Little House on the Prairie's Melissa Gilbert on budget lifestyle in Catskills

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Little House on the Prairie’s Melissa Gilbert on budget lifestyle in Catskills

Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert has opened up about living on a budget and her fixer-upper in the Catskills, saying the cabin was filled with rotting deer heads, porn, and holy water when she moved in.  The actress, 58, and her third husband, actor Timothy Busfield, 64, bought the 14-acre property in upstate New York in 2018 for $98,000 and spent about a year renovating it.  ‘Tim found this place on Zillow, and it looked cute in the pictures and the price was certainly right,’ she told Next Avenue. ‘We went to take a look at it. From the outside the house looked like it was carrying a lot of weight. Not literally sagging; it seemed like it was sort of sad.’ Inside, the seasonal hunting cabin was a dilapidated mess with a terrible smell.  ‘When we walked in the front door — I’ve smelled musty places, [but] I’ve never smelled anything like the smell that came from this house. It was overwhelming,’ she recalled.  The cabin was also full of belongings from the previous owners that they had to clean out themselves before moving in.  ‘There were boxes of cereal in the pantry, shampoo and bars of soap in the shower, and rotting deer heads on the walls. Every corner had something in it,’ she explained.  ‘Bottles of holy water everywhere, which I don’t know if I want to understand. Then in tearing it down and moving things around, we found porn, we found hidden bottles of booze — of course, to go with the holy water. Gotta have balance! ‘But through all of that, Tim and I were grinning the whole time because the more we stood in that musty, stinky, crowded place, the more I started to see past all of that stuff, and to see that this place had the potential for being something incredibly special.’ After cleaning out the home and scrubbing it down, they put in a boiler, a propane tank, and all new plumbing. They were ready to move in by Christmas 2019, which she noted was just ‘in the nick of time.’   They spent the height of the COVID-19 pandemic locked down in their new rural home, where they keep chickens and a garden.  The space is filled with personal touches, including the old couch and loveseat that they refurbished with burgundy slipcovers, Gilbert and Busfield told The New York Times.   They built floating shelves out of recycled bowling alley wood and sprayed a piece of tin roofing with vinegar to give a unique look before they mounted the piece in the kitchen and hung their collection of cast iron pans. The couple also hung up family photos and a 1960s puzzle they did together and framed. Now the actress spends her days cleaning out the chicken coop, building window boxes with her husband until dinnertime, and tending to her garden, where she grows strawberries. She’s relearning her love for nature, which she briefly got to experience on the Little House set as a child. Gilbert wrote about her life with Busfield and their move to the Catskills mountains in her new memoir, Back to the Prairie: A Home Remade, A Life Rediscovered, which was published earlier this month.  She also opened up about their finances in the book, explaining that they aren’t as wealthy as people assume them to be.  Gilbert is best known for her role as Laura Ingalls Wilder on Little House on the Prairie, which ran from 1974 to 1983, while Busfield appeared on the series Thirtysomething and The West Wing.  ‘We live on a budget like [most] people do. We are gig workers,’ she told Next Avenue. ‘Neither one of us is on a long-running series right now. I was —50 years ago. I don’t know where people think that money’s gone.  ‘And the concept the outside world has of what residuals are is just so far from the reality,’ she added. ‘I mean, I just got a check for 20 cents. The stamp costs more! I’m not poo-pooing my experience on Little House on the Prairie, but that salary is long gone.’ Gilbert, who grew up in Los Angeles, explained that they live job-to-job and have bills to pay. She can no longer waste her money on frivolous things.  She has two children, a son Dakota Brinkman, 33, with her first husband, Bo Brinkman, and a son Michael Boxleitner, 26, with her second husband, Bruce Boxleitne.  ‘We have college loans to…

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