Fifth Housiversary

I can't believe it's been 5 years since we bought the house.  The actual date we took possession was August 24, 2005, so I'm a little late (imagine that!).

This has been by far the busiest year since we bought the house.  First, and most important, we had a baby!  Ethan is turning 1 next week, and I can't imagine my life without him.  He has a wonderful, happy personality, and he's incredibly curious and adventurous.  He crawls everywhere, gets into everything, and needs constant watching to ensure he doesn't inadvertently kill himself (which on some days it seems he's intent on doing!).  Parenthood is awesome, and I'm looking forward to the next year of this never-ending project.

Our next biggest project was the upstairs closet shuffle, which is functionally complete but still a cosmetic nightmare.  We installed Rubbermaid modular rods and shelving in both bedroom closets, and everything is painted.  I have the doors for the office closet, but haven't yet found any for the bedroom.  We also don't have the molding back up, although Shayne did fabricate matching trim for the doorways.

But we finally got the upstairs floors refinished!!  I hired out the sanding but did the shellacking on my own.  They look so much better.  They were never truly awful (except for the office floor), but the polyurethane was really lacking in depth and color. 

My favorite project of the year was one I did very little work on and has nothing to do with the house itself.  We took the plunge and got chickens, so Shayne built me a beautiful, big chicken coop.  My girls aren't laying yet, but should start soon.  The neighbors all think they're entertaining, so we let them free-range.  They do go a little farther than I thought...  Thye've been sighted as far away as the bar or the church at the corner, and once in a while a neighbor will shoo them home.  But they come running when they see me, which is nothing short of hilarious.  They stick their necks out and run straight at me, clucking for treats.  Our neighbors across the street laugh every time they see it, and Shayne calls me the chicken whisperer. 

The girls in their run
Shayne's favorite project is probably the shed.  He's still building it, but he wanted a place to store the riding mower, push mower, and garden tools.  Personally I think our garage is plenty big enough, but I'm not sure I have enough testosterone to say that with any authority.  I'm not complaining.  He's building it, it will match the chicken coop, and it makes him happy to build it.  And the more building experience he gets, the less likely it is that we'll have to pay someone to help us with house projects.

In the past year, we've also managed to flood the kitchen twice more, resulting in laminate flooring that will never, ever be the same.  Shayne bought some tiles to temporarily repair the messed up ceiling (I say "temporarily" because that entire room's days are numbered.  I cannot wait to gut it.  And the bathroom...), but Lowes no longer carries that particular color laminate.  The boards themselved don't look awful, but the tongue-and-groove part is damaged from the water.  We're going to try cutting off the tongues to see if we can just get it to lay flat until we totally remodel.  And we're going to have a clean-out installed in the main drain to prevent future back-ups.  And maybe a check valve in the dishwasher line so it can't back-up.  Ever.  Because if this had happened in my newly remodeled kitchen, I'd have a heart attack.

We added 4 more raised beds to the single one from last year.  I only planted a small garden this year, but harvested over 30 lbs of roma tomatoes.  My broccoli kind of fried in the heat, but the plants are still alive, and I have some hope for a fall harvest.  I also had a bumper crop of green beans.  I put up strawberry and raspberry jams, strawberry ice cream or cheesecake topping, cherry butter, pasta sauce, applesauce, and apple butter.  I still have corn and peaches left from last year.  I didn't freeze anything except the 7 chickens my friend raised.  We're in the process of rebuilding our food storage, since we've been using it more than rotating it...!

Another ongoing project (if you can call it that) is getting organized.  We've now lived here long enough to know how we use the house, so we've really started to pare down our belongings.  I'm saving 90% of Ethan's clothes, toys, and gear, but getting rid of most anything we haven't used in the past year.  I thoroughly reorganized the bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, living room, and bathroom, and we're working on the back porch/laundry room and basement.  Some of it is really difficult.  There are things that you only use occasionally, but it would be silly to get rid of.  And other things, like tools and renovation supplies (paint removers, sandpaper, etc) that I wish I didn't need, but I do.  But we're getting there...

In the next year, I'd really like to finish the upstairs.  Completely.  And install our "new" prairie-style front door.  That's all.


My new love

Please excuse the crappy cell phone photo, but I just had to share my newest Craigslist find...

I love Craigslist.  In case you can't tell from the picture, it's a quarter-sawn oak, Mission-style secretary.  In near-perfect condition.  I'll take a better photo when I get my camera back from my mom, but be assured that it is gorgeous.  I love how antique furniture looks so at home in this house. Whenever I get a new piece, it fits right in like it's been here forever.

I couldn't find any pictures, but this corner used to house a little "linen cabinet" that we bought while still living in our rental hovel.  It was about a third as wide and only had one drawer.  I tried to use it to organize mail and paperwork, but it was just too small.  I was able to fit everything (except the things I threw away!) inside the new desk, and it's now neatly organized.  I ended up pitching about 30 pens, which I feel bad about, but we just had way too many.  I swear they multiply.  We had pens from politicians, from businesses, and God-alone-knows-where-else.  I saved about 5 decent ones and put them in a pottery cup on the top, then tucked 10 or so more in one of the interior drawers.  That is plenty and will probably last us the next 5 years.

Saturday is going to be an organizational extravaganza.  My mom is watching Ethan almost all day, so I'm going to go through the cupboards on the back porch and reorganize everything.  I'm hoping to do the same in the bathroom.  And the "office".  And the buffet in the dining room.  Since I'll have about 8 hrs, I'm should be able to make my way through just about the entire house.  I don't have to worry about cleaning, since I've managed to keep up with housework this week, just all the other little things that never seem to get done and then turn into big ordeals.  Thankfully, I've already taken care of the kitchen, our bedroom, Ethan's room, and the basement pantry.

Shayne watched an episode of "Hoarders" last night, and told me today that he's determined to go through the basement and get rid of his junk and organize what he is keeping.  I'm amazed.  I thought he'd hang onto that stuff forever.  Maybe I should arrange for monthly viewings of the show to keep him motivated!


Busy and tired...

I never realized just how hard it would be to accomplish anything with a baby around.  Even with the use of baby carriers (which I can't figure out how some moms do without) I still just can't seem to accomplish as much as I feel like I should.  I haven't canned or frozen nearly as much food as I wanted to.  There are tomatoes and green beans out in the garden waiting to be picked.  I did get 7 quarts of spaghetti sauce canned last week, using only tomatoes that I grew.  That was a great feeling.  I've still got a few quarts left from last year, so I think I'm all set.  I found out that I don't eat as much marinara sauce as I thought I did!

I did make lots of jam, and I still have a half flat of raspberries in the freezer.  My grandma loves my jam, and I think she's been eating about twice as much as I have!  It's just about time to send her some more. 

I've also been busy just doing routine maintenence-type chores.  The freezer needed to be defrosted, which was a huge chore since the door didn't shut all the way at one time, and there were MASSIVE blocks of ice holding everything together on 2 of the shelves.  I also checked and organized my basement pantry in preparation for winter.  I don't anticipate such a huge snowstorm this winter that we would be homebound for a month, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.  I should stock up on baby formula next time it's on sale, just in case.  It was so much easier (and cheaper) when I was nursing...  I should also make sure we have enough kerosene.  We usually keep about 30 gallons on-hand in the winter.  If nothing else, Shayne will use it out in his garage workshop. 

Yesterday I edged the 75' long driveway and our front sidewalk.  Using a shovel.  It was nice enough that I could just plop Ethan on the grass, and he thought it was hysterical when I would jump on the shovel to dig it in.  I filled the wheelbarrow 4 times with all the overgrown grass, and our front sidewalk is 30% bigger.  I had no idea that so much grass had grown over the concrete, since we haven't edged in the 5 years we've lived here.  Yeek.

But the list of things-to-be-done still keeps growing.  I don't even want to get into it, since there are things on there that I've been needing to do for about 2 years.  I am taking some time off towards the end of the month, though, and I'm absolutely determined to have all of the living room woodwork back up and the stairway shellacked by the time I go back to work.