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Friday, July 19, 2019

Heating Up and Cooling Down - Next Phase of She Shed

Aaacckk!!! We are miserable in this horrible heat and humidity that is engulfing most of the country right now. As I type this we are at 88 degrees with a heat index of 98. That's hot enough, thank you very much. In the meantime we are staying inside and not working at all on our She Shed.

Ahhhh but I can still write a blog! This is a preview of the upcoming attractions!

We just got our building permit approved for the rest of the work that we are doing on the exterior of the She Shed. This garage room conversion is going to be my studio space. It will hold my weaving looms, quilting machine and frame, my sock knitting machine and spinning wheel, plus a little sunroom area looking out to the East over our big big backyard.

Some time back among the previous owners or renters, somebody had covered some of the walls with a buffalo chip board material. Around the edges was some grey flannel felt and we were thinking it might possibly be insulated behind there. Now it was time to rip it off to see. Nope. No insulation. But that's okay, we are going to insulate the ceiling and the walls and finish them off with a nice clean fresh drywall or tongue and groove carsiding.  We will see what the budget is like when we get that far.

But before we can really think about walls or ceiling we are going to put in the new windows and one more door to the far right in the photo below. That exterior door will lead out to the doggies' potty yard. It matches the one we just installed on the other side of the room. It will be a full insulated glass with little French pane grids in between the layers. We just picked up a cute old fashioned wooden screen door that will also go there on the outside, to let in fresh air but keep the bugs out.

This will be our "BEFORE" picture:

The two sets of junky old garage windows that you can see in this photo above will be coming out soon. They are just single pane glass and in very rough shape.

In their place we are going to put something really cool. After the headers are installed correctly, up to code, we will be placing these large panels of heavy insulated Anderson French exterior doors. We bought four of them brand new in the boxes that were a custom order that someone never followed through on. Another guy had bought them to use in his house and never got around to doing it either. So he sold them on Facebook Marketplace to us. They are a bit shorter than the normal 80 inch tall doors, so nobody wants them. After wheeling and dealing a little bit we ended up with them for $20 each!!! They retail for $800 each online!!! That means Steve found over $3,000 worth of doors for $80.

Steve will frame them all around in place as stationary window panels unless we decide to make them as opening doors. We really don't see the need to make them open up.  Using them as windows will work well too. They even have weatherstripping built in on all four sides. We do have the special brand specific hinges that correspond to these doors, in case we change our mind and make them into operating French doors.

Here are pics from where Steve set them into place. The two doors take up the same space as the three windows in both Eastern facing sections of the She Shed. After framing around them properly, they should fit perfectly!

They will reach almost from floor to ceiling and give the most beautiful access view out of the back of the She Shed. The view out into our backyard is one of the main reasons we picked this house to live in. 2.5 acres of beauty with a nature conservancy behind us (never any backyard neighbors) and lots of deer, turkey, foxes and a few coyotes we are told. 

This little scribble drawing from my phone gives you an idea what this East side will look like. Once we cut away the excess wood underneath the existing windows, we will have enough of the cedar shake siding leftover pieces to repair other damaged areas of siding.

On the inside, here's another scribble drawing that gives you an idea of how the windows will be from just about the top to just about the bottom. I can just imagine the dogs laying on their little ottomans in front of the windows, looking out at anything they can find to bark at.  Thinking of night time with back yard flood lights shining out to find the elusive deer and foxes, or maybe snowflakes falling softly while inside we will be cozy and warm. I think we will be spending a lot of time in the She Shed. 

There is one other little tiny window at the top of the stairs leading into the kitchen. It's an odd shape of 41" x 21". We inquired at Menards about having a small window custom-made to put in that spot. Holy cow! They wanted $290!

We had stopped by the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Marinette. Their ad said they had 75% off all windows and doors. You just never know...

OMG! We found a used window that was 39 in by 21 in that will fit that space with a 1-inch spacer on each side! It is a very high quality Pella window with insulated thermal pane glass with the little pane grids in between just like all of our other entrance doors and French windows! It's a vertical casement crank out window, but we are going to mount it horizontally in the opening.

And the price of this bargain, you ask? Well! It was marked at $20. And then with the 75% off and brought it down to only $5.00 --- Score!

Okay. That was the preview of coming attractions. Once this hot weather settles down we can get out there and get started on some of those things.


Right now, on the inside, Steve is finishing up the last few details on our laundry room half bath conversion that we started last month.

Originally the only bathroom to this home was in this room. The previous owners removed the toilet and sink and just had a washer and dryer in there.

Instead they had made a large bath with master access out of the third bedroom space, so they figured they really didn't need another bath. They wanted a first-floor laundry. I could see that making sense.

But we could also see the convenience of having an extra half bathroom in the house as well. Steve agreed.

The other thing that we wanted to do was to change was the entrance into that laundry room. It was located on the longest wall of the dining room. I wanted that full span of wall to set my large buffet against. So Steve figured out that he could close off that existing doorway and make a solid wall for me. Then he would make a different entrance to that room from the kitchen.

Here is where he closed off the wall and studded the opening, adding sheetrock. After that was finished I painted it to match and he added new trim baseboard.

Voila! My buffet now fits
 in a place of honor
in the diningroom.

I love having a large formal dining room that can hold both my buffet and my hutch. Plus having the dining table spread out with both leaves and all eight chairs around it. Perfect for family gatherings and much better than storing chairs and leaves in closets or in other rooms of the house.

A new doorway went well in the space in the kitchen. This is the space where the gas cooking stove used to be. The previous owners had removed the stove and installed a new electric one in the middle of their island that they created. This awkward space was left behind with cabinetry over the top. The top cabinet we are going to re-purpose into a coffee bar later. It's waiting in the garage for another day.

A little creative weaving in with spare pieces of hardwood flooring matched well. Then an oak threshold spanned the space into the half bath. I still have to stain it and poly seal it to match the rest of the kitchen flooring.

The laundry room half bath flooring was in pretty rugged shape. We decided to cover over it with some of this snap together vinyl plank flooring. Our son-in-law Waylen and daughter Erin put this in her bathroom and kitchen as well and it holds up wonderfully with kids and dogs.

Look how easily it snaps together. No gluing no nailing. It's a free floating floor that just sets into place. Then you put the quarter round trim back on the edges which holds it down.

Next on the list was to add some cabinetry over the washer and dryer. We looked at a few home improvement stores and they wanted $100+ for a utility cabinet. We figured we wanted three cabinets across the entire span of the wall over the washer and dryer as additional pantry space.  Ouch.. $300.00?

Back to my Bargain Hunter Steve. Somehow he ran across a Craigslist listing of someone who had some office cabinetry to sell. One of the cabinets is exactly what we wanted for the laundry room! The deal was for $100 we had to take all of it. That's okay. For the price of what one utility cabinet would have cost us, we will now have a full span over the washer and dryer. The rest of the cabinetry will be re-purposed for in my She Shed.

They needed a couple coats of paint, because they are butt ugly!!! There are two lower filing cabinets, a center island desk type cabinet with angled ends, a big half circle piece of laminate countertop, and then a half pony wall with a counter on top of it as a kind of registration desk surface. Just wait to you see what I have in mind for that!!

We hauled it all home on our cute little trailer and the rest of these pieces are stowed away in the garage until the She Shed is done. The cabinets are solid wood and very heavy.

I got out my palm sander and roughed up the surface a little bit. Then a coat of primer and two coats of paint transformed the butt ugly cabinets into a nice row of heavy white wooden cabinets. 10 times better than the junky utility cabinets at the home improvement store.

We put the laundry room back together and suspended the cabinets up over the washer and dryer.  Once they were in place, we screwed the doors back on and Steve added shelving inside at the heights that we wanted for our laundry items, pantry items, and a dog food cabinet.

The half bath laundry room also had a really crappy single pane glass window and a piece of plexiglass over it.  Luckily, it was a common size and did not cost us an arm and a leg for a replacement window.  It went in easily and Steve trimmed it out neatly. It has a nice wide window sill and I put up our little cactus garden from a vacation to New Mexico. It won't get bumped on there and it's up out of reach from the grandchildren.

Now it was time for the toilet and the sink. Since this was already a bathroom, all of the plumbing was right there underneath and Steve just had to hook things back up.

We waited for this adorable little sink to go on sale. It's just the right size for the room, and still allows us to open the dryer door easily.

Now, isn't that the sweetest thing you ever did see? We re-purposed the faucet from replacing the sink in the master bath and it sure looks cute in there.

I also added a sturdy white enamel metal shower curtain rod across the room, just in front of the washer and dryer. It does double duty.

First, it is handy for hanging clothing on hangers as we take things out of the dryer. Most of our clothing goes up on hangers as we don't have dresser drawers. Socks and underthings are kept in fabric bins on the shelf in the closet. Makes for a bigger more roomy bedroom, and less clutter being dumped on top of a dresser!

The second purpose of the shower curtain rod is that with the shower curtains, they can be pulled across the washer and dryer when we have company. Then the bathroom appears to just be a full bath with a shower/tub combo.

The washer and dryer are spaced apart which allows the heating/cooking register vent on the wall behind to circulate into the room unhindered. A laundry basket slips right down in between the washer and dryer in a handy position while folding clothes.

As I type this, Steve just finished up the connections for the little sink. Good "inside" project on a sweltering hot day.  The temps came down a little, not a lot.  Staying inside and eating cool foods for supper.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Our National Folk Farmhouse Modifications - Siding The She Shed Wall

We are due for a heatwave in the upcoming week of hot humid horrible weather around the Great Lakes. So it was a good decision to push ahead and get as much done as we could on the exterior of the She Shed conversion.

On Friday, we got up early and went right to work. Steve set out all of my saw horses and we laid out the pieces of the new manufactured fiber siding. I started out with my little roller and my paint. It seemed that as soon as I got one coat on, it was dry. So I was able to get the second coat on right away in the next hour. There was a nice breeze blowing and we were comfortable even though the humidity had been creeping up throughout the morning.  The stuff on the right is the beige primer and the stuff on the left is the bright white.

Steve started laying down the very first piece. This first one is a 8" cement board that's made to look like a piece of wood. I pre-painted it with two coats of my matching thick oil gray foundation paint. When Steve placed it on, it's still raised a little bit off of the cement foundation but I think it looks good as a starter piece.

The first piece is very important to be level and is the base piece on which we start lining up the siding, piece by piece.

Using galvanized nails that have a little twist to them, like a slight screw pattern, we started putting on piece after piece of the fibered manufactured siding. You can see in this close-up that the texture on each board mimics wood, and looks very similar to our original wood clapboard siding.  Steve made little spacer blocks to help with how much of each strip of siding is revealed. The siding pieces are 5 inches wide but we are revealing 4 inches. That means one inch is tucked underneath the previous row of siding.

We worked our way up the bottom surface piece by piece until we reached the bottom edge of the windows.  Kneeling on pads for the bottom strips, and working upside down to nail in evenly was hard.  The fibered siding can't have "blossoms"or "elephant feet" from mis-hits of the hammer not striking right on the head of the nail.

Adding in a piece of rubberized flashing under the window, we were then able to insert the top edge of the next strip by some careful cuts on the saw. Then it was time for a little lunch break. He didn't even want to come in the house so I had to make up some ham sandwiches and side snacks to bring outside so I could get him to sit down for 2 minutes and eat something. Topped off by a big icy tall cold glass of lemonade, then he was ready to jump back up and get back at the job before it got too hot.

It was time to cut some shorter pieces of siding to go up along side of the set of windows.  The strips of siding were 16 ft long when we bought them. The length we needed for the width of the wall was only 11 feet. From the leftover strips of 5 feet we were able to get four perfect little pieces that fit. Steve carefully cut each one so they snugged in, but not too tight. Also a bead of caulking goes underneath the side edge of each piece of this manufactured siding to create a good seal as you nail it in.  Later, when Steve was done, he ran another bead of caulking over the entire seam from top to bottom so every end piece is actually double caulked from behind and from the front. His little spacer pieces worked very well to hold the boards even while we nailed them into place.

We worked as a team, especially on the upper portions where we each went up a ladder with the 11 foot long piece suspended between us. He would put in 1 nail and we would level it using our spacers and then the accurate 4 foot level. It's nice that the pieces came in 16 foot length, so we have no seams in the 11 foot spans of siding.

Here we are on the very last piece! How exciting! the heat was creeping up and we were dripping wet with sweat. We were losing our shade as the sun worked its way over to this west side of the house.

I hopped down off of my ladder for just enough time to snap this picture before we were done.

Ahhhhh a job well done! It was really hot and humid, but it felt good to finish it up nevertheless. I know it looks kind of plain like a big blank white wall here, but it also looks a million percent better than what we started with.

Now for the frosting on the cake....
I found matching shutters for $8 on clearance
and I painted them to match.

the shutters really make it looks so much better, 
don't they? 

Now we have enough extra pieces of siding that we bought to replace the few bottom rows in rough shape along the north side of the house over on the right, that you can see in this photo. We will tackle that another day.

I think it all blends together now. Even though it is an attached garage, it will add 430+ square feet of extra space for my She Shed area, but not really technically adding living area to the house. It will be for my weaving looms, quilting frame, cutting table, and some of our sunroom furniture.  We are going to let the grass grow over the original driveway that runs along side of the house up to the new wall. It's filling in pretty good already and we're going to add a little more black dirt and grass seed once we are done doing so much building and construction on the side of the house.

Considering that this is what we started with, 
I think it's a great change, don't you?

Later we will work on a little walkway, maybe of decking material and kind of a detached pergola / gazebo / arbor / pagoda thing between the big garage and the new entrance door on the side of the she shed?  Always thinking of future projects....

We also invested in enough siding to go around the sunny corner nook area of the kitchen on the east/south corner of the home too. But we won't tackle that until we replace those windows. Maybe next year?  At least we have the siding squirreled away that matches this stuff and we will work on that when we have time.

For now we are just going to sit back and admire the fact that we closed off this garage and put in a nice wall with windows.  We are looking at adding some shrubbery along the front and making a nice curved flower bed to go around and meet up with the one alongside the She Shed. Maybe a tall spire type cedar tree on the corner? Maybe some globe arborvitaes in front of the windows? We will wander the nurseries and see what we can find. This is the time of year that there are a lot of bargains and sales.

We did walk around one nursery and look at their trees and shrubs but didn't find anything that we really wanted. But what I did find were the 2 clematis plants that I wrote about in the blog two blogs back. We had looked at a couple trellises for one of the clematis but couldn't find anything at a reasonable price.

I did see a beautiful 6 ft tall wooden one online, but they wanted $79 for it. That was crazy! So Steve grabbed $5 worth of wood and cut some slats on his table saw. He both glued and screwed the cross pieces together and created this beautiful 8 ft tall trellis!!

What a goofy guy, hey?

I gave it two coats of my famous red paint and let it dry overnight. Using some little spacer blocks so it would stand away from the cedar siding a little bit, we put it into place on the North side wall of the She Shed. I carefully planted the purple clematis and unwound the strands from the little trellis that came on the original pot from the nursery.

I was able to tie each little tender tendril to a fan piece of the trellis. After it grips on better as it grows I will untie the little pieces of string.

While we were out and about looking at shrubbery, we stopped by the Mennonite store up on County A called Brubakers. Last time we were in there I had seen some beautiful slabs of Corian countertop type cutting boards with little rubber feet on the bottom side. They make them in different sizes and I wasn't sure what size would fit between my inset stove on the island and the edge of the countertop. Now that I had a measurement we were able to go back and choose one out of the stack and I found a nice color that coordinated with our island material. 

We like also buying their bulk foods and wholesome non chemical and pesticide free items like their eggs and meats. We tease the grandkids that the eggs came straight out of the butt of the chickens that are gathered in the side yard of the store!!!

Another item we picked up while we were gathering some supplies are the products that I grew up with as a child. We are close enough to the U.P. of Michigan that many of the ethnic foods that are readily available up there come to the stores just over the border into the Wisconsin as well. Things like pasties from The Pasty Oven in Florence or the Otto's Steaks from Meyer Meats in Caspian....  and pizzas, ravoili, and sauce from Dina Mia kitchens from Iron River.

This item is pretty special from my childhood.  These are either Swedish or Norwegian, I can't remember. But they are called Trenary Toast and they are made in Trenary, Michigan. They are hard twice baked pieces of toast and you can get the version of cinnamon and sugar which is very good with coffee in the morning. There is also a raisin version and a plain version, as well as I think a garlic? They are hard pieces of toast that stay forever in the brown paper bag that is a trademark symbol of their product. Think kind of like Italian biscotti but these are a little different. Maybe best described like a very large hard crouton with cinnamon and sugar on it? They're great to dip in coffee and also good to give to little babies that are teething. Similar to something called Zweibac in the grocery stores in other parts of the country.


Two blogs back I talked about the Y adapter to our hot and cold faucets alongside of the house. In this photo you can see the faucets and adapter over my shoulder. This is why we like to have both hot and cold running water outside. We had a certain little girl Sheltie who had decided she needed to roll in the deer poop on one of our walks in our big big backyard!

Also the little boy Sheltie had a poopy butt from eating a little too many treats from the grandkids. His digestion does not work too well if he is given people food. With long haired dogs, well, you can understand what happens in the nether regions of their behind fluff.

It was time to scrub a dub dub them in the doggy hot tub. Binney doesn't mind so much, but Finnegan is really not a fan of a bath. You can tell. Look at his face!

It was pretty easy to scrub them up with nice soapy bubbles and dog shampoo as well as a little people hair conditioner to make their fluffy coats shine and feel so soft. Once they are all rinsed off, we take them on leash up to the front porch so they can dry on the clean wood surface and not go back and roll in the dirt, or the deer poop, again!


Today is terribly hot and muggy, the heat indexes are going to soar. Steve left early to go help both of his brothers on a gardening shed at his younger brother's home in Menasha. I am taking it easy today staying indoors and I think I'm going to finally start hanging some artwork on the walls. We have frames stacked up in the guest room that need to be hung. We just didn't know what we wanted where. Steve said it was up to me and I could pick out what I wanted and where I put it. He said he trusts my judgment! Lol... So now he can't complain if I put up what I want.....