Basement Project

My hubby is amazing! With my completion of school, we my hubby has been busy getting the shop side ready!

Since we had to put in a bathroom for the home business requirements, our project has expanded into the family room side of the basement!


I still have many steps to take with my shop, but I’m ready with a shampoo bowl!


I’m anxiously awaiting June 1st, which is when I will find out if our city will honor my request to open shop in our home.


To help make the basement family room not feel so excluded, we have “windows” to view the downstairs. We also decided to utilize the space under the stairs for a dog house!


Loving this space! Cannot wait until it’s done; so looking forward to being self employed, working from home!! ūüíó

Blessings & JOY!

P.S. this is the first time posting from my phone using the WP app!

home {sweet} home

There is nothing quite like home.  What makes a house a home?  Family.

Watching the plane land always makes me teary eyed!  I actually get more emotional at other homecoming ceremonies than our own!


There is nothing like a homecoming ceremony.

And nothing like when they open these doors!!!


My hubby was in the military, and we went through two deployments at this duty station.  I know what that long-awaited hug feels like!  Too many months without physical contact is a definite way to get those first kiss butterflies again!  ;)



All is right in the world.  Their soldier is home.  Dances with daddy can resume.  ♥


I enjoyed spending the very cold afternoon with these special ladies as they welcomed home their soldier after a long 9 month deployment!

Thank you, Jenny, for trusting me to capture these special moments!

Thank you for your selfless service to our country!

Welcome Home!


I would love to chat with you on¬†Facebook,¬†Twitter¬† ~ or follow me on¬†Pinterest! ¬†See what a ‚Äúfew of my favorite things‚ÄĚ are!

Blessings & JOY ~




p.s. my blog posts may contain affiliate links to items that I love, use, or want to share. Thank you for helping support Cottage & Hen ♥



Lake Cabin

So…way back in JULY our family enjoyed a weekend get-away in a cabin on the lake. ¬†In July. ¬†And I am just now blogging about it!


But, in my defense, I was in school full time with too much homework – all while trying to keep the home running smoothly. ¬†It takes me a while to cull through too many photos taken. ¬†Did you know that I just went through all those vacation photos and only saved 20. ¬†Out of hundreds. ¬†LOL. ¬†Its so hard not to snap shots (that look pretty much exactly the same) of gorgeous sunsets over the water! ¬†Just sayin’.


There is a fun KOA on one of the Kentucky Lakes that we enjoy staying at.  They have all kinds of fun things to do, including 2 pools, miniature golf, trampoline pillow, movies, paddle boats Рjust to name a few!  They welcome dogs, which is perfect for us.


We have camped there a few times, but only once in a tent.  It was the first and last time we will do that.  A crazy storm blew through one night and we took shelter in our truck and packed up to go home the next day with a broken tent!

Now, we stay in a cabin.


I am partial to the cabins on the waterfront.


I brought my school books for studying, but when I was not enjoying the view from the deck, I was out taking photos of everything.  Hence, the hundreds of photos to cull through when I got home just this week.


We have been enjoying rainy (albeit warm for the season) weather the past few weeks.  Sure makes a trip to the sunny lake shores inviting!


Its amazing how the sunset changes within minutes.


I always enjoy the relaxing shores….and hubby goes home with boat envy. ¬†;)

I would love to chat with you on¬†Facebook,¬†Twitter¬† ~ or follow me on¬†Pinterest! ¬†See what a ‚Äúfew of my favorite things‚ÄĚ are!

Blessings & JOY ~




p.s. my blog posts may contain affiliate links to items that I love, use, or want to share. Thank you for helping support Cottage & Hen ♥

Shabby Chic Frames

A few weeks ago I found these beautiful framed pieces of artwork at the Goodwill. ¬†I use the term ‘beautiful’ loosely. ¬†Granted, the artwork is definite talent – just completely¬†not my decor style! ¬†But the frames were sturdy, solid wood, and only $1!


In July, I found some chairs (also at the Goodwill) and painted them with chalk paint for my dream salon in my walk-out basement.

Anyhow, so I had some of that paint left over.


I had a few different ideas running through my head for these frames. ¬†I even started to paint the glass with black chalk board paint (like I did here) but it wasn’t behaving at all for me this time, so I decided to just hang empty frames for some texture on my bare walls.


I painted 3 coats of the white chalk paint to give it good coverage over the dark wood frames.  Since I was painting, I grabbed another small oak frame that houses my parents photo in it.  It is now super cute and updated on my sofa table. :)

After the 3 coats, I used my sandpaper block to distress the paint.  I love the look of shabby chic, like the items have been around with a story to tell.


Then it was simply a coat of clear wax (opted for stark white over the antique wax for this project).

I love chalk paint!  Minimal, if any, sanding is required and it sticks so well!  I hate painting, but love the end result.  I am quite happy with this frugal decor hack!

Now I have to find something else cute to hang in the other bare corner of this wall!  Just more reasons to frequent our Goodwill! :)


I would love to chat with you on¬†Facebook,¬†Twitter¬† ~ or follow me on Pinterest! ¬†See what a “few of my favorite things” are!

Blessings & JOY ~




p.s. my blog posts may contain affiliate links to items that I love, use, or want to share. Thank you for helping support Cottage & Hen ♥

They Said I Do

I love my school, I love my course, and I love my classmates! ¬†We have named our “team” Family – because we have really rallied around each other, supporting and encouraging each other. ¬†I am so proud to be a part of this fine group of ladies!


Last weekend one of our classmates tied the knot! ¬†Her “family” came through and supported her. ¬†Sweet Michele supplied the fixings and cake, Jae did her nails, I did her hair and photographs, and many showed up to support this new chapter of her life.


It was a cloudy day on the gorgeous Cumberland River, but the rain held off until after the celebration!


I snapped this photo of the happy bride….but now I know why she was smiling so big! ¬†;)


Here’s to the bride & groom for many happy years together! ¬†No matter what life throws your way, remember that you have each other!


Thank you, Jessie, for trusting me to capture your special day!

Blessings & JOY ~


{Rudling} sneak peak

So… while I don’t pursue family portraiture photography as a full-time business, it is something I really enjoy doing! ¬†Especially of awesome friends! ¬†This is the second time I have photographed this sweet family. ¬†Only this last time we added grandparents!


The Mrs is a wonderful resource teacher; which is how I met her originally.  She has been such a blessing to our family; so glad to call her friend!



The Mr has only the best.accent.ever!  This time I got to enjoy the same wonderful accent from his parents as well!  Such a sweet, sweet family!



Thank you for entrusting me to capture your moments in time!

Blessings & JOY,



Our Response to the Bird Flu


Have you bought eggs recently?  I usually have quite a stash in our fridge, so when I went to buy eggs today I about died!  And we have a location to buy eggs (typically) at a great price!

Eggs more than doubled, all in response to the recent bird flu epidemic.

I only bought one dozen because we were clean out of eggs. ¬†Yes, I want to buy farm fresh, free range eggs…but I am also quite budget conscience…and while I fully agree that we will pay for health in either our grocery bill or doctor bill…we have to eat and we have cut out 99% of processed foods.

We know someone who sells free range brown eggs and now they are totally a bargain, thanks to the bird flu! ¬†So that is what we will be buying, until….we get our own fresh eggs!!


We recently bought a gorgeous house, and just brought home baby chicks!  We are going to have back yard chickens!!!  I am so excited!  Hubby grew up with chickens; I am so grateful that he will be able to teach me all I need to know about our egg laying pets.  ;)


So, that is our response to the rising cost of eggs! ¬†Albeit, indirectly…as we got the chicks before we knew about the bird flu. ¬†Who else has backyard chickens?

Blessings & JOY ~


My Thoughts on a Friday


As Memorial Day approaches, I have seen so many posts about the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. ¬†Most, if not all, were posted my military service members or their spouses. ¬†Being married to a combat veteran, I better know the difference. ¬†I am gathering from these posts that the general public might not?


Most service members do not seek praise and they don’t always know how to respond when told Thank You for their service. ¬†They are just doing their job. ¬†Many have lost friends and battle buddies while “doing their job”. ¬†They haven’t forgotten; nor will they ever. ¬†I pray that as American’s we will never take the cost of freedom for granted. ¬†I am always saddened when I hear of yet another hero paying the ultimate price; as a spouse and mother, my heart just aches for those left behind.


So, I fully understand from where these informative posts are coming from. ¬†It’s not that I disagree with them. ¬†I fully agree that as American’s we really should know the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.


In the midst of all these posts, a civilian friend posted a frustrated rant about these posts. ¬†While I fully understand and respect the posts, she definitely had a valid point. ¬†I think making sure we know our great country’s history would be better than bashing our civilian neighbors.


With these recent Memorial Day “what not to say” posts, I am reminded of the many “What not to say to a military spouse” articles I have read. ¬†Lots of them. ¬†Not that they aren’t correct. ¬†But I think they come across as a little harsh. ¬†Of course the civilian world doesn’t know what to say or do; they don’t live in the military world! ¬†It is a whole ‘nother world, that unless you have personally lived it, you have absolutely-no-freaking-idea. ¬†That said, we should all use common courtesy when speaking. ¬†;)¬†I don’t think we should widen the gap between civilian and military families. ¬†We shouldn’t scare them from trying to talk to us! ¬†We need each other. ¬†In my married life I have been both, so I feel like I can sympathize with both sides.


Don’t get me wrong. ¬†I was one of the dorky proud Army wives! ¬†There is nothing like being a military family and gaining those instant sisters!

So here I am, suggesting that we show grace and patience towards our civilian neighbors.  They really do mean well!

Blessings & JOY~




*In case you wonder what the difference is: ¬†Memorial Day is a day we set aside to remember those men and women in uniform who paid the ultimate price (death) for our freedom. ¬†Veteran’s Day is the day we say THANK YOU to all the vets who have served our great country!



“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” C.S. Lewis

Let me just say: never ever give up on your dreams!

In my recent post ‘Blessings’, I spoke of how many our dreams were becoming a reality in this new chapter of our family’s lives.

One of my dreams (for the past 20 years) was to be a licensed cosmetologist.  I have taken steps to attend cosmetology college three times.  The first time I was out of High School and our town had an adult college and the beauty course students were selected by lottery.  I took the entrance exam, but alas, was not chosen to be a student that year.  Life continued and I ended up married to my sweetheart and had three beautiful children.

Fast forward about 10 years and here I was again, in another town, taking steps to attend cosmetology school. ¬†We had our three children, the oldest only being in kindergarten. ¬†Because the school had just removed the night class option (and child care isn’t cheap!) I once again put my dreams on hold.

For the past few years, I have been researching the three cosmetology schools in the town we currently reside. ¬†Because I wasn’t sure how long we would be staying, I always hesitated to enroll. ¬†Now that we have purchased a lovely home here and have plans to stay for many more years, I have finally enrolled in a cosmetology school! ¬†I am super excited, and am looking forward to this next chapter in my life!

I qualified for the Pell Grant, but will still acquire a student loan.  I want to pay it off as soon as possible, and will be offering portrait sessions (local clients), gallery wraps of my still life portraits, and different items in my etsy shop, with the hopes of buffering the cost of college!

Having dreams is important, being able to work to fulfill them is amazing, and I pray that my children will see that is is never to late to go to college and to fulfill their dreams. ¬†I pray that as I will most likely be a “class mom” that I will be an example to the younger students. ¬†That even though life may get in “the way”, cause them to be put on hold; that¬†with hard work, creativity, and patience – dreams will come true. ;)

I don’t regret any of my past. ¬†I have been blessed with the ability to be a stay-at-home-mom to our three children and that has been the best and most rewarding “job” I have ever done. ¬†I don’t regret staying home and putting college on hold. This dream that is now becoming a reality has me quite excited!

Blessings & JOY ~



Wow!  It has been three months since I last wrote you! kids2 Can I just say how AMAZING God is when you seek Him and His will for your life?  Our family has gone through personal and physical changes already this year!

Our family recently ended a 6 year chapter in our lives. ¬†To say it was stressful would be an understatement! ¬†We didn’t know where God would lead us, or where our next chapter would be. ¬†We were praying for direction, for jobs, for peace. ¬†We were applying for jobs all over the United States, with nothing really coming back. ¬†The end was coming near and we were starting to stress. ¬†How do you provide for a family without income and a roof over your head? We had already given notice to the housing office on post that we were moving. ¬†We called it our “homeless lease” as we were taking steps to move forward, but with absolutely no idea where that would be!

On a Wednesday my hubby met with our pastor. ¬†They shared, prayed, and my honey left feeling blessed. ¬†Two days later (when he has asked God for an answer by) he was feeling even more overwhelmed as we still didn’t have any answers. ¬†In fact, he had only gotten a single ‘no’ to all the jobs he had applied to. ¬†Then, within 15 minutes time he received not one, but TWO, job offers with excellent companies! We had also been in contact with a local property manager/realtor looking for a place to rest our heads at night. ¬†We own an adorable boxer dog, and that always makes it harder to find a rental as no one wants you to have pets in their home. ¬†I understand their sentiment, but it sure makes it hard when a member of your family is a sweet fur baby!

After that initial phone call with the awesome job offer, all the little details started falling into place.  The dreams we had as a family started becoming realities.  We LOVE where we live and were so glad we were offered a job locally.  We had been looking (dreaming) at homes in a neighborhood for many years, and had our eye on a house that had been for sale for quite a few months.  The home was still available!

Because the housing office was in the middle of a large policy change (and the fact that God takes care of ALL the details) we were granted permission to stay on post, in our home that we had enjoyed for 5 years, for a few extra weeks until we closed escrow on our new home!  What a blessing it was to be able to simply move from our old home to our new home, without having to store our items for a week and stay in a hotel.  You should see our boxer run all over her new (and so much bigger) back yard!

All the details, no matter how small, were taken care of!  It was so evident that we were moving in the direction that God wanted us.

Adjusting to these new life changes has had its challenges, but it has been so worth it!

Blessigns & JOY ~