Not everyone can afford to redo their home decor every couple years, and I’m not suggesting you plan an expensive renovation. Who has the money for that anyway. It’s just…when you look around your home, does it reflect who you are now?
Or does it still say Mom of 3 toddlers? Or teacher by day, grad student at night? (and no time to clean) Or even wife of the ex-husband louse idiot extraordinaire?
We all change as we go thru our lives, and your home should reflect who you are now, not a decade or two ago. Some changes come as we mature and move thru jobs and relationships. There are good changes (new jobs, marriage, grown children) and some changes are bad (illness, loss of a spouse), but we all go thru them. And we evolve.
It’s good to have a home that we feel ourselves in, that we can invite friends and family over and share who we are and what’s important to us. We can come home from the world out there and be in our zone, our nest. This is us.
So, does your home reflect you, now?
Take a look around your home, room by room. Write down your first impressions, as if you were coming into your home as a stranger. Who do you think lives here? What kind of people are they?
You know how you feel when you enter someone’s home for the first time. You find yourself looking for clues…looking at pictures, things hanging on the wall, sitting on shelves. You get a certain vibe from a home…does it feel friendly and warm? So look at your home from that viewpoint. Or ask a trusted friend to give their impression.
Compare this to who you are, and what kind of life you lead. Does it match? What would need to change for that impression and reality to match?
Look at the color scheme, and layout. The overall theme of the decor. Is it tailored and traditional, or casual and comfortable? Which are you? Is your home giving a stuffy impression, while you’re a bubbly, friendly soul? Loosen it up. Comfy up your decor…with fluffy pillows and afghans. You want a home that feels friendly and warm.
Are you an expert gardener? Does your home reflect your love of nature? Are you a new grandma? Then let those little toys take up a shelf in your living room. Are you a gourmet cook? Or a top-notch baker? Then your kitchen deserves the spotlight.
Take a look at your walls, tabletops, bookshelves. Do you still read those kinds of books? Purge and donate what you don’t want anymore. Do you still like that painting on the wall? Are the family pictures in frames all outdated? Would a stranger looking at the photos around the house think you were 20 years younger and the kids were still in school? It’s time for an update!
Are the little objects sitting around things that have just always been there, or things that speak to who you are now? Don’t be afraid to change things. Add some new personal touches…art, pictures, and keepsakes that reflect your interests and your family as they are now.
Once you know what you don’t want anymore, things that don’t reflect you now, start thinking about what you do want. For example, without small kids, you can have nicer things sitting around without fear of them being knocked around or broken. Do you think a different color scheme would make you happier? Would you love a cabin or cottage feel? Maybe you’d love a more modern look – modern like midcentury danish…or modern as in the new farmhouse look?
Maybe you’ve rescued a dog to keep you company. Let your home say Dog Lover. If you’ve rediscovered your love of music, give your stereo or that piano a place of honor in your home. Bring your things out of hiding. Let them take a place in your home where they can show who you are.
Don’t have anything sitting around in the decor style you like? Then look around for some inspiration.
You can buy pillows and throws in any decor theme – farmhouse, equine, dogs, cats, llamas, cabin, cottage, lodge, western, beach, whatever. Lamps, figurines, dishes, rugs, and books can show who you are and what you love. And if you can’t afford a lot of new decor items, no problem. Just make a list of things you don’t love so much anymore, and find things to replace them as you can afford it.
You should live in a home that reflects the amazing woman you are. And it doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money. Just sprinkle little things throughout your home that you love.
If you don’t think you’re that great at decorating, hang in there. We’re going to be doing some articles on some basics of interior decorating – for women on modest incomes. So keep an eye out for that soon.
So, hey, a shout out to all of you middle-aged country women. Where did the time go, right? It seems like just yesterday we were all young girls, riding tractors or horses or bikes around the yard. I’m partial to horses, because you can snuggle with them, but I’ve ridden them all.
I remember driving a tractor up the hill by the barn one day, when I was young, and stopping to change gears, not sure why…and popping the front wheel off the ground…holy smokes I thought I was going over. Thank Goodness that little International hit ground again and kept going up the hill, with me a little shaken and a little wiser.
That’s one thing about middle age, hopefully we’re all a little wiser. I don’t know about you, but I’m also a little larger…and I tire quicker…but anyway…
Growing up in the Midwest has given me many fond memories, a few terrifying ones, and some sad ones, but that’s how life is. We’ve learned about love and loss, falling in love with puppies and baby goats, and having to say goodbye to old dogs and horses and a duck that lived in my horse barn for 12 years.
Whether you never had children, or you did and they’ve moved on to college or homes of their own, we’ve dealt or are dealing with an empty nest. We now hopefully have time on our hands. Time for ourselves for a change.
We’ve worked, then came home to mow, sweep, dust, wash, cook, and maybe sew, quilt, garden, drive a tractor, put up hay, feed the chickens, brush the horses, water the garden, and sometimes…just sit in the barn and listen to our horse munch hay, telling him how our day went, leaning our head on his shoulder, enjoying the late evening air, the smell of hay and straw and animal fur.
Then after supper snuggle with our dog on the deck, or maybe our hubby if he isn’t out in the fields or the barn fixing something…cause something always needs fixing, and watch the sun set. I never tire of watching the changing light, and how it shines thru the clouds and the trees, and how quickly it fades into night.
In the spring I love listening to the frogs peeping from the pond. In the summer it’s the crickets making music, and the doves cooing to their mates, and always the happy little sparrows chirping and flying about, seemingly careless and free.
Like the changing seasons, our lives change with age, going from youth to young adult to middle age. Childhood is behind us, old age ahead of us, but now is the time to be in the present. To enjoy what life has to offer us each day. To let ourselves be ourselves. To stop trying to please everybody else and please ourselves.
If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do or try, now is the time. Give yourself the freedom to be who you want to be. This is the time of your life to relive those childhood dreams that never came to pass. Or discover new ones. You may or may not still want to be a horse trainer or a vet (my childhood dreams), or a dancer or surgeon or whatever. Maybe there’s a piece of that dream you can still bring alive, or find something better that fits you as you are now.
Now, there are a lot of articles on the web about retiring, and reinventing ourselves, and they all seem to require large nest eggs. The reality is, not all of us have set aside large amounts of money in a 401(k) for our retirement. Some of us have only worked for small companies, only making enough money to get by. So we have to keep working and hope that our social security funds will enable us to go down to working part time in our later years. So we’re not able to quit work to start a business or move to the lake and spend the next 20 years boating and living on vacation.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy our middle-age and bring a dream to life.
Pursuing your dream in middle-age
First – you have to figure out what it is you want. And give yourself the permission to have it. Too many women think they’re selfish if they put themselves first. You’re not. You can’t give to others if you’re empty inside. You need to be happy and fulfilled in order to help anyone else. Remember that.
Did you have a childhood dream that never came true? Do you still want that? Can you still have it? Perhaps you wanted to run your own business, but things didn’t turn out the way you planned. Maybe now you think it would be too much work, or too demanding. Find out the why – why the idea appealed to you – and design another dream around it.
What about your dream appealed to you? Helping people? Leading an organization? Being independent? Creating something? Find out what moved you about that particular dream, and find another way to achieve that.
If your childhood dreams aren’t what you want as a middle-aged country woman, then reach inside and find out what it is you’d like to do now. Sometimes it’s hard. We’ve had our dreams squashed by the demands of work or family.
It’s hard to pull them back out and say, yeah, I want to be an interior decorator, or I want to paint, or I want to be a wedding photographer. Or I want to be a doctor instead of a nurse. Or I want to consult with business owners on how to grow their businesses. Or I want to develop a new breed of roses. Or I want to operate a Christmas tree farm. Or I want to grow lavender and make perfume. Or whatever.
Not many of us can afford to quit work, buy a farm to grow lavender, and be happy ever after. But there are ways around the money issue. You could rent property. You could look for partners, or investors. If want you want is a burning desire, you can brainstorm a way to get it. Or at the very least, to get a version of it. Maybe you know someone who has a farm and would consider leasing you an acre or two. Or you could start small in your own backyard, and ease into it.
So, once you find your “why”, also called a touchstone or passion, turn that into a goal. For instance, when you were young you dreamed of being an artist. But life came along and you didn’t have time to draw or paint so you let it go. But you love creating things, especially art, and you’d love to make drawings and sell them.
So there’s your new goal – to draw and sell the drawings.
The next step is to dedicate some time to your new goal (or you could call it your purpose, or your “why”), which is to draw and create something that people would love and be willing to buy. So start calling yourself an artist and look for things to draw and get what supplies you’ll need, set aside a space, and make time to draw. Expect yourself to be rusty and maybe even suck at it for the first couple drawings. Keep drawing, or whatever your goal is, just keep at it until the juices start flowing and the skill develops.
Pretty soon, your art will get better and better, and then you can start showing it to friends and family, and maybe try selling it online or at craft fairs. And you will be easing into a side business, and maybe even a retirement business that you can work at full time and make a living from when you retire from your current job. How cool would that be?
So, spend a little time thinking about what you’d like to do in middle-age. Spend more time outside? Do more creative things? Start a blog? Start a business? Get back into a sport? Change jobs? Travel? Do you want to connect with a group or do more on your own? It’s up to you.
Even if you think you can’t afford to do anything, or you’re alone, please don’t think you’re stuck. Even little goals will help you. Join a facebook group about a subject you enjoy and post your thoughts, and chat with others in the group. You may make a friend or two. Get together with a few friends or family members to do something like take a trip, to share costs. Get crafty. Creating uses our mind and soul and makes us feel like we’re using our talents and gifts, not just stagnating. Learning and doing something new makes us feel stronger and more confident.
Goals don’t have to be large and lofty. Learning an instrument is a great goal. Creating or revamping a flowerbed is a great goal. Getting our hands in the soil and growing something is a wonderful activity. So is learning to bake bread, or reading a certain number of books in a month, or writing letters, or connecting with an old friend, or taking a class, or whatever it is that would make your days go by faster, and more enjoyably.
Just like sorting thru the old stuff you’ve accumulated in the attic, sort thru those childhood dreams. Keep the good stuff, and toss the old, outdated, not-you-anymore stuff. And find a dream for you now. Then, go for it!
Have you yet had the unfortunate, but necessary task of sorting thru and getting rid of your parent’s belongings after they’re gone?
It’s a sad, difficult task at best. And if you’ve got siblings who all want the same things, it gets even harder. Or maybe they say they don’t want anything…til 5 years later when you get that text or call, ‘hey, do you still have that red wagon that we had when we were kids?’. And then they get mad because you should’ve known they’d want it. Seriously??
Or, as happens sometimes, someone wants everything sold and the money shared, and someone else wants everything kept. You may need a mediator. For large things, like homes, cars, property, etc, it’s best to work with a lawyer. I can’t and won’t give advise on those things. This article deals with the items you find inside the house, rather than the house itself.
The best way to start this is to have all siblings gather together, at least initially. Have everyone over for dinner, maybe. Ask who can help clean out the house, and ask them to lay claim to what was theirs, or what meant the most to them. But that doesn’t always happen. Some siblings don’t live close, or don’t get along, or don’t have time. Sometimes parents have given out a lot before they pass. (that’s a good thing)
A lot of times it’s you, and you alone, who go thru all the furniture and accessories and clothing and momentos of a lifetime, trying to decide what to keep or pass on or get rid of. It can be heart wrenching.
I’ve been there.
Here’s some thoughts on how to make the best of a bad situation. This is assuming you have some time to go thru things, and that your parents were living in their own home still.
SOMEONE’S GOT TO BE IN CHARGE
If it’s not you and you alone going thru the house, then all of you (you and whoever is helping you) can’t make decisions on your own. You have to agree to work together, and make decisions by majority rules, or designate someone as the decision maker. Maybe it’s the oldest, or the one who took care of Mom and Dad, but everyone has to agree.
If someone was living with Mom or Dad at the end, that means they are in charge. It’s not easy taking care of an elderly parent, and if you’ve given up a chunk of time out of your life to do so, then you get perks. You get to keep whatever you want. That doesn’t mean you should be selfish, though. Try and give your siblings what they want, as long as it doesn’t infringe on what you need or really want to keep.
If you have siblings, and they’re not there with you, reach out and ask them what specifically they would like to have, maybe their top 5 picks, rated 1 to 5. Tell them you can’t guarantee anything, but you’ll do your best to get them what means the most to them.
If multiple people want the same thing, use their rankings to decide who gets the item. If your brother ranks it #2 on his list, and your sister ranks it #4 on her list, brother gets it. And so on.
Remember that even though you may all be middle-aged, all those childhood sibling rivalries (Mom always did like you best!) may rear their ugly heads. Try to keep those at bay. Losing your parents is a tough time, even if the relationship wasn’t the greatest (but I hope it was) so try to keep the dialogue kind and fruitful.
So first of all, take out all the top picks of your siblings, and distribute those items. Then it’s time to tackle the rest.
You may want to tackle this group by group, or go thru everything and put all the furniture in one room, all the accessories in another, etc. Then go about seeing who wants what. It’s up to you.
When you have a whole house to go thru, start big and go smaller. Take inventory of all the furniture. You may have sets, like a bedroom set of a bed, dressers, and nightstands. Or you may have a dining room table, chairs, and a hutch or buffet. Offer them up as a set first.
Start with siblings, then go down to nieces and nephews, then reach out to cousins, etc. You may have to do the expand your reach to friends and 2nd cousins. Youngsters just stepping out on their own may love to have a free bed or dining room table. However, maybe no one is in need, or no one cares for the style, or whatever. If no one wants it, you can sell it or donate it. If you need the money to pay debts or to help make house payments, don’t feel bad selling it. If not, donate it to Habitat for Humanity or Goodwill.
That said, if antiques are present, you may need to get them appraised. Either split up the antiques among you, as in everyone gets the same amount, or sell and split the proceeds, you decide.
Next sort out all the accessories…couch pillows, bedding, lamps, books, dishes, tools, small appliances, knickknacks, etc. Make a list of what you have, and offer them to siblings, then nieces/nephews, cousins, etc. Whatever no one wants, donate or have a garage sale.
In this category I’m going to include childhood toys, school items, family photos or scrapbooks, military items, guns or sporting items, sewing or other hobby items, parents clothing, etc.
This category is a tough one. Everybody wants the pictures. The girls all want Mom’s jewelry. All the boys want Dad’s shotgun. I can’t tell you how to handle these situations, but it may help to remember back and think who would value an item the most. For example, maybe your older brother remembers the shotgun hanging on the wall, but your younger brother was the one who went out hunting with your Dad, and he’d treasure that gun forever.
I’ve read somewhere someone suggested taking pictures of things, so everyone can remember them, but not everyone needs the actual item in their home. You can also do this with vintage items that are cool, and you want to remember them, but you don’t necessarily want it in your living room. Pictures last a lifetime.
And speaking of pictures, consider having home movies and photos put on dvd and getting everyone a copy. Then, truly, everyone can have them. If you find old photos of people you don’t know, seek out older relatives to try and identify them. My mother went thru and made 2 scrapbooks of each side of the family, and wrote out who they all were. I’m so grateful she did that.
The saddest thing is to go to a fleamarket and find old family photos for sale for a couple bucks…and realizing that person is forgotten because no one took the time to identify their photos.
When I went thru old family photos, I scanned them all into the computer. I then saved them to a disc, and each sibling got a copy. Then, I took all the photos and made piles, one pile for each sibling. Whoever was the subject (or largest subject) in the photo got the photo in their pile. Photos of our parents or the house where we grew up, or all siblings, went into a separate pile, and then those were split up, one to each sibling as evenly as I could. I didn’t need all those photos, and everybody got some. It seems to have worked well.
Consider texting/emailing your sisters with a note like this…I have knitting supplies, 5 piles of yarn, 4 stacks of quilting fabric, and 3 sewing boxes. Who’s interested? See what response you get and try the best you can to make everyone happy. Or, on the flip side, you make the decision. Sharon knits, so she gets the knitting supplies. Karen crochets, so she gets those. And on and on.
If you’re the decision maker, in the end it’s up to you. Do the best you can, and then let it go. I know how it goes sometimes, and siblings end up fighting and getting mad and not speaking to each other for months over who got what. Try to avoid the arguments by making everyone rank their ‘wants’. Or have everyone get together in one room and offer each item up for ‘auction’.
Your brother Jeff speaks up, he wants the old wagon. Your sister Mary wants it, too, says she remembers Mom using it to haul laundry to the clotheslines. Your sister Carrie speaks up, she remembers when Dad brought the wagon home, it was a birthday gift for Jeff. That’s it, Jeff gets the wagon. You get the idea.
Remember, as you go thru a houseful of memories, emotions will bubble to the surface and run over, in tears or anger or both. Be sensitive and kind, to yourself and your siblings.
IF YOUR PARENT LIVED IN A SIBLINGS (OR YOUR) HOME WHEN THEY PASSED
In this situation, let’s assume it’s your home and your parent lived with you at the end. I’m assuming this means that all the family items came to rest with you.
A lot of things would’ve already been sorted thru, given out, or disposed of, when the original family home was sold or passed to another family member. So a lot of work has already been done. But you’ll have a lot of momentos yet. Keep what you need for your household, no questions asked. With other items, give siblings items they’ve asked for, as long as no one else makes a plea for them. Make a list of items you feel comfortable sharing, and reach out to find out if they want them.
Going thru your parents things, and your family’s history, can be fun (remember when?) and eye-opening (Mom had 2 boyfriends at once??), but it can also be sad and emotional. You’ll realize your parents are gone. That sounds strange to say, but it’s very wierd when your parents are gone. You realize you can’t call them anymore, or stop by and talk, or ask them questions.
This can also trigger emotions related to your own mortality. It sinks in that you’re getting older yourself. Give yourself some time to deal with those feelings. Remember, your parents, and your childhood, may be gone, but you’ll always have the memories. So in a way, you’ll always have a part of them with you.
Are you trying to give your front porch a Fall makeover? Then certainly a scarecrow is a must. They come in all sizes and shapes, from tiny scarecrows on a stake that you can put in a flower pot to large, life size scarecrows to stand guard over your doorway, or sit on your porch swing.
You can buy this type of scarecrow at any home improvement store or WalMart and even the dollar store. If you’d like to try your hand at making your own scarecrow, I’ve looked around for some tutorials on the web that I think anybody could make.
You know, scarecrows came about as a way for gardeners to scare pests from eating their harvest. So anything noisy, or that would flap in the wind and mimic movement was good. Some people even hung aluminum foil pie plates from the scarecrow as further deterrents. They would reflect the light and move around, supposedly scaring rabbits, raccoons, and deer from eating your sweet corn.
Not sure how effective they were, but somewhere along the line they became just as much decor and fall fun as they were deer and bird deterrents. Now they can be seen in many sizes and shapes, from table top decoration to yard decor.
Let’s see a few examples of make your own scarecrows.
Make your own Scarecrow
This tutorial from the home decor experts at HGTV shows you how to make a large garden size scarecrow using two pieces of wood (you could use garden stakes) for the frame. Then it’s a matter of filling old clothes with straw and making a head out of a bag. A pair of muck boots and a straw hat, or whatever you have laying around, top it off. You can make your scarecrow a male or female, depending on the clothing you choose, and the “hair” and face you use. Looks like fun!
For a simpler option, without nails, here’s a tutorial from Home Depot showing how to use yardsticks and wire to make a frame for your scarecrow. Certainly a better option for those of you not handy with a hammer and nails. This option makes a smaller scarecrow, perfect for standing in a flower pot or sitting in your flowerbed or even just leaning against the porch or a wall. Lots of options with this one.
Here’s another smaller option for a diy fall scarecrow. These are made from a slab of wood. The website (www.homestead-acres.com) has a template you can use for the faces, or you can draw your own. You can use paint or the paint Sharpies. Staple some burlap or fabric on the bottom, stick a few chunks of straw or raffia in them, and top with a hat. You could even skip the wooden hat and just top with a small straw hat or baseball hat. Lean one or two against the wall and bingo, you’re done.
Maybe you don’t want to go to that much trouble. Here’s an option for you. This cute scarecrow wreath is made with a big straw hat, some flowers or leaves, and a hot glue gun. The instructions can be found at the link below the picture. (for all of these, by the way) You could make different kinds of faces, maybe glue a bandana at the bottom, just have fun with it. Hang it on the front door for a dose of fall cuteness.
This isn’t really a scarecrow, but it’s close. What it is, is an ingenious wreath. I just love it. I’m gonna make this one! Take a grapevine wreath, and wrap an old flannel shirt around it, put some straw inside, then tack an old hat and a bandana on it. Instructions can be found at the link below the picture. This is adorable and very farm/country. I love it.
There is a diy scarecrow (or a version of one) that is for anybody and any skill level. So if you’ve got a hankerin’ to make your own scarecrow this Fall, grab some supplies and go for it!
I picked up a book the other day on getting organized. I could use some inspiration to get my piles of stuff sorted and better organized so I can find things. By the time I search around for something, I forget what I wanted it for. Do you ever do that?
As I started reading this book, I got 2 or 3 pages in, and had read the word Mommy about 37 times. Now, I never had children. And I know I’m not the only woman who hasn’t. So I thought it kind of odd that this author was assuming that the only woman who wants or needs to get organized is the mother of small children.
What about empty nesters? Are they assuming that after your kids are grown your life is no longer full? When you hit 50 is life over?
I put the book down, and never read the rest of the book. It’s not the first time I’ve felt left out because I didn’t have children. I don’t regret my choice, but in the company of other women, especially when the topic gets around to pregnancies and kids, I have nothing to add to the conversation. They assume every woman has children. But that’s not accurate.
Some women can’t have children. Or they choose a demanding career. Or they choose to remain single and free. Or whatever. The fact is, there are plenty of women who don’t have children.
I know plenty of mothers, and I know that raising children is a lot of work. They need to keep on top of their schedule and keep their homes organized and everybody taken care of. But don’t the rest of us? Let’s say you’re a married woman who runs a small business. Your husband works and helps his Dad farm, you have a dog, you garden, you take care of your parents (and his too), and you both love to camp on weekends. Don’t you need to be organized too?
I should think so.
And I happen to think that all women are mothers. I know, the literal meaning of mother is to give birth to a child. But part of the definition is as a verb, to act maternally. What is that? A mother provides love and support, care and nourishment. There are many ways to provide love and care.
I happen to be a pet mom, and I love it! Dogs and horses are my favorite “kids”. I love taking care of them, and feeling the affection I get in return. I just wished they lived longer. When I have to head home to feed my horse or let my dog out I feel needed. Maybe you love being a pet mom too.
Many of us give birth to ideas, or projects. Every author considers her writing to be a “child”. The same with quilters, photographers, and jewelry designers. Everything that you make is a “child” so to speak, a product that we create within ourselves. It’s a part of us.
Many of us “mother” our parents. As they age they get forgetful, and unable to do many of the things they used to. They need us to look out for them, tell them it’s ok, and love them.
Many of us look out for friends and family, coworkers, etc. We love and nurture those we care about. I consider that mothering.
If you aren’t a mother with children of your own, you can always have children in your life (the human kind) if you want to. It’s not the same as having your own, for sure, but for those who regret not having them, it’s something. You may have nephews and nieces (and great nephews and nieces) to have fun with when you want to. And you can send them home when you get tired. You may have friends or neighbors with kids that you can babysit or chat with if you enjoy it.
Being around young people can by interesting and energizing. But if you’re not into kids, or even if you are, there are other ways to give of yourself and feel connected. You may have a charity that you love to support, or maybe a friend or child of a friend that you’ve taken under your wing to mentor.
Maybe you belong to a church group, are involved in your local Chamber of Commerce, tutor college students or teach piano. There are many ways to provide love and support, and get it in return as well. There’s few things so rewarding as giving of yourself.
So the next time the ladies are chatting about their pregnancies or toddlers, and you feel left out, remind yourself of all the pets and people you mother, who need you and love you. No man is an island, as the saying goes. Each life touches so many others. So celebrate the mother you are, and love and treasure the lives around you.
After a hot summer, the cool evenings of early Fall are a welcome change. Neighbors are in the fields harvesting soybeans, dried and golden in the sun. Fields of corn are drying up too, and the sunflowers all have their heads turned to the ground, hardly able to hold up under the weight of the seed heads.
I love the subtle color changes. The greens in the trees are lightening to more yellow green. The undergrowth is showing shades of purple and gold and rust. I find it a glorious celebration of the changing season. Nature says, hey, slow down, look around you, and watch the show.
Having been raised in the country on a small farm, it was impressed upon me that Fall was the time to ‘stock up’. Vegetables and fruit were harvested and there was a lot of canning and freezing going on. I don’t do as much now as I did when I was younger, but there’s still that urge. Like a squirrel gathering nuts, I stock up my pantry. I make sure I have lamp oil and fuel for the generator in case lights (and the furnace) go out. I insulate doors and windows against the wind that blows across the fields and at the house.
Fall is also a time to take stock of other things around the home. Things you need to do before winter sets in. Not many of us are truly house bound during winter like in the old days, but things do happen (power outages, blizzards, pandemics) that make staying in the safe thing to do. So I thought I’d make a list of some things to take stock of or do before winter. I call it my Fall To Do List.
Fall To Do List
(aka Winter Preparedness Checklist)
Go thru the pantry, frig and freezer, and then make a grocery list of items needed to make meals for however long you want – 3 days, 10 days, 30 days…whatever makes you comfortable. Can/freeze/buy what you need.
Plan for a lights-out, no furnace storm – have an alternate heat source…fireplace, kerosene heater, generator, etc. Have fuel stored for at least 3 days. Also think about alternate lights – kerosene lamps, battery powered lamps, candles. But…be very careful of fire. People lose their homes every year to candles or heaters used incorrectly. Be safe. Follow directions. I always put metal trays under candles or lamps.
Go thru the garden and harvest what’s left. Some people like to clean out all the leftover plants and vines, some people leave that for spring. Mulch any perennial plants for winter.
Go thru flower beds, mulch perennials, cover roses, etc.
Insulate doors and windows if you get drafts. Doesn’t matter if the house is newish or oldish, they still get drafty. Buy plastic kits (3M, Frostking – buy at any Walmart or Lowe’s) and apply to windows. The plastic is taped to the window frame and then you use a hairdryer to shrink it to fit exactly. It works. You can buy foam strips to put around drafty doors and long plastic strips that attach to the bottoms of doors to help keep out the draft. Also, cute draft dodgers work too. You can make one easy enough with a couple old tube socks – fill with stuffing and sew together at the tops to make a long tube.
Bring in any flower pots or containers, garden hoses or sprinklers, and any patio furniture you want inside for the winter. Wipe them off. Store in the garage or barn.
Cover your A/C unit. I know not everyone does this, but I do. It insulates, and at the very least keeps dirt out for part of the year.
If you have livestock, make sure you have food and bedding and water stored. I used to buy a years worth of hay in the summer, so I didn’t have to worry about it again til next year. If you buy bagged feed, set aside enough to last a few days at least, and then don’t use that unless in an emergency.
Keep a little water handy in case lights go out and the pump doesn’t work. A gallon a day per person is a good amount. Remember pets and livestock too. Store water for them too if you don’t have an outdoor hand pump that you can use.
Get out your winter quilts and blankets. Air out on the line or wash as needed.
Swap out seasonal clothing – wash and pack up shorts and tanks and get out the sweaters and boots. I wear boots all the time…but not everyone is that way. I love sweaters…they cover up for a multitude of hershey bars eaten.
Go thru winter coats, hang on the line to air out or have dry cleaned if necessary. Check out your supply of scarves, hats, and gloves too. Toss gloves full of rips and holes, make sure everyone has at least 2 pair.
Give the car or truck a once-over to make sure everything’s in working order. Nothing like a hard frost to make old batteries bite the dust or a worn serpentine belt to break. Check tread on tires.
Make a winter kit for your car – just in case you get stuck somewhere. Find a large tub or backpack, and put inside it an extra sweater and blanket, warm gloves, boots, a flashlight, a battery pack for your cell phone, a snack and a bottle of water, a flare, matches, etc. Better to be prepared and not need it then the other way around. Carry a bag of kitty litter, it’s great for getting traction on ice if you get stuck.
Think ahead to the Holidays…now is the time to stock up on decor items or Christmas lights before they get picked over. Also, it’s a good idea to get grocery items for those holiday meals now.
Think about scheduling a family portrait, carpet cleaning, furnace checkup, etc. The time to do those things is before everyone else thinks of it.
Ok, this is gonna sound wierd maybe…but when all that candy is out for Halloween, you might wanna stock up on some of your favorites. Some of those fun size candy bars are only available now.
Plan for some down time. Are you a winter sports person? Then you can look forward to sledding or skating or snowmobiling. Are you not a winter person? Then plan some projects to keep you busy when the weather is not so nice. Whether a craft project or a home remodeling project, find something that you’ll look forward to doing during those cold days. Instead of getting depressed at the short days and cold, you’ll be energized and productive.
Remember to keep your gas tank over 1/2 full. If you get stuck somewhere, you want to know you’ve got enough gas to keep the engine running for a while. I sound like my Mom…not that that’s a bad thing.
Another thing, keep your cell phone charged. If you need it in an emergency, it’s no good if it’s out of power.
These are just some of the things that are on my Fall To Do List. What’s on yours?
I know as women we’re always taking care of everyone else, just make sure you also take care of you.
I find that knowing I’m prepared gives me a little more confidence. I don’t have to freak out if the local news says a winter storm is coming. I have what I need and I can take what comes. I don’t have to rush to the grocery store and stand in line to buy a gallon of milk.
I can cozy up by the fire with a good read and my favorite ginger cookies, my dog at my side.
So let’s get what we need, and then when we’ve stocked up, we can relax and enjoy nature’s show. Let’s head to the pumpkin farm, enjoy a festival or fleamarket, and just look around and enjoy the trees and the blue sky.
We can even enjoy the darker, bluer clouds as they bring that cold air down from Canada. Those brisk mornings when you open the door to let the dog out and get a blast of fresh crisp air that makes your toes curl up.
So I’ll pull out those sweaters and boots, and enjoy being chilly.
At least until January…when I’ve had enough of it. But that’s another post.
Here it is, September. The nights are starting to get chilly – a welcome change from hot August days. It’s so refreshing to sit outside as the sun goes down, listening to the crickets and locusts serenade you, and feeling the cool night breeze on your skin.
What better way to celebrate the refreshing coolness of Fall than to make a new wreath to hang on your front door?
There are just as many types of wreaths as there are people to put them up, but I’m partial to a wreath that shows off my country-ness (is that a word?) I like using natural materials like straw, wheat, pine cones, and leaves. I love the symbolism of nature shedding it’s skin, making way for another season. Spring isn’t the only season of change. Fall, too, is a transition.
As the calendar heads towards winter, we gather and store our harvest, and get ready for long cold days ahead. Like the squirrels gathering nuts, we fill our pantries in preparation. At least that’s how I was taught. Maybe you were too. Being from the Midwest, and raised in the country, I was raised with gardening and putting up the harvest. You do as much for yourself as you can. And, at least you know what’s in the food you raise.
Anyway…I’ve wandered off topic.
Today I want to show you a few country wreaths that I think are easy enough to make yourself, and that show a pride in being country.
I’ve looked around the net, and here’s what I liked. You won’t see anything here that is called “farmhouse” in the current style. I am not a fan of white-washed, greyed out decor. It makes me feel like I’ve gone colorblind. Give me some color, especially in the Fall! Orange, brown, deep purple, gold, burgundy, greens, yellows. Live it up, I say.
This wreath was shown on the Country Living magazine site. I think it’s beautiful! It’s made with stalks of wheat (or field grass could be used) tied to a wreath frame, with a sprinkling of maple leaves or branches added for more interest.
This wreath is a bit less dramatic, but beautiful nonetheless. It is made with wheat or grasses too, with a burlap or linen bow. You could use a wire or wood frame, or even a small styrofoam wreath base. This was on the blog onsuttonplace.com.
This in-process wreath is made on a straw wreath frame, and uses corn husks to make a pretty star type wreath. This comes from the ace herself, Martha Stewart. The tutorial is on her website. It’s stunning.
Here’s a colorful wreath for your door. I love the brightness and the personalized initial on the pumpkin in the center. This comes from a blogger on craftaholicsanonymous.net. All you need is a grapevine wreath, some ribbon and berries, and a fake pumpkin.
This gorgeous fall wreath is shown on the blog 2beesinapod.com (the link is https://2beesinapod.com/2015/09/08/easy-fall-wreath/). This wreath is made with fake fall flowers and a wreath base. You could probably use a wire frame or a styrofoam base. Very easy and pretty.
Here’s another lovely wreath made from natural materials. This fall wreath is made from ears of indian corn. You can get indian corn at your nearby farmers market. You could use a wire or wood base. This comes from a middle-aged blogger, and the link is https://www.stonegableblog.com/indian-corn-wreath-diy/. I love the colors and the natural shape of this one.
Whichever type of wreath you decide to make, I’m sure your front door will look welcoming and amazing! Head to the fields, or farmers market, and your local craft store for a few supplies and in no time you’ll have a wonderful fall wreath.
When we were young, we had plenty of time for play and sports and hobbies. Remember? Having grown up in the country, I used to ride my bike down to the creek and hunt berries. We had a basketball hoop (just the metal hoop, the “basket” had long since worn off) and used to bounce the ball around. I loved to draw. What did you love to do when you were young?
Now that we’re grown it seems that work, raising children, lawn care, farm work, and housework stretch out to fill our time and wear us out. Then we spend our evenings watching tv or scrolling thru Pinterest (or whatever social media you like). Or doing laundry and emptying the dishwasher.
We’ve forgotten about play. That’s for children isn’t it? Not necessarily. I’m not suggesting we all play a round of hopscotch, but there is something to be said for the grown up version of playing – hobbies.
There’s nothing wrong with vegging out. Sometimes our brains just need to coast. But do you feel a longing for having a little fun? For something meaningful to do with your time? Do you long to create something? Is there something you used to do that you never quite forgot…that you’d like to get back to?
Maybe you do, you say, but you don’t have the time. A hobby doesn’t need to take all of your evenings. Maybe just once a week, or a half hour a night, or whatever. You can manage that. And you know what? Once you squeeze a little time in your schedule, and you start enjoying your projects, you’ll fit in more time for it. It’s a fact, we all make time for what we deem important. Make time for yourself.
Five Benefits of Having a Hobby
Hobbies can help you make friends. Some hobbies get us out of the house, where we can meet people and connect based on our interests. It’s nice to share a passion with others who feel the same as you do. And social connections make life meaningful, and make us happier. Social hobbies could be bowling, exercise classes, a book club, or a charity.
Having a hobby helps you cope with stress. After having a rough day at work, picture yourself grabbing that paint brush or saddling up your horse or heading to your pottery class. Remind yourself that you are talented in many things, and work is just one part of you. Also, getting into a project takes your mind of your troubles.
Hobbies help you organize your day. Whether you work, run a business, or are retired, setting time aside for your hobby helps you plan your time. If you have a club that meets twice a month, and you have a garden to tend 3 evenings a week, you have a plan. Once you find a hobby you really love, you’ll find yourself looking forward to the time you spend at it.
Hobbies promote flow. Flow is a zen like state where you forget about time and just get into what you’re doing. Very few of us have found an occupation that we truly love. But all of us can certainly find a hobby that we love enough to lose ourselves in. And when you do, you may just find yourself truly absorbed in the moment. And what a wonderful break in the worries and problems of the day.
Having a hobby gives you added energy. Finding a hobby that you enjoy, that makes you forget about everything else, charges your battery so to speak. And that will help you feel more energized thru the rest of your day. You’ll be excited to get back to it, and it will make your days more enjoyable.
So, the next step is to decide what kind of a hobby you want. Do you want a social hobby or a solitary one? Do you want an active hobby or a sit-down one?
You could reconnect with a musical instrument you played in school. Or learn a new instrument. You could join a softball team. You could take a pottery class, or learn a new language. You could start raising goats, or learn to ride a horse, or kayak down the river. You could start sewing or quilting or take up knitting. There are as many hobbies as there are middle-aged country women.
Think about photography, dog sitting, wood working, rug making, painting or drawing, making wall art, playing guitar or piano, raising sheep, growing berries, making wreaths or floral arrangements. You can make things to decorate your home, and then for family and friends, or even to sell. Your hobby could even grow into a part-time business. Look at everyone selling handmade items online, like on Etsy or Ebay. Etsy is a good place to look if you’re wondering what you could make.
Find something that interests you, and check it out. See if there are any groups or clubs around you that you’d like to participate in. But remember, your hobby is for you. So make sure it meets your needs. If you work a hectic schedule and need down time, maybe grab a pad of drawing paper and some pencils and start doodling. Or listen to your favorite music while you stretch out in your hammock. Or buy a new cookbook and start baking.
If you work a desk job and long to get outside, try gardening or raising animals. Find some friends and go camping. Try growing vegetables or roses. Or take up jogging. Or get out and walk your dog. Whatever level of activity fits your life.
There are many benefits to taking up a hobby. Find some time, find something that lights you up when you think about it, and give it a try. You might just find yourself feeling a little lighter.
Remember back in the days of our youth, when women hung their laundry out to dry? Of course, many of us still do, but a lot of women found it quicker and easier to toss a load into the dryer and go on to the next chore.
My mother loved to hang her whites (well, she hung all her laundry) out on the line, and let Mother Nature do her magic. Remember the smell of freshly hung sheets? Mmmmm. I love to hang my sheets and blankets out on the line.
Have you gotten away from hanging clothes out to dry? Maybe it’s time to dig out those old clothespins and carry that laundry basket out to the line. Don’t have clotheslines? I’ve got some options for you further along.
Right now, let’s talk about 5 reasons to hang your laundry outside to dry.
5 Reasons to Hang Laundry Outside to Dry
Saves Energy – use the sun and wind instead of electricity (or gas or propane) to dry your clothes. I read somewhere that the dryer uses about 4% of your home’s energy.
The dryer beats up your clothes a little at a time, wearing down the fibers with each tumble. Make your clothes last longer by carefully hanging them on the line.
You get some exercise and sunshine! Carrying a basket of wet laundry out to the line and hanging each item used muscles in your arms, core, and legs. And you get a little Vitamin D via sunshine in the bargain. A win win!
Sunshine sanitizes your clothes. It also makes your whites brighter. My Mother swore by this back when she had diapers and dirty socks for 8 kids to dry. She prided herself on clean laundry. While I don’t do a happy dance when I bring my socks in from the line, I do appreciate the clean. And the fresh smell…it’s like a fresh air deodorant.
A task as simple and low tech as hanging clothes brings us in the moment, slows down our thoughts, and makes us realize how blue the sky is, how comforting a small breeze is on a hot day. It connect us to our Mothers (including Mother Nature) and Grandmothers, and makes us think about how much labor went into keeping house in their day…and how lucky we are to have automatic clothes washers and dryers. Gratefulness is always a good thing.
So there’s my 5 reasons to hang your laundry to dry.
Now let’s look at some tips to make sure you get the most out of the experience.
Laundry Hanging Tips
Don’t hang your clothes under a canopy of trees. I’ll just say 2 words…bird poop. Yuck! So much for sanitized!
Hang jeans, pants, and skirts from the waistbands, and tees and blouses from the bottom hem. Highly stretchy knits do better when draped over the line, rather than hung by one end or the other. They tend to get out of shape.
Don’t line dry sweaters – lay those flat to dry. Again, they get out of shape if hung.
Do hang sheets and towels, either drape over the line (like in halves) or hang from one end, as your space allows.
Try hanging blankets and quilts out on the line even without washing for a freshening up. I do this. You can also do this with your winter wool coats. One of our neighbors hung hers out on hangers each fall to freshen them.
Shake clothes when you take them out of the basket to hang, it helps eliminate wrinkles.
If you have neighbors, remember not to hang anything you don’t want the neighborhood seeing…like unmentionables. Just saying.
Hang dark things inside out to prevent color fading.
Check for dryness often. On a hot breezy day they’ll dry in a matter of minutes.
On a particularly windy day, put enough clothespins on to hold them. You don’t want to chase your towels as they fly thru the field. Or into your neighbors pool.
Hang socks by the opening, not the toe.
So there’s some tips on hanging your laundry out to dry.
If you don’t currently have clotheslines, but you’d like to try hanging laundry, or get back into it, here’s some ideas.
Ask a hubby or friend or brother to install some clothes poles and lines for you. You may have to bribe them. Just a thought.
If you don’t want clunky posts in your yard, or don’t have room, check out one of those instant outdoor laundry hangers. It’s a metal pole with 2 or 3 layers of clothesline circling around the top. Look in Walmart or Amazon.
Try hanging a line between your house and garage, or between porch posts, or trees if you have to. Get creative.
So, give hanging your laundry out to dry a chance. Get some exercise, save a few bucks and some energy, and just get outside and breathe a little. Watch the clouds roll by. Sometimes simple acts leave us feeling more productive.
I’m sure everyone is familiar with HGTV’s show Fixer Upper, with the Gaines and their style called Farmhouse. The picture above is an example. To me, their style, while pretty, is more Industrial than Farm, and the grey-washed interiors lack something…you know…color..warmth. It can be striking, for sure. And I know it’s a very popular style. I’m certainly not knocking it.
But when I think Farmhouse, I think Farm. At least a little grass and trees around the house, if not barns, pastures, and fields. I think hard, dirty work and muddy boots trudging into the kitchen. I remember my relatives in South Dakota, Iowa and Washington…my Great Aunt’s huge wood stove, the old hand pump in the garden, quilts and tablecloths and curtains, all handmade. I think sturdy workworn kitchens, dining rooms with fancy lace tablecloths set for company or Sunday dinner, comfy living rooms.
Bedrooms upstairs with iron beds or wooden bunkbeds covered with colorful old quilts, cotton curtains rippling in the breeze of open windows. Toys and books and momentos laying about. They usually had a room off the kitchen (called a mudroom) with pegs by the door holding worn Carhart coats and muck boots parked beneath them. And I don’t mean those bright yellow rain boots worn by suburbanites as trendy accessories. I mean muck boots, rubber boots that have been thru mud and manure. My pair have lived thru many a stall cleanout.
My version of Farmhouse style reverts back to those times in my past, and the simple homes I remember. Homes handed down thru generations, but kept up and supplemented with homemade touches that lent the homes a personal, welcoming, comfy touch. But…that said, I also like a few modern twists from the current style trends.
So here’s some of my favorite elements of a warm, welcoming, hard-working Farmhouse.
My Farmhouse Style Elements
And these are in no special order.
A warm front entry – even if it’s just a stoop and stairs, this is your first chance to provide a welcoming touch to friends and family. A wreath on the door, a cool welcome mat, and some potted flowers say, “Hey there, glad to see you”.
Comfy furniture and plenty of personal touches. I don’t want to see ‘planted’ vintage books and candlesticks that are just for looks. I like personal touches – books you’re actually reading, your latest crochet project, fun pillows and throws, family photos, and real items that are used – candles or oil lamps for when the lights go out for example.
Wall art that reflects who you are and what turns you on – like the horse painting on wood above my couch. For you it may be floral prints, a painting of chickens or heifers, a Farmall tin sign, or an enlarged photo from that week at the lake that makes you smile every time you look at it.
Wood paneling – I know…some people hate it. But I love wood touches, so weather it’s old timey pine paneling or updated reclaimed barn wood, I like at least a partial wall of paneling.
Color. Whether it’s painted walls, carpets and rugs, furniture patterns, or additions like drapes, pillows, and accessories, I don’t want to feel like I’ve gone color blind when I walk in. I don’t like overdone…but white and gray decor says urban and industrial to me, not country or farm. Think nature, greens and browns, reds and yellows.
Find new uses for outdated things. Use an old bucket as a flower container, or a childs wagon can hold flower pots near the front door. I have an old leather horse collar on my wall as a wreath. Get creative. However, try not to ruin the item, just find a new use for it.
Animals. No Farmhouse is complete without animals. Now you may not be able to have real chickens, cows, or horses where you live, but you may have a dog or cat. Don’t be afraid to add a little whimsy with a few stuffed or ceramic farm animals around the house or garden. A cute cement pig would look cute in that flowerbed, don’t you think?
Let your home looked lived in…ever walk into a house where not a thing is out of place and there aren’t any personal items anywhere to be seen? I think, is this just the front of the house where they let visitors in? Where do they LIVE?? Don’t be afraid to USE your Farmhouse. Don’t decorate for show, decorate to be used.
Display memories. My Dad’s pipe, Mom’s apron, an old metal lunchbox , a stuffed horse my sister gave me when I was hurting…I like things around me that remind me of good times or special moments.
There are as many ways to decorate as there are people decorating. These are some things that I like. Fill your home with what makes you happy. What are your essential farmhouse style elements?