Monthly Archives: April 2016

There’s a Fox in the Hen House – Fo’ Reelz

After working late last night (hosting a happy hour…rough, I know), my plan was to sleep in a bit this morning (nice and late…until 7ish). My sleep was interrupted around 6:30 when Taz started barking his head off. He’s great a crying wolf, so I put a pillow over my head and rolled over to try to sleep a bit more. But, he would not stop. He was losing.his.mind. I groaned and got out of bed to tell him to knock it off. As I came down the stairs I could see the piles of feathers in the yard and hear the chaos of terrified chickens. 

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After years of having chickens, I’ve learned that there are lots of things that want to eat your chickens—bears, foxes, skunks, coyotes, weasels, hawks, your FIL’s dog—so as I was standing there in my pj’s, I was searching the yard desperately to see what I was up against. At our old house, our chickens were an acre away (not a unit of distance, I know) at the top of a hill and we couldn’t see when they were under attack. Now, they’re 100 feet away, so we bear full witness to their demise. I spent this fall chasing a hawk off our chickens (literally, I actually hit it at one point), so I figured that’s what was out there, and then I saw it.

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Standing in the middle of our yard, with a chicken hanging from its mouth, was a fox. I went sprinting out the front door like a crazy person, barefoot, in my pajamas, screaming at the fox and looking for anything I could find to scare it away. I found a few rocks to throw at it and charged it. It looked at me, casually dropped the chicken (who ran off into the woods), and trotted away. It was clearly not worried about me. Realizing I couldn’t chase down a fox barefoot, I ran inside, threw on my pastel LL Bean Wellies, and ran back out to defend my flock. I was going for drama there, was that dramatic?

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The fox had looped around the house and was going in for the kill again by the coop. I kept charging at it, throwing rocks, and shouting, and it really couldn’t care less. It would drop whatever chicken it grabbed, run around the house, and come back for more. At one point, while I standing there throwing rocks and shouting, it was chasing a chicken directly at me and we ended up less than 10 feet apart. That fox has some cojones, man. 

I finally chased it down the road, but as it was running off, it found a chicken in the woods and carried away. Sad face. I figured it was distracted for a few minutes, so ran in to grab my phone and call TimTheFarmer, who was on a tractor. As I made laps around the house looking for the fox, rock in hand, TimTheFarmer shouted at me to get the rifle (remember, he was on a tractor, so I couldn’t hear him). Ummm…all the sudden I had all sort of excuses about how things were totally under control. It’s not that I’m uncomfortable with the idea of doing what we need to do, and I’m a good shot, but the problem is that I never pay attention when whomever I’m shooting with shows me how to load the gun. I pay attention long enough to safely load the gun while I’m doing target practice, but the minute we’re done, that knowledge totally goes flying out one ear. Don’t rely on me when the zombies come. I decided to stick to my rocks, and try to round up the chickens.

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At one point, it seemed like we were down to 4 chickens. I couldn’t find any more, and given how balsy the fox was about grabbing them (he grabbed 4 different ones while I was chasing him around), I figured we’d had a massacre. I slowly lured each chicken I could find back to coop (and told the chicks in the brooder to thank their lucky stars we hadn’t gotten around to getting them outside yet…they’d be toast). As I did, other chickens started to emerge from the woods. Most were too spooked for me to pick them up, but the one back there on the grill was happy to hitch a ride back to the coop. I eventually recovered 11, which means that jerkface fox only got two.

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For now, they’re all safely locked in the coop and TimTheFarmer just got home to set up the electric fence. We used to always have them fenced in, but over the winter we let them totally free range, and they were happy has clams…or free ranging chickens. Clearly it’s time to set the electric fence back up and hope they stay in. Right now, Otis and I are on lookout patrol.

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And, it’s time to destroy the nearby fox den, which should prevent him from coming back. We learned this a couple years ago when chickens kept disappearing. It turns out that foxes only build dens once a year and that they build a couple dens. If you can destroy the closest den, they’ll often retreat to their other dens and leave you alone. To destroy a den, you need break it up/demolish it, and —and this is gross, but effective—urinate on and around it to establish that it’s not their territory any longer. This is what boys are for. We’ll also hang some vinegar-soaked sock balls around the coop area which also can keep foxes away. 

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Is it bad that as I was chasing away a fox with one of our chickens in its mouth, I thought, “Well, at least this will be a good story for the blog.”?



{Travel Log} Nashville

Y’all. I just found a new favorite town to visit. I just spent four days in Nashville for a conference and despite spending much of that time in hotel meeting rooms avoiding stale pastries and drinking bad coffee, I loved Nashville. Perhaps it was the live music pouring out of every.single.bar and store (and in the airport and in the hotels), perhaps it was the number of cowboy boot stores, perhaps it was the Southern hospitality, or perhaps it was the surprisingly relaxed, anything-goes atmosphere. Most likely it was the prevalence of the use of the term y’all, a word I wish I could pull off, but I’m just too Yankee to use.  Oh, and the BBQ, and the hot chicken. For all these reasons, I can’t wait to go back to Nashville.

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Our trip was admittedly pretty touristy. Due to our conference responsibilities, we only had a few hours each night to explore and were tethered to the Downtown-Broadway area, but since that area included live country music every 5 feet, I was a happy girl. We spent our free time eating BBQ and hot chicken hopping from bar to bar listening to music. I’m in desperate need of veggies, but had my fill of amazing live music.

The Food

The food in this town was good, but there was no sticking to paleo here. The pimento cheese was calling my name from every direction and most things were fried or covered in a sugary BBQ sauce. But, I love a sugary BBQ sauce, just as much as I love country music, so really, if we’re honest, I was in my happy place and happy to indulge for a few days.

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When making plans to meet up with a friend the first night we were in town, she asked if we liked spicy food. I confirmed with my coworker who I was traveling with that she liked spicy, and her response was, “Yes, as long as it’s not hot chicken.” Apparently she had burned her face off eating hot chicken the last time she was in town. So, of course, my friend said we had to go to Hattie B’s and eat hot chicken. Hattie B’s is not the original purveyor of hot chicken (fried chicken slathered with a cayenne paste), but it’s up there in the rankings and it was delicious. We apparently got lucky because the line was not around the corner. I ordered the medium heat chicken leg because I actually wanted to be able to eat the chicken and it was still pretty dang spicy. They had three hotter heats about that and then I heard that Hattie B’s isn’t even the hottest. Holy crow! I can’t imagine. The chicken was super most, perfectly fried, with a delicious heat. Hattie B’s was a great intro our first night to Nashville!

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Travel Tip
Don’t always assume you should walk to your destination in Nashville
just because Google says you can. It gets pretty sketchy pretty quickly
when you get out of downtown. That’s all I’ll say.#imfinemom

All of the rest of my meals consisted of hot chicken, pulled pork, or ribs. The most notable meal was at The Southern. We’d foolishly tried to go out for dinner on a Friday night, downtown, without a reservation, and were running into 90+ minute waits everywhere where went. After trying four other places, by the time we got to The Southern we were starving and losing hope and they had a two hour wait. I put the skills I’d honed over years of stalking soon-to-be-freed lunch tables in ski lodges and after a few minutes, we had a seat at the bar. Without even trying, we ended up having the best meal of the trip. My coworker had their My Way pasta which was amazing. And I had their ribs, which were hands down, the best ribs of my life. They were perfectly fall-of-the-bone cooked and had a sweet and spicy sauce with a delicious crust. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t make it through the full rack and as I was walking home with my to-go box, a man on the street said he was hungry and asked for them. After years of being asked for money in NYC, in some weird and sad way, it was better to be asked for food and I was happy I had a least a little to give him. 

We wrapped up our dining experience by trying to find a place to eat near our hotel before we caught our plane home. We’d planned on going Puckett’s, which we’d stopped in to listen to music the night before and had smelled amazing, but they had an hour-plus wait (for lunch!?). Ugh! So we Yelped and found the Back Alley Diner, which told us not be afraid of a restaurant down a dark alley. Seems like the start to a horror film, right? We were able to walk right in and get a table. It was a little divey, diner that smelled of the booze that had been spilled the night before, but the food was decent and our waitress was on her game. We had (more) tasty pulled pork and then it turned out the kitchen made a mistake so our waitress kept trying to right our order and we ended up with enough food to feed an army. Ha! By the time we left, there was a wait out the door…what’s with Nashville and waits?!

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Travel Tip
Plan your dining and make reservations. Downtown Nashville has
become a hot destination and you will wait if you don’t plan ahead.

Live Music

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The live music was absolutely everywhere. We didn’t have enough time to get out to the Bluebird Cafe, so we stuck to Lower Broadway. We mostly just walked in and out of honkey tonks, but did make sure to hit up Robert’s Western World, which I’d read about on a few must-do lists AND the security guy at the Country Music Hall of Fame recommended it. They did, in fact, have great bands playing and their infamous fried bologna sandwiches were flying off the griddle. After expressing my weird love of beer koozies and at first not realizing you had to pay for them, I somehow ended up have two different people semi-accidentally steal the same one twice for me (it was taken back by the owner the first time) – it was a very odd experience, but, I got a cool koozie :).

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Travel Tip
Musicians earn at most $50 per four hour gig and
rely on tips, so always have cash with you.

We also stopped in at Bootleggers Inn, a place on 4th Ave just before Broadway that I can’t find on google maps, but that had a great outdoor space on the 2nd floor and live music on both floors, and Acme Feed and Seed, which I’d just seen the week before on American Pickers. We made the long hike to the 4th floor and had a great view of the Cumberland River.

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Travel Tip
Bands play shifts from 2-6pm, 6-10pm, and 10pm-2am. They usually take
30 minutes to set up after each shift ends. We kept walking into bars
right as shifts were ending – plan your arrival at bars accordingly!

Tourist Stops

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Our conference hosted a party at the Country Music Hall of Fame, which was closed down for the event #wefeltfancy. We had every intention of just grabbing a quick bite, walking through the museum, and then heading out on the town, but we totally got sucked in by the band and the line dancing. I am seriously a sucker for line dancing #alwayshavebeen

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We finally made it up to the museum with 20 minutes to look around and didn’t even make it to the third floor. Admittedly, my “old country” knowledge isn’t as good as my 80s-today knowledge, so the 2nd floor was actually most of the people I’m familiar with. We power-walked the Hall of Fame and said “Hi!” to the greats.

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You should know this about me: I am a HUGE Dixie Chicks fan. I wasn’t sure if they’d be included in the museum and I was so glad to see they were. As I stood there reading their exhibit, the amount of smack-talking I heard about them from passers-by buh-leww my mind! The best (read: most ignorant) was when someone said, “Oh yeah, they were great before they made themselves irrelevant for being anti-American.” Seriously?? It took all my willpower to keep my mouth shut. They’ll probably vote for Trump, though, who has said far worse things than the Dixie Chicks ever did, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me. Anyway, sorry about that. I got all fired up there. We had a great time at the Country Music Hall of Fame AND I line danced to Copperhead Row AND I didn’t start anything with Dixie Chicks haters #winning

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You all know my love of Fixer Upper by this point, but I also love American Pickers, so I had to be a total tourist and go to their Antique Archaeology store. #nerdalert #iknow We took a cab out to their store and were met with quite a line. That seems to be a theme in this town (or perhaps I need to get off the beaten path). In addition to seeing some cool antiques it was neat to see that they’d picked a run down part of town that is now starting to see some revitalization because their store is a tourist destination. Lots of little shops are popping up in the warehouses near by. There isn’t much food there yet, so don’t plan on eating while you’re out there. And, guess what?! There was live music there too 🙂 

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Most towns I visit for work are fine. I work Yelp to find some good food and might visit a historical site. Nashville, however, was awesome. It was so easy to find something to do and as lifelong lover country, I finally felt in like I was amongst my people, rather than the nerd who likes Trisha Yearwood and Brooks & Dunne. I also have never seen so many people walking around with guitars and other musical instruments and I loved that about this town. I can’t wait to go back and get off the beaten path a bit more!



{Guest Bathroom} High Impact, Low Budget Makeover

The bathrooms were/are definitely the most dated rooms in our new house. We’re talking old-school oak medicine cabinets, bad light fixtures, mismatched hardware, 1980’s tiled floors, and a really bad countertop. Luckily the expensive parts have been updated (bathtubs, toilets, pedestal sinks), so the updates are mostly cosmetic, except for the bad countertop in the master bathroom. There were lots of projects I wanted to tackle when we moved in this fall, but because I was traveling so much for work, I had to stick to quick and easy projects. The very first project I did in the whole house was a quick makeover of the guest bathroom. 

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Did you know it’s really, really hard to take a photo of a small bathroom and have it turn out like all the fancy design bloggers’ photos turnout? Well, it is. This is why I haven’t posted this update yet. But, it’s time. I’m going to give small-bathroom photography my best shot and hope you’ll appreciate the before and afters despite my mediocre skills. 

I had LOVE LOVE LOVED Cassie’s bathroom makeover and I was so bummed for her and the bathroom that she moved out as soon as she finished it. I don’t thinks she’s that bummed, just as an FYI. I loved the white shiplap (is that shiplap? I think it’s shiplap! Where’s Joanna Gaines??) contrasted against the beautiful dark walls. How stunning is this bathroom?

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It wasn’t until I was standing in the doorway of our new-to-us bathroom, that I realized that I had the bones already in place to riff on Cassie’s design. After some nightmare wallpaper removal experiences, I wasn’t ready to commit to wallpaper (even though that paper makes my heart sing), but I figured I could go dark with the paint, update the mirror and lighting, and have a quick makeover that would be high impact. 

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On one of my few weekends home last fall, I picked out the paint (I was looking for a dark, purple-y blackish smokey grey – you totally know what I’m talking about right?), scrubbed the walls down, took down the awful vanity and light fixture, and got to work.

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Two things:
1. Can we talk about the absurdity of the light fixture/medicine cabinet combo? The cabinet totally blocked all light coming from the lights. Seriously people. Plan ahead.
2. I found a giant hole in the wall. I know we’re covering it with a mirror, but hey previous owners! Take care of my walls!

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Ok, back to it. I was painting the bathroom before we’d barely started unpacking. As we discussed, I’m adverse to unpacking. I’m confident that TimTheFarmer was not thrilled with the fact that projects were starting while boxes lingered in every room. #sorryhoney #itshowiroll But, the painting was done by the end of the weekend, I’d managed to bake a 4th place winning apple pie (that’s winning, right?) while I was painting, and I LOVED the contrast against the (fake) tile walls. I’d never painted a ceiling before, but Cassie showed me the way and I think it really made a huge difference. Once I painted, I realized the tile walls and toilet and tub and sink weren’t white, which I’d originally thought they were, they were almond. I hate almond (to be clear, I don’t hate almonds, just almond finishes). Because my “tiles” weren’t white, the white ceiling would have been an even worse idea. 

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I decided to go with a simple glass mirror instead of a medicine cabinet for two reasons. First, it’s much less expensive. Second, it actually opens up the small space in that bathroom by not taking up 4-6 inches of vanity depth with a medicine cabinet. Someday I might add a flea market frame to it, but for now, I like the simplicity.

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This was also the point where I made a hardware commitment for the house. I’ve typically gravitated toward various shades of silver/chrome for hardware finishes, but this house was calling for oil-rubbed bronze (i.e. blackish). The hardware on the kitchen cabinets was black, so that’s the direction went. We picked out this light fixture from Lowes and went with the square glass shades when we picked up the mirror. Since then, we’ve replaced all the doorknobs with oil-rubbed bronze knobs and they really play well off the grey walls and warmth of the wood doors. 

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Finally, I painted the trim around the window and door white (six coats later…ugh!), added a towel ring that was already here and rounded up some art.

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Here’s a before, during, and after:

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What are your thoughts on painting a ceiling a bold color?