Friends, family, gatherings, vacation, and construction… Oh My!

Does your life ever feel like a large snowball rolling downhill FAST, picking up more speed and collecting more mass as it goes down?

That is a PERFECT description of my family’s life from February 1 through now…March 19th (2015).

At the end of January we housed a praise band that came to sing at our church for a youth revival weekend for our teenagers. The band was 4 fantastic guys who I truly loved talking with and getting to know.

I loved cooking for them all weekend. We let them shoot targets with our guns, relax, and had good quality time.


That Saturday night, in addition to the band, we also opened our doors to more of our friends.  It was my idea of heaven to cook for all these people.   That’s my ultimate passion in life (other than the Lord Himself).  I can’t get enough of cooking for people.  Come!  Fill my table!!   (To see what I mean, read my post “Butterfly, fly away…”.  You’ll see how often I entertain.)



The band left Sunday morning, February 2….my daughter’s 17th birthday.    I cleaned up the house, decorated, and prepped food while Steve and the girls were at church.   She just wanted to watch the Superbowl (American football game) with family, and relax after such a long weekend with friends.




The next day we took her to a drive-through animal feeding zoo.






The day after that, we left for New Mexico for a week of vacation. Steve had been contacted weeks prior by a State Park in the Davis Mountains in Texas, who asked him to please mount one of their native birds for a display in their museum!  (  We were very excited.



Steve happily donated the mount, and we delivered it on our vacation.  They housed us in their gorgeous, historical Native American hotel, The Indian Lodge.





They gave us a free suite to stay in.   It was incredible.  Here’s our room and private patio…












The next day we headed to Ruidoso, New Mexico, where our family cabin is.  Can you see the deer in the yard?



The deer came out to greet us every morning and evening.  They love donuts, tortillas, cereal, apples, or just about whatever you have on hand 🙂








Some of you who have been following this blog will remember our friend Mallory. She’s like family to us. She called and wanted to come join us for a day or two.  If you read the earlier posts about stripping and stacking logs, she was there.  SHE stripped one whole wall worth of logs on our house.

Once we got home, it was time to get back to work on the house again. There’s so little left to do inside the house. We haven’t been in a hurry to tackle it.

Instead, our focus has been on our vegetable garden, compost pile, landscaping, skirting around the porch, and front stairs.  We wanted to get all gardening out of the way, now during the very brief seed-planting season.   Inconveniently, it was raining and freezing temperatures for the two weeks after we got back from NM.  As soon as it cleared up, we got busy.

Here’s what we’ve gotten done so far.  This was last Sunday (the 15th of March, 2015).  Jeremiah came to help us, and stayed the night.  He’s the one who helped us “stack logs” when we were first building.





I, of course, have been spending WAAAYYY too much time being “inspired” on Pinterest, and have ten cojillion garden planter/lighting/container gardening, and decoration ideas for this space.  So, I’ll leave you wondering and curious about what it will look like in 3 weeks.



This Saturday (March 21st) we’re building a chicken coop.  I’ve spent HOURS and HOURS…weeks and WEEKS researching them.   I want the coop to be a quaint housenot just a simple structure.  I want it to look like an inviting cottage.  I sound like such a brat; “I want this”, “I want that”.  (But I do….)

To commemorate our chicken coop addition…we got a special gift for the kids.   I can honestly say, I’ve NEVER been in this situation, and never EVER thought or imagined that I’d ever be in it.

What’s happening to me???   I’m a CITY girl!


Steve took a galvanized tub upstairs into our loft area. And, the girls opened the box. Words can’t begin to describe how excited they were.



They’ll stay in that tub for 3-4 weeks, and will then be transferred to the new coop.  We’ll be putting a screen over the top of this tub, because the chicks will grow FAST, and will get big enough to hop or fly out soon.  In the meantime, they need to be watched many times a day, and it’s just easier to have them in the house rather than all the way out in the barn.  And, I just thought it was sick to put them in Steve’s bird taxidermy studio. 🙂  The porch gets raccoons, so that was out, too.

The girls already have them all named, and hold them non-stop.  The chicks are actually loving it.  One chick gets sedated and closes her eyes every time they hold her.  We’ve named her Lily.   One perches on Reese’s finger…with NO desire to hop off.

They’re absolutely adorable!!! Here’s Lily taking a nap on me today.  Every time I took my hand off her, she’d get frazzled and peck me until I put my hand back…and then off to sleep she’d drift.


I spoke with a woman from an online chicken ordering facility.  She personally owns 40 chickens.   She said that if you name them, hold them often, and talk to them, just like dogs…they’ll adore you. They’ll learn their names and will come when called.

She said they LOVE to swing!   She advised us to hang several simple swings around our yard.  My kids are ALL OVER this….(this is not our chicken or our property)…


I mean…cummon…is this HILARIOUS or what??!!   I’m brand spankin’ new to all this country girl stuff…but I’m learnin’!  Swinging chickens…. go figure.

The lady also said that one of her chickens comes into their house, they put a DIAPER on it (so it won’t poop everywhere), and it sits on the couch to watch tv with them, walks around the house like a dog, and hangs out with them!

She said her hens will sit in their laps, love being scratched and pet, and will talk to you when you talk to them.  She said if you throw a head of cabbage out among them, they’ll play soccer with it and eat off it.   My kids were dying laughing just hearing about it all, and can’t wait for their chicks to grow up.

We’ll have about 12-18 (for now…).  Seeing that my original “limit” for the past 6 months has been 6-9, you can see what’s happening to me already…with 6 chicks in my home currently, and more on the way.     (I can hear some of you chicken people out there sniggering and giggling at me…)

…..I’m still BAFFLED that this is MY life I’m describing. I no longer recognize myself.

Aside from chicks and veggie gardens, Reese and I have been “skirting” the porch.  As cute as that sounds, no, I have not hauled out my sewing machine and tailored a skirt for my porch (but…hmm….?).  It was time to cover the underside of our porch.  It was just junky looking (and the crap all over the porch isn’t helping, either.  Sheesh!).   I’m SO sick of tools and construction junk everywhere.



I cut all the wood, and Reese used the nail gun to nail each board in.


Do you see the log posts on the porch, above?   Steve power-washed them.







Steve also started our front stairs. He’s building them in deck-like layers.  He faced each layer with cedar, and will route the edges of each step, to make it look “finished”.  He hasn’t done that yet.

Then we’ll power wash the whole porch to get it clean again, and stain the porch, stairs, and posts.  We’re still debating if we’re going to put up railings or not. Just can’t decide…

Here are pics of his stair construction process…





He “scored” the cedar in order to make it bendable.  Then he wrapped it along the front of the stairs to cover all the blocking underneath.





See the finished “skirting” (vertical boards around porch) and stairs?  Pretty soon we’ll finally be able to clear off all construction supplies and tools, and start buying porch furniture!


Now visualize the porch and stairs all stained, including posts.  Then, imagine a garden of rocks and boulders mixed with plants and flowers all around the porch.

Look at the pic below.  Can you see the orange painted lines on the ground?   Inside the circles and elipses will be rock garden with boulders and plants, and the parallel lines will be filled in with crushed granite for sidewalks.



In the picture above, see the sand to the left of that fireplace?  The fireplace will be gone, but that area to its left will be one big stream with waterfalls leading away from the house and across our driveway, collecting into a pond.

With 11 acres of sand, and 100 degree Texas heat, we opted to do rock landscaping rather than grass.  No watering.  So our whole yard will be mulch and rocks.  Boulders.  Plants.  And a water feature!

Here’s what we’ve gotten done already.  The first load of rocks were delivered…and COVERED and CAKED in gooey tan clay.  YUCK!  It took forever to wash them off.





I keep saying that we continue to receive random visitors, and have met new friends through this blog.  I’m not exaggerating!  We’re being read in 87 countries right now, are contacted all the time.

Last week we had 3 sets of strangers who came by our house…at different times.   They stopped, pulled into driveway, and requested a tour.  (WHEN does this ever happen in “normal” houses?)  We laugh about it.  Most of the time they get the tour, and new friends are made.  They all go home saying they’re eager to read the blog, and want to pass it on to friends and family.

This week, we were visited by one of Steve’s childhood teachers, more bird customers, and new out-of-town friends of ours who stumbled upon our blog while looking up log homes.  They contacted me and asked if they could come meet us! (Hi Mark and Barb!)

We had a lovely visit.   I made us lunch, we chatted, and gave the log house tour. They spent all day Saturday with us. Now they want to take the LHBA class that we took (Log Home Builders Association) and build one in Alaska.






Whew! That was a LOT! Wanna see how the chicken coop turns out? Join us on our next post “Le Maison du Poulet”

This blog is a chronological story; each post is the next step.  To start from the very beginning of this blog, click here: “Welcome to Cottonwood Creek“.   To start reading about the log home build, click here: “What do Vegas and logs have in common?”   

8 thoughts on “Friends, family, gatherings, vacation, and construction… Oh My!

  1. LOLOLOLlLL!!!!!! MAN you and I could have a blast hanging out!
    Done done and DONE! Coop for your motorhome…cats included! Then we’ll throw the coop onto the trailer and we’ll all head to Alaska together! I think Lily and Peaches would stay awake for THAT!


  2. OK – that’s it. I’m moving into the chicken coop. Please add an extra room to it for one human. I’ll even collect the eggs and bring them into the house each day. To earn my keep. That is gonna be the coolest chicken coop EVER. AND if we ever DO make it to Alaska and build a wonderful log home there, I’m taking Reese and Reiley with me to help. They are the best helpers EVER. I’ll even do their homeschooling while they are there. Oh! And you and Steve can come along too. I’ll make sure Steve has plenty of time for fishing and we’ll have salmon every day for dinner. Wonder if we’d get tired of it? Seriously… it was such fun to meet you and see your place. You are all so inspiring and encouraging! You have a great gift of hospitality. And a HUGE amount of energy. I can’t believe all you got done since Saturday! Can you bottle some of that energy up and share, please? Love and hugs to all!


  3. Hello!!! What a fantastic comment! You made my heart glow :)) Mallory lives in Denver! She helped us with the whole thing! You two should hook up!
    I’m more than happy to be an email pal 🙂 ask away….


  4. Dear Gretchen,

    I just found your blog two days ago, and was so glad to see a new post today! My husband and I took the LHBA class in Washington five years ago, bought land 20 min outside of Denver with a small, old cabin on it, and thought we would just live in it for a year or two while building. Well, we’re still living in it, with our four children (16-9 years old). I appreciate the detail you put into your blog posts, since it helps me imagine the whole process. We have 20 chickens who don’t have the distinction of a CUTE coop, and my husband has some beehives. Now we just need a log home! I would LOVE to be able to ask you some questions because you LIVED IT, and you honored the Lord through it. If you have a moment to email me, I would be so thankful.


  5. Hey Catherine!!! I’m so excited hearing from you!! In hearing about your mom last time you were here, yes…I bet she’d enjoy this. I seriously can’t believe I’m “looking forward” to a chicken coop or chickens. We used to housesit for some people years ago who had chickens, and though I was happy to do it, I swore I’d NEVER have any of my own. They kinda freaked me out. But, now I can see this becoming a consuming new hobby. We’re also planning to build a greenhouse! I can’t believe I forgot to mention that. (too much going on!) I hope you guys can come out again soon. bring your mom!


  6. Hi Gretchen! I have been talking to my mom about your blog and I will have to forward it to her. She loves her chickens and gardens/greenhouse! She currently has about 30 chickens, but has had 50 chickens at one point in time (only started out with ~15-20). So I’m sure you will get more…wink wink!


  7. Thank you!! We loved meeting you! It always makes us smile when others enjoy our hard work. Hopefully we made you feel at home :). Hopefully this is just the beginning of a new friendship


  8. Hello, this is Elva Palermo (your neighbor on CR 334). I am enjoying your blog! You all are beautiful people and I was truly impressed with both of you as well as your beautiful log home.Thank you for the tour of your home! Keep doing what you are doing and enjoy every minute of it. Sam and Elva Palermo Coolidge, TX.


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