Following on the heels of the closing reception for this year’s Art for the Animals charity auction, which raised nearly $3,000 in donations for Guiding Eyes for the Blind…..
Joe and I became homeowners!
We signed the paperwork on October 29th, and moved everything in the same day. It took us approximately zero hours of blood, sweat, and blisters!
Although it did take a huge amount of cash we’d been squirreling away!
So I’m kicking off the Winter Farmer’s Market season in Westminster, MD with a “Fall Clearance Sale” to help pay for our groceries. And hopefully find furr-ever homes for some of my lonely prints and plaques. ;)
Here’s a little more info about this tiny house, and our big plans for it.
We found this house three-and-a-half years ago, when we were transitioning from our old rental property in downtown Hagerstown. We had been house-hunting for awhile, moving each time our lease expired, in hopes of finding something that felt like home.
We knew this place was something special when we first toured it, and I even wrote in my blog that I felt “a sense of peace and belonging” here.
Yes, we’ve already been living in our new home for the past three years!
If you and I are Facebook friends, this is already old news to you… but it still came as a surprise, didn’t it?
I mean, we haven’t been exactly head-over-heels-madly-in-love with our house the entire time. We’ve had landlady drama, and neighbor drama (hehe, that is the understatement of the decade!), and pest drama, and maintenance drama, and you understand how it goes.
And while the landlady and pests may be gone, some obstacles remain a challenge.
This rowhouse neighborhood was built in 1971, and while every home is individually owned (or rented), a few have been upgraded and many have not.
People laugh and make cute remarks about my “retro kitchen” and sliding closet doors. But we’ve had so many headaches with the faulty electrical wiring in this house, from smoking outlets to power surges.
We have the original aluminum wiring behind our walls, which is slowly deteriorating and flaking apart; some of the outlets are no longer functioning. This is our biggest concern for safety reasons, so we will be getting an electrician to inspect the damages after the holidays. :/
On the brighter side, now that we’ve decided to put down roots here…. I literally want to put down roots! We’ve been adding little bits to our front garden every year, but with a sad acceptance that our plants would inevitably be abandoned or removed by the new tenants after we leave.
Now that we intend to stay, I’ve decided to tear up all the grass in the front yard and plant a cottage garden!
I spent three days pouring over my Encyclopedia of Gardening, reading descriptions of hundreds of plants and herbs, and have decided upon a mix that will add variety/color all year long, provide food for birds and other animals, and will smell heavenly!
I spent an entire day just mapping out my yard for future plants. LOL
On my list of plants/shrubs to purchase come spring: peonies, hydrangeas, and cotoneaster; a climbing rose and clematis for the arbor; a Rose of Sharon (pruned into a tree) for a focal point; hollyhocks, foxgloves, tall phlox, and coneflowers; irises, tulips, lilies, cosmos, and phlox; verbena, wood violets, and bellflowers; walkway edging plants ~ baby’s breath, flea bane, allysum, astors, lavender, and catmint. :)
I currently have crocuses, hyacinths, daisies, daffodils, and chrysanthemums planted, alongside my bleeding heart and rose bushes…. and have seeds ready for spring planting of basil, cress garden, ornamental peppers (non edible), baby carrots, burnet salad, summer squash, Orient Wonder beans, and hyacinth beans (non edible). I’m planning to grow many more varieties of spices and herbs in containers outside.
We will be looking into purchasing wooden fences next year, a nice picket style for the front yard (with an arbor arch over our sidewalk), and a utilitarian privacy fence for the backyard.
Joe preaches the old proverb, “Good fences make good neighbors”.
My quest for a bird-bath led me back to The Guten Tag in Funkstown, where Jess had one left, and sold it to me for $20. I could hardly contain myself in her shop, because I wanted to bring home everything I saw!
If you live in the Hagerstown/Funkstown area, you must check out the Guten Tag on the corner of Baltimore St! :)
After long neglecting my Pinterest account, it has become my Go-To place for pinning images and ideas for garden and home renovations. I found this adorable idea for a village of birdhouses!
Indoors, we have a laundry list of cosmetic fixes… which seems overwhelming, but knowing we have several years to get it done, we will be tackling the smaller projects first.
Like painting the walls!! Finally!
I know renters who aren’t afraid to paint their walls, and personalize their spaces, but we were always hesitant to do ANYTHING at all if it meant un-doing it prior to moving out.
We really haven’t discovered our voice in this space yet. So you must pardon my overactive imagination that has finally been released to run amok and do crazy things!
My proposed color scheme, most likely influenced by our current season: cream, gold, pumpkin spice, dark red, sage green, and dark brown.
I do find myself attracted to these autumn colors year round, so I’m not afraid to paint my walls Spice and Sage. (My husband is a little afraid)
In the entrance room alone, we plan to: paint the walls and the stairs; install chair-rail beadboard, a new bannister and stair post; lay new flooring (wood or stone); hang a light fixture; build a coat rack/bench; purchase a secretary desk and large mirror.
The lower level of our house doesn’t get much light (we’re in the middle of the block of rowhouses, with neighbors sharing our walls), so we plan to upgrade our existing windows, add a skylight in the stairwell, and make the most of the sunny spots… :)
Joe and I have developed a list of building projects to get his creative juices flowing (as he once mentioned wanting more to do…. silly man!)
His first mission is to build me a bookcase in the living room, covering one entire short wall and extending to the ceiling. It will have a computer desk built into the center of it, and recessed lighting on the upper shelves for ornamental knick-knacks.
We also plan to knock out part of the kitchen wall to create a bar counter, which will also allow more natural light into the living area.
He wants to install a skylight in the bathroom upstairs…. and eventually, add a 1/2 bathroom downstairs. We have so many storage closets, but with five people living here, we need a second bathroom! LOL
When we are finished, it will be the closest thing to heaven in the heart of town. I’m still holding onto the dream of a little farmhouse or cottage, situated on multiple acres, so I can have my rambling flower garden, a vegetable garden, a fortress playground for the (grand)kids, and a detached wood-shop and art studio, too!
It would be even more amazing if the property backed the woods and had a stream running through it.
If I click my heels together and say “There’s no place like home”, I will be whisked away to a beautiful place somewhere…..
But when I open my eyes, I’m still standing here, ten feet away from my neighbor’s house, and staring at a blank wall.
So maybe this is where I belong after all.
Maybe its beauty is still waiting to be discovered.
On Tuesday, I forced myself to take a critical look at my wardrobe… and weed out anything in my closet that I haven’t worn in the last twelve months.
Barring costumes, of course, which I haven’t had an opportunity to wear lately. But I will!!! In fact, I’m making room for more Regency dresses…. :)
I shared the ill-fated nightgowns and t-shirts with friends on Facebook, who had a good chuckle remembering the horrific ensembles I wore in high school. Spandex pants were sooo not cool in the mid-90′s.
Although they seemed shocked to see some items included which didn’t make the grade ~
Like this T-shirt featuring the cast of Taming of the Shrew, from my freshman year in Drama:
I played Bianca, the beautiful younger sister of The Shrew. I had two of these identical shirts… and really only need one as a souvenir.
The Phantom of the Opera tee was a surprise, even to me, but I honestly haven’t worn it in ages. I was half-tempted to add my Sunset Boulevard shirt AND my X-Files tee into the pile, neither of which have seen the light of day in awhile.
But they both received a temporary reprieve, until I need additional space in my closet.
Same goes for this shirt:
“It’s a Theatre Thing” …. on the back, it reads “You Wouldn’t Understand”.
I’ve loved this shirt, which was purchased at the state drama competition in Huntington, WV, in 1997.
We didn’t win that year, but I received a cool trophy, induction into the All-State Cast, and the validation I craved. This shirt reminds me of the “high times” from high school.
Another cast shirt from my first freshman performance at Berkeley Springs High:
The director, Joe Santoro, loved my audition for “The Reluctant Dragon” so much, he re-wrote the character of the little boy who befriends the dragon…. as a little girl. Just for me. :)
And he asked me to choose a name for my character; I named her Alice. Not in deference to Lewis Carroll, although the girl-meets-dragon story would have been an appropriate comparison.
No, it was entirely personal. “Alice” was the code-name of a boy I liked…. which was very mild, compared to the crazy code-names that Carolyn and I invented for my later crushes: Peanut Butter, Blue Mascara, and Caterpillar, to name a few. LOL
Speaking of Peanut Butter. The first time I had the pleasure of sharing a stage with fellow BSHS student (and current WV Young Republicans’ chairman), Conrad Lucas, was in this production; he starred as my very Reluctant Dragon.
Reluctant to learn his lines anyway…. he ad-libbed 85% of his material, forcing me to learn a harsh lesson in show business:
Another article that hangs in my closet for purely sentimental reasons, is this gym shirt from the private grade school I attended in Bowie, Maryland.
(And I still wear the gym shorts!)
I’ve also kept one of the uniforms I wore in junior high… because you never know when you might need a school-girl uniform, right?!
I’ve held onto it as a reminder of my past, a small memento of that former life that always appeared rosy-hued and unfocused in my mind…
Of course, now we have Facebook. And classmates who post embarrassing pictures of us from 4th grade. My memories are becoming less and less rosy-hued. ;D
One of the things I remember most dearly about my childhood in Bowie, were those countless hours spent at my best friend Heather’s house.
Her mother was THE Poster Mom for stay-at-home parents everywhere.
I can still picture her, wearing her trademark jumper and blouse… cooking healthy meals from scratch, sewing dresses and costumes for Heather, keeping up with the laundry and household chores (their home always looked immaculate! You could eat her pasta straight off the floor…), carpooling a minivan-ful of kids to and from school/dance/piano/sports practice, and somehow keeping track of us (and her sons’ friends) …. all the while maintaining a relationship with her husband.
I think I envied her sewing skills the most, a talent she passed onto her daughter. Unfortunately, our close association over the years wasn’t enough to ensure even a basic understanding of sewing in me.
However, when Heather would weed through her own closet, I would occasionally get the handmade hand-me-downs, including this floral skirt:
Originally it was paired with a cute matching jacket which Heather outgrew in the early 90′s… and I outgrew a few years later… (she was blessed early with a woman’s figure, heehee)
I’m hoping that it’s still packed away somewhere, as I would hate to think I’d lost this skirt’s life-partner.
I haven’t worn this skirt since high school, however it has a permanent hanger in my closet. Perhaps I’ll pass it down to Lydia and Mia when they’re old enough to wear it, because that is the true beauty of handmade things.
I can still squeeze into it, despite the lack of an elastic waistband. LOL
Now that my closet has a bit of wiggle room to accommodate new items I might chance upon, I can only wonder: Which brand-new garments will eventually become treasured keepsakes?
Someday. Every single piece of clothing in my closet will tell its own story.