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Apparently you're in this for the long haul ;)  So let's have a proper intoduction.  Hey there.  I'm Penny.  That's me, looking (not-so) stylish on the right and I don't advise you trying that at home.  I've been working on houses for ## years (<<like I'm going to tell you that, sheesh).  I'd like the chance to see if I can catch my design experience up to my work experience.  Whether you're just a troll or you're legitimately curious about me, I guess it doesn't matter.  I'll fill you in about myself anyways.  

I'm the middle girl from a family of ten,  coming from a large family is a huge part of me as a person.  I had and still have great parents, they provided beautifully for us, on a painfully small budget.  I can't really sum their work and struggles into words...but some of that effort is summed up in me. Because of them, I know how to treat people, I know how to stretch a buck and how to make the most out of things (amongst my other abilities and attributes I can credit them with...I'm trying to keep the bragging to a minimum ;) ).  I wasn't going to mention anything about my family because it seems too personal, but If you really wanted to know about me, I couldn't completely avoid it.  However, I could go on and on, so I'll spare you.

I've always been very observant and artistic, my teachers always saved my work and would even leave the classroom to show my art to other teachers. I think my artistic ability was what kept me from getting picked on (much).  I was freakishly shy, I also had a lot of insecurities.  In school, my art skills were much of my identity.  In highschool, I took a couple shop classes that (unbeknownst) to me would give me the gumption later to work on houses and other projects that otherwise would have felt out of my league.  I was a sophmore in a class full of older guys, I got A's (they got C's)<< Sorry Guys. In a way, these classes molded me more than my many art or other courses. (Whether it was artisticly or problem solving), My teacher, Mr.======== was always impressed with my work and encouraged me to go to art school.  It was cool to be able to impress a teacher that had worked with so many students over the years (and was about to retire). Once he pulled me aside and explained how his daughter was taking art courses in college and how she was just a B student, he insisted that I use my talents in the future........that meant a lot to me, it felt warmly objective that he would use his own daughter as an example to convince me of a need to use my gifts beyond highschool. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough of a drive towards any given field because I didn't realize how my abilities could be combined. On one hand I had this obvious ability in art, yet my test scores had me pegged as an engineer. My kid brain didn't know how to make sense of that.  Now jump ahead a couple years later....................... 

a little backstory

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I got married and we bought a house (something that would be worth much more than we paid if we could only get it fixed up).  My husband was a youth pastor and working construction.  We were doing a lot of volunteer work and when we weren't doing that, we were (ALWAYS) working on our house.  I decided I could always paint or draw on the side instead of going to get a degree in art.  My heels were pretty dug in where ever it seemed I was needed. Meanwhile, I was constantly using my visual skills (just not in the way I always planned).  The house we'd bought didn't have a single thing or surface in it that didn't demand attention. It was pretty decrepit, (cats had even been allowed to take over). LOTS of replacing, roofing, plumbing, electric, scraping, patching, repairing, building, sanding, insulating, spackling, concrete, trimming, caulking, painting, landscaping, and tears of frustration later...........we would have a livable house (but all the while we were living in it).  How do you sum up something to someone that hasn't been through it? You can't, but try to imagine what that was like.  It's all we did.  What really stunk was coming home, exhausted from helping whoever with whatever, and being surrounded by work that needed to be done all the time.  BTW, if you know anyone in that kind of situation, offer a few hours of help sometime (it would mean the world to them) because let me tell you what they won't get a chance to, it feels like you're drowning.  Offering to help would be like offering a life preserver or at least a chance for them to catch their breathe

Meanwhile, I was gaining more and more interest in interior design.  It seemed a practical use of my artistic eye, and I've always been a very spatial person as well as visual.  I was a regular at the library and poured over any book I could get my hands on about design.  Reading and studying every page of every book, like it were a Where's Waldo book. That was my break from our reality of completely overwhelming work.  I was tinkering with interior design on our house. Like painting the walls in our kitchen cobalt blue, faux-finishing walls (because it was the only way to make old plaster look good) or when I ripped up the damaged kitchen floor and all we could afford was to put down new plywood, I painted it in a weathered checker finish.  Some of it was more problem solving than design.  Either way, I got pretty good at both.

Once we'd got our house closer to done, my husband finally decided to go back to college. This isn't the normal way things happen, but I decided to go too.  I was 24, I felt really old, which is funny to me now.  It was fun sitting in classes together, professors thought it was fun to pit us against eachother, haha. It turned out I was good at being smart with a gpa over 3.93 at OSU (that was after getting my hard classes out of the way ;).  I had discovered (in my volunteer work) I was really good handling and working with kids so I was caught between getting a degree in counseling/psychology or teaching (I designated art to hobby status).  (I know, I'm all-over the place, It never helped that my interests run the gamut, I even considered a degree in biology/botany).  After about two years into college, pregnant with our first baby, we sold our house. (Have you ever stood slaving over a meal so long that you didn't feel like eating it?  That's pretty much how we felt about staying in that house.) When we sold it, we/it had a lot of interest.  One realtor said it was the best restoration he'd ever seen; he'd been in it before we bought it. I'd poured my heart and guts into that house, (so it meant a lot to me to hear that).

We knew we could build more than we could buy with the money from the sale of our house so (and we basically rebuilt the house we sold anyways) what do you think we did?  Did you guess? (we did the financially wise yet really stupid thing, if that makes any sense), we bought 5 acres and began building a new house.  (It all sounds crazy as I'm typing it!)  I was pregnant and couldn't be too involved, but I always seemed to find a way, (besides, somebody had to help my husband). To compound matters, we moved into a rental and decided to work on it to pay the rent. (I know. I know. WHY would anyone with a brain do that?!)  We did it though. (Just for you, I simplified that whole process BIG TIME if you didn't notice...there are really no words that can sum all that up anyways).  This was the beginning of a very isolating (and often miserable) couple of years.  At least, my daughter was my comic relief, my sunshine, and my sanity (despite how, now, having a baby slowed us down-waaaaaay down). You want to hear more?  My husband stayed in school and finished his masters degree to teach.  Let me just say, we really don't have any super powers and it took a while to move into the house we were building.  My dad asked him, at his graduation, what the hardest thing he had to do in college was?  His answer was, "my plumbing". (<<If you don't think that's hilarious, you should, lol)

So we now live in this house we built, this nest.  We had looked at houseplans and couldn't find one that seemed right, so I drew one up, drawing on my husband's construction background and my sense of aesthetics.  It just keeps getting crazier, doesn't it?   (I haven't even told you how we were broke onto one night and had around five-thousand dollars worth of tools stolen that the insurance company wouldn't cover, but that's another story.) Anyways, I can't tell you how many compliments we've had on the exterior and the layout inside (from people that didn't know that I drew it). Mostly, people like how bright it is and open.  Our two story living room sits on the south side of the house where there are lots of windows. The second story windows on the south-side also spread light throughout the upstairs. Having lived here a while, I am very happy with the lay-out (which is lucky, because I drew it up before we had kids and couldn't really know what my preferences would be later).  With kids, a single story house would make life easier but it's cheaper to build up than out (because you can pay the same for the amount of roof, basement or foundation as you would with a single story house.)  Anyways, we still have work to do here, but it's a lot lighter load now, it finally feels manageable (though normal people would feel overwhelmed by what we still need to accomplish around here).  We also (of course) have hold-ups, like spending a ton of time building a mansion of a chicken coop and run last summer while we were itching to get other things done and had a third baby on the way.  That's life, or at least it is for us.  We'll just keep plugging away at it, like we finally poured concrete in front of the garage recently.  I believe in working hard while you're young and you still can.  I'll sit and watch tv when I'm old and that's all my body will allow me to do. 

Did you really just read all that?  What is wrong with you?  No it's cool, I appreciate it and (I'm nosy too sometimes, lol) so I completely understand.  I guess that gets us to here.  I feel older than my years sometimes and I can't say I would do "it all" over again, BUT because of what I've been through, I'm tough and extremely capable of meeting any challenge thrown at me.  That cliche saying, "what doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger," I'd like to see that phrase buried along with it's often numb and cold-hearted sentiment..........but I can vouch that it can be true.  I have a feeling you know what I mean.  You know what though?  We should be proud of anything we do that's hard-earned. People have told my husband and I that we were "lucky" to be in the house and in the postion we're in, (and I really do understand what they mean) but whenever you are assessing another person's hard-earned results (that cost them so much time, sweat, tears, and whatever else), please know that it has almost nothing to do with luck.  Our past's do not define us, but they most definitely mold us.  If you suffered through reading all my whining, I hope you realize that is the point I've been working towards.  You've read some of my back story, and we all have them...(You are probably the same as me >>), I love to take an item that no one would give a second glance to and give it a second life, if not make it a showstopper......that takes work, and work is not glamorous >>> It is the exact opposite of glamorous.  BUT you can always be proud of making the most out of something (if not anything) whether it's a throw-away piece of furniture or yourself (despite having a less than ideal and hard-earned backstory).  You've got this! (whatever this may be). 

You still here?  I promise, it's not me typing anymore, it's the coffee.  I hope you got something out of my mini-motivational rant.  I'm going to go put some action behind all those words.......I've got "stuff" to do, and you probably do too.  My head is always spinning with ideas, and I'm seriously excited to share them with you.  I hope you enjoy them!!  Anyways, Bye for now and THANKS for hanging with me!  We should do this again sometime.  :) 

it me. It's easy.

This is not OSHA approved BTW, don't be too nervous my ladder is nailed down and I used to do that all the time.......<<that's supposed to be a joke....(sort-of, lol).

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