Monday, June 30, 2008


We have encountered a few "challenges" or as my old annoying boss would call them "opportunities".
Among other things our big challenge is erosion.

When we dug for the foundation, nestled in the side of our mountain along side a babbling brook (shown on the left after the rains yesterday) that we intended on using for our hand washing, dish washing and sanitary purposes, about 100 feet from the 800 foot well that was dug prior to our purchase we discovered an underground stream. We had to bring extra drainage into the foundation plans to avoid water problems. We were really surprised by this discovery because the previous owners had dug the well 800 feet to hit water, what a surprise to us that only 10 feet down, we had a spring! Trucked in earth, rocks, sand and a house built on a fairly steep grade it would only seem logical that eventually this problem would arise. I think denial kept us from considering the problem because we had so much to do already! Well *sigh* this weekend we had torrential downpours and can no longer avoid this issue. Not only is the area around the house deteriorating but our driveway is washing away. The driveway is 400 or so feet long and straight up the mountain. It was very well done with a drainage ditch along side and redirected to the stream that feeds into the Baker river overflow at the dam. Blackberry bushes that I love so much for jam and birds, have grown dangerously close and with strong winds, debris have gotten tangled in the bushes causing a dam of its own and thereby washing out one of the most crucial parts of the driveway.

Dave and I spent much of our pre-breakfast hour digging, redirecting and redamming that area and I think we are okay -other than really sore muscles, but the question remains how best to collect the water coming off the roof and save it for watering or the aforementioned needs. We have a "tank" and gutters have been considered but being an ex-property manager in the northeast, I also know that gutters can cause more problems! Any ideas would be welcomed and appreciated! Perhaps some sort of removable system that would enable us to safeguard the house from ice dams in the winter but collect the water in the other seasons. (even though the white mountains really only have 2 seasons, winter and summer lol)

This is a picture of the wooded side of our house and it illustrates the 'overhang' that was created when the foundation was poured sideways (another long story) in order to preserve the floor plan we had created. under this overhang it is difficult to see, but there is alot of run off and it is causing some erosion which can be seen along the wall area.

Here is a rather sad and understated picture of how the driveway is falling away from the strong rains and the run off from the house and mountain.

And here, if you can possibly tear your eyes away from the incredibly cute, smiling 200 pound, 40mph doggy, is a shot of the erosion on the other side of the house.

And here, is a picture of yours truly and Dave enjoying the birds singing down the sun on friday evening.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

my first construction project

We are back! So many pictures, so little time :)
We worked our butts off yesterday trying to get the screened porch finished so that I could stop being attacked by the nasties up there ;) and We accomplished our goal! Dave spent alot of time with chisels and other instruments, notching the beams for the back door (the dog pen door) that we got from Craigslist last week. The door is at least 50 years old and makes that neat SLAM noise when you let it go! LOVE that. I have so many pictures of the weekend and so many topics to discuss and update on so I will do it one day at a time because we are unable to go back up there until after the 4th of july :( because Dave is on call for work.
Ok, so in this picture is the frame and I had just finished stretching screen over it. The wood is actually left over from building the house, and the screen is just something we happened to have laying around the house!

Here Dave is, notching one of the beams to fit the door. It came out awesome! He put alot of time into it and the workmanship really shows!

This picture you can see a bit closer how snug the beams are.

Here is a picture of the really cool $15 door from craigslist. It needs a coat of paint and it needs to air out a bit too ;) it smells musty.

Here is the finished product from the inside!

And here it is at night, we thought it would look cool and it did!
Well all in all, it was about 2 days work but really well worth it as we sat in there and got no buggy bites!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What we have gotten so far

I can't believe this week has already passed and we are preparing to head back up to the cabin already! This weekend is the first weekend of the season that the whole family is going (kids this time!). The season started so late due to massive snow fall and we had so much to do most of our time up there has been on weekends where the kids are with their dad. I am excited for the extra help but skeptical. Something about getting a 12 year old and a 15 year old to help build a house is difficult. ;)

Our plan is to complete the screened porch, Dave has been hard at work preparing the frames for the screens after work each night and I am to install them. We also hope (maybe) to start the plumbing process but it really depends upon how everything else goes. Dave drove to Milford yesterday to meet a guy about a couple doors. He had these old salvaged doors and screen doors that he was "trying to get rid of". We scored 2 screen doors for $30! One of them will be for the other half of the screened porch, the part that will eventually lead into the dog's fence and the other is hopefully going to fit the front door. The whole thing really works for me, its not that we cannot afford to buy a screen door, I mean they are relatively inexpensive. The point is, we have set ourselves this goal to use as many salvaged materials as possible and we are pretty adamant about it. You would think that it would be crap and have to be redone completely and in some cases that is true, which I am totally willing to do. There is a guy there who runs a "dump shop" where he sells these items that we have below at an extremely reduced price. Most of the items we have gotten though are in practically PERFECT condition. We have also unintentionally began decorating the house with early 1900's furniture.

Last weekend I took a little time off on a union break to get some photographs of the furniture that we have salvaged read: rescued from landfills. I thought it might be interesting to show you what we got, what it is intended for and where we got it.

This Chair was recovered at the dump store. It was rickety and missing a support, which we replaced and intend on staining. We also re-upholstered the seat with a scrap yard of cloth from walmart and some cotton batting that was left over from my great dane bed making experiment.

This is the vanity that the chair goes with. We found this at the D-store as well and intend on plumbing it and making it our bathroom vanity complete with (someday) running water. This vanity was also a dstore find!

The chicken cabinet (right) is just fun, all wood, and another d-store find!

The large polka-dotted wooden box (left) was an ebay purchase by me wayyyy before the house was a glimmer in our eyes. We had thoughts of off-grid living and this box is actually an ice-box that someone tried to redo themselves. We grabbed it from them for a very low cost and I am still trying to figure out what I want to do with it.

This chair is actually part of a pair. We love these chairs and the original intention was to make new cushions for them but after some time, we grew fond of the pattern and felt it really fit with our other 1900's stuff. The pair was recovered from the d-store.

Ahhh the hutch (left). Gosh I love this hutch... its gorgeous. It is also a D-store FIND!! I know... crazy... it even has felt lined drawers (perfect condition).

And below, you have an armoire that we are going to use as a linen closet in our fancy bathroom ;) I got this off of craigslist for $50! It is early 1900's and very sturdy. Again, perfect condition complete with the original leaded glass.

There are more items of course, a craigslist chest of drawers that I just love that we scored for $25. It is also 1900's period and a cedar hope chest dave got at the d-store that is in the bedroom housing our blankets but these ones are my favorites.

We will be back on Sunday and hopefully I will have alot of updates and pictures. Perhaps we will even get some stuff done!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Screened Porch

We are back from our wonderful extended stay at shmoopywood. As you know, we intended on getting some of the porch framed and hoped to move the eventual process of screening in this porch up on our list of things to complete this summer. We have very limited time up there so alot of the work was completed last week. We basically designed the porch around this very cool door that we had found at the dump... yup thats right... the dump!
SO here is the "before" picture taken only mere moments before we began swinging our hammers.
(keep in mind, I never have built ANYTHING before hehe)

As you can see the door is already framed with some 2 x 4's. AFter this shot was taken, I was given the job of removing the nails from the newly removed 2 x 4's because it was framed in the wrong spot ;)

Proof that I actually built the railings!

I had forgotten to take the telephoto lens off the camera so in order to get this shot, I had to climb up the incline so my apologies if it is not the best. The perplexed look on Dave's face is a direct result of my meandering up the side of the mountain so I could get the whole porch in the shot instead of changing lenses. ;)

Dave then spent some time notching some beams in order to fit in for the new door jamb, You can see the notch in the top of the new beam in the above picture.
And a closer look.
I really think these extra touches are making a big difference in the quality of the job done. It may have taken us all day to complete but we really enjoy putting the extra effort into the work we do plus recycling building materials as much as possible.

The challenge will be when we build the frames for the screen. The purpose behind making the porch this way was because it will be easier for us to replace WHEN the great danes wreck the screen. (notice the WHEN).

And our final picture for the progress on the porch demonstrates that even the most well thought out plan can go awry. We decided (at the last minute really) that we were going to build a fence off a portion of the porch so that we could have a safe place for our dogs as well as a visitors dogs. Not every dog can be as well behaved off lead as Django, and we wanted to be prepared for any guests that may want to get away from it all by coming out to our almost solar powered haven. So the big gap on the right side is left to fit the next salvaged door we locate hopefully this week.
In a later post, Iw ill show you what we do for "utilities" at this time and be more specific.

Another small project that I worked on a bit was removing the old fixtures (oh and sent them to the salvage yard to be recycled to someone else who may want to save them from a landfill)
The new fixtures were located on ebay. The tub was salvaged as well.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Time flies <-- get it?

Well its the big birthday extravaganza this weekend. This is not a real thing, BUT we are going to the cabin on friday morning to start the screen porch transformation. We will be back on sunday evening and hopefully I will have many pictures to share. Its an exciting weekend because not only will we be up there but so will our other off-grid neighbors on each side (its like an off-grid love fest) one of which we hope to have over for some food.

THursday we hope to go "finding" some more recycled products at salvage yards. Its green because we are not buying new items that use energy to create PLUS we get to have neat furniture and building products that have a story. As you can see from one of our pictures, all of our bathroom furniture is salvaged. We found the neat vanity and intend on plumbing it into the house in order to create a functioning sink! Its very exciting to me to go 'finding'. You can do this too by going to a salvage yard, flea markets, the dump, and even craigslist! If you get something that someone else no longer wants, you save it from going into a landfill and therefore you are doing your small part in keeping our planet safe!

Please also check out some of the links on my list!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Successful Friday Trip!

Well, Dave got everything accomplished yesterday that he planned (i think anyway) and was even able to bring about 50 gallons of water up to the cabin. He built a "platform" for the storage tank and even plumbed it a little so that we can get the water out. We bring water from home because the stream dries up in July/August and it makes it dif
ficult to haul water. Bringing water from home in containers is not an option because one never really can gauge how much water is needed... and this is why:

Earlier I mentioned that the house had a well dug and a septic system. Back in the beginning we found it a necessity to use the "facilities" so dave built a small outhouse on top of the septic system and put a real toilet in! All we have to do is haul the water and fill the tank and we have a flushing toilet. The plan is, to move that lovely torture chamber into the house, ok well not the whole thing, just the toilet part.

When we built the house, and poured the foundation we also had them connect to the septic tank, now all we need is plumbing!
You would think that we would prioritize the potty over the screened in porch, but if you were thinking that way, you probably never spent a 90+ degree day with no air conditioning or fans unable to open the door because of the afore mentioned deranged black flies! ;)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Our Plans - this helps us carry them out!

Dave took the day off to bring supplies up to the cabin today and measure for the screened porch inserts. I think it just might be a ploy to spend the day in the beautiful sunshine!

Anyway, he will be bringing up some of the crap we have collected over the winter to live in the cabin as well as bring up the water tank we purchased (with water) and some wood. He will also be bringing back the supplies we got for the screened in porch and hopefully he will be building the porch here at home. He will be building it at home, in parts, and then we can install it up at the cabin. It has turned into a necessity due to the deranged black flies and monster sized mosquitoes that live in that area. It would be awesome and it is our plan, to leave the back French doors open at night in the summer to facilitate some AIR in the house as well as let Django sleep cooler. There will be a door (that we can latch so nobody can get out) and there will be “dog safe” screen. This just means that we need to create something that will keep the dogs from running THROUGH the screens if a critter meanders by. This is a likely scenario. Although I trust Django to stay put, Frank is a loose cannon and can (and has) run through a screen without even realizing there was anything there!

You can see above in the pictures, the full back of the house (picture was taken in april when there was still snow) and a closer shot of the porch from yesterday. I will try and get some pictures of Dave building the porch inserts (porch is not even framed – hard to see in the picture) and then post pictures of the progress next weekend at the cabin. I do believe that we will be spending 2 weekends in a row up there and hope to accomplish quite a bit. Riveting isn’t it?

I know its alot of work, but we are also very able to enjoy this work and spend the time there. We allow for some play and some work, although the work is hard, its FUN! ;)
Here is some comic relief:
Over the winter, NH had more snow than we have in 100 years or some such crazy shit, so D and I drove up to the cabin just to make sure it was okay. We have a HUGE driveway and it is very steep, which makes it impossible to climb in a car when there is snow on the ground. We had to park, and walk up. We also have a metal roof, and had not considered the amount of snow that came flying off of it! THere were snow banks until MAY! Here is a picture of me trying to navigate the snow banks and one of me deciding the easiest way down that driveway was on a cardboard box!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Too hot!

We didn't do much as far as progress this past weekend with the 90+ degree weather and no electricity its hard to even move! We measured for the wall board and we also sweat our butts off. I do have a funny little story though:
Saturday morning, Django and I got up early. I was sitting out on the front porch in a rocking chair and Django was laying by my feet. I was taking pictures of the fog lifting over the mountains when I hear this BRVVVVD noise. I turn around and looked at Django who was laying right next to me on the decking and found a humming bird trying to drink nector from his orange collar!

He didn't even lift his head, he was like twitching his ears like a
mosquito was buzzing him.

I got some pics of the scenery from the deck but missed the picture of the hummingbird.