Please allow me to properly introduce myself. Surely there is a person behind the Blueberry Blonde persona...
My name is Stephanie and I live with my husband, Bill and a few animals, in the country of WI. A nearby railroad bed, that is now a trail, once was a thriving focal point of the community.
I wanted to document a bit about me and lots about my home because it is a pretty cool place to get to know. We love this home very much. It's is an integral part of our lives. Not just because we live here, but for the location, the inspiration, the history, the fresh air, and the fact we can see stars on a clear night! We hope to raise kids here someday and I want to be able to remember all the details for them and this will help. I also wanted to share this with family and friends who may not be able to make it out this way for a guided tour.
Our house is a small, 1 1/2 story, Sears, brick home from the 1920's. All of the bricks used to build the home were hauled in on the train that used to run through town. The lumber was locally grown & milled. Our home was put together by local hands nearly 100 years ago. Talk about DIY / hand made!
Here we see Blue (we call him Blueberry for short) and the house during spring time...
There have been many changes to the house and property over the years.
For example there was a much smaller, brick, building on the property that was moved to a museum! Cool!
and most clever: There is no longer an outhouse! Hurray!
The top floor of the home used to be an apartment, complete with its own kitchen! It had dangerous looking stairway that was perched off of the north house for access. I can't imagine what it must have been like climbing the open stairs in winter... *shivers*
On the main floor there were french doors, where the new hand rail is & at the bottom of the stairs there was a door that opened 3/4 of the and bumped into a wood stove.
Now there is an open themed arrangement that we attempt to delineate the living spaces with furniture. The place has been upgraded with central heat & air. Here we see the main floor: I'm at one end taking the photo & Bill in way at the other end...
Off of the kitchen, which is on the main floor was once a pantry. It's shelves were filled with cooling pies, home grown & canned food, fresh bread & cute kids sneaking fresh donuts. Alas, It is now a small bathroom. The previous owners put a lot of thought & work into renovating & modernizing the home in the many years they were here. We like that it has a sliding door. It hides away this extra room.
Two big projects, the previous owners took on was to add two rooms. One is a side porch with breezeway & and the other is a bedroom or office space.
The breeze way is great because we have a place to hang our coats, store shoes and other outdoor items. The dogs like it, too. It gets a lot of sun, so I made curtains to keep it cool.
One can tell it is an addition as one wall is the brick of the house. Here's Blue on the breezeway. Um... he really likes helping with recycling.
I like the extra bedroom/office not just because we can say we have four bedrooms instead of 3. I like it because it isn't a very obvious space & and that's a nice feature. Once the door is closed, it too, can be hidden away. However, it faces north and I don't think it is very well insulated, because it gets very cold. In part because the central heating doesn't quite make it that far, but keeping the door open helps with this and if it isn't being used closing the door helps save on heating. Here is the extra room with my painting of Collie:
In spring time the flowers are nonstop! The previous owners planted and planted! Here's Bill and Collie modeling amongst the blooms for us...
In winter we heat to around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and it's comfortable. Bill's hobby is dog mushing, so we currently have 15 Alaskan huskies in our life. We either reared them from pups or we adopted them from other mushers... We love them all and couldn't imagine life without dogs...
Most live out of doors year round, except for the two house dogs: father & son --> Collie & Blue.So for the outdoor dogs to live comfortably, Bill has built them wooden houses to live in. He also built this pen for our Velvet rabbit: Pete:
Here's Blue's mum, Hunter, staying cool in her wooden abode. Her original owner came and adopted her back because she is good at racing! Our other dogs are called: Tapio, Hercules, Agnes, Honey, Harry, Bart, Moon, Ziggy, Ginger, Chewbaca, Ben, Bear, Winston.
Our neighbors & friends have a feed store that we buy straw from to fill the animals' houses with, year round. Straw is great for coziness, cleanliness, warmth, insulation and cushion. They even like to lay in it in the summer heat.
We also buy, from the feed store, dog food by the palate every couple months! They gotta eat! We feed them a high energy sport formula that matches their metabolism needs as athletes. We also buy our chicken & bunny food from them.
Our mushing is just a hobby. For those that think 15 dogs is a lot. I must tell ya, that 15 is nothing in the world of competitive mushing --> where eighty dogs is considered a small kennel size! That number of animals takes a small crew and a small fortune for their upkeep. In comparison, for us, fifteen dogs, a bunny and a few chickens is very manageable. Plus each animal can get more one on one time.
Bill likes to take the dogs out jogging in the snow. Here they are just back from a run and you can see what our house looks like in winter! We had the roof done in green tin, in spring it makes the rain sound really pretty and in winter the snow doesn't stick around for very long on it...
And so, the upstairs of our home is no longer an apartment, the home has returned to single family status, the dangerous stairway is long gone, the doorway sealed off and the former upstairs kitchen is now a second, larger bathroom. It's also painted sea foam green? Or maybe pistachio... but we don't mind decorating with orange and gold things helps to offset & compliment it.
We are the only home in the whole area to have two bathrooms! Neighbors are envious when they find out! As many of them have lived in the area all their lives I'll often hear a story about the home, or the previous inhabitants. They may offer a story of having been in the home when they were little or they might never have never been inside the home! I feel it is important for me to offer tours to the neighbors to see what the old place currently looks like and they're usually like " WOW". Not just because it's changed, but because the previous owners did a nice job.
(the previous place we lived in was called the backwards house by locals) we were renting there & looking for something more permanent.
Bill will be glad that I mentioned this: he was loving our brick house for a couple years before it even went on the market. We nearly put a bid on some property and would have had to build our own home or get a cheap prefab... =( we were dreading it... but needed to move, as our land lord was pushing us to buy or get lost.
One day, though, Bill thought he'd ride his bike past his dream home so, he could dream that it was for sale for us and he was surprised to see a for sale sign. He cut his bike ride short & came home (to the backwards house) I've never seen him bouncing off the ceiling with so much joy. He was simultaneously walking in the door while, dialing a Realtor and telling me our dream home was for sale!
The house was on the market for one month before we noticed it, so we acted fast. A few days after he saw that it was for sale we were looking at it. The minute we walked in we both said "We'll take it". A few weeks later, in 2008, we finalized paperwork & took possession on my birthday!
The main floor has the original wood flooring, complete with burn marks from the wood stove. Here we see Collie modeling the floor:
The walls have been wall tolerably wallpapered. Here we see Blue and his favorite monkey toy hamming it up:
There is carpet for the stairwell going upstairs and upstairs has the same carpeting... again here is Blue & monkey modeling for us:
The closet doors used to open inward, not sure why but gladly, they've changed most of them to open outwards. The kitchen & upstairs bathroom have a beautiful tin paneled appearance (really it's wallpaper! (same wallpaper in white can be seen in above in the photo showing the extra room, I think they got a good deal on it or something).
The previous owner painstakingly hand painted it after it was installed from those little craft jars of metallic paint!) The result is beautiful! We love it! I like to pretend it's real tin....
They also added a new pantry & updated the cabinets, moldings, appliances, tiles, windows... WOW indeed.
I suppose you're wondering when I'd get around to showing you what my craft studio looks like... here's one storage area to appease you.
I made a hanging storage quilt. To do so I used several pink, patterned, fat quarters to make a quilted rectangle and bordered it all in plain purple. Then added clear plastic pockets to hold different small things like: measuring tape, tailors chalk, odds and ends, ribbons. I used pink twill tape for tabs across the top & slid a dowel through.
I'm using a mini green house to hold it up. The green house also holds fabrics, purses I've made, projects that need working on or photographing... it's kind of a catch all... Next to it is a bookshelf filled with literature, craft books, sewing books and magazines and one of the closet doors that open outward can be seen to the right of it =)
The land around the house was once used for raising cows and is nutrient rich for a vegetable garden & chickens! Here's what our farm fresh, organic, eggs look like in comparison with store bought. (sorry about the dark spot on both that is my camera...)
Previous harvest from the garden. (I planted 5 colors of carrots & seedling tomatoes)
This year I'm going to try to make an indoor hanging lettuce garden! Wish me luck! Here are my seedlings:
and here is the 'shoe holder' I made to hold my hanging lettuce garden.
I need a few more 16 oz bottles. I'll wait a little longer for the seedlings to mature enough to transplant.
I plan on cutting a hole in the bottom/side of each bottle (with lids on and tops down) then fill them with dirt. A couple seedlings will go into each. I want to hang it in my breezeway because it gets lots of sun & gets as hot as a green house!
There are fancier ways and kits to do this. If you're interested in making your own window farm visit NPR's article called Window Farming: A Do It Yourself Veggie Venture.
One of our goals for our home is to add a fence & a little green house just outside the side door... until then my outdoor garden & the indoor one will have to do! Top 'sketch' of our place show 'now' bottom is our 5 year goal... by then we'll have lived here 10 years!
Thanks for stopping. Please let me know what you think!