Thursday, October 31, 2013


It's the last day, and if I had gone into this 31-day challenge with a plan, then perhaps I would have thought to save the best for last.  Although I really don't know what the best would have been.   I do know that there are some things that I wish I had mentioned, some photos that I wish I had shared.  I did not expect to run out of days before I ran out of smiles.  I suppose that is a good thing.
The Little Cabin on the Trail is truly a gift from God, and I do not take that for granted one bit.  The desire of my heart is to walk in faithfulness, discerning the plan and purpose that God has for that little piece of heaven on earth.  With every visit, I want to get to know my Lord and Savior better.  I want my heart to connect with His.  And I pray for the boldness to testify of Christ and to share the good news with whomever He sends my way on that trail. 

In order to do that, I must actually spend time outside.   
The cabin has a darling screened-in porch on the front which, while great for keeping the gnats from circling our heads, serves as a natural barrier between the people on the trail and us.  That's okay sometime; but like I said, I really want to connect with folks.  
Daughter Tessa and I love to say hello to each and every person as they ride by.  Some smile and return the hello, some give us the slight nod, some give the slight wave, and some ignore us altogether.  And every now and then, some stop to visit.  I probably should mention that every now and then, some just walk right on in thinking we are a restaurant.  That is funny: me--running a restaurant.
I was thrilled when Michael added the deck on the back.  It is like having front row seats at a play.  We can be right there, just a few feet from where the action is; and I love it.  We can also see the stream or the creek or whatever it is.  Perfect.
So we eat out there on the deck and play cards and read books and play with little people.
And a few days ago, we kind of enjoyed the snow on it.  
I could just end by saying that the deck makes me smile and leave it at that.  And I would have if I had not met Eduardo and his son last Saturday.  So maybe it is a good thing that I did not plan how to wrap this series up.
The grandkiddos and I had been at the cabin for three very cold days.  We really did not see many people riding, and those we did see were moving quickly because they were half-frozen.  Nobody wanted to stop and chat; they wanted to get to the Creeper Trail CafĂ© for some hot chocolate.  On Saturday morning, the sun came out, and it looked like we would be able to spend time outside with the bikers and, of course, Elijah.  
Unfortunately a family situation forced me to make the decision to pack up and head for home.  I was very, very disappointed. 
As I sat down to eat before putting the kids in the car to leave, I was griping in my head about not getting to meet anyone on this trip.  And then through the window, I noticed two people just standing in front of the cabin sign staring.  I felt like I needed to go outside to talk to them, so I left my piping hot lunch and headed outdoors.
The tag line on the sign, where memories are made and hearts are healed, is a conversation starter.  People oftentimes want to know the story behind it.  And if I am lead, I will share it or invite them to visit the website to read it. 
I wish I could explain it, but as soon as I started talking to Eduardo, I knew that it was a divine appointment.  He had such a kind spirit, and somehow he seemed to relate to my personal need to make memories with my family and to have my broken heart healed.  He understood in a way that surprised me.  His compassion came from a different place.  I liked him.  A lot. 

I asked him if I could take his picture to put up on the cabin's Facebook page, and he happily agreed.  When I came back with the camera, he said, "Let me tell you my story."
And you can Google his name and read his story for yourself.  You can even watch a movie about it or buy the book his wife wrote about it.  It will break your heart.  It broke mine.  Again. 
Eduardo Valseca was kidnapped in 2007 and held hostage for over seven months in a wooden box.  He suffered the unimaginable at the hands of other human beings.  His loving wife and mother of their three children negotiated his release and became his hero only to succumb to breast cancer last year.
And yet.
Eduardo Valseca got on a bike and rode the Creeper Trail with his son.  Eduardo Valseca stopped at my little cabin sign and talked with me about life and family and choosing to be grateful. 
And he smiled.  And his son smiled.  
And he gave me a hug that I will never forget, causing hope to rise up in my soul.  
A simple act of kindness and there it was:  hope.
And that is what I want to leave you with.  I now know at 1 a.m. on October 31, 2013, that the things I have shared over the past 31 days made me smile because they have represented hope.  Each item had a job to do on my cynical heart. 
God is so gracious and so patient. 
He reminded me no less than 31 times that He really does know the plans He has for me:  plans for a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11
Day 31:  Hope makes me smile.
It has been a grand adventure.  I thank you for sharing it with me.
An overview of all 31 days can be found here.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013


"I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves."  ~Anna Quindlen
"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers."  ~Charles W. Eliot

I really can't imagine life without books, so of course, there are books at the cabin.  And there are colorful crocheted afghans because I am kind of crazy about them right now. I think I am actually collecting them.
afghans and books

Day 30:  Books and crocheted afghans make me smile.

An overview of all 31 days can be found here.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013


In April I was blessed to visit a friend's cabin in the very remote mountains of West Virginia and was smitten to say the least with the charm of her home away from home.  I could easily keep this theme going with 3100 things that made me smile at Becca's cabin, but I would have to go back with my camera--which is actually not a bad idea.  *smile*
One of the first things I noticed--besides the unbelievable copper tub and the antique chandeliers and the fireplace and the numerous candid photographs--was the number of hooks that adorned the walls.  They were EVERYWHERE!  And I filed that information away for the day that I would get to decorate my little cabin.  I knew that we would not waste valuable space for closets, so hooks here, there, and everywhere made perfect sense. 
Once again, Hobby Lobby was my friend.  I am sure that I have over 20 hooks up already to hang towels, coats, Enos, walking sticks, dog leashes, and all manner of stuff that would be piled somewhere to annoy me.  
I am hooked on hooks!
I took a lot more away from that trip to WV with my friend than the usefulness of hooks.  Fifteen months ago, she laced up her boots and committed to the difficult climb up the mountain of grief with me, praying me along and sometimes dragging me with all of her strength when I had none to offer.  We faced many dark days together, and I do not believe that I would have ever been able to even catch a glimpse of the mountaintop  without her friendship and her counsel. 
Visiting her special place convinced me that there truly is healing in the mountains.  God met me there with a word of hope.  For that I will ever be grateful; and every time I hang something up, I will thank God for Becca's friendship and her love.
Day 29:  The many hooks make me smile.
An overview of all 31 days can be found here.
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Monday, October 28, 2013


With no distractions like television, cell phones, computers, and the like, there is plenty of time to play games together. 
Just a few of our favorites:  Phase 10, Skip Bo, Rummy Cube, Rummy (cards), Mexican Train Dominoes, Backgammon, and UNO.
Some of the most precious memories I have with Nate are of playing games around the dining room table.  He perfected his card shuffling right before the accident and was so proud.  And one night in June, he kept the best attitude when he never picked up a tile that allowed him to start his train.  He just sat quietly making an intricate pattern with his many dominos.  It was just like him to turn his misfortune into an art project.  He may even have enjoyed that more than winning or playing for that matter.
Day 28:  Our favorite games make me smile.
An overview of all 31 days can be found here.

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Sunday, October 27, 2013


This will probably seem like the silliest thing to smile about, but I am so very serious.  I absolutely LOVE my kitchen gadgets, spices, and favorite food products.
There are not very many things that I feel strongly enough about to promote.  One, you already know is Ferby pencils and now you know another:  Trader Joe's just about anything.
The reason it makes me smile to have Trader Joe stuff at the cabin is the same reason I smile when I open the cabinet and find Pampered Chef products.  Both make cooking, which I don't love, more enjoyable.   Okay, I just noticed that Penzeys Spices are front and center in the peach box.  I love them as well.  So now, counting the Pampered Chef opinion that snuck in, you have four endorsements. 

What it really comes down to is that having a well-stocked and well-equipped kitchen makes me smile.  It is not quite there yet, but the cabin kitchen is very close to having everything I need to cook for my family just like at home.
And I should mention that I had a Pampered Chef party for the sole purpose of getting the things that I didn't want to live without at the cabin.  Many friends ordered for themselves and also purchased an item for the cabin.  It was a most thoughtful thing to do.   
Day 27:  The well-stocked kitchen makes me smile.

An overview of all 31 days can be found here.

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Saturday, October 26, 2013


I have to say that between the light fixtures and the recessed lighting, this cabin practically glows!  Seriously, you could perform surgery in any room! 
The chandelier below was taken out of my mother's house.  You probably think I just went around taking things while she was sleeping, but I assure you that she gave me every single thing because she knew that I was into old things caked with nicotine and dirt.  She was actually quite happy when Michael installed a brand spanking new fixture from Lowe's so she didn't have to clean this one--not that she would have ever gotten to it.  Bless her heart. 
Every now and then I actually splurge on something--like the chippy awning.  I just had to have this Ikea light fixture.  I just had to.  So I coughed up the $40ish for it.  It seemed like a lot for me at the time, but after that awning, I think it was a bargain.  I might just go and buy another.
I think the addition of the antique buttons--that I got from my mother, go figure--make it.  Ikea just put little felt circles on there.  That was boring.
I have been moving this Ball jar lamp--from my mother--around for several years.  Maybe a decade.  I finally made a shade for it, using a form from Hobby Lobby--you thought I was going to say my mother, didn't you?  *grin*
I applied the burlap to the sticky shade and then hot glued on the trim and the paper flower which Kelly made to decorate her packages one year at Christmas.  I just noticed that the trim is from one of those dust ruffles that I cut up.  That light stays on all night to keep me from killing myself when I get up to check on Jett or attend to other matters.
You have probably seen this light fixture before, but I include it here because I want to say again that I made this about 20 years ago--you know, pre-Pinterest.  It just kills me how easy ideas are to come by these days.  Back then, I tell you, it was like mining for gold. 
I will tell you that if you try this project, remember to poke some holes in the lids for the heat to escape.  You probably know why I am able to share that tidbit of information with you.  Yep, those light bulbs will explode and scare you to death! 
And finally, this pole lamp has been around for years.  I have no idea where I got it.  Let's just say from my mom's for the fun of it.  It has been out in the shed for a while because the wiring was messed up.  Son Michael fixed it, and I added the $5 shade from Dollar General--the only store in the town.  I would never have looked there for a lamp shade, but am very happy with it.

I love rooms filled with light.  Yes, natural is best, but when there is a window shortage, I hit the switch.  
Day 26:  The lighting makes me smile.

An overview of all 31 days can be found here.

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Friday, October 25, 2013


Removing the original ceiling and opening the room up to the roofline has made the most impact on the space overall.  I adore the wood that Michael installed and probably should make that a separate post to smile about.  It is featured in so many photos already though, that it just goes without saying that I smile when I look up.  We all should smile when we look up.

Michael was able to install an old window that I've been carting around for a few decades in the place of the old attic vent.  What an improvement!  I think it changed the cabin from cute to charming. 

Day 25:  The stained glass window makes me smile.

An overview of all 31 days can be found here.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013


I just love when there is a challenge and my brain does its crazy thing and finds a solution that does not cost a single cent.  And this time I was able to shop my own shed instead of rooting through my husband's stuff. 
The screen below hides the awesome electrical panel.  You didn't know that, did you?  I was able to screw together an old window that I got from my mother's house, an old cabinet door that was previously painted to be used as part of a headboard in Tessa's room when she was younger which also came from my mother's house, and a shutter that may have come from the bathroom in the house we currently live in. 
Please ignore the fact that the counters are still painted plywood and concentrate on the clever screen, okay?

The very neatest part of this project is that the hinges were already on the pieces--like they were just waiting to be hooked up together.  They make a lovely threesome. 
I added an antique hook thing that was found in a closet of the house we live in now for the towel holder.  And as much as I love that Penzey's Spice towel, as soon as I walk through the door tomorrow, my new Anthropologie towel from my niece is getting placed there!
Day 24:  The clever screen makes me smile.
An overview of all 31 days can be found here.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I obviously have an obsession with plates.  My staircase wall at my real house has 21 hanging on it, and apparently that is not the magic number at which I stopped buying them. 

I have a small fortune invested in plate hangers and don't know why on earth I have not already turned on my clever and figured out a cheaper way to hang them for goodness sake!
The cabin is not exempt from my plate hanging either.  We could play I Spy with all the photos I've already posted to see how many we could find.  I may do that with the kiddos this weekend.  Surely, I have not hit 21 there yet!



Have I told you how delighted I am that you are here?  I am.
Day 23:  Plates make me smile.

An overview of all 31 days can be found here.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I am a "smell" person.  If I want to improve my mood, I light a candle or fold laundry.  I would go without food before I would give up good smelling fabric softeners.  Yes, I know fabric softeners are full of all kinds of terrible ingredients, but I don't care.  The pleasure I get from the scent is worth the risk.  I will reduce my risk of contracting some skin disorder some other way.
I also love the smell of a campfire.  I don't care if it gets in my clothes or my hair.  I kind of care though when the wind shifts and the smoke gets in my eyes and up my nose.  It's hard not to care when you are gasping for breath with your eyes burning.  That has happened a lot at the cabin because the wood that we drag out of the forest is usually damp, and it smokes a lot. 


I started the fire below.  It was pretty impressive.  Don't worry; I have a hose nearby . . . 


. . . and a creek . . .  and a bucket.


Day 22:  Campfires make me smile.

An overview of all 31 days can be found here.

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Monday, October 21, 2013


The one and only area that I have stayed absolutely true to my original vision of everything white is in the curtains.  I just adore white lace and white ruffles and white trims.  I collect white bed skirts, curtains, ladies skirts, etc. to be repurposed into all sorts of things.
For our shower curtain, I added ruffles to a store-bought white fabric shower liner curtain.  The ruffle with the crocheted trim was from a bed skirt that I bought at Goodwill for a couple of dollars.  The one with the little balls on used to be on my bed until our darling puppy chewed up one side. 

The little curtain in the bathroom window was made from Laura Ashley curtains that I also picked up at Goodwill. 
The white gauzy curtain that I hung to hide the side of the refrigerator I bought at Target.
Instead of doors, the two bedrooms have curtains made from old tablecloths.

So there you have it. 

Day 21:  The white curtains make me smile.

An overview of all 31 days can be found here.

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Sunday, October 20, 2013


What can I say?  We are really into the renovating thing.  A couple of years ago we worked on the beauty below.   I named her Carried Away and designed a great graphic for the side which obviously never got put on.  It probably never will now that she is parked in Virginia, and my awesome sign company is here in Tennessee.
Some of you may remember that when my husband found her, she looked a bit, what should I say, rough?  We are visionaries.  Yes, we certainly are.
vintage camper
I have blogged about the complete renovation of the camper already, so you can read about it here if you would like.  You'll have to scroll to the bottom to read about the process in order.  Or, if you are talented like I am, you can just read it backwards and let your mind do the mental gymnastics of putting it in order.

We brought the camper to the cabin because I love her so very much and did not want to abandon her for a cabin.  I also don't see camping in my near future since now I have a cabin in the woods to stay in--with a bathroom.  
So Carried Away is like the guest cottage to our cabin.  Three guests have stayed in her so far.  She has a feather mattress and a feather duvet, and sleeping there is all kinds of yummy.  She smells good, too!  I just love knowing she is with us on the trail; and from time to time, I open her up for tours as well. 
Day 20:  The vintage camper in the backyard makes me smile.
An overview of all 31 days can be found here.

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Saturday, October 19, 2013


I didn't have time to write yesterday for today because I was too busy with Tessa's 17th birthday celebration, and this morning I have to show my mad cooking skills at breakfast for a bunch of girls, so I will have to be brief.  That's right, I don't have any mad cooking skills.  They will get pancakes.  Anyway, I am going to write whatever pops in my head in the next few minutes.  You really thought I did that every day, didn't you?
I agonized over my floor choices.  Well, actually I agonized because I did not  have many floor choices.  The cabin is really a cinderblock building on a concrete slab that was once a shed of some sort.  It has been made to look like a cabin with the addition of faux logs.  There you have it:  my secret is out.  I live in a faux cabin on the trail.  But the walls do not shake when people shoot guns nearby or it thunders real loud.
The floors are a mess of not smoothly poured concrete.  Wall-to-wall carpeting was out because--do I really have to give a reason?  No, I do not.  Tile or wood could not be laid because of the extreme unevenness, so I just painted them the color of dirt.  That has been a great choice so far. 
I knew that I wanted some area rugs to act as floor doilies; you know, just to anchor areas and to make things feel a bit more cozy.  Also, Jett likes to sit on the floor to play with his antiques.
And then I found them.  And I instantly knew.  There was no long drawn-out debate.  Sold.  It was the day I re-applied for a TJ Maxx card--for the ten-percent discount.  I will cancel it soon.   I promise, Dave.


And then I picked up a few more rag rugs from Ollie's.  And I was happy, happy, happy.

Day 19:  The colorful rugs make me smile.

An overview of all 31 days can be found here.

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