Monday Musings

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I’ve noticed that I don’t feel completely connected to the blog sometimes, like I’m not really part of it. I recently came to the conclusion that it’s because I’ve mostly posted about projects instead of the personal connection. Obviously, we have been very focused on the many projects for the last few months, but I think it will be helpful for me to add a more personal feature to my blogging routine. That is why I decided to start Monday Musings.

This is where I will write about whatever is constantly running through my mind, whether it’s about parenting, relationships, living through renovations, or just life in general. Basically all the things that go through my mind when I lay my head down on my pillow and am not able to shut it off. Hopefully, the somewhat crazy things that run through my mind will resonate with some of you occasionally.

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O’s Bedroom

O was probably the most excited by this house when we first looked at it. She fell in love with all the trees around the house first, and then the fact that the house was such a blank slate. I was a little surprised by how much she fell in love with the house, and how excited she was by living through another long renovation. Maybe it’s because she can’t remember a time without renovations. All I know is that after we looked at the house, she was the first one to say we should buy it.

On the other hand, it didn’t surprise me that she loved the outside part at all. As soon as we moved here, all she could talk about was how green and beautiful it was here compared to the urban desert we lived in before. She also fell in love with all the flowering trees that bloomed over spring. I’m guessing she’ll also love seeing the fall colors in a couple months. The trees were definitely a factor in her choice of room, since her bedroom just might have the best view.

O's Bay Window View

O’s Bay Window View

One of the things that really excited her about renovating this house was being able to truly create her bedroom from scratch. She was heavily involved in deciding what the overall shape and layout of the room would be. It’s kind of a long, narrow room, but it still gives her room for everything she needs. She has a relaxation space in the bay window with a chair, a work space with a desk and shelving for all her art supplies, and her bed and nightstand.

She also picked out the color scheme for the room. She really wanted it to be pastel, but was having a hard time settling on just one color. I had seen an example of a color washing technique called Lazure. The two biggest differences from normal color washing that I see are using colors that are so watered down that they end up incredibly light, almost translucent, and continuously blending them, even when it seems like you can’t blend them anymore. The overall effect has a somewhat mystical effect, similar to the difference between watercolors and oils. It was actually a major pain to do it, but since she loves the finished product, it was worth it.

At the end of the room, you can see the beginning of her wardrobe. Since there was not a closet in the room originally, G decided he should make her a wardrobe. When it is completed, the two hanging portions will have doors, and the bottom part of the middle will have drawers. That is another project that will probably get completed during winter.

The best part of moving for O has been the change in cultures. At her last school, she had a hard time finding other people who shared her interest in things like art, anime, reading, & science. Not only is it easy for her to find people who share those interests here, but she also been introduced to STEM, which she loves. She also does better with the slower lifestyle that exists here, and the quiet of living out in the country and exploring nature.

She is trying her hand at gardening for the first time with a Fuschia plant that she named Oswald. She would like to take landscaping and botany classes when she is able to at school, so that she can learn more about all the new plants she is being introduced to here. She is also looking forward to the plans we have for growing all kinds of fruit in the future. Hopefully, she will discover she enjoys gardening because we will definitely need everyone involved in that.

 

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Laundry Room

Laundry Room

Laundry Room

For years I have wanted a laundry room on the same floor as the bedrooms. This house finally gave me that opportunity. As originally purchased there were spots on both floors that had the appropriate plumbing to be laundry rooms. One of those locations will be a mudroom in the future. The other one was in what is now the bathroom in The Suite.

Since all of us wanted J &D’s space to truly be able to be like their own apartment, we had to make a new location for the laundry room. In my post, Laundry Room/O’s Bedroom, I talked about how we created the location for the laundry room. As I explained in that post, we had to tie into the plumbing from the bathroom next door to do this. Luckily, among all the other things G is trained in, he has been a plumber. For what I assume are obvious reasons to most of you, that has been his least favorite profession, but it comes in very handing for home renovations.

Washer & Dryer

Washer & Dryer

We actually moved this washer and dryer with us. It might seem a little crazy to move such heavy, bulky items over 1300 miles, but since the only appliance that came with the house was the dishwasher we were glad we did. The reason we moved them is because when we purchased them 2 years ago, we considered them investment pieces. They are  Speed Queens, which are made to last 25 years and are backed up by the industry’s best warranty. They are also made in America which we liked. they are fairly basic machines, but after having to replace the motherboard on our last washer once and having it start failing again, we were okay with less features. They are made with commercial made materials, which means they are more expensive initially, but should hold up better in the long run.

Sewing

Sewing

Since the laundry room is 8’x10′ and has a window in it, it seemed like a great location to set up my sewing stuff. It will probably stay that way since it also makes it easier for me wash or dye my fabric before using it. Having the sewing stuff in the same room as my ironing supplies is also very helpful. The current setup with the shelving for my fabric is not ideal though. It means that I don’t have a good surface to cut things on, so that ends up being done in a different location. That should change in  the future though.

Future plans involve cabinets and a folding/cutting/ironing surface where the shelves are now and also possibly going over to the window. There will also be shelves or cabinets over the washer & dryer. Those things will probably happen over winter after most of the renovating and the radiant floors on the lower level are finished. That will decide for sure whether the sewing stuff stays in there or moves to the office downstairs.

Some ideas of what we might do. Hopefully, I’ll be able to post the process of construction, installation, and finished room before we make it to 2018.

 

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20 Years

20 years.jpgToday marks 20 years of marriage for G and I. For the first time in that 20 years, I feel like we are really living the life we dreamed about way back then.  It feels a little weird to say that so close to when we moved, to when we left family and friends behind, but that seems to be exactly what made that feeling possible.

During the last 20 years, we have brought two beautiful daughters into the world, lived in 4 different states, and owned 3 different houses. We have fought over many different things, including money, renovations, family, and how to raise our children. We have been completely happy, and we have been completely miserable. We have held onto each other through two of the worst experiences I can imagine, but most importantly, we have loved.

anniversary

In honor of our anniversary, G and I explored our new location. We drove out to a beautiful park surrounded by trees and water. After spending the last ten years in a place with few trees and virtually no lakes, being surrounded by them took us back to the beginning of our relationship. After that, we also explored a small town (tourist trap)that reminded us of where we met. It was a very enjoyable trip down memory lane for both of us.

Of course, since we are once again in the middle of a home renovation, we still had work to do when we got back home. Since we actually have the house completely to ourselves until tomorrow morning, we decided that this would be a good time to paint the almost finished bathroom in The Suite(J & D’s space). After that, G wanted to fix some siding and then power wash it as well.

Suite Bathroom Paint.jpg

As one of G’s cousins said recently, most of our marriage has revolved around renovations, so I should expect it. Maybe by our 25th anniversary, we’ll be able to go on a trip and not have to thing about projects on the house anymore, except if G is like my grandfather, then we’ll have to time it around planting and harvesting time. All I know is that I am looking forward to seeing what comes next still, to how this new journey together plays out.

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Laundry Room/O’s Bedroom

 

When we bought this house, it had these two ‘bedrooms’ in it. They were both very weird. The red, white and blue one had two closets. One of those closets was a weird triangle space. The other one had the beautiful bay window, but no closet. They were also both kind of small.

O decided that she really wanted the one with the bay window, so G and I decided that we should take out the wall between the two rooms and turn one of them into a laundry room. There is a bathroom on the other side of the red, white and blue room, so we could tie into the plumbing from that for the washing machine.

This is what it looked like once we got the walls down. That slanted wall used to be the triangle closet part. We have no clue why anyone thought that was a good idea, especially since it jutted out into the hallway/landing. We were very excited to have the walls down, but G was not looking forward to having to drywall.

This is what they looked like after putting a wall back between them. Soon I’ll show you what they both look like now.

 

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Renovations from our First House

I have spent the last week suffering from a very annoying cold. Since all I wanted to do was lay around, I decided it would be a good time to clean up our computers. While doing that I came across pictures from some of the renovations/redecorating we did in the first house we ever owned, a 100+ year old farmhouse. A lot of what we did there was redecorating than renovations, but it was still how we got started on this crazy journey.

In the bathroom, we put in a new toilet and repainted. For some weird reason, we decided that the room needed the weird blue stripe you see in the pictures. I am glad to say we have yet to do that again.

The living started out with orange shag carpeting, very dark paneling and a brick fireplace that had been painted white. We replaced the carpeting with a much nicer neutral one. As you can see we also painted the paneling a peachy tan color. We were not able to strip the white paint off the brick, so instead we did our best to make it look like natural brick again.

In the kitchen, we painted the same tan color as the living room. I don’t have pictures of this, but we also took out the doors and shelves from a weird pass-through in the wall to the kitchen. I am also missing pictures of the kitchen wall where we painted over the 70s wallpaper.

I don’t have pictures of the other renovations we did, but I will still tell you about them. We gutted the family room and adjoining office/sunroom completely and replaced the very wide picture window with a custom built bay window. The window was too big to get an existing bay window, so G had to take three windows and build a frame for them, and then attach it to the side of the house. We also added a tile floor to the office/sunroom. The final part of that long renovation was refinishing the beautiful old wood floors in the family room and a bedroom off it.

Everything we did in that house happened in less than two years. During those two years, J started school, I became pregnant with and gave birth to O. O celebrated her first birthday there before we left for better opportunities a few months later. For many reasons, that house will always hold a special place in my heart even though we weren’t there for very long. I think the most significant is that it was the beginning of the journey that has brought us to where we are today. Even though I’m having to live through another renovation, I am gloriously happy with where I am today, and I believe that G is as well.

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Save Us From The Berry Monsters

Berry Bushes

More Berries

Our first major project had to be getting rid of some of the berry bushes on our property. We believe that they are blackberry bushes, which is actually part of what we like about the property. The problem is that no one has been tending to them for at least a year, probably longer, so some of them were trying to take over our septic system. To be able to live in the house, those bushes had to go immediately.

Since we bought the house at the beginning of Spring, we were lucky that the first weekend it was actually ours was pretty good weather. G, O, and I spent most of that weekend attacking berry bushes(and also getting attacked by them). It was a very long tiring weekend, and made me very proud of O. She may not have been very happy about it, but she was a real trooper.

Cut Up Bushes

 

By the time we had gotten all the bushes on the septic system removed, we were all covered in tiny little pinpricks and scratches from where the berries had tried to take us over as well. O and I decided that for the next round of bushes J, and her boyfriend, D would be the ones to help G. Luckily for us, D is now working in landscaping getting rid of other invasive weeds, so helpfully he will soon know some tricks to get rid of the bushes and keep them gone.

 

In a future post, I’ll actually be able to show you a yard instead of just more bushes. Hopefully, I’ll even be able to show you things blooming and berries from the bushes we don’t get rid of. According to G, the bushes make up 75 percent of our property. That is an exaggeration, although sometimes it doesn’t feel like it.

Laura

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Project Plans

I  thought I would start by making a list of the initial projects we have planned for our house.

  • Cleaning up the berry bushes trying to take over our septic system .
  • Getting the suite ready for the oldest and company.
  • Creating a bedroom for our youngest.
  • Creating a laundry room.
  • Installing something to make the landing in our entryway safe.

    Suite Living Room

    Berry Bushes

    We also have to put in new pre-hung doors and ceiling light fixtures almost everywhere.  Then there is the lack of floor coverings, but we have a plan connected to that, at least on the first floor.

    As you can see, we have a lot of work to do to turn this into a masterpiece. Luckily, we (especially my husband, G) enjoy turning awful houses into masterpieces.

    Laura

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Welcome to Fox Haven Life

In the beginning of 2017, my family and I made the decision to leave the urban desert life we had been living for the last ten years and start fresh in a small city 1000+ miles away.

In doing so, we left the house that we had transformed from the worst house on the block to the best house in the neighborhood during the last eight years. (I’m not just saying that, our house sold for the highest price our neighborhood had ever seen, and is still at the top four months later.)

We also left a life that we had been building for the past ten years which included a couple firsts for our family. For my husband that involved the longest job he had ever held. Ironically, he had just made it to his ten year anniversary with that job when we realized that the area we lived in was growing bigger than we were comfortable with. For me, that meant leaving the only place I have ever lived for more than a decade during the 30+ years of my life. For our youngest, it meant leaving everything she could remember.

We will soon be joined by our oldest, her boyfriend, and their two dogs. For them it will be the first time they have made a significant move during their relationship. They both moved to a new state once when they were children, but this move is a conscious decision to try to find a better life for themselves as young adults.

To make this new life work for all of us, we purchased another house in desperate need of renovation. To allow a separate living space for the young couple, we found a house that was more than 1000 sq. ft. bigger than the one we sold, but most significantly also has 10 more acres than our previous corner lot did.

This blog will chronicle the journey we take as we not only completely renovate our new house,  (and live through it, again) but also make use of the acreage we now have by creating a more sustainable lifestyle.

I hope you enjoy the ride, Laura.

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