Sunday, March 31, 2013

Living Room Updates

 I hope everyone had a very happy Easter. It started out rainy but then turned into a beautiful day to celebrate and worship our Lord who has Risen!

Recently I asked for a pair of wingback chairs that my parents were not using- they hauled them down to NC here for me! (Thanks Mom and Dad!)  I'm a big fan of wingback chairs- mostly because I feel that they are so comfy and cozier than other types of seating. I also think they are classic-looking.

These hand-me-downs, although in great condition, needed to be re-covered for a fresh look that would fit in with the rest of our furnishings. The mauve and green plaid was not working for me.

Oh, what a hard decision this turned out to be. I thought about it for months and frankly put off doing it. Did I want to keep them neutral like the sofa, or go with a bold print? I looked at florals, checks, and pretty damasks, and in the end, I decided to go with a neutral. Boring, I know- but my thought is that I can dress it up with colorful pillows and then I won't get tired of it and want to recover again in five years. The fabric I am leaning towards is the Trillby Basketweave fabric by the yard from Ballard Designs in Natural.

I also decided to strip the stain off the feet of the wingback chairs down to their natural wood color. Luckily the hubby helped, and we used steel wool and a stripping agent, with the porch door open to ventilate the area. A good sanding down gives the wood a smooth, natural looking aged patina.

Here it is before stripping:

Here it is with stripping in progress: 

We aren't quite there yet but are getting pretty close to a more natural tone. We used a "Zip Strip" gel with steel wool to strip the stain, and then the legs will require heavy sanding. 

I think these chairs will be incredible versatile. If not used in the living room, they can always go in a bedroom, or even be used as the two end chairs at a dining table. I hoping to add extra updates to the living room with throw pillows, new curtains, and maybe even a new rug.

Stay tuned for the big reveal!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Boiled Peanuts

Mmmmm............I love boiled peanuts. A southern delicacy, these tasty snacks are perfect with a fizzy drink or a glass of milk. Boiled peanuts take on more of a bean-like flavor with almost a mildly sweet taste. I like them so much better than fresh peanuts.

I had never tried boiled peanuts until I moved to North Carolina, where they are common in rural areas, especially in the eastern part of the state. Peanuts grow really well in eastern North Carolina, and a good number of the state's farmers are in the business of peanut production. To make boiled peanuts you have to use "raw" or "green" peanuts that come in their shell.

Boil them (in the shell) with about 4-6 cups of water (or as much as it takes to cover) for several hours or overnight in the crockpot on low as we did. Make sure to add a generous amount of salt (1/4 cup is good for 1 1b of peanuts), and you have an addictive treat on your hands. Some people like to add spices to the boiling water as well, such as red or cayenne pepper or seasoned salt.

To eat them I crack the shell open with my teeth, and most of the time it's easiest to slurp the salty juice out of the shell first and then eat the softened nut. Boiled peanuts can be pretty messy when eating, so be sure and have some napkins on hand.

Watch out! Boiled peanuts are surprisingly addictive :)

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Homestead Barn Hop

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Roofing Options for Historic Buildings

Have you thought much about the choice of roofing for your historic house or building? When it comes time for a new roof, the choice of style or material can make a huge impact on the look of your property.

My first and foremost preference for historic buildings would be if the property happens to retain its original roof, repair it in-kind rather than replacing. Most of the time older roofs can be repaired, unlike asphalt shingle which often must be replaced.

1. Standing Seam Metal

Standing Seam metal is a very durable option for many historic buildings and is on the more affordable side of the range of roofing options. It looks great on farmhouses and agricultural buildings especially. It can be repaired instead of having to be replaced in whole, and should last about 100 years or more if taken care of.

2. Slate

Slate is a very attractive option for historic buildings as long as it is appropriate for the style of the building. It can be costly, but will last for hundreds of years if well maintained and repaired as needed.

3. Terra Cotta Tile

Like slate, Terra Cotta Tile is also extremely durable and will last for hundreds of years if maintained well and repaired in-kind as needed. Most terra cotta roofing has copper trim, wells, gutters, and downspouts to fill gaps and control water flow. Terra Cotta tile is a beautiful option well suited to Spanish, Mediterranean or Mission Revival style buildings and will make a bold impact upon the look of a property.

4. Copper

A copper roof is certainly luxurious and expensive, but has a patina that only gets better with age and can last for hundreds of years if repaired and maintained. Copper can grow thin and suffer from holes due to water damage in spots such as gutters, but many times the holes can be filled or patched with new copper. I especially like the use of copper for accents such as dormer windows, cupolas, and turrets.

5. Wood Shingle

Historically wood shingle roofing is perhaps the most popular early choice of roofing for our Colonial settlers. It works well on older Colonial and Georgian style houses and can last surprisingly longer than you would think, especially if the material used is a wood that is water resistant.

6. Green Roof, anyone?

A Green roof would work well if the roof is flat, especially if there is a bit of a parapet to conceal and contain the vegetation grown on the roof. Buildings suited to this are often civic or commercial buildings located downtown, or Victorian or early-twentieth century storefronts buildings. Occasionally modernist houses possess flat roofs that could possibly be converted into a green roof.

7. Architectural Shingle

Finally, an architectural shingle roof is a nice option that mimics the look of a more expensive slate or tile roof, but is much more affordable for the every day American. It is certainly a step up from the usual asphalt shingle roof and much more appropriate for historic buildings.

Which is your favorite?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Breeding My Flock Part 3: Spring Mating

It's time for another edition of the "Breeding My Flock" series! I know you are super excited to hear about my plans for mating the chickens, right? ;)

Unfortunately we lost a few hens recently to a predator that I was planning to breed, so I'll have to make due with the ones we have left. I'm still a little saddened by the loss of my favorite sweet hen.  I have decided to keep Pennyroyal, Rosemary, and Lavender in the coop together with Reggie for a week, followed by those same three hens in the coop with Cori for a week.

I'm breeding both roosters because both carry good traits and Cori actually has better coloring and a straighter tail. My hens are fairly good in terms of the Standard, but could stand to have less "smut" in their coloring and yellower beaks. My cocks in this flock need a lot more work: they need more of a U-shaped back, longer and fuller tails, less beefy combs, and need to be smaller overall in weight.

I'm not sure how this will go down--because it will be one heck of a task to get the other two hens and rooster out while keeping the ones I want in. Additionally, Reggie is going to FREAK OUT when he sees Cori in there with his ladies and he can't get in to "save them." I admit though, it is rather comical to see a rooster in distress and carrying on about protecting his girls from another rooster--you will never see them run and fly so fast! But very chivalrous and sweet.

the mounting process in action- cue Marvin Gaye sexy music....

the poor hen gets pulled on at the head and clawed by chicken feet on her
back, but it's how the rooster holds on :)

After the eggs have been laid for each week, I will mark them with a sharpie to know which ones I need to leave in the coop for setting.

Next comes the hard part, I must be patient and hope that a broody hen will see that nice big pile of eggs and sit on them. It may take a couple of tries before one "sits tight." She may sit for a few days, but then become tempted by treats or fresh air and get up off her nest. But once a hen "sits tight," new chickies will hatch within about 3 weeks!

I sure hope I have a hen who wants to mother soon in my flock!

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

First Spring Blooms

Here at the roost, our first blooms of the early spring were unexpected: Hellebores!

Even before the daffodils, the Hellebores popped up with their beautiful downward turned purple and white blooms. Sometimes these plants are called Lenten roses and they grow well in shade. A hallmark plant of a southern garden, the hellebore is one of my favorites. When I used to work at a historic site in Hillsborough (, the site's impressive garden had an heirloom variety that was a beautiful apple green color. Our Hellebores are a pretty purple variety and a white variety with purple accents.

the Hellebore plants in our yard- they come up in clusters and have multiplied every year

In order to see the wonderful blossoms, you almost have to use your hand to turn the petals upward.

The blooms fit perfectly in one of my vintage cobalt blue medicine bottles from my collection that one of our relatives found along the Haw River.

Such lovely flowers that foreshadow the spring that is to come!

Happy early Spring,