Archive for December, 2011

2011: A Year in Pictures

It’s been a busy year! We started our biggest remodel to date which we are still in the middle of. Here’s a recap of the house projects we took on this year.

After making over the garage Flannel Man made me a steel potting bench and an island to finish of his reloading room.

The new ATV and snow plow proved to be able to make some nice tall snow piles in its first winter.

The last walls of the garage got painted.

We finished painting and assembling the potting bench and reloading room island.

Laying out some options for the new flower bed along the fence.

We dig the border of the new flowerbed, line it with landscaping fabric, and compacted fill. Then we topped it off with pavers similar to our front flower beds.

Flannel Man pulled down a dead tree in the backyard.

We put our deposit down on the remnant piece of Super White granite for the main bathroom.

I collect buckets full of moss from my parent’s woods and plant it around the flagstone path we built last year. (Don’t worry I didn’t take so much in one spot that it won’t be back by next year.)

We smoother the vegetation in the fence flowerbed with layers of newspaper and top with compost.


We started the bedroom and bathroom remodel buy tearing down two fireplaces and a chimney which created over 15 tons of debris.

The walls are demoed and new window openings framed up.

The new windows are installed and both sides of the house resided.

We went on a road trip to return the master bathroom tub we bought but didn’t like in person.

We took the floor up so we could install ductwork and piping.

A plumber did the rough-in piping and we completed the ductwork.

The fence flowerbed is mulched and looking good. We extended it around the oak tree and the big black walnut stump from the tree we cut down two years ago. I plan to put a big pot on the stump next year.

We install new recessed lights in the basement.

I took two stained glass classes so I can make my own panels for the tall bathroom cabinets.

We put the plywood subfloor back down.

Walls go up quickly after that.

Task lighting over the basement sink finally is delivered and installed.

Our new vanity and storage cabinet are delivered.

We run new electrical throughout the remodeled areas.

We started hanging drywall and taking measures to soundproof key walls.

The tub was set with a mud base and painstakingly made as level as possible.

Flannel Man routed the plumbing for the valve, tub spout, and handheld shower head.

Cement board was installed around the tub and the niches are built.

The electric floor mat was laid down and skim coated over with thinset.

We installed the Ditra decoupling and waterproof membrane.

And just a few days ago we filled the Ditra squares with thinset so we could chaulk out the tile lines.


Our Remodel: Now with More Electrical and Bonus Insulation!

I’m still playing catch up with blog posts vs. real life progress so bare with me. I have a bunch of posts half written so I’m not going to take the time to re-write them in the past tense. It’s my blog so I can do things like that. This all means there are many more posts to come and soon!

We’re now onto running the electrical for the main floor. Wiring the basement lights seemed to take forever but with our electrician being more available things are really moving along. Just like before we’re helping out the electrician in every way we can by drilling, stapling, and pulling the wiring ourselves. The electrician left us this handy tool to help drill in tight spaces.

Trust me this thing has a lot of power. Throw on a long drill bit and this guy will cut through anything it can reach! We’re also working on wiring up all of the outlets with pigtails (except for the last outlet of the chain which only has one wire and doesn’t need pigtails).


In a previous post I showed the tape outlines of the furniture we’re going to have in the space and they have really come in handy for deciding where to put electrical outlets. I had drawn up the general placement of all of the switches and outlets in the rooms to meet code but with the walls built I’m not reworking everything to make for an easier installation. Like moving outlets a little so they can be attached directly to wall studs without having to add extra bracing or sliding an outlet to be hidden by a piece of furniture. I’m irrational and would rather not look at a bunch of random outlets I needed to add per code if I don’t have to.

We’re hoping to get away with not needing an outlet on both sides of the short hallway/entrance to the bedroom. If the inspector considers it a hallway we only need one but if he considers it part of the bedroom we’re right at 12’ between the one side outlet and the other corner of the hallway (there is a much more convenient existing outlet right around the corner but technically it’s too far away to count). Putting an outlet right at a corner would look strange so we’d put it in roughly the middle of the short wall but that has existing drywall and electrical so it’s not easy to add. Plus having two outlets in a short hall that is so skinny I’ll never plug anything in there seems silly. We’ll see what the inspector says. I did add an extra outlet next to the chair in case I ever want to have a floor lamp there for reading and at the last minute I added a second switch there for the overhead light which I think will be more convenient to turn off at night than the one near the entry door.

The one exposed junction box we needed due to existing conditions and the outlet will be hidden by a nightstand.

The master closet will have two lights and a high outlet (for some fun task lighting…more on this to come) controlled by the switch. This ceiling is a hot mess because of the chimney removal.

Here is half of the area we refer to as mission control. At the end of the hallway has a bank of three switches on both sides of the hall. They control (1) the entry chandelier, (2) the hallway ceiling lights, (3) the hallway movie theater lights (downward facing night lights at the base of one wall), (4) the living room switched outlets, (5) the spot light that used to be on the fireplace, and (6) the flood lights at both the front and back of the house…this is the most random switch placement ever. Both flood lights can also be controlled by a switch in the basement next to the patio door.

We’re keeping the mission control area because there is no other good place to put all of these switches but we’re going to organize them a little better. The outdoor flood lights have been separated. The back flood light (pointing toward the fenced in dog yard) will be only controlled from the basement patio door switch. The front flood light will be controlled from a switch next to our front door for when guests are coming or going. No more accidentally hitting a hallway switch and having both the front and back flood lights on all day!
The two newly freed up switch spots will be kept for future living room lighting. For now though we just ran un-connected wiring up to the attic and left it coiled in a roll up there. The switch plate will be filled with some blank off pieces so the three gang is now only a one gang. It’ll look strange but it’s much easier to make these changes now when we have the wall open.


The bathrooms are where the electrical boxes need to be a lot more exact. Wanting to have sconces on either side of the mirrors, all of the switches in a neat organized group that doesn’t interfere with the vanity backsplash tile or wainscoting, and hidden outlets in some of the cabinets makes things more difficult.

Sorry to say but electrical is normally a bit of a hack job (ducks from tomatoes being thrown) with electricians having a lot of say on where things get placed. Most homeowners don’t think about every outlet or switch. When I was getting quotes from electricians they were shocked to see I had electrical drawings showing where I wanted things. Yes I know I should have “building design nerd” tattooed on my forehead. But like I mentioned before going with a part-time electrician where we acted as his assistants allowed us to make those placement decisions and it was our time that was spent working out all of those details and putting in all the boxes ourselves. There was a lot of dimension checking on my part between the CAD files I had drawn up and what the actual space ended up being (which was luckily not too far off). Then a lot of things we considered when we were placing bathroom electrical boxes:


– What size the mirrors will be and where they will be hung. You want the sconces to be in the top third of the mirror height but not all the way at the top and you need the light from them to be at a pleasing eye level for flattering/useful task lighting. In the main bathroom I picked out sconces with a glass shade that point downward so the electrical box is hung higher so the center of the bulb is at the right height. In the master bathroom I have scones that point upward and have a shade that diffuses the light. You want that around eye level as well because if they are too high or too low you’ll be able to see the bulb. Another thing we considered was that Flannel Man and I are about 6” different in height so we came up with a happy middle number to use as our average eye height.


– Where will the vertical storage cabinets be in both bathrooms and how far away should the sconces be from them? There wasn’t a lot of wiggle room in placing these sconces (hmm should have thought of that before) so when there were wall studs in the way we had to go to shallow pan boxes that are only ½” thick. The wiring has to be run in a way so that you only have one wire into these shallow boxes (so they have to be the end of a daisy chain or each have their own separate line back to the switch).

Here we had to the left sconce before ending the daisy chain at the right sconce because it is only a shallow pan box.


– How high will the vanity backsplash tile be and how will the edges be trimmed out? In the master bath we’re going to use some type of pencil tile trim to finish off the edges nicely. We don’t have that picked out yet so we’re guessing on an average size for that. The three gang box of switches will be very close to where the tile ends so that will be interesting. In the main bathroom we’re using exterior trim for the wainscoting which will top off the vanity backsplash so…


– What height is the wainscoting running at and where do I want the light switches in relation to that? Turns out the wainscoting will be right around the average height you’re supposed to put light switches but I thought it would look stupid to stop the trim and put switches so I put half of the switches above and half below.


– I didn’t want the GFCI outlets for the vanities breaking up the pretty backsplash tile and Flannel Man didn’t want to cut them in the side of the tall vertical storage cabinets so we wanted to place them on the open wall space next to the vanities just below the lip of the vanity top. They will be easy to use right there but visually not right in your face.


– That meant we had all of the light and exhaust fan switches plus the electric floor mat thermostat (per the manufacturer this needed to be in its own single gang box) plus the GFCI outlet all in the few inches between the door and the vanity in both bathrooms. The means a double gang box + two single gang boxes for the main bathroom and a triple gang box + two single gang boxes in the master bathroom. I wanted this group of boxes to look neat and organized not just hap hazardly placed on the wall so that entailed lining up the boxes in as much of a grid as possible. Drawing them that way on a CAD drawing was one thing but installing them and running all of the wires to these congested wall cavities was another. Through some creative thinking we came up with the idea to construct some of supports and attach the boxes separate from the wall to make everything fit. We’ll see how it all looks with the switch plates on…I hope it looks OK!


– The grille and light/grille combos for the exhaust fans needed to be centered over the showers and in the case of our big master bath the toilet so final sizes needed to be known.


– The flushmount ceiling light over the roman tub in the master bath had to be centered…well that is what I thought until I realized it the tub needs to be a few inches off to account for the tub faucet being on one end. I know we could have avoided that little problem by putting the faucet on the front or the back but I didn’t want to half to crawl over the faucet to get in the tub and I didn’t want the faucet along an exterior wall where I couldn’t reach it. Having it on the side allows us to build a hidden access panel in the half wall between the tub and toilet. So after confirming where all of that would be we just centered the light over the window which is what it is closest to anyway. That exact spot was over a truss so we needed another pan box for the tight space.

An overall view of the master bath electrical:


We also started adding insulation to the exterior walls now that the weather is getting colder. For now we can only put insulation in the wall cavities with no electrical wiring until the inspector comes by to approve everything. Only after we stapled everything up did Papa Flannel point out that we had used the wrong type of insulation. We bought paper faced batt which is what we bought for the exterior wall in the garage. But because we’re trying to save energy by cutting down on infiltration as much as possible we’re using visqueen on these walls and any other future walls we open up. Visqueen is just a big plastic sheet that covers the wall from top to bottom with no seams. It is a vapor barrier and so is the kraft paper on the batt so we’re cutting lots of holes into the batt paper we’ve already hung up and bought.

(The floor in the main bathroom has to stay open until the inspector can approve the electrical for the basement sink lights.)


In a mad rush to get everything done before the inspector came over we quickly installed the bathroom exhaust fans and the grille/light combo boxes. We picked out some inline fans that will sit in the attic so that we can use the existing roof penetrations. We also loved the minimal appearance the grilles and grille/light combos have in the space and how much more quiet the system is since the fan is not in the space. So we went with a FanTech single grille with light in the main bathroom and a dual grille with one light in the master bathroom.

Cutting in the new small 4″ hole with the old 8″ exhaust fan hole nearby.

Up in the attic we installed the larger master bath fan (note the Y connection is simply resting on top of the fan in this picture so we don’t lose it):

And the smaller main bathroom fan:

Light/grille combo box shown nearby:


But really what would this post be without some more people falling through the ceiling?

Yup our electrician managed to stick his leg through the ceiling not once but twice in the same spot on the same day. The first time I was concerned he was OK. The second time I was just annoyed. His excuse was “the drywall is old and brittle.” Um I think the real lesson is you don’t weigh what you used to. And since when is walking on drywall OK? Seriously. We got no apology either for all of the mess he made. Now we have to replace most of the ceiling in the main bathroom. Luck for him that was the last day we needed him before the inspector came.

We Are Now The Proud Owners of a Custom Walnut Vanity

Back when I came up with these new bathroom layouts 4 years ago I knew we would have an odd amount of extra space. In the main bathroom the shower/tub combo wasn’t changing size and toilets are all roughly the same size. So we could make an extra long vanity (though it wasn’t quite long enough for a double sink) or add some vertical storage next to the vanity or the shower. I opted to keep the toilet in the nook next to the shower and have some tall storage next to the vanity because I was over having the toilet two feet away from where I brush my teeth. Having some tall vertical storage next to the vanity just made sense because that is where you would use it most.

We already had an existing linen closet which is nice but in an odd spot right behind the door to the bathroom. You can only open it when that door is closed or you’re playing bumper doors. So consequently it doesn’t get used that often and we store everyday items elsewhere. It is our only linen closet in the whole house though so I didn’t want to remove it. Adding the vertical storage cabinet solved the dilemma of where to put everyday bathroom items and we can use the linen closet for less used items. You can never have too much storage in a bathroom right?

In my design I kept the tall storage cabinet to a width that would allow us to use a standard sized 36” wide vanity. But after seeing that was the current size of the vanity we decided having a little extra width would be nice especially since two people will be using this sink. So we upped the width to 3.5’ bringing the vertical storage down to 18” wide which seemed like a nice size. Not too small but not so big you lose stuff in it. Having decided on the sizes we didn’t look at the plans again for a year or two.

To contrast the very white space I wanted dark cabinetry. You can see my design board here. I really like the look of the Restoration Hardware vanity but we needed more drawers, a different size, and a lower price tag.

Cut to the middle of demo when it was order time and I was ordering fixtures and materials like a mad woman. Looking again at the vanity and cabinet sizes we had set our minds to I found it wasn’t easy to find a matching vanity and tower to fit the space. What would work the best was semi-custom cabinets from kitchen suppliers. But the prices really added up and the quality of the cabinets was just OK. So we went to plan B (which was secretly Flannel Man’s plan A all along) and had the cabinets custom made by Flannel Man’s co-worker.

His co-worker has a cabinetry business on the side out of his house. Someday he hopes to build a big shop and possibly even make cabinets full time. So far he has the land bought from his father in-law and some plans worked up. He was able to build the vanity and tall storage cabinet for much less than the semi-custom kitchen cabinets and they would be a better construction made with solid walnut not veneer. I was sold!


I’m going to start posting pictures of the finished product here now because I have a lot of pictures and it breaks up the story better. Drumroll please…

He was able to give us a great deal on the black walnut lumber because it was cut from his and his father in-law’s land (they own 30 acres and 60 acres respectively just outside of town) and dried in a barn on the property for the last 10 years. Talk about being local! Because it was custom I got to design every inch of the vanity and cabinet. Flannel Man thought I was just being difficult with the details I wanted but if we’re buying custom cabinets I want to make them…well custom. For example one of the things I really wanted was a flush inset style door or basically no overlay (the front of the door is flush with the face frame). To me that style makes a piece feel instantly older and it fits with the craftsman feel we want. As one cabinet maker put it that style is “right at home with the shaker and mission style cabinets.” It takes more time and costs a little more but it takes a lot of skill to do well which is what that style highlights.

Of course I also wanted shaker style doors, drawers, and side panels. And for the furniture feel that I’m liking right now the base of the cabinet has feet that are flush with the face frame instead of a recessed toe kick. We will have him put a recessed toe kick behind the feet though (currently not there) so that I don’t have to try to clean up under there but we haven’t decided if we are going to use matching stained walnut or go with a white painted piece that blends in with the floor tile better.

Either way we’re tiling completely under both cabinets so they could be changed out in the future if need be without redoing the floor. The way we see it the tile is more permanent than the cabinets so we want to make it work in other possible configurations in the future.

The cabinets were made with stain grade birch plywood and then every part of the cabinet you see (the doors, drawer fronts, and side panels) were made with solid walnut. A simple clear coat on top was the perfect finish to show off the beautiful grain of the wood.

Just for fun the cabinet maker kept a piece of slug he found in the lumber where we could see it inside a drawer. Knowing our hobbies he thought we would enjoy it.

We didn’t need the cabinets yet (heck we just put in the subfloor) but he was done making them and he didn’t want his kids to ding them in the basement. So for now they are sitting in the out of the way space where the fireplace used to be in our basement.

I had the vanity made an inch deeper than a standard vanity so there is a little more room behind the sink to clean.

To make the transition between the granite top on the vanity and the tall storage cabinet easier I had the carpenter make the tall cabinet an inch and a half deeper. That way the overhang butts up to storage cabinet without having an exposed corner that would need to be shaped and cut.

The drawers in the cabinet I wanted to be extra tall for all of those tall items that normally fit anywhere else. That keeps them from being stuffed horizontally in a drawer or crammed under the sink never to be seen again. For the first drawer I wanted a big cut away so that it can act like an extension of the countertop (it’s just a few inches shorter than the counter will be). This is where I want to store items used everyday like contact solution and makeup so they don’t clutter up the counter as much. Easily accessible and easily hidden!

The top of the tall cabinet has fully adjustable and removable shelves. Someday I want to replace the panel on this door for a stained glass panel to give it even more vintage flair.

Tucked away back there are the side panels for both the vanity and tall cabinet the later of which has a small exposed edge the whole way of the cabinet.

And what everyone is probably wondering we paid $1500 for both of these cabinets. That is the same price the big box stores wanted for their veneered particle board cabinets full of formaldehyde! The higher quality plywood cabinets from the kitchen cabinet stores were far more. We’re very happy with the results and can’t wait to be able to use the vanity and storage cabinet!

So what do you think?

Things Are Taking Shape

You guys I have some more good news we have all of our walls framed up! Flannel Man has been getting up early almost everyday and working with his father on the house for a few hours before going to work. I’m so lucky to have such a dedicated husband and talented father in-law. Papa Flannel is amazingly fast at rough carpentry. He can knock out a full flight of stairs or a 20′ wall in no time flat. The guy is a machine. The new view from the entry is of the long wall between the living room and the master bedroom.

We’re also working on the second layer of plywood floor for the master bathroom.

The size of the new master closet.


We still have all of the electrical to do up here. The existing wiring is all run from the attic (see outlets hanging where the old living room wall was) so that means a lot of time spent in the attic rerouting/correcting that.

To redo the basement electrical we had to add this big junction box to the master bedroom. It still looks like a tangle of wire right now but eventually it will be covered by a double blank plate. We tried to put it at a height that will be hidden by the nightstand.


A better look at the master closet. It’s huge! See the hole in the ceiling and the diagonal piece of subfloor? That is where the old non-working fireplace was. I’m so glad I convinced Flannel Man to take it out instead of just boxing it in! The door on the right is to the master bedroom and the smaller hole on the left is the built-in bookcase in the entry we’re going to replace.

Looking through the built-in bookcase opening.

This 24″ wide space has really come in handy. It’s our new doorway for tools, supplies, and walking back and forth.


With the walls all up I took the time to tape down some of my furniture and layout plans to help visualize where everything will be…and to assure Flannel Man it will all fit OK. I knew it would work because I drew it up. ; ) Here’s a little tour:

When you enter the master bedroom there is a view of an upholstered chair and nightstand from the mini hallway into the space.

As you walk into the room you see a four post bed with windows and nightstands on either side.

Along the blank wall is long, low dresser with art above.

Turning around there is a small, slim TV hanging on the wall opposite the bed. The closet door is next to it and a hamper in the corner where the ladder is. (Entrance to the room is on the far left.) Check out the awesome light show!


Onto the closet. Now the closet is twice the size of the old walk-in closet but you have to keep in mind that I will no longer have a dresser because the master bedroom is smaller and there are more pathways that need to be kept clear. So we’re going to make a built-in closet system with drawers. It will really act as my dressing room. Which is exactly what I wanted (no not because I’m a girly girl with tons of clothes and shoes!) because Flannel Man works nights so he is sleeping when I get ready in the morning. It’s not a big deal in the summer when there is light filtering under the blinds but in the winter it is still pitch black in the morning and I use my old school cell phone as a nightlight to find what I need. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell if my socks are black or brown with that light and I’ll admit on a few of those rushed mornings I went to work with brown socks and black shoes. See I told you I was not a fashionista! Anyway with the dressing room I can close the door and turn on the light to get dressed in the morning without waking up FM.

The closet plan is still in flux but here is what I’m leaning toward. When you walk in the back wall has single hanging for long items, a bank of drawers with shelving above, and double hanging. In the corner is the built-in bookcase that faces the entry. There was a smaller version of one there before but we widened it and will be adding convenient drawers in the bottom. It puts the normally hard to reach corner space to better use.

To the right are some more drawers with the top drawer being a short jewelry drawer. Above is an open wall area for a jewelry cork board. Behind the door we might have deep shelves specifically fit for four of the large Rubbermaid bins we use for off season storage.

To the left is more double hanging and a hanging rod with shelving below for either shoes or bulky items. On the left over wall area we’ll try to squeeze in a tall shelving unit for shoes and accessories. It is also going to be lined up to be behind the same wall cavity of the TV so we can store our TV equipment out of the way in the closet.


Finally, there is the master bathroom off of the bedroom.

We Have Real Floors and Everything!

The electrician finally came to finish hooking up the basement electrical. We now have working lights in the basement people!! I can’t even begin to explain how awesome that is. Then the inspector came to approve everything so we could close the floors back up. The inspector was surprised when he found we had removed all of the floor layers instead of demoing the drywalled ceiling in the basement. Papa Flannel thought the same thing and we had to fight him on the idea of pulling up the floor. I guess we’re just strange. But upgrading to a better constructed all plywood floor that won’t squeak and is more stable sounded a lot nicer than re-drywalling 650sf of ceiling and keeping the old plywood/particle board floor in it’s less than stellar condition. Plus doing so gave us the change to try to even out the waves in the floor.

Lesson for the day: Just because something is typically done a certain way doesn’t necessarily make it the best way.

Originally the floors were ½” plywood with ½” of particle board on top. We were able to salvage and reuse a lot of the ½” plywood. There were a few areas were we didn’t cut away all of the plywood. Along the exterior walls we cut to the first floor joist unless we had to access the space and under the master closet we didn’t need to reach any utilities. In those areas we added some screws to help eliminate the squeaky floors. This meant our base layer had to stay ½” plywood then we topped it with ¾” tongue and groove exterior grade B finish plywood. Ideally the bottom layer would be ¾” to help span the joists but ½” + ¾” tongue and groove was sufficient over the floor joist spacing we have for the type of flooring we’ll be installing. If you aren’t sure check out the handy Deflect-o-lator here.

With everything set to go we could finally start using all of the plywood we had bought. After carrying it all in Flannel Man & I were balancing our way across the floor joists to measure what size we needed to cut them down to. We’ve been walking on exposed floor joists for over a month. The only way to turn on our basement lights or get to the master bathroom area was to walk across them. You think we’d be primed to be tight rope experts by now right? But earlier in the day FM stubbed his toe badly on the plastic boxspring corner (the big four post bed frame couldn’t fit in our makeshift master bedroom so the boxspring and mattress are on the floor). Cut to back to Flannel Man needing to walk +30 feet across opened floor joists and …CRASH!

Yup. Balancing on a floor joist with a still slighting numb stubbed toe is not a good idea. Flannel Man’s whole leg went through the ceiling below but he caught himself on the floor joist with his other thigh. He had a massive 6” long bruise on his inner thigh the next day. I’m sure the male readers are wondering…it was a close call but luckily nothing got smashed. ; )


How to fix uneven floors

I’ve heard of people using self leveling cement or asphalt shingles to level an existing subfloor but since we pulled up ours we only needed to level our floor joists themselves which made things much easier.

Before we put down any plywood down we double checked how level the floor joists were. We knew originally there were some dips in the floor that we were hoping to correct them as much as we could especially in the bathrooms. So we went to our trusty home improvement store and bought a sheet of plywood in every small thickness we could find. Then we cut them down to 1 ½” wide strips using the table saw at FM’s work (it’s so handy to be able to use big tools we don’t have at his work). We learned cutting flimsy 1/8” thick plywood is much easier when it’s stacked on top of another thicker piece of plywood.

One of the ways to forcing yourself into getting tasks done is to inconveniently place large objects in your way so that you eventually get sick of walking around them and do something about it. Here is the main artery of our house.

Bedrooms and what we someday hope to call a bathroom to the right. Kitchen, laundry, dining room (aka. box central), and living room to the right. Only working bathroom down the stairs. Yeah this trip hazard didn’t last there long.

With the strips cut we tried to decode the puzzle of what needed to go where. It was a lot of trial and error. Some places needed only one shim for a few feet others needed two or three shims that stopped at different lengths to taper down the ends. Where we had kept the base layer of plywood and it needed lifting we pulled the nails out so we could slide shims underneath.

Each layer was glued down with Loctite’s PL-400 adhesive.

We used all of the 1/8″ strips up and had to go buy and cut more before we could finish. There were a lot of the thicker strips left. Where we had less than gradual tapers in the strips we hit the corners with an orbital sander for a smooth transition between the floor joist and the fill in strips.

The corner the master bathroom is in was the worst. We think that corner of the house has settled slightly (due to some poor grading and having no gutters on the house for 35 years). We needed as much as 3/8″ thick strips in places!

Then we put down more adhesive along all of the floor joists for the plywood and nailed it down using long rim shank nails. For the best results you’re supposed to stand on either side of the spot you’re nailing to ensure everything is tight to the structure and help reduce squeaks in the floor.

In the bathrooms we wanted an even stronger floor so we used only new plywood and used screws instead of nails. They were placed every 6” around the edges and every 8” in the center. In the bathrooms we’re considering the future tile floor a permanent floor so burring screws under layers of glue and plywood was fine by us. Sophie wasn’t willing to let me get any good pictures but I thought it would be fun showing you a quick timeline. Papa Flannel calls her a cat because she always wants to know what you’re doing but we just call her curious. As usual I’ll give her a voice.


“Hey what’s up?!”

“What you don’t want to pay attention to me? OK I’ll walk over here.”

Sniff sniff sniff.

“Still working on that hey?”

“I’ll just mosey on over here for a little bit.”

“Third times the charm! Pet my big head please!”


The finished first layer of plywood in the master bathroom. The room is looking more finished everyday!

I Hope We Don’t Start Chronically Wasting

I have a quick update on Wednesday’s post. I got the call last night that the deer we butchered tested positive for CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease). The DNR collects brain tissue from deer in the area to test for CWD and track it’s movements and developments. My in-laws have been hunting in that area for years and this is the first time it’s ever been detected. Two out of the three deer they got tested positive. What is CWD? Well in super simplified and not so accurate terms it’s called the “mad cow disease for deer.” For a much better explanation see this site and to see a national map of where the disease has spread click here.

What does this all mean? Unlike mad cow, CWD has never been shown to be able to spread to humans. But because there is so little known about it the DNR recommends not eating the meat. The disease resides in the brain, spinal tissue, lymph nodes, tonsils, eyes, and spleen so there are a number of possible ways butchering could infect the meat. We are reluctantly throwing away all of the venison we worked so long and hard to process. (insert sad face here) When I was taking everything out of the freezer I counted that is roughly 42 pounds of meat! In fact when I got that call I was making a huge batch of venison chili that I had to throw out. Even worse we’ve already eaten some of the tenderloin because it tastes so much better fresh. I joking told FM if he starts losing excessive amounts of weight or having blank facial expressions I was going to take him in to get tested for the human form of the disease.

On a serious note this new threat is very disturbing. It’s upsetting to know that an uncontrollable and 100% fatal disease that is spreading throughout our deer population. It creates holes in their brains making them look like sponges. The first positive test for CWD in our state was not all that long ago in 2002 and it’s been rapidly spreading ever since. Scary stuff!

Seven Things

I was awarded the Versatile Blogger Award by Kyle at Roncesvalles Victorian Reno. Thanks Kyle! I’m now finally getting around to listing my seven things.

Instead of writing 7 random facts about me I was feeling more creative and thought I’d do 7 facts that relate to each other.

1) Its hunting season around here and we’ve been eating a lot of wild game. Neither of us went deer hunting this year but Flannel Man’s uncle, grandpa, and dad did and they ended up with more meat than they wanted. So we unexpectedly spent 20 hours butchering a deer in our garage. Fun times! You know you’re in the country when this is considered normal for this time of year. Then we borrowed a meat grinder and vacuum sealed about 40lb of venison hamburger and steaks. I can’t complain when our chest freezer is stuffed full of free lean meat. Did you know venison is leaner than skinless chicken breasts? Anyone have a good venison recipe they’d like to share?


2) Flannel Man just went on his first pheasant hunt at a local farm with a few of his friends. Well actually they went on one last year but it consisted of just walking through a grassy field and they didn’t see anything so that doesn’t count. They each got two birds but no one else wanted the meat so he brought home all six (after cleaning them up of course).

It’s hard to tell in this picture but Flannel Man (center) was using an antique shotgun made in 1910. Most people would consider it purely as an antique or collectable but Flannel Man doesn’t believe in collecting any firearm that doesn’t actually work.


3) We found the antique side-by-side shotgun in a pawn shop last year on our road trip to Miami. On our way from Miami to Key Largo we passed a pawn shop that was advertising firearms. Flannel Man begged me to turn around so we did and found this beauty inside.

Flannel Man instantly recognized how old this side-by-side shotgun was because all of the checkering and engraving was done by hand. He was intrigued but didn’t buy it on the spot. We continued on our trip to the Keys. But he just couldn’t stop thinking about it especially after calling some if his friends who are even bigger collectors and knew what it might be worth. So on the way back we kept a close eye out for the hole-in the wall pawn shop and bought it. It was shipped to our local gunsmith (federal regulations mandate this) and Flannel Man found out it wasn’t in working order. It had two broken parts. Of course because it’s handmade and so old you can’t buy replacement parts so he built new ones. After a lot of tinkering he had it up and working.


4) Did you read the last one closely? Yes I said road trip to Miami…from Wisconsin. I know I know we’re crazy, right? We drove non-stop from WI to FL each way (that is one big benefit of having a husband who works nights!). It was a really fun time with Flannel Man by my side. We visited the oldest fort in America in St. Augustine, went on a fan boat ride in the Everglades, stayed in a cute little vintage hotel in Miami, went SCUBA diving in Key Largo, and drove to Key West. We even stopped and turned around to help a turtle cross the road.

Maybe some other time I’ll share the beach, sunset, alligator, and underwater SCUBA pictures but this one summed up our trip the best.


5) My little Saturn has been everywhere! From Key West to Canada (where my in-laws have a cabin). It’s one awesome little car and rare too. See I don’t have just any old Saturn oh no I have a Homecoming addition! WTH is a Homecoming you say? Well it was a national gathering Saturn owners used to have every four years and the company would make 5,000 special addition cars to celebrate. What is the difference? Well this addition has a combination of fabric and leather seating, a spoiler (you know to go fast), a two toned paint color (gold with light green over the top that is impossible to match BTW), and a backlit speedometer that says “Homecoming” in curly cue (how very 90’s of them) lettering. LOL! And the guy who sold this to me wanted me to pay extra for all of these features. Um no.


6) Back when I bought this car mpg was not on everyone’s mind as it is today. But I’ve always been all about efficiency so it was my number one concern. Plus at the time I was moving 100 miles away for nine months. Which meant I was driving home almost every weekend to see Flannel Man. On a regular basis my car gets up to 33 mpg. This worked out well for us later when we bought our house because I drive 25 minutes to work in my more fuel efficient car and FM drives only 5 minutes to work in his handy but not so efficient truck. We need the truck for hauling both of our shooting gear, pulling the trailer, carrying our extra long kayaks, and for our many home improvement trips but it’s nice that Flannel Man doesn’t have to waste gas driving a long distance to work!


7) And that is why I love the Madison area. We can live 20 minutes from the city but still own a few acres of land in the country. You can’t do that in a big city! We’re only 5 minutes from town which has the essentials or 20 minutes from the edge of the city aka. Menard’s…which is really all that matters. We’re far enough in the country we can’t see any other houses out of our windows.* It’s the perfect combination if you ask me!

This is a quick morning shot from a few weeks ago.


Now I get to pass on this award to 15 of my favorite house bloggers:
DIY Diva
The Turtle House
Russet Street Reno
The Impatient Gardener
Picardy Project
86’n It
At Home Alterations
Sweet Chaos
The Ugly Duckling House
Holyoke Home
Hazardous Design
One Ugly House
First Time Fancy
Now go check out their awesome blogs!


*In the summer that is. In the winter when the trees are bare we can see part of our neighbor’s house out of two bedroom windows.

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