Monday, December 2, 2013

New blog...

Hi folks, just a reminder that my new blog, A Little Blue Barn, is now up and running.  So this one will be going away shortly.  Feel free to follow the new one to keep in tough.

Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, November 22, 2013

New blog...

Hi Folks.  Now that House 54 has come to an end, and our family has moved on to bigger and better things, I decided to start a new blog.  First of all, my blog is shared with family and friends, and I wanted a blog address that was a little more G-rated than this current one.  But I also wanted to start fresh with some new writing for this is a new chapter in my life.

The new blog will cover the rehab-ing of our farm and our house, as well as my new role as a stay-at-home-mom.  If any of these topics interest you, I hope you'll follow me over to the new blog.

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Farm fitness: Moving firewood...

With 3 days worth of U-HAUL rentals, and a few too many trips in our own cars, Hubby and I managed to move all 7 cords of our firewood to the new house.  Holy ol' sore arms, Batman!
 FYI, this was not intentional to inflict this level of torture on ourselves.  We had been very proactive this year and ordered our firewood early and got a great deal on it (good enough that it was worth the extra price tag of the U-HAUL rentals to move it).  We had it delivered, and had it all nicely stacked our old house.  Then we went an bought a new house.  We were hoping that the old house would sell before winter, and that whoever bought it would be overjoyed at the already full wood shed, and that we could use some of the money from the sale of the house to purchase new firewood at the new house.  Not so much... 
 This is what Hubby calls my "dirtbike trail."  He came home one day and couldn't figure out what was making the single tire track up our lawn.  I'm not sure what he thinks I do at home all day when he's not here, but unfortunately it's not riding dirkbikes around the yard.  First on the adgenda for next Spring will be to build a wood shed much closer to the house, and at the TOP of the hill.  So next Summer I'll have to go back to lifting normal weights and doing squats again, because I won't have to push the wheelbarrow full of firewood up the freaking hill every day. 

But this guy comes along for the ride in the backpack and keeps me company...and adds a little more resistance for a seriously punishing uphill climb.

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Taking The Kid on an adventure...

42 Things to Do with Kids in New York City | Fodor's
The Kid has been wanting to see New York city for quite some time now.  I've been there three times in the last few years for business related/craft show type stuff, and left him at home each time.  Now we've just moved to a new house, we still haven't sold our old one yet, and I'm closing my business.  We'll probably NEVER be able to afford to go there again.  So I figured that before we had too much time to think about it, we should just go.  He's at that great age where he's old enough to be an easy traveling companion, and also be able to remember it all, yet still young enough to think that just the lights alone are super cool, and he'll be thrlled to eat bagles and pizza (the cheap food) the entire time we're there.  Hubby is winning some MAJOR brownie points for this one also.  He's staying home with The Baby while The Kid and I set off on our adventure next week.  It's not easy being the big kid when there's a baby in the house.  So this way he can have 3 whole days of my undevided attention, see the city he's been dying to see, and neither of us have to spend a 7-hour car ride with a crying baby.

Have you been anywhere in NYC that you think a nine-year-old boy would think was super cool?  We have a lot of stuff on our to-do list already, but I'm always curious to hear other suggestions for must-do's (as well as must-not-do's).

Thanks for sopping by,

Monday, November 4, 2013

New blog name...

Taking suggestions for a new name for my blog...

Has to be something that still conveys the theme of rural Vermont life, farming, and motherhood.  perhaps something a tad more PG-rated than my current title though?

Your assistance and ideas are greatly appreciated.

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bureau refinishing project...

I used to have a super amazing bureau.  It's a family heirloom, beautifully preserved, solid wood beast of a clothes hording device.  That was until I got married.  I married a man whom I love more than life itself.  He's cute as hell, a phenomenal cook, he's an insanely hard worker, and an incredible dad.  But he absolutely freaking SUCKS at organizing his clothes.  The teetering piles of sweatshirts and "comfy pants" in our closet was giving me serious anxiety issues.  So I took one for the team, and gave him my bureau.  Now all of my husbands crap lovely attire was hidden away, and peace had been restored.  Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I happen to be a bit of a closet organizing Goddess.  Toot, toot!  So I was able to store most of my stuff in creative ways without the use of my bureau... until we moved.  The new house came with a smaller closet in our master bedroom, and it needed to be shared by both of us.  No amount of organizational genius was going to make enough room for everything.  I pride myself on having a super tiny, and wickedly efficient wardrobe.  So it generally doesn't take up a ton of room.  But I still needed a place for work (barn chore) clothes, bulky sweaters, and that sort of stuff.  To the rescue came my dear friend Jamie...       
She had this old gem sitting in her attic, and offered it up to be at the bargain price of free!
 Purple is not my color though.
 And neither is Mint, Hunter Green, or White.  I wanted that nice solid Maple that was rumored to exist under all that paint somewhere.
 After 2 solid days of sanding, a day of letting Citristrip work on the hard-to-reach crevices, and a day to dry after giving it a bath with the hose, I was able to put a couple of coats of water-based poly on it.
Not to shabby!

Yay for great free stuff and some elbow grease!

Thanks for stopping by, 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Making peace with being a stay-at-home-mom...

I struggle with my need to make my own big-girl money.  Being a stay-at-home-Mom is never what I had envisioned for myself.  There's no paycheck for it, and a paycheck is something that has always brought me a sense of self worth.  Maybe that's shameful of me, but it's true.  Since before I could drive a car, I had a job.  I could pay my own bills, buy my own clothes, and I didn't have to ask anyone for anything.  When my oldest son was 6 months old, I landed what I thought was my dream job AND it paid me about twice as much as any other job I'd ever had before.  I thought I'd made it big. Then I spent the next 6 and a half years working 12 hour shifts while someone else watched my kid.  My son was 7 and I'd missed most of it.  This is when most people would have had a serious reality check.  And I did, but not in the way that I should have.  I planned and saved big time before giving my notice at that job, and did so with a grand vision.  I could work from home, be my own boss, make my own hours, start my own business from the ground up, and do it all while being with my kid.  

That was 2 years ago.  In those two years I did exactly what I set out to do.  I started a business from home.  And it took me the entirety of those 2 years to have another reality check.  I was being selfish.  My husband and I had done the math.  It was going to be tight, but we could afford for me to not work.  My sole responsibility could be my kids.  And I started a business anyway.  I spent most of our savings on it.  I went twice to out-of-town craft shows that both cost me more than I made.  And I sacrificed time with my family for an unnecessary, and quite frankly, pretty miserable paycheck.  My oldest son is now 9, and my youngest turned a year old in July this year.  I feel like I get a do-over now if I quit while they both still like me.

This was not a decision that was made lightly.  My husband and I have been batting ideas about this back and forth for many months now.  We've played devils' advocate with each other, discussing the pros and cons of different scenarios.  What if we cut it back to only Etsy sales and wholesale, and no more farmers markets or travelling to shows?  What if we cut it back to just one or 2 products?  Would it even be worth it then?  What if we went back to printing our own labels?  Would it work then?   Ultimately the answer was No.  No, it's not worth it for us.  For someone, it is, but not for us.  There have been many hysterical crying fits about wasted money, loss of a business that I worked so hard to build, and honestly, loss of my identity as a member of the workforce.  But I really just needed to get over myself, and be OK with having a job that didn't pay me with my name stamped on an official paycheck.

I am still planning on attending the Queen City Craft Bazaar as a vendor in November.  I'll keep my Etsy shop open through the Holiday season, or until all current inventory is sold.  After that time, House 54 LLC will cease to exist, and the New Year will mark the official commencement of operation stay-at-home-mommyhood.

Thanks for stopping by,




Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bad dog, good chicken...

This blog started out as a way for me to document my journey into life as a miro-farmer.  Not turning into a very tiny farmer, but having a tiny-ish farm.  Just so we have that part clear.  So I'm going back to the roots of this blog for today and sharing some deep-ish thoughts about the process so far.
In the last year and a half we have discovered just how much we love raising and growing our own food.  There's a huge sense of pride in seeing and being a part of the whole process.  When I used to buy a package of chicken, or a carton of eggs, they were just products on the shelf.  There was a huge disconnect between me and those chickens.  I'm not responsible for any part of those chickens' lives.  That's the part that's both good and bad about raising my own food.  I'm responsible for it.  It's great because I get to choose what it eats, so that I'm also choosing what I eat.  I give them a safe home where they're protected from predators at night.  I thank them when I collect their eggs.  I treat my birds with respect.  I know that someday they're going to stop producing my breakfast, and therefore someday become my dinner.  Just because I'm going to kill them someday, doesn't mean that I don't care about the quality of life they have now.  I pet them.  I named them.  And I feel awful when something bad happens to them.  Because when something happens to one of my chickens, it's my fault.  If I pick up a package of chicken at the grocery store, I'd never know if that chickens tail feathers were all ripped out by the farmer's way-too-excited dog.  But that's exactly what happened to one of my chickens the other day, and I'm responsible.  I'm responsible for letting my chickens wander wherever they like at the new house.  I'm responsible for my dog.  I'm responsible for the fact that when a chicken wanders very close to a fence with an extremely excitable dog behind it, that there is really just zero chance of containment for that dog, and pretty much zero chance of survival for the chicken.

This particular chicken, however, is one seriously bad-ass chick.  She's currently in isolation from the other chickens, so that they don't peck her wounds.  She doesn't have a single tail feather left to speak of, and has a pretty gnarly gash on her back.  But we've been spraying her back with Vetricin, and despite being pretty worse for ware, she laid an egg yesterday.  We even found a nice little scratch on the dog.  Like I said, a seriously bad-ass chick.
So, today when I'm at the grocery store, and I pass by the egg section, I'll have an ever bigger sense of pride than I usually do when I leave there empty handed.  Because my bad-ass chicken still laid me an egg after being attacked by my dog.  You go girl.

Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, September 19, 2013

New House Progress/Tour, guided by The Baby...

So, wow, it's been a wicked long time since I've done any blogging, huh?  Well, this is what we've been up to...
~We're living in the new house now.  The roof is done.  Flooring is done in the living room and dining room, and partially done in most of the other rooms.  My downstairs painting is done.  I had visions of grandeur for getting the kitchen cabinets painted, but that was sort of a pipe dream, and I'm coming to terms with the fact that I might be putting that project on hold for a while (like for as long as it takes for me to convince my husband that, despite their practicality, those red counter tops still enrage me, and that they don't need to stay in our home).  My business workshop is now set up at the new house, and I'm in freaking heaven now, not having to run back and forth to Jeffersonville to make, package, and ship orders.  Things are by no means even close to being finished, but they're starting to go well.  We're falling into a good groove here at the new house, and everyone seems happier here.  I'm at great risk right now of completely shutting off from public and staying hidden away up here on the hill on my sunny little farm.   
Downstairs hallway, done, and a WALKING baby!   
Master bathroom, mostly done.  Those peel-and-"stick" tiles are absolute flipping garbage, and will be replaced with real slate ASAP.  Maybe you can see if you zoom in, the giant migration that's already taking place between the tiles in front of the vanity.  Seriously, folks, we've lived here for 3 weeks.  We shouldn't be seeing this kind of wear and tear on the tiles at this point.  NOT cool, Lowes, NOT cool. 
Living room flooring done.  Getting the books up on the bookshelf was a major step in improving the overall home-y-ness of the place. 
New gate up on the stairs to keep the walking man confined to the first floor.  Also, the first coat of paint is done on the stairs, as a temporary fix, until we get treads and risers made out of finish-grade wood.  I'll be adding a runner down the middle for now.  (hopefully a near-future how-to post).
Wicked great outdoor spaces to pick apples...
...Or just chill in the Tonka truck...
...Or hang with big brother...
...Or throw toys for the dogs.

I'll have more info posted in a few days about the new Fall/Winter line of HOUSE 54 products also.  Sorry for the lack of communication lately.  But now that we're moved in, and getting settled, things seem to be going along more smoothly, and I should be able to do more frequent postings.  Stay tuned.

Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, August 9, 2013

Happy Friday, Folks...

Maybe you've seen this already, but I just discovered it today, and thought it was downright magical.  I'm definitely not a fan of Coke products, but I do applaud the company for this little video compilation they put together.  If nothing else, it will momentarily restore your faith in human kind.  have a look...
My husband, the former Marine, says that having discipline means "doing the right thing, even when no one is watching."  Yay World for doing the right thing (when lots of people were watching, but you didn't know that at the time, so it's like no one was).

Have a great weekend, and thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, August 8, 2013

New House Progress, and a Happy Anniversary...

Last week Hubby and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary.  Since we're neck deep in home remodeling, both our time and funds were pretty limited for this year's celebration.  So, we got creative, and had hands-down the best date we've ever had.  We blew up toilets!  Yup, we're from Vermont, and that was what seemed like a fun idea at the time.  We weren't wrong.

The new house has 2 full baths, and one half bath, for a total of 3 pretty gross fixtures that we chose to replace with new, CLEAN ones.  You can read this post on our half bath, if you want the gory details.  So we decided to try out hubby's new shotgun.  It was a blast (pun intended).  And you know what they say... "the couple that blows shit up together, stays together."

So, as far as the rest of the (actually productive, but not quite as fun) projects go, here's where we're at...
~My Dad came over and helped me make a mess.  We tore out the old hearth, because it wasn't intended for the kind of heat produced by a wood stove, and we'll be replacing it with a properly heat-resistant one.
~He also helped me start putting stuff back together by getting us started on the hardwood flooring.
    Getting started in The Kid's room, upstairs hallway, and some more of The Kid's room that I got done yesterday afternoon.
~New washer and dryer delivered the other day.  They're gorgeous, but pretty much all for show right now.  Until we get our water softener installed, there they sit, just looking pretty.
~Master bathroom pretty much done (for now).  Those peel-and-stick tiles, really only live up to half of their name.  The "peel" part works beautifully, but their "stick" function is pretty darned pathetic.  So our someday project will be to put down real tile.  But for now, these are going to have to do.  Much brighter in there though with the walls and vanity painted, and the 1987 hardware replaced.
~The painting really never seems to end, but, BUT!!!!  I just bought myself a paint sprayer!  It should be arriving on my doorstep within the week, and I'll let you know how it goes.
~And we've started bringing carloads of stuff each time we go up there to work.  So hopefully the move won't be quite so horrid when it comes time to do the actual moving day.

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Inspiration Board, and new fragrance announcements...

Helping to inspire this season's new fragrances was this little collection of photos (below), along with countless others you can check out here.  They're all about simplicity, being rustic-yet-soft, salt-of-the-Earth hard work, and finding time to chill (preferably on the water).

New fragrances this season are:
~Farmhouse Garden:  Wildflowers, Roses, Earth, & Dewy Garden Greens.  ~North Shore:  Island-y blend inspired by Oahu's legendary surf mecca.  ~Porter Springs:  Spring Water, Bamboo, Freesia Blooms, Apricot, Ginger & Amber.  And "Glow," and "Indian Summer" will also be back as seasonal fragrances.
As I mentioned in this post a couple weeks ago, I've been doing some major editing of my product line.  At first I was terrified to cut so many products from my line, but once I did, it was SUCH a load off.  It was pretty darned glorious to be able to just focus on making a few really swell products.  Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I make pretty freaking amazing lotion.  I also love that people smile when they smell the perfumes I've concocted.  Those are the products that I'm wildly passionate about making, and those are the products that I'm going to continue to build my company off of.  I like that this season's line is simple, and built on a rock solid base of customer favorites, as well as being things that are favorites of mine to make.  I'm feeling really good about where things are now, and where they're headed from here...

Products that will be offered in this season's line are:
~Hand & Body Moisturizer, ~Perfume Oils, ~Solid Perfume, ~Linen Refresher, ~Lip Balm, ~Knuckle Balm, ~Gardener's Balm, & ~Facial Cleansing Oil.

Perfume Oils will also be taking on a more customer-friendly form.  They will be bottled to order, and available in every fragrance I offer, whether it usually be for a lotion, Linen Refresher, or currently offered perfume.  Yay!  I can't wait for you guys to check it all out.  Stay tuned!

Thanks for stopping by,

Saturday, July 27, 2013

New House Progress: Wicked lots of paint, and a horrifying discovery of the final remains of stinkyness...

Main floor hallway with freshly painted everything, new light, and new hardware on the doors.
My plumbers have an even higher level of OCD than I do.  Is this not the sexiest bunch of new pipes you've ever seen?!

When I posted the last house update, Hubby and I had just torn out all of the carpeting to help eradicate the yuck-o-rific smell in there.  It worked...mostly.  There was still a nasty stench bomb emanating from the half bath on the main floor.  This was strange to us, because there wasn't carpeting in there to start with, and it didn't really smell like pet urine.  Well, then the worlds most disgusting light bulb clicked on for us, and we realized that the awful stench was human urine, not pet urine.  Eewey!  So hubby and I pretty much gutted the room, and I'll be renting a wallpaper steamer to take off anything else that may have soaked in any of the grossness.  For now though, the door is closed, and that makes it look and smell pretty darned lovely (see photo above.  The door on the right is to the "stinky bathroom," as my plumbers have been calling it).  Keeping the door closed helps me pretend that there's a cute fluffy bunny behind it, and not the stench of a dive bar urinal.
The gutted-ish bathroom.  The vanity remains for now, as does the classy vinyl flooring that we had the pleasure of finding under the laminate.

BUT!  The rest of the place is starting to come together.  Painting of the first floor is finally coming to an end. One more coat left to cover up the blue on the walls.  Doors and trim are all done, and new door hardware is on.  Flooring has been delivered, and is hanging out to acclimate before putting it down in the next couple of weeks.  

Master Bedroom and Bath being painted...
By the way, we would have ZERO repeat offenders in the correctional system if we made inmates paint louvered doors.  Just sayin.'

 Master Bedroom and Bath, first coat of paint done on the walls, and both coats done on doors and trim...

Living Room, brightened up with a coat of paint, and lots of boxes of flooring...
This is what the new flooring is going to be.  It's wide-board, hand-scraped birch.  So, hopefully it'll look right at home in a farmhouse.

Still to do before we move in (hopefully before school starts):
-finish the roof.  
-get to the 2nd floor with a paintbrush, finally.
-install flooring.
-replace all the toilets we tore out (after our discovery in the half bath, we decided to take out the rest alos, just for good measure).
-keep fingers crossed that the plumbers can find the rest of the cracked pipes, and repair them without having to destroy too many of the walls in the process.
-finish de-stinking the half bath.

Sounds like a wicked lot.  But we've already gotten a ton done in this last month.  So I'm hopeful that we have it in us to keep up the pace for one more month.

Thanks for stopping by,


Friday, July 26, 2013

Some tweaks to the product line, and why...

I've been promising this post for quite a few weeks now, and I just read this post by Tessa from New Duds, and it motivated me to finally write this...

My Fall/Winter line this year will have fewer products.  Lotion, perfume, facial cleansing oil, lip balm, and a few healing hand salves.  That's it.  Those are the products that people are buying from me the most, as well as being the products that I most enjoy making.  The rest of the products will be dropped from the line.

I am a one-woman-show running my business and making all of my products, and this Summer has been a huge wake-up call for me.  New house that needs tons of work before we can move in, old house that needs to be sold, kids that need their Mom to play with them, husband that needs a partner, and a business with way to many products for one person to make on her own, while still giving these other things the attention they deserve.  I put a few too many things on my plate, and lots of stuff, including my health, suffered for it.  My Doctor told me that coffee was adding an extra stimulant to my already over-stimulated life, and that I should probably stop drinking it.  Ummmm...No.  But, I did take another bit of my Doc's advice, and learn to chill a little (with a coffee mug still firmly grasped in my hand).  Part of this learn-to-chill journey included making some tough business decisions, like seriously editing my line, and saying no to a few shows.  In the long run though, I think these changes will help me be a better businesswoman.  It's forced me to take a hard look at what I can realistically handle before jumping at every opportunity.    Having fewer products will give me the ability to keep offering really wicked awesome stuff to my customers, and still give me time for chill stuff like family time, yoga, and of course, coffee...  
No Coffee No Talkie - Hand Stamped Vintage Coffee Spoon
Stay tuned for the unveiling of the new line in just a few weeks!
Thanks so much for staying supportive and awesome, and thanks for stopping by,

"No Coffee No Talkie" spoon by BellaJacksonStudios on Etsy.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

One year ago today: Adoption is a crazy ride...

Today is the one year anniversary of one of the happiest and most terrifying days of my life.  On this day last year, my husband and I were 400 miles from home, waking up way too early in a hotel room in a city we'd never been to before.  When we made it to our appointment that morning, we sat in the office of a woman we'd never met before, waiting for another complete stranger to walk in and hand us a baby.  20 minutes later, we were driving back to our hotel, plus one.  Just like that, we were parents again.  We spent the few days waiting for a phone call that OK'd us to leave the state with our new baby, and bring him home to VT.  So we, of course took full advantage of the sight-seeing time in a new city to bask in the novelty that is Target, as well as numerous other retail establishments that haven't made their way to good old VT yet.  In all fairness to us though, it was literally 100 degrees out that week, and we hadn't yet grown accustomed to the massive heat that's generated by such a small being while strapped into a carrier.  The baby loved it.  He fell asleep in tropical bliss every time we put him in the carrier, while my husband and I took turns being the one to wear him and sweat like a pig.  We ventured into the city to do actual sight-seeing one day, but came back to the hotel after a half hour of unpleasantly sticky temperatures again that day, only being amplified by the poor air circulation among the tall buildings.  We were growing more and more fond of our wide open, cooler spaces back home in Vermont.  Not to mention our own bed, in our own house, and looking forward to getting this new baby out of the city, and into his new home.  Our home.

On day 4 we were picking out (in our dreams) future dinnerware at Crate & Barrel, and my husbands phone rang.  He had about a 45 second conversation with someone, hung up, and said to me, "we can go home now."  The staff at Crate & Barrel must have thought that we'd stolen half the merchandise in the store by the pace at which we left their lovely establishment.  By 2am the next morning we were home.
   I can't believe that a year has gone by already, but it's been an amazing ride so far.  He's a wicked great little guy, and we're incredibly proud that he's here with us.

Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, July 12, 2013

Info about my shop in Jeffersonville...

If you're local to the greater Jeffersonville area, you may have noticed my lack of open shop hours lately.  First of all, I'm NOT closing House 54.  I have been asked by some folks that observed a lack of goings-on at the shop recently.  Eek!  NO!

So here's what's going on...
My family and I recently purchased a new home, and there's room at the new place for me to have my own workshop space.  And since I do the bulk of my business online, and at markets and shows, we decided that it wasn't worth it to keep paying rent at the shop.  So, I will be closing the shop that's in Jeffersonville, but NOT the company.  It'll just be running behind the scenes again.  You'll still be able to buy my products online, or locally in shops or at shows, and as always, you can shoot me an email, and I'll be happy to meet you somewhere local to drop off your order.

I hope this helps clear up some confusion, and I completely apologize for not getting this info out to you sooner.

Thanks for stopping by,

New House Progress: Out With The Old...

These last couple of weeks have been consumed with the "demo" projects on the new house.  This is the period of time when things look worse before they look better.  Behold...
Roof be gone. 
Carpets be gone. 
Priming of trim and doors begins. 
Priming seems to never end... 
Coal stove be gone (it was pretty, but we have a woodstove that we'll be moving with us, and the hearth needed to be redone anyway to make it safer and more heat tolerant). 
Red door be gone (not gone, just repainted). 
Window trim done, cutting in begins. 
Cutting in seems to never end...
New loft bed goes in for The Kid.

So, basically it looks like a bomb dropped.  But it smells a TON better in there with all the nasty old carpeting out, and it's starting to look brighter and cleaner as I get more painting done.  When I painted rooms in our old house, I did just that...painted rooms.  One at a time.  Painting one room at a time is an afternoon project.  So is painting the trim around a few windows.  So I had some majorly delusional views of how quickly painting this new house would go.  HA!  I've been going up there almost every afternoon for about 2 weeks now, and I haven't even touched the 2nd floor with a paintbrush yet.  I'm becoming more efficient as I go though.  Each window or door that I do goes faster than the one before.  So I think the 2nd floor will go much quicker than the 1st one has.  This afternoon I'm taking a (sort of) break, and going to price out hardwood flooring options.  Then within the next few days, we'll be able to get some seriously needed R&R at the beach.  Wicked craving some ocean time!

Thanks for stopping by,