Archive for June, 2008

One Year Ago

One year ago today we were married surrounded by our closest friends and family. Today is another milestone in our long history together. You see we met 12 years ago, yesterday marked our 7 year dating anniversary, and 3 years ago we got engaged. We have the same motto about our relationship as we do about our remodeling…”Take it slow and do it right.”

I hope you don’t mind if I reminisce a little about our wedding…

There was something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.

There were fox cuff links and a collapsible top hat.

There were DIY flowers.

There were pictures everywhere.

There was a glass fox and the hound cake topper (our nicknames for each other).

There was an antique chair brought 90 miles for a photo prop.

There was a secret first dance routine.

There were surprise family slide shows for the father daughter and mother son dances.

There were tears shed.

There were laughs shared.

I can’t believe it’s already been a year. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Happy Anniversary Honey!
Your Fox




Odds & Ends

Well I’ve been extremely busy at work and home for the last couple weeks and will continue to be until the end of June. This past weekend we shot another long range match with old friends from across the country that I haven’t seen in five years. It was nice to catch up with everyone and see what they have been up to. Next weekend is our first anniversary. We don’t have any plans set in stone but I know it will be a good time. I don’t have time to write a bunch of huge indepth posts so on to the odds and ends going on with our house…


We thought we might have fixed the oven. Flannel Man found the instructions on how to reset the oven by up to 35 degrees in the owner’s manual. Well as we were cooking dinner that night the oven magically got to the maximum 550 degrees we had it set at and it burnt our dinner. The next night it was back to being 200 degrees off. So we reset it and it was at 400 degrees when it was set to 300 degrees! Will this thing make up it’s mind?! We’ve got to get this figures out so we can cook regularly again. I think we need to replace the thermostat and we found the part number for it but now we have to find somewhere that carrries replacement parts for a 35 year old oven. Otherwise, we might resort to buying a used oven on Craigslist.


While the oven was acting up our pizza oven broke. It was a sad, sad day at our house. You see if Flannel Man was forced to eat one food for the rest of his life it would be pizza. He loves the stuff and has it almost every week. Well I guess we’re down to the microwave, the George Forman, and our uneven stovetop.


We’ve found that the spider I saw earlier wasn’t the only one. We’ve found them in our bedroom, the study, the main and master bathrooms, the entryway, and more in the kitchen. They are big and gross and as one crawled between my bare feet last night I just about freaked out. Slippers are my friends. You can walk anywhere you want and you would never know what kind of bug you almost stepped on. I’m not really sure how you’re supposed to get rid of spiders. But I hope while they’re here they eat all of our ants and moths.


On to some better news, we’re working on decorating our master bedroom. We have a paint color picked out, new artwork for over the bed, and our new bed frame should be coming any day now. I have a couple photos I want to enlarge and hang up over our dressers. We want them matted and in nice cherry frames to match our new bed frame. And since we don’t have a lot of extra cash right now we’ll probably make them ourselves. Hopefully my dad can help. He used to mat and frame prints as Christmas presents to his clients. I also might be DIY a new duvet cover and shams since I’m having a hard time finding a reasonable priced set I like. I just need to borrow my mom’s sewing machine and brush up on how exactly to sew. : )


We also might be adding furniture restoration to our list of things to do. Our dining room table is an antique Grandpa Flannel found at an auction years ago and Papa Flannel recently found the matching chairs for it. The chairs haven’t been used because they are in pretty rough shape but we’d like to try to bring them back to life. They have some cool details that match the table but as a whole they’re kind of ugly. So we have a couple ideas on how to update them. I’ll post more about them later.


My friends over at One Project Closer are hosting a neat Before and After contest that started this past weekend. All you have to do is submit before and after pictures with a brief description and you’re entered in. At the end of the summer there will be a vote for the winner who will recieve a $50 gift certificate to any home improvment store. But the best part of the whole thing is that if your entry is chosen to be featured that week One Project Closer will donate $25 to Habitat for Humanity. What a great way to show off your great projects and help a good cause. I myself have volunteered for Habitat for Humanity a number of times and have experienced first hand what kind of difference it has been able to make in my community. I hope you’ll all join in!


And because this post doesn’t have any pictures I want to post a couple I recently took at work. I work in a business park that is environmentally consensus. There is a minimum requirement of green space and of natural Wisconsin prairie. In an attempt to make up for the prairie that was lost by the buildings in the park there are two big nature preserves with trails on either side of the business park. We have everything from hawks to coyotes (yes, coyotes) that live around our building. There are tons of birds in the area and because I work on the Ground/Garden Level I get to see them throughout the day. Lately we’ve had a flock of goldfinch and mating pair of sandhill cranes come around everyday. I finally brought my camera to work one day and got a couple quick shots. The sandhill crane one is kind of craptastic but my boss wasn’t to keen on my photography endeavors so I had to just get some quick shots.

Sorry for the weird colors. Shooting through tinted glass can be tricky.

The female goldfinch.


The male goldfinch with his bright yellow summer feathers.


According to my trusty bird book sandhill cranes are one of the worlds tallest birds and their rusty brown stain is from the mud they use during preening. You can see their typical gray color under their wings. I’m kicking myself in the butt for not having my camera when this pair were doing their mating dances. They face each other while bowing, jumping, and singing to each other. Next year I’m going to bring my camera to work everyday around that time and try to get a picture of that amazing act. I don’t care what my boss has to say.



Our Secret Weapons

In honor of father’s day I thought I’d share a little bit about our fathers, our secret remodeling weapons. You see both of our dads are carpenters and although Flannel Man & I have never remodeled a house before we’re not strangers to the construction business. We both grew up around shops, tools and construction sites.


After working at a lumber yard and some small construction companies my dad started his own milwork business. He made custom trim, moldings, and other specialty wood products. He helped restore historic buildings like churches, government buildings, and residential homes by cutting custom blades that matched the existing trim and matching the stain color. I remember going over to his shop and being amazed a how he took curved solid wood for large church windows. He also did things like fancy receptionist desks for banks, inlaid hardwood floor patterns, custom doors, and anything else you could throw at him. He became known in the area for his high quality of work that resulted from the fact that he’s a type A perfectionist (which is a trait I picked up from him). Where most new businesses last only a year or two his lasted 11 years. He finally closed it so he could spend more time with us and now works as a maintenance supervisor for the multiple state research farms in our area.

Since I love pictures here’s some old family pictures:


My dad’s old shop. [Note: Some of these photos were scanned in from the scrapbooks my mom made through the years so that’s why they are funny shapes.]


“Helping” my dad stain.


I loved that hard hat!


See I’ve roofed before! The shed wasn’t my first time.


Breaking ground on the new house my dad built (I’m the oldest in the back).


Sitting on the beam of our new house. My dad and I are the only ones smiling because my sisters were afraid of falling. (View Image to enlarge)



Flannel Man’s dad is also a carpenter. Papa Flannel also worked for some small construction companies before starting his own business. But his business was building residential homes where he specialized in log homes. He built log homes all over the area for 8 years before deciding to work for a local large construction company. He also was trained to be a home inspector so he knows the ins and outs of home ownership. It was common for Papa Flannel to gift FM hand tools when they began to wear out and FM would take them with him everywhere. One gift in particular FM remembers…

“One year my dad gave me a 5′ long wooden step ladder. I loved that thing and dragged it all over the house much to my mom’s dismay. I would bring into the living room and watch TV on it, I would put in the kitchen to eat my cereal on it, and I would bring it upstairs to read books on it. I loved that thing.”

And of course here is FM’s family pictures:


Note the needle nosed pliers his dad had given him.


“Helping” paint.


Honestly, could this picture be any cuter? FM was bringing his kitten to see what dad does.


The Flannel’s displaying Papa Flannels business hats. Flannel Man is in the middle.


Flannel Man has also helped roof before.


In Papa Flannel’s bobcat.


Our other secret weapons are our wonderful grandpas. Both are extremely handy and like to help any way that they can no matter their age. Flannel Man’s grandpa was a painter. Last year at 80 years old he was up on the roof helping Papa Flannel re-roof his house.


My grandpa was a farmer and later worked for my dad’s business. Here he is helping build our house:


We are truly blessed to have such wonderful dads and grandpas. I hope they had a great father’s day.


And on a side note I want to wish a happy birthday to my youngest sister Sara!

It’s Finally Here!

Our first anniversary is coming in a couple weeks and as our main present I ordered a canvas print of our favorite picture from our Fiji honeymoon. Originally it was supposed to be my present to Flannel Man but by the time we decided how much we wanted to spend I had already ordered the print. Whoops. We getting each other a smaller present besides this anyway.


The picture was one we’ve been meaning to get enlarged for over a year and is Flannel Man’s favorite picture from trip. Which is saying a lot considering in the two weeks we were there we took over 6,000 pictures! What can I say we both like taking pictures. After I painstakingly sorted the pictures from both of our cameras, renamed them by day, and deleted the blurry ones there was only 4,000 pictures left though. Our first attempt at underwater photography ended up in a lot of blurry shots.


The picture I had enlarged was of Matangi Island, a tiny horseshoe shaped island where our last and most luxurious resort was. The bay formed by the island is called Horseshoe Bay and is on the list of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. Each day the resort staff drop off one couple with a picnic lunch so that they can have the beach to themselves all day. Fishing and any boats besides the staff’s are prohibited so there is an abundance of sea life in the bay.


The funny thing is these were actually two different pictures I photoshopped together. The brush on top of the cliff we hiked up to to get these shots was overgrown and limited our shots. We were disappointed because their brochures show these great photos we weren’t able to take. So after we got back I painstakingly combined a picture I took with my DSLR and one FM took with his point and shoot. Here are the SOOC (straight out of camera) pictures I combined:


See how those trees were in the way? Notice the difference in the colors too. The funny part is that we were taking the two pictures at the same time and I my picture on the left shows FM’s hand in the bottom corner. I wanted to take out his hand but FM really liked it there. So when you look at the combined picture the camera he’s holding in his hand is actually taking the right hand side of that same picture. Trippy ha?

Here’s how the actual print turned out:


I had it done in a gallery wrap style with the photo wrapping around the sides.


I love the texture the canvas gives it. But printed part it’s surprisingly stiffer than paintings I’ve done on canvas.


I had it blown up to a custom size of 30″ wide by 14″ tall. I didn’t want to make it too big to keep costs down and because I didn’t want it to overpower the space we put it in. It has extremely saturated colors whereas we typically like to decorate with a more muted palette. For now I want to put it over our bed.


It looks smaller over the bed than I had imagined. But our new four post bed frame is coming any day now and I think the chunky square posts will frame it up nicely. Overall, I love how it turned out but I expected it to have a thicker frame so that it would stand out more from the wall. I think it fits both of our personal styles well. FM likes traditional decor and I like a more modern decor. It’ s printed on a traditional canvas but has the modern gallery wrap.

Plus the printing company was able to put FM’s hand on the side like I had requested. That way his hand is still there but hidden on the side. I think it’s a good compromise.


I can’t wait to show FM! I think I’m just going to randomly hang it up the weekend of our anniversary and see how long it takes for him to notice. : )



We’re Not The Only Ones Nesting

When we moved in we found three birds nests on the exterior of our house, one on our shed/detached garage, and one down by the garden. There was this cardinal’s nest under our patio next to the garage:


Every time we walked anywhere near the area she would fly through the lattice surrounding the underside of our porch yelling at us as she went. She seemed very annoyed when we moved in coming in and out of the house with boxes. This shot was very hard to get.

Then there was the robin’s nest on our fabric awning over the dining room window. I am so excited that we have so many robins on our property. I’ve liked them ever since I was a young girl since we share the same name. : )


In this picture you can really see the female robin’s white chin and streaks around her head. That’s how you can easily tell the difference from a male and a female robin. Male robins only have a white ring around their eyes. Additionally, females have slightly lighter breasts and heads.

She was building her nest when we first moved in and I would sit below the window and watch her fly back and forth with twigs and mud while the father watched from a nearby tree (or I’m assuming he was the father). This explained the large mug splatters all over our window from mouthfuls of mud that didn’t quite make it to the nest. I had fun watching her rapidly fly back and forth. It looked like she was going to fly right into you at a fast speed but she would pull up at the last second and land on the awning. I tried to get some pictures but of course none of them turned out.



Then there was the mystery nest on the metal awnings over the living room windows. The awnings roll out from large crank shafts in the living room. The first day we moved in we were rolling them out because there were lots of bugs in them. Well the one I happened to be rolling out had a birds nest on top of it that we didn’t know was there. The nest fell two stories to the patio below and broke the eggs inside it! I felt awful! That in addition to all the other problems we had to deal with made our first couple days really stink. The robin was at least smart enough to build her nest on the awnings that can only be extended from the outside.


Then there was the nest down by the garden. It was build between two tall plants. Do you know what kind of bird makes a nest like this? We were never able to see the mother.


Finally, there was the nest built on the motion detector lights on our shed/detached garage. I think this is the an Eastern phoebe. Does anyone know for sure?


I used to park my car right below her nest and she wasn’t scared off by my car or me opening the car door but as soon as I stepped out of the car she would fly off.


I was hoping to get more pictures of the baby birds but they seemed to have hatched and left the nest really fast. The robin’s nest was two stories off the ground and I was going to try to borrow someones ladder to get a picture but by the time I got around to that they had already hatched and left the nest.


At least I was able to get a couple shots of the Eastern phoebe’s nest. In the matter of a couple days the birds went from this:


To this:


This shot was from the day before they left the nest. As I was putting this together I realized that these baby birds don’t look anything like the mother! Look at the difference in their profiles and they are much larger than the mother barely able to fit in the nest. I remember thinking that was strange at the time but I didn’t think much of it.


After doing a little research I found out they were actually cowbird babies. Cowbirds are brood parasites that lay their eggs in other birds nests hoping that that bird will raise them as their own. The cowbird mothers remove at least one egg of host’s by piercing the egg with it’s beak and either knocking it out of the nest or flying off with the egg. We didn’t see any egg shells below the nest so the mother must have flown off with it. I’ve also found that cowbirds typically only lay one egg in a nest so because we have two baby cowbirds they were probably from two different mothers. The cowbird babies hatch earlier and grow faster and larger than the host’s babies so they have a better chance of surviving. Cowbird hatchlings also tend to get fed more because they have a bright pink mouth which indicates they need to be feed more. In the picture above you can clearly see this. I remember watching the “mother” phoebe flying around frantically trying to feed them from our study window too. Check out this really interesting website about cowbirds.

Brown-headed cowbirds are the only parasitic birds that live in Wisconsin and many popular birds in our area actually reject their eggs. Robins can recognize the difference in the eggs and will knock the cowbird egg out of their nest. (I always knew robins were smart!) Cardinals will either knock the egg out of the nest or reject the nest altogether.

The fact that there are such things as parasitic birds really irks me. We were planning on removing the nest and now I’m afraid we might find dead phoebe babies in it. Ugh, this was supposed to be a happy post.

Has anyone had to deal with parasitic birds before? What would you have done if you had found out they were in nearby nests? Would you have removed the eggs/killed the hatchlings or just let nature run it’s course? I’m curious to see what you guys have to say.



Severe Flooding, Lake Delton is Gone

Over the last couple of days southern Wisconsin has had record breaking amounts of rainfall.  We are over the record amount of rainfall for June by 7″ and it is only June 10th!  Some areas of the state had over 12″ of rain in two days.  There are floods everywhere and dams are breaking but the real story is about what has happened in the Lake Delton area. 

For those of you familiar with the area Lake Delton is just southwest of the popular tourist destination of Wisconsin Dells and is a tourist destination in itself.  For the last couple days the lake levels have been rising rapidly flooding it’s banks and nearby basements.  City officials were worried the dam at the end of the lake was going to give way and started to reinforce the dam with sandbags.  Well, the dam didn’t give out.  Instead the water found it’s own way out and carved a 300 foot wide channel upstream to the Wisconsin River.  It came as a complete shock to everyone and suddenly homes that weren’t even lake front property were completely washed down river.  Three homes are completely gone and two other homes were ripped in half as their foundations gave way.  The channel also completely took out a local highway.  Luckily, no one was hurt. 

The 600 million gallon lake almost completely drained in less than two hours. 

(Photos curtesy of

You can see some amazing footage of the whole thing here: Channel 15 

My parent live near the Wisconsin River downstream of Lake Delton and yesterday they saw the house debris floating down the river.  My heart goes out to the families affected by this trajedy and I hope that they will be able to rebuild their lives as best they can. 

It just goes to show you how quickly natural disasters like this can happen and how important it is to have insurance. 



DIY Roofing: Not for the faint of heart

Two weekends ago we re-roofed the shed/detached two car garage with shingles we bought from the roofers who re-roofed the house before we bought it.  The house’s shingles were just 11 years old when they needed to be replaced because of ice damming.  The shed has 35 year old shingles so they really needed to be replaced.   Friday the dumpster was delivered and we drove around picking up the supplies we would need including tar paper and roofing shovels.  Then on Saturday morning Flannel Man and I started the tear off.  The day sort of went like this…


Flannel Man starts tearing off his first shingle and I document the momentous occasion. 


Flannel Man shoots me this “why are you taking pictures instead of helping me” glare.


Whoa, settle down Flannel Man it’s only 10 am! 

Yay! The first shingle is off!


Then I put down the camera and start helping tear off shingles.  FM catches this shot when he gets off the roof to go get more water:


Then it starts getting hot and FM decides that he wants to run for GQ Roofer of the Year…I can’t believe I’m posting this but it shows our personality and how we have fun even while we’re roofing.  But really it’s because FM forgot the address of this blog so he’ll probably never see this.


Stop starring ladies he’s all mine.  You gotta admit though he’s got decent biceps for a guy whose rib cage is showing. 


Whoops, there’s that look again. I better get back to work.

Anyway, we get the entire roof ripped off including all of the tar paper and nails.  Then as we started looking forward to getting off the hot roof Papa Flannel shows up and we get a head start on laying down the shingles.  By 6:30pm we had half the roof done and we quick laid down tar paper on the other side incase it rains overnight.  It was a very long tiring day.  We went from 10am to 6:30pm with only water and bathroom breaks.  Yup, there’s no such thing as a lunch* break when your husband eats one meal a day.  Which explains his visible rib cage in the previous picture. 

Three people were the perfect number of people to work on this size roof (900 sf).  We had one person working the nail gun, one person feeding the nailer shingles, and the last person worked finishing up the edges and nailing the shingles by hand.  For the most part I was the shingle supplier, FM was the nailer, and Papa Flannel was the finisher.  This is not to say I didn’t use the nail gun ‘cause like Liz I’m a powertool wielding badass but FM is horrible at thinking ahead which is the whole point of having a shingle supplier.  I would bring the shingle over, FM would get it placed perfectly, and I would help hold it down while he nailed it. 


Meanwhile, Papa Flannel would start the staggered rows on one end and finish up the rows on the other end. 


As the supplier I had to sit on the hot tar all day and hold myself up with my hands.  The shingle rocks would get in my gloves and by the end of the day my hands were rubbed raw.  Oh, and this is what it looks like when you sit on tar paper all day:


I can’t believe I just posted that. 

The next day we started bright and early at 9:30am (keep in mind FM doesn’t usually get up until 3pm) in an attempt to beat the heat.  Well that didn’t work out so well.  It was hottest day of the year so far, the sun was shining on that side of the roof in the morning, and unlike the day before there was absolutely no wind.  We finally finished up shingling the other side and the peak at 1pm that afternoon.  Those 3 ½ hours were 10 times worse than the 8 ½ hours the day before.

That day we were also visited by a mother bird who had built her nest on the motion detector lights right below the roof we were nailing into.  She spent the day dive bombing us and yelling at us for getting so close to her kids. 


The final product ended up looking really good.  I gotta say these slate colored architectural shingles are very pretty as far as shingles go.  They give a nice amount of depth and now the shed’s roof matches the house’s new roof. 


I’m working on a DIY roofing tips post for those of you brave enough to try it out yourselves. It can be very cost effective and it is relatively easy so almost anyone can do it.  You just need a weak mind and a strong back.


*FM does actually have a “lunch” break but it’s at 8pm because he works second shift.



This is the story of two twenty something newlyweds who are learning to adjust to life in their first house, a 1973 fixer-upper.
DIY Savings