Sunday, June 29, 2014

Cocktail Popsicles

While we are building our house, we live in a pool house and LOVE getting to relax by the pool in our front yard! To beat the heat this summer, I thought I'd combine two summer favorites to make one delightful treat--Cocktail Popsicles (and just in time for the 4th of July)!

Here are there recipes:

All of the ingredients.
The limes secure the popsicle sticks and keep them from moving.

Lime-A-Rita (you could also use the Dos-A-Rita by Dos Equis)

Fill cups or popsicle molds with Lime-A-Rita (or margarita mixed beverage of your choice). Slice limes and insert popsicle stick.  Add stick and lime slice to dixie cups (the limes will help hold the popsicle sicks in place).  Freeze for at least 3 hours.  Once the popsicles are fully frozen, roll lime side of popsicle in salt.  ENJOY!

I don't have great assembly photos for the bourbon peach since they were more straightforward to create.  You just put all of the ingredients in the blender, mix it up, and then pour into you dixie cups or molds.

2 cups lemonade
1 cup peaches
2 ounces Bourbon

Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.  Pour into popsicle molds (if you are using a dixie cup, use tin foil on the top of the cup secure your popsicle stick.  Formal instructions are here).  Let freeze at least 3 hours.  ENJOY!

These popsicles are so easy to make and a nice cold treat when it's so hot outside!


Friday, June 27, 2014

Building Time Lapse Video Week 2

Our second week's time lapse video is complete!  Week 2 consisted of digging the giant hole I posted about here.

It's hard to see all of the progress that we made because so much of it happened inside of the basement area (below our camera's view).  If you look closely, you can see little figures hard at work!

Week 3 should be exciting, with the footers and cement trucks so be sure to check on our progress!


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Strong Foundation

For those who don't already know, Daniel and I tragically lost our last home to a fire in 2012, less than a month before our first wedding anniversary.  We don't like to dwell on our past, but instead, like to think about our new future!

One thing that is really special to us about building our home, is the opportunity to truly have a fresh start.  We get to literally build a foundation for our house and our life!  To mark this occasion, we wanted to ceremoniously create our foundation by burying verses, blessings, and wishes under the soon-to-be basement of our house.

Some of the verses and blessings we chose were:
  • "The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace" (Numbers 6:24-26)
  • "May the warm winds of heaven blow gently on your house, and may the great spirit bless all who enter.  May your moccasins make happy tracks in many snows, and may the rainbow always touch your shoulder." -Cherokee Prayer/Blessing
  • "May joy and peace surround you, contentment latch your door; and happiness be with you now, and bless you evermore" -Irish House Blessing
  • "Through this gate shall come no sadness.  To this dwelling shall come no trouble.  Through this door shall come no fear.  In this place shall be no conflict.  This home shall be blessed with harmony and peace." -Blessing of the Home (adapted/translated from the Birkat HaBayit, a Jewish prayer)
  • We also wrote some personal wishes/verses/blessings for our lives together and in this home.

Muffin, digging holes to bury the "blessing rocks"
All of our rocks.  My handwriting got so big that some of the verses spilled onto the sides and backs!

Daniel burying a blessing rock
Finally, I remembered to snap a picture of the pond!

It was special to literally create a strong and rich foundation for our house and family.  Each one of these verses meant something to us, and embodied the spirit of what we want our house to feel like-loving, happy, and safe.  I cannot wait to see what memories we create next!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

We have a basement...kind of!

Well, we really have a giant hole in the ground!

Looking from the patio area towards the front of our house
The graders finished digging out our basement, and you can really start to see how the house will look. We will have a poured concrete foundation.  This means that, right now, everything is a few feet larger than the house will actually be.  To build the foundation, they will pour cement walls and then come back and fill dirt along their exterior.

Looking at the kitchen side of our house (you can reference our plans here)

Looking at the Master Bedroom side of the house (you can reference our plans here)

To end this post, I will leave you with the song that has been stuck in my head each time I look at our giant hole in the ground.  When I was kid, I loved the book Holes.  So clearly I'm loving that the movie theme song is the current theme song to my life!


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Building Time Lapse Video Week 1

Daniel found a really neat and easy to use time lapse camera online and had the ingenious idea to use it to document construction.

He used a bird house to mount the camera, conceal it, and protect it from weather!  He then set up the bird house on the edge of the cleared portion of our property.  You can't see the pond from this vantage point, but you do get a great view of all that's happening with construction!

The time lapse camera can be found here and the weatherproof case is here.

Week 1 was a learning process since the camera allows you to decide how often you take a photo and what time of day it starts taking pictures and when it stops.  This week, Muffin programmed the camera to take a picture every 30 minutes.  It turned out pretty neat, but for Week 2 we are upping the pictures to every 10 minutes!

So, without further's Week 1:

The first week had some inclement weather and mechanical setbacks, but all in all the graders got lots done!

Week 2 coming soon!


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Picking House Plans

Front and Back Elevations

One of the biggest steps in building a house is actually picking house plans.  For me, it was a very daunting task.  There are thousands of styles and options to choose from, and, in our case, the decision is essentially permanent.  As I've mentioned, we are building on family land, so we can't ever sell our house and had to think about options that we would love 30 years from now.

To begin, we had to really sit down and make a list of the things we wanted in a house.   For example, we considered what features in a home would be non-negotiable, what types of plans best highlighted our view of the pond, and what architectural style fit us as a couple.

Websites that were incredibly helpful in this process were Pinterest, E-Plans, Southern Living House Plans, and Houzz.  We also spent many weekends reading plan magazines at Barnes and Noble.

Do you think we have enough plan/design magazines?

Through all of our research, we realized that it is easy to get carried away when looking at dream homes.  You always think you need more.  Seeing houses in plans makes them seem so small, but you would take a look and realize the house is 5x the square feet you thought you wanted.  It really helped me to have Daniel pace rooms out with his feet or to give me size comparisons when driving around neighborhoods for ideas.  The biggest conversation we had was "How much house do we really need?"

We decided on a plan where all of our necessary living spaces are on the main floor. The first and last years that we will live in our home will be just the two of us (if we were to have children) and we wanted to be able to live in the house without ever needing to use stairs.   Our house will have a walk out basement with our extra bedrooms and recreation spaces.  This also works well for the natural hillside of our lot!  There is also going to be unfinished space there so that we can "grow" our home if the need arises.

Figuring all of this out gave us the criteria we needed to begin putting together our plan.  We were open to buying plans that already existed and even came close, but we just never found the plans that were exactly right.  The set we almost bought was 97% perfect and for me the missing 3% warranted looking into other options.
We met with a designer and began the drafting process.  This is where all of the research came in handy.  We were able to give him a lot of information about what was important to us.  There would be some instances where he would ask us a question about a preference, and while we didn't have a response about what we did want, we knew what we didn't want.

Creating the plans was fun, but my biggest advice is to know as much about what you want going into it as you can and for you to have patience.  The design process adds another person's ideas, suggestions, and expertise to the mix--it's a wonderful thing, but it takes time to get all of the elements just right.  Below are the floor plans Muffin and I (along with our designer) created with a lot of love and thought (and even these aren't exactly the ones we will be building as changes have been made since these renderings were created).

First Floor Plan

Basement Floor Plan

I know this post was long, but I hope you enjoyed reading about our journey to the right plan.  If you are building a house, my biggest advice is patience and to never settle.  If there are features you want in a home, it can be done.  We had the hardest time finding a plan with a formal dining room AND study/den on the main floor at our square footage.  We kept looking and working until we found the right configuration and we can't wait to see how it all comes together!


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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dog Days of Summer

To change things up a bit, I thought I would talk about my sweet fur children--Lucy and Lola. Our two West Highland White Terriers love to play, dig, and get into mischief.  Their biggest hobby, however, is swimming.  The would swim every single day if they could! Ponds, pools, lakes, oceans these two are game!  When summer rolls around, they can just feel the water temperatures rising and are ready to hit their favorite swimming holes!

Resting in some floats after swimming countless laps.

Lola taking a break.

As you can tell, these two literally swim laps in the pool all day!

Lucy, is particularly fond of fishing for Koi.  I spend many mornings before work coaxing her to come into the house and rinsing mud off of her!

Lucy "hunting" Koi in the pond!

Lucy in her element!

Sorry for the poor image quality on this one--she was hard at work and I had to snap the picture before she knew I was there!

 1. Kyjen Dog Life Jacket // 2. Chuckit! Water Toy // 3. Zuke's Lil' Links Healthy Grain Free Little Sausage Links for Dogs, Rabbit and Apple Recipe // 4. Dog Water Bottle and Travel Bowl Combo // 5. Freezy Pups Kit Dog Treats

I always like to be prepared for our active little puppies and stock up on things I know they will need at the beginning of the summer.  No matter what, I know these two will need life jackets.  While I know that they have superior swimming skills, I also grew up with a dog that would mysteriously forget how to swim in the middle of the pond on the farm and start drowning.  This caused my parents and countless house guest to jump in after him.  I decided early on that investing in life jackets for these two was the way to go for my peace of mind.  Below are some of my puppy essentials to get them through their days of playing and swimming outside ALL. DAY. EVERY. DAY.

Does anyone else have dogs that are this obsessed with the water?  I've never seen or had dogs that love swim this much!  If so, any toys or accessories I should know about?  Lucy and Lola are spoiled rotten and would love it if their mommy got them some new fun things to play with in the pool!


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Getting An Address

As promised, this post is the first of many updating you on all of the things that happened before we broke ground on our home.

One of the most important steps was getting an address.  While this seems fairly trivial and simple, it actually involved several steps and held up our building process for weeks (another bonus to getting a street address, was that we were more than ready to retire our PO Box).  So when we were informed it was time to obtain an official "911" address for our home, Muffin and I thought, "Why not do it right now?" and "We have a free afternoon."  We were so naive.  The process is actually very bureaucratic and takes a great deal of time.

Muffin did a lovely job installing our mailbox
You can find it here and the easy install cedar post here

Here were our steps to getting an address:
  1. Find out that we needed an address to continue (and by continue, I really mean begin) the building process.
  2. Go to the County Addressing Office.  That's right.  The ADDRESSING OFFICE.  There is an entire office dedicated to assigning addresses.  Who knew that?  Certainly not me. 
  3. Formally apply for an address.
  4. Find out when turning in the application that it was incomplete because we didn't have a tax map number.
  5. Head over to the Tax Map Office (just two doors down the maze of county offices) to obtain said tax map number.
  6. Find out that we won't have a tax map number until 2015 because the land our house will be built on was surveyed in the same tax year.
  7. Scratch our heads.
  8. Ask for some assistance with this problem and realize that nobody knows a real answer (leave it to us to be a conundrum for the county offices).
  9. Submit application with old tax map number, a note of explanation, and a prayer.
  10. Wait.
  11. Wait some more.
  12. Muffin pesters Addressing Office.
  13. Wait.
  14. More pestering.
  15. Get address and find out that the Addressing Office does not like pestering and will choose humorous numbers as subtle payback (and no, they aren't negotiable). 
The easiest part of the whole address/mailbox saga was actually getting permission to set up a mailbox from the Post Office.  Our sweet mail carrier Pat personally called me to welcome us to the neighborhood and to ask preferences on package delivery.  That, my friends, is why living in a small town is so wonderful!


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Friday, June 13, 2014

Breaking Ground

After months of waiting, planning, and preparing.....WE'VE BROKEN GROUND.
The work on our home has officially started!

Earlier this week, Muffin and I met with our builder to finalize the exact positioning of our house.  This was an important step since our home will sit atop a hill that overlooks a pond on the farm.  We wanted to make sure the angle was perfect to maximize our view.  My parents' house also shares this view, just on a different section of the pond.  I can already envision the outdoor entertaining we will do in our little section of paradise and cannot wait to move in (can we already tell that I am a person who gets a little ahead of myself?).

From there, the graders were free to come in with all sorts of large equipment to begin digging out the basement.
A view of what will one day be a bedroom in our basement!

When we got the word that process started, Muffin went to check things out, and the basement had progressed quickly.  It won't be long until the digging is complete!

I know this blog started at what seems like the beginning, but really a lot has happened since Muffin and I decided to build our forever home.  Over time, I will create posts to update you, and document, each step of the process!


Thursday, June 12, 2014

First Post!

Hello world!

I've decided to start this blog for several reasons.  The first, and most important reason, is to remember and document building my forever home with Daniel (it feels weird to call him Daniel, so from now on I'm going to reference him as I would when talking to him and call him Muffin).   The second reason is to share things that are happening in our lives with friends and family more easily!

I hope you will enjoy what I post and will stop back often to see what is happening as we break ground on on our new home!

Muffin and I are excited to start this new adventure!