How to Make a House a Home (decorating styles)

The thought of starting over both exhausts and excites me.  I am moving to a simple box of a home with an acre of wildness.  I asked a friend of mine who lives out there about wildlife.  “I suppose I will be back with wildlife,” I wrote.  “Deer?  Coyotes?” I ventured.

She wrote back, “Deer, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, bears, mountain lions, hawks, owls.”

My chickens are toast, I thought.

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Outside of fencing in the chickens, the rest of the gardens will wait.  Fencing, soil, amendments, and careful planning over the winter’s months will result in a full fledged gardening and farm animal movement.  In the meantime, I turn to the house.

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In my mind’s eye, I see it burgundy with white trim, dark brown rustic shutters, and a wrap around porch.  I have no doubt that will come to be, but first, we work indoors!

How do you get the feel of a house?  How do you choose your decorating and design in a new place?  It is easy in old houses.  The old wood floors and crooked lines and personality shine through.  Doug was surprised that I liked the house we chose.  He commented that I don’t usually like new.

The house we spent eight years in after being married and when our children were young was an ugly bi-level in a suburb.  The photos of the place were on the internet as we peeked at real estate recently.  Gone were my murals and whimsical painted cupboards.  Also gone were the broken hand rails and the bare sub-floor.  That house swiftly fell apart the moment we bought it.  We were astounded by the new recessed lighting, sharp looking kitchen, soft carpet, and beige walls.  It was very rich looking and very…boring.  That house was all about homeschooling and raising children.  The downstairs was an art room and library with cement floors they could ride their scooters on.  The upstairs was open for entertaining and was full of color.  I don’t miss it though.  Once we made our exit to the country, I didn’t think I’d be back in the city!

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Back in the city, in a fancy apartment that looked out across the skyline of mountains that we rented for a year while saving up for a house, I decorated with eastern Indian motifs.  Golds and sharp pinks, black and white designs, and an area for yoga so that I could look out at the mountains and wonder how our life got turned so around that I was living in an apartment a few miles from that first house!  The colors were stimulating and inspiring.  A country look would not have worked.  And that was my calming place to get my mind right after so much loss.

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My design inspiration for my current house.  I kept it on my fridge for a year dreaming of my own homestead.

Here in this home, that used to be a farmhouse, the design is simple.  We moved in with practically nothing and it didn’t take long to fill it with hand me downs and antiques.  It is colorful with chili ristras and my bright paintings, yet serene with comfy seating and lots of plants, thanks to all the natural light.  The decor is incredibly eclectic, bouncing from Amish country to New Mexican to old farmhouse.

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New house decorating inspiration.

We are now moving to a circa 1993 (my baby was born in 1993) home with brand new greige paint (the newest trend- grey/beige blend), and fresh floors, and newer appliances, and not a hint of personality.  But I can find it, harness it, use it to create a new home.

The house has an incredible view of the surrounding mountains.  The acre is filled with cactus and cedar and other southwest, desert plants.  Snowfall will create a breathtaking view.

We are at a different stage of our life now.  We want to have enough beds to host all of our children in hopes of big country Christmases.  I want the house to feel welcoming, calming, inspiring, grown up, with a sense of fun and whimsy placed here and there.  A homestead, but modern farmhouse style.  I will take the greige and use it as my base of ideas.  Creams, dark woods, and warm knits will give it a hygge (Nordic) feel.  A mix of industrial, Nordic farmhouse, and cabin elements with lots of light and coziness.

Clear the clutter will be my motto and striking single pieces will replace lots of stuff.  We have our eye on a large, tall book shelf complete with a ladder.  The high ceilings will allow it.  Image it filled with all of my brewing herbal extracts with suspended plants, and stained glass-like jars of canned goods lining the shelves.  I am painting my dark piano cream.

Our shelves of books will line a wall in our new office/sewing room with a pull out couch.  The guest room will boast a stunning queen sized bunk bed.  The television will sit on a roll cart that can easily be put in a closet.  I despise having to decorate around a blasted, ugly television!  An oriental rug in the slim kitchen and blackboard doors on the pantry.  The oil lamps keep getting knocked over by a very large farm dog, so they will be replaced (*sigh) with elegant lamps.  Whimsical vintage signs and things we love, like drawings from Maryjane, greenery, and photographs.  Yes, this will be a lovely home.

The inspection on our new house is today and I will take along a measuring tape and graph paper to measure and plan.  This is my favorite part of moving!

Here are a few tips on how to find the personality and decorating style for your home.

1- Find the story behind the house.  Use surrounding scenery and house style to find the personality of the home.

2- Where are you in life?  Raising kids or working from home will all change the needs of the house.

3- What colors make you perk up?  What design elements (antiques, old/new signs, plants) make you smile?

4- Can you reuse what you have?  What do you need to buy?

5- Decorate with what you love.  Even if they don’t “match,” you will find that they end up seamlessly working with everything else.

6- Check out design and decorating books from the library and cut out decorating ideas you love from magazines.  I keep a huge binder of them and look at them each time I want to redecorate or move.

7- Fill your home with visiting friends, laughter, great books, candle light, and a kettle for tea.  Music, less electronics, and joy will make your home a respite from the world.  I think I might turn in my smart phone for a home phone and a record player.

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Decorating With Notes of Spring

The air has a slightly different feel to it.  A different scent.  The cold is still there.  I bundle up as I go out to do chores.  But there is a tinge of something else upon the morning breath.  Life.  Spring.  By all indications, it is still the dead of winter, but I sense it.  I sense the pulse of the earth strengthening and the awakening of the plant world beneath it all.  Spring is coming.

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Pick up miniature roses from the grocery store.  Water once a week.  They will live until you can transplant them outdoors.  I had miniature roses grow three feet high in the garden before!

My home is still in the dead of winter.  Warm blankets caress chairs and the furnace is on.  The sun shines like a spotlight through the closed windows, still low in the sky.  My spirit falls more easily into stress and I long to be in the garden.  To be outside with a book without wind chill.  What to do?  The only thing I can do is to introduce notes of spring into the house.

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Plants always infuse spring and life into a place.  These are the babies from my very large aloe.  Last week I transplanted them into a new pot.  Its wide berth lets them spill out and catch the sun, giving a warm desert feel to this corner.  The cheap pots at Walmart are usually my go-to.  I love their cheery celadon, rouge, and artist blue colors, but sometimes it is nice to get a special pot that reminds you of something you love.  In this case, the land of the southwest where my heart and inspiration dance.

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It still gets dark out early so candles are still throughout the house.  These Catholic prayer candles sans saints are perfect and long lasting.  I used an old Coca-Cola crate to hold them.

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Found bird nests and unique pieces of wood and stone are set carefully around the house to bring nature in.

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My Farmhouse sign (bought at Cracker Barrel of all places!) doesn’t have a place on the wall right now because I have all my own bright paintings up but it seems cheery on the floor against the wall amongst the geraniums and other plants.

I seem to collect things with bicycles on them.  Bicycles with baskets.  I love the idea of them.  I love the freedom of them.  The perk of being in the city.  The promise of warm breezes and exercise and French bread in the basket picked up from the bakery or fresh flowers.  I have coffee cups with bicycles with baskets that say things like “Do More of What Makes You Happy.”  My daughter, Shyanne, gave me a small bicycle statue.  So Doug gave me a bike for my birthday last year.  With a basket.  I only rode it a few times before the tires were inundated with goat heads.  But a kind friend came over three different times to fix my tires, fill them with fix a flat, put on my basket and other accouterments (a bell included!) and I am ready to take off on the first nice day without Nordic winds.  The bike had a place on the porch but I brought it in.  It adds notes of spring and whimsy to my living room.

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Lastly, I picked up a snazzy pair of bright galoshes.  Oh, spring, I hope to see you soon!

 

Four Years Being a Farmgirl…and our new home

November 25, 2012- I had just learned what a blog was and was excited to try it.  Pages that would normally fill journals filled spaces on this web sized book.  To write stories that teach and inspire and make folks laugh while learning to farm and homestead was my idea.  A compilation of tales that I wish I could have found at the beginning of my journey.  I could have never imagined the amazing pieces of life we would be recording.

Indeed over the past year and a half you have put up with me pouting when we lost all that, started two more blogs, always return to this one.  I use my own blog so often to find recipes that I might be one of my best followers!  Over 110,000 times Farmgirl School has been read over the last four years.  I am honored.

When I found out that we were actually buying a house, my inspiration came flooding back.  Months of blog posts already half written in my mind.  Home.

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Our new abode come December 30th.

November 25, 2016- I can now use the skills I have learned about chickens and ducks, gardening, and decorating, cooking, and preserving, cooking on a wood stove, and intertwine them with new memories with my beautiful family, and all the things I want to learn, like Hugelkulter beds, and canning cranberry sauce to create many more years of Farmgirl School.  And all the things along the way that I will learn and share and our world-wide community continues.  We all share so may beautiful desires and wishes.  To return to homesteading life was certainly ours.  So here we go…

The Grandma House

 

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My grandparents lived in their house for forty years.  They have lived in their current one for twenty.  My in-laws lived in theirs for thirty.  I wonder what it would be like to settle into a place that is home.  Where every corner holds memories, each piece of furniture remembers laughter and family gatherings, where each knickknack had a reason, has a story.  Where the gardens grow in beautiful tandem each year, naturally knowing their place, the roses reaching up over the heads of grandchildren.  Where neighbors wave and remember the day (“Where did the time go?” we’ll laugh) when we….  Neighbors and children and life in a home without worrying about moving when the rent goes up.  My goodness, this is exciting.  We have owned homes before but none will ever be so received with as much gratitude as this one.

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We walked through the house (which looks remarkably from the outside like our Kiowa house) and felt the presence of family.  The house was tended to with such love for the past sixty plus years.  A grandmother certainly lived here.  The house sings of the perfect grandparents’ house.  Lines inside the hall closet note growth of children.  The kitchen waits for sizzling pans and glasses of wine with friends.  Or coffee at the kitchen table.  The wood stove boasts proudly in the living room.  Each room with original wood floors.  The roots cellar stands ready with rows and rows of shelving for canned goods.  A busy woman lived here.  The front yard has great grandma and grandma’s roses.  The ones that towered over me as a child and created large orbs of romantic flowers. They are by the front porch.  A chicken coop and large run waits for spring babies.  A big front yard, a big back yard waiting for little feet to run across it.  Maryjane tries out the tree.  The plot is on a corner and is an impressive quarter acre right in the quiet neighborhood.  One block from a lake and playground.

A million things could go wrong the fearful part of me proclaims (she is new since last year) but Doug and I look at each other and we know.  This is our house.  We put an offer on it last night.  Is this the house?

Our New Home

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We rambled up the long driveway in our old truck and took in the view of the alpaca farm down the hill and the glorious eastern horizon where the sunrises will glint down upon the plants and through the numerous trees that reside on his property.

“I really feel that the sage is here to welcome you,” he said.  I was struck and honored at his words.  The sage is prolific there.  It grows rampant this year among the many Cherokee roses.  The prickly pear and the mullein are all there.  Pines so tall they can recall when the Kiowa Indians roamed these hills and called them home.

The owner of this property is well respected, a friend of mine, who works in an emotionally challenging job helping the ill and passing.  He lives in this large home alone.  He needs help here.  It is a glorious home that holds the spirits of his parents that built it.  Sparkling ceilings and medicine bags in the foundations.  The property has a retreat-like property and vortexes abound.  It is a special place. We will live here for a year.  We will help him sort and get ready to let this beautiful house go as he moves on to his next journey next autumn.

In the meantime we will have acres of medicinal herbs and trees to use and protect.  Sunrises that greet us through the walk out basement doors.  Three more cats to add to our menagerie.  One of his chickens approached me in greeting.  A wood cook stove and wood stove to help supplement heat.  A kitchen upstairs for me to make sure everyone has sustenance.  I feel quite well received here among his mother’s things and the spirit of the house and land.  I found Doug in a recliner with one of the house cats on his lap.  I think we’ll be real happy here.

It is two miles from my shop so a brisk morning walk will take place each day but that, perhaps, is a part of the hidden blessings.  Since becoming homeless and losing everything three months ago we have been swimming several times with our granddaughter and friends, to Utah, to a winery, in an airplane, sang on our son’s album, have visited, and made friends.  We have dreamed, comforted, and become fiercely grateful for everything.  We are more flexible and need less.  We will be content with a bed and two chairs before a roaring fire as the snow drops silently outside the window upon the world of peace and quiet.  Cats curled up near us.  A table.  A bookshelf.  Cups of hot coffee.  That is all.  That is all we really need anyway.  Each other and an enjoyment of this life right here and now is what we’ll thrive on.

The Bad Day

My friends, I appreciate every single person that takes the time to read my words, to cheer us on, to cry with us, to talk to me outside of this blog, who cares about our family, who lets me write and allows me to have readers.  Thank you.

One of my problems, that I think might be cured now, is that I speak too soon.  I cannot keep a secret to save my life and I love to share news and get excited about possibilities and I speak too soon and send everyone on a wild goose chase of emotional rollercoasters and bottles of wine.

This seemed so promising but sometimes things are not as they seem.  At the last minute the whole house dream was over.  So many things I cannot discuss in order to respect others’ thoughts and ideas and this time it just didn’t work out.  Again.

Where are we supposed to be?  I wish I knew.  I will work on getting this shop open.  I will not have a nervous breakdown.  I will not even have a glass of wine.  I will just go get my book and go to bed.

House of Dreams, Raccoons, and Riches

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This house speaks in whispers telling of past families and memories.  It so fills me with inspiration every time we pass it.  I want to live there, to make a fire in the hearth, to grow something in the solarium.  I want to hang clothes on the line and tend to the chickens.  This 1907 house is supposedly inhabited by six people according to the internet but it looks abandoned.  Short stories and poems flow from its bones and I long to start a garden and trim the weeds so that one can see the wrought iron gate as they pass the statuesque frame of home.

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Do you see the visitor in the yard?

Do you see the visitor in the yard?

Ahh, I wish.

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The house we are staying at is enchanted.  A raccoon visits each evening.  Margie has dubbed her “Miko”.  She won’t come too close, just to the end of a pizza crust.

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I wasn’t too pleased with her this morning though!  We left our windows down in the truck.  Doug called me down to take a look at my seat this morning.  The vandal had opened a grocery bag of rotten leftovers and soup.  We wondered who would have done such a thing.  She had rifled through everything in the truck and left her telling, adorable hand prints on everything!  I knew immediately who the culprit was.

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Thus far, we have run into some dead ends regarding jobs but we won’t give up.  I imagine we will end up in Denver, Doug hopes to stay out here.  We’ll see.  Today we have food, clothes, shelter, transportation, health, family, friends, and a little change.  And though we have little else, we have the stuff that makes us rich.

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Searching for Home

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It is just an ordinary old building from the outside.  It was a feed store and a liquor store among other things.  Its basement is flooded and water rushes around the old, old boiler standing proudly, its ankles wading in the rainwater misplaced.  The large main floor is open with high ceilings, windows, wood floors, and my eyes gaze around in wonder as if I were designing a loft for a popular television show.  The upstairs is a rounded loft that would make a lovely bedroom.  The back room is really the gem.  A rustic blank slate of old brick and cement, a kitchen it must be.  I dream as the owner shows me around.  Lord, I could decorate anything.  Unfortunately we have to rent a year before we can buy and she could not afford to allow us that being too far behind.  The bank will likely have this unspoken masterpiece, unappreciated in its barrenness but too expensive in its needs.  I wished her luck.  I could have had supper clubs there and art openings and karaoke nights!  But alas, it is not for us though if could buy we could get it for a song.  I could even turn the outside strip into a garden oasis with chickens.

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So, Doug and I decided to head out to the building that holds the company that he is interviewing with tomorrow.  We are confident and hopeful.  We backtracked from the building to various neighborhoods, many with pristine grass and home owner’s associations written all over them as well as mighty confident price tags.  Because his work, should he get the job, is on the far north side of Colorado Springs we would be a mere ten minutes from the first bit of country.  A life Doug would like to hold onto.  Truth be told, so do I.  We still want the large gardens and chickens.  The views, the stars, the quiet, that life.

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We drove past the trees that were scarred by the fire I wrote about a few years ago.  The area is regrowing and beautiful.  To live in the trees would be magical even though the fire risk is always a possibility.  A few minutes further we get into the prairielands we know and adore.

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Oh where will our new home be?  And can it be somewhere we can stay?  To put down roots and apple trees without fear of being forced to move?  Can we find someone to help us get the house then buy it from them?  Or a place that we can rent then purchase later?  A place that we can call our own?  Dreaming of home is a bittersweet ordeal when you know not where home is.

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Home is by a hearth and fire, surrounded by our cats, and visited by our beloved ones.  It is where we find each other at the end of the day and at early dawn.  Where the rooster will crow and the pumpkins will grow.  We are searching.

A Shed of One’s Own

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This has been the year of inspiration for me.  I am passionately fired up and fueled by inspiration and sheer joy right now.  This beautiful homestead and all its capabilities, a new place to call home, meeting new people, closing one side of our business and building the other, I am dreaming, and notebooks are filling up with ideas to incorporate this year.  I am writing two books, my classes are filling up, and my seeds are arriving in the mail.  And I am looking at sheds.

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In the book I told you about called “Off on our Own,” by Ted Carns, he had built several sheds over the years on his property to hold tools, one that acted as a library, even a chapel.

The tiny house craze has certainly been an inspiration as well.

On one of our trips to New Mexico we toured a very old hacienda that was the blueprint of our dream home.  Each room stood side by side in a square all facing an inner courtyard.  Each room led outside to the courtyard.  The rooms consisted of bedrooms, a rough kitchen, a fiber room, and a chapel.

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Doug came up with the idea.  We could use sheds to create our little hacienda.  We will have one that is a bedroom, either for ourselves or as a guest room for friends, children, or interns.  We will have one that is an art studio so that I have a place to stretch out and not worry about kitties running across wet paint.  We will have one that is a sitting room, maybe complete with a small wood stove for sitting and dreaming quietly, with a wall of books nearby.  We will have one with a chapel.  A place to pray, reflect, light a candle, a place where visitors can say their graces and feel healed upon this magical land that we have encountered.  We could even put up a shed with a composting toilet.  These sheds would be in a U shape with the courtyard in front complete with a high enough fence that an owl won’t take off with the kitties should they want to take a field trip to the hacienda.  The view would look out across the mountain range.  The combination of city lights and stellar stars would be a magical place in the summer.  We could be close to the chickens, goats, and lambs to ward off predators, and we would have a place for visitors or give the visitors the house and we’ll stay in our shed hacienda seasonally.

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There are no zoning laws or permits required for a shed.  A shed could be built with found materials with friends for little money or one could purchase one of the darling ready made sheds complete with windows and a front porch.  We will probably seek assistance and build our own, unless we come into a bit of money, then we’ll go shopping!  We will face our shed hacienda to the west so we have this view.

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What are you inspired to do this year?

Preparing For Dreams To Come True (even when you can’t see)

My friend and fellow blogger, Debbie, wrote that my blog yesterday was just what she needed to hear.  In fact a few folks said that it was lovely and optimistic.  It doesn’t come naturally all the time.  I have the same antsy feeling that everyone I know has when their roots are shaky.  Debbie is looking for the perfect property.  Lisa inherited property but now is working on the driveway, well, barn, eventually the house, but I know she is anxious to wake up in her new kitchen one day and have it finished.  Amy and Rob (I talked about them in Cohabitating Homesteads) are waiting for the darn bank and contractors to start working together to get the ground broke so they can stop living in their RV!  My cousin, Julie, and her husband are plotting their escape to the forty acres his dad owns in the mountains.  The beginning of their off grid journey, which while they live with another couple, seems like a million plans away.

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Since we failed so miserably at finances in our previous life I always used the optimistic tone of, “Well, it’s nice renting.  Someone else fixes everything (we haven’t heard from our landlords in two years), we can move to the next great farmhouse (if they accept cats), we can move wherever we want, no strings attached (true, many of my friends and family that would like to move cannot sell their houses), but still, down in that root chakra somewhere, there is unrest.  We need roots.  We need to feel like we have security.  We want to plant a freaking orchard!  Indeed, anything can happen, all bets are off when it comes to real life.  Our partner could pass away, our businesses could end, our health could fail, the crops may be ruined, so really, everything is a walk of faith.

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Our faith is in the hope that we will have a place to set down roots.  Our next move will be our last (but hopefully not short lived!).  Unlike our friends and family, they have a set area they can see.  They know they can buy a place, or have already inherited the place, or already have had help buying a place, but we know nothing.  We walk completely blinded up the hill holding hands and holding onto faith that when we get to the top of the hill (next year when the lease ends), our future is beautiful.  That the yurt…cabin…farmhouse…hell, shack at this point…will be waiting for us with open arms, the future barns and gardens waiting to come to life (or could they already be there?….woo hoo!).

Lack of contentment is one of the main reasons for unrest and unhappiness.  I have no desire to waste a full year being antsy and unhappy.  Just like when I saw the ad in the paper for the house in Elizabeth when we needed to jump ship from our house going underwater, or when I had to pick up Emily’s boyfriend and drove past this house, the next place is already planned out for me.  Patience and making the most of right now are the goals.  There is always the chance that we will not be alive next year, may as well enjoy life now.  However, this is something that we constantly have to remind ourselves.

We have prospects.  We intend to live with Amy and Rob if all goes as planned.  We could move with my cousin if it all worked out.  God may have a completely different plan for us.  But in the meantime, we are preparing for the unknown.  Did you know that if you express your desires and intentions, they will always come true?  That is where the sayings self fulfilled prophesies and careful what you wish for came from.  I wish for a homestead that I can stay at for the rest of my life.  I wish for barns and outbuildings, a huge garden, a view, a farm, a homestead.  It would be better with another couple to help with the huge task of homesteading.  Now, I prepare.  I can’t see what the future and timing holds but I can be ready when God says go.  The piano is back on Craigslist.  Why do I have seven sets of dishes?  Beats me.  I have a bit of an obsession with beautiful china.  The dishes are next.  One…okay two…sets of dishes are quite sufficient.  I will get down to 1/3 of my possessions.  I haven’t raised my prices in almost five years.  I will raise everything one dollar.  Enough clients have encouraged me to do so.  I am still cheaper than the health food store with better product.  My costs have gone up, there is no reason that I shouldn’t.  That dollar goes into the proverbial coffee can for the move next year.  I walk blindly, but I walk in faith.  Prepare for your goals.  Your dreams are about to come true!

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