In the house

Indoor Fraudulent Farmstead activities, including renovation and decorating

Color Commentary

I’m feeling the itch to redecorate again. This is a sure sign I’m  going through some sort of transition. Maybe it’s the fact that I turned 40 this year? I don’t know. But I’ve repainted the rooms of this house so often that they’re probably a quarter-inch thicker than they were when I moved in.

Sipping brights palette from Design Seeds. These are the greens of my kitchen; I'm going to add that cherry red as an accent. Click for original Design Seeds link.

Sipping brights palette from Design Seeds. These are the greens of my kitchen; I’m going to add that cherry red as an accent. Click for original Design Seeds link.

My first go-round in this house involved color. A LOT of color. My entry had a strawberry-red wall (it took five coats of paint). The soft grey living room walls harmonized with with navy and deep purple upholstery. After repainting the red brick fireplace cream, I painted the wall surrounding it a deep bittersweet orange. Then I thought, what the hell, and painted the opposite wall orange too.

The dining room was a brilliant yellow, the kitchen apple green. My first attempt at a deep pink in the project room (office/junk room) left it looking, in the words of my mother, “like a Chinese bordello.” I repainted it Tiffany-box blue. My own bedroom was a deep, nearly cobalt blue.

It was a bit like living in a box of crayons, but all that color satisfied something deep in my soul in my late twenties and early thirties.

After the end of a relationship in my mid-thirties, the first thing I did was repaint my bedroom a soft aqua. This was the beginning of my Tuscan farmhouse era. The walls of the living and dining rooms are a mid-toned apricot. The project room is sea-glass green. The kitchen is still apple green, although a lighter tone than the original. Despite a lack of lace or frills (I’m not a fan of either) there was no doubt that a woman was running this home.

Macro bloom color palette from Design Seeds. (

Macro bloom color palette from Design Seeds. My bedroom uses those two bottom aquas and the second (really bright) pink. Click on the photo to see the original at the Design Seeds site.

Now I’m finding that I need more contrast, a little more edge. I’ve introduced black into the rooms (frames and art) to ground them a bit more. I’ve added patterns for the first time, having in the past been firmly a solids kind of girl.

As I look through the palettes on the Design Seeds, I’m finding that monochrome palettes make my lower back itch. (I have VERY visceral reactions to color.) I need some contrast. The apricot on my living room walls, warm as it is, isn’t quite cutting it any more. I’m drawn now to darker oranges, spots of raspberry, and hits of intense aqua.

I find this is true in the garden, too, where my early affinity for English-style pastels has been replaced by a love of orange and pink zinnias and dark purple salvias and lavender.

So it’s back to the paint-strip aisle I go. I love my bedroom; I just need a few hits of raspberry in there. The kitchen and project room just need a bit of tweaking. But the living and dining rooms need some thought. It may take a full year to get around to redoing them. In the meantime, I continue to cut up magazines for my inspiration files and curate images on Pinterest.


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Cosy…or Crazy?

I have a lovely little 4-cup tea pot, cobalt blue with a gilt pattern. I have no idea where I got it, but I love it. On the days that I work in my home office, it sits next to me, attempting to keep me both warm and awake.

But the tea often goes cold before I can drink it all, so I thought I’d try my hand at whipping up a tea cosy. This knitted insulation wraps the pot and keeps the tea hot longer. It’s a low-tech solution that nevertheless works well.

After searching around, I found this very cool pattern on (where else?) Pinterest.

Photo from pattern designer Elizabeth Klevin.

Photo from pattern designer Elizabeth Klevin.

So cute, right? It’s called the Tea Mitten Tea Cosy.

Now, I’m certainly not a master knitter, but I have made scarves, hats, sweaters, and cat toys. With Stitch and Bitch at my side (in case I can’t remember what a pattern abbreviation means), I’m willing to try just about anything.

First effort on the tea cosy? Total failure. By the time I got to row 13, the tea cosy was looking either like a lace experiment gone wrong or a moth hotel. I clearly need to work on my make 1 increases.

Plus I’m doing this on a set of double-point needles. There are five needles, which is tricky, as I only have two hands. For the uninitiated, this is the old-fashioned way to knit a circle. Because there’s no knob on the end of the needle, you can knit with one end of the needle while sliding finished stitches off the opposite end onto another needle. You can also drop and twist stitches at an alarming rate.

I counted at least three instances of my reading the pattern incorrectly, so that might also explain why I kept stitching right through the slit that’s supposed to slide over the handle.

Also, knitting is difficult when one cat sits on your lap attempting to floss his teeth with the yarn while another cat occasionally snatches the yarn ball and tries to take off with it.

My only recourse was to rip it all out and start over. But it’s past midnight, and that way lies madness. I’ve unraveled and wound up the yarn (a mossy green DK wool, for those who are burning to know) and dropped it back in the knitting bag.

I’ll try again tomorrow after I brew a pot of tea.

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Home Ec for the Modern Farmgirl

I am not a housekeeper. (That howl you hear is the laughter of my friends and family at the very idea.) The Fraudulent Farmstead is home to three cats, a professional garden designer in a constant state of dirt, and a woman who works two jobs and goes to school. My sister and I are busy, messy people.

But the truth is, I love the idea of a clean and organized home. I want clean laundry neatly folded and put away, shining wood floors, an immaculate kitchen, and a week’s worth of meals planned and prepped. I want a sparkling bathroom with a seemingly endless supply of clean, matching towels. I want to be able to sit on the couch with a pot of tea and survey my shining domain with the cozy feeling of being prepared for a blizzard.

Enter home economics. Continue reading

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Snow Day, or, The Iceman Cometh

If you’ve turned on the television in the last week, you may have heard about the ice storm currently making its way across the Midwest. We’ve had wave one here overnight, and we’re supposed to get even more ice this afternoon. Imagine my joy.

But Ginny and I have already chipped the path free and defrosted the cars once today, so we’re in pretty good shape. Our neighbor kindly salted the walk last night, so the chipping was easier than it might have been. I’ve put tarps over the cars to make the defrost procedure easier next time. Of course, they’re paint tarps complete with the ghosts of about sixteen paint jobs on them, so the cars look like they’ve been tagged by either hippies or Jackson Pollock, but you can’t have everything. Continue reading

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All Hail the Return of the Mac

The iMac has returned from the shop with a brand-spanking-new hard drive and 50 GB of memory. I am so happy to have it home. And thanks to some advice from my pal Zach Roesing, I was able to buy the hard drvie online at for a reasonable $55 bucks. I did have to take it to a pro to have the drive put in; the iMac G5 version I have is not at all a user friendly when it comes to cracking it open and digging around inside. Still, the Help My Mac people did a great and very reasonably priced job, so the whole thing came in at under $200–less than the arm and leg I thought it might cost.

And I once again have access to my photo and design software, as well as easier access to mail. Oh my beloved iMac, I'm so glad you're back!

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