Shyana's Journey

I started in my line of work by happenstance, or fate perhaps. A few short weeks after I passed my bar exam I observed Juvenile Court. Much to my surprise, and her amusement, the Judge appointed me to represent a parent who was incarcerated. Her child was removed due to the family squabble that led to her arrest. They brought my new client into the room, and she was hysterical. As was her family, who chased me from the courthouse down the sidewalk to my office.

I remember thinking what is this? You don’t hear anything about Juvenile Court in law school, unless you seek it out. It’s not part of the curriculum from my experience.

There is a whole other way of life for some families in our communities , and you wouldn’t realize it unless you are a direct participant in their lives. It’s so hard to fathom otherwise; from a distance you may think you know, but unless you’ve seen it first hand, it’s hard to grasp the complicated chaos of such a life. It’s not just one thing that leads people to get ensnared in our systems.

The catalyst for this is usually poverty, and through poverty we oftentimes get addiction, the combination leads us to removing children from their families.

In Juvenile Court, parents or custodians have the opportunity to get an attorney appointed (if they qualify). The child automatically is appointed an attorney, a “Guardian ad Litem”. I have represented parents and children. In my current position I’m charged with prosecuting parents for what is called dependency, neglect, and abuse, as an Assistant County Attorney.

On October 14, 2015, I was appointed to represent Shyana. I had only been practicing for 6 months. This was the day I met her. We went into this little room off the courtroom. I remember thinking how “together” she looked, for lack of a better term. As I’ve known her for almost four years at this point; I can tell you, she’s always got it together.

Even by this early point, I was accustomed to seeing people in all states of appearance for court. Shyana was wearing a nice dress, and presented herself like a person that would be Class President and Miss Congeniality.

I looked at her and couldn’t reconcile the fact that she came from a home that had a meth lab in the basement.

She had a backpack, and had this aurora of being prepared for the many contingencies of any day. I found out that’s how she lived her life. Her bag included snacks and toys for her brothers. She was a parent to them more than the adults in the home.

From our talk, I could tell Shyana was her best advocate, and at 14 years old she had the wherewithal and self actualization to get herself where she wanted to go in life. I thought, what does she need me for?

I was a mess in high school and my first years of college, and I was cloaked in what can be best described as a bubble of privilege. My Dad is an attorney, and my Mom is a retired school counselor; they provided my sisters and I with a stable life. Not to say we don’t have our issues as a family, but nothing compared to what these kids face.

A speaker at Guardian ad Litem training talked about keeping in touch with the children he represented, taking them to dinner, etc. Hearing about his experience made me think differently about representing children. As lawyers, we should walk them through the legal process, and when the opportunity presents itself, be there for them during life’s hardships and joys. It has been one of my greatest privileges to be on Shyana’s path with her.


In working in Juvenile Court, I always think we only see what we catch. That thought gets me on my bad days. We did catch Shyana, and she’s a bright spot in my life, and in the lives of all she reaches.

I’ve never been prouder of another person as I watched Shyana get her diploma in May; she was in the top 10 students of her graduating class, and has earned an academic and athletic scholarship to Campbellsville University where she’ll be running track.

Shyana’s faith is very important to her, she is starting college a little later in the year in order to participate in a ministry program called Youth With A Mission, in Louisville.

She will live on the YWAM Campus in Louisville and prepare for her journey oversees, and then go on a mission trip. The program is from September-February. She has to raise funds in order to attend, she will take donations through her go fund me page. We will have the link on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Please help me, help her, reach her goal.

I will share a video where Shyana gives her testimonial, which she did a few years ago. If you want to follow Shyana, send her a friend request on her page Shyanas Journey.

Investing in Infrastructure

It’s been a while.. we’ve been “investing in infrastructure” since we last met. Lee coined that phrase when I told him that people probably thought our business was going under. The woodworking has been on the minimal side. He said, “let’s tell them we’ve been investing in infrastructure."

“Infrastructure” to include approximately eleven cats. For all the cat lovers, or those that are just cat-curious, due to following this cat shit show (literally); we have managed to get ten of our feline friends spayed or neutered, and have found homes for four of them. I know you are doing the math..yes, that leaves us with seven.

I brought Littlest Dave’s siblings home, all five of them, after their vet appointment, over my husband’s objections. They were being bad at the shop- causing mayhem like a little troop of destroyers. Littlest Dave was our first, our OG, we had to nurse her back to health at the tender age of four weeks. We found her in a corner of our wood shop covered in fleas, sawdust, and near death. Due to this she lived at our house from the beginning; we nicknamed her “The Terror” and “Bloodbath”. Our scars are fading, but the flashbacks are still vivid. She’s been much better since she has friends to take her angst out on. The others are little lover babies.

For an involuntary cat owner, Lee looks supper cute with all of them. Click on the pictures and they revolve.

LD’s kitten siblings are Cat Stevens, Elton Paw-n, Conway Kitty, and Ziggy Furdust. Elton Paw-n went to a wonderful home, as hard as it was for me to let him go, but it was one of those magic moments because the new family was perfect for him. The Mom, Momma Dave, still lives at the shop (happily). Although, she does like to bite Kendell and sit in her lab and sink her claws into her thighs.

I tried to bring Momma Dave home, over my husband’s objections, but she got “stress colitis,” which in layman terms means she had projectile diarrhea (all over our upstairs). Back to the shop she went.

We had a second pregnant Momma move into the shop (without our permission); we really need to amp up security. We named her Momma Black Mom-ba. She’s a stealthy little snake. She had three kittens (that we found) and they were feral with a capitol F. I brought them home after their vet appointment, over my husband’s objections. I thought I would never catch them again if not. Their names are Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, and Loretta Lynn. My friend Lynnsey, a beautiful hero, took them to join her other barn cats. The update she gave me is that they are basically serial killers who want no human interaction whatsoever. When they were at my house they hid in a closet and only came out in the cover of darkness.

I’m still trying to catch a black fluffy male we’ve named Bull Daddy, he’s elusive.

When we got MBM spayed, I took her to the shop after, and that’s where she lives. I’ve nicknamed her Daddy’s Girl because she loves Lee. Love might be pushing it. In reality, she just likes to sit in his lap by the wood stove.

Side note, Kendell and I are SEVERELY allergic to cats. We take Zyrtec everyday. So, when you say, how can you have cats in your shop? People are allergic? We are living this. I’m very sorry, but they moved in without our permission and we couldn’t stomach taking them to the shelter. Sometimes in life, things land on your doorstep, in our case quite literally, and you do the best you can.

Around the same time Durham Downtown Cat Colony began, a beagle mix jumped onto the porch of the shop, like that was the place he had been searching for, and I scooped him up. We already had a nine year old white German Shepherd named Scout, so Boo Radley “Brad” came to be. He is a terrible dog. He has to wear a GPS on his collar, that we have to pay a monthly plan for, like a cell phone! When he gets out of our yard he takes off like he’s headed for Florida. He has chewed much of the dry wall off one wall in our bedroom, which we were remodeling before we started working at the shop. He chewed one side of a cabinet, as far as he could reach, it’s gone. Not to mention, the many shoes…. And our favorite- sometimes he just stares at us and barks until we relent and hold him like a baby. He’s such a sweet little guy. He came to us in bad shape, like all of them! He’s so happy to be with us, it’s adorable, and we do love him. But sometimes we hold each other and cry.

But let’s be real, all of these animals have cost us a small fortune, and we had to put an end to it, as much as possible. Kendell bought the little white house behind us, i.e. the place where all the cats were coming from. We were fed up. This all started because the tenants had two cats that weren’t spayed/neutered. Not to mention, one of those tenants allegedly started a fire at the apartments across the street.

The awesome thing about that purchase is that we have our friend Brittani renting it, she’s opened her pet grooming salon, Rebel Rebel Grooming Salon. Another infrastructure to invest in.. Although she and a group of friends did the bulk of the work. They took the ceiling out and Lee helped them redo it for a more open feel. The house is tiny, doing so really added something. #downtownbrandenburg #onedayatatime #investingininfastructure #rebelrebel #builddurham

We got the driftwood tree up, which let me tell you- that was a struggle. The tree is huge and its weight equals that of three small cows. Lee thought he would make the base himself, his talents are vast, but this task ended up being beyond his scope. We asked Chris Stallings, who is one of our artists, to build us a base; it turned out perfect. I had to help Lee lift the tree into the base, and we had to sand, chisel, and beat it into submission. Lee built the shelves around it and used recycled copper pipes for supports. He ruined my iron and iron board cover when he used them to steam the trim pieces to allow for the curves in the shelves. He has a lot of ingenuity, I’ll give him that.


The above picture is to show the before of the corner where the tree is, but it also shows what Downtown looked like the time the apartments across the street caught fire!


I decided that we needed a parachute ceiling, so I directed Kendell to make one. I should note that I have no actual artistic or creative talent, and I mostly just boss everyone around. We got more signs made, “We’re All Mad Here” was a collaboration between Danthia Gardner and Becky Frazier (Farmhouse Friends). “Think Happy Thoughts” Becky did on her own. We’re always trying to add things to improve the vibe, and make it more magical around here. I can’t brag on Becky enough- her work is impeccable and is a big hit at the store, not only that, she takes the time to do signs for us when we ask.


Kendell also did a Harry Potter Great Hall esque ceiling for Halloween, its still up.


For our next ceiling project, we commissioned Trish Carroll, who sells her crochet in our store, to make six umbrellas. They will hang in the other room. You ask, how do we come up with these ideas? Pinterest mostly!


Kendell has done a lot of painting in the last few months. Her and Lee collaborated to make the awesome “instagram” bull horns on the side of our building.

We are working on restoring a Durham’s Grocery sign that came from Mercer County, where Lee’s from. Our brother-in-law gave it to us. For Christmas I asked Becky to make Lee a sign, to look like the one that was at the entrance of his neighborhood growing up, “Riverview.”

We installed a wood stove, which has made a huge difference, Lee’s woodshop was always so much colder than the rest of the building, and it has provided a place to burn scraps.

Our biggest project has been building a kitchen/office in the back. The existing kitchen and bathroom were taken over by Lee’s woodshop. We had to take two coolers down, and I only watched, but it looked like a struggle. Stay tuned to see more of the finished product.

We opened on June 2nd and it has been a wild ride. We hosted “Downtown Branden-boo” along with other businesses in Downtown, which was a huge success in our view. We also hosted Christmas on Main, which was a season long Downtown celebration for the holidays. We helped with the Soap Box Derby during Riverfest. We have happily allowed Sunny & 75 Ice cream and Farmhouse Daughter Design’s use our parking lot. We were perplexed during Civil War days when reenactors busted into the shop and pretended to rob the place. We had Little Dave himself deliver lunch from the new Little Dave’s to the old Little Dave’s. We saw the American Queen visit our shores. We had a trunk show for Kimberly Phillips. We bought our grandmother’s Teal 2002 Chevy Venture Mini-van, the van has been a ride or die bitch for our family, so many memories, when my Mem wanted to sell it, we were in. So in, we had a professional photo shoot by Brianna Clemons.


The Durham name has made it far and wide in the form of t-shirt, sweatshirt, and hoodie sales. We are floored by this phenomenon. I was in Louisville and saw a complete stranger walking down the street in one of our t-shirts and it made me smile. I’ve had countless texts from people that mentioned a similar experience. Strangers striking up a conversation because they recognize the shirts while on vacation in Florida. The Bull has made it as far as London.

We’ve told our story the best we can. We’ve tried to include you, Brandenburg (and beyond), but sometimes it makes us, me especially, feel vulnerable putting ourselves out there. That’s why I haven’t written this blog in so long. I’m very proud of Kendell for her willingness to do so through her “shop talks,” which have turned her into a local celebrity. I felt more comfortable wearing sunglasses while Kendell was filming us for the video below. This video and the one below it, shows how far we’ve come. We aren’t going anywhere.

Please share, as I’ve promised my sister if we got 2,000 Facebook/Instagram followers I would get a bull head tattoo with her- live. NOT THAT I WANT TO DO THIS AT ALL, but I promised. #firsttattoo


I just wanted to do a public sappy shout out to my husband Lee who has stood by me, and has been the person I’m always searching for in a crowd, for the last eleven years. I say this because my “career” path has been difficult for me. I hesitate to talk about it, because it’s very personal and not exactly relevant, but we want those that follow and support us to have a real picture of our journey.

I quit my job as a Family Resource Coordinator on May 25, 2018. It was an incredibly hard decision as I was walking out of that building for the last time with no job lined up. We really didn’t have the income for me to do that. I want to say thanks to my husband and family for supporting me with this. I knew it was the right thing to do, and I was trying to TRUST that feeling, but I doubted myself for the eight weeks I was unemployed. I’m very thankful for the job opportunity that was offered to me on August 1st, an Assistant County Attorney position in Grayson county. Since then, I’ve picked up another county, Meade.

My previous work environment was extremely toxic and negative for me.

I’m glad I quit my first lawyer job, as working together was not the best for my relationship with my Dad. Furthermore, being an attorney in private practice was not for me, too many variables. If you are suffering from anxiety- you’re not alone.

I’m just as surprised, as I’m sure many of you are, that I’m back working as a lawyer. I don’t know what’s next for me, after this job ends, and that worries me some. As my income has really helped us get things accomplished. I’m a juvenile court prosecutor, and this is an emotionally taxing line of work that I don’t want to do forever. Lee says I should write a book- we’ll see. Doesn’t everyone think they can write a book?!

My sister, Taylor, has 19 days to go on her pregnancy, and to say we are excited to meet Lillian Sue is an understatement. #bossbabe #welcometothetribebabe She will not worry, she will be just fine, she will brave each new season one day at a time. (Thanks Becky).

Another exciting announcement, Lee’s sister Nikki is pregnant with baby number three!

We are the river's own


I don't know if ya'll heard, but the river flooded recently. Believe me..we heard. 

Several of these pictures are from Skyworks Productions, find them on Facebook! 

These are photos of previous floods. The first two are 1997

We weren't too concerned about getting flooded. The river had to rise a considerable amount more to get inside our building.

The inside walls of "Dave's" are predominantly the wood siding that is on the outside, granted it's holding up a lot better. It would fare better than dry wall, and in fact it has been soaked previously. Almost a million gallons of water went through the building from burst pipes, mostly in the ceiling. Our floor is stained concrete, which was a terrible project that I never want to repeat, but we didn't want to repeat what the previous owners did, which was rip out carpet, tile, and wood floor after it had gotten wet. 

What we dreaded during this flood was having to do something to ensure the woodworking equipment wasn't damaged. Many of the pieces are way too heavy to move, we barely got them inside the building to begin with. Our joiner weighs 2,000 pounds. 

We had just finished the bottom of our front counter and put the last coat of polyurethane on it when the water was at its highest, which was to our sidewalk. Every morning before work we would drive down there to make sure we were good for another day. Thanks to everyone for all your concern and support, I know we would've had many people rally if it came to that. 

Just a side note, many people have asked us about painting the outside of the building, the reason we haven't started work outside is its going to cost a small fortune. The wood in places is too rotten at this point to try to salvage. We will have to put a new roof on, replace all the eves and gutters, metal the sides, replace the windows, and the front of the building has to be completely rebuilt.  No big deal. 

I was an English major in college; in one of my classes we read "Their Eyes Were Watching God," very good, I would suggest it. Anyway, at one point the main character takes off her apron and declares herself divorced. And I said during the class discussion that she was not in fact divorced (and this was before I became a lawyer). 

My teacher says to me, "suspend your disbelief." I was holding firm to the practicalities in my mind. I could not suspend my disbelief and allow myself to just enjoy the story. 

I'm struggling with suspending my disbelief right now. There are several reasons why our store will work, the "character" and history of our building, the hope and possibility of a revitalized downtown, our proximity to Jailhouse pizza- another unique business, people's renewed interest in handcrafted creations, the quality and originality of our work- all the magic and flare that we bring to the table, our inclusion of other artists...etc.

Shout out to Salon Marie right down the street from us. Got an awesome haircut there recently. I love how neighborly it's starting to feel downtown. I'm excited for collaborations we have planned with Skyworks Productions. They have shot a lot downtown, and I can't wait to see what they come up with for us. 

If you click on the pictures, they revolve. The first picture, the newspaper article is a little disheartening. It seems like we are in the exact same place we have been since 1974, since 1984 apparently. The bottom line is most people have not been willing to put their time, energy, and money into downtown. If you look at the "before" pictures above, you can see why we want it back so badly. The spirit of what was, was almost completely sucked out when the tornado ravaged the area. A glimmer remains. 


I suppose many people have their doubts about downtown. The doubt has plagued me all along, but it's smothers me occasionally. It's like I've asked the devil to pull up a chair and sit at my table. I need to yank that sucker out from under him and prove people wrong- I love doing that. 

I'm hoping when we jump off this cliff, into the great unknown, we will be caught by the generosity and purchasing power of our community.  

I'll see everyone on the other side of June 2nd. I'm probably going to take an extended absence from blogging to reset my life. Lee and I need to take better care of ourselves. 

I started this post mid February, but didn't feel comfortable posting it until now because things were in flux.  I decided to leave my job as a Family Resource Coordinator and pursue another opportunity. If it doesn't work out I'll take some time to get the store settled and see what else is out there. I really need to continue working, and Lee needs to be able to be at the shop full time. 

It was a difficult decision to leave the job I've had for the last year and a half, but I know in my heart it's what I need to do. 

Here are some projects we've been working on lately. If you need a sign get in touch with Becky Frazier; she is a sign goddess and she is wonderful to work with. She made my dreams come true on these. Becky and Danthia Gardner are collaborating on a couple signs for our kid's room. So excited to share them when they are done. 

If you need metal work, call Melissa Shireman, our bull heads are going to look awesome hanging on our barn doors, another awesome lady to work with. 

We have spent a considerable amount of energy on the details of our store. As backwards as this sounds, this has taken precedence over building inventory. We could have our furniture filling every nook and cranny of our space and it wouldn't be enough to sell you on it, as beautiful as Lee's pieces are. We realized early on that people expect and want a certain shopping ambiance. I know I do myself. That's why people make the drive to Bardstown Road, or Market Street in Louisville. If you are willing to drive to us we want to make it worth your while. 

I can say we will have cutting boards for sure as far as Durham Woodworks goes. My hope is that we will have a couple swings or a glider as well. These projects that we have tackled in previous months have been massive undertakings. The front counter and the displays for one of the rooms have taken weeks. I'm confident the displays and the shirt wall in the main room will be completed. I don't foresee the huge drift wood tree project we have planned for the children's room getting completed by June 2nd. The driftwood tree will have a bookshelf built around it, and the branches will have magical things hanging from them. So far we have an up house, Hedwig in a cage, Tinkerbell in a lantern, a birdhouse, etc. 

We are adding a couple Meade County shirts we've designed to our shirt wall. Hopefully we will get a Downtown design going soon. Shelley at Bluegrass Girl Marketing is who we use, and she's wonderful. 

In terms of our vendors, we have spent a lot of time recruiting artists and talking with them about the products we would like to see, and explaining our vision for displays, etc. Since my last post I have added vendors. I am in awe of all this talent I've found!! 

Rustic Oak Soaps- Brittany Mattingly. 

Mona Hinton- Baskets

Deb Mulligan- Pottery

Deb Beyerlein- Watercolor paintings

Awesome by Jenna- Embroidery

G's Honeybee- Nicolette Curran

Jennifer Morton- Hair bows

For our opening we will be working with Skyworks Productions to take some footage of the store, The Locals food truck will be parked and ready to serve food, Sunny and 75 will be serving ice cream. 





















Our Artists- sharing the truth

“Artists can have greater access to reality; they can see patterns and details and connections that other people, distracted by the blur of life, might miss. Just sharing that truth can be a very powerful thing.” Jay-Z 

We are excited to share all of those who will be collaborating with us come June 2nd. Our goal is to offer a wide variety of artistic styles and mediums, and I think we've delivered. Also, we want to have things available in all price ranges so everyone can leave with something. We realized early on that only having solid cherry furniture wasn't going to work. The handcrafted furniture game has changed with the passage of time, and we must strive to be innovative. 

We are so encouraged by the support we've received from this community of artists; through this, and the support we've received from our community at large, we've been able to summon up the courage to continue on this path. We have been truly humbled by the willingness of people to be part of Durham & Company, and can't wait to see all of these creations in one place! 

People have said for many years that downtown Brandenburg had no chance of returning, we beg to differ, and the quiet voices that have always believed that this Phoenix can be reborn from the ashes of tragedy have become a dull roar, the drum beat that has created a rhythm for change and progress, to which we march.

The previous paragraph is so incredibly dramatic, but I can't help it- I'll indulge myself and leave it. Writing this blog is like, obnoxious, obnoxious, obnoxious, cut, cut, cut, aggressive backspacing, leave, leave, leave, laughter to myself, and done. 

Some of the pictures are bigger than others because if the crop turns out odd I have to change the size. This is a template I work from. I'm no expert at web design. 

We are doing another t-shirt sale. Thanks to everyone for all the requests! We have to go ahead and order the inventory for the shop, so I'm taking orders while I'm at it. Thanks so much to everyone that purchased shirts, it really helped us. Thanks again to Shelley at Bluegrass Girl Marketing. 

The comfort colors brand is really popular and if we wait much longer we won't have many color options. The sweatshirts below and the pocket T are comfort colors. I cut the gray pocket T (from the last sale). I liked this one better. The baseball T and the blue/red t-shirts are a different brand. The blue/red are "soft" Ts, is how I would describe them. Please contact us if you would like to make an order. The prices are the following: 

Baseball-$20 for small-XL, $22 for XXL-4XL (gray sleeves with black writing).

Red/Blue soft T- $15 for small-XL, $17 for 2XL-4XL (red with black writing, blue with white writing). 

Sweatshirts-$38 for small-XL; $40 for 2XL and 3XL. The sweatshirts run a little big. I have a "chalky mint" in medium on in the picture, Lee is wearing "brick" in 2XL. I know, we should be models. 

(chalky mint, brick, ice blue, chambray, butter, all with dark gray writing)

(blue spruce, periwinkle, seafoam, china blue, and island green, all with white writing) 

Youth shirt- XXS-XXL $14 (grass with white writing) 

Toddler shirt- $12 2T-5/6 (vintage green with white writing) 

Pocket T- $15 for small-XL; $17 for 2XL-3XL (banana with gray writing) (grass with white writing) 

The pictures revolve. 

Lee and Sidney Durham- Durham & Company Woodworks

The pictures revolve. 

Quin & Melissa Shireman- metal work. 

"I am so very excited to say that my metal art work will be available at Durham & Company. I love our town and especially the history downtown. I’m blessed for the opportunity to be involved in Lee & Sidney’s endeavor. Stay tuned... opening June 2, 2018. ❤️""

"Sparkle" by Latisha Hardesty 

On her Kentucky necklace: "One of my new favorites!!! This is will be a staple piece at Durham & Company Woodworks LLC in Brandenburg down by the river."

Danthia Gardner- just to name a few things- she is talented at painting, wreaths, and general decor design! 

From Danthia: "I’m excited for you and I’m excited to be a part of it." 

T-shirts from Housebroken Clothing, part of the proceeds from the sale of these will go to Pets in Need Society of Meade County. 

From Housebroken Clothing: "Thanks so much for reaching out! We would love to be a part of Durham Woodworks!! Store sounds awesome and that swing is to die for!! Wishing Ya'll all the luck!" 

Fairview Lavender Farm- The Ballards 

From Sharon Ballard: "I don't know which part I'm more excited about - the fact that you're opening a store to sell local artwork, the fact that it's in Little Dave's building, or the fact that you'd like to sell my products...I've wished for a very long time that someone could do this downtown - I had no idea that someone was!" 

Katherine Carter- Jewelry

Katherine is my sister's sister-in-law ha, and she is one of coolest people I know, literally. 

From Katherine: "I'd love to sell in your store, and I really appreciate the opportunity...Thank you!" 

The pictures revolve. 

Paul Schultz- woodworking

Paul is the dad to my longtime friends, Brianna and Holly. He's very dear to Lee and I, and extremely talented. 

T-shirts from Kentucky for Kentucky     From KYforKY: "Thanks for reaching! Congrats on opening a new storefront...I know how much hard work goes into everything." 

T-shirts from Kentucky for Kentucky

From KYforKY: "Thanks for reaching! Congrats on opening a new storefront...I know how much hard work goes into everything." 

Becky Frazier and Diana Chrism from "Farmhouse Friends" 

From Becky: "Thank you for the invite on selling some things in your store...I would love the opportunity to do so and hope you will be pleased with the results.  I can't tell you how excited I am to see everything...your work is amazing!"

I've known Becky my whole life, she worked with my Mom and is one of her dear friends, and my sisters and I adore her. 

The pictures revolve below. 

Frankie Powell- Ogre Werks- wood turning 

Big Head Studios: Josh Mitcham- painter and member of the band Jericho Woods, an artist in many ways! 

From Josh: "I will get some stuff ready for y’all! I’m happy that there are other crazy people out there following dreams! It’s a lonely club sometimes! Lol!" 

Jennie from The Little Basket Shop

From Jennie: "I'm pretty excited...I love that building and hope you guys are successful there!" 

The pictures below revolve. 

Terry Backstrom- woodworking 

From Terry: "Great hearing from you, I'm really fired up to make this happen and ready to start building." 

Just to continue on with the commentary, something I'm known for. I work with Terry's wife, and her cupcakes are one of the best things I've ever ate in life! 

T-shirts by Billy Lilly Universe 

TimberWolf Concepts: wooden toys 

Hats and Moore by Barbara Moore 

From Mrs. Moore: "This is awesome and I am very excited for you all and myself!! I already have some things and will get busy on more!!"

Mrs. Moore was my 5th grade teacher, and I LOVE her. 

Shannon's Custom Creations: Shannon Smith 

June 2nd here we come. 


Don't Stop Believin'

Don't Stop Believin' (Journey) has become my family's theme song. Every time we get together we play it and sing along at the top of our lungs.

Recently I was driving to work, in the pitch dark I might add (yay winter, yay time change), and I had a lot on my mind. Balancing life right now is such a struggle. Don't Stop Believin' randomly comes on the radio. I'm not sure why the radio was set to the channel it was on; it wasn't one I recognized when I saw the numbers. I usually listen to WMMG in the mornings, and I was like where is the birthday club?! 

Life always has a way of cheering us up and giving us little reminders. 

Our heat isn't able to keep up at the shop. This isn't a big surprise, as it's been touch and go all along. We have buckets that catch the condensation. Lee has to climb on the roof every time to turn one of the units on (while I stand on the ground holding the ladder). For another, we have to touch two wires together hanging form the ceiling to get it started, and as for the last unit, it just randomly quits working. Granted, it has been super cold this winter. Lucky for us, our brother-in-law helps us with these type of issues. Shout out to J Elliott Heating and Air (Harrodsburg, Kentucky). Super good picture below, free advertising Jonathan! 


I'm really hoping we have air conditioning on our opening date (June 2nd). Hint Hint ;) 

Also, something is wrong with the pipes going from our toilet, they keep catching toilet paper, "etc." There is a drain nearby and let's just say for lack of a better phrase, "human waste" began coming out of it. Our pipes are frozen, and have burst in places. So currently, we have no heat, no toilet, and no water.

We decided we won't have a public restroom when we first open ha! I'm not too worried about all of this; last year around this time we had no toilet period (shout out to Uncle Jody) and couldn't even get the units turned on. Also, We were reeling after finding out that nearly a million gallons of water had flooded the building from previous burst pipes (many of which were in the ceiling). This year, we only have a few water pipes (as we gutted everything) and we made sure the water to the building was turned off. 

We haven't been making anything recently, the temperature in the building is too low for the wood glue. By next winter we would love to have a wood stove in the shop. 

We've had a swing on deck since October, and we finally got it done. We were busy getting the building ready for our brother-in-law's surprise birthday party in December, and filling Christmas orders. Lee made a set of barn doors to block the opening where we will bring furniture through from the woodshop to the showroom. (where the bathrooms used to be at Dave's for those that have been there prior). The pictures revolve when you click on them. 

I was impressed with how the western cedar wood turned out; its lighter (weight wise) than the poplar and pine swings we've made before. Western cedar is a great wood for outdoor items also.

The swings have been popular, thanks everyone for the interest and kind words! My cousin Nathan actually came up with the idea, he wanted to make one for his brother's wedding gift. 

We had a great Christmas. I'm an emotional person prone to sentimentality (meaning tears). 

One of my favorite things to watch is Susan Boyle's audition video. Below. It gets me every time. 

Anyway, if you read a prior blog, you know that the TRUST semi incident was a sign for me. Recently I was a little beaten down and I kept saying, I need another sign. Are we doing the right thing? Is this business going to make it? How will we get there? On Christmas my parents gave me the sign (literally) I had been seeking.

Many people have asked me what my parents think about my life choices (LOL). I think I have taken them on a spiritual odyssey that has brought them to inner peace with my life. I won't pretend like it has been all rainbows, unicorns, and frolics among the wildflowers for any of us. I think it's hard for any parent to manage their expectations against a child's iron will ha. My family has shown me, especially this last year, what unconditional love and support means. To go through life with this backing is an absolute blessing. 


On Christmas my parents did something very nice for Lee and I. I won't go into specifics because I want to respect their (and everyone else's) privacy about certain things. It may be hard to believe but I write this blog VERY carefully.  

For Christmas my Mom bought me an "Indiana Jones" hat or known by another name, the "Dr. Quin Medicine woman" hat, which I asked for. The picture of me below was taken while I was writing this blog, Lee moved that clock into the picture because it's a "grandmother clock" and he loves it. Let's just say we are both a little odd. The point of including the hat tidbit is that this is a weird thing for me to own, it came from the men's section of Duluth Trading Co., but I feel all the confidence of a combination of Dr. Quin/Indiana Jones when I wear it.

Speaking of odd, Lee, Kendell, and I share the instagram and Facebook so the people we follow reflects our personalities and is a fairly diverse crowd. 

If you don't follow Celeste Barber, you need to, she is hilarious. Her you tube videos and Instagram posts make me so happy. Pictured: Juniper Foxx, Gypsy Yoga Love, Self Love Liv, The Dodo, This Girl is a Squirrel, Celeste Barber (she re-creates celebrity pictures and celebrity tutorials), Offerman Woodshop, The Real Tarzann, GP Furniture Makers, Nabela Noor, Rosewood Harrodsburg, Python Paige, Edgar Allen Crow, Kentucky for Kentucky, Post Malone, Jessie James Decker, Cara Loren, 12ish Style. 

I put my lawyer costume back on recently, and I must admit I enjoyed it. I went to children's advocacy day in Frankfort at the Capitol. I can't say as much as I would like about it due to confidentiality constraints, but I went with an amazing group of ladies, and met some wonderful female representatives. Issues surrounding child advocacy, and particularly the foster care system, is a passion of mine, and I was so fortunate for this opportunity. I may not agree with certain political ideologies of many people I met, but everyone was very respectful and polite and really listened to what I, and the others in my group had to say. Joni Jenkins is the Representative from Shively (Louisville) and she is part of a Committee working to make changes to foster care. 

I feel a lot of pressure to make this blog awesome, my cousin Josh (who Lee and I think is the funniest person ever) has said he reads this. I'm really getting out there. But no joke, thanks to all those that have said nice things about this blog, I started it to garner interest in our business, I'm willing to do that by just about any means necessary, and it has evolved into something out of the ordinary, especially as woodworking is concerned. 

Happy New Year Ya'll. My friend dear friend Brianna posted the picture below.  


When I saw it, I was literally eating McDonald's in my bathtub so if what you are doing on New Year's Day is a reflection of the rest of your year, I'm in trouble (and no I wasn't hung over this is regular life). 





For the Good Times.

I've often wondered what we do this for? 

For the Good Times. 

It took me almost my whole life to realize that happiness is a manner of traveling, not a destination. I've been so incredibly destination oriented. When we finish college, when we finish law school, when we get the store open. That's been us. Now, I'm trying to focus on the now. We only get so many trips around the sun. I'm trying to take better care of myself these days, stop and focus on what makes me happy, and you should too. 

These days I still work with children, just in a different way. And my job is mostly a lot of fun, mostly ;). My favorite part is the relationships I've built with people I work with. I laugh every day. Some days the balance is tipped, and the laughing is limited, and I wonder if I can keep doing it. I've put a lot of energy into this, like so many things in my life.

I will say one of life's struggles is managing one's own expectations, and in turn, dealing with the expectations of others, especially when the two don't line up. 

I love the hugs I get from kids every day, how excited they are to see me throughout the building. When they draw me pictures or come to my office and show me their good papers. On the flip side of that is all the heart wrenching sadness that comes with knowing that some children don't have the lives you wish for them. 

Thanks to all those that ordered t-shirts from us, and a big thanks to Shelley for helping us with this project. I'm humbled by the amount of love and support we've received during this Building Durham journey. Through this work we've built stronger character in ourselves, and in our relationship with each other. I've always believed in Lee Durham with my whole heart, and I love that others to do. 


A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from us at Durham & Company. Lee and I have been saying ironically for the past three years, 2015 is our year, 2016 is our year, 2017 is our year. If 2018 isn't our year, I'm not sure that we'll have one! But here's to trying. 



This blog was supposed to be about woodworking. I'm not sure what it's about now, or where it's heading.  

I've asked Lee to do a guest spot because I've essentially become akin to his stage mom at this point.  

Eventually there will be more woodworking and I hope to do some videos showing some of our processes. Lee spends a lot of time on you tube learning from others. He's figured out how to sew and the basics of three phrase electricity, along with everything in between.

I promise, you haven't seen anything yet. What we've been sharing is just the tip of the iceberg of what we've planned. Time and being efficient with the same has been our difficulty. We've decided that after Christmas we will no longer be taking orders. We will be finishing the interior remodel of our building (the exterior will have to wait) and making inventory for our June 2nd opening. 

I've been in contact with some very talented local artists. I'm thrilled they are willing to share their work with us and the community. I'm humbled by their faith in our vision. I can't wait to see all the different mediums showcased in one place. 

After almost a year of work, I reflect on what a daunting task this has been. The day we got the keys, Kendell and I rolled down the hallway entrance to "Little Dave's on the River" doing the Remember the Titans Dance. I'm proud of us for having that much enthusiasm, smarter people may have just dropped into the fetal position and cried.

It felt surreal. Everyone has their "Dave's" story. People come up to me all the time to share theirs. It's been neat, and encouraging that people are sentimental towards this place. Mine include the first time Lee visited Brandenburg we came. Otherwise, it was a place I came with my friends. 

This has been a tribal endeavor, and I can't believe the people that have showed up for us to lend a hand. I know this is starting to sound like a broken record, but I'm still amazed by the support.  

I'm trying to get some t-shirt designs together. We want to sell them to raise some funds to get us to June 2nd. We will have a "shirt wall" at some point. This is a great way to make art affordable. 

Once open, I'm confident we will make it. We just have to keep going, one day, one project at a time. Not to be hokey, but there is too much magic in the air at this point. People are interested in getting downtown Brandenburg back on its feet.  

My Mom has said to me several times in recent months, "we'll back you up until your nose bleeds," which is a saying that must've come from Buzzo.

If you didn't know Buzzo, my Papaw, you really missed an opportunity, he was a Flaherty legend, a larger than life character that would be perfect fodder for a novel. I think the most interesting part is that he married my Grandma, who I call Mem, she has the personality of Mother Teresa. It's literally like God's divine light shines upon her head on the daily, you feel her faith radiating off her in warm, comforting waves. Pap on the other hand wasn't winning any bible races (and neither am I for that matter). But every Johnny needs a June. As my Mom said in his eulogy Mammaw Sue had one arm holding Jesus, and the other gripped Buzzo. 

He loved the woodworking, he valued the the work people did with their hands. Him and Lee were kindred spirits, always using ingenuity to rig something up. Papaw built cars from the ground up, Lee builds furniture from scratch. 

The last conversation I had with Buzzo was about Lee's plan to puruse woodworking more seriously. This seemed unobtainable and insane at the time. Telling people felt, to us, like we were saying, "we've decided to give everything up and live in a van down by the river." (This was before we had a building).

I'm not going to repeat what Buzzo said because it's probably not suitable for polite conversation ha! There is only a certain amount of swear words that I can incorporate into this narrative before I get in trouble. But the bottom line is he said to go for it. I'll never forget that. If you were fortunate enough to be loved by him, he truly would back you up until your nose bled. 

After he died Mem found a coin in his pocket, no one knew he carried it with him. It says, "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength...they shall mount up with wings as eagles. Isiah 40:31." This has become a mantra for my family. 

The pictures revolve when you click on them. 

September 30th Lee and I were on our way to Bowling Green to see Rector's Cherry Reproductions off into the sunset. We were happy for the Rectors in that they were about to get some much needed rest, after many years of hard work. But, it was hard for us to see it go. It had become a very special place to us. 

We were having a conversation on the way, and I was talking to Lee about how we weren't getting anywhere. I felt like the little dutch boy in the dam, but once one hole was plugged, 5 more appeared. This building is like a wild animal, and you never know when it will attack.

We moved the equipment in July, but couldn't turn it on. At this point we had no opening date. Lee was making things here and there and trying to keep up with no end in sight, both of us working full time, it just seemed like it wasn't going to come together. I felt myself tearing up.The vision is colorful and bright, but it's like we are living in black and white. 

And then, from out of nowhere, a semi comes rolling by us at full speed, and on the back, painted in huge letters, "TRUST" Isiah 40:31. That was my sign. I know those that aren't prone to sentimentality or the belief in other worldly occurrences, will think that sounds crazy.  But even if it was just a coincidence, it was exactly what I needed, and that's all that matters. Since then, when my faith in what we are doing falters, TRUST comes into my thoughts and I'm comforted. 

Only a few days later, I found out I had to have surgery. That's around the time we set the opening date. I told Lee we had to go for it, and to trust the process and have faith in ourselves that we could make the date we set. We got two of the machines wired and turned on, and the sound was satisfying to say the least. 

The surgery went well, my biopsies came back endometriosis and non cancerous tissue. I had several polyps removed. 




A Startling Truth

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth. -Angelou

I was reminded of the brave and startling truth recently, which is that life is precarious. I think most of us compartmentalize that knowledge so we aren't swallowed whole by it. 

Here we go...the shit show began on September 16th. That morning Lee and I drove to Shepherdsville to rent a concrete grinder, for the second time. We have chosen stained concrete floors for our shop because it is the cheapest and most durable option, as there is concrete under all the layers of paint, glue, and thin set. 

That Saturday we started the process on our big open room. We called it quits that evening, ate supper, and shortly after Lee said he didn't feel good. That night he started puking. I thought it was the stomach virus.

I didn't have a lot of patience for his plight. The next day I leave him to keep concrete grinding. My sister and brother-in-law saved the day on this one. We worked all day. I checked on Lee periodically. He was still puking and not feeling good. 

When you click on the pictures they revolve. 

Monday rolls around and I have to leave at 6:00 a.m. to get the machine back to Shepherdsville.   Lee had asked me to take him to the doctor to get IVs before I left; he said he was dehydrated. 

I took Lee to the hospital, and the ER doctor ordered a CT scan, the results showed that he needed his appendix removed. It hadn't burst, but it was close. 

The next day we got to go home, and it was a long two weeks before Lee was finally feeling better. He went back to work on Monday October 2nd, and I went to the doctor that day to have an ultra sound, and not the fun kind that shows a perfect little baby. 

The results were "poly cystic ovaries" "thick uterine lining" "uterine polyps" "tilted uterus." She also said "endometrial scarring", which is hard to see on an ultrasound. I had looked up all these conditions once I started down this road of extreme pain, etc. Turns out I had all of them. I have to have surgery on November 2nd, Lee and I's surgery scars will be the same ha! The surgery is to have a biopsy of my uterine tissue to ensure I don't have uterine cancer. She will also check to make sure my tubes are clear at that time, and have more information on my chances of getting pregnant, as well as remove the polyps, cysts, and scarring. 

I'm not going to lie, all this information was surprising. I'm only 29 years old. 

You think your life is going to go a certain way, go to college, get married, buy a house, have a successful career, have children, etc. 

I wasn't getting pregnant and that was concerning. But I knew sometimes it took a while. I went from worried I couldn't get pregnant, and living in a lot of pain, to "you might have cancer."  



Having Ash to Rise From..

"Without ash to rise from, the Phoenix would just be a bird getting up." I don't know about you, but I like my ascensions to have a little flare. 

I love the idea that one can rise from the ashes of failure to try again. My pile of ash is pretty tall at this point. 

I felt for so many years that success looked a certain way, one way, and now I realize that success is subjective. Lee and I are doing what makes us happy, and I think for that reason we will be successful because it's heart work, and that makes the hard work worth it. 

On September 30th the Rectors auctioned off their property, an end of an era. I have them in my thoughts as they transition into this new life. Thank you Rectors Cherry Reproductions for your six decades of building. Thank you for your kindness, encouragement, and inspiration. 

If you click on the pictures, they revolve. 






Building Durham at Dave's.

Life is short...follow your dreams...follow your could be hit by a bus tomorrow..we are all on a planet in a great big solar system in an unfathomable cosmic universe...

These are all things we say to ourselves and to others. To provide perspective. To encourage. To rationalize...

Turning some of these intangible sentiments into the tangible is difficult. 

And we all have a limited amount of time, we can't make more hours in a day. We squeeze and manipulate time and money the best we can to get things accomplished, all while keeping our sanity. I have stretched my time, money, and sanity. 

I realize that most people do not have the means to do what we are doing. It's easy to say, life is short, quit your job, follow you dreams, start a business. Most people can't take that big of a risk. They don't have people backing them, financially or otherwise, and they have children to provide for.

My sister once said to me that regardless, whether we had help or not, we would have done this. I like to think that our well of determination is that deep. Fortunately, we don't have to figure that out. 

To my sister for putting her money where her mouth is, in more ways than one. We would be working out of our basement garage without you. When you took a leap of faith, others started to believe. 

I could make a very long list of "thank yous."

Sometimes I just walk around the building, usually in the early hours of the morning, or late hours of the night, and it sinks in, in the quiet, that this is our building. It's surreal because Lee and I always talked about what his shop would look like if he ever had the money and space to have one. 

I would like to say thank you to everyone that has stopped me in public or commented on social media, and offered encouragement and support. I love that so many of you are excited about what we are doing. 

I would like to say, we are well aware of how much school we have, and that we've dropped the mic, in a way. we occasionally get comments; like, you worked so hard to be a lawyer and you don't want to do it anymore? I can tell you we don't want to be private practicing attorneys anymore. 

Between Lee and I, we have have taken several ACT exams, LSAT exams, and bar exams; and have a total of 434 college credit hours. We have spent eight years and well into six figures on our education (along with our parents). 

Don't be mistaken, we will always be lawyers, those skills will follow us and aid us in whatever we do. I don't know what the future holds, but I've learned not to count anything out. 

We are finally starting to see the fruits of our labor and I can't wait for people to see it. 

Beginning, continued.

Lee began woodworking in a big way in 2012. He lived in Grundy Virginia for a year while attending law school. We waited that summer (with bated breath) to hear whether Northern Kentucky University accepted him as a transfer.

I applied to both NKU and the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, I was a year behind Lee. We got married May 18, 2012; and I started my first year, and him his second, at NKU that August. 

We found a house to rent in Florence, Kentucky. Our only concern was a fenced in back yard for our dog, but it happened to have a garage as well. For the first time, Lee had a place of his own to set up his tools. Between 2008 and 2012, Lee and I moved a total eight times, we both worked and went to college. Lee's woodworking tools were parked in his parents' garage.

We decided not to work while in law school due to the demands of the same. I went to law school year round and finished early. We spent any extra time in the garage making cutting boards. Lee also made us a coffee table and a bed. We made a bed for my parents and that project took a whole summer to complete, as we both had classes. 

Being broke has inspired and fueled some of Lee's greatest accomplishments. We've never had a lot of extra money to buy furniture, or gifts for people. We've either made our own furniture or redid pieces we've found at peddler's malls or antique stores. My favorite gift thus far, is a "doll dresser" he made for our niece. Her grandparent's bought her a doll bed from Rector's, and Lee made a dresser to go with it. 

Lee and I aren't really social people. We are homebodies who spend all our time on projects. That's how I got involved in woodworking. Lee is my best friend, my sister says that we are like Lily and Marshall on How I Met Your Mother.

I learned to plane the boards, use the router, and sand. 

We sold our cutting boards, and participated in a pop up shop for the Mercer County Arts Council. Lee grew up in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. I e-mailed stores in that area and asked if they would sell our cutting boards. We didn't get too far with this. We talked about doing festivals, but became overwhelmed with finishing law school, moving home, and taking our bar exams. 

We moved to my hometown of Brandenburg, Kentucky in May of 2014. I worked for my Dad at his law firm, and we lived in the apartment below his office. My aunt and sister also worked there, and still do. 

And we woodworked. And we moved into our own home for the first time; it had a fence for our dog of course. And we woodworked. People got married. We woodworked. People had babies. We woodworked. People graduated. We woodworked. People passed on, we woodworked. 


(If you click on the pictures above, they revolve, I'm still struggling with website design) 

In the mean time, Lee began work as a staff attorney for a circuit judge in our area. Lee and the Judge have developed a close bond, which has been a real blessing to Lee. The Judge has been so supportive of Lee.

As for me, I was representing children that had been removed from their parents, and parents that had their children removed (it is the luck of the draw, as the court appoints you to cases and to your clients as they come up). This was an invaluable experience, but I got to the point where the totality of the circumstances of my life were stressful. It was hard to leave something that I had worked for, for so long, for the unknown. I'm still uneasy about our future, there is still so much to figure out, but if you go confindentaly in the directions of your dreams, life will surprise you with unexpected favors.

So, we began, and we forge on, hopeful for what will become.


Allow Yourself to Begin..

We started Building Durham in 2008, we just didn't know it yet.

Lee took wood shop in high school, and his parents bought him woodworking equipment of his own shortly after. He made a few things with it, but was more interested in his diesel truck and hanging out with his friends. 

Fast forward a few years. Lee made his first cutting board after running to the Harrodsburg Walmart and buying an orbital sander. Shortly thereafter, he made me a jewelry box, and I was hooked. 

Ever since that time we've pulled together enough money to buy tools and wood for whatever project Lee had his sights on. 

With each one, he got better. 

Lee has adapted and worked out of several various spaces; his parent's garage, the garage of the house we rented in Florence, Kentucky, while we went to law school, a mobile wood shop cart when we lived in the apartment under my Dad's office, the basement garage in our home, where he hits his head on the duct work, and finally a 3,000 square foot former restaurant. 

Florence ya'll

Florence ya'll



Little Dave's

Little Dave's

Over the years, we've made many cutting boards, and sold and gave them away as gifts. Lee made flat ones with handles cut out, and transitioned into edge grain cutting boards with wooden feet. The wooden feet were a little labor intensive so he quit doing them and kept the small rubber feet. He's added copper handles to some, and recessed handles to others. He collaborated with Billy Lilly to make a star wars themed cutting board for our cousin, a chef who loves the Empire. The end grain cutting boards he's made are a particular work of art. 

My advice, allow yourself to begin. Being a beginner is frustrating, more times than not, but allow yourself to make mistakes, to fail, because it will lead to great things. We never could have concieved this is where woodworking would take us. 

To be continued..