Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Damage

Two days before Hurricane Irene's arrival, we were directly in the path of the storm (as in, on a map, the eye of the storm was shown directly going over us). Ugh. Luckily, the night before the storm, it got pushed west, so while we'd still get impacted, it wouldn't be as bad as initially thought.

We woke up this morning to a loud noise outside our windows. Turns out the huge tree directly across the street from us fell (luckily, into their yard, not onto our mailbox or the road).
As I was looking out the window at this, R went to all of the other windows. While looking out the Twilight Room back window, he saw this fall on our shed/coop!
Luckily, these two trees were the main problems of the day. We were two of the only people in the state with power. It flickered out for about 2 minutes around 8:30 AM and was fine for the rest of the day. We did lose internet/cable/phone around 3:30 PM, which wasn't cool... internet and cable were all that were keeping us busy! So much for our Game of Thrones marathon..

Around 6:00, we joined all of our neighbors outside to assess the damage. It appeared that our yard was hit the worst. No one had any damage to their houses, and the only trees to come down were across the street from us and in our backyard (we had a couple fall down in the woods, in addition to the one on the shed).
Our next door neighbor had some huge branches fall down and into the road (the town came during the storm and moved them out of the road for her). We cannot figure out how they didn't hit the power lines because they were over the lines, but some how managed to fall under them and into the street..
I lost three tomato plants.. and a couple tomatoes which fell on the ground.
Tomato-killing branch..
Shed killer..
Here, Irene did some good. She was kind enough to knock down most of the dead branches off of the huge trees by the well. We were going to have to have someone come to cut them off (they were up really high), but now all we had to do was drag them into the woods.
While I was walking around taking pictures and picking up sticks and branches, Ryan was trying to figure out how to get the tree off the shed. Our neighbor from across the street was helping out our next door neighbor and saw Ryan and the tree. He offered to help out, and showed up a couple minutes later with his chainsaw, another neighbor and his chainsaw!
They didn't take the tree completely off, but got a lot done. We offered the wood to them and one neighbor offered to turn a bowl out of it for us :)

No Chimney Cap?

Starting this spring, we've had some major fireplace problems, especially in the Kitchen. With the amount of snow we had this winter, it was only expected that we'd have a very wet spring when it all melted. Every time it has rained since then, we've had to put buckets in the kitchen fireplace to catch all of the water (and once, a mouse, but that's another story..).
The water that comes dripping down our massive chimney is not pretty... By the time it makes it to the kitchen, it is covered in 240 years of grime and soot. The water in the buckets is black and nasty. Oh, and doesn't smell so good either. Just what you want in your kitchen while you're trying to eat.. Days after a rainstorm, the kitchen still smells because now all of the bricks are saturated. A couple weeks ago, we've started to notice leakage in all of the other fireplaces as well.. and no, really strong plug-in air fresheners PLUS all the windows open don't completely get rid of the smell, in case you were wondering.

About a month ago R realized that we had a HUGE hole in our chimney cap, and that's why the water has just been rushing into our kitchen's indoor water feature. His guess was that with all of the snow piled up on there this winter, the cap just gave out. Last weekend he was in the attic putting some boxes away and realized that all of the water had washed away some of the mortar in the chimney and we can now see straight through it. We knew that eventually the chimney would have to be rebuilt at least in the attic, but it was something we were hoping could wait until we were ready to finish off the attic.

With the impending Hurricane Irene, R had had enough. He called a local chimney company, A to Z Chimney Sweep, and Jim came out the next day. He said that he had been to our house a couple years ago to look at the cap (great... so it's something that has been in bad shape for a long time.. not a good sign). The previous owner decided not to spend the money to fix it, seeing as he'd be selling the house soon. So, now it's up to us. Jim went up on the roof and took a look around. Turns out that hole in the cap was a lot bigger than I had imagined (I was thinking like 1'x2'). Turns out it's 5'x5'. No wonder we have so much water! I'm surprised we haven't been flooded out of the house! Jim also thought that the fact that we have oil heat aided in the demise of our cap. He said that so many years of oil heat coming up through there have just eaten away at the metal.. then the heavy snow was the last straw and it just collapsed. Because of the size of the chimney, we have to get a new cap custom made. We've decided to go with stainless steel, which comes with a lifetime warranty (will it still be there in another 240 years?), with screens around the sides to keep out birds and other animals. Our bedroom fireplace has evidence of mud nests built by swallows. This takes time though, so it wouldn't be ready before the hurricane, so Jim put up a temporary piece of sheet metal, to get us through the storm.
He tied it on with strapping and it did a great job! It survived the 70+mph winds and 24 hours of heavy rain. It did keep us entertained, flapping around up there, making noises that sounded like thunder (we had neighbors asking us if we heard the strange noises during the storm, which we had to admit was us...). But most importantly, it kept us mainly dry. We did get a couple drips in the kitchen toward the end of the storm, but it definitely performed beyond our expectations!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Operation Tomato: A Success

We did it! We grew tomatoes!! We've been trying for 3 years to grow tomatoes. Granted, 2 of those years were on a deck with tomato plants that were too big for a pot, and last year, when we actually had "deck" tomato plants, we moved them halfway through the summer and they died.
We've also been getting a lot of string beans and cherry tomatoes, both of which don't usually make it into the house very often.... oops :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bedroom Closet Before/After

Total Cost:
$0 - Everything we already had... paint, hooks, shelves, hangers, boxes... I like this kind of project :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bedroom Closet

Our Master Bedroom has two closets, which is two more than most houses the age of ours. One is original, one was added probably in the 50's. The original one is located between the chimney and stairs and is about 7' deep and 30" wide. Before we even moved in, I told R this would be his closet. The other closet is a more "normal" size, about 30" deep and 6' wide. I hang most of my clothes up, plus need a lot of storage, so that closet became mine. I painted/cleaned my closet in October of last year, because I couldn't stand living out of boxes (I'm one of those people who need to see all their clothes in order to choose one). R, however, was perfectly content with his clothes in boxes. Because he didn't care, cleaning and painting his closet kept moving farther and farther down on my list of things to-do. In July I had finally had enough. We were about to go on vacation and I hate leaving the house messy when we're away (it's one of those things my mom ingrained in my head when I was little... you never want to go away and come home to a messy house). I had finally had enough of the boxes of clothes piled up in our bedroom.
It ended up not being as bad as I originally though. Only 1 dead spider and no huge cracks in the walls that needed repairing. All in all, I finished in two days (and I didn't spend all day working.. basically just the afternoons). The first day I spent cleaning out everything we had accumulated in there (boxes, suitcases, misc. stuff we weren't using and didn't have another place for), patching holes in the walls, and painting some of the trim. The second day I painted the door, ceiling, shelves and walls.
Luckily it was a very dry day, so the paint dried incredibly fast and I was even able to organize all of R's stuff in the closet before he came home!

The closet has 2 shelves in the back (about 24" deep). One these I put some long-term storage, pillows, and some of Ryan's stuff that he rarely uses. Underneath the bottom shelf (which is about 3' off the floor) I put our large suitcase and filled it with all of our dufflebags, backpacks, etc., so now when we're packing to go somewhere everything is in one place. On top of that I put our big, thick winter comforter in it's bag. (That's another thing I'm very excited to have a place for... It's white and light blue, and when it's too hot we've just been kicking it onto the floor. It basically spent the whole summer on the floor which means it got dirty from the floor and from the dog that decided that it was a new big huge bed we bought for her). Along the walls are old hooks which I was originally going to replace, but then decided just to paint them. I hung R's belts and ties on them.

Because the closet is so incredibly deep, there are 2 hanging rods. This would not have worked for me because I need to see all of my clothes. For R though, perfection! On the back rod I hung all of his winter clothes and on the front rod, all of his summer clothes! So now when he's looking for something, they're organized so he's not looking through sweatshirts for a polo shirt, but also if we have a cold early fall day, he still has the option to grab a long sleeved shirt if he wants. It also means that season-changing will be easier because rather than spending a whole day unpacking and packing clothes (like I do for my clothes), all I have to do is switch which rod they're hanging on.
The floor in front is open for laundry baskets and other misc. items like our large bed pillows if we're not using them. And yes, every single item from that first picture (in the closet and surrounding it) is all in here... I fit it all :-D

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Finished Coop

We finally finished up the coop this weekend. Well, enough so that the chicks can move in. We still need to build the shelving for the other side of the shed and build the outdoor space. But my patience had run out on having indoor chickens.

The finished interior coop takes up half of the shed. Nugget and Gladys love it! They love being able to run back and forth and fly up (they actually fly up to the top of the wall and sit up there and we have to rescue them..). Their new space is more than 4 times as wide as the playpen. Plus they get to play in the hay, which they love!