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.


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.




Salvaging The Budget

It’s really easy to go off budget with renovations, and with a husband that can build anything I sometimes have to remind myself that just because he can build anything doesn’t mean that he has either time to, or that we have the budget to. It’s extremely important for us to stay on budget. I figured I should do a post about our budget, and about how we’re staying in line with it so far.

There are four big things we’re doing to keep ourselves on budget.

1. We are paying for this entire renovation ourselves with no financing. We are not rich by any means of the word, it’s taken a lot of work on our part to put our money where our mouth is. Not eat it, save it. I’m not being literal because that would just be straight up wasteful. Our budget is well under $20g for the entire house including the new deck, addition, porch, complete gut and re-layout of the original house, finishes (millwork, trim, casings, etc.) and appliances.

2. We are taking it one project at a time. We do not have all of the money we’ll need for everything at this point but we continue to save. We saved enough to do the addition and porch. Our hope is to get the area to a complete-enough place so we can move into it. It won’t be painted/decorated, etc most likely right away. We may not even have a solid wood floor in our bedroom for a while. Taking it slow.

3. We’re doing the work ourselves. I understand that not everyone can, or should, do this level of a renovation themselves. We’re fortunate enough that Andy was raised in a very hands-on environment where he was taught these things from a very young age. Doing the work ourselves will save an exorbitant amount of money.

4. Salvage salvage salvage. We’re no strangers to salvaging considering Andy built most of our current barn with the plywood and pieces from our old barn. At work, if a client has a nice piece of furniture they want to get rid of you can bet they often call Andy first. Salvaging everything we can simply saves a lot of money. If the insulation is good, salvage it. Plywood still good? You bet I’m pulling all the nails out sheet by sheet so we can either re-use it on the addition, or another project down the line. Those $15-20 dollars here and there add up. We most definitely aren’t afraid of a little extra work when it will save us a lot of money. When we pick up nails with the magnet, if I find one that is perfectly straight I set it aside. Now, I’m not sitting there inspecting every nail but if I happen to catch it, I’ll grab it.

Andy is very good with budgets and as a builder he really understands the process from negotiations on product cost, to the technical execution of the actual building process.  I won’t lie and say his knowledge and know-how doesn’t help, it most definitely does. We do get some of our materials at a discount but truth be told, not by much. Salvaging materials and doing the work ourselves is the biggest help of all for our budget.

For me, the hard part for budget will be further down the line when it’s time to do the interior design. This isn’t part of our overall budget, it’s something we’ll save for separately (new couch, rugs, new mattress, etc.). It’s going to take a lot of ingenuity and creativity on my part to pull off the looks I love. If you follow me on Pinterest (link in the upper right corner of the side bar under “P”) you can tell that I have a fairly specific taste. I’m looking forward to the challenge of how to execute an updated farmhouse/cottage interior. You can bet there will be plenty of flea markets in my future and lots of crafts.

If we continue to follow a simple rule we learned in elementary school we should be just fine: “reduce, reuse, recycle”. Whether it’s saving money for the project, with actual building materials, or finding/making a specific decor item I’m pining for we can just reduce to save money for it, reuse what we have, or recycle another items to stand in for it (or to barter for the item you want!).

Salvaging our budget all comes down to one overarching principal: this project really is a true “DIY” adventure, but that’s what makes it so much fun. Why let someone else do it, when you can do it yourself?



Making Your House A Home During Renovations

When renovations are in full swing, sometimes it’s hard to keep your house feeling like a home. With the drywall dust, construction debris, and in our case moving two huge rooms of our house into tiny spaces, it can quickly make you feel like you’re living in a construction zone. This isn’t a fun feeling for anyone, and I assume it’s one of the biggest reasons people get stressed out during renovations. Lord knows a few months ago I had my moment of “what if this process is bad?”. Then, I got over it, pretty quickly. Attitude is everything in life. There are a few key things you can do to help lower your stress levels and keep your house a home when it looks like this:

  1. Plan: As important as it is to plan your actual renovation, planning the space you will be living in during renovations is crucial. Maximize your space so disruption of flow from room to room is kept at a minimum. If you’re renovating your kitchen, you can cook dinners ahead of time that you can easily heat up in a microwave. Think of moving your fridge to another location so you can still store food. Keep things in place for as long as you can, but have a plan so when it does come time to move them it’s not stressful. If you’re doing a bathroom it’s a little more tricky but can you try and plan it so you have at least the toilet and shower back up and running in one day? We’re moving our bathroom to an entirely different room, so we’ll finish the new bathroom before we tear out the old.
  2. Phase Construction: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you take a hammer to every wall “just to see” what’s behind it, you’re going to leave a lot of dust in your path. Every time you look up you’ll see that hole in the wall and be reminded you need to fix it. One room, one project, at a time. Not only does this help you focus on the task at hand, it’s also helps in case you can’t finish the other phases as planned. The last thing you want is to run out of money, time or help and be reminded of it because you’ve ripped apart every room in the house.
  3. Get Creative and Be Flexible: Yes, it would be great if we all had the budget to afford whatever it is we wanted to do during renovations, but be realistic. You might have to get creative to make some of the things happen that you want. It may also be about picking the most important things and scrimping for them. Do you want lunch with the girls/guys, or do you want a marble counter for your bathroom sink? This goes in hand with being flexible. Sometimes walls just can’t be opened as much as you thought because it would be too expensive for the added structural support.
  4. Stay Within Your Budget: You’re probably thinking “duh” but honestly, when you’re caught up in it and you’ve already spent a bunch of money you might say “what’s a few more thousand?” That’s only a question you can answer, but be careful-it’s a slippery slope. You will be much happier in the end if you don’t have looming loans over your head, just so you could have a bunch of minor details. If you’re stressed after it’s all over, you’ll be too consumed with it to even notice or truly appreciate them. All you’ll see is the debt you’ve incurred. Be smart about it, get creative when you need to in order to attain the things you want, and be flexible. A blown budget just isn’t worth it.
  5. Don’t Forget Your Routine: Let’s face it, when you’re both working full time (I include stay at home parents in the “full time” category), it’s not easy to find time to renovate. Your schedule will be thrown off – but at least try to maintain some normalcy. For Andy and I, we make our dinner and sit on the porch. I do laundry, brush the dogs, take them for walks, play with them, weed the garden, etc. We aren’t letting our lives fall by the wayside just because we’re renovating-it’s just a new part of our lives. This often means Andy is doing a lot of the renovations, while I’m helping to keep the rest of the house running. Dinners are a little less prepared than they used to be, but we aren’t eating out. If you have kids, keeping some routine will help them a lot (and everyone) with the transition.
  6. Keep A Clean Job Site: This is one Andy stressed hugely to me. Messy job sites are the sign of a sloppy job. At the end of the day, no matter how tired you are, do a quick pick up. You will find yourself way less stressed if you don’t have to see everything everywhere when you want to get work done. This includes putting your tools back in a designated spot when you’re done for the day.
  7. Keep A Clean House: Just like a clean job site, a clean living area during renovations is extremely important. You’ll feel like you’re in your home – even if it feels like your home crammed into a tiny box. In our case, because all of our belongings are in a very small area now, it’s incredibly important to stay on top of any messes. With our bedroom being 8×8 it means clothes get put away immediately. No baskets of clothing sits around waiting to be put away. Small spaces force you to be more conscious of not only what you have, but how cluttered it can get. Keep it to a minimum. If you have to, do a once a day clean sweep through the house to pick up any odds and ends. You’d be surprised how good it feels just to keep your floors vacuumed, your laundry put away and your coffee table picked up.
  8. Remember The Little Things: I love having fresh flowers in my house during the summer. To keep our house feeling like a home, I’ve been picking wild flowers and keeping them in a case next to our bed. Not only do they last longer than anything store bought, and are free – but they are significantly more beautiful and diverse. Whatever the little things are that make you feel like a cup of tea and happy, then do them still if you can.

When you’re done, it will be so worth it and even more so if you aren’t fighting the entire time. These are tips we are using in our own renovation, and I hope will help you get through yours. It’s a new and exciting time in your life – embrace it and have fun.



House Tour {The Before}

These renovations are going way faster than I thought since we unexpectedly started on Thursday, so I need to stay on it so I don’t fall behind!

Before I get into the other stuff in later posts – let’s house tour it up. This house tour is long overdue, and I did it right in the nick of time. I actually wasn’t intending for this to be the house tour because I had wanted to get the laundry taken care of, our bedroom furniture moved downstairs and the current master bedroom vacuumed, once empty, before I did it. On Thursday however, Andy came home and started tearing down some of the molding in the living room just to get an idea of what was behind it (don’t get me wrong, I was on board—more like jumping up and down). While he was out getting something else done, I decided to take a video of the excitement and then somehow it all got put into a regular old house tour. The only room I missed was the basement. I’ll try and remember to get that the next time I do a tour. Thankfully I had vacuumed when I got home, but I didn’t prep in anyway for the video so you’re in for quite a treat.

By treat I mean laundry, dinner items all over the counter, a messy pantry, some dishes and a super dirty window because of dog noses pressing up against it.

A few notes before the video:

  • The outside of the house tour was done before we fixed the deck in May and the inside of the house tour was just done last Thursday so it’s a bit of a mish mash.
  • When I went into the bathroom originally the seat was up so I cut to another part of it. It’s right outside the office/brother in laws bedroom though, which you see when I turn back around. It’s a really messed up transition in the video, so I apologize. I didn’t realize it until after it was completed and exported.
  • For some reason I call the patio set “the porch”. Nope, the porch will be on the other side of the house, though, it may have a patio set on it too.
  • It’s hard to hear me outside because that day was crazy windy, sorry.
  • I talk with my hands – even on video, when I’m holding it. Hence all the “let me point everything out” for you.

You love it, admit it. Or so I choose to believe this is your reaction.

Poor Winnie did start to get the basketball (that’s why her head was in her toy basket), but then I distracted her by walking around and ignoring her so she just left it. We did get  got in a big walk up to the farm right after all of this hullabaloo. While up there I took a video of the cows, with the intention of making a post about it–and then I got a straight shot of a steer unsuccessfully attempting to mount a heifer while at full *ahem* attention. So I most likely won’t be posting that video.

I will however be posting a video of the demolition work we’ve already done later on.

Drinking game: How many times can I use the word exciting in this blog or in my videos to reference the demolition? Nix that, you’ll all be drunk.