Thursday, August 27, 2015

Downsizing.... We Did It!

Hello there folks... I've been missing all of you!  It has been a wild and crazy ride around here, but praise the Lord, today I finally see light at the end of the tunnel, and have the presence of mind, and energy to spare, to write a blog post!

I can tell you this.... downsizing is tough!   So many hard and difficult decisions about memory heavy belongings!

When I move, I normally have a "staging area" which is a room that I use to put things that I know need to go somewhere, but don't really have a place to go - yet.  In our little cottage, there really was no room for a staging area, except for our bedroom, so for the last week or two, it has been piled with boxes having no particular destination, and a small path to walk through.  Each night, I went to bed surrounded by boxes with unknown destinations.  For me, this was very hard, because I love things organized, and in their place.

Finally though... yesterday the last box in my bedroom was put in its final destination, and I feel like I can breathe again!  This has been a difficult road filled with organizing challenges, and other miscellaneous challenges along the way which didn't really help.

Probably the main challenge - and one we still face - is the fact that don't have hot water.  My husband had to leave to go back to work on the day that the propane tank was filled and the heat/cooling company was scheduled to come out the next day and light the hot water heater, and ensure its safety and working ability.  However, when they came out, because the hot water heater was previously natural gas, and is older than eight years, the part to interchange the hot water heater from gas to propane is no longer available. So, we basically have a hot water heater that won't work with propane. The other option is to switch the hot water heater over to electric, but this is something my husband will need to do. And he won't be back until Labor Day weekend.

So... we are camping!  We are heating hot water for dishes and bathing, and while this is a challenge of sorts, it is not terrible.  It is manageable.  Yet, it is just one more thing I have to do, on top of getting the house in order.

So, there you have it... the reason I've been lost and hiding from blog posts is just that I've been covered in boxes... and dust!

You see, on top of everything else we have going on here, our area is on high alert because of wild fires.  The air has been incredibly smoky, and thankfully that is the worst we've had to endure.  So many others close by us have lost their homes and all that they have.  There is a huge wildfire burning north of us, about 12 miles away, but we are in no danger of it approaching where we are at.  However, everyone here is on edge and on high alert about the fires, and it is a great cause for concern.  We have tremendous amounts of dust because of the gravel road we live on, and the fact that our new construction has stirred up a lot of ground that once was forest floor... and now, is just... dust.  The dogs love it.  They run back and forth and clouds follow them.  I spray the ground down daily, but still... dust is everywhere!

We watched the moon come up a week or so ago, and it was rather eerie.  It was completely red because of the smoke and particles in the air.

Our yard looks like a huge mess of tunnels.  Lines had to be dug to put in the propane and telephone lines, and my husband also dug a water line from the well to the garden.

Uh oh!  The ground gave way as the tractor was shoveling the dirt back into the holes and the tractor was stuck!

No amount of effort to use the bucket to help back the tractor out would work.  Time for my husband's heavy duty 4x4 pickup to be put to work.

I drove the pickup and pulled the tractor out... lots of fun, and a few laughs there! My husband was extremely careful to not get close to the edges again, as I was his eyes on the ground as he pushed dirt.

The new home for our chickens arrived!  I found this well made chicken coop locally, and it was time to introduce our hens to their new home!

The hens were very stressed about the move.  We put them in the back of my pickup, and they all huddled on the plastic container for the drive over to their new home.

We had cleaned out the chicken shed (it still had residuals from the previous owners), and dusted it down with diatomaeous earth.  The hens are loving their new home, especially since it is right next door to the garden!

We have regular visitors throughout the day - a whole group of momma turkeys and their babies come by to visit mornings and evenings.  I've been leaving fresh water out for them, and the turkeys crowd around the water and just drink and drink.  I keep fresh water for them each day, as it is so dry here. See that dust?  Yeah, that's right outside my window! It fills your shoes and your feet are almost black at the end of the day, especially if you are wearing sneakers or open toed shoes.  Even wearing boots, the dirt has a way of attaching itself to you!

Our horizons around here are very limited right now due to the very smoky air.  This picture was actually taken on one of the better days we've had. Some days it is downright eerie with the amount of smoke that is in the air.

Yesterday, there was enough done on the house that I could leave for a while, and so I took Annie on our first walk since we moved in.  Oh what a beautiful walk it was!

We walked approximately 2.5 miles and it was a welcome relief for me to get out and walk again after all the moving excitement!

When I got back, I heard this woodpecker in one of our trees.  He wasn't worried about me at all, and let me get very close.  Once I got a little too close, he just moved to the other side of the tree, lol!

My small garden is doing well, and produce is really starting to come in!  Last year, our first frost hit before any of my tomatoes even ripened! So I am so thrilled that this year I am already experiencing a significant amount of ripe tomatoes!

Oh what a happy sight to see them ripening beautifully on the vine!

Some pictures of recent harvests...

Well, this is it for the update on downsizing our lives!  It has been a challenging journey to be sure, but already I am reaping the benefits of enjoying a simpler lifestyle, and praising the Lord for helping us get to this place!  Thank you for following along with us in this crazy wonderful journey that we are on, and I hope to get back to regular blog posts very soon.  Many blessings and hugs to all my wonderful friends out there... and I hope to get back to visiting your blogs soon.  :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The STUFF of life!

First of all, I want to let my faithful readers know that I haven't fallen off the face of the earth... but I just might have gotten lost in all the STUFF that has been collected in the last couple of decades and stored in our home!  LOL!  Since we are mightily downsizing (moving from a 2000+ square foot home to a 700 square foot home)... this has been an undertaking of giant proportions... at least when you consider how much you can accumulate in a short and wonderful lifetime!  As a former avid scrapbooker and stamper, I've accumulated a large collection of beautiful albums of all our children's growing up memories.  And then there are pieces of this and that which to most people wouldn't look like much, but it is something my precious children made it for me, bought it for me, or someone gave it to me... and on and on the list goes!  So what do you do with all this memory-heavy STUFF?

Yes.  So that is what has been going on around here.  I've flipped through memory books and albums that are covered in dust, and as I flipped through the pages, the special and precious memories played before me, and time seemed to stand still... or at least I wished it would!  As drawers were emptied, closets opened and clothes pulled out - there were decisions on what to keep, and what not to keep. We have four seasons here, which means an endless supply of clothing needs for each season.  Where to store these things in a 700 sq ft house?

So, the STUFF of life has been happening around here.  And I'm doing better with it each day.  I just tell myself - it is just stuff.  And you know what has helped me the most with it all?  To realize that the most important things that we own really isn't the "stuff" found in boxes, drawers, and closets... but it is the moments we spend with our loved ones, the time we give, and the memories we have... that is what makes our lives full, rich, and beautiful.  And while I may not be able to keep every single piece of  "stuff" that reminds of a precious moment gone by... I still am blessed with the memories of that time.

I have found scrapbooks and albums where I had placed special keepsakes of our children throughout their school years, and my daughter and I got lost a few minutes one day and shared some laughs over the memories they brought.  I don't know where those keepsakes will go... but I will keep them.

Thankfully we have a large storage area behind our home, and many of these memories will have to be carefully packed away until the day when we build our home, and where they can grace the shelves again.  But, it has been an emotional time as we have had to carefully go through things and decide - do you stay, or do you get packed up for later, or do you leave forever.... oh my!

Downsizing is not easy... but I am finding out it is a beautiful thing when you can find joy in the journey, and the Lord has been my strength throughout each day - thank you Lord!

And now... for those of you who have patiently read through my melodrama about downsizing, and the STUFF of life.... I have a few pictures to share of what our home looks like now!

Remember when it looked like this?

The ugly bar with the large gaping hole...

... the original dishwasher from the 1970s...

 ... the cabinets that looked pretty sad in the corner ....

... the missing panels in the sink area...

 ... the old flooring...

... and the restoration process that began...

Yippee!  The carpet and flooring has arrived!

The padding was quickly laid down...

... don't you just LOVE the beadboard on the bar!  No more ugly!!

While I was waiting on the carpet to be laid, I took a few pictures of what the kitchen looked like with the new hardware on the cabinet doors... our dear friend TS installed the cabinets and hardware for me, which was appreciated so much!

... and the kitchen with the new vinyl flooring!

... carpet laid in the living room!


Remember this gap above this cabinet? The gap is because the walls and ceilings are very crooked, and it was a dilemma on how to fix it.  However, our dear friend TS crafted this little piece of wood to stick into the gap, and then he caulked it all.

 I still have to paint the wood addition, but it does look so much better!  

Another peek at the floors where they meet up between the kitchen and living room.

Do you see the double panels under the sink?  I'm so thrilled that our friend TS was able to make those for me, and they look perfect! (Please excuse the mess on top of the sink area... it was our staging area for the work throughout the house, lol!)

A peek down the hallway...

I wanted to see how my kitchen table was going to fit into the small dining space.  As you can see... the space is very, very small, because we haven't even added chairs yet!  It is possible we may have to do some searching to find a corner table with bench seating to accommodate this dining area.

Our dear friend TS came over early one morning to finish installing the dishwasher, and bless his heart! He cleaned up the mess on the countertop! Oh what a beautiful sight that was to see, everything neat and tidy, and he had even organized the tools out in the addition for us.  Wow!

We brought in some "outdoor" furniture for the time being until we could begin moving in. I had my husband bring over the love seat just to get a feel for the room, and see how we were going to arrange the furniture, and what we were going to be able to fit into that small space. It was pretty cozy with just the love seat... but we have a couch, two rocking chairs, a piano and end tables to fit in this space as well...

My husband and I were talking about how we were going to arrange the furniture so that we could both have our comfort chairs, and a place for guests to sit.  It will be fun rearranging our furniture and seeing what fits, and what doesn't!

The room looks full and cozy with just the love seat and a couple of outdoor chairs, lol!

Today things got just a little more exciting... and complicated!  We added appliances to the kitchen... which I was thrilled about... but now you can get a visual of just how awkward this kitchen arrangement is.  You may remember my discussion about the problem with the dishwasher.  As you can see above... the problem is clearly identified... no room for the drawer bank that came with the cabinets.  We shopped long and hard to try to figure out what to do.  Finally, the decision came down to this: the drawer bank or .... an ice maker in the refrigerator... and guess who won?

Well, my dear Texan husband and his ice maker weren't about to part (Texans just gotta have ICE you know!), and so... we came to a compromise! He has promised to build me some sort of cabinet that will fit in between the stove and refrigerator, since the one I have won't work, and he gets to keep the bigger refrigerator with the ice maker.  Marriage is all about compromise!  {grin}

A view of the cabinets and dishwasher.  It is quite obvious that whoever designed this bar area must never have washed dishes, or spent much time in the kitchen! Oh well... I'll just get a rug to catch the drips between the sink and the dishwasher, lol!

We brought the couch over today, and began to play around with arrangements.  Still not certain on how its all going to fit... and the couch may have to go.  We'll see... !

The piano hasn't arrived yet, nor our "comfy" chairs...  No doubt there are more "compromises" on the way, lol!  But we are enjoying the journey, and my husband and I keep smiling at each other and saying... "Hey honey, its PAID FOR!"  And that makes us happy... it is worth this wild and wonderful journey!

To those of you to whom I see around "blog land", I just want to let you know that hopefully within the next couple of weeks, we'll be settled in... and I'll see you around then.  For now... this is an update... on the run!

May the Lord bless your day, and His presence sweetly surround you in all you do!