Tuesday, October 28, 2014


the kind guy who delivered our SIPs on his 18 wheeler gave us this tshirt.
best. name. ever.
lovelady county, north carolina

and here's lisa...she can hardly hide her excitement. EVER, really :)
PROGRESS! It is truly exciting and deeply gratifying to see walls actually going up and the shape of our new home taking form! The hold up of everything has been hard but it's also given us time to put some energy into what changes and improvements we'll be making on the old part of the house to tie it all in to the new. For example -- our living room, it always felt cluttered even though we don't have a lot of stuff, and it rarely was a place you wanted to chill out in and read a book or watch a movie. WAIT! We never have time to read a book or watch a movie and when we do it's in bed, on our lap top! Well, we are excited to change that and it's a big part of our future design.

The new house concrete floor is totally level with the existing first floor. This will surely help things to flow better. We are getting rid of a small useless closet, exposing the staircase so the old part of the house will open up to the new, creating one big open space. I LOVE THAT! We will have access to the stairs from both the new section and the old living room. We scored on a gorgeous double french door that will replace a window in the living room that leads out to the screened-in porch (yet to be built).

first floor SIPs are up

temporary second floor is in so they can safely build the 2nd floor
second floor SIPs are up

before the roof is on.  our bedroom windows
south facing
roof and facia boards are being installed
north facing, and our front door
Our  king-sized bed will go below this sweet bank of windows 

If there were a Queen of the Snail Parade in house building I'd say it has to be SIDING! Although we only have a small crew of 2 guys (plus my brother here and there) it is down right slow going folks, so take a break or review your electric plan during this part!
Look at that massive bathroom window!  Our tub goes right below it, yahoo
Here's our concrete floor after FINALLY finishing the staining & sealing.  In this photo the wax is still wet so it appears much glossier than it will be.  It came out a gorgeous, mottled warm array of browns and golds.  
The upstairs temporary floor is removed and the tongue & groove wood floor is in!
We are planning on sealing it with 3 to 5 coats of tung oil.

 Wood floor is protected and interior walls are going up; 2 bedrooms and a master bath
This may not look like much but it is to us... it's the first time the addition is lit up at night (we finally got work lights) -- you can see the warm glow coming through the clerestory windows!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


PART-I've never done this before and PART-it's the nature of the beast.
We worked madly to get things prepped for the arrival of kit parts, but the shipping of the SIPS, which matter most, got delayed putting the whole thing at a stand still.  However, it did give us time to address issues on the south side of the old part of the house and prepare it for the new window and door.  We removed and old door and framed it for a new window, and removed an old window and framed it for a set of new french doors which will lead out to a screened-in porch.  Actually, we ran around gathering things, cleaning up and making lunch while my brother and our neighbor Eric did all the work.

AND THEN... the SIPs arrived yesterday.

I just caught the truck as it was pulling away after we unloaded the SIPS

Our builders were able to make big progress today.  In fact, when I arrived at the house late in the day the sight of it brought me to tears.  Each stage and layer of the reality of this blows my mind.   A shout out to the two greatest guys who are building our house -- Colin Bargeron & Ilya Radysh!

The roofing arrives tomorrow and on Friday we are having a 'SIPS raising party'.  A bunch of hands, cordless drills and a bazillion screws - the first floor should be built in a day!  Stay tuned...

SIP = Structurally Insulated Panel
7 1/2" Structural wall panels. Light gauge steel framed with EPS foam insulation. EPS foam does not off-gas. Wall panels are completely thermally broken with a continuous R-value of 25. Window openings are incorporated into panels. Manufactured byThermasteel Corporation.
Check out Noble Home to learn more!

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Another major day, pivotal point in this project, has arrived.  All the prep work was done last week and now the weather finally cleared, with blue skies in the forecast for at least the next 3 days.  So the slab, which will be our finished floor, could be poured.  Hallelujah.  Get on your dancing shoes!

Monday, July 14, 2014


Over the fourth of July we worked our butts off to get the insulation and PEX tubing installed so our concrete guy could come poor the slab, BUT he got tied up and couldn't come.  The slab, which is also our finished floor, can not be poured if there is a chance of rain, SO given the forecast he may not return for an additional 4 days.  This leaves us at a total stand still.  Right away we took advantage of the down time and got rid of ALL the garbage, did yard work and shopped for tile.  We found amazing porcelain tile that looks like weathered wood for the upstairs bathroom floor (at Dalene Flooring Outlet store in Hartford, CT)  and glass tiles for the shower surround (from good ol' CL!)  Both at a steal.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


"Believe the Bird" 

   {What lies ahead for you is a road of gains and losses, between which you will make your home. This making of a home will most likely be the most creative and individual act of your lives. Why creative? Because there is not really any kind of guidance for it other than your own, so you must use your intuition, intention, and practice.  John J. Audubon, in the preface to his guide to birds in America, reminds us that “If the bird and the book disagree, believe the bird.”  Use your own inner light to shine your way, to stand straight, to stand right up, and stand light and firm on the ground you’re claiming for yourself, the self you are becoming. Take IN the whole scene of your life, as it unfolds. And, “I urge you” said the writer Kurt Vonnegut, “to please notice when you are happy.” Which means, to actually notice when all is well for the moment, when the air is clear.}

-- An excerpt from a speech by the extraordinary visual artist and MacArthur Fellow Anna Schuleit Haber

This particular excerpt of her speech spoke to me (for obvious reasons) that I just had to post it here so I could easily read it many times to remind me of what I already know but sometimes forget.  And, maybe someone out there needed to be reminded too.  

Friday, June 13, 2014


The foundation walls are done!  Today we installed the rigid foam insulation along the outer walls, but I foolishly didn't wear gloves, now my hands are covered with the nasty adhesive that nothing yet has been able to remove!   TomorrowChris Rawlings  will back-fill.  Then very soon it will be the moment that will make us feel we've reached a major turning point-- the SLAB!  

pulling the little winkies off the concrete walls
before we install the exterior insulation
We feel very fortunate to have a team of fabulous local contractors that are willing to swing by at a moments notice, give advise or explain the next steps, and let us know what things we can do to keep labor costs down.   There's an interesting mix of personalities and styles in these guys, but so far it's all going great.   And, thank goodness for technology- through email and texting we can keep things moving and stay on top of things!  Love it!

Another great fortune is that our neighbor and friend invited us to stay with her during this project. We can waltz over to our house with our morning coffee in hand to check on things.  And better yet, the big bonus we didn't anticipate, we can go to our house to work while Stella stays back doing her own thing, and walk over to see us whenever she wants.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Goodbye sweet little cabin...and HELLO gorgeous new tiny-bit-bigger house by Noble Home!
It's for real, it's been confirmed, it's really happening -- on May 22nd we will close on the construction loan and later that same day our excavator arrives to begin demolition!  
Here's our front entrance as it looked this morning.
We have two of those gorgeous azalea bushes, which we'll try hard to save!
Thank you 'Smead Cabin' for being our home for 19 years!

And here's our entrance after this past weekend when the Great Dichotomy, my brother, blew through!
The windows, doors, sinks & toilet are OUT!  


Wednesday, April 30, 2014


We've been told by many that a project like this will take twice as long and cost twice as much as we planned on -- pray it will not!  But we certainly thought we'd be pouring the concrete slab right about now!

In the meantime, here's the latest:
Score #7 a new, still in the box, stainless steel range hood from a contractor whose client changed their mind-- the Arietta Lazio Pro-Style Range Hood
Thanks to our dear friend and project mentor Rick, we are learning the basics on how to wire our house and create an electric plan.  Because it's so exciting to me I'll soon be posting a photo of our plans!


I just found this old photo of the three of us--we don't remember where or when this was taken!  The date imprinted on it says 1991, but that's wrong for sure - Andi looks young, but she was not 17!
And THE moment many have been waiting for, DEMOLITION DAY (well, on the inside anyway). My rockin' awesome brother arrived like a tornado this past weekend and we managed to gut the entire kitchen and most of the bathroom.  I have the best brother in the world!  And as a perfect end to each kick-ass day, we ate out and had amazing local dinners, one at The People's Pint in Greenfield and another at West End Pub in Shelburne Falls.  We love supporting LOCAL goodness! Yum!  If you're not from around here, and you're ever in the area you must go to one or both of these places!

Monday, April 7, 2014


This sums it up -- we've been praying and the forces of love and manifestation heard us.

As I deconstrucuted the brick walkway this morning and as the Red Winged Blackbirds return, I'm feeling very rejoicy and grateful! Our project is moving forward quickly and we are OH SO HAPPY! This is also the week I turn 40 and up until now I've been pretty depressed about entering this new and BIG decade but today at this very moment, I can truly say there's is no place I'd rather be in my life. I'm not religious but I do believe in the power of positive thinking and action and every time I look at the bricks I realize the only option for a long, joyful life is by getting older!

An enormous prayer was answered this past week---finding our builder, an awesome local gem, Colin Bargeron! He will soon become the grand-master-funk once we get the old section demolished.  No dates have been set until we sign the construction loan papers, so stay tuned.... If you have a few tools and a hard hat, please join us for D-days!

The final floor plans after several tweaks and added windows

Our PRAY Bricks Story:  Years ago before we had Stella and our free time was filled with day long road trips to antique and junk shops looking for treasures, we stumbled upon a torn down old brick building in Greenfield. Perhaps some of you might remember the restaurant, ironically called, Brickers? Well there we were, and I think it was almost dusk, standing in this dirty lot surrounded by BRICKS! We were psyched because we wanted to build a sweet little walkway. We backed up our little 2-door hatchback and started to load it up! I remember saying to lisa, "Cool, this one says PRAY on it!" and then to our amazement we realized they ALL were imprinted with PRAY!!  HOLY SH*T...yes holy, indeed. We excitedly loaded as much as our little car could fit, brought them home and went back for more, by then it was dark. We loaded some more and could hardly sleep awaiting the morning when we could go back but when we returned the next day, they were ALL GONE, crushed into powder!  We later learned that's what happens to old brick then it's used to make baseball diamonds and outdoor tracks. O M G, we were floored!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


It's official, the local bank we mentioned back when we started this blog just called  - WE GOT THE LOAN!

Although we've been planning, dreaming and praying for this for over 7 years, I do believe something has to do with 2014 being the Year of the horse.  While some things needed to heal, align and become clear in order to manifest a dream of this magnitude, other things simply needed to build up energy. We are deeply grateful to unseen forces and to the forces that are quite seen -- our family, friends, neighbors, customers and to Franklin County Community Development Corp, and the Franklin Land Trust.

And, the final plans from Noble Home have arrived!  We tweaked room sizes, location of sinks and added more windows.  Here's a glimpse of the south facing elevation - our favorite, as this faces the meadows.

Now if only it would stop snowing!!!  

Our current front entrance
Our storage unit, still accessible but getting tricky!

Monday, February 17, 2014


Ever see the HGTV show "Rehab Addict", I friggen' love that show! Though ours isn't a rehab project, we're feeling the same kind of passion and creative fire, especially since much of our project involves finding old (and new) treasures, being thrifty and thinking outside of the box.  In a few weeks we are going to New England Demolition & Salvage in New Bedford, MA to look for another sink, doors & wood planks.  We'll be using the planks for some of our walls, much like in this photo (left) and we're also making some barn-style doors.   I found a great tutorial on making our own barn-door hardware, you can check it out at:
And if you want to see some gorgeous rustic bathrooms where we've found lots of inspiration, click here!

This week we are picking up Score #6
After MUCH thought about the color, style and size of the vanity for our master bathroom, we narrowed it down and then hit craigslist.  Our search turned up this simple, sweet, made of real solid wood, double-sink vanity with a marble counter-top.  We originally thought 2 sinks was silly and excessive, but then fast remembered this is a family bathroom, to be shared with Stella, uh-duh!  So we decided on this (photo below); we are all thrilled!  Now we need the faucets and hardware. Thanks to our super-sweet friend Connie for letting us use her truck yet again!

The Foundation is an area where lots of money will be spent, and it's darn necessary cuz it needs to be done right! We found a great local guy who'll be pouring the foundation. The slab will also serve as the floor of our main living area and it will be our heat source so protecting and insulating the heat sink will save us money in the long run on heating costs.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Click on the link below for another great view of the "Iconic Madeline's meadow"-- seen in a video we made four years ago, which I nearly forgot all about -- then yesterday it was posted unexpectedly on Mountain Rose Herbs' facebook page.  What a joy it was to make this and now to watch it on this bitter cold night years later--warms the heart, eh!?


Tuesday, January 21, 2014


The KITCHEN - where the secret ingredient is always LOVE!
Wow, homeowner newsflash:  kitchen cabinets are expensive!  Yes, I crunched the numbers and we can save money by going with IKEA, but we really want solid wood cabinets, even if they're used.  So the hunt began - and here's a peak at the latest treasures - they only make up a portion of the cabinets needed for our dream kitchen, but it's a great start.  First, here's a photo of the kitchen that is our inspiration!

The cabinet door style we're going with is more traditional (shaker) than those in the photo, but this layout and the mix of modern and rustic is what we're going for. And of course our cabinets will not completely match, we don't mind - wabi-sabi!  We are still undecided if we'll paint the cabinets green or stay with our original plan of white.

Score #5  Assorted 'Ice White Shaker' cabinets; thanks to a sweet young couple from Briarcliff Manor, NY for the start on our dream kitchen!

Humor, another important ingredient...
“I want to get a job as someone who names kitchen appliances. Toaster, refrigerator, blender.... all you do is say what the shit does, and add "er". I wanna work for the Kitchen Appliance Naming Institute. Hey, what does that do? It keeps shit fresh. Well, that's a fresher....I'm going on break.”
 -Mitch Hedberg


I've named my first appliance...this knife is now known as the CrazySexySlicer
A knife so powerful and beautiful deserves to be called a kitchen appliance.