He that has a choice has trouble. ~Dutch Proverb

We had our first of several design center appointments, and oy! SO. MANY. CHOICES. I consider myself to be a pretty decent decision maker, but don’t love having an over abundance of choices. I know what I love, like, and hate.
When I was choosing a wedding cake, the bakery had three big fat binders full of sample cakes to be inspired by. I said, “I’ll look at this binder,” picked one up, “and choose from this one. I’ll never know what I missed.” There’s really no need to look at 900 cakes is there? No.
Not to mention, Brian and I make almost every decision together…like, I’ll call him at work to discuss something at COSTCO. I know I CAN make the decision, I just really like to know what he thinks! So, many phone calls and picture texts were exchanged.One of my first choices was exterior paint color. As in, here’s a two inch thick binding of paint swatches. Pick one. Okay, yikes.  But, I have always wanted a yellow house. I started in the yellow family and decided on one. I think this is it.
What do y’all think?

The stone is what will be used as skirting under the siding and down to the ground. There won’t be much of it you can see. The blue is what I chose for the front door! A blue front door! Pretty excited about that….obviously. The white will be trimming the windows. Here’s just a sample picture of the house so you can picture it:
Here’s my interior paint choices: Toasted Almond. Yes, totally up my alley. (Brian’s reaction: “boring.”-sorry honey.) If you know me at all, you know that tan is my neutral go to. You also know that I love throw pillows. All throw pillows go with tan. So, toasted almond it is. The cream color is for the beadboard wainscoting throughout the house.

The kitchen was where I spent the bulk of my time during my appointment and where I still need a little help. I’ll post more on that later.

In other house news, we have a survey, should have our official deed this week and have crossed off the first step towards getting power set up. Moving right along….



Happy New Year!

Happy New Year mom! …er, I mean, everyone who reads…(I know it’s just you, mom. Love you. ) We had a nice, relaxed Christmas at my parent’s house, and traveling some. We slept late, wore pjs, baked, played and napped. It was just what a break should be.
Here we are ringing in the new year in the house! We woke up the kids, drove over and celebrated 2017 with hugs and kisses and some tears. It was really special and sweet.
But just like all good things, it came to an end. Back to the ranch, back to school/work, back to routine. I wasn’t really dreading it. I wasn’t looking forward to it either, but it’s nice to go back to a schedule. Here’s the progress on the house. We are still hoping for a January close, and we are, well, I’ll just speak for myself, I am ready.
Here’s the door with the second coat.
Here’s Brian’s sink with fixtures added. Question: are everyone’s towel rings hung to the left? All of ours are hung that way, and I’m not sure I’ve ever noticed a towel ring’s placement before. Seriously, tell me.


The master shower is tiled, and we are waiting on the door.
This is what we call the, “built in hutch”. It’s in the kitchen, and will be next to the fridge. I’m planning to use this area as a coffee bar. This photo shows the hardware that was just put on this week.


                            The stove and microwave are across from the island/my sink.


We are shopping around for pendant lights to hang above the island. There will be three of them.

We are considering these from Lowe’s. We also found some on Amazon that are a similar style, and similarly priced, but that I think I may like a tad better.



Here’s the amazon version:
Let me know what you think, or make a suggestion!
It’s getting harder to resist shopping for new things for the house now that it really looks so much like a real, real house and we’re getting so close. Trying to wait until we move in, but the list of things I think I’ll “need” is growing….rug, barstools, mirrors for the master, book shelf, sectional…..stay strong Steph! I would really like to focus on what we have, and being grateful. We have been living with so much less, but I’m sure it would be easy to go right back to accumulating things.
Thanks for reading mom, I mean, everyone. XO
(Originally Published January 6, 2017)

Christmas, New Years, Moving day…

Can y’all believe it’s only ONE week until Christmas? Just like every year-minus the years I was a kid counting down the days-December is like the blink of an eye. Although there have been some pretty cold nights lately, we’ve been mostly blessed with weather that is conducive to our living situation. I’ve spent some time doing dishes in a coat, hat and scarf. I’ve spent time in a reasonable indoor outfit.
I have, I think, reached my limit on packing. Every Friday I pack. I’ve gotten into a pretty efficient rhythm: toothbrushes, pajamas, laundry….Every Sunday afternoon, I unpack. Put away laundry, remake beds, put suitcases in closet….Brian so sweetly reminded me this week, “this is it. This is the probably the last time you have to do this.” Oh, thank you, honey. I got this.
During the Christmas holiday, we decided to “move (back) in” with my parents (Thanks mom and dad!) to have hot showers, a dishwasher, laundry on site, and to BE WARM. Just in time too. As I write this, the wind is howling and bringing in a cold front. A very cold, cold front, especially for a good Texas girl like me. So, for now #ranchlife is on hold, but adventure year lives on, and goes into 2017 here in North Austin.
Progress has been happening on the house, and it’s really looking more and more like a real house. Like, I can’t wait to live here, where am I going to put the sofa, which cupboard will my mugs go in….etc etc

The front door is just to the right of the stairs




view from upstairs, in the playroom



Monday, the floor crew is supposed to start sanding and staining the wood floors. The usual time frame for completion is a week- a week and a half. I was assured that they would stay and finish up Saturday if they had to so that they could be finished by Christmas. Yes, please. The Tuesday following Christmas, the carpet will go in upstairs. The upstairs is the playroom, and the kid’s bedrooms. I was also assured that this crew WOULD be there the Tuesday after Christmas. Trying not to get my hopes up about that. Once the floors are finished, appliances go in, touch up paint happens, and they hook up our plumbing to our tank. A lot of things are still coming together, but we are so, so close.
Here’s the stain we decided on for the floors: hard to see in the picture, but it’s about 3 shades lighter than I originally chose.

Hoping I can share photos of how the floor turned out after Christmas. Maybe I’ll have more good news about a firm closing date! Brian and I are really brainstorming about the placement of our fence, so hopefully I can share about that soon too. What type of fence do y’all picture around our house? We love the look of a split rail fence. It’s obviously aesthetically pleasing, but all that really keeps out is cows, and still allows armadillos, possums, skunks and similar animals in.  Maybe something like this?


Merry Christmas y’all! Thanks for reading. -Steph

(Originally published December 17, 2016)

Hopes and Dreams and Farmhouse Sinks

It was a big week inside the house! The tile crew was so hard-working, and finished their job early! They tiled all four showers, the kid’s bathroom floors and put up the backsplash.
Some of the previous crews have taken lots of breaks, forgotten to lock the gate, told us they were, “staying the night on the property”-a story for another time maybe-, they have left food, beer bottles and other trash and even milk, (yes! MILK.*gag*) on the porch and in the house. But, this crew was working by 8 am, packing up at dark and even worked this past weekend to finish up. They were clean and closed the gate. We are grateful for them, and hope the remaining crews follow in their footsteps. Here’s some of their work:

Master Shower (sorry about the blurry, dark picture!)

Isn’t that backsplash just the bee’s knees? We love it. I especially love how each stone is slightly a different shade. It looks natural and polished.
You can also see in this photo that the countertops have been installed! Granite was something neither of us cared about having, but was included with the price of the house. We just had to pick one. I think it looks really great, and we’re happy with it. The best thing about the coutertops is how they compliment my. gorgeous. perfect. double. basin. farmhouse. sink.

Obviously I wish I had removed the plastic before I took this picture. I was just so stinkin’ excited! It is beautiful and I can’t wait to see it with our dishes in it.


All the bathrooms have the same countertops. They look like this:


Carolynn’s bathroom

This week, the electrician and the plumber will be finishing up! We could have lights on by the weekend! The a/c crew will be here next week to install the a/c and finish up what they started.
There is still lots and lots to do…paint touch ups, painting the porch, finishing the gutter system, sanding and staining the floors, carpet upstairs, more paint touch ups, appliances…but closing by the end of the year is still the goal. Doesn’t look like we’ll be putting up our Christmas tree this year, but hopefully we’ll be ringing in the new year in the house. Finished. In our finished house I should say. 🙂

I have been thinking lately that as a family, we have hardly just enjoyed being here at the ranch, day to day, doing the things we always used to like doing here.  It’s real life here now. We need groceries and we need to go to school. Our time here is less novel, being that we are here all the time. We haven’t been adventuring, exploring, or frog catching as much as a family that lives here “should be”. Upon realizing this, I felt disappointed in myself. I have forgotten what we are really doing here. Of course, I deserve some grace at this time in our life, and I have had good intentions. We are gone every weekend doing laundry and taking hot showers!
But, this weekend, Landon had a later start soccer game, and we had a real breakfast together, Brian went out on the tractor, we played outside and breathed fresh air. We didn’t throw our laundry and the dog in the trunk, and drive away first thing Saturday morning. We came back earlier than usual on Sunday and explored and played in the mud. It was so refreshing, and comforting.

Oh yeah. Aaaaahhhh.


(originally published November 14, 2016)

Managing Our Expectations

Friends, I am so honored that so many of you have been reading. I am thrilled, and surprised that y’all are interested in our adventure. You are all motivating me to keep documenting.  Thank you!

So much has been happening at the house this week! Since we live on property, I drive by several times a day and can see who’s there working. Sometimes, driving by so much has been discouraging, like a few weeks ago when day after day there was no one there. Not this week. This week was major progress, and so encouraging. We might actually be in by Christmas! Could it be?! For several days there were four different crews there. Go guys go!

In the evenings, we would pile in Brian’s truck, and go check out what’s happening. We have had so much fun seeing each day’s progress. Here’s some of the progress:


 right side dining
right side of the dining room (from the kitchen)
Master bedroom (standing in the doorway, looking into master bath)
 master looking out
Master bedroom (looking out into the living room) We think they painted the wrong color, but more on that later.
Living room (from kitchen)
 living room windows
Living Room and back doors

The paint was finished, except for the crown molding, which as I left yesterday, they were working on. The crown molding will be white, to match the trim and beadboard. The beadboard is throughout the entire house. It’s even in the closets! I am happy with the paint and trim color, except for next to the cabinets, where I wasn’t sure it “went together”. I’m not even sure what I mean by that, but here’s a picture:

 doorless pantry
This is the pantry, without the doors, which they removed to stain. I have a picture of that too 🙂

stained doorsLaundry room

Can I just stop for a minute and tell you about my laundry room? It has a window, and a door. With daylight. Y’all, why have all my other laundry rooms been dungeons? Sunshine makes me happy. We should all be doing laundry with sunshine, and a smile.
Those are the pantry doors, which have actually been rehung as of yesterday. They look soooo good.
As I mentioned, we were surprised to see how dark the master bedroom paint is, so went back to check our selection, which was:

carpet and colors

Right? Looks like a different color to us, but I guess that’s the thing about paint, and the scary thing about making these choices from a small sample. “Here’s a square that fits in your hand, think you like that? Cool. It probably won’t really look like this.” No one really told me that, but that’s the cold, hard truth. I think I like the color as is, but we will probably bring it up anyway.

This situation really epitomizes why we didn’t really want to build a house. If I was house hunting, and these paint colors were on the walls, I think I would like it. Maybe I would consider changing it, but it’s fine. I probably never would have and would have been happy about it. But, since it was such a deliberate decision and one I really considered, it is almost a let down when you walk in and you don’t have an overwhelming feeling of love. It’s all about expectations right? You expect after all the hours spent working on your choices, that everything will be exactly as you want it, and you will LOVE it. It feels like so much pressssuuurrrreeee.

Speaking of pressure, here’s a close up of the beautiful pine floors in their natural shade. They have yet to be stained, and after some more thought, seeking advice, and pinterest searching I have decided I want the floors to be lighter than I originally chose (original choice pictured above). First of all, you can see how great they look now. But also, the whole ranch is covered in white dust, from the roads, which I’m sure will be covering my floors. The darker the floors, the more noticeable the dust. (I’ve actually named my van, “Pigpen”. You know, like the character from Charlie Brown? I drive around in a cloud of dust.)


Now, that being said, there are many many many options for “lighter” stains. So we still have that decision ahead.

Last thing, and it’s huge. Like actually huge. As in, 40,000 gallons of water huge. This is our rainwater collection tank. We will be solely relying on rainwater from this tank for all our water. I know what you are thinking…pretty much everyone I tell this to looks at me with genuine concern and says something like, “but what if it doesn’t rain?” It’s possible, this is central Texas. Here are our reasons for choosing rain water: the well water in our area is in danger of being contaminated by sewage (you can read more about that here if you’re interested http://driftwoodhcs.com/index.php/issues/onion-creek), and we have an existing well at the ranch house, and it needs work. Lots of purification materials and water softening needed.


If we do run out of water, you can call the water truck to come and fill ‘er up.

The gutters are on, the tank is installed, and we are just waiting for the final step: down spout to tank connection.

We also have a filled, and buried propane tank, and completed septic system. It’s happening, people! Next week, we are expecting the tile work to begin, in the showers and upstairs bathrooms. Hopefully, our granite counter tops will show up this week as well. I am really looking forward to seeing that giant slab on my island. I’ll make sure to share how it looks!