Saturday, April 12, 2014

Eggs. Glorious eggs...

Jeff has been steadily working to switch us out from a pier foundation to a normal concrete foundation.  It's been a tough and dirty job but we're getting close to having it done.

My parents come out to help too because what could possibly be more fun to do with your retirement than exhausting yourself helping your kids build a house for what feels like the umpteen millionth time.

Honestly they've put more sweat equity into my homes than I have and even this time around and lately I've been helping less and less because it turns out that someone still has to cook for all these people and do their mounds of dirty laundry.  When I ask the kids if they want to work on inside chores or work outside with their daddy they all always pick outside so I get stuck doing everyone's inside work which I honestly prefer anyway.

After they finished pouring the concrete footer they also poured a small pad for the stairs that will come off the deck that, Lord willing, we'll start once the foundation is finished.  We used concrete stamps to give it a stone texture.

Isaiah's demonstrating what he's been doing all day which is basically holding an impact gun over his head to take out hundreds of screws to remove sheets of wood under the house.  I know from when Jeff and I put that wood up a few years ago that the impact gun gets heavier and heavier as the day goes on but Isaiah kept up the pace from start to finish with no complaints and even had energy to spare when the day was done.

I could use some of that energy.

While Jeff and the kids we're working in the dirt under the house I washed about 20 dozen eggs.  We've recently fenced in our chickens so we're getting all the eggs they lay, whereas, when they were completely free range they'd often lay eggs outside the coop in places we couldn't find before the dogs would sniff them out for a snack.  It turns out that we probably have more chickens than we really need.

We more or less will be paying my parents for their help in eggs.  Who could pass up a deal like that, right?  Anyone else want to come work for eggs?

Our smallest and cutest ever egg.   

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Our low budget kitchen

I'm finally adding photos of our kitchen which we've been enjoying for several months now.  We'll do the trim, floors, and ceilings last so it will stay "almost done" for a while still.

We didn't change any of our appliances.  They're all still mismatched but working just fine so I can't bear to spend the money on that right now, if ever.

Jeff keeps asking me if I'm ready to get a new stove to the point that I'm starting to wonder if he doesn't like it as much as I do.  The burners don't have a truly medium heat setting and it bakes a bit unevenly but that's fine by me since I'm far from the best cook and when things don't turn out that great I can just blame it on the stove.

We bought our cabinets and  granite counters, which only come in six foot lengths, from a discount building supply store and it saved us a bundle.  Jeff also set every tile himself rather than buying the tiles in sheets.  It took a little longer but would have cost so much more otherwise.

Jeff experimented with the under-mount lighting using discs on the right side of the cabinets and went through a huge amount of trouble to hide the cords.  Then we decided to use a bar light under the open shelves and he's not happy with it so we just left the cord till we get around to switching it out to the disc style lights.  It's been so long since I've been able to see very well while working at the kitchen counters that I forgot just how nice it is to have good lighting, dangling cord and all.

So, we started with appliances which are all second hand (super-duper cheap or free) and then built the kitchen from the ground up for under $3,000.   Not as cheap as the kitchen set up we had before but I'm so thankful to have it!

And these flowers have nothing to do with our kitchen but I've recently discovered how much I love having living plants in the house even if I know they'll most likely be dead in a few months.  These cyclamen have such unique and colorful blossoms, only cost around $3.00 and they'll far outlast any fresh bouquet...although I still love fresh bouquets from time to time too. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

We're adding on

We're adding on to our little house.

I've loved the coziness of our home, having the kids always in earshot, piling on top of each other in the the living room for movie nights, squeezing the seven of us around our little table for meals and conversations; but I've also learned a few things living in such close quarters that has left us all longing for more space.

We've shared one bathroom for four years and when we first moved in it wasn't such a big deal.  All the kids were eleven and under with the youngest two in diapers.  The bathroom was a place they all wanted to avoid.  Now we have a teenage daughter and another one hot on her tail and often we have to stand in line behind two or three other people waiting...and waiting for our turn.  And let's not even discuss the getting ready for bed routine.  Ugh.

Onto the sleeping arrangements.  Having four girls and one boy and only three bedrooms presents a bit of a logistics problem.  The two big girls who are into clothes and hair and reading and painting really aren't to interested in sharing their room with two little girls and their Barbie's and baby dolls and legos (curse those legos!!)  They've shared their room in the past but with all their diverse interests and stuff, their bedroom began to overflow chaotically into the rest of the house.  The three older kids share one extremely overloaded clothes rod upstairs and all of the little girls clothes are in my closet and armoire and a bunch of Jeff's clothes are on a portable clothes rod upstairs.  Everyone's socks are in a basket in my room and coats, shoes, boots and mud are just can't tame that beast on a farm this time of year!

For now Isaiah and Evelyn are sharing a room along with all of the little kid toys while Sophie is in a toddler bed next to me.  This arrangement isn't going to work forever.  Soon Isaiah's going to need to have a place to get away from all the girls and their dolls, princes dresses, and mountains of play food that they're constantly trying to shove down the poor boys throat; and as much as Jeff and I love snuggling with our four year old "baby" (in our bedroom right next to the busiest bathroom on the planet!) we could use a little more privacy too.

Another issue that has popped its head up more and more lately is entertaining or more importantly, hospitality. Even with all the other issues I've mentioned that support adding on, this is the one that really pushed us to make that decision.  When we first moved to a smaller house I was actually glad to have to limit my accessibility to others.  I was buried under a pile of small children and babies and was more or less in survival mode.  I loved it and I really didn't have the time or energy for anything else but things are shifting now.  I haven't been pregnant or nursing a baby for over two years and while I occasionally miss those things, more often than not, I'm secretly giggling on the inside like a kid playing hooky and getting away with it.

Anyway, back to hospitality.   The most we've crammed (and I do mean crammed) into our house is 14 or 15 people on a handful of occasions.  It's not comfortable.  Our kitchen, dining and living room is a little under 20' by 22' so when the house is that full there's barely enough room to turn around, and if you're lucky enough to get a comfortable seat, you'd better not get up from that seat or you'll risk losing it!  It will be so nice to have a little more breathing room and a few more people over.  I miss having big family get togethers with all my relatives and it won't be too much longer before my own kids start bringing home spousal contestants and before you know it they're all married off and filling my house with grand-babies!!  I need room for that.  (It might sound a bit premature, but I can't wait to have a house full of grand-babies!  Ha!)

So, we're doubling the size of our house which will make it about average sized.  We'll be adding a master bedroom and bathroom, a living room (our current living area will become the dining room) as well as a mud/laundry room and a real stairwell, but we'll still keep the ladder too because it's fun!  We'll also have a bonus room upstairs that can work as a guest room or play room for the kids.

We've only just begun so we have a long way to go but we're all working on it together, even me!  I've always been pregnant during every other major project so this is the most physically involved I've ever been. It's hard work (but easier than being pregnant) and I'm sure it will make for some fun memories for our entire family.  As you can see, Madison and Grace are already becoming expert masons!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Galvanized corrugated metal shower surround Q & A

This post is way past due.  I've continued to receive lots of emails and a lot more visits to my piddly blog because of this one thing than I otherwise ever would have.  Jeff is no longer surprised when I call him at work for the answers to the questions people have for us and I'm very glad to do it because sometimes a tutorial just isn't enough and goodness knows I'm not the best tutorial maker/writer.

I'll go over the most common questions that people continue to ask about our galvanized corrugated metal shower surround (boy, that was a mouthful!)  The most common one is "How's it holding up?"

It's holding up great and we haven't had one single issue with the functionality of it.  The metal is galvanized and the screws are stainless steel so there's zero rust and the flashing and channeling are working like they should.  And remember, it's been our only shower for over three and a half years and there are seven of us so it gets used more than the average shower.

We have well water that is very hard and leaves mineral deposits on everything it touches if it isn't wiped up before it dries and I'm no Martha so my shower does gather mineral deposits...among other things.  The nice thing about the galvanized metal is it already has a mottled finish to it which does help conceal some of my inept housekeeping skills. 

When it was brand new it had a very shiny, mirror-like quality to it which is a bit more subtle now. (To see what it looked like over three years ago click here and here.)   However, it still looks good in my opinion.

This is what it looks like today.  This is the best I can do for a picture right now.  I've been crazy sick these last few days and the whole bathroom needs a good cleaning but I'm just too tired to and felt like blogging about it anyway.

That leads me to another common question, "How do you clean it?"  Because of the hard water I've used CLR on it several times which is pretty harsh stuff but said to be fine for occasional use on galvanized metal but my favorite cleaner (surprisingly to me) has become a half and half mixture of white vinegar and palm olive.  I fill a dish scrubber just like this one with the solution.  (Thank you pinterest and whoever came up with this brilliant idea in the first place!)

I have found it's best to clean it just after someone has use the shower, while the surround is still wet, rather than while I'm taking one, because it gives the vinegar more time to work on the mineral deposits before I rinse it off.

And the last question people commonly ask is, "Would you do it again?"  The answer is yes.  It's a unique look that we don't see everywhere, it would be so extremely easy to change if we ever get tired of it, and it was very affordable and easy to install.

Those are the most common questions I get and thought it was worth sharing.  If anyone ever has more questions don't hesitate to leave it in the comments or email me.