Cottage Reno and Homes Tour

Each morning, at around 3 o’clock, I wake up. I call it the witching hour. I’m lucky if I can get back to sleep, because as soon as my feet hit the floor and I walk into the bathroom, my brain turns on and begins a catalogue of “gotta do’s.”

Lately, I have had to give myself a rather stern talking to. Go back to sleep, there will be plenty of work in the morning to deal with. And boy oh boy, but that sure is true.


On the Road to Insolvency

I have some questions for the universe at large:

  • How did a $5,000 (or so) roof turn into a $7,000 roof?
  • Why can’t I get out of a trip to Lowe’s for less than $250? And usually more than $400?

I have stopped looking at my budget.

Early Thursday morning roof supply delivery

Early Thursday morning roof supply delivery

Raising the Roof

We aren’t actually raising the roof, but you get the idea. We finally have a new roof on The Cottage. On Thursday, they cleared the main roof, covered the boards with plywood (apparently the gap of more than 1/4 inch between the boards covering the roof is against code, so they had to be covered with plywood), the tar paper and managed to get at least half of the roof covered in shingles by nightfall.

Look at this gorgeous roof and fascia board!

Look at this gorgeous roof and fascia board!

Friday morning they were at it again, bright and early. They will also be removing the back porch roof, covering that with plywood and tar paper and shingles as well.

What a mess!

What a mess!

We splurged a little on fascia board. It all needed replacing and we went with a no-rot composite. On Monday, the guttering guy will come out and install all new guttering. The house already looks better!

Once the main roof was done, they pulled off the back porch roof and re-did that as well.

Once the main roof was done, they pulled off the back porch roof and re-did that as well.


Rough In

After receiving several astronomical estimates on plumbing, a friend and neighbor stepped forward to help us with the rough-in. There is still some work to do, but we have several of the pieces in place. His help is going to save us hundreds, possibly thousands, of dollars.


We have some really great friends. Seriously, I don’t know what we would do without their help.

Meanwhile, I’m Losing My Mind

Between daily trips to Lowe’s, running my housecleaning biz, homeschooling my kiddo, and trying desperately to prep our own house and yard for the Homes Tour on October 15th, I’m not so quietly losing what little sanity I had left.

If you were to ask my family I’m sure they would tell you it was all a thin veneer of sanity to begin with, anyway.

We ran out of milk and half a dozen other things because I couldn’t manage to go grocery shopping. It was just a huge disconnect in my brain. Once I headed to Lowe’s it was all over – no other stops – just a “Dear Lord, can I go back home now” type feeling.

I am completely out of my element at the home improvement store. This was never more in evidence than when I called my dear, patient husband at work yesterday in a complete panic over the 12-foot lengths of fascia I had piled into our friends’ pickup. “I’m afraid it will fall out!”

It didn’t occur to me to buy some sand or gravel to weigh it down. He literally left work and drove out to the Lee’s Summit Lowe’s (the only one in range that had 10 boards of the composite fascia I needed) and handled the situation before I completely melted down.

He truly is the dog to my cheetah.


Brick Pathway – New and Improved!

Okay, so I was just a teensy bit lazy when I expanded the brick path last year.

The first half of the brick path was super easy – I simply laid the bricks on top of the concrete sidewalk that led up to our house. I loved the look of it, but when we discussed widening the stairs to their original width, I wanted the brick pathway to match that, so I set in another swath of them.

This doubled the width of the path, but I didn’t use gravel or sand, I just laid the bricks directly on the dirt. Bad idea, I know. It sunk a bit, and the path sloped and swooped.

When my mom pointed it out, she tried to tell me that I would get sued if someone hurt themselves on it during the homes tour.

Nice try, Mom, but they have insurance for the event.

Nonetheless, she had a point, it needed to be fixed. So last Tuesday, after dropping Em off at Harmony Project, I got to work. It went quicker than I thought it would.


I removed the brick, stacking it on the original side of the pathway that was still nice and even. I laid out several bags of the pea gravel, with a thin layer of sand over that and then laid the bricks in by hand, do my best to get them level.

After I returned from picking Em back up from her music class, I finished the project by pouring sand over the top and methodically sweeping the sand into any cracks. Rain will settle it further, and then I will probably add more sand and sweep until it is well and settled.

I think it looks great. It isn’t perfect, but it is damn close!


Second Brick Walkway

I was so jazzed over my two-hour install of the east half of my own front walkway, that I decided I needed to do the same for The Cottage.


This was a little more difficult. On one side, the ground sloped away from what had been a very broken sidewalk. And the ground was anything but level. Things had been slipping and sliding for a while. Where my house had a nice, straight run to work with, The Cottage pathway most certainly did not.


It took a second run to Lowe’s for more supplies, and a solid five hours of work to create the path. Today I added landscaping stones and built up the height of the dirt on the east side for it to all flow well.

Dave mowed while I tackled the remainder of the front path.

Dave mowed while I tackled the remainder of the front path.

Our contractor, Jay, had suggested the landscaping stones and additional dirt. I think she has a fine idea there!

While I waited for Dave to go buy dirt, I tackled this pile of bricks

While I waited for Dave to go buy dirt, I tackled this pile of bricks

I plan to flank the path on either side with perennials – some daylilies, iris, and even early spring bulbs. That will wait until next spring, I imagine, but I will make that little yard burst with color!

I managed to move quite a few of them!

I managed to move quite a few of them!

For now, we have some perennial grasses planted there.


I moved about 300 bricks over to the east side of our property. I’ll lay them out right later, most likely next year.


Eventually the path will lead all the way to the gate into the dog yard.


Taming the Jungle


On Thursday, after returning from Lowe’s, Dave and I tackled the yard. Well, at least part of the yard. I had the weed whacker, Dave manned the mower. Later we both tackled pulling out the dead sunflowers and other tall weeds.

The garden gave us very little in the way of edibles this year.

Weeds we had tons of. Food? Not so much.


So thanks to our super-strong mower, we managed to level most of the “crop garden” of weeds. A few things we left in place (kale, tomatoes, Swiss chard).

We still have quite a bit of work to do in the yard. I’m hoping to find some straw to spread down. I plan on re-doing the bricks that surround the garden now that I’ve got a good idea of how to do it. I will also add a bottom layer of a weed-block landscape mat to stave off any weed growth for as long as possible.

My plan for next year’s garden is going to be a very dumbed down version of what we have had in years past. I will begin at the north side and create straight paths that surround each in-ground planting. The in-ground spaces will be filled with straw and I will be planting already started from seed plants. This will cut down on the weeds significantly.


As I told the family…

  • If I don’t have time to rebuild the brick walkways, then I don’t have time to have a garden
  • If I don’t have the time or money to buy the straw and lay it down, then I don’t have the time or money to have a garden
  • If I don’t have the time or money to start plants from seed or buy already started plants, then I don’t have the time or money to have a garden

See a trend here?



October Homes Tour

Get your tickets! Help me feel like all of this insane cleaning, organizing, and personal freakouts I’m having are worth it. Come see my house, along with five others (including a firehouse turned residence). Just $12 in advance per ticket (or $15 on the day of), all homes are within walking distance and I will be on hand to sell my books (and autograph them!).

Go to NEKCHS for more details or here to purchase tickets.

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