The story behind Peacefield

Five years ago Pat and I begun a journey that we never knew would take as long as it has or be as demanding as it was.  We never could have known the thousands of hours, hundreds of late nights and early Saturday mornings, or the physical demands that were coming.  Thank goodness – or we probably never would have set out on such an adventure.  But as we look back, we also could have never imagined the beauty and memories that we would create together with the help of family and friends.   We call that journey, Peacefield….it is our home.

A bit of history on our house from a set of abstracts of the title of the house that was given to us by the previous owner: 

80 acres of land was sold from the US government to William Sanders on July 23, 1821. Then, William Sanders sold it to William & Samuel McIlvain on May 15, 1824.  The McIlvain brothers sold the 80 acre piece of land to Harrison Hardin on December 3, 1831 and construction on the house began in 1832.  Harrison Hardin died in 1835 without a will and left behind his wife, Elizabeth and three daughters, Paulina, Charlotte and Melissa.  In March 1837, Melissa Hardin’s guardian, William Hardin (presumably a brother of Harrison) sued Elizabeth Hardin (the widow who would later marry James Hensley in March 1838) and her two other daughters for a portion of the estate for reasons that I cannot determine….there’s always drama!  At this point, much of the original land had been cleared and was “under cultivation”, though 8 acres was still wooded.  There was also a “log tenement”  on the grounds and our house, described in the abstract as a “mansion house”.  A 14-acre portion of the estate with the house was given to Elizabeth Hardin as part of her “widow’s dower”.    The land with the house was passed from Elizabeth to her two daughters, Paulina and Charlotte and their husbands in 1851.  In 1856, Charlotte and her husband William Frazier sold or gave (this isn’t clear) their portion to Paulina and her husband, Samuel H. McIlvain (likely a son of the Samuel McIlvain who purchased the raw land from William Sanders in 1824).  It eventually passed to Uriah Hildebrand & his wife, Delilah, and then was sold in two pieces to Jacob S. Mustard and William Mustard (Jacob Mustard retained the portion with the house).  The Mustard brothers sold to Arthur V. Brown in 1904, contingent that no part of the real estate be “used for a saloon for the sale of intoxicating liquors” and that it should never be sold or rented to a black person.  It’s hard to believe this was ever allowed.  Later in 1904, Arthur V. Brown filed a plat.  This subdivision consisted of 78 lots and Brown sold the lot with the house to India M. Griffin and her husband, Samuel Griffin.  In July 1912 the Griffins sold it to Jacob S. Barth for $4500.   After this I’m not sure. 

 Sadly, we don’t have any really old pictures of our house.  We did find a picture of Jacob & Cassandra Mustard on a page about the history of the Broad Ripple Masonic Lodge ( 


The cheery Mustards

It’s crazy to think that so many people have lived in our house.  People have likely been born here, died here, shared wonderful memories as well as heartbreaking moments.  We still have yet to retrieve a bottle and set of newspapers that are stuck between different layers of floors, but can be seen from our basement.  These are covered with coal soot, as it’s right above the portion of our basement that was used for storing coal that heated the house in at least two (if not more) coal-burning fireplaces – we only have one wood-burner.    

We feel quite proud to be part of our home’s history.   As the previous owner put it, “Just think about it…Napoleon meets his Waterloo, and just 17 years later someone on Central Pike finally finishes their main house. Just 20 years after the War of 1812. *****”.  It is mind-blowing.

Here are some snapshots of the renovations we’ve done on our sweet home, our Peacefield. 

Merry Christmas!

Peacefield Exterior

Exterior – Day 1 | After Scraping| After Paint & Landscape

Dining Room

Dining Room – Before & After



Library – Before (top) and After (bottom)

Half Bath Before

Half Bath – Before

Half Bath After

Half Bath – After

Living Room & Foyer Before

Foyer & Living Room – Before

Foyer & Living Room After

Foyer & Living Room – After

Sunroom Before

Sunroom – Before (Really, it should have been called the Dark Room)

Sunroom after

Sunroom – After (We use it as a playroom – please excuse the mess!)




A Season for Sowing

This weekend Pat went to a conference. He had pretty low expectations and came away pleasantly surprised by the encouragement he received.  I love when Pat goes to conferences because I get to debrief with him. It’s like the Cliffnotes version of the conference, which is just right for me. One of the speakers he appreciated the most was Matt Chandler who talked about a number of things, but pointed out that we are all meant to work and we will reap what we sow.  At this particular conference for men, his main point in sharing this principle was to encourage the guys that when they go to bed at night and feel a “good kind of tired”, that’s how it should be because they are working and planting something that will eventually grow and produce great things.   We’ve all heard this many times stated many different ways, but for some reason it really got me thinking this time. 

I’m not sure about you, but lately at night when I go to bed, I get that “hurt-so-good” feeling of finally getting my feet up, but my body is so worn out from the day it has a bit of trouble lying flat and relaxing.  Know what I’m talking about? So when Pat told me about Matt’s session and his encouragement to the men to be planting something each day, it clicked for me – Yes! The reason I go to bed at night completely exhausted is because it’s planting season in my life.  In nearly every area of my life, this is a season of intense sowing.  Here are just a few of the majors – there are many other areas I could list, but these seem to be the top 3 for us:

  • Kids – Each day I am shaping a life (soon to be two).  What we do with Will and his coming baby brother each day will affect their future lives and the men they become – spiritual, social, emotional, intellectual, etc.  Whoa – talk about some important work!
  • Career – this is primarily for Pat right now, but he is really at a tipping point in his career. He is gaining a lot of respect from his peers and superiors and being recognized for it.  He’s also being given a lot of responsibility.  In addition, he’s pursuing his MBA which is wonderful and will hopefully lead to many new opportunities.  However, right now it requires that he put in a lot of time going to class and studying and is also a significant expense for our family.  Planting season isn’t without sacrifice.
  • Financially – the financial decisions we make today will affect our future stability as a family and the opportunities we will have to give to others, take family vacations, involve our kids in extracurricular activities, etc.

I asked my brother-in-law, a real live-in-the-country-ride-a-tractor-drive-a-truck farmer how farmers view planting and harvest seasons.  He said that in general, harvest is very exciting – the culmination of months of work.  Plus, it’s pay day! While planting has its own thrill after the long winter months, it is a season filled with long days, short nights, lots of prayers. It is a labor of hope.


Ryan hard at work


It’s so easy to get in bed at night and feel relief that the day is done. I don’t think this is bad – it’s natural to feel relief when you’ve been stretched to your max by the events of the day. However, I often let it pass as just another day checked off the list, instead of recognizing that the feeling of exhaustion is just a sign that I’ve spent my day doing hard work – good work – and I’ve planted seeds that I will someday harvest with much joy.  Yes, even on the hardest days, when I stick with it, I can know that I’ve “won the day” (per Matt Chandler) by just faithfully planting a few seeds.  Planting season has it’s rainy days – when the proverbial  “tractor” gets stuck in the mud and it feels like not a darn seed got in the ground. But really, it was another well-spent day because I was doing worthy work faithfully.  That’s the kind of work that yields a harvest. 

So, my friends, lets pull on the Carharts and jump in the tractor – it’s a season of sowing.  What seeds are you planting today?

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. -Galatians 6:9


Will learning how to plant from Daddy


It’s getting crafty in here…

So I’ve been feeling a little crafty lately.  Since my get-together with college friends in Montreat, NC where we made bows and bowties, my creative juices have been flowing.

For the bowties, we used the instructions documented by The Cadence of a Conquering Housewife.  We thought they were pretty easy to follow, but used felt instead of interfacing.  The results have been great.  Here are a few shots of our handiwork:




My other most recent project is creating a bookcase of sorts by stacking stained wood crates. There are many similar project ideas you can find on Pinterest, though I didn’t actually follow any of these.  My process was quite basic: buy the crates ($14.99 at Joann’s in Montreat, NC – don’t forget their coupons!), stain them with a dark walnut stain, allow to dry overnight, connect the crates using screws and wood glue, continue to allow the crates to dry for several days (outside when it’s not raining to help rid them of the horrible smell), then move-in to Will’s room!  I actually also placed a bowl of white vinegar inside the crates while they were inside to help remove the odor.

Here’s a before picture (yes, that’s the baby monitor in the picture – working while Will sleeps!):


And the final product:



I’m eyeing a few Pinterest projects – maybe a little sewing, modge-podging….you know what I’m talking about. What projects have you done or are you thinking about? 


Mothers Day Reflection

This is my second Mother’s Day with Will. This year I traveled to Quincy (my hometown) for the baby shower of a very special friend, Liz.  Since Will is a less than stellar traveler and sleeper, I decided to come alone and ask Pat to watch Will for the weekend as my Mother’s Day gift (no small request).  Being the awesome Dad/husband he is, he said yes.  From all indications, they are having a fabulous time at home without me and I am enjoying sitting at my parents’ house with my feet up.

Here’s proof:

Feet up

Here’s the Happy Mother’s Day picture I received this morning….adorable, no?

Mothers Day morning

A little time away is always really good for me.  I realize how much I miss Will and how much fun we have each day.  No one has a better smile and I’ve never seen a child with so much enthusiasm for flags, clocks, and smoke detectors.  Most of all, I feel grateful!  So thankful to be his mom, despite the challenges.  I think most people know how Will has struggled with sleep, but let me tell you how he has excelled:  he loves to give hugs and kisses, he is a good sharer – he will willingly give his toy to other children, he loves stacking blocks, he usually falls asleep quickly, he can spot a plane within seconds of hearing its engines drone, he loves shooting balls at the “hoop” at the school, he is adorable naked, he has flowing locks that nearly anyone could be jealous of, and he loves to brush his teeth….I mean LOVES!  Yes, we have challenges, but we have so many things to be thankful for!  So, I’ve decided I’m not going to let my mothering experience be defined by the struggles, but instead I’m writing down all the things I’m thankful for each day so that those will be what I remember when the day is done.


What are you grateful for today?  Let that be what defines your day! 

I leave you with this cuteness:

Cute collage 


What I’ve been cookin’ up lately…

I mentioned in a previous post that my sisters and I cooked with my mom a lot when we were growing up at home. My mom is an excellent cook & baker.  She’s frequently been asked how she became so skilled. As it turns out, her family lived on a farm with animals and land to tend to.  She had four sisters and only one brother, so the girls often helped their father with the farm jobs.  In the course of helping my grandfather, my mom accidentally hit him in the head with a big wooden board. When Grandpa Stewart came to he told my mom, “Go on inside and help your mother.” And that’s where she stayed – inside with Grandma Stewart learning to cook and bake.  My paternal grandmother, Grandma Bertie, was also a skilled cook and baker.  There are many of her recipes that my mother has learned to prepare that we would frequently have growing up. Thus began my family’s legacy of cooking and baking….and more importantly, eating!

After reading Bread & Wine by Shauna Neiquist, I felt a renewed excitement to try some new recipes – both from her book and others I’ve wanted to try for a long time.  In the past few weeks here are a few of the new recipes I’ve tried with a bit of my opinion on each:

  • Dried Strawberries – These were okay, but not wow!  The recipe I had came from Mess for Less. The flavor of the strawberries I tried was definitely intensified by the drying process, though I wouldn’t say they were chewy.  I think I’ll try again this summer (in strawberry season) and see if I have any better luck.  Have you tried something similar?

                             Right out of the oven

  • Biscoff knock-offs  These were very good, but they were no Biscoffs. Patrick and I first came across Biscoffs when flying Delta out to see his family in Boston.  Biscoffs are fabulous – rich and crunchy and sweet.  Perfect with tea or coffee.  We later found them in the grocery and have loved them since.  I believe there’s even a Biscoff spread, but we haven’t tried this yet.  The recipe I used is from Creative Culinary   (I only made the cookie, not the cream cheese filling).   These cookies were definitely good, but they lacked the richness that a true Biscoff has.  I’ll definitely make these again, but I’ll still pick up a package of Biscoffs at the store, too.
  • Annette’s Enchiladas from Bread & Wine – Shauna shares this recipe in her latest book, Bread & Wine, and I’m so glad she does! These enchiladas are wonderful!  It’s a short ingredient list and quick to put together, as it doesn’t require rolling all the individual enchiladas.  I made it with mild everything, since we don’t do spicy at our house, but you could definitely alter the ingredients to suit your fancy.  For the recipe, pick up her book here – it’s scheduled to be released in less than a week!
  • Nigella’s Flourless Brownies from Bread & Wine – this one gets another two-thumbs-up!  I have several gluten-free friends and this is a wonderful dessert option to serve them!  Shauna mentions that she cuts them in small squares (like fudge) and serves with vanilla ice cream.  I agree – these babies are super rich & dense!

                                   ….what missing corner?….

  • Breakfast Quinoa from Bread & Wine – I’m a breakfast person.  I wake up hungry in the morning.  I need something substantial in the morning. Lately I’ve been eating peanut butter toast, since that’s what I make for Will.  When I came across the recipe for Breakfast Quinoa in Bread & Wine I was so excited to try it.  It did not disappoint…in fact, I took it to an Easter brunch and people loved it! I even think it could be made into a dinner by adding some veggies.  Again, this recipe is so great because it’s gluten free & dairy free. 

                                            This will fill you up!

  •  Broccoli Bites for Kids – I’ve been looking for more recipes I can make that Will will enjoy (or at least eat) and be nutritious, so I tried these.  The recipe is from Stacey Snacks.  While Patrick & I enjoyed these very much, Will had no part of them (sad face).   I think they’ll be a great side for a chicken dish or something similar. I’m still hoping William will someday eat  these (or at least try them).

What have you been cooking up in the kitchen lately?  Do you have any recipes you’d like to share? If so, send them my way! 



Bread & Wine…a nourishing read

I was recently sent an early preview version of Bread & Wine, the newest book from Shauna Niequist, author of my favorite book, Bittersweet.  I just finished it last night (my second book of 2013!) and adored it!  Just as I thought it would be, this book is lovely.  It is clearly the same voice speaking as the voice in Bittersweet.  Reading Shauna’s short essays are like reading encouraging letters from a long-time friend.  In each (short) chapter, Shauna tells us a short story and is able to draw a connection back to cooking and eating and doing both of those with friends and family. At the end of most chapters, she gives a recipe for something delicious…from enchiladas to toffee to pork tenderloin. This book isn’t just for people that love cooking (as I do), though they might appreciate it a bit more than someone that loathes cooking.  Her main encouragement and invitation is to slow down enough to enjoy time around the table with family & friends, while enjoying and being nourished by the food you share, whether it be carry out, catered or all from scratch. And I like this very much. As someone that ate most dinners as a family growing up and spent hours cooking and baking with my sisters and mother, I feel at home in the kitchen and around a table. My family loves food.  So many of our family traditions revolve around food – our Christmas Eve appetizer dinner followed by rich homemade ice cream, the beef or lamb roast with roasted potatoes and homemade gravy on Sunday afternoons with homemade oatmeal rolls (still my favorite bread)…I could go on and on.  One of the first things Patrick noticed when visiting my family while we were dating was how much we talked about food. We would discuss our next meal before we’d even finished the one sitting in front of us! In fact, the first Christmas we were married, my mom gave Pat a cookbook titled, The Davis Girls Favorite Recipes Cookbook. It contains the recipes for many family favorites that I still prepare frequently.  It is dirty and the pages are wrinkled and stained from my cooking messes.  It is a gem and my favorite cookbook!

 cookbook love

The very first chapter in Bread & Wine is titled, “my mom’s blueberry crisp”.  In it, Shauna sweetly reminisces about her childhood days at home, her mom’s cooking and especially the blueberry crisp her mom would make on Sunday evenings.  Traditions like this are so wonderful!  In a very similar way, early in Pat & I’s marriage, on Sunday evenings I would often make either oatmeal rolls or Pat’s family recipe tea ring for a light dinner.  We would eat the rolls hot out of the oven with butter and cinnamon-sugar or the tea ring with a simple powdered sugar glaze and tea.  Reading Bread & Wine made me want to begin this tradition again and create something special that Will will one day remember about his days at home.  Below is the recipe for our family’s oatmeal rolls.  This is one of the feature recipes in the above-mentioned, The Davis Girls Favorite Recipes Cookbook.  Feel free to sub whole-wheat flour for the all-purpose flour.  It just makes the roll a bit denser.  Be sure to have the butter and cinnamon-sugar ready!  They are divine!

Davis Family Oatmeal Rolls

2 cups boiling water

1 cup rolled oats (old-fashioned or quick cooking work)

3 Tbsp oil

1 envelope dry yeast

1/3 cup warm water

2/3 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons salt

5 cups flour, approximately

1 Tbsp butter

Combine oats, brown sugar & salt in a bowl. Pour boiling water over the oat mixture and let cool.  In a separate bowl, combine the yeast and warm water.  Once the oat mixture is cool (so it won’t kill the yeast), add the yeast to the oat mixture and also stir in the oil. Add flour, stirring to incorporate into a soft dough. Knead and let rise until doubled in bulk.  Make into rolls (approximately 24) and let rise again.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, but be sure to watch them. You don’t want them too done. They are just prefect when the centers are just passed doughy. While still hot, spread butter over the tops of the rolls.  Growing up, my mom would put the rolls into two 8- or 9-inch circular pans and the rolls would cook together so they formed one big plate of rolls that you would have to pull apart, which kept them nice and soft.  I’ve also made them on a cookie sheet with parchment paper as individual rolls, which is really nice for being able to eat a couple and freeze the rest.  Either way they are delicious!  Enjoy!

Watch for future posts about my reaction to Bread & Wine.

Getting my land-legs back

Well, we’re home from our much anticipated cruise and our bags are unpacked, but I still have moments when I feel like I’m rocking on the ship (we had some rough seas) – those of you who have been on cruises or other boats know what I’m talking about.  The time with Patrick was all I’d hoped it would be – time to slow down, sleep, eat food I didn’t prepare, read, sleep some more (did I mention I took Dramamine to prevent sea sickness, which made me a bit tired – yes, I was asleep by 9:40pm one evening).  I’m so thankful for time away, because it really does make me so thankful and happy to come back.  So thankful for my sweet, little, early-rising, on-the-go Will, for our 180-year-old home with all it’s draftiness, dustiness and creeks, for Pat’s job and the opportunity he has to do his MBA, for healthy parents who adore Will and are happy to care for him while we go away.  (Plug for a prior post of mine:  If you need any convincing that it’s time for you to get away, see my blog about that here: ) So tonight, while I work on getting my land-legs back I’m going to let my tea steep a few minutes longer while I soak on all the blessings in my life – God has been so good to me.  The laundry will have to wait until tomorrow, because I’m going to enjoy my last minutes of vacation tonight.  Is it time for you to get away?

Here are a few pictures of our vacation:

In front of the "beach" in Cozumel

In front of the “beach” in Cozumel

My new favorite cocktail - Kiss on the Lips!

My new favorite cocktail – Kiss on the Lips!

Pat at his favorite spot of the whole ship - our balcony!

Pat at his favorite spot of the whole ship – our balcony!

Sunset off the stern

Sunset off the stern

Dinner - best part of the day!

Dinner – best part of the day!

Our dinner waiter - Iwayat from Indonesia.  He has two children (3yo & 8mo) who he will see in March for two months before he heads back out on the cruise ship for 6 months.

Our dinner waiter – Iwayat from Indonesia. He has two children (3yo & 8mo) who he will see in March for two months before he heads back out on the cruise ship for 6 months.