Tag Archives: diy

shitty is the new chic

5 Dec

Painting by Allen Farrell

I started looking at houses. This seems a little bit crazy, even to me. I have no money. At all. And considerable student loan debt. But I feel like I need to have my own place. I need something to show for my life so far. I need to make an adult investment.

The kind of houses I’m looking at aren’t the houses that most people look at. I take after my parents. I search for old run-down shacks and barely livable eyesores. Houses that make most other people cringe. My only real requirements are that it have decent piece of land, a low price, a sound backbone, and potential. I can take care of the rest.

Buying a dump has three advantages. First, plain and simple, I can’t afford anything else. As it is my parents will probably have to help me with the downpayment anyway. Second, I find the prospect of constructing my own castle exciting. I love old houses. It just so happens that a lot of the dumps around here have history. I like the idea of molding my space into whatever I want it to be. And, most importantly, there’s a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with working on your own home that can’t really be paralleled by anything else. Third, the really cheap houses are also usually really small. Small is good when renovations are going to be done by a single person, financially and logistically.

I’ve caught the bug. It may take me a year or two to actually make a commitment and buy something, but the process has begun. When I think about buying the crappiest house I can find it makes me positively giddy. I can see myself putting on shingles and tearing out paneling and laying tile. I can envisage the bucolic scene, sitting on the back porch of my cabin with my dog, watching the hens scratch around. I’ll be working in my own garden, growing my own food, raising my own animals. Sure, I can do these things where I live now, and I do. But this is my parents’ house. Those things aren’t really mine. I don’t make the decisions here. Self-determination is a precious thing. But I do have to give my parents credit. Without seeing all that they’ve accomplished I would be brave enough to try and fix a house or farm or do a lot of things. But now I know that it’s totally possible with a lot of commitment, hard work, and time.

So, if you see a shitty, falling-apart, hideous blemish of a domicile on a 5-acre chunk of overgrown land you know who to call.

leicester longwool

15 Oct

I finished the drop-stitch scarf I was making out of the handspun 100% Leicester longwool yarn I got at the fair. I chose a to do a drop-stitch because it allows you to see the texture of the yarn. It’s just the tiniest bit scratchy, but not too bad for wool. I don’t think I’ll have any trouble wearing it. I still have about half of the yarn left so I may make a hat.

mother earth news fair

27 Sep
Me with sheep

Me with sheep

I spent the weekend with my parents at the Mother Earth News Fair at the Seven Springs Resort in northwestern Pennsylvania. It was great! There were vendors and workshops related to anything a do-it-yourself homesteader could want to know about: keeping bees, spinning yarn, electric fencing, low-impact and organic ways to farm or garden, how to use herbs, butchering your own meat, soap making, composting, preserving food, and how to be an overall responsible consumer. I got some tips from one of the beekeeping presenters, so hopefully we’ll have a successful hive when I try it again this spring.  I also got to see a lot of really cute animals. I wanted to smuggle one of the alpacas home with me. I think I do finally have mom convinced that we should get some angora goats for fiber. She saw how much the handspun yarn was going for.

I heard many wonderful speakers, including Joel Salatin and Ed Begley, Jr. They inspired me to do more to become environmentally aware. I teared up at several points (not that it takes much to elicit that response these days).  It was also great to be around thousands of like-minded people who place a high value on quality food, low carbon footprint, and the satisfaction you can get from being able to make your own food, clothing, etc. If you are interested in any of these things I highly recommend Mother Earth News magazine. It’s a wealth of information.

Here a some more selected photos from the fair:

At a workshop about going packing with your llama

A llama all packed up

A llama all packed up

How to spin with a drop spindle

How to spin with a spinning wheel

Ed Begley, Jr. giving his keynote address

The fair grounds

In the ski lodge

Right before Bill gave me the finger for taking his picture

Alpacas!

My spoils

foamy & squishy

25 Aug

I got my super comfy memory foam mattress topper and this comforter set in the mail today.

I still have to buy sheets to go with it, but my plan to have The Most Comfortable Bed In The World is almost complete. This weekend I’m going to finish painting my desk and move it into my room. Then all I need to do is find some interesting bedside tables and lamps and my sanctuary will be complete. I’m spending more money on this than I probably should be, but it’s important to me to have a happy place.

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