Quick Tip: Extendable Painting Rods for Brooms



I don’t know how I stumbled onto this idea- I think it was when the handle to the broom broke for the umpteenth time and I grabbed the first pole out of our collection of handles/poles to use, instead. I have found out that I really, REALLY love this! This pole is something you can buy from Lowes or Home Depot, and it’s an extendable painter’s pole. There is USUALLY foam at the top (Jude has lovingly taken that off for me, thank you Jude) for easier handling, but midway there is a button which allows the pole to collapse into itself to make it shorter or longer. this is REALLY great for reaching under the table, or for accommodating littler kids so they can help out!
This has proven to be invaluable for the younger kids, as a long broom is tedious to maneuver. It’s also SO MUCH easier to store! You can put this in a space that doesn’t require a lot of headroom. The metallic structure allows it to be more durable and disinfected.
I might just do this for our mops, too!

The Hen House

I’ve talked a little about our hen house. It originally was built to be attached to the barn but has since moved a foot away and down the hill. When we first moved in, we actually never even knew it was there. The blackberry vines were busy shielding the horror with their own horror- and our poor eyes could not get past the thorny foliage to see the structure behind them.

My husband’s first thought was, “Tear it down- it needs to be sneezed over.” Okay, so that reference was towards the whole barn- but I can assure you he meant the same for the chicken coop.

Chicken Coop

This was the chicken coop after we cleared some berries. It’s muddy and filled with goat berries (no relation to the berry vines outside). The windows were mostly cracked or broken and it looked like an animal had attempted to get in through the chicken wire on the back. Large gaping holes were left. Here is where J is assessing the floor and, really, where to begin. Note the support beams leaning where the structure was moving downhill.

Hen house floor

He took out most of the rotten floor and then dug out the bottom beams adding more support structure to it. You could still sneeze it over at this point if you tried really hard.


Here I am freezing my butt off, staring at J doing his magic. Yes I live in Oregon, but as I am a Californian transplant I still have never quite acclimatised to the cold. Yes, 65 degrees is cold.


This kind of works requires major sledge action. There is probably 2 feet of goat poop under there.


Here is the side of the barn where the coop (excuse me, goat house) was attached. All of that is ex-berry vines. Do you like the Queen-Anne’s Lace strewn about? Those will be so pretty when they pop up again. If something doesn’t eat them first.


You find wonderful things digging in the dirt. This would have made some bird/fish happy. Instead it gets to eat goat poop. For all you bug lovers, we found this attached to the light bulb inside the hen house. I didn’t realize it was there until after the bulb had been on for a few hours.


Now the hen house (chicken coop, goat shed- whatever it is until we actually finish it) is almost done. I decided to whitewash the inside and I am letting my painting arm rest, lest it become twice the size of my other one with the burly muscles I’ve been developing with Mr. Miyagi’s ‘brush up- brush down‘ technique we all learned in Karate Kid.


You can see here the back wall that one was a gaping opening, now enclosed. J filled in that wall and added a door to where the broken window once was. The boards that are darker are ones that are wet still because they’re old and gross. The white wash will help wick up the moisture- but we really probably need a good couple of summer days to fully dry them opaque.


The hen house door is made complete with steps down. I still have a lot of whitewashing to do.


When you white wash properly, you are basicly taking hydrated lime and adding water (some people add salt, flour, powdered milk, other things) to make a clear wash. I am not watering down white paint- so this is harmless for animals. It goes on thin and dries white. Which is why it isnt a paint- it’s a white wash. Get it? White. Wash.

I know, I’m brilliant.

But as you paint it on it does smell quite chalky, so my brilliant self decided that I would experiment and add something to make it smell fresher. Maybe something that would release over time, but not stink out the chickens or people who happen to be in the hen house.


What I did was take this soap, grate it, then boil it in some hot water and add it to my hydrated lime and then the bluing. The bluing will be fine- people have done it for centuries. I have no clue if the lye in the soap it- or anything else in it for that matter- is going to interfere with the curing or reliability of my white wash, but that is why I call it experimenting. I’m sure I will find out soon enough. Or you rocket scientists can tell me and put me out of my misery.

All this dirt and work has made me hungry.


Here’s a picture of Abbie and Justus sharing a hotdog last summer .

The Barn


When we moved into our Gaston house, we had high hopes for turning around the existing barn and making it workable. It was basicly a run-down storage shed that had once been used (although improperly) as a barn. It was poorly made, leaning, wiring was Jerry-rigged into something hazardous, and the owners who once used it for livestock never cleaned out the manure. Okay they may have… at one point… but we wouldn’t know from looking at the 3 feet of it stored in the back stall. It was not only gross, but it was eating away at the walls and beams so we had to replace those. The tractor had to go away for servicing and we knew we had to start on fixing things up to prepare for our own livestock if we were going to have anything this year.


My husband got to work prying off the boards that were rotten on the side so that we could fix up one of the stalls to use, at least. The rubber mats were covered in dirt, too.


We worked until sunset- and things started coming together! We still have a lot of work to do to tackle the berry vines on the back and side as well as de-mossing the roof and fixing the leaks (probably from the moss). We haven’t had a break in the weather and from sickness long enough to do this yet, but I’ll post pictures when we do!

Cupboard Deadspace DIY

Cupboard DIY

If you are anything like me, you have a house with vaulted ceilings and a kitchen with cupboard DEAD SPACE. This is that area above your cupboards that you always wished you could do something with. Most people toss a silk ivy plant or two up there to just break the monotony of emptiness. Others do things like… fill it with a million penguin figurine/stuffed animals… but please, let me highly discourage you from that for many obvious reasons.

dirtycupboardbeforeWhen you first climb up there, oooeeee. You can see where I took a wipe up there and what was left. This is one greasy project, and one for a heavy duty decreasing cleaner. My favorite is Simple Green® and it does a great job, safely. If you had not been up there before and your home was not cleaned from top to bottom recently, you will see exactly what cooking does. The greases from butter, oils, and smoke rise with the heat and settle all over the ceiling, walls, cupboards including the top of your cupboards. That gunk can gather dust as well as dead bugs and SKIN! All this can, over time, rain down onto your food. Yuck!

But I do have some tips for managing that grime!

1. Clean The Grease. Even standing on my counters, my cupboards are very tall. Everything is hard to reach because I’m not very tall, myself. So I grabbed my handy-dandy extension pole and attached it to my mophead. I sprayed some degreaser on the walls and on top of the cupboards as well as dunked the mophead in a solution and went to town.

silverliningcupboard2. Give It a Silver Lining. The best way to manage the upper grease on the cupboards and prevent it from settling is to line it with aluminum foil. You could use wax paper, but I prefer foil and I’m about to show you why!

foilglow3. Admire Your New Light. Now you can see what the foil is doing. It is actually filling those dark corners above the cupboards reflecting the kitchen light onto them. Not only that, but when you do your next deep cleaning all you have to do is replace the greasy linty foil with new foil. The foil is also going to protect the cupboards from what we are going to do next.


4. Add Mood Lighting. Purchase some mini Christmas lights (I got some from Lowe’s for $2.50) and put them up on top of the foil, dropping the plug down inbetween the cupboards. The foil will protect the cupboards, and LED lights will be cooler and cheaper, however the lighting will not be as warm. There are special rope lights you can purchase which is great for this too (mine burned out so I used what I had). I also put a stuffed coffee bag in the corner as a start for my rustic coffee house feel, which I will update you on next! Stay tuned.

Hope this helps you deal with your own empty space!


Catching up…

Feeling blessed today! I’ve had very little energy lately but I managed to get a lot of looming housework out of the way! Most people don’t understand what ‘looming housework’ of a family of 10 is like. It’s a monster. Oh- and all those missing sewing machine parts? Justus dumped them inside my art tote!!! Haha how convenient!!! This means I can finish sewing the curtains, kid-size canvas strong man, blankets and random clothing I started! I’m super eager to make some little man stuff!

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