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Small House – May Update – Tennessee Winters! Special Visitors!

FINALLY!  The weather is at last turning from winter to summer, (where was spring?) – it seems we have had at least the first three Tennessee winters so far, we will see if the last two rear their cold heads this month.

  • Redbud:  early April – been there – done that
  • Dogwood:  late April – been there – done that
  • Locust:  early May – maybe not so much – we have had a TERRIFIC last week of April into May

So, what has been accomplished in the last month?  AND what have been the surprises?

WARNING:  Not a lot of sexy stuff happening – but every day is ONE day closer to living in the small house that we built ourselves, (mostly).

  • “Other” small house work done
  • Felt/tar paper on the front porch roof
  • Back gable siding on
  • Back gable battens on
  • Back gable finish trim complete
  • Wildflower bank and other gardening complete
  • Back door installed
  • Mechanical rough in / duct work complete
  • HVAC concrete platform poured (with dad help)
  • Front porch flooring started

SQUIRREL:  For a moment, we took a three day time out and stayed up in Grundy County near our “other small house,” and did some work.  our treehouse.jpgWe also stayed in a pretty awesome “treehouse” in Monteagle, (look it up on VRBO, and stay there!)  The hosts were amazing, especially when we locked ourselves out of the rental treehouse.

We had a goal to put down the leftover zip system wall/roof/floor sheathing on our cabin floor.  GOAL ACCOMPLISHED.  However, we had my nemesis, Sneaky Snake, keeping me pretty squirrel-ly.  Day 1, he was slithering around just outside the door when I went out to get more supplies – imagine me, turning 180 degrees, mid-air back into the cabin, of course with a scream… sneaky snake

Day 2 – we are back inside, screwing down the floor, and I look over hub, who has his back to the door, and Sneaky Snake is INSIDE slithering UP the wall!  Hub says, “would you rather see a snake or a rat?”  I think I’d rather see a cat, who could also take care of the rats!


The  BIG DEAL this month is the back gable end!  back gableI love my hubby more than I can say, (notice the heart with RB + BL), but he has no issue building a ladder to hang off of the roof ridge for me, (remember this)…2017-12-10 roofing 1but when he needs to get up high, here is what he builds.  back gable work 2018-04-29 2Now I definitely benefited from this level platform off of the back porch roof, especially when I am on my back – 20 plus feet in the air painting but still – dude, build me some flat platforms and rails next time, kiss, kiss, love you!

We also were able to have the driveway pushed back from the “barn,” to the house, and then, (since because I do not like mowing on a slope), I suggested we plant native wildflowers on our slope!  We planted, around 8 pounds, of native Southern wildflowers along this slope… I cannot wait to see how this turns out.  P.S.  I also snuck in some corn!wildflower bank

We installed the back door!back door 04-30-2018

We had the mechanical rough-in done…under the house 04-30-2018

We poured concrete for the HVAC unit!  This also shows the electrical panel being hooked up to the small house.concrete padAND another Special visitor number was my dad.  He flew himself in from East TN, and was what he called “the water boy” for hubby and me while we mixed the concrete for the pad.

dad planewater boy

Visitor number 2 showed up the next day – yet another dog in the pack.  new dogThis guy was a little hurt, he had a badly skinned paw, but he was sweet as they come.  We gave him a bowl of food and a bowl of water, which he enjoyed, then during the night, took off – we will see if he comes back to hang out with the rest of the crew.

And just for kicks and giggles – this is how we communicate…

Measurements to call down from the gable end…back gable work notes 2018-04-28

His and Hers liquid refreshments… (he is totally looking in some goofy house mirror on both of our images)identify yourself

We started installing the front porch floor!  It is the same “morning fog” / blue color of the ceiling.  I just love the way a tongue and groove porch floor looks – instead of a “deck floor.”

front porch floor 05-03-2018front porchh floor 05-03-2018

Oh goodness!  This stuff is starting to get REAL!

P.S.  Farmer tan lines have started to appear – life in building a small house is just amazing.

Oh yeah, and don’t think that porch floor is almost done… that is the dry fitting, it has to come back up, be numbered, have the cut edges primed and painted (with oil based paints), and then put back down… this was just a tease.


Small / Tiny House Update – April

2018-03-31 FRONT PORCH ROOFMARCH MADNESS BABY!  WE KILLED IT!  No we didn’t have a perfect bracket, nor did we have Sister Jean, but we had some no-rain days, and got a lot accomplished.

May I first bring to your attention the beautiful front porch roof joists and decking… I mean – it is amazing, right?  Well maybe amazing if you knew:

  • how many times I got on top of it,
  • each board was:
    • jointed to square one edge
    • ripped to make them a consistent width
    • routed to make the edges interesting
    • painted with two coats of primer and paint
      • Why is the porch ceiling blue?  (From Gun & Garden magazine July 2015 issue), “So is the tradition of painting a porch ceiling blue. Some say the idea stems from the notion that blue porch ceilings prevented insects and birds from nesting. But more often than not, the color is attributed to the story surrounding the Gullah/Geechee shade known as “haint blue” and its influence on American design over the centuries.”  Our shade of blue is Sherwin Williams “Morning Fog.”
  • how incredible it is that hubby got all of those joists perfectly positioned,2018-03-31 front porch roof under side
  • a hip roof (the part where the angles all come together in the above photo is one complicated piece of construction (and apparently one bathroom steam shower salesman in Spring Hill didn’t think we were capable after we had already done it, and judged us by looking at us when we walked in the store looking to purchase a couple thousand dollars of supplies for our steam shower – I won’t dog him on my blog, but let’s just say my tongue is an inch shorter because I did want to tell him, “yes, I not only know what a hip roof is, but I built one, which is more that you can probably say AND having a hip roof on your house has nothing to do with whether or not you can put in a “simple” square box shower that you are selling, (or not selling to us).”
  • the ends of those rafter tails are pretty amazing in the light and cast some amazing shadows, not to mention add to our craftsman themeporch roof joists 02-2018
  • I caulked each one of those joints on the top, even though there will be felt and a metal roof on top… because, that’s just what you do when you are doing it for yourself

There was also a lot going on inside:

  • plumbing rough-in has begun,2018-03-31 plumbing washer
  • running underground electricity to the house has started, (although the day after we dug the trench, it turned into a canal)2018-03-27 canal
  • an interior bathroom wall was moved out 16 inches.  (This is something you can do when your are building it yourself and not add hundreds of dollars to the cost.)  However it’s a 20% increase on the size of the bathroom – which basically means our steam shower is 75% larger – WOW, that sounds awesome, right!  Well it is awesome when you are going from a 3 foot by 3 foot shower to a 4 foot by 4 foot shower!  Maybe not so awesome by some standards, but put some tape on the floor – stand in a 3×3 space, and then a 4×4 space… it probably will save you us a few elbow bruises.

Back in my October update I mentioned a few visitors to our humble dwelling, well now we’ve got dogs for days.  We’ve got “white dog,”2018-03-27 white dog  “brown dog,”brown dog.jpg and “black dog.”2018-03-27 black dog  “Black dog” is HUGE – like his head above my waist huge.

“They” are really cute UNTIL they (“they” is only white dog) starts digging up hubby’s watermelons.  So starting today – when the doggy train shows up, I walk them back home – no more treats for the digger and, unfortunately, his buddies cannot hang out either.  Because, as soon as I plant “my stuff,” I am going to be a lot more passionate about white dog up to her shoulders in garden dirt!  I cannot show the actual digging picture because there may or may not have been tears involved, but “white dog” was up to his shoulders in dirt.  Lucky for me, I go by the “do not plant until after April 15th rule, so my plants are still trying to survive in their mini trays.

Now the really, really hard part… picking out tile, flooring, lighting… follow my boards on Pinterest, and comment, please.

P.S.  So I have also been corrected that technically, a “tiny house” is 400 square feet or less, so since our “small house” is 600 square feet, I need to stop referring to it as a tiny house, (plus it is not on wheels).  So from here on out – “tiny house” will be referred to as “small house.”

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.

Tiny House – November Update

I cannot believe it is already November!  Seriously!  The time change, another birthday, cold (oh I mean record high temps), holy cow, this stuff gets harder, but still there is NoThInG, REPEAT NoThInG, I’d rather be doing than building my own house.

Lots of tiny pieces this month, no pun intended.  right back side roof blocking

Dear Husband has been painstakingly measuring and installing these 226 pieces of blocking JUST for the one side of the roof structure.   The distance between each roof joist should be the same, but since we put them up, “weather” has happened, so each piece of blocking is measured individually, i.e. climb up, measure (with a story stick), climb down, cut, climb up, install… repeat…left back view

And then there is the other side… ugh, but that’s my hero’s job, and he’s a helluva hero to do all this, rain or shine.

Not a lot of low hanging fruit anymore.  We are getting to the nitty gritty.  Real decisions have to be made at this point.

I’ve been busy painting the tongue and groove porch floor boards.  Porch floor color is Sherwin-Williams “Morning Fog” which seems  appropriate right now because each day we wake up to a field covered with fog.  I won’t bore you, (like I wanted to), with the details, but short story, is…

each of the 160 boards were moved 10 times, by me, by hand & foot, between priming all sides (including the tongue and groove = hard) then painting the “up” side and groove.  Each coat had to dry for 24 hours before the next coat, and each board had to be inside by the end of the day since we are now getting dew at night, and they cannot get wet.  Note to self – “tongue and groove porch floors are a lot more labor intensive than “deck” flooring.”  But they will be beautiful, and all of the reason we are doing this ourselves, rather than hiring it out.Foundation stonework



So much for the short story.  (Notice how painstakingly I describe what I’m doing… which is just painting).  I can’t imagine how long it would take to describe what hero-guy has been doing.


The house color is also Sherwin-Williams, City Loft.

The colors seems to pull out the gray and vanilla colors in the stone.   Of course, you’re not seeing it in person, but just ride this ride with me.

After my porch floor painting job, I (luckily) got to move on to the back porch roof rafter painting job…  (notice how my job photos are larger than foreman pictures)back porch paint nov 2017

What that all means is that instead of working together, we’ve been working separately, which is not what we’re used to, or like to do, but hey, everything can’t be fun.  It does totally make you appreciate the fun of working together.  We’re still in sight and sound distance of one another, but it’s lunch until we usually talk, which is sad.  Well there is the conversation about what music we’re listening to, and whether it’s “my music” Michael Jackson, Meghan Trainor, and Maroon 5, or “his music” Steve Earle, Alison Krauss, and Doc Watson.  The good news is, I like his better than he likes mine, so when it’s “his music day,” I’m cool.  We are totally spoiled, (that is if you like being with your spouse, which I absolutely would not trade for the world.)

We also started working on the kitchen design.  I say “we,” but it’s all about me on this one – Hub got the stone foundation and tongue and groove porch floors, but I’m all about the kitchen.  Decision making isn’t difficult if you ask me A or B.  But when you ask me A, B, C, D…. Z, ugh!  it’s the worst.  I’ve already purchased and have possession of the refrigerator, stove and microwave, and they are stored in the barn.  This is because, as hub says it, whatever I want has been discontinued or is sold out.  So what that means is I’m either way behind the curve (usually), or ahead of the curve (not so often).  I ordered the kitchen sink Monday, so we’re pretty much good to go on that front.

My cabinets will be a sea foam green kind-of color, and the appliances will be white – looking at copper cabinet pulls and faucets.

Hub has also been busy wiring the workshop – I ordered the exterior lights for the outside doors at the shop.  AND, hub has been ordering more pine trees!  We’ve already planted 400, but like fences, tall trees make good neighbors, even in Santa Fe TN.

And… since today was a wash out rain kind of day – we took a respite up to Altamont to the “original tiny house”… it, and the leaves were beautiful… this blog may never end… the tiny house, the “barn/workshop,” the cabin… all built by hand with and beside my best friend, and even better – dear husband.IMG_20171103_1113084_rewind

Mid-month update – Caulk and Church Paintings

No pics this time, just talk.

It’s been raining cats and dogs, so after a lot of positive feedback from my 30 in 30 church painting challenge, this retired girl is putting the ones not already spoken for up for sale on etsy.

We did do a lot of indoor caulking, blocking, cleaning, and re-arranging in the barn, but I did spend some time looking around, and realized, if I’m going to keep painting, then I either need to start painting over some of them, or try to sell them.  As always, Mr. Architect, dear husband, BFF was encouraging to the sell option.

So… all that being said, and with additional knowledge from my art teacher, Susan Jones, I’ve posted images of my paintings, as well as photographs on two other websites.  These are called “print on demand” websites, which is kind of full circle since I used to work for a printing company, but way different.  These sites allow you to upload a photo, and then you can have that image printed on literally anything… leggings, phone cases, greeting cards, canvas, coffee mugs, etc.  I have personally ordered greeting cards of several of my photos and paintings, and have been pleased with the quality.  (BTW, I don’t set the prices – some of them seem pretty high to me, thus me ordering greeting cards.)

Just in case you are suffering from insomnia and want to check them out they are and

I have come to realize that I do truly LOVE painting, and the church series was so challenging and an awesome learning experience.  I only wish that dear husband could do the same with his banjo and furniture building.  It’s just not so easy to build a banjo or a piece of furniture in a day, much less 30 days, but we’ll get there.  Tiny house first, next career second.

Life is still good… life in the country… life working outside… life with my sweet, handsome, loving husband – swinging hammers, just not at each other.

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.


August Update

Well, well, well – it’s been really sunny AND really hot!  But sunny days make awesome work days on the tiny house front.  We’ve made A LOT of progress, (for us) in the last month!  As in, you can see where the walls go, and that there’s going to be a roof!

Tiny House foundation 07-06-2017Here’s where we were a month ago… see that dark sky – that was one of the not so sunny days, where we were spending more time carrying the tools in and out than we were actually building anything, but hey, a day building in nature is a good day.

We were so proud – we had squared a not-so-square foundation and we had leveled a not-so-level foundation.  So we were “good to go!”


The most recent “lumber package” as hubby so fondly calls them, came this week.  I think he only orders lumber in “packages” so the cost is at a level he can swallow, and the visual is a level I can fathom.

We built the walls in sections of approximately 9 feet high by 10-12 feet wide.  We used 2 x 6 studs and we placed them 16 inches on center, for all of you building techies.  2017-07-29 framing week 1-3Additionally, each wall section that fell in a corner had a diagonal (literally) inlaid support 1 x 4 mounted to maintain structural support and “square-ness.”  By the way – in the words of Huey Lewis, it is TOTALLY “hip to be square!”  (That’s my Huey doing the hard work.)2017-07-21 wall building.jpg

2017-07-24 framing 1

As of today – we have all of the walls in place, interior and exterior.  We have the temporary supports in place (and level, of course) for the ridge beam (roof).  The stone columns in front are for a covered porch that wraps around to the front door (where the step ladder is on the right).  There is an equally cool set of even taller stone piers on the back side for a similar covered porch and awesome view.

2017-08-09 Roof Images 3

In the meantime, I made PICKLES!  First time growing the cukes & actually canning ANYTHING! 2017 pickles


Life is good in Santa Fe (TN) and I couldn’t be a luckier girl than to have this awesome builder/boss for a husband!

May update and Q&A with the Architect

We are making progress!  The foundation has been poured, and the concrete block foundation is in place.  The stone mason (David Travis out of Hampshire TN) began his magic this week.  What an amazing craftsman!  What started as a big pile of LOCAL cut stone like this:  2017-05-08 foundation wall 4

has turned into this piece of intricate stacked stone facade for the foundation of our tiny house, (back porch piers in the front, house business in the back):

05-15-2017 stone foundation.jpg

I thought it might be interesting to share a Q&A I had with the architect, who wears many hats.  The hardest, perhaps is being my husband, but he is also the foreman, the contractor, the heavy lifter of all things “heavy,” (decisions and physical), and the mind behind all things creative.

Q:  When designing a house, what are the “ideal” dimensions?

A: increments from small to large – 8″ – 16″ – 2′ – 4′ – 8′ for room and exterior dimensions.

Q:  When buying boards what are the actual vs. standard (aka “nominal”) measurements of the product?

A:  A 2″ x 4″ board is actually 1 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ … any inch measurement on boards up to 8 inches is one-half inch short.  Over 8 inches is three quarters inch short, i.e. a 2″ x 10″ board will be 1 1/2″ (the 1/2″ off) by 9 1/4″ (the 3/4″ off).  The original cut boards are the actual size; the reduction comes from planing and dressing the boards.  This works well withing finishing because they typical drywall thickness is 1/2″.

Q:  OK, so what about other materials, like the concrete block we used for the foundation?

A:  Concrete block is usually a 3/8″ nominal difference because the typical mortar bed is 3/8″.  (A 8″ x 8″ x 16″ concrete block is actually 7 5/8″ x 7 5/8″ x 15 5/8″)

Q:  What do you prefer for a framing material?

A:  Southern yellow pine is preferred for structural framing, including rafters and floor joists.  Spruce fir is common for studs.  (FYI:  Southern yellow pine is either loblolly pine, short leaf pine, long leaf pine or slash pine.)

Q:  What can you tell me about roof pitch?

A:  Roof pitch is rise over run (y-axis to x-axis for all of you geometry nerds like me).  The range spans from flat to 12/12, which is 45 degrees.  The Southeast is good for a 4/12 (18.5%) to 8/12 (33.75%).  Our “barn” has a 8/12 roof.  For perspective, Florida would be fine with a flat roof, but the snowy regions would need a steeper roof.  An advantage of a steep pitch is a reduction in leaks.

Q:  What is our tiny house roof pitch?

A:  The pitch on the house is 8/12; the pitch on the porches is 2/12.  The change in pitch is purely aesthetic.

Now for some credentials and personal interest questions…

Q:  What and where did you study?

A:  I graduated from Auburn University in 1985 with a 5 yr Bachelor of Architecture degree and a Minor in Art History.  I am especially intrigued by the Mockbee Rural Studio that Sambo Mockbee started at Auburn after I graduated.

Q:  Who is your favorite architect?

A:  Frank Lloyd Wright

Q:  What architect has inspired you?

A:  A Nashville Architect, Robert Anderson.  I knew of him and personally knew some of his family, and have lived in one of the first houses he designed in Nashville.

House Pictures 3 2009-10-25 014

Q:  What is your favorite Architectural style?

A:  Traditionally, I would say, the craftsman style, specifically the Gamble House in California.

Alex Vertikoff -

from (c) Alex Vertikoff

Locally, I would say, the Carpenter Gothic style you see in Rugby, Tennessee.

Christ Church Episcopal

Christ Church Episcopal – Rugby TN

Q:  What is your favorite house?

A:  Like many others, Falling Water by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Falling Water

Q:  What’s next for you after the Tiny House?

A:  Well, I’d love to design and build something for someone else, or build banjos, or furniture in my new shop.

More on the banjos and furniture in future posts… as wells as the 5+ house plans we’ve developed for this one site that could work on “your” site.  We love using local craftsmen and incorporating the layout of the land to the plan… leave a comment or email me at if you have specific questions or are interested in custom architectural / banjo/ furniture commission.

P.S.  Life in the country is good.


The Next Chapter…

I lost my job.  Not sure whether to follow that with a happy or sad face emoji… so I just won’t put either.

My husband, the architect/woodworker, retired about 2 years ago.  We sold the only house we’ve ever owned together and moved to “the country.”  In full disclosure, we’d been planning this move for a while, but with the loss of my job, we decided to go full tilt and start building the next house on our 10 acres of land.

A little history… about 18 months ago we started “the barn.”  It’s really hub’s woodworking shop, but it was an experiment — well, many experiments.  Can we really work together on a job site (aka can I take direction)?  Do we really like it out here?  How fluid are we on the plans?  Are two “retired” people able to co-exist after living in the corporate world for so long?  I’m happy to say, all of the answers have been a resounding “YES”!!!  Here’s “the barn” as it is today – still needs shutters, siding on the back, deck on the far wall… and more, but basically, it’s a go… AND WE DID IT ALL OURSELVES!  (except for the roof).

barn Apr 2017.jpg

As these posts evolve, I’ll include the barn raising story, but for today, the excitement is all about breaking ground on the TINY house.

breaking ground

Our 600 square foot house will be close living quarters, but I think the most challenging part will be a single bathroom!

Our inspiration… tiny house photo.jpg

What’s the goal?  Well, given our record of a pretty slow pace, it’s “this year.”  Given, we are renting, “it’s 4-5 months” until occupancy and giving up our rental.  Maybe putting that goal out into the world will give us a greater goal, and we’ll “make it,” otherwise, we’re still renting!

The great part in building a tiny house when you haven’t built a “big” house, is that it’s practice:

  • building walls (check on the barn, done that)
  • building decks (check on the barn, done that)
  • picking out cabinets
  • picking out lighting
  • picking/installing flooring
  • downsizing… do you really need 45 t-shirts when there’s only 7 days in the week?

Oh yeah, we also upgraded to a Toro 60″ deck, zero turn mower… I’ve always loved mowing (thanks dad)… but I hated my first time mowing and accidentally taking this “big” guy out… I never saw him (thank goodness), else I’d been doing a wheelie back to the barn on the mower…


Next up… I’m trying a hay bale garden



The Admiration Project – 2015 Issue # 5



Wow!  It’s September and “my” schedule said I’d be posting Issue #9 of The Admiration Project this month.  Well, better late than never, and NEVER let late keep you from doing what you said you’d do.

I’m taking a different approach to this post… I think I learned the Five W’s and one H questions sometime between 4th and 6th grade.  The answers are considered basic in information gathering.  According to Wikipedia, they constitute “a formula for getting the complete story on a subject.”  My subject this month is a friend I’ve known for 25 (really!!) years.  I’m changing up the official order of the Five W’s, and will save the “Who” for last.  All that being said…

What:  This issue is dedicated to a fantastic female I have known since 1989.  I had just decided to train and try out to become a Jazzercise Instructor.  I met her at one of the initial meetings for all of the “wanna be’s.”  Little did I know I was pregnant and would soon be fighting morning sickness before this journey got off to much of a start, but she was right there, encouraging every single newbie, even the sick, pregnant one.  She immediately got my attention as the one to watch closely if I wanted to succeed.  I had no idea that in a few short years, we would become close friends and she would be the one I could turn to during what was one of the hardest times in my life.

Why:  This lady has been a sister I never had, a mentor, a mother when mine was 200 miles away, a peer, a teacher, an employer, a confidante, a defender, a cheerleader, an example, but most of all… a friend.  While the cartoon I posted up top makes me chuckle, I liked it because it said we’d be new friends.  I think that is true of any long-term friendship.  Over time, as you remain friends, (if you do remain friends), it is because you have “new” levels to your friendship and as you each become “new” people, your friendship either deepens, or becomes distant.



And she did teach me the proper preparation and enjoyment of a good martini…

When:  1989 – current.  After the training, tryouts and birth of my daughter, I was at a meeting with all of the Nashville area Jazzercise instructors.  I again saw her as someone that had “it.”  It, being the keys to success as an instructor, little did I know that her “it” went far deeper than being a mentor.  I sent her a letter, actual snail mail – I don’t think we even had “email” back then, and asked if I could meet her for lunch.  Fast forward a few decades, and let’s just say, she is one of the few people I call “best friend.”

Where:  Right here in Nash-vegas, TN.

How:  Gosh – how do any of us become who we are?    How do any of us become best friends?  We endure; we put on our big girl panties; we laugh; we commit to helping each another; we forgive; we learn from mistakes; we trust; we lean on others when we have to; we cry; we hug; we love; we become what our innate being meant us to be… we hang on!



And we both do love our Vols!

Who:  For the sake of her private story, I will not disclose her life’s personal details.  However, she has survived more than her fair share of the worst life has to offer: the untimely death of loved ones, the low’s of being a mother, a business owner, a wife, and fighting health/weight/life issues…  She has also had life’s best offerings:  being a mother, a business owner, a wife, and winning health/weight/life issues…  I’m sure I do not know all of either of those low’s and high’s for my friend, but I’ve seen her at her best – she’s seen me at my worst – and she has always been a class act in both situations.

So for this 5th issue of The Admiration Project, I’d like to honor my friend that I admire so much, Mary Helen Yarbrough, by making a donation to the Middle Tennessee YWCA.

And by the way, if you want a killer Jazzercise class and you’re in the area,



check out her class schedule here.

To my friend – Thank you for being a friend.

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