Friday, December 30, 2011

Yellow and the Floors

It started about three years ago, but we seem to be captivated by the color yellow. We were having Chinese food and Kevin's fortune cookie said something about the color yellow. We've been trying to figure it out ever since. Interestingly, when I try to visualize colors for various rooms in the house (specifically the kitchen and living room) I am inextricably drawn to the yellows in the fan deck. Currently for the kitchen, I'm loving BM's Hawthorne Yellow for the walls, Ivory White for the custom cabinets. For the living room, I may go with something a bit more neutral like Navajo White, Seapearl or Halo. Anyway, I drive the hubby crazy going through the fan deck. ;-)

As we think ahead to the floors in the living room and master bedroom, we have realized that even though Kevin added some support under some beams, the house still shakes when you walk across either we've decided we should go ahead and take up those floors as well. Unlike the kitchen, the wood is solid in these rooms so we will remove it carefully and reuse it. There are only a few small spots in the master bedroom of what appears to be old termite damage. I was thinking about using some paint stripper that encapsulates any lead paint, but Kevin just reminded me that the Amish gentleman that is going to build our kitchen cabinets has an industrial planer in his (very impressive) workshop, and we could pay him to plane them for us. The flooring is yellow poplar, which used to be very common in Indiana, and has a subtle but beautiful grain. The color is relatively light, so we're not sure yet if we should just put some varnish on it, or use a light stain. We will experiment with that to see what looks best. This is a BIG project that will set us back a little, but like the kitchen, we know we will be happy we did it now instead of wait for some problem to come up later. In the next few weeks, we'll be opening up the master bedroom floor, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, here are some photos I took today while walking around listening to the sound of the wind whipping through the trees as loud as the ocean. I wish I could include a photo of the eagle I saw flying but couldn't get the camera ready on my cell phone in time. It was majestic and beautiful and made me catch my breath.


p.s. Happy New Year!!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Tash Farm

Merry Christmas from The Tash Farm!!!  

I have to say "The Tash Farm" when I refer to our house because that's the only way people around here know it.... And that is just fine with us. We are coming up on 7 months already being here and it really has flown by. We feel welcomed by the community and it is really a wonderful experience -- the folks around here are genuine, down to earth, real good folks. In our new favorite restaurant in the center of town, "Hanna's," our favorite waitress calls us her "California people." ha ha

On to the house projects.

Since the weather cooled down, and Kevin started interviewing more, we've slowed a little but are still plugging away.

The new floor structure in the kitchen is complete:

I apologize this is not the best photo. I know I have a better one, but somehow it is not be found in this moment. You may recall that this kitchen we believe may have been the original structure before the front section of the house was built. Maybe it was only meant to be temporary since the exterior beams were laid directly in the dirt with a few stone supports. In any regard, there were many places that literally crumbled when we touched them, so Kevin inspected every inch of every beam, cut out the bad parts, patched in new 6x6's, and then attached a new floor structure to the old beams. We felt this was the best way to tie the old and new together and provide the maximum structural support.

The next job in the kitchen is plumbing -- but first we need to have the county and/or a plumber come out and take a look at the main water coming in. The pipe just doesn't look right to us, so we need to get that settled.

Elsewhere, I finally got all the wallpaper stripped from the walls and ceiling of the master bedroom, which I realized (while working on it) used to be the original parlor/front room because the doorbell is on the door that goes into this room. The other front door goes into the room we will use as our living room. I wish we could switch the doors in order to use the doorbell on the front door, but alas, they swing in opposite directions. Oh well. I'll figure out a Plan B for the doorbell.

After I steamed all the wallpaper off, I started patching the plaster and here is a tiny look at what I've done so far:

The white on the chair rail is going to be the trim color....

And here is a sneak peak of our master bedroom wall color: Opal Cream from Behr.

The plaster patching is far from over, and some places will need to be reattached roughly in this manner:,,20210037,00.html

We know it won't look like smooth drywall, and that's ok with us. We love the character of the plaster.

Incredibly, we were able to celebrate Thanksgiving in our home, with china and all (a surprise from Kevin -- he got the dining room table out of storage and set it all up with Nick's help) and he is planning an even bigger surprise for tomorrow.

Here is our tree:

May your days be merry and bright! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

~ Ann

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Some Personal Thoughts...

I don't have any project updates for you since the other day.  I can tell you though that our dogs have taken a liking to eating our pumpkins that we got for Halloween:

They have (as of this posting) eaten two and are keeping their eyes open in case we leave more out where they can get them.  

Bonnie has been doing everything she can to keep the garden (or at least the spirit of the garden) alive into the fall and winter.  Here she is re-planting some corn in one of the compost piles.  She is a "die hard" when it comes to the garden and we love her dedication:

And finally, before I move on to the commentary portion of this post, It's been cold lately and our pipes in the house are not insulated so I shut the water off at the main to prevent any "surprises."  The other day I found a new "friend" waiting to help me with my task:

Yes, it's a snake.  It was about 3' long and was using the water line to keep warm.  It's not a dangerous one (although we do have those here too) and I just picked it up and let it go a few feet away.  It wasn't very interested in me and I am happy to let it go about it's business.  You can't really do too much here without finding a "critter" or two so we've learned to share our space and they've learned to share theirs... So far.  Yesterday while I was standing in the yard nine deer ran right past me (about 30' away) up from the back field, across the road and down to the river.  It sounded like horses running up the hill and when I turned, there they were.  It was pretty cool.  Ok, on to commentary...

More than one person (locally and back on the west coast) have asked me if the move has been difficult for me in any way.  People here have asked me what I "did" back in California and once I run through a description of my job they ask me if I'm bored here and how I could enjoy life here compared to California.  So I decided rather than avoid thinking about it I would give it some serious thought and see what I came up with and so I did and here are my biggest conclusions.

I would be kidding myself I said said moving here was a "piece of cake."  Anyone who knows me knows that I enjoyed the constant challenges that came from my job in California.  There was always something that needed dealt with or something that needed attention.  It's not that I had all the answers but I did have input into most things and helped out where I could.  Most of the time I was busy from "bell to bell" with this that or the other.  It's not like that here.  I now have a great deal of time to think and plan and review.  Where I used to have to make snap decisions, now I have the luxury of time (unless I encounter an unexpected snake... or skunk).  I will tell you honestly that at first I really struggled with my new life.  It wasn't that I didn't love this place, it was that so much of my identity was back in California.  I was no longer someone with input and answers.  I was just a guy working on a house and that was hard.  I KNEW that this was the right move for us and that the kids would benefit in ways that none of us could imagine but my selfish nature still hung on to my "California identity." 

Now that we've been here almost 6 months I can see the results of this move on my family.  Nick is doing fantastic in school and we never hear the complaints from him that we did in California.  Gone are the phone calls and notes from school talking about his behavior issues and boredom in class.  And he goes outside everyday and runs around with kids in the neighborhood, something he wasn't able to do in California and he is happy.  Bonnie has taken to our outdoor lifestyle better than any of us.  She loves to just trek around the property and look and touch stuff.  She eats veggies right from the garden (sometimes dirt and all) and she sits by the fire and talks about how the coals look like jewels and asks questions about all the stars up in the sky.  She is already talking about next years garden.  She is a girl with a plan.

So when I consider all the benefits of this move and stack them up against my selfish few issues it's easy to do the math.  All of the struggles I've had are simply about me and my ego.  There is nothing tangible that I can list that I have lost but there are so many tangibles that have been gained.  We have a beautiful house (relatively speaking right now) and property.  We have great neighbors and we live in an area filled with history and adventure.  And, most of all, we have the kind of life that we really wanted but could not have afforded to have in California.  We came here instead of going to Seattle for a job and it's pretty amazing how much life can change based on one, single decision.  One, single, RIGHT decision.

Now, I gotta go watch the sunrise.

-- Kevin

p.s. Ann wanted to share these photos she took sitting on the front porch on Friday:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fall and Winter Projects

Over the past couple of weeks fall has really arrived.  Most all of the leaves have fallen from the trees and the grass has (finally) stopped growing.  We have been busy of late trying to button up some outside projects before it starts getting cold.  The picket fence is painted but only one coat.  We are going to try to get a complete second coat on before winter but we're not quite sure we'll get it done (we do have extra brushes and paint... HINT HINT).  The dining shed is coming along slowly but surely and the garden is now completely gone.

Ann has been busy planning next spring's garden.  We found a guy in our town that has been developing open-pollinated seeds over a number of years so that they are optimized for this microclimate. We've already purchased some tomato, corn, squash, bean, okra, melon, cucumber and flower seeds from his company, Face of the Earth Seed Company. We are also going to get some apple, pear and mulberry trees from him to start our orchard. It's great to deal directly with a local business, for many reasons. Ann would like to figure out how to possibly turn this hobby into a small business and participate in a new farmer's market that will be starting up next summer.

Back inside the house....the framing of the kitchen floor is nearly complete.  We still need to add the plumbing for the kitchen, after which we will insulate and put down the vapor/moisture barrier before closing it up.  That should be accomplished within the next couple of weeks.  Here is a picture from a couple of days ago.

Since this photo we have finished the 2x6 joists and are now ready to plumb.  We will also add some new electrical wire for outlets and things before closing up the floor.  You may or may not be able to tell but there is no crawl space.  This part of the house was basically built right on the ground.  That's why the floor had to be replaced in the kitchen and that's why it's important that we make sure we get it all done before closing it up.  Once it's closed up it will be like King Tut's tomb.  The next people to see that dirt will be archeologists in the distant future.

We have been doing some research on wood stoves.  We have two chimneys and thought that a wood stove would be a nice addition.  I grew up with a wood stove and know that there is a bit of work involved but it's a nice source of heat and will save on our power and gas bills.  The more we are able to move toward being "off the grid" the better for us.  Also, in the event of a power outage it's nice to know that heat will be there.  Not just a backup emergency source but a solid, dependable heat source that we could also use to cook with.  Anyway, more on that as we get closer to making the decision.

Not a whole lot more to report right now.  Things have slowed a little but will be moving into high gear once the kitchen floor is closed up.  Then we will move on to the bathroom and some framing upstairs.  The framing will go quickly and then we have plenty of inside work to keep us busy throughout the winter.

I always like to try and include some photos that tell that story of the beauty of our new home.  Here are a couple of the sunrise that I took the other day:

It's sort of hard to tell but there are cows silhouetted on the hilltop.  All of the pictures I post are from my iPhone so it's not the best camera in the world.

Last week my Dad and his friend Barbara visited.  We took a trip to restored local grist mill called Beck's Mill.  It was built in 1808 and is an amazing place -- and it still grinds corn.  Here are a few pictures from that outing:

Thank you for following our progress and for your comments and suggestions.  We really appreciate your interest and your thoughts on stuff.

Take care.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Just What It Needed

The last post shows photos from around the house including our most recent project, the picket fence.  Since we arrived we have been talking about the house's "need" for a white picket fence.  We wanted Bonnie to have a contained place to run, that way we didn't have to chase her all the way to the next county, and for the dogs to have an exercise area.  And, lets face it, what's an old farmhouse without a white picket fence, right?

We started by taking a look at the "lay of the land."  There were a few obstacles that had to be considered, most of which were 100-year-old trees.  As any one who has ever dug a post hole knows, a tree root can ruin the best of plans.  But, thanks to God, we didn't encounter anything other than small roots and rocks that were easy enough to conquer.  After deciding where to put the fence, we put a sting line down that would give us a visual of where the fence would be and the area it would cover.  That simple thing was quite a dog and pony show.  Even though the string was florescent pink, we all tripped on it about 100 times and I eventually got a little... "passionate" and "took it down" (actually I got pretty mad and ended up pulling up the anchor stake and throwing it on the roof of one of the outbuildings).

After digging what seemed like 100 post holes (with hand diggers, no machine) we put up the fence structure and got ready for the pickets.  Luckily, we consulted Indiana Landmarks (because of our  preservation covenants) before going ahead with the fence.  It turns out that had we used wide pickets (5 1/2") we might not have been staying "true" to the house and that would have not been a good thing.  But we did and we ended up cutting the ones we had planned to use in half and all was well.

So we finished the fence and gates (3 of them) and got ready to paint.  You can probably tell from the picture that there are quite a few pickets.  We got "barn and fence paint" and started painting.  Turns out that brushing paint on was a very time intensive task.  After some brainstorming we decided to get a Wagner Power Painter (NOT a product endorsement) and got that route.  Well, DON'T DO THAT!!!  The fact is that the amount of overspray resulted in a lot of wasted paint.  I quickly abandoned that idea (but kept the sprayer for use on the outbuildings) and went back to the brush.  We have taken turns spending time painting the fence and (as of this posting) are about 85% complete.  The truth is that each of us has enjoyed our quiet time painting.  The wind blows and the leaves fall and it is a very therapeutic activity.

Well, it's time to end this post and head over to the house.  Our goal is 100% completion by sundown tonight.  The interesting thing about this is the number of people who have stopped their cars and complimented our work.  The comments have been positive and humbling as, again, we see the emotional connection that our neighbors have to our house.  We are looking forward to having each of them in once we finish.

So here it is again ...  Come by and take a look some time.  We would love to see you.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fall on the Farm

Life here in the midwest/upper south is peaceful as summer slipped into fall. Everywhere we look, there is something new to discover and notice. Right now, we are in awe of the Colors of Fall. (Yes, it deserves to be capped.)

Without further delay, I will let the photos speak for themselves.

 Happy Fall!


Monday, September 19, 2011

This, that and... some other stuff

I thought I'd take the chance to post several random things.  I couldn't really figure out a way to make each of these a post of their own so rather than do that I thought I'd just throw everything into the pot and see what happens.  You'll get a couple of pictures and a video.  The next post will be much more "house-centric" but I need to get these off of my plate.  So, here ya go...

We discovered a well known local place a couple of months ago.  It's a farm that is owned by a local family that have turned it into a destination.  There is a GREAT restaurant, a store, a petting zoo, gardens, ponds and play areas.  You can have a fantastic fried chicken dinner, pick your own seasonal fruit AND drive a four wheeler through the woods.  It's quite a place.

One of the other things you can do is feed the ducks and the fish in the small lake.  There are food vending machines that dispense little pellets that the ducks, geese and koi love.  The object is to throw the food out into the lake for the animals.... but ONLY the food and NOT your wedding ring... Yep, a lady was feeding the ducks and fish and not only threw food out into the lake but also threw her wedding ring.  Here is a picture of a diver (you can't really see him but he is there) in the pond yesterday looking for her ring.  Sorry that the picture isn't better but they noticed me taking pictures and seemed none to happy to be the object of my interest.

The process went something like this:  The diver swam around with a metal detector, a man walked around with a small child looking less than happy about paying for a diver and a woman paced around the deck area talking on a cell phone looking frustrated.  I'm not sure ladies, but wouldn't you know if your ring was so big that it may fly off your hand when you throw duck food into a pond?  I know things happen but this seems like a preventable situation to me.

One of the things I love most about living here and that I didn't have in San Jose is the ability to go out in the yard and build a fire in a fire pit.  To sit and stare into the flames as the sun comes up (or goes down) has given me back the inner peace that I didn't realize was missing.  When I have talked about this simple thing with some of you (especially my friends in CA) you have said how much you wish you could do the same sometimes.  Well, here's something for you.  A 2 minute "vacation" for when things are just too overwhelming and too much to deal with.   Set it on full screen and enjoy.

Fall arrives here overnight.  One day it's green, lush and hot and the next day it's gold and red and yellow and there is a chill in the air.  Here's a picture of a soybean field just down the road from our house.  It's impossible to capture the beauty of it all with a picture but I tried.

Well, I'm off to the house.  There is more concrete work to do before we can put the kitchen floor back.  We'll get photos of that and post them soon.  Thanks again for following our blog.  We enjoy your input.

Take care.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ok, a quick note

I wanted to echo Ann's apology for our "blog slacking."  We are back on tack and will do much better.  So here is a quick update and a couple of pictures.

The outside building that we had planned on taking down (Ann is such a good wife to make it sound like I masterminded this) is coming along and is going to be pretty cool.  We made a little progress yesterday (it was 90 degrees so I didn't spend too much time on it) and I like it more and more all the time.  The first picture is of the outside end.  There used to be a bunch of bushes and a tree at the end but those are all gone and we opened up a large "window" along the entire wall.  It will be covered by screens before long.  The second picture is a view from the inside looking out.  This will be your view when you come to visit and are eating dinner out there.

This is coming along really well.  We have a nice ceiling fan that a friend took out of a renovation he is working on and it will help make it an even more comfortable space.

Yesterday we went into New Albany and picked up a couple of dressers and a chair from our friends at Indiana Landmarks.  They have been so great and always seem to have a special "something" that we can use.  We got the dressers and the chair and have some thoughts about a couple of doors they have and some other things.  Everything is salvaged and is perfect for reuse.  It's a great place to "shop."  The weather was beautiful and I took a couple of pictures.  The first one is Louisville's skyline and the second is the Ohio river from the Indiana side across from Louisville.

We really love it here.  Well, it's back to work on the kitchen and the shed.  One (or both) of us will write again soon.

Thank you for reading our blog and for all of your comments, thoughts and suggestions.  We can't tell you how much we appreciate it.

Take care.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back To Work...

A little intro: We wanted to apologize for not blogging in so long! As the weather has cooled, we've gotten busy again on the house! Kevin started writing this post last week, and I am finishing it today so we don't get too far without further delay.....

Finally, the weather has relented.  4 days ago it was 100 degrees during the day and 80 at night.  Yesterday it was 64 degrees and, as I sit here writing, the wind is blowing pretty hard and it's 57 outside, Nice!!  So, we are now going to get back to work.  It's been quite some time since our last post so this one might be a bit epic because I want to catch you all up on what we've been doing both related and not related to the house.  So, got get a cup of coffee and some snacks, close the door or ignore everyone that walks by your "cube" if you're reading this while working.  Here we go...

We have spent many evenings over the summer driving the backroads around the countryside.  There are a million little roads going here and there and each one seems to have a surprise for us, it may be a lonely, picturesque old farm or cemetery or it might be a small, quiet lake or pond.  We never get tired of exploring.  Here is a picture we took one evening at an old church in the country.  Neither the church nor the cemetery had a name so we're still researching that.  The old oak tree out front gave us an amazing picture.  The second picture is the sunset that same evening.

In addition to traveling here and there we have added another member to our family.  Bonnie has a new kitten.  She named her "Yogurt."  She is fascinated with it and can't seem to put the poor thing down for more than 30 seconds.  Poor little kitty!!

When Bonnie does put her down (or she escapes) she takes time to visit with her other new friends.  The dogs acted tough at first but that was all just an act as you can see.

As for work on the house, our main focus is the kitchen floor. One of the first projects we tackled in June was to remove all of the old flooring and get down to the original wood floor, you may recall. Then 'the heat dome' hit and we slowed way down with our work, which gave us the time to poke around, mull things over, and decide how best to proceed.  

And then, while opening up the old doorway between the kitchen and what will be a pass-through to the bathroom, it became very clear there were issues with the floor joists in the kitchen, and so we decided we needed to see just exactly what we are dealing with. Wow, are we glad that we did.

What we discovered was that most of the original joists were rotten enough that they needed to be replaced, and two beams under load-bearing walls have badly rotted spots in them. After looking at the kitchen and the front of the house, it is clear these two structures were built at different times. It could well be that the kitchen was the original structure -- maybe a shack to just get by in until the front part of the house could be built. There was also what appeared to be the old footing for a large hearth. Since we have no history on the house, these are all just guesses, of course!

The plan is to repair the beams on the load-bearing walls, run a concrete footing down the middle of the kitchen (finished, see photo below) and run a new main joist on top of the new concrete footing to which  support beams will be run off of to the load bearing walls. 

Here  is the concrete footing:


One of the areas on a load-bearing beam that needs repair:

Another project we have going right now is what used to be the wood shed that we originally were going to tear down. We decided -- although Kevin came up with the idea -- to repair the building and use it as a screened-in eating/hanging out area. 

Here is the before:

Here are a few during:


We should have an 'after' in the not-too-distant future.

While Kevin works on those projects, Ann is busy stripping four layers of wallpaper from the master bedroom walls. With a new wallpaper steamer in hand, she is confident the job will progress quickly from here on out.

Thanks to everyone for hanging in there with us!

-Kevin & Ann