What’s next

Now that things are winding down on the house, what am I going to do with all that free time? There are still things that need to be done at the other house but we are going to work mostly on the weekends finishing those projects. So that opens up a whole lot of time for me. I definitely need to paint some of the furniture I’ve stock-piled and pay some attention to my booth. It has been sadly neglected for way too long. There are also many, many unfinished projects in our house that need some love. I have gained a whole new level of confidence after all the work I’ve done at Elliott so I am more than ready to start gutting our bathroom and kitchen, two long over due projects that I have wanted done forever. I think Dan would say I need to wait until loads of money magically appear before those two projects can be started. But that’s OK I have several projects that are only 1/2 done that need to be finished first.

But our immediate, as in right this very moment, plan is for our first ever trip out of the state together without the kids. We have travelled LOTS with the kids and LOTS separately, but strangely never together without the kids. Dan had a continuing ed/ financial seminar that he could go to at the Opryland Resort so I decided to join him for a long weekend.

I was expecting a very lush, extravagant room after hearing stories of previous trips he went on without me. And the lobby/ atrium/ grounds did not disappoint but sadly when we got into our room it was just a typical boring room with no balcony overlooking all the lush gardens. I was so disappointed! When we walked over to the convention center to get Dan registered we struck up a conversation with another family that was here for the conference. They mentioned that they upgraded their room so the could get a balcony room. Duh! why didn’t we think of that? While Dan was at the opening talk I went back to the room called guest services and asked if I could get that upgrade, yes there was one balcony room left! So the bellhop came up to the room and helped me get all settled in our new room. And here is our new view from our balcony:



And these are just a few pictures from around the atrium, well one of the atriums. This place is massive! We walked for about an hour last night trying to decide where to eat dinner. Of course, we kept getting lost and that added to the walking. I think the wine I had just drank didn’t help with us getting lost so much either.


All the waterfalls are so loud it kinda sounds like our room when we stay at the ocean. This morning when the doors were opened I could sit in bed drinking my baileys and coffee and pretend that we were in Emerald Isle. Sadly this trip has no fishing for Dan.


And this is where I’m heading in about an hour, for my pedicure and facial. Yes, while Dan is sitting through several hours of financial talks I will be having a leisurely day at the spa! I’m really wondering why I didn’t join him for these conferences in the past?


I think I’m going to really enjoy being done with that full time job I had for the past 4 months!

Giant Leap

Today was a huge milestone! We brought home a van load and a truck load of tools. Which means work is winding down at the other house. We had to clear stuff out because tomorrow we start sanding all the hardwood floors. We had planned on that being the last thing we did but with a trip to North Carolina coming up in a week we decided to do the floors now so they would have a week to sit undisturbed while we were out of town.

While we’re polyurethaning the floors next week I’ll still have access to the kitchen so I can get the cupboards painted.

Look at all these empty rooms!

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We also decided to pullout the 2 built in workbenches in the work shop. We just can’t stop the water problem in the basement. This area was really wet and I think moldy too. So Thomas very carefully pulled out this workbench.


And Dan not so carefully dismantled this workbench.IMG_4491

This room really needs a scrub down and some paint.IMG_4492 IMG_4493 IMG_4494

Speaking of Dan he couldn’t resist climbing the phone pole and cutting down some unnecessary wires that were going to our house.This does NOT look safe!

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We have a new family member, well actually we have about 10,000 new family members. (Hmm wonder if we can claim that on our taxes?) We now have a bee hive, right smack in the middle of our garden. Dan thought our past dismal tomato crops were due to lack of pollination so he decided to get a hive. Well I’m sure much more thought and preparation went into it but from what I saw we just all of a sudden got a hive.

Last week made the early morning trek over to Conrad Hive and Honey in Canal Winchester to pick up his 3 pounds of bees with queen. Our bees had just been driven in along with a truck full of bees from southern Georgia.

This is what 3 pounds of bees look likeIMG_3488

BJ is not too excited about the addition of bees to our yard. He keeps reminding me that he is allergic.


Here’s our friend Tim, who has a few of his own hives, helping us get the hive set up.Thomas is all geared up and ready to go.


This is what hive looks like, you just keep stacking these layers on top of each other as needed. We’ll be starting with just 2 levels but can add more as the bees fill it up.


The bees have been released. They’re slowly making there way into the hive. The queen is in her own little box and she has already been placed in the hive. The bees work to release the queen from her box by eating through a plug of sugar candy. If she is just released into their midst before they are used to her they will kill her and the hive will die.


About 4 days later Dan is opening up the hive to check on the queen and see if she has been released.


That’s the queens box that he is pulling out of the hive.


The queen is still in her box, since the bees had not released her yet, Dan will pull the plug out and put her box back in the hive so she can make her new home.


Once the queen and her box has been replaced Dan closes up the hive.


But the next day we were worried because there was no bee activity outside the hive so I did just a tiny peek into the hive to make sure all our bees hadn’t flown the coop. Dan publicly accused me on Facebook of single-handedly destroying the hive and scarring away the queen. But no worries he is just an alarmist and the hive is buzzing happily.

I wasn’t sure about having a hive right in the middle of our, not so big, garden but I really like having the bees back there and you hardly even notice them.

Replacing a header…

When you take down all the walls you get to see what lies underneath. Which means you get to see that the header that is holding up the 2nd story of your house is bowing slightly. The big question is do you take the time to replace it (Dan says YES!) or do you just cover it back up and not worry about it (Sheila says YES, but what do I know?) What I do know is that the idea of taking it down and the possibility of the house collapsing kind of scares me!

First things first, you need to start hammering in new supports several days ahead of time so over the course of a week you can slowly raise the cross beams just enough so you can remove the old header.


Then you set up some type of pulley system so you and your 14 year old son can drop a header that ways several hundred pounds. Finally you start removing the studs that are holding it up. You also instruct said 14yp on the proper way to hold the ropes of the pulley system. Do NOT wrap ropes around any part of your body.



While I am taking pictures the whole time this is going on I am like a mother hen predicting dooms day. I was not comfortable with this at all!


Change of plans, Dan will hold header while Thomas removes a stud, it could start to drop any time now.


The first side has been freed, we’re expecting big things to happen. Surely the header will start to fall, any second now…


Hmm there is nothing holding this up why is it not moving?


OK maybe if we cut some of those nails, things will start to move.


Or if we get a pry bar and start prying the thing apart


Well its moved a little bit but it’s certainly not dropping on its own, who knew?


Switching things up again, Dan will hold it while Thomas pries it apart.


There we go, now it’s starting to drop.


And down she goes, slowly, slowly. No big dramatic drops here. I guess that pulley system did really work.


Man Dan is holding the ropes and the beam all at the same time, maybe I should put the camera down and help.


It really doesn’t look that heavy from this picture (side note when it was finally lying down on the floor, I couldn’t even slide it over an inch.)


Old header down and the new one is going up. Hey who’s holding the ropes? I thought maybe I finally jumped in to help but if I’m holding the ropes how would I be taking the pictures? Hmm not sure, but I did actually help a bit with this part.


And since things never go as easily as they should… We couldn’t quite get that side to lift all the way up, it was getting caught up on a piece of wood.


This process took quite a lot of time and lots of pounding. Both Thomas and Dan used a sledge hammer to try and pound this into place. BTW it is not easy work to pound a sledge hammer; upwards, over your head, over and over again!


Hold it Thomas, don’t let it fall!


Hey, there I am! Back to pounding supports yet again, this time to try and raise the header so it’s level. (At this point Dan started worrying that he was doing some type of irreparable damage to the foundation of the house. When the one person that is confident that what we’re doing is safe and secure, starts to worry, its not a good thing!)


We finally got the header raised and level, then Dan placed several 2X4’s on each side to hold it up and screwed it into place. At which point it occurred to him that it looks crooked,  not perfectly centered. After a quick measuring it was off by 2 inches on one side, so he had to unscrew everything and hit it over a couple inches. This entire project took all day to finish!

But it is finally done, level, centered, and cleaned up with no damage to any other part of the house!

We could NOT have done all this without Thomas’ help! He has been such a huge part of this renovation. I hope he is learning all the skills he’ll need to take care of his own house when he grows up.


Next job, insulating!

a slow (but exciting) weekend

We didn’t get anything done on the renovation this weekend. Dan and Thomas spent Saturday at a kids hunting event, skeet shooting, bow and arrow shooting and finally pheasant hunting. Thomas fired 3 shots but did not kill any poor birds. On Friday, however, Dan went pheasant hunting with a friend and did kill 3 birds. He brought them home for him and Thomas to skin and clean in the back yard. I’m not so sure I like this new hobby of there’s.

Then on Sunday we needed to get the yard cleaned up for winter. All the pots that were still sitting around needed to be put away in the lean-to. And the pond needed to be drained and dismantled. In the midst of cleaning things up Dan decided to pull out all of his stored wood from underneath the shed to see what he could use during the renovation. He got about 1/2 of it pulled out when something alive dropped down on his head. Let me back up and explain that to get underneath the shed you have to shimmy on your belly, so there is not a quick or easy way to escape. While I did miss seeing Dan reverse shimmy in high speed. I did hear enough commotion that I had to go outside to see what was happening.

After Thomas helped brush off Dan and Dan finished cussing and jumping around, they got flash lights and headed back to the shed to see what it was that attacked Dan.

And here’s what they found…a helpless, scared and huge possum! Look at how cool the ear is.



Dan then attempted to prod it out…


but that didn’t work.


Then they had the brilliant idea to go get our neighbor, Matt, along with his new paintball gun. They figured if they shot the paintball near the possum it would scare it out. Maybe if the possum just saw how crazy Matt looked it would have ran in fear.


No one wanted to be too near the opening/exit to the shed when the possum came running out.


But the possum hid, and not surprisingly did not run out while being shot at.


Then Dan went into full commando mode, shooting indiscriminately underneath the shed. His own form of “shock and awe.” But the poor possum just kept safe in its bunker and did not give up it’s new winter home.


In the end Dan gave up and the possum won this battle. Dan could not pull the rest of the wood out from underneath the shed and had to leave the possum to his new home. I believe step 2 will entail setting a trap.

Possibly this is Karma for killing those pretty pheasant on Friday.

How’s that renovation coming along?

It’s been more than a year since this madness began (read more here and here) but we are finally in the home stretch. The end is in sight and our construction calendar only has a few more weeks of tasks. Granted they are HUGE jobs…

This weekend: strip all the aluminum siding from the exterior of the house, scrape the flaking paint off the existing wood siding and then paint the house (yes all in one weekend, is that even possible?)

next weekend: install 7 new windows

the following weekend: insulate house

next: finish up framing

the next 2 weekends after that are for punch out (for you non construction types that means finish up all the loose ends)

Which puts us into Dec and then we can finally have someone come in and install the drywall (before Christmas!) Since we’re paying for someone to install the drywall it will be up but we will probably work on the mudding and sanding ourselves, so that may not be finished for a week or so.

Then we’ll sand and finish the wood floors.

In the mean time this is how the house looks with all these jobs going on: Construction supplies and tools have permanently taken hold of the kitchen floor!


The living room also has a wall of construction stuff piling up. Well it looks like I also have a few things lying around that need to be taken care of.


One of the job that has been completed is all new duct work. Dan LOVED the HVAC guy he brought in to help him with the job! Sam O’Neil from Best Price HVAC Solutions, LLC. He actually was the best price and he gave us great ideas on ways to fix some of our problems and he was really easy to work with. Since Dan did construction for many years he is very picky about anyone he hires and he was more than happy with Sam’s work!


new duct work going upstairs to our bedroom, we can already tell that everything is working much better upstairs than it has previously. Not only were we replacing all our duct work but almost all the vents had to be moved and rerouted.


We also replaced all the electric in the house. That was one of our main reasons for starting this renovation and again Dan was extremely happy with the electrician he brought in to help. He was very affordable and knowledgeable. If you’re looking for an electrician we highly recommend Tom Oettinger.

We still have some remnants of the plastic up. It will all be down soon to make way for the new windows.IMG_4290

Also on the list of things that needs to be done is replacing that massive (bowing) header that spans the living room. I’m a little concerned that the house will collapse during that job but Dan assures me that house don’t generally just collapse.


The living room still feels cozy even in this state of disarray.


While I was in LA Dan (with help from his dad, Daniel and Thomas) tore up our top level of wood flooring, to expose the original oak flooring underneath. Dan has always wanted to have this wider planked floor instead of the thin cheap looking floor that was covering it. It still needs to be repaired (lots of holes from all those relocated heating vents) sanded (I’ve already gotten several slivers) stained and sealed. I can’t wait to see how it looks when that’s all done!


We’ve saved one of the original built in cabinets and we’re hoping to find a new home for it somewhere in this renovation. I don’t want to lose all the old charm of my house by replacing everything with something new.


This used to be a bedroom, it is now our dining room and the wall has come down to open it up to the living room.


I really can’t wait to finish the office and finally declutter and set it up all nice and pretty. It’s always been a big pit but that’s about to end.


Even when all these room are completed the job will not be done. This winter we need to do the bathroom then next year we start the demo on the kitchen, we even have out idea board up to keep us inspired.


The neighbor’s fir tree

You might remember me writing about the neighbors tree that broke in half during the wind storm. Well it is finally time for the remaining tree to be removed. Here’s is the tree removal company parked in front of our house. They were her for about 9 very noisy hours cutting and chipping.


Dan wanted me to ask the guys if they would bring over some of the logs for firewood. And also if they would give him a 6 foot length of the trunk that he could turn into a bench. They were nice enough to use a dolly to wheel over the very large pieces of wood. I did count the rings on the tree and it was 45 years old. To bad it was growing in such an inhospitable spot for such a big tree.IMG_3402

That 6 foot piece needed to be brought in by crane


and it had to go over the electric lines. IMG_3422

That was really high and kind of scary as it was swinging around.IMG_3423

Down it comes to join the rest of the logs in my front yard. One has to wonder if it took a crane to put it there how will it ever be moved?


The tree guys said they would give me their card so that in 6 months when those logs were still sitting in my yard I could call them to come haul them away. Hey, how do they know us?