Monthly Archives: April 2015

SPRING!!! {no sense of restraint}

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Yes, so, as soon as it started getting warm around here, Tom and I forgot every single well-meaning resolution we had made concerning the importance of pacing ourselves with landscaping/planting gardens.  WE LOVE GARDEN CENTERS and we’ve planted an orchard and are working diligently to make the side garden happy as well.  There are just so many awesome things we can do outside that we can hardly wait to get into them!!!

HOWEVER, before we get into all that, an update on the kitchen!  Because it’s really finished now, except for some bits of trim here and there.  Pop  installed our new stove hood and redid the wall behind the oven and fridge, so everything looks super happy!

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So apparently I don’t have a good “before” picture of the fridge/oven wall (surprise, surprise), but you can see a bit of it here.  Basically, we had some ugly cabinets over the top of the fridge, plus a weird fake board thing above the cabinets that makes it look like it’s holding up the ceiling or doing something useful, except it’s not.

Behind the oven, which you can’t see from here, the wall was partially tiled with white squares, several of which were missing and/or had never been there to begin with.

The stove hood was stainless steel, old, ugly, and recirculated air (through a filter) rather than actually venting it out of the kitchen.  It also sounded like a jet engine when it was running.

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Day One involved, of course, demolition.  When we got home from work, the cabinets, tile, hood, and weird board were all missing.  It immediately felt like the kitchen was taller!

In case you’ve forgotten, this house has ludicrously low ceilings.  It boggles my mind  how so much of the stuff we’ve replaced were things like low-hanging lights or stuff up against the ceiling – things that made the house feel even more cave-like.

 

 

 

 

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By the end of Day Two, the paneling behind the refrigerator was up.  This is actually the same beadboard that we used on the backs of the cabinets and for the kickboard in front of the bar stools.  We thought about getting a sheet of regular paneling, which is what is on most of the walls, and then painting it the blue of the rest of the walls, but that all just seemed like a lot of hassle, especially when we already had the beadboard leftover!

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Day Three was the big change – the new hood was in!!  Even though the fan wasn’t connected yet, the lights worked and Pop had started to install the stone.  It’s the same as we used for the backsplash for the kitchen sink, and has a lot of grays, so it matches our color scheme really nicely.  We wanted something that would contrast since we have two white appliances and a white hood and one sheet of white paneling all right together.

 

 

 

 

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One of the reasons Tom chose this particular hood was  because it has two 40-watt bulbs.  80 extra watts of light in the kitchen really makes a big difference.  While we love having the kitchen in the center of the house, and while removing the walls has definitely lightened things up considerably, it can still be rather dim in there, especially on cloudy days.  I am very pro-lots-of-lights anyway.

This brought us to the end of the week.  On Saturday, Tom and I went to Cleveland to visit our new puppy – we’re getting a border collie in May!!  Super stoked!!

Along the way, we stopped at Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  It was a very warm and pleasant day, and hiked about five miles to see Brandywine Falls.  (As an aside, you don’t have to hike five miles in order to see the falls…  they’re actually probably  200-yard walk from the parking lot. We just took a more scenic route.  :-D)

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Much of the park follows the route of the Ohio & Erie Canal; the old tow path is now a hiking/biking trail.  There are a couple of museums and whatnot as well – it’s a park I think we’ll try to visit again sometime.

I did find myself thinking that I wouldn’t want to be there during mosquito season, though.

 

 

 

 

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Brandwine Falls are pretty nifty, actually.  It’s hard to believe that you’re actually practically in Cleveland.

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When we got home, Pop was cleaning out the “other” side of the barn.  The left (main) side of the barn is the side I’ve posted pictures of before – concrete floor, and Tom’s work area.  The loft, which is slowly becoming a nifty rec room, is over the entire barn.  The Other Side is a long, narrow room that runs along the alley-side of the barn – basically, it’s only as wide as the doorway pictured.  This side has been full of random junk for many years.  Most of this stuff, including an old boat, actually belongs to Pop – the old owner of our house was letting him store stuff in there.

I’ve been really wanting chickens, though, and they’re going to go in the back of the barn.  We were thinking of waiting until next year for this project (let’s be honest, I think Tom was hoping that this project would be next year’s), but lo and behold, Pop was working like a man with a mission to get that thing cleaned out.  So that ended up being the rest of the weekend.

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There’s actually quite a lot of space without the boat!

The chickens are going to go in the back (Val used to keep them there, too, as you can see on the door!).  We’ll cut a doorway to the outside, where Tom is building a chicken run, put in some windows, and frame in a wall to keep the chickens towards the rear of the building.

Mom is getting chickens, too, so she and I ordered them together from Mt. Healthy.  You can purchase just one pullet of each breed from there, which was exactly what we wanted – who wants all their chickens to look the same??  I ordered eight and am SO EXCITED.

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While the guys were doing their thing, I was working on the side yard.  This is actually a middle-of-the-task picture.  When we moved in last year, this area was wall-to-wall shrubs.  We’ve cleaned out a lot of that, and are not down to a few hibiscus, a burning bush, and a hydrangea.

Last summer, we threw down a bunch of mulch, so I’ve actually been working on clearing that back out so we can plant a lot of stuff in here.  Some of the mulch will probably go back in this garden eventually, and the rest will get used for various other projects.

More on this side yard later…

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Even though the kitchen didn’t look a lot different when we got home from work the next day –  just a bit more stone – the biggest difference was in the unseen…  the fan actually vents out through the roof now!

(I’m cooking meatloaf as we speak…  and no smell of gas!  And I can’t even hear the fan running!  SO MUCH WINNING!)

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By Thursday, this project was in the bag!  Doesn’t the stone look amazing?!??!  I absolutely love it.  Of course, the ceiling still needs painted, and we’re going to run some trim between the stone and the wood, but overall the kitchen is now pretty well set, and I am a super happy camper!!!

 

So now we are up to this weekend, and a very busy weekend it has been!  Saturday was perfect weather in every way – topped out in the low 70’s, the sun was shining, a gentle breeze – just perfect.  We knew we wanted to be working out in it, so we hit up Lowe’s and Wilson’s Greenhouse in Newark first thing in the morning.

Back home, we set to work on the side garden yet again.  I continued to work on the mulch/weeding situation, while Tom began to work on setting a couple of small paths through the garden.

Even though this area is on the north side of our house, it’s actually in the sun most of the day.  So much of this garden will hopefully be herbs.  We’re also planning a small pond, and, where you can see the wooden platform in the next picture, a pump.  There’s an old cistern underneath the platform (actually, under about a third of the garden) that is probably there from the days when our barn sat where our house is.  At that time, the barn belonged to the huge brick house on the corner, and the roofs for both buildings drained into the cistern.

When the barn was moved, somehow someone ran the new downspouts from our house into that same cistern.  We’re planning to put in a hand pump and use the water for gardens and whatnot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The side garden has a lot of ground ivy, aka Creeping Charlie.  I spent a great deal of time digging out the roots yesterday, but I’ve no doubt that much of it will still return.

There have been a lot of challenges surrounding this little area.  In the lefthand side of the picture you can see a couple of evergreen shrubs.  These shrubs were basically the entire garden last year, with some hibiscus thrown in for fun.  At some point in this garden’s lifetime, someone thought it would be a good idea to put down some burlap fabric and then mulch over it.  This would have been find, except that was probably ten years ago, and now there is about 3″ of soil over top of the burlap.  We pulled out yards of it last year, and I’m still digging it out this year.  Good times, good times.

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Anyway.  So I really wanted a couple of narrow paths through the garden, both for practical use and aesthetic.  We didn’t have any spare brick laying around, but we did have these square pavers.  I think the previous owners must have gotten a good deal on these pavers, because they are all over the place.  As is, they are bit a larger than what I had in mind for the path (and they don’t do turns very well), but Tom was pretty confident that he could use a chisel and split them into individual bricks – and he did!

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Ta-da!  Aren’t they perfect??  To just hold one it’s obvious that it’s not a “real” brick, as they’re someone chipped/irregular along the edges, but in the pathway, with dirt between them, they flow very well and I am super stoked!!!!

And no, to answer your question, we did not install this walkway the “right” way.  No sand, no leveling…  Tom just raked away the loose stuff and stuck them down in there, and then tamped dirt back in between them.  We will probably have to go back and do it a bit better at a later date, but for now they’re there enough that I can plant around them and keep things moving in this area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gah, aren’t they perfect??  I love them!

Where the right-hand path ends is roughly where the little pond will someday end up, so it should tie in with whatever brick/stone ends up around that project.

Yay!!

 

 

 

 

 

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Our other big project this weekend – installing an orchard!  We bought four trees yesterday and four more today, and we still have room for two more!!

We really wanted to get them planted as it started raining this afternoon and is supposed to keep raining through tomorrow evening, and it’s always nice to give them a good soaking right off the bat.

Tom did most of the heavy work for this project (surprise, surprise), but I’m good at things like holding trees steady while dirt gets shoveled around them.

 

 

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With all this outdoor activity, I was kind of glad when the rain moved in so I could try to get it all caught up in my gardening journal.  I started this journal the first spring Tom and I were married (2011), which, incidentally, is the first spring I had my own gardens!  I keep the journal in a composition  book – they’re great for projects where you want to tape/glue things to the pages.  Because the pages are sewn together, you can really stuff the books full without them falling apart!

As you can see, I love to keep all the tags from all my plants and put them in the book.  This allows me to reference back to them so I can easily see which plants have died.  (Did I mention that I’m actually a terrible gardener??)

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For me, the easiest way is to rough out where things are going, number where stuff is planted, and then number the tags in the book.

Even though I’m the daughter of an engineer, I’m not super good at drawing stuff, but Dad has always told me that any drawing can be considered correct as long as I note that it is “not to scale.”  😀

(Note: the flower tags on this page match numbers for the side garden sketch, not the sketch above, just in case you were trying to put them together!)

Anyway, on the map, numbers 1-10 are our fruit trees (well, 7 and 10 are still just fruit tree slots).  12-17 are still in the planning stages, but will probably be various fruit shrubs (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries), and hopefully some hazelnut bushes.  17 will probably be vegetable gardens (although I think we’re legit holding off on veggies until next year… so labor-intensive!), and I think we’re going to try to plant English walnuts behind the chicken yard (13, top of the page).

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For now, we’ve planted two pears, two plums, three apples, and one (self-pollinating) peach.  We’ll probably get one more peach and one more apple, but who knows??

We will see what takes…  Lowe’s has a one-year guarantee, and you can bet that this girl is saving her receipts!

 

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We got a few more things planted in the side garden before the rain as well, including this Japanese maple.  Tom really loves these (actually, he bought two, different varieties), so he was really excited about getting them into the landscape.

So that’s the big update – it’s been a busy couple of weeks, and we still have plenty in our heads we’re trying to get done!  I’ll try to keep everyone posted…

 

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Odds & Ends {ridiculously long post}

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Greetings, friends!  Long time, no write!!  Sorry for the delay.  It’s been the usual combination of busyness and laziness.  😀  Things have been tooling along, but we haven’t done anything major since the kitchen overhaul.  It’s mostly been little bits and pieces here and there.  I don’t even know where to start!!!

002So, when we last saw the kitchen, it was functional, but still needed some little touches.  Things like the backsplash behind the (beautiful, beautiful) sink, finishing out the cabinet for the microwave (not in this picture), some trim work, and the like.

Once we were through the big push for the kitchen (the last weekend of January), we took our time wrapping up the details.  Still, over the last two months we have definitely made some progress!!!

First off, Tom got the microwave cabinet to about 99% completion.  It still needs to have screw-top holes caulked and that sort of thing, but it looks perfectly fine as is, all painted up with countertop laminate on it.

 

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Like we had to do with the other countertops, Tom sanded down the top of the cabinet.  About halfway through the main sanding project, we figured out a way to attach the shop vac to the sander, and it actually did a pretty decent job of sucking up the sawdust during the sanding process, so that helped a lot.  

Once the top was (mostly) smooth, we were reading to put down the laminate, a process that was much easier on this small, square cabinet than it was on our long counters!!

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After gluing down the laminate, we also painted the insides of the shelves.  As you can see, part of the sides are the same beadboard that we used for backing on the main kitchen cabinets.

On top, we wanted to set up a bulletin board area.  At our last apartment, we had a bulletin board in the hallway where we were able to post up various trails we wanted to hike and other little weekend/day trip ideas.  It was something that worked really well for us, as we often find ourselves, on a Friday night, trying to think of a good place to hike the next morning, and coming up blank!

Anyway, here at the new house we don’t have nearly as much wall space as the apartment (ironic), so the bulletin board had yet to find a home.  So Tom framed in and attached a space for it on top of the microwave counter against the refrigerator.  This also somehow has made the refrigerator feel more like it’s in the kitchen instead of the living room??  I’m not sure why, though lol.

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Here is the side facing the living room, which also has bookshelves.  Tom, after 4 1/2 years of being married to me, has learned that it’s best to incorporate bookshelves everywhere.  

Around here, little projects are constantly starting and stopping, so at this point, the microwave shelf got a rest, and other projects stepped up instead.

 

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Tom’s dad installed the backsplash, and we’re really pleased with how it came out.  In this picture, it looks darker than it really is because I took this picture while the stone was still damp from installation.  Slightly lighter now, it really blends into the kitchen nicely and is super happy.

Incidentally…  isn’t that sink the most beautiful thing you ever saw???

 

 

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Valentine’s Day weekend saw plenty of romantic activities around the McCafferty house…  as long as you think puttying and painting woodwork is romantic (and I do!).

Here, Pop and Tom and puttying in the gaps in the posts.  These posts are actually hollow, constructed of angled 2×4’s.  Inside of one is the exhaust pipe for the sink while the other one (to the right of the sink; you can see it in the picture above) has the wiring for the outlets on either side of the sink.

While the hollow posts worked great, they needed a LOT of putty.

Random note – in the picture on the right, if you look in the beam above the sink you can see one of Tom’s favorite parts of the kitchen…  a little automatic night light.  I have no idea why, but he really loves that thing.

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By the end of the weekend, we had nice white posts, cabinet doors on all the cabinets (also painted white), and a few other odds and ends tied up.

Technically, several of the cabinets still need a final sanding/coat of paint, but since they look fine, it’s one of those jobs that I keep not having time to do…

 

 

 

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Here’s the microwave shelf all loaded up!  Is that bulletin board adorable or what?

And the bookshelf is the perfect place for the cookbooks I never use!!

Also, to the right of the fridge you can see our new stove.  That leads into my next story, a story about how important it is to listen to your husband.  😉

See, Tom and I had seen this awesome gas stove at Menard’s back in January, and we both fell in love with it.  It was just perfect in every way.  Five burners, white, and a purple interior!  How awesome is that!  Tom really wanted to buy this oven, but even though the price had been really reduced because it was a closeout, I was still hesitant.  Super hesitant.  Because our old stove still worked??  So it seemed wasteful, even though the old stove wasn’t that great and the new one was everything we wanted with about a third or more off the price.  After weeks of going back and forth, I finally came around to Tom’s point of view, and we went to Menard’s, money in hand, only to find this:

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TRAGEDY.  SO MUCH TRAGEDY.  Seeing that empty hole made me realize how attached to that stove I’d gotten.  I was devastated.  How could someone else have bought our stove?!  We’d been visiting it for weeks!

We went home super depressed and moped for a couple of days.  However, Tom was very determined to own this stove, and got on Menards.com anyway.  And do you know what he found?  Our stove hadn’t been sold.  It had just been moved to the back.  SO EXCITE.

 

 

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Oh my gosh, is that the prettiest little stove you ever saw in all your born days??  Guys, I’m in love with my stove.  It matches my sink.

However, because of my hesitation, we had to pay $40 more for it, so lesson learned: if the hubby things something is a bargain, go with it!!  😀

 

 

 

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Here’s our first meal cooking in the oven.  It looks more blue in this picture, but trust  me, in person it is PURPLE.  The perfect fit for our quirky house.

So the whole oven adventure took place in late February.  Right around that time we also got a bunch of snow.  Like, legit snow!  After a super boring December and January, February was  making up for lost time.  I actually love snow (during it’s appropriate time of year, not late March, Ohio), so I thoroughly enjoyed meandering around our happy little town through piles of fluffy snow.

 

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The walk to the post office is super happy in pretty much all weather.

 

 

 

 

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Of course, all the old kitchen cabinets had to go somewhere, and Tom was super excited to install them in the garage, along with some other random cupboards we had inherited from goodness knows where.

Now the garage is organized and happy.  One of the just incredibly fun things about working on this house is creating homes for everything.  With all of moves over the last few years, we’ve gotten rid of a LOT of stuff, and the things we have left are pretty much the things we really use a lot.  So finding places to put all of it, where it’s accessible and easy to find has just been fantastic.

 

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Tom’s clever labeling system means even I can find stuff in the barn.

Also pictured: our famous fox toilet seat, now hanging in a place of honor.  😀

 

 

 

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Speaking of finding a home for everything, here is my freshly-organized junk drawer.  I’m immensely proud of it.  We won’t talk about how long it took me to paper all the boxes.

 

 

 

 

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It hasn’t been all work the last couple of months, of course.  One evening, Tom and I realized that, as kids, we both had the same exact edition of Battleship.  The internet is an amazing place.  A week later, Battleship was ours.  And trust me, we do not take Battleship lightly.

 

 

 

 

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Now that the weather is starting to break, we’re trying to get back out on the trail more.  This house sort of railroaded our hiking goals last summer.  Even though we still have a lot of projects we’re trying/planning to get done this summer, we’re hoping to have a better work/play balance, and get back into using some of our camping gear!!

This pic is the Upper Falls at Old Man’s Cave on March 15.  Even though we had had a few warm days, there were still huge icicles everywhere, and it was so muddy.  We ended up hiking the rim trail more than the lower trail.

 

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Wild Rose Lake still had quite a bit of ice, too.

Still, I love this time of year where, even when it’s still cold, it smells like spring.

 

 

 

 

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On the home front, they finally got a section out of the bridge!!  Actually, we’re hoping to hike down there sometime this weekend, as it looks like virtually the entire structure has come down over the last couple of weeks (this pic was from March 17).

We are so ready for this bridge project to be over, as traffic has drastically increased through out little town, the unofficial detour.  However, it’s supposed to take over a year more to complete the project.  Good times.

 

 

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The last few weeks have been pretty quiet, project-wise.  We got rid of our ugly brown fan (the one with, literally, 14 watts of light) and replaced it with one that matches the one we put up in the kitchen.  Even though Tom says our house looks like the ceiling fan section of Lowe’s, I have no regrets.  I LOVE CEILING FANS.

 

Well, that about catches everyone up to speed!  We’re looking towards outdoor projects now.  Last weekend we spent some time just walking around the yard/woods, talking about long-term projects and ideas and mentally mapping things out.  A chicken coop, a grape arbor, a small orchard, some hazelnut bushes and walnut trees, a vegetable garden, a goldfish pond, gravel for a real driveway down to the barn, screened-in porches, blueberries – just some of the ideas floating around.  It definitely won’t all happen this year, but hopefully we’ll make some forward progress on at least some of the ideas.  I’m working on an herb garden in the side yard, and am pretty excited about it.  What I’m actually really excited about is the fact that I’m planting perennials that I will hopefully actually see come back because we’ll still be living here next spring.  Like, two springs in a row!  Ha!  I’ll believe it when I see it.  😉

I’ll end this post with the usual promises to do better about posting regularly, promises that you all know are backed by the best of intentions, but don’t usually seem to get the necessary follow-through!

Hopefully all is well out there – stay in touch!!