Mac n’ Cheese Manor: So Many Things!

We are FINALLY moving our bed out of the living room today!!!!! : )

I unpacked the rest of my summer clothes and hung them up, so I am no longer using a cardboard box with five outfits in it for a wardrobe!!!!! : )

I cleaned and polished my beautiful bookshelf (still my favorite piece of furniture, sorry new couches!!!) and unpacked my beautiful books.   A house is just not a home until the books go up.  : )

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It was a lovely moment in time, going through my childhood books, combining them with all the books she’s been given, and putting them together on the bottom, two shelves where my sweet Sunshine can reach.  : )

We put the screens in our doors, so there’s fresh air all through the house!  : )

We now have big cans for our bottles, our cardboard/paper, and our garbage and all three of them are out of sight/smell but still easily accessible.

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We put our air conditioner in the living room window so we don’t expire of heat/humidity!  : )

We got a coat of paint on the pantry and, with my parents coming for two weeks, we might just get it finished!  : )

We completely cleaned/cleared out the entry way and organized all of the fix-it-up tools, tool boxes, ladders, buckets, etc upstairs!

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And, of course, we made time for some baby snuggles and giggles.  : )

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We have been busy!  Too busy to write.  And even though I’m technically still too busy to write, what can I say?  The coffee is hot, the baby is asleep, and here we are.  As we get things cleaned up, organized, cleared out, etc, I am falling in love with our house all over again.  For awhile after we moved in, everything was so desperately disorganized, it was difficult to live in, especially with a baby and often, I felt frustrated and overwhelmed.  Now, with my books on the wall, my furniture free of laundry, my clothes in an actual closet and the things we aren’t using tidily stacked in empty rooms upstairs: I can breathe, I can relax, and I am not constantly worried about what my Sunshine might find and ingest.

With my parents here to help, we are hoping to finally finish the pantry/laundry room and maybe, if we’re lucky, get the bedrooms and/or living room painted.  There isn’t much we can do to the kitchen this year because once we start, we’re going to have to tear up pretty much everything.  So, once the pantry/laundry room is complete, we’ll go back to sealing the house and begin work on the barn and fencing.

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I cannot wait to share more of our barn with you all!!!!!!  It is huge, it is old, it is beautiful, and it is full of random stuff!  Before my much-missed horses arrive, we’ve got to clean out the upstairs for hay, buy hay and get it up there, figure out some kind of solution to the sort of bat problem (they are only sort of a problem because they poop, they are sort of awesome because they eat all of the bugs I don’t like!), and get a fence up.  You know, just a couple of paltry tasks, should be no big deal . . .

So there we go!  Now you’re up to date and I’d best get back to work!  Happy Monday, everyone!  : )

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac n’ Cheese Manor: The Water Problem

We have a water problem . . . er, water problems, I should say.  Back when Mac n’ Cheese Manor was first built (1790), sealed windows, insulation, and proper venting simply weren’t a thing.  And, while many updates have been made over the course of the 230 or so years she’s been here, many others have not.

Our unfinished basement leaks badly enough that where there’s a window under the pantry, there are plants growing.

We (read “Carl”) tried to replace the pipes under the sink in the bathroom and found that no matter how hard he pulled or twisted, the pipe going into the wall (which should pull off without difficulty) will not budge and we’re going to have to cut into the dry wall to see why.

There are no fans in the bathrooms and we found mold in the bathroom closet (Please note, if you find mold in your home, DO NOT read ANY blogs about mold in houses!  Go straight to the CDC website where there is excellent, science-based information on what to do rather than worst case, nightmare stories.).  This means we are going to have to cut a hole through the house to install fans.  I admit I’m kind of excited to cut a hole in the house since I’ve never done that before and I wonder what it looks like.

There are no vents in the roof.  This will definitely require a professional to fix.

Before the new roof was put on (fairly recently, though I can’t remember the year), there were numerous leaks that were bad enough and went on long enough that you can still see water stains in the ceilings of the bathrooms and kitchen and the wall under the stairs.  Not to mention a huge crack in the ceiling of the kitchen that sags a bit.

And so we are continuing to compile what we lovingly and only somewhat jokingly call our “Twenty Year List.”  : )

Luckily, my husband is rather handy (give that man a YouTube video and he can do anything!!) and has taken care of all the leaky faucets, fixed our kitchen sink so the water doesn’t spray everywhere every time you turn it on, removed the extremely gross sink from the laundry room/pantry, and replaced the PVC to the outside faucet so we can fill our doggie/kiddie pool (and properly bathe our stinky dogs)!

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Goals for this week include cleaning out the second, downstairs bedroom, continue going through our clothes and putting the fall/winter things away, and making as much progress on the pantry and furniture I am (still) trying to finish sanding/painting as possible.  It’s gonna be a busy week!  : )

 

Mac n’ Cheese Manor: The delivery guys who didn’t deliver and why is the toilet water hot?

The weather was rather uncooperative this past week so I have no updates on my adventures in learning how to make old, ugly furniture new again.  That said, we still accomplished plenty!

My first update relates to the plumbing.  The new septic is in and the company that did the work even re-seeded our lawn!  On their last day, while they were still cleaning up, Carl and I made ourselves mimosas and went to the side yard to chat while his mama was in the shower.  As we came around the corner of the house, I noticed water just bubbling up out of the ground!  At that time, we both thought they may have burst a water pipe with their heavy equipment, but no, in fact, it was a very old school system in which the grey water was piped into the yard and ONLY toilet water went through the septic system at all!  Ew.

Luckily, we noticed while the work was still in progress and once the issue was discerned, they scheduled a plumber to run all draining water through the septic system.  When he came out last week, we decided to go ahead and ask him about an issue that had been confounding us from day one:
Why is it that our toilet occasionally refills with hot water?

Now, I don’t know about you, but until living here, I had never once seen hot water in a toilet.  But sure enough, every once in awhile, we’d flush and steam would billow out of the bowl!  Also, it was hard to tell which valves were for hot and which were for cold on all of our sinks because it seemed all of them would go from cold to hot and back again!  Very strange.  And when we asked, judging by the confused/concerned look on the plumber’s face, I’m pretty sure he thought it was very strange as well.  He agreed to take a look and went on down into the basement.

Turns out, there is a little thing called a “sweat valve” that can be placed near the inlet to the toilet and if the water is cold enough to cause condensation on the tank, it will automatically mix in some hot water.  However, on our house, instead of using an actual sweat valve, there was a two-way, manual valve that just mixed all hot and all cold together for everything.  Thankfully, all it took was removing said, manual valve and we had normal, separate hot and cold water throughout!  Oh the things we are learning as we dig into this awesome, crazy, old house!!!!

Okay, onto the furniture.  : )

Some of you may recall that we bought furniture and it was delivered a couple weeks ago but the delivery guys said it couldn’t be moved in because it simply would not fit unless we took it through the window.

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Well, our ancient windows don’t just open up. I’d have to get the drill and literally remove the whole thing in order to do what they wanted.  Also, because they would not touch anything but the furniture under any circumstances, it wasn’t going to happen because even if I got the window unscrewed, I could never have safely gotten it down without another pair of hands.  I suggested we take the doors off the hinges and they said that wouldn’t work.  Needless to say, I was not impressed with them and even though I was pretty sure the furniture would fit, I decided I’d rather not have them try because they clearly weren’t interested in doing a good job.  So I had them take it to the barn where Carl and I could fetch it later.

Later turned out to be this past Saturday.  And, with just a few doors off the hinges, we managed to get both the couch and the chaise in-in no time!  I won’t say it was easy, but it was definitely easier than “Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum Delivery Services” made it out to be.  : )

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So now we have a couch!  And a chaise!  And after five months with no furniture other than a bed and a dining room table, it feels soooooooooooooo good!  : )

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The weather is supposed to improve drastically starting tomorrow, so we’ll hopefully be able to get back to sanding and painting shelves and such for the laundry room/pantry this week.

That’s all for now, happy Monday, Everyone!  : )

Mac n’ Cheese Manor: The Bat in our Belfrey and other Creatures

And, by belfrey, I mean master bedroom.  While my Mamatu and my niece were visiting, I received a text around 11:30pm (long after we had all gone to bed) from my mother-in- law asking me to send Carl to their room because there was something flying around in there and it sounded big!

Carl and I got up and went to their room, turned on the light and found this little guy:

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Now, I think bats are the most adorable rodents of them all, but even so, I don’t particularly want them flying in my bedroom at night.  Fortunately for all, this little guy was quietly and easily moved outside with the help of an Amazon gift bag and we were all able to go back to sleep without any more excitement.  Our adventures with the local wildlife continue!!!

We also (finally!) trapped this little guy who cleverly ate three spoonfuls of peanut butter from two different live traps without getting caught.  He has been safely relocated many miles from the Manor and will hopefully live a happy and full life not in our attic.  : )

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We’ll keep trapping and moving, but the fact remains that until the house is properly sealed, we will likely continue to running into critters here and there as we go about bringing Mac n’ Cheese Manor back to life.  My favorite part of the bat incident was the picture my talented niece drew the next morning on our whiteboard.  Gram is the one hiding under the covers, my niece is the one sitting up with the blanket over her head and Carl and I are under the bat.  LOL!

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Getting a Life: Five Months In

I always tell myself and Carl that I’m going to get so much done when my sweet Sunshine goes down for her morning nap.  Then, when it actually happens, I find myself at the kitchen table in front of my laptop with my thoughts and the last of the coffee instead.   So here I am. : )

Today is going to be a lovely day.  First on the docket (after quiet cup of morning coffee and writing) is Brew Barn Yoga at Stone Cow!  Living one mile from a local brewery/farm market is turning out to be even more awesome than we already knew it would be.  Next up, we’re going to New Hampshire (less than an hour drive) to pick up an old, wooden high chair we plan to buy.  As long as it’s sturdy enough for my Sunshine to use, it’ll be ours for a fraction of the price of a new one.  Also, it’s legs and tray can be adjusted into a desk and chair.  How cool is that???  Lastly, dishwasher and microwave installation.  Tomorrow will be soon enough to get back to painting and replacing ruined dry wall.

What has me smiling this morning is the realization that I’m finally beginning to get a life.  It may have taken five months, but I admit, I didn’t try very hard while we were living in Shrewsbury because I knew it wasn’t going to last.  Now that we’re where we’re going to be, it’s coming together in the most wonderful way.

Our neighbors are the best!  Two of them grew up in Mac n’ Cheese Manor (it was white then with pretty blue shutters that are in the barn and we’re hoping to put back up someday).  They have helped us with absolutely everything: getting us names and numbers of vets, making recommendations on where to go for the best oil prices and reliable car repair, mowed our lawn, invited us to their homes to meet their families, and stopped by occasionally just to make sure we’re doing okay and don’t need anything.

Other neighbors brought us homemade bread and peach honey, still others brought eggs from their farm, and one gal just pulled over when she saw me and my Sunshine in the yard to tell me she lived up the road and heard I had horses.   Apparently, she has horses, too and a daughter who works at the Co-op who can help me get them settled when they arrive.

Then, of course, there’s the farm/brewery a mile up the road where everyone we’ve met is awesome (including Henny the pig), the beer is delicious, and I’ve met a gal with a little girl not much older than ours who knits and drinks wine with friends.  It is so frightening to leave everyone and everything you know, trekking thousands of miles away to start a new life.  I’ve never felt so alone and cut loose as I felt sitting in that apartment while Carl was at work every day.  Then we moved out to this tiny town and I feel like I blinked and the most beautiful life was dropped in my lap by the kindest strangers who already don’t feel like strangers anymore.  My gratitude for these warm and wonderful people is overflowing.

So, there you have it, I’m finally getting a life, and not just any life, but a good one!  Now I’ve got to sign off so I can go live it.  Happy Saturday!  : )

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Angels

There are many types of angels: guardian angels, messenger angels, archangels . . . and angels who swoop in from Oregon to rescue tired mamas from piles of dishes and laundry, watch over sweet babies while their parents have a few hours alone together for the first time in months, and smite ancient, peeling vinyl from bathrooms as well as molding dry wall from laundry rooms.  I call that angel my Mamatu (AKA Carl’s mom).  : )

For the past week, my Mamatu and my niece have been staying with us for a visit.  I was embarrassed before they arrived because our house is so far from being even remotely guest-worthy and with all the appliance/electrical craziness, I had no dishwasher or working dryer until this past Monday.  And even doing what dishes I could during baby nap-times and hanging clothes on the line to dry, I simply could not get ahead.  On the first day of her visit, she just got up, went into the kitchen and cleaned it.  Completely.  Dishes and all.  Over the next few days she breezed through the laundry, removed the nasty vinyl from the master bath, cut the molding drywall out of the laundry room, sanded and caulked the walls, and continued to do the dishes every day of her visit.

It certainly cannot be considered a vacation!!!!!!  But I am eternally grateful for the desperately needed help.  Now that the basics are caught up, I’ve already done the few dishes in the sink this morning and done meal prep for dinner tonight and the baby has only been sleeping for thirty minutes!  She gave me just the boost I needed to (mostly ; ) stay on top of things.  Along with that, she delighted and entertained her granddaughters every day with walks and silly fun, allowing Carl and I a much-needed date and freeing me up to reorganize our bathroom and clothes, removing the things we aren’t using so that we only have a few boxes to contend with each day instead of the fifteen or so we had been living out of for the past month.

In summary, God bless and keep my amazing Mamatu, who came and vanquished the worst of the chaos.

We all love you so very much and promise that the next visit will be more play and less work!  And thank you for the beautiful angel you made for us, every time I look at her, I think of how gracious you are and how much you’ve done to help us kick start a good, new life.  : )
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Mac n’ Cheese Manor: No Rest for the Weary

It’s 10:30ish pm, the baby is fast asleep and Carl is outside cutting the lock off the barn because (after only a week in our possession) we lost ALL (there were five of them, but in our defense, they were all on the same zip tie) of the keys.  Part of me is begging me to go to sleep after a few rough nights in a row, but another part of me (the part who won, obviously) is saying, “Nah, pour some of that lovely beer from De Garde and write!”  : )

We took a break from working on the house today to march for science in Boston and it was awesome!  Thousands of people were gathered on the Boston Common.  It was peaceful, it was respectful, and it was heartening to see so many people out making a statement about what they value.  We bumped into one of Carl’s coworkers which resulted in us joining her crew for beers after the rally, which resulted in Carl and two others making plans for some neat S.T.E.M. projects at a high school where one of them works.  My sweet Sunshine was completely tuckered out after her first subway ride and first march, but had zero meltdowns and didn’t fall asleep until we were back in the car heading home.  All in all, a great experience.  : )

On top of all that goodness, Awkward Girl showed up and made quite an entrance at the restaurant.  That’s right friends, she’s back and coming soon to a blog near you!

Now, I’m literally falling asleep at the keys so I’m going to hit the hay and complete this post in the morning!

Aaaaaand, we’re back!  Having taken a day off yesterday, we are working overdrive today to try and be just a tiny bit organized for our house guests.  Mamatu (my amazing mother-in-law) and our lovely niece are coming this week!  Thankfully, they completely understand our current state of indoor camping/fixing up, so they aren’t exactly expecting a Hilton type experience.  In fact, we’re planning to put them to work!  That said, we do want to have bedrooms clean and ready for everyone and to not be sleeping in our living room anymore by the time they arrive.

To that end, we puttied like mad last week so we could sand and paint the floors this weekend.  In the (very) old days, the wood for the floors on every floor of a home had big spaces in between so when you swept, the dust would fall through to the next floor until it was eventually swept into the basement.  Nowadays, having such conveniences as the modern vacuum, we no longer need large gaps between each board.  In fact, for heating/cooling and cleaning purposes, gaps are bad.  Hence the need for wood filler, lots of wood filler:

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Thankfully, that part is now done and we are prepping to sand and paint today.  Once that’s finished, we have the unenviable task of moving most of our boxes to the upstairs rooms so we can start sleeping in the downstairs bedrooms.  Lots on our plate today, wish us luck and have a great Sunday!