Posts Tagged With: First Impressions

Birdie Watching

I’ve shown you a few pictures of the outside of our house, but none of the back of our house. So here it is. This is what the back of our house looked like when we looked at it that first time


There was a lot of stuff to do here. Obviously some landscaping and clean up, but the door had to be replaced because it looked like this

The trim around the door was rotten too


There was rotted wood above the back door. Well, when the rain blew in from the south (the back of the house faces south), the rain would go right into our mudroom/laundry room. That, my friends, is a problem. One day, the hubs and I replaced that board there. You know when I say the hubs and I, I really mean that Michael did most of the work. I showed up to hold the board in place. Which is kind of a big deal because I hate ladders unless I’m painting…then the fear is outweighed by the love of painting. After we he did that, there was no more puddles in our laundry room! Woo hoo! We decided to replace the rest of the rotten wood there when we were up on the roof putting down ice and water barrier on the three seasons porch. Disclaimer: If you are doing this for a permanent fixture, you should definitely use treated wood or cedar which naturally resists rot. We did not use either of those because we had most of the wood in the rafters of our garage. We know that we will have to replace it again, but we’re okay with that since we don’t know what we want to do there. We’ll decide if we want cedar or painted when we paint the house. There’s still quite a bit of work to do, but that is done (for now).

I started off by adding bird feeders though. I found a suet feeder that had a copper “roof” on it so I got it and hung it up on the deck.

I was filling this thing all. the. time. So I decided to add another one

That drew more birds so I was just filling both of them all. the time.

The “kids” love to sit out on the three seasons porch spring through fall. I want to put a rain garden by the deck and possibly a butterfly garden on the back of the house. So I came up with the great idea to put bird feeders on the three seasons porch where they can watch the birds. Well, when they aren’t watching the neighbor kids ride their bikes in the alley by our house

I hung up two more suet feeders on the three seasons porch so Bella and Bristol could watch the birds fly around. I busted out the good ol’ Hitachi drill and put two plant hangers that I got at Menards for $2 each and put them on these two posts

It was great. I wasn’t filling the feeders near as much. I had finally gotten ahead of the birds! Then I realized that wasn’t it at all. The real reason was that no bird with a basic need for survival is going to eat at a bird feeder with this six inches away

It’s like sitting at a picnic table with a bear sitting there watching you

So, it didn’t take long and the birdfeeders made a move. Not too far so Bella & Bristol could still watch the birds from the three seasons porch.

They moved to the back of the deck…and I added another one. Yes I did miss a post. I’m not sure what I was thinking, but I will need to get another one to even it out. I can’t wait to get a rain garden there with some native grasses and stuff. I guess the first order of business should be to clean out all the leaves though. One thing at a time.

In the meantime, we now have five bird feeders where the birds can entertain Bella & Bristol and, let’s face it, in our house that’s what really matters…keeping our kitties happy

This outside posts makes me thing I need to take you on a full tour of the outside of our house. Maybe that should be the next thing added to the “Tour Our House” page (find it at the top of the page).

Or do you have another request? What part of our house do you want to see?






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The Sky is Falling

When you first walk into a house and fall in love with it immediately, you probably don’t expect that one of the first things that you see is going to be a ceiling that has fallen in. That’s exactly what happened with our house.

The ceiling had to be redone before we moved in, for obvious reasons and Michael took on that task. We decided to do something more permanent than just replacing the squares. Bring on the drywall! First all the square tiles had to come down. In this picture you can see the snazzy English cottage wallpaper that was in the kitchen.

Next the rails that attached those squares to the ceiling had to come down

See that blown in insulation between the floor joists? We think that’s what made the ceiling fall in the first place, but at least we knew the north wall of the house was insulated. The wind blows across the corn field and neighbors’ yard and right into the front of our house, so knowing there is insulation in them there walls is great!

When you’re putting drywall on a ceiling, we recommend that you spend the money to rent one of these

Somehow, this contraption takes a big piece of drywall and puts it up on the ceiling. Michael says it’s easy to use and I’ll take his word for it. The difficult part is that in an old house like ours, the joists were not evenly spaced so when it came to actually attaching the drywall to the joists, that proved to be a little more difficult…so I’m told. What I can tell you is that when I came back to the house the ceiling looked like this (including the dust in the air)

So much better than open floor joists already! Over the next couple days, Michael thought it would be fun to play with mud

After some paint on the ceiling and the walls we were left with this

The floor is another story for another day. We’d also like to change the light in there to something a little more grand, but for now the $7 Menards find is working splendidly. That’s it in a nutshell. Drywalling a ceiling. Keep in mind that when Michael was doing that 19 months ago, we had no idea this would someday be on the internet for all to see…we would have taken better pictures. We promise to give you better step by step when we finally redo the ceiling in the living room

That room has changed so much already. That will be another story for another day too!

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It’s a Jungle Out There

Yes our house is in town, but last summer it seemed like we lived in a jungle. Well, if you made your way to the back yard behind the garage it was. We’re not quite sure what was there or why it was so out of control, but it was crazy! We should have done something about it before the middle of the hot and humid Iowa summer, but we thought it would be more fun to wait? Or it was that daunting that we just didn’t know where to start…yep, that sounds right.

One day I got a call at work from Michael: “Can you stop by Harbor Freight and get a pipe snake and a machete?” I won’t go into the pipe snake part other than to say make sure you know a good plumber if you buy a house that sat for a while. Let’s move on to the fun (?) part…the machete.

Armed with the trusty machete, the weed whacker and the chainsaw, we started in on the jungle in our yard. When I say we, I mean Michael…I took pictures. I had every intention of helping until Michael used one word – snake. As in “This is the perfect place for snakes to hide.” Check ya later! You have fun in the jungle with your machete dear, I’ll watch from the deck. We knew this was going to be a multi-day project, so Michael went with the quadrant method of breaking it down. First down the middle with the machete

Looking back, it may have been an Indiana Jones thing. Maybe I should have gotten him a hat and a whip too. Oh well. We live on the edge of town, so just a couple blocks away there is a yard waste dump for the town. Perfect!!! He would load up the truck and we would drive to the dump and get rid of a little piece of the jungle at a time.

Slowly, but surely

This was a huge job!

But he did it!

Some grass seed and it was blended in not long after that. You could hardly tell it was once a jungle. Now I think it’s itching for some raised garden beds. But that’s another project for another day. Just in case you were wondering…no snakes. A couple toads that I’m happy to have around to eat the bugs and a bunny rabbit who is welcome as long as it doesn’t eat my plants.

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The road…er sidewalk to nowhere

When you buy and old neglected house, it’s not only the house that needs TLC, but the yard does too. Last year ours definitely needed some help! We closed on our house right before the first big snow of the year in 2009 so we knew our sidewalks were somewhere under the 14 inches of snow that made it’s way to our yard, but really had no idea where. Since the house had been empty for over 4 years it also took some time for the plow driver to remember that they couldn’t pile snow in our yard anymore. But after all the snow melted we were able to find our sidewalks…kinda.

Sidewalk to the west

The walkway to the front door wasn’t as bad, but still needed some help

I almost forgot the before pictures when we started in on the walkway from the front door to the deck

I come from a family of gardeners (see this post) and making the outside look good is important to us too. Plus we love spending time outside in the summer so we our yard to be an oasis. Last summer was a lot of finding out what we had…like this beautiful peony that we found planted by the garage.

Our house had been empty so long that it had blended in as part of the landscape. Last fall I went to a party at a neighbor’s house and met some more neighbors. They mentioned how nice it was to see the changes that had been going on. Our house looked lived in and it looked like someone cared. Woohoo!!! That’s what we wanted. We’re hoping for “most improved” over the course of the next few years. It all started with clearing off the sidewalks.

Door to deck

Door to road

Finally the sidewalk to the east

Who knew there was a sidewalk there? In uncovering the sidewalk we realized that we need to replace the sidewalk…one thing at a time though. I would really love to not have plain boring squares of concrete but have something more like this that I found on Pinterest this week

Wouldn’t that look fabulous? I think it’s a project that will have to wait until next summer…the project list for this summer is already quite large.  What do you have on your summer to do list?

On a personal note, a year ago today Michael and I made the trip to Wisconsin with my Dad, brother, SIL Jenna & niece Evalee. While there I gained a mom, two brothers, two sisters, three nieces and two nephews. After fifteen years Dad and Cora finally got married. Happy 1 year anniversary!!

Categories: Projects | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Come Gather on Our Porch

When I was growing up our house had a porch and I remember spending so many summer days out on our porch.  When I was living in Switzerland I loved sitting out on the patio having coffee or eating dinner. So, ten years before we bought our house, I knew there was one non-negotiable when we were looking…a porch. I tell Michael “Friendships are made and kept on porches”. We hit the porch jackpot with our house. We have a 3 seasons porch and a massive deck but like most things in our house, they were both in need of some TLC. The deck will be stained this summer (along with a lot of other outdoor projects) and we’ll be building furniture for it (remember the chairs-a-la-Ana from this post) but there was one thing on the deck to-do list that was high on the list.

That 802 that made our deck look like a driveway into a Texas ranch had to go! One day as it was getting ready to rain, Michael and I got out the power tools…yeah, sometimes we’re smart like that. In a matter of minutes it was gone thanks to our trusty sawsall! We’ll be back with an after picture after this word of advice from our sponsor: If you’re going to buy an old house, a sawsall is a must! Okay, no sponsors, but it is true and here’s the picture

This is more like a during picture because then we got out the trusty Hitachi drill and added these on either side of the steps

We have these on both sets of steps on the deck. Here is one lit up at night

I’m so excited to get outside and keep working on our deck.  When we’re done, we’ll have you over for a BBQ. Come gather on our porch…sit long, talk much, laugh often.

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