Breaking Ground

To celebrate 2022 arriving, I would like to take a moment to stop and appreciate the craziest purchase I made in 2021.

Weird, right?

Don’t worry.

It gets weirder.

Know why? In 2021, my husband and I bought . . . an aircraft hanger.

Are you shocked? Horrified? Intrigued?

So was I.

What happened was this. The day—and I kid you not, the exact day—I packed up my desk and left my full time job to start my own business in March, my husband and I met my sister and her husband at a local sushi restaurant to celebrate my nerve-racking transition into self-employment.

We were going to talk and laugh and eat sushi and pretend I wasn’t terrified about the idea of running my own business and setting my own hours.

Instead, we decided to buy an aircraft hanger.

Decisions get made in sushi restaurants, guys. It happens.

Obviously, my sister and I do not own a plane. I can’t even make a decent paper plane. But . . . we both needed a house. And my dad had a contact in the metal building industry who had an aircraft hanger he’d built for a client. The client had changed his mind, and our contact was now offering us the building . . . for a massive discount. Turns out, with a few minor tweaks, an aircraft hanger makes for a pretty nice house—one that will fit two growing families quite easily.

Obviously, we’ve got a long way to go before the pile of metal struts and beams becomes a house we can live in, but I’m feeling optimistic. The last parts for the metal building have finally been delivered, and a few weeks ago, we broke ground on our property, so we actually have a place to put this house.

When it’s actually built, anyway.

Needless to say, buying a home just as I was transitioning into a business owner has been a huge stretch for me. I like to make my huge life transitions one at a time, thank you very much, and navigating both of these monuments at the same time has been a lesson in faith, especially when it comes to finances.

But I am learning to trust.

So . . . now we own an aircraft hanger.


Do you have any huge milestones in 2021 that you felt stretched you to the limits? Tell me about them in the comments!

Spring and Homesteading

Now that I’m freelancing, my schedule is a lot more flexible than it was.

Sure, I’m still working full time. But how—and when—that work happens is up to me.

Which allows for some wiggle room and a bit of discovery.

Discovery is one of my goals for this next season. Discovering more about myself, discovering what life as a freelancer looks like, discovering what I’m capable of, and what I’m brave enough to tackle. Now that spring is—hopefully—here to stay, that includes making our household more sustainable and moving toward homesteading my family’s property.

We have big gardening plans in the works.

I’m excited.

One of the ways my husband and I have made our tiny house a little more sustainable in the last few months has been clearing out the back closet and buying ourselves a real live washing machine. Now that we’re not hauling all our washing next door, laundry duty has become MILES easier, and I’m finally excited to wash my clothes again.

Can I get a ‘Hallelujah’?

Since our space and budget were limited for this project, we decided against buying a dryer with our new washer, and I’ve been line drying all our clothes.

This is my new favorite chore. I kid you not.

Not only does it get me outside, but since my newest obsession is turning our property into a homestead, line drying our clothes adds very positively to the aesthetic. And, you know, it saves us money, helps the environment, and makes our clothes last longer.

But having a line of washing flapping outside my window while I have bread dough rising on the counter gives my tiny house a cozy, farmhouse kind of feel to it, which I deeply appreciate.

I had a few concerns about stiff clothing and stretched out fabric before I started this project, but thanks to the magic of Pinterest and a half-dozen articles from experienced line-dryers, I’ve found clever ways to avoid those problems, and line drying has been a breeze.

Literally.

Homesteading is always a process, and we’re taking projects one at a time to get our little farm up and running again. Our fields have gotten a much needed reseeding, and two sweet bunnies have made an appearance in the barn. The rest will have to wait a bit until we have some sheds fixed up and a few windows replaced in the barn.

Spring is coming!

What are your plans for this spring? Tell me about them in the comments!

“Then the cold nights crept in…”

“… and all the colors of fall faded with the frost.”

Time to admit the truth.

Fall is fading fast, and winter is just about here.

I can tell because I’m freezing 90% of the time instead of just 50%.

I’m usually cold. My husband will tell you that. But in the winter, I’m almost always cold.

Thankfully, my amazing husband has helped build up the woodpile for this year, and our wood burning stove is up and running. Our little house is getting ready for all the cold weather, and that includes taking care of the wildlife around our home too. The deer have a new salt block, and I’m starting to remember to put out corn for them too.

Not that I’ve actually seen them eating it.

The bluejays get most of it. And the squirrels.

It is amazing how much corn ten bluejays can eat. Where do they put it all? Their tiny bodies can’t fit that much, yet they never leave the bowl alone until all the corn is gone.

Maybe there are more of them than I think.

I’ve got birdseed out too, in case you’re wondering if they’re starving. So, so much wild birdseed. This has attracted literally everything from magpies—which are MUCH larger than I realized—to chickadees, and I’m loving the variety I see gathered on my porch every morning.

My cat is also loving the variety.

She sits by the window, making funny chirpy noises and waiting for me to let her out so she can eat all the tasty birds flying around.

I do not let her out.

Or if I do, I make sure she doesn’t get anything.

She has yet to catch one.

But I let her dream. It keeps her occupied.

How are you preparing for the winter? Any sweet visitors outside your doors now that the cold weather is moving in? Tell me about them in the comments!

Snow Days

I’m snowed in.

Again.

Can you tell? This is the view out my front door. By the way, can you spot the deer in this picture? There’s a big old buck sleeping under the trees behind my swing there. You can just make him out if you squint.

Poor thing.

We’ll see if I get to work today. We have about five or six inches of heavy, wet snow, so it’s going to be a toss-up. Maybe my dad and I will risk it. Maybe we won’t. Who knows? Not me.

Is anyone else sick of snow?

Like, I love snow. I love Colorado. I love the wintertime. There’s nothing better than the feeling of watching snow fall next to my wood stove with a cup of tea and a book to read (or to write).

But enough is enough.

Seriously.

My driveway looks like a war zone. First ice, then way too much snow, then mud when it melted, then more ice, then more snow—you get the idea. It may never be the same. I mean, it was a dirt track in the first place. Now it’s a mud slide.

Plus, I have already gotten stuck—like, really, really stuck—once this year, been late to a meeting that was centered around my presentation (boy, that was fun), and had more snow in my boots than I ever care to think about.

It’s cold in Colorado.

Unfortunately, there is no end in sight. We’re at the beginning of March and snow doesn’t usually stop for another two months. Last year we had a major three day blizzard in May, so I’m hunkering down for a long wait.

So, since the snow is pretty deep, I’ll probably end up working from home today. Since I brought my computer home on Friday, that’s fortunately an option, and I’ll go back to my days as a homeschooled child, sit around the kitchen table at the Big House with some of my younger siblings, and work while they do their math. Maybe I can convince my mom and my sister to join us while they do their artwork, and we’ll have a school/work party with hot chocolate while it snows, and I won’t have to brave the rough roads and try to figure out how to get through the drifts in my short boots.

That is, if I can actually get out of my house and down the path to the Big House. That snow looks pretty deep.

What is your favorite way to spend a snow day? Tell me about it in the comments!

Small Improvements

img_3194I’ve been working on my house lately. Improving it. Fixing things.

Specifically my kitchen.

Because it’s old, and a little bit of a mess.

It needed some TLC.

So, I ripped out the old faucet, the one that leaked and was also determined only to have as much water pressure as it absolutely had to, and replaced it with a shiny new one. I can actually fill up a jug now. Or water my plants. Then, I fixed a few broken and loose tiles on the pad for my woodstove and started tiling the backdrop behind my stove. Because I was getting a little tired of grease-stained paint.

Ew.

These kinds of projects are completely new to me, and I have been figuring them out for myself—with a little encouragement from my sister and roommate. Two years ago, I would have looked at projects like these and said, “Nope. Sorry. I can’t do that. I don’t know how.”

Isn’t it funny how often I don’t know how becomes all-consuming? How quickly I can’t becomes the answer to . . . just about anything? I never realized how many walls I put up around my abilities by saying I can’t.

I couldn’t fix the problems in my house.

I couldn’t speak in public.

I couldn’t run a half-marathon.

I didn’t know how.

The last eight months have been a kind of releasing for me. I can’t has become I’ll try, and I don’t know how has become I’ll give it a shot. On Friday, I decided to see just how far I could really run and ended up with my first half-marathon under my belt. The week before, I participated in a week-long writer’s meeting and spent a whole day pitching my ideas to the group and talking about why I liked each one or thought it was important. Since starting my job, I’ve said yes to being videoed, recorded, critiqued, mentored, and even to semi-public speaking. 

Now I’m tiling my backdrop and planning for the spring, when I will be building an addition onto my home. (Because every writer needs a library.)

Suffice to say, I’ve gotten sick of the edges of my comfort zone acting as a fence. My efforts may not be completely perfect, but I can’t hasn’t factored into any of them.

I’d count that as an improvement.

What are some things that you have been doing outside your comfort zone lately? Tell me about them in the comments!

November 1st!

acorn-blur-brown-247553.jpg

“One must always look after one’s acorns, especially in autumn, when all the little creatures are stocking their larders and lining their nests for when Dame Winter comes a’calling.”

I ordered a proof copy of Of Bullfrogs and Snapdragons this week!

Which means . . .

*Trumpets sound*

My newest book will hit Amazon on November 1st!

How exciting is that? I can’t begin to tell you how much this book means to me, or how thrilled I am to share it with you all. Frankly, I’m not sure how I managed to find the time to format it, work with the editor and the cover designer, and finish all the thousand and seven small details that have to be done before a book hits the store.

But, besides a few last quality checks, it’s ready!

I am so ready to have this book in my hands. I love fairytales with all of my heart, and these are especially important to me. They are my retreat—the books that I am allowed to love without someone looking over my shoulder and wondering if this detail or that plot point should be done differently. Now that I work full time in a professional environment, it’s hard to sit back and actually enjoy what I write. My scripts/outlines are written with the anxious niggle in the back of my mind that when I finish, someone is going to read through it and come back with pages of notes on how to fix all the problems I somehow didn’t notice. My main book series is a constant progression of editing, revision, and sending out query letters only to be rejected again and again. I always have a new plan for how to increase marketability and get them noticed, and yet—seven years in—they are still waiting for someone to come back with a yes.

And then . . . I have my fairytales.

And they are just for me, and the few of you who find them as soothing as I do.

This book especially was a joy to write. Autumn is and always will be my favorite season, and it was such a treat to linger in it for all twelve chapters, seeing it from the simple perspectives of a gnome, a fairy, and a snapdragon.

Of Mice and Fairies was a series of stories introducing my characters, but Of Bullfrogs and Snapdragons will be a little different. It’s an ongoing story with a central plot, characters that continue on from one chapter to the next, and a villain—of sorts. I can’t for you to read it!

What kinds of stories do you reach for when the world feels stressful and you need a break? Tell me about them in the comments!

New BOOK Coming Soon!

Screen Shot 2019-09-16 at 6.21.55 AM

“In the fall of the year, when the leaves were blushing red in the sunshine and the trees were yawning and stretching and shaking loose from the apples and acorns and chestnuts they had been carrying all summer, I left my cottage and walked the seven miles to Witherly, a little village on the edge of the forest . . .”

The last few weeks, I have been scrambling to get the manuscript for ‘Of Bullfrogs and Snapdragons’ prepared and the cover finalized for a fall release. Now that I work full-time and have a lot less time on my hands than I used to, it’s a little more difficult. It’s meant emailing my cover artist while I wait on the microwave at lunch hour, and using my Sunday night to flash through the edits from my editor.

But, things are moving along!

The manuscript is ready, I have a COVER (!!!!), and thanks to my wonderful sister, the illustrations are all finished as well.

Things are moving forward!

I’m so excited to share this book with you. Fall is my favorite time of year, and fairytales are some of my absolute favorite writing projects. I love the whimsical quality, I love the imagery, and I love the lightheartedness. The stories are my own personal kind of escape when I’ve got too much work to do and not enough time, and I love that I get to share them with you! I’ve heard so many stories from people who have read them with their kids or enjoyed them for themselves at times when they needed a break from life’s craziness, and I love that we get to connect over these small stories.

The book is due for a fall release sometime in October—or possibly November. I don’t have a date yet, because there’s still a lot of work to be done and I work full-time, ya’ll. Also, I have a super special trip coming up at the end of October, which I can’t tell you about quite yet. But I’ll post pictures when it happens!

I’m so thankful for all of you, and I can’t wait to share this book with you. I’ll let you know dates as soon as I have them!

Surprise!

My sister is finally, finally home, after traveling about like a crazy adventure woman for six months.

I am so happy she’s here.

Don’t get me wrong, living alone is lovely. The house is quiet, I have my own space, and—and that’s the only plus sides I can come up with right now.

Now that my sister is home, I have someone to read with in the evening, someone to bounce ideas off of when I’m in a creative mood, someone who makes dinner when I am at work and has it ready when I come home, someone to grocery shop for, since grocery shopping for one person is no fun at all . . . 

Basically, I have about a thousand reasons to rejoice that she is finally home and isn’t planning to leave again for—some amount of time. Hopefully not in the near future. But we’ll see. World travelers sometimes don’t stay in one spot very long.

Now that she is here, I can tell you the secret I have been saving up since the beginning of May! Or was it April . . . or . . . never mind, it doesn’t matter.

Ta-da!

I painted my house!

As you can no doubt guess, it was badly in need of it, and this was my welcome home surprise for her. Thus the reason I didn’t post about it.

I started painting sometime around the middle of I-Don’t-Remember-Maybe-April when I was waiting for news after several job interviews.

So, yes, I was stress painting.

I got the first coat finished with the help of some semi-enthusiastic siblings and then . . . I got sick. So things paused for a few weeks while I laid around on my couch in a cold-medicine induced stupor and watched episodes of Winnie-The-Pooh on Youtube to keep my stress levels from crashing through the roof. Because obviously, I couldn’t stress paint anymore.

You do what you gotta do.

But eventually—after a very long wait—my cold got better and I was able to finish the second coat. Now that my beautiful tiny cabin is no longer an awkward shade of pink, it has turned into a sort of secluded hermitage. (For those of you who are extroverts, I just want to clarify that this is a good thing.) The green and brown blends into the trees, and when you’re driving up the road, you’d have to know just where to look to notice that there is a house hidden away up here after all.

Which, as a secluded sort of hermit, is just right for me.

Also, my sister loved it. So all my stress painting ended up all right.

Have you been working on any home improvement projects this year? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Living Like A Writer

We are two weeks into January.

Almost two weeks.

What day is it again?

Basically, 2019 has been a whirlwind of activity, even in its first two weeks. I started coaching sessions, started the first draft of my sixth book, embraced this blog, sent out several resumes for freelance writing positions, and oddly enough, repainted and rearranged my mother’s pantry.

I also took a morning to chop wood.

Because I live in a tiny house. And the only way to heat this tiny house is with a wood stove.

And it is cold in Colorado.

The lovely part of gathering wood for my house has been the long walks through the woods, finding dead wood and fallen branches to chop up. I live on thirty-five acres of pastureland and pine woods, and out here, we don’t go to Walmart and buy wood.

Although Walmart does sell firewood. Which seems weird to me.

However, we also don’t chop down trees willy-nilly. Because trees take seven thousand years to grow in Colorado due to the lack of water. So instead, I’ve been collecting logs from neighbors who are clearing their land, dead branches and trees from our own property, and old lumber from a porch that we tore down a year or so ago.

My woodpile is a study in oddities.

The long walks to find all of this wood have given me, as a writer, so much time and space to think. They’re moments outside in the trees, with the blue sky and the deer tracks in the snow and the long, winding paths up through our property. I have loved every minute of it and found that, more than just giving me wood to heat my house, they have given me rest for my soul, inspiration for my writing time, and above all, a chance to pause and enjoy the beautiful place that I live in. I am a country girl heart and soul, and nothing feeds my spirit more than time in the trees.

And, if I can ensure that I don’t freeze in the middle of the night at the same time, it’s definitely a double bonus.