The $60 update

  Most of the house we are keeping with a natural/nature color palette (frankly I don't want to have to repaint if we ever put the house on the market).  But you have to have a little fun with the kids areas right (according to J, no.  But when J is on travel, E get to do whatever she wants to :D
Jared is a drywall master, he did a great job!

Original - baby blue toilet seat included

I was at Menards in January and found a gray and orange/red  I really liked on the mismatch shelf for $5.00/gallon.  The orange matched the shower curtain perfectly.  When I got it up on the wall, it was almost HD orange!  The brass towel bars were shot, luckily Menards also had nice chrome towel bars clearance for $4.00 and the mirror was on sale for $15.00. 

Which left the light.  I'm not a fan of the "row" light, plus I wanted that "row" light to put in our Master Bath to replace the hideous monster of a fixture (12 bulbs)  we now have.  The bathroom was a small budget project and new fixtures start at about $60.00.  Which bring me to my new hangout and love - The Restore.  If you haven't been there its a goodwill for home improvement projects.    This fixture was $5.00 (hideous and brass) and then all their glass shades are $1.00 each.  Its kind of a mix and match.  Anyway $5.00  in spray paint and my new $15.00 light was on the wall, I was happy with the final product.  It had a fun modern shop feel to it and was looking kind of girly for Ike.  My bro collect hub caps so he gave me a few old ones to hang on the wall.

One man's junk

A little paint and its wall ready
Anyway minus the cost of caulk and drywall supplies, this is our $60 bathroom update.  I love it, J hates it, the kids are thrilled and its one more project we can cross off the list.  Now we have three out of four bathrooms in working order (which is more than any family needs).


Entry, Office, Dining & Living Room

Before & After
Living Room
The office didn't have many holes, yay!
Formal Dining Room
Yes, the fixture is hideous, it our own personal Liahona. When we figure out how to change out the entry way one (26' up) this one will also go :)

1/2 bath

Spray paint is a beautiful thing.
And that is the main floor :).

The Kitchen

Before - Realtors Photo

A little drywall and paint, $10 light from Lowes and it looks like a Midwest kitchen!

I ran into an old friend on Saturday and she asked if she would EVER see the house....I said of course, if she came over :). Maybe because its still a work in progress, the rate its going it will be a work in progress until the day we move out :). While it now looks like a liveable house, most of the work was the stuff that does not show, hundreds of holes patched in the wall, plumbing project and just cleaning. I am thinking about starting a new blog just about the DIY project we have been working on (and gardening season is around the corner). So here are a few pics to satisfy those of you who keep bugging me :).

The kitchen, while intact, was a complete mess. The faucet had a leak that would spray the ceiling when turned on, the sink was cracked, the oven was broken, drawers were broken and the previous owner failed to invest in shower curtains so there were water marks on the ceiling where water had leaked through, and they cut a hole in the ceiling to fix the upstairs toilet plumbing (luckily from the toilet hole the inspector was able to see the there was no mold and the drywall ceiling was dry so we could prime and paint and didn't need a new ceiling). On top of that I don't think the house had been cleaned in years. Over time we'll update the appliances, but our goal right now was to make it livable.
Hole in Ceiling

Final Product


The Trunk

Jared has been out of town on business for a few weeks, so last week I took the kids back to my homestead in NE Iowa. My parents have 10 acres on the outskirts of town (a town of 1100 and dwindling). Seven miles NE of town lies the rolling hills of our family farm. Its no longer farmed by our family, many fields have sat dormant for the past two decades as family farms could no longer stay afloat. The fields were sold or went into the CRP program, where their labors would rest and the native grasslands it sustained generations before would slowly return.

I have watched many sunsets from these hills, its hard to describe the feeling of home, those who grew up on the ridge understand the link between family, blood and the land.

My father called me a few weeks ago and said he was cleaning out the barn (which is like an antique shop in itself). I always like poking around in the hay mow, its like a scene out of a movie, trunks, old furniture, books from the turn of the century, old art work sheeted in cloth with a layer of dust that makes everything look gray and mysterious. He said there was something of mine up there. Um ya, like a dozen landscape architectural models from my college years, to big to put in your house, too many hours invested to trash. I have cattle fair boxes and cc skis, old sleds and kayak parts. I hoisted myself up the boards nailed to the barn wall and into the musty old loft. Growing up we spent hours playing in this loft, this was my first visit back in years. And what I found surprised me, it was an old trunk, coated with dust and a simple yellowed sheet of paper that said Em. We dragged it down from the loft and threw it in the van.

The trunk, origin not completely verified, is thought to be my Gt. Gt. Grandparent(s) immigration trunk from England. Inside held few articles, a cookbook of my grandmothers, some of her text books when she was a teacher in the 1930's, a 1940's Webster Dictionary and a tarnished silver spoon. If it really is that trunk they immigrated to Iowa late, circa 1850-1860. The Alderson's would have broken true prairie sod to start their farms in NE Iowa. They would have built the massive Gothic barns at the height of their farming success that now crumble under years rural economic depression. They raised their families in these hills, worshiped in the rural congregations, endured the brutal winters, waiting patiently for technology to reach the area easing their daily burdens. This would become their land, their home. As generations passed their horses and mules would be replaced with machines, the worn harnesses stowed in hip roofs to collect dust, becoming artifacts of a forgotten lifestyle. And after a lifetime in the fields, they would return their worn bodies to the land that prospered them, buried in a peaceful rural cemetery at the base of the ridge, waiting for the following generations to join them for eternity.

As I brought the trunk in this week, it made me think about the sacrifice of previous generations. It took a night to carefully clean, but in the end the trunk itself was intact, the hinges functional, and the wood strong. For such a functional crate, to be boarded on a boat to the Americas and pulled across the plains, there is beauty in the design and the structure. It now has become part out our home, a daily reminder to me of who I am and and a feeling of overwhelming gratitude of the great sacrifices of my preceding generations. And maybe a better understanding of the yearnings to be connected with the land.




Where have the past few months gone?? We had a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas with our families. It was nice for once not to speed two weeks in the car. We slowed work on the house to finish unpacking and enjoy the holidays. Jared spent late November/early December in Washington DC.

Even into the first weeks of January temperatures were in the 40's and 50's, unbelievable! I could get use to this global warming idea, this is much more bearable than the winters of my childhood.

The snow finally came a few weeks ago along with the sub-zero windchill, within a week we had two snow storms (both moderate, 4-6” each time) and an ice storm. After the ice storm our front yard became the sledding mecca for our street. The kids would start at the top of the hill and then continue down on the icy road making for an awesome run. Our morning entertainment was watching the school bus slide backwards down the massive hill outside our kitchen window. And this week its back into the 50's and 60's, today it will take the last of the snow, until the storm starting tomorrow night. I forgot, I can handle cold, its the drastic temperature shifts that are hard to deal with.

With Jared being gone so much I have decided to also have an “open marriage”. Only mine is with a 4-stage 26” craftsman snow thrower. The thing is a monster and does well on our nasty driveway. Its been a life saver when he is not around. We are hoping for at least a little more snow, however I could stand an early spring also.