Settling In

kitchen cabinets installed!
The kitchen cabinet installation went just as planned!  What fun to see it all come together!

making Thanksgiving Pies
It was just in time for Thanksgiving ~ and the very first thing we cooked in our new kitchen were the Thanksgiving pies!  One apple and one pumpkin!  We learned that the oven runs just a little bit hot, but the pies turned out great!

It seemed so appropriate that the first real meal from the kitchen in this house was Thanksgiving.  SO much to be thankful for this year.
~ So grateful that both my sister and I had Thanksgiving last year with our Mom in Arizona and the year before that was all the family together, including my Dad and DIL Amanda's Mom in Colorado.  To have had those lovely times together is worth so much.

~ So grateful for the many blessings in the difficult parts of the year, for our guardian angel, Rodrigo in Costa Rica and for my co-worker who connected us, for international cell phones, for special neighbors that have become like family, for the wonders of the internet that allow us to communicate in the time it takes the heart to beat with our loved ones thousands of miles away, for plane tickets that got us where we needed to be quickly and timely, for the hundreds if not thousands of family, friends and acquaintances who held our family up in prayer and with encouraging words through the dark days of March when my Mom was so sick in Costa Rica, for co-workers and bosses who were so amazingly supportive for both my sister and I, for the hospital staff in Costa Rica who took such great care of my Mom and who communicated so well with me despite the language barrier, for the funeral directors in both countries who facilitated getting my mother back to this country ~ just in time for the service.  There were so many things, from big to small that made such a difference.

~ So grateful that my move from Arizona went so well and for all the help I received from co-workers who helped me pack and clean and from family who helped with the actual move.

~ So grateful for the estate to have settled so quickly, for my parent's home to sell to the first family who looked at it, for the success of the estate sales and the following garage sales.

~So grateful for the unexpected opportunity to take the trip of a lifetime, for how smoothly the entire trip went, from the last minute planning of it, to the week onboard the Queen Mary 2, the 3 weeks in England, 3 weeks in Scotland and the last few days in London, for all the people I met who were so kind and helpful and for the delightful companionship of friends that I found along the way, for amazing moments, for the renewal and rest as well as the great joy of a long held dream come true!  

~ So grateful for the opportunity for my daughter and I to live with my oldest son Jonathan for several months.

~ So grateful for finding such a lovely little home in a quiet town!  And for how well the renovations have gone and for the opportunity to make the changes that needed to take place (electrical, plumbing, and kitchen!) and to have found contractors with integrity who do great work and that it all was able to happen in such a timely manner!

~ So grateful for all the job interviews that I have had ~ though I haven't actually gotten a job yet, I am certain that one will be coming my way very soon ~ and for all the positive feedback I've gotten on my skills and abilities from prospective employers!

~ So grateful for a year of good health for myself, for the weight loss that has made me feel so much better and for how stable it has been despite all the changes, for some small improvements in my eye (and no torn retina!).

How wonderful it is to be able to look back over the past year and half, and though it has included much pain and sadness with the loss of both my parents, it has still been a time of joy and hope, of peace, of testing faith and finding it stronger than ever.  It's bittersweet as I look into the next year ~ grief still blindsides me from time to time, but as my Mom would have said, "Life goes on", and "Each day is a gift to be treasured."  She was so right!  The grief passes and I am able to move on with hope and joy.

NCMC Turkey Trot
Thanksgiving morning I awoke to sounds outside, at first just a few voices, then more, then a loudspeaker system in the distance ~ I thought it was a football game at the nearby high school, but then the sound grew louder and I could hear many people.  Imagine my surprise to look out the window and see thousands of people running by!  It turns out that the local "Turkey Trot" that starts bright and early around 7 a.m. goes right past my front door!  Learning about all of these local events is just part of settling in!

New Kitchen
There is still work to be done in the kitchen.  The drawer handles were backordered but have finally arrived.  Loving the cabinets and countertops!

Watching the squirrels
The kitties are settling in as well and finding favorite perches to watch the birds and squirrels!

There are lots of big fat healthy squirrels.  I put a suet/seed block out for the birds, but the squirrels managed to eat the entire thing in just a few days!

Dining Room Mirror
We are slowly getting things hung on the walls, such as this big mirror from my Mom.

November view of my home
With the changing season, this little house is definitely starting to feel like home!

Working out placement of the kitchen shelves
There are still shelves to be hung in the kitchen and things to find places for.  But each day, there are more empty boxes and new things crossed off the to-do-list (and inevitably a few more added).

Glastonbury Tor
I knew I was really settling in though, when I got out the oil paints for the first time in nearly 5 years and spent a bit of time painting a scene from one of my days in England!  Like playing the piano, I am finding that the skills are still there just waiting to be used!


A Busy Weekend...

Library Nook
Moving in got off to a slow start this week.  Between remodeling the kitchen, the ongoing electrical and plumbing work taking place, more job interviews and family needs, very few boxes got unpacked.  On Friday, I finally had a day to focus on settling in.  What I really needed to do was get the kitchen primed and painted in preparation for the kitchen installation.

But there were things sitting in the kitchen that needed moved first.  And to move them, I had to take care of other things.  It was sort of an endless chain of "to do this, I must first deal with this..."  I started in the basement where most of the ceiling and all of the bathroom needed drywall/plaster repair.  It was a mess!  I started by cleaning.  Plaster dust permeates everything, so the shop vac, broom and bucket and rags all got a hefty work out.  So did my arms, back and knees!

Once cleaned, I had to prime and then paint the plastered and newly textured walls.  Only then could I move the bookshelves into the basement.  And if I was moving them anyway, it seemed a good time to go ahead and get them up and load them with the books that were taking up enormous amounts of space (where other things needed to go!)  Now, at the base of the stairs, there is a cozy little library nook, freshly painted and with nearly all of my books out of boxes for the first time in 8 years!  

Living Room coming together
We were able to get most of the boxes out of the living room as well as all those bookshelves and the two chairs that now reside in the library nook, which gave us room to put together the two new IKEA chairs.  I love their linen slipcovers and look forward to getting a matching one for the sofa!  The dining room is still the staging area for all the other things going on, so the dining chairs are packed into every nook and cranny.  This room is finally feeling more like a living room

Dryer Plug woes
There were some frustrations along the way ~ like discovering that the new dryer outlet didn't fit the plug on my dryer!  Turns out that code now requires a four prong plug.  Thankfully, son Jonathan was able to replace the dryer cord for me!  How nice it is to be able to do laundry again!

Temporary Shower Fix
Another positive was getting a temporary fix on the shower so that it could be used.  Especially since it seems that it's going to take forever to get the tile fixed.  Everything is always more complicated than you think it should be.  But at least I can get clean at the end of the day!

New Sink Vanity
I asked the plumber to look into why my bathroom sink was draining so slow.  Turns out that there was a toothbrush embedded in the depths of the drain, as well as so much gook that it didn't have much opening.  So the drain got replaced... but in the process the sink broke.  Leading to my need to go get a new sink.  I came back with this lovely little bathroom vanity and sink.  But the pipe wouldn't fit the cabinet, so the plumber had to put a "notch" in it.  The little notch turned out to be a hack job on the inside of the cabinet.  At least it looks nice on the outside and the sink works and drains properly.  Sigh.

Last Coat of Paint
Eventually we were able to get to the main job of priming (one coat) and painting (two coats) the kitchen!  Jessie was a huge help and between the two of us, we got the job done at last!  Then we cleaned the floors of all the plaster dust.  It was a hands and knees job and took both of us almost as long as it did to do all those coats of primer and paint!  I had hoped to get the floors refinished before the cabinets were installed, but floor refinishers seem to be either; a) in high demand with overly full schedules and so unavailable, or b) not professional enough to return phone calls.   It will happen eventually!  How great to get all the switch-plate covers on, move the washer and dryer back into their designated spaces and step back and look at the almost finished kitchen!

Sanding the countertops
With the kitchen installation happening tomorrow, I needed to get the countertops ready.  They come with a light coat of finish on them and since I wanted to stain them darker, I needed to sand them.  Thankfully it was a gorgeous mid-November day and I was able to do it in the backyard.  We discovered that empty book boxes make great temporary workbenches!  You can see that I'm using the last of my big baggy clothes as work clothes.  Who cares if they get paint and stain on them!  Makes for unflattering photos of me though!

Staining in progress
Once the countertops were sanded and the kitchen painting/cleaning completed, we spread new clean plastic on the floor and brought the freshly sanded countertops in.  Here, the two counters on the right have their first coat of stain (SafeCoat stain in Cedar) while the one on the left shows it in it's unstained condition.

Stained Countertops
The counters got a total of 3 coats of stain to get the depth of color I wanted.  It's almost a perfect match to the wood floors in the rest of the house!  Hopefully, once the kitchen floor gets refinished, it will also match!  Once the counters are installed, I'll seal the tops with a satin finish.

Tomorrow morning, the crew arrives to assemble and install the kitchen!  The new stove has been waiting in the garage.  The new refrigerator should be delivered within the next week or so.  In the meantime, the garage refrigerator, meant to be used for soda, beer and wine, is doing extra duty for us.  The only thing we saved from the old kitchen is the stainless dishwasher, which will do for now, though eventually I would like to switch it for a white one.  The plumbing will get hooked up on Tuesday (with strict instructions to the plumber on how NOT to make a mess of my new cabinets!) so by Wednesday, the kitchen should be functional enough to spend the day making pies and rolls for Thanksgiving!  


Moved In!

Moving Truck
Moving "day" finally happened!  The weather turned bitter cold and snowy, which slowed things down, so it actually took the entire weekend ~ Friday through Sunday, to get Jessie and I moved in to our new home.

My Family!
How grateful I was for the help from all the kids plus a couple of their friends!  Sunday night we celebrated being finished with a dinner out!   From left to right: foster son Gary and his wife Marcy, Jessie and her fiancĂ© David, me, DIL Amanda and son Stephen, son's Jonathan and Zach.  Friends Mike and Kristen had helped on Friday and Saturday so weren't here for the dinner.

Living Room after moving in
When I moved from Arizona at the end of April, my belongings filled one 26' truck to the top.  Now, adding my daughter and her things plus what I inherited from my parents, it took two very full 26' trucks to make this move.  Inside the house, despite being well over twice the square footage of my apartment, it is filled to the brim!  Total chaos!  There will be some serious downsizing to come this spring!

Breakfast Room as Kitchen
It doesn't help that I don't quite have a kitchen yet.  For now, the breakfast room is serving as temporary quarters for all food preparation ~ as well as storage for tools and cleaning supplies.  It's amazing how well you can do with just a microwave and an electric kettle!

Once I got my bed made, it started to really feel like home.  One can put up with an awful lot if there is a comfy place to sleep!

Plumbing and tiling still needs finished
We do have some plumbing ~ a bathroom sink and toilet.  But the shower is out of commission until the tiling gets repaired where the wall fell apart when they went to fix the plumbing on the shower.  Thankfully, I've finally found someone to do the work and it will hopefully happen before the end of the week!

Putting the new back door in
A lot of other things have happened in the past week too.  A big item was getting the back door replaced.  The old one was in sad shape with a huge drafty doggy door that wasn't at all secure.

New Door
Now there is a nice snug door that actually latches properly!

Painting bedrooms
We painted both bedrooms and the hallway, though there is still some trim to paint.  Jessie painted her room a pale grey with white trim.

Bedroom Window
I went with a simple white paint to maximize the light in my small bedroom.  I love these windows!  It won't be long before I need to make some window blinds to replace the temporary sheet curtains I'm using at the moment!

Hauling away the dumpster
We filled up a 15 cubic yard dumpster to the brim.  How glad I was when they came to haul it away!

Bye bye froggy!
Do you see the silly frog peering out over the top?  It was left by previous owners.  It had a rather creepy grin that both my daughter and I found somewhat unsettling, so we were quite happy to say goodbye to it!

2nd Skim Coat on Kitchen
In the kitchen, the skim coating continued (shown here before the door was replaced)

Cement Truck backing in
A concrete truck paid us a visit.

Where the cement is going
All because we had to dig a channel in the basement floor to put in a floor drain near the hot water heater.

smoothing out the concrete
They did a nice job getting it filled in and smoothed out.

crazy plumbing in the shower
We had more plumbing surprises.  The basement shower turned out to be made entirely of concrete block ~ and the plumbing was actually cemented into place.  It was a noisy and dusty job getting the concrete out in order to replace it.  This shower too will get repaired in the coming week.  All the mess has been well worth it as now I have a lovely old home with all new plumbing and electric!

Skim Coating almost finished!
And in the kitchen, the last skim coat of  plaster went on, the walls were sanded and now it's ready for me to prime and paint this weekend before the new kitchen gets installed on Monday!  Just in time to make our first Thanksgiving Dinner in it!



Unknown shrub
I have a shrub in the yard of my new house that I have never seen before!  Despite several nights of hard freezes, the leaves are still green and the flowers still a brilliant pink with a bright orange berry.  If you know what kind of shrub this is, I'd love to know!

Update: Thanks to Raphaela for letting me know that this is a Spindle Tree (Euonymus europaeus)!  Here is a note that I found about it: 
The wood is hard and durable and, when the making of yarn was a familiar necessity, provided the best spindles for spinners.
What fun! Apparently it is also in the same family as the burning bush shrubs in the front of my new home, but for some reason, this one hasn't turned color yet.  Those bushes also have bright orange berries dangling from the branches but I never saw the bright pink casing around them.    

Kitchen walls patched!
Today saw lots of tangible remodeling progress!  All the electrical work is completed in the kitchen except for the outlets and plates being put in place, so it was time to patch some of the holes and begin skim coating the walls in preparation for painting.  The repair work had advanced beyond my capability, so I hired the work done.  After watching them work all day long, I'm so glad that I did as they are marvelous!  So exciting to see the rough damaged walls begin to take on the smooth surface that I had envisioned!  They tell me I should be able to paint by mid-week!  Now if I can just get that floor cleaned up once again and find someone who can refinish it in a timely manner!

Measure twice
My tiny closet needed a better system of organization in order to work for me.  I was all set to do this work on my own, but my oldest son Jonathan came up to help me and ended up doing the majority of the work!

Putting Shelves in my Closet
We put shelves on one side and double clothes rods on the other.

Double Clothes bars installed!
Today, while the plasterers were busy in the kitchen, I painted all the trim and shelves.

Shelves and brackets painted!
So happy with how it's coming together!  Next time I go up to the house, I'll be able to put the shelves and rods in place and the closet will be ready for my clothes!  Yea!  ONE part of the house is complete!

There is a huge amount of clean up to do after all the cutting they had to do into the old lath and plaster walls for the rewiring and plumbing ~ that fine plaster dust just coats everything, even when covered up!  Once the cleanup takes place, the painting begins!

As you might have noticed, we haven't moved in yet.  After looking at everything that still needed done, we postponed the move until next weekend.  What a relief!  I wasn't looking forward to moving in amidst the chaos of electricians, plumbers, plasterers, needing to repaint, and with all the cleaning that still needs done... not to mention the chimney sweeping and the several contractors coming to give me estimates on kitchen installation this week!