Tag Archive for knowledge

Cara Brookins’ Memoir – Rise (How A House Built A Family)

cara brookinsRise – A Memoir by Cara Brookins

My Story

I was at a writing conference last year. I had the opportunity to listen to Cara Brookins discuss her memoir, ‘Rise (How a House Built a Family)’. She was a very inspiring woman who I had to listen to, because of what she did. I could relate to her in so many ways.

Before we start, I apologize if I got any of the story wrong. It was so inspiring, I may have mixed up a few details. These are my errors!

Cara Brookins’ Story

Cara Brookins was a woman with four children. Count them, four! She admitted to picking the wrong type of men. Abusive men. She finally hit a brick wall and chose to change her life, for her and her kids. She chose to leave and try to start over. I know, many people don’t understand about accepting the abuse. If you haven’t been through it, you may not. Unfortunately (or fortunately for me, this diyhomegoddess had the same history, so I got it). And yes, I have also chosen to escape. I am must stronger now.

Cara Brookins is a freelance writer, an author, and a computer geek. 

What did she do, my diyhomegoddesses? On a trip with her kids, she found an old destroyed house, and it spoke to her. She built a house! 

What Happened?

Cara Brookins wanted to start her life fresh, start anew. With four children, ages 17 (Hope), 15 (Drew), 9 (Jada) and 2 (Roman).

She found a plot of land and purchased it. Her and her children drew some inpronto plans for the house they dreamed of having, along with a stick model. She went to multiple banks, and finally someone was willing to take a chance on her, and gave her a 9 month loan. 9 months before she had to pay the loan back, because she was not a licensed contractor!

Her and her family built the house themselves. Laid the foundation. Put up the frame. Tacked on the walls. Plumbing. Windows and doors. A staircase? Sure, it was a 3500 square-foot two story house! And before they got too far, they built a shed to house the tools, so they wouldn’t have to transport them each day.

How Did Cara Brookins Know What To Do?

They had no experience. They learned everything they attempted to do with You Tube videos. You Tube! They made a lot of mistakes along the way. Sometimes they didn’t have the right tools. They definitely were not equipped clothing wise for the job. Cara didn’t know you were supposed to do a chalk outline of frame, she had the strings set up like the video told her (she used a bag of flour to make the outline!).

Most of the work she and her four children did themselves, after work and school and on weekends. Holidays. She did the plumbing herself. The only help she had, was to pay someone from a home improvement store occasionally $25 an hour, and the electricity was set by professionals (albeit professionals usually high). Everything else her and the children did!

Cara Brookins’ Memoir

Cara Brookins did a pretty good job on the memoir. She has an excellent grasp of descriptions. I spent the entire book gritting my teeth as they strode from one problem to the next. She did not fly through the construction details, she gave you a full explanation of how the progress went and what they had to do.

There were the occasional stories in there about the holidays, special times they had that weren’t related to the building of the house, etc. That gave a good breather. I spent a lot of time feeling for these brave children.

There were gritty details and humorous details. There were struggles they had with the house, and struggles they had with every day life.

The only problem I had with the book, which is normal for memoirs, is the jumping around. You’d read a chapter about the construction, then all of a sudden you were five years earlier talking about the struggles with her significant others that lead to her leaving. This was important to be in here, because it was the basis for her actions. It got a bit confusing sometimes, but I finally got into the rhythm.

I do wish there were a few more pictures of Inkwell Manor. And it would have been awesome to see the floor plan drawn, so we could get a full view of what these people (remember 4 of the 5 were children!) accomplished.

I give this book 4.5 stars!

Want To See More?


And Now For Us Diyhomegoddesses

Sometimes a gal has to do what a gal has to do. We all need inspiration sometimes. We all need to feel like we are not alone. And we can do anything. Cara Brookins is proof of that. I consider her the ultimate diyhomegoddess. For real! Some of my posts show what I’ve accomplished, albeit small. Here, here, and here.

Like Cara Brookins said and wrote in my inscription of the book, and don’t you forget:

Build Big Things!



Lane Cedar Chest Age

lane cedar chestLane Cedar Chest Age

My Story

lane cedar chest

This is mine, mid century modern.

lane cedar chest

This one is midcentury modern. Check out the industrial adornments

I have a Lane Cedar Chest. Actually, my roommate has one. He had no clue what it was. He got it from a deceased lover. When we saved it from the storage shed, I was thrilled at the condition and the item in general. When I found out it was a Lane Cedar Chest, and potentially legit (not a knockoff, if there is such a thing), I jumped up and down.

What to Look For

The Lane Cedar Chest (or in layman’s term a Hope Chest) is something a lot of people look for at flea markets and antique stores when trying to get an antique or two. Or maybe they are just considered vintage. Yeah, depending on when it was made, it’s probably just vintage, because only a few are more than 100 years old, the age for antiques. They don’t go for a lot of money; it’s more being able to say you have a Lane Cedar Chest. The company stopped making them in 2001. If you want one and see one in decent shape, snap it up!

FYI, Wayfair advertises they sell Lane Cedar Chests. The company hasn’t been open for that long and I don’t think they sell used furniture, so there’s no way they are selling a Lane Cedar Chest. They are selling a cedar chest with another Lane name (such as Birch Lane), or else it’s a generic term for a cedar chest. Same for Joss & Main on their website. So if someone says they have a Lane Cedar Chest for you to buy, check it out first!

How to Determine the Age of a Lane Cedar Chest

lane cedar chest

the date of creation 11/15/1955

If you have a true Lane Cedar Chest, there is a serial number on the lid’s underside of the lid. And if you’re lucky, the original owner kept the paperwork in there as well.

The date of manufacturing is the serial number. And it’s written backwards, in case you are confused. The one I have has a Serial Number of 555111. That means it was manufactured on November 15, 1955. It’s older than me, if you can believe that.

If there is a 7th number in the serial number, that is the plant that manufactured it.. This was always the last number in the series, after the date (so it was at the beginning). The factories were:

lane cedar chest

the warranty paperwork

lane cedar chest

how pretty is this logo?

  • 2 in Virginia
  • 4 in North Carolina
  • 2 in Mississippi
  • 1 in Tennessee

Look for the cool logo in the top.

The paperwork includes a warranty stating it protects cloth items placed inside, and may have the date of manufacture on it. This makes it extra desirable for collectors.

 Styles of the Lane Cedar Chest

There may also be a style number, but unless you are looking for the exact same style, that doesn’t really matter unless you are selling it. My chest says Style No 3271.

  • Traditional chests – The look of an antique. Lined with cedar. Outside woods were Cherry, Maple, Walnut. Included detailed carvings and sometimes upholstery.
  • Mid-Century chests –
    • Danish Modern. Very clean lines, has no adornments except for carved lines in it and the angular feet.
    • Mid-Century Modern. Clean lines and angular feet like the Danish Modern. These are a little more industrial looking. Patterned wood stains. Some had upholstery and/or pull out drawers.
  • Flapper Style chests – 30’s and 40’s.
    • Thematic Art Deco movement. Inlayed woods with geometric designs.  Some had hinged shelving boxes.
    • The Chippendale style had ball and claw feet and ornate carvings.

The Dangerous Locking Mechanism

lane cedar chest

remove this lock!

Remove the lock if you still have the original lock, and it predates 1987. They recalled them due to not being able to open it from the inside. I guess children used to hide in them when playing hide and seek?

  • If you have a chest with a catch or a lock, you need to:
  • Remove the cover if there is one
  • Get a screwdriver (manual is safest) and remove the 3 screws
  • Remove the plate and the lock will be removed
  • If you want to order a new lock, try this phone number (1-800-225-7576)

I did not order a new locking mechanism, because mine is full of stuff. No children will be able to get in there.

lane cedar chest

why contact paper?

lane cedar chest

after contact paper was removed

IMHO, these should not be refurbished, like I did to this vintage console, but should just be cleaned up and repairs done if necessary. The only thing I did was remove some contact paper placed on the top, which apparently was done to protect the chest from further damage.

 Other Research areas:

  • Cause A Frockus – Another history take
  • Chairish – if you want pictures of what a company is selling
  • Ebay – to find examples and what you might want to look at when purchasing


And there you have it. Enough knowledge about a Lane Cedar Chest to get you moving on the path to purchase. Every diyhomegoddess should have one!





Recipe Change and Substitutions

Recipe changeRecipe Change and Substitutions

My Story

Sometimes I have to do a recipe change up. Not for any specific reason other than because I want to.

I wanted a crumble, but I wanted strawberries, not apples. Could I do that?

There are times the mood strikes me to make something, and I get started. That’s when I find out I don’t have all the necessary ingredients. Half way through the preparation. It’s too late to go to the store then. So I punt and do a recipe change up.

Or the recipe has something in there I just don’t like. Or there was too much of something and not enough of something else. So I changed it.

Yes, my diy home goddesses, a recipe is not set in stone. At least for the most part. Baking, yeah, that’s a little harder to do, except for flavor profiles. But most recipes you can do what you want. Do a recipe change up!

Why Talk About Changing Recipes?

Well, let me give you the scoop. Read more

Spices – Top Chef University Lesson 16

SpicesIntroduction to Spices

My Story

And now for the second part of the fun stuff, SPICES! Spices were originally a trading commodity, hence the term “the spice route”. But that’s a whole other story. Here’s the quick history, for those who want to be in the know.

Spices were originally considered not essential, but considered a luxury item. They were very expensive. Rumor has it in the old days, the executive chef tasted the food you, as a sous chef, line cook, etc, made before adding any spices. If the food wasn’t up to his standards, the food got thrown out and you had to start over again. That way the expensive spices weren’t wasted. Imagine making a dish without any flavor other than the food and deciding by that taste alone to see if it was good enough to put the additional flavor of spice in?

The Lesson

Carla did an exceptional job on this lesson. I was literally stopping every three seconds to take notes. I wished it was longer, because I wanted to know more. And more! She was a little dramatic in this lesson, as there was no dryness in her tone at all, but then spices can do that to you. She was very excited about the topic, and I could tell she was trying to get the audience excited about it too. “Peacock” she was shouting. Read more