Living Large In Our Little House

Paying it Forward: Sharing Things I Love

The Belle Writers Studio - One of the things I feel lucky to have

The Belle Writers Studio - One of the things I feel lucky to have

After reading a colleague’s blog about how she is trying to give back this year by Paying it Forward, I decided to do it as well.

It’s been a tough year for a lot of people and I know sometimes the challenges have really gotten me down here at The Little House.

However, when I look at what all I have – our health (including the fact that one of our daughters made it through a brave and lengthy battle with a scary disease), our beautiful Fearsome Four, my friends, The Little House and The Belle Writer’s Studio, our land here, and the fact that we are working – I know the universe is smiling on us.

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Keeping the Home Fires Burning

The view of our road

The view of our road

I could say that the weather has gone to the dogs around here. It has been rainy, nasty and cold, but that wouldn’t be a fair statement, because my dogs don’t even like it.

This month should be Indian Summer around here in the Ozarks. Instead, it has has been the 4th coldest on record and the 8th wettest.

For a brief moment yesterday, I thought the sun might pop out. I really think the dogs even noticed the change in light in The Belle Writer’s Studio, but it faded before even really gaining any momentum, and they did again as well.

We’re expecting a frost on Saturday morning and they’re calling for a hard freeze by Sunday morning. This isn’t supposed to be happening here, not in mid-October. We moved to the south, just far enough to have a change in seasons, but to also have a little longer warm season. We tolerate the humidity and bugs in the summer so we can have better weather for longer.

There was even the year we celebrated New Year’s Eve on the party deck – until Midnight – with just a jacket.

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The Lights of My Life

Oil to Electric Converted Lamp

Oil to Electric Converted Lamp

I love decorating with lighting. I think choosing the lighting when we built The Little House was more fun than any other part of the building process.

When we picked the freestanding lamps for The Little House, of course, there was limited space, so we only put one larger freestanding lamp – one with a bear – and a smaller one with bears that I found at a log cabin expo.

Since The Little House was already completely furnished when we moved here full time, I could only choose one more lamp to place in the bedroom and I chose this unique oil-converted-to-electric lamp that belonged to my mom.

The lamp was one of her antique sale finds, the kind that would take my mom and dad and me to small rural towns surrounding the Kansas City area. On Sundays, my parents would get up early and scan the morning paper for sales and auctions and off we would go. More often than not, Mom would come up with some find to bring home and restore.

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Under Surveillance From a Remote Location

Downtown Eureak Springs

Downtown Eureak Springs

Last week I wrote about getting out and doing things in the vicinity of The Little House. I think it’s important to be able to get away, even if it just for overnight to not only get to know the area you call home, but also to renew and refresh the spirit.

This past weekend, we were able to do just that.

One of the great things about my job is that I sometimes get to go places on assignment and this past weekend, Dale and I made the trek to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, a quaint little town about 1.5 hours from The Little House.

We left the Fearsome Four with our trusted pet nanny for a night and left The Little House early on Saturday morning.

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The Dogs of Campbell Town

 Sade and Molly with her tongue out!

Sade and Molly with her tongue out!

Part of Living Large in our Little House is treasuring and hanging on to the good in our lives and Campbell Town just wouldn’t be the same without our any four of our canine kids. We call them the “Fearsome Four,” only because having that many hairy bodies crammed into The Little House is a little scary.

However, no matter how many tumble dogs (you know, those big hairballs that seem to produce themselves) I have to sweep, or how many times we trip over The Fearsome Four, they are as much a part of Campbell Town and The Little House as we are.

They are well…family.

It’s easy to pretend we’re insulated here in Campbell Town. Our nearest neighbor is a relative who lives ¼ mile down the road. Unless we have hunters lurking about the woods, I feel we’re pretty safe from the outside world.

That is until I read stories such as the one I read in The Springfield News-Leader last night about two dogs that were tossed off a highway overpass like they were pieces of garbage.

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Home is Where the Heart is

Life in The Little House is grand, but that doesn’t mean that sometimes I still don’t feel the overwhelming pangs of homesickness.

By “home,” I mean our native Kansas City. Dale and I grew up on the Kansas side, but when you are from anywhere in the Kansas City region, you consider both sides of the state line home.

I miss my friends, teaching at Johnson County Community College, readings at The Writer’s Place and being involved in the Kansas City Press Club.

When I finish a big project, I miss driving 10 minutes to Sakura’s, my favorite sushi bar and celebrating with my sushi buddy, a Sapporo beer and “Sex in the City,” (no, it’s a yummy cooked shrimp roll!) Part of the fun of this place is that a little train brings you sushi as you wait at the bar.

I miss my Starbucks, having access to locally raised organic, free-range meat and dairy products at Hen House, and being within 10 minutes of a mall (and having the money to spend at these places!)

Last week, when I visited the woman who cuts our hair here, she had just finished Dale’s and he left to go back to work. “I think he misses Kansas City a lot,” she said of their conversation while she was cutting on his shaggy hair.

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Slumber Party at Campbell Town

Slumber Party at Campbell Town “Are you nervous about next weekend?” My friend, Rae, from the present asked me about my impending slumber party with two friends from my past.

I shrugged. “No,” I wondered, should I be?

“I have known Shelly (left in the photo) since Kindergarten and Lora since junior high, why would I be nervous?”

“Well, 27 years is a long time,” she said. “You don’t really know them anymore.”

I thought about her question all week.

Was I living in a time warp, hoping that when I met these two people again in my driveway that things would be as if we had parted for a shorter period of time than nearly 3 decades?

Yes, 27 years was a long time and in some respects, it does feel like the lifetime ago that it was. Still, I couldn’t make myself feel nervous. (more…)

A Page Turner

Gone Fishin' Bear

There are days when heading to the mailbox is just a drag. Bills and more clutter fill the space. Then there are days when the mailbox is full of wonderful surprises: Checks owed to me, and almost as exciting is one of two catalogues I love, or one of two magazines.

I really hit the jackpot if a check is in with one or two of my favorite publications! Living smaller is about choosing only to keep the things you love. For the sake of the environment, I’m also a big advocate of fewer catalogues, that’s why I maintain a free account at catalogue choices, a website that allows you to register catalogues you don’t want and contact the companies for you to have them stopped. I’ve registered to halt all but two of my favorites: North Style and Black Forest Décor. As well, I’ve stopped all of my magazine subscriptions with the exception of Country Living Magazine and Mother Earth News.

Now, we all know I don’t need anymore stuff, but a girl can still look!

Bear PlateNorth Style was once a 50/50 mixture of clothes and home décor (and I bought plenty over the years), but has a bigger selection now of clothing. I love black bears. I have them on my shirts, my jackets and my pajamas. We have black bear lamps, sheets, the little guy holding the sign in the photo and dinnerware, and most of it came from North Style. My mom gave us many of the things we have decorating The Little House. After we built it, coming up with a Christmas list of ideas for her was no problem!

North Style is where I’ve bought most of my “Life is Good” clothing and hats. I also have a tiny log cabin charm necklace that I love, which reminds me of The Little House. I wear it a lot when I’m away from home.

I miss browsing the home décor there – and there are a couple of things they still carry that I hope to one day buy and figure out where to place – but that’s why I’ve kept the Black Forest Décor catalogue. This is my “ultimate dream” catalogue, as most of the items in there are too expensive to even allow in regular dreams. J

If I don’t have a “Dream Book,” as my mother always called catalogues, there’s nothing better than having a current copy of Country Living Magazine or Mother Earth News.
Country Living Magazine is a family tradition. My mom started taking it when it first came out in the 1970s and used the photos and tips to first decorate our little green bungalow and then the 1920s brick Tudor they purchased and restored when I was a teen. I’ve taken Country Living ever since I got my first apartment. Receiving a copy of it is like visiting an old friend each month. I love sitting on the party deck on a warm sunny Saturday afternoon and savoring each page.

Mother Earth News has been around for a while and when we built The Little House, I began subscribing to it, and what a great magazine! Full of advice for homesteaders who live in the country or others who just wish they did, I haven’t received a copy yet, in which I didn’t find some great article with good tips.
My magazines and catalogues give me something to look forward to when peering into our big, rural mailbox and any day I find one of them there, is a good day.

Today’s Question: My magazines get a new life as I donate them to the county nursing home in hopes someone else will enjoy them as much as I do. When I’ve looked at my catalogues about a dozen times, they go to the recycling bin. Where do your magazines and catalogues end up?