An Outdoor Oasis


There is nothing more relaxing than a long, hot soak in a tub full of bubbles. Soaking is a stress reliever on so many levels, be it a hectic mind-bending day at work or to soothe tired muscles after a day of back-breaking labor. With warmer weather here, it is time again to enjoy our outdoor oasis. 

For me the biggest downfall of purchasing the mini “money pit” in 2003, was the horribly uncomfortable, extremely shallow, 1950s bathtub in our tiny one-bathroom house. It wasn’t feasible to pull out the old tub and put in a new one that was suitable for soaking. The room was just too small and, years later, when the old tub did come out, a new walk-in shower went in its place, because we also enjoy long HOT showers in my house.

We did have big plans, but as often happens when you have a farm, other things come first and we just couldn’t find the time or the money to make those plans a reality. Maybe someday, there is always hope.

One of our plans included the purchase of an old 1904 claw foot cast iron tub. Friends helped us repaint and seal the outside of the tub to look like new. The inside of the tub was in very good shape, considering when we bought it the owners were using it as a horse trough.

Sadly, our plans got waylaid year after year. For six years, the tub sat unused in my laundry room because we weren’t ready for the added expense of a remodel to add a second bath.

Then a few years ago, my husband and I formulated a wonderfully creative solution. After seeing examples of tastefully done outdoor tubs on Pinterest, we decided we could create an outdoor oasis of our own. There are many advantages to living on 32 acres in the country, on a dead-end road, privacy is just one. Finally, we had a use for the beautiful old tub. I was over the moon about it.

We had dismantled our old pump house in the backyard earlier, as we are now on “city” water. The pump house foundation had a concrete floor and was conveniently located next to our newly installed deck that faces the upward slope and woods of our mountain. The concrete pad, 8′ by 6′, was the perfect size for the old tub. I tiled the pad using miscellaneous ceramic tile, left over from previous tile projects. We then put the tub in place. Along a half wall of concrete block, I used a recycled brick to build a fire pit alongside the tub for added warmth and ambiance.

In the summer we plant a screen of corn, so it serves a double purpose, corn for the grill and an extra layer of privacy to our little oasis. The plumbing is in place, so no longer do we have to cart water from inside to out, or heat water over the fire. Life is good.

Once we had it set up, I laughingly told Andy, my husband, “Our marriage would have been much better if we had done this 10 years ago.” Never being a “soaker” he just didn’t get it, until one night when his back ached and his muscles hurt, so I suggested a long hot soak in an Epsom salt bath. Now he gets it, and more often than not, it’s him you will find soaking in the bath. My hubby may not fully understand the therapy of bubbles yet, but he’s coming around.

While the mini money pit is still a work in progress, we are happy to have our little outdoor oasis to take away the stresses of the day.

The tub also serves double duty, when we barbecue we fill the tub with ice and drinks. Now, that is definitely something my hubby can appreciate.

Soaking away my cares, until next time.


This post was originally posted in 2013, but has been updated with new information.

Quality products are hard to find

It seems quality products get harder and harder to find. This is the age of “As Seen on TV” ads that tout wonderful products with amazing features only to find cheap products that never live up to their hype. So, when I find something of true quality I like to let others know about it.

As many of you know, we live in an 80 year old country house on a farm near Knoxville. “The Little Money Pit” as I like to call it is always involved in some type of home improvement project. We have been in the house 11 years now, and when we moved in the fireplace was red brick and made the room look dingy and dark.

My goal was to find a paint that would cover the brick and look good. What I found was Zinsser Perma-White. In 2003 when I first painted the fireplace. It went on smooth and covered the brick with only 2 coats. The difference it made in the room was astounding, bright and open instead of dark and dreary.

Late in December, my husband and I decided it was time to give the room an update. We took down old ceiling tiles, trim, painted walls, trim, and the fireplace. The living room was painted with a beautiful shade of very light sea foam green, and the trim was painted kelly green, the wall next to the fireplace will be a plum color. (I will post the completed revamp once the room is complete.)

Fireplace now and before painting

The original look was very dark, on both the brick and walls, no longer! 

My family will tell you I am very frugal. I save things and recycle when I can. I have been known to repurpose a thing or two. So it wasn’t a surprise to me to find that I still had the original can of Zinsser Perma-White that I painted the fireplace with 11 years ago.

What was a surprise was that the paint was still good! After 11 years! I repainted the fireplace tonight, and it looks amazing. I can’t believe it. The paint held up wonderfully over the last 11 years; there were a few places where dark purple candles had melted on the mantle. The Zinsser Perma-White covered it in one coat!

If you have ever tried to paint over where a waxy mess has been you know that is a BIG DEAL because even when you think all the wax is gone, the residue it leaves behind will keep the paint from sticking to that spot.

So this blog is dedicated to an amazing quality product, and no Zinsser doesn’t even know I bought their product 11 years ago. So there is no kickback involved, just an honest review of a product that really works, even 11 years later.

So if you are getting ready to paint and you need a paint that will last and cover, spend the extra and get the Zinsser.

O Christmas Tree…

By Charmin Foth

After two weeks of having my tree up with only lights on it, I have finally gone into the depths of the root cellar of this old house to carefully pull out the foot locker full of ornaments to adorn my tree.

The day after Thanksgiving marked the 26th Annual Fantasy of Trees, a fundraiser for the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. It is a veritable winter wonderland of all things Christmas, especially the trees. With over 300 trees beautifully decorated by companies and designers from all over Knoxville up for adoption, it is enough to give any one tree envy. There are so many beautiful trees decorated with themes, and color coordinated to match any decor.

I know why they call it Fantasy of Trees. Every year I think, “Oh, look at that one, I would love that tree,” or, “Wouldn’t that be beautiful in our living room?”

But when I go home and start to set up the tree and begin to pull out all of my ornaments I look at my tree in a whole new light. My Christmas tree becomes a portal into the past. Each decoration reminds me of something or someone special.

I have photo ornaments of the first years of my relationship with my husband. When I hang those on the tree I remember the excitement of our relationship as it was just beginning to bud into something amazing.

I have ornaments from when we were stationed in Germany for three years, and all the places I had the opportunity to travel during that time. I have one of the bridge houses in Bad Kreuznach where we lived, one for each year we were there.

I have tiny wooden shoes from Holland, hand painted pottery bells from Poland, hand painted, hand blown glass ornaments from the Czech Republic, a tiny Eiffel Tower from Paris, France and a little 2000 from being there for the Millennium fireworks in Paris on New Year’s Eve. I have a miniature coo-coo clock from the Black Forest in Germany.

I also have ornaments from friends and they remind me that friends are precious things, never to be forgotten.

So I may not have the designer, color coordinated tree, with all the fancy matching ornaments and the perfect angel on top. My tree may not be a shining artistic example but I have a colorful kaleidescope of memories, carefully hung on branches amid twinkling lights that I would not trade for all the designer trees out there.

Each ornament has a memory that takes me back in time, and gives me the opportunity to reflect and give thanks for the blessings that have passed through my life so far.

I can’t wait to see what new memory I’ll hang on the tree next year.

Merry Christmas!