Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016!

Merry Christmas Everyone! I actually got my Christmas cards out earlier this week and now that all my friends and family have (hopefully) received them by now, I'm safe to post my Christmas letter here without taking the fun out of getting my Christmas card. There was lots to share in our Christmas letter this year, although it's maybe not news to you, my Internet Friends.

Before I begin though, I feel I need to remind you that Peanut Head is not my husband's real name. Hard to accept as it is, his real-life name is Clark, and I know, Peanut Head is a much easier name to remember, as many of my friends can attest to. 

Hello Friends!                                                                                 

What a wild and crazy year 2016 has been. Whew! We are exhausted. That’s on account of we moved out of our house and into a farm house ten miles outside of town. For years Clark has said that he wanted some land. It was never something I wanted because . . . dirt . . . and outside. Although I wasn’t against it per se, I just didn’t have any interest in pursuing it. Well, we’ve been married for 25 years now and we have two horse crazy girls for which we were paying way too much money for weekly English riding lessons, and one day we just got on the internet and started looking at property. We were looking at houses with five to ten acres where the girls could have a couple horses. Within a week we made an offer on a place and started frantically getting our house ready to sell. It’s been a whirlwind ever since. Our house sold in two weeks and we moved into our new (old) house in June.

So, a little about the new house . . . the original house was built in 1954 by a contractor, and it has beautiful crown molding in the living room. It was a teeny, tiny house with just two bedrooms and one bathroom. Technically there are two additional bedrooms in the basement, but there’s no bathroom down there and it smells like grandma, so we’re not using it for much. The original kitchen was about six feet by six feet, and has since been turned into an office. I’ve had small kitchens before, but I can’t even imagine cooking in a kitchen that small!

In 2006 the house was added onto and it basically doubled in size. Thankfully, a huge kitchen was part of the add-on, and we are loving that part. The rest of the add-on, however, is a little hokey. Also added was a family room, which is much too skinny, a mudroom, a three quarter bathroom, a strange room that could be called a den but we call the hub, a master bedroom, a laundry room, a sewing room, and a garage. The master bedroom was originally a detached garage, and the house was extended to meet that garage. Then a new garage was built on, which added the laundry room and the sewing room. The former kitchen window looks out into the garage. It’s bizarre. This house has character for miles, let me tell you.

There are also two outbuildings. The former owners ran a saddlery business out of one of the buildings and the other was a barn. Both outbuildings have been added onto, trailer park style. This is how I imagine DIY went down in la casa before we moved in:

“We need another room on the barn, Vern, let’s just nail up some plywood and slap some paint on it.

This door doesn’t fit my new wall. I’m just going to saw the bottom two feet off of it. So what if the doorknob is positioned for Hobbits? We’ll get used to it.

You say you want electricity? Here, let me just install an outlet on this pole, right here, out in the open and exposed to the weather. GFCI? What’s that? Heh! We don’t need no stinkin’ GFCI.

There’s a hole in that exterior wall, let’s just nail the Ping-Pong table to it. We’re not using it anyway, and it’ll keep the rain out.”

All of the repairs and improvements are like that. It’s terrifying. Clark is at his wits end, and his former dream of owning land has turned into a living nightmare. I feel bad about it, but ironically, I love it here. I love being out in the country. My doorbell never rings and I’m okay with that. I can put my jammies on at 5:00 p.m. and nobody cares because nobody knows. It’s a beautiful thing. And it is beautiful. There’s so much beauty that I never noticed before, and now it’s all around me. I enjoy looking at the countryside as I drive to and from work. I love coming home.


The girls love it because they can ride horses whenever they want. We’re boarding some horses and taking care of them, and the girls get to ride them whenever they want. Their chores have increased exponentially, however, and they have very little free time. They still manage to work in plenty of time for riding on the weekends though.

Personally, I’ve never been much of a horse person, but that’s probably because I never spent much time around horses. I have fallen in love with these horses though, and I thoroughly enjoy their unique personalities. They’re practically people, but better!

Bo aka "Mr. Bo-Jangles
Sweets aka Sweetie Boy
Bo-Bo and PJ aka Mr. Pajama Pants
We also have two Nigerian Dwarf Goats. Zoe volunteered at the zoo all summer and she insisted that we must have these goats. Oh my goodness, goats are basically creepy looking, pot-bellied dogs. The girls walk them on leashes while they wag their curly little tails. They run and chase after the girls, and they jump and climb on everything. It’s bizarre. They also cry like babies when you walk away from them. It’s enough to break your heart.

Since we moved out to the country, we accidentally got a second cat. I fell in love with a big, two year old Tom Cat at Petco, and I named him Barnaby Jones on the spot. After several weeks, and much dickering, we had finally settled on Barnaby Tiberius Jones for his name when the news came that he was a she. This threw us into a state of confusion and he/she was briefly Catlin Jenner while we sorted the whole name thing out. We finally decided on Cecilia or Ce-Ce for short. We spend a lot of time singing the Simon and Garfunkel song to her, and she knows that she has been adopted by crazy people. She is easily the most laid back cat we have ever had. She sleeps only on her back and with her entire body stretched out to its maximum length of two and a half feet. It’s a sight to behold.

Gunny is still alive and kicking, although he has had a rough year. At this time last year, Zoe was setting up obstacle courses for him to jump through and making videos of him, happy as a clam, jumping whatever jump she set up for him. Well, come spring we found out that Gunny had a torn ACL and he had to have surgery to repair it. This happened the week of our move, which we are calling the beginning of our season for hemorrhaging money. It’s been a long season.

In addition to Gunny being laid up, I had rotator cuff surgery three weeks before the move, so I was practically useless for all the packing and moving. Thankfully, both Gunny and I have healed and I’m happy to say that it was worth the pain and suffering. I like to pretend that I have a bionic shoulder now. I can even hear the Steve Austin music playing in my head.

Clark is still working for the Department of Energy and he has been doing a fair amount of travel this year. He even got to go to New York City and I was super jealous! The travel makes things extra challenging with us living farther away. The girls are waivered into our former district, so they don’t have the luxury of going home on the bus if one of us has something going on after school. I am also still working as a Math Specialist for the secondary schools, and I enjoy what I am doing. More importantly, I’m really enjoying my free time outside of school.

The girls and I are very happy, and we are working on slipping some relaxation and fun into Clark’s schedule. He is pooped. He is such a handy guy though, and there is much to be done . . . We hope this letter finds you all happy and healthy. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Clark, Jill, Zoe, and Annika

And that's it. Another year is just about in the books, and it has been a good one. I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, no matter what you celebrate.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Farmhouse Love Episode 3

Happy Thanksgiving week, Friends. What do you think of PJ's man bun? Stinkerbell gifted him with this new do.

As promised, I'm here to update you on the bathroom. It's about 65% done. I pretty much made that number up, but I think it's safe to safe that we are more than half done, so 65% sounds good.

Back in September we started with demolition and Peanut Head pulled the toilet and vanity out so we could tackle the floor first.

I scraped decades of linoleum off the sub floor and leveled what remained with thin set.

In retrospect, I think it might have been better to start with the shower surround first, but it's a waste of time to obsess over that now.

Once I prepped the floor to the best of my ability, Peanut Head came in and put the Hardi-Backer cement board down for the tile.

Then my weeks and weeks of work began. In reality I was only working on it one day a week, so when I say "weeks of work" that's because I have a real-life job to hold down and a house to tend to. You know, just like everyone else. Life.

Also, a professional probably could have banged this floor out in a half a day, but I am not a professional. It's been 15 years since I've laid a tile floor, and, as Toby Keith says, I'm not as young as I once was.

I also require time to watch You Tube videos which demonstrate the process in order to pump myself up.

And there were two or three times when I had to rip out small sections that weren't completely level and redo them. And that required at least one additional trip to Home Depot for more tile. And yet another delay for the grouting process--the step I was anxious to get to.

But finally that day came and it was oh so satisfying. And I'm not afraid to admit that I've spent a fair amount of time admiring my own handiwork. 

Soon after the grout was set, I was in there with paint covering up as much of the ugly as I could get my brush and roller on. Before I started on that, Peanut Head pried the trim off the window and door because we're going to replace the trim with thicker farm house trim.

I'm obsessed with farm house everything right now, and I blame Joanna Gaines for that.

Peanut Head even taught me how to use the router so we could make our own baseboard. This is the fun part and the part that is so satisfying to me. Every little thing we add right now makes me giddy.

I'm quite sure Peanut Head is ready to divorce me because all of it leads to more work for him.

I love him so much.

The new toilet is awesome. I know it's pretty weird to talk about a toilet like that, but I'm here to say that you don't skimp on toilets. Yes, you're just going to poop in it, but you don't ever want to see that poop again, do you?

Extreme flushing power. I feel that's all I need to say.

We kept the door, even though it has seen better days. We were able to fill the dents and holes with wood filler, and I hated to paint over the original wood, but it looks so much better now.

We replaced the knobs though because they didn't even match. One of them was sort of bronzey and the other was silver. It's like it was pieced together out of a junkyard or something.

Rather than rip out the old, worn cabinetry, I opted to paint. It would have been a major ordeal, and it provides a decent amount of storage in what is a very tiny bathroom. I stenciled as well to camouflage some of the many flaws. It still needs to be trimmed out, and Peanut Head is going to replace the outlet with a larger outlet.

We found the farmhouse light fixture at Lowe's and it is super bright. The girls and I love it. You can see every pore.

We were pretty limited on our choices for a vanity because this bathroom is so tiny and we had to accommodate the plumbing. This unit didn't break the bank either. 

The girls picked out the fixture, and I don't love it, but it's their bathroom. It just seems kind of tall for the size of the vanity.

I had one of these Target units in our last house, and I hated to leave it behind so I bought another one for this house before we moved. It looks so cute in this bathroom.

Peanut Head made this farm house mirror frame and I love, love, love it.

I hot glued decorative knobs over the holes where Peanut Head screwed it into the wall. Also in a couple other spots to keep everything symmetric and cute.

And that's where we are right now. We have a lot of trim work to do, but most all of it has to wait until the shower/tub surround is tiled. We still have to demo that, but we aren't going to start until after Thanksgiving because Aunt Marcia is visiting.

That and we need a break. 

In the meantime I've become sidetracked by painting my interior doors Sherwin Williams' Urbane Bronze. I found a color swatch on Pinterest and I'm in love.

Parenting by phone is also still alive and well in our house. These text screen shots clearly illustrate the difference in personality between Zoe Bug and Stinkerbell.

I'm ashamed to say that Stinkerbell gets her snarkiness from her parents.

And Zoe Bug gets her sweetness from her Aunt Marcia.

She sure as heck doesn't get it from her parents. 

I love having these gems documented for all of eternity. They will come in handy when they are grown and I'm exacting my revenge.

Insert giddy, maniacal laugh. 

Have a very happy and safe Thanksgiving, my Friends.


Monday, November 7, 2016

Farmhouse Love Episode 2

Remember when I said I hoped to be posting a little more often with the progress on the bathroom? And that was close to two months ago? Yeah, well I should have known better.

I'd like to say that I've made a lot of progress on the bathroom, but the truth is that it has been slow going. The main problem is that we have a lot of work to do outside before the snow flies, so we've been frantically working to get the outside areas ready for the winter.

Progress is being made, but I am so tired. And everything hurts.

So let's see what has happened since we last met.

We had to make some time to shop for the new range you see here. When we moved in, one of the front burners on the existing range didn't work, and when we called a repair person out to take a look at it, we were told that the element was burned out and it would be cheaper to replace the range than to repair it. This is on account of it was not a top of the line appliance to begin with. I'm being nice.

This is another fine example of the fact that the Inspection that you pay big bucks for when you buy a house does not catch everything. Or even that much, if I'm really being honest. And I'm being honest.

You may have noticed that the range is not centered underneath the upper cabinets, and yes, it makes me extremely twitchy. It's even more noticeable because of the tile pattern. When we replace the countertops, someday, I will pull all that tile out and replace it with something that won't draw attention to the lack of symmetry.

This does not look like work.

There has to be some play time, I guess.

The girls ride the horses whenever they can, usually on the weekends when their homework is done. In this picture, Stinky is riding Bo-Bo. His full name is Boston Something I Forget, but I call him Boston Cream Pie sometimes and Mr. Bo Jangles other times. Mostly I just call him Bo-Bo. Like the clown, except clowns are not cool right now and Bo-Bo most certainly is cool.

This is a pile of detritus. We have this stuff everywhere. We've been pulling down dilapidated structures and repairing what we can, reclaiming materials whenever we can't, and tossing or burning the rest.

And some of my California relatives (my sister) have a little heart attack when I post pictures of burning that stuff on Facebook. I'm probably sending the ashes to her for Christmas because that's how I roll.

We pulled a chicken house off the back of that loafing shed you see in the background. Inside we found a petrified egg and a petrified kitten. We had to chase Gunny to reclaim the kitten carcass because he took off running with it thinking that it was a new toy just for him.

Peanut Head pulled part of this feed trough apart. I say part because it also serves as a fence, and we didn't want to end up without this area fenced in.


And this is what it looked like after Peanut Head pulled it apart. The only problem was that as a fence, it was no longer tall enough so he had to add wire to it to keep the horsey boys in.

Those naughty boys are straight out of a Far Side cartoon. They will seize any opportunity they can to get into trouble. More on that in a bit.

This is some of the wood that was reclaimed from the chicken house and the feed trough.

Here's the fence with the wire added. Peanut Head added the flags so the boys could see it and they wouldn't try to run through it. I don't know if that was supposed to be some kind of statement about how big their brains are or what, but who am I to argue? The flags are pretty anyway.

The girls set up this round pen so they can work with the boys.

It always makes me laugh when Stinkerbell is in there exercising one of the boys because it looks to me like she's the one being exercised and the horsey boy is just skipping along laughing at her.

This is the loafing shed we've been trying to get ready for the horsey boys for winter. The room on the left used to house chickens, and Peanut Head cleared loads of old junk out of there, knocked out a wall, and rewired the electrical. Now we're using that room to store hay and grain for the horsey boys.

This is the back of the loafing shed. That little door is how the chickens got from the inside of the coop to the outside.

Do you see that ping pong table being used to patch holes? This very clearly illustrates the kind of Mickey Mouse repair jobs that we run into on a daily basis.

No offense to Mickey Mouse, but he is no handy man.

You know before it can get better it's got to get uglier, right. All of this had to come off in order for Peanut Head to work his magic.

Demolition continued.

And continued.

In the meantime we had a five tons of hay which was going to be delivered, so we had to prepare for that. One day Peanut Head and I went and bought a bunch of pallets to line the floor of the room off the loafing shed. 

The idea is to keep the hay off the ground so that it stays dry.

Then the hay was delivered and we were tired so we put a fence in front of the hay room and went to bed.

The next day when Zoe went out to feed the horsey boys, they were all laying down in the field drunk on hay.

Sometime in the night they knocked the gate over and helped themselves to a midnight snack.

And then they had the nerve to continue to graze all throughout the day.

PJ here, also known as Mr. Naughty Pants, is the Ringleader.

Yes, he and Gunny share that name.

And Sweets . . . he's a follower. PJ and Bo-Bo peer pressure him.

Peanut Head finished patching this side of the loafing shed.

And then this one. Notice that no ping pong tables were hurt in the process.

This was just after Peanut Head got started on the back of the shed. The back of it took a lot longer because there was a lot of tear down needed for Peanut Head to be able to carry out his vision.

He's an artist.

Most of the time I had no idea what he was doing. I just had to trust that he generally does know what he's doing.

We really like the new door to the hay room.

And then Peanut Head did this and I was all "It's a little airy, don't you think?"

Trust in the Peanut Head though. Like I said, he generally knows what he's doing.

Bit by bit, it all started coming together.

The little windows are my favorite. Do you know what they're for?

Here's a hint, they aren't so you can have easy access to kissing horsey boys. Although you could do that if you wanted.

Isn't that nifty? These little windows make the whole feeding of the beasts a whole lot easier. The boys tend to get a little grabby at mealtime and they don't have any qualms about yanking hay right out of your hands, so this helps with that some.

And then this happened. Peanut Head thought we were having a little too much free time so he had two cords of wood and twelve yards of saw dust delivered from the pallet company. I think it was a week and a half ago, but my days, they blur together.

As luck would have it, it started raining right after it was delivered so we had to buy a gigantic tarp to keep it dry until we could deal with it.

When the rain subsided to a drizzle, the sawdust was spread around the loafing shed stalls to keep them from getting so muddy. That and the saw dust is just prettier than mud. I'm sure that won't last long though.

It's highly likely that we have no idea what we're doing.

Wouldn't you know that Stinkerbell came up with the idea to make saw dust angels. I'm telling you, this kid is classic ADHD. I'm not qualified to make that diagnosis or anything, but I feel that all the evidence clearly supports my WebMD assisted diagnosis.

The girls and I have been stacking piles and piles of wood in every dry nook and cranny we can find. At last count we had eleven separate wood piles.

I'm so tired.

Some of the wood is too long for our wood burning stove, so we have to cut it to size. I wish I would have thought to take a picture of the sawdust pile in front of the table saw. I could go take a picture, but I'm sitting on the couch right now and I think I'm stuck.

That's the neighbor's kitty chilling on the ATV. Just another distraction for Stinky. 

We are almost done. Can you see the light at the end of the tunnel?

Yeah, me too, so tomorrow Peanut Head is having fourteen yards of gravel delivered.

Argh! That man.

I know the snow is going to start flying any day now, and with that will come some free time. Man, it can't get here soon enough. My plan is to do another post this weekend, or next week sometime at the latest, because I have bathroom pictures to share. Like I said, it's not finished, but we are making progress and I want to show that to you. Until then, Peace Out.