WELCOME to Functional Rustic! Thanks for Stopping by. Reward yourself by seeing all that Functional Rustic has to offer. Explore Handmade Rustic Decor in the Store, Try a DIY Tutorial, Read Inspirational Quotes & Visit the Muscovy Ducks. So much to experience!
Every morning I wake up, grab some coffee and head out to the barn to let the ducks out and watch the sunrise. It is a truly magical way to start each day. I still can’t believe that I am fortunate enough to be able to experience this beauty every single day.
In the rush of day to day life it is easy to forget to appreciate what is around me. The beauty of nature, the ingenuity of humans and how both intertwine to form the world we live in. There is so much to appreciate.
When I lived in the suburbs I dreamed of living in the country. I wanted a quiet place in the middle of the woods away from the hustle, bustle and noise that accompanies life.
Circumstances presented themselves that I was provided the opportunity to start my Happily Ever After life in my thirties. Only as they were reaching retirement were my parents able to follow their dream to live in the country.
The fact that I get to start my life off in my dream environment instead of working my whole life to earn it is humbling. I feel obligated to earn the privilege of living here. I have everything I could ever ask for laying before me – the possibilities are endless.
I pledge to maintain and improve the extensive ecosystem that calls my property home. I will approach each homestead project with enthusiasm because its a privilege I have that others do not. I will do my part to make better the lives of all the creatures I encounter in the magical world that is Functional Rustic.
Most of all, I will share my good fortune with others.
Since I moved out to Dryden, MI in 2017 I am making a concerted effort to live intentionally as the person I want to be. Part of that process is waking up early and spending the morning with my Muscovy Ducks and Bronze Turkey.
A bright perk of being up early is being able to actually watch the sunrise. Living in suburbia, even if I wanted to wake up with the sunrise the view was ‘eh’. Functional Rustic is anything but ‘eh’.
Being in nature is therapeutic. The therapeutic aspect is a key reason I wanted to implement an outside daily routine. I guess going to and working in the barn are outdoorsy but the barn isn’t nature.
I know that I’m a creature of habit. My old habit was laying on the couch to ensure it didn’t run away. My old habit was making sure that cable companies did not go out of business from lack of viewership.
If being in nature is going to be my new goal I need some re-enforcement to maintain the new habit. That is when I started filming the sunrise. I am watching it anyway.
More importantly, on days when I am in a rush to get in and out of the barn for whatever reason, it is really easy to not take a minute to absorb the beauty around me.
To force me to take a moment to smell the flowers, so to speak, I take minute long videos and upload them on social media every day. I made enjoying nature a part of my daily routine and built in accountability by promising to continue sharing the experience with others each day.
Even when I am in a rush, spending 60 seconds every morning to document the wonderous sights around me is now a habit instead of a goal. Recording the video enables me to put an actual time on it. I am guaranteed at least one minute of peace a day.
Now that I have a new blog platform on which to share my story I will share those videos here as well. I already upload all my videos to YouTube each week but, daily sunrises deserve to be enjoyed daily not weekly.
I am still working on how best to present the videos and what time of day is most effective to publish them. I have a lot of ideas coming together at the same time (very, very exciting!) and as they are implemented I am learning how best to adjust my time management.
Below you can watch the videos from the past two weeks. Please let me know what you think and if you have any special requests for the kinds of videos you want to see.
Originally published February 26, 2018. Updated July 31, 2018.
I started my own business, and I have no idea what I’m doing.
I started my own business, and I have no idea what I’m doing.
Yep — that pretty much sums up the thoughts in my head right now. This blog is intended to be my place to share my journey as I intentionally repurpose my life — build my dreams out of what is in front of me. This is my diary.
That’s pretty messed up. I realize that I am about to base my livelihood on the personal blogging concept, but a diary used to be the place that we kept our secrets and our most private thoughts and fears. A personal place that we put tiny locks on to keep others out. Now, it’s a potential revenue stream.
My initial reaction to the concept is of disgust. The vanity of our generation to think that our personal struggles and day-to-day lives are not only of interest but also of value to others. It’s a very self-centered approach to life.
(Considering the purpose of my business is to motivate, inspire and teach — I’m off to a very questionable start.)
Last year I made a conscious choice to repurpose my life — to build my dreams with what is in front of me. It sounds so cliché or like one of the quotes I pin to Pinterest each day — but it’s true.
I decided who I wanted to be and started acting like her.
I envied people on Pinterest or Etsy that took a pallet and created something cool out of it. Or just had a problem and found a crafty fun solution. I wanted to be them — have their skill and creativity.
So, I started telling people I do wood working and repurposing projects. It wasn’t a lie — technically I had built things out of wood before and over the years I have repurposed many items around the house. There is a lot more to the story — but in short, because I told people I did DIY projects I then felt obligated to at least try to DIY something.
Now, at this time in my life I’m an emotional wreck. Trying to sell a house (that apparently had mold that needed remediation), buying a house, moving an hour into rural Michigan, Being responsible for 10 acres of land, feeling displaced by the new surroundings, finding a new career after leaving clinical social work, mourning the death of several friends and continuing to cope with already present anxiety and depressive symptoms.
I was exhausted. My beautiful surroundings got me through it. And finding the pallets and scrap wood the previous owner left behind. (During the tour of the house I mentioned to the sellers that I did wood working — when we bought the house the previous owners not only left all their scrap wood and pallets behind but offered to bring all the left-over wood they had from the barn they were constructing at their new home. They did this expressly because I told them I enjoyed wood working and repurposing pallets. If I hadn’t shared, they wouldn’t have shared.)
I just began building stuff. It wasn’t for any real purpose — just to see if I could. I looked at pictures on Pinterest and tried to replicate them. I failed a lot. But what I ended up with was still really good. I was proud of myself. Considering how I was feeling at the time, being able to feel pride instead of grief or exhaustion was exhilarating. And being able to build housing to protect my ducklings made me feel a sense of security I was lacking after recent unexpected deaths.
Now when I told people that I did woodworking I could show them a picture of something I created. Most people responded the same way I would have just a few months before, “That’s cool — I could never do anything like that. How did you do it? Where do you sell them?”
It was never about impressing others — I only wanted to show myself that I could do it. But when others said that I did something that they couldn’t do — I felt good. It may not be a good thing to say out loud — but I really enjoy being better at something than someone else.
But I wasn’t better than them. I wasn’t doing something that they cannot do. They are no different than I was just a few months before. I’m simply doing something that they haven’t tried yet.
This realization in no way impacted my sense of achievement, but it did make me realize that there are a lot of people out there that could benefit from the empowering feeling of a DIY project.
So now I had a barn full of projects I created, ideas for a DIY blog and a need for a new career. Functional Rustic is born. I could sell the stuff I build and write a tutorial for each item. Buy it or Build it Yourself with Functional Rustic.
It’s a great idea — but I don’t actually know how to build many things. There is no way I can pop out an original DIY tutorial on a consistent enough basis to garner any attention. And, DIY tutorials are helpful but not motivational or particularly eye catching. Needless to say, that thought pattern filled me with self-doubt and killed my inspiration and motivation to build anything. I was paralyzed by the magnitude of what I was going to have to do to accomplish my goal. And I was going to be doing it alone.
To get myself out of the pattern of self-doubt I turned again to Pinterest to read through the collection of quotes I have gathered over the years for just such an occasion. As I’m scrolling I see that almost every single quote has the website for a business on it and a link to their page. So I did the same.
I was feeling optimistic again. I’d taken a very effective coping skill and turned it into not only a means of advertising but also a source of inspiration for others that need a little boost of motivation. Creating quote pins and posting them is how I start my day now. Every. Single Day. Some people get pumped up going for a run or can’t start their day without taking a long shower — motivational quotes is what I utilize to get a good start to my day. I found a way to make something I love, something that I already have at my disposal — into an integral part of my livelihood.
The quotes have me motivated but, I still struggle with the creative aspect of repurposing at times. When that happens I just go for a walk around the yard. The property is stunning so it isn’t difficult to be inspired. The previous owner designed the landscape with great attention to detail. Many of the plants hold medicinal value and the flower beds are always in bloom with various bright colors. The diverse eco-systems she developed encourages diverse populations of birds, butterflies, frogs, deer and other wildlife.
If these sights and experiences inspire me — sharing them with others may inspire them too! The photos and videos also provide a behind the scenes look into where the items I sell are being crafted. If I had to choose between a wooden sign made in a factory or a wooden sign made in a barn shared with ducks and a turkey — I’m going with the barn.
Once again, I took my coping skill of going for a walk in nature into a vital aspect of my personal business.
Now it’s time to spread the word. Weeks of research on SEO’s hashtags, product tags, html codes etc. I’ve read blogs, watched TED Talks and signed up for several social media sites. (In the future I will detail what I did, what worked, what didn’t) The technical aspects are important but are my least favorite part of this process.
(UPDATE: Several months later I now know how to the technical tasks and really enjoy them. The more I understand how it all works the more excited I get to complete it.)
The part of social media I enjoy is the social part. Most of my time on social media platforms is spent looking for other DIY enthusiasts. I compliment them when I appreciate their creativity and ask questions to learn to do it myself. Asking people how they accomplished something makes them feel good — makes them feel respected and knowledgeable.
I know I feel amazing when someone provides genuine feedback on something I created or takes an interest in what I’m doing. Functional Rustic enables me to do that for others as my career. That single interaction is what all this is for.
All the projects, quotes, pictures, videos and stories I share are done so with the express purpose of having a positive impact on an individual — to hopefully spark a lifelong passion or be a catalyst for change in someone’s life. At the very least, I want Functional Rustic to be a pleasant distraction in an otherwise stressful day.
(UPDATE: analytics I have for my website show that most of my visitors come between the hours of 9 and 5. My goal of being a distraction for people during the work day succeeded!)
Each new addition to Functional Rustic is another extension of me — my quotes, my creations, my pictures, my animals (my God this is a very self-centered, egotistical business plan, ha). Until now though, I have been avoiding what makes Functional Rustic truly stand out — Me.
My choice to live intentionally — my failures — my successes — my sense of powerlessness — my self-doubt — my determination — my creativity — my obstacles — my story is Functional Rustic. For that reason — despite my initial feeling of disgust toward personal blogs as a business — I get it now and I support it.
That’s what this blog is all about — the story of I’m building my dreams with what I have in front of me. I’ve repurposed my actions and thoughts to make my dreams a reality. My insecurities are now advertisements. My being distracted by the ducks is now a reason for people to tune in. My failures in creating a project turn in to amusing How Not To stories.
When I am scouring the internet looking for advice on how to do whatever it is that I’m doing — I am drawn to the stories that are personal. I like knowing that someone else felt the same insecurities when they started their own business or felt scared when they tried something completely new. I am inspired by seeing others face their fears or recognize opportunities where they previously only saw obstacles. I thrive on reading of people succeeding despite the odds being against them.
And that is why I’m sharing my story as I build the life I want with what I have in front of me.
I started my own business and I have no idea what I’m doing — and that’s the point.
I am new to the blogging world (ish). At the same time I was getting started with writing a blog the website host I use, GoDaddy, developed a Beta blog program. It was a no brainer to use the blog already featured on the site.
When I first started writing the GoDaddy blog program was more than sufficient for my needs. However, as my blogging and coding skills improve so must the features I want in a blogging platform.
To GoDaddy’s credit, they are constantly making changes that improve the overall blogging experience, but they just haven’t made the changes I need in the time frame I need them.
Mostly, GoDaddy Blog does not allow comments or the ability to embed videos. A large part of what Functional Rustic publishes is DIY tutorial videos. Having to send a blog reader to YouTube in order to experience the visual part of the tutorial is annoying. Also, I want people to come and stay on my website, sending them away defeats the point.
And not allowing comments? I’m trying to build a community of people that share my fondness for learning new things, hanging out with cute animals and seeing the beauty in life. Community is difficult when no one can interact with each other.
Needless to say, I am in the process of transferring my blog posts from GoDaddy to WordPress. Oh yeah, another annoying GoDaddy feature, they do not allow you to electronically transfer your content to a new webhost. For that reason, unless I renew my website hosting with them in October, all the content on www.FunctionalRustic.com is gone.
For that reason, I will be republishing all my previous blog posts from the original Functional Rustic Blog here to the WordPress blog.
New content will still be published regularly but you will be seeing quite a few posts from 2017. I’m looking forward to reading through them though. I shared the techniques for how I planned to build my business and am looking forward to re-reading what I started out doing to see what worked and what didn’t.
As I head off to transfer more content, please enjoy some videos I have EMBEDDED below. 🙂 Feel free to COMMENT on them too. Haha.
Originally published March 2, 2018. Updated July 27, 2018.
The holiday season is over and you probably have gift cards your friends and family generously gifted you. The money may be spent but the card can still be useful. Instead of just throwing that empty gift card into the trash, take a few minutes to create a thoughtful, personalized gift for someone else.
I chose to turn my gift card into a thank you card, but the possibilities are endless for what you can write/draw on it. I’ve recently started making a concerted effort to express gratitude for kind gestures and friendly people I encounter. I try to accomplish this by keeping some sort of handmade thank you token on me, like this repurposed gift card, to give to people that do good deeds.
Imagine how great it would feel if someone handed this to you for simply holding a door open or smiling at them. Great positive re-enforcement! You better believe the person receiving this is more likely to repeat the kind act after being so thoughtfully recognized.
Below you will find an easy to follow tutorial that will teach you how to DIY your own personalized gift.
Repurpose a Gift Card Tutorial
Clean off any residue or dirt that may be on the card. I used dish soap to get what ever sticky substance had found its way onto my card. I think a sucker melted onto mine. Ha.
Set up a work station that has a lot of ventilation. It was particularly windy this day and I learned a very important DIY tip. With the card being so light, it’s important to make sure it is placed somewhere the wind won’t pick it up and fling it across the lawn.
(Ask me how I know, ha.)
Apply your first coat of paint. Notice that the logo still shows through? That’s ok. I freaked out when I saw how little it covered initially. It seemed like the paint was having trouble covering the smooth surface. Don’t worry — more paint does the trick.
Next time I do this project I will sand the front of the card a bit. Perhaps a more rough surface will allow the paint to adhere better. Darker paint wouldn’t hurt either.
Apply your second coat of spray paint. This is said to be “no drip” paint. Well, that’s debatable. I sprayed a heavy coat and because the card was not completely flat I had dripping. NOTE: make sure to do this on a flat surface to minimize dripping.
Apply third coat of spray paint.
Ooooops…..the wind took the card for a ride across the lawn while the third coat was drying.
Apply fourth coat of spray paint.
NOTE: If your card looks great after one or two coats — you can stop adding coats of paint.
Use a paint marker to write whatever message you want. I imagine a permanent marker would work too — but I have a lot of paint markers so I use those.
Flip the card over and repeat the painting steps on the back side of the card.
Only paint the front side of a gift card that has money on it as a way to personalize a cash gift.
Originally published December 9, 2017. Events occurred December 7, 2017 in Dryden, Michigan at Functional Rustic.
The day a deer wearing a bright orange collar stopped by the house is a day I will never forget.
It was a cold Michigan morning and I was getting my day started. It began like any other day at Functional Rustic. The dog and I went to the barn to tend to the ducks and gather the supplies I would need for the day. The tasks ahead could easily be completed in the house where it is warm so I made the decision to move all my pallets and paint to the house.
Same as any other day, as I approach the house I instinctively look over my shoulder to check on the dog. This time however — it was not the dog at my heals sniffing the back of my coat. It was a deer — with a bright orange collar. As if the fact it was wearing a collar was not an indication enough to not shoot, the collar had “DON’T SHOOT” written on it. Ha Ha.
I knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity so I got the camera rolling. Initially I tried to keep my distance — collar or not it is still a wild animal. It was a very cute and very friendly wild animal though. He kept nudging at my hands but ignored any food or water offered.
I wanted someone else to witness this too so I tried to coax it toward the neighbors yard. Either the neighbor gets to experience the miracle of playing with the yearling buck or they can be there to help me if it knocks me out.
Soon enough the neighbor arrived — full hunting apparel and gear — from the woods. I wave him over and proclaim, “Look, I got one!” He too is amazed and perplexed by what we see.
When the Deer with a Collar first arrived I rushed the dog into the house. By this time though, the dog was going nuts wanting to come out and play and the Deer with a Collar kept trying to play with me. Thinking only of how cute it would be and not at all of the risks involved — I let the dog out.
They did a slow sniff meet-and-greet to check each other out. In no time they were in play mode though. Watching it was equal parts awe and fear. The whole experience was surreal.
Below is a short movie of the videos I took the Day a Deer With a Collar Came to Functional Rustic. Enjoy!
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Be bold or italic. Never just regular.
2. People who shine from within don’t need the spotlight.
3. She sparkles like sunshine.
4. Your future begins with your next thought.
5. Fight for the fairy tale. It does exist.
6. Be the type of person that you want to meet.
7. You are the painter of your own mood and your days are only as grey as you allow them to be.
8. Make it your duty to know yourself. To explore all of your dark corners. To uncover every fear and flaw. If you know where you are weakest, then those who wish you harm will find it much harder to hurt you.
9. Watch carefully, the magic occurs when you give a person just enough comfort to be themselves.
10. Talk with people who make you see the world differently.
Originally Published November 23, 2017. Updated 7/25/18.
These past few months raising Muscovy Ducks has been quite an experience. We moved out to Dryden, MI to start the next chapter in our life and our new home came with a great barn. I knew I wanted to start some sort of business with the barn and began researching all the livestock options I could think of. The more I researched the animal options the more I realized that big barn animals have big needs.
Around this time my sister mentioned that Tractor Supply was selling chickens and ducks in batches of 10. I knew I wanted to get the ducks but 10 was way too many. With very little convincing my mom agreed to take 4 and my sister would take 2. Four ducklings for us! Well — we went to town the next weekend and the chicks and ducklings were no longer available. At this point I was determined to raise ducks and felt obligated to provide my family with the ducks I promised.
The next morning I went on craigslist and found an add for ducklings – $7 each. I immediately called them up and we were at the house within an hour. Steve was great — knows a lot about Muscovy ducks. We knew nothing. I didn’t even know what a Muscovy was until we arrived at his house. (I do not recommend this approach to inviting any living creature into your home. Research your animal before you commit to raising it.)
We decided to get five ducklings for us and five ducklings for my mom. The ducklings were only a few weeks old so we had no idea what sex they were. We wanted them for eggs but were so eager to get ducks that day that we chose to risk them being male.
We delivered ducklings to mom and then welcomed our feather babies to their new barn. We used a box to transport the ducklings and they were fine. They did poop a lot though so the car smelled pretty bad by the time we got home.
We chose to keep them in the horse stall with the rubber mat flooring and added our own straw. The stall is 10 ft x 10 ft with floor to ceiling doors that open to the outside. The perfect space to set up a pool, food and heat light for the ducklings.
Every morning I would wake up early and open up the door so they could get fresh air. We set up a board so they couldn’t leave the stall but they still got all the sunlight.
My life soon revolved around the ducks — and I loved it! I gave them fresh water in their pool in the morning and spent hours coaxing them in and out of the water. I was quite proud of the ramp set up I came up with spare plastic shelving.
In time we moved the ducklings to the stall next door. The new stall was centrally located so it was safer from large predators. Also, the floor was already covered in wood shavings so we didn’t need to provide straw.
In just a few short weeks the ducklings grew fast. They learned to swim right away and picked up hunting as soon as they were big enough to fit the bug in their mouth. I was so proud the first time I saw one eat a spider.
According to the Muscovy Duck guides I read online — Muscovy ducks are avid hunters and when full grown they can eat prey as large as a mouse or small fish. I know for a fact they eat small frogs! They also did an amazing job removing the spiders and mosquitos from the barn.
Within a week of having the ducklings I was getting up with sun and heading out to the barn to tend to the ducks. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I adapted to the new early morning schedule I established for the ducks. No alarm needed – I just pop out of bed excited to see my feather babies!
Muscovy ducks need water to swallow their food. It is vital that if you decide to raise Muscovy ducks you always have a source of water available near their food. The ducks put the dry food in their mouth, take a sip of water and then swallow. This approach of course causes half the food to fall out into the pool – but it just gives them something to dive for later! Ha.
When it came to change the pool water I dumped the water in an area the ducks spend time so they can play in the puddle and eat the food that was spilled. Also, when the ground gets soaked by the pool water grubs and bugs come out of the ground and provide food for the ducks.
As they got bigger I was able to move the pool to a fenced area just off the back of the barn. The new fenced in area allowed the ducks more room to explore but still kept them protected near the barn. Hawks circle the property and I was terrified our little birds would get attacked.
While most ducks are known for their quacking — Muscovy ducks do not quack at all. Instead, the Muscovy ducks communicate mostly with body language and heavy breathing noises. I just can’t get enough of watching their butts wiggle and listening to them huff and puff.
One morning the dog and I head to the barn to start the day — same as we had every day before. I slide open the door to the stall and my heart sank. I actually screamed and even the dog looked shocked.
The ducks were dead. Slaughtered. Not eaten — just killed.
In tears I ran to the house to wake my husband and tell him what happened. We were devastated. It was our job to keep them safe. We thought the stall was the best duck house ever. We were in complete shock.
After hours of research online we determined it was a weasel that got them. Vicious creatures. Apparently they can fit into any space a mouse can fit. I even found the tiny hole in the floor that the weasel entered through. I had no idea that I needed to protect against weasels.
We held a memorial service for the ducklings and buried them in the yard. We were heartbroken. Devastated. Still are. Even writing about this is stirring up feelings I would rather not remember. Those little ducks were only with us for a month but will remain in our hearts forever.
Although their death was traumatizing — I was determined not to let it deter me from continuing to have Muscovy Ducks in my life. I had fallen in love.
The next day we called up Steve and got 6 more ducklings — the Muscovy Ducks of Functional Rustic! (Our bronze turkey came shortly after that.)
Muscovy Ducks and Bronze Turkey of Functional Rustic
Muscovy Ducks Exploring the Yard
Newborn Muscovy Ducklings of Functional Rustic.
Newborn Muscovy Ducklings of Functional Rustic.
Muscovy Ducks Exploring the Yard
Stay tuned to Functional Rustic for the latest on the Muscovy Ducks and Bronze Turkey of Functional Rustic.