Thursday, October 28, 2010
Ok, so that first picture really doesn't have anything to do with floors. I just wanted to get your attention. I know this temperature certainly got mine! This was 3 or 4 days ago. The next morning, it actually was -3! No picture though - I was too busy thawing out my car to get to work.
Tony's been working hard again, and I wanted to show you some of our progress. This is our main light in the living room. We plan to have two floor lamps and also some indirect lighting, so it should be nice and bright for doing things like reading and sewing.
Tony also installed the light over the kitchen sink. Combined with the light over the island he already installed, my kitchen is very bright and easy to work in!
We purchased a mirrored medicine cabinet last week. We had to take the first one back because it was broken, so we were finally able to get this one mounted.
I fell in love with this door when I saw it. It's pine and has a lot of character, and is now part of our bathroom decor!
The walls in the living room are now complete. Here is one corner of the room
Here is a look at the nearly finished walls in our bedroom (and the messy bed!). The bottom half, that is white now, will be painted and a chair rail added. I haven't decided what color to paint it. Probably something to go along with the new bedspread I am obligated to now buy. It is a moral imperative!
Here is the closet, sans door, which will probably be a louvered folding door.
This part of the bedroom is one that is hard to describe on here. Our floor plan is very open. The wood stove is basically in the center of the house, with one end of the house being comprised of the living room and bedroom. They are divided by this interesting wall - about 5 feet of the length of the wall is only 4 feet high. The rest of the wall is 8 feet high. We wanted a way to divide the bedroom somewhat from the living room, and yet keep the house open with minimal doors so that it would heat easily. I hope to have better picture once we get further along.
The kitchen looks completely different with the lights and wood treatments. I can't wait to get the tile in and finish painting the cabinets!
Earlier this week, we purchased our flooring. Originally, we were going to go with traditional hardwood floors. After speaking with a flooring installer and consultant, we decided to go with an engineered wood product instead. Because the cold of -50+ in the winter and heat of 90 in the summer can wreak havoc on a traditional wood floor, we hope this engineered wood will hold up better. The consultant said it would. I know where she works if she's wrong!
First, you need to add a layer of vapor barrier cushion.
In order to lay the floor, first a thin bead of glue needs to be added to the seams.
These pieces fit together very tightly, so Tony uses a block of wood to tap it into place on both the side and the end.
Tony, working his way from one end of the house to the other
I think it will look really nice when it's all in!
That's all I really have now. Tony has been working on the floor for 2 solid days now. I think he will be finishing it up tomorrow. It snowed here today, so I hope to have some really nice pictures for you of that sometime this weekend.
See, I was able to get a post out in just a week! That's better than a month! And you said it couldn't be done... :)
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Porreca Ridge - that's what Tony called it today, tongue in cheek. I kind of like it though. We have some neighbors whose last name is "Holland" and they have a sign in front of their drive saying "You're now entering Holland." So do we need a sign??? I'll just leave it to the one above, to welcome people to our cabin! So, what's been going on here on Porreca Ridge?
Tony and I had extensive chats about, before even building our home, was how we were going to live. One of the things we decided was that we would store food. I really like the Mormon principle of storing enough food for a year, so that's our goal. I love the site Food Storage Made Easy. They have tons of great ideas for storing and preparing foods, so we are using that as a start. Another great site that Tony loves is Back Woods Home. They have everything you could want on self-reliant living, which is our goal. You can't just start storing a year's worth of food all at once (at least I can't), so we are doing this as we go. If I need one item, I buy 2 or 3. When something is on sale, load up on it. If it's not on sale, you can probably live without it until it is. That is our mantra.
There was a great sale on canned veggies at the local store, so I really loaded up!
Potatoes grow really well here. A neighbor brought us these. We've been working on them for nearly a month now. They keep very nicely.
I have also continued to can. Here you can see some of the vegetables, fruits, and preserves I have stored so far. If something is on sale and I think I can make something canned out of it, I do! I found an awesome sweet hot pickled vegetable recipe. I love them and so does Tony!
Here you can see the last of the cranberries. I need to do something with them! What to do....
I've started gathering these large 5 gallon buckets. We plan to store things like rice and beans in these. That should help us toward our goal of having a 1 year supply of food on hand.
We had a very small thermometer we used when we were in the shed, but once we settled in the house, we decided to get ol' Mr. Bear. It was in the 40's the day we purchased him. We haven't seen that in a couple of weeks!
Tony has been working hard, between putting up walls and other work inside the house, at getting some of the downed trees on our property closer to the house and in more manageable pieces to burn. Here is my man with his uber pile of wood!
And this pic was taken last week, after our first good snow!
It really was pretty. I really like our property and it looks nice all snow covered.
Tony has started working from home again. Here he is, hard at work, in his "office"
Me, on the other hand - I just enjoy relaxing in my whirlpool tub!
I love it when I can get something I like at a really good price. I have been looking at light fixtures for a while now. Tony said we were ready to purchase them, so off again I went to the lighting department. To my surprise, one style of lights I had on my list was on clearance! I was able to find lighting for the entire house, 7 pieces in all including 2 chandeliers, for around $100!!! One chandelier alone can cost more than that, so I was ecstatic! You can see the style of light in my previous post.
We also purchased this outside light. Isn't it pretty?
To go with our sustainable living theme, we are trying to conserve as much power as possible. Our goal is to use no more than 3kwh a day. We have been closer to 4, but I'm hoping that dies down once we stop using all these power tools to build with. I have a battery operated alarm, a camp coffee pot, no dishwasher or microwave, and a totally propane stove - no LED display. We purchased a washer and dryer, choosing an energy and water efficient washer. Dryers are horrible power guzzlers, so we choose to hang our laundry. We only use the dryer for things that aren't feasible to hang in the house such as sheets. Right now our system of drying is kind of scattered but once we have all the permanent walls up, there will be hooks for retractable lines for drying. I am amazed at how fast our clothes dry inside, especially with the wood stove going.
Because it can get to -60 or lower here, windows can be a huge concern for loss of heat. Someone told me about Warm Windows, an insulating treatment you can use like a blanket for your windows. They can be rolled up during the day to let light in, but rolled down at night to keep the cold air out. I bought some of this the other day at Jo Ann Fabrics. I can sew something to the outside of it so that it goes with the color and style of the house.
Here is an up close look at the insulating layers
It was about 10 degrees and windy the other day. Tony and I had some time, so we decided to take a walk. He had found an easier path a few days before to the back of our property and the hay fields of our neighbor. We started out, but the first thing we noticed blowing in the wind was...our trash! I was kind of excited and asked Tony to look for prints so we could see what it was that had gotten into our trash bags. I, of course, am instructing him to do this from a safe distance! No tracks, nothing. Raven (my daughter Cassie calls them Godzilla birds) LOVE to get into trash, so we suspected that's what got into ours.
Another thing we noticed was a very large hole in our shed. Tony had chased away a large woodpecker earlier. Neither of us realized how big a hole he had made until we got up close. It's a couple of inches in diameter. Here are pics from the outside, and inside, of the hole!
Here's a good look at our driveway. It's 300 feet to the road. I suspect it's going to be interesting getting up and down that hill this winter.
We have two tanks outside our house now. The white one is for propane, which heats our hot water and works our cook stove. Because it gets so cold here, we will need to put straw or something around this tank because propane stops being a gas at -44, and it definitely gets colder than that here.
The second tank is a fuel oil tank. We use our Toyo fuel stove as a back up when we're not here.
Further on our walk, we noticed these footprints. Don't get excited, parents - these are tracks from a large dog. I was excited though. I thought they might be bear tracks! We hope to see some this winter.
We finally made it to our destination about 600 feet behind our home - the hay fields that belong to our neighbor. If you look in the distance behind me, you can see the large round bails out in the fields, and even farther back you can see the mountains. It's really much prettier than this picture shows.
On my birthday, my cell phone died! What a day for it to die. I get my facebook status notes on my phone, and it was popping like popcorn with well wishes when all of the sudden, the track ball on my Blackberry would no longer roll! UGH! How frustrated I was. I could see messages coming in and my phone was useless. We were on our way into Fairbanks anyway, so we stopped off at the local AT&T store in North Pole. I love this building!
There, I got my new phone. It's a dumb phone instead of a smart one like the Blackberry, but it just doesn't make sense to have a smart phone when you have no cell signal! I mean, how smart could it be then?
Along with my phone, I also got a new pair of Sorel winter boots rated to -40, a Carhart jacket, a very nice dinner while in town, and these flowers! Isn't my honey the best?
Tony had to make a trip to Anchorage on business. This is about 350 miles, so needless to say he was gone a couple of days. He did pick up some goodies for me though - new tires! And I just had them put on today!
Those of you who follow me on facebook know that Kenton and I had started a fan page for Bristol Palin called "Dance Bristol Dance" while she is on "Dancing with the Stars." We received a thank you from her on her facebook page, which was really sweet. She and her partner Mark Ballas came to Wasilla for a few days, and while there they got to meet many of their supporters. I wasn't able to attend and was really bummed because many of my friends were able to go and meet with Bristol, Mark, Sarah, Todd and the rest of the family. Kenton and the dance studio made up these "Dance Bristol Dance" signs and have been placing them all over the Matsu Valley. Kenton was able to get Mark, Bristol, and Sarah to sign one and he sent it to me via Tony. I love it! Thank you Kenton! You're the best!
Finally, about my job. The more progress was made on the house, the more I needed to get out. I'm a people person and really wanted to get out and do something. I used to be a pastry chef for a bakery in Virginia Beach, and so I approached the local grocery store about working there part time. I have had so many stressful office jobs the last 10 or so years, I was really looking forward to something that would allow me to be creative. The store's 20th anniversary was yesterday, so here is a picture of a cake I made for it, with their logo on it. It is a cache, used in Alaskan days of old, to store food away from animals. That's fireweed growing below, in case you're not from Alaska (or in case my handiwork makes it too hard to tell!)
That's about it folks. That's pretty much how it's been here the last month or so. I hope you've enjoyed a little slice of life on Porreca Ridge!