Week 21 Addendum

So I’m doing a second post this week, and the fact that I have been listening like a madwoman to the Undisclosed Podcast on the case of Adnan Syed means that I’m calling it an addendum. First of all, if you haven’t listened to Undisclosed (or Season 1 of Serial, for that matter), I highly recommend it. If you’re anything like me, you will be obsessed. Second of all, if you haven’t read the Week 21 original post, do that now. I’ll wait.

Okay, welcome back! There are a couple things I forgot to include in the Week 21 update that I thought I would post about, and I thought it might be fun to do a little “Throwback Thursday” action here on the blog.

First off, the forgotten information:

  • One thing I haven’t really mentioned here is the snafu we had with the Champaign County Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), starting back in December 2015. It got resolved last week, thank goodness, and now that I don’t hyperventilate when thinking about it, I will give you the scoop. The short(ish) version of the story is that when Tom went to apply for the building permit, a red flag was raised with the Champaign County Planning & Zoning — because this property is zoned AG1, i.e. best prime farmland, there is a maximum number of acres you can own/modify. That max is 3 acres. This property is 4.38 acres. So while both of us (buyer and seller) used real estate attorneys for the transaction, this rule somehow never came up. Until the fateful day in which we applied for a building permit, which of course is necessary for the type of work being done on our house. So what we had to do was apply for a variance to this zoning ordinance. We had to fill out some paperwork, pay a fee, and provide an entire site plan to the ZBA,  and then wait until our February 25 appearance at the ZBA meeting in Urbana. At this meeting, we had to be available to answer questions as to why we should be allowed to keep the “extra” 1.38 acres we had purchased. Now, luckily, the people on the board were incredibly kind and reasonable and ultimately granted us the variance, which is a HUGE relief. And to be honest, it was really pretty interesting to experience the meeting and the process. These kinds of ordinances exist for a reason, of course, but I’m just so glad that our request was granted. I’m not gonna lie — when this all came about, I freaked. Seriously freaked. So to say I’m glad it’s resolved in our favor is an understatement! And the moral of the story is to always always always check with your local Planning & Zoning department for anything involving buying/selling/modifying property. A quick phone call takes no time and can save you a potentially big headache down the line!


  • The other thing I wanted to bring up was the doors and trim from the original house. If you recall, way back in our second week working on the house, we removed all the baseboards and window trim from throughout the house. We labeled it all and have been storing it at my parents. I think the doors technically came out during week 3, but whatever. You get the point – it’s been awhile since we touched all that stuff. Well if you fast forward to now, we are in a bit of a pickle. You see, we’ve been so busy these past 19 weeks since removing the stuff that we haven’t had a chance to DO anything with it. And now we’re at the point when we need it to be ready to put back up. Whoops. The conundrum we are facing is this: in its 100  years, this wood has never been varnished. It’s been stained and then had a paste finishing wax applied over the years. Some of the trim is in great shape, some of it is really beat up. Same with the doors. So we are trying to really figure out the best way to clean up the wood, protect it, and make it as pretty as possible before re-installing. And we have to think about the fact that there are new windows in the house, which means there is new wood on the inside that will have to be stained/treated to “match” the old stuff, at least as much as possible. Our current top two options are 1. use mineral spirits to clean off the top layer of grime and then put another layer of paste finishing wax over the top, and buff it til it shines or 2. plane the wood down to bare wood (which removes all the wax and stain) and then stain and varnish everything. I am personally leaning towards option #1, but I wondered if anyone had any experience working with wood with paste wax on it? Any suggestions on how to best proceed?? We are open to suggestions!!!

Now, on to the Throwback Thursday realness. Here’s how it looked way back when we started (this was even after we had removed some of the underbrush growth around it all).

And what does she look like now? Let me show you!

She’s so pretty I could cry. (view from the West)

Week 21 Update

Well, this house project is officially old enough to drink. I mean, sure, it’s 21 weeks, not 21 years. And it’s an inanimate object, so wouldn’t be able to drink if it wanted to. But other than that, this is a perfectly normal way of thinking about your house, right?

Nope. We can all agree it makes no sense. And I’m just slap happy enough to leave that intro up there. That’s what stress and not enough sleep will do to you. How do you people who have kids function at any kind of normal capacity???

ANYWAY. The house. We’ve been working on installing the Schluter underlayment in the rooms where we will have tile. And our new friend Stacy (Stacey? I’m not sure how he spells his name) has been hard at work getting started on laying tile. Flooring is the name of the game at our house these days. And will continue to be so in the weeks ahead, as Jim Sadorus and his crew are going to get started with refinishing our hardwood floors. Eek!


working on the master ahower base


working on the master shower base


master shower


the one remaining piece of lath. a tribute.


siders have been working


master shower base


entry way uncoupling membrane


ditra in entry way


pantry (with photobomb by the troll door)


thinset + trowel = pretty


starting on the downstairs shower


downstairs shower done!


tile in laundry room


laundry room done!


blue house!


tile in upstairs bathroom


tile in entry way


downstairs wood floor ready to be refinished


Week 20 Update

So when I logged in to WordPress today to write this weekly update, it wished me a happy anniversary. It’s been a year since I signed up with WordPress, which means it’s been a year since I started this blog. Of course, we haven’t been working on the house for a year (if so, then the title of this blog post would make no sense whatsoever). And while the blog started before the work on the house did, what you don’t see reflected in any of those early posts is the full year we spent talking and hoping and planning for what “could be” with this property and this project before I ever got brave enough to start the blog. Because it was a year in before I actually thought maybe just maybe it would really all work out. When it all started, we didn’t have a clue what to expect. We figured it was a long shot that we would hear back from Lettie about the property. Then we figured it was a long shot that she would consider selling it. Then we figured it was a long shot that we would be able to afford it, decide what to do with it, and on and on and on. Yet, here we are — working away at building this dream of ours. And you guys, it’s so fun. And hard. And exhausting. And frustrating. And exciting. And *insert one million more descriptors here.* And even when it feels insurmountable or never-ending or impossible, the thing I remind myself of is how lucky we are. This is going to be our dream home. It’s out in the country with tons of trees and land and space. It’s what we wanted and for every frustrating moment, there are so many ones that are exciting and unbelievable. I can’t wait until we live down this long lane of ours.

ANYWAY. Enough of that sappy stuff. Let’s move on to the exciting things that have been happening out at the farmhouse this past week!

Aaron and I kept working up in the attic on the furnace. We have made some good progress and aren’t too terribly far off from it being ready to fire up. If only we would spend our time working instead of taking selfies…

Working up in the attic

The siding is coming right along as well. I am so in love with the blue it’s insane. I mean, when all is said and done, it’s going to be a big. blue. house. But — it’s our big blue house and I love it so much.

Hello gorgeous

blue + white = heaven


A view of the back porch area


Is it strange to think soffit is pretty?

I have yet to get a picture that actually captures the hue of blue

 After the drywallers finished up middle of last week, Paintman Extraordinaire Brad came in and worked his magic. He managed to get just about the entire house painted in a matter of a couple days. He’s finishing up today, which means there is paint on all the walls. It’s like a real house. Now, I haven’t taken many pictures because our colors are rather neutral and it’s kind of hard to see anything but a dirty, empty room in photos. But I tried and have included a couple below. And truth time: after months of the house being in various states of demolition and early stages of getting put back together, it’s really kind of hard to get used to having real life walls that we have to be careful around. Like, these are the real deal walls. Final. Time to be careful!

Ballet White downstairs

Our master bedroom is the prettiest shade of gray!

Aaron and I got started on some tile fun this weekend. We are going to have tile in the entry way, all 3 bathrooms, and the laundry room. We started laying the waterproof membrane on the floor of all three rooms upstairs, so that’s a good start! We have purchased a good chunk of the tile, so pretty soon we’ll start seeing some tile on top of that orange stuff.

Thinset down, then Schluter Ditra

Master Bathroom


Upstairs hall bath

Upstairs laundry room

And last but not least, last night we got the old maple floors pulled up out of the former kitchen/current dining room. These are the only floors in the house we aren’t saving, so we got them pulled up and got the sub floor cleaned up and ready for the new hardwood floor that will be installed in that room, to better match the rest of the house.

Prying up floor is so fun

Voila! Hello, Subfloor.

 So, there you go. Aaron and I also got all the Ram Board pulled up from upstairs, and we (along with Mark & Mary Kay) got the upstairs floors all cleaned up and ready for refinishing. Eek! Things just keep on a’happening.

Week 18 Update

This past week has somehow been both relaxing and busy. How does that happen??? I do not understand. But I’ll take it – it’s the best of both worlds: a bit of down time (i.e. not every second spent at the house) combined with good progress. Week 18 was a good one. Let me count the ways….

  1. We continued to work on the cabinet that’s going to grace our 2nd floor laundry room (I specify the floor not because we will be having more than one laundry room, but just as a reminder of where it will be in the house)(and another reminder: this cabinet was a built-in feature in the original kitchen)(end of parenthetical asides).  We finished up the painting on the base and hutch – you can see a few more pictures of that here – and then got started on the counter top. We sanded it down and cleaned it up (we used a couple ‘home remedies’ to get some lingering animal smell out of it), then applied wood conditioner, a couple coats of stain – Minwax Red Mahogany, in case anyone is curious – and finally, two coats of polyurethane to finish it off. This was of course all over the course of many days. The sad part is that I won’t be able to show you a fully put together finished version for at least few more weeks, because we aren’t going to reassemble it until we get it moved upstairs to the laundry room, which won’t be until after they’re done with all the drywall shenanigans, painting, and flooring. So we’re just going to have to imagine how amazing it’s going to be for awhile. Oh, and I do still have to work on the hardware. It’s a little rough, so I need to spend some time working on cleaning it up. And if that doesn’t work, Restoration Hardware has some super similar hardware that I have my eye on. Just in case!
    All painted. Behr Bubble Turquoise.
    Doing some cleaning
    We forgot to paint some pieces the first time around..
    Painted! Like magic!
    Putting wood conditioner on the counter top
    Then time for some stain.
    And another coat of stain
    Then it was time to apply the polyurethane

    And another coat. So shiny!!
  2. We worked over the weekend to check some more items off the to-do list, the largest of which was to demo out the old furnace and duct work from the basement to make room for the new. This was a messy and not altogether pleasant job, but it didn’t take nearly as long as it could have (I’m sure glad Aaron’s friend Jay came over to help) and now it’s done! AND we got the new furnace and all its parts moved down there. So, huzzah for that. Also, apparently once you turn 32, you get excited about things like furnaces. #youknowyoureoldwhen…
    Here’s the beast of a furnace.
    And now she’s gone!

    Somehow there was a LOT of scrap.
  3. Tom and his crew got the permanent posts up on the porch. They’re so shiny and bright white and purdy.

    How can simple posts make such a difference??
  4. The drywall dudes have been knocking out taping and mudding, which of course is very difficult to show in pictures. But trust me – they are making good progress and we’re inching closer to having the drywall finished.
    I’m considering just leaving it like this. All geometric and stuff.

    Master shower in progress
  5. The siding people got started this week! On siding! On our house! We have some siding on our house now! It’s incredibly exciting! Can you tell how excited I am?! Do the exclamation points give it away?! I think they probably do! Anyway, they were able to work on the north side of the house for a day, but now the weather has turned a little bit, so I suspect it’ll be a number of days before we see any further siding progress. But hey, I’ve been dying for siding ever since we decided on CertainTeed Pacific Blue as the color. So I’ll take it, even if it’s just a tease at this point. 🙂
    Pacific Blue = gorg
    Ignore the weird shadow. It’s all the same color of blue.

    Hard to really see in this picture, but you can get an idea of what the house is going to look like!

Numbers 3, 4, and 5 are the reason we had some time to relax, because they were all things other people worked on. Which is of course my favorite type of project; I get to show up and see how amazing everything looks. Plus there is time to go shopping for tile and lights and fun stuff like that. Woo hoo!

So there you go. We’re getting there, people. After drywall is done, it’ll be time to paint, then lay tile floor in the bathrooms and have the original wooden floors refinished, then on to cabinets, and getting the furnace stuff all set and ready to fire up. I hope the weather continues to cooperate with us like it has been so far these past 18 weeks. Cross your fingers for us!



Week 17 Update

This week is a little light on the happenings, but don’t worry, I won’t leave you wondering what those few happenings were!

First of all, the drywallers were quite busy this week and got virtually all the drywall in the entire house hung, which means we can really start to feel what our house is going to be like. You get so used to stud walls and everything being open that it’s hard to really imagine what the house is going to be like when it’s actually complete. Well, with drywall, we really can kind of tell. And you guys, it’s awesome.


It’s also hard to show in photos, so bear with me as you look at a few of these.


There will be a gorgeous mudroom-style bench cabinet thing here


3-car garage


In the dining room, looking out the sliders


View from the kitchen into the living room


Main hallway to the backdoor (pantry is straight ahead)


This will be the kitchen.

Mark the Magnificent finished up the electrical this past week, so we can like, have lights and stuff pretty soon. It’s rather exciting. Also, Tom and his crew got the back porch started for the back entry door.


Electrical panel. Very impressive. Don’t touch.
Back porch area. Yes, it will have a floor and stairs.

The main other thing that happened this past week was our work redoing the cabinet that was in the kitchen of the original house and is going to go into the laundry room of the new house. We start sanding on it last weekend and spent some time this past week and weekend sanding some more, working on the structure (we had to cut off just a bit here and there to make it fit), and then, most excitingly, got to get a couple coats of paint on it! Yes, it’s teal (actually, the color is Behr Bubble Turquoise). And yes, I love it. It will be a giant teal beauty that I will grin at and pet.


This is what the cabinet looked like in the original kitchen.
Here’s the hutch part, after we removed it
And here’s the base, after we removed it


And here we are working on the base


Working on the hutch


Ready to paint!


Spraying the first door front
First coat on. Isn’t it bee yoo tiful?


And now, second coat. I’m in love.

We were all pretty happy with the color.

So that is that.  This next week should bring us some taping and mudding progress on the drywall, as well as some siding!

I keep wanting to do a sort of “before” and “now” pictures of the project, but it turns out my ability to take photos from similar vantage points throughout this process is nonexistent. Which makes side-by-side comparison really difficult. Luckily, Cat took the photos of the house before we started, so we’ll definitely be able to do “befores” and “afters” from those… 🙂


Week 16 Update

You guys, I can’t think of anything fun or clever or exciting to open this post with. So. Insert funny things here.

Man, that was hilarious! Now, on to the house stuff. It was another week of really exciting but not overly photogenic stuff. So I will give you a quick list of the awesome things happening this week, and then I’ll give you some photos to scroll through. Here we go…

  • Mark the Magician continued doing his wiry (wirey? No, I think wiry) thang and just has to finish up wiring the panels in the garage and then we’ll, like, have power and all that. And we also got the last of the can lights, both inside and outside, wired up and ready to go.
  • Aaron and co worked on getting the furnace up to the attic to get prepared for installation. And they got more duct stuff figured out and ready.
  • Insulators started and finished last week — eek! They did a layer of foam in most places, and then sprayed cellulose over it. Our house is noticeably warmer already. Although the warmer weather does help as well. But it’s crazy how much of a difference it has made!
  • And, ring the alarm, because dry wallers started today!! The got all the drywall loaded in AND got the ceiling drywall hung in just about the entire upstairs. Aaaahhhhhhhhhh!!
  • Aaron and I got started with prepping the built-in for refinishing. What if I become one of those people who starts redoing furniture for fun???? Man, I hope so.

So there you go. We’ve been picking out finishes left and right -paint and tile and lighting and stuff. We can actually start thinking about how it’s really going to look when it’s put all back together! Stay tuned for more….

p.s. I’m having to post this from the WordPress app on my phone and it’s being a little funky. So the pictures are in a bit of a random order…


foam insulation in the attic


foam insulation in the walls


foam insulation around front door


more foam insulation


a view down the stairs


and now with the cellulose insulation!


getting the supply/return vents ready


cellulose insulation


a view of the house!


insulation in the garage


icicles on the house!


got the supply/return vents painted!


can lights on the porch


any excuse for a picture of the front door 😀


do you think we have animals around the house?? 😉




Aaron’s ongoing list for the past few weeks


working on the built-in


sand sand sand


loading drywall into the house (photo courtesy of Bill Stierwalt)


that’s drywall on the ceiling!




master bedroom ceiling drywall


cute little helper tonight


the first troll through the troll door


cutest troll


this is how I stand and look out our windows too


Jack helped us clean up drywall pieces


Week 13 Update

I’m going to jump right in, because this week has been awesome. It was the 2nd week Aaron and I were off work and able to focus completely on the house every day. And it shows!


  • We picked out all our lighting fixtures at Tepper Electric. It was a long, but fun, process. I can’t wait to see everything hung up in place (which won’t be happening for a good long while…)
  • Tom & Brad Mumm are the Dream Makers. “If we can’t make it happen, you don’t need it.” Don’t you think they need T-shirts with that on it or something??The Dream Makers
  • Insulation and drywall went up in the bathrooms around where the tub/shower bases are going so we could get those placed. drywall
  • They got a few more framing things done in the house – the hole cut in for the 9 foot sliding door between the dining room and covered porch, the spot for the built-in is fully framed in, etc.Slider
  • We started drilling holes for the pex pipe, which is for the water lines.


  • Roofers got started, which was wildly exciting. ShinglesRoofRoof
  • At the same time, the framers were back working on the amazingness that is our wraparound porch.
  • Aaron and I got all the vents up through the roof for the various necessary plumbing pipes, so the roofers could work around them.vents
  • We also got the boxes placed for the pendant lights going above the island.placing light box
  • Aaron and his dad got the fan/lights installed in all of the bathrooms.fan vent
  • I got my hair cut and colored, which has nothing to do with the house but was an excellent thing that happened on Wednesday.


  • The roofers were back.
  • The framers were back, and finished up the porch. And I’m in love. And we have skylights!
  • We worked on more plumbing stuff throughout the day.img_6254pex
  • I had big plans for New Year’s Eve — Aaron and I were going to work at the house until midnight and ring in the new year. BUT, it was really cold and I got pretty whiny, so we only made it until 11:15pm before we headed for home. But after a full 15+ hours at the house that day, I was happy to be warm under blankets at home when the clock struck 12.


  • We got the drain installed in the downstairs shower
  • We also got can lights placed throughout the houseimg_6256img_6261
  • The dining room and entry light box were installed
  • The tub in the upstairs hall bathroom was installed, as well as some other plumbing stuff.img_6234


  • We had a crew on Saturday, so were able to knock out quite a bit of stuff!
  • The roof was finished. WE HAVE A ROOF! And it’s so beautiful.img_6264img_6265img_6267
  • The hardwood floor in the hallway upstairs got cut and pulled up where necessary, so we can better incorporate it with the new wood that will have to be laid.
  • More plumbing was set
  • And holes were drilled and pex pipe was pulled for about half the house. It’s quite a feat to run this stuff from the basement up through the first floor and to the second floor. It took a crew of us, but we knocked out a lot!img_6266
  • More can lights were set and we got some good clean-up done in the house.


  • The downstairs shower head plumbing was set, and they also got the shower base installed img_6270
  • We got pex run to the kitchen and master bathroom, which means that virtually all the pex is run! So plumbing is in good shape.
  • Electrical beast Mark was a wiring monster yesterday and got all the wire pulled on the 2nd floor. You guys, that is so much wire. You don’t even know. It’s amazing.img_6268

So that’s it for Lucky Week #13. Shewie. I’m tired all over again just from typing it all out!! As of today, I am back at work. But Aaron is still full-timing it out at the house in an attempt to knock out as much as possible. Oh, and I don’t remember which day this happened, but we also got the heating/cooling system ordered (thanks to Bryce for his massive help on this!). This week, we should be getting garage doors, windows and doors, and who knows what other surprises!! And we are happy. img_6257

Week 12 Update

Down a long lane and across a pond?

So. It’s been rainy here the past more-than-a-few days, which has made the mud around our house…muddier. It’s a swamp. A marsh, if you will. Get it??? But that hasn’t slowed progress too terribly bad, believe it or not! And it has been a VERY exciting week for us!


Big stuff first — the framers have been busy busy busy, both inside and outside. Let me show you some pictures!

Aaron and his trusty helper (me) have been working on plumbing and electrical this week as well. We got all the PVC pipe roughed in (that’s for waste. Ew.) and started on sweating the copper pipe. Using solder and flux. Those are real words. Did you know that? And I know what they are. I mean, don’t ask me to define them. But. I know what to do with them. When Aaron tells me. Oh, and electrical wizard Mark came over and spent quality time with us in the cold to lay out all electrical switch and outlet boxes. Turns out that takes a long time and a lot of thought. And I am neither patient nor thoughtful. BUT, we got it pretty much figured out and Aaron and I actually spent the day today (Monday) setting boxes throughout the house. More than 100 boxes. I should actually count them. I know you are all interested in how many blue boxes are nailed to studs in our house.

So there you have it. Another busy week behind us. More busy weeks ahead of us. We need to finish with roughing in water lines, electrical stuff, heating/cooling shenanigans, etc. Plenty to do. Which is new and different for us. Please cross your fingers for non-freezing weather for us as we continue to work out there with heat. kthanksbye

Week 11 Update

Happy Week-of-Christmas, readers! It’s a little insane to think we’re almost to Christmas, considering it’s like 60 degrees outside right now. HOWEVER, given the fact that we are working in and on a house that isn’t fully enclosed yet, I’m 100,000% okay with the current weather. We had a few chilly nights/days throughout the past week, and I’d much rather not be wearing 6 layers, a head-warmer thing, a hat, and 2 hoods while working. So, while everyone may be sad it won’t be a white Christmas this year, I. Am. Not. 🙂

Okay, on to the actual update. This week has been another big one. Aaron has started roughing in plumbing, so I’ve gotten a few lessons in plumbing pipe and fittings. Need a 1.5″ street 45? I can get that for you.  Need me to cut down a piece of 2″ PVC with a band saw? I can do that (as long as the measurements don’t have to be exact….sometimes the PVC gets away from me. I’m a dainty girl.) ANYWAY. Yay for indoor plumbing!

Aaron and his friend/electrician guru Mark got the panels set in the garage, which is a step closer to running all the wire throughout the house. Yay for electricity!


There have been a few miscellaneous things over the past week as well: getting nails out of the all the hardwood we pulled up from the upstairs to save for patching in floors before refinishing. Oh yeah, that hopefully gives a hint that we have pretty much decided to save the floors and proceed as planned with having them refinished. Anyway, got the nails out and got the flooring moved out of the way. We did some pretty major picking up/cleaning up the house to try to get reset for the next steps. We have been picking out some finishes, like faucets and shower trim and all that jazz.

And because I can’t think of a really good segue to the following gif, I will just present it to you as a reflection of the time of year and the excitement I feel over what’s getting done and the binge-watching of Parks and Recreation we have been doing when we’re not working on the house…


Okay. Now that that’s out of the way… onto the BIG stuff. Tom and Brad and the framers have been busy little bees this past week, and you guys, you can really see what our house is going to look like when it’s done. It’s amazing. Also, huge. Apparently I can’t very effectively look at plans on paper and visualize what they’ll actually look like when built, because holy smokes… This is a big house. Guess we’re going to have to start throwing some big ol parties. Play your cards right, and you could be invited.



Week 10 Update

Whoa, we are in double digits here — 10 weeks in to this project. And this week was. a. doozy. In the best possible way. Let me make you a list:

  • We
  • Have
  • Exterior
  • Walls
  • !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

End of list. I will give you the full update in photos. Click on the first one to start a slideshow that takes you through the awesomeness of this past week!