Our “Immigration Clock”

When I was a little girl, Momma would give me little things to do to help out around the house with the cleaning, It was a good way to get me involved and to be a good steward of all we have been blessed with. My favorite job was dusting. I probably wasn’t fabulous at it because Momma would come around behind me, hours later and find all of the spots I missed but I do a sufficient job now and that’s all that matters. The reason I loved dusting was two-fold: first, I got to arrange the things on the shelves as I went along and to me that was great fun (always the decorator) and second, the “immigration clock” was something I was allowed to touch when I dusted! We didn’t call it that when I was younger because it wasn’t until I was an adult that anyone told me the story of how it came to be in the family. I just loved that clock! It didn’t work unless you made it work. It would keep ticking for a short period of time and if, say, while dusting, the hands just “happened to be in the right place”, just before the (any) hour and the clock was moved just right, the ticking would last long enough to make the clock strike the hour! It was ironic ūüėČ how it always seemed to do that every time I dusted!

Momma never had it fixed and when it moved with her a few times, the casing started to crack. When we were able to, I had it fixed and then it came to “live” at my house! I told my grandmother about it becoming mine¬†and she told me the story of how it became our family clock. As I was cleaning up the kitchen this morning and listening to the news¬†on TV, they reported on Donald Trump’s most recent statements on immigration and I thought about the conversations I had with many of the 150 or so folks who came through our house¬†a little over a week ago,¬†on the Christmas House Tour. A part of our immigration history, as recent as the 1920’s has been completely forgotten by the majority of Americans and yet it is supposedly still part of the immigration process. It used to be that you couldn’t just decide to come to America, show up at Ellis Island and travel to wherever you wanted to start your American dream. It just wasn’t that simple! The story of our clock tells more than the time.

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My great grandfather John and great grandmother, Bertha (originally pronounced “Bear-tah”) found themselves “with child” at age 22 and 20 respectively. It was a difficult time in history to not be married and six months after the birth of my grandfather (also named John) they tied the knot and started their lives but things were difficult for them, no doubt socially, since everyone in that small village knew each other and having a child out of wedlock was simply¬†not acceptable at the time. Sometime within the first year of his life, they knew they needed to make a change. I’m not sure why he chose the United States, but with a small tin photo of Bertha around his neck, said goodbye and traveled to Ellis Island to begin to make a way for his young family.

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Young Bertha, circa 1920s

Great Grandfather wore this around his neck to keep his focus while making a way for his family to come to America.

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I love the evidence of his hard work, on the backside of the pendant.

Before immigrating to the United States, he was required to find a sponsor, in the area he wanted to settle. This sponsor would be responsible for helping him with the language, to find a job, a place to live, would speak for him and be responsible for him if he got into trouble. The sponsor would also ensure that proper, legal status or citizenship was obtained. No, it wasn’t always just open boarders for any and all to come start a life here. I always thought it was, and all who heard the story of the clock this weekend, thought so too.¬† There was and is far more to it than that! Sponsors are required for a person to legally enter the U.S. and¬†can be anyone over 21, either family, family friend or business. You can read more about modern U.S. sponsorship HERE.

Enter “Aunt Mary” Stehle (who later married David Smith). She was of no relation to our family, as far as we can tell, but she became like family to John and Bertha. She would be his sponsor in Altoona, Pennsylvania and help him to find work as a stonemason. He eventually rented a home near Mary and was financially stable enough to send for his wife and son. My grandpa was three years old when he came to the U.S. Bertha and young John came to Ellis Island with a plan and defined, hardworking, not just free because you came here, path to citizenship. It wasn’t easy. They clung to the German church and German speaking community, so tightly that when my grandpa was in primary school, the teacher had a conference with his parents ad sponsor to explain that young John was to immersed in German at home to properly learn English and that they should find an English speaking church and speak only English at home so they could help him learn his new language.

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It makes the most soulfully, deep bong when it chimes the hour.

When my Great Grandfather became a U.S. Citizen, “Aunt Mary” said she wanted to give him something to celebrate him no longer needing her sponsorship and asked if there was anything of hers that he wanted. He said he had always admired that clock so she gave it to him as a gift for becoming an independent and upstanding American.¬† Our clock¬†is a Seth Thomas¬†clock and ¬†That clock will always represent a rightly obtained citizenship and a solid immigration, in my heart.¬† ¬†Please excuse me while I go “dust my clock”.



Christmas Historic Victorian House Tour 2015

CCR Christmas house tour 15 Early November, we received a call from a lady at the West Point Historical Society, asking us if we would consider allowing our home to be on the home tour during the town’s Christmas On The Town celebration!¬†¬†We were¬†honored!¬† From Thanksgiving until¬†last Sunday¬†at 12:30 (the tour was 1:00) it was ON!¬† Night and day I was planning, shopping and placing!¬† Christmas insanity!¬† I’m pretty sure it was a decorating speed record for me!¬† The house looked fantastic!¬† The outside was hung in garland and wreaths.

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Candles in my urns with greens and hurricane globes.  Simple decorating from my yard!  Sutherby is supervising.

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Don’t get up girl.¬† I got this.

My sleds were at the ready (not that we have hills to sled on, down by the riverside) by the doors.¬† Inside, the trees were decorated, mantels covered in greens, the staircase festive and welcoming.¬† We¬†had close to 150 people come through the house on Sunday.¬† It was awesome {and exhausting}.¬† They were short on guides so I served as a guide in my own home.¬† It was a little awkward showing what all we had done as¬†I explained the home’s history but it seems people were happy to have me explain things and a few asked for my card so¬†you know, that’s kinda cool! ¬† As nuts as it was to get all of it decorated in time for the house tour is now I can fully focus on other important tasks of the Christmas season.¬† My shopping is nearly finished so next up is Vannie’s Ugly Christmas Sweater Party and Bonfire!

Wanna see what the tour covered?  Come on in!

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Love Love Love this staircase.


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The Music and Dining Room with a little sitting area by the fire.

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Our Advent Wreath, stockings for Santa to fill and my¬†great-grandmother, the one room schoolhouse teacher all decked out¬†for¬†Christmas!¬† Doesn’t Mabel look great?

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The long view of the long three in one room.  I really love this room.  Every square inch of it works hard for our enjoyment!  Rosemary topiaries on the table as a Christmas centerpiece.  They smell great!

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Purple Depression Glass with my wedding china, little slate place holders and pewter napkin rings I found long ago.

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I have some huge cypress trees in my yard.¬† They didn’t miss the branches I cut off to make garland.¬† I just tuck them in here, there, everywhere and instantly it feels like Santa is drawing near.

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The Parlor or as we usually refer to it, “the purple room”.¬† The turret is the perfect place for the tree. There’s a fireplace hidden in that wall behind the mantel.¬† We have plans to reveal it soon.

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For my loyal readers, that chandelier was brought from our last house and once again got the icy stick treatment for winter.

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We just chipped the plaster off of this fireplace and opened the wall it was hiding in for over 50 years, just three weeks ago.¬† I’m so glad we did!

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Mason jars, cranberries, water and floating candles sit on my favorite holiday cookbook.

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Simply greens from the trimming of our tree and Christmas ornaments tied to dangle from the arms of our chandelier.

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The butler’s pantry got the kids favorite garland, the gingerbread men.¬† I got it at a craft store before the girls were born and usually find a new place to hang it each year.¬†The poor things are struggling more and more every Christmas.

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Ready to follow me up stairs?

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On the second landing, colorful lights and candy canes in the baskets for the kids.  The christening gown they each wore hangs above antique family baptism certificates.

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The upstairs reception hall.¬† Blakely’s crate is disguised with old luggage in the corner and next to that is a Finnish rocker that has been in Sandman’s family for over 200 years..¬† Santa left his naughty/nice list on the center table!

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Similar to the room below, our master bedroom also has a tree in the turret.  We decorated it with ornaments from our childhood and our history together.  Again, another fireplace hidden in the wall for us to discover.

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Thanks for visiting me for the house tour!¬† We hope y’all have a very Merry Christmas!




Unused Service Entrance And Hidden Door Renovation

When we moved into our house, a year ago, the side entrance was ugly and hot (not in a good way)!  The previous owners never used it, as was evident by the broken brick steps that lead to the once circular driveway.  I should back up and explain, because the driveway was an important part of all we did.  Here it is today:


I liked the wallpaper so I left it, besides, what’s a Victorian without a little wallpaper here and there?

Here’s the way it looked when we moved in:


That’s an icemaker in the way of the door that didn’t open.

The driveway, we think, was installed by the Vincent family, who used to have a business here.¬† It was too narrow for my F150 to go down and had thick curbing on the sides which didn’t allow the rain water to drain.¬† That’s a big problem in a town with 10,000 mosquitos per person (not kidding)!¬† Pooling water = mosquito maternity ward!¬† We had it and the driveway in the back yard (read – the entire backyard) jack-hammered the heck out of there!¬† The only remaining driveway is the one on the right side, under the shade of gigantic trees, leaving the left and backyard, open and grassy.¬† The right side of the house is where the side entrance is and also closer in proximity to the pantry and kitchen.¬† It was originally where the servants entered and exited. Since I’m the chief shopper, cook and maid this entrance was extremely important and needed to be functional!


This is the side of the driveway that is no longer there.


See the fishing rods?  Um, yah!  :/

Driveway gone

Going, going, gone!

Side entrance driveway

This is the side we kept.¬† All of the gravel that was in the back yard, got loaded here to raise up the driveway and keep it from becoming a swimming pool every time it rained.¬† The service entrance is right there where the planter is pictured on the porch.¬† Loading groceries into the house just got a little easier!¬† Recognize the tree swing from the last house?¬† I thought you would!¬† We couldn’t leave it behind!

The hidden doorway: well it was hidden from one side and visible from the other.¬† I’m not sure why they ever did that, except maybe for business purposes (I’ll get into that closer to Halloween).¬† The space on the other side of the doorway used to be a dining room.¬† The major clue that it was a dining room is that there’s a button in the floor, under the head of the table, which when pressed with the foot, would call the servants.¬† The previous owners used the space as a living room.¬† We turned it back into a dining room.¬† Reason #2 for making the side entrance functional!

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The door below is located here behind this panel!

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We went with the tile on the left.¬† Honed (tumbled) marble is not only less expensive but doesn’t show scratches and looks older and time worn.¬† Appropriate for a Victorian!


Every house needs a place that is somewhat water resistant, to take off muddy boots, right?¬† This house didn’t have one! Now it does!¬† Muddy boots,¬† muddy paws, deliveries, just back from the pool…all messy guests and residents now enter here!


The marble floor is honed (not polished) so it would look like it was there since the beginning.  Honed marble requires an extra step when installing.  You MUST seal it BEFORE grouting the lines or the grout will stick to the stone FOREVER!

As per our marriage contract, I lay tile and he cuts the pieces.¬† It’s a good arrangement!

Side entrance ice maker

The old icemaker doubled as a heater in the winter! Ugh!

The reason it was hot was because there was a VERY old ice maker in this small space, with a dedicated water line and no airflow.  The swinging door to the (then) utility room, always stayed shut and the door the porch was never used. The first time I saw the house, I kid you not, I bet it was 90 degrees in there!  The floor had peeling sheet linoleum from the 1950s, under that was another layer of sheet linoleum from the 1930s and under that was a badly beat up, decaying, partially replaced, wood floor!   Much fixing a scraping was done to get it prepped for tile.


The window leads to the kitchen and gives me a place to look when doing dishes.


The door is now open and ready to service the dining room again.


We had to cut away at the panel that was put in to match the original.  The plan for this old panel is to use it to make a mudroom bench and hooks!  Goals!


We removed the door and here’s what we saw!


The door had writing on it!¬† The side of it said “Do Not Hang This Door”!¬† Omen?¬† I said a prayer and hung it anyway.


We had to get the trim for the frame, cut to match the original trim in this room or it wouldn’t look right.¬† That had to be the most expensive trim I have ever bought. We took a little break before proceeding with this project, in order for our wallet to recover!



We relocated the swinging door hardware so you can push your way through with platters full of good food.  The dogs learned quickly not to block this door when napping (only took one time to learn that lesson!  Sorry pups!)  Hinges are original but the push plate was purchased online.

I hung hooks at the bottom of the window so the kids could hang their backpacks. It makes it easier to exit for school.


The stand was Mariner’s night table for many years.¬† I painted it with chalk paint.¬† All other items were purchased at a yard sale or on consignment.¬† I need a new receptacle plate and quarter round along the base and then we are finished!

What do y’all think?¬† HUGE improvement, huh?¬† We think so!¬† Traffic through the house is much improved too!





The Semi-Hidden Room in Our Victorian

When we first toured the house with the kids, the only thing the girls could remember about it was the “hidden room” and the “secret passageway”!¬† I wouldn’t really call it hidden or secret per say, but it was kinda semi-hidden and sorta-secret, to an adult, I guess.¬† At the top of the back staircase, you are faced with a choice; go straight on¬†through a¬†door to¬†one of the landings¬†for the main staircase¬†OR you can¬†turn right, up a short set of stairs to the guest room, which used to be the maid’s room,¬†long, long¬†ago! ¬† On the way to the guest room, if you look to your right, there was a banister that disappeared into a wall and a little plywood door that was made to be flush with the wall, and painted the same color.¬† You could see a “raceway” (flat conduit) going into that plywood wall.¬† Once inside, you realized that¬†someone had enclosed the space, which has a low dormered ceiling and a window, to make¬†it into a¬†closet.¬† It smelled weird and was difficult to get into; none of us could imagine using it as a closet!¬† We have a HUGE attic, so why would we need this space for storage?¬† One thing we were lacking in this house, though,¬†was a place for books.¬† All of our previous houses had built in bookcases.¬† This one has none!¬† The girls came up with the idea to make it into a “book nook”!¬† The height of the tallest part of the ceiling, is only 5’3″, so I have to duck a little, but it’s perfect for the girls, future grandkids and sliding into a cozy seat for a quiet read!



I had to take the picture with the door open because it was too dark and in your face to get the gist of what you were looking at.  That latch was the only clue that the panel was a door.


The plywood wall enclosed the rail and encapsulated the rest of it that kept running into the dormer.


The back staircase was VERY dark and kind of creepy, to be honest.



Vannie and I literally KICKED out the walls (once the electric was moved by our electrician)!  Such great mother/daughter bonding time!


There were shelves for the closet and a rod over head, which made the space shorter than it’s already short, 5’3″! Initially we used the shelves for books but then when we removed the rest of the walls, the shelves had to go too because they were attached!



Here you can see the frame that the shelves were attached to.


One side gone!


The view coming up the stairs, is already much improved!

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Brighter and less creepy.

When we opened up the wall, we had a bunch of repair to do.  It was clear that there had been a leak at some point because there was new, unfinished wallboard on one side.  We repaired and skim coated where it was needed, painted and moved into the space.  I found a chair at a yard sale for $15 and painted that as well!  The girls love the space!



Relaxing!  The books are everywhere, because we obviously enjoy the space.  The stained glass was made by a local artist.


Here’s the choice. Go straight through and you find…


More choices, but you miss this…


The benches, chair and rug cost me a total of, maybe, $50.  The mud, paint, electric and child-labor, cost me about $200.  The bright, usable space is priceless!



¬†It’s a beautiful and unexpected surprise at the top of the back stairs.¬† No longer creepy, it now says, “Come relax with a good book!¬† You’re in a hidden part of a house.¬† No one will know if you just sneak a little break!”¬† Ahhhhh…


Then, as I was leaving the nook, after taking pictures for this post, I looked up at the ceiling above the stairs and say this!¬† {sigh}¬† It’s always something, in an old house!




Sandelin November 2014-34


Fall at Oyster Point.  We had only just moved in when this was taken.  Photo credits go to the one and only Alison P. McGuire

It’s been awhile since I have blogged and with good reason, I think.¬† Since 2013, our lives have been turned upside-down and just when I thought I was able to carve out time for daily blogging again, BAM, we got hit with another life changing event.¬† From death to personal struggles, marriage tests, surgeries, a cancer scare, life threatening illness for our son, almost moving (we got right up to the walk through on a house and it all fell apart) to moving to a new town, new schools; you name it and we have probably seen it in the last 2 years!¬† We’ve been blessed in the last 6 months to have only seen the average Joe setbacks that most people would dismiss with, a “that’s life for ya”!¬† We have come to accept life’s ups and downs as a vacation of sorts.¬† Yes. It’s been that bad!

The silver lining in all of this has been our c. 1901 Victorian, that we have lovingly named Oyster Point, due to it’s history and location.¬† We have enjoyed 95% of our stewardship of this old girl!¬† As with any old house, there’s always something to do and a few surprises along the way but for the most part, the interesting architecture and the details throughout, have held our interest and far outweighs anything “bad” about the house. As I type this post, there is a plumber under my house replacing a section of waste pipe called Greenberg.¬† I had never heard of it until today but apparently this pipe is part of the original plumbing and is pretty much just tarpaper layers made into pipe!¬† No modern pipe can tie into it and therefor the plumber is cutting a new access to the crawlspace under the original kitchen (now my laundry and pantry) to pump the $#!+ out of there so he can begin to replace the pipe. Ka-ching!¬† But still I smile because no one died and I still get to enjoy this beautiful house!

When we bought the house, it had overgrown holies blocking part of the view of the house.  What was worse is it was blocking our view to the river!  It had to go!  The only color on the house was (and in part still is, while we decide on colors)

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{Our first winter was a real eye-opener!  THREE broken pipes, no heat for a few days with temps INSIDE that got down into the 40s while we were nursing a sick son back to health and getting the burners switched over to gas, in stead of oil.}


It was a loooong winter!¬†Three broken pipes and the gas company said they would hook us up for our new service in November!¬† We weren’t hooked up until January!¬† Meanwhile, we ran out of heating oil, thinking we wouldn’t have to worry with filling the tank because we would be hooked up any day!¬† Right?¬† Wrong!¬† In stead we had to learn how to override our emergency heat’s threshold and force the forced air on!





{AHHHH, Sweet Summertime.  Life began to return to normal.  My house was loaded with renovation dust and teenagers from all over town! It was wonderful!  See that little building in the background?  Look familiar?  There she is! We moved our little playhouse from Kingsmill to West Point!}

2014-10-25 11.11.09Our lovely middle child ready for her first Homecoming dance! It’s hard not to make a grand entrance with a staircase such as this!

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This staircase had me at hello!  The first time I stepped into the foyer and saw this, I was a gonner!

In the coming weeks, I hope to catch y’all up to speed on everything having to do with Oyster Point!¬† We are so amazed at all that has been accomplished so far!¬† I can’t wait to show you all the renovations!¬† For now, the foyer is the end of the tour!



Dining Room Coffee Bar

A few days ago, our not old enough to die – coffee maker kicked the bucket! ¬†Not sure what happened! ¬†It was only 3 years old and seemed to be fine, but one morning Sandman when to make his usual brew and “click” nothing happened! ¬†Ever since I took the kids to visit my cousins in Pittsburgh, they’v been hounding me to get a Keurig! ¬†Our two eldest teens drink coffee, as does Sandman, but Libby and I stick to tea and cocoa, so we just didn’t see what the big deal was. ¬†Sandman is a traditionalist. ¬†He just didn’t see the point either so we didn’t rush out during the Black Friday specials to get one. ¬†BUT since the not so old coffee maker was kaput, the kids and I (who found you can brew hot tea in a Keurig) pleaded the case to get one of those fancy K-Cup brewers. ¬†Sandman had off on Wednesday, last week, so we did something totally romantic! ¬†We went shopping at Costco (I know, yawn, right?) ¬†There it was! ¬†The beautiful Keurig with it’s instant rebate, 30 free K-Cups, free water filter and the cup thingy you can use to brew your regular coffee and tea without having to buy K-Cups! ¬†As he started to see my point, I began to carefully sneak one off the shelf. ¬†“I guess that’s it. ¬†We’re getting one.” ¬†I was like “Yup. ¬†Glad you see the value.” ¬†I’m so convincing! ¬†ūüėČ

We got it home and on the counter, the thing is mammoth! ¬†I nearly started regretting our choice. ¬†My counter space is somewhat limited so to give up that much space for coffee (and tea) was foolish! Quick! Think of something! ¬†Ah-Ha! ¬†Set up a coffee bar! ¬†Give it it’s own special location in a room that needs more action anyway! ¬†Perfect!

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Coffee and Tea Bar! ¬†All of our favorites are represented here (I’m not being paid by any of these companies, trust me, my bank account proves it!)! ¬†The family went gaga for this idea! ¬†It’s the first place they stop in the morning and after school! ¬†I will need to increase my vacuuming frequency with all of this new traffic in the dining room!
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You can see why the need to put it somewhere else. ¬†When we added the drawer (that we found at Target) we couldn’t open the top to put in the K-Cup without moving the whole thing out! ¬†Annoying! ¬†And plus, it took up precious counter space that I was NOT willing to part with!
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Dug through my highly unused serving trays and found this baby! ¬†I think it’s for relish? ¬†Not sure. ¬†I inherited it from a relative. ¬†It will hold sweetener packets in neat rows (once I go shopping and get some)!


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A neat little tray for my sugar bowl, coffee and tea.  It makes a nice place for wet items that should not be camping out on the wooden sideboard (Hint. Hint. Mariner, Vannie and Libby!)
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I think it’s awesome! ¬†What you can’t see is in the sideboard I have mugs stored on the left and tea cups and saucers (which we rarely use) on the right. ¬†One stop shopping!

Fresh Start: Picture Collage With Stripes and Chevrons

Hi Stranger!  Oh, wait, that would be me.  Sorry for the delay in posts.  I’ve been dealing with some serious shhh…um, stuff.  Trying to find my groove again through prayer, therapy and decorating.  Posts will increase in frequency as I work through everything.

The least of my issues has been the house sale.  At this point, even I’m confused about what we’re doing!  The long and short of it is, we found this great house on the north end of town.  We fell in love, put an offer in, got an offer on our house which fell apart, the offer on the house we wanted fell apart too, someone else made a contract for that house, we took the house off the market and 

now we are waiting on a long-shot possibility, that neither Sandman or I want to talk about so we don’t jinx it (or have too many opinions clouding our judgement), so don’t ask!  

For now, or until 2020 (when Libby graduates) we’re here in our beautiful, safe nest.

Something about moving, or even the idea of moving, gets me to take a HARD look at all of the things we have accumulated.  Sometimes I just don’t know how we have so much stuff!  I purge our junk from closets and drawers regularly, so how does this house fill back up so quickly?  A few mornings ago, I was going through the frames I have stored under our bed.  I have to admit, I’m sort of a frame junkie.  I love the possibilities of painting them, hanging them, putting pictures in and changing pictures out.  On this particular morning, I was really reflecting on all that has happened to me since April and just wanted to clear the decks.  

Some people get a drastic haircut (which I have contemplated), some paint every room in the house a new color (but I love all of our colors) and some get rid of everything they can…that’s where I am with life.  Purge all that is not needed, broken, past it’s prime, expired, outgrown, doesn’t mean anything to me (or my family)…just LET IT ALL GO!!! So cathartic!

As I put the frames I wanted to keep, back under my bed, I stopped and thought “What the hell are you doing?  Use the ones you want to keep and purge the ones on the wall you don’t like!  Duh!”  So down everything came off the wall in our room.  I didn’t lay it all out like I did the first time I did a collage in that spot.  I just built it and layered it as I went.  I reused the nails in place and stayed with roughly the same sizes, adding and moving as I saw fit.   

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The view as you walk into our room.

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It makes me smile every time I look at it!

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Sandman and me on the day we renewed our vows.  Today, I was cruising through photos to find one to fill the frame on the right.

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The crab is from the cover of Terp magazine.  It was naturally, my favorite issue!


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So much better!  I love the stripes and chevrons. It just freshens it up and makes it not as serious.

So much to donate or sell (if I can figure out were to have a yard sale)!


Modern Day Wet Bar: Should It Have Stayed In The 1980’s?

Sandman and I had to get out of the contract with the farmhouse, I’ve been blogging about for months!  It’s heartbreaking, because we know that by the time we sell our current residence, it might be gone, but the deal was just getting too risky for our family.  The market, for the type of home we can see ourselves in, is pretty tight.  There currently is just not much out there for us to look at, but we are optimistic people so we went house hunting on Monday.  There was one that really stood out for us, and it wasn’t the one we thought would be “the one”!  This house is in a neighborhood with a VERY minimal HOA and 3 acres for every home.  It’s quiet with lots of room to run and York River State Park nearly across the street…nearly.  That’s our sort of “country club”!   Wanna be hicks in the sticks?  Maybe we are!  So what!  It makes us happy!

This house has great character!  Lots of moldings, charm and room.  It needs granite, new appliances, master bath re-do, relocation of the laundry room, a new bathroom for Mariner (as in, there currently isn’t one for him yet, if we buy the place), wallpaper removed, a deck and…something done with the wet bar!

When I think of a wet bar, I think of the 70s and 80s!  Dark basements with foosball and pool tables. Nasty bar stools covered in vinyl and orange shag carpet!  Don’t you?  Initially we were thinking we would rip it out, then we thought, we would keep it and here’s why; where does everyone end up during a party? The kitchen, right?  If there’s a wet bar, more than likely your party would stay in the living room.  More and more people are choosing to renovate their wet bars or install one in their entertainment spaces.  The more we thought about it, the more it made sense.  IF the sellers could come down in price enough to justify the purchase, we might take the plunge.  For now, we are dreaming of possibilities.

I love how sleek and modern this one is.  Way more sophisticated than it’s predecessors.

Something just a little more classic and traditional.  This one doesn’t scream “PARTY” but I think that’s what I like about it.  It can be an everyday beverage break, sort of space or a little wine tasting location for a gathering.

{via pinterest}
I love this one!  The rock backsplash is wonderful!

66639269457942570 Wet bar area
{warm home}
Today’s wet bars are close in proximity to entertainment spaces and usually just around the corner from the kitchen.  It saves congestion when your friends are enjoying the game and need a drink; and you are preparing food for the party in the kitchen. 

With the Super Bowl, this weekend, who wouldn’t want one of these right there in the room with you, your friends and the big game? 

Go Broncos!


Design Dreams: Hoping for a Farmhouse Kitchen and Bath

This evening, I’ve been dreaming of things to put in my new farmhouse (if we get it).  Lights, tile, sinks…

There’s so much more I want to add, but this is a start.  Who knows!  When I get there, I may go a whole other direction, but for now, this is what I’m thinking!

{reNOUNed Nest}
Did you know that there is WAY more available online at Lowe’s than there is in the store?  AND what’s more, Lowe’s has another online store, called ATG Stores, where even more is available?  I’m in love with both of these online stores, but especially ATG Stores.  The items available there are so design forward and current.  I highly recommend you check them out!
So the mood board, above, only has the items I need, not the items I have, so you have to kinda take it with a grain of salt.  We will have beautiful wood floors and cherry and white cabinets (both) in the kitchen, which were custom hand built.  They are gorgeous.  I’m not in love with the current stove, dishwasher or light fixtures, and there is currently no refrigerator; so above are my choices.  The oyster light is inspiration for the light I want to make!  I spent most of the summer collecting oyster shells and have enough to make one of these and the mirror below!   The three pendants will go over the island.  Hubby will love me because we need to add a couple more cans for the two extra pendants.  The oyster shell light will go over the farm table.  The rustic glass light will go over our farm/apron sink.

{reNOUNed Nest}
In my opinion, all wallpaper is out except grasscloth wallpaper!  It never goes out, as long as it’s the real thing!  The vinyl look alike never quite cuts it.  It’s expensive but my powder room is small, so there ya go!  We’re getting it!  Yep!  ATG Stores again!  Great place!  The cabinet is representative of what I hope to find when I’m out junkin this summer.  We have neutral tile floors in this room, so all should go well.  The sink is one that is available at Lowe’s.  It’s gorgeous in person (I’ve been drooling over it)! The bell-jar light is representative of a light-less one that I found when I was thrifting in Cape Charles a few months ago.  I need to find where to get the lighting parts to make it work.  The glass is cut so beautifully.  It will be amazing, I know!!!

TRYING To Get Back To The Country…Is Proving Very Trying!

Oh where do I begin?  This was supposed to be an easy process, and it was, until the bank got involved.  How I would love to throw this particular bank under the bus, and tell you who they are, to warn you all, but y’all know I really can’t do that and not get myself in a heap of trouble.

Buckle up.  This is a long one!

Long, long, long, ago, I was a country girl.  I grew up in the sticks on the fringe of Frederick County,, Maryland.  Cows, corn, church, horses, ATVs, boys with pick up trucks, hay, fresh air, skinny dipping (sorry Mama), county fairs, crabs and beer.  All the best stuff in life, if you ask me!  When I was in college, my folks moved closer to town and away from much of that.  I really didn’t care, though, I was at the University of Maryland, in the thick of it all, learning to be more than I was.  I fell in love with a boy and we moved to Atlanta after graduation.  I put me and all that I was, on hold to back him up, in becoming who he wanted to become.  It was all good.  We were in party mode and the city was where you do that sort of thing best.  The city made me feel powerful, like I could do anything I wanted in short order.  Everything right there for you with no driving and no waiting.  A few moves, a wedding and a few kids later, we moved back to the country, just outside of Culpeper, Virginia.  This place was amazing!  Sixteen acres and a big ole brick house on the Hazel River.  I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven!  I would literally step off my front porch and float into the pasture, high on fresh country air, and spread my arms wide and spin like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music; thanking the LORD for blessing us with Hazel River Highland!  Then we nearly lost it all.  Sandman’s mom really hated us, and as the owner of the family company, did her best to be our undoing…and she nearly was.  We sold our belongings on the road outside of Ma and Pa’s Store (the staple store of Rixeyville), just so we could pay the mortgage.  Sandman and I starved ourselves on one meal a day so we could feed the children.  God provided a solution after a free fall, at the last minute.  We sold the place to a wonderful young family-to-be.  They were married in the pasture of that old place and have brought two beautiful children into the world there.  What’s meant to be, always finds it’s way.

{photo by Matthew Carson}
Yep.  At one point in time, all of this was ours.  I miss the peace and quiet.

We “downsized” our life, into an gated neighborhood, which at the time, we felt would protect us from Sandman’s mom who, we perceived as a threat to the safety of our children.  Maybe she never was, but at the time, we thought so and weren’t taking chances.  Kingsmill, in Williamsburg, has been our home for the last eight years and we’ve loved it!  We have had restaurants, the river beaches, trails, pools, parties and friends to enjoy; until just recently.  Living in a neighborhood, with an HOA has taken some getting used to, but it’s been fairly do-able.  The neighborhood and resort has changed ownership and has decreased the amenities we were accustomed to, which got us thinking about simplifying life and getting back to the country.

{reNOUNed Nest}

Nearly at the same time, Sandman and I both started to think about moving.  Disconnecting from this place, after all of our hard work, is really not as difficult as you might think.  I’ve sort of run out of projects and am ready for some new adventures.  He is ready for less HOA and more freedom.  We widened our search criteria, on Zillow and found this wonderful, new farmhouse on a street with only 5 other houses.  It has 3 acres and is out far enough into the country that we can see stars, have fresh air, mountain bike trails and a pond for swimming and fishing!  We are so excited and then … the bank.

It was going to be simple.  We own this house, out right.  We have a small HELOC in first position and a few credit cards with average Joe balances.  Nothing we can’t handle.  The plan was to sell this house and then buy that one (which is less than the one we are selling this one for) and still have enough money to get a fence for the dogs and a dock on the lake.  We entered a contract with the builder, non-contingent and began the process with our bank, to get a mortgage, just in case our house didn’t sell in time for the closing date.  We were pre-approved and all was going well.  We were referred to the mortgage department.  Communication was slow.  They wanted to handle everything via email and internet, even though they were just down the road.  Days went by without any contact.  We went back to our back, daily at that point, to make things move faster.  They suddenly couldn’t use all of our income (some of which comes from wonky sources) due to new laws.  It was making our DTI (Debt to income) ratio look bad, so they suggested we transfer our debt to their signature card (how nice for them, huh?), which we were told would make our ratio correct and everything would move forward.  We received notice that we were approved for the new card and we waited for the next step, which didn’t come…so we went back to the bank to inquire.  We were told we had to bring our statements to the bank and transfer them from our previous cards, to their card; and OH, it would take up to 4 weeks and then we would have to wait for the credit reports to update!  WAIT, WHAT!  What in this day and age takes that flippin long???  We were supposed to close in 4 days!  We moved forward, all the while, getting nibbles and teases that we were going to get an offer from this family or that; none of which materialized.  When we cleared the credit card hurdle, we got a phone call from the bank.  More bad news!  The family company, I had previously mentioned, had taken a loss in 2012 and the bank no longer wanted to mess with us, even though the loss doesn’t affect our annual income, what-so-ever!

We began working with a new lender.  This one moved faster that the previous bank (maybe that was, in part because I had a HUGE stack of financials to slap on their desk, which made for short work :). We felt renewed hope, as we headed into the new year, but the new year brought new lending laws and again we felt the breaks slam on!  The family company’s loss came to the fore front and left us scrambling for solutions.  If it weren’t for the slow banking and the family company loss, we would have been in by Christmas!  Now we are buckling in for a wild ride with a bridge loan and praying for a buyer before the whole thing goes through.  All the while we’ve been praying for our seller, who has been more than patient with us.  

Three acres and a big, ole pond!  This was obviously before the house was built, but just look at the space!  

All of this to get back to the country and simplification.  A place to stretch out, dig in, get creative, do what ever the hell we want without asking, well, in part.  We do have a page of don’ts at our new place, but it’s just common sense stuff, that we wouldn’t do anyway.  Bonfire parties and crab feasts, here we come!  I already bought my basketball goal, on Black Friday and have my rooms planned out! I just can’t wait to get there and plant my gardens, paint our rooms and add those cool reNOUNed touches I love!  We are hoping it all works out.  If this has taught us anything, it’s not to be cocky about home buying, even if you have bought a few houses before!  Even if you have no mortgage and a heap of equity.  Don’t count your chickens before they hatch!  You still might have trouble buying a house!  It’s just not as easy as it was, and for good reason, I know; but you would think it wouldn’t be darn near impossible!  We’ll see what happens.  I really hope I don’t have to blog a sad story of the country house that never came to be ours.  Pray, people, pray!

Just checked my Facebook and on the sidebar there were ads about “Obama lowering requirements to make it easy to get a re-fi”!   Qualified, hardworking people are having trouble getting a home they clearly CAN afford…Oh, don’t get me started!  {uhg!}