead Barn Hop.

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For Later.

The snow is beginning to fall ever so gently (I do wonder how much we’ll get!), I’ve got a cup of tea just made, WV is asleep after an excellent play date with my good friend N and her three lovlies (and the dogs are, incidentally, having doggie dreams of their own), and so I thought I’d write a few things down. I don’t know about you, but it seems there is always a long list of things to do that just don’t get done around here. So much “upkeep,” so many creative projects, so much cleaning, so much writing. I welcome any advice on how other SAHMs/WAHMs structure the day to maximize efficiency and minimize exhaustion. One thing that has consistently helped us is meal planning…I’ve popped the sausages out of the freezer for tomorrow’s dinner…but I need to go further. While WV is napping, here is a small list of things planned…

CRAFTS.
I bought 49 yards (W pointed out that’s nearly half a football field’s worth) of fabric a few weeks ago and plan to get some serious sewing done. I have a couch and a chaise to recover and want to make roman shades for our bedroom. Will post a roman shade tutorial once I’m done because have you seen what’s out there? It’s not much (or good…Martha Stewart fail). I’ll surely procrastinate by making pillows and covering ottomans. Must find some ottomans.

I’d like to make my own nursing tanks (thanks, Pinterest!). This time, I’ll be more prepared to breast feed – nursing tanks are expensive, but tank tops are cheeeeap (I’m thinking Forever 21’s $2 tanks!).

Also, it’s probably time to make some more baby wipes. I hit up garage sales in the fall for receiving blankets that I will re-purpose as such.

WRITING.
W and I both have papers we want to complete from our recent degrees – we’ve thought about instituting an evening of writing once per week. Can’t decide if it should be staggered (ie one of us plays sitter) or if we should attempt to actually enforce a bed time and then write together. I like the latter idea.

We’d also like to more consistently post on this blog, and even revamp a bit. We’ve got 25+ posts in the queue that need a few hours before being set free. One on home loans. One on soups. One on inspiration. One on frugality. Several on our kitchen renovation and discovery of a secret room in our house. Even a few that we’d like to do a follow-up with (the cloth diaper post, for example); we’ve got a lot more to share in the “babies don’t cost that much” category.

WV’s birth story. Several friends of mine are currently pregnant and have asked about WV’s birth. It didn’t go as planned, I will say. And my doula and one of my midwives have suggested I get this done so that I can focus on the birth of E in the spring, afresh and with no baggage from my first labor and delivery. I want to do it. I just find it so hard. But I will.

I’ve connected with a blogger via my {this moment} posts who interviews writers each Wednesday. I’m working on her interview questions and will be featured on her Writer Wednesday sometime this spring!

COOKING.
Do I really need to say more? I have three biscotti recipes I’ve tinkered with that I want to share. A smattering of soups. And W is interested in branching out in the bread making department – his standard sandwich bread is like my quiche: memorized. Time to expand.

AROUND THE HOMESTEAD.
Oh, how the proverbial “to do” list on a homestead is a bottomless pit. Our number one priority is fencing. Lot’s of fencing. Some Morman friends I’ve made will be helping us when the ground isn’t frozen.

Make contact. We have several neighbors we need to drop in on to get to know better and to pick their brains.

Then there are lesser needs like: “what to do with the old smoke-house” (it’s a big shed…anyone? anyone?) and to prep the barn for goats and a milk cow I’ve already named Tallulah.

We also have to finish the kitchen.

Inspired by Wendell Berry, and many others, I must exclaim: homesteading requires you to be, at any given moment and all at once, an artist, an animal psychologist, a chef, an electrician, a gambler, a good neighbor, a plumber, a scientist, an even more sleep-deprived parent, a solver, a weather watcher, and a lover (and finder) of small victories.

Ok, nap over.
What’s on your to-do list? Good luck!

I’m linking up with The Prairie Homestead blog for another Homestead Barn Hop.

First Craft.

I had this Pinterest-inspired hallucination that I would create one crafty item per day in 2014. AHAHAHAHA!!! Hillllarious, folks, hilarious. But, I did manage to create something rad with W on the first of the year – so here it is: a little tutorial on how to make an inverted fruit-basket hanging lamp. P1070537

Some background: The people we bought our home from not only vied to tie Kim Kardashian in swiftness of marriage disintegration, but the world record for number of ugly-butt chandeliers in one house. They are everywhere – in each bedroom (chandeliers in bedrooms?!?), in the dining room of course, the hallway, the kitchen, and they actually took the ones from the barn that were hanging there when we toured the house (the only ones we liked). Anywho, not only are they not “us,” but they cast what appear to be giant grey arachnid shadows (incidentally, W’s idea of a good heavy metal band name). Gotta go.

I’d been hemming and hawing over cool lighting for way too long. My cousin, who we lived with in DC over the summer, always had giant Restoration Hardware catalogs lying about, which were good for drooling, but amusingly not in our price range, and I really like the feel of the lighting at Barn Light Electric. But nothing got purchased. Then recently, in Carytown, I spotted several hanging lights made by a local artisan out of non-traditional sources like repurposed baskets. I knew I could recreate those $75-$200 lights myself! In fact, in purge-mode, I had tossed an old hanging fruit basket that I once bought for $1 at a garage sale into our scrap metal pile, which I immediately fished out when we got home.

A quick trip to Lowes (with a 10% off coupon) garnered a 12-ft lamp cord wire ($5.80, only a portion of which I ended up using…more DIY lamps to be made!) and a keyless socket adapter kit ($3.58) that I thought I could string together to make a hanging light (we’ve become trial and error electricians over the last 3 months). I also bought a canopy kit ($4.61), which is a face plate/finial that covers the ugly hole in the ceiling where all the important wiring resides.

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First, I debated whether or not to spray paint the basket, which had some rust spots, opting finally not to in the name of “rustic charm” and it being frigging freezing outside. Then I turned the basket upside down and reattached it’s four chains to the bottom, to make an umbrella-shaped hanging wire basket. I cut off the cord’s plug and wired it to the socket. The instructions that came with the cord didn’t actually match the cord, so W did a little sleuthing to find out which of the two wires was the live/hot (sometimes labeled as “black,” in this case it just had writing on it) and which was the neutral wire (sometimes labeled as “white”). I then attached the little brass finial that came with the socket to the underside of the basket after threading the wire through it. I used a piece of the chain to secure the wire to the basket too, at the top where the “X” is made) so that it didn’t swing around. Then we cut the wire slightly longer than the length of the chain so that we had room to make the connections in the ceiling.

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A few quick screw turns and the godawful hall chandelier (really the worst in tarantula-like shadow offenders) was thankfully removed. Then W attached the wires from our new chandelier to those in the ceiling and installed the canopy kit (thread the wire from the hanging lamp through it first, before connecting the wires to the ceiling). Oh yes, and we turned off the circuit prior to all fiddling in the ceiling, of course!
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Last step was to screw in the vintage-inspired lightbulb I had purchased ($6.28…the most expensive piece!). No degree required! I experimented with threading lace ribbon and strips of burlap through the basket weave, but finally removed them all b/c it looked too hodge-podgy. Plain basket for me!

Oh, I love this little home made chandelier so much – it casts an unobtrusive basket shadow and the low wattage bulb isn’t too bright to look at directly. Total cost of materials: about $20. Boo-ya!

Go make one!!!

This post was shared with Fluster Buster’s creative link-up party.