#slowfashionoctober, my clothing buying ban, and feeling empowered in my wardrobe

Oh, hey, internets.

Not been doing a good job of keeping up lately. It’s life, work, kid, you know the stuff. And I’m not going to recap too much. Instead, I’m just going to jump into something that’s been on my mind.

This blog started as a place for me to explore being a maker in every capacity. Much of that has centered on our old house in East Tennessee, but over the past two years I’ve also been learning other kinds of making. This year, I’ve spent a lot of time teaching myself basic sewing, and a few months ago, I instituted a clothing-buying ban for myself (dang near impossible to do for The Boy, as he grows so dang fast). The ban isn’t total; I can’t make unmentionables, and my skills have not evolved to the point where I’m comfortable making pants, either. However, I make all my own tops; I haven’t bought one in months. I’m making do with much of what I already owned, but I’m also only adding things I make myself to the stash. Additionally, I’ve been slowly weeding through my closet, taking out everything I never wore because it made me uncomfortable.

The ban exists for a couple of reasons. One is financial; clothes are expensive, and we’re working on our savings. One is environmental; the fast fashion industry (discussed below) produces cheap clothing at enormous costs to the environment and the people who live and work near the factories. Making doesn’t address all those issues (toxic dyes are a real problem), but it does lessen my complicity in the situation. And one is personal; I’m forcing myself out of my comfort zone, making myself think about what I wear and why, and learning a lot along the way about my preferences and my body.

On that note…


I’m following a tag (and movement) on Instagram right now called #slowfashionoctober (Slow Fashion October, for those who don’t like to parse the words out of hashtags). Here’s the main idea (from Karen Templer, of the blog and knitting website Fringe Association, which far as I can tell, runs the party):

“Fast Fashion is destroying lives and the planet at our collective behest. There are loads of people who aren’t part of the problem, thankfully. There are people who are part of the problem and don’t realize it, and I hope we’ll reach some of those. And there are people who are part of the problem, come to that realization, and want to make changes. That’s what Slow Fashion October is about: A discussion in which all points of view are welcome in a global discussion about how to avoid (or minimize) contributing to the problem and how to be part of the solution — starting at home, with our own closets…

Here’s what I would love to see happen this Slow Fashion October. I would love for each of us to get (at least) one step closer to having a closet full of clothes that we absolutely love and wear and feel great in and feel great about. Clothes we want to take care of and mend and make last because we will be so sad when we’ve finally worn them out.”

Participants on Insta are engaging in a month-long discussion about a whole range of things from the environmental and social costs of fast fashion to how the clothes we wear (or make) empower us, give us confidence, tell stories, and frame our lives. It’s a month of self-reflection and participation in a community I’m just now discovering. So, I’m giving it a go, as much as possible given the speed of life during the fall semester, by participating in each week’s discussions and reflections.

Wearing my searsucker #memade Alice Top to work.

Each week starts with an Action Item, and this is Week 1’s:

“Make a mood board or pinboard that reflects your ideal style — colors, shapes, attitude. Think about how that has evolved over time, and the difference between what you like or admire and what actually feels like YOU — these are not the same thing.”

SO. Here I am. I’m gonna ride the #slowfashionoctober train (follow me on Instagram at @anythingworthdoing). I put together my mood board on Pinterest, so here’s a screen grab.


As the prompt promised me, I see some things I know about myself and some things I didn’t know about myself in my mood board. I love neutrals, particularly those that skew cool: blues, greys, grey browns, black, eggplant-ish shades of purple, and greens. I don’t do synthetic materials. And I like semi-put together looks that don’t feel like I’m trying too hard, or like I’m putting on airs.

I love texture and subtle, repeated patterns. This isn’t surprising, as I’ve long been a devotee of herringbone in any form, but I also love slubby linen, houndstooth, chilled-out plaids, small (tiny! miniscule!) stripes, and knitwear that has a small pattern.

That’s the other thing I’m seeing, and again, I kind of knew it: I like small details. I really enjoy a buttonhole that’s a slightly different color than the rest, a brass zipper hiding inside a jacket, funky embroidery, and elbow patches. I’m weirdly uncomfortable in clothing that talks for me, so I like to keep the details tiny and maybe a little secret. There’s something special in being the only person who knows your pockets are made of floral fabric.

And finally, in terms of silhouettes, I like things that graze my shape but don’t give too much of that shape away. Tailored, not tight. Slightly slouchy, but never sloppy. Put together, but a little by accident.

What I liked about this exercise is this…

If and when I do start buying clothes again (and let’s face it, I can’t make it all myself YET), I’ll have my color palette, silhouette preferences, detail and design notes, and a whole bunch of other things keeping me from buying stuff I just don’t really love. I think we all buy things because they’re the best we see around us at the moment. I think over the last year, and hopefully throughout this month, I’ll be moving further from that, and closer to the idea that my closet can bring me joy, confidence, and peace.

“The key to having a loved, lasting, low-turnover closet is to put the right clothes into it. The right clothes for you. And the key to that is knowing who you are and how you like to dress; making good choices for your body and soul and style and lifestyle.”

Additionally, I love the idea that loving what I have, and using what I love, repairing it along the way so I get to use it so much longer, has bigger implications.

“Every closet that fills more slowly and thoughtfully, that lasts longer and suits its owner, is a chink in the fast-fashion industry, and chinks add up.”

Anybody else inspired by this community and these ideas? Wanna go along on the ride? What would you see in your moodboard?


Kitchen Garden: Bring On the Plants!

Fun fact: I wrote this last week. It’s now freezing. But I came prepared with lots of plastic doo-dads to cover the planted babies, so it’s going to be okay. As we all freeze to death. In April in Tennessee.


When this publishes, it’ll officially be past the frost date in this ol’ USDA Plant Hardiness Zone (7a if you’re wondering, find yours here). Technically, there’s still a 50% chance of any particular day having frost after this date, but it’s a good bet your plants will survive with cover.

SO. That means it’s planting time!

Actually, I had to jump the date a bit. I had a tray of plants that contracted some kind of fungus or mildew and they were slowly dying, one by one, each after the plant next to it had shriveled up and died.


As this was the tray containing my tomato plants, you can imagine my panic.

So, on the 10th, I plopped the most vulnerable of my babies into the ground, figuring that if I kept them in the tray until the 15th, they’d die of fungus instead of frost. Admittedly, neither seemed like a nice way to go, but I calculated that covered, they had a better shot of surviving in the garden than in the trays.

This, of course, was after a load of mulch magically showed up at my house (Pete did it) and we, as a family, spent the evening joyously wheelbarrow-ing load after mulchy-smelling load into the garden to create our paths.

That’s not hyperbole. The Boy loved it and I loved watching him love it.


He especially enjoyed “beating me” back to the truck each time we needed a new load. One time, I took off running and he screamed at me, “No, Mom! Stop! Me first!” The panic was real.



It’s been so very fun to do this project with him. We rush out and check our sprouts when we get home in the evening, he asks if he can plant plants and give them away to friends, he argues with me over tomato and pepper cage placement, he loves his red wheelbarrow, and he can’t wait until we have flowers and vegetables to pick.

You know what’d be amazing, though? If he ate literally any of them. <insert eye roll> One of our parenting goals in 2018 was to get The Boy eating a single type of vegetable. We’ll get there, sweet boy.


And I? I behave like some kind of weirdo, running home at lunchtime on Wednesdays to visit my garden. “Nope. Nothing has changed. Maybe after work?”

So, for now, we have a sparsely planted garden with nicely mulched paths, some seeds in the ground, and a lot of hope.


(And a dirty old house that needs painted.)

See you soon!

Kitchen Garden Update

Hey all! Time for a kitchen garden update!

When I left you all a few weeks ago, we (Peter) had dug out and filled a pea gravel path to the workshop/shed/duck house, and we were just tackling transforming the entire side yard into our (let’s be honest, my) kitchen garden.


Well, a bit has happened since then!

First, this yard did have grass in it. Crappy grass that had been beat up by ducks and was patched with crab grass and clover, but turf nonetheless. So, the first step was tilling that up.

We talked about renting a tiller, but frankly, we will need one repeatedly over the next few years. However, a giant gas tiller was neither in the budget nor super practical for the size of our space. The kitchen garden really requires a smaller tiller, and I’m trying not to buy too many appliances that require gas. There’s maintenance and cleaning involved with gas motors that just…sucks. And literally everyone I know who has a gas tiller has to get it fixed every dang year? So, we bought a small electric tiller.


Admittedly, with our clay soil, it took quite a while for this little guy to eat through the turf, and Pete had to do most of it because it really jumped for a while, but overall we’re pleased with it. It did the job, cost under $100, and it’s ours for repeated use.


Once the yard was completely tilled (aside from the edges, which I’ll have to dig up with a shovel), I set to work figuring out the structure of the garden. I finally settled on a series of beds separated by paths of mulch. I figure this year is experimental, and we’ll play around with the design.

I got the tiller out and (after tilling in a year’s worth of duck muck– thanks, ladies!), tilled the paths really deeply so we could go back with rakes and trench them out. Once the initial till had been done, it was pretty easy for me to go in and use the machine. I just, you know, had sore arms for a week.


Basically, there are a series of rectangular beds with approximately 2′ walkways between. Each bed is anchored by a caged plant (tomato or pepper) and will be filled in with other stuff. I’m still refining this plan, though; I may move a couple things around still.

The Boy is obsessed with the space. We’ve already planted radishes and beets together (which he loves), and as soon as we get home, we go check for sprouts. Then, we talk about where the plants we started in February will live.


I’ve planted dwarf blueberries near the fence posts, and plan to hang these strawberry bags on the fence, as well.


We love coming out here every evening. I cannot wait until things are growing and we can wander out after dinner and sit down on the ground and just look at our work paying off. It’s my favorite thing to do. Like, I literally sit in the dirt and look at my plants and touch their leaves and poke their flowers and wait for bees and butterflies to buzz by me. It’s a very geeky, zen thing.


We’re about a week away from the frost date (even though it’s supposed to get down to 20F tonight WHAAAAAAAT?) and I’m just itching to do more out here.

Soon, friends. Soon.


Kitchen Garden: The Plan

Hello, all! Yes, I’ve been gone for a while, but it’s winter and frankly, a whole lot doesn’t happen at the Huffaker House in the wintertime. I only blog when there’s something to blog about…and spring is almost here, so there’s about to be a whole lot to discuss!

Spring’s just a few short weeks away. AHHHH I can’t wait ’til the place looks like this again.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to have a real, honest-to-goodness garden this year, and recently, we’ve started taking steps to make that a reality.

Behold, the side yard.

Pic is from summer 2015, when I was refinishing the back door and a headframe.

Or, as it’s been known around here lately, the duck yard, because these three ladies have made it their home this winter.

Left to right, Idiot, Best Friend, and Lady Duck.

They made the side yard their winter stomping grounds, and over the course of the season turned it into a muddy, disgusting mess. As we were discussing how to repair the space (as in, reseeding it with grass seed), we realized that it was the perfect space to have my garden.


It’s really the only flat spot in the entire yard, and bonus, it’s literally right off the kitchen. See that cinnamon-colored door in the pic above? That’s an exterior door into my kitchen. I can literally walk out the door of the kitchen into my kitchen garden.

We talked a lot about tilling up half the space, different bed configurations, where to put in permanent paths, etc., and finally decided to till up the whole thing, minus a pea gravel path from behind the house to the shed/duck house.

That’s right. The whole thing will be my kitchen garden. I’m dying a thousand happy gardener deaths right now (and have been for a month, which I’m sure is getting under Peter’s skin).

So, because Pete is the big strong guy who likes to dig holes, and I’m the starry-eyed planner who isn’t super crazy about digging holes, he got to work right away on the pea gravel path.


And because he’s him and can’t stop once he’s started a project (and because we had a week’s worth of amazing February weather [cue all my terror about global warming]), in just a few short days, we went from this…


To this.

So now there is a gravel path. It’s connected to the one behind the house, which looks like this (below) in mid-spring. Just imagine the path extending all the way to the shed in the photo below.


Meanwhile I’ve been dreaming up the design, ordering plants and seeds, getting my infrastructure figured out, and crying happy tears in the corner when it all gets to be too exciting.

Stay tuned for more…the date for tilling it all up is coming soon!


My New Year’s Resolutions

Hey everybody!

So, I took a much needed break from the blog after the One Room Challenge (not that I was great about updating it before that, either, but still).

Frankly, I think I needed to re-center a bit after spending time and money on one room in our home. It’s easy to get caught up in buying and changing and perfecting, and while I loved the chance to think really hard about design and intentions in one space in our home, I also realized by the end of it that I was a bit caught up in trying to perfect something that simply doesn’t need to be perfect. What a cool opportunity it all is, both during the thinking/planning/working/creating phase, and also the aftermath where you sit back and admire the work and re-center yourself to think about the big picture.

Our master bedroom, my Fall 2017 One Room Challenge space.

In keeping with these thoughts, I’ve decided to share my list of New Year’s resolutions. I’ve never really been one for resolutions; that’s out of sheer laziness, not because I don’t think they’re worthwhile. I just always figure I won’t stick to them. But this year I feel the need to make some. So without further ado, here are my 2018 New Year’s resolutions for myself, for parenting, and for our life.

Teach The Boy to bake. Pete and I are jointly obsessed with The Great British Bake-Off. We’ve watched 2.5 seasons so far, and we both really enjoy the competition, but also the good attitudes of everyone on the show. The Boy, miracle of miracles, doesn’t mind the show, either, so it’s something we can watch as a family. He has shown an interest in baking with me, and we’ve tried a few things so far.

Our first attempt at homemade English muffins.

The Boy is a super picky eater, and while he hasn’t been brave enough to try most of what we’ve made, I’m hoping fostering this interest will make him a bit more adventurous. I’m going to let my hyper-organized, perfectionist tendencies slide and teach him the right way to do some of the skills, encourage him to experiment, and tackle stuff that seemed a bit to difficult or time-consuming.

Be more intentional with purchases for myself, my son, and our home. This goal is actually two-fold. First, I find it way too easy to spend money sometimes. I try not to buy too much stuff, and I try to make sure it’s real, quality stuff when I do buy things, but I, like everybody else, can cut back more. I spend too much time window shopping online; it’s wasteful in more ways than one.

Additionally, I’m going to really start paying attention to what’s recyclable and what’s not. I’m tired of throwing money at companies that don’t make some effort toward sustainability. If I have to be the annoying lady at the grocery store who’s taking forever to inspect the packaging of her diced tomatoes, then so be it. We already recycle some things, but we can do better.

Grow a garden. This isn’t really connected to the statements above, although I guess it could be. It’s just that we’ve always known that the Huffaker House wasn’t our last stop, so I’ve always been hesitant to put in the infrastructure needed for a real food garden. I’ve done a couple plants here and there, and I’ve started and given away lots of tomatoes because I love taking care of baby plants, but we’ve never put in the kind of garden I had when I was a kid. We can’t quite achieve that size of a plot where we are, but this is the year we plant a real garden so I can enjoy growing some of our food.

Harvesting our Jack-o-Lanterns. (This one was the victim of duck harassment.)
These ladies provide us with more than enough eggs during much of the year.

The garden is actually going to go in our little side yard, which currently houses the ducks. We’ll probably have an extensive period of trial-and-error for figuring out how to make a garden/duck yard work, but I look forward to the challenge, and to having a kitchen garden literally steps away from my kitchen door.

More music. This one’s personal and long-winded. Skip if you wish.

I’ve been a singer as long as I remember, at least in my heart. 🙂 I sang all the time when I was kid, and even though my mom wasn’t sure I was all that talented, she and a music teacher (whom I adored) had enough faith in me to start teaching me the right way to do it. I started voice lessons when I was in 6th grade, and as I learned proper singing techniques, I also learned to think on my feet, to accept both praise and criticism, to present myself to people I didn’t know in a way that made me feel proud and capable.

Over the years, my voice helped me find my tribe in musical theatre. The theatre world contains some of the most beautiful hearts, people who love unconditionally, accept others for exactly who they are, and meet every new situation and challenge with confidence, creativity, and an open heart. I’ve moved many times, but almost every time, I’ve found a home with theatre people. When I am onstage, I feel like I’m the best version of myself.

The reason I get to do all of this is because music moves me, I have a talent for it, and I love sharing it with others.

However, about 2 years ago, during a production of the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, I started having hearing problems. My ears felt like they were popping and not going back to normal afterward. I would be teaching at work and feel like all I could hear was my own voice. I had a sore jaw from trying to pop my ears back. I couldn’t always hear the monitor onstage. I tried to address the problem, but I couldn’t find any doctors who knew what was wrong. I was told to put on weight to correct what might be a patulous Eustachian tube, I had corrective surgery on my sinuses to help with air flow, and I was told I was overreacting (and hormonal OMG) by one incredibly insensitive ENT.

Urinetown 2017_2

I finally found a doctor at Vanderbilt after insisting on a referral who diagnosed me with superior semicircular canal dehiscence syndrome. Basically, my ear canals are wearing away, possibly from my heartbeat. My left semicircular canal has a hole in it. My right will, too, someday. All of this makes my body act like a tuning fork; I hear sounds through my bones. My voice reverberates in my head. I hear my stomach grumble from inside my body. I can hear my eyeball move (it sounds like a bowling ball, by the way). If you hit a tuning fork and then touch my right ankle, even though nobody in the room hears the tone, I hear it clear as a bell in my left ear. And loud sounds outside my body make my eyeball jump (it’s called Tulio’s phenomenon, and it’s really weird and disorienting).

All of this has caused a lot of heartache. My voice feels like so much a part of me, but when I started being uncomfortable singing, I just stopped doing it. And because I couldn’t comfortably sing along, I stopped listening to music. Any music. In my car, at home, singing to myself while doing the dishes. Just silence instead. No show tunes at the top of my lungs. No humming (that’s the worst). I even avoided seeing friends’ shows because they were doing something I didn’t feel like I could do anymore. I was jealous and heartbroken and felt like an asshole for not being very supportive.

To top it off, an attempt at corrective surgery mostly failed and left me with a permanent ring in my left ear.



Now that I have a diagnosis and am realizing the futility of the safer treatment options, and I know that someday (hopefully a long time from now) SSCD will probably completely sideline me from performing in musical theatre, I’m done being sad. I’ve started learning to accept what my voice sounds like to me, now. It’s loud. It’s uncomfortable. Sometimes the letter “M” makes me want to crawl out of my skin. But you know what? This summer, I did a show called Urinetown and had a blast, even though I couldn’t always hum during warmups, and even though a cold made my ears worse the first weekend, and even though I didn’t quite sound the way I wanted to all the time. It was the best. It was so worth it.

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There’s really no fixing this stupid little developmental defect, but I’m not going to let it rob me of the thing that makes me happiest. So I’m going to play music (not too loudly because eyeballs) in my car again. I’m going to sing while I’m vacuuming the house. The Boy and I are going to put on Disney songs while we bake and dance in the kitchen together. I’m going to run into the living room when the Act I Finale of Shrek: The Musical is on the TV and pretend I’m Sutton Foster. And I’m going to keep singing onstage until I can’t anymore. And then I’ll direct.

I’m going to take some baby steps to start listening and singing again. As I go, I’ll have to accept that I don’t sound like I used to in my own head, that it will sometimes be uncomfortable, and that there will be things I just can’t do anymore. But you know what? I can still do a lot. I’ve got time and a lot of tolerance. It hasn’t robbed me of my voice yet, and who knows when it will, so I might as well enjoy it while I can.

It’ll be fine. It’ll be more than fine; it’ll be fun.



And finally, the resolution I hope we all have, every year, forever: I’m gonna learn more stuff. 

The best part of being human is that we’re innately curious. May we all be lifelong learners, forever and ever, amen.

Love to all of you, and lots of learning about ourselves, about each other, and about cool stuff in the New Year.

ORC Week 7: Warm Modern Cottage Bedroom

Reveal week is here!!

Yesterday, a host of professional designers and bloggers revealed their rooms. Today, it’s the guest participants’ turn to show off their labors. To be honest, I don’t even know how to write a “reveal” post, especially for something as big as the One Room Challenge. I guess the best way to kick it off is like this:


Behold! My warm modern cottage bedroom!

Over the course of the ORC, I’ve painted, done a lot of sewing, ordered and hung new artwork, chosen new linens, and added a beautiful oak blanket chest made by my husband. The room is a far cry from what it was a few weeks ago, remember?


It was dark and dreary, but new paint on our custom closets brightened it up and let the original blue milkpainted ceiling shine.


I took my first crack at making full-length lined curtains, and hung new artwork in the space.

But my favorite part of the room is the bed linens.


I made pretty new pillows and coordinated them with new sheets and some shams I found at Rejuvenation (on sale)! I love how the floral pillow pulls the blue off the ceiling and ties in the Audubon Grosbeak Cardinals print (which I downloaded from the Audubon website for free). The dark grey/olive paint job on the bed contrasts nicely with all the light colors.



This is really the first room in our home that I’ve just designed from top to bottom, and I’m so pleased with the result. It’s so nice to have such a lovely, coordinated, put-together space to just go…sit? I guess? I totally do just sit there and look around and feel fancy. I guess that’s a good barometer for success, though, right?



Sis likes to join in my sitting and looking.


She coordinates well with the cottage design.

Anyway, this was so very worth all the work. I loved picking things out and making things for this space. I’m already wondering what to do for the next ORC…




Thanks for looking, guys, and thanks to Linda of Calling It Home for hosting such a fun blogger event! This was such an inspiring project, and man, it’s so nice to share it with all of you.

ORC logo

Now, go check out the designers’ projects here and the other awesome guest participants’ projects here!

ORC Week 6: Original Ceiling

Alright, guys, it’s a good time to talk about the coolest thing in this room, the original blue ceiling in the master bedroom, and to wrap up a few of my feelings about joining this big, community-driven challenge to change a room in your home.

Before the ORC.

When we first toured our home in spring 2012, we liked it a lot. I mean, here was a 1900 home that had been mostly renovated; new roof, new windows, bathroom added. All the BIG projects were done, but there was a lot of room for making the house flow better, adding storage, making it simpler, adding another bathroom, etc.

One thing that just floored me, though, was the blue ceiling in the master bedroom. We’re not really sure what makes it blue, whether it’s milk paint or a glaze, but it’s every color of blue and a whole bunch of the green ones, too. I love to just lay there and look at it, and with one glance during our home tour, I was pretty well sold on the house.

What we couldn’t believe was when the renovator told us that he had found it under old paneling on the ceiling, and that most of the people who helped him on the house wanted him to take it down. What? I’m so glad he made the obviously way better choice to leave it up.

Move-in weekend. I should mention the floors are also original and have tons of cracks. They are cold in the wintertime, but beautiful!

I won’t deny, though, that the ceiling has puzzled me for a long time. I never knew how to decorate around it, and thus ended up with a super-blue room (first photo in the post). I’m starting to get it, though. I thought the only way to deal with it was to make the room super blue.

Turns out, the blue goes with anything and everything, as long as you find ways to pull it off the ceiling. I’m doing my darnedest to bring some other colors in this time, and I’m doing it though accessories that have both the ceiling turquoise blue and other colors or textures. Additionally, I learned from this room that a neutral background is almost required when you have a ceiling like this. (That is, unless you’re a decorator who does bright colors everywhere, and to you I say, kudos! I just can’t pull that off.)


I think that the blog world, Pinterest, and magazines make you think that people who are good at making beautiful homes are just inherently good at it and they never make mistakes. However, I’ve learned one thing about the design process: it’s full of mistakes. If you can keep them from being expensive, then great, but you will make mistakes. I’m okay with my first attempt in this room, but having owned a house for 5 years now, and spent a whole lot of time thinking about how I want our home to feel and function, I want to improve it. I joined the ORC to force myself to bring who we are now to this room, and it’s so close!

Anyway, back to bringing down the blue. I chose some particular things for this room to pull the blue off the ceiling. I’ve talked about a few and left a few out. First, there’s the artwork. I chose this print to tie the blue of the ceiling to the black of the star chart (I featured all of this a couple weeks ago here).

I also sewed some pillows that have a bright floral pattern on them, adding some red, black, green, and grey. They bring the blue off the ceiling, add pretty pattern, and even tie it all to the dark olive of the iron bed and the green/grey of the closet wall.


Finally, I purchased a handmade, fair trade basket from this site, and it has the prettiest swirls of blue and olive green in it, all while adding the warmth of the natural weave.

I featured the baskets in my mood board a few weeks ago.

The best part about this plan is that I get to let the ceiling still be one of the focal points of the room, but I get to enhance it by pulling the color off the ceiling and through the rest of the furnishings. I’m so excited to see it all pulled together; I told myself I wasn’t allowed to put everything up and style the room until this weekend because I wanted to see it all at once.

ORC logo

I’m so happy I joined this challenge; it forced me to think about some things I’ve always done but never known why. It made me think about all the angles in the room. I had to nail down my style a bit more than I have in the past, and because I wanted to either make the furnishings or buy them FROM makers, I forced myself to take a few risks (buying a ton of fabric for curtains, for instance) and then follow through on my design choices. The whole experience has made me more confident and excited than I’ve ever been when it comes to making our home what I know it can be.


I’m definitely up for this challenge again someday. Now, go check out all the awesome designers and guest participants’ projects! I’ll see you next week for the big show!

(P.S. After the big reveal next week, I’m going to keep up with the blogging. I’ve been sewing some Christmas decorations that I’m so excited about, and I can’t wait to share them!)


ORC Week 5: Painted Antique Bed

Well, guys, the antique bed is painted! It was a decision I waffled about for weeks (and really years), but now that it’s finished, I don’t know why we didn’t do it sooner! One Room Challenge, you’re a serious motivator!

Our antique iron bed is a hand-me-down. We were so lucky to get it years ago, since we had zero money for a bed when we first bought this house, but Pete hasn’t always loved how it looked in the room. The white paint, which was chippy, plus the ornate details, had him calling it “The Princess Bed.” This week was all about changing existing furniture to match our current style…

…and ook how beautiful this thing is now!


A far cry from this…


…just a few short weeks ago.

I really know nothing about antique furniture; Pete is the guru on that stuff. I learn a bit from him, but only situationally– like when something comes up. I have a good idea of what the legs on a Federal table look like, I can identify Craftsman furniture, and I know to look for non-Phillips screws. I’m up on dovetails and mortis-and-tenon construction. But I’m definitely still learning about finishes.

I was researching painting antique iron beds, when I stumbled across a blog post about restoring them. I thought, “Hmmm, that sounds like something I would like to do.” The method involved stripping, brushing, coating with beeswax…but I was up for it. I sent it to Pete, and he put the kibosh on it. “I doubt it came in raw iron. That’s just somebody thinking that’s the right finish for a bed and not realizing it might originally have been painted. Let me check the Sears catalog.” Anybody else’s husband answer that way? Nope. Didn’t think so.

That said, I didn’t need him to check the catalog because once he brought it up, I knew where to go. I’m a librarian, duh, I just don’t always remember the fact that museums and other historical interpretation pros use old catalogs to figure out finishes, furnishings, styles, clothing, etc. The mail-order catalogs of the period are basically “how-to-oldey-timey-without-looking-like-a-doofus” guidebooks. So I checked the 1917 Sears catalog, which is period-appropriate for this bed, and a bed like that would have come in a brass finish or white enamel. Soooo, so much for “restoring” it to raw iron. Fake news.

I did not, however, like the idea of either a brass bed (not really achievable here) or a white enamel bed (kind of what I wanted to get away from), so Peter and I spent about three evenings painting it. Painting all those little wires was a pain, and I panicked about three separate times about the color. (I’m assuming Pete got real sick of hearing, “I think this color will be okay, right? It’s not too green is it? I don’t know…maybe we should have gone with something else? I need to put my head between my knees, brb.”) I wanted a super dark gray to mimic natural iron, but also something with green and brown in it to jive with the green/grey paint on the closet installation. The first coat went on rough and I hated it, but after two coats, I began to see a really, really deep shade of almost olive green, and it was pretty from there on out.

One surprising thing? I love the details now. Who knew they just needed to not be princess white?


The color I chose was Valspar’s Dark Oasis.

Image result for valspar dark oasis

I waffled on using the same old charcoal we have everywhere and love (English Tea Party by Valspar), but wanted something just a little different. I struggled at the store to find something that didn’t have blue or purple undertones; I’m super pleased with my final choice. No return trip to the store for me!


Just look how pretty the lines are on this bed now!


I’m just dying to get the linens on this thing, but the extension on the One Room Challenge deadline means I have to wait a bit to put them on and photograph them.

However! The extension has also allowed for a bit more time to consider styling, framing art, and possibly a couple other little additions. I’m trying to nudge Pete into making me a pretty frame for a print I bought; boy, am I thankful he’s so nudgeable.

I’ll be sharing one more progress update next Thursday, and then the big reveal is Thursday, November 16! In the meantime, check out all the cool progress made by the official participants here and all the guest participants here! Some people are doing amazing and creative projects. Catch you all next week!

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ORC Week 4: Textiles!

Hello, everybody! Thanks for stopping in for my week 4 update for the One Room Challenge, hosted by Calling It Home. Every week for 7 weeks (there’s been an extension due to natural disasters and the ensuing disruptions to peoples’ lives), designers and bloggers are posting their updates on a total transformation in one room of their home. Check out all the exciting changes here and here!

I’ve been working on the master bedroom in our c. 1900 vernacular cottage home in East Tennessee, lovingly named the Huffaker House after its first owner, Dr. R. O. Huffaker. Last week, I showed you the antique furniture that occupies the space, introduced a new piece by my super talented woodworker husband, Peter, and laid out the plan for artwork in the space. This week’s theme is textiles!

I knew I wanted new curtains for this space; the only ones I had in here were white printed ones from TJ Maxx, bought in a hurry because they were cheap. They were too short for my windows and no longer fit my style. So I spent a while picking out a fabric and researching sewing techniques for these babies.


Making these curtains myself was an important part of the plan for this space. I struggle with the idea of disposability in our homes, and the overarching theme of this blog is learning to make permanent things in a disposable world.

I learned the basics of sewing about a year and a half ago from a friend who is now a retired costume designer and educator. I’ve since taught myself more skills via blog posts and YouTube. These curtains are certainly the biggest project I’ve ever tackled, and I definitely learned a lot about working with large pieces of fabric.

That said, anybody can learn to make lined curtains. I used this tutorial by Kelly from View Along the Way. I can’t say the project was easy, but I understood every step and never made any huge mistakes. Hallelujah! And look at how beautiful my curtains turned out!


Now, in a perfect world, there are some design things I would change here. I realize that “hang them high and wide” is the general motto when it comes to curtains. Unfortunately, we hung these rods when I didn’t know that, and replacing the hardware is not in the ORC budget. Instead of replacing the rods, I chose to do a single panel on each window so that the curtains didn’t block all the sunlight in the room.

I love the pretty fabric I used for these curtains. It has a subtle variegated stripe pattern on it, and it keeps a big, navy blue element in the room. Since painting the closets, I’ve been missing a high contrast element to ground the room, and I feel really good about the curtains stepping in to take that place. They’re not as heavy and looming as the navy blue paint on the closets, but they still give the room and the windows some weight.

I purposely left the curtains hanging just above the floor. I know that sometimes the fashion is to let them pool, but white dog + navy curtains + folds on the floor = mess and I just can’t handle that.

I did line the curtains with blackout fabric. This room gets amazing light, but sometimes, that amazing light makes an afternoon nap for a toddler (or an adult…) less than easy. They have hidden tabs, which I like because they create a clean finish at the top of the curtain, pleat nicely, and reduce hardware costs and rubbing on the rods.

Now, on to the bedding…



I’m so excited about the way the textiles are coming together in this room! I made envelope-closure pillows out of the pretty floral and the cream toile fabrics in the top left corner. The blue in the floral almost exactly matches the original blue milk paint on our ceiling, and brings that color down to the ground just perfectly. The cream is a nice way to tie into the white walls. I love the pin dot pillow covers; because the closets are now light, I wanted some contrast to set off the pillows. And I’m still deciding on a throw blanket. (Side note: I have an unhealthy obsession with blankets. Just last night Pete asked me if I wanted more for Christmas. Truth be told, I will never have enough blankets.)


So why aren’t all these pretty things on the bed, you ask? Well, I told myself I’m not allowed to bring it all together until I paint the antique iron bed. That’s next week’s challenge, and my motivation for getting through painting something as pain-in-the-rear as a wiry old iron bed.

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So, that’s the plan. Only two more progress updates before the big reveal November 16! I’ll see you all after the weekend!

ORC Week 3: Furniture and New Art!

Hey everybody! Welcome to Week 3 of the One Room Challenge at the Huffaker House! If you’re interested in the challenge, read about the featured designers (the pros) here and see all the projects by guest participants here.

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Last week’s big news was that the navy cabinetry in the master bedroom got a serious lightening-up in the form of a paint job. They went from dark, dark blue to a light, warm, green grey called Sandy Sage (by Valspar). I love how much lighter the room looks with the cabinetry painted in a light neutral. It really feels like a blank canvas.


I also shared a mood board for the room. I’m going for a “warm modern cottage with antique vibes” look.


Part of that antique vibe is going to come from the furniture in the room, which won’t be changing much.

I have to keep the current layout. The bed can’t move, and it makes too much sense to match our dressers to the side of the room occupied by each of our closets. Almost all the furniture in here is antique.


This dresser came from Pete’s grandfather’s house. (Reminder to self: push in drawers before taking photos, Shoemaker.) It has original hardware and a mirror that bounces great light.

On the other side of the room is my great grandfather’s dresser.



I love the warm color of the wood, all the little nicks and coffee stains, and the original knobs. This dresser has become home to all the “things” that will go on the shelves once I’m satisfied that the paint has cured completely.


The bed is also an antique, but it’s been painted and is chipping. I’m considering painting it black for this challenge, and Peter plans to build us a Shaker-style bed in the near future.

The only non-antique piece? Behold my paneled blanket chest, last year’s Christmas present built by Peter!


Honestly, I didn’t get my Christmas present until May, but still…isn’t it beautiful?  There are 7 floating panels in this thing. It’s made of solid oak and weighs a ton (like, I need help moving it). And what’s more? He only used hand tools to make it.


That’s right. Peter generally doesn’t use power tools. He does everything with tools that have been used for hundreds of years…a lot of times with tools that are actually hundreds of years old. I just can’t believe sometimes how talented and brilliant he is.

So the furniture is staying, with a possible paint job on the bed.

What will be new, however, is the artwork. We’ve never really had any artwork in here while using the room as a bedroom. Take a look at what I’ve picked out!

The top left is a print by Etsy artist Clare Elsaesser, titled “The Sound.” Elsaesser has become a darling of the blog world, and for good reason: her paintings make people feel things. (This one has always reminded me of my Grandmother.)

I’ve had this print pinned for about 3 years, and I think it speaks to me because…well, it could be me. I’m not in the habit of topless seagoing, but the woman in the photo has my body style and hair color. I struggle with anxiety and somehow, whether it’s the stormy atmosphere or the woman’s messy hair, I find this print comforting.


I also purchased this print, now out of stock from Scoutmob seller The Wandering. I wanted something that would add high contrast to the walls, and I love maps of any kind (though my heart truly belongs to star charts like this one). Peter made me a neat poster holder from a piece of exotic wood we picked up at the specialty lumberyard a few weeks ago.


Finally, I plan to print and frame the Cardinals plate by John Audubon, published in his Birds of America book between 1827 and 1839. I wrote a whole post on using Audubon prints in your home, complete with citations, here. I wanted a bit of red, and I’ve used other bird prints throughout our home. I can’t wait to see these two hanging in the bedroom!

Next week I’ll check in with all the textiles I’ve been making for this room. I’ve just about finished them: pillows, new lined curtains (how I didn’t die during that project, I will never know), and perhaps something else.

Also, off-topic, but while sewing the curtains, I also whipped up The Boy’s trick-or-treat bag. He’s going as a black bat, and requested a bag to coordinate. Much fashion, very trend.


See everybody next week!

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