Showing posts with label Barn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barn. Show all posts

17 July 2009

The Tour - Part III

A few weeks ago, I left work early to come home to a completely reorganized and clean kitchen. It was THE most wonderful homecoming! My husband rocks. We now have room to properly prepare a meal, and are able to find everything we need. Well, almost.

It was inspiring. Throughout the winter we had been sharing our living room with the living room floor. Not unusual, really. The only thing was the floor wasn't laid out, it was stacked in a pile in the middle of the room. With a taste of the kitchen being 'redone', we wanted more.

The weather has been great in Olympia, so we opened up the doors, took all the wood out (leaving the mouse or chipmunk that had been living in the pile all winter - judging by the amounts of stolen cat food we found in the open spaces in the pile - homeless), replaned it, and stacked it in the trailer we are using for storage.

The next step was to sort through all our stuff, of which we have way too much by the way, toss what we don't need, and store the rest upstairs. We can now dance in our living room! And I even went so far as to sew curtains for Lola's room. Slowly but surely it is turning into a real home...

29 May 2009

Let There Be Light

We have all the windows we need for the downstairs but we cannot install them yet. First we need to frame in the walls and for that we need wood. And since we are focusing on no cost or low cost projects for now, the windows will have to wait a little bit longer.

However. We do have HUGE barn doors. We have just been waiting for the right time to open them. With temperatures in the high seventies and low eighties, that time has come.

15 March 2009

The Tour - Part II

In every house I have ever lived - whether rented or owned, there have been projects that never got done. Boxes awaiting unpacking, French doors in need of paint, mirrors and light fixtures on the floor instead of hanging properly, etc. While at first it annoyed me that things were unfinished, after some time had gone by I stopped noticing.

The same can be said about the barn. It is not that we have become complacent, it is just that we have gotten used to our surroundings. Until we take a picture. Then it becomes painfully obvious how much still needs to be done. Pretty much everything, really. Hence my reluctance to post pictures of the inside.

But since we were on the subject of potties, I thought I'd continue the tour into the bathroom. This is it. The Luggable Loo. It really is a bucket.

I put quite a bit of research into toilet options, when the date of moving into the barn drew near. It is, after all, a necessity. The idea of frequently dropping my pants in the woods in the middle of winter did not appeal to me. I looked into renting a Honey Bucket (a port-a-potty), buying or even building a compostable toilet, and available camping gear. I loved the Bumper Dumper but it does not appear to be suitable for use indoors. Perhaps one day, when we go camping.

(picture taken from

The advantage of a Luggable Loo is that it is luggable. When it's cold, we lug it next to the stove. When we want privacy, we lug it somewhere else. Almost as good as a bathroom with walls and a heated floor. Almost...

25 February 2009

The Party Sink

It's called a party tub. Ours is bright red, oval shaped, and made of plastic. Its purpose is to be filled with ice and drinks at parties. For us it is a sink. It holds our dirty dishes until we are ready to clean them. And sometimes, like yesterday, it doubles as a wash tub or a bathtub.

Lola has obviously beaten the bug.

24 February 2009

The Bed Bug Bit

Lola was felled by a stomach bug this weekend. It started with loss of appetite - not even strawberries could entice her to eat, followed by the fun diapers, and last but certainly not least, projectile vomiting.

I had heard her cry a little bit after I had put her to bed Sunday night. But while she is by no means a fussy sleeper, it is not unusual for her to protest a little. I therefore didn't think anything of it and ignored it. After a couple of minutes she was quiet and I assumed she had gone to sleep.

Around 11 o'clock she cried again. There was something about it that made me go upstairs. She was still sleeping. But when I moved a stuffed animal to the side I could feel the cold wetness. Then the stench hit me and I turned on the light. My poor shivering baby! She must have been laying in her vomit for a few hours.

Oh, the guilt.

We had been reorganizing the upstairs earlier. It was Lola's first night in her new room. While I changed the sheets on her bed, Ryan held her. He told her about his first night in the barn when he too projectile vomited. On the wall. It was a bonding moment in a smelly sort of way.

For the first time, I felt VERY frustrated by not having warm, running water.

06 February 2009

The Tour - Part I

Ryan and I do not entertain much at the moment. I am sure this doesn't come as a surprise to anyone. Consequently there are not many people that have seen The Barn. I have been receiving more and more requests for pictures of the inside. Time for the Grand Tour, in petite form.

We will start off with the kitchen. We originally considered a SIEMATIC kitchen, but we changed our minds. Instead we went for a genuine 1935 Wedgewood Gas Stove, with the original spice jars included, readily converted for use with a propane tank. An awesome yard sale find!

It has four burners, an oven that we don't know how to use and two warming drawers if you can get the oven to work. I am very happy to be cooking on gas again. And I love the look of it. We think it fits the barn perfectly. It is in very good shape, considering its age. If you click on the pictures, you can take a closer look.

I found a nearly identical stove online, completely restored, and called the seller for information on the oven. I wasn't very smart about it, though. Rather than expressing an interest in buying the stove and requesting information, I explained I owned one too but did not know how the oven worked. Too honest for my own good. The seller was not very helpful. And there are not too many manuals from 1935 around anymore...

The open shelving unit serves as a pantry. Unfortunately my daughter knows exactly where on the shelves her favorite foods are (at the moment dried cranberries, multi-colored goldfish crackers, and pretzels) and simply squeezes in behind the trashcan to grab them. Of course, I have moved them out of reach, but that does not stop her from wanting them. We will at some point need to invest in closed shelves. Or cupboards.

To complete our vintage kitchen theme, we found a 1920's icebox on Ebay, made by J.B. Van Sciver, descendant of Dutch immigrants. It leaks however, and we turned it into storage instead. Our friend Royce offered us the use of his spare fridge and freezer which we gratefully accepted. It has locks on the doors that will undoubtedly come in handy when Lola figures out how to open the fridge. She already knows, but she respects a closed door still. Not for long, I am sure.

This concludes the first part of the tour. Give us some time to reorganize and clean, and we will show you more in the near future.

31 January 2009

Mr Positive

Last night, right before we went to bed, Ryan was looking around in the barn. When I asked him what he was doing, he said he was looking at the wall, at the structure of the barn. I get that. I like to look at the structure too. It will be a shame almost to cover it up eventually.

I especially like the ceiling. The beams, the cross beams, and the studs that hold it in place. The only thing I am not too sure of, aesthetically speaking, is the ceiling boards. They say 'This Side Down' on them. Quite clearly. When I mentioned this to Ryan, he replied: "At least people will know we got it right. It would be so much worse if they said 'This side up'..."

17 January 2009

Modern Technology

My child likes to practice her fine motor skills. She loves playing with all the tech devices we have in the barn. The phones, the remote controls, and the digital thermometer – she prefers these over her toys. Our keyboard has to be put back together on a regular basis. Put them away, I hear you thinking. We do, but she’s quicker – and taller – than we anticipate. Obviously Ryan and I are much slower learners than Lola and have to suffer the consequences. Our keyboard is missing the H, for instance. This is pretty darn inconvenient if your name is Hanneke van H. and you’re from Holland. But even for Ryan N. from Wisconsin it is a pest. The English language has an awful lot of words with an H. Fortunately I can copy and paste my name (Thank You, Matthijs van H.!).

There is a lot we do not have in the barn. Some might even say too much. But we do okay, really! It’s funny, the things you learn about yourself when your circumstances change. A person doesn’t need that much. What is perceived as a necessity is often a luxury. Our luxuries are a burden at the moment because we cannot use them and have to store them. I thought the bucket would be hard. But no, it’s the kitchen sink I miss most. I want to pour things down the drain! And I wouldn’t mind being able to wash my hands and look out a window downstairs. All in good time…

What we do have, apart from our health and each other, is modern technology. The internet has proven to be much more important to me than I would have ever thought. I am happy our landline is up again, and I do enjoy watching CSI, but I would have no problem giving them up if I have to. But not my internet connection! I’d fight for that one. It’s my way to apply for jobs, to keep up with the news, to stay connected. I love blogging my story, finding friends on Facebook – I have even started to use the ‘chat’, getting back in touch.

Now, if only I could find the mouse. Lola!

13 January 2009

The Truth And Nothing But...

When I embarked on my Olympic Adventure, I expected something different. I cannot tell you what exactly but certainly not the situation I currently find myself in. The thing is, we’re broke. Not a little broke, no, Broke with a capital B. I guess Ryan and I felt that after having survived the first year of our life together – with a whirlwind romance, an international wedding, immigration, and a baby – we needed a new challenge.

With me not being able to find a job, our financial situation was not great to begin with. Then Ryan was offered a wonderful job with Siemens Building Technologies and things finally seemed to be going our way, the operative word being ‘seemed’. In this country privacy is a hollow phrase and insurance companies rule the world. On his last day with Comcast while he was briefing his replacement, Ryan received a phone call from Siemens HR in Chicago, telling him there was a problem with his driving record and he was deemed unemployable. “You’ll understand we have to withdraw our offer. Have a nice day.” Seriously, that’s what they said.

As it turns out, two and a half years ago, Ryan was late paying a speeding ticket. They are very straightforward about that sort of thing here; you don’t pay your ticket, they suspend your driver’s license until you do. He has long since paid his ticket but not until three years have passed, is an insurance company willing to insure an employee with a suspended license on his record. Or so Siemens claims. The credit-scoring type points system they use for the hiring of new employees tells Siemens Ryan is unemployable and if the computer says so…

Do I sound bitter? Perhaps a little bit. Where I come from, driving records are not available to employers. Being four weeks late paying a ticket results in a fine, not unemployment. We pulled out everything we had trying to persuade Siemens to put people ahead of policy but to no avail. Policy is policy! And they were so happy to have him on board. We’re talking 10,000 dollar signing bonus, company car, the works.

So, one moment you’re trying to buy more property, the next moment you’re bending over backwards trying to keep the one you have. Since that glorious day in June we have made a few interesting decisions that so far are not really working out too well. Underestimating the difficulty he would encounter finding another job, Ryan pursued his dream. He built a barn in our backyard. He has put everything into it; blood, sweat, tears, and quite a bit of money. We wanted it as a guesthouse at first, or perhaps a rental, but we quickly decided we were going to live in it ourselves and rent out the house.

And that’s what we have been doing since December of last year. Unfortunately, we ran out of money before it was finished. We have no running water (unless you consider a garden hose running from the well running water), no plumbing (we highly recommend Cabela’s Luggable Loo), no downstairs windows (not installed anyway), no insulation, and no stairs. There are a few other things not yet ready but you get the picture, I’m sure. Basically, we’re camping with all our stuff. We try to laugh at ourselves and our situation and not give in to self pity too much. And most of the time we pull it off.

On a positive note: the chimney is fixed and the barn is warm and cozy again. Of course, when we moved back into the barn, the storm had knocked the power out. I kid you not. Life is an adventure indeed!

04 January 2009

If It Ain't Broke...

There is a piece of our chimney pipe that needs replacing. The chimney works just fine but it's crooked and chimneys should be straight, both for technical and aesthetic reasons. In order to do that, we need to let the fire in the wood stove go out completely. However, it's cold in Olympia at the moment and the wood stove is our only source of heat, burning twenty four hours a day. But yesterday morning when we got up, the stove had gone out and we decided to seize the moment.

Now unless we really know what we're doing, Ryan and I should not do manual labor together, it hardly ever goes well. And with our stress levels the way they are, now is an even worse time. But the Dutch IRS had finally seen the light and deposited my 2006 tax return in my account and we were feeling optimistic. So we grabbed the replacement piece, climbed the ladder and started pulling on the chimney pipe.

It did not go well. What started out as a chill Saturday morning ended as a chilly Saturday morning with temperatures and temperaments just above freezing. There was yelling involved (both of us), throwing of wood (by me), thrashing of uncooperative chimney pieces (Ryan), tears (me again), talk of dolphins (Ryan - long story).

Unfortunately, replacement pieces cannot be bought at stores but have to be purchased online. There is shipping time involved. It will take up to a week to fix the chimney. And all that time we cannot use the stove. Our living room is quickly becoming a frozen tundra.

So, after blowing off some steam at the gym and defrosting in their hot tub, we bought a bottle of champagne, packed a bag, and moved into Shelly's house. She's still in Hawaii. Her cat Bubba was excited about having company until he realized we brought our cat Sandman. Bubba has been glaring and growling at him all night but Sandman is pretending not to notice and looks all innocent while he walks around the house as if it's his. He is very comfortable here. I am sure that will change as soon as he realizes he cannot go outside but has to use the litter box...