Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Goodbye 'Ol Rusty Shed! Hello Picnic Pavilion!

Ol' Rusty
This is Ol' Rusty, who served for many years as a one car garage on our property. A new garage was built over a decade ago and Ol' Rusty just sat there and well...rusted! The poor thing was rusted through and through and was filled with black widows and old broken pieces of this and that. Essentially it was where all things yucky went to die a slow death. Being that it is on a concrete slab and has electric run out to it, we really wanted to find a use for the area.
 We really liked the idea of 'opening up' the backyard by taking down the sides of Ol' Rusty but didn't really know what to do from there.  We brainstormed and decided to re-purpose the frame of the building and make it a gathering place. It would be a perfect space for a picnic pavilion.

Down came the rusty panels and garage door. We also removed any supports that were not essential.



With the walls down, it really opened up the yard don't you think! 

We spent a few weekends re-framing the structure with pressure treated 2x4's and 4x4's. 

Next we added some cool lighting, a hula hoop wrapped with white icicle lights. 

And here she is! As you can see Ol' Rusty is now a more functional, open and inviting area to hang out in. We are building a picnic table to fit and looking forward to many fun cookouts with friends and family. :) 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tomato sandwiches are better than kisses

    My first garden experience was last year when my husband was deployed. I really did not expect much to come of it since I really had no idea what I was doing. I was worried that I had taken on something I wouldn't be able to finish. I was scared my excitement to have a garden would lead to sadness if it didn't grow. I knew how difficult deployments were, this was our third in three years. Before, I had always been surrounded by other military wives to help me through. This time, we were new to town and I was all alone...just me, the pets and my garden. I knew I had to keep myself busy and stay positive. I had always wanted to grow my own garden and decided it would be a good distraction. Little did I know my personal challenge would bring much more than a plentiful harvest, it would bring me closer to my neighbors than I ever thought.

  I was fortunate enough to have a very knowledgeable neighbor and friend who guided me through the gardening process from tilling to planting, and from weeding to harvesting. My 80 year old neighbor and I bonded over our love of tomatoes and nature. He would smile his little quirky smile and say 'tomato sandwiches are better than kisses' (lol). He was a caring and humorous man, bringing a smile to everyone he came in contact with. I so much enjoyed his company. 

I have to say that summer, him and his wife, became my best friends. Their years of knowledge, concerning gardening and life in general were much appreciated. Their honesty and values offered such a refreshing view on the world around me. In addition, their appreciation for all things morale and good reminded me of why my husband was gone, and why I must persevere. I looked forward to caring for my garden and seeing them everyday. My garden, and their friendship, made the deployment fly by like no other had before. I was truly fortunate and thankful for them being brought into my life. I became a avid gardener and a better person for knowing them.

   When my husband came home, he was impressed with the amount of home grown foods I had stored away and the amount of money the garden had saved us. We were so very excited for spring and starting a garden together. We spent a lot of time with our neighbors throughout the winter, eagerly anticipating gardening season. As the days passed, and the first signs of spring appeared, we started buying seeds and tilling our land. Of course, we shared our excitement with our neighbor as he once again shared his wealth of knowledge. You could see he was just as happy to lend his guidance and friendship to us 'youngsters' as we were to learn from him.


As our crops started to grow, just before our first tomatoes came into season, our dear friend, suffered a massive stroke. Soon after, he was called home to his heavenly father. I was only eight years old when my grandfather passed. It felt just as sad to loose my dear friend and neighbor.

He had become family.

  I did not know what to do, except to care for his garden along with mine. I have to admit part of me felt like just ripping out the whole garden in anger but as I sat in his garden crying, I felt an amazing sense of calmness. I began to realize that even though he was not here physically, what he loved still was. His garden, his wife, his home and family. In this moment I knew his knowledge and friendship would remain in my heart forever. Even though he had passed, his spirit remained in that very garden. I got up and started weeding and watering and talking to him. I found myself laughing at memories and doing things he taught me as if it was second nature. He always said to me I was a natural farmer, though, I know he taught me so much more than I think even he realized.

     The crops came in and we started harvesting as time went on. Each tomato, squash, fruit and vegetable where a part of him. He was still sharing his knowledge with the world. I find myself often talking to him about my thoughts and feelings when I tend to our garden. It is hard work but so very rewarding. I know he would be proud of me for not giving up and sharing his knowledge of gardening with others. I dedicate each of our harvest to him, in thanks for everything he was and everything he did. Most of all, in dedication of the unexpected friendship we had.

   As the season comes to an end, as it always does, a bit of sadness seems to creep into my heart. I know next year I will be on my own. I won't be able to run over and ecstatically share my happiness with my friend when spring arrives but, I know he will be watching over. I know he would tell me to get my fanny out there and start a garden! So..I will. I will, in dedication to him, each and every year.

   Friendship is the most bountiful of gardens you can grow.
 It comes back year after year with a little maintenance and dedication.
 It is never time lost.
 It always endures.

   Rest in peace my dear friend, and feel free to pick a few tomatoes when you 'stop by' to check on us. I'm growing some just for you, after all.. I hear tomato sandwiches are better than kisses. :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pineapples = Happiness :)

 In January, I was feeling those wintertime blues and wanted to do something fun and 'summery'. I missed my garden, summer flowers, and beach days. *sigh* What is one to do? I thought about it and decided a impromptu cookout was just what was needed to erase the gloom of winter days.  I threw on some flip flops, grabbed some spare change and headed out to our local store to see what I could find. Hamburger, pasta and fruit salad were at the top of my list! As I strolled around the store, I got a few strange looks but was not deterred. I am not sure whether the flip flops or the little scream I let out, when I saw a big pineapple in the fruit section, frightened people

I was so excited for my little cookout. The cashier asked me what I was going to do with the pineapple I had purchased. I told her I was making a fruit salad but it got me thinking (I tend to over think

 Hum... what ALL can I do with a pineapple??

  Was this an ultimate challenge in frugality? Why yes it least in my mind! lol. My creativity was launched into high gear and that summer blissful feeling started taking over. I did some research and found a few ways to use the entire pineapple, rind and all!

 We here at the Cherry house believe in the old adage 'waste not; want not'. So here is what I did,  I cut up the pineapple and put the top and rinds off to the side. I added the pineapple to my fruit salad because I just knew bunch of yummy fruit and vitamins will chase away those winter blues! We even had enough for brunch the next day! :)

 I used the leftover fruit to make pineapple jam and the rinds to make homemade enzyme cleaner.

You can find my blog post on how to make this fantastic cleaner here:

I typically go to the pick-your-own website or the ball canning website for canning recipes.

As if all that isn't fabulous, here is the best part..
Are you ready????

You can grow your own pineapple plant from the top part of your store bought pineapple!!!

That's right, never buy a pineapple again and get a free plant!! EKKKK!!! Aren't you excited!!! I could just feel those winter blues washing away while dreaming of my very own pineapple plant growing in our home!

First I took off  about 1/3 of the lower leaves on the pineapple top exposing some of the roots. They are very tiny, don't worry if you can't see them. Then I put the 'exposed' part in water (propping it up with a toothpick or two, if needed, won't hurt it).
I left the pineapple top in the water, changing the water out every few days, until I could actually see more roots growing. This took about a month. I was pretty discouraged because the leaves started to turn brown. I decided it wouldn't hurt anything to put it in some potting soil and hope for the best.

Tic Toc...Tic Toc...

As spring came and went, I watered it thoroughly once a week, every week. Nothing seemed to be happening but today, my patience and frugal ways paid off! A little over 6 months later, I have a new plant forming!! EKKKK!!! I cannot tell you how over the moon I was to see my pineapple top actually growing! I am sooo glad I did not throw it away.

Here it is, isn't it BEAUTIFUL!!!

Who knew a winter time trip to the grocery could be so exciting and actually chase away those winter blues! lol.  I am assuming you could start your own pineapple plant any time of year but I will say the summer heat seems to help, meaning if you start now,  it might not take as long for your pineapple top to grow a new plant. :)

 I think this coming winter I will beat the winter blues by putting a lounge chair next to my pineapple plant, maybe even a little kid pool, and create my own summer oasis. :)

I will post more pictures as it grows! Be sure to check back in at The Cherry House Life for updates! :)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Snow in July? Yes, please! :)

I hope all my dear Cherry blossom's had a wonderful 4th of July! We love celebrating our nations Independence and all the freedoms we enjoy as American citizens. This year, the extreme heat has limited some of the celebrations and summertime fun we all enjoy. Record breaking temperatures around the country have left us all running for air conditioned rooms and a pitcher of sweet iced tea. I find myself day dreaming of snow and blizzard like conditions while wearing a bikini and eating a big snow I remember our first winter here at the Cherry House. We had a freak snow storm that brought 9 inches of snow in one day, a very rare occurrence for Virginia!  We  took some beautiful pictures of the Cherry house that day. I hope sharing them you, during this extreme heat, will bring you some happiness, and evoke some day dreaming of your own! :)

Being transplants to the south, we had endured many snowstorm's before, but were totally unprepared for winter weather here. So what is one to do with no snow shovel and roads closed? Well, you break out the snow boots and go We had a blast making snowmen and frolicking in the snow. Unfortunately our pup wasn't as eager to play as we were but he seemed to enjoy just chilling out on the back deck.

The birds wouldn't even come out and play with us, I bet they are regretting that choice today with heat index's near 110 degrees!

And our cat, well..I think she just missed teasing the birds! lol

 We did make one bad ass snowman, this is Joe Cool
Joe says smoking is bad for you kiddo's!

Now everyone sing along ;)

♫  OH ...The weather outside is frightful..... and the air conditioning is so delightful...... and since its hotter than,well, you know....... lets all dream of snow, and snow, and more SNOW!!! ♫

Aren't snow pictures wonderful in the summertime? :)

 All jokes aside, remember the heat can be just as harmful to you as the cold. Heat stroke is a serious condition that can be fatal. Stay hydrated and out of the heat as much as possible. Remember to check on your neighbors and friends, especially those who may not have air conditioning. Keep cool my friends and stay tuned for our next DIY project coming next week!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Our 1st Cherry House DIY adventure

Our home was built in 1893 and has experienced many changes throughout the years. We were told by a local that the front porch steps had been replaced at least a dozen times in its history. Despite the efforts of previous owners, the Cherry House needed new steps before the home was purchased according to the home inspector. Since we were already living in the home, we were in a wonderful position to re-do the steps ourselves, and save the sellers a lot of money and time! We asked them if we could take on the project. We received their blessing, and began  destruction...I mean :)

Front porch before

 We started by finding out what codes we needed to adhere to, for our area and drew up plans. We wanted to change the shape of the stairs, and allow access from not just the front walkway, but from the sides as well. We made a list of all supplies needed, borrowed a few tools from friends, and made the trip to the hardware store. We purchased pressure treated wood lengths and 3 1/2 inch deck screws to complete most of the construction project. We also added a few 4x4 post and lag bolts for additional strength where we felt was needed. Our goal is for the stairs to last a good 10 years or so!

We ripped out the old stairs which were pretty fragile and easy to take out. (One of the reasons the home inspector said they needed replaced).

Next came framing. The most important part of building new stairs is to follow your plan exactly. Measure, measure and remeasure before cutting the wood so you do not waste any material. Each cut must be precise so the stairs are sturdy, safe and look professionally done. Building the frame took a lot of time and hard work but was well worth it in the end.                                  


A few days later, it was time to cut more wood and add the actual steps.

As any homeowner knows, there is always a 'hiccup' in DIY plans. We always set a little of our  budget aside when doing a project just incase it cost more than planned. Our hiccup for this project ended up being our porch railings. Upon closer inspection, we found termite damage and had to replace them also. After some more planning and another trip to the hardware store, we constructed the railings with pressure treated 2x4's and spindles.

Always be sure to follow your local building codes for safety.

During the construction, we also decided to sand the original porch down to bare wood and resurface it. It turns out over 100 years of paint is very difficult to take off. It took a good week of sanding and scrubbing to remove the thick layers of paint.

Once all the grunt work was done, we painted the railings a nice crisp white to match the house. Then we painted the front screen doors, cherry red, for high impact curb appeal.

The porch and stairs still need stained, we were told to let the wood 'sit' and stain them in a few months for best results. I will post pictures for you as soon as we finish the staining. Lastly, we added a few decor items. Now we have a new, and improved front porch we love.

It even got the approval of the home inspector! YAY! Our very first MAJOR home improvement project went pretty well, don't you think?  :)

Join us again soon at The Cherry House Life for more DIY adventures!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Cherry House Second Floor Tour

What a crazy week it has been at the Cherry House! We completed three DIY projects over the weekend, and have been busy as can be! I can't wait to share all our fun with you but first I must to introduce you to the second floor of our home. There are not as many pictures of the upstairs as the downstairs from when we moved in.  I think I was too excited to pause and take pictures. I did not know at the time I would start a blog, or have a want for 'before' pictures *sigh* but I still wanted to give you an idea of the layout of our home. As we take our journey, making the Cherry House OUR home, you will get a much better view of different areas of the home. For now, these pictures will have to do :)

We have a very wide hallways in the center of our home. They are about 4 foot wide which is awesome when moving furniture around :) The original stairs are even more beautiful in person. Shall we venture upstairs? Lets go!

At the top of the stairs is a lovely window that looks out into our back yard. The area is big enough to add a desk or reading nook. The opposite end of the hallway features a sizable area too. It is nice to be able to give your hallway more function than just a walkway.

                   Once again, sorry for the bad pictures, they will improve, I promise :)

I did not take a picture of the upstairs guest room when we moved in for some reason, but here is a image of the space. It has a large walkin closet not pictured and three windows.

This is the only picture I have of the master bedroom before we moved everything in. It is a HUGE room, we were worried we could not fill it! lol  The hardwood floors just gleam! There are his and her closets which I must say, has been a marriage :)

The master bathroom has rich dark wood floors, and a wonderful claw foot tub and stand up shower. This is one of the rooms we updated first because Hubby did not like the cherubs on the wallpaper. He said he couldn't shower with naked babies looking at

Here is our laundry/ guest bathroom upstairs. Not much to look at right now, but good things are to come! I love our washer and dryer set that came with the house. Our kitty has taken to the room and claimed it as her

It is very convenient to have a master bedroom on each floor. We feel we can still have privacy even when guest are here. It's nice to 'retreat' upstairs after a long day and forget about the dishes. bills. etc.

Well, here you have it folks, a quick tour of our home. Now we can start on the good stuff! Lets roll up our sleeves, break out some tools and make this house a home!! :)

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Cherry House First Floor Tour :)

Hello Cherry Blossom's, I hope your week as been a little less hectic than The weather and a few life events have prevented us from finishing our front porch for our first big blog reveal so I thought I would take this opportunity to introduce you to the Cherry House instead.

Our home was built in 1893 by a family who still resides in our town. It is a 2550 sq.ft. two story Victorian home with 3 bedrooms, 3.5 baths situated on 2.5 acres, the back acre being wooded, offering lots of privacy. The home features a sun room, mudd room and two master suites, one on each floor. A 2.5 car garage and storage shed are also featured. A small, one stop light town and friendly neighborhood take you back in time to days when life was a bit more simple.  There is a great sense of history, family pride and down home values that embrace you from the moment you enter town. These are just a few things that make living here so charming. We took a few pictures the day we moved into the Cherry House that I would like to share with you.

 The very first picture we took of the Cherry house was this one. Isn't she a beauty!

As you can see there is some beautiful handcrafted details that welcome you with open arms onto the front porch. The name the Cherry House comes from these details and a family by the last name of Cherry who lived here and loved the home enough to add this beautiful art work to the exterior.

Come on inside!
 The Downstairs Hallway

The original floors and staircase are a wonderful welcome into our home along with the vintage pendant light. Customized french doors and lots of light accent the stairway and make up the center of our home. Our living room and a downstairs master suite are on the right as you enter. Our kitchen with pantry, dining area, half bath and sun room are on the left. Upstairs there is another master suite with full bath, an additional bedroom, and a laundry room/ bath room. Today I will introduce you to the downstairs area. :)

Lets start with our Living Room and its beautiful bay windows.

 Original wood floors are featured in the living room and throughout the home. There is a large medallion in the center of the living room ceiling (unpictured). Had I known I was going to start a blog, I would of took better pictures, but, this is what we have for now. As we take on more projects, you will be able to see all the beautiful details the Cherry House has to offer.

The Downstairs Master  
Lots of blue and lots of potential The small bath actually has an original stained glass window (not pictured) which I replicated for our front door and will show you in a later blog post. :)
On the left front side of the stairs is the Sun Room, which was once an outdoor porch.

 Next up is our formal Dining Room, centered on the left side of the stairs.

Dining rooms were often the biggest and most used room back in the 'old days' as families often gathered there to eat home cooked meals and reminisce about their day before modern amenities like TV and video games came around. Family was most important, our goal is to enjoy many dinners in this room and get back to the basics as well. :)

Here is a good picture, taken from our kitchen doorway, showing how the hallway leads you to the other side of the stairway. The door on the far wall of the dining room leads out to the sun room. To the right, in this picture, is a half bath for dinner guest. 'Behind' us is the Kitchen and  the back door (Mudd Room) entrance to the home.

And now, a bad picture of the Half

One of my favorite rooms is our kitchen. The Cherry House kitchen has a lovely country feel. It needs some updating but has lots of potential and I just love the checker board flooring, don't you!

The doorway leads to the mudd room. I couldn't find a good picture of the pantry, but picture a closet with lots of The pantry is located behind us in these pictures.
Lastly, here is a picture of our Mudd Room.

Mudd Room's may not look like much but the are a  brilliant idea! I do not know how we ever lived without a mudd room, it definitely serves it purpose and helps keep the house clean! :) Through the door is a wonderfully spacious deck with a fenced in area for our puppy. We have a big back yard which is great for gardening, bonfires and lots of outside fun!

Whew, that's a lot of space!!  I am so excited to share our DIY adventures and our story of making The Cherry House a home with you! Today that completes the tour of the downstairs section of our home. I will post the upstairs and outside pictures for you in my next blog post.

Thanks for joining me today, I enjoyed being your tour guide :)