Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Renovation of Our Old Barn - Phase 1

Three years ago, when we purchased our 1856 Victorian farmhouse, we were drawn to its character and uniqueness. The two sets of winding stairs, the quirky layout, the 3rd floor attic bedrooms, the gardens, and oddly enough, the dilapidated two story barn.

Somehow we were able to look past the barn's rotted wood, the missing windows and quite frankly the entire hot mess and see potential. 
Be dreamers, or fools, we were convinced it could be restored.

As the years rolled by, we got estimates and ideas from contractors to restore it. Many said take it down and rebuild. Others, however, saw the beams and logs that had been standing for over 200 years (the barn is older than the house) and believed, like us, it could be salvaged…at a price. Most often that “price” did not fit our budget. So, the old barn sat. And the more it sat, the more it seemed less like potential and more like a problem

Then this March, we met a contractor through a friend, who specialized in historic renovations. When he came out to see the project, he ran around the barn, almost giddy, excited to bring the barn back to life. He had the same vision as us and wanted to keep as much of the original structure and he would work within our budget. 

We had found our man. The next week, the renovation began.
Step one....parking a dumpster out front of it!

With the dumpster in place, the contractor's first step was to remove the center beam in front and in the middle to make way for stairs. They flanked the center beam with two posts reused from the second story, before removing the beam.

And although there were multitudes of problems with the barn, the two things positive things it had going for it was a concrete subfloor the previous owner had installed and a good metal roof that just needed to be power washed and cleaned.

After the center beams were removed, they began working 
on the second floor and the windows.
We added 10 windows to the new barn. The frames were hand built and we recycled old window sashes we found for $1 each. 

On the second story, the over grown vines were removed and low overhead support beams were replaced with ones set higher to give more headroom. 

When the upstairs supports were reset they then began removing any outside siding that was rotted and could not be salvaged and then made the cutout for stairs.

The stairs were built using 2 inch thick wood treads 
and a rail was put up on the second level.

With the stairs complete, next came the siding. The new siding on the front top of the barn was wood salvaged from other parts of the barn. 

For the side and back, new poplar wood was used. We plan to let the new wood weather a bit and then paint or stain the outside of the barn to make it more cohesive.

Then like any good renovation story, we ran into a problem. 

By June the project that was supposed to take two months was still weeks from being finished and really over budget. In addition, our talented contractor stopped showing up. I would call him and leave messages and when I would finally reach him, he would reassure me that he would be out the next morning. But by the next morning, the barn would be sitting there alone. This went on for months.

Despite the good work up until that point, it became clear that we had to find another contractor. All we had left to finish was some battens and the doors.

In the end, we connected with Lance, and excellent builder who did some renovations on our kitchen.  He agreed to finish the project. Lance was out by the next week with his partner Scott and together they finished applying all the battens, installed a subfloor to the second story with plywood and built and installed the doors for the front.

 Boom. Done.

When Lance and Scott packed up after two weeks, we finally had a usable barn,  It was functional and secure from the elements. Over next spring, we will insulate the second floor and then paint the roof and the outside.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

2017 Ornament Exchange & Blog Hop

Welcome to the 2017 Ornament Exchange & Blog Hop! This year, there are 47 amazing bloggers participating in the exchange. The rules of the challenge were simple: be partnered with a fellow blogger, create a handmade ornament for $15 or under, create a tutorial, and ship the ornament off to a new home!

For the christmas ornament exchange, I was paired with Chelsea from Love Paper Crafts. After we were partnered, Chelsea and I connected through email 
and I then went to visit her blog. 
Her blog is amazing and she shares a great story about how she taught herself Calligraphy and is now running a successful business! 
Please stop by and visit her! 

Chelsea's christmas style is traditional and she decorates with white, silver and red. Since she lives across the country from me in Las Vegas. I thought it would be nice to use greenery from the east coast in her ornament. 

For my tutorial, I made Chelsea a scented wax ornament with evergreens, cranberries, cloves and star anise. I played around with other looks incorporating snowflake decorations, but I stuck to the natural elements for Chelsea.

2017 Ornament Exchange and Blog Hop

Meet the 2017 Ornament Exchange Hosts

Erlene ⋅ My Pinterventures Kim · Made In A Day Pili ⋅ My Sweet Things
Michelle · Our Crafty Mom Beverly · Across the Blvd. Cindy ⋅ DIY Beautify
Christene · Key to Inspiration Nicki · Sweet Parrish Place Katrin ⋅ Kreativ K
Debra · Shoppe No. 5 Trisha · Rosewood and Grace Jeanie · Create and Babble
Lorelai Life with Lorelai Debbie ⋅ Tweak and Style Stephanie ⋅ Swoodson Says
Vicki and Jenn ⋅ 2 Bees in a Pod Joanne ⋅ Our Unschooling Journey
Tylynn ⋅ Bitterroot DIY Sam ⋅ Raggedity Bits Mary ⋅ The Boondocks Blog
Chelsea ⋅ Love Paper Crafts Evija ⋅ From Evija with Love Anne ⋅ Orange Bettie

I love how these wax christmas ornaments turned out! 

To start this project, gather the following supplies:

silicone candy mold 
empty soup can
wood stir stick
vanilla scent
any assortment of greenery, spices, dried fruit, or little decorations
I used evergreens from my yard, cloves, star anise, dried cranberries
 and decorative snowflakes.

(Please note affiliate links listed)

Since my wax came in bricks, I chopped them up a bit so they could fit in the soup can. You can also buy wax that comes as beads and then you would not have to do this step.

Gather the wax and place it in the soup can. 
Then heat about 3 inches of water on medium heat in a small pot. 
You will be making a double boiler to melt the wax.

Once the water comes to a low boil, Place your soup can with the wax in the pot. 

Stir off and on continuously until the wax melts. This will take about 20 minutes.

While you are melting the wax you can begin to organize your decorative ingredients. I experimented with a lot of looks and what I liked best was having the natural elements visible from both sides. 
To get this look, start by adding some elements in the empty molds.
 This side of the mold will come out very smooth and only give a glimpse of elements. 
(I only did four samples for this tutorial
as I had done other batches and was getting low on wax.)

Once your wax is melt, turn your heat off and add a couple drops of essential oils if you like.
 I added vanilla.

Then using tongs or an oven mitt, slowly pour the wax into each mold and fill about 3/4 full.

Wait about 1 minute so wax is gelling just a little and add more elements. Lay them gently on top so they don't get buried in the wax and let some extent out. Get creative here and experiment here with different looks and elements

Then, drizzle more wax on top.
 Do not completely bury your elements under wax because once the wax dries it will become almost obscured.

Now, let the molds sit at room temperature and let the wax dry. After about 30 minutes, your wax ornament should easily pop out. To create a hole in the ornament I originally tried it with a straw but it did not work easily. So I found that heating a metal skewer, or in my case a metal tipped temperature gage I no longer used, over the heat and gently inserting into the wax worked best. I worked it through one side and slowing pushed it through.

Once your hole is set, simply add some pretty twine and hang!

FIND ALL 47 HANDMADE ORNAMENT TUTORIALS BELOW AND SHARE YOURS TOO! Use Hashtag #2017OrnamentExchange so we can see your creations on social media.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Visiting Furman University - Greenville SC Fall Weekend Getaway

As first time empty nesters, we have been pacing the halls of much quieter home for weeks. So, when it came time to visit our son at Furman University in Greenville SC where he is a freshman, we were beyond excited! The Lacrosse team was holding their Alumni Weekend and this was a great opportunity to enjoy all the planned events for families and...get a hug in from our boy!!

The alumni event was held the last weekend of October, which couldn’t be a more scenic time to set out on a road trip to South Carloina. Our drive to Furman would take us from Maryland west through West Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina, and then to the western mountains of South Carolina. The drive is 8 hours, but is gorgeous.

Now before my son looked at Furman, I didn’t know much about Furman or Greenville. But, let me tell you, they are both gems!  Furman is one of the most beautiful campuses I have laid eyes on, in fact Southern Living and Forbes ranked it as one of the South’s prettiest Colleges.  And to top off the amazing campus, outside its gates is Greenville, the most charming and stunning southern city I have ever been to.  

As I get the wonderful opportunity to explore this town over the next couple years, I want to share some of the experiences we have in this little slice of the south. For this visit, I put together a weekend itinerary perfect for the fall.

If you have questions or have a child considering Furman, let me know!

Fall Weekend Itinerary - Furman and Greenville SC

Friday Night Arrival
Grab a bite of some awesome southern bbq at Smoke on the Water. Located at 1 Augusta Street, this restaurant serves up big portions of southern comfort food. They are known for their smoked meats, so our crowd went with the combo plates which offered a selection of ribs, chicken, brisket, and pulled pork. They also deliver to each table four bottles of bbq sauces to experiment with and they are amazing!

Wake up early and head down to Main Street at McBee Avenue for Greenville’s Farmers Market called the Saturday Market. Grab a sandwich and coffee from one of the local vendors and don’t forget to grab a loaf of banana bread or an artisan bread to take back home.

Check out all the great vendors at the market, then head down to picturesque Falls Park. A sprawling park with amazing landscaping and winding paths. Walk some of the Swamp Rabbit Trail which can actually take you into Furman University.

After the walk, clean up and head over to visit Furman’s campus to cheer on the Palladins Football team and take in all the school spirit and lots of purple.

When your done cheering on the team, head back into town and start the night at Passerelle Bistro, a French inspired restaurant offering small bites and an amazing view of the Liberty Bridge and falls of Falls Park.

From the menu, we recommend the Today’s Cheese Tasting and the Charcuterie Assortment. Pair it with a bottle of Belllula Cabernet Sauvignon. And don’t forget to purchase some blueberry jam on your way out to take home.

Start the morning early again. Grab a granola bar, throw on your hiking boots, pack a light backpack with water and head over to Paris Mountain State Park.

We hiked the Sulphur Springs Trail which is a 3.6 mile loop. The terrain goes up hill and is a bit rocky at parts, so you get a bit of a workout. This trail is listed as strenuous, so if your looking for something a little less difficult, check out the website where they list a variety of easier trails.

Wrap up your workout and visit with breakfast at Tupelo Honey back downtown.  Try the Appalachian Breakfast and feast on the biscuits and jam that come with every order.

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