Monday, November 15, 2010

Almost There... and Some Art and Stuff

Catching up here. Halloween was cold. Note Ellie's expression. She was a princess and Isaac was Spiderman. He told me yesterday that "Batman is silly but Spiderman is COOL!"

Ellie and I completed our first weaving project. It was a very enjoyable mother-daughter project and easy to make a very attractive piece of fabric. I was a bit surprised at how quickly Ellie took to it. Here she's doing a twill pattern. She's a natural.

Sissy paid us a visit and made scarecrows with the kids. We look forward to her visits.

Isaac has been working on his art a lot lately. This drawing shows our front porch railing leading into Mom's addition. The big red square on the right is the dumpster that's been parked in our front yard. Joey is the yellow dog (yellerdog) standing in front of it. Then, from the left, there is Ellie (in pink of course), Daddy (looks like he's shakin' his booty), Isaac (looking pretty muscular), and (me) Mom (shown while barking orders I guess!) What I found particularly intriguing about this drawing is the detail of the pattern in the dress I was wearing at the time.

Here's the apartment update. This is the view from the porch window living area. Her bed will be between the two windows, her bathroom is the open door and her closet is on the left.

Here's the view from the same location, pivoted leftwards. This is the kitchenette and hallway to the rest of the house. Her outside entry is on the left, across from the counter.

We're very glad that things were sealed up prior to this weekend's snow. There's not much left to do, mainly some finishing work in the basement, and the completion of painting, plumbing fixtures, and electrical fixtures.

Tom got us a deer for the freezer! Glad to have some venison chops. We sure missed them last year.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Apartment Status and Some Creativity

Here's the apartment progress. Deck is going on, windows going in, very fun!

Ellie and Isaac have been doing some whiteboard pictures. Since we don't have a place right now for school supplies during the remodeling the easel (among other things) is sitting in the livingroom. Apparently a new location gets the creative juices flowing.
And here's Isaac's. This one is Toy Story themed. There's been a lot of that lately.
WhooHoo! This is my new toy. I found this loom on Craigslist for a very good price and snatched it up. I have dreamt of weaving since I was a child and would see my Great-Aunt Hazel's loom that sat in the middle of their living room. Now I am figuring out how. I've already taken it apart and put it back together once because that's one of the ways I learn . The other is with books. I've been studying, and will be ready to try it as soon as I get a couple of needed accessories, like a shuttle.

Oh, and I still need to find a place for it. Right now it's in the kitchen!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mom's Inspection and Extra Help

Here's Mom's sitting room window as seen from the general kitchenette area. Since this was taken, most of the partitions have been put in. They're going to try to place trusses again on Monday. They tried earlier this week but the area once known as our front yard was too soft with all the rain we've been getting. The lift truck got stuck twice.
Yesterday I suggested to my DH Tom that when Mom visited later she may want to crawl through the house window with the kids and I so she could walk around the apartment with the partitions in. He thought I was nuts, that she would be too "frail" to do so. I mentioned this to her and that was all it took. She must have considered it a challenge, and promptly crawled through the window. It was fun getting a feel for the space. She had some silly fun with her grandchildren too, practicing living there.

Here's the view with her porch entry door on the left, sitting area in the middle, and a bedroom window on the right. The basement will be mostly unfinished except for a bedroom for Isaac, which replaces the bedroom that had to be removed for the addition.

Today, our contractor Tom brought some fine young men for extra help for cleanup and pounding nails.

I think we're in good hands.

Footings and Beginnings of Walls

Catching up on my documentation of progress here.
Footings were poured last week.
Walls began going up this week. First the basement walls.
Here's the first glimpse of Mom's main level apartment!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Progress Report and Aliens

We had quite a crowd here today. A few cement trucks, roofing materials delivery, Porta-Potty delivery, dumpster delivery, and this giant insect-like arm unfurled itself, stretched over our house and vomited cement into the prepared foundation wall forms. There was a guy standing on the ground controlling the thing with something that looked like a large joystick. (Gamers, there's a career option for you!) One false move and we could have lost a roof - not that I expected it. These guys really know what they're doing. 
Our yard is a mess. It was a rainy week, a cement truck got stuck, and it's pretty amazing how bad it looks right now. Oh well, no surprise there.

On the home front: Little Isaac's current obsession is the "Toy Story" movies. He has made it his goal to create any characters that are missing from his collection. These are the alien toys. He struggles to get the colors just right, and mixed homemade play-dough blue and red to try to get purple. He was dissatisfied with the result, but I think they are really cute!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

We've Launched!

The "Dirt Guys" were out here today and dug the hole for the basement and footings under Mom's apartment. It's a relief to be starting. It has been such a long wait and we're finally seeing something tangible. The pipe you see in the foreground is the electrical line running out to the barn. The larger pipe further back close to the Track-Hoe (That's what I'm told those digger-thingies are called) is our septic line. They hit it while digging. Oops. I'm sure they didn't enjoy that at all. That's a brand-new shiny white pipe repair there. They were working on it when we got home.

The kids and I spent a few hours today with my sister and mother at Home Depot, picking out flooring, cabinets, counter tops and lighting fixtures. None of us are big shoppers, so we ramrodded through as quickly as we could. Mom is keeping most of her furniture so we worked on integrating some of her colors and selected this rug over hardwood flooring for the living room. We were very pleased with what we found.

I will go back tomorrow or Saturday and actually order the cabinets, counters, and flooring that we selected.
We are told that the foundation block will be laid beginning first thing tomorrow morning. Yay!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Stay Tuned

We have been working on a number of projects this summer. (Will my life ever slow down?) The most important project is an apartment for my mother. Mom is having an addition built on to the end of our house (site is shown above) which will be a bedroom, bath, sitting area (with kitchenette) and closet for my mom. We are very excited to get this done.

Groundbreaking is scheduled for tomorrow! It should take three months. We have actually been working on this since May. I never imagined it would take most of the summer to get to the point where we would be ready to start! Drawing the plan, getting the informal plans done into technical blueprints, bids from four different contractors, then making a selection and negotiating a contract. Whew!

I used Google's SketchUp for the initial design. It's a great program (and FREE!) and really helped us to work out how the space would look and what size we needed.

Here's our sketch, with our house on the left and Mom's apartment on the right. She'll have her own entrance and porch area. I'm planning on sharing as we go.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Open House, Kitchen and Dining

This week's open house:
My kitchen and dining area
(A continuation of last week's home tour along with the ladies from 4 Moms, 35 Kids, seen at The Common Room, Raising Olives, Life in a Shoe, and Smockity Frocks. See their comments sections for more participant open houses.) Caveat: Like most of the other ladies in the "open house", I am showing my home as it is today, in an "unvarnished" state. Don't look too closely. Sorry Mom.

Here is the first thing you see when entering my home from the side door. This is the door closest to the driveway and garage. DH's lunch box is parked on the island waiting for me to empty its contents. The island counter often has more clutter than this and occasionally less. In the background you can see the former classroom. It is being emptied out in preparation for some remodeling.

Proceeding further in, you see that we are in the midst of adding a wood cookstove to the end of the dining area. (New Kitchen Queen cookstove seen at the left, occupying valuable floor space while it's waiting for installation.) We're laying a slate flooring pad and will be working on the back wall next week. The stove will be in place as soon as we can get someone to do the chimney for us this month.

Here is where my recent bulk purchases of various grains are being staged. I am adding them, one at a time, to the freezer for a few days so the flour weevil eggs (that are in all grain products - including flour from the grocery store) will be killed before I put them into containers for storage. I do this with all grains and flours that I buy.

The kitchen. Several plates on the soffit are parts of sets I have and a few are heirloom pieces. Over the microwave is a set of porcelain chickens my mother bought when she was young, and a cookie jar from the depression era that belonged to my great-grandmother.

Next to the refrigerator is a spider plant that I received from my son for mother's day (a school project) in 1997, the week we moved into our new home here. My son was a sweet little eight year-old then, he's a still-sweet 21 now and I've managed to keep the plant alive all these years. Behind that is the obligatory homeschooler's children's chore chart.

My view at the sink. Something about this little bird is very appealing to me. I love pots, glaze, and glass, so the little guy fits right in.

Mounted on the wall is the knife block my dad made for me many years ago. Most of the knives are still in the dishwasher. (Horrors! I know they aren't supposed to go in the dishwasher, but I do it anyway. The knives have been going in the dishwasher for 13 years and they are still fine. I like to simplify housework.) The utensil pots and the salt dish are heirlooms also. I like old stuff.

I like young stuff too, like little Isaac here, hard at work coloring. The table? Heirloom too. My in-laws rescued it from someone who was "modernizing" in the 1960's. My mother-in-law refinished it back then, and it's really beautiful, I think. The chairs are not heirlooms yet, but I bought them at a hospital's remodeling sale in the early 1980's. The lazy susan was a gift from my daughter last Christmas.

These are my dad's bread pans that I've been using. Dad passed away a bit over a year ago and Mom gave me these recently. He loved making bread, and really excelled at it. He was a remarkable man in many ways.

Thank for visiting! I enjoyed putting this post together.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Home, Sweet Home: Welcome

I've been pretty quiet lately, but today I was inspired. I regularly read The Common Room blog and thoroughly enjoyed the home tours that were posted by their blog group "4 Moms, 35 Kids" (Read about it at the link.)
Here are the four participants and their blog posts with this week's theme: Open House: Yard and Entryway

Aaaaand, here's mine.

As you're heading west on our county road, you may glimpse our house. It's set waaay back from the road and we like it that way. We can hang out on the front porch in our jammies.

Here's our mailbox. I planted some daylilies last year and there may still be some under this patch of weeds somewhere. I thought of getting a pretty new mailbox, but this rusty one has grown on me. It looks like it's settled in to stay.

Here we are, starting down the driveway. Electric horse fence on the right, neighbor's house behind the trees way over on the left. We have 38-point-something-something acres.

Three of the horses decided to race me home. They won.
The little guy in the middle is Gus the stud. He's very cute, but quite the pest!

Nearing the yard now. It's a bit of a jaunt. Joey our Collie is greeting me in the driveway. He thought it was too long a walk down the drive so he waited here for me. That's the place he usually likes to greet people. Standing right in front of their vehicles. (!)

Our front yard. The first year after I had the house built and began beating back nature, there was a six-foot swath of shorter weeds near the house surrounded by an old gopher-filled hay field. I didn't even own a lawn mower. I used a weed-whacker. Then DH Tom married us and moved in. Voila! He made a yard. That was only the beginning of his improvements to the place.

Here I am turning the curve up to the house and I turn around to find an entrance to the woods in the back 20 acres.

You could not pay me enough to go into that mosquito-infested woods during this time of year. Fall, Winter, and Spring it is beautiful! There is a swamp with a little brook running through it further back. On the other end of the property DH has built an enormous log path with a little bridge to get us way back to the high ground on the far side with dry feet. It's beautiful and quite wild back there.

We're continuing down the driveway towards the back of the garage and house. Our house is built on the edge of a reclaimed gravel pit.

When I bought the property 14 years ago, the sides of this drive were mostly barren. It did not take long for the growth to come back over the exposed gravel. 

This is the "boneyard" about 400 feet behind the house along the driveway to the barn. DH is collecting firewood from the never-ending dead-tree-cleanup. This is also where large items are staged in preparation for disposal or recycling. (The very large orange truck is not slated for disposal any time soon. We are very fond of that truck. It has done a lot of plowing for us and our oldest daughter enjoyed driving it to school much to the bemusement and admiration of the local male population.) 
Through the trees ahead and slightly to the left is "Mount Killamanfast", so-named by our older kids and their cousins that lived next door. They did use it for sledding a few times, hence, the name.

The barn/shed. The shed half belongs to DH, the barn half to me and my animals. DH has gotten the horse hay ready for winter. I cannot give him too much credit for the many ways he serves his family.
On the right is the little brown chicken coop built by my father. We brought it over here to our house since my mother will be selling her house to move here with us. She will be happy to see his beautiful little coop in use here. To the right of Dad's chicken coop is a small structure we call the "cat house" it's an insulated and solar-heated structure (a large plexi-glass window facing south) where the outdoor cats could stay warm in the winter before we had a barn. They still love it.

Here are the horses and ponies cooling off in the barn. The barn entries face north and south so we keep both large doors open all summer. It provides a wonderful cooling draft for the horses. It's the same concept that was used for corn-cribs in the old days.

Here we are heading back to the house from the tack room in the barn. The old chicken coop is on the right, the pony barn (loafing shed) DH built is in the middle. The back of the house is supposed to have an upper deck built off the dining area, but we haven't gotten'er done yet.

Here is the lone chicken that survived free-ranging this summer. There were nine one morning, and just one there in the evening. They apparently "free-ranged" too close to the fox trail. We found a few feathers, that's all. Before, the fox always picked them off one-by-one, so we had time to cage them if we wanted. Not this time. They were my Dad's chickens, so we felt pretty bad about it. I think this chicken that remains is actually happier, since she was picked on by the others. She lays an egg almost every day. (Note that she's behind the chicken wire.)

This is the back yard as seen from my dining room window. The pool's inflatable ring is having problems due to our cats who think it's interesting to jump up and peer in. Hoping to find goldfish, I suppose.

And here's where I'll be watching for your arrival. On the front porch, (mosquitoes willing).