Posts from the ‘farmhouse’ Category

New Pastures

It feels nice to be back. A year + has gone by since we moved to Virginia. It is very lovely here, and we are enjoying new beginnings. During those months, we worked from sun to sun to restore our 1910 farmhouse – an immense endeavor. We stayed with my sister and b-i-l, and traveled over an hour each way every day.  We still have tons of work to do but we were able to move in during the first seven months. We kept as many as the original features as we could, and strived to achieve a rustic early american look. I think we achieved what we set out to do. In two words – thrilling exhaustion. Will we ever attempt this again? I doubt it, but one never knows, so I’ll leave it at that. For some of you who might be thinking of undertaking a similar endeavor, this is what I learned.

  • It is more work than you will ever imagine.
  • It takes more time and money than budgeted.
  • You will drive each other crazy to the point of no return at times.
  • Sometimes, you will doubt your strength to keep on going, but somehow you do go on.
  • Expect the unexpected.
  • Be prepared to handle good moments, somber moments, crazy moments, sad moments, angry moments, and happy moments.
  • You need to pat each other on the back to keep going.
  • When you see the results of your hard work, it pays, and it feels very good.
  • You must have patience, endurance, and vision.

During that time we were offline and totally disconnected. I found that I enjoyed the time away from all of it. During my free moments I managed to write The Five-dollar Miracle the old-fashioned way – via pen and paper. It is in the first stage of revision and editing, and I hope that by the end of this year it will be published. This one is a bit different from my previous works.

To all of you who followed this blog and read some of the older posts while I was away, I thank you.

When the Cows Come Home

We all have heard the popular phrase “till the cows come home,” referring to a long and indefinite period of time.  “I will party till the cows come home” is a good example of it.  However, what happens when the cows come home?  And if they do, are we prepared to receive them?  I have asked myself that question many times, and the answer is always the same – I’ll never know until I see them.

Preparing for life changes can be exciting, exhilarating, scary, and many other things; however, we won’t know until the cows come home.  We continue with our plans of leaving Jersey and moving to the country.  Although we are preparing for it, and are excited … we won’t know until the cows come home.  For now, all we can do is wait for them, and prepare for their arrival.  In a way, it is good that things happen a bit slow, it gives you time to appreciate the road, the roses, the thorns, and yes, it gives you time to wait for those cows.

Picture taken on our way to the farmhouse.  I guess some cows where having second thoughts and heading back.

Simple Abundance – Always a Great Read

More than a decade has gone by since the book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach came out and became a bestseller. I had this book sitting in my library for almost two years and recently I got to read it.  I loved it!  The principles on this book are true now more than ever.  Eddie and I have embarked in a journey to live the simple life and this book, although written with a feminine point of reference, is a source of inspiration, as many of the principles apply to men as well.  

Many families and individuals are simplifying their way of living, for many, this way of thinking has come after the effects of the current economy;for others, it has been brewing for quite some time. In a way, living the simple life is living mindfully, and has nothing to do with economic status.  Rich or Poor, both can live the simple abundance life, as it is more about spiritual connection and appreciation of the everyday blessings.

The Simple Life – Focusing on What’s Truly Important

Years ago, I went to an outside flea market and an old framed print caught my attention.  It was on a table, amongst many other better items, and not even showing much.  The price was $5.00.  I pondered for a few minutes and decided not to buy it, a few seconds later, after I started walking, I turned back and bought it.  I have it hanging on the second floor wall and as I go up and down the stairs I glance at it.

The old picture frame is in very shabby condition, with scratches in the wood, and the paper that used to cover the back (like in the old way of framing) is gone.  It has an old and rusty twisted wire attached with some screws in the back, and the poor thing looks like it has seen better days long time ago.  However, the print on the inside is covered by the intact and in great shape heavy glass and is in very good condition.

The print is called “When Daddy’s Ship Comes Home” by Bernard Pothast.  It shows a very poor family admiring a toy that the Dad brought home from one of his trips.  What captivates me about this picture is the few items that the home has, only the most essential things, and very few, limited to the table and chairs where they are sitting and a spoon rack with 3 spoons on it.  Now, there seems to be four people in this family, the mother, two kids, and the Father, who obviously is mostly at sea.  But things in this house come in three.  The well behaved kids, mesmerized by the object that the Dad is showing them also captures my attention, as so is the attention that this family is giving to the bread winner of the home.  They have so little, they are so poor, but yet they manage to focus on what it is important at the moment – Dad is home.
Dad may have decided to bring other type of item, a necessary item, maybe another spoon, or another piece of furniture,or even a big turkey – however, he managed to bring something that the kids would be mesmerized with, and will remember.  He was making the best of his stay with the kids, until his ship sails again.

It is obvious why this picture speaks tons of words by just looking at it, it is so simple, yet says so much.  For me the message is “to live simply and focus on what is truly important.”

Here is a picture of the scene.

Living the Simple Life

Learning to live the simple life is more than pairing down some of your stuff.  Although it starts at that point, it develops into a spiritual quest, and appreciation of what every day brings.  Most people think that living simple is living without; this is not the case.  You might start clearing out things that you don’t need or feel are necessary for your happiness and daily comforts of living, but soon you start realizing all the blessings you have, and all the money you wasted in so much extra stuff that was far from being needed.  That is not to say that you turn into an extreme cheap and frugal person; it is far from that.  You will learn to be frugal, but out of not being wasteful and out of gratitude for the blessings in your life; it is more like a natural state of frugality, and not imposed by the lack of something.  You learn to be frugal because you recognize the abundance in your life.  This is hardly being cheap.  At the same time you will want to give more to others, and this is not being cheap either.
Living the simple life is surrounding your environment with healthy and simple things that have a functionality, as well as a purpose.  You also like and love these few things.  It is returning to simple forms and appreciating the job that these objects do.

For decorating the farmhouse, we will use the necessary furniture that we already have, and we are getting rid of extras.  We will choose simple materials, basic in form and purpose.  Some of these we already have, some we will scout for at a bargain price or recycled.  It will depend on what we need and when – and availability.

We have decided to forgo the central air or air conditioning which we have grown so accustomed to and instead, learn to open the windows, and use ceiling fans in some rooms for when it gets too hot.  We have selected a basic white ceiling fan with one center light.  We also selected a simple design portch light made of aluminum, that will last for many years.  The total cost for these two portch lights and two ceiling fans was $80.00.  Before buying them, I scouted around for these items to see if I could get them for free, but most fans available were too big or required four or more bulbs.  Since these were 19.99 a piece it was worth it to get them brand new plus it served the purpose in form, design, and simplicity.  The lighting could not be more simple and durable too.

Here are some pics.

Simple Aluminum Portch light
Simple one bulb four-blade ceiling fan
My advice here is that you try to find what you need – free first or recycled – and give it a second life, but if you cannot find it, then go with something simple at a reasonable price.  There is no sense in getting something for free if it does not serve the purpose.  I could have gotten many ceiling fans for free but they were either too big or had too many light bulbs, a waste in my opinion.  If you can wait for it to materialize in the future that is fine too, we are doing things in stages, so we decided to fit them in now.
Living simple is about saving money, but also about less excess, and the right form and function for the purpose.  And of course, loving it too.

   

Flipping the Switch

Starting to live a simple life has not been easy.  Mostly, because it has been a slow process and one that has been the result of some good and not so good events.  It has been ticking, and finally the pieces are starting to fall in place, slowly, one by one.  It is a process of shedding, not only the material, but of the feelings attached to those material things.  It’s been a time to shed emotions, and of retrospection; a time of discovery, and of realization.  It has also been a time to do just the opposite of what had been expected and go against the current, of letting go.  That has been the spiritual side of it, although the material part has had its own challenges.  

Once you see the material for what it is, it becomes less important, little by little, step by step.  What used to be hard to get rid of, one day becomes easy, the feelings attached are still there, but you realize that the feelings will always be there, and they don’t need the physicality of an object to be brought to memory.  Most of it is crap, from shoppaholic days, or the result of some old empty void being filled at the time.  Once acknowledged, it is free to let go, and so is all the stuff that goes with it.

There are catalysts in our lives that act as switches, to turn us on to achieve our next level as evolving human and spiritual beings.  These catalysts can take the form of persons (even the ones that may hurt you), events, and things.  So however we have arrived to the start of living a simple life – I thank the persons (good and bad), the events, and the things, which have made it possible.  

Once the switch has been flipped, the rest of our life – the simple life – follows.

Flip the Switch

A Better New Year

The Holiday festivities are over, and the New Year is here – and we all wish that 2010 will be a better year.  2009 was a rough year for many, for our Country.  Despite all the challenges, we start 2010 with hope – hoping for the best.

I had my share of good news on the farmhouse.  The survey has been completed and so far so good; the affidavits all taken care of.  Now it is a matter of getting everyone to sign and proceed to closing.  Then, the restoration will begin, which I think is the exciting part, along with moving to a different part of the country and starting a new simpler life.  We will have to get used to the southern accent (which I love), and many of the small town living customs.  It is all good!

A friend of mine mentioned to me the other day that she will not plan for 2010.  Instead, she will receive every day and enjoy what the day brings.  I think it is a wonderful idea!  I will try to do the same, although we all know how difficult that has proven to be for me.  The thought of not planning is a bit unsettling for me.  So far, I have managed to make lists and timeframes for pretty much everything, and it is not even the 10th of January.  Managed to straighten and clean all my files, created a budget plan, logged all my goals and timeframes for this year, organized the office, and reviewed my decluttering schedule … It goes on and on.  This is why I thought my friend’s idea was a magnificent one.

Well, I am determined to make the best of every day of this year.  The New Year is here, and the clock started ticking …