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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Mac n’ Cheese Manor: Let’s Play a Game . . .

Carl and I played a neat game this past weekend and I thought it would be fun to share it with all of you!  The game has no rules and there are only two parts.  Part One is called: What is that smell?  And Part Two is called: And where is it coming from?

We decided to play while in the middle of puttying the floors upstairs.  I came down to get something (I honestly have no recollection what it was now.)  and I smelled the most horrendous smell in our downstairs hallway.  My first thought was natural gas which completely freaked me out as my sweet Sunshine was sleeping in the next room.  But when I had Carl come down to give it a whiff, he said he’d smelled it faintly earlier and thought it was wet towels we’d forgotten to wash once we got our washing machine hooked up.

I informed him that the bag of wet towels we brought from the apartment was the first load of wash I had done when we got our washing machine hooked up and his brow crinkled in concern.  If not the towels and not natural gas, what could it be?  We noted it was much stronger at one end of the hall than the other and put part one of the game on hold to focus all of our attention on part two.  After sniffing and wandering for about five minutes, we pinpointed the strongest odor in the master bedroom (which is currently filled to the brim with boxes of our things.

It was at this moment, we both paused, looked at one another, and gave voice to our deepest fear: what if a squirrel died either in the walls or in one of our boxes of things?  The smell was certainly rank enough and that would explain why it had progressively gotten worse on a hot day . . .

Continuing on with our search, I noted how close we were to the half bath off the master bedroom and on a whim went inside.  I won’t say the smell got worse so much as it changed in an odd way that made me curious.  So I went to the toilet, which we have never used, lifted the lid . . .

And there it was.  The bowl was coated in blackish-green slime and there was no water.  The septic had backed up!!!!!! EW. EW. EW. EW!  As luck would have it, I had recently received a recommendation from our good friend Bri on a fantastic bleach/lysol toilet bowl cleaner.  I literally ran to retrieve it from the bathroom we have been using and liberally applied it.  Even though it says you don’t have to scrub, we scrubbed, we let it sit, and then, with a touch of fear in our hearts, we flushed.

It all went down leaving a sparkling clean, white bowl free from wretched odors!  And so ended our game, may we never have to play it again as long as we live.  : )

Even as I type, the guy who is putting in a whole new septic system (the sellers are putting it in because the old one was not up to code) is outside, hard at work!  And not a moment too soon.  : )
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Mac n’ Cheese Manor: C’est la vie!

Happy Sunday, Everyone!

First and foremost on my list of things to tell you today is that I was wrong . . . about the rodents.  We do, in fact, have an unexpected and not particularly welcome house guest.  The good news is that it is not a mouse or rat.  The bad news is that it is a squirrel.  A SQUIRREL!!!  We have a squirrel visiting our attic every night.  I’m not sure why it somehow bothers me less than the idea of a mouse.  Maybe because squirrels are cuter?  I’m not sure, but regardless of the cute factor, the squirrel has to go!  I’m not too keen on killing it, so the plan for now is to simultaneously work on trapping it as well as sealing off the places where it can get in (much easier said than done, this house is HUGE and has many nooks, crannies, and spaces).

Which brings me to my next topic: indoor camping.  When the appliances arrived the day after we moved in, I was super excited!!!  We had our cold stuff in a cooler overnight and I had dishes and laundry to clean!  We knew our stove wouldn’t be here until the eleventh, but figured we’d be fine for a week.

Our first issue was that the outlet where the fridge goes didn’t work.  Then, when Carl got home and tried to install the dishwasher, he saw that one side of the frame was so badly bent you couldn’t open and close it properly.  So no dishwasher.  The fridge I plugged in where the stove will eventually go, so that was fine and while Carl was working on the dishwasher, we discovered that the breaker for the fridge outlet was just off, so that was quickly resolved as well.  We are still waiting for a call back regarding the dishwasher, but in the meantime, we’ve been informed that our stove and microwave will not be delivered until April 30th!!!!!

So we are getting creative.  This morning, for instance, I put frozen blueberries into a ziplock bag and set them on the radiator in the entryway.  Within about five minutes they were not only thawed out, they were warmed up and ready for our yogurt!  We also rummaged around and found our rice cooker and hot plate.  With all that and the crock pot, which we have yet to locate but I’m confident we will soon, we’ll be fine until the end of the month.

On to number three, this morning, I woke up and picked up my 8 month old daughter only to find a TICK behind her ear!  Now, to be fair, I knew we were moving into tick country and we did a lot of homework before moving into the house on how to handle the tick situation.  Lyme’s Disease is big here and can happen in both people and dogs.

Turns out, according to our pediatrician, the tick has to be embedded for 24-36 hours before you are likely to get Lyme’s.  We also found that there is a method for most safely removing ticks where you use tweezers, place them as close to the head/mouth of the tick as possible and pull slowly/gently/steadily so as to remove the entire thing and not squeeze the contents of the tick’s belly into whoever you are removing the tick from.  I know, it’s gross, but worked beautifully this morning and I was able to easily remove the entire thing in one go.

I check her at least twice a day for ticks, so I wasn’t entirely shocked, but it was still so incredibly horrifying to see it on her!!!  Generally, I am not a vengeful person and I was raised to understand that nature is nature, but the mama in me wanted to hunt down this tick’s family, destroy them all, and litter their bodies outside our door as a warning to all the other ticks to leave my baby alone . . . just kidding . . . mostly.  Instead of that, I squished it in a wad of toilet paper and flushed it down the toilet.  Then I washed her ear with soap and water and put a bit of antibiotic ointment on it.

Through all of this, my husband and I have had a hundred laughs, several “what are we going to dos,” and at least five complete overhauls of our original plans.  Such is life and I have zero regrets.  This place is amazing and I love that when we see something we don’t like we can change it because it’s ours and we can do whatever we want.  I love hearing the coyotes sing us to sleep and watching twenty or so wild turkeys mill around our yard (hopefully eating a lot of ticks!).  I love that our yard alone is six acres!  I love how happy my dogs are running around outside off leash.  I love the view from any window in our home and it has so many windows!  Our adventure continues, so hang onto your hats everyone, it’s clearly going to be quite a ride!  : )

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Mac n’ Cheese Manor: Rodent Remnants Be Gone!

Hello friends!

It’s been a wild week in the life and times of Mac n’ Cheese Manor and it’s not quite over yet.  First, I must give credit where credit is due to my best friend since the fourth grade and her amazing husband.  Not only did they trek across the country to visit us for a week (and folks, they had warmer options for a getaway), but they helped us empty the second half of our storage unit into the manor!  Which leaves us with only our apartment to clean up and clear out.  I doubt anyone dreams of emptying storage units on their vacation, but we are eternally grateful because they easily saved us two days in this process with all their help!

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Now, we must finish handling our rodent infestation problem so we can fully move into our crazy, old house.  To be clear, there are no “current residents” that we can discern of the rodent variety.  It appears that they came and went some time ago.  That said, rodent feces is bad news and can make people very sick so we are handling this thoroughly and with care by bleaching the $%&* out of all the floors, closets, and shelving and then painting over the sub flooring with Kilz.

Things to know about Kilz: if you read the reviews of this product online you will cry laugh, it likely gets it’s name from the fact that it smells like it’s killing you slowly (which is why Carl will wear a respirator mask, gloves, and safety goggles and Miss Baby is not allowed in the house until it is not only cured but painted over with an acrylic primer to seal in the stench), it seals off odors, stains, smells, and whatever is on/in the old floor that you don’t want to touch ever.  It’s cool stuff!

Yesterday, we finished bleaching, pulled up all the carpet, and busted up/removed the old tack strip.  Today, the dream is to finish moving in, get the Kilz and acryilic primer/sealer down, and clean the apartment top to bottom.  We are loading up the trailer together, then dividing to conquer our remaining tasks (and to keep my Sunshine away from all the bad smells!).  We have taken before photos, but decided not to post any until we have the afters to post with them.  So in lieu of complete pictures of the progress made so far,  here are a couple teasers.  (*Note: No babies were exposed to dangerous bleach vapors, old carpet dust particles, or any other harmful substances in the making of this blog post.)

Happy Sunday, I hope everyone is having a great weekend!  : )