Getting Framed

We’ve been framed, and we like it.

The two end walls of the addition, which include our master bedroom and a separate bedroom, have been framed up. Every day it seems to come together and look just a little more like a home. I thought I loved the tree house feel and views from our old bedroom, but it’s amazing how much more I love the new view. It’s amazing what a 22 foot difference, and proper windows can do.

We still have some trimming to do on a couple trees, but overall we really love the view. It’s hard to truly show what it looks like. From these two windows we can’t see the house next door, but we can see our garden and barn, and the way the trees frame the sky when you look up is wonderful.

The center stud between the two windows was actually made up of the old rafters. They were 2×8’s but Andy ripped them down to 2×6’s. Even my neighbor, one who helped with the trusses, said, “wow! You really do reuse everything”. It’s true, Andy really does. The other day after cleaning up nails I pulled out all of the ones that were still straight or mostly straight, so he could reuse them. He didn’t ask me to, but I did just because I knew he would appreciate it.

Meanwhile, I really appreciate his hard work.

It turns out there’s another family member who is just as appreciative, and can’t wait for her new bedroom too. Let’s face it, it’s her bedroom and we’re just allowed to be part of it.

The things we do for our dogs.



The Annual Wild Berry Harvest

As I’m writing this, I’m watching Primrose out by our old apple tree. It was here, and far overgrown, before we moved in. For no discernible reason it has full sized apples on it in July and August of every year, but they are too high for us to pick. They aren’t great quality, so once dropped on the ground the dogs run out to eat them. Any left overs are bagged up and given to the cows. It makes me laugh every year when I watch the dogs excitedly run to the tree and pick up apples. This year, Rosie has learned she can often carry more than one in her mouth. It’s a funny balance to watch her try and pick up one, only to have the other fall out of her mouth. She’s learned how to carry two, and she’s working on figuring out how to carry three.

For them, this is good food. They know how to harvest what nature gives them to supplement their diet and they enjoy every moment of it. In our house it’s the same way.  We of course have our garden, but we also try to take advantage of the wild harvests in our area from sorrel for salads, to grape leaves. Our favorite harvest though, is the annual wild berry harvest.

Each year around this time, the blackberries, black raspberries and raspberries are starting to explode all around us. We go out weekly at first, and then daily, to harvest the berries to make jam with, freeze, turn into a variety of other items or, our favorite, just eat. This year I even found a few wild blueberry plants. There are always more berries than we can even come close to harvesting, even when we go out multiple times per week.

Where we harvest isn’t something we often disclose to people. We’re certain at least a few more people around here know about it, but we’ve never witnessed anyone else out collecting. There are a few reasons I personally love this spot. For starters I’ve never seen this level of wild berries anywhere. Second, the dogs can run free and wild without worrying about vehicles. Third, I love all of the wild flowers that surround the area this time of year. This is where I picked the wild flowers in this post.

Normally this is a family activity, but with Andy on renovation duty it meant I was the sole harvester this year. Well, with the dogs. The dogs and I have an agreement to make it fair: I get the higher berries, and they get the lower ones.

Rosie is also willing to thrash through the thorny vines if it means she might get a succulent raspberry stash, often found past the blackberries.

We had been watching these berries for weeks, just waiting for the first one to turn black. On Friday night I saw the first one and came home with a palm full of berries for Andy. On Saturday I started the first harvest. It was pretty hot out in the morning when we went, and after about a 1/4 of a gallon bag the dogs started panting heavily. I hadn’t anticipated the heat, or that the water would be dried up from the spot we go, so I had to walk the dogs home but not before they managed to find some thick mud to romp through.

I hadn’t even touched 3/4 of the area we harvest from, but of the bit I did harvest the dogs often beat me to the berries first. As is typical, Rosie stays behind to keep picking at a bush while Winnie runs far ahead to find the next batch before I can get to it.

Though we had to call Saturday morning early, we still got a decent harvest. There will be plenty more harvesting days though before the season is over, which doesn’t last very long. It means I’ll be out just about every night this week picking berries, and of course eating as many black raspberries (my favorite of the bunch) as I can while I harvest.

It takes time, and it can get tedious, but they payoff is totally worth it. Harvesting wild food is incredibly satisfying and nature does all the work for you. There’s no weeding, no watering and no mulching. It’s permaculture at it’s finest, and I for one am happy to partake.

Here’s to more berries, more meals and realizing that if we just stop and look around that the good Lord provides if we’re willing to put in some sweat equity.



Maybe It’s A Carport?

It’s sneak ‘peak’ reveal time! I asked you on twitter to guess what this photo was. So without spoiling it yet, here’s the sneak “peak” one more time.

With Andy on “vacation” this week, and the help of my father-in-law, the house has been flying together. I’m pretty sure it has actually come together slowly and nail by nail but Andy makes it look effortless, honestly. I know it isn’t though, because I see his exhaustion at the end of a day, and the bruises, bangs, cuts, etc. What I’m trying to say is I’m really grateful for him and his capabilities.

Everyday I come home from work there’s something awesome that has happened. When I got home from work on Tuesday there was a literal light at the end of the tunnel. On Wednesday I didn’t get home until late because of a work function and I’m pretty sure I face planted on the bed so I didn’t even see the progress. I barely remember walking in the house. It was 10pm. I know there is someone else out there, under 30, who also considers 10pm bedtime..and that might be pushing it some nights.

The point is, I didn’t see any progress until Thursday evening (I may have slept in late on Thursday morning and thus didn’t get a look then either). Once I got home on Thursday evening though, I was in for a surprise. There was a porch with a roof! On Tuesday, which I didn’t tell you about, the framing to the porch was up but I didn’t expect to see the roof for a while. I was very pleasantly surprised.

Does the sneak “peak” look familiar now?

It’s *huge*. Like Donald Trump saying huge. It’s UUUge. UGE. Mainly, because there is no floor down yet, but it’s still pretty tall and massive (in a good way).

From the top, the boards might look a little familiar. Perhaps a little like this and this?

Now you know why I pulled nails from every single interior board we pulled down. It’s all about salvaging and reusing materials around here! Truth be told, I thought the colors would be facing down but I’m actually glad they weren’t. We won’t see the colors once the roof is on, but it’s fun to know they are there. I’m a huge fan however of the rustic look of the boards from underneath. It turns out I didn’t hate them after all, I just hated them inside my house and installed terribly.

It’s hard for me to really show you the scale of this. Once we put the floor on, which will be level with the livingroom, it won’t seem so massive but right now it really does. We could literally (and I mean literally) fit all three of our cars underneath of it. We may actually use this as a literal carport this winter since we aren’t planning on putting the decking down until next spring/summer.

Here’s a better visual of the height of not only the porch, but the new addition. The tractor in this photo is a very large farm tractor. For further scale, Andy is darn near 6ft tall.

You can see in the photo above that all of the windows on the second floor are now cut out too! I got home just in time to grab my camera, and get photos of Andy cutting them out. He started by measuring on the exterior, doing a plunge cut, and then using the skill saw to cut the rest out.

I love that face, it’s from the sawdust kicking back at him and instead of a mask he just muscled through it haha. Next up the master bathroom window.

From the front, you can get a good idea of how wide the porch looks in person. The actual dimensions are about 9×40.

From the back it looks even larger because of the slope.

It’s getting there piece by piece. It’s hard to believe we only started this one month ago. Friday when I got home Andy was framing out the second floor windows on this back side, and putting in the collar ties but I’ll talk about that in another post. Time to go harvest blackberries!



How To Be Classy Like Me: Guest Room Design

In the last installment of “How To Be Classy Like Me” we discussed wine drinking. I trust you’ve been practicing, because I have another skill set for you to master. This one is advanced, and can only be pulled off by the classiest of people.

Today’s lesson is in providing your guests a comfortable room to sleep in during renovations. The goal of this exercise is to make sure your guests feel like they are really a part of the renovations.

The best way to accomplish an experiential visit, they will never forget, is to literally put them right in the middle of renovations.

We call this look “Renovation-Chic”.

There are a few key elements you absolutely want to make sure to do in order to give your guests the absolute classiest experience they can achieve in your home.

Step 1: Do not remove the rigid insulation from the wall which you used to drain water during your 2:30am flooding, before your roof was on.

Step 2: Leave a shop vac in the room, but do not use said shop vac to entirely clean up drywall dust. We’re going for ambiance. There is a fine line between the classy ambiance of a renovation-retreat and that of a house doomed to squatters rights. Choose carefully. You want to make sure it looks like a drywall dust pile, not a cocaine stock.

Step 3: Lighting. You must give your guests lighting. The only exception to this is if you place them in your open air addition which will have ample moonlight. They should be able to see in moonlight. If they can’t, make them an appointment at your optometrist. They may need a vision test. No ample moonlight? That’s why they make super classy camouflage colored headlamps. Keep at least one of these in your “classy-shit-I-own” stockpile. I know you own one; that is, if you’re classy like me.

Step 4: Place strategic equipment, like a laser level, in the room. You see how the orange and silver of the laser plays off the orange and gray of the shop vac? This is called design balance. It’s exceptionally important to achieve in a well coiffed room.

Step 5: This is hands down the most important step – the bedding. Please, under all circumstances, do not allow your guests to sleep on a bed with a frame and box spring. Remember, we’re going for renovation-chic. I would highly suggest an older mattress directly on the floor. To allow them a secure place to prop up against to read, please provide them a proper headboard. One made of cement board is preferable as it is aesthetically pleasing while still utilitarian. Very chic.

Step 6: Finally, make sure to have extension cords, and other wires, still exposed in the room. These wires should not be hot, unless by hot you mean hot as in extremely classy, as long as they aren’t live you’re safe. Note: You want your guests live, thus, you do not want your wires live if the ends are exposed. If they go to a box, in order to power your lighting source, you’re right on target with the renovation-chic style.

Your guests must be of utter importance and class to stay in your renovation-chic guest room. This is why we only allow the admittance to the best of the best.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you….

….my father-in-law.

As a final touch, it’s always a good idea to provide your guest with a dog to sleep with upon his choosing. Or upon the dogs choosing, whichever one fits.



P.S. In all seriousness, Yay! Now you know the special guest who came to help Andy work on our house. Andy’s Dad is here with us for a few days, and they are working on getting the basic structure of the porch built, and continuing work on the actual addition as well. Bob has renovated two houses in his day and it doesn’t bother him a single bit to sleep in this room in the condition it is, he actually thinks it’s great. He also completely and totally loves dogs, so he is more than happy to have them jump all over him and sleep with him.

Oh, and Bob is a pretty classy guy, so he fits right in anyway since he has a PhD. True story.

The Literal Light At The End Of The Tunnel

*Tap Tap* Is this thing on? Oh good, you’re all still there. I fell off the “document the renovations” wagon this last weekend, weeded the garden, went on a rampage hunt for some BT (organic spray) to control the hornworms on our tomatoes, and in general checked out a little. Or a lot. I guess you could say I went into my yurt.

With my mini-weekend-break-taking out of the way, I can get back to talking about the house. When I left off, Andy and our neighbors were putting up the rafters on the roof. Andy is on vacation this week, which actually means he took a week off to work on the house. So I will be updating throughout the week with burst of photos of his progress. Unfortunately I’m at work this week, and he’s working on the house. This means there’s no one to take photos during any particular process. I’ll be taking them when I get home, and then updating from there.

To catch up through Monday, we laid out windows on the sides of the house, installed plywood on the exterior walls and also added plywood to half of the roof (and tarped the other half) so when it rains we don’t end up with a 2:30am flooding situation again. Thank God, because we had one heck of a crazy wind/thunderstorm last night and another one today.

The exterior of the house is starting to look absolutely massive. Right now it also looks hilariously hick. Somehow it still looks way better than before. We’ve reused a lot of the plywood from the original addition, but we also have a lot of new up there too, so it looks a little patchwork. It also looks like a lot of money saved for other parts of the project, and money saved is what I like to see.

In the photo above you can see two of the four windows on the second floor cut out. Pretty much imagine the same sized windows mirrored to those two, and you’ll have the other two windows. From left to right the windows will be in the following locations: one in the master bedroom, one in the master bathroom, one through to the staircase/upstairs hall to bring in some natural light, and one in the other upstairs bedroom. We can’t fit full sized windows on the sides of the addition because of the porch on the right side, and the original house’s roofline on the left side. They are a perfect height for me though – right above the chest. This *finally* means I can get dressed in my bedroom without ducking, or deciding that tonight if someone so felt the need (and were creepy enough to even be around considering no one is close enough to see anything), they could get a waist-up show. Too much information? Probably, but it’s was true.

This is the first glance you get of the house from the road. I kind of love it.

Once you head upstairs you’ll see what is actually starting to feel like rooms. Let’s just quickly remember what it looked like about a month ago. This shot is with my back to the road side of the house.

Right now it feels like one giant tunnel room, but a room none the less. No more giant wall of wood by the stairs.

No more ugly walls or unfinished closet. The only thing that remains is the sub “floor”, which was only ever sub-floor and never a floor. This photo is pure proof that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Proof that we will also have a very large master bedroom. I guess Andy was right when he said there was plenty of room for a small master bathroom. The photo below is all new addition, essentially on the other side of where the sliders used to be. From the inside, you can see where the side master bathroom and bedroom windows will be. There will also be two windows straight ahead to take in the view of the field.

Here’s a better view of one of the windows from the interior, in the bedroom on the road side of the house.

The roof is finally coming together too No more mini-monsoons! Okay, that was dramatic, it was hardly a monsoon even a mini one. No more rain in the house. There, that’s better…but not nearly as fun to write or say.

Finally, I saved the best for last. I’ve mentioned before that the old owners signed their name everywhere on the plywood to this house. I really didn’t want any of the signed wood being reused but we really needed to to save money. When I walked upstairs and saw this piece of plywood on the wall I was bummed. Then Andy told me to look closer.

He crossed off the old owners names, and put “Rebuilt by (our last name) 2012” on it. That way if someone else takes this down in the future they will know who it was built right by. By the way, I’m totally aware you can probably read our last name in that photo. I’ve said it before, I’m not sure it’s particularly hard to find if someone were to really look. I don’t hide it but I don’t come right out with it either. So if you can read it please don’t post it in the comments, but high-five for your awesome vision and letter recognition.

I have a few more photos to share of today’s progress, including our fancy new guest room and our fancy new guest who has come to stay with us a few days to help Andy out.

More on that in another day or so!