Finally! A shower!

If you’ve been reading this blog from the beginning, you know the trials and tribulations we’ve gone through whenever we’ve needed to do anything related to the plumbing at the farm.

The shower has been no different. IMG_20171207_173941.jpg

You see, there’s never been a shower at the farm. Only a bathtub. I know some folks love baths, but I’m not one of them. I have things to do. I want to get showered and move on with my day.

A couple of months ago (yes, MONTHS), I decided it’d be nice to have a shower at the farm. But I knew we weren’t ready for a major remodel, so I wanted something easy. I bought a new bath spout that had a riser with a shower head on it. One like this. Easy schmeasy. I told our youngest son to take care of installing it. I mean, unscrew the old spout, screw on the new one, put the riser with the showerhead on… instant shower. He’s earned the plumbing merit badge for Boy Scouts, I figured it’d be no problem.

Except the pipe protruding from the wall was too long. So the spout sat about an inch away from the wall. That wasn’t going to work. We repackaged the new one and returned it.

I kept looking. And found another one. A longer one. Which didn’t have the riser, but had an adapter to put a handheld shower on it. I figured that would work. Except it didn’t either. It ALSO wasn’t long enough. The problem wasn’t that I’m just terrible at measuring — it was that most of these spouts have few or no measurements of the interior of the spouts.

So, I bought a third one. And held few hopes that this one would work. But holy cow! It DID!!! Bri got it installed and hooked up the handheld shower and it worked great. We still need to install something to mount it to the wall, but we’ve got a plan for that.

So, now it was time to put up the shower curtains, and we were in business.

I’d brought two shower curtains and two shower rods (there’s a wood-framed window in the bathroom that we need to protect for now). The one covering the window went up no problem. The second one — one of those curved rods that give you a bit of extra room in the tub so the plastic shower curtain doesn’t stick to you while you’re showering — was not as easy.


Hello! So, yes. This hadn’t been my project until now. But when we discovered that this third diverter was going to be the ticket, we decided to plow ahead. Rear shower curtain up. Front shower curtain…doesn’t fit.

How could it not fit? Allow me to explain!

This rod is also a tension rod. But it’s isn’t one in the traditional way. You don’t unscrew it, set it to length, give a quick turn, and lock it in. Instead, there are a series of holes and a little ball toggle that will lock into one of those hole locations and then you can fine adjust by turning one of the ends of the rod. Problem with this was, of course, the holes available for the large adjustment didn’t give us the length we needed.


More holes required.

That meant going outside.

What Erin didn’t tell you all, at the beginning of this post, is that she had had “one of those weeks” at work.

On, I don’t know, Wednesday of that week, she said something to the effect, “Regardless of the weather and with or without you, I’m going to the farm this weekend.”

And so, regardless of the weather, we went. When we got to the farm Friday evening, it was -24. Actual temperature.

When I stood in the bathroom the next morning knowing that I’d have to go outside to make this work, it had warmed up to -18.

But. Knowing this was the third try on this shower thing, and knowing that Erin had been looking forward to it for months, I put on my boots, my parka, and my gloves, and headed out to the shop.


See how happy I am to be headed out when it’s -18??

Out to the shop I went. I knew there was a drill press out there, and that’s precisely what I needed.


I found the appropriate drill bit, the appropriate punch to indicate where I’d like to drill, and got the new hole done.


For good measure, I even added two of them. You know, to be sure.

I’d only been in the shop for about ten minutes, but I was freezing. Still, I put everything back where I found it, shut off the lights, and headed back in.


It might not be far from the house to the shop, but at -18, it’s far enough!

Got back in the house. Boots off, parka off, gloves off, took the rod into the bathroom and triumphantly put it in place.

That’s what I envisioned, anyway.

What really happened was, I extended the rod into the new holes and discovered it still didn’t fit.

I wasn’t…mad, per se. I was baffled. I don’t know how in the world we measured it wrong…but we clearly had!


Boots on, parka on, gloves on, back to the shop.


I’m not going to lie. I wasn’t nearly as precise with the third hole. It was not my finest work.


Totally off the line. I’m disappointed. But, I’m also cold. My eyelashes are frozen, my mustache is frozen, my nose hairs are frozen, I’m ready to be back inside with a cup of coffee.

So, back to the house. Boots off, parka off, gloves off.

Into the bathroom, put the rod together and discover that the hole I made is just enough off the line that the little ball doesn’t want to fit in it right. The curved rod doesn’t have as much side-to-side as a straight obviously would. So I do the only thing I’m willing to do, I try to use all my might to twist the curved rod enough to pop into place.

I’m straining, maybe grunting, I’m envisioning breaking one or both halves of this rod trying to get it turned enough to get it in place. I may have heard a tenative, “Bri?” from the other room as Erin’s hearing the weird noises of exertion I’m making in the bathroom when I hear


It’s in place!

And with that:


The shower was up.

And so, on that cold Saturday morning, somewhere around 94 years after the house was built, months after the project was first embarked upon, I enjoyed the very first shower in it.



Something on the side(table)

In a recent post, I mentioned my excitement over a pair of mid century nightstands I’d found in a thrift store right after Christmas.

I’ve developed a love for mid century design over the past 5 years or so and keep an eye out for nice pieces whenever I’m thrifting or browsing Craigslist. This pair is in great shape, solidly built, and just $20 each.

When my parents were over for dinner a couple days later, I had to show them off and my dad said that they were a mahogany veneer. Nearly all mid century furniture is veneered and some tables and dressers have a laminate top. While the laminate is handy when trying to avoid water stains from your drinks, I’m not a fan of the look and prefer to purchase those with the wood (veneered) surfaces.

IMG_20180107_113028.jpgOne of the tables was in worse shape than the other (though, again, great shape for a 60ish-year-old table) and kind of looked like some of the stain and lacquer had chipped off. There were also tiny paint spatters on both nightstands (from my own experience, I’d bet they were too close to a wall that was being painted with a roller). The paint came off easily with my thumbnail. The light spots, though, needed some attention.

I know some people would strip the wood and refinish it, but I love the rich color of the mid century finish and whenever I’ve seen a refinished piece, it just doesn’t look the same, so I’ve never done it on my furniture. My dad, who spent his career as an electrical engineer, but is a great woodworker among other things, suggested that I just sand the finish lightly with 0000 steel wool.

I dug through a box of painting supplies that I’d picked up this summer at a rummage sale. There was some 00 steel wool in the box, so I decided that was probably good enough. As you can see in the photo of the steel wool, the lower the number, the finer the finish (much like how sandpaper is rated so that the higher the number, the finer the grit). I’ve never used steel wool for sanding, but have read about it and it worked nicely. It just took a light layer of the finish off, smoothing out some of the minor imperfections.

After that, it was time for my go-to product for wood furniture and woodwork. Watco’s Danish Oil is a mixture of oil and varnish that comes in a number of different wood tones. It helps stain the small scratches (and chips, in this case), oils the dry wood and creates a finish that helps protect it in the future. It’s kind of greasy feeling when you first apply it, so I try to keep items off it for a few days after I apply it. After a couple days, the oil has generally soaked in and the finish “hardens.” I use it whenever my furniture looks like it’s a bit dull — probably 3-4 times a year.

IMG_20180110_140928.jpgDoes it make the furniture look like it’s brand new? Nope. But it’s 60-year-old furniture that is going to be used by our family. It doesn’t need to look like it came out of the showroom. But it looks better and is better protected against our use, so I’m just fine with that.

With the tables polished up, it was time to take them to the farm. I was SUPER excited to finally put the west bedroom together. The one I’ve been planning to use as the master since we took on this project.

We set up the bed (yet another of the $200ish memory foam mattresses from Amazon that we’ve put in all the bedrooms), got the sheets and comforter on the bed, and brought in the tables. And realized this:IMG_20180112_204256.jpg

Whomp whomp whomp… Though the room is large, it’s not wide enough to hold a king-size bed AND two 24″-wide  nightstands. *sigh* That’s what happens when I don’t measure.

So, I’m now on the hunt for a super skinny nightstand for the right side of the bed. It seems unlikely that the heavens will part a second time with ANOTHER pair of perfect nightstands. For now, one is living in the master and the other is in the little south bedroom, where I’d hoped to place a small dresser to use as a nightstand anyway.

And maybe, if we decide to remove a chair or two from the living room, they could be end tables.

Who knows? They’re still great tables and I’ll figure out the perfect spot for them. Just not quite where I’d hoped they’d be.



Recent additions

As I mentioned in my last post, we haven’t had a lot of time to get out to the farm recently. I went out a couple days in December (as Bri mentioned in his post about fixing the cuckoo clock) to get the baseboards done on the second floor and haul the final bed to the farm.

I’d been working on baseboards on the second floor, which were a miserable project I’ll detail later.

While I was there, though, I pulled together a few easier things that were more enjoyable.


I put up a small Christmas tree with decorations from the farm. I also hung a wreath on the antlers that Bri’s uncle had hung on one of the trees near the entrance to the farm.

IMG_20171207_131811.jpgI found a chair that’s very similar to some of those around the dining table at the farm.  It was driving me nuts that there were only 3 of the smaller chairs and two taller ones, so I snapped a photo of the smaller ones and put it on my thrifting wish list. Less than a week later, I ran across the one on the right for $10. The color is a bit darker and the seat is shaped a bit differently, but it’s very similar, sturdy, and the price was right.  And now the seating at the table will be symmetrical. Thank goodness!

IMG_20171126_094427.jpgJust before our post-Thanksgiving gathering, I painted the main floor bedroom and put down a coat of Minwax Floor Reviver on the floor (I’m hoping Brian will forget how awful the floor refinishing was so we can do this final room in the future, but for now, the Reviver helped shine it up a bit). I placed a few things to make it into an office/sewing room. I need to do some research on oiling sewing machines, but Bri’s grandma’s old Singer worked well enough for me to add some fabric to the bottom of the too-short curtains my mom gave me for the room. The rug is probably a bit modern for this house, but the $5 rummage sale price tag made it a good fit for now.

IMG_20171207_131857.jpgBrian also tried out the laundry situation for the first time recently. All of the septic and well issues this summer have made us a little gun-shy when it comes to the plumbing, but he decided it was time to try out the washer recently. It worked just fine, but he said he now knew why his grandma had a lamp in that little corner of the bathroom. He couldn’t see into the washer at all. So, I picked up an inexpensive clip lamp that works great in this dark nook. We hope to purchase a stacked all-in-one washer and dryer unit in the next year or two, but for now, this $6 fix will work.


IMG_20171228_202536_836.jpgAnd finally, I had a couple of days off right after Christmas and spent a bit of time thrifting. I found a great matching pair of mid century nightstands that I plan to use in the new master bedroom. They’re solidly built, the drawers glide nicely and a fresh coat of Danish Oil should get them looking really good again. I’m a huge fan of mid century furniture, so at $20 each, I’m thrilled with this find!




Pulling it all together

We haven’t had a lot of time to get out to the farm the past couple of months, but there has been some progress made.

We really saw a lot of our efforts come together the weekend of Thanksgiving. I had to work the Friday after Thanksgiving, so we didn’t spend the holiday there, but that Saturday, we invited all of the immediate family in the area to an “open house” of sorts. We all brought Thanksgiving leftovers, Bri made a big pot of turkey noodle soup, and we enjoyed visiting with Bri’s cousins, aunts and uncles.


The table is one that we brought from our house in town. The color happens to match the dining chairs at the farm almost perfectly.

With the floors nearly all redone, we laid down area rugs and brought a couple loads of furniture from our house in town out to the farm. The living room is pretty jam-packed with couches and chairs, but it was nice to have a lot of seating that evening as 16 of us chatted in the living and dining rooms.

This was the first chance that some of Brian’s cousins have had to see the changes we’ve made to the house. I know that it would be difficult for me to see things change so drastically in my own grandparents’ home, but Bri’s family has been so generous in their support of what we’ve been doing. I think they all understand that the changes that we’re making really are out of love for this place and the family history that it represents and our desire to keep this special home in the family for many more years to come.

As we sat and visited, we put on an old Disney movie for one of the younger members of the family, and someone remembered that there were still puzzles tucked away. The little one sat on the floor, repeatedly putting together the puzzles that held her grandfather’s and great-aunt’s names on them, smiling with pride each time she fit the last piece in place.

And as we sat with everyone there, recalling funny family stories and missing those who are no longer with us, it reinforced why Brian and I took on this crazy project. All of the hours of cleaning out septic pipes, sanding floors on our hands and knees, cleaning, painting and driving back and forth were absolutely worth it as we sat with family, sharing memories and creating new ones.

Brian and I hope you’ve had a happy holiday season and we wish you a very Happy New Year.


Pane and suffering

I needed to use up some vacation time recently and took a five-day weekend to get some things around our house and the farm done.

With winter breathing down our necks, we knew we wouldn’t get to everything we’d hoped when we took on the farm house early this spring. But we felt that there were a few things that were in desperate need of attention. Namely, the windows.

We’re not sure how drafty the windows are, but we had similar ones in our first house, so we’re familiar with their challenges. We’d considered replacing all of the windows, but after reading some online sources, I found that if we get the originals and storms in decent working order, they could be nearly as energy efficient as new windows — without the larger expense or the potential for breaking up the plaster walls inside the house during replacement.

We knew that at least one window on the north side of the house was in dire need of help. The exterior sill is completely rotted and the rot had spread upwards into the side trim pieces of the window. It was really the project that intimidated me the most, so I decided to wait until Brian could come out to the farm with me so we could work through that mess together.

Instead, I decided to work on a couple of the other windows that needed attention, but weren’t in quite such dire condition.


A piece of glass glued over the hole in another piece of glass? That’s too frugal even for me.

If you’re not dealing with rot, fixing up a window isn’t very difficult, just a bit time-consuming. I began by removing the storm windows. One, you can see, had an unusual repair done to it. I’m all for frugality, but a piece of glass glued over the hole in another is pushing it for me. I would’ve tried to just replace the pane, but didn’t think I’d be able to replace the dried-up rubber that had held the glass in place. Amazingly, I was able to find storm windows in-stock at Menards that were the correct size for several of the windows on the first floor. They’re Larson brand with low-E glass and less than $70 each, which I thought was pretty reasonable, especially while on sale.

I tackled four of the 10 first-floor windows. After removing the storms, I scraped off all loose paint on the window frames and trim. I then scraped and chipped out as much of the window glazing as possible. Glazing is the putty-like material that holds the glass in the window, as well as seals it to keep air from passing through. On those without rot, I immediately cleaned them up (a vacuum works well for this), then used an oil-based exterior primer, as recommended by the window glazing packaging. I moved from window to window, working on each step so while one’s primer was drying, I could be working on preparing the next window.

After the primer dried, I made sure there were enough glazier’s points holding in the glass (these are just little metal clips that are pushed into the frame of each sash to hold the glass in place). You them take a glob of glazing from the tub and push it into place along the glass and window frame. After getting the glazing smashed into place (you want it to form a wedge of material that will shed any water that may get against the glass), you run your putty knife along the glazing at an angle to smooth it out. I found an angled tool that I’d never seen before (and then looked up some videos online to find out how to use it) for smoothing out the glazing. I’m still not certain whether it’s more useful than just using a plain putty knife, but I think with a little more practice, it will be handy.

I tried to give the glazing a bit of time to set up before going back to paint the frames and window trim. The glazing is supposed to have 7-14 days to firm up, then be painted with an oil-based paint to seal it, but we just didn’t have weather (or time in our schedules) for that to happen, so I focused on getting the wood sealed instead. After the paint dried, I caulked everything that I could (without risking sealing the windows shut), and when Brian was there with me that weekend, we placed the new storms caulked them in place (but not the bottom of the storm. NEVER the bottom of the storm! You need to leave the weep holes open to help avoid the rot we’re dealing with now.).

Now, the two windows that had the rotted sills posed some extra problems. That’s where the suffering came in. First, I thought the sills were in two pieces and only the exterior piece was rotted. Unfortunately, that was not the case. It was one piece of wood that had been milled with slight lip on it, and the rot extended further than we initially though. Then, after digging out all of the rot, we found that it extended into the framework inside the wall that holds the window up. This was particularly true on the north window. We finally came to the conclusion that we’ll try to deal with that in the spring and we’d just deal with the outside issues for now (honestly, there’s a good chance that the windows have been in this condition for decades, so one more winter probably won’t make much of a difference).

The north window also had a broken pane in the lower sash. I ordered a new piece of glass from our neighborhood hardware store, since there’s nothing close to the farm. Brian and our youngest were able to get the old glass out safely (it’s somewhat unnerving to remove a 100ish-year-old piece of glass; I imagined all sorts of horrendous things happening if it happened to break unexpectedly) and went to place it in the window. And OF COURSE there was a problem. I’d measured the opening perfectly. But on the lower sash of these windows, the glass actually slides up into a groove at the top of the sash. It isn’t glazed in that area. So, the piece of glass I’d had cut was 1/4-inch too short for the window. Argh! I’d brought my glass cutter with me, so I checked some of the storms we’d removed to see if one of them could be cut to the correct size, but none were quite large enough. *sigh* There’s always a setback. And not being near a hardware store is just so frustrating, when you’re used to having several options within 10-20 minutes’ drive in town.

We switched our attention to the window trim… which I’d purchased pieces of wood that were too thick. *fantastic* Luckily, we were able to get the sills in place. To fill in the rotted area, I’d purchased a wood epoxy. It’s a several-stop process, where you brush a hardener onto the remaining strong wood, then mix a two-part epoxy putty-like substance that you press into place to form new “wood.” After it dries, you can sand, paint and drill or nail into it. I’ve never used this before, but my dad said he had with good results, so we went for it. I’m not sure that I got quite enough epoxy into the voids, but it will be fine for the winter and we can revisit them next year.

Finally, that Sunday, in cold, cruddy weather, Brian and I went out to the farm for just a few hours to finish things up. We got the correct pieces of wood for the side trim of the windows (we had to use decking material to have the correct thickness and my dad ripped them to the correct width on his table saw), finished placing, sanding, priming and painting the sills and placed the last two storm windows.

They look SO much better!

And now, the snow has already arrived, so we likely won’t be doing any more fixes until spring, but we made some progress. I’ve also convinced Brian that, after working on the windows and trim and finding more and more soft, rotten spots in the siding, we just need to accept the idea of having the house re-sided next year. We’ll continue to do smaller, more affordable projects inside the house during the winter, get the roof paid off, and start putting away some funds for new siding.

The Rest of the Story…

The story of our roadtrip does lose something when written down, but, here it is:

So, our friend and I went into town (with a short detour for a 5-minute tour of the tiny town near the farm) and Googled the nearest hardware store. The nearest decent-sized town isn’t a big city, but there’s a small college there, so it’s not miniscule. We found a tiny little Ace Hardware downtown. We walked in and when asked what we needed help with, I said “I need a belt sander.” The guy said, “Man, everyone must be working on their floors this weekend. Are you sanding your floors?”

I said, “Yes.”

“Boy, I never sell belt sanders, and I’ve sold two today. My only two.”

*sigh* “Do you know of anywhere else in town we could get one?”

“Not today. Not on a Sunday.”


So, rather than drive the (now) hour and a half back to Fargo, we attempted to find some supplies to MacGyver the sander. Finding some gasket material and electrical tape that is good to 220 degrees, we paid and headed back out. But before heading back to the farm, we decided to be SURE that there were no other options for a sander nearby. The other hardware store that’s open on Sundays? It was closed due to the holiday weekend. So, we tried a Shopko, thinking it might be like at Kmart — but it didn’t sell tools, either. Shopko. Not like Kmart. Got it.

So, we decided to hit the liquor store before heading home. I needed margarita mix for the tequila our friend had brought.

We stopped at a liquor store with two women, seemingly loitering outside, and wondered if IT was open. Our friend suggested we take our cue from the women outside, “They look like they know their way around.”

And indeed they did, so when they went inside, we followed them in. Turns out that one of the women was the clerk, who’d been outside for her smoke break.

Finding the margarita mix was no problem and we went up to pay, but when we did, I saw something strange: little packets of pickle juice that were meant to be frozen into popsicles.

“So… pickle juice popsicles? That’s a thing?” I asked.

“Oh, yeah,” the woman said. “People like them in bloody Marys or I like them in beer with tomato juice.” She continued, “They’re GREAT on a hot day like today. I could be sitting home drinking them, getting LOADED, but instead I’m here. And it’s been busy today.”

Our friend and I mumbled our sympathies, paid and hustled out the door, barely able to hold back our laughter. We both agreed that the way she’d said that she could be getting LOADED made it sound like that was her second job…that she wished was her first.

We headed back to the farm, through road construction, a bit dejected over our failed shopping trip, but hopeful we could “Schulz it up” (that’s a family reference to making due with what you have, whether it’s because you don’t have the proper materials or you’re using a cheaper alternative).

Our friend set to dismantling the sander to try to make our modifications to it — while we all had a much-deserved drink. I headed back to the dining room to try to make just a bit more progress before leaving the house for dinner.

That old, cheap sander didn’t go down easy, though, and refused to come apart (even though our friend’s an engineer and pretty handy with tools). So into the garbage it went … along with any hopes of finishing both the sanding in both rooms.

So… to heck with it. We cleaned up a bit and headed to Bri’s aunt and uncle’s house who graciously were cooking our food at their place — in the much-needed air conditioning. We enjoyed great food, drinks and cool air for a few hours before heading back to the farm for a bonfire (in the grill, because we haven’t found or created a fire pit yet) before bed.

The elephant has left the room

After a less-than-satisfying start to our Labor Day weekend — but a decent night’s sleep, since we’d gone back home — we were ready to make some progress on the Sunday of the long weekend.

We’d bought every package of 36-grit sandpaper for the rented sander that the hardware store had and were ready to make some headway on the floors. But first, we had deal with another issue:

IMG_20170826_130313The damned couch.

We’d fought with it and eventually got it into the main floor bedroom the previous weekend, managing to scratch and gouge the floor in the process. At first, I thought that’d pretty much be the end of it. We’d refinish the floors, haul it back to the living room, maybe throw a blanket over it and live with it until I found something that I loved for a fabulously low price.

Then my mom mentioned that it’s probably holding much of the lingering cigarette smell that’s left in the house. True.

Then Bri brought up the question of “what if we refinish the floors and have them looking great and we bring the couch back out and it scratches the floor again?”

That sealed its fate.

Bri brought the reciprocating blade saw from home. He cut away the fabric to get a look at the frame. We measured the outside door (still not sure how they got that couch in the house in the first place), then decided about 4 inches needed to come off the back so we could get it out without doing further damage to the house.


Yup. That was about perfect.

The two of us got it out of the bedroom, out of the dining room door, and Bri unceremoniously pushed it off the cement steps.

We decided that Bri’s grandmother would have been APPALLED that we’d ruined a perfectly good piece of furniture. And to be honest, a little part of me feels the same way. I definitely grew up with the values of using things until they wore out and if you didn’t want them anymore, you took them to the thrift store so someone else could get some use out of them.  But we had a vendetta against this thing. It had to go.

We pulled it apart, hauled some of it to the burn pile (sadly, it was too windy to burn that weekend, so I’m not sure we’ll get the pleasure of seeing it go up in flames), and dismantled the pull-out mechanism. Bri has the idea of trying to make it into a roll-away cot. We’ll have to see if that comes to fruition or if the metal gets hauled to the scrap metal dealer — for now, it’s hanging out in the garage for later while I look for ideas on Pinterest.

And now, with that task out of the way, we could get on with the floors.

Vacation: Days 6-7

Well, here it is, the end of my time off and I’m behind on blog posts.

On Thursday, I spent the day at home working on a few projects around the house and beginning work on my oldest son’s T-shirt quilt for his dorm room. My mom and I got a good start on that  — until we ran out of interfacing and had to quit until I can get more ordered online. I count 100 T-shirts I saved from school, Scouts, sports and music groups and events from the time he was in kindergarten. There should be plenty for a quilt (possibly front and back!).

Friday I was back at the farm.


First coat of poly is finally on the stairs!

It wasn’t a super eventful day. More of the same, it seemed: I got a first coat of primer on the West room closet, put a second coat of poly on the upstairs hallway and a first coat on the stair treads. All necessary work, but a bit unexciting.

One of the most exciting parts of the day was my first injury of this project (unless you count sore thighs from crouching while scrubbing floors, which I won’t). Luckily it wasn’t nearly as bad as I first feared. I was trying to open a window a bit wider to turn a box fan to blow into the room. As you might imagine, the window sashes don’t all slide smoothly, so it jammed a bit and when I pushed upward on it, I managed to smash the middle and ring fingers of my left hand between the upper and lower sashes… and the window trapped them there. I panicked and yanked on them, but they stayed firmly between the sashes until I pulled the lower sash back down with my right hand. I thought for sure I’d have a nasty bruise under my fingernail (I’ve seen my dad deal with those a few times and it wasn’t pretty), so I immediately iced my hand and took ibuprofen and soon continued with my work. The fingers were sore at the joint for a couple days, so I think I had a minor sprain, but nothing major, and I’m fine now.

Another bit of excitement was clearing the last of the mayo and spaghetti sauce jars from the basement. Bri’s grandparents had quite a collection there, accumulating dust and dead spiders, so I’ve been bringing dozens back to town to recycle. I actually love old jars, so I left all of the canning jars, old blue Mason jars and some that were pressed glass and cool shapes. The rest came back to town with me.  I’ve spared you the horror of the jar that I found with 3 or 4 mummified frogs in it. I suspect some child may have collected them in the jar years ago, set them on the shelf and they were sadly forgotten. Sorry frogs!

I also got the last five bags of aluminum cans out of the basement this week and recycled them, bringing the grand total to about $25 made on the cans. Thanks, Grandpa!

While none of the projects may be really exciting or photogenic, it was still really satisfying to cross a couple more things off my lists. And Brian and I made some more exciting progress on Saturday. Stay tuned!



Vacation: Days 2-5

Days off always seem to go so quickly!

Since my last post, we had Brian’s 95-year-old great-aunt visit us at the farm on Sunday. What a treat that was for all of us! She came in with photocopies of pictures of the family and farm as well as images from magazines of items that used to be at the farm.

She walked through every room in the house, including the musty basement and told us her memories of the house: who’d slept in each room, where the potato bin was in the basement (and that they’d eaten potatoes at every meal), how they used a cistern pump for clean water in a sink in the bathroom that was then dumped into the “slop” bucket to be tossed outside later. She said she didn’t think she’d been to the basement since she was in high school, so she was excited to see if things looked like she remembered. She even knelt down at the floor grate on the second floor to show us how they’d kneel down to listen in on the adults’ conversations when company was visiting.

It was so nice to hear her memories of the house and farm from her firsthand and I think she enjoyed being back in her childhood home and seeing the progress we’re making toward making it the family hub again.

On Monday, I brought my parents out for their first visit to the farm. We took a roundabout route, stopping in the nearby larger town for some antiques and thrift shopping (no big treasures were found this trip) and lunch at a local restaurant before going to the farm.

As we’ve mentioned before, my parents are a wealth of information for remodeling for Brian and I. They’ve worked on every home they’ve lived in and I grew up in a house built around the same time as the farm house was. I wanted their advice on a couple of upcoming projects at the house: the siding and the windows.

We walked around the house and looked at the worst of the rot on the window frames and siding. We’re all in agreement that a couple of the window frames need to be completely rebuilt. Some of the rot has migrated into the siding, but it may only be one piece, so Dad said we could probably just remove and replace that one. He also thinks that the house can be repainted, though it’ll take a lot of scraping to get it ready. It looks like we’ve got a plan for our big projects before the snow flies. Now, to find the time to tackle them.

On Tuesday, I stayed at home and spent much of the day with my oldest, shopping for supplies for his dorm room and helping him begin to round up books for his classes.

Yesterday was another day on my own at the farm. Well, not completely alone, since I got to visit with Bri’s uncles and aunt throughout the day. His uncles have started the wheat harvest, but it started to rain, so they all came in to chat over strudel that was brought by their cousin on Sunday.  I’m not sure that there’s much that could be better than visiting over strudel on a rainy afternoon after a full day of work.

I puttered around the house most of the day, trying to figure out exactly what should be the priority for my time. With so many projects on my list, it’s often easy to get distracted each time I go into a new room.


Good thing my hairdresser cancelled my appointment Tuesday. Hair care is clearly moot for me.

I spent the majority of my time finishing the painting in the East room’s closet. The old beadboard is cool, but so very dark, so I primed and painted it from top to bottom. My youngest had put the first coat of primer on the walls weeks ago and I did a second coat yesterday, then primed and painted the floor, too. The slanted ceiling made it a challenge, and I ended up (as I usually do) with paint on myself from head to toe.

I also cleared some more empty jars from the basement. I’m leaving all of the cool old jars that I hope to use to store different kitchen staples eventually. But the old mayonnaise and other nondescript non-canning jars are being hauled back home to be recycled.

While down there, I brought up a few random plates and this pretty pitcher that were covered in dust on the shelves. The pitcher cleaned up beautifully. That’s one great thing about not having a dishwasher: the colors on the Pyrex and other kitchenware still have vibrant colors.

The other big accomplishment of the day was getting our central air fixed. We’re lucky to have central air on the main floor and one upstairs bedroom, but it wasn’t cooling much, which made it uncomfortable on the 90+degree days recently. So, a repairman visited yesterday, refilled the coolant and put in some stop-leak solution that seemed to take care of things nicely. It should make it much more pleasant to work and visit the house with the air working again!

For today, I’m staying in town for a dentist appointment and to get my mom’s help on a T-shirt quilt for my oldest so he’ll have something to cover his bed when he moves out in a couple weeks!

I hope to make it back to the farm tomorrow to check a few more things off my lists!

Vacation Day 1: Tidying up


The East room quilt is a plus pattern, using $3 fill from the thrift store, fabric from a curtain from my childhood bedroom, a couple pieces of fabrics from Brian’s mom’s stash when she passed away and some of the hundreds of spools of thread I’ve acquired from his grandmother’s collection.

Woo hoo! I have a week off from my full-time office job and have been looking forward to spending a lot of time at the farm.

I’m trying not to set my expectations too high so I don’t get frustrated by not checking everything off a massive list. Brian works all week, so I’ll be on my own most days.

We’re looking forward to a special visitor tomorrow, so today I went out the the farm to tidy up a few things. Brian’s great-aunt is coming to visit us. She’s Bri’s grandfather’s last living sibling and grew up in the house we’re fixing up, so we’re looking forward to hearing her memories of the house and how it’s evolved in her 95 years.


Most of my work was making the upstairs bedrooms look more like finished rooms. They’re not finished, but they’re definitely getting closer.


I finished my second quilt for the house this past week (and vowed to never attempt a king-size quilt again) and put that in the East room.


The North room quilt used a torn sheet that I nabbed from my grandparents’ house, some moss green sheets that I’d used as curtains in our first house, and some fabric from my stash.

I hung curtains in the North room. The curtains actually sheets that we used as curtains for the bay window in our old house. I cut a couple up for the quilt in the room, then used a couple more for the curtains. The quilt ended up a bit smaller than I’d intended, so it’s at the foot of the bed, over a comforter my mom had given me several years ago. The bedskirt in the room is one that I’d apparently given her a few years ago (but don’t remember at all) and she no longer needed it, so she gave it to me for the farm.

I have to tell you… I used the iron that I found in the laundry room/bathroom of the farm and I’d bet it’s from around the 1960s. Holy cow, does that thing kick wrinkles’ butts! It’s big, heavy and was SO HOT to work with in 90-degree weather, but I’m kind of in love with it!

There’s plenty more projects to take care of, but I’ll keep you all posted on the progress I make this week!