Friday, May 27, 2016

A country bath

       I wrote previously that the upstairs bathroom is almost done and we are so close I couldn't help show you a few pictures.  My freestanding tub is now in place and I just love it.  The faucet for the tub still needs to be installed and the blinds on the windows, but I am so happy with how it all turned out.  Bill installed the medicine cabinets and the hardware on the vanity so we have a functioning bathroom!

       This room was our first experience with ship lap and though I love how it looks, here's what I discovered.  If you want to have the small lines in between the boards painted, do it before you put the boards up.  It is extremely hard, time-consuming, and frustrating to try to do it after they are installed.  I finally gave up after trying a regular brush, spray paint, and an artist fine brush.  

        Another suggestion I would make is to not purchase what you need for any room you are remodeling too early.  I ordered these medicine cabinets  before the vanity was installed.  Even though I had measured and knew the size of the vanity, once it was installed, it looked small.  I thought my medicine cabinets were going to be too large.  I checked my paperwork and it was past the return policy deadline.  So I had to live with them or use them somewhere else.  We choose to use them here and even though there is not much room between them, I still think they look okay.

      And since I'm sharing my mistakes, the other one I made was with the lighting above the medicine cabinets.  These vanity lights were suppose to be pointed down, but because I didn't take into consideration the depth of the lights and the cabinets, the lights would have been shining directly on the top of the medicine cabinets.  So we turned the vanity lights up toward the ceiling and we got lucky because it still worked.  

       Here is a closeup of the faucets we choose.  I wanted it to look old-fashioned so I went with cross handles.

      And here is a view that shows the shower and the cubby where the toilet rests.  We had a partial wall put around the toilet because when you walk into this bathroom, we didn't want it to feel like you were walking into a wall and it also helped the room feel a little more open. 

           And since this room was originally a big bedroom and we had all this extra  space, here is a picture of the big linen/clothes closet we had built directly behind the vanity.  It's just waiting to be filled!  Steve did all of this wonderful ship lap work and built in shelving in the closet.

             And because I can't stop taking pictures of these cute little creatures.  Here's a few more.   Our yellow lab, Latte, has been so kind with these kittens.  The smallest kitten of the four is a male and has no fear. Here he is snuggling with Latte.

These cute gray kittens need a home.  Only one is spoken for.  Any takers here in Wichita?  We have three left.  

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Front Porch & Roses

        A Victorian farm house is not complete without a big wrap around porch. Ours came with a west and south facing porch that we can't wait to sit out on in rockers or a porch swing or both.   We have put on new white siding and big cedar porch beams and now it is time to put on a new ceiling. It has been open for quite a while now and  before we have tons of wasps building homes up there, it is getting closed up.

       Steve Vogt from Vogt Construction has joined our team and sometimes his wife, Michelle works along side him.    He has been a great addition and is helping our farm house progress nicely.  Here they are working on our front porch ceiling.

           View looking south.  I think a porch swing would  be perfect right here. We have a white one just waiting in our barn to be hung up, but I also like this one I found on Pinterest.  Maybe I will need to paint it?

         Steve is going to white wash the porch ceiling to blend from the white siding to the cedar beams.  This was my bee-loved's idea and I thought it was terrific.

      Eventually the cement on the porch will get covered, but we want to wait for most of the construction traffic to be over with first.  The front door will also get stained or painted and shutters added to the windows.

     The south side of the porch and house will have a view of the circular driveway,  roses and the road to our house.

        And this view is looking north back at the house.  I had originally thought that I would take these roses out and plant a new flower bed, but I've completely changed my mind.  Why? Because one day while we were talking on the front porch, a lady named Joy, stopped and told me she used to play in our house with her friend Virginia, who used to live here.  She told us her friend's grandfather planted the roses.  When she told me that,  I knew I couldn't take them out.  I love history and it just amazed me that these roses had been here maybe for a hundred years! Theses roses may have lived through every family that has ever lived here.  
    So my new plan is to prune them back, and add more roses and make this a beautiful rose garden.  This probably won't happen until the fall because we are still working on our vegetable garden.

     And Virginia, if you're out there reading this blog, I would love to hear from you or anyone who has lived in this farm house.

It is the time you have spent on your rose that makes her so important.     
Antoine De Saint-Exup_ry


Thursday, May 12, 2016

                 from the farm . . .

       Recently I sat down and thought about what I've learned during our last year working on The Noah Farm. I was surprised how quickly I came up with a list  and thought maybe they would help you with whatever project,  big or small, that you are thinking about tackling.  Here are just a few . . .

       One of the first  major hurdles we had to jump over was getting the foundation repaired, replaced or having the house moved so we could put in a basement. My husband and I both felt overwhelmed and stuck before we ever got started.  So my first advice when you don't know what to do or feel stuck is to. . .
  • Take whatever steps you can.

      For us it just meant making call after call and getting estimate after estimate until we found the right company.  In the meantime, we did whatever projects we could, like build a new barn door, removing trees, demolishing the summer kitchen, etc.   It was so worth the time it took  to get the right contractor because the company we hired to move our house did a superior job. 

Which leads to the next piece of advice . . .

  • ALWAYS get more than one estimate.

       You will learn a lot by what a contractor says or doesn't say; what questions he asks you; how much detailed information he or she gives you. Do they seem like a person you want to work with?   Trust your gut.  If it doesn't seem like the right fit or right price, keep looking around. Getting lots of  estimates on our foundation also helped us to decide that we really wanted to move our house and put in a basement.  For suggestions on good contractors and companies to use,  ask your friends, realtor, or workers you have already used and have been pleased with their work.  Getting more estimates also makes you more knowledgeable about the project and the process involved.

  • Do your own research.
       I learned this valuable lesson from my tech guru son. If I asked him for some computer counseling help, he would often say “Google it.” This was frustrating, but at the same time taught me that I could teach myself so much about any topic if I just took the time to do the research. YouTube has videos on how to do almost any project. When we were talking to contractors  about our basement foundation, I watched videos  to understand what exactly a footing was and how this whole basement process flowed. 

Workers pouring our basement footings.

        And sometimes you just have to humble yourself and. . .

  • Ask questions when you don't understand.

       This might be the hardest one to do because you want to “appear” like you know what the contractor is talking about. This happened when we were told the electrical work upstairs needed to be redone. What?  We had been told during inspection that our electrical was fine. The problem? Junction boxes.   I didn't know what they were, but unless we rewired we would have ugly junction boxes sticking out of our drywall. 

        But guess what? Contractors are really okay with helping you understand why you need to do this or that. 

       And finally . . .

  • Expect and embrace problems and mistakes!

       The truth is problems and mistakes are always going to be part of the process. Learning to go with the flow and adjust is just part of re-loving a house, especially an old house. I would plan as best I could, but when my plans got blown up, say for example on a room's floor plan, I found that the changes made and the final results where usually better than the original.

       I'll end this post with an updated picture of my son's kittens, which are almost a month old now. They were definitely not in his plan, but they have been such a joy to us all.  Here they are looking out the window during a recent thunderstorm.

Courage is NOT about knowing the path,
it's about taking the    f i r s t step.
                                                          - Kate Davis

Sunday, May 1, 2016

bees, snakes & kittens

       I wrote several weeks ago about a big black snake that we found out on our farm while clearing the land.  The boys  placed her in another location further from the barn in the trees and underbrush.  The next day, our son Alex was working on the tractor and looked over on a fence line and guess who was back?  I was not happy about this, mostly because I look at the ground when I walk our farm land because I'm afraid I'm going to come across a snake.  I didn't know they could be up higher in trees or fence lines.  Yikes!  Now I have to look everywhere!
      We thought maybe she came back to the same area because she had babies there, so I decided to just name her Mama Domino and accept that this is her home too.  (She does keep the mice away!)  Now I just expect her to be around that same area and I'm looking out for her and possibly little Dominos too.  Speaking of little ones, here is a picture of a Glossy snake we found out there, which is also not poisonous. (Alex thought is was beautiful).  With two boys who love snakes and lots of them out here, maybe some day they won't freak me out.  

    Now for some cuteness. . . .

       Another creature that used to live on the farm,  was a friendly little gray cat.    She had originally lived in the house, but because she wasn't doing her mousing job inside, got put in the barn.  Alex was fond of her and decided to make her his own and give her a life of leisure back at his place. After several weeks he kept thinking she was looking a little plump, but thought maybe she was just putting on weight after being in the barn.  But it soon became very obvious that she was pregnant!

       He named her "Squeaker" because she talks (squeaks) to him.  She had four kittens total. The picture below is their first trip out of Alex's apartment to our home.  They are about two weeks old here and did great on their first adventure even with our big lab hanging around.

 He calls them "Squeaker and the Peeps". 

       And now for even smaller creatures . . .

My husband calls them "his girls" and they arrived in early April.  He tried desperately last year to keep his girls alive over the winter, but sadly they didn't make it.  So here are his latest batch of bees.

      Dave is gowned up because he is allergic to bees, but Alex and I were just in our regular clothes taking pictures up close.  Neither one of us were afraid,  attacked, or stung,  by any bees. Even our dog, Latte, lay patiently by the hive waiting for Dave to finish. 

        I've come along way since the first time I looked into the hive.  I even picked these two batches of bees up from the Post Office and delivered them to the farm.  I got some strange looks as I carried two little screened boxes of bees out the Post Office doors.  

       Can you see the pollen on the bee's leg on the very right?

        And now for a picture of  her majesty, the queen.  She's the big one almost in the center of the below picture with no black lines on her back.

     I think we should name both our queens, but 
my husband doesn't seem to care.  I suggested Queen Violet, after the grandmother on Downton Abbey.  Any name suggestions  for the other queen?