This week we are asked to describe our dream house.

When I was a kid, I actually drew plans for my dream house. As I recall, it consisted of a lot of bedrooms and bathrooms,(I never had my own room and we always fought over one bathroom), and it had STORAGE.

I was always insecure and wanted to keep everything. In that dream house, I had rooms of cabinets and even deep containers built into the middle of the room where things could be placed and found.

Finding things is still a problem in my house.

Now I don’t feel the need to keep everything. And although I would like a bigger house with room for everyone and everything, I am seriously considering downsizing.

But we are talking dream homes. OK, here goes:

I want a really good kitchen. I have suffered through having a really small one with a really small oven for 23 years and it’s been a real trial for me. I want multiple ovens, two big refrigerators and a large, built-in dishwasher. I did not want to sacrifice cabinet space to have one put in when I moved into my present house, but the portable ones we’ve bought have tied-up the kitchen at least once a day for an hour and it is really annoying. I should have sacrificed the cabinets, though, since they were put in badly and have blind corners that are really hard to reach. I just had The Grandson pull most of what was in the bottom ones out so I could take stock; you would not believe how much old stuff I found in the ‘dead end’ corners of the upper ones. So, I want easy-access cabinets, too, with shelves that glide out easily. It needs to have a large table and open up into a ‘family room’, and probably a screened-in patio.

I’d like a big bedroom with a sitting/study area. I am also spoiled with en suite bathrooms, but I also want one with a big bathtub. I have hardly used the one I now have; it’s small and annoying.

I’d like a few spare rooms for family and friends, with sufficient baths as well, perhaps on the opposite side of the house from mine. I want some privacy and I don’t want to hear them getting up, conversing, listening to media, etc., as I have to now.

Plus, I want many closets! We have pathetic closet space here. When the realtor who bought my townhouse listed what he expected me to leave, (fridge, stove, etc.), he listed the walk-in closet in my bedroom(!) and I often mutter under my breath that I should have tried to bring it with me.

I’d like my library back. Yes, I had one in what was built as a den here. In fact, we had it as a classroom when I homeschooled, but since no one in Kentucky would sit on my daybed, when someone offered me a sofa bed I jumped at it and put the daybed in the library, which meant that I needed to move some of the bookshelves into the living room. I’ve regretted that, too. I suppose I want an office off of the library, but somewhere that is quiet with a view .

I guess it comes as no surprise to anyone that all of we Foxes and the Hound want to include a library in our dream homes.

I’d like a music room, (since the piano ended up in the ‘library’ as well), I’d like a game room, a craft/sewing room and probably a small theater, since we enjoy our movies. I almost never go to the theater anymore.(Not since the last Harry Potter movie. I even skipped going out to see the last of the “Pirates of the Caribbean”.)

And I’d like all of this on one floor, with a nice yard with flowers and trees, gardener included. (My mother once pointed out a very nice, very big house. I said, “I’d hate to have to clean it.” Mom answered, “If you can afford a house like that, you can afford help”. )

I want this in a place that is temperate, (five months of Spring, five of Autumn, one of Winter, one of Summer would be great), and I want a nice view, preferably on or near water.

Hey, you asked for my DREAM home, didn’t you?

Posted in big plans, Daily life, Family, hobbies, Lists, Tonette Joyce, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

My Dream House

If Money Was No Object

By Jeff Salter

Gosh, I’ve never done ANYthing where money was no object. Let me see.

The complex would be set away from the nearest road, but still visible from that surface. [If I have to call 9-1-1, I want them to be able to locate us.]

It will be surrounded by a handsome lawn with trees on the north side [passive solar orientation].

Around the “yard” itself would be a few acres of trees on at least two sides, and a few acres of meadows. I don’t really care what’s growing on the meadows, but I don’t want corn because it leaves that ugly stubble.

There could be neighbors, but not close enough that I can hear their music or conversations.

In my living complex, there would be no stairs — just gentle ramps to connect the upper and lower levels for those portions of the complex which have more than one level.


This is not MY modular house, but it conveys the notion. However, mine would need at least two more “wings” like this, so just imagine a larger central hub with four or five (or six) of the extensions from that center.

Design would be modular, so people could find peace and quiet even if there was a crowd present. But each module has an intercom so others can easily be alerted if there’s a problem or special need.

The bi-level modules would be connected by elevated and screened breezeways, which would be climate controlled in the winter with storm windows. Of course, you could also reach each module by covered and screened walkways at ground level, but sometimes I don’t feel like going outside, so I’d have my elevated breezeways. The single-story modules would also have covered and screened walkways, so you could move from one to the other without changing into street clothes.

There’s at least one large central room which could hold a sizeable gathering. The kitchen and dining area would be synced to the module with this large central space.

The module which has the main bedroom will, of course, also have a full bath, a small kitchen, and be very close to my writing study (which will be its own small module as a sort of satellite from the master BR). That way, if I want a sip of juice but I’m in my skivvies, I can get it from the small kitchen…and not have to disturb (or alarm) whatever visitors are in the main module with the full kitchen, etc.

Each other bedroom would have its own bathroom, but not every bathroom would include a tub (some would have shower stalls only).

There’s a module which is my personal library, with floor-to-ceiling shelves and those sliding ladder things. Plus some comfy seats for reading. It will require a bit of expensive magic, perhaps, but this library space will also connect directly to my study… though not be “part” of my study. [In other words, if somebody else is using the library space, their presence would not disturb my writing concentration.] Since this is all just make-believe anyhow, we’ll just pretend my study can be both isolated AND connected to two other modules.

There’s a module for my collection of military uniforms and gear from four different war eras. This is a combination of plentiful storage areas and display areas… for small tours (such as classroom sized groups).

There’s a module for my wife’s various crafts, along with PLENTY of storage — some visible (like shelves) and some not visible (like a wall-full of closets).

In one of the modules is a “home theater” space where we can watch movies (streaming or DVD)… since I don’t go to theaters any more.

Behind the modular complex is a large barn-looking facility. Upstairs are spaces for studios or studies or spill-over bedrooms. Downstairs is climate controlled storage on one side, while the other side has spaces for the mower, golf cart, and Arctic Cat four-passenger ATV. [The groundskeeper also maintains all the vehicles.]

One module garages the primary “road” vehicles, and (since money is no object in this fantasy) I’m getting a brand new pickup truck and my wife gets a brand new SUV.

Since I like a variety of architectural styles, I think I’d need one of the two story modules to be Victorian, and one to be rustic tree-house. For the single story modules: one might be “cabin-style” and perhaps one could be Colonial. I’ve always wanted to live in a castle, so maybe one has those features. I’d let my wife pick out the other styles to use.

Depending on the orientation of the modules, I’d want a spacious covered and screened porch which I could use in the mornings without the sun in my face. And I’d want another screened and covered porch or deck from which I could watch the evening sunsets. Well, basically, I’d want a covered and screened porch on all four main points of the compass.

There would be plenty of parking area, for when friends are over, without anybody having to park on the grass.

There would be an outdoor area for campfires and nearby would be a patio where (in pleasant weather) we could dine outdoors.

The infrastructure would be powered by a combination of solar and wind generators, as well as sufficient electric to run everything if the solar and wind systems were ever compromised. A sizeable back-up generator system would fully supply our power needs when the electricity is down. Several systems would have redundant components of either natural gas or propane, in case everything else is down.

There would be a fully equipped storm cellar with its own HVAC and water supply.

This complex would feature a full time groundskeeper but I wouldn’t have to talk to him/her unless I wanted to. Just do the work, draw a nice salary (from this “unlimited” funding source I’ve tapped into) and leave me alone. This will be a friendly soul, but NOT an intrusive chatterbox.

The complex would feature a full-time housekeeper, but I wouldn’t have to talk to her/him unless I wanted to. Just do the work, draw a nice salary, and leave me alone. [See above for the ratio of “friendly” to “chatterbox”.]

The complex would feature a full-time cook, but I wouldn’t have to talk to her/him unless I wanted to. Just do the work, draw a nice salary, and leave me alone. [See above.]

Yeah, I know… nobody wants to look at a modular complex where each module has a different architectural style. But since nobody’s planning to give me the millions necessary to build this complex, it’s all just a dream anyhow. Right?

Posted in big plans, Jeff Salter, Uncategorized | Tagged | 10 Comments

Dream Home in the Country

Dream homes, everyone has one and they’re all different. Even here in my house you will get four different answers. Jessica wants a huge library (which is actually something that we all agree on) and a bay windowin her room. She doesn’t seem to care about anything else in the home as long as she can have her flower garden. Quinlan’s would be pretty close to a mini castle. He thinks we need at least six bedrooms so we have plenty of space for guests, a theatre room, a finished basement with a game room, and a bay window in his bedroom. Wyatt wouldwant a huge kitchen and a playroom.

My dream home has changed over the years. I used to want a big house with a lot of space but now I would rather have something smaller. I’ll take a three bedroom farm house with a large eat-in kitchen. There’s no need for a dining room, I’d rather have everyone gathered around the kitchen table while I cook or bake. I’d really like to have a double wall oven and a six burner cooktop. I need plenty of cupboard space but with glass doors so it is easier to get in the right cupboard.

Off of the kitchen would be the living room complete with fireplace. In the corner of the living room the stairs leading to the second floor would be tucked behind a door. Where you would discover three bedrooms and a closet with access to the attic.

My favorite room in the house would be off the living room. A library with floor to ceiling bookshelves on three walls. This room wouldn’t be overly large about the size of a closed in porch. The fourth wall would have several windows facing west and a door leading outside to the deck where I would spend many early evenings enjoying the sunset.

The only bathroom in the house would be off the kitchen. There would be a finished basement so we would have a place to go during the stormy season.

This house would sit on forty acres of land. Apple trees would take up two acres, while corn and soy beans would be alternated on twenty. The rest would be pasture for my animals. My sheep and horses. Chickens would be kept closer to the house. I’d love to have a little creek running through my land. 

To me, this is the perfect home. A place where I could really recharge and relax. 

Where would your dream home be located?  






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A Bit of a Fixer Upper

We purchased our house sixteen years ago with no idea that we would be here this long. We looked about fifteen houses and none of them were quite right. Bathrooms were too small—one didn’t have a shower, one has a ceiling so low that my husband couldn’t stand up in it. Kitchens were actually hallways and not just galley kitchens. Our favorite house didn’t even have a kitchen. The house was owned by antique collectors and even the kitchen had been outfitted with a Hoosier cabinet, a butcher block, and an ice box, none of which would come with the house. We couldn’t afford the house and be able to outfit the kitchen with cabinets and appliances.

And then we found our house. Parts of it were built around 1900, and it has been added on to in fits and starts since then. There are at least ten different roof lines. It has hardwood floors and high ceilings throughout. The rooms are large and the windows are big. We have done a lot of work on it. We completely gutted the upstairs and removed plaster and lathe and paneling and carpet. This project had a lot of surprises. When we opened up one of the walls, we discovered that part of the roof was supported on a single two by four. I have since learned to ask my husband what surprise we could find when we embark on a project.

While there are a lot of features I love: the flooring,  the lights, the idiosyncrasies (the hill and valley in the hallway), and the locations, there are some upgrades I wouldn’t mind. I love our small town, but it would be nice to be closer to Lake Michigan and to have a little more land. I don’t think I would like a longer commute for school or groceries or work.

We do have two ‘living rooms.’ One is downstairs and has a couch, a love seat, and a couple rocking chairs. The other is upstairs with another couch and the television. Both of these rooms are great, but it would nice to have a rec room for the kids to build forts in and whatever.


This is how the living room looks quite often. Good luck finding a comfy spot to read a book.

We have a Michigan basement (which basically means the ceiling is low, it’s damp, it’s dirty and you don’t want to keep anything worth saving down there.), so it isn’t a place to hang out. It’d also be nice to have a place to put the exercise equipment. My treadmill has been in the living room and it now in the kitchen. My husband’s spinning bike is in the living room upstairs.

I would also completely update the electrical systems in the house. Much of the wiring is very old and the configuration is very old. One of the bedrooms only has two outlets which isn’t convenient in our electricity dependent age. In the kitchen, we can’t run the microwave and the dishwasher at the same time without the breaker tripping.

And as Patty suggested, self-cleaning!! I have discovered that there are so many things I would rather do than clean my house. Writing, reading, sewing, running, watch the grass grow, watch videos of other people playing video games (I find this exceedingly boring)… the list goes on and on.

So my dream house isn’t much different than my house with a few upgrades.

Posted in Joselyn Vaughn | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Home, Sweet Home

This week, one of the foxes asked us to describe the house of our dreams.

My house

This is my house. No, it’s not a castle, but who wants to live in a huge, drafty place?

I’m pretty happy with the house I live in. It’s big enough that I don’t feel cramped, but not so big that I feel I’m getting exercise walking from one end to the other. It’s located in a nice safe suburb, so each morning I walk on paved roads or sidewalks, but traffic is not a problem. This is what we call a “bedroom community” – people live here, but very few work here.


We LOVE having our kids and grandkids over!

It’s a ranch style house, because my husband insisted he didn’t want to deal with stairs. At the time I protested – it had always been my dream to live in a two-story. But he won that argument, and now that I have bad knees I’m thankful for that. We raised two daughters here, and hubby’s three children and their children all come over to visit from time to time. The yard is big enough for a pool and yard games, but small enough that chasing a toddler is not a chore.

Now as for what I would change about this house if money wasn’t a concern:

craft room

This is what I had in mind when I designed my craft room last year, but mine falls far short of this. I still need to find room for stuff!

First of all, I would make it self-cleaning. Floors, bathrooms, tabletops, countertops, and cupboards would all magically clear themselves of clutter and dust. Or maybe the cleaning fairies could just come and make everything sparkle. While they’re at it, they can finish my long-overdue projects and figure out what to do with all the stuff I’ve accumulated. All my various craft supplies would be magically organized so that I could find what I needed at any given time. I’d have enough table space so that all my various machines could be out and ready to use at a moment’s notice.

TV from dining room

I took this picture while sitting at our kitchen table, aka my desk. It’s hard to concentrate sometimes!

I like to write at the dining room table. Hubby’s not a bad guy, and I like having him around. But he can’t live without his television, which is situated about twelve feet away, because the kitchen/dining room/family room is all one large open space. That blasted TV is on whenever he’s awake. It’s terribly hard to write an emotional scene when he’s watching sports or a cooking show. And it’s hard to put myself in Regency England when he’s watching a noisy sitcom. One of these days I’m going to get him a set of Bluetooth headphones so that he can watch and I can concentrate on what I’m doing. In the meantime, I retreat to a small table in the bedroom when I need to get work done.

The only other change I would make to this house would be to install shelving that’s made to accommodate vertically challenged people like me. I know they make it, because I’ve seen it:

So basically, my dream home is my current home, with just a few modifications. What would your dream home look like?

Posted in What if | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Buy the Way…

Once again, my Free Week has been anything but ‘free’.

The laundry was just getting caught up from awaiting the new washer, when the cold-water spigot for it decided to leak. So backed-up it got again while we waited for the plumber, and then onward to clean sheets!

We have new doctor’s appointments now that The Husband’s back problems have finally decided to make themselves felt, along with other his on-going health concerns, so we have both been going together to his and my doctors’ appointments.(Also on-going.)

Son #1 came back into town after being out west all summer and his pickup got into an altercation with a semi. It could have been so much worse than it was since he was barely hurt, but his truck has $10grand worth of damage. A fellow motorist saw the rig pull out in front of my son and followed the semi until the driver stopped on a ramp to survey the damage to his own truck. The ‘Good Samaritan’ detained the trucker until the police arrived. Then I was on chauffeur duty for several days.

Expecting a cold winter and with it pain, (plus the possibility of neck surgery), I decided to check on our supplies. I had The Grandson take his limited time here to pull everything out of most of the lower cabinets. I found myself stocked with enough canned green beans and beets to last a very long time, not to mention canned pumpkin, along with a number of cans of black olives.

It’s a good thing that people like the recipe I use to make Greek custard pastry, because it calls for lots of cream of wheat and man, I am set up with it for a year, if we also make bots of it for breakfast. I can’t resist the price on the bags at my favorite Indian grocery.

We have quite a number of cans of pineapple, (crushed, tidbits and sliced), plus an abundance of coconut, in forms of dried and squeeze bottles of cream of coconut. (Looks like there will be a number of Island-inspired recipes going on in my kitchen.)
Some of it may be savory, because I also ran across several bottles of rice vinegar. (Asian chicken, here we come!)

I also found several bags of sesame seeds, jars of prepared horseradish, bags of dried cranberries and bottles of raspberry-hazelnut salad dressing. I can see sesame beef with horseradish, or sesame chicken in salads with the dressing and cranberries, but not all of them together.

Hey, maybe I can do a home version of “Chopped”! Anyone game?

At least  I’m ready for the Boy Scouts to come by “Scouting for Food” as they do every November for  local food banks. (They better send big Eagle Scout candidates and not little Tiger Cubs to pick my bags up.)

I’m low on tomato paste and sauce, but if you need any canned whole tomatoes, please come and take some! It seems that I kept thinking I needed sugar, and I guess I purchased flour instead; (even if I bake all winter, I won’t need to buy any.) Speaking of sugar, I wasn’t sure if I had picked up powdered sugar and apparently did so, ‘just in case’, more than once, as well.

I am overloaded with more items and now I can see where I need to stock up on others. (Please, if you see me at the store, don’t let me pick up any more aluminum foil, either!)

And I discovered that I purchased a lot of ‘potty paper’, when I meant to be stocking up a bit on paper towels.

I had a full head of stream for reading and writing, but as you can see, I’ve had my time cut way back. I have been doing interviews in advance and one in a few months is anxious to get her questions, but my research on her is not finished. I also better get at least one more ready, since the authors have already been asked.

I’m writing in my head, so I can’t say I am exactly spinning my wheels. I promised The Grandson’s about-to-be-15-yr-old GF that I would critique and edit more of her writings and I really want to encourage the kids, (even if The Grandson has not let me see his lately!)

I am not the only one, though, who had this feast-or-famine buying attitude the family.

The Husband has purchase many-too-many light bulbs of one wattage, thinking those were the ones we needed, (they were not). I have found incredible amounts of motor oil in our garage, and we have much ‘ice melt’ that we have not used. He buys some every year, “just in case’, but I bet this year he doesn’t, just because I am sure all of it is now in solid lumps in their bags and we are over-due for ice storms.

I have found paper, folders, notebooks and assorted stationery supplies here and there throughout the house. Gathering them all together, we could run a small school!

I am set up to write a lot if I decide to go for it in longhand.

So, tell me, is there anything that you found yourself buying and re-buying without realizing it?

Posted in author's life, Family, free week, helping others, Life, time management, Tonette Joyce, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

How ‘Rescued’ Came to Be

The Origins of My Novel, Rescued By That New Guy In Town

A Bit About My Sixth Completed Novel, Which Was Second to be Published

By Jeff Salter

Last month, for our “free week” topic, I discussed The Ghostess and MISTER Muir — my ninth completed novel, which was the seventh to be published. Most of you, I imagine, are wondering: what difference does it make what order you wrote them in and what order they were published in?

My answer: it probably doesn’t “matter” — but I find it interesting. Much in the way some parents (or grandparents) can endlessly talk about a child’s first smile, first time to turn over, or first halting steps — I enjoy recalling similar things about my literary offspring. So please indulge me while I reminisce.

In the 24 month period from Aug. 2009 to Aug. 2011, I produced four of my twelve completed full-length novels. That was before any of them were published and therefore I was not expending the time and energy now required for “promotion”. I was doing a little networking, but mainly was writing.

I had just completed my fourth and fifth novels — the two screwball comedies in the “Amanda Moore or Less” series (Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold and Scratching the Seven-Month Itch) — and was still enjoying the vein of humor that I had mined.

By that point, I’d spent a couple of years trying to get an agent interested… and I’d spent a couple of years trying to win some notable manuscript contests. One thing that kept coming up was what writers and editors refer to as “head-hopping.” Now head-hopping is something that famous authors can get away with… but upstarts like me are forbidden. I’d had contest judges rip me badly for the shifts in Point of View (POV) within scenes… and other capital crimes. Some beta readers had also chastised me for not reining in my POV shifts.

As a reaction to that criticism — and because none of my first five completed novels yet had any interest from anyone related to the publishing world — I decided to do something radical. It was another cardinal sin: writing in the First Person. And since my story was driven by my heroine, the POV would be that of the young woman.

Among many other insecurities, I wondered if I could even “write women” (as they say). Oh, I’d seen numerous articles in the RWA journal — aimed presumably at female writers — which discussed how / when / why they might (or might not) write convincingly from the man’s POV. Naturally, I assumed the converse would be true: that it required some special pixie dust to enable a male author to convincingly write in a woman’s voice.

So I decided to try. I told myself that I’d give it 20,000 words. If it simply was not working… I figured I could go back and overhaul those 20k words into the traditional third person handling: he said, she said, etc. Then finish the story the “regular” way.

Well, by the time I’d produced several chapters, I found it did not seem strange or strained to view the world through the eyes of a beleaguered female. Lord knows, I’d worked daily with beleaguered females in the public library business for nearly 30 years. As much as any man can, I felt I pretty well understood not only many of their concerns, but some of their thought processes and approaches to problem solving.

So I moved forward.

I’m telling this slightly out of order, folks, because I came up with the novel’s concept before I had the above discussion (about POV) in my head.

The story’s basics were conceived as I lay in bed partly awake, around 7-something a.m. on Oct. 20, 2010. They were fleshed-out later that morning in about 7 pages of notes. What was swirling in my noggin was a story about someone who finds herself confined in a dark space and (initially) can’t recall where she is or how she got there. Among the several things she discovers is that she’s wearing a witch costume! Eventually she remembers it was for the county-wide Halloween festival… but that provides no help in getting her out of the wooden “cage.”

Eventually, this smoothed out to the following hook:  She awakens in a witch costume behind wooden bars in a large dark space and her only aid comes from an apparently un-interested guy dressed as a Pirate.

My earliest tentative title (which, thankfully, I later dumped) was:  Get Out of Jail Free

I wrote this note near the top of that first page: [Try first person POV … maybe that will shut up the contest cretins.]

Approximately nine weeks later, I had completed the first draft, which weighed in at 73,900 words. [The version finally published two years later was about 75,900 words.]

And that’s the story of my sixth novel.



Kris can’t dodge this community service but she’ll definitely sidestep her mysterious court-appointed work partner, Ryan Hazzard — even though he previously rescued her.



When Kris awakens in a witch costume, behind wooden bars inside a pitch black community center, her only available rescuer is the hung over new guy in town (who’s dressed as a pirate).  Problem is:  she’s sworn off men, especially buccaneers.

            Badly burned four years ago by a player who ruined her financially, Kris Prima’s heart is locked down as tightly as her lifestyle is confined by those massive debts.  When first assisted by recent newcomer Ryan Hazzard, Kris is resentful, slightly afraid, and determined never again to trust men.  But when court-ordered community service brings them together once more, she begins to appreciate Ryan’s charm, good looks, and capable manner.

With all the rumors and assumptions which followed Ryan from a large metropolitan area, how can small town Kris even begin to trust him?  And why won’t he explain any of those situations?  Through her efforts to learn Ryan’s mysterious past, they share further experiences:  many comedic, one quite dangerous, and others very tender.  Despite several misunderstandings, Kris’s bottled up feelings slowly reawaken and she finally learns enough about Ryan to know she wants him in her life somehow. But can Kris regain her ability to trust a man and allow her heart to be freed from its jail?

Rescued By That New Guy in Town.” Humorous novel, only $2.99 in digital formats; paperback also available (varied prices); audio version also available (price varies). Clean Reads, 2012.


Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments