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  • Writer's pictureTina

Recently, inspiration has struck me with a heavy hand. For so many years, I have lived uninspired to tackle our farmhouse and all its projects. Finally, I feel ready to take charge of our home and make it my own. You see, dear reader, we moved into the farmhouse in 2014. Let’s just say the circumstances were not ideal. The transition of helping my mom move to her condo was not an easy one. I was struggling with my health, and the stress created by this situation exacerbated what I had going on in my body. I had to get our family settled into our new living situation and deal with my mother’s lifetime collection of stuff and her emotional hostility. It was a lot.

Before we moved in, I had everything painted a cream color; I removed the curtains, and that is where my remodeling ended. I was going for a calm, peaceful feel. What I achieved was a bland, boring atmosphere. My dad’s home office was restored to how it looked when he was alive; that is the only room I successfully completed. We have lived almost a decade in what I consider “transitional decorating.” If you know me well, you know I love a beautiful home. I believe the lack of inspired décor reflects my mental and emotional state. I felt raw, bruised, shut down, bland, and conflicted.

Moving into my dad’s farmhouse came with a lot of emotional upheaval. On the one hand, I wanted to keep things exactly as he had left them or return them to how they were when he was here. My dad doesn’t have a grave. There isn’t anything in this world that has his name on it. The company he worked a lifetime to build was destroyed and dismantled. I feel like people have worked to eradicate him and all he was from this world. This feeling weighs heavily upon me.

On the other hand, I strongly desired to create a home that works for our family. I wanted to create a home that reflects who we are and how happy we are to be a family. However, for many years all my energy went into holding my family together and trying to keep myself together. 2019 was a turning point for us. In 2019, our world imploded at so many levels. I feel as if 2019 was the final blow to a fragile balance. We were driven to our knees and had nowhere to go but up. Since then, we have put all our focus into building our little company. From developing products, growing our online presence, providing excellent customer service, and wearing so many hats that aren’t necessarily comfortable, we have given it our all. We've also concentrated on healing and making sure all is well with our little family.

Finally, I am at the point where I can look at our home, and I can see its potential. Initially, I felt like the only way I could make our house our home was to knock down parts of it and start over. Eric and I have lived through three major home remodels in the course of twenty years of marriage. When we lived in our big old house in Brookville, I was nine months without a kitchen. We lived in plaster dust, sawdust, paint fumes, and various degrees of upheaval. We did the same in our farmhouse in Punxsutawney. The idea of going through all that again has become very unappealing.

Eric wants to build a “hut” in the woods and turn the farmhouse over to Jordan. Jordan is only fourteen. We have no idea what she will do or where she will live as an adult. Realistically, I am looking at at least a decade of living in our farmhouse. I don’t need more house to maintain at this point in my life. However, I can’t stand the idea of living in our home as is. I have declared that we will move forward with an upstairs bathroom overhaul in the fall. That is as much chaos as I am willing to take on right now. In the near future, I plan to overhaul the kitchen, but for now, I can tolerate what is here.

Rather than rip and tear, add wings and more space, I have decided I can live with the house and its good bones. I merely need to decorate and add personal touches that reflect our family and that make sense for us. I am taking the same approach with my house as I did with organizing. If I don’t use it, it doesn’t bring me happiness or serve a purpose; it has to go. Holding on to things is not the same as holding on to people. Just because I keep my parent’s possessions or the house exactly as they left it, it doesn’t mean they are any more present in my life. My dad’s home office doesn’t make him any less gone. However, his home office brings me comfort. I now sit in the chair he sat in to read the paper and write my stories to you. The chair is worn leather and has seen better days. This chair was his favorite chair, and it has a greasy stain where his head used to rest. This chair brings me happiness, comfort, and peace.

Maintaining objects or rooms because it was something my mother created does not fill the void in my life. Paying homage to a woman who chooses not to be present in my or my child’s life does not bring me happiness or peace. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. I have decided to part with the things that constantly remind me of my lack of relationship with my mom. In doing so, I believe I will feel lighter, more free, and ultimately, happier. Idealistic or not, it’s my hope.

I’m sure this is a psychologist’s dream come true. I am also certain I will eventually visit my therapist over this “family baggage.” However, it’s moving forward, and it’s growth. Growth is hard. Change is difficult. Holding on to things in hopes of holding on to loved ones isn’t healthy. Instead, I have decided to make our home a reflection of us. I want to leave my daughter a legacy of happiness and healthy memories, not stuff that holds false hope or unrealistic expectations. In the end, it’s stuff. Stuff doesn’t matter; people matter. Positive relationships matter. Good energy matters. All this is what I hope to fill our home with and more.

My first project was to tackle our downstairs bathroom. It was a sad, cream-colored box. I removed the cherry chair rail and refinished it. I took my well-loved, long-collected antiques and reimagined them. I incorporated a theme into my plan that makes me smile. I love the old clawfoot tub, so it stays. I love the cherry wainscoting my dad installed, so it stays. However, everything else must go. I am not into primitives, so everything primitive must go. I bought new light fixtures, towel racks, and practical organizational tools. I painted the walls a lovely peacock teal and hung curtains, actual curtains.

It looks like a lovely little colorful gem in a sea of cream, and it makes me happy. I find myself walking into the bathroom and admiring my handy work just because it makes me smile. This feeling has inspired me to tackle the rest of our home. I have plans for each of our downstairs rooms. My mind feels clear and fresh, and I feel better. I also have a goal. I work well with deadlines and goals. My dear friend Trisha, her husband, and her mom are joining us for Thanksgiving this year. My goal is to have our home done in time for Thanksgiving. Trisha has seen my home in its raw state, and I know she doesn’t judge me. If anything, she understands me and where I am with all my emotional angst regarding our home. However, a goal, a date, is what I need to keep me on track and keep me moving forward. My friend Trish is good for me in so many ways. She is a testament that when loved ones leave us, God sends others to lift us and anchor us.

I should have taken “before” pictures to share with you. However, trust me; there wasn’t much to see. I will show you my after pictures. I know it might not be everyone’s taste, but it is mine and makes me smile. Jordan informed me I am going for a “dark, cottagecore aesthetic.” I’m not sure what that is, but I like the sound of it. I believe I will make my remodeling endeavors part of my blog posts. I might make it a series. I will do better about taking photos before, during, and after. I feel like I share a lot with you; you may as well join me on this journey.

I firmly believe that our environment impacts our physical and emotional well-being. An environment can inspire you, drain you, or stifle you. I am going for inspiration. I want to walk through my home and smile again. I want to be proud of my house again. I’m tired of feeling tired, sick, and stressed. I believe changing my environment will aid in my well-being. I adored my big old Victorian house in Brookville. I think I loved it so much because it had an integral part in helping me heal from the loss of my dad. I put all my pain, grief, sadness, and longing into that house. The hours it spent occupying my mind from the overwhelming pain I felt are appreciated. Not only did it act as a distraction, but it gave me time to reflect, process, and heal. I am going to take that approach with this house. Thank you for being part of my journey.

On this lovely summer Monday, stay safe, be smart, do what makes you happy, surround yourself with objects that make you smile, don’t confuse things for love or attachment, and of course, wash your hands.

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The Bibbed Wonder and The Bean have resumed their summer practice of camping out. In the past, they camped in our backyard because The Bean was afraid of the woods. However, now that she is fourteen, she has graduated to camping in a tent in the middle of the woods on our property. These two camping enthusiasts have created quite a cozy little campsite. They built a fire ring, installed a rope swing, moved the picnic table to their site, and have a cozy little tent on legs that they call home. They enjoy themselves, and I love it.

A big part of camping is campfire food. Of course, they cook hotdogs over the fire and make s'mores, but The Bibbed Wonder is a culinary enthusiast who has gotten very creative. This week, the food focus has been on mountain pies. For those not well versed in campfire cooking, a mountain pie is two pieces of bread with various fillings placed in a cast iron flat iron and cooked to golden perfection over an open fire. Some of our favorites are peanut butter, chocolate chips, and marshmallows. We also enjoy mountain pie pizza with pizza sauce, pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, and pizza toppings. This week, The Bibbed Wonder made us all cheeseburger mountain pies. The concept is pretty straightforward. One takes their favorite toppings, along with cooked ground beef, puts it all between two pieces of bread, cooks it to golden perfection, and enjoys.

Each evening, The Bibbed Wonder builds a fire, we haul all our meal preparations to the campsite, and we hang out as a family cooking over the open fire. It is fun and relaxing and the epitome of summer for us. The Heavy-B and I walk to the campsite and then back to the house when the meal ends. We leave The Bean and her dad to hang out and bond while we return to our Tempurpedic mattress in the air conditioning. It's a win for everyone. This week, I will share The Bibbed Wonder's Cheeseburger Mountain Pies. Enjoy.

The Bibbed Wonder's Cheeseburger Mountain Pies



1 LB. of Ground Beef, browned and cooked thoroughly

White Bread


Cheese of Choice




Salt and Pepper


Place a tablespoon of butter in the mountain pie maker, and melt butter over the fire.

Place bread on the cooking iron, fill it with toppings of your choice, and close and lock the cooking iron.

Cook over hot coals until the desired doneness is achieved.


It doesn't get any easier or more delicious, dear reader. If you have the chance, spend some time in nature. Don't be afraid to get creative with campfire cooking. Sit, relax, laugh, make memories, and enjoy each other. Also, wash your hands. Nature is messy; buy good soap...wink.

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This past month, I was able to spend some time camping out with The Bean. I would love to reflect on the primitive draw of the campfire and how the overhead stars remind you of how small you are in the universe's grand scheme. However, it has instead motivated me to speak up about some great wrongs.

Smaller portions. Our standard-size hotdog was more of a Slim Jim. Gone are the days of getting a decent share of overprocessed encased mystery meat. Now we have casing on bread with a smidge of actual meat. Not only did the price of a hotdog go up, but the actual size went down. Giant marshmallows are not as big as they were, and now special smores-sized sugar puffs must be purchased to make the melted treat correctly. They pass it off as healthy eating. I'm calling shenanigans.

This trend is not stopping at the campfire. After the great toilet paper shortage of 2020, the rolls got thinner. The manufacturers have discovered they can't make the paper thinner without consumers noticing. So they made the rolls themselves shorter. I know there has to be a boardroom somewhere that has repeatedly had the same ideas thrown out on how to make more money with T.P. The first company that comes out and says, "Yep, the price went up, but you are getting what you paid for," should triple in value. If this is not stopped, T.P. will resemble floss within a few short years. Is it too much of an indulgence to expect some standard? Everything I buy makes me feel like I am at an amusement park. I spent too much in the first place and didn't get what I paid for. I wonder if there was testing done that companies assess how much product can be taken away every year without being noticed by the consumer?

Another trend that drives me up a wall is customer service, or, more accurately, lack thereof. If your company is so big that every call starts with an automated system that reads out a dozen languages before you even begin, perhaps you should rethink your strategy Nothing gets my blood boiling as much as half an hour of pressing one because my previous selection was indeed correct. There is more automation replacing jobs every single day. It is happening to make lives easier, but who would have thought customer service would be the first on the chopping block? Sooner or later, there will have to be a breakthrough when companies realize, yes, we saved some money, but we are hated. Perhaps a friendly voice on the phone directing you to whom you need to talk to would be money well spent.

I refuse to use self-checkout. Another trend that I fully expected to be over by now. I realize it would be faster and more convenient almost every time I am in line. However, I cannot bring myself to make eye contact with a clerk and then do it myself. I could have ordered online to save the trip if I wanted self-checkout. The stores pushing self-checkout seem to go out of their way to chronically be understaffed, forcing more and more folks into their automated lines. They no longer care or worry about keeping shoppers happy. If a slight inconvenience can cause the results they desire, they win.

I also question the actual intelligence of artificial intelligence and all of these automated systems. It seems at least once a week, some expert claims artificial intelligence has become dangerous. We are past the point of no return for computers to take over. The entire security system of the internet is based on one question, are you a robot? The day we are indeed doomed, the robots will be able to lie on this question and select every traffic light in the picture. It leads me to question if these supercomputers can solve all of the world's problems; how are they stumped in a login? Is their primary purpose to calculate how much they can trim off toilet paper, hotdogs, and marshmallows before society crumbles?

Until next month, If you get a chance to sleep under the stars or enjoy a campfire, do it. Stock up on oversized hotdogs and marshmallows and enjoy the peace and quiet. Stay safe and wash well.

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