Outside House Tour, 8-22-23

1979 House when I moved in


2013 remodeling – I basically added to the east and south of the house.


Going around the house from northeast to southwest

Only 4 small windows on the north – Iowa winter winds are brutal.

Screened porch on northeast corner – I hauled all the fieldstone home on a trailer, load after load, from all my neighbors’ rock piles. I still have a rock pile that I’m working on to reach the bottom. When I first started collecting rocks I was quite choosy – those rocks are on the bottom!! And I want them! Which means I have to move the not so good rocks to get to the good ones. But here’s the kicker – Rick dumped gravel and dirt on the pile years ago and all of that has to be shoveled away first. I am taking a break from this job until it cools off.

East side

Southeast corner – the room with all the windows is the “front” room – dining room, tv, reading. Main TV area is further into the main part of the house where the fireplace is.

South facing – windows continue in “front” room. Entry at top of the ramp. Windows to the left are the piano room.

South facing piano room

Southwest corner of piano room and front of sewing room. Garage on the left.

Southwest – sewing room door and garage

Facing west – garage on right, quilt shop straight ahead.

Turning counterclockwise is the playhouse – quilt shop on far right.

Looking south to the barn.


There are 20 large double hung windows on east and south, only one on the west – window sills 10” wide are made of concrete to hold plants. New floors in front room are also concrete with heat runs below.


Keeper report – he’s home from being neutered today but he’s not feeling the best. Tomorrow will be better.

How are you standing the heat? Thank God for AC. Rick and I were reminiscing about hot weather as kids without any AC – a fan if we were lucky. Our house had only one small fan and Dad bought it for Mom in the hospital when I was born on July 3 and it was hot – no AC in the hospital. Now there’s a story of changing times.

95 thoughts on “Outside House Tour, 8-22-23

  1. Linda in Estherville

    Your beginning is much like mine only in reverse. It was September and cold and snowy. The steam furnaces had not been turned on at the care home, so Dad had to get a heater to place in Moms room to keep me warm!

  2. Mary H

    Mary, you’ve made many wonderful improvements. Lots of work.
    We only had 1 fan @ our house too and no AC. We took turns sitting front of it and we ate a lot of Kool-aid Popsicles. Our upstairs was like a bake oven.
    It was 105 the day we got married.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Mary H – 105? I wish Connie would tell about her wedding day – also hot.

      1. Mary H

        And we all had long sleeved dresses. We have few pictures as the guys just wouldn’t keep their suit coats on. No AC @ church or my parent’s basement. We moved the reception to the basement @ home as the church basement was too hot. Fancy, right? Food on the ping pong table. The only thing anyone remembers about our wedding is how hot is was. I hear about it every year.
        I think if my dad had ever had to sleep upstairs, he’d have bought another fan.
        We are bone dry here. Sure hope fall brings rain.

        1. Mary Etherington Post author

          Mary H – oh, what a wedding day story!! The varnish on the pews came off on the bridesmaid dresses – Connie’s wedding.

  3. Diane in WI

    You have a beautiful home. I love all the trees. My parent’s house had a screened porch. It was the best room in the house during the hot days. Some friends and I were just discussing how we survived without air conditioning. I always wished we had it especially when Bernard came in from bailing hay. We are under an excessive heat warning as so many are. The air conditioner will be working overtime. Our county fair starts next week Wednesday. Clothing, home furnishings, and quilts are judged next Monday. I entered three things. Stay cool.

  4. Gwen

    I remember those hot Iowa summers with no AC. August was canning season with the pressure canner steaming away.

  5. Sandy

    Hi Mary, l love all outside views of your house where there are lot,s of windows and shady lawns! Poor Keeper, he will feel better tomorrow! Gwen and l have just had a day out at south Bank Brisbane, there are outside pools, some beach style with sand, lots of food places and at weekend market stalls.l had the kids fish and chips for lunch with an ice-cream, perfect. We are off to see my favourite aunt tomorrow. Take care everyone, best wishes from Sandy

  6. MaureenHP

    Thank you for the tour. You and Rick have a lovely home. Heat index topping 100° for the next few days. We are so very blessed to have A/C!

  7. Nikki M in Tx

    Concrete Doors? Never heard of concrete doors!
    You have worked hard on your renovation & the results of hard work show. I know you are proud. Women can do anything !!
    Have lived in very cold places ( Sweden, Iceland, Greenland, upstate New York& a few other states) also lived places hotter than h—l … , all am totally sure of I am definitely to old for either of the extremes, & am so tired of this triple digit heat!
    Finally heard from daughter of friends that lives in Hawaii , they lost everything to the fires, said is so much worse than shown on TV. My heart goes out to all that have been affected .
    Several of the quilts you stated you want to make from the fair are Villa Rosa patterns & from their website are only $2.00 each & printed postcard fashion. Simple , easy to follow cutting & assembly directions. Most use precuts (which can cut yourself).
    Working on quilt now that is out of my comfort zone & having fun doing so. Using brights & wild funky fabric for border, for great niece that is 8 going on 28 !

  8. Jo in Wyoming

    Nikki in Texas…the heat is getting to you. Mary has heated concrete floors.

    Mary, you are good at taking pictures for memories. One of our quilting ladies always takes pictures too. It’s fun to try to remember what year they were taken.
    So much work on your house. It really shows pride of ownership.
    We might get a little hurricane rain later in the week. We need some. It’s been so very hot.
    I’m glad Keeper is all fixed up. When we rescued Loretta, the description said house broke, hahaha, it took me 3 years to teach her and she still has accidents. But I love her anyway. Most vets tattoo dogs after being “fixed”. Loretta didn’t have one so she started the surgery and got tattooed afterwards.

    1. Nikki in Tx

      Jo, lol.. makes more sense!!!
      Yes, heat definitely getting to me !!!
      Seven day forecast still triple digits, but had to laugh ( better than crying) when meteorologist said cold front that is supposed to come thru on Tuesday should offer some relief. & if lucky May Not be above 100.
      I am looking forward to being able to complain about the cold of winter.Thank goodness for air conditioning & sweet tea.

      1. Mary Etherington Post author

        Nikki – haha!! I didn’t want to hurt your feelings by correcting you.

    2. Mary Etherington Post author

      Jo – thanks for correcting Nikki – I went back to read what I had written because it could have been a typo. Nope, it did say floors. The heat is getting to everybody.

  9. Rosie Westerhold

    Absolutely LOVE the outside of your house, and the grounds around it. You have worked very hard to get it to this state. Always seems there is even MORE to do, right?

    These triple digit temps with high humidity are about killing me!! Had my left knee replacement last Tuesday, and am doing really, REALLY well post-op. It’s a totally different, and BETTER experience than the right one 7 years ago. Different issues with each knee. Having to wear the dang TED hose for the next month is about doing me in, though. And it’s only been EIGHT DAYS so far😱😱!! I’ve complained more about the dang hose than about the pain, which has been minimal.

    I remember growing up in NE with no a/c, and only a window fan in my PARENTS bedroom. Aaacccckkk!! How did we survive? And now I have 2 separate heating/cooling systems, one for upstairs and one for downstairs. Talk about being spoiled. Had both units serviced within the past 2 weeks in anticipation of my surgery and the triple digit temps coming. And the upstairs unit went on the fritz over the weekend🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️😱😱!! I was able to reach the same tech who had serviced my system 5 days prior ( weekend on-call emergency number), and he came right out. Said it was a “different” problem than when he was here last week. I think it was the SAME problem, but he just missed it. He fixed it, and was on his way within 30 minutes, thankfully, and the unit has been humming away and COOLING ever since!! It’s just plain HOT, and it’s hard for ALL a/c systems to keep up, but I am grateful that I have a/c.

    It’s just too hot for me to even THINK about quilting. I had prepped several blocks for a new EPP I’ve started, but it doesn’t even interest me right now. Hope this weather doesn’t squash my quilting MoJo. Everyone stay safe with all this extremely high heat and humidity.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Rosie – you’ll get your quilting mojo back when you’re feeling better and it’s cooler. So glad your knee surgery went smoothly. I’m betting the tech didn’t want to admit he didn’t get it fixed the first time. I’m going to plan a Quiltalong for all of us when it’s cooler so everybody can get their quilting mojo back!

      1. ChristieB

        Mary – will be looking forward to your Quiltalong! I still have my quilting “mojo”. I am one who stays inside whenever possible, as I had a near heat stroke when I was a teenager working in the sorghum research fields. I can’t handle the heat and my body won’t sweat! Not fun! I remember as a young child, sitting on the round fan that looked like a footstool in the living room. The three of us girls shared a big room upstairs and we had a big window fan. I remember the folks taking the five of us to the swimming pool almost every evening so we could be cool(er) in the night. How DID we survive without AC back then???
        So glad you posted pictures and directions – I had been to your shop a couple of times, but I was totally wrong on the directions your buildings were facing. You really have done wonders with your farmstead. Kudos to you! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Lindah

    Amazing, beautiful house. Love the stone and many windows…. and the un-boxy aspect. You do great work on more than quilts! Thanks for the tour. Oh and all those biiig trees.
    On another subject, for the commenters… I really enjoy knowing where you live. I’m in northern California.
    I’m curious, Mary. With your high temps, is it humid or on the drier side? With our high temps, it often is in the single digit humidity. Very dry. More comfortable than the humidity? I don’t know; just bake oven hot and dry. But, cooler temps will soon be here for most of us. I got wound up here. :-> Bye.

    1. Diane and the gang in Central Ohio

      I agree Linda. I like to know where someone is from, too. Here in Ohio, the humidity is worse than the heat, I think. It seems to pull me down, if that makes sense. I grew up in Western NY—much cooler weather!

  11. bobbie rumler

    Thank you for the tour, it was very interesting, love reading your website it’s real !!

  12. brendalynne1

    seeing the 1982 photo lets one know you had a vision and a lot of perseverance. congrats. nice of you to share.

  13. Fiona at Ice Bear Quilts

    Lovely house tour, Mary, thank you! We also only had one fan in the house when I was young (now we have four!). My grandmother had a screened-in porch on her farm, and that was wonderful: you could sit out without being bothered by flies in the daytime or mosquitoes in the evening. I still want one of those even now! She had what we called a ‘water cooler’ for in the house which was a fan in a sort of box on wheeled legs, the sides of the box were a grill, and behind the grill was packed straw. You poured water in the top to wet the straw and the fan blew the straw dry, which produced cool evaporated air. Only works if the air in the room is fairly dry, of course, but it worked really well. You always knew if it going to be really hot, because all the dogs would come in a lie on the floor in front of the water cooler.
    We have no windows on the north side of our house because of the winter weather!

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Fiona – I always sort of forget that your weather is so similar to ours. Loved the story of the ‘water cooler’ and the dogs!

  14. Sharon Ray

    When I was 7 we moved to Key West (Dad military). The only rental was an old trailer with no AC!! (it was summer) I could not figure out which was hotter in or outside. Mom kept swaying “Go out and play”. It was miserable for her, a little baby and 2 other kids. After a few months they found a small house with AC! Oh what a blessing! Even as a child I will never forget how hot it was. I love your house, you will always be in shape doing all that yard work.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Sharon – I will never need a gym membership! I remember “go out and play” – what would kids do today if their parents said that?

  15. Rita in Iowa

    Mary thanks for sharing your journey and transformation of your home. It is lovely. It’s a lot of upkeep but the rewards are gratifying. Glad Keeper is on the mend, this should not of happened. Is the previous vet paying for this? They should.
    Monday night at 8 we had a King size bed delivered. Waited a night before putting the bed on to let it air a little bit, turned an air purifier on to help with that. It was nice turning over and not have to worry about disturbing hubby. Had the bed frame made by the Amish. Check out Midwest Woodwork, Kolona, Iowa. They also sell mattresses. Not inexpensive but worth the craftsmanship.
    Decided to work on a quilt for the grand dog. Making it out of pj bottoms and leftover batting. Not sure they need it in Texas right now, but this too shall pass.
    Spent an hour outside early in the morning doing a little cleaning up of the gardens and the never ending job of pulling weeds. This morning there is so much humidity that the windows are fogged over. Stay safe everyone who are experiencing this hot weather.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Rita – I will pay the $180 for Keepers vet bill but I will ask the rescue that they send me a receipt showing it as a donation. The right testicle had been removed but not the left and there was no notation on the vet report from June 2022. Somebody wasn’t paying attention.

  16. Diane, Squeak,and Buddy in Central Ohio

    Your house shows how much planning you put in to make it just right—big South windows, small on the North etc. it looks so inviting and cozy. I love seeing the photos! I grew up with no AC, too. We had a big Victorian house in Western NY with an attic fan to pull out the heat. It never got super hot, but my parents did put in AC in the mid 70’s. We had only one heat register to the upstairs which made it cold in the winter. We put in AC here in 1990’s when we added on to the house. Our daughter’s wedding day (7/1995) still stands as # 4 as the hottest in Ohio history. She lost 7 lbs in her long sleeved dress!! Did you find out why the Vet said Keeper had been neutered? Odd.

    1. Kathy in NY

      Diane, the picture of Squeak in Mary’s last post is beautiful. I am so pleased there are those who rescue kitties like you have and given them good homes.

  17. Pamela Dempsey

    So fun to see your old pictures and all the improvements! I love rocks too, what a collection. We are in northeast Texas and have broken some records recently on the high temps. 🥵 come on Fall!!! We have higher humidity than Dallas area and west Texas. Penny and Lucy are 6 months old now 😻🥰

  18. Linda in MI

    I want to up date you on Nelson. We had an appointment for a check up of his broken leg yesterday at 3:40 and didn’t see the vet until 5:30. They were so busy, two emergency cases came in while I was waiting and those two, a kitty that was having trouble breathing and a small dog named Dave that ate rat poison, needed more attention than we did. And I got to see all kinds of fabulous cats and dogs go through, including a king corso who wanted to eat both me and Nelson- huge! The dog drug his mother, a woman from Asia around and I wondered why she would have him when there was no way she could control him. Then a Grand Pyranoses came out who had been spayed and the poor thing was still so high she couldn’t walk. She had huge clear sky blue eyes that were more than glassy, it was too funny. Nelson finally had an xray that showed the break is calcifying so he is healing but will still be cast for at least four more weeks. The biggest problem is keeping his foot dry because he runs through all the empty IV bags they give me to protect his foot and cast. They say if his foot gets moist up in the bandaging and cast we will have a nasty infection. I am going to cut up some of the horse grain bags to Velcro around the leg and foot, they are otherwise indestructible so maybe that will work. Anyone have another idea? He scrapes the foot along the asphalt driveway to and from the barn.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Linda – oh, poor Nelson! I thought with those baby bones he would heal fast. Grain bags are pretty tough and should last longer. Is he in pain? Does it bother him? He probably doesn’t remember being any other way. At least he doesn’t have to wear a cone. I want this to end for him! Poor puppy – he should be running around.

      1. Diane and the gang in Central Ohio

        Hi Linda, We used Press and Seal on my husband when he showered after his surgeries. Not sure how it would work on Nelson, but it dies stick! I also taped it down with surgical tape. Good luck!

  19. Rickie

    Mary I loved your house tour. I read you every day and know how hard you work to keep up the yard, your church work, caring for animals and quilting besides. I’ve never lived on a farm, so I enjoy hearing about your seasonal chores. I live in Southern Nevada. When we moved in we had a screened in porch and I thought that would be wonderful but soon realized it was too hot to sit there in the summer, too cold for winter and we could only use it a few weeks in the spring before it got too hot again so we enclosed it put windows in all around and it’s my sewing room. I love the animal pictures readers send, too. Your blog is the happy way I start my day,❤️

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Rickie – since I love the porch so much I’ve thought about glassing it in so I could sit there in the winter – but it would never feel like my screened porch again so I resist. There is heat in the floor to be hooked up IF I would ever decide to do it.

  20. Dee in Ohio

    Your farm seems like it would be very peaceful. The only thing I would not like is when it snows and you have to get out of that driveway.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Dee – here’s the thing about the snow in the driveway – there’s no place I need to go. On the other hand – moving snow is Rick’s favorite thing to do – he even moves it off my grass which infuriates me!!!!

  21. Marsha in Michigan

    I grew up without AC. The big box stand on wheels was placed in my bedroom and during the night the other bedrooms windows were opened and the while downstairs had all windows closed. During the day it was the opposite, fan still in my bedroom window & bedrooms windows shut and windows in the kitchen opened. No wonder I like to sleep with a fan running!

    In July of 1979 when I had my first baby and the hospital was not air conditioned and there were no private rooms on the ward. The double occupancy rooms were so small the nurses brought your babies in, leaving the little cribettes in the hall. I was unable to sleep all night after having my baby by c-section in because a mother in labor was screaming in the delivery room and then became my roommate. She was wound up and started calling all her friends and relatives to announce the baby’s arrival. This phone calling went on for what seemed like forever- in the middle of the night! Then her husband came in with the baby and they discussed what to name him. They settled on Dennis because they both loved Dennis the Menace!!! I was so glad to pay a little extra for a private room in the new birthing center in 1982 when baby #2 was born.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Marsha – and there’s another story about our changing times. Hospitals with ob facilities have improved vastly, haven’t they? Funny – they liked Dennis the Menace!

  22. Kathy in western NY

    The work is amazing you did on your house. I enjoyed the pictures and being there on a tour with the flowers in bloom. The rock base around is impressive and that’s back breaking work so that I applaud you for. Like I said the other day, we are on the edge of this ridge of heat so not as hot as so many of you and it feels like fall here for the last week. So comfortable to be outside but not warm enough for a swim in the pool. It’s great walking weather. Our winters are not as cold as years in the past with not the snow fall either but I don’t mind them as it is manageable to get out and about. I see the extremes in weather all around us and can’t imagine wildfires, rains, mudslides, earthquakes, tornadoes and now hurricane season approaching so I wont complain about our measly couple inches snow that comes and gives me an excuse to stay inside safely.

  23. Sandra Goddard

    What an awesome, amazing home you have. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed every picture. Keeper will be good today

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Sandra – yes, Keeper is already good this morning and surely must be hungry.

  24. Judy Greco

    It finally clicked! It never occurred to me that stones harvested from the fields were “fieldstone”. Maybe because we don’t have them around our area. Loved seeing your pictures; a lot of changes since the last time I was up north to shop!
    Stay cool today! Hugs, Judy from Solon

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Judy – I know you’re hot there, too – yes, changes happened a lot in those years. I remember a tour bus was parked in the driveway during construction and the cement truck couldn’t get in! Didn’t know there was any place without rocks and field stones – farmers hate them so every field has a pile of rocks in one corner. Rocks ruin expensive farm equipment.

  25. Joy in NW Iowa

    Mary, thanks for all your pictures! Love them all. We also have south windows in the winter they really keep the temp warm on the main floor. We have a ranch style house with the lower level having regular windows but not a walk out. (Our two boys who loved their kitties would let them in for the night—-they told me that little secret a few years ago). Our last child was born in 83. It was a hot one with no AC. Our kids remember having to do our chores in the morning because we sat in front of the fan in the afternoons. The baby was born on Sept 4 and it cooled off a few days and then heated up again. That baby burst the seams on the house and we built the new one! Then the kids all got married and we added on a sunroom with a deck and a bathroom with walk-in shower and walk-in closet with a basement room below for me to have my sewing room! 💕
    The heat in oppressive and I see in the extended forecast we have a week off and then we will be hit again!
    Yikes, sure hope it rains in between.
    I really cannot figure out why the vet would say Keeper was neutered! Really? 😂. Better stop that discussion! 😂
    I so loved all the pictures of your house, Mary, you can sit in the sunshine in the winter and sew and in the summer when it is pleasant in your screened in porch! How lovely!
    Well, I’m off to get some groceries before it heats up!

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Joy – I loved your thought – that baby burst the seams on the house – haha!! When you live in our climate you really need to think about how much heat the sun provides. In the summer it’s high overhead and doesn’t come in directly and our trees provide cooling shade. Such a cute story about your boys letting the cats in!! I’m sitting in the porch now but will soon need to close the door when the ac comes on. Our school is closed till Friday – then they have to hold school or cancel the football game – which they won’t want to do.

  26. Angie from Baltimore

    The idea of giving birth in July without air conditioning makes me cringe but back when we were born it wasn’t everywhere. I think I would have gone to the movies and had my baby because that was a draw “air conditioned “
    I guess we just accepted what was given can you imagine now doing that. Our schools that don’t have air conditioning close on hot days. That never happened either.
    I love how you had a vision of how you wanted your house and DID IT. That is FABULOUS

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Angie – I remember going to school with my stiff can-can and it sticking to my legs while sitting at my desk – soooo hot and sticky and we were trying to learn. Yes, our school is closed till Friday. Thank you

  27. Linda in Michigan

    I agree with everyone else, lots of work went into a beautiful reward. Here’s my question-Mary, why in HELL would you consider hauling rocks at age !! ???
    I also grew up with no AC. My dad was a mail carrier, when he got home from work in the summer, mom would pack the picnic basket and we’d head to Lake Michigan to cool off. I’d sleep on the screened-in front porch, cause it was just too hot in the upstairs of our old house.
    Those were the “good ole days”, right?

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Linda – i would have been in my 60’s, I guess. My contractor actually lived in the old house briefly and he built the rock fireplace and I wanted to match it with rocks. I’m sure it never occurred to me that I couldn’t do it. I sometimes bite off more than I can chew.

    2. Mary Etherington Post author

      Linda – I just thought about something – last year when I had that foot problem the dr. gave me a hard plastic boot to wear – do they make them in little kid sizes? Could you modify one for Nelson? Go to a medical supply store and look around.

  28. Jeanine from Iowa

    I loved seeing the before and after pictures of your house. What a lot of work that must have been. When we were married in ’68, my husband’s mother wanted to take the second floor off the house we were living in. It was their house at the time. My husband said no, but after seeing yours, it probably wouldn’t have been a bad idea! Did you live in the house while they were working on it? I remember when I was there in ’96, my cousin and I stayed in a bedroom that I thought was upstairs. Is that correct? I was raised in central MN, and we never had a fan in our house, and there were hot days in the summer. All of us kids (6) were upstairs, and there was not insulation up there, so it was really hot in the summer and cold in the winter. We would open our windows in the summer, but then the mosquitoes would find a way in, and oh how I hated having them buzz around my head at night. I would pull the sheet over my head, but could still hear them. Oh, those good old days. Your house and farm look fabulous. What a lot of work you did. I am so thankful for A/C!

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Jeanine – yes, that was upstairs like it is today. I should show the original quilt shop photos – you’d love those!!

      1. Mary Etherington Post author

        Jeanine – forgot to say – yes, I lived in it while it was being torn down around my head. When I opened the door to the upstairs I saw daylight! And I continued to give piano lessons through it all – haha!!!

        1. Jeanine from Iowa

          I can’t imagine the mess and the dust! I don’t know how you did it!

  29. Jessica in Florida

    I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the pictures of your house! It is truly beautiful and the kind of home I’ve always dreamed of having. The work you put in on a daily basis is definitely a lot and makes me exhausted just reading about it! I’m not sure what’s wrong with me, I wake up and feel fine and I’ll go outside to pull weeds. I’ll be out there for 20 minutes and I have to quit, I get so physically exhausted and sweat like a pig. It’s so nice having your blog to come to. You say it’s a blog about nothing but to me, it’s a part of my day I look forward to reading.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Jessica – oh, thank you! My morning starts with all of you, too! It just wouldn’t feel the same if nobody chatted with me. I am wondering about my endurance working outside as well. My age is showing.

  30. Darlynn Venne

    Mary….what fun!!! Thank you for the pictorial tour of your awesome home. What a lot of work you have done and still do. You are an inspiration to us all. Today the heat and humidity are keeping Northern IL folks inside as well and thanking God for A/C. I too grew up in a home without A/C. We were always thankful for the large trees we had on our property, until the box elder bugs took over and we lost quite a few of them. (remember the years of the box elder infestation?) Goodness, we only had one small TV with “bunny ears” to receive three channels and I was the “remote” to change channels and redirect those ears with tin foil on them! Thank you for the walk down memory lane~

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Darlynn – I remember the days of no remote! We are so spoiled – also only one tv as kids and now I have 6!

  31. Martha W

    Thank you Mary for the tour of the outside of your beautiful home I love the ramps to your house. We had a ramp made to the front door when we built our forever home 14 years ago. Ours now have cracks and chunks of concrete coming out. Yours look great. I am envious of all your trees. I live in Southern Wyoming and are struggling to grow some trees. I grew up in Southern Minnesota and miss the trees. I really feel for my husband who is out in this heat farming.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Martha – your husband needs to come inside – Rick is out, too, and I have to keep checking on him!!

  32. Katherine Gourley

    Oh how I wish I could have visited the shop before I retired, Your home is so beautiful. I remember when you added the screen room and posted it on the blog. Heat–do not mention it HAHA. It is 96 here in northern Illinois right now. Soon we will be complaining about the cold–endless cycle of life in the Midwest.

    It breaks my heart when I hear of deaths related to the heat. If we didn’t have AC, I would get one of the small water filled room coolers and carry it with me. They are priced in the $30 range. I cannot understand why cities don’t make them available to seniors living in apartments, that are like ovens. These cities waste so much money on ridiculous things.


  33. Maryjane

    What a lovely home you have created. Worth all the work you do to maintain and improve it. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  34. Kris in WI

    Thanks for saving the farmstead, Mary. I always wonder about the lives of the people who lived on abandoned farms. I loved the outside house tour with your mature trees. I know they are a lot of work come fall and a worry sometimes in the winter. We downsized about 15 years ago and unfortunately that meant leaving our tree-shaded home. What a difference it made compared to this house. When I retired, we used my “good-bye” money to buy two trees for the front yard. They aren’t quite big enough to shade the house yet, but one day… Until then, thank goodness for AC! Kris

    PS: When I was growing up high school kids were hired to pick rocks from the new potato and bean fields! Think that would happen today???

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Kris – nope, no kid today is going to pick rocks! When Rick and I were Juniors in high school our class picked up ear corn after the picker and sold it to pay for the Junior/Senior prom! As kids when we would get off the school bus and Dad would be waiting for us, we knew we had to go to the field to pick rocks. We hated it!!!!

      1. Sherry Whalen

        I had to laugh – our band picked up ear corn in the fall AND rocks in the spring to make money for a band trip to Europe the summer between sophomore/junior year. I must have been VERY experienced at rock picking because the farmer we worked for that spring called my dad – and told him I was the best teenage worker he had ever ‘hired’ and wanted to know if I was available for him to actually hire for farm work. Of course I never heard about this until years later, because I was already working on our farm for the pay of getting to live there and be fed….lol. Dad also shared the story much later about rock picking on our farm – Mom and Dad had the tractor and wagon picking rocks and my brother and I had the 1950 pick up truck. Somehow, between my brother who was 3.5 years younger than me – and me, we would be able to start the truck in first gear, brother would push the gas pedal and I would steer to the next rock to pick up. We picked up so many rocks that the load got too heavy and we couldn’t move. I had almost no memory about this, so I am guessing I was 6 or 7. Talk about child endangerment!

        Of course we didn’t have air conditioning, the unfinished basement was a bit cooler and we would spend time outside under the trees. This hot weather meant baling hay – always, and milking the cows always needed to be done 2 times a day – hot or not. If you wanted it to feel cooler while baling, if you had to work in the haymow stacking bales, when you came out – it always felt cooler because the haymow was at least 20 degrees hotter! I was always the hay unloader, so I had sunshine and sometimes a breeze, and then the fast drive to the field to get the next load.

        I loved the photos of your house – what a lovely transformation! And living in the midst of a remodel – always ‘fun’. I think it makes us appreciate the process and finished product a bit more.

        1. Mary Etherington Post author

          Sherry – oh you, my sister of the farm! All of these descriptions sound just like my childhood growing up on the farm. One of the differences is that I drove the baler and rode the oats binder and when the racks of hay were brought to the barn, I backed the pickup down the hill with the rope attached to take the bales to the back of the barn. Dad would holler whoa and I had to get that pickup stopped with the clutch and the brake before it went backward so far the rope broke!! How could you trust a kid to do that? But he did and I did it! Yea, that haymow was sooo hot!

  35. Candy

    I love hearing everyone’s stories about the past. The house I grew up in did have air conditioning (a huge unit called a “swamp cooler” on the roof), but we had NO TV! My dad thought we’d read more if we didn’t have a TV … true! However, when I was in about grade 11 or 12, my mom went out and bought a small TV that was set up in a bedroom. Guess who was glued to the TV after work every day … my dad …lol!

  36. Kim from Wi

    I recall coming to the Quilt shop and your home was just lovely. The outside always had something interesting to see. What you have done to your farmhouse has made it more welcoming. It’s wonderful to see the early pictures of what you started with and what you made it into. I’ve been in Osage the past week with my mom and the heat has been unbearable for her. I keep the flowers watered and fill the birdbath a few times every day with cold water, the birds are loving it. We did manage to get eat plenty of Steves Sweet corn while I was here. We got 2 batches of Salsa made from her tomatoe plants. I need to go home and rest, lol.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Kim – I love it – you have to go home and rest!!! Osage is such a nice town really – far enough away from Mason City to have nice stores there. I loved going to the play there in June! And I love the thrift store there!!!!

      1. Kim from Wi

        Shop on State is one of the must do shops while I’m there. My mom has been attending the plays this year also with a neighbor lady who doesn’t drive. They really enjoyed the Wizard of Oz. We always make a trip to Stans Drive In and have a chocolate marshmallow malt, its truly the best

        1. Mary Etherington Post author

          Kim – well, I do not know about Stan’s – where is it? Wizard of Oz was coming up right after I had been there and looked good. Wish I were a bit closer.

  37. Lynn

    Mary, thanks for all the photos. You have a beautiful house and farm. You put alot of work into it and it shows.
    Glad to hear Keeper is home.
    Stay cool. We are almost 100 but a dry heat. Nothing like you are having to endure.

  38. Jean from Iowa

    Do you have any pictures of the inside of your sewing room? I was only aware that you have a sewing area in your shop. I am intrigued because it appears to be an area between the house and garage.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Jean – yes, it is between the house and garage. How messy do you want to see it?

      1. Jean from Iowa

        Messy does not matter to me Lol! It just means that wonderful things are being made and to always pick up takes too much time!

  39. Alice in SW Ohio

    What a lovely transformation of your home! Love the field rocks, they certainly add charm to your home! Many of the homes here where I live have limestone on the front & is so pretty! I remember your quilt shop when I was there in ’07. Thursday our temperature is supposed to hit 97*. I water my plants in early morning & hope they survive this heat! I grew up without AC as well & no fans! We did have large trees that helped keep it somewhat cool.

  40. Janice Brown

    Mary, I have always admired your house and property. Seeing the photo of the barn when you moved in (with iron weed), and the earlier photos of your house . . . what a transformation. I grew up without A/C. My family lived in a suburb west of Detroit. Summers were very hot and muggy. My husband and I lived in SE Michigan for our jobs. I swore that when we retired, we would move somewhere west with lower humidity. We missed on that goal. We have been living north of Traverse City for about 9 years now. Four years ago we bought an older home that didn’t have A/C. It was earlier September, so we thought we could postpone the installation of A/C until spring. I don’t know if it was a hotter than normal September but it was unbearably hot at night and we couldn’t sleep. After a few days, we contacted a company to install a new furnace and A/C. They couldn’t get out until November. I am so glad we did it then because the following spring covid pretty much shut things down. Thankfully, we have missed out on the higher temps that you’re experiencing. We are now getting some badly needed rain.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Janice – I didn’t always have AC here either and it was impossible – the heat is supposed to break tonight – whew!

  41. Fran Dixon

    Love your yard and how you reconstructed that house. What an adventure! I know it’s been hot but cooler days are coming. There is still plenty of time to spend in the yard that I admire. Great job! Reminds me how I lugged flat rocks from the beach in AK to make a path by our home. I know how much work that is!

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Fran – I’m digging the flat rocks out of the pile to make a pathway in my rock garden in front of the house. Was just thinking I might have to dig an indentation to settle the rock. I’ll wait for cooler weather.

  42. Kathleen Hanson

    I agree, this hot weather is not for humans or animals for sure!! I just melt and drip – so disgusting!! I look for fall as it is my favorite time of the year! I have been to your house and is is lovely! you have done so much work – I don’t know how you do it! You are so amazing. Try to keep cool today, this won’t last forever!
    Hopefully Keeper is feeling better today . I am sure he wasn’t happy about his Surgery yesterday but it will make him a much better doggie!

  43. Susan K in Texas

    I love seeing the changes to the barn and house. You’ve put a lot of time and love into your home. I love the rocks. We used to have to pick up rocks out of the fields and it always seemed it was on the hottest days.
    The best part of picking up rocks was finding the fossils. We have put the ammonites around our pond in the back yard.
    Growing up in Texas we lived in an older house. There was no AC in it. We had swamp coolers in the bedrooms and one downstairs room (the sewing room). We had gas wall heaters in the bathroom and a gas heater in the fireplace. So it was hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Our schools had no AC either. Just big fans, transom windows above doors, and windows that opened top and bottom.
    The library was our favorite place as they had AC and a refrigerated drinking fountain. And I loved to read. We got central air and heat in the mid 1970’s. I haven’t wanted to live without it since!
    We’re here in Iowa and of course we have to leave as it’s getting cooler. The temps have been similar to Texas except we don’t cool down at night like here.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Oh, too bad because next week
      Is going to be so nice!!! I can’t wait to get back to my porch and read! I’m actually cleaning rather than working on weeds outside – it’s a toss up which is worse!

  44. Sherrill

    We are breaking SO MANY heat and no rain records it isn’t funny! I would’ve loved just a little of all that rain from Hilary that wound up in CA, NV, AZ, etc. I do remember sitting in school without a/c. That was not fun. Just glad I have a/c and ceiling fans in the house and a/c (seats also are a/c’d) in car and a/c in the stores and restaurants I visit! HA We do worry about our grid holding up with all this horrific heat Tough keeping lawns and gardens growing as dry as it is.

  45. Lorraine

    You are a hard worker! You have an absolutely beautiful place with lots of thought in how you wanted it and it is gorgeous.

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