Demo Days Drag On


There have been lots and lots of piles that look just like this.  This is the result of lots of plaster that is 160+ years old, full of horse hair and weighing a ton.  Removing the plaster was actually kind of fun. The progress when doing this is tangible.  You start a wall that has some chipped plaster, you start removing in a methodical process popping lathe and then peeling away the plaster that is no longer attached to the wall. I put it in a trash can right away, but my husband preferred the- throw everything in a big pile and sort it out later- method.  This is the difference between us, showing blatantly.  I prefer to take life and sort it out and put the plaster in one pile and the lathe in another, keeping things orderly so as to reduce the clean up.  He would rather just get it off the wall as fast as possible, and let the chips fall where they may, causing a clean up that is arduous and difficult.  Yes, we definitely have that difference in viewing many areas of our lives.  But, I think that may be the very difference between most men and women anyways, so nothing overly unexpected about that, right?


There have been many a trash can filled to capacity just like this one.  The ones I was putting the plaster in didn’t make it to half full before you just can’t lift them without the two-wheeled  dolly’s assistance.  I won’t tell you how I figured out that little lesson…let’s just suffice it to say, that plaster was handled more than once and now it needs to make its way to many, many contractor trash bags. I am eternally thankful that we don’t use plaster on walls anymore.  The clean up is nasty, especially when you do something like I made the mistake of doing in my eagerness to get the place ship-shape and ready to start running the electrical as soon as we got the permits.  I got the kitchen completely cleaned out, everything gone, it looked great, except for the thick layer of plaster dust on everything.  I took the shop vac and vacuumed all the walls, the ceiling and windows.  I was anxious to get to the dust on the floor that we were traipsing all over the house.  So, I started to vacuum the plentiful crap that had fallen down the walls since the home’s birth in 1837.   A lot of mouse…um, dirt, yes, we’ll call it dirt…sucked up the tube. Oh, happy day!  Everyone who knows me understands that the ONE and almost only thing I can’t stand is rodents of any kind in my house and most especially my KITCHEN.  So, it was with some deep satisfaction that I sucked that up the hose.  Then I started on the floor, happily making tracks in the dust as it disappeared up the hose.  I started at the wall and was working my way back through the room, when I began to notice an inordinate amount of white in the air.  I turned around to the entire living room almost invisible in the white plaster dust cloud being blown right back out the vacuum and all over EVERYTHING.  Oh. My. Goodness!!! I shut it down and took it apart to discover that the filter had fallen off, and so there was nothing collecting that dust. In one end and happily right back out the other, creating a snowy world.  I wanted to cry.


But, in the end, this is the room we are now left with for the kitchen.  Looking pretty good, right?  We’re trying to decide if we are going to add another layer of flooring to it so that we can level it out, it is pretty rocking and rolling on that floor, plus then it will bring it up to the level of the fireplace hearth, making walking on that less dangerous.  So very excited to get busy putting this back together.


Yes, I did question the wisdom of standing on the ladder like this.


We are excited to get this place put back together with our stamp on it, making it our home.  We had a friend stop by last weekend, she had not seen the house before then. Now, granted, it was 1/2 torn apart on that day, and a mess was everywhere.  Her voice said to us “oh, it’s so cute!” and words like “it’s gonna be great when you’re done”, but her eyes very clearly stated “you guys are freakin’ crazy” and “no way would I ever bite off so much just for a house”.  But, see, we’re the kind of people who are never afraid of hard work or the “crazy” project.  It’s not the first time we’ve been mired in this type of situation, but it is the first time that we have been so excited about the possibilities of this being our long-term home.  And since we know this is basically the only opportunity we had available to us to stay in this affluent town where our kids have spent most of their lives and want to stay, we’re willing to do the hard thing most people don’t want to do. For our boys, but also for our financial peace of mind.  So, crazy…perhaps.  Short sighted…nope.

And lastly for your viewing pleasure and because he makes me smile many times a day, here’s a gratuitous picture of our farm dog, Brady.


Demo Days Are FUN!



Holy Wow! Is this not the coolest wall you’ve seen in a long time?  This is a wall that we removed the crumbling plaster from this past weekend.  As an added bonus, there are many more just like it!  For those who may not know how old houses were constructed, this is the structure that was required to adhere the plaster to the wall.  The plaster goes in the cracks in and between the boards, dries and holds fast.  They used to mix horse hair into the plaster for strength and to provide some structure to hold the plaster together.  Taking down horse hair plaster is a messy, dusty, kinda gross job.  But, beneath it lies this pretty cool looking wall.  Though I contemplated leaving it, as it’s an interior wall, I felt in the end it needed to come down.   The boards were brittle from many years next to a fireplace, and were cooler looking then they were functional.  We will be replacing this with drywall, and I’m a little sad that the lathe (that’s these boards) needed to go, but the plaster was in bad shape.  And we are doing this on a tight budget.  And I’m no plaster master.


Demo days are all hands on deck.  When my husband removed the bottom cabinets in the kitchen, we discovered the whole wall needed to come off.  This is the way with old houses, once you open up a can of worms, you’ve got to renovate so much more of the nest then you expected.  Ah well.  If you look to his left, you see a wood wall.  This is the exterior wall of our kitchen and you may also notice that there is not ONE stitch of insulation in the walls.  Unless you count the old mouse condo he found in there…or, the ancient bees nest with petrified honey in it.  Yep, all critters were using this as home!  Now, the wall being opened up completely was unexpected, but it’s offering us the chance to seal it up well, add insulation and block off the welcome mat spots for the critters we really don’t want to share our home with any longer.  We’ll also be opening up another one of the walls in the kitchen and expect to find this same condition behind that one as well.  The perfect time to get it snug and warm.  No insulation in New Hampshire winters= freezing cold everything!


This is the bee hive board. See the rich honey color of the wood…well, that’s actually honey coloring that wood! There was a very old hive, there was no active bee activity (thank goodness!) and it’s adjacent to part of the wall that is yet to be dismantled, so there may be more.  I bet it smelled good when the sun hit that wall!


Demo means all hands on deck.  We decided that the boys were going to be really helping with things as they are both old enough now to truly lend some actual skill to it, rather then just busy work to keep them out of our hair while we do it all.  This is going to give them invaluable skills for when they are men with their own households.  They will have done some of this work so that they will be capable of fixing things in their own homes.  Their father did not have any mentor for all of these types of challenges in his life, and it is important to us that our guys aren’t handicapped by that in their adulthood.  My husband has taught himself how to do countless things when it comes to home repair.  He amazes me with his skills and ability to figure out what needs to be done in most situations.  He can plumb, wire, build and install with the best of them!


There are layers to this house.  It’s from 1837, and it has had other renovations along the way. I started to peel the wallpaper in the kitchen and I peeled off 5 layers from the original plaster.  Some of it I found quite amusing as the stuff from the 70’s really looked like a blast from the past.  I could actually tell what was from the 30’s-40’s, the 50’s, the 70’s and the 80’s.  The style of those decades was very apparent in the wallpaper choices.  I will take a picture of it if I can find a piece that represents what I’m talking about well enough.

So much to do, and just about feeling the pressure of time. I got the kitchen cabinets ordered, met with the contractor that is building our shower stall, met with the tree removal company and had the power company out to evaluate the two trees that we thought would be their responsibility.  Turns out, they aren’t and if we want to remove them, we’ll need to add that to the cost that we’re already incurring…to the tune of $3,500-$4,000 already!  But there is one HUGE old oak on the property that dangles over the garage and the roof on the house and it’s got a lot of disease in its old age. Widow makers dangle precariously from it’s creaky branches and it is time to come down.  That tree alone is going to be big money to take down.

It’s shaping up to be a big adventure so far, tiring, but it’s also fun to get down and dirty and make things the way we want them.  A few things we wanted to do aren’t going to be possible, but the longer we are pulling things apart, the more possibilities seem to be opening up as well.  Stick with us and see where we’re going from here!


Rain, Rain, April Showers!

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Hello Everyone!  Today is a dreary, rainy day here in southern New Hampshire.  We recently had 14″ of snow, on April Fool’s Day (how appropriate!).  Very heavy, wet and unwelcome snow.  I think we are all ready for the end of the cold, wet winter we’ve had. I’m ready to get my hands in some soil and get busy on some planting.  I just want to feel the sunshine on my skin instead of being bundled up. Yep, something above 40 would be wonderful!  We are supposed to have a couple of days in the low 70’s next week and I know I will be taking a deep breath of that warmer air!

The above picture is the fireplace that is in our new homestead kitchen.  Now, though this is the largest kitchen space I’ve had in a long time, it still doesn’t have the storage I need, even with the new cabinet space.  My best buddy thinks I’m just crazy to want to cover this little gem with cabinets, but I haven’t come up with any alternative for storage that will work well enough.  The house has an old rock wall basement with a dirt floor in which you can’t stand up straight in some places.  So to say it’s not going to be used for any kind of storage is completely accurate.  It’s damp, and smells like the earth.  That causes the house, which currently has very little storage to need much more because we can’t just put it on a shelf out of the way in the basement.  We are going to be adding some other cabinets in other parts of the house for storage of things like towels, sheets, coats and all the many other things that just need to be stashed away when not in use.  Clutter makes my brain explode, and I seem to be always beating back the clutter in my home.


I started some demo in the kitchen, but my better judgement clicked in today, and I put a halt to that until I can get a better respirator mask and some 6 mml plastic sheeting to put down.  In a home that’s as old as this one, we don’t know whether or not we are dealing with lead paint, and lead paint dust blowing around the house is a bad idea. So, I need to get some spray bottles to wet down what we are scraping, duct tape some plastic sheeting down and get a respirator mask rated for lead removal…just in case. It seems like a lot of extra work, and that is true, it is, but I don’t want any of us or our pets to end up with lead poisoning because we weren’t careful.  Lead poisoning is definitely not something to mess with!

The above picture is the room that will become mostly the boys “domain”.  We find our family functions more peacefully if we have a room that contains what the boys need to do their activities, the loudest of which includes drums, guitars and basses.  It also has their wii game system, which they use from time to time.  The boys have been working me for a new gaming system because they don’t make games for the system they have now.  Ummmm…no.  Not gonna happen because I’m not a mom that finds the inherent value in spending time playing video games.  A little bit is fine, I can deal with that, but beyond that, my thoughts are nope, get outside.  I say it all the time to my guys, it’s a beautiful day, get outside.

But in any case, this will be the room they use to make all the noise they need to because its separated from the rest of the house by a VERY large chimney.  You can see the brick for it in both of the above pictures.  The fireplace in the kitchen, and the back side of that fireplace, which is the brick in the second picture.  The room with the red and white walls has a place to connect a woodstove, and also has been piped for a gas stove.  So with all that brick and a staircase between this room and the rest of the house, we should be able to get some peace when we need it.  It remains to be seen.  We haven’t had to have these items actually in our living area in a long time.  Now that they are older and play more, it will be interesting!  If all else fails, perhaps we’re going to finish space for them upstairs in the garage.  What teenager wouldn’t want their very own space for a garage band?

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Really, really can’t wait to get some outside work done, too.  But, we have two months to get the house in order before we can move in and once that’s all set, we’ll concentrate on the outside.  I’m very much looking forward to beautifying the outside and getting some garden beds in and some animals working around the land with us.  I’m going to start looking into goats in the fall.  We may not get them until next spring, but we’ll get something to help us beat back the bittersweet and poison ivy.  It will be a long process, but they love the stuff and it will be good for us to not have to deal with it.  My husband, Michael, is allergic to poison ivy, and whenever he gets a little touch of it, he’s covered in flaming hot, itchy rash that usually won’t go away until he gets steroids to combat it.  Poor guy is just miserable with is, so we’d like to have animals that will help with that for us.

Enjoying the prospect of spring bringing its happiness and warmth with it, just wish it would roll in sometime soon.  Next post will bring you some demo pictures!



Grace Note Homestead, Finally!


Welcome to our new home!  I am so excited to report that the little homestead is finally ours.  It was a very long, involved and frustrating process to get to this point, but we are very happy to have a place to land for a long term stay.  For us, the 5 years until our youngest son graduates high school is long term!  We move A LOT. I am not really sure why this happens, but it seems we don’t land for anywhere for very long.


We have so many plans for this little place.  It’s adorable, but needs a lot of curb appeal work as well as needing somewhere for us to house the animals we will be adding to it. The chicken coop is coming from our current home, but we will need to add a little goat barn before we will be able to add goats. The picture above looks like it should work, but the back of it is rotted off and the roof is caving in on the back half. It was used for animals of some kind in the past as it has a little stall in it. The goats will be very necessary for brush elimination, there is a lot for a ruminant to munch on.  We will also be taking down a bunch of trees and so we may end up with pigs at some point to work those stumps out. Nothing pigs love more then rooting around under trees and digging up roots. That is what makes them so good at finding the edible wonder, truffles.  Their noses are sensitive but strong and they make quick work of rocky and stump-filled fields.

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The interior of the house needs a lot of work. We will need to redo the whole kitchen, mostly because I can’t work with this itty bitty amount of counter space.  I am a cook. I cook 3 meals a day from scratch in our house along with canning a lot of food, making bread and prepping lots of veggies and meat for the freezer for our winters.  When I say I cook a lot, I really mean it. We don’t eat a lot of processed foods, most of it I make from scratch.  And the stuff I do purchase processed, I aspire to eliminate the best I can.  I have also spent many years making due with less then usable kitchens and it’s time for me to create the kitchen I want and need. This little space is going to fit the bill just fine!  We are adding an island removing the half yellow wall and rearranging what is there now.  The fridge will be replaced, but it’s location is staying there, the stove is moving, the island will house the sink and dishwasher, and then there will be counter space added and storage, lots of storage!  The one thing about cooking from scratch and canning, I need a lot of kitchen tools and appliances.  And along with that comes the need for a place to put it all.  Yes, more storage is a must-have.


We are excited to lighten and brighten the little place and add a door and move some windows and just make it ours to function how we need it to.  I’m beyond thrilled to have a home to work on again. I feel most useful when I’m working on projects.  This place is going to have that in spades!  So ready to get started!

Come on back and join us for the updates and progress.  Can’t wait to show you the garden getting underway, trees being removed and paint going on walls.  It will be great fun to work on this together, won’t it?