"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china." Charles Dickens

April 9, 2011

Mud Happens

I may have said this before but magazine shoots are not reality. Well, perhaps in some homes, or maybe even for a few days, hours or minutes. How do I know this? Because I've styled shots for photographs for magazine articles for which I have also written and sometimes photographed. I've also been in homes where I had to rearrange a pantry or assist with styling a museum shot for photographers until it was just right for the shot. [It's actually more fun than playing house.]

No "props" were harmed in the unstyling of this photograph!

I collect a lot of stuff that also doubles as "props" for photos (at least that is how I've justified occasional eBay and antique mall forays!) and I've used them in my own homes and at other locations. Interior design magazines, like their fashion counterparts, can be so beguiling and delightful to read but they give us a stage of images on which to convey our dreams or from which to find ideas, even frustrations or inadequacies. Mostly, like the emaciated models we see in many magazines or the crazy couture that they wear, it is pure and utter Fantasyland.

Our mudroom after being emptied of 1,000 pairs of boots, shoes and what not.

Case in point: my mud room at the doublewide. I have used many props in this room, and backdrops, for a recent laundry article I wrote for Old-House Interiors. It is with new meaning that "mud room" has been realized here in Kentucky!

Mudroom contents on the porch.
I am (clearly) not the world's greatest housekeeper. This mud room has suffered from benign neglect for the past several months. At some point, when you know the mud will just come in the door again, it becomes a frustrating exercise to keep up. There are days that I wish I were more of a manic housewife but I'm not. On my death bed will I look back and mourn that I have not been as tidy as I might be? Probably not. Sure, there are many great, and probably quite valid, arguments for being tidy and organized and all of that stuff. But I can give you just as many reasons not to: a) it's boring (well, not sorting a cupboard––I love that!); b) I could be reading or writing or cooking instead; c) it can seem a futile exercise. But my number one excuse? If I can't do something right, I won't do it at all or I procrastinate until we have company. Even then, I have to do it properly. Perfectionism creeps out in the weirdest ways sometimes.

A pile of old tablecloths and aprons on route to the cottage––I swear I didn't style this shot!

If you are ever wondering while reading this blog, or other blogs on the internet––especially some homemaker or interior design blogs––if life is always as perfect as it might seem in photos or the details and minutiae of a person's life, well, I'm here to tell you that it's not. I could show you "after" photos of the mud room once it is clean and shiny, but I'll save those for the magazines.

Mud happens and I'm here to tell you that S@#T happens too, especially on a farm. Just remember, if you can, to please wipe your feet at the door.

You come back when you're ready!



  1. Kudos to you for making this post so "real"!!!
    Now I don't feel so bad - ha!

    I, too, usually procrastinate until company is coming....by the time they arrive I am too exhausted to enjoy them!

  2. Have a soft spot for all things mud related!!! (Tickled this falls under "Mayhem".)

    My mud room looks much the same way only smaller.


  3. Sherry, I try to be as real as possible and I realize that the blog can be like a finely tuned scrapbook, especially in the pictorial sense. So a bit of dirt once in a while is good: I take comfort in the reality that people on farms, because they are exposed to so much of it, are generally healthier!

    Mud-E, yes, I didn't realize as I was writing this that the mud aspect would appeal. However, I knew that the mayhem would! More mayhem, yes!?

  4. PS The mudroom is what sold me on the doublewide! However, it seems smaller than it appears in the photo for some reason. Maybe now that it is clean and tidy, it looks bigger again in real life.


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