DIY, making do, small town life

How We Work With What We Have:
Our Makeshift Life at the Dream House



This fireplace is a perfect example of how Mr. and Mr. Blandings make the best of what we have. We haven’t been able to get the fireplace inspected due to all the snow and cold so we’re not able to build a proper fire yet. Still, that dark boxy hole in the wall is just begging for some flames! Thank goodness for cheap IKEA candles and a cordless drill.

The fireplace already had three white birch logs sitting on a metal grate. Into those logs I drilled a series of indentations for tea lights. And even that was a test in working with what I have! My tool shop is a bit limited and when I pulled out all of my drill bits, the largest was 1″. I would need a drill bit that’s more like 2″ to accommodate the size of the tea lights. I grunted and grumbled and then I decided to work it out. I used the 1″ drill bit to drill about two inches into the log. And then I moved the drill bit over a little and drilled down again. I did this a few times until I had created enough space for the tea light. Is it really polished and professional looking? No. Did it work? Yes! When I get a larger drill bit, I’ll flip the logs over and re-drill the placement for the tea lights. And then when we get the fireplace inspected, I’ll burn the logs!


To add even more light to the fireplace, I also drilled holes for taper candles in a couple of logs, added candles to a brick I found near the woodpile and added a couple of other candles (including one scented) for good measure. I was able to use my 3/4″ drill bit for the taper candles, which created the perfect hole for the candles to stand upright in the logs. Three more tapers stood perfectly in the holes in the middle of the brick.

The faux fire is just one of the ways we’re working with what we have. There’s also food.


Our food options at the Dream House are much different than at the city apartment. When we’re faced with a bare pantry at the house, there’s no option for ordering delivery. (How I miss Grubhub when I’m at the Dream House!) This has meant a lot of creative meal prep. This past weekend I was able to stretch the little bit of food that was in the freezer and refrigerator and we ate like kings. There was the breakfast that consisted of eggs (farm fresh – thanks Karla!) and leftover sausage from dinner two nights before. And then there were the grilled cheese sandwiches that I dressed up with a vegetable hash – diced carrots, mushrooms and celery that was sauteed before going on the sandwich.  

Working with what you have doesn’t have to be bland or ugly, that’s always been my motto. And now I’m happy to apply that sensibility to the Dream House.

— J. Blandings

Images: Mr. and Mr. Blandings

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