The Gift I Wouldn’t Have Picked

Josh: You’ll never guess what I got you for your birthday! (big grin)

Me: You’re right. I give up. Can I just have it? (I’m quite curious by now)

Josh goes to the basement where he’s hidden it for months and returns with an old, heavy, cream box. 

Josh: It’s a sewing machine! I got it at the auction! (big grin)

I look at it. The case looks ugly. In fact, it looks like it’s been sitting in someone’s basement and there is some grime and a few hairs on it. 

Me: Uh, thanks. (small smile)

Josh: Well, open it up! It’s a Kenmore, which I heard was good. I hope it works!

Me: You mean you don’t even know if it works? And couldn’t you have, um, cleaned it? (nose wrinkle)

I open the case. The sewing machine is dirty too. The dials look ancient. It’s definitely an old machine. 70’s? Not what I had in mind when I said that I needed a new machine. I sigh.

Josh: You don’t like it. I can tell. (big grin has disappeared)

Me: I do like it, I think. I’ll just have to try it out.

I’m not good at hiding my feelings, nor faking enthusiasm when I don’t feel it. To be honest, I was a little bummed about the machine. I wanted something new, glitzy, and glamorous. And I got an old machine that maybe didn’t even work.



It runs like a dream! It has basic dials that are easy to figure out, the stitching comes out evenly, and it quietly purrs along with no snags! I LOVE it!

Me: Thanks Josh, from the bottom of my heart, for being willing to get me what I wouldn’t have picked myself.  

And although I’m not a huge sewer and have basically used it for mending, a 2018 goal of mine is to sew myself a skirt.  I can’t wait!


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Fresh Pasta (in Pictures)


Sometimes the best gifts are the ones that give back.  😉  I gave Josh a pasta maker, and this is what I get in return.


Step One: Combine 2/3 cup all-purpose flour with one egg. Knead for five minutes until well combined.



Step two: Divide dough into two pieces. Take one piece and run it through the pasta maker at the widest setting.


Step three: Fold the dough like an envelope and put it through the pasta maker again. Repeat a few times.


Step four: Keep putting the dough through progressively narrower settings. Your dough should get thinner and longer each time.


Step five: Feed the dough through the dough-cutting attachment.



Step six: Pop your fresh noodles into salted, boiling water for 2-3 minutes.  Results? Super tender and delicious pasta.  😀


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Oma’s Lace

This piece of lace stretched across my picture window. It’s intricate. It’s delicate. It’s handmade. I look at it and questions flood my mind. When did my Oma make this? Was she a busy young mother, snatching in some moments here and there to create a piece of beauty for her window? Or was she an empty-nester, spending quiet evenings crocheting? Who did she make it for? Was it for her own spotlessly kept living room? Or was it for one of her many daughters?


All these questions, but no answers. I didn’t know her well, and much of her life remains as black and white as the old photos I have of her. But somehow, when I look up at her crocheted lace hanging in my family room, I’ve connected with her in some small way.




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A Respectable Bird

“The turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird,

and withal a true original native of America…

He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a bird of courage,

and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards

who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.”

-Benjamin Franklin



The wild turkeys continue to visit us. A flock of 18 were regular visitors this past summer, and now the group has swelled to 30!  They love our feeders, and sometimes even say “hello” to us on our deck.




Their coloring is truly beautiful, and though they sometimes leave unpleasant “deposits” on our walkway, we still enjoy their antics.


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Cord Cover

Another small change that made a big impact in our dining room (along with the door, church pew, and farmhouse table) was moving our dining room chandelier.  It was originally in the middle of our dining room, which would have made sense except that it wasn’t centered over our table:





We didn’t want to change the wiring, so Josh just lengthened it. Then we swung the lamp over to the beam and hung it on a hook. But what to do with the ugly chain and wire? A cord cover, of course! Using a scrap of fabric, I sewed a long tube and then scrunched it up over the wire. So much better!


The new position of the chandelier changes the feel of the room. The glow now centers on the table, which creates a cozy dining experience (especially when the lights are dimmed).

It’s a small change with a big impact!



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Dining Room Table and Chairs

In my previous post, I shared how we painted a church pew and used it in our dining room. It works out perfectly with our “new” dining room table. This table was a dream of mine…


…it’s an old, rustic table that doesn’t matter if dings or dents occur…one that is large enough to fit lots of people around it while still having enough room in the middle for lots of yummy food.

My brother-in-law Jake made my dream come true when he built the top of the table out of old wood and also made the base. Josh and I finished the top with many coats of varnish and then painted the base with a white-wash.


I find again and again that being patient in searching for my “dream” items while being content with what I have has led to results that I am so pleased with. (case in point: the basement door).  So when I started looking for chairs for our dining room and couldn’t find ones that I liked or could afford, I just waited. And a few months later my in-laws had beautiful leather chairs that they were willing to sell! I was initially debating what style I wanted (modern? classic? antique?), but these chairs ended up being a great fit!

Before and After:

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 And a parting close-up of the copper pot that resides on the table:  ❤


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Dining Room Pew

Over here at Walnut Grove, we’re knocking out one project after another. I have no idea why projects that have lingered on for months years are finally getting done, but it feels awesome!

Here’s a project that we finished last night:


Our church needed to remove some pews, and we were grateful to receive one! It was quite the honey color, however, and because it was made of wood veneer, we weren’t able to refinish it in a darker stain. So we opted to paint it a crisp semi-gloss white which could be easily cleaned. Since the pew is quite a huge beast for our dining room, we were hoping that the white would help it to blend in with the wainscotting, and its size would be visually minimized. Here’s the pew in the dining room, sticking out in all its honey glory…


Besides paint, Josh had to shorten the pew and put another end-cap on. We also had to raise the whole pew, since it was a little low for our table. That was last night’s project, and now it’s finally done!



I purchased the brown faux leather seat pads from Meijer. I love how they tie in with the rest of the dining room….which I will show you shortly. (Yes, we have a new dining room table and chairs, for those of you who haven’t seen them yet) 😀

We’re happy with how practical the bench is for us. We’ve already had a bunch of meals with up to nine people, and the bench has worked out great.


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