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A Little Change is Good, Methinks…


Hearts No. 1, mixed media metal art by Kate Richards of Farmhouse38.comIf you’ve been following me for awhile, you may have noticed I’ve slowed down a bit with my blogging. In fact, you may have noticed that there have been moments where it has come to a grinding, shrieking halt. Or maybe you haven’t noticed and I just think everyone’s been noticing. I’m a lot more important in my head. A LOT more important.

I know I’ve got some ‘splaining to do. So, it goes something like this: I’m an artist. Did you know that? I haven’t mentioned it much, aside from a little blip here and there in my profile, but so far, the art hasn’t surfaced much on my blog. There’s a reason for that…I’ve been on a prolonged, forced hiatus from the art. It’s the Farmhouse’s fault, you see. Sure, it’s been a real time-suck to renovate this house from top to bottom–I could easily blame it on that, right? But no–the real reason it has kept me from my art is that the garage renovation (err…studio renovation), was the very last on our kill list. It’s crazy how functioning kitchens and bathrooms and finished bedroom walls really take all the priority glory.

The Art Barn at

The garage, pre-renovation.

The Art Barn at

The studio, post-renovation.

The studio barn at

The studio all lit up at night (with a couple of guard cats keeping the look-out for wandering bands of art thieves).

The studio barn at

As you can see, it’s already quite well-used; those floors do not stay clean.

You may be thinking that this is a pretty weak excuse; this not-having-a-proper-studio baloney. I kind of agree (especially in retrospect). But my ‘artwork’ is a little off the wall (pun intended). It’s not as simple as setting up a temporary easel in the guest bedroom, because my medium of choice is actually metal (you didn’t see that coming, now did you??). So there is a lot of welding and grinding and metal shrapnel a-flying. I can’t do it in the house (obviously). I can’t even do it outside in the driveway because of the shrapnel (which becomes inherently dangerous to animal paws and crops when it’s lurking in the cracks and crevices and dirt). So I had to wait (rather impatiently), for my studio. And wait I did. For five years. But, in the meantime, I started a blog–so it wasn’t all for naught, right?

The mixed media metal art by Kate Richards of

Me welding up a metal ‘canvas’.

Mixed media metal art by Kate Richards of

Me being gravely serious at the easel.

Let me elaborate on the artwork. When I say ‘metal’ and ‘welding’ people tend to picture big, hulking sculptures–but no, that’s not what I do. My stuff is actually more along the lines of mixed media painting; my ‘canvas’ is metal, my ‘mixed media’ is a rather alchemic blend of patina, paint, and dye. Sometimes glitter. Sometimes a little dog hair. The latter two are kind of hard to avoid around here–they are in e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. Cheers! I digress. I grind a lot of pattern into that media, so the paintings all typically wind up with reflective ‘metal’ elements.

Ikat No. 1 mixed media metal painting by Kate Richards of

Ikat No.1, mixed media metal painting on aluminum. (The whitish areas are actually reflective, raw metal).

So what’s my point here? For quite some time, I’ve been keeping the FH38 blog and the artwork completely separate…almost leading a double life, if you will. I was worried that, with so much stuff going on at Farmhouse38, the art would just further muddy it up–that the blog and the art would dilute each other, if that makes any sense. So I was gearing up to run two separate social media profiles…and you know what? I’m exhausted. I can’t do it, people, I just can’t do it. So after much deliberation and soul-searching (do I close up shop on one and focus on the other? How do I choose my favorite child?), I’ve decided to merge the two. From here on out, you guys are going to start seeing a lot of art on this site; all the rest of the stuff–the chickens, the garden, the crafting, the cocktails, the farmhouse projects–it will all still be here, just gently interspersed between the antics of my artistic ebb and flow. Eventually, my stuff will be available to buy on Etsy and other such sites, but for now, you can check out to see a straightforward gallery (I am going to leave that website up as a one-stop informational shop for just the artwork, but make no mistake, it will all eventually be found on Farmhouse38, too). Be sure to follow me on Instagram, because I’ve already been posting quite a bit of behind the scenes arting shots there.

Neon No. 1 mixed media metal painting by Kate Richards of

Neon No. 1, acrylic on reclaimed steel. This is a good shot of what a ‘metal canvas’ looks like. Kind of like a metal box lid with 1 inch or so edges so that it can just hang on the wall like a normal painting.

In addition to all this art, you’re going to be seeing a lot more flowers. The flowers have always been a part of FH38, but now that my mini, wannabe flower farm is hitting its stride, slow flower arrangements and arrangement how-tos are gonna hop to the forefront along with the art. Metal art and flowers, people. And probably a whole lot of metal flower art. You’ve been warned.

As part of this Farmhouse38 redirection, I will also finally (FINALLY!!!) be switching the blog from its current state to a self-hosted situation. That means that the new blog will be found at (which currently redirects to–no more already! Geez!!). I’m working on it now, and since I have never actually done this before, I expect that there will be some hiccups. In fact, I expect that I will make a complete and utter mess of the whole thing–so please, please, please bear with me as I muddle my way through it. As I always like to say: it has to get worse before it gets awesome. 🙂 Don’t worry, I will give you all plenty of notice when I make the switch so we can all have a good laugh at how I’ve gone and mucked it all up. Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest…it’s harder to mess those up (believe me, I’ve made some valiant efforts).

Rooster No. 1 mixed media metal painting by Kate Richards of

I can’t not have some metal chicken art. This is Farmhouse38, afterall.

Mixed media metal artist Kate Richards of

There are almost always chickens in my studio. It’s just how I roll.

So there you have it: my blog midlife crisis in all its glory. Who’s coming with me?!!



Stalking Visits

Look at that view. Now imagine it from nearly every room of your amazingly creative, light-filled, love-filled home. That’s just how life is at I’m such a lucky ducky for getting to go visit, and Laura and Dan are probably regretting their hospitality because I’m already planning my next trip. And the one after that.

You might have seen me gush over Laura’s incredible dining room shutter wall. You may have also seen Country Living Magazine do the same in their April 2012 issue (see the online version here). Well, I was pretty geeked out over seeing it in person for the first time…so I took a lot of photos…and when I say ‘a lot’ I mean ‘A LOT’. I regret nothing.

Shutterwall at via Farmhouse38

Their entry hall peeks into the dining room with all it’s shuttered loveliness.

Here’s a better shot swiped from

Entryway at

Oh, the fabulousness of that shutterwall glimpsed through re-purposed windows!

The Shutterwall at via Farmhouse38

There is such beautiful light in this room–and I absolutely heart the color scheme Laura chose to paint these pretties. It would have been really ‘safe’ to paint them white. Safe is for sissies.

How about a few more shots just because I am obsessed?

The Shutterwall at via


The Shutterwall at via Farmhouse38

More gorgeous.

Though The Shutterwall grabs you immediately as you enter, it is only the tip of the iceberg; the whole house is so fantastically curated that I could literally photograph every little nook and cranny and they would all look like magazine vignettes. No joke. Across the entry from the dining room is an equally light-filled room that is Laura’s lovely studio (did I mention she’s also a prolific artist? No? Well, she is also a prolific artist–see some of her work here).

The Studio at via

Where the creative magic happens.

Laura is kind of a freak genius when it comes to thrift store and flea market hunting. She’s got a special sort of spidey-sense that leads her to the most incredible finds.  One of my favorites resides in the studio:

Vintage Finds from

I mean. Come on. Magnificent. A vintage card catalog, all filled with perfectly organized little crafting bits and bobs.

Right around the corner from the studio is another fun up-cycled masterpiece: the chair shelves. Or shelve chairs. Call them what you will.

Upcycled Chair Shelves from via Farmhouse38

I mean, who thinks of these things?!! Laura. Laura thinks of these things.

The Livingroom at

The entry opens onto the livingroom, which is layered with light and color and texture, creative collections, and Laura’s original art. AND it looks out onto that incredible view of the mountains.

Some other Olive and Love moments:

Vintage Finds at

Vintage WWII posters. Awesome.

Guinea pigs at via Farmhouse38

Guinea pig cuddles.

Hand-painted Rooster by via

My hand-painted birthday gift from Laura. A rooster with some gangsta swag.

A funny from via

The Olive-and-Love-Mobile. A minivan. LOL.

Little Moments from my house tour.

Emma, soaking up some warm sun.

Planked Wood Floors at via

I love these planked floors. I want them in my house.

A visit to via Farmhouse38

My older brother got to drop in for a quick visit, too, and there was some very serious Sunday morning chess to be played with the Olive and Love crew.

House Tour of via

Another shot of those fantastic chartreuse Adirondacks looking out at that view. *sigh*

A house tour of via

A little Valentine’s Day on a DIY message board.

House tour at via Farmhouse38

A kitty-cat vignette.

The kitchen at Olive and Love headquarters is another favorite spot of mine:

The Kitchen at

Lots of adorable vintage finds in this room…and check out the quirk of those awesome pendants. Those are upside-down table lamps, people. Love it.

I want to go on. Because every room in this sprawling house deserves a mention. But head on over to the official house tour at to see the rest. Be sure you check out the master bedroom and bath. And also the kids’ rooms. And the guest room where I stayed. Oh just go look at all of it. It’s all amazeballs.

The reason for my trip was, contrary to popular belief, not to sit and stare gape-mouthed at the Olive and Love house (even though a large portion of my time there was spent doing just exactly that). My birthday was a couple of weeks back, and The Texan bought me the ticket (no, it was not one way) as a gift so I could go have a fun weekend with friends. He works so much this time of year that we never really get to do anything fun for our birthdays (his is a week or so before mine) or for Valentine’s Day. So this year, I spent Valentine’s Day weekend exploring Reno (where I had never before been) with Laura. We filled our days with a little bit of snowshoeing, a ton of shopping (that thrifty spidey-sense of her’s really came in handy), and a lot of sight-seeing. Such fun!

Snowshoeing In Reno with via

Laura and I taking in some fresh alpine air. It burns (when you’re used to breathing smog). and getting into trouble.

Goofing off at The Nest Reno during their Valentine’s Day Terrarium Class (more on that fun time coming soon).

Reno weekend with via

I’m such a sucker for sparkly lights.

Thanks for a great time,! And thanks for indefinitely storing all that stuff I bought that was too big to come home on the plane. I will settle my storage bill when I come back up in a few weeks. 🙂

Caramel Bourbon Cake

Caramel Bourbon Cake from Farmhouse38In addition to the Cranberry-Lemon Squares, I went a little crazy and also made this cake for ‘First Thanksgiving’.  There is just really not much better than a cake with booze in it, is there?  No.  No there just isn’t.

The Caramel Bourbon Sauce is really quite insanely good.  This stuff would be so good in so many different applications, it makes my head hurt.  But that may also just be my bourbon hangover.

Bourbon Caramel Sauce from Farmhouse38

Jars of Caramel Bourbon Sauce: perfect holiday gift.  I’m just sayin’.

Sauce ingredients:

–1 cup sugar

–1/4 cup water

–1/2 cup heavy cream

–1-1/2 tablespoons bourbon (come on, you know you want to) (PS: we like Woodford Reserve, although the Texan about had a heart attack when I was ‘squandering’ it for cooking purposes.  It was worth it, I tell you.  No regrets.)

–1/4 teaspoon of sea salt

To make:

–Simmer the sugar and the water over medium heat, constantly swirling the pan for anywhere between 10-15 minutes, until your sugar mixture has reached a nice amber color.  Be real careful not to let it burn.  It’s easy to do.  Trust me.

–Remove from the heat and turn off the burner.

–Slowly add your cream, constantly stirring.

–Add bourbon and salt.

–Set the pan back on the turned-off burner and stir ingredients together for another minute or so.

–Transfer to a jar and let cool.  Keep it in your fridge until you’re ready for it.

Cake/frosting ingredients:

(instructions are for a two-layer cake.  I set out to make a four layer, so I doubled everything below…and then one of my layers bit the dust.  So three it is.  Three it is.)

For a two-layer cake:

–1-1/2 cups white sugar

–12 tablespoons softened butter

–3 eggs

–3 teaspoons vanilla extract

–2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

–2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

–1 teaspoon salt

–1-1/4 cups whole milk

–1 cup of Caramel Bourbon Sauce, cooled

–2 sticks softened unsalted butter

–4 cups powdered sugar

–2 tablespoons whole milk if your frosting is too dry

To make the cake:

–Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease two (or four, whatevs) 8×8 round baking pans.  Set aside.

–In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar.  Beat the eggs in, one at a time, and then keep beating on high speed for approximately 3 minutes, or until the mixture is fluffy and pale in color. Add the vanilla and stir.

–Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt together.

–Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, starting and ending with the flour mixture.  Try not to take out your pent-up aggressions on the batter by over-beating it.  It did nothing to you.

–Pour the batter into the prepared pans evenly, smoothing the tops with the back of a spoon.

–Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.

To make the frosting:

–Cream the butter until smooth and fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time and beat until well-combined.  Add 1/3 cup of the Caramel Bourbon Sauce and beat until smooth and fluffy.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of whole milk if your frosting seems a bit dry (mine did not).

Caramel Bourbon Buttercream from Farmhouse38

Yep. That’s right. I stuck my finger right on in there.

Assembling the cake:

It all comes down to this.  Take a deep breath.

Take your Caramel Bourbon Sauce out of the fridge awhile before you start the assembly.  Warm the sauce a bit, if you need to, so that it isn’t too thick.

Place the first layer of the cake on a stand, and, using a fork, poke a whole buncha holes all over the top surface of the cake.  Pour roughly 1/4 cup of the sauce across the surface of the hole-y cake, just enough to coat it well and soak in a bit.  Top with a hefty layer of frosting.

Now place the second layer, and do the same with the poking and the pouring and the frosting-ing. Reserve the last little bit of sauce.  When you are ready to serve, drizzle the cake with the remaining sauce, and sprinkle with sea salt.  Dig the heck in.

**Cake recipe adapted from

BHG Kitchen+Bath Makeovers Magazine

BHG Kitchen+Bath Makeovers Magazine via Farmhouse38

Ummmm….I have been a fan of this magazine for a long time….with all the house-gutting that’s been going on around here, I’d always grab a copy for some much-needed inspiration (and hope that one day we’d be finished enough that our house might look like all the pretties that were featured there!).  So imagine my surprise when I was contacted by one of their lovely editors about using our master bathroom remodel.  My answer? “Duh, YES PLEASE AND THANK YOU!”

Run on out and pick up this awesome issue, and give a little special attention to page 39!  FUN!!!

An Impressionist Art Lesson from the Chickens

Impressionism Chicken Art from Farmhouse38I don’t do a lot of kid stuff on this blog, because, well, we don’t have any of the two-legged, non-feathered variety.  But from time to time, my ‘loaner kids’ come over for a visit (good friends of the family–the two girls were our wedding flower girls!) The chickens were thrilled to have three of their favorite kids (we refer to them as C2, C3, and C1, respectively) over the other day for an ‘art lesson’ on Impressionism.  (There are only a handful of subjects that I possibly know enough about to try to ‘teach’ anyone: decorative wreathes, cocktails, and Impressionist painters….for this ‘lesson’ it was a close call between subjects 2 and 3.  No one wants to learn about wreathes.)

We began with some print-outs of a few well-known Vincents and Claudes, so the kids could get a feeling for how these painters concentrated less on specific form, and more on color and light.  I also wanted them to notice the deliberate brushstrokes, and the layering of color upon color.  We were going to paint the chickens in this manner, but we weren’t going to paint what our brains told us a chicken looked like; we were going to paint based on the colors we were seeing.  To help with this a bit, I selected photos of each of our birds and applied a painting filter effect to them in Photoshop, then printed them out…they looked something like this:

Photoshopped Painting of Millie from Farmhouse38

This may seem a bit like ‘cheating’, but I wanted the kids to see the chicken more as bits of color and light, rather than just a chicken.

So each kid picked a chicken, and we began.  Because the focus of this project was the bird, I had them ignore the backgrounds in the photos and simply fill their entire canvas with simple, bold color.

Impressionist Chicken Paintings from Farmhouse38

We filled the entire canvas, and then let them dry while we had a juice break.  And yes, those are trash bag painting smocks.

Next, the kids drew the outline of the chicken in white, and filled it in so that we could layer other colors nicely over the top.  (This is mostly due to the type of paint we were working with; non-toxic kid paints tend to be very transparent and don’t work as well for layering as the oil paints of the Impressionists.)

Impressionist Chicken Art for Kids from Farmhouse38

The face of concentration.

Impressionist Chicken Paintings for Kids from Farmhouse38

Impressionism Lesson for Kids from Farmhouse38

A darned fine Gertie silhouette.

We then let that layer dry thoroughly (yay for the quick-drying powers of acrylic paint!).

Accidental Face-Painting from Farmhouse38

So while we waited….this happened!

Accidental Face-Painting from Farmhouse38

Epic photo-bombing.

Next, it was time to start layering on some color, Impressionist-style:

Impressionist Painting for Kids from Farmhouse38

C1’s face paint is still cracking me up.

Impressionist Chicken Painting for Kids from Farmhouse38

Another comprehensive animal photo-bombing.

Impressionist Painting with Kids from Farmhouse38

I urged the kids to paint the colors that they were seeing.  For instance, instead of falling into the trap of thinking a chicken’s comb is red, look closer: it’s actually rather pink.

Impressionist Chicken Art for Kids from Farmhouse38

C2 couldn’t help but embellish the background.

Impressionist Chicken Art for Kids from Farmhouse38

C1 really got into the ‘dappling’ brushstrokes. Very Monet!

Impressionist Chicken Art for Kids from Farmhouse38

Yeah, Southpaw!

We layered and layered the different colors until we got some pretty good results!

Impressionist Chicken Paintings for Kids from Farmhouse38

Gertie has never looked better!

Impressionist Chicken Paintings for Kids from Farmhouse38

‘Millie and Eloise in the Garden’, acrylic on canvas, by C1

I somehow didn’t get a close-up of C2’s finished Clementine portrait (she was still working till the bitter end!)….but please enjoy the final group shots:

Impressionist-Inspired Chicken Paintings from Farmhouse38

Impressionist-Inspired Chicken Paintings from Farmhouse38

Impressionist-Inspired Chicken Paintings from Farmhouse38

Not sure who wins best face….but we got some pretty awesome paintings here, if I do say so myself!!!

The Farmhouse Hummingbird

The Farmhouse Hummingbird from Farmhouse38

This post is a little different for me….so if you’d rather not hear me rambling like a buffoon about a hummingbird, I warn you to turn away–turn away quickly!!

Let the pointless gushing commence.

All right–there is a longish back story to this, so bear with me here.

A good portion of my day is spent (hard at work, I swear) at my computer.  Command central is a little nook carved out of one end of my kitchen.  My desk is pushed up against a large window, so as I work, I am looking out said window into a thicket of shrubbery (which is great, because if those green things weren’t there, I’d be staring into my neighbors’ bedroom window, which, I think we can all agree, is rather awkward).

The Farmhouse Hummingbird from Farmhouse38

My workspace, for better or for worse.

To my immediate right is a set of double french doors that lead out onto our deck and to my immediate left is the open kitchen-dining-great room–and all the way down at the front of that great room, on this same wall is another french door leading out onto our driveway.

I am in the habit of leaving the driveway door open quite a bit for the dogs to come in and out as they please (though this has become a problem recently, as the chickens have also discovered and entitled themselves to this privilege).  Many times, I also leave the door next to me open, as well, to get a nice cross-breeze action, but if it’s a little too chilly, I keep that one closed.  One morning last spring, I was doing just this:  working at my computer, with the door to the deck closed, and the one to the driveway open.  All of a sudden, I hear the tell-tale hummingbird air-strumming, and look up in time to see that a little hummingbird has zipped through the driveway door, streaked through the kitchen, and just as I realize what is about to happen–PLINK!–it runs into the closed deck door.  But fortunately the little hummybird was unharmed and buzzing at the windowpanes of the french door like an angry bumblebee, trying desperately to get outside.  So, carefully, I reached over and opened the door–problem solved, right?  Nope.   The little frantic thing just kept buzzing at the backside of the door and couldn’t figure out to fly around it.  Finally, it perched on one of the dividers, and sat there, exhausted, it’s little chest heaving.

The Farmhouse Hummingbird from Farmhouse38

Of course, in my panic to help the bird, I didn’t stop to take a photo. But this was where the tiny one was stuck, perched on one of the window dividers.

Tentatively, I reached towards the bird, and when it didn’t fly away, I very carefully scooped it into the palm of my hand and stepped out onto the deck–pausing for a moment to marvel at the fact that I was actually holding a hummingbird in the palm of my hand.  I opened my hand, and the bird sat for a moment, blinking at me.  We had a little moment, the hummingbird and I.  I was able to look her over very carefully–see her gorgeous colors winking in the sun.  Wish I could have gotten photos!  And then, in an instant, she was zipping away into the garden.  I say ‘she’, because I certainly hit the research after this interaction.  It seems to me that she is either a Rufous or an Allen’s Hummingbird, either a juvenile or a female, by her coloring.  But I’m going with ‘she’, because that’s just what I’m going with.

Immediately (starting later that very same day), I began to notice that every time I was in the yard, there was a certain hummingbird (because we always have quite a few around here) that would come and hover close to my head–which is something that had never happened to me before in the garden.  When I could get a good glimpse, yes, I was certain it was the very same little hummingbird (although in my research, this type of behavior is sometimes exhibited by territorial males when a person is in their ‘space’).  But, nonetheless, this little bird was very fascinated with me, whatever the reason may be.  I wish I could describe better the experience of being inspected by a hummingbird: there you are, minding your business, and suddenly it is like a pressure change in your ear that you kind of notice, but don’t notice, and then all at once, you’re hearing the hum of the wings, and feeling the movement of the air, and then you look up, and there is this beautiful little creature, right in front of your face.  Amazing.  Not once has this, or any of these birds territorially attacked me, and yet, here is this little one, coming in for a closer look.

The Farmhouse Hummingbird from Farmhouse38

Fast forward to the present.  I work at my computer every morning, and then periodically throughout the day.  Starting at six am, every single morning, I look up and I see this:

The Farmhouse Hummingbird from Farmhouse38

This photo makes it look farther away–in reality, the bird is about 3 feet from where I sit.

The Farmhouse Hummingbird from Farmhouse38

I know it’s probably not, but I swear this is the same bird.  She flits in and sits on this exact branch every few minutes.  She watches me as I move around, but does not startle.  She preens and fluffs and stretches her wings and rests, and it is the cutest dang thing in the whole world.

The Farmhouse Hummingbird from Farmhouse38

The Farmhouse Hummingbird from Farmhouse38

Further research has revealed that this behavior (returning to the same covered, resting spot) is indicative of a female bird, as well.  The males tend to rest on a branch or a power line out in the open (which I see around here all the time) while the females tend to pick a covered, protected resting spot.  I’m hoping that if it is, indeed, a she, that she builds her nest here where I can see it.  That would make my whole year.

I realize that I have romanticized this situation a wee bit–I’m sure that all of these incidences are not actually the same bird.  I get it.  But I like to secretly think it is.

I would love to hear from anyone who has a bit of hummingbird knowledge!  Meanwhile, I’ll just be here, at my computer, smiling at my little recurring office visitor like a loon.

The Farmhouse Hummingbird from Farmhouse38

Our Elf on the Shelf

As we round the corner into the holiday season (I know, I know I am a bit over-eager), I thought I’d start getting everyone in the mood by posting our annual holiday dog video from last year.  It is our little tradition to put one of these out, so stay tuned for version 2012, coming very soon!  Until then, here is a short film about our dogs and the ‘Elf on the Shelf’ to the tune of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby’s “We Wish You the Merriest”.  Suffice it to say, our elf, Bocephus, had his work cut out for him; Chance and Abbie did not go highly recommended to Santa.

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