We’ve Been Framed, But It’s All Plumby, No Worries.

Hey there friends, holy housing updates we have! We’re talking walls, plumbing, getting ready for wiring. Yeah, that. Also, thank you all who said such nice comments and to the girl who sent me a super sweet email about my last post on my anxiety. I honestly appreciate it. The comments totally humbled me. Also, you’re all awesome. So BOOM, there you go.

I’ve been in kind of a non-anxiety related mode where I just haven’t felt like sharing because everything is shared. At some point I’m almost positive we’re all going to get so sick of sharing we just retaliate into not sharing. Kind of like people got so sick of processed foods they are going back to CSA’s and whole foods. They are totally different topics but it just has to do (for me) with compromising too much of yourself sometimes, and you have to step back and re-evaluate. I started (by started, I mean for a few months now) thinking Instagram and Twitter diminished my writing desire because everything could pretty much be said in a snap of a photo. I realized I covered so much of what I would write in a post in just in way less words, and what fun is being concise?

A few honest questions:

  • Has anyone else noticed what a total brain drain/waste of time Twitter is? I held out for a long time. And then I embraced it full tilt. And now I’m kind of like “eh…”.  I deleted my Green Barn Soaps Twitter account because I never used it, and I haven’t been using my one for this blog much either lately.
  • Instagram: I was pretty much using it for food. Food and dog photos. Then I realized my brain was always like “this is so pretty, instagram it!” and it struck me that I literally was thinking about whether I should share something or not pretty much all the time. Then it dawned on me that sometimes, just sometimes, the sun gleaming off the old corn stalks, or the beautiful blue sky at the farm on the ocean I go to sometimes maybe…just maybe…were just for me. That sometimes not everything should be shared. So I kind of stopped using Instagram as much too. I think I would rather just take photos, most of the time, for you guys with my nice camera and take the care to edit them and write a post about it.

Also, man…when you haven’t really written in a while it’s tough getting back in the saddle! I realized I definitely still wanted to write, I just didn’t really know how to approach it again. So…that’s what this is. Just a lot of words. So let’s get into the bulk of this and show some updates to the house.

With the new staircase in place, it was time to pull walls up. This is totally weird and surreal to see these walls finally coming into place and somewhat anxiety and excitement producing. For someone who isn’t akin to change (hah, surprise) seeing your house change in front of your eyes and seeing your future kids bedrooms come to fruition is completely and totally a mind blow. I don’t think I’ve wrapped my head around it all yet to be honest. I look straight ahead (of the couch I’m sitting on) and my house looks like my house, I look behind me and my house is starting to look like the house we’ve been talking about for over five years. Whhaatt?!

So, it all starting with framing lumber we picked up from Home Depot.

I lined the lumber up so Andy could easily find what he needed (it took more lumber than this, this was just round one) and then stepped back and took in one last view of the house without walls up. I remember thinking that this area would never be the same. There would be walls, a bathroom and someday kids. Oh man.

I look back on it now and think “ahh that just seems so simple and less messy” because now, it looks a little more like this with studs evverryywhheere.So, I’m going to try and explain what’s going on. The photo above is in the master bedroom. The framing directly in front of Andy is the bathroom. He’s standing where the closet will go. Actually, here’s a photo of the closet framed in.

From the other side is one of our kids bedrooms. In my head I’ve been knowing and waiting for this to be a kids room/nursery. I have to say though, now that it’s so real my heart gets palpitations just thinking about it. I feel a little more pressure to fill those rooms up with kids, and as much as I want that, it’s also terrifying. I think in general most people are rather scared of becoming a parent and having to be totally responsible for another little human being. By the same token, give me an infant and I will happily accept the drool all over me and not think twice about it. It’s just scary you guys, but NO I am not pregnant and no we are not trying yet. It’s just crazy to see the rooms that will someday house babies and eventually teenagers. Yep, my brain has already gone to teenagers, when we aren’t even trying for kids yet. I think it’s okay though to say that I’m kind of scared shitless to become a parent. I think I’ll be a good mom, I know how I am around kids, but it doesn’t make it any less of a scary and exciting prospect. We’re still a few years out from even trying. Thankfully after a long talk, my uterus and I have started cooperating and it no longer yells at me when I see a baby. Either that or I’ve totally repressed it and at some point I’ll be all BABY NOW. Only time will tell.

Okay, I think I missed writing you guys. This is really cathartic. How on earth could you get ALL OF THAT out of just an instagram photo? This is really how it goes for me though, and it feels good just writing it all out.

This is the view of the smaller upstairs bedroom facing the master bedroom. This is the closet, and yep, it’s pretty big. I didn’t get a photo of it, but there’s actually a ledge above the closet. Someday it may become some sort of reading nook for our kids (when they would be old enough to get up there safely with a ladder) or it will just stay an open storage area. It may seem weird to have it but the truth is with storage such a problem in the current house we really wanted to utilize every bit of space. The ledge will allow us some extra storage for “the giant stuffed animal I’m winning our daughter at the fair” as my husband put it.

This comment is cute for two reasons:

One – He talks about the rooms like we’re having a daughter someday, even though he’s terrified of having a daughter and says he wants boys because he knows how to handle boys. Girls? That means someday having to deal with the onset of PMS, serious hormones, and potentially boys.  Boys touching our daughter. I don’t think he’d take that too well. In fact, I know he wouldn’t. I once brought it up and his face dropped and he looked at my dead serious and said “Stop. Stop. That will not be happening. I’m not having this conversation.” I truly tried not to laugh out loud and gave it my best attempt to be serious and change the conversation.

Two – We go to one of the big fairs here every single year. It’s an agricultural fair but it also has a typical carnival section. We don’t ever hang out/play games in the carnival section, we’re there for the agriculture part of it and the once a year love of fair food. The fact that he’s even thinking of playing one of those games, to win our daughter a toy, is absolutely adorable.

Okay point being, the ledge is there for storage or a reading nook someday, and the other point is that my husband wants a daughter but is so terrified of them that he’ll say he really wants boys. Even though he actually has potential names picked out for our daughters and we’ve never even talked about a boys name. I think either way we’ll both be totally and completely happy. I’m scared of having a daughter too, but I would love it. The idea of having a rambunctious boy tickles my feet too.

That was a huge diverge from the point of this post but these are all of the real things we talk/think about when we’re doing the renovations and for me all of the emotions/topics it stirs up. Some people might think renovating a home is just this build, but it’s emotional too. You see the first house you ever bought slowly going away and being transformed into the house you’ve dreamed of and the house your kids will know. It’s just this mind boggling thing. It’s likely slowly moving into a new home, it’s a bit of an in-between homes feeling.

This is the downstairs bedroom. I don’t get as much of the emotional pull with this bedroom as I do the upstairs one. I think it’s because the upstairs one will be the nursery from the start and it’s the spot that used to be our bedroom. This bedroom downstairs though will be so nice to have. For quite a while it will be the guest bedroom. It may at some point become Casey’s bedroom if he keeps living with us (which actually, he’s super easy to live and he helps clean the house, cook dinner and do dishes…while paying us rent, so who cares) – who knows. This bedroom also has a really nice sized closet in it.

To step back a minute, one of the things Andy had to do before framing was chisel all around the new staircase to make sure the wood was a certain depth. I honestly don’t know the exact reason for it, but it’s something about getting it flush for when we drywall. The easiest way to do this, and by easy I mean it’s still super labor intensive, was to do it by hand. He had to cut, and chisel out every. Single. Piece.The photos below aren’t when he’s done (as you can still see how messy it is). So much work. So So much labor.

All of these pieces were only a fraction of the wood he chiseled out. Winnie on the other hand was pretty sure this was an early Christmas because there were so many pieces of wood she could chew on. She picks up pieces of wood and “tosses” them at you to throw for her. As I write this I can see a piece of this wood underneath of a piece of furniture in the living room. We ended up burning a bunch in the wood stove, but Winnie sure had fun with them while they lasted.

Okay so let’s jump forward again now that everything is totally framed up.

Plumbing.

Yeahhh boy. Here’s a little fact – I honest to God love plumbing. It is my favorite part of any project. I don’t know how to do plumbing very much but I really like watching it, and helping with it. Andy knows this and tries to include me, but at some point I just let him do his thing.

Today (Friday after Thanksgiving) Andy managed to rough in the plumbing for the shower and the toilet in three hours. He’s a machine, I’m telling you. I won’t say this was a piece of cake though. Imagine holding a right angle drill repeatedly above your head while drilling multiple holes. Also, a right angle drill has a heck of a kick to it. I tried drilling out the hole for the toilet and I couldn’t even keep it from wanting to pull me sideways. I eventually had to just give up and let Andy take over.  I imagine at this point his arms are tired. There was plenty of swearing involved and I just tried to be supportive, mainly by putting all of the laundry away and picking up the house some, and helping him look for a hole saw that went missing and may still be MIA.  Oh, and he did all of this with a headache and not feeling good.

That’s my man.

So, that’s the update housing update. Walls up, it’s totally surreal, and plumbing pretty well roughed in for some of the bathroom (we still have to do the plumbing upstairs, and rough in the sink, as well as attach everything to the basement).

At Thanksgiving yesterday, Andy gave my Dad the rundown on what he expects the timeline to be (even I didn’t know this, which was strategic so I just take things as they come and don’t get stuck on dates). Things might change but here’s what we’re hoping to do before spring, when we’ll have to refocus on the exterior:

  • finish plumbing up the upstairs bathroom
  • wire the entire addition
  • drywall the entire upstairs, but leave it rough up in the second bedroom upstairs for now (no tape)
  • finish the entire master bedroom so we can have one finished space we can retreat to
  • drywall and tape up the living room and maybe lay flooring
  • potentially change over the wood stove from it’s current location into the living room (dependent on if we lay flooring first, or what we decide to do for the hearth.

That should give us at least a couple (mostly) finished spaces that we can actually live in. I’m mostly looking forward to getting into a finished master bedroom, and being able to decorate. I’m also looking forward to the sun up there. It’s absolutely delightful in the afternoon, I just want to soak it up. Here in Maine, you never take the sun for granted and definitely not in the winter. It’s around for so few hours this time of year and to feel it so warm is rare too. I will take it anytime I can get it.

Speaking of that, my Pepere once told me that at some point in my life I would stop loving winters and just want to be warm. I didn’t quite believe him. You should always listen to your elders. I recently told Andy after the house is done we are saving our money to go on vacation somewhere warm every single winter with or without kids. He informed me as long as it’s not typically touristy, he’s in.

xo,

Heather

 

I Should Probably Just Say This Already

Hey guys. I have a post coming up soon to show you all about the new walls we’ve framed out and man is it so surreal to see the rooms coming to fruition. For so long we’ve just been imagining them.  Todays post is about a topic that sort of keeps me from writing sometimes, and I figured if I talked about it, I might just be able to go ahead and write better.

Let me share a few ground rules. Normally on blogs when people share a struggle they have there is a serious outpouring of support, of stories, etc. The reason to date I haven’t written about this, is because I absolutely do not want that. Other peoples stories (at least related to this) don’t help me. I specifically don’t go to forums for this reason. For a lot of people, the outpouring and stories help, for me it’s like “this is just something I have, let’s move on”. I’m writing this so we’re all up front with each other.

I’ve mentioned before I have anxiety. I mean, everyone has anxiety, just like everyone has happiness, sadness, annoyance, etc. No big deal. I unfortunately have an anxiety disorder I didn’t even know I had (by name) until I was 25. The signs were there since I was a little kid, but yadda yadda, anyway….yep, anxiety disorder of the OCD variety. In other words, sometimes my brain thinks things are scary that aren’t and worries too much about the “what ifs” of the future. I don’t typically fight with my anxiety like some people do, I sit with it in that moment, I’m compassionate towards myself about it and sometimes I make fun of myself for being anxious. It doesn’t mean I don’t need to lay down, but I don’t lay down and let my anxiety take me over mentally and jump into the drivers seat if at all possible. Other times, I can just feel the sensations of the anxiety physically. I breath into them, accept them with mindfulness and know that anxiety might *feel* horrible at times, but it can’t actually *do* anything to me.

I don’t want people looking at me as broken. I’m not broken. Everyone has their cross to bear and their struggles. Unlike some people, I don’t see my anxiety as a total curse. I also consider it my double edged sword of a blessing. While it truly can be exhausting at times, it also allows me to be more empathetic and compassionate to others, and it has helped me learn to be compassionate with myself. Also, it has shown me just how strong of a woman I am. It brings me to my knees, and brings me back to God. Sometimes my priorities get out of wack and everytime it helps bring things back into perspective. I call that a blessing.

Here’s the big reason I’ve never talked about my anxiety in any remote detail except maybe a sentence once.

It doesn’t deserve my time. Anxiety is something I have, it’s not who I am. Everyone has anxiety.  I am someone who sees the beauty in the world, even if her brain is tired sometimes and the fog sets in. I see the blessings around me, and  I’ll always be fine. I don’t live my life according to my anxiety. Of course there are days here and there I need to just stop and take care of myself, we all have to, but that’s okay (ppsst, it’s a good thing to do it even if you don’t have OCD).  I see my anxiety as a nervous back seat driver who’s all “watch out!” and I’m like “stop backseat driving, I’ve got this.”

I just thought you guys should know.

So there.

Hopefully now that I’ve said it, and put it out there, it will make it easier for me to write and mention it once in a while. I’m admittedly squirming in my seat a little bit because it’s published and out there. Honestly though, if you deal with any sort of disorder or disease that hinders your life in anyway from anxiety to cancer, and exhausts you sometimes, you have my thoughts and you are not alone. Just remember depression is a liar, anxiety isn’t so scary if you run straight at it and ask it what it’s scared of (and that all anxiety wants is certainty – and no amount of compulsions will ever give it, because we can’t be certain of anything in life, that’s just the truth) and if you approach it with compassion it turns from a roaring lion into a scared child. If you have cancer, you can do this and fight fight fight. The point is….whatever you have…don’t hide from it. Run at it head on with the warrior heart that you have and accept it’s something you have, it’s not who you are.

xo,

Heather

How To Install A Window, Shim Chew Sticks, and Surprisingly Cheap Hardware

Last Saturday morning Andy and I woke up bright and early to install the six small windows which were missing from the addition. We had received them last week, and with a proposed cold spell and storm on it’s way in we couldn’t wait to get them in. With my brother-in-law gone for the week it meant I got to really get in there and help since installing windows properly takes two people.

Due to sheer lazyness, this was the first photo I could find which showed both the four windows on the front, and one of the two on the back. Obviously we’re much further along on the house but you get the idea.

I’m really happy I get to write this post if only for one reason: I actually get to make a non-technical, general tutorial on how to install windows. It was far easier than I imagined.

To install the windows you’ll need a few things:

  • Grace Vycor
  • Galvanized roofing nails (we used 2″)
  • Shims
  • Wonderbar
  • Hammer
  • Utility knife

1. To start Andy measured out enough Grace Vycor to go along the bottom of the window and just past the edge of the wood so it would adhere onto the insulation. You’ll use this again later, but for now just put it again the bottom. Once this stuff it’s down, it’s down. Make sure to only start it, but leave the backing on and slowly pull the backing up as you adhere it.

It’s no secret I watch Daily Grace on YouTube to get a laugh (is it? I don’t know) so Andy made sure to inform me at this point that Grace Vycor was “today’s only Daily Grace you’re getting.”  To this I promptly began singing “Construction Saturday, construction Saturday, connnstruucction Saatuurrdayy”, which if you don’t watch Daily Grace makes absolutely zero sense. So let’s just ignore this paragraph all together and move on.

2. Next up comes handing the window outside, and shimming it into place. You want the same reveal all the way around more or less. While the person on the inside adjusts the reveal, the person on the outside should be making sure all adjustments are level. Our shims were scrap wood we had from siding the garage, and/or other projects from around the house. One thing you might not know about me, I really like shimming. This is a weird thing to like, but I like doing it.

First you want to shim vertical.

In order to lift the window from the inside, if it’s flush to the sill, you need to pry it up. Be super careful of this as you don’t want to damage the interior wood of the window.

Next you want to adjust side to side. For this you won’t be shimming anything, just simply making sure there’s even reveal on either side and room for spray foam.

3.  Level everything one more time. Once it’s level, put in a couple of the roofing nails on the outside to hold into place, and check again. Essentially just keep checking whether it’s level.

At this point the person on the inside is done, but there’s a little more work on the outside.

4. Using your hot galvanized roofing nails, go around the entire window and tap those babies in.

5.  It’s time for more Grace Vycor! Now that you have your window nailed in, run some more Vycor around the other three edges of the window and insulation. Below is a photo of a window once installation is complete. Remember you can see the nails on the bottom because that Vycor strip went on before the window was installed. The other three strips on the sides and top should completely cover the rest of the nails.

While the person outside is completing the nailing and Vycor wrapping, turn around to find the dogs munching down on shims you tossed onto the floor after they were too big for one of the windows.

Goons.

Once you’re ready for the next window, do it all over again. And again. And again. And again.

Once the windows are installed you can go back and pull the shims out, and add the hardware.

The hardware for these windows (Andersons) made me stop in my tracks. I really love our windows, don’t get me wrong, but the standard hardware they came with is a little…lacking. For one I was surprised they didn’t match the exterior color of the window (forest green). Second, I was surprised they were plastic. Listen, they’re fine, but they are less than I expected, that’s all.

They were however very easy to install, so I’ll give that to Anderson. First, you just snap on the crank cover. FYI: It’s just dust on the cover in the photo below. They came in great condition.

Then you back off the screw in the handle, place it on the crank piece on the window, and screw back into place.

One of the things you might want to make sure of, is that the handles all face the same way (if that matters to you) when the window is shut. It mattered to me, so I figured out at what spot I had to put them on so all of them would face right when the window was completely shut tight.

After you put on the window crank, you have to put on the side pieces for the window locks. Again, everything just snapped into place.

I originally asked Andy if we had the option of buying nicer metal pieces but now that they have been installed for a week they don’t bug me a bit. I hardly notice them at all.

I’m pretty proud of myself for getting to help out, and not somehow breaking one of the windows. This may not seem like a big feat, but I should explain I was carrying the above window out to Andy on a staging plank about a foot wide, spanning the width of the new wide staircase, while balancing it. It was slightly nerve wracking.

With the upstairs windows complete it was time to move to the final two original windows downstairs. We didn’t buy these with the first purchase of large windows for three reasons: windows are expensive, we already had two in there, and the goal was to simply have the house sealed by winter. Thus, these two windows stayed as is.

The original plan was to move these windows over, but then we realized we’d only have about three inches to move the windows to the right without interfering with our planned closet. I looked at Andy and told him not to waste his time ripping everything down, and re-framing the windows back up for a three inch shift. He agreed.

This didn’t change the fact that the two windows had to come out temporarily to build out the frames some, so Andy could finish the insulation on the outside. What this means (from what I understand) is when the new windows come in now all he has to do is remove these ones and pop the new ones in.

Looking at that photo…whew. What a mess. All of the wood in the corner is scrap wood we’ve accumulated from the construction. For an entire addition it’s pretty minimal. We have been going back to this pile to grab little pieces we might want here or there, but since most of it is pine it’s been going right into the wood stove to burn. It’s not cold enough to burn the oak yet, so the pine makes nice quick hot fires which are perfect for this time of year. I’ve stated this before, but we do not and you should not ever burn pressure treated lumber. It contains volatile chemicals.

Well, with that PSA about pressure treated lumber, that about sums up the bigger projects we did last weekend! This weekend we’re working on framing up the upstairs rooms, or at least that’s the plan. We just got back from home depot with some of the lumber we need. With that said, time to go get some laundry done, throw on the carhartt overalls, work boots and get going. I have a lot of studs that need sealing. If you need me, I’ll be upstairs with caulking gun in hand.

xo,

Heather

Thanksgiving {Vegan} Apple Walnut Stuffing

Update: I’m super tired, so I’m putting this up without proof reading right now. I really wanted to get this up for the people who have been asking for it however (I put a picture of it on Instagram). So here you guys go. Spelling/grammar/run-on errors included!

I am a big fan of Thanksgiving, it’s no hidden secret. There’s something about laughing with a bunch of family and stuffing your face with delicious food that can’t be helped. I verge on saying Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I even wrote about previous years here, and here.

This year things are going to be a little different however. Within the last year I’ve stopped eating a lot of meat. This has become even more prevalent in the last few months. I’m not adverse to ever eating meat again, but I just feel better without it in my diet.

I want to make it clear, there is no high-horse, or pedastle. I hold nothing against anyone who eats meat, I honestly couldn’t care less. Quite frankly, if this salmon was around again I’d devour it with the vengeance of a seal.

When you picture someone who embraces country life, you think of someone like the Pioneer Woman who smothers everything in seven pounds of butter and beef. I totally understand the notion, it was my notion too. When I realized I felt pretty bad after eating eggs I quickly realized we weren’t likely going to raise chickens. When I started understanding the more I ate meat the worst I felt, I started having to come to terms with not having a cattle farm (unless I decide to raise some grass fed cattle for others). Sometimes plans change. It doesn’t mean we don’t still homestead; but as far as food goes it simply means we’ll be growing and canning a lot more vegetables and fruits.

This verbose yadda yaddaing simply bring us back around to this Thanksgiving. I can tell my preferences have changed, because last year I remember thinking “there’s no way I’m not eating turkey.” This year, I’m not planning on eating turkey and I don’t even care. I might change my mind when I smell it roasting, but at this point I have pretty much zero desire to eat any form of turkey. I realized I also have zero desire to eat any of the traditional sausage stuffing. Thankfully a lot of Andy’s family has also embraced a nearly vegan lifestyle, so I knew if I came with vegan friendly dishes they would be embraced to the fullest. The other day I gave a good old try and came up with what turned out to be a pretty darn tasty vegan stuffing.

As with everything I cook this can be made a large variety of ways and my version is by no means the end all. Use it verbatim, or use it as a starting point.

Vegan Apple Walnut Stuffing

{A quick note: I didn’t measure anything. Everything below is really a rough estimate/remembering of what I did.}

Ingredients:

  • a loaf of focaccia bread
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 4 carrots
  • an onion
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped green olives
  • an apple
  • a vegan bullion cube
  • dried/fresh fennel to taste
  • dried/fresh thyme to taste
  • dried/fresh parsley to taste
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon celery seed (or a couple stalks of actual celery).

Directions:

1. Put your oven on 300*

2. Cube up your bread and put on a cookie sheet. Do not add any oil, you’re dry toasting these. Place in the oven until slightly dried out and just crispy, I checked every 5 to 10  minutes. It took about 15-20.

Ready to go in the oven!

3. In a large pot add a little oil and saute your onions for a few minutes. Add the carrots (and celery if you’re using). 4. Mix your bullion cube with about a cup of water.5. Toss in your spices and add a little of the broth you mixed up.6. Add in your raisins, walnuts and olives to your mixture and take in the smells. So good.

7. Add your bread and diced apple to your mixture. Gently toss together and slowly drizzle the rest of the broth over the top. If you need to, add some more hot water. I kept a tea kettle of near boiling water available just in case I needed it to make it slightly more moist, it was fine however.

8. Place your mixture in the oven. Once the top is light-medium browned it’s cooked through. If you feel the inside could use a little more cooking, simply cover with tinfoil and keep slowly cooking it’s done to your preference. I believe mine was about 30 minutes or so.

9. Take out and om nom nom.

That’s it! A simple vegan stuffing. I personally love the fennel because it reminds me a little of the sausage flavor profile with none of the animal. Tasty tasty.  So despite it being high in carbs (and really, who cares on Thanksgiving) this is absolutely delightful. I love the mix between green olives and raisins. Then again, I put green olives and raisins in our homemade spaghetti sauce too. Maybe it’s just my thing, a very very delicious thing.

xo,

Heather