Sunday, June 28, 2009

Things That Go "Bump" in the Night (Or Welcome to Country Livin')

The desktop is up and running, so I was able to upload a few pics from my camera.

It is now the 3rd day that we have been here, and it seems that little progress has been made. Even though I tried to label all the boxes in storage REALLY well, I look at them now and say "Lamp? What lamp? And why are there mouse traps in with the lamp?" It's slow going to say the least.

Since we found the first nest of mice last week, we have uncovered at least 2 more. This means that on top of moving everything out of the garage, unpacking boxes and finding new homes for things, not to mention putting furniture back together (no easy feat in itself), I have to steam clean all the couches and chairs. EWWW. Haven't seen any more of the nasty critters though, thank goodness, although I did find the mouse traps when I unpacked that lamp.

The alternate propane company delivered this beauty on Thursday afternoon. I wonder if I'm allowed to paint a hot dog bun and some condiments on it? I guess I'll just plant some shrubberies around it.

Thursday night, a muddy raccoon climbed up over the hood of JP's truck...

through a half open window in the back...

and rummaged through his trash can, leaving dirty footprints everywhere.

The builders were out on Friday, and with the exception of putting trim around the oak bookshelves by the stairs, they worked outside. They finished up the deck, and put vinyl around all of the posts on porch. They also wired the garage.

One of the first orders of business on Friday was to "shock" the well. This involves dumping large amounts of Clorox into the well, and later into the 2000 gallon holding tank, letting it sit for hours and hours, and then emptying it all out. Want to take a gander on how long it takes to empty a 2000 gallon tank? It took about 20 hours for the whole process, all told...probably should have let things soak for longer, but we got impatient. So...without having it analyzed, we have been drinking the water. So far no one has developed uncontrolled vomiting, diarrhea, fevers, or bleeding from the eye balls. J did loose her other top tooth this morning...related????

I was in the process of washing dishes when the cistern emptied. (Did I mention that there is no hot water in the kitchen yet? I'm heating water on the stove to wash with!) This coincided with a tremendous downpour, so I captured some rain water from the roof to use.

I may have to revise my glowing review of the Sears Outlet store. It seems that on top of their very poor delivery service, the appliance damage is not only cosmetic. Our new refrigerator does not work, and only the 2 burners on the right hand side of my induction cook top work consistently. A repair guy is coming out Monday (some time between 8 and 5) to look at them, along with my washer, which sprung a leak while in storage. Unfortunately, once the countertops were installed in the kitchen, there was not enough room to maneuver the fridge back out, leaving the only exit point up and over the bar. It took 4 men to make it happen!

I need to get to work if I want anything to get done today since I spent the morning at the Laundromat! I will try to post about rooms as they get might be awhile!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

We're Here!

We rented a small U-Haul on Wednesday and made 2 trips out to the house. After cleaning the apartment on Thursday night, we decided to spend our first night at our new home. It isn't perfect...we have no air conditioning or hot water in the kitchen and 2 out of 3 bathrooms, but we are slowly emptying boxes and making it feel like home. J commented this evening, "When we REALLY live here, we'll have a table!"

We've had a number of interesting experiences already, including washing dishes with rain water caught in a 5 gallon bucket. More later when I can add photos...just doing wireless with the laptop at the moment.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I took 2 van loads of stuff up to the house today. At noon, they were still waiting on counter tops, but assured me that they were on their way. After dinner, the counter tops were in, along with sinks, cook tops, faucets, etc, etc.

The refrigerator door opens now, as you can see in the picture above. When the fridge was plugged in, however, it made a terrible racket, so now we need to take it back to Sears. Problem is, with the counter tops in, there is less than 33" to get the 33" fridge out. Why can't something just work right the first time for once?

The built-ins on the window wall of the Great Room are finished, and look sharp!

These bookshelves have the old oak mantel on top, and line the hip wall of the stairwell.

This is a shot of my craft area in the mud room. I can't wait to take advantage of all the storage and have room again to leave my scrapbook pages laid out! I've had to work on a TV tray table lately, which is not particularly conducive to coherent thought.

Tomorrow is U-Haul day, and Thursday the phone and DSL should be transferred, so my next post should be from the new house!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day and Rodent Wars Part Deux

We had a pretty productive weekend out at the house. Unpacking a few boxes today worked wonders on my mood. The closet in our bedroom is GREAT! We have built in shelving, and 2 clothes rods a piece, plus there is room in the back corner for John's 800 lb. gun safe. I put shelf paper on over half of the shelves today, and we unpacked about 4 boxes. We also got our bed put back together, but couldn't carry the King mattress ourselves.

Out in the garage, we unearthed another nest of mice. This one was in our sofa. I vacuumed up everything I could, but there is still a stain in the corner of the cushion. This sofa will be getting a good steam cleaning before it goes into the house!

John managed to catch one of the offenders in the craft/laundry room, so there is one fewer fuzzy, germ infested critter roaming the house!

Downstairs, we fit some of the carpet remnants into the space under the stairs. This has an opening on the family room side which will eventually have a door, and connects all the way through into the closet in one of the girls' rooms. We fit 2 small bookshelves in to make our little game closet, and after some panelling on the inside to cover up the insulation, the rest will be a secret hiding area for the girls.

The girls were beside themselves today when we opened up a couple of boxes of their things. They even left some of their favorite toys behind at the house in order to bring a couple of toys that they haven't seen for months back to the apartment!

We spoke to the builder and architect this weekend about the refrigerator problem (I really would like to be able to open the doors on the fridge!). I think we have decided to take out the pocket door (ouch) into the pantry, and widen the doorway to allow the fridge door to open up into that space.

At some point we will have to get creative with 70's beads or something to close up the space.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My Neighbor is NOT a Totoro

We are big Miyazaki anime fans. A favorite one is "My Neighbor Totoro", which is about a family with 2 little girls who move to a house in the country. Their home is near a forest which is inhabited by Forest Spirits named Totoro. In the movie, the Totoros leave acorns through the house, and give gifts of acorns. Here are some pictures of the girls with their stuffed Totoros.

For the past couple of weeks, we have been finding pecans (in the shell) in the house in random places: in a closet, in the cup holder of a folding camp chair, on a shelf in the garage. We were hoping that we were being greeted by friendly neighborhood Totoros. The nagging worry, however, was that the bag of pecans given to us by JP's cousin at Christmas was discovered by some nasty rodents who then spread the love. I don't think pecan trees even grow in our neck of the woods!

This weekend, we began phase 1 of the final move. We moved the boxes from the garage into the correct rooms in the house. Now the furniture is accessible for moving in later this week (phase 2). We have to be out of the apartment by Friday morning as the new tenants are moving in that day.

The last row of boxes revealed pecans spilled out on the floor behind them. The very last box was the problem box, there was a hole gnawed in the corner.

I pulled everything out of the box while still in the garage since I didn't want to unintentionally take mice into the house. The bottom was littered with droppings and empty pecan shells.

Next, JP picked up one of the camp chairs which was folded in a carrying bag and heard scampering noises. He ran out of the garage, shouting "IT'S MICE!" One jumped out of the bag on the way out and scurried away, and another scrambled up his arm. The last one succumbed on the driveway. JP shook more empty pecan shells and a nest out of the bag. I would have much preferred a Totoro!

We were quite disappointed that the counter tops weren't in yet...they were supposed to arrive Thursday or Friday. So...we still don't have sinks, and therefore no running water. We do have toilets in the house, they just aren't installed yet, so the girls will still have to do their business in the woods for a few days longer.

The newest issue is that the refrigerator doors do not open when the fridge is installed in its proper area. I've consulted my brother, the architect, who is on another job out of town this weekend, so he won't be able to look over his blue prints until tomorrow night.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A SNAFU or Two

Snafu #1: Even though we didn't move last weekend, the mail began forwarding there starting on Friday. I sort of forgot about that when I ordered a bunch of stuff from Amazon! JP or I have been making daily trips out there to check the mail. Luckily everything has come in without problems, including the new checks.

Snafu #2: Apparently I asked the phone company to switch our phone & DSL over when I called to get a work order for the new phone lines. Forgot about that one we lost phone on Monday, and DSL by Tuesday AM. On Monday, after spending about 30 minutes on my cell phone (and completely losing it, yelling "This not acceptable!"), I was assured that it would be restored by the end of the day. On Tuesday, after the internet went out, they got it turned back on in about an hour, with only 20 minutes on the phone. As of Monday, they still had not connected the phone lines to the house, although they brought it up the hill below the power lines.

Snafu #3: The propane contact person at CGI International finally got back in touch with JP yesterday. Since he complained that our driveway was too steep on Friday, he talked to his lawyers. They advised him that having us as customers is too great of a liability to assume, and they no longer want our business. (*&&%#$%^*^*&$) Now we are scrambling to find another company without lawyers.

Snafu #4: There was a snarling raccoon in a cage trap in our driveway when I arrived today. The builder told me they caught it in the cabinets...then laughed when my eyes bugged out and said his uncle caught it up the road. Not really a snafu I guess...

The house is all painted now. Can you believe that 2 of the guys painted the ENTIRE thing BY HAND??? Kudos to M & M!!! The railings on the deck and the porch look nice.

It is darker than we expected, but as you can tell by this shot next to the garage, it is actually really close to the color of the block.

Two of the built-ins in the Great room are nearly complete. This is the entertainment center in the corner by the Library.

This will be a china cabinet in the corner by our bedroom. There will be a plant shelf across the entire wall above these cabinets, then 2 more corner shelves up by the upper windows. These are for things that will get dusted once a year...if they're lucky!

Handy Guy S was out on Monday and did some more clearing where my parents plan to build. He took down a few more trees than he intended because they were rotten...he didn't want one to fall on the house down the road sometime.

I took another load of stuff from the apartment to the house. I'm glad to see it go!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Penguins, Paneer, Pixar...and Packing

It's been a stellar weekend.

The Penguins won the Stanley Cup on Friday night.

Saturday we took a load of stuff from the apartment and the storage unit up to the already packed garage. We cleaned the floor in the Library (again) since it is basically finished and spread out the rug for the Great Room that has been rolled up and in storage since last summer. It isn't quite like we remembered it, but I really like it none the less.

This morning, we drove down to Morgantown and took the kids to see "UP", the new Pixar movie. I especially liked the relationship between the main character, Carl, and his wife. Afterwards, it was just a hop, skip and a jump to the Cafe of India where we ordered take-out (can't eat at Indian Restaurants with the girls, they just whine and drive us crazy): Lamb Saag, Chicken Vindaloo, Paneer Masala and Nan. We'll have left-overs this week, oh goodie!

I've packed 4 boxes of books and magazines from the apartment, and we still have more to go (just the kids' ones and cookbooks). It's hard to believe that we brought that many along, but we did use most of them!

At this point, Plan D is to move stuff from the garage next weekend, then move from the apartment the middle of the following week after getting the occupancy permit. The counter tops are to arrive by Thursday this week, so we can get the water hooked up. Basically all that is left to finish up in the house besides that are the built-ins in the Great Room, where we will incorporate the 12 foot oak slab that used to be the mantel in our old house. The breezeway needs to be finished. There is a bit more siding to go up outside, and they have to finish the soffits. Oh, and the garage isn't finished, but we need to empty it out a bit first.

I couldn't find a picture of the mantel from the 5+ years we were there. This photo is from when we were looking to buy.

This evening we took another load of stuff from the apartment up to the house. The girls kept themselves occupied while JP and I washed and vacuumed out the windows and installed the screens. We left all of the windows open for awhile to try to air out the carpet and paint smells. It was lovely to hear the birds, and NOT hear traffic! We managed to get the 23 windows down low done, but skipped the 5 up near the cathedral ceiling.

On the way home, we breathed deeply of the honeysuckle. It's been a great weekend!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Plan C

Today, instead of preparing to move into our new house, we went strawberry picking with friends. I got over 20 pounds of luscious red beauties, but now I am procrastinating on the jam part of the equation.

The propane tank was to be installed today. This is (hopefully) a temporary feature so we can run our furnace, gas range and gas water heater until they drill for natural gas here. We drove up to the house after strawberry picking to check on the progress. No tank. I got a call a few minutes later from our contact person, who said they were unable to get up the driveway, is there another way up? ( helicopter.) Apparently even though cement trucks, delivery trucks, and other folks with trailers have made it up without problems, they seem to be transportationally challenged. I referred him to JP to get things figured out!

The carpet is installed downstairs and in the Master Bedroom, with the exception of the guest room downstairs, for which we are still waiting on the carpet. Here is the Family Room...

...and the stairs.

The shower in the Master Bath is finished with the exception of the door, and looks great!

The guys are painting outside today. They finished below the deck and on the porch, and now are working on the remainder of the front of the house. The color looked a bit dark yesterday, but it appears lighter where it is not under the prow roof.

We got a free 6-pack of annuals from the greenhouse for each box of strawberries we picked today. I chose marigolds since the critters don't eat them. The girls and I planted them around the edges of our pig garden.

Next up...more garden???

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cowboy Take Me Away

This evening, the girls and I were dancing to the Dixie Chicks. This song just about sums up how I feel about living in this apartment:

I wanna walk and not run
I wanna skip and not fall
I wanna look at the horizon
And not see a building standing tall
I wanna be the only one
For miles and miles
Except for maybe you
And your simple smile
Oh it sounds so good to me
Yes is sounds so good to me...
...I said I wanna touch the earth
I wanna break it in my hands
I wanna grow something wild and unruly
Oh it sounds so good to me

I spent quite a while this afternoon, rummaging around in the garage looking for my jelly jars. I was only partially successful. I did manage to pack up one box from the apartment and deposit it in the garage: J's school stuff.

The carpet guys (more neighbors) were hard at work downstairs putting in the new carpeting.

These library bookshelves look too pretty to cover up with books (but we'll do it anyway).

Here's some of the "portobello" paint on the front of the house...lookin' good!

L picked up poison ivy somewhere...time to plant a lawn!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Strawberry picking we will go

Well, our moving date has officially been moved back to the end of June...somewhere around the 25th or 26th. I'm very disappointed, but not surprised. I'm trying to think of the positive aspects of this new revelation, and I've come up with a few:

-J has a couple of extra weeks to practice bike riding on flat ground

-I will now have time to go pick strawberries at Simon's Farm, make jam, and freeze some berries

-I'll have 2 more weeks to be right next door to the Farmer's Market

Today, at the house, they finished laying tile in the Master Bathroom shower.

This crown molding in the Master Bedroom tray ceiling will hold indirect lighting.

The shelving in the Master Bedroom closet is started.
The Library bookshelves are stained and sealed and drying out on the porch.

The pocket doors are installed in the girls' rooms. Look, it can be one room...

...or two!

I signed the girls up for swimming lessons in July. we come!

Saturday, June 6, 2009


We recently realized that our 2 year old cookware, while it is stainless steel, is not magnetic, and therefore will not work on our new induction range. We have been scrambling the past few weeks, trying to find a good deal on All-Clad, a brand of stainless cookware guaranteed to work with induction. In the process, we learned that All-Clad is manufactured right here in Southwestern Pennsylvania. This morning we got up bright and early and drove to the Washington Fairgrounds for the annual All-Clad factory clearance sale. We managed to put together what we needed for less than usual, and before it got too crowded! This roasting pan was not on the list, but something I've wanted for quite a while.

The crew was nearly done putting in our shiny new oak flooring by the time I arrived this afternoon.

Our handyman/all-around-good-guy found this box blade for the tractor. JP has been shopping around for one since we got the tractor. This will be used to keep the driveway smoothed out, and to smooth off all the ground before we plant grass.

New tile in our Laundry nook

I also managed to get 2 coats of sealer on the cork flooring in the Library, and take a walk in the woods with the girls. The girls managed to rearrange everything in the van.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Today I feel like this Poplar "tulip" flower...tired, spent, done.

Our builder told me today that he is sceptical that he can get a temporary occupancy permit by next weekend. He said that we could probably move stuff in, but not actually LIVE there. I managed not to break down until I got down the hill.

On the bright side, I finished these drapes for the girls' rooms today. They are quite bright. I was thrilled to find enough fabric for all 4 windows in the clearance rack at Joann's this week.

The chandelier in the great room is pretty bright too. It looks great up there with the fans.

The wall ovens are in and working. The builder says he baked a moth today!

The shower in the Master Bathroom is ready to start tiling.

This weekend we plan to put sealer on the cork flooring and plant tomatoes. Someday we'll live there to pick and eat them!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Today was delivery day at the apartment. This is crazy because nothing fits in here, I have to head off the UPS guy at the door and re-route him to the van. I think he actually prefers this option to carrying boxes up 26 steps to our door! So is it a good sign when the UPS man approaches you in different settings (ie the doctor's office) to report how many deliveries on that particular day? Brown came first with 14 boxes, including fans, light bulbs, curtains and blinds. Next came the semi-truck, which parked across the street. I drove the van over to accept the chandelier. Finally, just after lunch, Fed-Ex knocked with a small box (cabinet knobs) and asked "Where do you want the BIG one?" The BIG one was heavy (basket ball hoop), and didn't fit in the van, so we had to make 2 trips up to the house.

Our builder seemed pleased that things arrived today. They have kept the scaffolding in the great room, waiting to hang the chandelier and fans. Once it is out of the way they should be able to work on the flooring.

Meanwhile all of the pocket doors are in, and most of the other interior doors. A couple of guys were working on touching up paint on the trim and doors, and installing door handles.

We are thinking that perhaps we should paint these white doors (yep...they were less expensive than wood) a darker shade of the wall color so they blend in a bit more.

The tiles are down in the girls' bathroom.

The cupboard under the stairs opposite their bathroom is meant to be a small linen closet.

This area will be for games...and for the girls to play in.

Here is the cabinetry in the Master Bathroom.

I also started cutting out fabric for drapes in the girls' rooms today, and worked on address changes on all of our periodicals.