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Why I Changed my Mind About Board and Batten

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When we started the Guest House I was dead set on board and batten siding. You can see my vision board below.

It is a very popular look right now and liked it because it is a clean look and is something that is commonly seen on old farm cottages around our area. But I won’t be using it for our guest house. While I love the look, and think it would be beautiful, it isn’t for us because of red wasps. Yep, a bug is changing my mind. They love, love, love our guest house which is conveniently located next to our garden where they have a food source- all those bugs that want to eat our hard work.

The view from the guest house looking at the garden.

Every open space in the walls, and there were a lot- like a whole lot- has either wasp nests or spider eggs jammed in. I cannot describe the condition and won’t bore or disgust you with the details, but the picture below is a wasp apartment complex we found included five connected nests. We found over fifty nests in the corrugated exterior.

Now I know this sounds crazy, but I don’t want all wasps eliminated from our property, in fact I am glad to see them in our garden where we don’t use pesticides, I just don’t want them living with us. They are aggressive when protecting the nest and they sting. I want them to keep eating the aphids and other bugs that eat our garden, but living in the wooded area behind the garden so we need to make it more difficult for them to move in.

Board and batten leaves a void between every board that is covered by a smaller board called a batten, and that will be difficult to totally seal up. Those wasps find the tiniest little crack to get in so I want something more solid.

We are going with our contractor Thursday to look at options. It is going to be something that is a solid panel that can be caulked and sealed. I want it to look like 12 inch planks and he assures me there are options I will like. Fingers crossed.

Also I learned a term from our daughter and used that term this last week. Project creep. It is the “While you are here, could you also…” sentence that apparently happens a lot.

We are adding on the aluminum siding removal around our house and adding new siding to the eaves and soffits. We started the project with the carport, deck and porches but this will finish off the house. I am so excited! We could do it ourselves but it would mean days on a ladder.

Woo hoo! I am so excited to get this projects done. They will be painting the house and guest house too which has me giddy.

Great things are ahead.

We love hearing from you.

Blessings,

Karen

Week 2 Update

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Y’all, I can tell you that we made real progress this week.

First of all, there are no blue tarps on the building. We now have OSB and house wrap on almost all the building. Hooray!

What a difference!

Also, there are windows installed. We have six new super cool windows that Mr. Math spotted on clearance at Home Depot. I am so happy with how they look. They are dark frames which is going to look nice with our light paint.

We got all the nasty, disgusting insulation that was filled with wasp nests, spider eggs, and just general grossness. Even better a friend gave us enough brand new insulation to do the house. Life is good.

I got busy on the sink I bought way back when for two dollars at a garage sale. I was happy to see that under all the grime, oil, and calcium deposits the sink is not in bad shape. That was a good surprise. Now to get it and the claw foot tub refinished.

The sink was cast on 05/05/1935

Finally. The electrical is getting put in. My husband wasn’t excited about what was already in place so everything got ripped out and five new circuits are getting installed.

We have to have all our part done by next Thursday because Friday our contractor starts on the siding and sheet rock. It is going to be glorious! Seriously we are excited to see the progress we have made but a crew will make it so fast.

In spite of everything going on in the building we got 1/2 the garden weeded. Mr. Math did a lot but I put in some hours too. Next week the other half.

We are loving this cool April weather!

We love hearing from you!

Blessings,

Karen

The Greenhouse Gets a Makeover

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Sometimes I just get wild idea and drag Mr. Math along with me to do a project at our house. The greenhouse makeover is not one of my wild idea projects. The old harvest gold building reached the point where it got moved to the top of our to do list when the last warm front blew through here and the fiberglass roof panels lifted with each gust of wind and ripped the 25 year old (just guessing here but it is really, really old) corrugated panels away from the screws. We were sitting on our back porch watching the storm move in when we saw that the day had come to repair or tear down the old eyesore. I really hadn’t paid attention to how much it deteriorated. It was always ugly, and I hated looking out at our backyard and seeing it. Before tearing down the old fiberglass panels, I climbed up on the ladder to look at the roof and snapped this picture. It was gross.

I really was willing to just tear the building down even though we use it because we have so many projects going but for once Mr. Math was the one wanting to save something so rebuilding the greenhouse got started. The first thing to do was take off the roof. It was by far the hardest part.

The roof was too fragile to get on any more than necessary so a lot of the work was done from inside on ladders.

There was a lot of up ad down latters, but once the roofing was down, Mr. Math saw immediately that the wooden sill plate was rotted from water leaks in the roof and as he tore in the amount of rot was a lot worse than he thought. It took a whole day to get rotted wood out and new wood back in. I didn’t get a picture because I was painting the doors on the porch and carport but the dude worked hard. Once everything was repaired we were back to the roof. All together we put up 16 pieces of clear fiberglass corrugated roofing and replaced the ridge cap. As with most things, we got better and more efficient as we went along. I did all the ground level work like handing up the sheets of fiberglass and tools and cleaning up the mess. Mr. Math sat on the roof, lined each piece up and screwed it in. All in the roof install only took about four hours but the set up took a while too. The overhang was cut down to four inches after finishing the install to get it nice and neat.

We got busy putting the siding up as soon as we finished the roof. It was slow but steady work getting all the siding up. We got quicker as we learned what worked and I was very happy to have a math teacher figuring out the angles and matching up corrugated bumps and valleys on the eaves. Probably more time was spent driving back and forth for supplies. It is a two hour round trip to get a box of the special screws for the siding, ask me how I know… We made a bold decision to put up dark gray siding with a clear roof and eaves. There is plenty of light coming in the top to keep the plants we store in there when it is cold or get seedlings started and potting supplies. Since we store outdoor games and chairs in there, the opaque sides will be better for us.

Because the building will get warm in the warmer weather we are installing an exhaust fan with a thermostat so that it will move air when it gets too warm and also a vent that will let in fresh air.

We are not done with the building but it is now solid and dried in. That is good news since we are going to have record low temperatures the next few days. The plants will be inside where they will survive.

Altogether we put up 22 panels on the sides in addition to the 16 and spent close to a thousand dollars. That seemed like a lot of money to me but it is a concrete foundation 12 by 15 foot building and would have cost a lot of money to build.

Our next steps on the building are to add stained cedar siding trim on the corners, around the door and window, get shelving and storage built and the inside organized and the fan/vent installed. I also have a window that I will be installing on the back wall to help with ventilation.

We are so happy to have you follow along with us as we work on our projects.

Blessings,

Karen

Exterior Doors and Paint

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Our house is pretty dark inside due to the low ceilings, tinted windows, and shade trees. We have done what we could to add light by adding canned lights to the ceiling, installed blinds that open, and painting the cabinetry white. Our newest project has also made a big difference. We have added glass doors to all the exterior doors.

Our front door is my absolute favorite. It is solid mahogany with beveled glass in 3/4 the door. It bends so well with the cedar trim. We purchased the door at the Door Clearance Center in Houston.

The door that was here before was solid steel. On the outside. On the inside of the house the door had been completely sealed off with Sheetrock in order to have space for a china cabinet. The door was completely sealed so it wouldn’t open until we expanded the front porch. We replaced the front door when we added on to the front porch.

As we worked on the back porch, we decided to change out the storm door/ half glass door that leads to the back. The storm door allowed for sunlight to come in when it was open but was a pain when we were bringing things in and out for grilling and eating. The half door just didn’t provide enough light.

We decided to put in steel doors at both the back door and off the carport with full glass and mini blinds between the glass panes that we bought at Home Outlet. By shopping around for doors we saved a ton of money.

Let me tell you that putting in doors is not for sissies. Mr. Math removed the door, brick moulding, door facing, and door frame because the hinges and door locks would not have ones up. That was a lot of work but not super stressful. The putting the new door in requires a bit of skill and can’t be done alone. If you don’t have help and some construction experience hire this out. The door to the backyard slipped when we were putting it in and hit the floor. Somehow it didn’t break the glass or bend but it did get a dent. I was so sad but Mr. Math used car Bondo to repair the dent. You can’t tell there was ever a problem now but it shook me up so bad we didn’t put the carport door in for a week.

The carport door went in easier, probably because we made all the mistakes on the first door. We are thrilled with the doors an the light they add to the rooms.

We decided to paint the trim, the soffits, and doors all new colors and I am so happy for the update. The colors are all Behr. The door is Whiskey Barrel, the trim is Dove, and the siding/soffits are True Taupewood. I wanted the doors to coordinate well with the front door and the deck stain. I tried several different colors to blend with the brick I am not crazy about. My advice is to spend the money to buy samples of colors you like. The one I was positive I wanted for the siding an soffits ended up not being my favorite.

I am really happy with how it turned out. We still have some caulking, staining the cedar on the back porch, and I will be painting and stenciling the front and back porches but we are almost done. It is a good thing too. We have two more projects going on already and I am soooo excited about one of them I can’t wait to get on it. Until then, here are some pictures of the progress.

Thanks for following along on our journey. We love hearing from you.

Blessings,

Karen

Updating the Back Porch

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Happy 2021 to you and yours. In the last 11 months we have spent a lot of time at home. A. Lot. Of. Time. One of the areas we have worked on is our back porch.

When we bought our property the back porch was an area I did not like. It felt neglected and a bit claustrophobic. There were four foot-wide metal posts across a 12 foot wide porch. The posts didn’t match the rest of the house and there was a lot of things that needed to be replaced.

Four posts! It felt like a bird cage.

During this past summer we put in a wooden deck that joined the concrete porch that more than doubled our backyard eating/ shaded space. (You May notice by by comparing what we thought we would do with reality.) We are crazy about this spot but it has been little embarrassing to have it connected to the less than awesome porch. Checkout the seven foot long rolling buffet that gets used al the time. We can’t wait for the pandemic to end and it to warm up a little where we can have our friends and family over more often.

We also really have enjoyed the table and chairs for family outdoor eating.

Right after Christmas holidays were over Mr. Math (Can you believe it wasn’t me this time?) decided it was time to work on the porch. I. Was. Thrilled.

The first step in the process was to determine why in the world a twelve foot span required two corner posts and two single metal posts. There was a every three and a half feet. After removing the vinyl and checking out the header, it was clear that all the metal was decorative. I guess in the 80’s a human birdcage was popular. Once we earned it wasn’t a problem Mr. Math and our wonderful neighbor jacked up the porch, took out the old posts, and put in treated 6×6 posts at the corners. He then wrapped the posts in cedar to match the rest of the house. Down came the nasty ceiling fan and a couple of coats of haint blue paint on the ceiling. The weather has been mild here in the middle of the day but too cold for paint or us to work in the mornings. That means we tried to do one major job a day then clean up the mess.

We replaced the vinyl siding along under the porch with 1 X 12 cedar planks and the underside with cement board soffit and finally on a freezing cold and rainy day my hubby got the ceiling fan and light installed. It was actually much easier than I thought it would be. Sometimes things go our way and sometimes they don’t.

I can’t get over how much more open and roomy the porch feels now.

We aren’t finished with everything. We still have to work on the electrical, caulking the gaps and staining the cedar, we are going to put in a new back door to add more light into the house, fill the holes and paint the concrete, change out the siding on the front of the porch, and paint the soffits and trim. It will be an ongoing project.

The electrical work still needs to be done.

I know it has been a while since I shared our progress but we continue to make slow but steady progress.

Thanks for following along on our journey.

Blessings,

Karen

Progress on the House

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Right now, Mr. Math is on summer break from teaching so that means it is house renovation time at Providence Acres.

This is the third summer we have been in the house and we have made some real headway into turning the 1982 ranch house into our vision of a warm and welcoming space for us, our family, and friends to enjoy.

Our first year we ripped up the carpet, installed vinyl plank flooring, painted most of the house, and put in a mudroom, and added recessed lighting throughout the main rooms.

Last summer it was a kitchen makeover that I love, love, love. We now have bright white cabinets, a quartz counter top, and a beautiful farmhouse sink. In order to have the kitchen out of commission, Mr. Math had to put in an outdoor sink, cabinets and a slate tile counter top. Add in electrical and a grill and we had an outdoor kitchen This chick will never do dishes in the bathtub again. He did all the work himself last year except installing the quartz counter top. It was rough.

This year we took on a new challenge, adding a carport, metal roof, and enlarging our front porch. It has already changed the look of home. Mr. Math started the process moving the attach aluminum carport. I promise that one day I will tell you about that process. We did something we rarely do, we hired a contractor to do the work.

First they had to remove the existing concrete.

Removing concrete

They had to extend the pad to match the width of the house.

The construction has gone quickly.

The metal went on quickly. There was one small issue, they didn’t order enough metal for the porch.

The color is Mueller Charcoal

Adding a metal roof to a carport

Mueller metal roof

The progress on the underside is moving along. The cedar roof piece is done, electrical is run, cedar clad on the beams, and Hardy panels on the ceiling of the carport.

Cedar clad beams

Hardy board carport ceiling

I am loving the underside of the front porch. Bead board is being installed and will be stained and sealed.

Bead board

The progress is amazing. I am crazy about the improvement to the look of the home. It is going to be great. We already have our first party scheduled. It is going to be a 50th anniversary for our buddies on the SJ River Ranch.

Thanks for following along on our journey.

Blessings,

Karen

Bead board ceiling

Ranch House Exterior Update

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For the past 3 1/2 years every time I pulled up to our house this is what I saw.

The sad news is that I consider this the pretty end of the house. I don’t take pictures of the other end with the ugly carport.

An aluminum carport jammed onto the end of the house, an undersized front porch with outdated iron posts, flesh colored bricks, and that ugly roof. While we have worked hard on the interior adding vinyl plank flooring, a mudroom, recessed lighting, updated bathroom, a Murphy bed, a wood wall, and updated kitchen on the interior, we spend a ton of time outside… looking at this exterior.

We have a beautiful 15 acre piece of property. It is our favorite thing about where we live. That and our awesome neighbors!

The ugly house started changing this week.

The carport got moved. No fear friends it isn’t in the front yard any longer but moving it is a story in itself. Mr. Math is all about saving a buck but moving something that wasn’t designed to move included yelling, problem solving, and calling in reinforcements.

Here are the plans:

We are adding an actual built on, with a concrete slab, carport. It is going to be the width of the house, have giant cedar beam posts, and electrical for lights.

Having a math teacher as a husband means that everything gets drawn out for the contractor. Apparently we will have a 672 square foot carport.

When I arrived after day one it was clear that we needed a sidewalk to connect the front porch to the carport. A quick call to the contractor meant they rushed to frame up a sidewalk before the cement truck arrived.

The front porch is going to double in size, it will be taller to fit the scale of the house and open at the end to allow for air flow.

I took pictures before the guys showed up this morning. Here is the progress. It amazes me that all of the construction work will be done in thee weeks. We won’t be done because we are going to be removing the vinyl siding, painting the brick, and we are taking on the back porch ourselves but it will look so much better and be more functional.

We are looking forward to having close to 1000 square feet of shaded and covered outdoor space for us to entertain, hang out, park vehicles

The work is progressing.

The Guest Shed

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One of the reasons we bought this beautiful property we live on is so that we can share it with our families and friends. We have done what we could with our home to allow for more overnight guests.  We have a sleeper sofa, a Murphy bed in the craft room, a queen bed and a a crib in the guest room.  The house holds a lot of folks.  More than once it has held 20 + young men.  (We stayed with friends those weekends… that was too much of a good thing.)

As our family and friends have come to visit we have realized that we need a separate space for visitors.  I even see us heading out to the guest house when our friends with a lot of kids or when both of our kids come with their families because we are early risers and noisy.  We also have an early riser dog. She is noisier than we are.

 This is my idea for a guest house:

I call her the guest shed.  I have dreamed about redoing her since 2015 although the colors have changed, I still want that mid century vibe.

The previous owner used this space as his woodworking shop and “man cave”.  He installed a sink, hardwood flooring reclaimed from a gymnasium, and cabinets.  He also built a wood burning stove that is the craziest looking thing ever.  


It needs a good coat of high heat paint. ( Can you tell he was a welder? )

 We are going to add a bathroom to the space, move the sink location, set up a kitchenette.   More on the bathroom later.

The vibe is going to be mid century-kitsch. The walls are going to be a really pale turquoise, there will be plenty of red and white.  Think light, bright and airy.  


I have collected some fun mid century furniture and a mint condition chrome UFO light.  The light was still in the original box, unopened.  I am smitten.  When it is on the pin holes look like UFO lights- yay for mid century atomic.  That bulb thing on the light is a pulley to adjust the height of the light.  There is a frosted glass light diffuser that attaches to the bottom of the light. 

I picked the light and two mid century walnut framed low slung chairs up at a garage sale for $2.00 each. No lie.  $6.00 dollars total.   ( Here is the post about the finds at the garage sale.)


At that same garage sale I got a porcelain cast iron sink to use in the kitchen.  ($5.00). The sink is stained and there are a few worn places but overall it is in great shape.  It is getting a coat or three of epoxy.


 I also have picked up a vintage kitchen upper cabinet set that are getting painted white. 


Before I can get started we need to replace the shop board along the back wall that is all full of holes for tools and paint the walls then install a drop ceiling. 


 This is what we are planning to use.


After the dropped ceiling is in, I am going to use the same stuff we used on our garage apartment to restore the floor without making it look brand new.

I have a double modified to be a queen sized iron bed going in along with the funky dresser and a chrome 1950’s table and chairs that are currently kicking my hiney.  Mr. Math did a much better job than me, but the back of them still isn’t done. Soon I will share what we learned from this process.  There were lessons learned!


I am so excited about this fun, funky, kitschy, bright space we plan on working on this summer.   It is going to make me happy to just walk in.  As soon as it is all finished I think we are thinking putting it on air bnb when we don’t need it for guests.  With the huge Houston area Boy Scouts camp going in down the road I think there will be a need for parents who want to stay nearby. 

Quilt Ladder DIY

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This past weekend I made my version of a quilt ladder so that I could hang my grandmother and great grandmother’s quilts out for display.  I am lucky enough to have a collection of quilts from these amazing women.

I used several sites to get an idea what to do but in the end, I did my own thing. 

The tricky part for me was figuring out how to cut an angle so that the board leaned against the wall and still was flat on the bottom.  I over-thought the whole process.  Mr. Math just took the board and leaned it so that it stuck out against the wall 18 inches.  He then took a straight edge and drew a line where it touched in both places.  No pictures because he was done before I got there it was so fast.

 


I cut the ladder rungs out of 1X4 board.  They were 20 inches long.

 

I am crazy about the laser light on our saw.  
Once the boards were cut I clamped them all together and trimmed the edge to make sure they were exactly equal.

I hate wood that is printed on.  It just adds to the sanding.     The bottom angle of the boards are showing here.

I stained everything before assembly.  It was the smartest thing I have done in a while.  I was able to get an even coat on everything that way.

Mr.Math measured and predrilled the holes for the rungs on one board.   He then clamped the two long boards together and drove the screws in so that they put a hole on the other board.

  

  

He is a genius!  That made sure the rings were level.

We started the top rung 3 inches down from the top then down every 12 inches.


  
  

I really didn’t expect to get it finished so quickly so I did not have all of my quilts for the rack.  It is going to be awesome to have those memories around me.

Thanks for following on our journey to turn our 1980’s home into our forever home.

Blessings,

Karen

My Dream to Buy an Old Home

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I am about to share something with you all that is probably going to convince those of you who weren’t sure yet, that I am in fact totally insane.  

It has been my dream for years to buy and old home and restore it. (Old homes in Texas are not the same as old homes on the East Coast.  75 years old is an old home.) I always thought we would buy a historic home (100 year old) and bring it back to life when we retired, but providence (or Providence Acres) had other plans.  It looks like we are going to end up on 15 beautiful acres that we love with a 1980 ranch home to mess around with.

The yearning to own and restore and old home has remained even though I love our spot on JJ Lane.  My buddy, The Social Planner, knew my dream and came over with news when we arrived Friday night.  She had seen an old home that needs to be moved not too far from us.  Saturday morning she and I headed out to check the place out. 

  
The land around the house is being cleared. It appears the home was buried in the woods around it for a while.  I was smitten with the front porch.  My guess is that this home was built in the 1940’s.
  

Beadboard barrel ceiling with side lights.
   

The inside…well, let’s just say it would probably scare most folk off. (The sane ones, anyway)
 

The Sheetrock has been removed and only the shiplap is showing.
  

The front bedroom above is a nice size the windows and the hardwood flooring is still there.  All the rest of the room and the bath down the little hall have been gutted.  I saw potential.
   

The kitchen is a mess.  
  

At some point the kitchen was remodeled and a tile kitchen counter was added.  

 

The sun room on the back has beautiful beadboard and a bank of Windows across the back.
   
 

Someone has removed the wall between the two rooms in the front of the house and I am not sure how long that temporary support is going to hold.  There is also a brick chimney on top of the house that would have to go.  The pipe in the wall leads to the chimney.
   

The back bedroom has some shiplap that is 18 inches wide.  Termites ate the Sheetrock paper but didn’t seem to touch the wood.  The lines you see are termite tunnels. 
 

Someone has removed every door and the frames are stacked in the front room.
   

The front door is still there, which I love.

All that sheet rock removal helps to see the structure of the house which is solid.  The old girl is even still level with no sloping rooms.
 

I have no idea if moving this house is possible, if it is feasible, if it is financially possible, or even if this house is worth saving, but it has sparked a renewed desire to have a home to restore.  We have a lot of checking to do before we even make an offer.  My heart will not break if it doesn’t work out.

This may be an opportunity for us.  We live near where the new Houston Area Boy Scout camp is getting built.  They are anticipating 1000 boys a weekend yearly up here with at least that many for weeks during the summer.  That means lots of parents driving up.  We think that a bed and breakfast VRBO or Air BnB type home will be in demand when the Boy Scouts desend. 

Right now we are prayerfully considering adding a cottage along with The Guest Shed for guests.  This may not work out and it probably would be cheaper to build new, but I can dream. Between us and The Social Planner and her hubby I think we could manage.  Especially once I retire.  My buddy has a stash of supplies as big as mine and would enjoy the process as me.

Either way, I will let you know what we decide. 

On a happy note Mr. Math got his tractor Saturday.  He found an 8 year old tractor online with 102 hours on the engine for a great deal and he is thrilled.  

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

I love hearing from you.

Blessings,

Karen

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