Unconventional living room reorganization

The living room is still most definitely the playroom. My campaign to convince Ellie that her room should become a playroom has not yet been successful. But I have successfully reclaimed part of the living room.

I started thinking about how I could better deal with the toys and the mess.

My first idea was moving the television farther out into the room. There was already an empty corner behind the TV. I could make that whole corner a play zone. Tucked behind the TV, it would be her own little secret spot.

But then I realized she wouldn’t like being tucked away. Part of the appeal of playing in the living room is that she can spread out and be close to the kitchen or wherever I am.

I also realized the toys are used much more often than the TV. So I decided to tuck the TV away. I pushed it back into the corner and made a play zone in front of it.

I grabbed a shelf that had been dumped at the side of the road. After adding some more shelves and giving it a coat of paint, it is perfect for holding a whole bunch of things. (Some bins would help it hold even more.) All of her kitchen and grocery toys sit on top of the shelf, instead on on top of the coffee table.

The TV isn’t useable now. But we can slide things around pretty easily if we ever want to watch it. And if we really find we miss the TV, I can mount it on one of those extending, swinging arms. We also have the basement TV.

The coffee table still gets covered regularly with crafts and colouring, but now there’s usually a spot to set down our afternoon snack or a book. Progress.

The toys still win, but so do Ellie and I.

Who else’s living room does double duty? How do you handle toys at your house? Do you have a TV in your living room?

Inspiration for a girl’s green room

I’ve been trying to convince Ellie to move into the guest room for awhile. Our rooms join with a pocket door, which we leave open. I think we’d both sleep better if we weren’t quite so close. (I could do without a little voice calling, “Stop snoring, Mama!”)

Also the guest room is larger with a double bed.

Aaaand… her current room would make a great playroom, which would mean the living room no longer has to be overrun with toys.

(Am I selling you on this idea?)

Ellie is change averse, so she has not been a fan of my plan. But she is a big fan of green. So when I mentioned we could paint the guest room green, she was a little more enthused about the idea of relocating.

But don’t tell Ellie the guest room is already green(ish).

Ellie’s definition of green is G-R-E-E-N. Something like this colour from The Makerista.

Source: The Makerista

My inspiration is slightly softer. In fact, I’ve been planning a green room for a hypothetical little girl long before I ever decided to have a baby, all due to a special gift from my grandma.

My grandmother made all of the girl grandchildren quilts for their weddings (she knit afghans for the boys). The one she gave me is girls with umbrellas–with a green backing.

I thought it would be perfect for Ellie. Though when we unfolded it the other day, her first words were, “That’s not my green.” I also realized that it’s sized for a single bed, not a double. So the quilt will not be the inspiration for Ellie’s new room, though I do hope to use it somewhere.

But, I have another option. An old chenille bedspread from my grandparents’ cottage was folded alongside the quilt. It’s the perfect size for a double bed and it includes a nice dark and saturated yet soft green. Plus Ellie’s first words on seeing it were, “It’s so flowery!”

My Mom has this lamp, which she had in her childhood room, and I think the two would work really well together. (She needs a new shade and some new wiring.)

So now to find a green that is sufficiently saturated for our girl, but sufficiently mellow for Mom.

House & Home tells me that juniper green a “softer, more saturated green” is trending. They cite Webster Green from Benjamin Moore as an example. I think this green would look great (and sufficiently farmy) on our (fake) paneled walls. As long as it’s green enough for Ellie.

The brass-ish bed would contrast with the green, so we could keep that. We’d also keep the dresser that Matt’s parents bought for her nursery. Then it’s what else do we need? Nightstands? A desk? Bookshelf? Some fun, colourful, flowered curtains?

The move is likely a ways off. Moving one room has a domino effect with the rest of the house, as I would need to relocate everything that’s currently in the guest room. Plus then there’s redecorating, and it might take some time to negotiate the final design with my partner/client.

For now, I’m having fun thinking about it. And it was really special to pull out the quilt and the bedspread and share them with our girl.

Are there any other green fans out there? What’s your favourite shade? What’s your must-have for a kid’s room? Do you have any special gifts from your grandparents?

Mudroom reveal

Our mudroom is done–for now. This room was the first on my home goals list for this year. I had just five small tasks to do, and they are finally finished.

Today, I’m giving a tour of the space and highlighting some of my favourite features.

The secret behind the picture

Let’s start with the hidden (literally) gem. I’m particularly proud of how this secret cupboard turned out.

One weekend, I built a little box. When our contractors arrived, I asked one of them to install it in the wall next to the door. Then I attached hinges to a picture frame and installed it over the box. Inside the box, I screwed two rows of little cup hooks. Voila, hidden key cupboard.

I like having our keys hung up, rather than jumbled together in a basket in the drawer. Originally I’d planned to find a farmy painting for the door. But when I couldn’t find the right size, I decided to go with photos. I chose a picture of Matt in the pool during our home inspection, and then I selected another photo of Ellie and me in the pool during demolition. A literal snapshot of the history of the mudroom, and our little family together in this space we dreamed about.

Figure it out furniture

Someday the mudroom may have beautiful built-ins. But for now, we’re making it work with free hand-me-down dressers, our homemade bench and other DIYs. And honestly, they’re working great.

The dressers look fresh after a coat of paint to match the walls. Spraying the hardware to match the black hooks that we used in the room was the finishing touch. The dressers are likely not going to be here forever (the one on the landing is too small and the one by the door is too big), but they’re doing everything we need.

The upper one holds puzzles, colouring books and games for Ellie. Plus cards, flyers, coupons. It’s also our mail drop, wallet and phone charging station. The lower one holds sunglasses, sunscreen, bug spray, masks and some outdoor toys and tools. In the winter it stashes hats, mitts and scarves. Both dressers have empty drawers, so we have more than enough storage for now.

Matt’s nephew and I made the bench almost nine years ago. I’ve been surprised by how much I like having the free-standing shorter bench. It gives space for my longer coats to hang freely, instead of puddling on the seat. Ellie is still a bit short to reach too high, so having her hats or other gear in a dresser drawer or a bin on the floor works best for her, rather than putting them on a too high shelf.

Living with the space as it is now gives me an idea of what we need and what works best.

A little bit country

We live on a farm, but we don’t have a farmhouse. With every tweak we make, I try to inject more country character. The V-groove paneling on the walls, cedar on the ceiling and simple black hooks are all examples of that.

The mirror is another. It was a bit ornate when I found it in the thrift store. Removing the decorative top piece and the cherry-esque finish countrified it a lot. The factory finish was so hard and thick, but patience and a lot of sandpaper prevailed. Finding the right way to refinish it took a bit. Everything I put on the wood turned red. Finally, I went with simply varathane. That countrified it the rest of the way.

The mirror bounces a bit more light into the room (enhancing Cigo’s sunbeam), and its round shape contrasts with all of the straight lines from the paneling and other elements in the room.

Designed for us

Installing an LED nightlight cover plate on the landing (I was influenced by Young House Love) was probably the easiest task on my to-do list. It gives a perfect glow for the stairs. The location of this plug–and all of the other switches, outlets, light fixtures, heated floor control panel–was very carefully mapped out by me. The electrician and the tiler didn’t completely agree with my choices, but I’m the one that lives here, so I got my way.

The dimension and height of the landing, the way the doors swing, where the openings were located, and the height of the archway into the kitchen were other areas where I pushed for what I wanted. Sometimes I felt guilty asking for a change, but I knew I would regret it if I didn’t make the mudroom exactly the way I wanted.

Now everything is so convenient and it works for how we live.

Make it personal

Like all spaces in our house, the mudroom is personal to us. Matt’s nephew and I made the bench and I made the umbrella stand for our last mudroom. My sister-in-law made the yellow crate for Ellie. My Dad made the wooden shoehorn that’s hanging from the hook and the large wood plate on the dresser that we use for mail. There’s even a box on the stairs to hold stones, sticks, pinecones, feathers and other treasures that Ellie collects.

Matt’s winter coat which I wear to take the dog out hangs beside the door. Having a whole section dedicated for Cigo has been a game-changer. In the old mudroom, towels were draped over the bench, leashes were piled on top of each other. Now we have ample hooks for everything. I even stash his nail clippers and a bottle of dog shampoo in the dresser by the door, for those moments when he smells a bit too farmy to allow in the house.

The painting on the wall is another special, personal touch. Like so much of the art in our house, this too was painted by Matt’s grandpa. When I shared art options for the mudroom a long-time reader had a brilliant suggestion: switch between paintings. So I had two framed. One summer scene (by Matt’s grandpa) and one winter (by my Mom’s friend). They’re roughly the same size, so they can hang on the same hook.

The mudroom has been a great addition–literally–to our house. This is a space that we live in every day, and that I enjoy every day. I am very proud that we dreamt it and we built it. It’s much more than a mudroom.

Do you have a room that’s more than a room? What is your must-have for an entry? Do you have any secret storage at your house? Who else switches art seasonally? Anyone else have a sunbathing dog?

Home Goals 2022 mid-year report

We are halfway through 2022, so today I’m looking at this year’s home goals and seeing how I’m doing.

Before writing this post, I felt like I was doing pretty well (spoiler alert: after writing the post I feel the same way). There was a moment in the spring when things felt doable. Then another moment when everything raced ahead–as always happens in spring–and I felt like I’d never catch up.

I’m still not caught up, but I’m comfortable with where we’re at. And in some ways I feel like we’re ahead of the last few years.

Here is some of what we’ve been up to so far in 2022.

Mudroom

The mudroom sees a lot of action everyday as we enter and exit the house. But it has not seen a lot of action on the finish-off-the-reno front. All of the niggly little details are why the One Room Challenge is such a good event. I had five tasks on my mudroom to-do list. I have crossed two of them off–refinishing and hanging a mirror and installing a nightlight cover plate. I have another six months to install the pulls on the dressers, finish the key cabinet and hang art.

Garage landscaping

As I wrote last month, our “big project of the year”–paving the driveway, adding a patio and some steps for the mudroom and living room–is not going to happen this year. Ellie and I have spread topsoil and grass seed all around the garage, so the DIY portion of this project is done. I’m still hunting for contractors with the goal to line up someone before the end of 2022 to finish the driveway and patio next year.

Plan for the worst

I’ve made a bit of progress on preparing for the worst, but not as much as I want to (as I noted at the start of the year, these are not fun tasks). I’ve updated our home insurance and closed extra bank accounts. Still on my to-do list: digitizing important documents, making a household inventory, packing a go bag, updating my will, and making some notes for my executor. The extreme weather we have now, especially the high winds, reinforce how important some of these tasks are.

History

Connecting with the history of this farm is very meaningful, so this goal is one that I really enjoy. I’ve kept in touch with the woman whose family first owned this farm. I’ve also spent some time with the owners who lived here from 1980-2000, and last month met a woman who lived here from the 1950s-70s. I found out the original farmhouse burned around 1974, and her father built the house that we live in.

I’m trying to learn more about the Indigenous people who lived in this area, and work to acknowledge them and honour them in how I care for this land. Growing my understanding of this place is ongoing and deepens my relationship with the farm.

Black and white picture of a two story farmhouse

Pond shore

I made some good progress in the spring clearing more area along the creek and even started a little bridge. The phragmites are doing their best to erase my work, but I’m battling back. I’m also on the hunt for used decking for the surface of our new bridge.

Source: Atlanta Trails

Vegetable garden

In January I wrote, “Hope springs eternal for the vegetable garden.” I still feel that way. Ellie and I planted zucchini, cucumbers, carrots and peas, and they’re all doing well. Ellie ate the first raspberries off our canes over the weekend. We have a loooooong way to go to return the garden to a productive, manageable vegetable garden, but we’re doing better than we’ve done the last few years. So hope continues.

Barn

I’ve not gotten a quote yet for eavestrough on the barn, though this is still my plan for this year. I’m also considering that I may try to start demolishing the old chicken coop (is that phrasing tentative enough?). I really, really want to have birds. If I do some prep this year, perhaps next year when I have machines here for the patio and driveway, they can clear away the last of the rubble. Then I’ll be ready to build the new coop next year. Home goals 2023, here I come?

I am feeling good about what we’ve accomplished so far. We of course have done many more things than are listed here and have more plans for the rest of the year, including some beyond these goals. I’ll be sharing more as we go through the rest of the year.

But for the rest of this month, I’m putting the blog on vacation. I will focusing on enjoying summer–playing with Ellie, spending time with family, and of course working around the farm.

How is 2022 going for you so far? Do you have any home goals? What is your big project for the year?

How much of your furniture is new?

Recently, I did a mental inventory of our house. I counted 6 pieces of furniture that we bought new. All of the rest are hand-me-downs, handmade or thrifted.

The basement reading nook shows our mix: Strandmon wing chair (new, though it was a birthday gift), ottoman (made by me), stump table (made by Matt’s Dad and me), monkey art (hand-me-down from Matt’s Grandpa).

Reading nook with Ikea Strandmon wing chair

I’m pretty proud that we’ve only bought 6 things new. I like walking through a room and seeing all of the things that I’ve made or found or rehabbed. I think it makes our home personal. It also makes me feel capable when I reflect on all of the projects we’ve done.

The environmental aspect is really important to me as well. By reusing and recycling we’re reducing our impact.

Here are my 6 newbies, along with the year we purchased them. I’m curious to know what’s your number?

  1. Ellie’s dresser (2018)

Another good example of a mix from Ellie’s nursery: dresser (new–Matt’s parents covered half the cost as I was stricken with sticker shock from buying new furniture), bookshelf (thrifted and repainted), Strandmon wing chair (thrifted this time), ottoman (made by me), triangle table (hand-me-down from my grandparent’s cottage). I should note that the crib was new as well (a gift from my Mom). It has since been passed on, so it is having a second life.

Ikea Strandmon in the nursery
  1. Basement wingchair (2013)
  2. Basement ottoman (2013)
  3. Basement couch (2012)
  4. Living room couch (purchased in 2006 for our first house. Does this count as vintage now?)
  5. Living room chair (also from 2006)

This total does not include appliances, mattresses, lighting (though all of our lamps are second hand), or accessories (art, pillows, etc.).

If you look at the dates above our “new” furniture is not all that new. Holding onto things for a long time is another way to reduce our impact.

Furnishing our house in this way is financially beneficial as well. The Strandmon wingchair that I bought secondhand for Ellie’s nursery was less than half the price of a new one. Keeping the same couch for 16 years is obviously cheaper than buying a new couch.

Here’s a final mix from the basement TV area: sectional and ottoman (new), wood side table (hand-me-down from Matt’s Grandpa), lamp (thrifted and repainted), TV cabinet (made by my Dad and me), TV (new, but bought mostly with points), chair (won), Monopoly art (made by me).

Basement TV area

Mostly, I thrift and DIY for fun. This is what I like to do and I love furnishing our house in this way.

How much new furniture do you have at your house? Any great thrifting scores to share? Do you have any DIY furniture you’re particularly proud of?

Mudroom to do list

The mudroom was top of the list of 2022 Home Goals that I shared last week. My plan is to focus on storage and decor–function and form.

Progress has already been made.

A grand total of 24 hooks have been installed. Excessive? Perhaps. But I subscribe to the philosophy that you can never have too many hooks.

I moved in the bench and umbrella stand that I made for our old mudroom.

We also added two dressers, which I painted last week.

They give us eight big drawers of storage, so I finally have a place to put my hats and mitts. As well as car keys, sunglasses, reusable bags, pens, notepads, phone charger, masks (who thought we’d need mask storage?) and so much more stuff.

One dresser is by the door–keys, outerwear, sunscreen, bug spray, etc. will live here. One dresser is on the landing by the kitchen. My vision is that it will become a kind of command centre for mail, papers, household stuff, and even some of Ellie’s toys.

Part of my goal with not adding built-ins right away is to discover exactly what kind of storage we need.

The dressers aren’t quite the style I’m looking for in our eventual built-ins and they’re not quite the right size for their spots, but they do the job for now. And the price was right. Matt’s Dad picked them up years ago and they lived first in his shed and then in our barn. After some repairs, a cleaning and a coat of paint, they are a great interim solution.

Here are some of the other things I’m planning to do in the mudroom.

Install dresser hardware

The dressers don’t have a lot of space to screw on drawer pulls. The centre recessed panel is actually glass, so I can’t drill through it. I’m likely going to reuse the old pulls, but I’m going to spray paint them black first.

Refinish mirror

I found a big oval mirror at a thrift store this fall. The rounded shape will be a nice contrast to all the straight lines in the room. I’m going to remove the decorative piece on the top and refinish the wood frame, aiming for a rustic finish that will go with our cedar ceiling.

Install nightlight cover plate

I remembered last week that I had one LED cover plate left from a three-pack I bought a few years ago (I was influenced by Young House Love). The mudroom would be a perfect place for a nightlight, so I dug it out. Bonus, the cover plate also has a USB port, so it will be going at my new phone charging station on the landing dresser.

Build key cupboard

During construction I had our contractors insert a little wood box that I made into the wall beside the door. This box is going to become a hidden key cupboard. A few rows of cup hooks will give us plenty of space to hang keys. For the cupboard door, I’m going to use a picture attached to hinges. Storage. ✓ Art. ✓ Function. ✓ Form. ✓

Hang art

We don’t have a lot of wall space for pictures (and I don’t want to put too many holes in the paneling). I’m planning on hanging one painting. Matt’s Mom and my Mom have both sourced art for me. Matt’s Mom gave us a painting by Matt’s Grandpa. My Mom’s friend gave her two water colours that he painted. They’re all great farm scenes, and I really like how the blue and green tones contrast with the beige paneling. (Note that despite the photo differences below they’re all close to the same size.) Which would you pick?

We are definitely at the fun stage of the mudroom. These are pretty quick, inexpensive, easy projects. All of these little details make the room function the way we need it to and personalize the space for us.

What’s your first project of 2022? How do you handle storage at your entry? How many hooks is enough?

Home Goals 2022

Last year I returned to annual home goals with some pretty big projects (garage, mudroom, treehouse). It was motivating and fun, and I’m looking forward to more this year (though some lower budget projects, as I’m also rebuilding our savings).

Here is what’s on my list for 2022.

Mudroom

The mudroom ended 2021 as pretty much a blank slate. It had a fresh coat of paint, but no decor and storage was pretty makeshift. Built-ins are still the plan for this room (the ones below would be perfect, thanks), but they’re down the road a little ways. For now, I’m looking for some make-it-work-but-less-makeshift storage and some pretty finishing touches for the room. First up, painting some dressers.

Source: Crisp Architects

Garage landscaping

The garage landscaping will likely be our big project of the year. I’d like to pave the driveway and add a patio and some steps for the mudroom and living room (like the beautiful stone steps below). This project will require some professional help. The DIY portion will be spreading some topsoil and grass seed around the garage. Matt’s Dad bought me a load of topsoil for Christmas, so we’re ready to go as soon as the snow melts.

Source: Renaissance Landscape Group

Plan for the worst

Natural disasters and personal tragedies throw people’s lives into chaos every year. I want to protect Ellie and me and the farm, as much as possible. Some of the things on my list for this year include digitizing important documents, making a household inventory, packing a go bag, updating my will, and streamlining our finances. (This book has tips to address all of these and more.) These are not fun tasks, but I know they will give me peace of mind.

History

It’s been very special to connect with the woman whose family first owned this farm, and I’m looking forward to learning more from her. I’d also like to go farther back in the farm’s history and learn more about the Indigenous people who lived in this area and do more to acknowledge their history. This beautiful book that I received for Christmas has been very inspiring.

Pond shore

The pond shore returns for its annual appearance on this list. This year, I’m hoping to continue to clear the shore toward the creek and finally build a little bridge across.

Source: Atlanta Trails

Vegetable garden

Hope springs eternal for the vegetable garden. Ellie has picked some things she’d like to grow this year, and I’m hoping that interest translates into more time in the garden. I feel like I learned a good lesson last year: the garden–even if I achieve a low maintenance level–needs attention. Fingers are crossed that I give it more of that attention this year.

Source: Charles Dowding

Barn

Our beautiful big barn. I love this barn, and I want to preserve it. There are a few cracks in the foundation and a few leaky spots on back roof. I’ve had some people out to look at the foundation, and their assessment has been that the barn is in pretty good shape. Though they’ve also provided me quotes to restore the foundation, and the estimates are expen$$$$$ive in the extreme. One thing I can do is eavestrough. This will be a relatively inexpensive way help to ensure water runs away and protect the structure.

I am excited by what we have planned for this year, and I’m looking forward to sharing more with all of you.

What are you aiming to do at your house this year? Are you focused inside or out? What would your dream playground have? Any tips for low maintenance gardening? Is there such a thing?

Looking back at Home Goals 2021

I returned to annual home goals last year after a four-year break. It felt good to be focused and have some projects to work on through the year. And I feel like I did pretty well at accomplishing my goals.

Here’s a look back at what happened around the farm in 2021.

Garage addition

Our biggest project last year (biggest home project so far) was the garage and mudroom. These spaces have made such a difference for our home and how we use it. There are a few things to work on still (Home Goals 2022 coming soon!), but I am so happy we did this renovation.

Playground expansion

The treehouse playground was a highlight of last year. Both for the actual building and for the fun Ellie has playing on it.

Pond shore

The pond shore is my perennial home goal. Last year, we cleared a little more of the shore, though I didn’t do as much as I hoped and I didn’t build a little bridge across the creek. What is clear, we enjoyed, though. I had bonfires almost every week with my friends over the summer, and Ellie and I make regular visits to the little waterfall.

Vegetable garden

I would classify the garden as a fail last year. I tried mulch, but didn’t build proper raised rows. And I didn’t spend enough time in the garden to maintain it. We did grow a few things, and I feel like I keep learning every year.

The last big junk pile

The last big junk pile is pretty much gone and our new compost area is built. I have a bit more to tidy this spring, but the view out the dining room window is vastly improved.

Bedroom refresh

I thought my new duvet cover might inspire other changes in our bedroom. That didn’t happen. (My Mom did gift me with new pillows for Christmas.) The space is working well enough. Though I still think a closet reorganization would be lovely.

History

I was able to keep in touch with the woman who’s family first owned this farm over the last year. In fact, I have a story of a special tree planting to share soon.

Black and white photo of two children sitting on top of a wood gate

The garage, mudroom and treehouse are the big wins of last year. The garden is the big fail. But overall I am really happy with what we accomplished. I work best when I have specific projects to focus on, and I’m looking forward to setting new goals for 2022.

What was your biggest accomplishment at your house last year? Did you have any fails? Did you set any home goals?

How to make a simple Christmas tree skirt from a tablecloth

After we’d set up the tree, after we’d strung the lights and hung all the ornaments, Ellie asked, “Where’s the cape?”

The “cape,” or the tree skirt, was the final touch to hide the stand and, most important, provide a spot to rest all of the presents.

These days, there are lots of options for the base of your Christmas tree. However, I still like our simple skirt. And simple is the best word for this DIY.

I made our tree skirt from a Christmas tablecloth.

Here’s how:

Find a round tablecloth in a pattern you like. Ours is about 6 feet in diameter.

Slit the tablecloth along the radius. (In other words, cut halfway across your table cloth from the edge to the centre. You can find the centre by folding the tablecloth in half and then in quarters. You’ll have a generous slice of pie. The point of the pie is the centre of your tablecloth.)

Cut a 6 inch diameter circle out of the middle of your tablecloth. This will be where the tree trunk goes. Use a plate or another round object as your pattern.

Sew a zigzag stitch around the edge of the trunk cutout and the slit to prevent your fabric from fraying.

Attach velcro along either side of the slit.

Drape your tablecloth around the bottom of the tree. Use the velcro to close the skirt. Put the velcro at the back of the tree so it isn’t visible.

And voila. Your Christmas tree now has a beautiful cape.

Does your Christmas tree have a cape? How do you style the bottom of your tree? Have you ever used a tablecloth for something other than a table? How many presents are under your tree so far?

Halfway through Home Goals 2021

I really like setting goals for the farm every year. With a large property, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done. Or pulled in a million different directions working on a million different projects.

This year has been feeling really good. I love being productive and making progress, and that’s what’s been happening so far.

At the start of the year, I identified seven projects or goals that I wanted to work on. (The original post has six because I wasn’t ready to talk about the garage yet, but it was definitely on my mind when I wrote the list.)

The goals were garage addition, playground expansion, pond shore clean-up, vegetable garden, the last big junk pile, bedroom refresh, and farm history.

Some of these goals are interconnected. The garage addition led to the playground expansion, as we used the wood from the old pool deck for the treehouse. The junk pile started to get organized (and downsized) because I needed a spot to stash the brick that were removed from the pool exterior. Part of organizing the junk pile involved tossing two old bales of hay into the garden for mulch.

With any home project, dominoes can happen really easily and it’s nice to be able to line them up intentionally. Here are some more details on how we’ve been doing with each goal.

Garage addition

The garage and mudroom are turning out so, so well. After thinking about this renovation for so long, I’m really pleased with the result. We are also so close to being done. (I owe you a look at the panelled and tiled mudroom.) We are waiting on doors. Person doors. Garage doors. We need doors. Once doors go in, trim can be finished and we can move in.

Playground expansion

I am almost as excited for Ellie’s treehouse/playground as I am for the garage. It’s big. It’s fun. And it’s something that I’ve done mostly by myself. It’s been a long time since I’ve built like this. I’d like things to be going a little faster, but bit by bit I keep making progress.

Pond shore

The barometer for the pond shore is can I mow it? Well, I’ve been mowing a little bit more shore this year. I clipped back brush and tiny trees. Matt’s Dad cut some more trees that had sprouted out of an old stump. Ellie and I carried everything to the firepit and had an epic blaze. We’re not ready to build our new bridge yet, but we have the beginning of a little path between two pines as I’ve always envisioned and we can access the waterfall more easily.

Vegetable garden

Ellie and I finally unrolled two old bales of hay and spread them over one quadrant of the garden. The hay (along with the cardboard I put underneath it) is doing a good job of keeping the weeds down for us. (Though everywhere else they’re as prolific as ever.) I haven’t managed to build any raised rows, but we have planted some tomatoes and a few other seeds. We were late and the seeds were old, but we have a few things growing in the garden for the first time in several years.

The last big junk pile

We’ve done dump runs, dragged brush to the burn pile, dug things out of the ground, picked glass out of the dirt and finally started mowing a little bit of the area beside the garden. In addition to being the dumping ground for who knows what, this spot is also my compost pile for weeds and other cuttings from the gardens. I’ve dealt with most of the who knows what. What’s left is piles of brush and leaves and weeds. Then the plan is to build a new compost bin that will contain the mess.

Bedroom refresh

The inspiration to refresh our bedroom was the new TRUBBTÅG duvet cover from Ikea. Which appeared to be out of stock for the first half of this year. It’s finally here, and now I’m wondering what else I want to do for this room?

History

Connecting with the woman whose family first owned this farm was a very meaningful experience last year for me. Due to lockdowns, we’ve not seen each other very much, and she’s not been out to the farm yet this year. We have kept in touch and I am looking forward to learning more about this special place.

Black and white photo of two children sitting on top of a wood gate

Progress is the theme for our Home Goals so far. Nothing is done yet. I’m not sure we’ll be completely finished any of them by the end of the year. But we’re making progress, and that makes me very happy.

It felt good to set goals at the beginning of the year. It felt like I was coming back into this part of myself that has been pushed to the background since I got pregnant, since Ellie was born, since Matt was sick.

It’s also felt good to work on these goals this year. Every day is a juggle of Ellie, work, farm, life. But the juggle has felt like a balance–of sorts–so far. I feel like I’ve made more progress this year than we have in a long time, and I’m excited to see what we accomplish over the rest of the year.

What have you been up to this year? How to you prioritize projects at your house? Are you feeling in balance? Productive? Motivated?