Farmhouse Project – Porch Roof

When we bought the old farmhouse, we decided to coat the roof because it was the original tin roof, and it was not leaking or damaged underneath, but needed protection since it was 100 years old at that time, and by now, 112 years old. Tin was the metal used back then, sturdy and durable, less pliable as well. Modern metal roofs are easier to bend and work with, and they come in a variety of styles, colors, and grades. They are more expensive than regular asphalt shingles, and they last a bit longer. We decided that when it was time to replace the roof, we would select a metal roof because the house was originally built for a metal roof. Shingles weigh about four times more, and being that the house is 112 years old, it makes sense not to add more weight to the top. However, that would mean for us to save the money for a new roof because it is a cash project, as it has been the rest of the house renovation, hence why it has taken longer to do. In the meantime, we decided to paint the porch roof because it was showing signs of deterioration and rust. It has been 6 years since the coating.

This project presented an opportunity to play with a favorite color and see if that color would work when it is time to purchase a new roof. I discarded the color black although it is the one that will make more sense if we decide to change the siding color in the future. Black looks more traditional, elegant, and put together, but it also attracts a lot of heat, and the upstairs ceilings are very low, so that would make the upstairs unbearably hot in the summer and not energy efficient. I also like copper or light brown, much lighter than black, and also neutrals, which would go very well with my favorite blue accents and the white siding. In the end, we decided to paint the porch roof the color that we liked more but were not sure how it would look in the long run or if we would become tired of looking at it. It is a test. After all, you cannot change a pricey roof once it is installed. We chose Glidden Premium French Country Blue for exterior applications and metal. We are happy with the results, and the porch looks a lot cleaner now, until it is time for a new roof. We decided to paint the side entrance awning and the steps as well, for continuity and balance. Here are some pictures of the project.

The new paint will also protect the coating that was applied six years ago. Notice the old way of installing tin.
Closer look of the color – Glidden Premium French Country Blue
We painted the side entrance steps and awning. Originally, the house did not have an awning, and the door entrance was completely rotted. My husband built the awning and now water does not cause any damage. Here’s a picture of the rotten door.
This was the side entrance before. Damage was extensive.
The old porch ceiling will be painted the same color. The bag filled with water and a few shiny pennies is something that is done in the South to get rid of flies and other flying insects. Restaurants do it to detract flies from coming inside. Someone told me about it, and I did not believe it at first but decided to give it a try. For some reason that I cannot explain, it works. I placed another bag at the opposite side, and one by the kitchen entrance. Flies and other critters are gone, but wasps do not seem to care.
Side view of the job done. This is a test, and later on we will decide if we will paint the rest of the roof, depending on how that particular paint performs.

We estimate the total cost of this project, including the entire roof of the house to be around $400.00. It presents a simple solution to protect the existing roof until it is replaced. After all, it is about simple living and simple solutions. It’s been a long way home.

Love and light.

Simple Beauty

The simple and pure beauty of flowers. A few pictures of what’s in bloom right now.

Photo by M.A.D.
Photo by M.A.D.
Photo by M.A.D.
Photo by M.A.D.
Photo by M.A.D.
Photo by M.A.D. I have no clue what this plant is, but I like it. If anyone knows please let me know in the comments. It started as one and it keeps fanning out.
Photo by M.A.D.
Even the recently trimmed old tree is starting to show signs of life. It was trimmed about a month ago. (Photo by M.A.D.)
The grape vine is growing beautifully. The idea is for it to wrap around the veggie garden. (Photo by M.A.D.)
My favorite shade of blue (Photo by M.A.D.)

Love and Light.

The Simple Life – Simplicity vs Lowering Your Expectations

Simplicity is at the core of living a simple life, along with frugality (not to be confused with poverty or lack), best use, gratefulness, and beauty, among many other things that I will write about on this blog, according to my experience. When pondering about this topic, it occurred to me that many people do not want to live a simple life; simplicity does not entice them, and that is fine too. Other people may have a misunderstanding of simplicity and may think that by embracing simplicity, or overall, a simpler existence, they will be lowering their expectations, standard of living and even quality of life. That is a misconception that may scare them away from simple living.

Simple living is about appreciating every aspect of one’s life, environment, and possessions. It is about only allowing what serves us now in our spaces and enrich our lives. It is about enjoying those aspects/things that will best fit our lives and also, making room for those things, dreams, aspirations … that will enrich more our life and the lives of others by default.

When we live a simpler, balanced life (not perfect) in turn, we can give more to others, whether that is materially, in time, or by giving of ourselves. For me, that is the opposite to lowering one’s expectations; on the contrary, it is about raising the bar because I am operating from a place and disposition, of generosity and gratefulness, and not of lack or disillusion. To put it in terms of the material as an example, when we live simply, we will bring into our environment that which we value (not necessarily monetary value). If I value durability in a product (clothes for example), I might forgo cheaply/fast made items which will cost less and will be easily affordable in quantity, and instead, bring one piece that will last for many years but will cost a bit more. This can be applied to every aspect because I am operating from a value system, what is important to me. This is far from lowering one’s expectations in life. Living simply opens space, time, and energy (mental, physical, even emotional) to welcome new opportunities and enrich our existence. This is far from lowering expectations.

Simplicity can be beautiful and breathtaking. (Photo by M.A.D.)

The Simple Life – Simplicity and Beauty

As I have slowly learned to embrace a much simpler life, I have also learned to find simplicity and beauty in the everyday flow. Easier said than done at times. When we are presented with good and rosy days, a lot easier, but more challenging when what we perceive is the not so nice or the ugly. Embracing a simple life taught me to find beauty and simplicity even in those circumstances. Never easy at the start, but willing, the focus and vision became clear, and I realized that even in less than perfect or idyllic circumstances, one can find something good, even beauty, and learn appreciation for what truly is. It is through challenges that we grow the most, although I believe that one can experience growth looking at a beautiful sunset or watching a fire, more so when in the midst of it. In both circumstances there is beauty and simplicity, that is, if we care to see in humility. I have experienced both extremes and can honestly say that from both there is much to learn and appreciate. I’ve found that simplicity and beauty are always present, inviting us to learn a life’s lesson. Maybe not so easy to recognize when we are in the midst of a challenge, when things don’t seem too pretty, when anger and bitterness dominate our thoughts and hearts, but much later on, when we have surrendered our will to God, and experienced a shift in disposition, acceptance, the beginning of clarity.

A clouded vision cannot see beauty, even when in front of it. A heavy heart cannot experience simplicity because it is burdened at the moment, in a complicated state, far away from simplicity. Only when we let go and open our mind and heart to receive a new beginning can we see the new dawn. In learning to live a simple life, I had to let go, but I received so much more.

Photo by M.A.D.

The Simple Life – Simplifying Your Space

In the pursuit of the simple life, most likely, the first thing we focus on is our physical space, our home. For the purpose of this post, I will refer to “space” as not only the physical aspect, but also, the space that extends to the mind, being that anything that occupies an important part in our life – goals, dreams, values, interests … I am not a minimalist, neither a tightwad, although sometimes I would like to be, but someone who likes and enjoys simplicity and strives for balance.

The desire for simplicity moves us to start decluttering our physical space. We start with the things we own, and by the time we are done, we find ourselves looking into other areas of life that go beyond – our future plans, finances, work, habits … In my experience, letting go of things could be overwhelming, more so if circumstances at the moment challenge other areas of my life. Change is never easy, even when it is welcomed. Sometimes, there is a catalyst to that change, an event, a person, or any other circumstance that might induce change at a quick or slow pace, and of course, that comes with a set of emotions and responses attached.

When striving for a simple life, decluttering our space is a good place to start. Letting go of what doesn’t serve us anymore or doesn’t honor our space anymore is a first step in the pursuit of simplicity. This step will prove challenging but necessary because it will exercise our will, as well as test it, and serve as training for when we move into other areas of life that are more complexed – habits, finances, goals and dreams, health … It is a process that will take some time and varies by individual. It is also continuous because we evolve in time. I can say that I am still in the process of letting go.

The items that are the hardest to let go are sentimental items, or represent a memory, even when these don’t serve us anymore. Instead of owning the sentiment or memory, we have placed it on the item. Letting go of gifts or things that cost much money is also challenging. Things that represent for us an ideal place or time in life are difficult, especially if it is something that we see ourselves doing/being in a future that is generally not planned for or mapped. We tend to internalize that ideal life as part of us even when it has not materialized. Even when we know that these things do not fit our lifestyle anymore, or are not being used anymore, or ever used, we want to hold on for fear of losing the dream. One thing that helped me in letting go of items in those categories was realizing that I was hoarding an item that someone else needed, and I did not need. When we can easily meet the need of another by letting go of something, we operate from a place of generosity as opposed to selfishness. Understanding this concept makes it easier to let go of these things that have a hold on us but do not have a place anymore in our home and life. During this process, I understood that I owned much more than I needed. I understood that my physical space should be a representation of where I am, not where I was or some distant place in my mind. That would be like living in my past or in a future that has not/will not materialize. This can be tricky because if my present circumstances are crappy or less than ideal, I don’t want things to be a representation of that; I want out of it. That is when the process of simplifying helps. Instead, I surround myself with the things that serve me now, have a purpose, fit my lifestyle better at the moment, and honor the person I am now. There is no shame on it; we all want to be better, and even when circumstances are not ideal, we can certainly “make room” in our lives to welcome better days. Living now doesn’t mean to stop dreaming and hoping. It is a spiritual journey, undergoing change.

Having less has made life easier and simpler in many ways; however, I am not done. I honestly can say that if I were to place all the items that I have let go in the past seven years in one location, I would be able to open a small thrift store. I am not proud of that. Although I am not a minimalist, I do live simply, and what is in my home has a purpose and is being used at the moment. When an item stops fulfilling its purpose or functionality, now I know it is time to let it go. When everything has a defined purpose and a place, I end up with less things to handle or that occupy my time and energy. At this point, I am comfortable with letting go of anything I don’t use. That includes things that will only have one use. For example, a kitchen gadget that I let go was a garlic press. It is something that has a single use, but not necessary, as I can do the same thing with something else. Another one was a lemon squeeze gadget. For me, these were not necessary items. Now, if I had a problem with my hands, arthritis for example, those items would be needed and would make life easier. This is an example of how individualized this process is.

The longer one lives, the more things one accumulates, and most of those items are not used anymore or do not fit an actual lifestyle. That is a green light to let these items go. Things that bring to mind bad or sad memories, regrets, guilt, or any less than positive feeling don’t belong in my space as well. Those feelings occupy valuable space in my mind/heart, space that is better filled with positive and good feelings/emotions. So where did I start? For me, clothes are one of the easiest things to let go as long as I keep only what fits me now, feels comfortable, and looks good on me. Anything else must go. Most likely, what has not been worn in a while will not be worn any time soon, another sign that it stopped serving its purpose and must go. If you don’t know where to start, this is an easier and less painful way to start.

We are conditioned to own things since childhood, and it is also in our nature as gatherers and collectors. Many of us follow patterns throughout the years, and for that reason, it is harder sometimes to let go. Where we come from, culture, socioeconomic status, country of origin … it all has to do with how we deal with stuff. If we want to live a simpler life, we can start one day at a time, one item at a time. One thing I understood and found interesting during this process is that there are items that we own out of habit or conditioning. An example for me were metal dishwashing pads. Although I found that they clean well, I really did not like them that much but used them and kept buying them. I did not like the metal/rusty smell and that some rusted fast. These also hurt my sensitive skin when I washed dishes. I don’t wear gloves and do not own a dishwasher. I was using these out of habit, but most important, there was a beautiful memory attached to these that I wasn’t aware of until I asked myself this question, “If I dislike them so much, why do I keep buying them?” The answer surprised me. It was the memory of my grandmother. She used them all the time, and I could visualize her in my mind, washing dishes in the kitchen. These metal sponges or pads had a pleasant memory attached that I would revisit in my memory every time I used them, whether I realized it or not. Once I understood that, I was able to keep the memory and ditch the sponges. That is just a simple example of how we end up keeping things we don’t even like in our space. Sometimes, it goes beyond the “use it or lose it” because it goes deeper than that. I was using the metal sponges. That is why looking for our responses to these situations is important and an eye-opening experience.

Moving to this place was a new beginning to a much simpler life. Every year I let go of more. Despite all the items I let go before the move, I feel that there is more room for improvement. So far, I have let go of many things since moving here, and over the past month I have boxed many more things that I don’t need anymore. We are planning a yard sale in the spring, and the proceeds will be used to fund a new workshop. The things that did not serve a purpose anymore will have a new one – make us some money for that project. These objects will serve a purpose in other people’s homes, whether these are sold or donated. These objects get a second chance, and so do I, living a much satisfying simpler life, and what can be simpler than that?

Whether clutter or habits, getting rid of these gives us space in our lives for inspiration, creativity and the pursuit of a more satisfying life.

The Simple Life – The Process

Photo by M.A.D.

Process – A series of steps, actions, or operations used to bring about a desired result. (American Heritage Dictionary)

For today’s post, I want to write about the process in pursuing the simple life. If you read the above definition of process, for me it was all that, and more, and I can honestly say that the process continues. It continues in the material, the mind, the physical, and the soul. If I go back to some of my posts about the simple life ten years ago, I see part of that process taking place in between words. For me the process was/is long, and I compare it to separating bolts and nuts into groups by size and form. Each person goes through their own bolts and nuts situation when pursuing simplicity in life. Although I am pretty sure that it might have started earlier than that, I can pinpoint the journey about over 10-12 years ago. Like any person with a brain would say, looking back, I could have done things much better, but that is always the case, isn’t it? Whatever brings you into the process, I have found that it is better to embrace the upcoming change with an open mind, in faith and hope, and focus one day at a time, whether that day brings a challenge or rest. Although not easy at first, a grateful attitude, and prayer, helps a lot. Depending on how you came into the process, willing or not, attitude is key, and it might make all the difference. Process will take as long as it has to. I can honestly say that now.

During the process, there will be highs and lows, a natural flow, and supernatural as well. Awareness is important, but many times our radar is a bit cloudy, and that is when prayer and a good honest attitude with ourselves help. I think that we are about to go through many challenges as citizens of this country, and of the world as well. It will be a process, in which we’ll need those two. But going back to my personal experience, I can say that this process started with the need of letting material stuff go, and that was the first tangible step that I took. I started decluttering my physical space, and eventually, decluttering other areas of my life as well – spiritual, financial … You have to start somewhere, right?

During this purge, the material stuff was the easiest to let go off, although not necessarily too easy. We accumulate things through a lifetime, and those things have memories, emotions, and feelings attached to them, so that is not so easy at times. The more we live the more we accumulate. I am still letting go of stuff, believe me. Every step takes you closer, and the more you let go, the freer and more satisfied you feel, to the point that you actually feel that there is nothing you really need, except for the important things in your life like God, people and values, beliefs… the not so tangible stuff. I can honestly say today that I could walk out of this house if I had to, and take nothing with me, and I will be fine, material stuff that is. I can appreciate beautiful things, like them, and enjoy them, but I am not tied to them as I might have been before. In the pursuit of the simple life, you learn to appreciate the good, the bad, and the ugly, although in the beginning you might not even like it or realize it, and even fight against it. The aha! moment comes later on, at least it did for me.

In ridding myself of much material stuff, I had to do it systematically, one step at a time; it was what worked for me back then. The process was a process in itself, if that makes sense. The method I used was to go room by room, and divide items into donating or give, selling, and trash. There wasn’t much in the trash category, but I started by selling stuff in three steps. We would use the money to put towards our upcoming move out of state. That added to the motivation. First, I sold things online. What didn’t sell online ended up on various yard sales, and what did not sell in a yard sale, we sold at a flea market in two occasions. At the end, we gave away the stuff to sellers that did that continuously for a living, and they were appreciative. I also gave stuff to family and donated an entire room full of stuff to a veteran’s organization in three different load trips at the beginning of the process. It took time and effort, and it certainly did not feel good in the beginning. Once we moved out here and were settled in the home after fixing up the place (you can check out that process under the topics farmhouse restoration, the simple life, or restoring an old farmhouse) I realized that there was still much more to let go, and I was able to give and donate much more. This process continues until today. After living here for about 6 years, I find that there is much more that I can do in this area. After all, it is a different space and a different lifestyle, and the time was necessary to understand what works and what doesn’t work in the new setting. It also let me explore new possibilities and understand why some of the stuff is not a good fit anymore. I will write about that in much detail. The next blogpost will be about simplifying your space, and it ties to this one. I hope you enjoyed this post.

The process continues until today.

Life’s Staircase

By the end of the year, I find myself looking back, reminiscing of the year, and years back. It is an exercise I welcome; it opens one’s mind and perspective. Whether good moments or less than good moments, it all makes up the big picture, an entire year that turns into memories. It makes me think of life as a staircase. You either go up or down, or sometimes you get tired and rest in the middle. Sometimes, you take one step and back up many, and sometimes, it feels as if you never took one single step, even when you have taken many.

Some people have more steps to take or climb than other people, or it seems. Once you take the first step, you want to go up, even when you don’t know what awaits. During the climb, one defines the staircase, its shape and style, its design, or maybe it has been already defined in part, and our job is to climb it, putting our own print and style on it with the decisions and indecisions we make. It may be winding or straight up, see through or solid, wide steps or narrow. It reminds me of a line from the old TV show The Honeymooners. Norton said, “Be nice to the people you meet on your way up, because they are the same people you will meet on your way down.” Falls hurt, ones more than others. Stumbles are scary, especially the further up you are.

One thing brings comfort. If you don’t like where it is going, it is ok to turn back down. Eventually, you will reach the last step, and inevitably, you will think of the first, and all in between.

“I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts.”

Psalm 119:45

A Few Culprits

There have been a few rainy days, two good soakers, and cool weather seems to be settling down. It seems that the veggie garden is done, not a good year; most plants died or did not produce. While collecting the last of the veggies, I spotted a few caterpillars that have made the garden their home. We cut the stems and relocated them to another part of the property, not wanting to harm them.

The end of the tomato plants. The caterpillars had a good breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
We counted four large ones. I have no idea what the white egg-like things in their backs are.
A closer look at one almost cute caterpillar.
The last of the cucumbers and carrots.
Believe it or not, some of these are supposed to be full size tomatoes that did not grow to their full potential, and a few grape ones.
And turning the page, I move on to welcoming Autumn, in its dance of light and shade, one of my favorite things.

And as one season ends another starts, and for me, the end of a dry spell. The other day, while sitting, I had an urge to write, almost as an urgent call, so I grabbed pen and paper and was able to write an entire chapter; it has been quite a long time, but the dry spell is broken.

Autumn Ready

A few weeks left of summer … welcome Autumn! I am ready, and over the past few days, I have enjoyed a few cool days and nights around here. It has motivated me to do a few things around the porch, transitioning seasons, as well as a delicious meal using what we have collected from the veggie garden, although it hasn’t been much this year due to the hot and dry weather.

My husband made this sign for me from recycled wood. It is what we named the place. Plenty of crows around here year round.
Even during this downpour they are enjoying themselves. No other birds around playing in the rain.
Across the road, what looks like a portal to another world/dimension.

Gardening was challenging and not bountiful this year, and many plants are done by now, hence why transitioning to autumn is a natural next step for me, as there seem to be less chores around here for some reason. There were fewer cuts of grass; it just wasn’t growing fast, but my husband was happy about that I guess. In the meantime, there are a few projects that are up in the air, waiting to be done as time and money allows. I will share a few here. Hope you enjoyed this post.

Common Ground

Realizing that we are more alike than different does not come easy, especially when everything around you is telling you the opposite – news, financial status, social media, protests, our own views of the same … Sometimes, one thing, one incident, something you heard or saw, reminds you that in the end we all want the same things. We want to be loved and love, we want to be safe, we want to prosper, we want joy and happiness, we want a happy home, we want to be fed properly, we want to have fun, we want to help others and be givers, we want to care … Sometimes, in the pursuit of those same things we become boulders in the path of others, and in the one to our own journey. Sometimes, it is so hard to understand one another, but what makes it a bit easier is realizing that we all want the same things. In illuminating our own road, we can also be a light for others.

Photo by M.A.D.