Vacation: Days 6-7

Well, here it is, the end of my time off and I’m behind on blog posts.

On Thursday, I spent the day at home working on a few projects around the house and beginning work on my oldest son’s T-shirt quilt for his dorm room. My mom and I got a good start on that  — until we ran out of interfacing and had to quit until I can get more ordered online. I count 100 T-shirts I saved from school, Scouts, sports and music groups and events from the time he was in kindergarten. There should be plenty for a quilt (possibly front and back!).

Friday I was back at the farm.


First coat of poly is finally on the stairs!

It wasn’t a super eventful day. More of the same, it seemed: I got a first coat of primer on the West room closet, put a second coat of poly on the upstairs hallway and a first coat on the stair treads. All necessary work, but a bit unexciting.

One of the most exciting parts of the day was my first injury of this project (unless you count sore thighs from crouching while scrubbing floors, which I won’t). Luckily it wasn’t nearly as bad as I first feared. I was trying to open a window a bit wider to turn a box fan to blow into the room. As you might imagine, the window sashes don’t all slide smoothly, so it jammed a bit and when I pushed upward on it, I managed to smash the middle and ring fingers of my left hand between the upper and lower sashes… and the window trapped them there. I panicked and yanked on them, but they stayed firmly between the sashes until I pulled the lower sash back down with my right hand. I thought for sure I’d have a nasty bruise under my fingernail (I’ve seen my dad deal with those a few times and it wasn’t pretty), so I immediately iced my hand and took ibuprofen and soon continued with my work. The fingers were sore at the joint for a couple days, so I think I had a minor sprain, but nothing major, and I’m fine now.

Another bit of excitement was clearing the last of the mayo and spaghetti sauce jars from the basement. Bri’s grandparents had quite a collection there, accumulating dust and dead spiders, so I’ve been bringing dozens back to town to recycle. I actually love old jars, so I left all of the canning jars, old blue Mason jars and some that were pressed glass and cool shapes. The rest came back to town with me.  I’ve spared you the horror of the jar that I found with 3 or 4 mummified frogs in it. I suspect some child may have collected them in the jar years ago, set them on the shelf and they were sadly forgotten. Sorry frogs!

I also got the last five bags of aluminum cans out of the basement this week and recycled them, bringing the grand total to about $25 made on the cans. Thanks, Grandpa!

While none of the projects may be really exciting or photogenic, it was still really satisfying to cross a couple more things off my lists. And Brian and I made some more exciting progress on Saturday. Stay tuned!



Vacation: Days 2-5

Days off always seem to go so quickly!

Since my last post, we had Brian’s 95-year-old great-aunt visit us at the farm on Sunday. What a treat that was for all of us! She came in with photocopies of pictures of the family and farm as well as images from magazines of items that used to be at the farm.

She walked through every room in the house, including the musty basement and told us her memories of the house: who’d slept in each room, where the potato bin was in the basement (and that they’d eaten potatoes at every meal), how they used a cistern pump for clean water in a sink in the bathroom that was then dumped into the “slop” bucket to be tossed outside later. She said she didn’t think she’d been to the basement since she was in high school, so she was excited to see if things looked like she remembered. She even knelt down at the floor grate on the second floor to show us how they’d kneel down to listen in on the adults’ conversations when company was visiting.

It was so nice to hear her memories of the house and farm from her firsthand and I think she enjoyed being back in her childhood home and seeing the progress we’re making toward making it the family hub again.

On Monday, I brought my parents out for their first visit to the farm. We took a roundabout route, stopping in the nearby larger town for some antiques and thrift shopping (no big treasures were found this trip) and lunch at a local restaurant before going to the farm.

As we’ve mentioned before, my parents are a wealth of information for remodeling for Brian and I. They’ve worked on every home they’ve lived in and I grew up in a house built around the same time as the farm house was. I wanted their advice on a couple of upcoming projects at the house: the siding and the windows.

We walked around the house and looked at the worst of the rot on the window frames and siding. We’re all in agreement that a couple of the window frames need to be completely rebuilt. Some of the rot has migrated into the siding, but it may only be one piece, so Dad said we could probably just remove and replace that one. He also thinks that the house can be repainted, though it’ll take a lot of scraping to get it ready. It looks like we’ve got a plan for our big projects before the snow flies. Now, to find the time to tackle them.

On Tuesday, I stayed at home and spent much of the day with my oldest, shopping for supplies for his dorm room and helping him begin to round up books for his classes.

Yesterday was another day on my own at the farm. Well, not completely alone, since I got to visit with Bri’s uncles and aunt throughout the day. His uncles have started the wheat harvest, but it started to rain, so they all came in to chat over strudel that was brought by their cousin on Sunday.  I’m not sure that there’s much that could be better than visiting over strudel on a rainy afternoon after a full day of work.

I puttered around the house most of the day, trying to figure out exactly what should be the priority for my time. With so many projects on my list, it’s often easy to get distracted each time I go into a new room.


Good thing my hairdresser cancelled my appointment Tuesday. Hair care is clearly moot for me.

I spent the majority of my time finishing the painting in the East room’s closet. The old beadboard is cool, but so very dark, so I primed and painted it from top to bottom. My youngest had put the first coat of primer on the walls weeks ago and I did a second coat yesterday, then primed and painted the floor, too. The slanted ceiling made it a challenge, and I ended up (as I usually do) with paint on myself from head to toe.

I also cleared some more empty jars from the basement. I’m leaving all of the cool old jars that I hope to use to store different kitchen staples eventually. But the old mayonnaise and other nondescript non-canning jars are being hauled back home to be recycled.

While down there, I brought up a few random plates and this pretty pitcher that were covered in dust on the shelves. The pitcher cleaned up beautifully. That’s one great thing about not having a dishwasher: the colors on the Pyrex and other kitchenware still have vibrant colors.

The other big accomplishment of the day was getting our central air fixed. We’re lucky to have central air on the main floor and one upstairs bedroom, but it wasn’t cooling much, which made it uncomfortable on the 90+degree days recently. So, a repairman visited yesterday, refilled the coolant and put in some stop-leak solution that seemed to take care of things nicely. It should make it much more pleasant to work and visit the house with the air working again!

For today, I’m staying in town for a dentist appointment and to get my mom’s help on a T-shirt quilt for my oldest so he’ll have something to cover his bed when he moves out in a couple weeks!

I hope to make it back to the farm tomorrow to check a few more things off my lists!

Vacation Day 1: Tidying up


The East room quilt is a plus pattern, using $3 fill from the thrift store, fabric from a curtain from my childhood bedroom, a couple pieces of fabrics from Brian’s mom’s stash when she passed away and some of the hundreds of spools of thread I’ve acquired from his grandmother’s collection.

Woo hoo! I have a week off from my full-time office job and have been looking forward to spending a lot of time at the farm.

I’m trying not to set my expectations too high so I don’t get frustrated by not checking everything off a massive list. Brian works all week, so I’ll be on my own most days.

We’re looking forward to a special visitor tomorrow, so today I went out the the farm to tidy up a few things. Brian’s great-aunt is coming to visit us. She’s Bri’s grandfather’s last living sibling and grew up in the house we’re fixing up, so we’re looking forward to hearing her memories of the house and how it’s evolved in her 95 years.


Most of my work was making the upstairs bedrooms look more like finished rooms. They’re not finished, but they’re definitely getting closer.


I finished my second quilt for the house this past week (and vowed to never attempt a king-size quilt again) and put that in the East room.


The North room quilt used a torn sheet that I nabbed from my grandparents’ house, some moss green sheets that I’d used as curtains in our first house, and some fabric from my stash.

I hung curtains in the North room. The curtains actually sheets that we used as curtains for the bay window in our old house. I cut a couple up for the quilt in the room, then used a couple more for the curtains. The quilt ended up a bit smaller than I’d intended, so it’s at the foot of the bed, over a comforter my mom had given me several years ago. The bedskirt in the room is one that I’d apparently given her a few years ago (but don’t remember at all) and she no longer needed it, so she gave it to me for the farm.

I have to tell you… I used the iron that I found in the laundry room/bathroom of the farm and I’d bet it’s from around the 1960s. Holy cow, does that thing kick wrinkles’ butts! It’s big, heavy and was SO HOT to work with in 90-degree weather, but I’m kind of in love with it!

There’s plenty more projects to take care of, but I’ll keep you all posted on the progress I make this week!


Not ready to farm … yet


My 3-foot by 6-foot raspberry bed.

When Bri and I began talking about taking on his grandparents’ farm house, we started dreaming about the things we could do with the place. Would it just be a weekend retreat? A full-time home? A hobby farm? Could we grow grapes for wine? Raise bees for honey? The ideas were endless from the possible to the ridiculous.

I’ve enjoyed gardening in our yard in town for several years. We have an odd nook in our yard that’s fenced and hidden from the areas where we grill, swim and lounge, so it’s been a great spot for my eight raised garden beds.

A few years ago, I planted a few raspberry canes in one of the beds. Who doesn’t like berries? My parents had a large shelterbelt around the yard of the small acreage that I grew up on and my dad added hundreds of trees over the years, including many fruit trees and berry bushes that we enjoyed during the years they lived there.

I thought that if I planted the raspberries in raised beds, they might not spread quite so badly… that was a bust, so we’re constantly pulling up or mowing suckers.

We finally had a few raspberries 3 summers ago. They were great, but as soon as they got really ripe, they were infested with beetles. I learned that if we picked them when they were red, but not purple, we could save them.

Last year, though, the fruit flies showed up. We noticed a lot of them on the raspberries, which didn’t seem like a big deal, until my youngest noticed the worms inside the berries. Ugh. So disgusting.

I did some research and found out they’re called Spotted Wing Drosphila. The state extension service information was not promising. The flies lay their eggs in the berries before they’re ripe, so just around the time that they’re perfect to eat, the insides are filled with squirming worms. They’re not dangerous to eat, but who wants to eat fly larvae? Yuck.

There are pesticides to try, but from what I could figure out, you need to put them on the fruit, but you can’t eat the fruit for several days after spraying… longer than it takes for the fruit to ripen and rot on the canes. So that seems useless. And I’m not crazy about the idea of eating berries covered in chemicals.

I also read that having good air flow and sunlight help fend off the flies, so we tried to thin the canes well this spring, but they grow so quickly that the patch was soon crowded and thick with new canes again.

This summer I had high hopes that we’d have lots of healthy berries. The bushes were covered and the first few raspberries were tasty and worm free. I was looking forward to canning some jam.

But it was not to be. I soon started seeing the flies… and then the worms. *sigh* I read


The flies might not seem like a big deal, but their worms inside are pretty disgusting.

again, looking for other ideas to deal with the flies, but I didn’t find anything new.

I picked raspberries, inspecting each one carefully to check for worms, but on Monday night, I threw out more than I kept, wondered how many of the ones that I thought were fine were actually infested, and decided I’d had enough. I started pulling out the canes.

I decided that it was less depressing to have no raspberries, than to have hundreds that we’d never want to eat.

So, I went to get Brian and we pulled out the entire patch.

I thought of our family members who are farmers and the frustrations of weeds, pests and weather that they have to deal with every year. We won’t have a few jars of jam as a result of the flies, but they could lose an entire year’s revenue with an ill-timed storm.

So for now, I’ll stick with the tomatoes in my garden and my 40+ hours-per-week desk job, rather than considering making my living from honey, berries or wine. But I’m going to keep dreaming about bees and grape vines on the farm.


The end of the raspberries… For this year, at least.

Successes and frustrations

IMG_20170701_110139July is going to be a bit overwhelming for me at work, so I wanted to take a few days off last week while I could at the end of June. I had very high hopes for my 5 days off and lists and lists of plans for my time at the farm. Brian will tell you I often over-estimate what’s possible to complete in an allotted time frame and when it was time to leave on Friday evening — after 3 days of work on the farm — I was in a funk.

While it was thrilling that we finally had a flushing toilet, I’d hoped to have the kitchen and bathroom clean by that time, baseboards installed and painted in the two bedrooms we’d finished the floors in and furniture in those rooms, with the early stages of decorating. None of those things were completed and I was pretty cranky about it.

Cleaning the kitchen and everything in it just took far longer than I’d ever expected. And as we dug through closets and cabinets, we kept finding items that belonged in the kitchen, plus we kept dumping other random items in the kitchen, so it was hard to work around them.

Luckily, my fantastic co-worker, Alicia, reminded me that we really haven’t been working on the house for very long, we’d had a graduation to plan for and host and we both have full-time jobs. She told me to cut myself some slack. It’s what I needed to hear.

I attacked some weeds in my garden, apologized to Bri for my surliness, then worked with him to prioritize the projects for the rest of the weekend.

IMG_20170701_110204Saturday morning I was refreshed, planning to getting things done and looking forward to fireworks and a first night in the house. After dealing with the sewer and well problems, sanding, scrubbing and wiping,  I decided that the house needed a bit of beauty in it.  I stopped along the highway and cut some alfalfa and sweet clover from the ditches and wandered over to a low spot in the yard for cattails and long grasses. I knew that all of my farming relatives and in-laws would probably be amused by me decorating with “weeds,” but they made me smile each time I looked at them.

And by the time Brian arrived back on the farm that evening (after running back to town to pick up our sons, who’d worked Saturday), I was happy with the day’s accomplishments: Brian had stained the 2 bedrooms, I’d installed the baseboards in another (though not the second one I’d hoped to), nearly finished cleaning the kitchen (there’s still a couple small items to deal with), scrubbed the bathroom floor and emptied the bathroom cabinets, made the beds and brought up a few nightstands and lamps.

As Bri grilled our dinner and the boys began lighting some fireworks, we enjoyed our first sunset and the quiet of the evening. Four days of exhausting physical work were just what I needed to prepare mentally for the busy month ahead at work.

Feeling spice-y

While tidying the kitchen, I cleared out a number of cabinets, including the one containing all of Brian’s grandparents’ spices. It was quite an assortment of items.

I know that his grandpa hadn’t done much cooking — or probably baking — in the years after his grandma died, so most were expired by at least 4 years. As Brian pointed out, most spices should be replaced after 6 months (we certainly don’t always adhere to that, but Bri does all the cooking in our house and seems to move through spices quite regularly).

We were amused by the enormous bulk-size containers of nutmeg, ginger and chili powder. And ground cloves! The whole cabinet smelled of the cloves.

We were particularly interested in the mustard seed priced 23 cents and red peppers priced 29 cents. And the pickling spice that was best used by April 2, 1988!

IMG_20170618_131724We decided that there were a few items that were probably fine to continue using, including the onion salt container at right. The onion salt appeared past its prime, but the jar is pretty cool and will likely come in handy for another spice or mixture later!

A full day on the farm

The day before Father’s Day, Brian made plans to spend the day golfing with his dad and brother. Since I knew I’d be on my own, I figured I may as well spend the day at the farm.

IMG_20170618_191601After Brian’s last septic adventures, he found some main line drain cleaner that we hoped might take care of whatever the blockage was.  The only issue was that it needed to sit in the lines for 8 hours, then be flushed with hot water for 5 minutes. I planned my day’s strategy around that 8-hour window.

Our youngest was at work all day, but our oldest has been waiting to be scheduled at the job he was hired at recently, so he opted to help me, rather than go golfing (what a kid!). We threw sodas in the cooler, picked up a ready-to-bake pizza and hit the road.

When we got to the farm, I immediately went to the basement to open the cleanout to pour the cleaner in. There was water (let’s just imagine that it was only water, shall we?) in the line, which started running out as soon as I loosened the cleanout. I’ve seen Brian’s posts about what happens next, just like you all have, and I decided that was not for me. I closed it back up and headed upstairs to dump it down the tub drain instead (which was an option listed on the bottle).


This stuff says it’s guaranteed to work or our money back. I’d rather have a working toilet than that money back!

Our oldest and I started the clock… we knew 8 hours of work would be a full day, so we hoped to head out immediately after successfully running hot water. … Which brings up another issue: the hot water heater also needs a repair. Several weeks ago, Brian noticed that it was leaking and needs a new relief valve, but hasn’t gotten to it yet. So, I turned the hot water heater back on and hoped it would get hot — but not so much that it started leaking again.

Our oldest and I headed up to the second floor to check out how the floors that we stained the previous weekend turned out. I briefly glanced at the East room, which as good as expected, since they’d taken it down to the raw wood, then went to the West room. It looked pretty darn good, too, without nearly as much effort.

I heard my oldest cursing suddenly and rushed back to the East room, where he pointed to the floor. He’d walked across it to check every corner and made big, dusty footprints on the floor. I assured him it was fine and put rags under my sandals to shuffle across the room, wiping them away.

I prepped the polyurethane and got started on the West room. Since the can said it would take 4-6 hours to dry between coats, I knew I should be able to get two coats down in our 8 hours at the house.

IMG_20170617_124343If you’ve never used poly before, a couple tips: NEVER shake your can of poly. It will cause bubbles that you don’t want in the finish of your floor. And on a related note: Get a decent applicator to put the poly on the floor. We used a cheap floor mop once and every time you pushed on it, it made bubbles in the poly. You can use a brush, but that’s a lot of stooping over or kneeling, so I prefer the applicator shown at left, which you can screw onto a mop handle. Use the brush for edges, corners and brushing out any bubbles you see. It took me just under an hour to put the first coat in the West room and half an hour to do the East room. I left the windows open and put fans at the doorways to aid drying.

I then gave our oldest the go-ahead to start sanding the North room. Because of the wet poly, he had to close himself in the room with a fan in the window and a towel at the base of the door so none of the sanding dust would get into the newly finished floors.

I headed down to the kitchen to continue cleaning cupboards and dishes. I set our camping dish pans in the sink and got to work (I couldn’t bear to work out of the tote on the floor that our youngest dealt with last weekend.) We may not be able to run water in the drains or flush the toilet, but we have running water — as long as we don’t run it too long (the well is going to be another issue to deal with soon. *sigh*).

It was satisfying to finally clear the countertop of all the stuff we’d be piling on it for the past few months and put clean dishes and glasses into clean cabinets. I didn’t get through all of them, but I got through a lot of them!

We did also fire up the oven for that pizza and though it may run a bit hot, it got the job done, so that’s on thing we don’t have to put on the “fix immediately” list.

We also had a heavy rainstorm during our day. I’m not sure how much it was, but it was enough that I was really glad that the new roof was on and doing its job!

Soon it was time for that second coat of polyurethane on the floors, which went without a hitch. I did a light sanding and mopping, then put the second coat down (with the rainy weather, I couldn’t get decent photos, so they’ll have to wait for the next visit).


Our final chore of the day was to run hot water down the drains to clear the sewer line. Let’s just say that it went about as well as we all suspected it might. The hot water ran for a minute or so, then the toilet started bubbling, I ran down to the basement to see water running down the wall from the tub’s drain pipe.

Gah. I knew Bri would be unimpressed. We continued trying to run water through the two sinks, but they backed up, too.

I guess we’ll be searching for more ideas on fixing the sewer system (that hopefully won’t involve digging up the entire septic system).


Different methods, common goal.

Knowing that it took Brian and our oldest several hours to complete the sanding in the relatively small East room on Saturday, we realized that all four of us would need to pitch in to make headway on the floors. We picked up a fourth sander — an orbital to add to our arsenal — so we could each have one to use.

I know some of our friends and families have questioned why we didn’t rent a larger floor sander to tackle this chore. Frankly, it came down to two things: fear and frugality.

  1. Fear: We were worried that a large drum sander would tear up these old floors. I don’t think these upstairs are a hard wood. I’m not adept at identifying woods, but these seem softer, like a pine — or fir has been suggested, too. Since we refinished the floors in our first house using only small sanders on our hands and knees, we knew we could do it again and not do much more damage to them.
  2. Frugality: We had most of the tools we needed and borrowed a second belt-sander from my dad. We did check into renting a large orbital sander (which wouldn’t be as aggressive as the drum sander), but we couldn’t rent it just for a day — it would have had to have been for the entire weekend at around $280 — so we decided to put that money into the sandpaper and new small orbital sander instead.


    Our youngest seems to enjoy sanding about as much as his mother.

Brian and our oldest continued work on the East room, taking the floor down to it the nearly bare wood. Our youngest and I decided to take a different approach in the West room, which is the largest bedroom in the house. Since I knew we’d be staining the floors dark again, I decided to take the easier route. We used the orbital and finishing sanders to just take the surface and any paint splotches off the West room floors.

We quickly moved around the room and finished sanding about the same time Brian and our oldest decided they were done.


The west room just got roughed up, not a complete strip

It was time to try the stains. I’d picked up three colors in both samples and quarts to try on the floors (it’s really hard to color-match at the hardware store and hour away from the house with nothing to refer to but memory, so I figured I’d return the quarts of the ones we rejected). Though the floors are dark, Ebony was immediately off the table and we tried out Jacobean and Dark Walnut. Either would have probably been fine, but Dark Walnut won out and we started getting it on the floors. I took the West room and Brian took the East.


It was a bit tempting to leave the floors a lighter color, but we knew the darker stain would help hide the floors’ 100 years of wear and tear.

We decided on letting the stain soak in for about 5 minutes, which was about how much time it took me to stain 3 boards  — then I’d move back to my starting point and start wiping it back off. Bri did the same. Being on his knees all day the day before, though, started to take its toll and he called in our oldest to finish things off.

Brian’s Note: Erin’s being kind here. Being on my hands and knees the day before had all but crippled me. By the time this photo was taken, my knees hurt so badly that every SINGLE moment was a fresh hell. I persevered until about 2/3 of the way through the room. At that point, our oldest could see how much I was struggling and volunteered to take over. As much as I wanted to see the project through, I let him. Relieved of the duty, I sat in the south room, scraping linoleum, and crying tears of joy 🙂

I don’t think our oldest minded, since he was trying to scrape chunks of the old linoleum off the South room’s floor.

He and I wrapped up both rooms and we had JUST enough Dark Walnut stain to finish both rooms. We’re anxious to see if both floors — with our two different sanding techniques — look good after everything dries.

Oh… and for those of you anxiously waiting to hear more of Bri’s septic system adventures… he avoided everything having to do with the toilets and sinks on this day!




Free furnishings

IMG_20170513_172719As I’ve mentioned before, we’re trying to keep costs low on our renovations at the farm. Our oldest will start college in the fall and his younger brother is just three years behind him. And frankly, Bri and I dream more and more of retirement.

Luckily, I come from a frugal family line. I love to spend my Saturday mornings hitting garage sales with my mom in the summer. I make the loop of thrift stores (and have been known to seek them out in new towns on road trips) all year round. And I keep an eye on the curbs as I drive to and from work each day.

Luckily (?) I have a ridiculous amount of “stuff” stashed around our current house that will go out to the farm. Extra sets of sheets, curtains and pillows; excessive numbers of chairs and side tables; and kitchen items that were being held for the boys’ first apartments. All of them will be used in the new, old house.

Recently, after a Saturday morning of hunting for deals at rummage sales, I dropped my mom off at home with her day’s treasures, then went trolling. I’d remembered that it was graduation day at the university in our city, so I figured there would be plenty of people packing up and moving out of houses and apartments. My instincts were right and I found a couple good piles beside the Dumpsters (I’m not generally brave enough to peruse what’s IN the trash bins — at least not in daylight).

I left some items behind (no need for a round dining table and I’ll pass on second-hand mattresses), but found all of the items above that we should be able to use at the house.

I’m hoping the pair of chairs may someday sit on the porch I’m dreaming of for the farm house. I shoved the entire cushions into my washing machine and dryer and they came out much fresher, but will probably end up with new covers at some point. IMG_20170513_173041The cut-glass lamp is a bit froo-froo for my style, but it was free and will work well as a bedside lamp (the pleated shade will be replaced or recovered as soon as possible, though). The little table has a drawer, so it’ll be handy in a bedroom or living room — after I do a bit of refinishing on the stained and scratched top. The fan was filthy, but quiet, and after some disassembly and cleaning, it’ll be handy in a bedroom (there’s central air on the main floor and one bedroom upstairs, but I’ll bet it gets a bit steamy in the summer). The waste basket was in a free pile at a rummage sale that morning.

IMG_20170513_172758And the art? I told my oldest it was going in his dorm room next fall. It says “Purrr-fect Angel” on it. He was unimpressed, but I couldn’t help but taunt him with it. The frame is actually pretty nice and Brian’s a great photographer, so the kitty will get tossed and I’ll frame something else when we get to the decorating stage of the project.

I’ve still got my eye out for inexpensive ceiling fans (for those hot bedrooms) and area rugs (for the many rooms with hardwood floors). And heck, my mom found a brand-new Pella window for our first house, so I’ll even keep my fingers crossed for a bunch of new windows for the farm! We’ve got plenty of time to look for everything we need!

Goodbye pink!


The countdown is on for our oldest son’s high school graduation in a few weeks, so we’ve been working on a few things at our home in town. I’d planned to wait to take furnishings out to the farm until after we’d finished more of the painting and cleaning, but I’ve been accumulating things in a stack in our basement utility room and it was becoming overwhelming and had to go.

So, on Mother’s Day, I asked our sons if one of them was willing to help me take a load of stuff to the farm. Our oldest was heading to a play performance and Brian was out of town, but the youngest volunteered to help me. I thought he might only be willing to unload, but when I asked if he thought we should do some work while we were out there, he said, “We should paint the hallway.” I was hoping he’d say that!

So, we loaded up the minivan and headed to the farm. It didn’t take long to get everything into the main floor bedroom, which we’re using as our staging area (to try to keep things from spreading throughout the entire house while we’re working), then it was time to get to work.

We got the tarps and drop clothes spread out and I started doing edging while my son started rolling out the walls. We’re using the same grey that we used in the south and west bedrooms. As I mentioned in a previous post, the farm wasn’t


My $10/gallon shades of grey that I mixed to create the color for two bedrooms and the hallway on the second floor.

exactly in our plans (we’ve got one son headed to college in the fall, another just 3 years behind him and we’re already dreaming of retirement), and the farmhouse needs some big-ticket items, so I’m doing what I can to keep the interior expenses to a minimum. While I spent more than $100 on the primer (that was a disappointment), I saved money by shopping the mistints area of the home improvement store and found four gallons of similar (but not identical) grey paint. I poured all four gallons of the grey together and mixed them well with the paint mixer attached to our drill. It’s been covering really well and I’m happy with the color (and the $10/gallon cost!).

We worked steadily for a few hours and eventually my son caught up to me and did some touch-up work on the ceiling before attempting edging for the first time. He did a great job for his first time edging. And I assured him that it takes some practice to get good at.

We also faced the challenge of painting over the stairs. Most of it was reachable with the extension poles on the paint roller, and a bit of ladderwork on the stairs (which made this mom get a little bit nervous).  I also showed him a trick that I learned from my late brother, who worked as a house painter for several years, and we taped a paintbrush to one of the extension poles and carefully edged the ceiling and upper wall with that. We debated whether that was “Schulzing it up” or a legit house painter trick. Either way, I always think of my brother when I pull out the paintbrushes and drop clothes, so it brings back sweet memories.

After a few hours, I was starting to tucker out, but my son really wanted to finish the project, so we pushed through and got it done! We may have a little bit of touchup the next time we’re at the farm, but I’m content to cross this project off the list! I can’t wait to get a fresh coat of bright white paint on the trim, but I feel like what we’ve already done has really brightened up the second floor!