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Archive for the category “Crafts”

Watercolors… Wow – who knew

So last month, a dear and long time friend showed up at my art class lunch.  After lunch, my friend was going back to our art class venue with my art teacher to have a quick lesson on watercolors.  Since this was a medium I had never used, I was curious, and they graciously let me follow along.  Well, low and behold, said art teacher gave her students, (me being one of them) a set of watercolors at our art exchange last month…


So I turned to Pinterest for some watercolor inspiration and discovered pen and watercolor wash!  WOW!  I love the look; I love the loose-ness; I love the lack of control.

I watched a couple of YouTube videos, and then painted a few pen and watercolor washes for our art show at the local Square Market Cafe in Columbia TN.

Next I tried a wagon wheel…watercolor number 3

And, then… I remembered how good clothes smelled after they had been hanging out on the clothesline and did these… oh yeah, and how stiff those jeans would be after drying on the line.

Finally, my daughter sent me a wish list for Christmas, and it had a picture of a mermaid on it for my granddaughter, so I thought, well, I can just paint that, so I did…  Merry Christmas sweet girl!  I hope you like it.mermaid in frame

Meanwhile in the workshop – hubby is working on banjo rims that we hope to bring to market in the not too distant future.  Lots of fun new things for me to learn with this process as well.  He is one impressive guy.  I will write a full post on the making of banjo rims coming soon – here is a sneak peak of what is in the shop –

We had our first snow at the small house this morning, but it melted before I could snap a photo – so instead I will share a photo of a sunset taken from the back porch last week.Robyn Barber - Santa Fe Tennessee - 11-28-2018 - 1a

Until next month….


Small House – August Update

It’s official – we have given notice to the landlord… I have written the LAST rent check!

insulation day 2We started the month like this… pretty scary – it was insulation day.  We insulated the barn/shop ourselves, but we hired it out for the small house.  We used Columbia Crawlspace, and I highly recommend them.  EVERY nook and cranny has been covered with a hard spray foam – 1 inch on the vertical walls in the living spaces, which are then covered with the normal bat insulation.  The roof/attic space as well as the crawl space underneath are spray foamed with the hard coating at 3 inches thick.  The temperature between the attic and the crawl spaces is said to not vary more that 4 degrees than whatever we set the thermostat on in the house.  SWEET + no critters/bugs coming in thru the cracks!

Take that Lady Bug Nation!

Next was drywall day!  Woohoo!  We were both a little intimidated about how we might feel after there were WALLS in the small house.  Would it be too small?  Would the ceiling lines be too cut up?  Would everything close in on us?  It did not.  Thank Goodness, in fact it looked more open after I/we put on 1 coat of primer and 2 coats of paint – all white of course – because white makes everything seem bigger, (like your butt and your legs)…

Then the light guys came back and put in all of our sweet fixtures with copper to carry out the theme from the outside in.  Most of them are custom from fine crafts-people on Etsy.  The materials are mostly oil rubbed bronze and raw copper.

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Above – is oil rubbed bronze reading lights in the bedroom.

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Custom wall sconces for the eating nook on either side of the window.

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Single wall sconce over sink with bronze and raw copper.

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Another view of the eating nook with the sconces mounted.

Next is the flooring.  It is 4 inch walnut, tongue and groove throughout… right now it is “curing,” but installation starts tomorrow!  I am soooooo excited to see this beautiful wood go down.

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The bathroom is the last INTIMIDATING project – tile, ugh – it should be fine, (according to YouTube), but whew, making tile stick to the ceiling seems a little daunting.

And so here we are… 30 days from sleeping in a new bed, in a new house.

Don’t worry, it won’t be finished, so there will be more updates as we put up the rails on the porches, trim out the doors and windows, put together and install the kitchen cabinets… the list goes on.

Below is where we were a year ago, and where we are now!


Tiny House – March Update

Wow!  We had ONLY 10 days in February without rain.  Given, we work 7 days a week, that wasn’t even two weeks of work on the tiny house!  UGH!  Let me repeat… UGH!  Luckily for me, I was doing the 30-in-30 painting challenge, and I got 27 barn paintings completed, but that’s basically another month of rent we are going to be paying because of the loss of time.  (See end of post for update on barn paintings.)March update 1

The GooD NewS my friends, is that we are “dried in,” well – all-but — the interior work can soon begin – just after a few “small details”

  • cut down the wall on the breakfast nook, (where the missing window is),
  • install the front porch roof, and
  • install that last window

We did accomplish a lot, given we had around a dozen days, working in and around the rain.


  • Finish installing roof sheathing over front gable end
  • Obtain, stain and install cedar shakes on front gable end #1
  • Router, cut, paint and install trim boards on front gable end #1
  • Manufacture, paint and install finial on gable end #1
  • Paint and install cement board on front gable end #2
  • Paint and install cedar battens on front gable end #2
  • Router, cut, paint and install trim boards on front gable end #2
  • Manufacture, paint and install finial on gable end #2
  • Begin installation of front side porch roof joists
  • Prime and paint right side roof joist tails
  • Begin installing cedar shake cover on right side soffits
  • Router, prime and paint one third of the front porch roof boards

Hub did an amazing job on the gable end trim!  March update 2

There are a lot of pieces going into making those triangles on the gables work PERFECTLY!  He is amazing at his craft, and even more amazing at being patient with me.  Just with the questions, and teaching, and LETTING me do the work instead of just doing it himself.  Some days, he struggles trying to keep me busy, but then, he lets go, and lets me do a task he might much rather be doing himself, like jointing wood…


jointerSome of the fun I got to have this month was learning to use the jointer.  I’m jointing some of the leftover cedar shakes to use on the soffit.  (I secretly think dear hubby has really started “training” me  on the power tools because we are getting closer to being able to actually start making mandolins and banjos in the workshop.)

“We,” (really hubby), took time out, (a lot of time actually) to build two new raised beds for our second year garden.  They are right in front of the house, so I can look out of the kitchen window and see how things are growing.  He decided a dedicated watermelon bed is a good idea, and then I can plant whatever I want in the second bed, as long as it is not tomatoes.  The two beds from last year are dedicated to blueberries and blackberries.March update 4

Of course some days, there are tasks I don’t really want to do, but I do like to continue to invest in the “we did this” account.  The tasks like shoveling dirt into the really awesome raised beds, or painting the ends of the roof joists, or painting the cedar battens, or painting the blocking on the back porch roof, or painting the front porch roof boards.  Get it… he must think I am really good at painting, or he really hates it!

Final note… the 30-in-30 painting challenge.  I painted 27 in 30, which is an improvement  over the 23 in 30 I painted last September.  September’s topic was Tennessee Churches, February’s topic was Tennessee Barns.  PicMonkey Collage 2018 Barn Series - grid.jpg










Tiny House – February Update + 30-in-30 Part 2

Here is where we are at the start of the eighth month.porch beams 02-2018

The front porch posts and beams have been installed.  We used Western Red Cedar and stained it a natural color.  The triangle above the porch, (gable end), will be finished out with handmade cedar shakes that we are waiting on from the Amish shake-maker to tie it all together.  We wanted something special for the metal t-brackets that connect the posts to the beams, so I trusted my best friend Google to help me find just the thing.  t-bar 2018

We decided it would be nice to try to tie in the location to the design theme.  Our property is located on what is called Chestnut Ridge, so I sketched a couple of chestnut leaves and sent it to Cutting Edge Metals.  They forged these pretty awesome t-brackets (and square head screws) to “beautify” our structure support system for the front porch.  And like everything else we seem to lift into the air, they are hefty – about 20 pounds each… and that 20 foot beam going across the top is also one solid piece of lumber, weighing in at around 100+ pounds.


porch roof joists 02-2018

The weather is still refusing to cooperate more days than not right now, so we have been working inside the workshop on painting chores – like the roof joists for the porch – 2 coats of primer – 2 coats of paint – 6 edges – it keeps a girl busy for a few days.  Hubby routed out a special trim edge on the bottom sides to make the painting more interesting (time-consuming) for me.

raised beds 02-2018Hub doesn’t seem to mind the weather as much as I do, so he has been keeping busy building some new raised planting beds for the spring.  They are conveniently located right between the house and the workshop.  I cannot wait to get some watermelons, peppers, herbs and more started in these beauties!

Standing guard over the fruits of our labor will be a bluebird family we hope finds its way to their new home that hub crafted and installed.  Note that no bluebird house is complete without a little engraving…


Another cold and rainy day project he completed with our oldest grand-daughter.

As for me, I joined the second 30 paintings in 30 days online challenge sponsored by artist Leslie Saeta.   The last one in September, I chose to paint rural Tennessee churches.  This time around, the subject matter is barns.  Here are a few of the completions so far.



You can see all of the churches and follow along on the barns on my Instagram page.

October update on the Tiny House

Gosh – what a heavy heart I have writing this post after the tragedies we have had within the United States, (not just continental) this last month… hurricanes and shootings, some close to home, some close to friends.  The circle of life and mother nature are not being very friendly this late summer and fall of 2017.

Today – Oct 4 – We are COMPLETELY sheathed in (vertically).tiny house sept a8

We have made progress!  Visible progress!  I fear that once we get inside, hopefully this month, that progress will not be quite so visible.  The next step (roofing) also makes me quite nervous.  We’re still open to possibly hiring that out, I mean, who really wants to strap into a harness if you aren’t doing a zip-line? Not this girl, but I will, (if dear hubby can do it, I can do it).

We had quite a few visitors, some unwanted, this month.  Ms Black Widow Spider, and her sister came to nest in our concrete block pile.tiny house sept a4-spider

“Spot,” the frog, named by one of our granddaughters, took root in the barn, seemingly entranced by this bottle of water on top of a tool box.



tiny house sept a3-frog

…and there is always “Hank” the neighbor dog who comes by most days for a treat and spray of the hose.  He’s also camera shy, and actually dodges the treats if you toss them to him, but he will sit and high five for a treat.

Now for the guts and glory!

  • House completely sheathed, check
  • Five front deck 6×6 cedar posts installed, check
  • Decks on front and back framed, check
  • Roof deck on back deck framed, check
  • CoPpEr roof gables, ordered, delivered and installed, check (my FAVE this month)

Oh yeah, there were a few watermelon success stories from the garden, this beauty came home with us today.

oct 4 2017 - 9





This month we also took a mini time-out for ourselves.  We were headed to South Carolina to a sweet house that backed up to a waterfall, (here – photo from airbnb)westminster sc, airbnb photobut passing thru Chattanooga we got a call that Hurricane Irma had impacted the sweet treehouse, and the power was out at our destination for the duration of our quick trip.  So I got on the phone and we re-routed to Lake Lure, NC and landed in the Patrick Swayze Suite IMG_20170912_195306482at the Lake Lure Spa and Inn who claims Mr Swayze actually stayed in the same room as us while filming the classic movie “Dirty Dancing.”  Luckily, (depends on your perspective), we just missed the 30th anniversary of the filming festival.  But we did get to do some amazing rock climbing and garden viewing… pizza eating… beer drinking… etc

And saw this Devil IMG_20170913_100055035_BURST001

near the top of Chimney Rock, which we climbed… over 900 steps, (there is a staircase to the top, IMG_20170913_093404595i.e. stairway to heaven, then a 2 mile hike to a waterfall, at over 2,000 feet elevationIMG_20170913_094951741_BURST001

where I relaxed, finally!





So it was a nice break from hammering nails, sawing up boards, taping seams, etc… but it’s always amazing to be back “home,” and working on the tiny house.

P.S.  The church painting challenge… I believe I finished 25 paintings in 30 days – and we were traveling 5, or so of the 30 days, so I feel like I made my goal… the fact I was still painting every day after a week is pretty amazing – here are some of the pieces I didn’t post last update.


C # 3… “C”rafts

granny-with-hannahI can’t remember a time I didn’t enjoy doing crafts.  My granny is responsible for this desire to be creative.  She was always making something, and a lot of the time, it was something for me.  And unselfishly, she not only shared her creation with me, but the knowledge of “how to” create it.  There were Barbie clothes, crocheted tablecloths and bedspreads, quilts, potholders, costumes, knitted sweaters & mittens, dolls and much, much more!  She was a Paula Deen kind of cook, but instead of starting everything with a stick of butter, it was more often a spoonful of bacon grease!

Her name was Mary, but everyone called her Betty or “Granny Patty.”  She also ran an in-home daycare, back in the day, and nap-time was during her favorite soap, “As the World Turns.”  Although I can remember when she kept me as a child that she was a big fan of Jack LaLane (circa late 1960s), not so much a watch and participate kind of fan, but she definitely watched.  She’s been gone just a few years now, but she continued to share her creativity with my daughter and she enjoyed it as much as I did.

original-full-apronsCrafting has always been something I enjoyed, whether in the early, early days, making potholders from a small metal loom, making “sand-art”, making all of the “break-thru’s” for my high school football team’s Friday night game – or later on… painting t-shirts and clothes for my kids and my friends kids, cross-stitching, stringing beads for different types of jewelry, painting canvas and an occasional pillow or apron.  So lately, I’ve been trying to find a “craft” to use with my personal chef business,  After some encouragement from my fellow chefs that are members of our association’s chapter,, I’ve been focusing more on the apron making.  They set my goal of making 200 aprons by the end of July (our National Conference in New Orleans, ).  Ideally, I’m going to do a test market on Etsy before so I know what are the most popular styles and color combinations. 

turq-brown-half-apron1My focus is on creating retro and hip looking aprons by using a combination of some vintage fabric and some vintage-inspired fabrics.  However, I’m also taking the “green” route and recycling some clothing into some pretty cool aprons.  So far I’ve bought a truly vintage pattern off of ebay and used to make a couple of “full” aprons (photos of a pink and a green up to the left), 3 styles of “half” aprons that I found on the internet… a “clothespin” style apron (which I am showing here in the brown/turquoise and the blue/green), a “bistro” style apron and a flirty apron with a ruffle on the blue-apronbottom (more photos coming).  I have about 10 of these different half aprons made that I’m getting ready to put on Etsy, although I have to admit, I’m having a little separation anxiety with some of them… Check back soon for my Etsy Shop Opening post.

Comments and suggestions welcome!floral-apron

The next C – “C”areers…

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