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A Quick Turnaround on the Garage Apartment

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We are lucky enough to own a home with a garage apartment in Huntsville, Texas. The house is in a good location near Sam Houston State University and Huntsville’s cute downtown Our home is on a pretty corner lot. The one bedroom garage apartment door faces the backyard and has a sidewalk and deck off the doorway that provides privacy and a feeling of living more in the country than the city. My daughter in law says it feels like a treehouse and I agree!

The first of August we got notice that our awesome tenants in the garage apartment would be moving out due to graduating and getting a job in downtown Houston. We were bummed and a little nervous because ideally we like to switch tenants over the summer before August 1 for college students. Our tenants went above and beyond to move out by August 15th and to find us another tenant that we totally approve of and are thrilled to welcome. They move in September 1st.

Since our last tenants were there almost 3 years we knew we had some sprucing up and maintenance before the next move in. The guest house we have been working on recently is on a short hold while we get things taken care of at the garage apartment. Bummer.

I am a worry wart so I made a list about 5:30 one morning when I couldn’t sleep.

We had some leveling to do because a center beam in the garage settled, a little rot around the stairs that needs to be addressed, and some stabilization of the steps by connecting the steps to the garage wall. It is an ongoing struggle with exterior upkeep. Huntsville is pretty hot and humid along with being amazingly rainy, the back yard is in the shade almost all the time, the trees drop leaves everywhere, and well, the building is 71 years old. The original garage floor was dirt which wasn’t uncommon in 1950. At some point concrete without any reinforcement was poured and it made the garage doors so low that only a sports car would fit in there.

Leveling the center joist involves two bottle jacks, wood, and metal shims. You literally jack the post on the right up until you can add shims into the permanent post on the left. We had it professionally done five years ago and this is just maintenance. The exterior walls need to be leveled the next time but we weren’t ready to disconnect all the support beams and lift them this time. It would have taken us several days we don’t have.
Mr. Math wants everyone to know he added strapping to the post to attach it to the joist and keep the metal shims in place. I just didn’t get that picture.

We also touched up paint on the exterior. I am so grossed out every time we switch tenants with the front door that I was positive it wouldn’t be white again. I decided on red- Behr dark crimson to be specific.

This is a picture of the apartment from five years ago when I was mad the painters didn’t paint the trim. I didn’t take a close up picture of the door so imagine a grimy smudged door.

The change is dramatic. I like dramatic.

We also switched from the exterior wall paint on the deck outside apartment to porch paint. I am actually shocked we got five years out of the porch being sprayed with exterior wall paint. We are going with Behr Slate Gray on the wood decked porch. It will provide a nice contrast to the blue paint. Mr. Math spent half a day power washing, nailing in popped nails, and scraping 6 by 6 the deck and stairs to get us ready.

During the hard freeze we got in Texas last winter a pipe burst in the bathroom and thanks to the Texas power grid issue, we went way more than 24 hours in the very low teens with no electricity. All the pipes are exposed in the garage below. Of course we fixed the burst pipe but knew we had damage to fix on the inside this summer. The water from the burst pipe seeped into a crack in the grout then froze under the tiles. The concrete backer board under the tile absorbed enough water that it swelled and burst in places causing four tiles to need to be replaced. We expected hardwood floor damage but weren’t aware of the bathroom issues. Four of the avocado green tiles in the bathroom had to come out. Surprise, surprise, we couldn’t find new green tiles. So, this quick reno involves four new beige tiles. I don’t love it but the bathroom is part of our long term plan and will be totally renovated down the road to allow for stackable washer and dryer and for the bathtub ceiling area to be raised.

The original to 1950 pine flooring is one of my favorite things about the garage apartment along with a super cute phone niche and the original trim and doors complete with crystal door knobs. The floor took a hit during the freeze with water covering the entire floor. There are also some pretty deep scratches from a tenant who lived there when we purchased the property’s two huge dogs that have to be addressed. This time around we will be patch staining and re-polyurethaning the floors. I really wanted to sand and strip but it will involve sanding, stripping, using wood filler, and probably replacing a couple of boards. The exterior walls of the house needs to be leveled before we tackle that. Since we have a two week turnaround, the poly needs to have time to harden before moving in furniture, it will have to wait.

We also cleaned the walls, windows, appliances, did interior touch up paint, cleaned inside the cabinets and will be having all the plumbing redone next week to the kitchen and bathroom. Hopefully the Pex piping will not be as prone to freezing.

We are almost there. The list is nearly complete.

Beside the plumber coming Thursday we need to add new solar lights along the gate sidewalk, exterior cleaning and new silicone to the tub, replacing 2 mini blinds, and a smoke detector, we will be done.

Owning and maintaining our own rental is hard work. It isn’t for someone who doesn’t mind getting theirs hands dirty and backs sore but it is a great investment opportunity.

We love hearing from you,

Karen

An Update

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Well hello there. What in the world are you doing still hanging around? The past year has been a real world wind. I will never say anything bad about my job. I love it, a lot. As I wind down to retirement one year from now though my job has been busy.

The demands for the job have meant that I haven’t had much time to do any creative work. That will be changing.

So, here is a quick update on life as a weekend country girl.

  • We are expecting granddaughter number two in mid June. Sweet Amanda and Baby Boy are going to be giving Lucy a sister and we are thrilled. I am getting busy on nursery preparations finally. The sweet girl may not have everything finished before her arrival.
  • The Southern Belle and Joe have left the city that they love and have moved to Denton, Texas for work. I now have all of my kids living in a four hour drive. I am thrilled and will be filling you in on that quirky town soon. They have bought a house and it is going to get a mini makeover before they move in this month.
  • We bought an RV. We have taken it out on the maiden voyage and love it. We have plans for a lot of trips in the future.
  • This week we will start an exterior makeover of our house. I am so excited! We are getting an enlarged front porch, a carport, and exterior paint on the bricks.

I hope you are all doing well. I promise that I will be doing a better job of keeping you up to date from now on.

Thanks for hanging in there. I appreciate you all more than you know.

Blessings,

Karen

A Fixer Upper Trip

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Hello guys.  Have you missed me as much as I have missed you, and sleep, and a clean house?  We are almost moved out of the burbs and into our forever home.  Just a few more trips I hope.  Monday night I sat on the porch and cried because my long-suffering husband asked me what to do with a box of spray paint.  I am so over it when it comes to moving that I am not even rational any longer.    In the near future I am going to tell about our experience downsizing, but not tonight because I couldn’t be a lady about it right now.

On this night, oh my gosh, do I have news for you all.  I promised you a while back I would fill you in on our trip to the Waco area and things to do when you visit and I am going to fill you in, BUT IT GETS EVEN BETTER AT THE END.

First of all, the map below shows you where Waco is in relation to Austin, Belton, Salado, and Round Top (east of Austin).

Waco to Austin

Austin, the undisputed hippest city in in Texas, is an hour and a half away from Waco.  I am not going to fill you in on Austin tonight, but if you are making a visit to Magnolia Market part of a vacation, make sure to include Austin in your trip.

On my last post I shared with you that  we recently visited Magnolia Market (The Silos) and Waco.  One question I got asked over and over again was:  was it worth the drive.  As a huge fan of JoAnna’s style, I loved the market, but the drive for us from Coldspring was over three hours there and the same back.  I enjoyed shopping in the market and had a great day, but in order to make the trip really worth while, our next trip will be a weekend adventure.  (We will drive up Thursday night, then spend Friday and Saturday exploring and head home Sunday.) wait for it friends, it is going to be good at the end. ( Skip to the end here if you want my super cool news first.)

Here is what I thought our future trip was going to include:

Thursday I thought we would be staying at a bed and breakfast- There are two I was interested in:

Friday 

  • Breakfast at the B and B then off to
  • Magnolia Market  which opens at 10:00 but we will try to get there about 9:30.  We should finish at Magnolia Market by 11:30- just in time for lunch at one of the food trucks conveniently located.
  • Harp Design Co because I want to see the shop where all those amazing tables and benches come out of and hopefully I will find something I can’t live without.  The Harps have a whole list of Waco favorites.  The two that caught my eye are Lula Jane’s if you are driving in for breakfast and Club Sandwich if you are looking for a fun food truck lunch.
  • The Findery.  How did I miss this one the first time?  It is for sure going on my list next visit.

The Findery - Waco, TX, United States

  • Junque in the Trunk Waco- I could only find a Facebook page, but with 70K follwers, they must be doing pretty well.

Junque in the Trunk - Waco, TX, United States

I have a feeling the guys would rather hang out at one of the restaurants or diners on LaSalle while we shop.

  • Head on to McGregor, Texas.  The Magnolia House and the Carraige house just on the show is there and it is worth a visit.

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Another fun place to visit is Megregor General Store.

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I got this cool sign there.

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  • Friday evening will be up for grabs.  Lake Waco looks beautiful.

Saturday

We will head out to Salado, Texas.  I love this place so much that we visit every chance we get.  Here is a blog post I wrote about that cool little town a few years ago.

Sunday we will head home slowly.  Eating Kolaches, stopping at fun shops, and enjoying central Texas.

Okay.  Here is the big news. (It is big news to me anyway!) After I already started this post and was all set on going back, I saw on Country Living that two houses that were on Fixer Upper are now rentals in addition to Magnolia Home.  One of them was my absolute favorite from season 1.  The Gorman Story.  On a whim I decided to look it up just to see if we could rent it and guess what?  They had an opening in October Friday and Saturday night.  I am so excited to get to check it out, spend time with my sweet family in the home, and visit Waco again in the fall.  Woo Hoo.

We are going to get to take Lucy, Sweet Amanda, Baby Boy, The Southern Belle, Big Cat, and our buddies The Social Planner and Larry on the trip with us.  It will be fun.  I have a feeling the guys will find something other than shopping to do all day Saturday, but we are going to enjoy our trip.

Thank you all for taking the time to read my posts.  I love hearing from you,

Blessings,

Karen

Vacation Home Nursery Solution

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My friend Kandy and her husband have a home in Gruene, Texas. That is another city I love in Texas. Floating down the river, eating at the Grist Mill, and enjoying music at Gruene Hall. One day soon we need to visit that wonderful town.
gruene texas

http://www.gruenetexas.com

When you are at that age when your babies are getting married and having children vacation homes are tricky. Heck, home-homes are tricky. Babies come with stuff these days. Lots of stuff. They also need a quiet place to rest while the house is full of guests and rooms are all being used. With the monitors out now the family can be in a separate part of the house keeping tabs on the little man while he sleeps.

Kandy, who was a great teacher, has always had an amazing sense of style and skill in art and design. She can paint, sew, and has the ability to take a bunch of mismatched items at the last minute and make a vignette or arrangement look like it was planned for weeks.

When a grandson came into her life recently she knew she needed to find a space in her Gruene home for him. Her solution; a 5.5 ft by 4.5 ft closet got turned into a “Man Cave” for her little man, Bodie.

One of the things I like best about Kandy’s design aesthetic is her color choice. She is fearless when it comes to choosing to put colors together. She is not afraid to use dark colors in her rooms. Her vacation home bedrooms are painted intellectual gray, which is a medium warm gray. I like that she painted the closets the same color as the bedrooms.

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So, here is Bodie’s Man Cave. Kandy used a chalkboard paint pen to write on the wall. Brilliant. Mr. Bodie may have to give up his digs one day to a little brother, sister, or cousin. It will wash off when and if the room changes names…or becomes a closet again.

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Brodies man cave

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I love the indirect light of the star, the sweet sign Kandy made, and the family photos.
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Kandy also kept the closet shelves and rod in place by using fabric to cover the round clothes rod. Creative.
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Can you tell that Kandy was a reading teacher? I am thrilled to see books already in his little space waiting to be read.

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What great friends Kandy has. She got that sweet blanket and one of those frames from them.

Seeing this “room” made me think about how I use the space at my little lake house.

I am going to show you another project Kandy thought up this week, too.

I hope you have a wonderful week.

Blessings,

Karen

Happy Texas Independence Day

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Today I had the opportunity to take a group of students to  Austin, Texas to visit The University of Texas.

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They really were happy to be there… I promise.  They just seem to have this thing about not smiling!

Today also happens to be the anniversary of the date that Texas declared their independence from Mexico.  Yeah March 2!  It struck me as we walked around the campus that this was a quintessentially Texas day.  I hope you enjoy the  photos of one proud Texan.

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The Texas Flag.  It was breezy today so they were beautiful.  Love the lone star.

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The state flower, the bluebonnet, was already starting to show up on roadsides and in flower beds.  I love a state where spring comes in February!

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This shot covers a lot of Texana.  Longhorns, cowboys, live oak trees, and wagons.

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Horses.  Okay, I know that they are not real, but real horses would have had a rough time with the crowds in Austin today.

Texas Cheerleaders

Cheerleaders.  Texas wouldnt be Texas without cheerleaders and…

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and football.

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The state capital.  I love visiting this building.

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And Buc-EE’S.  It wouldn’t be a trip across Texas without a stop in Buc-EE’s.

Happy March 2nd!