Tuesday, December 13, 2022

A Holiday Break

 I'm just going to say "Merry Christmas" now, before the snow melts away from our winter wonderland! It is so beautiful everywhere we look. This was yesterday:

Will be taking a blogging break and hoping to get back to it after the new year! Thank you for reading!

Friday, December 9, 2022

Light Fixtures!

 While the last post dealt with the temporary kitchen, the real kitchen was getting a light! So was the dining room!

The contractor got a lot of advice from the crowds I am sure. 

I had something specific in mind for the dining room, something that looked simple and early-American. I was very pleased with this fixture I found on Wayfair. It was exactly what I wanted.

I bought some shades to put over the bulbs later to make the light a bit easier on our eyes, but I like it without the shades as well. 

And now for the main kitchen light...

We had a sense of how the other fixtures in the house should look, but it is hard to find things that look like a sense of something isn't it. Would you believe it, us shopping for lights was like us shopping for tile, and of course the selection to sort through was in the thousands....

Thankfully we found this beautiful schoolhouse-style shade at our local Lowe's, and it is perfect! Milk glass and black work well with the warm wood color we have around here. 

We had a discussion about the placement of this light, much like the discussion about the windowsills. You cannot tell from the photos, but the light in the kitchen is not centered on the kitchen sink window, per the Lady of the House's better idea that the light should be centered on the off-center island instead. The project architect was horrified. And normally, Things Not Centered On Windows would have horrified the Lady, but she will be the main one doing the Chopping of Vegetables on the island and insisted on her idea. Besides, the sink was getting its own light and that would of course be centered on the window.

Then the contractor  weighed in and was upset that an extension to the conduit to this light would have to be made in order to accommodate the un-centered request. This would require uninstalling it and re-installing it. 

The architect (with advisor) and contractor check on the centering of the light fixture

But both the architect and the contractor were kind in the end and the light went in centered over the island. And to this day I am not sure that they even notice the light's position anymore.

Here I will insert a little boring detail because it was one of the things that the inspector did not like. In order to get the electrical wire from a decorative wood ceiling to the light, we had to run it in the narrow space between beams. To do this, w put in a pipe to house the wire, and chose to go with an "industrial" look of black metal, since we thought it might be visible. The inspector did not like the metal pipe we chose (oil pipe, it had a cool old cast iron look), and said it had to be replaced with plastic conduit, which would not look as authentic of course but would be safer. Metal will eventually corrode the Romex wiring. So we have a black plastic conduit up there but you can't really see it anyway! 

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Temporary Progress

While we are very thankful for all the beautiful elements that made up our house, we can also appreciate the humbler things.

 For $20 at a local ReStore we picked up a very deep utility tub with an attached faucet. It sure is ugly but is a  temporary fixture --Oh please, let it be temporary-- until we can finish out the laundry room cabinets and have an integrated sink.

We have found during this type of DIY house build we are doing, that if regular family life is going to happen simultaneously you have to put in some temporary stuff. And it feels like defeat sometimes, because you know you are going to have to take it out and replace it wen you finally get to what is on the plans. But "temporary" sure does help with the living part!

At the time the sink (which would look better in a garage) was a welcome addition to my summer kitchen!

After cooking in this generous space in the laundry room, we had to haul all of our cookware, dishes and utensils down the path to the hot RV to wash in its micro-kitchen. It was so nice to be able to stay up in the house and fit BIG pots, cutting boards and mixing bowls in a sink again. And to have a working tap indoors was nice, too. We did have to heat the water for the dishes but it still felt like progress! 

Monday, December 5, 2022

Don't Look Up, Down, or Out! and The Birds

That should have been my motto throughout the exterior construction. 

 I'm glad that some people on this crew were good with heights. I'm also glad that so far there have been no construction accidents. I hated to look when work was going on up high, but getting a photo of it for future memories seemed like an important reason to scare myself!

A home-made scaffolding extension had to be made to be able to finish the back second-story siding. Shudder. 

(My family reminded me the other day that this lap siding was not our first choice. It was a design change mid-way. I think we were going to put more board-and-batten on, but I am glad we changed that to a more interesting mix. )

So much tedious work to install, caulk, paint... and just when you think you are done you have to get out the ladder and do more...

... because it turned out that these beautiful, big brackets were a favorite landing place for birds. So up the ladder again to install bird spikes. 

Then wouldn't you know it, we found out that our insulation/siding sandwich was mistaken for a literal sandwich by woodpeckers

The 2" of foam exterior insulation, combined with the fiber cement siding on top, happens to make the same sound that a rotten, bug-filled hollow tree does to the woodpeckers. They LOVE those kinds of trees, so they LOVE to hammer on our house. Another trip to the roof to install shiny mylar tape that flaps and flashes and makes noise at the house corners. That worked! But after a few months the noise was driving us crazy, so another trip up there to take it off. Lately, they have been trying to explore in the rafters. Up on the roof again to put in extra bird blocking (in additions to the bird blocking already in the attic vents). 
 Opening windows works every time to startle new woodpeckers, since our windows open outwards, and until we get a more permanent solution that is what we will do.  

With all this high-up work, do you think we should have just built a balcony all the way around the house?

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Can A Village Up and Move?

If it is my printable Christmas Village, it can! 

I have never seen such traffic as this year for my humble, hand-drawn Christmas village printables! They are free for you to print and craft with.

Unfortunately, because of an update problem with my Google Drive, I had to manually approve all shares of the village PDF. That made it inconvenient for my readers, to have to wait on me to do this (especially as some requests are coming in the middle of the night!). So I am moving the PDFs to a hosting platform called Gumroad. 

The village PDF's are still FREE to you and hopefully will more convenient (24/7 access!) now.  All the links in the Village posts are updated from Drive to Gumroad. And below are the links straight to the new platform. I hope this works out better for everyone!


Village Shops on Gumroad

Village Houses on Gumroad

Farmhouse and Barn on Gumroad

Meeting House and Woods on Gumroad  

Mt. Merry Christmas (Mountain Backdrop) on Gumroad


#1 Meeting House

#2 Shops

#3 Houses

#4 Woods (example)

#5 Farm

#6 Mountain

NOTE! If your computer cannot handle heavy cardstock, print on lighter weight cardstock several times and layer 'em up! 

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

One for the Annals

Summer construction days are memorable. The heat, the eating outdoors, and the storm-watching. 

So many interesting cloud formations. And would they come our way? I have mentioned before that often rain is over there. But on this particular day surprised us.

One of us was on the scaffolding, and couple of us werew oohing and ahhing over the lightning over the rimrock opposite us, and trying to photograph it,, and others of the family were scattered in various spots.  One huge flash and a boom surrounding us and we all sprinted inside in seconds. The ladder on the porch was rattling and trembling perhaps in fright. Things were getting blown around, and hail came in vertically and hit the front windows (recall that our porch is 10 feet deep!).

Then torrents of rain. All our materials stored on the porch were soaked. 
A river ran down the side yard. 

And especially memorable... it rained INSIDE the house. A waterfall poured in from the top of the front door, streaming down all our drywall and on to the newly stained floor! The culprit was the upstairs window sills, which had not yet been caulked. Where else was it going to come out? All the newly installed trim or???  The thought of all that water inside our walls was upsetting, as you can imagine. 

 It will go down in the annals of Housebuilding History for us!

Monday, November 28, 2022

Why you should Build a SHOP first


This is what happened to the laundry room while the flooring was going in. We had no "shop" so all tools went in whatever room was available at the time. Combine that mess with the fact that we were trying to function as a homeschooling family, and have a life beyond construction. Then throw in cooking in this room vs the RV during a really hot summer, add a baby to the mix and you have a MESS! I am not sure I have fully recovered from it. 

To top it off, the tile floor in this room proved a cool spot in the heat of August. Often you would find one of the family on the floor, either a construction worker asleep (a roll of Costco paper towels at his head) after lunch, or a smaller child with a toy. Some even ate on the floor on the hottest days. On the other side of this photo is a fridge and a freezer (the RV unit was far too small).

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Getting the Flooring Upstairs

As much as I love the plywood floors and wanted them on both stories, it was too late to change the order for our upstairs flooring. We did regular tongue-and-groove fir (WAY better looking than the gnarly plywood) but I wished it could all match through the whole house. However, the second story kind of has its own “look” which is not as rustic as the first story. We were not doing the “General Store Floor” look up there anyway. I had hopes that at the least the floor would be easier to finish (less splinters to glue down!). 

Getting the long boards up there was quite an interesting family event. 

The children were always glad when they could help with the house build. 

The boards handily came with cardboard and plastic "toys" to keep one amused for a while. 

Instead of turning the stair corner/landing to the second floor, the most direct way was used. 

No walls were dented and no windows broken! Because this was not stable plywood, the boards had to sit upstairs for a while and "acclimate" before they could be installed. 

This is a fast-forward from that acclimation time. The flooring was nailed in and actually made the second story look quite old-fashioned, so it did not feel too different from the downstairs. 

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving!

 This is close to autumnal colors I think...the high desert at sunset! I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving full of many blessings!

Monday, November 14, 2022

Some Other Things


A bit of a random post about other things that were done that summer. The west side of the house had some fancy white underboards (I am sure there is a word for them) attached. I do not understand how anyone can work that far up off the ground just standing on a ladder. I am so grateful that someone can do it though!
The time came when the extra construction stuff in the back went to the dumpster. We salvage what we can but still the trash piles up. 

A job well done. 

These lights make me happy and sad. Happy because they look great, are adjustable, and just want I wanted to light up this bookshelf wall. Sad because we miscalculated where they were to be installed and they are too close to the wall. In order to redo them, the painted drywall ceiling will have to be cut, patched, mudded, sanded, primed, painted... at this point I think we would rather build narrower bookshelves. But anyway, don't they make a nice glow?

A "helper."

Here's how the reading nook turned out. I was not enthused about an arch because I thought it looked like a doghouse. The little ones don't care though and they like hiding in it sometimes. 

Our drywall pros did a great job, but this was probably the most difficult spot of all. I wasn't sure if they would volunteer to come back!

Friday, November 11, 2022

A Bit of Earth and Sky

During a project that seemed to consume all our time, it was nice to take walks and get away from it all. So let me take you along on a few!

When I first discovered bitterroot, I thought it was so alien-like. But then to see it when the blossoms unfurl!

It has become one of my favorite flowers.

A beautiful view from just above the neighborhood and quite aways above the valley. 

That year the lupines were in abundance. 

A pretty sunset glow

We once calculated that this is about 3600 above the sea. 

We hike to what we have dubbed "levels." First level is our house up to the flat spot where we can see the Three Sisters mountains. Second level is up a steep and slippery rocky shale slope to another flat spot, and third level is the very top of this hill where the best view awaits. It is a tiring hike though!

All kinds of interesting rocks are up that way, and once in a while a new wildflower is spotted that doesn't grow on the other "levels."

One day we saw some interesting sky-art.

It was like the opposite of sun rays...

Was it smoke? Yet it seemed to have no bottom part on the ground.

It lingered and lingered and then faded away as the sun set. 

Well I hope that was a diverting break from saws and planks of wood. Next up is TILE, oh the joy!