Slow progress…and my messy life.

When I was a toddler, I was notorious for making messes.  I was the baby whose highchair sat on a plastic drop cloth.  On spaghetti night (my favorite!) I ate dinner in little more than a diaper, and I was taken straight from the highchair to the tub.  I would have spaghetti in places my parents wouldn’t have thought possible, including in my hair.

Since then, things have gotten better, but, if I’m being completely honest, I never grew out of the mess making.  I rarely eat without dropping food on myself.  I can’t cook without creating chaos in the kitchen.  I am positively incapable of doing barn chores without turning myself into an absolute hot mess (and “hot” is probably wildly inaccurate).

So you guys can maybe imagine how painting turns out for me.

Two days ago at a restaurant:
“You have a mark on your face…?”
“Oh…I know.”

Yesterday at work:
“So what color are you painting your cabinets?”
*I search over my arms for a second, find a relatively large swath of paint, and point.*
“That color.”

So far, I have sacrificed two shirts, a pair of shorts, and a pair of jeans to the painting gods.  I have found paint in my hair, but only once so far.  I have also gotten paint on the floor, the countertops, a mirror, and the walls.  (As well as on various limbs I  can’t seem to scrub hard enough.)

But…so far…I am digging the new cabinet color.  When I finish, which is a while off with my schedule, I will show all of you, but in the meantime, if I happen to cross your mind and you wonder what I’m up to, there’s a really good chance it’s painting…

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DIY: Renovating the kitchen

So, as you all know, we have been undertaking massive renovations on not one, but three houses.  Right now, the most important to me is the main house at the farm.  It isn’t terribly functional yet, and it is the one we’re planning to live in.  As such, we’ve kept busy with constant projects.

The thing is, there is a bizarre-o event that takes place when your house is updated: Suddenly, the rooms you thought were fine, the one you thought you could deal with, start to look shabby.  In my case, that room is the kitchen.

Originally, we thought we would use some of the equity in our Heights house, once it sold, to re-do the kitchen.  Later, when realizing the inherent troubles that come with attempting to heat such a large house with propane, it became obvious that the reasonable thing to do would be to use the money to put in geothermal heating.  Given that gutting and reconstructing a new kitchen will probably cost us our arms, legs, and firstborn child, I decided to deal with the kitchen as-is.  It became the “one day” project.  One day, when we have less debt and fewer projects that HAVE to be done, I will get a new kitchen.  I have no issue with that, but the more we updated around the kitchen, the more dated and out of place the kitchen started to look.

In addition, it isn’t terribly functional for my purposes.  The oven works, but is quite small.  The stovetop has one working burner.

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That’s when the crazy voice inside of my head–let’s call her my Inner DIYer (ala Mother Hen’s Inner Comedienne )or Di–began to follow me into the kitchen.  Every time I crossed the kitchen threshold, she was there.

I’m pretty sure I first met my Inner DIYer when I was seven, and she convinced me to cut my own bangs.  That turned out about as well as you might imagine.  Since then, she has gotten me into a lot of trouble…

“You know what would be nice in here???”

“What?” I mumbled, paying very little attention to her and sorting through likely the millionth llama halter that I probably don’t need.  (Hopefully I will check “donate extra llama halters” off of my list eventually, but at the moment, it’s just one more thing I need to do.)

I have to be honest, it’s dangerous to let Di talk to much.  She has big ideas that will quickly unleash chaos.

“A coffee bar.”

“No.”

“But why???  All you would need is a small island, and like, a few other things, but it wouldn’t be that hard…probably.”

“Because you’re pointing to the washer/dryer…”

“Oh yeah.  Those would have to move, which, by the way, is totally cool because you don’t want house guests to see your dirty underwear on the way to the sunroom ANYWAY!  Besides, think about how bad your barn clothes smell!  Do you really want that in your KITCHEN!  Your food is here.”

I glanced up.  She had a point.  I mean, who wants dirty underwear in their kitchen…and my barn clothes are pretty bad…and Jeremiah’s shoeing clothes are way worse.  Gross…

Di grinned.  She is excellent at reading the room and always knows when to push an issue.

“Know what else?  If you knocked down the wall in front of the washer/dryer, you could put in a breakfast nook.”

“What about the coffee bar?”

She shrugged.  “It will probably still fit.  Or you can just put it in the sunroom.  You’ll be repainting, right?”

“This room?  No.”

“Because you’re in love with the orange and blue floral wallpaper?”

“Because it would require me to REMOVE the orange and blue floral wallpaper.”

“But just think of how good it would look.  I mean, I wasn’t going to say anything, but this room looks ridiculous next to the new dining room.”

I glanced around.  She had a point.

“And it’s dated.”

Also true, but holy cow, whining much?

“And really, I mean, I know it looks small now, but this is a big space.”

I looked around, confused.   “It really isn’t.”

“No, you’re looking at it all wrong.  You have to sort of wipe the slate clean in your head.  Just, like, mentally remove all of the cabinets and appliances…and the washer/dryer.”

It took a moment, but once I did that, I realized she was right.

“So,” she continued, “if you take out this island with the cooktop,” (she slid a finger across it like it was going to infect her with unimaginative design or something) “which only one burner works anyway, and  you took out the cabinet where the stove sits and replace it with a standard oven, you can maximize floor space and open the floor plan.  It will look way bigger.”

“If we take out the island, we’ll have to replace the floor.”

“And…?”

“And that’s expensive and time consuming.”

“Well…yes.  BUT, you could wait on the floor.  Put a rug down in the meantime.  You don’t even like the current floor so who cares.”

“That’s true…but really it’s the cabinets…”

“Yes?”

“I mean, if I could only change one thing…”

“Yes???”

“I would change them.”

“I knew it!”

“But it would be WAY too expensive.”

She scrunched up her nose and looked around.

“We’ll paint them.”

“Oh god…”

“Yeah, I saw it on Pinterest.  Can totally be done.  And it’s going to look great.”

She grinned.

“But first, the we’re going to take down the wallpaper.”

 

 

So, we’ve been tearing down wallpaper (big thanks to my friend Vicky who helped me remove almost all of it), sanding cabinets and prepping for paint, both on the walls and the cabinets.  And we’re discussing tearing out the island, putting in a few new appliances, a new backsplash…

Maybe a breakfast nook…

This is the room I wasn’t going to touch.

 

 

A week at the ranch.

It’s been an eventful week at the ranch. Despite not living there, we’ve been busy!

For example, I pulled in yesterday morning and found this.  He started with power washing and proceeded to paint by the end of the day.

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Not sure if you can really tell, but by evening most of the front of the house was done.

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Fall has officially made it’s way to Central Illinois.  The weather yesterday was perfect: sunny, no hotter than 70 with a beautiful breeze.  We’re doubling down on outdoor efforts.  Lady Fall is enticing and beautiful, but she’s followed quickly by Old Man Winter, and, according to the Farmer’s Almanac, he’s going to be a doozy.  It won’t be terribly long before we get weathered out of the outdoor work, and neither of us want a half painted house all winter.

We also bought the most perfect dining room table last week.  Jeremiah and I found it in an antique store a few towns away. (In addition to all of his other wonderful qualities, Jeremiah actually enjoys going to antique stores on occasion.  I’m a very lucky girl…)  It’s a farmhouse table, new construction, but made out of 100+ year old barn wood.  I’m a little bit smitten with it.

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Jeremiah and his little brother bringing it in. Apparently it’s absurdly heavy.
The table, moved into our dining room.
The table, moved into our dining room. (The middle piece of wood you see is actually a table runner made of a 200+ year old barnwood beam.)

One of our friendly neighborhood hummers got caught in our mudroom while it was opened up to dry.  Jeremiah eventually got it to go outside.  The little bird was not overly grateful.  (If you’re not familiar with hummers, they are very cheeky little things.  We love them anyway.)

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This one may gross some of you out, but I think it’s funny.

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The chickens have been thoroughly enjoying their free range time, and a few of them discovered the manure pit.  I know the phrase is usually “happier than a pig in poop,” but as I understand it, pigs actually prefer to be clean.  The chickens, however?  They think it’s pretty great.

Also, see below for the inherent hazard of letting your chickens free range:

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They are pretty darn thrilled with their discovery of the hay stall.  It has excellent dust for dust baths, AND there’s a nifty, secluded corner to build a nest.  Now I have to check for eggs there every time I let them out.  But c’mon, how cute is the little nest with the colored eggs?

And finally, we took out Vinny’s stiches yesterday.  I expected a total freak out, as Jeremiah wanted to try it without sedation first, but we were pleasantly surprised when Vin stood like a champ.  He’s come so far since he came home with us!  This horse used to run away like a maniac anytime we came in the pasture, and now, this.

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He stood and chomped down grain the whole time.  God love him.

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All done!  He’ll probably always have a scar, but this one ended up way better than it might have.  It healed up very well.  Thank God for great vets and good horses.

Over the next few days, we’re hoping to move back in.  (We’re both losing patience with the constant driving back and forth.)  The house is vented with airmovers exchanging air in the basement 10 times per house.  The vents were cleaned earlier this week…  Hopefully, that will be enough to make the place livable again.  Fingers crossed.  If not, the movers are hopefully coming at the end of the month to clear out the basement, and then we will be free and clear to get the mothballs and the mold professionally mitigated.

Before and in-progress photos.

Remember when I wrote about the guest house and how it needed dramatic updates before it was remotely move-in ready?  Well, I thought I should share some before and durings (we’re not quite at after yet).

 

Jeremiah walking into the little house.
Jeremiah walking into the little house.  The mudroom still needs to be cleaned and possibly repainted.  One door needs replaced, and tile is in its future.

After walking into the little house via the mudroom, we were greeted by a very small, very blue kitchen.  The cupboards are 1950s retro like I’ve never seen.  The stove had been disconnected for a long, long time.  I love to cook, and so does the future occupant, so we knew the limited space would be an issue.

 

The kitchen
The kitchen

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The whole thing had to go.  There was no place to cook, and, frankly, I’m not sure the inside of those cabinets could ever be completely clean again.  It was one of the first things we gutted.

Now the living room.

 

The living room actually has pretty nice floors and a beautiful view.  It needed a fresh coat of paint.
The living room actually has pretty nice floors and a beautiful view. It needed a fresh coat of paint.

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Jeremiah took out the half wall…

The bathroom.  Yes, that is a wooden cover on the back of the toilet.  Also, tile was coming off the walls.  There was a hole in the bottom of the shower that had been roughly caulked and was leaking into the frame of the house.  The previous tenant had painted over wallpaper (peeling) and the adhesive floor was coming up.  We had to gut the room down to the studs.

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The bathroom.

I affectionately deemed the small bedroom “the pink nightmare” or “Barbie vomit.

Small bedroom
Small bedroom

The big bedroom – Not a good picture.

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Now for the in-progress photos:

The kitchen

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We put in new cabinets, opened up the wall, and took over some of the living room space to expand the kitchen.

The bathroom

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New tub, tile, and backsplash so far.  I LOVE the wood tile backsplash.  It’s going to look like an old barn!

Small bedroom:

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Repainted in a shade that doesn’t give me a migraine.  The floor need to be resealed, but that’s the last thing that needs to be done before move-in.

The big bedroom:

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So, that’s my in-progress photos for the little house.  Give me enough time, and nearly everything on the property will have some form of make-over.  Also, my husband has done ALL of this work himself, including new plumbing and electrical, which you don’t see in the pictures but took many hours.  How awesome is he?