Any day now, Carol Livingston and husband Mitchel will drive from their home in Cincinnati to what may become their retirement retreat in the Susan area of Mathews County.
They were in the county in December for their first peek at the DIY Network Blog Cabin that Carol, 64, won on her birthday, Oct. 7. She was randomly selected from more than 8.9 million entries, according to the TV network.
But, they didn't get to actually stay in the waterfront farmhouse because there were still liability issues to iron out.
Now, with keys and property deed in hand, they'll spend some early spring days at the 16-acre site with twin sons, Joshua and Jeremy, 27, who are coming from their respective homes in Philadelphia and Nashville.
"Everyone we met was friendly and welcomed us as visitors to the area," says Carol of December's quick weekend trip.
"We did not tell anyone why we were there, so we believe we got a true sense of the Chesapeake Bay area.
"We truly experienced southern hospitality during our stay."
The Blog Cabin, a 1905-built farmhouse on a cove that overlooks Mobjack Bay near the Chesapeake Bay, underwent a top-to-bottom renovation late last spring. Blog Cabin host and licensed contractor Matthew Blashaw and celebrity hosts from other DIY shows came in and demolished the home's interior, taking it down to stud walls, and then updated and decorated it. From time to time, viewers were given the chance to vote on materials such as flooring, counter tops and room colors. Dylan Eastman of Courthouse Construction in Gloucester was the Blog Cabin project manager.
"We love the beauty of the home and all the details of the design, quality of materials and furnishings," says Carol during a telephone interview.
"The water views and the landscaping in front of the house, and all the recreational space in the back yard are beautiful. We will enjoy being outdoors a lot. We're bringing our cornhole game when we drive out – our sons love that game."
In December, the couple and their sons wanted to stay at The Inn at Tabbs Creek at Port Haywood in Mathews, but it was full, so they got rooms at a chain hotel off Route 17 in Gloucester. They dined on seafood at the River's Inn Restaurant and Crab Deck at Gloucester Point, and returned the following night to see a holiday boat parade.
"Coming from the Midwest, we had never seen anything like that," says Carol.
Since then, the couple has stayed in touch with Blog Cabin neighbors Suzi and Dale Maloney, who keep an eye on the place for them. They also talk to Mathews friends Chuck and Mary Neff, who are parents of Carol's friend, Laurie Neff.
"They've given us all sorts of resources that they have some to trust over the years, so we've really enjoyed their support," says Carol.
"Dylan showed us around while we were there and told us everything about the house. There's also a three-ring binder with information. It's a lot to take in once we get to the house.
"When Dylan showed us around, everything looked perfect, so we don't anticipate the need for anything to change."
Carol finds it difficult to say what she likes best about the house because the setting and views from the house are overwhelming.
Her one word for the house?
"Incredible," she says.
"The peace and serenity you feel when looking out on the water is powerful."