Wow 2011 was a crappy year. I might be tempting fate by saying this before 2011 is actually over, but to hell with it! If I never see 2011 again it will be a year too soon. Man, what an exceptionally crappy year it has been – for pretty much everyone I know. A year ago I thought we'd be much further along with our projects by this time, but of course I didn't foresee all the craziness that has been this last 12 months. As we round out our 13th month living in CA we're just now starting to feel like we actually live here – branching out and making plans, trudging along and hoping 2012 doesn't suck as much as it's predecessor. Now on to the pretty pictures…
Well the guest house is exterior is really mostly done. The only part left to go is the upper trim which you really cannot see as the fascia comes down and blocks it. But trust me it's there – one small row of white top trim left to do – we are maybe halfway done with the top trim for the whole house but the chilly temps and decreased number of daylight hours are making this take much longer than we thought (wow that sounds familiar!)– hopefully by the end of the year it will be all done. Oh and notice the new color for the concrete base – dark grey-ish rather than the yucky beige it used to be. This will eventually be blocked by a raised planter bed and colorful, hardy plants. Eventually anyway.
Also check out the rabbit that Eric dug out of the dirt – I guess he used to be a cute little lawn ornament but spent several years underground and now looks worse for the wear – in fact the rabbit was buried upside down, so when Eric grabbed it by the ears to free it the ears broke off – we glued them back on but he still has lots of scars, which is kind of fitting for us given this past year. We thought about sanding and repainting him, but we kinda like him all scuffed up – he reminds me of "Watership Down" thus I call him "Bigwig"!
We did replace the old rotten wine barrels in the driveway side with new fiberglass wine barrels and new plantings. Unfortunately within a day of planting the deer came and ate most of our colorful (and evidently tasty flowers) so much for "deer resistant"! Damn, deer are destructive.
Of course now that the guest house looks new and shiny, the main house looks pretty sad in comparison. The thought of re-siding the main house seems downright insurmountable right now. But rather than focusing on the daunting task ahead let's focus on what we did accomplish! The house on the right does look much, much nicer right?
We also decided to replace the old heating system in the main house - it worked but not very efficient and was certainly approaching end of life. While the install experience was none too fun (unreliable contractors – sound familiar?) – we had several days with barely functioning heat as well as lots of banging and crazy activity around these parts but it eventually was wrapped up and the heat has been much better since. We also opted to have a whole house humidifier installed with it and my skin has been much happier ever since. We had a full audit of our ducting system which passed the tests with flying colors (well for an older house anyway, and we still did very well stacked up to new construction) so it seems this was certainly a worth investment. We do notice much more heat coming out of the vents (the cats have noticed too and often time we find them splayed out over the floor vents sucking up all the heat!) but our bedroom is still a bit chillier than the rest of the house. This is probably because it was added on later and used to be sun porch. One thing we did was remove the crawlspace hatch which is under our bed and put weather stripping around the opening to tighten up the seal – cheap and easy fix and it brought the temp in the bedroom up a couple of degrees – yay!
From an organizational/functionality perspective we did a couple of things to make inside life better – first off we got a shoe storage solution for the small mud room. We never use the front door, we always come in the back door and shoes would pile up here since we've long been fans of not wearing shoes in the house. We managed to get something a little nicer than our old ikea shoe wall solution in Brooklyn with these steel shoe holders – when we redecorate inside we will most likely paint these but for now white metal will do.
Around the corner in the laundry room (I never get tired of saying that – a whole room just for laundry!) we installed the accordion drying rack on the wall for hang drying. Since it's a tight space I wanted something that would fold up against the wall when not in use – this works great!
What else? Oh yes our new double mailbox finally went in, making it much easier to get mail rather than heading down the street to our old dumpy mailbox. Looking forward to seeing how the cooper oxidizes…
Is that enough? We've been working nonstop and somehow this seems like a ton of work and yet not enough simultaneously. I can has vacation soon?