Category Archives: Big Fat Farmhouse

So, so close

This week at the house we’ll be doing finishing touches and cleaning up–oh, and that pesky master bathroom shower that remains as untouched today as the moment we thought to add one.

Here are some progress pictures for you farmhouse junkies:



That bomb light is part of a matching pair of outdoor pendant lights I found at Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Norman–$5 a piece. I used the other one upstairs:



Also the bathroom sinks and faucets and mirrors are in, so we can all look pretty:



The hubster built open shelves for towels and junk, partly because we like open shelves and partly because they were quicker and we’re running out of time to wrap this bad boy up. Ditto for the vanity cabinets.

My bathroom sink:


His bathroom sink:


All mirrors we got at Hobby Lobby for perfectly cheap. Sinks and faucets we ordered on

Dig our kitchen cabinet handles:



Found them in a heap in a dark corner of the questionably legitimate Ghetto Door Store in Oklahoma City. The place is like a 3-story indoor junkyard, and I think they actually ripped us off by charging $30 for those handles they probably didn’t even know were there.

Here’s a glimpse into Caleb’s efficiently-sized office:



You guys know that he’ll spend more time staring out the window and daydreaming of what kind of farmy shenanigans he can get into next rather than doing any actual work for his actual job, right?

The  backyard is in dire need of picking up, but I can see all the glorious potential for all the flowers I will plant and promptly kill:



Caleb and a friend set the posts for all the porches:



Still undecided on a front door color.

I fully intend to join the Arbor Club to get 10 free trees to put all up in our yard. I love wide open spaces but I also like me some shade.

And there it is. Still a tad bit of work to be done but a move-in day is within sight at least. We are beyond ready.



Everything is awesome.

Today at the farmhouse I swept, picked up trash, painted trim, and installed some doorknobs like a total boss.


I’ve affectionately come to call this house “the Lowe’s house”, because that’s where we’ve ended up getting almost everything, including those amazing (cheap) knobs. Toilets, sinks, doors, lighting? LOWE’S. If its budget-friendly and in-stock, I am all over it.

Arbor wasn’t really into the construction scene so I can’t say I got a lot done. My husband has been nonstop working out there:


And a really cool thing? A group of his buddies have descended upon the house like little (big burly) construction fairies, buffing floors and hanging doors, and trying to install toilets that don’t fit. (Side note: the toilets we bought don’t fit.) Everyone of these dudes are handy and build-y, and have been instrumental in staving off Caleb’s inevitable nervous breakdown. Their helpfulness over the past couple weeks is enough to make this wife ugly cry.

And my friends? Are constantly offering to baby-watch/errand-run/grocery-get/house-clean–it’s a bit redonk. We are just so darn loved and blessed and surrounded by the most awesome people. They give and give and give of themselves more than humanly possible.

Our current house goes on the market in approximately 5 days–ish. A photographer will come take pictures on Wednesday for the 22 minutes that I can keep it clean. If you’re in the market for a cute little family house in an OKC suburb, hit me up–cause the sooner this bad boy sells, the sooner I can kiss this indigestion good-bye; the sooner I can sleep at night; the sooner Caleb and I can spend some time together alone as a couple, except with 3 kids all up in our grill which is a wonderful thing as far as I’m concerned:




We’re getting there.

How to make your nice new kitchen cabinets look old and wrecked.

Let me make something clear: I’m an artist. A drawer, a scribbler; a sloppy, spontaneous painter, of sunsets and aliens and circus tents. NOT a crafter and definitely not a DIYer. So if anyone says that painting kitchen cabinets should have come easy for me, I’ll punch you in the face.

We bought stock cabinets at Lowe’s, and surprise! I hate builder’s grade oak with all my mind, with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my strength.

Something had to be done, and it was up to me, mainly because Caleb’s so occupied with all the other aspects of house-building that he would’ve popped those unfinished Project Source cabinets in as is without a second thought.

Here’s an idea of what we were working with:


These were born to be stained and ugly, but I was not having it. I picked a color at Ace Hardware and took it to Home Depot to color match and mix it with the most inexpensive paint money could buy, because if I am anything at all, I’m cheap. Annie Sloan chalk paint? Toni don’t play that.


Please be aware that there are a ton of posts on distressing things made out of wood out there and I read them all. I do not love the look, especially when people just smear glaze over an entire piece of furniture and call it vintage.


As usual, I hated following instructions because they remind me of rules. I roundabout developed my own “technique”; I call it “playing around”. Steps to making your cabinets look like hell are as follows:

1) Lightly sand cabinets with extra-fine sandpaper, and wipe them down with a damp cloth. I used this stuff:


…and an old disgusting dish towel.

2) Slather on two or three thick coats of paint. I used a $2 jacked-up old paintbrush, but you can get fancy and spring for the $7 one. I also can’t stand wood grain showing through, so I kept painting until it was gone. DO SAND LIGHTLY BETWEEN COATS. Here’s where all that got me:


Personally I could’ve lived with them just like that but Caleb digs a more rustic look. So I persevered.

3) Again with the sand-paper, sand only the straight edges and corners and crevices. Think about it: when cabinets age naturally, where do you see the most wear and tear or grimy build-up?






Got it? Good.

4) Getcha some paper towels, some Q-tips, a damp kitchen towel, and stain.

5) It’s all about strategery: apply the stain to the corners and edges and crevices with the q-tip, working only a small section at a time.



5) Put some baby oil on a paper towel and smear that stain along the edges. This will lift some of it and make it easier to spread.



6) Then wipe off the main surfaces with the damp towel because we’re all about a clean grungy look.


7) Repeat the q-tip, paper towel, and regular towel steps until you like the way it looks. Then do it to the other sections.




*Sometimes you might accidentally use too much stain or you might get stain where you do not want it. Crud crud crud crud crud! Just hit it with some more baby oil and lift it off with a paper towel, then the damp kitchen towel.


Eventually I did what I always do and just started using my fingers.


588) Let these oily puppies dry overnight, and then wipe them down with a clean damp kitchen towel again. They should look pretty kickass at this point.




589) Congratulations! You now have some 10 feet or so worth of busted, tired-looking cabinets for a total cost of roughly $30. Here’s the breakdown:

$20ish gallon of paint (used: a quarter of the bucket)
$5ish for sandpaper (used: less than half the pack)
$5ish for stain (used: I have almost an entire can of stain left.)

The baby oil and q-tips and stuff? I had it on hand.


Now text your husband and brag. Do not take it too personally when he texts back simply “cool” without so much as an exclamation point or winky-face emoji. You done good.

2 more solid months of freezing winter.

Ug, hey January, Scotland called and wants its weather back. Gray and drizzly and cold, just the way NO ONE likes it.

I can’t complain too much–I have 2 healthy kids pinging off the walls in the living room, a sleeping beauty in my arms, and a husband who is hard at work installing stair treads and sealing floors and you know what? I have no idea what he’s really doing, but I know he’s gettin’ it done. Here are some updates:




And that’s where we are now. Whoever loves installing toilets, hit Caleb up. I’m getting real tired of “marking my territory” out there if you know what I mean.

I am going to make cherry coke chocolate cupcakes today for a Super Bowl party tomorrow. So there’s that.

Everyone has strep and flu. It’s like the freaking bubonic plague up in central Oklahoma, and quite frankly I’m afraid to take my kids outside. Mia just got over strep throat and what I believe with all my heart was the flu. Merrick and I suffered through it last week. Caleb and Arbor have been able to hold out so far. I am praying they will continue to do so.

Here was our Thursday:



…which is why I need those cupcakes to work out. Cause of deservancy.

Mia has encouraged me to publish the epic bedtime saga I’ve been telling my kids for the past three years. It’ll be ready in 2026. I know I’m pumped.

The Walking Dead comes back on next week.


Life is about to get super-eventful, y’all.

The Juicy Deats: Home Edition

Flu, stomach bug with a side of fever–call it what you will–we got it. Mine hit last night, Merrick has been dealing with it for about a week. Things around our casa are not pretty, but I’m surprisingly optimistic. The sun is shining, the tank is clean, and Arbor appears to be healthy and strong and, so far, germ-resistant. Fingers crossed, because a sick baby is heartbreaking.

We will be staining and sealing concrete floors this weekend, and when I say “we”, I mean “Caleb and Caleb alone.” He is so kick-butt at projects. Dontcha wish your husband put vinyl siding on stuff like mine? I cannot even tell you how in love with him I am without him literally building me the house of my dreams, so this has really put him over the top in the adoration department. Even though I’m tired and cranky 98% of my waking hours, I have mad appreciation for that man.

Some other things we are considering for the house: stock kitchen cabinets. So guess what? We have wasted enough time and money on all the things, and we are now scrambling to catch up and install, well, all the other things. Stock cabinets ready to go vs another month of waiting for Caleb to have time to custom build kitchen cabinets (+ another month to actually build them)? I think the answer is clear. And so this is happening:


And now, some background information, for the house-building junkies out there:

You might appreciate the things about the house you wouldn’t see: 1) spray foam insulation, and 2) super-bomb, triple-thick, tinted windows that swivel every which way. We got an amazing deal on these puppies and I am I love with them: on a 110 degree July day, the windows are cool to the touch from the inside. 3) We also got a good deal on 2 crazy-strength AC units. Our plan to install a wood burning stove should keep us totes warm in the deadest of winters, plus the layout of the place assures insane airflow with the crack of a few windows. All in all, it’s one energy efficient mamma jamma, and I am thinking our power bill at the farmhouse will be equal to–if not less than–our power bill here at our much smaller house.

I actually designed the floor plan–just took a piece of graph paper and started drawing. We had a old cowboy make an official drawing out of my sketchy sketch, and an amazing framer/friend who took a look at it and said “Oh yeah, I can do that.”

It’s a simple two-story square with a 3-car garage attached to one side, with 10 foot ceilings on the first floor and 9 foot ceilings on the second floor. I was told that because there are no complicated angles or shapes, the house would be relatively inexpensive to build in comparison to other homes of the same size, and I think that’s proven to be at least a little true.

I worked the square footage into areas where our family needs it the most: downstairs there is an open living/dining/kitchen area with a walk-in pantry, a homework area for the kids off of the kitchen, a half bath, a decent-sized art studio, a massive mud room, and a small office for Caleb–but no foyer or formal dining room.

Also something that would seriously turn more normal people off? The master “suite”. It’s so basically basic y’all, and I’m completely happy with it–because all we do is sleep there at night. The bedroom itself is 11×16. Caleb and I have only a small amount of clothes so a 6×6 closet is a good size for us–to share. The bathroom is tiny by everyone’s standards but mine, with a shower only because we just don’t have time for all the indulgent bubble baths…that I wish we had time for.

Upstairs was pure funery to draw. There are 3 12×12 bedrooms, each with a 6×6 closet, a large shared bathroom, a huge storage closet leading to the attic above the garage, and a big fat area in between where we hope to build toy cabinets and bookshelves and window seat.



We took some flack for not putting two bathrooms upstairs: “you’ll have 3 kids at home and they’ll have to share. Are you sure you don’t want at least another half bath for when Mia gets to be a teenager?” To which I say: “Damn right they’ll have to share.” That’s what life is about, sharing and respecting and just sucking it up. Will there be fights? Um, YEAH–but if they don’t fight over the bathroom, it’ll just be something else. And that’s part of family life, and they’ll thank me for it much, much later.

Outside there are so many acres to run around and play on. Caleb spent a downright goofy amount of time last summer mowing secret paths and mazes through the tall grass. One day, chickens and maybe sheep–but today is not that day, even though Caleb would probably love to go ahead and start farm life the second we move out there.

Because of the simple floor plan, and because Caleb did so much of the work himself, and because we know a guy (or guys) for the stuff Caleb couldn’t do, we’re tentatively coming out well cost wise–if my numbers are correct, we’re looking at $70 per square foot on the high side, and that’s including the 5 acres of land we built on. Not too shabby for Toni.

Later on I’ll write down a list of things we would or would not do if we were to do it all over again, but for now? I’m ready to be there:


The meantime.

Winter has never been my strong suit. The coldness is killer, plus without Christmas to brighten things up, winter only serves to make me really appreciate spring, summer, and fall.

January is a dark-hearted, soul-sucking pointless black hole of time.

I’ve been semi-clean eating for over an entire week now, Advocare-ing it up without the Advocare. No chocolate, no sugar, no real dairy to speak of except for the tablespoon of organic Irish butter from grass-fed cows I’ve been blending with my one tiny cup of coffee every morning. Sound crazy? It probably is but I’ll try anything. So far I’m a tad less hungry, a tad less tired, a tad less heavy, and Arbor is a metric butt-ton more pleasant, pretty much all day every day. Life is good in this way.

Caleb is kicking serious tail at the house this weekend. With the help of a good friend, our concrete floors are one step closer to being sealed and our toilets are one step closer to being installed, which is so awesome because I’m so tired of bush-squatting every time I have to pee while I’m out at the property–highly inconvenient, I assure you. So toilets? Yeah, they’re exciting.


Do we dare dream of a mid-February move-in date? By this time next month, will I really be putting the baby to sleep in her own crib in her own room? Driving the kids a measly mile down a gravel road to their school? Staring out my bedroom window at creepy black cows who are not long for this world?

More importantly, what I going to do with these painfully blank white walls?


The stress is talking.

Build a house, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.

Maybe it is fun, if you like divorce.

I’m kidding.

Or am I?

I totally am, as I sit here in a rocking chair with a baby attached to my chest and a feverish little boy sleep-moaning in the bed beside me. Tomorrow was going to be a day of construction clean-up–of buffing floors and stacking wood, and shop vac-ing sawdust–of quality time with the husband, who I feel like I haven’t seen in ages and who was probably relieved to have a helping hand out at the property, where he has spent so many long lonely hours over the past year.

Except it’s January and I forgot that at any given moment a child can and will come down with strep/flu/MRSA/ear infections/rabies/head lice/pink eye, thus canceling our best laid plans and pushing back the “schedule” yet again.

Guys? I’m not so sure building our own house was a good idea.

Caleb works and coaches and parents–now we can officially add “builds” to his long list of accomplishments and responsibilities. Me? I sit on my butt and make milk with m’ boobs.

And when he finally comes home from hammering/wiring/tiling/falling off ladders, I am in such a frazzled, emotionally volatile state that I can’t even carry on a normal husband-wife convo–which is probably for the best, since he is too exhausted to speak anyway.

And if you know Caleb, you know that he is usually never at a lack for 80,000 words. Per minute.

We are both tired and worried and over it.

Y’ALL. This house-building stuff is not for the faint of heart, and I wish I had known that 2 years ago–because I happen to have a very faint heart.

So if you’ve just acquired some land and are thinking about building, stop, and re-read this post. Be prepared to hire a contractor or, better yet? Stick a trailer on it. Boom. Building!

I’m sure this will all be worth it. I’ll leave on an optimistic note by posting some progress pictures:






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