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!  : )

IMG_5194.JPG(kitchen window view : )

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!


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!  : )






Mac n’ Cheese Manor: A few quick updates!

We have scheduled our electrical updates!!!  Once the work is complete, we will have a standard, 200 amp breaker box for the house (replacing our current 60 amp fuse box that is wired to a 100 amp breaker box in a most concerning way), a standard 100 amp breaker box for the barn, and they are adding a hook-up in the kitchen for our stove.

Speaking of the stove, we bought appliances on Sunday!!!  All but the stove will be delivered before we move and thankfully that includes a microwave so we can have freezer meals until the stove arrives about a week later.

We also bought living room furniture online which is slightly terrifying, but it had great reviews, was on sale, and ships for free so it was tough to pass up.  The part that amazes me the most is that Carl and I actually agreed on how much we love it!  Furniture-wise, that’s a first.  : )

We have a few fencers lined up to give us quotes in April!

Choosing paint is HARD.  But we do have our living room colors picked out and I think that will end up being the first room we complete!  If my sweet seven month old is feeling froggy, we might just run out to shop for curtains today.  : )

New flooring is needed throughout, but we’ve put that particular big ticket repair on the back burner until such time as funds will allow.  Fortunately, Carl’s papa is a licensed expert in flooring so we should be able to save a lot of $$$ laying it down ourselves with his help when we’re ready.  : )

I’ve submitted a request for a free assessment of our home’s energy efficiency.  (I’ll give you a hint, it’s not in any way, shape, or form energy efficient. At all.)  Hopefully, we’ll be able to qualify through Mass Save for some rebates on our appliances, discounts on things like shower nozzles and a dehumidifier for our basement, and maybe even an interest free, long term loan for new windows.  We’ll see!

Whew!  Just typing out this list made me tired!  (Just kidding, my baby slept for about two hours last night, that’s why I’m so tired. :)  We are working as quickly as we can to get things as ready as we can because we’re moving permanently in less than two weeks!  It will be lovely looking out the window and not seeing a parking lot.  As wonderful as this apartment complex has been, it’s still an apartment and this country girl is ready to move on!


Mac n’ Cheese Manor: The Beginning


We started moving in yesterday and suddenly everything felt real.  We live in Massachusetts now, a world away from our Idaho home.  We bought a timeworn, run-down farmhouse on nine of the most beautiful acres I’ve ever seen.  We can finally begin settling into this new life.  And we have a lot of work to do.

At first, we planned to move everything in one day.  Then, we remembered that there’s only two of us and we have a baby.  So we paid for one more month of storage and opted for a three week, three load plan.  Shortly after coming to this conclusion, another Nor’Easter hit and we got two feet of snow, as if nature wanted to confirm we’d made the right decision.

Plotting out our move into the house has been a bit tricky.  With a plethora of repairs and changes that need to be made before we can really unpack, and limited man-power, we’ve opted for a staged process.  To add to that, the last, human occupants of the house left it four years ago and evidence would suggest that it was more recently inhabited by squirrels and mice.  Ew.


While it is not an insurmountable issue, after doing a bit of homework, we discovered it is one that must be handled with care.  Bleach is our new best friend!  And before putting any of our things in the house, we mixed up some bleach water and scoured the floors, radiators, etc.  For small amounts of poop, a normal bleaching will do.  For larger amounts, such as what we found in the upper level of the barn, a whole different process is required, but we’ll get into that in another post, on another day.  : )

After thoroughly bleaching and de-pooping, Carl unloaded the trailer, sorting boxes by their contents into what will eventually be his study and a guest bedroom.  Tennessee and I hung out in the kitchen, playing and discussing paint colors until her bedtime.  Since we weren’t in the apartment with all her books, I pulled up Robert Service poems on my phone so Sam McGee, Dan McGrew, and I could read her to sleep instead. I love our crumbly, old house and I can’t wait until the day we go out there and just . . . stay.









We Found it in the Barn: Coon Range

Our first notable find in the barn was, without question, this old bottle of Kentucky bourbon.  It was sitting on a wooden work table just left of the front, sliding door.  We searched for information on Coon Range as well as the distillery, Taylor and Williams, but we could find very little beyond it’s inception in 1865 and that it was bought out in 1944.  I also looked for information on how to date whiskey bottles and  found a wealth of relatively inconclusive data.

This bottle does have a green tax strip, but most of the helpful info is worn off.  It also has the words “Federal Law Prohibits sale or reuse of this bottle” which apparently date the bottle to sometime between 1932 and 1964, so we don’t know exactly how long the whiskey has been there, but we know it’s been there awhile!  In talking to our neighbors (two of whom grew up in the home), their parents bought the house in the sixties and the whiskey was already in the barn then.  Their father, Gilbert, left it there undisturbed  and we’ve decided to do the same.  : )IMG_3921

Mac n’ Cheese Manor: The Barn


Last weekend, we had some time to chat with one of our neighbors (two of our neighbors grew up in the house).  She told us about how many happy hours her father and brother spent in the barn working on projects.  Apparently, they were wood workers who loved fixing things up and general handiwork.  Prior to their living here, this barn and the small outbuilding attached were used for a dairy farm.  The milk was kept in the outbuilding where the milkman would come and pick it up to make his deliveries.  There was a different barn here in the 1800’s, but it was blown down by The Great New England Hurricane in 1938, after which, this  one was built.

The barn is huge.  And while the bottom level is a tidy shop with little to clean or organize, the top is a fantastic disaster.  I say fantastic because it is a veritable treasure trove of old, random china, wooden crates, vintage furniture, mirrors, a trunk, suitcases, piles of unused lumber, a stack of handmade shutters, screen doors, and so much more.  I say disaster because it is almost completely covered in guano and mouse poop, filled with mouse nests, and under a thick layer of dust.  Needless to say, before we can put any hay up there, we have quite a bit of cleaning to do!

Here are a couple photos of the upper level to give you an idea what we’re dealing with:



We are ordering respirator masks this week and hopefully getting started with some clean up shortly after they arrive.  Obviously, one of our biggest challenges is that we can only work on it one person at a time since our wee one is not allowed anywhere near this particular project until it is 100% complete!  That said, I am excited to get to it and hope to do at least as much salvaging as trashing.  I’m starting a sub-section to the Mac n’ Cheese Manor blog series which I call, “We Found it in the Barn.” where I will feature our favorite discoveries.

That’s all for now!  We are still in progress on quotes for the electrical in the house as well as a lengthy list of what we want/need to do and when we want/need to do it.  So, as I suspect I’ll be writing for years to come, stay tuned for the next installment of Mac n’ Cheese Manor! Coming soon . . .    : )


Mac n’ Cheese Manor: A Formal Introduction

As many of you know, we have just purchased our very first home, which I have lovingly dubbed, “Mac n’ Cheese Manor” for it’s . . . vivid shade of yellow.  The search for a home that met all of our needs was so exhausting that I eventually quit altogether and left my husband to the search on his own.  Never in my wildest imaginings would I have expected him to find something like this.

Mac n’ Cheese Manor includes about three acres of woods and five acres of cleared land, a giant barn full of God knows what, and a super creepy basement.  It is somewhere around two hundred years old (depending on which section) and we’re setting an appointment with the historical society to see if they can tell us anything about it’s origins and life before us.  The property backs up to wildlife preservation land (with trails that horses are allowed on) and a lovely, crystal clear creek.  There’s also a brewery/playground/organic meat and dairy products market exactly 1.1 miles down the road.

All of that said, we have our work cut out for us.  Not only is the outside chipping YELLOW (a color so loud it must be typed out in all caps), but the inside is painted crumbling pink and neon green unless it’s covered with peeling wallpaper or ancient wainscotting the color of a black hole.  The floors need to be redone and for some reason the door to one of the bathrooms is right next to where the refrigerator goes.  Ew.  There are no appliances and since the house was built it has only had two stoves for cooking–the first was a wood stove and the second was a propane stove so it does not currently have the 220 outlet required for a modern, electric stove.  The windows are single-paned and wood framed (in other words, whatever is happening outside temperature-wise is also happening inside) and the barn is full of treasures (read dust and guano covered probably junk) that we’ll have to clean up and clear out to make room for horses, tack, and hay.

How we will accomplish all of these things between just the two of us and a baby??? Follow along here where I will be posting a play by play of our home-revival projects and we can all find out together!  Wish us luck, we’re going to need it . . . : )





I Love my Husband Because . . .

When we got married, I was twenty five and he was twenty seven.  We had been dating for five years, three of which from different states and we’d been through a lot.  Looking back, we didn’t know much, but we had at least two things right: 1) We knew we wanted each other for life.  2) We knew that keeping what we had would require humility and unconditional grace.  Two of my favorite photos from our wedding ceremony are the ones of us washing each others’ feet–a symbolic act declaring our intentions to build our marriage on that humility and grace.

It was my turn to double down on the promises I made on our wedding day when Carl received a job offer in Massachusetts.  I had a job and life I loved in Idaho that I gave up to be home with our daughter across the country so he could have that opportunity.  But today, he finished the process of doubling down on the promises he made to me.  Today we completed the final step to becoming homeowners and not the owners of a home in the suburbs, with a white picket fence, within walking distance of a thriving downtown the way Carl imagined he would be living before we got married.  We are poised to become the owners of MY dream home, which I have lovingly dubbed “Mac n’ Cheese Manor,” an ancient wreck of a farmhouse on nearly nine acres in the middle of absolutely nowhere.

It has taken him months to find and then negotiate a price we could afford for this beautiful mess and he did it for me, because without a place like this, I wouldn’t be able to bring my horses home, making my family whole again.  And, of course, we need a place like this so I can have the chickens, cat, and pig I’ve always wanted as well.  And the goats.  And . . . well, you get the idea.  ; )

This is love.  Give, take, lead, follow, dream up some dreams, smush those dreams together, then work side by side to make them reality.  And take a lot of pictures along the way!  ; )

Happy Valentine’s Day!  <3