Unsolicited Recs |August 6

Hi, everyoneeeeeee. Here are some things.

After 3 years living here (I know! I can’t believe it’s been 3 years either!), we finally have installed blinds to west-facing windows in the kitchen & master bedroom. The sun is bright. Did you know that? And when it comes beating through the kitchen windows while we’re trying to cook dinner in the evenings, it is quite annoying. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why I bring home dinner so often?? Yeah, that’s gotta be it.

ANYWAY. We did a bunch of research and decided we had to go with cellular shades, because the design & measurements of the window casing made installing anything else impossible (the hardware for like every other option was way too big). So we got all amped up, went to Menards because a) we live there and b) we have rebates there and c) they had blinds/shades 40% off. So the sale price for shades for 4 measly windows was like $800. Maybe that’s a reasonable price? But it was more than we were willing to pay. So — we took to the internet! Ultimately found ourselves on affordableblinds.com. We ordered some free samples to gauge quality and colors, and were pleasantly surprised. We ordered cordless cellular shades for the kitchen and cordless blackout cellular shades for the master bedroom. 4 shades, free shipping, total cost was $266.32. And they’re nice!! Now, to get them to fit right in the casings, we had to cut, prime, paint, and install some wood strips to the upper part of each window. So that was fun. But now they’re up and they are game. changers. Oh! I almost forgot. I was impressed with Affordable Blinds’ customer service, too. One of the kitchen blinds arrived the wrong measurement (long by about 1″). I sent them an email, took a picture of the error, and boom. New one arrived today. Lickety split!

We also got a couple things hung on the walls in the master bedroom. We had talked about doing a picture ledge above the bed, but ultimately decided to hang this mirror thing we salvaged from the property, cleaned up, and painted. Like 2 years ago. Better late than never!

Don’t judge my bed making skills. We are two people who sleep with 6 pillows between the two of us and literally never make our bed. It’s hard to get good at it when you only do it for photos once every 2 years. Sorry Mom!

Anyway. We also hung our life mantra in our bedroom as well. We think it’s important to stay centered.

In other news:

How to use envy as a tool — I love this approach to figuring out what you want in life! This is a quick 4-ish minute blog read, and I highly recommend!

I just started listening to a new podcast. Well, new to me. It’s actually from about a year ago, but I’m just now getting around to it. It’s Uncover: Escaping NXIVM and is about what turned out to be a sex cult masquerading as leadership development community. Or something. Here’s the thing – there are about 7 minutes in episode 1 that are ROUGH to listen to. But I’m now on ep4 and it’s bonkers (in a good way). It’s fascinating and terrifying and I have a feeling I’m going to really enjoy the rest is it. You can read more about what the podcast entails and/or listen here.

You guys, I think this movie looks delightful. Don’t you???

Hope you all have a great week!


Unsolicited Recs | July 29

Hi, everyone. Happy (????) Monday!

The only house-related thing I want to show you this week is this EPIC butterfly! Isn’t it the prettiest of all time? And it was a giant.


Other than that, I have been keeping track of some fun internet things I wanted to share with you.

These articles are about the American Airlines unlimited ticket and the people who bought it in the late 80s and how they used it. Sometimes for good, rarely for evil (although AA disagreed and has revoked some of the tickets recently). Both the articles are so good and so interesting! Where would you go first (and second and third…)if you had unlimited first class travel??? Article 1 here and Article 2 here.

Interesting and fascinating article on how the “Markle Sparkle” (I know, that moniker is barf-worthy. I didn’t make it up) affected one clothing brand. If I had all the money and thought that buying what Meghan Markle was wearing would make me look like her, not gonna lie…I’d go for it.

A super important read for all of us about disabled parking spots. An Open Letter to the Guy at Target

A Q&A about life insurance. I found it really informative and interesting (despite the subject matter). Do you have life insurance??? We all should!

This article from Texas Monthly about the life of Edward Ates and his wrongful conviction is fantastically written and will make you mad. It was thanks in large part to the work of one podcast host he was freed. I haven’t listened to this particular podcast and was still absorbed for this entire story.

Am I the last person on earth to see this? It’s SO FUN.

This whole thread is a blast, but the Metallica – Saturday Night Fever is THE BEST.

Unsolicited Recs | July 22

I follow a lot of blogs. Guys, a LOT. And no matter the type, my favorite thing many of them do each week is a roundup of sorts. They share links to things that caught their eye (or ear) the week prior. Seriously, my favorite. So while I’m not a prolific blogger like many that I follow, that’s why I’m going for this link list approach. I love them and I hope you will too!

First up, a couple things around the house:

We finally added sweet little shelves to the random nook in our downstairs bathroom. We just bought a sheet of aspen from Menards, stained it Minwax Dark Walnut (that we stole from Mom), and voila! The decor is very much a work in progress — the red vase won’t be staying there, for example – but I’m loving it so far!

We (Mom, Cat, Traci, and I) took an amazing little class at Paint Like Me Party in Mahomet on how to do macrame. Macrame!!! It was a blast and I’m obsessed with the plant hanger. It’s found a good home in the master bathroom.

some things from around the internet:

Advice columns are my jam. Doesn’t matter what the subject matter, I will read it. Captain Awkward did a nice little discussion on handling birthday expectations as an adult. It’s great.

One of the best blogs on the internet is Yes & Yes. She’s blogging on an irregular schedule these days, but just did one the other day on our tendency to “reward” ourselves after a crummy day/week/situation. Your mind is fried and your spirit is crumpled. Clearly the answer is Target. Except should it be??

Another Yes & Yes plug — I just downloaded her guide to figuring out what makes me happy so I can do more of whatever that is. Want to go through it with me? Download it here!

There’s no one like Missy. No one. I ❤️ Missy Elliott. Don’t you?

My lil bro was a guest on a podcast! I mostly don’t understand what they’re talking about, but being a guest on a podcast is basically a dream (give me all the podcasts), so I gotta shout him out for doing it! Check out Episode 10.

Speaking of podcasts, I just finished up another great series! It’s called The RFK Tapes and looks at the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. It veered into tinfoil hat territory, but that was by design as it explored what happened and the various theories surrounding it. Highly recommend!

Kitchn has started a fun series called The Way We Eat, where they interview different people about….the way they eat. Duh. I love little slice of life things like this! The most recent one was a delight. (Except she snacks on dried dates…dipped in tahini…and flaked salt. Otherwise, the interview is totally normal and relatable and interesting. I swear!!)

Prince George turned 6. These pics are adorable.

Roughly 4 years ago, this is where we were at on this house process. YIKES.


And finally, may this earworm stay in your head for weeks, as it has for me.

Unsolicited Recs| July 16, 2019

So it’s been nearly 2 years since I’ve blogged. It’s funny how once you finish the process of building/remodeling your house, it’s suddenly just… your house. In the best possible way, of course.

In these past couple years, we’ve done things like clear out TONS of scrub and trees from the east side of the house. It makes a difference when you’re sitting on the porch, but is basically unphotographable. We’ve added some decor items. We’ve added a barn-style shed where the old barn used to be. We’ve taken baby steps into landscaping (but talk to me in 30 years to see how that’s going). We’ve got a circle drive in the front of the house. But basically, we’ve been living our life in our dream farmhouse, sometimes being lazy, sometimes working our tails off, sometimes going on vacation, and sometimes blinking and thinking “where did the last 4 months go!?”

All that being said, I miss blogging! And while I don’t foresee us doing projects on a regular basis that anyone will be interested in, I do like having a spot to say hey, share what we’ve been up to, and maybe even share some completely unrelated things.

So here we are, at what I hope will be a regular post of unsolicited recommendations. From podcasts to projects, from ideas to articles — I will post the random things I want other people to know about! I don’t guarantee that any thing will be interesting to anyone but me, but maybe someone will enjoy something I post and that will be super duper.

Without further ado, my first list of random, unsolicited recs:

  • Hard-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot — I was skeptical about this, not gonna lie. I’ve got doing hard-boiled eggs on the stove top down prettttttty pat. But we finally tried hard-boiling eggs in the Instant Pot and HOLY SMOKES IT’S A GAME CHANGER. The shells! They peel off! So easily! It’s honestly miraculous. We followed this recipe, and next time I will maybe try having them in there for just a teensy bit less time because they were a little bit dryer than we like. But I won’t go back to stove top hard-boiling and having my peeled eggs look like tiny white death stars.


  • White Lies Podcast – This NPR podcast looks at the 1965 unsolved murder of Reverend Jim Reeb in Selma, Alabama just a few days after Bloody Sunday. It’s fascinating and terrible and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It also really made me want to watch the movie ‘Selma,’ which I plan to do ASAP!

white lies

  • Speaking of podcasts, this episode of ‘This is Love’ is straight up podcasting perfection. Just listen to Anna & Massimo’s story (it’s less than 30 minutes long) and enjoy.

this is love

  • When we were in Ixtapa earlier this year with Mom & Dad, we bought this gorgeous wool rug that was made in Oaxaca, and hung it on the landing of our stairwell. It makes me happy every time I walk by. Which is like 300 times per day (more on the weekends).


  • Aaron loves his Big Green Egg. Aaron loves cooking on his Big Green Egg. Aaron doesn’t love hauling things back and forth from the kitchen to the porch. Gina doesn’t love all the grilling/smoking stuff being a hot mess all over the pantry. SO. We finally invested in some great modular pieces to have a bit of an “outdoor kitchen” situation. But here’s the thing – to buy shelves for these things was outrageously expensive ($100+ per shelf). So Aaron turned his brain on to “builder” mode and MADE shelves out of gorgeous leftover Cumaru porch wood. LOOK AT THEM. They are so pretty and sturdy and functional and cost us zero extra dollars. Plop some totes (bought at Menards with rebate money, i.e. also free-ish) on the shelves and voila! Functional, sturdy, good-looking outdoor kitchen space.


  • My friend Theresa told me about this skort from Athleta and I became SO obsessed with it. It’s the perfect length, the shorts part is the perfect material and snugness level, it has pockets for your cell phone, it looks put together even when you’re not…I keep singing its praises to so many people; I know of 3 or 4 who have bought it recently. The best part? It’s final sale right now, so is a great price. BUY BUY BUY.


That’s a long enough (and random enough) list for this first go round, I’d say. What do you think?

Don’t stair at me

So remember when I asked for opinions on what to do about our stairs? (here, here, and here)

We ultimately decided to leave them au naturale for the time being, i.e. original dark trim, spindles, and newel post; Kendall Charcoal baseboards; white risers; and refinished/stained treads.



We talked about if we should do a runner up the entire length of the stairs, but we worried it would look out of place with no other carpet anywhere in the house (aside from above the garage), and we didn’t know how to treat the landing (the stairs do a 90 degree turn at the landing). We also talked about just getting carpeted or even clear treads, but just couldn’t find one we loved. So again, “as-is” was the name of the game. And so far, we’re really loving them this way!

And then I read this blog post today on Bower Power blog. Do you guys follow that one? Tons of DIY posts, sweet family posts (they have 4 young boys…and she’s super pregnant with her first girl), etc. It’s a great one to follow, if you don’t already.

ANYWAY, today she posted that she wallpapered her stairs. Say whaaaaaa? The picture below is from her website (i.e. it is not my picture…it belongs to Bower Power…and she is awesome…go visit her site…)

Bower Power Blog — their finished staircase. Don’t  you love it???

Obviously this decor option would in no way affect the slipperiness of the stairs, which is why we were considering the other options. But…it’s so pretty. It’s so cute. It’s so funky. It’s so not permanent. I’m not actually suggesting we’ll do it (I haven’t even shown Aaron. I bet we can all guess what his opinion will be). But I wanted to share, because it had never even crossed my mind as an option! And y’all were so helpful when we were exploring our stairs options, I thought you might like to see it. 🙂

So there you have it! What do you think?? Yay or Nay on wallpapering the stairs? And if you fall into the Yay camp — what pattern of wallpaper???

Summer time

Howdy, y’all! Long time no talk. If you’ve been wondering what’s been going on down this long lane of ours, the answer is not much / a lot. Not much is truly photo worthy, but a lot of work has been going on nonetheless!

In the last post, you saw how Aaron had been working on cleaning out the remains of the old barn. Well, since then, he and his friend Matt (and Matt’s crew) have done some concrete-cutting and concrete-pouring to prepare for the new barn (which will actually be more of a shed). 

Putting in floor drain

Aaron and his dad also spent a ton of time moving dirt and grading all around the house, and we got some grass planted. It’s coming up in funny little patches, as per usual with planting grass in the summer. But I’m sure we’ll have a yard around our house someday. The rest of the property is another story. It’s like The Jungle Book out there. Minus Baloo and Mowgli and friends. 

As you can see, the grass is growing better in some places than others…

Other than that, we’ve been on the lookout for furniture for our wrap around porch. I picked up a sweet bench at a flea market a few weeks ago, that works really well by the front door. 

The main things we’re noticing with the porch are 

A) it gets real real dirty and we’re going to need to invest in a power washer asap 

B) we aren’t loving the cumaru product we put down for the floor. Despite following all acclimation and installation instructions, its separating and curling and shrinking and expanding in all kinds of not awesome ways 

C) we need heavy duty furniture that can stand up to the wind out here. But we don’t want to spend a fortune. These two things are very much in opposition. 

So that’s a quick lil update. We still have a lot of finish work to do inside, which I’m afraid will take years for us to actually do. 🙄 And getting the outside in order will probably be on our to do list for the next 20 years, at least. But we are loving our home and are so thankful to be here!

So many activities. 

Hey y’all! I’ve been thinking about you blog readers lately and figured maybe I should do a wee bit of updating on what’s been going on up in here since we spoke last.(nearly 2 months ago. Zoiks!)

Where to start??? We’ve been mostly focusing our time and effort outside, because it’s a hot mess. Somehow everything we do to clean it up actually makes it worse??? But it’s worse-on-the-path-to-better. So, we’ll take it. 

Aaron has been cranking away on cleaning out the fallen down barn (I gave a synopsis of that situation in my last post). The current plan is to utilize the existing concrete foundation and build a new shed/barn on top of it. I believe it’s about 30’x40′, which should be great storage and work space. 

(Argh, these loaded in backwards, so we’re starting at current state and looking back at progress over the past month or so)

So, that’s all been fun. Well, maybe not fun. But something. Oh! I almost forgot! We managed to salvage out a decent chunk of the siding to use for a project that is to be determined in the future. I just started working on getting it removed from the rotted out wood and popping the nails out. What should we do with this barn wood? What would Joanna Gaines do???

We’ve also done a bunch of work on the east yard. Errr, “yard.” It’s not exactly yard-y yet, but we’re getting there. For every 1 big beautiful tree over there, there were probably at least 20 scrubs trees. No joke. So Aaron went through and got a lot of that cleaned out. It’s amazing the difference it makes!!! And it’s even more amazing the amount of concrete, pavers, bricks, and rocks we found out there. I got the best workout of my life the day we spent loading and moving all of them. It’s why I’m so ripped now. 

You can actually see the chicken coop!
Pile o’ bricks/rocks/etc
I guess it still looks a little scraggly. Trust me – it’s progress!
Now, in the past 2 weeks, it’s exploded with green. They’re mostly weeds, of course, but I still enjoy the green. 

Aaron just started digging out some stumps from where we removed trees. These root systems are bonkers. He and his dad also worked on trenching in the downspouts, which is kind of cool (although very hard to make look cool in pictures). 

Digging up some stumps
The trench for the downspout tile

There haven’t been many indoor updates, but I’ll share a couple quick things with you. 

We got the rest of our living room furniture. Woo hoo! Aaron loves his chair. 

We’ve done some decor-based projects too. It’s so fun! And always more work/more difficult than I anticipate!

Project 1:

W (for Wise family) from original front screen door
Spray painted white. Then changed our minds and spray painted bronze
And then mounted in a shadow box as M for Marsh family

Project 2:

Big old window that was out in one of the sheds
Removal of panes of glass
Lots of cleaning out of gunk
We used a soft blue chalk paint and added in mirrors. She’s ready to hang!

Project 3:

We took an old window that was just chilling out in a shed and turned it into a chalkboard thing for the kitchen! It’s not actually done yet- we still have to attach the knobs – but it’s getting there. 😍


I think that pretty much sums up our current state down this here loooooong lane. (For some reason I wrote that in a drawling Southern accent….I hope you read it the same way).

Big upcoming projects include the barn raisin’ plus making the area around the house look like a yard. Oh, and maybe having some kind of driveway/walkway to the front door. Next time, on the blog….

General update


Is this thing on? Hello? Hello?

I know I’ve been a little radio silent these days. The thing is, we’re just kind of trucking along. With the nice weather, we’ve been working on some outdoor cleanup around the house. We’ve gotten some new furniture, which is mega exciting. We still need to finish unpacking some rooms (I KNOW). So not a ton of blog-worthy stuff, especially compared to a year ago when major things were happening all the time (for reference, here and here is what was happening around the same time last year).

Anyway. I thought I’d share just a  few pictures of what’s going on down our long lane, in case anyone was wondering. 🙂

So, first of all, this picture was clearly taken before the weather turned spring-like. So pretty, right??

Aaron did all kinds of work cleaning up around the fallen-down barn. When we bought the property, half the barn was still standing(ish). On one windy day in 2016, she blew the rest of the way down. The next few pictures show then and now shots of the barn remains.


After it fell down more…


Action shot of Aaron hauling off some of the cleared out trees

With this nice weather, I’ve also been spending some time digging through all the sheds/barns out on the property. There is lots of trash-to-me/treasure-to-other-people. LOTS. It’s actually been really fun posting a lot of this for sale on various local sites and having people come out and do some “picking.” For fun, I’ve included pics of some of the stuff we’ve found…

I mean, this wasn’t “found.” We’ve always known it’s there. But still.

This was tucked back behind the barn, with trees growing up through it. It’s a torture device and/or farm equipment.
We also did more clean up on the South side of the house to ultimately prepare for changing up the driveway. The pic below is taken from the driveway now; there used to be tons of bushes/brush all up in the way. So much better now!

For fun, I thought I’d do a little before and after of the Big Teal Monster. For a refresher on this bad boy, see Week 18 post. So the first pic below shows the built-in on the right side of the photo, in the old kitchen (in what is now our dining room). And the next two show her in all her teal glory in our upstairs laundry room. It’s so fun to see befores and afters, right???

kitchen 1


And last but certainly not least, we got new living room furniture! It’s not all in yet, but I couldn’t resist showing you how pretty is. The pictures below show the progression of the living room, ending on the latest, prettiest version.

Living Room — Before we bought the house

Living Room 1
Living Room -After we bought the house but before we started demolition

Living Room – mid-construction

Living Room – later-mid-construction

Living Room – with old furniture in it

Living Room – after old furniture out but before new furniture in

Living Room – with pretty new furniture!!!!

So that about does it for now. Hopefully we’ll continue to have fun exterior updates for you as we get serious about cleaning up the craziness. There are so many beautiful trees surrounded by little ugly scrub trees and brush. We’re going to focus on getting that ugly outta there to highlight the pretty!!

First post of 2017

See how clever I am with my post titles? My last one was nearly as amazing as this one is…

So get this — we are coming up on 2 years since I wrote the very first blog post on this here little corner of the internet. And that post was about a year after we first started exploring this path of remodeling this 100-year-old farmhouse down a long lane. Whoa. What a crazy ride! And we’re still on it! Let me tell you what you’ve missed over the past few weeks.

Aaron and his dad finished up the skylights on the porch. They look SO GOOD. Basically, the windows themselves had been there for a really long time, but they were missing the final trim out stuff. That’s the official name of what Aaron and Steve did. Final trim out stuff. Basically – they made the skylights look prettier. I’m sure there were plenty of other reasons they did what they did, but to me, they definitely look prettier.

We. Got. Mirrors. You guys. We’ve been 6+ months with no mirrors in our master bathroom. And as of yesterday, we have mirrors! I realize everyone likely knows what mirrors look like, but it’s just crazy how much of a difference they make in that bathroom! And I mean, being able to blow dry my hair looking in a mirror that isn’t teeny tiny and propped on the top of the vanity? It’s miraculous.

Upstairs guest bathroom
Master Bathroom – Gina’s vanity
Master Bathroom – Aaron’s vanity

Another big thing in the past few weeks is that we ordered new living room furniture. Yay! It’s so exciting, but won’t be here for weeks (if not months *sigh*). So for now, just bask in our excitement!

Look at the cute pillows Mom got us for Christmas

And look at this amazing photo of the house Aaron’s mom got us for Christmas!

And now for a few quick Then and Now pictures….

Porch – THEN
Porch – NOW
Laundry Room – THEN
Laundry Room – NOW

Roofing – THEN
Front Door – THEN
Front Door – NOW
Back Door – THEN
Back Door – NOW