Unlocking the Past and Giving New Life to Old Stuff at Second Chance Barn

Sunday, January 31, 2016
Can you even believe it's the last day of January??  Tomorrow is February 1st, we've had approximately 4" of snow this winter and at the rate time is flying, Mr. Cottontail will be bouncing in before we know it.  I have a to-do list filled with winter projects, things to organize and miscellaneous tasks I set aside to do while we're 'snowed-in' and it appears between the lack of snowdays and the speed at which time passes, I won't be crossing off much on my list before the good weather arrives.  No worries......the good thing about chores is that they are patient and will wait till you get to them.  I'd much rather be out and about chasing photo ops and blog research anyway and that's just what we did yesterday!

One of my favorite indoor pastimes is watching HGTV - particularly  Fixer Upper and Flea Market Flip.  I love being inspired and as you may have already learned from my blog, I love old things.  So yesterday when a friend of mine 'liked' Second Chance Barn on Facebook, I went to their page and browsed their photos and well......you know where this story is going!  With nothing pressing on our Saturday agenda, in the car we went on a little road trip to Middle Granville, NY to pay Second Chance Barn a visit.  Before you read on let me warn you, if you love antiques and old things....start warming up your car now because I promise you'll be headed there today.

Sitting on a hilltop on State Route 22A, minus any signage to indicate a business is here, rests a beautiful two year old barn, new and pristine.  What awaits you inside that barn is anything but new, but each and every piece takes you back in time and has a story to tell.   Second Chance Barn was born with the intention of being a 'little' retirement hobby for Joe Marcino.  Thanks to his wife, Charlene, and her creation of a  Facebook page, this little hobby became a full-time job for Joe and their 40 Facebook followers has grown to 5400+.  Clearly they don't need my publicity, but just in case......

My incentive for visiting, aside from feeling a blog post brewing, was to purchase an old window to hang above my mantle.  I knew from looking at their Facebook photos they had several to choose from - in all shapes and sizes.  Mission accomplished - I did come home with a window.....and maybe just a little bit more.  When I watch HGTV I'm always a little envious of all the antique/salvage shops that big cities seem to have.  I'm guessing we have some here that I just haven't found (at least ones I can afford) - but I hit the jackpot yesterday!  Lucky for me (and John) Second Chance barn only takes cash or checks because had he accepted a debit card or credit card, I may have been dangerous. Here's a peek at just a few of the treasures awaiting you...

Can't you picture this gorgeous piece as a mantle?? OMG!
In case you don't know - these are sap buckets - one of their big sellers.  Didn't come home with one, but definitely on my list for next time!  You can either get them plain or with these words.

Any old ice fishermen will recognize these tip-ups....I think my Grandfather had some of these.

I may or may not have brought this piece home..........alright, so I did.  I couldn't resist it!  A word of caution for any more amateur antique collectors - buying furniture in a barn is a little like shopping for a Christmas tree in a field.  Things appear much smaller in their natural habitat than they do in your home.  This piece.... which measures 40" x 40" x 13".....looks a lot smaller in a great big barn than it does in my house.  And yes, we did measure it in the barn, but it looked much smaller there just the same.  I WILL find a place for it, but that might take a tad more creativity than I first thought. :)

Joe was kind enough to give us a tour of his 'workshop' where he cleans up and gives pieces a little TLC before placing them on the floor.  That was quite the adventure!  I can't show you much of that, but here's a little idea of what his playground looks like....

From reclaimed wood to chair legs, door plates to doorknobs....Joe has a treasure trove of parts and pieces for everything you can imagine - all organized in neat little drawers and shelves just waiting to make an old piece new again.   I could have spent the day just browsing among his 'supplies'.  While Joe does spit and polish most pieces before sale, if you're more of a do-it-yourselfer, you can find pieces that he hasn't yet transformed and do the revamping yourself for a little less cash.  Either way, I promise you'll not only find some great treasures, you'll have a fun walk down memory lane as you wander through Second Chance Barn.

Joe and hubby, John, discussing how the cost of windows has really gone up these days. LOL
I can't help it if a beautiful bookcase stowed away in our car!
Don't miss this one!  It's a beautiful ride to Middle Granville......through some beautiful countryside. If you get a chance to visit in the warmer weather, combine your trip with dinner at Dancing Ewe Farm just a short hop away.  You can check out Dancing Ewe Farm in my #1 most popular post on the sidebar of the blog, or by using the link below.  Second Chance Barn is open Thursday-Sunday from 10-5:00!  Remember, there's no sign on the road, they're right next door to the Bobcat dealer at 251 State Route 22A, Middle Granville, NY.  For more photos and information, you can check out their Facebook Page at:

post script:   I found room for both the bookcase and the window.
They turned out better than I hoped!

Thanks Joe for a fun visit and tour!  I can't wait to come back  - with a check - for more great pieces! Thanks for reading!  Don't forget to share this with a friend and come back soon to Life As I See It!

What's The Big Deal About Blogging? And Why Do I Do It?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

So what's the big deal about blogging?  What is blogging and why do so many people do it?  Why do I do it?  Well let's start with a definition - simply put by Merriam Webster:  a blog is a website on which someone writes personal opinions, activities, experiences.    That's certainly the most concise definition I found.  The Urban Dictionary had a much more derogatory description that we won't talk about today and Wikipedia had the most lengthy and complete description (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blo).  I'll leave it up to you whether or not you need all that. I think Merriam's definition is adequate.  I will tell you that blogs began to emerge sometime after 1990 and have exploded in popularity since then.  You can find blogs on every subject imaginable, in fact, did you know that Andy Weir, author of The Martian (the basis for the movie), first published his book as a blog on his website??  Locally the Times Union newspaper carries around 200 blogs under several different categories.  They are not unique in that either, although some newspapers carry many less.  The Saratogian newspaper carries fewer - 19 to be exact, but I'm proud to be one of them. With their increasing popularity and the endless array of topics to choose from, I thought it might be interesting to give you a little 101 on the basics of blogging - why I do it, how to navigate my blog (or anyone else's), a review of some of the things I've written about, and what are the benefits of blogging.

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you've probably read the "About Me" section where I explain how and why I came to the idea of blogging. If you haven't I'll give you the short version....I began blogging as an extension of my Facebook Photography page - a place to not only share my photos, but a place to narrate them.  It also gave me something to do to overcome the grief I was going through when my family and granddaughter moved to Indiana.  I had no idea when I began if I was tech savvy enough to design a blog or literate enough to maintain one.  Fast forward nearly two years and it seems I haven't run out of things to write about.  Writing, as all you folks who journal know, is very therapeutic.  It's a creative outlet, a release.  It's a little like talking out a problem - just verbalizing something that's bugging you has a miraculous way of making that problem seem smaller, not so threatening.  Writing is a little like that....and it is exhilarating and exciting.  Being able to share your writing is the frosting on the cake.

When I began blogging I knew I wanted to write about destinations, but beyond that I wasn't sure where I might wander as far as topics were concerned.  And I didn't care......I wasn't even sure anyone would read my blog anyway.  After a few posts, I realized how fun it was to take my readers on trips to places they'd never been, via my blog.  I was a virtual tour guide and I loved it.  Most of you are probably familiar with the typical blogs, the ones that earn people an income.  Big time bloggers advertise for companies on their blogs and make money from doing so.  That brings me to another question I've been asked, "Do you get paid for blogging?" I've read that some bloggers, especially those that blog for a career, can make over $60,000 a year.   I never planned to be that kind of blogger.  As much as I get excited as my readership expands, I always intended to keep my blog personal and free of ads and not be driven by having to write paid posts or have my blog cluttered with pop-up ads all over the place.  I certainly respect those bloggers who do so for a living - they work hard for sure, but it's not the kind of blog I want.  My exception to that rule is my ad for the Beekman 1802.  They approached me and being I've blogged about them many times and have endless love and respect for everything they represent, I couldn't say no.  Thus....the reason for my one ad.  So to answer the question......I don't get paid for my blog - not from the newspaper, and not from any of the businesses about which I write.  In addition, I don't normally write a post based on a request from a company.  I have, on a couple of occasions, accepted an invitation to visit a venue, and blogged about that place, but it is rare.  Why?  Because I don't want to fake it!!  I want to write a genuine and sincere post about places I truly love and want to share.  I'm not going to lie about loving something if I don't.  That is why I don't do any sponsored posts (posts where a company asks you to write about their product for pay).  Lots of bloggers do, it's how they make a living and that's ok for them, just not for me.   My blog is purely for fun and not driven by anything but where life leads me, and some days, that's my own backyard, other days, it's a road trip away.  You just never know.

Over time, when it seemed the blog would continue, I decided I needed to organize a little and spruce things up.  That's where my lack of technical expertise became evident.  So....that is when I turned to a friend with a beautiful and successful blog for advice and she helped guide me in the direction of blog designers on Etsy.  That designer listened to my ideas of how I wanted my blog to look and what I needed it to include and voila.....my current blog design was born.  The biggest change that came with her redesign, aside from the new heading line and general appearance, was the Categories across the top of the page.  They were added to give my readers an idea of some of the topics I write about. Clicking on a category will bring up the most recent post in that category and allows you to use the "See what else you missed" at the end of the post to scroll through each post in that category.  So for example, if you enjoy a post I did on a farm, you can look under "Animal Friends" and find more animal related posts, etc...  I also added a Directory.  That is the easiest way to see every post under every category, as well as the month and year that post was written.  You can then just click the Month listing on the right column to find the post you're looking for and Click, you're there.  I find that often people visit the blog and read the Popular Posts, since they're listed right there on the side of the blog.  But there's so many great posts (ok I'm biased)  besides those!  In fact there are 201 all together - all full of photos.  So if you see a title that interests you, but reading isn't your thing - have a look anyway.  Each blog normally contains 10-20+ photos and usually the photos give you a pretty good idea of what I'm trying to convey.  What's my favorite category, you ask?  Well although I began as a destination blog, my Food for Thought category is my favorite.  It's sort of my editorial section where I'm able to get philosophical and sometimes a little mushy.   I also love Intriguing People where I've written about family and friends, sometimes famous people.  This Christmas I took all the posts about family members and designed a book for my kids about their relatives.  If it weren't for my blog, I'd probably never have written those stories.

What do I love the most about blogging?   Easy - it's the people I've met and opportunities the blog has afforded me.  In two years I've gone places and seen things I'd never have motivated myself to see had it not been for the purpose of writing a blog.  It has pushed me to knock on doors and introduce myself when as a regular person I'd never have had the guts to knock on if it weren't for the blog.  It has brought so many truly special people into my life - so  many who I now call friend.  That is THE BIG thing I love about blogging!  I am so fortunate to have met such generous people, people who have always opened their doors and their hearts to us, gracious and willing to give us a glimpse into their world.  That has been the biggest gift!  You know who you are....I (we) thank you. Although I am the writer of my blog, I could not do it without my faithful sidekick and chauffeur, my hubby.  John not only chauffeurs me to all my destinations, he enjoys them with me and then proofreads every blog.  It's really a team effort and a perfectly fun way to enjoy our retirement, not to mention how handy it comes in for keeping our brain cells alive ;)

So that's it - blogging in a nutshell.  If at the end of the day a post only gets a few reads, I haven't wasted my time.  I still have a written keepsake of an event.  If it gets a thousand reads - even better!  I know something that touched me, touched others too.  If you enjoy my blog - Yay, I'm so glad.   If you do, I hope you share it with your friends using the links provided at the end of each blog post. Leave me a comment sometime... it's a little confusing but just remember ....Under "Comment As", click and scroll down and choose Anonymous.  You can add your name to your comment if you'd like.  If I don't respond, I didn't get your comment.  Thanks for reading this and all my posts and thank you for giving me the opportunity to share life as I see it!

Here's a list of some of my favorite blogs written by some fellow bloggers:

http://www.theuniquenest.com/ (home design and more)
http://www.sweettoothsweetlife.com/ (lifestyle, food, exercise)
http://www.mysaratogakitchentable.com/ (Great recipes and food info)
http://www.thekimsixfix.com/ (all aspects of DYI, crafts, home projects)

Our Feathered Friends Cafe - Thanks to Wild Birds Unlimited

Wednesday, January 20, 2016
I love wildlife, especially the wildlife in my own backyard.  No matter what the season I love feeding the birds.  Whether it's hummingbirds in the summer or newly fledged nestlings in the spring, or the hungry birds of winter, I love every bird that visits my Feathered Friends Cafe!  I even like the bossy Blue Jays and the noisy Catbirds.  Besides watching the birds, I love photographing them, so sometimes I like to think outside the box when it comes to feeders.  This week I added a few new feeders to our collection, as well as a new pole, so today I want to show you how to make some fun new feeders for your yard and introduce you to a fabulous pole system that every bird watcher will want to have.

The first place that came to mind when I knew I wanted some new hardware was Wild Birds Unlimited in Wilton, NY.  WBU carries a huge selection of feeders, accessories, bird seed, bird related gifts, more than anywhere in the area.  Aside from their quality products, their staff is so friendly and knowledgeable.   No matter what you need to know about birds, their staff has the answers.  We went in hoping to pick up a new pole - a shepherd's hook and a baffle for it.  As much as I find squirrels cute and amusing, I'd prefer to limit their snacks. Right away the gal on duty introduced us to the Wild Birds Unlimited exclusive, patented, Advanced Pole System.  At first I had a little sticker shock, but the more I saw and the more I learned, we knew this was the product worth investing in.   Here are some of the components...

Now, there may not be snow on the ground but there is frost in the ground, so perhaps this was not the best time to approach this task............however, my determined husband (St. John as I call him) did not let 5 or 6 inches of frost deter him.  The first piece we needed to install was the base pole with auger.  Several buckets of hot water, a pipe for drilling a hole and a sledge hammer and lots of muscle later and the base pole was in the ground 12" down.  Next John had to install the stabilizer...

Again.... lots of hot water and eventually, we were stabilized.  From there you have several options, depending on how high you want the pole and what accessories you want to add.  We opted for a 4 foot additional pole, a double decorative arm, a finial for the top, a decorative branch and a bracket to attach a suet cake.  Once the pole  and stabilizer was in the ground, the rest of the assembly was easy peasy!    This is what the top half of the feeder looked like....

As you can see from this photo, these aren't your typical feeders.  Nope, and my bird friends seem to like some variety in their dining room.  Let me talk a little about how I made these feeders.  My mom actually inspired me when she bought a teapot at Marshall's Homegoods.  She glued the lid to the top of the opening and voila.....the feeder is hung from the teapot handle.

Using this principle, there's no end to the possibilities.   For example, take this sugar bowl.....glue the lid in place using the appropriate glue (I used E6000), wait overnight for the glue to dry, fill with seed and hang from the handle!

Again with another teapot.....under $10.....

For another option, again with inexpensive china from discount stores, glue a cup and saucer together and presto.....a cup full of seed and a nice little place for the birds to sit and dine in style.

Once I had all these nifty new feeders, I quickly realized I needed more places to hang them.  So back to Wilton we went and purchased another double crook arm and a little accessory feeder cup and roof.  Here's a look at the complete set-up today.......with all the parts labeled.

The decorative branch arm is a cute resting place for birds to perch while waiting for their turn at the feeders as well as a close spot for sitting and opening a seed.

Yes....there's one empty hanger for the pretty glass feeder that's coming in the mail tomorrow ;)  .
For the more impatient diners, I have two large feeders, one tray type and one hopper type in another area of my yard where I'm less concerned about the mess that results from big feeders thanks to those birds that prefer to 'scatter' the seed to be sure there's nothing better hiding in the feeder.  Here we serve safflower seed, mostly because the birds love it and the squirrels do not, although last winter they did get desperate enough to eat it.  In these specialized feeders we use sunflower hearts for two reasons, the birds love it and there's no waste or mess.   As you can imagine, these specialty feeders need to be refilled almost daily.  We also have a heated bird bath, a very important addition to your winter offerings.

What's so nice about this system is the versatility.   Every piece is able to be adjusted according to your needs and your feeders.  Extra sections of the pole are available in various lengths.  In fact, just look at all the pieces you can buy...

The baffle you see in the photo above, the one we purchased, is actually a squirrel and racoon baffle.   Handy for those folks living where raccoons are regular visitors, but also very effective against our pesty squirrels.  The pole and accessories are powder coated, making them rust resistant.  The poles are strong and the stabilizer makes this system very sturdy from tipping in wind or wet soil.  A big investment, but so worthwhile for the serious bird enthusiast!

If you are not able to feed the birds yourself, you can still have the pleasure of birdwatching.  Check out the Cornell Lab of Ornithology feeder cam using this link:  http://cams.allaboutbirds.org/channel/40/Cornell_Lab_FeederWatch/
This camera is hosted by Wild Birds Unlimited and is located at Sapsucker Woods in Ithaca, NY.
Or you can watch the live cam in Ontario, also an active and fun location using this link:
Great entertainment where you have the pleasure of viewing and hearing all kinds of birds at the feeding station there.  The other day while we were at WBU, we got to see Pine Siskins, Evening Grossbeaks and many other varieties of birds.  

Make a trip to Wilton to Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop for all your birding needs!  They are located at 3084 Route 50, Suite 1 (next to TJ Maxx).    And next time you're in the dollar store or Homegoods, pick up a pretty piece of china and brighten up your bird feeding station.  It may or may not keep the guests happy and cordial!

Sometimes the chickadees even go inside the pot where they can just sit, protected from predators and eat to their heart's content!  This little finch wasn't quite that comfortable yet.

For more information on Wild Birds Unlimited, check out their website and Facebook using the links provided below!

Thanks for reading and come back soon to Life As I See It.
As with all my blog posts, this post was not a paid advertisement and I did not receive any compensation for featuring this store or it's products.  I am just sharing a product and place I feel is worthy of some notice!
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