Monday, April 15, 2013

Happy Anniversary, Prairie Street Craftsman!

It's official: we've been living here for a year!

Justin and Brigitte a year ago--happy new homeowners!
It's difficult to sum up an entire year in a few words. It's been challenging, exhilarating, frustrating...and overall, rewarding. We've both been able to do things we've always wanted to do. We've also had to stretch ourselves to do things we were less comfortable with. We've solved problems and made compromises. We've knocked down walls and ripped up floors.

Don't try this at home (unless you're Justin)

Ask Brigitte how much she loves scraping wallpaper.

Last year at this time, we were scraping wallpaper and patching walls in one house while packing up and cleaning in another. We had way too many things to do and not enough time to do it. And yet, we managed to get most things done, and live with the things we didn't finish (like...oak trim that is STILL waiting to be rehung).

Who needs tools when you have a karate chop?

Right now, we're putting the finishing touches on a remodeled kitchen and starting on several ambitious gardening and landscaping projects. We have way too many things to do and not enough time to do it! But I have a feeling we'll manage it once again.

Some of the things we've accomplished this year:
1. Shopped for and purchased a house (duh)!
2. Revamped the walls: stripped wallpaper, repaired patches of lathe plaster, replaced really bad areas with new drywall, painted everything
3. Replaced the dining room ceiling
4. Remodeled the kitchen: designed a new layout, replaced the wood floor with tile, replaced part of the subfloor, replaced and replumbed the sink, took out a window, installed new cabinets and countertops, installed a built-in microwave, built a butcher top island
5. Rewired the entire electrical system: removed dangerous, outdated knob and post wiring, installed a new breaker box, added and replaced all outlets, installed outlets in the attic
6. Gardening: dug and planted new garden beds, replaced overgrown or undesirable landscaping with new, beautiful perennials (and tomatoes)
7. Revented the dryer
8. Kept our basement from flooding (too badly)
9. Insulated the attic

All this while we both got new jobs and Junie went from first to second grade.

Happy 2nd-grader playing with bubble wrap (don't ask)

Here are some of the things we have planned for this year (actually, more like the next 6 months):
1. Major landscaping to address flooding issue (grade part of the backyard, install drain tile, build some retaining walls)
2. Build a large shed Justin can use as a woodshop instead of the garage
3. Grow lots of vegetables on 300+ square feet of new garden beds. Can/preserve excess.
4. Finish insulating attic; drywall and replace floor
5. Finish up kitchen remodel
6. Address wall issues upstairs
7. Revamp plumbing (yep, all of it)

Oh, and guess what else? We're engaged!

Engaged! We even have a ring (Justin's grandmother's) to prove it

When are we going to find time to plan a wedding amidst all these other projects?! We're crazy--but that's how we like it.
Crazy kids.

Stay tuned for our progress over the next year!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mama Duck is Back!

Last year, a mallard duck nested in some hay along the side of our house, and we enjoyed her company--watching her build her nest and sit patiently in her eggs, eyeing us with suspicion but otherwise being rather tame. We were excited when her ducklings hatched and made their way safely to the nearby stream. We thought she might be back this year, but didn't realize she'd be back quite so soon.

She's baaaaaaack!

Justin had seen a male mallard hanging around, and so figured the female would follow shortly. Because we plan to do some work on the side of the house where she had nested, we wanted to move the hay to another suitable nesting spot (under some lilac bushes behind the garage), hoping that she would find it. 

Well, tonight Justin started moving the hay, only to discover that Mama Duck had already been there! She not only had a nest, but had already laid two eggs! 

Mama Duck's 2013 nest

So too late for moving it. Guess we'll just have to wait until this year's ducklings hatch and make their way out in the great big world!