Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Stormy Weather!

Well we survived  (so far) the effects of Tropical Storm / Hurricane ?Cyclone Sandy! We got hit with a bunch of rain, and some really high winds. Mark, Myself and the kittens all were ok, but we were of course worried about those 2 big trees in the backyard.

The maple (now naked!) made it through with no problems and surprisingly enough, no loss of branches at all! (and I saw the bluebirds struggling to hang on to it and I gotta make some bluebird houses!)

We were both more worried about the old willow out back. It's taller than the Maple (hard to believe!) and it tends to look a lot more fragile (at least judging by all the broken limb areas that seem to have healed up)
 We were worried when we were getting sustained winds of 50+ but thankfully we only lost a few mediumish/smallish branches. We hope that it stays that way. We were really concerned too, because there was a limb that was broken (yea we know we need to take care of it) and were afraid it might come off in the storm.
This is it after the storm---and yes, more of it has detatched itself.......

we walked down the road a ways to our neighbor (who does landscaping and seawalls) and asked if they had any way of reaching it (the limbs are still about 12 feet higher than our 24ft ladder). They don't but they're going to talk to someone who let's hope we get it sorted so that it goes down on the ground and not on the kitchen roof or the garage! It's a fairly large limb so ...who knows at this point, eh'?

Ok that is the update for now!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Things to be done...

When we moved in we knew that there was going to be craploads of stuff to do.
Things that need working on, fixing or replacing. 
Some of them are scary (like removing lead paint from the walls & skirting boards (currently hidden under the 1970's paneling). Some of them only slightly scary (hooking up the stove to the propane and seeing if it goes without going KA-BOOM).

 One of the projects that we are working on right now is the living room floor.Which involves a lot of scraping, burning & eventually sanding....

(I'll update with a real post about it over the weekend--with photos!).

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The front yard: a work in progress

So you probably know that I am not the most accomplished DIY-er. That would be Mark. Which has meant that for most of the things we're doing I have to wait and get directions and instructions from him on how to do things. Not that I mind (ok, I do, a little) but sometimes it's nice to feel confident and capable in what you're doing.

Anyway, this is the front yard of the house when we moved in.
It doesn't really do it for me and I knew when we bought the house the yard would end up being something of a project for me. I like gardening projects so I'm interested to see how it works out. This is probably the point that I should admit that I am kind of harsh when it comes to gardening--I do my homework the best that I can, prep and prepare the plants and seeds as best I can (and as finances allow) and then I subscribe to the darwinian school of gardening: The Strong Will Survive and The Weak Will Perish.

The photo above--that's the yard prior to last week. The more that I looked at the half-assed, dead garden island the more disturbed I got. I don't know if it was because I felt like it was a pile of bad mojo to leave someone else's neglected gardening attempt in the front of the house, or if it was a legitimate nudge from the universe to make me get the energy flowing around the house but I decided I had to do something with it now. Not in the spring.

The front yard is kind of funny. There's that island with the shrub and plant graveyard (and no, it wasn't only because of the season. I saw the house in the summer and it was the same then). And a largeish rock. The rock was IMO the best thing in the "garden".
I'm going to preface the following with this: I am not a landscaper, nor a designer. I've come up with what I can do to the yard to the best of our finances and ability ;P

Anyway, my birthday was earlier this month and I asked for some bulbs & a tree. So we picked up a japanese maple from Lowes on markdown (it was 25% off, making the tree 20 bucks) and a couple packets of bulbs.

After thinking about the limitations of our yard we decided to put the japanese maple on the side of the house. (originally I wanted it in the back yard but it's very, very windy now and I think the tree wouldn't survive. So I went with plan B.

Even on the side of the house it was getting whipped pretty roughly by some winds coming out of the south, so mark and I cobbled together a small windbreaker. (that's blue upholstery fabric nailed to the stakes we bought to put up no trespassing signs). The windbreaker has worked really well so far (tree is not bending over in the wind, and is happier). The rock you see is the same rock from the defunct "garden" in the front of the house. It is a pretty heavy chunk of pink granite. Nice though and it seems to go well with the tree. I rolled it half way there and then mark came along and helped me get it there the rest of the way. We make a pretty good team.

I like the tree and rock because I can see them directly outside my window from my workshop/office.

 OK...Back to talking about the front yard:
Again, there was that defunct garden area, the shaggy hedge and a spindly arm of sidewalk that branched off the main one and half-assedly reached toward the "garden".  If you look closely at the pic below you can see it.

 I'm not entirely sure what that was about, but mark made it clear he didn't like it and we'd be removing it at some point in the future.  I thought that since I was digging up the yard to make room for a couple of flower beds that I'd think about ways to maybe work that piece of sidewalk into the design. However, that didn't gel due to the sunlight requirements of the bulbs. What I did was gather the various rocks and stones from  the front yard and side yard (and what I found as I dug) and piled them up on the spindly arm area. Eventually we'll do something with it but for now it looks better just with rocks piled over it. Not a massive improvement, but an improvement.

Speaking of rocks I am hoping to convince mark that we could paint the sidewalk to look like stepping stones/ flagstones.  He's not sold on it yet...but maybe. ;) If we did it right it would look good, and save us the problem of taking up the concrete. And it probably wouldn't add as much to our property tax valuation, unlike if we used real ones. Maybe. So I edged the walkway so that it was more defined. I'm playing with the idea of either putting rocks along it (might hurt if we slip on ice and fall on them though) or maybe if I can get them cheaply enough some boxwood (small ones though) shrubs.

our sidewalk/walkway

This was the start of my landscaping:

Where I dug was partially dictated by what I found a foot down. Some areas of the property are particularly gravelly, some have clay, and some have really nice, loamy soil. Again, since I wanted things to have the best chance I did my best to avoid the extremes and dug the beds.
the baby japanese maple, the well, and 2 of the flower beds.
You can tell the things that are actual flower beds since I tried to carry on the rock theme and included a rock in each. The bed furthest up in the pic above is filled with a variety of crocuses and rock daffodils so that they will all be pretty small flowers (not supposed to get over 6 inches in height). You'll also notice on all the beds how they have a nice neat edge--that was mark's contribution.
the front beds. New maple tree(19 bucks after 50% off), 2 mums (the little yellow patch), and the big flower bed
If you look at the photo above you can see the rock wall/spindly arm bit I was talking about.
Anyhow, I'm going to be very interested to see how the bulbs work out and what ends up growing aside from weeds. In the big flower bed I planted a mixture of red & purple tulips and white daffodils.  I think I might have snuck a few crocuses in too...but I was bad and didn't' get around to diagramming the beds so only spring will tell me for sure what's where!

And here's a better shot of the hedge---mark made it from a shaggy thing to a roundish thing:

So that's basically what I've been up to aside from helping research stuff that we need (garbage, heating oil, propane, water etc). Now I bet you wonder what Mark's been doing???

He's been doing this:
We were very lucky to have someone give us their old lawnmower. Which was great because we didn't have anything to take care of the lawn with. It wouldn't' run initially, but Mark did his thing....
Got some parts & tools (removed a mouse skeleton) and did some problem solving and got it running again! :D YAY!
Now he's doing this:
Mark's first time mowing at the house!

Don't think that I made him do it. When I asked yesterday if I could mow the lawn he said no. That it was his thing. Girls don't mow lawns! LMAO! He wasn't serious about the girl thing remark, but he was serious when he said it was something he wanted to do. So, ok. I know he;ll get tired of it eventually and then I'll get to use the lawnmower too! :D
While he was mowing today he found the following:
Cool, right???!! A Mantis! Woo!

Not a lot planned on the landscaping front this week: I'm waiting for my wrist to be a bit less painful before I go digging anymore holes. I bothered it when I was helping move the propane tank. Urgh.

That's the update for now!

Friday, 19 October 2012

So much to do. Don't Panic!

I have a towel. I don't need to panic! ;)

I know I've waxed almost poetic about the scenery, the wildlife (saw a herd of 6 last night on the way home from the hardware store) and the just awesomeness of where our house is located. What I haven't gone on about is, of course, the nitty gritty stuff that we have to do.

To be fair there is a whole lot more that we need to do to the house: (just some of the things)
  • pull off the old paneling & the lath and plaster underneath to examine the state of the electrical wiring (very likely re-wire), 
  • insulate the walls
  • Sheetrock walls
  • do the same toe the ceiling in the living-room, bathroom and kitchen. 
  • The Green Room upstairs needs the walls, ceilings and all taken back to the rafters to see what is going on up there (and to deal safely with the inevitable lead paint), and possibly before we re-sheetrock those walls install a skylight to make it less dreary.
  • Reinforce kitchen floor foundation....
This doesn't of course include the fact that we need to fix the retaining wall in the basement, or re-plumb the bathroom because the piping in there is old cast iron and is giving us icky sediment filled water (unlike the kitchen which is on new piping), and sopme other mysterious pipes that we need to know what they are for before we do anything to them.

And of course, we're having some issues with our furnace. Joy, huh?
I'm hoping we can get the furnace sorted before the temps drop to freezing since I'm pretty worried that our pipes will freeze. :S The local HVAC companies can't come out to service it until mid November so a bit worried. Yea, ok. Very worried. But I have to hope it'll work out.

We got the furnace running, making heat & the carbon monoxide detector is being I think we're good with that! Yay! Heat! :) *more importantly---less of a chance of frozen pipes!*
Please wish us luck.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The view from the front step

So one of the things that absolutely made me really, truly appreciate our new home was the fact that we get some awesome views. It's gorgeous country out here. Truly.

We've not had a whole lot of time so far to just stop and look around but when you do it's really great. We've got all kinds of wildlife: hawks , foxes, coyotes, skunks, wild turkey and geese, deer...and yesterday we saw 3 bluebirds (I mean real ones, ala Eastern Bluebirds). I really need to start taking a camera when I walk out of the house!

This is our pet rock: (you can see him from the kitchen or the kitchen porch-let)
He's big, and comes up to my thighs.Pretty big!. He's made of a giant lump of granite. Really, really, reaaaaaaaally heavy. The guy we bought the house from broke his lawn-tractor when he moved the rock from out in the field to there, under the willow.  I think it is fine where it is. ;)

I know I'm not supposed to have favorites....but this tree is my favorite!
To give you some idea of scale---that person in the background (mark) is 6'3...we estimate the Big Maple is about 50-60 feet high...and has gorgeously wonderful branches. I am a long-time fan of maple trees, so that one is a winner in my book!
I mean, look at this:
Just gorgeous! Character oozes from this tree! I LOVE IT!

Friday, 12 October 2012

It's a Quirky Old House....But it's Ours! :D

Hi! Thanks for dropping by the Quirky Old House Blog! :D

Mark & I decided that it would be the best way to try to document our new place and what all we plan to do with /to it.

Ok, so here's a bit of background for everyone who doesn't know the story behind mark and me.
Mark (my husband the brit) & I moved from the UK in June and went to stay with adopted family in upstate NY while we searched for a place to live. It's been hard going for us, staying with adopted family (it's a real adjustment when you're used to a household of 2 and then you move into a household of 4 for a total of 6!!!!), searching high & low for a place that we wanted to call home. We saw A LOT of houses during our search and we offered on another one before this one--but it ended up having serious issues with septic & well that we decided to walk away. Which really bummed us out at the time, but we just decided to keep rolling with the punches.

So....After 3 really long months Mark & I have finally managed to find, buy & move into the house we put the offer in on! Yay! :D

What does it look like?

Here's a pic from online (I promise I'll give better "real" photos once I can find the camera!)

Our House...not exactly in the middle of the street!
Yes, it's a bit rural...and yes, the area where the trees are along 2 sides pretty much marks the property's cool. The sellers took the trampoline when they left but they left us the wooden swingset...(which maybe I can make into a bench swing at some point).

There are 2 trees in the yard--both of them are very old. There is an old Willow (which is waaay huge) and an old maple which no kidding would take 3 people holding hands to get around.

It's a fixer-upper (in a big way, built in 1800's and it shows) but we're sure it is going to make a great home for us! :D
Once we're settled in a bit (like we have heat and hotwater!) and spring comes I'd like to get started with keeping bees & chickens...and doing something with that garden! (ok, it was a horse paddock, but can't you just see that as the ideal garden area? full eastern sun, not too much shade???)

So ok, welcome to our home! :)