Feathering My Nest

I’ve been obsessed with “nesting” recently. Actually, it would be more accurate to call it RE-feathering my nest. My old nest had runneth over with 20 years of “stuff” and it was high time to pitch & purge. Please tell me I’m not the only one with a PHD in “stuff”. By that, I mean “piled high & deep”.

No, the above photo is not my pile. It is what I want to avoid!

So, moving on … how to start this piece? I feel kinda like I did when I was finally willing to own the mess I had made in spare closets and in my old “sweat shop”. ACK, where to start?? It took twenty years to create the monster I must now face and own. If you fear, I mean dread the idea of a close friend seeing your hidden messes & piles, you’ve got issues. Honey, I got issues … with a capital T.

I want to think I’m tidy. Am I tidy? Mmmmm, maybe not so much. I like tidy, I manage to keep a fairly tidy household, but quite frankly my tidy chores get set aside when something more interesting comes into view. I do have to keep things fairly tidy or I feel true anxiety, but, and this is where the piles were born … if I can shut the door on a mess, then I’m off the hook and I can happily skip away. Well, no more skipping off. I’m grounding myself.

So, where to start this article. Oh, I guess I already did that. Well, that is the whole idea … just START. Even if you don’t have a plan, just dive in and get going. It’s not as bad as you fear. PFFFFFFFFTT — liar, liar with her pants on fire!! Procrastination does not let you off that easy. Having to sift through years of crapola is my punishment and I can’t fib, this is a miserable task. Every inch, every piece of paper, photo, ribbon, dried flowers, indian corn, Xmas decorations, odds & ends, blankets, lamps, stuff of every description. WHY DID I DO THIS TO MYSELF? Ok, I need to chill and breathe. The worst of the process isn’t over and if I don’t get a grip on myself, I’ll never get to the light in the tunnel. I’ll be trapped in this Twilight Zone of stuff. There is no one else to blame but myself. Stop, go back to getting a grip. Remember the dream ahead …

The good part. Yea, that’s what I need … some GOOD vibrations & positive thinking, maybe a John Denver CD. I have the vision in my mind’s eye. It is part of an overall BIG picture plan: remodeling parts of the house to include porch and patio…but for now, shuffling furniture around so that I’ll have a real guest room AND a charming office/studio. My farmgirl pal, Lisa, inspired me. She recently did that very thing to her workroom and it is a wonderful haven for her and for visitors like me. So, I finally got enough mojo revved up to get moving …

First, I had to go through a bunch of “stuff” before I could make room to move other stuff. Then, the old stuff WENT OUT! Then, shampoo the carpet. I decorated as I went to keep the job interesting. I now feel I’ve got momentum behind me and I can sincerely say that I WANT to do this thing because the sense of achievement is so worth it. I oiled furniture and old baskets. My work table is by the window that looks out onto my flower bed. I moved my old Hoosier and baker’s cabinet in here too. The dark gold paint swatch on the wall will be the color of an old cupboard that will sit there as soon as I refinish and “antique” it. The ephemera banner is one I just made at our farmgirl chapter’s last meeting. I thought the word “Create” fit the theme of an artsy workroom. More about our farmgirl meeting in a minute.

How about you? I’ve heard so many women express the desire to have a little place in their home that is all their own … a nest nook. If you’ve been putting it off (like me), I encourage you to get off your duff (like I’m trying to) and git-er-done! If you’re not quite at the place in your life where you can give yourself that space, do it later … but do it. My little nest isn’t fancy, but it will hold the things I like to do that are inside activities … and I can see the world outside while working: Christmas lights on my Chokecherry tree, summer flowers, birds, falling snow and morning light shining in through lacey curtains. I only have one more thing to say about this: Why didn’t I do it sooner?

So, do you like my banner? I’ve seen them around online in a variety of styles. Jennie and Lisa offered to teach the rest of us (Anita, Michele and I) how to make one. They’re avid scrapbookers and Lisa is a newspaper owner/editor; her brain is hard-wired for the art of “lay out”. She joked the other night about how ironic it is that she finds such pleasure in a hobby closely related to her work. Jennie and Lisa co-hosted the party and it began with saurkraut soup and a cheesy vegetable soup. Fresh strawberries, blueberries and “cukewiches” were also on the menu. We each had a pile of fun gifts at our place settings too: A journal, candy, an apron pattern, rick rack and a little book entitled “Apronisms”. My farmgirls are Thee Best. Thank you Jennie and Lisa! Below is Jennie’s recipe …

After dinner, we got serious about making our banners. Holey Moley, a serious scrap-booker has a LOT of accessories and Lisa is serious! Boy Oh Boy, did we have a lot of goodies to choose from. Lisa and Jennie were so patient with us rookies. Anita, Michele and I had never set foot in the paper arts. Ok, true confession: the only person that actually required patience from our mentors was me. I’ve not been thinking outside of the box of my own crafting specialties for a long, long time. I had a mini meltdown over how to plan my banner design. And I mean literally — anxiety stirs up hot flashes. I wanted my banner to look as good as Jennie’s and Lisa’s work. Artsy ego reality check. Lisa and Jennie coddled and reassured me … but, Lisa said later that she let me suffer a little and admitted to enjoying it. Normally, I know what I like, know what I want and proceed directly. While I struggled, Michele happily chirped away and slid right into making her primitive theme banner. Anita, well, she always breezes along without a fuss – she’s the Can-Do girl. I’ve learned a lot about myself of late. Hi, my name is Shery, I’m a closet hoarder (for real) and when out of my comfort zone, I may have mini meltdown moments. Gee, it would have been nice to learn something like I’m a natural born watercolor painter, but no, I’m a whineybutt pack-rat with piles to prove it. Ouch. Ok, moving on now …

Ta-Dahhh, here they are:

We each had our own vision about what kind of look we wanted, what the banner would say and where it would go. Anita’s “Dream” banner is going to be placed above an old window that is on the wall above their bed.

Michele went stamp-happy!! Her banner triangles wore layers of stamps and giant rick-rack. She wasn’t sure where her “Gather” sign might end up in her house. She’s into primitive decor and it will fit anywhere.

My banner background paper was taken from some old horse magazines published in 1885. I bought an entire lot of them several years ago and after saving those with the best history and information in them (I used to do a lot of pedigree research), I made an executive decision to use the rest of them for crafts. My banner incorporates two of my loves: horses and arts & crafts. If you want to read a little more about the How-To of this fun project, you can do so by subscribing to the MaryJanesFarm sisterhood online magazine, The Cluck. Directions will be in the April edition. Trust me, this really IS an easy project as I found out.

Here and Now: Winter is slowing going away, but there is a LOT of snow left to melt before green will be brave enough to sprout. Here are a couple of photos for comparison … same pasture, different seasons.

The other: Ribbon in her sleek summer coat and now. Boy, when she turns loose of all that hair it will be like a feather pillow exploding.

Another here & now thing I have ahead of me this week: surgery. Oh, it is nothing big, just knee repair. Temporary inconvenience. I fell on the ice in January and managed to tear all of the tendons. The good news is that I’ve got a very good surgeon and he can fix this. But, for several weeks I’ll have to get better at another thing I’m not that good at: patience. This surgery is one of the driving forces that motivated me to get my workroom well underway. Afterward, I can putter around doing small chores during the healing downtime. Boy, will I be ready for springtime … and to be able to ride again. I won’t be of much use to my husband during calving and we’re due to start the first of April. A good friend of ours who recently retired will help him.

April, I’m so looking forward to our first Farmgirl Handmade Show next month. Yep, we’re gonna do it. I’ll be getting around pretty good by then and my folks have a vacant storefront room that we’re going to “doll up” farmgirl style for a spring-fling flavored craft show. Jenny & Lisa are making paper art items, Michele is making birdhouses and I don’t know what else, Anita is making soap and baskets. My friend Connie is making wire wrapped bird nest pendants and earrings. Our Pastor, Sharee, is going to sell gemstones (she’s into lapidary) and offer massage and reflexology. I’m making jewelry and a few other nature craft things … faux nests in branches, potpourri and whatever else comes to mind – maybe doggie baubles. But, getting in my own nest in order is #1.

Your farmgirl friend in The Cowboy State,


  1. Betty Benesi says:

    Shery: When you’ve had enough of winter sometimes the only place to turn is inside. Had one of our worst rainstorms of the year last weekend. Since we are moving to a smaller house with more land, I don’t have a lot of choice but to eliminate "Stuff". I actually have a studio area which I will not have in the future so downsizing the saved materials is so necessary. It made me kind of sad though because I work so much now there is not much time for that any more. I used to do watercolors which is a great project for when you’re laid up maybe incorporate some into collages with your magazine cast offs.
    Horse dethatching as I call it will have to wait. Mine is so bad I can literally pluck the hair off like a chicken.
    Will think of you in the next few weeks.

  2. JoAnn says:

    Hope the surgery goes well – I’m sure it will and I bet you’ll be up and ‘running’ real soon. You have to – spring has sprung!!! I love the banners and the Farmgirl Handmade Show – be sure to give us the date, time and location so some of us ‘locals’ can hopefully swing by and say Hi. Take care.

  3. Carlene says:

    Hi Shery! Great post, very motivating! I’m doing the spring cleaning/re-feathering the nest thing here too…sometimes exhausting and overwhelming, but worth it! The good news is once you have something organized really well, it tends to stay that way-at least somewhat, lol!
    I love your house and all your "stuff". I’ve been separated from my stuff for over a year now, and I have to tell you that sometimes I miss it, but mostly I don’t – it’s nice to have a break from it for sure.
    I sent you an email a couple weeks ago, did you ever get it? I just remarked on how much we have in common, I collect many of the same things you do, and am into arts and crafts as well. What kinds of crafts do you do? I’m into mixed media and scrapbooking, I’ve been featured in the Somerset Studios line of magazines several times, are you familiar with those?
    Also, I wanted to ask you; I signed for the Farmgirl forum, and never got a response back so that I could start participating, do you know what I should do about that?
    Also, where is your Farmgirl Handmade show going to be? I’d love to see it!
    Good luck with your surgery, and
    PS-your fuzzy pony looks like mine, only Flossie manages to tangle her mane up into dreadlocks, lol!

  4. Nicole Christensen says:

    I laughed out loud at the "PhD…piled high and deep". I know that feeling, too! Love your pictures. What a great idea the banners are! Love them!

    Farmgirl Hugs,
    Nicole (your sister blogger, Suburban Farmgirl)

  5. RanchFarmgirl says:

    Thank you for asking about the show. It will be right here in Upton, Wyoming on April 16th. Carlene, I emailed you back. Hope you get it. I didn’t receive your previous emails though. Maybe we’ll have better luck this time. ??

  6. Karin says:

    Shery, as always I love your post. And I can really relate to this one. We will be moving next year (already have the house, we are starting to remodel). The place is bigger than our present home, but has less storage space 🙁 So, I have to go through my stuff, too. It seemed such a daunting task, but you have motivated me. I’m positive your surgery will go well and hope you’re back on your beloved horses in no time.
    Farmgirl #2708

  7. Michele says:

    Hey there…my friend
    Your room looks great…I need to get to thinning my down too. I have to decide what craft is my fav and stick with it…to much going on in mine. I will see you soon:)…bring some pumpkin choc chip bread:)

  8. Janene Stott says:

    I just recently moved a few months ago so I can totally relate to the process of going through my stuff. I was born and raised in Wyoming and I love this beautiful state! I live in Utah now but my roots are still country. Thanks for sharing. Good luck with you surgery.

  9. Ruth says:

    Oh Shery!!! You always write in a way that makes me feel as though I’m right there with you! Of course, like many other readers of your blog, I am/was buried in the PhD ‘stuff’ myself. Be grateful that you tackled it with intention rather then being forced to do it.

    Even though I’d begun the process last spring, and have managed to dig my way through our first floor, creating a lighter, cleaner, simpler, happier space there, I had not kept up the motivation to do the same in our basement, which was truly buried, not only in my family’s 25+ years of stuff, by my parents 62+ years of accumulated stuff, too!

    All those months of procrastination finally caught up with me. Our basement flooded the end of February and, ready or not, willing or not, it suddenly became a project that HAD to be done, ASAP! Not fun. We lost so, so much. Unfortunately, some of what was lost were irreplaceable family ‘treasures’ and memorabilia. Shoulda, woulda, coulda…

    I just keep reminding myself that it’s all just ‘stuff’. Amazing how attached we get to ‘stuff’, though…isn’t it?

    Hope your surgery goes well and that you’re back in the saddle again soon. Enjoy your newly created space. Every woman needs a (room) space of her own.

    Your posts are always a joy to read. Thanks for sharing your life with us.


  10. Grace~katmom says:

    Oh my Stars! I think I went to the ‘same school’ as you, as I too have a PhD…lol! what creative mind doesn’t!
    I wish I lived closer ‘cuz I would luv to come visit & shop your lil ‘country farmgirl flair’ shop in April.
    Don’t fret the knee surgery, and enjoy the ‘down time’ before you know it, you will be out and about riding & gardening and enjoying your newly un-cluttered nest….but if you are anything like me,,,,clutter will (like a wee mouse) find it’s way back in…but it’s a chance we are willing to take! lol!
    Happy Spring & Happy Trails

  11. Yes Mam…. you’ve been reading my mail! Got the same darn thing going on around here! It’s just so hard to let go of all that wonderful stuff that just has to be good for somethin… someday… I’m proud of you cowgirl…. now I need to do it. LOVE the idea of your Farmgirl Handmade Show… our farmgirls keep talkin about that TOO! See what an inspiration you are. Love your banners too! What a great fun idea and they look so pretty! Take care of that knee… you’ll be back on that trusty steed of yours in no time.

  12. Rusty says:

    Hi Shery:
    Love you posts – I always look forward to reading them and laughing. Your pictures are right up my alley. You must be a Virgo – so creative. I too am a collector of STUFF – buttons, bows, country goodies and antiques. Your art show sounds wonderful – will you be selling any of your stuff online? Being down here in Las Cruces, NM is a fur piece to ride to Wyoming. I love the idea of bird nest jewelry (my bathroom is bird nests – wooden and cross stitched). Anyway keep up the good work and send more pictures.
    I will say a prayer for your surgery and recovery and that you heal very quickly.


    Rusty McHale

  13. Reba says:

    Hey Shery,
    Last Spring I cleaned every nook and cranny of my home to be rid of items that I no longer felt attached to so that I could put out some of my "primitives" that I love. I had "saved" for a farmhouse later, but decided to enjoy them and "bloom where I’m planted." Now I love and enjoy those things each day that are in "their" place and are usable as well. Crocks are one of the great loves that I have and also use. I made homemade sauerkraut this past summer and it is great! I would love to have the soup recipe for sauerkraut that your farmgirls had at your meeting. If I were close by, I would give you all some sauerkraut…it makes great Reuben sandwiches, Turkey Pastrami is great with it as well. Also, it is as quoted in Mary Jane’s book, "the poor man’s physician."

    Thank you for always writing such an interesting post and beautiful pictures!!


  14. Kathy says:

    I totally understand about giving up stuff. Everything I’ve ever had to give up has claw marks on it. BTW…love your little personal space. And I always look forward to the beautiful pictures in your blog.

    Kathy Lee

  15. Lynnola says:

    I have so much enjoyed your blog postings over this long, cold winter in VT. This last post really hit me between the eyes…I can so relate: there’s a room upstairs that I can’t even get into it’s so full of excess stuff, and have been procrastinating, despite the books on organizing and de-cluttering I read to get me psyched up to do something about it. But your confessions of being a closet hoarder, pictures and wry humor may just be the impetus for me! One can only hope, and the good feeling you describe when you succeeded is very motivating! Thank you!!!

  16. Oh My Gosh, Shery, I have a double PHD at my house. I have so much stuff you would not believe. My problem is I need to settle on one thing to do, I love to dabble in a lot of stuff, this makes for a mess of stuff. I dream of leaving it all for my kids to clean up and I know where it will end up…in the dump LOL I actually wake up in a sweat, and get worried. LOL I really need to have an auction or huge yard sale. HELP! Sorry to hear of your surgery and I will be praying you get well Quickly. Hugs farmsister #1020 Needy

  17. Ann says:

    Thanks, Shery, once again for your inspirational words and what a fabulous and ambitious farmgirl chapter you have. I’m envious! I look forward to the April Cluck for the banner instructions. Good luck with your surgery – knee surgery is not for wimps of which you are assuredly not! Ann
    P.S. I love your blue canning jar lamp. Did you make it? Very sweet.

  18. Sharon says:

    Shery, I completely agree with you. I have had my retreat room for two years and it is the best thing that I have done for myself. Every farmgirl should have a place to fix up her special stuff! Thank you for the great blog. Sharon

  19. Linda says:

    Help! What if we need it later, because times are bad???

  20. cora jo ciampi says:

    Shery…after a complete knee replacement (and I love the results) I can relate to your plight. And I love the yellow your cabinet will be…you are a great and inspiring decorater! cora jo

  21. carol branum says:

    hi Shery, good luck with your surgery, I hope you have a quick and speedy recovery!
    Hording is worse when you’re in town than when your in the country, you can hide it all better on the farm! blessed be! carol branum

  22. Kathy says:

    love the way you gather your ‘stuff’ together. so refreshing! after living in wyoming myself i know that i had to go someplace else if i wanted the kids to roll easter eggs down a hill that wasn’t covered w/snow; but that’s something that you eventually get used to about wyoming–but don’t get me wrong–i LOVE wyoming! such a sense of freedom and the warmth of very special people.
    so many people strive for ‘the bigger, the better’ when it comes to their homes (trying to keep up with the Jones’es.)and i’ve found it comforting to see beauty in such things as a daffodil in an old coffee pot, a collection of threads in an old mason jar–decorating in a simple cozy manner that comes from the heart. it has encouraged me too.
    thanks for helping me make my own home become a haven for the heart.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *