On Progress, or the Lack Thereof

It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve posted, and I guess 7 ish months is quite a while. I didn’t mean for the silence, for the distance, for the broken communication, it’s all my fault. Really, it’s me, not you!



Yeah, it’s been a while. I really wanted to be able to update on all the awesome progress around the house and there just hasn’t been a whole lot. Life is busy and demanding, and trimming looooooots of trees with a dinky little handsaw just won’t cut it. But, I figured I’d drop in and write a little something, maybe in an effort to convince myself that I have done ‘something’ if not ‘all of the things.’

Progress on El Palacio del Pollo: 1/4 done with the first round of clean out. Barely a scratch, but a scratch none-the-less.

And about the main drainage ditch around the back corner: I’ve made ‘some’ progress. I’ve dug more out, taken a sage brush or two out, and I’ve begun to lay some stones. But, as the current state of drainage is suggesting, I’m just not quite there yet. It’s directing the water away, and yet everything is still just saturated. It probably has something to do with two rounds of 6″ of snow that melted incredibly fast.


And regarding “Jackalope Lake:” I usually love rain, but it tends to collect in the side yard and it makes life miserable for me and the dogs. Last year we kind of carved out a bit of a ditch just to get some of the water moving away, but this year I did manage to dig it out a bit more. It’s not awesome, but it is pulling some excess water away, but it could be better. My ultimate plan is to dig a channel and put in a series of drainage pipes, and cover them with gravel. The other option is to turn the entire side yard into a dry stream bed type thing, and while I love that look, it just isn’t what we want or need. If plan A fails, though, I’ll look to it as plan B.

I haven’t really begun to ponder spring/summer projects yet, but my lack of a fenced in yard has really been on my mind this past year. I really want to put one in, and I’m confident I can get it done with minimal help, but it will take a good long while. I will continue to debate this in the coming months, but I’m really hoping to get moving on it soon.

As for my remaining winter projects: trimming the trees- I’ve started, but because I only had a hand saw, the progress was slow and labor intensive. I recently bought myself a rechargeable reciprocal saw (I know, I know, but *enter multitude of stupid excuses here* so 😛 ), and I’m really hoping to get out soon and start making awesome progress with this.


Shoe racks: I’m designing a couple of DIY industrial-style shoe racks. I’ve got the measurements taken and the pipes mostly picked out. I just need to make the final measurements and selections and figure out the wood and stain components, and they should come together pretty quickly (I think).

The plant cave: I’ve made no progress here. I’m hoping to acquire a table saw before getting this one done, but we’ll see.

The laundry room: again, no progress. I need a contractor to get rid of the $%^& gas line before I can really do anything. I’m still trying to figure out the cabinet situation.

So yeah, lots going on, but not a lot in the form of progress here on the ranch. /sigh

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

The average high for our area is around 70 degrees for the month of May, and the average rainfall is less than half an inch.

The last two weeks would like to spit in the face of those averages! It has done nothing but rain and be chilly. I’d say our highs have been closer to 60ish, and I have no idea how much rain we’ve gotten, but we’re saturated. Today is the first day in over two weeks where no rain is forecasted and the temps are actually supposed to be above normal. It’s really nice outside, but I haven’t seen the sun in so long that I have an almost vampire-ish reaction to the sunlight. (HIIIIISSSSSSSS)

So, what’s this got to do with JHR? Drainage, of course! Jeremy mapped out where our abundance of water is coming from. We basically have two streams coming down from either side of a mountain behind the house. One empties into the existing stream bed, and the other empties into our side yard and goes down the driveway (slowly destroying both in the process). I raised the question “Why didn’t the previous owners do anything about this second stream?” which Jeremy answered with “They most likely didn’t get the same amount of rain we’ve been getting these last few years.” You know, because global warming and stuff.

So, enter our recent ditch digging efforts. Jeremy has cleared out a good sized ditch near the bottom of the driveway that empties into (one of the) streams where it meets the road. I’ve been working on digging around the house. We haven’t been able to really test our work until the rains started, and even then, we needed enough rain for the streams to start running again. We finally got our chance this weekend. The results: we’re on the right track!

We woke Friday morning to a steady rain that finally tapered off. My ditch near the house wasn’t quite far enough to direct the water towards the back, so it wasn’t doing a whole lot of good at that time. I grabbed a shovel and decided that I was going to create some sort of path for the water or die trying. Even though I had to fight the mud and rocks, it was pretty easy to get a small waterway carved and get the water moving.

Now the water can go into the stream bed or around the back. Obviously it isn’t near done, but I got more done in those 30 mins of digging in the mud than in hours of digging dry dirt. I need to widen and deepen the ditch and I plan to line it with rocks. Maybe I should just go dig some more when it rains again…

Jeremy’s big ditch was also helpful, but we had to do a bit of emergency water directing a bit uphill from it. Here’s hoping we can keep the water from spilling over into the driveway again. He plans to fix the grading and to add a small trench right down the middle.

That’s the new ditch on the left, and the stream it empties into on the right. Unfortunately, there is no culvert under the main road here, so in the past this stream has done quite a bit of damage to the road. They just added lots of road base and the main road is super nice now, and I’d hate for it to be damaged again. We were informed that there were plans to add culverts, and hopefully fix/improve existing culverts. No ETA on that yet.

We need to get our drainage issues squared away so we can finally fix the driveway, and more importantly, start work on an awesome yard! Yay! More dirt moving in my future! Can’t wait!

Oh! And here’s a shot of Jackalope Creek roaring away! You can’t beat the sound of a running stream!


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – April 2018

Seeing as spring is trying its best to make an appearance, I’ve been thinking about what to *attempt* to get done this summer. Obviously the ditch in the back southern corner of the house is pretty important, as I can’t do anything else with the yard until that is in. But, here are some other things going on outside in what I am thinking would be a fun seasonal-ish topic: the good, the bad, the ugly.

The Good

The trees are trying so very hard to sprout some leaves. I’m not sure if they’ll be blooming much, seeing as it’s already creeping towards May and we still have bare trees.

The Bad

We’ve got a couple of areas of sadness. First, one of the fences seems to have had a disagreement with a horse.


The post is broken off at ground level and not fixable. The boards are held in with peg things (I’m no expert on fence construction) and I can’t get them out without breaking them. I’ll have to figure that one out. But now we have an ugly, broken fence that I’m worried will damage the not-broken parts when we get a good gust of wind.

Next, the barn is going on 25 years old (as is everything on the property) but I think it was the most neglected over the years. The wind has been taking its toll on the doors.

I first thought an animal was to blame for the first picture, but I didn’t see the block there until I saw it up close. I know that getting this barn back to usable condition would really help the property value and potential sell-ability, but then again, I can’t muster the energy to think about how to fix it. It’s in rough shape. At this point I’m just waiting for doors to start falling off and siding to blow away.

Next, out here we have Junipers (super flammable!!) and Piñons. It’s important that we keep them trimmed (the ones close to the house at least), but we can’t trim the trees in the warm season due to some lovely beetles that easily spread. The Pine Beetles eventually kill the tree that they call home and it needs to be removed, but carefully, lest the beetles find new homes nearby. It’s a big issue out here, they’re killing trees left and right in some places. In our time here we’ve only had to cut down one tree. Unfortunately it’s time once again.


It’s a shame because this is a pretty big tree, and since they grow pretty slow, I’m guessing this tree has some years behind it. Plus, it sits on an island in the creek bed and is just plain awesome. Sadly, it’s got to go.

The Ugly

While the barn is in somewhat rough shape, the chicken coop nearby is still in pretty good condition. One of the kids has been talking about wanting chickens and I think it would be a lot of fun. Sprucing up the coop will be a lot of work, but we are fortunate to have a good start. My plan is to work on it slowly and hopefully we’ll be ready for the birds next year.


Next, we have an issue that isn’t new to us, as it was present when we bought the house, but it is freshly annoying every time I look at it. Did you know that birds really like styrofoam window trim under the stucco? Yup.


I think the best thing to do is just take what’s left off and repaint. But that sounds very not fun, and it’s really not causing any problems other than it’s ugly, so we’ll probably continue grumbling about it for a while longer.

And last, but not least, my garden boxes are pretty darn ugly at the moment.

I need to clean them out, remove the lattice, make new/better anti-animal cages, set up the sprinklers, and plant. Luckily our seedlings are kickin’ butt and it looks like we’ll have a nice garden this year.

First Official Project: Complete!

I’ve long since been a builder of things like puzzles, shoe collections, tensions, drama, etc. But today I can add another item to the list! Shelves!

Since we got the kittens almost a year ago, it’s been pretty clear to me that I needed to come up with a better litter box/laundry/towel storage solution for the kids’ bathroom. I had a simple IKEA shelf tucked into the little cave-like area, but that only gave me a place for towels. So, when I finally decided to start actually getting things done, this was #1 on the To-Do List. Sadly, I don’t have a good before picture. I’ll have to remember to snap pics before I start a project in the future. But I do have an after picture! (Of course)


So, four shelves, the bottom two are longer  in order to cover the litter box and hold the laundry basket. The rest is for towels and, naturally, my giant rubber duckie. (A staple in many homes, I’m sure.)

No, it isn’t a work of art, but I’m insanely happy that it’s done. Since it’s the first thing of this nature I’ve ever built, I know there are many things that can be improved upon and done differently/better. For starters, my next project involving large boards should also involve a table saw, so now that’s on the shopping list. Some gaps between board a wall are a bit cringe-worthy, but those three walls aren’t very straight, so the task was even more frustrating for my inexperienced self. Primed, painted, sealed, installed, and never coming out.

Onward to the next project!!

An Attempt At A Garden

These past few weeks have lacked a few things, namely time and good enough health to allow my attention to fall upon this blank page. Now that the spring break camps are over and I’m not running the kids around (as much), and also now that my latest cold from hell has mostly gone away, I’m finally able to write a little bit. I was hoping the last two forecasted sky rivers would help me out with a topic or two, but they both fizzled out- YAY!! Unfortunately, my current project still isn’t done and ready for a post, but I am almost there. I’ve decided that I’ll start the next inside project while I work on finishing up the previous one.

BUT! We do have a bit of progress with something! Seeing as it’s mid April already, we’ve got our seeds started for our garden! AND! They’re doing well! This really is awesome-sauce because I have a black thumb, as they say. I love plants, but I can kill a cactus in the desert, so….

Anyway, I had the kids choose a few seeds and help me plant. I know not all of them will do well in our climate, but I really enjoy the challenge of keeping plants alive, esp from seeds( …even though I’m not so good at it).  Once it warms up, we’ll be able to plant them the carrots outside.

Other than the plants, the garden also needs a new anti-squirrel device because the lattice currently on the planters is falling apart, and it doesn’t cover the top. I also need to find the automatic sprinkler- it’s hiding in the garage.

That’s pretty much what’s going on lately.

So We Got A Bit Of Rain

I had never heard of an “atmospheric river” until we moved up here. According to the NOAA:

“Atmospheric rivers are relatively long, narrow regions in the atmosphere – like rivers in the sky – that transport most of the water vapor outside of the tropics. These columns of vapor move with the weather, carrying an amount of water vapor roughly equivalent to the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River. When the atmospheric rivers make landfall, they often release this water vapor in the form of rain or snow.”

So, it’s basically a river in the sky, and of course what goes up, must come down, right? When one of these sky rivers comes our way, we know to be ready for wind and rain, and lots of both. Last year we had quite a few (the wind was scary even for me who likes the crazy wind), and this plus the large amount of snow we got last year helped our drought immensely. This year, eh, not so much. We had rain in November I think, and hardly any snow.

Enter March! We’ve had a few small bouts of snow, but last weekend, we woke up to a foot-plus of the fluffy white stuff. Finally! And then it melted- fast. Usually the snow here melts super slow, but this year it’s as if we were back in TN and it melts almost as fast as it accumulated. So now the ground was completely saturated and the creek was flowing, and then the sky river moved in. I woke up Thursday to this:


As the kids would say, “R.I.P. driveway.” There are three pipes running under driveway right here, but we were unable to unclog the third. Still, good grief. I’d say it’s about 4 ft deep in the middle, and it was MOVING. Needless to say, the driveway is in horrible shape. On the plus side, though, the ground is so rocky here that only parts of the driveway are mush, other parts are very rocky, though not always small rocks.

To make a long story short, we have some pretty big drainage issues. We need to figure out these issues and then fix the driveway. We also need to come up with a plan for the culverts down along the road, but that is going to involve working with the neighborhood association, because they need to fix culverts and pipes on their end. Sadly, I don’t see that happening anytime soon, because since this past storm has done quite a bit of damage, they’ve already got their work cut out for them during the dry season.

My plans for the side yard include a ditch to divert the water around the house and into the creek, but that doesn’t solve all of our issues. I am, however, looking forward to not having a sizeable lake where I usually take the dogs out…

Evil Kitties v. Sucky Succulents

Ok, we’re going to start things off with a small project that has waited a large amount of time to get done. Upstairs in the master bath there was a built in planter between the huge tub and window. When we got the house, there was an assortment of cacti in said planter. Even though I am a fan of most green things that also double as air-purifying devices, I wasn’t a fan of these.


So, they had to go! Except they didn’t. We did cut them down at the base, but we left the dirt and roots to sit. It became one of those “it’s not really in the way so I’ll do it later” kind of projects. Then, last summer, we got us a pair of super cute kittens. Once they discovered this super cool box of dirt, well, I think you can guess what happened. So now we had a stinky planter that really needed to go.

Version 2

How can you say no to that cute face? Let me tell you, it’s remarkably easy. They’re terrors, especially this one. ^^That’s Jimmy^^

Fast forward to today:



And it smells much better too 🙂

Now the bathtub that isn’t attached and that we don’t use can at least look a bit nicer until we redo the bathroom (5-10 yr plan). Yay for baby steps. I celebrated with a cookie.

Oh Look, We’re Aliiiiivvveeee!!!

In fact, we have been this whole time! Crazy, right?!

So, I’m going to try a wee experiment: I’m hoping to see how committed I can be to a project that doesn’t rely so heavily on my imagination. (Sorry, writing blog, it’s not you, it’s me. No really, it is. Shh, we’ll talk about this later.) Plus, it’s a bit of an outlet for my other plan, which is to spend a few hours a week trying to make the house into more of an awesome home for us. If you want something done, you gotta do it yourself, am-I-right?

So, we’ve had the house for 5 1/2 years now and lots of things have happened, but not to the house, unfortunately. The driveway less much less gravel, the little blue powder room has a new faucet, there’s hardwood floor in the master closet and what is my office. Oh, and paint! I’ve got the ugly walls on the downstairs painted, but there is still all kinds of ugly upstairs. I’m working on the kid’s bathroom but I’ll probably write about that project another time since I’m still not done with it.

I’ve made my projects list (and I’m adding to it often) and I’m planning on the best time and methods of completion, so now I just need to commit to adding things on here. Can I do that? Huh, I guess we’ll see.

New Carpet! And Paint!

Before we even received the keys to the house, we knew at least the carpet in the bedrooms downstairs should be replaced. We were thinking that may be a project for next year.

And then Jeremy bought a UV flashlight and looked at the carpet with a new eye…

What was a smallish project planned for next year became twice as large, and more important. This, coupled with a carpet sale at RC Willey, led us through their doors one fine day where we picked out some new Stainmaster carpets. We let the kids pick out their’s, and we chose a fun color for the playroom. Finally, about a month later, it is finally installed!

Let’s start with Liam’s room. Here is the before picture. The carpet wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t awesome either. The walls were a combination of ugly, ugly, and more ugly. Here is the before picture:


I’m in the process of painting his walls a light gray, and he chose a nice speckled gray carpet. I am super excited to see his room come together, but it my be a little while before I can get the walls finished. Here is the carpet:


Moving on to the girl’s room. It started with a combination of white and very like pink walls. The carpet was a horrid blue that looked as if it were original to the house. We called it the “crunchy room,” and on occasion the “shroom room” due to the mushroom growing in one of the corners when we got the keys… I did not even like to walk through this room, and the kid’s did not sleep in here. On to the pictures! Before:


I painted the room purple on one side and pink on the other. The girls picked a grape colored carpet. I was worried about the colors clashing, and I guess they do, but in the end I really don’t care. The girls love it, and I love that the carpet does not crunch with every step. After:


The playroom is kind of a weird room. We think it was originally designed as a home theater, but it is such a small room! The biggest downfall is that there are no windows, but I hope to get lots of new lighting in here to help. The carpet was actually not horrible, but we decided to change it to something more fun. And clean. The picture below is my best before picture of the carpet (‘best’ not meaning even remotely good, but I seemed to have missed this room while getting pictures of everything else…). What you are seeing is what the kids call ‘the secret passway’ between the playroom and Liam’s room. That gross chunk of green rug has been replaced with the same gray from Liam’s room. The smaller door on the left is access to a hall closet, we think to house electronics for the home theater. The old carpet can be seen at the very bottom. Before:


We chose a nice green to go in here, and it is SO SOFT! I am planning on either painting a forest on the walls, or getting a large wallpaper mural of trees, I haven’t decided which. Also, I’m hoping to put a small stage in here, probably right next to the secret passageway. After:


Last, but not least, we get to the master bedroom. This room was originally an exercise room, and the carpet stains seen under the UV light were… interesting. Before:


I painted the walls a dark blue, and I was stuck on the idea of a light gray carpet. So, here is the result:


Yes, the mirrors are still on two walls, and there they will stay until we are ready to undertake that enormous task of mirror removal and wall fixing. This will probably not happen any time soon.

I am so happy to have this project complete, and the house feels so much more comfortable! Now, if only we had some furniture…

A Little Bit of This, And a Little Bit of That

Mornin’ everyone!

As promised, here is a new post for you! I wanted to catch you up on all I’ve been doing, but to be perfectly honest, I’ve been doing lots of little bits of much bigger projects. So, even though I have no awesome before and after photos of things, I can just touch on what I’ve been messing with and what I still need to do in order to cross the task off my To Do list. Let’s start our tour inside, shall we?

The Kitchen

The kitchen area really consists of three rooms: the kitchen, dining room, and what I call the family room. All three rooms have the same cabinetry, which is a nice quality wood cabinet. I imagine they looked awesome when they were installed 20 years ago. Now, they are a bit worn with quite a few scratches, and we’re even missing two drawers. (In addition to 20 years of wear and tear, a mischievous child carved his, er, their name into one of the drawer fronts.) One of the first things I wanted to do was change out the hardware. I wasn’t really digging the wood-on-wood handles and knobs, so I finally broke down and changed them with some awesome antique brass hardware that matches the front door hardware.

The amount of cabinets and drawers in this area is astounding (as well as daunting; cleaning them is a multi-day chore). Even though we’ve had the house for three months now, I still have not gotten to cleaning all of them out. In my defense, I’m almost done, but not quite. I never really thought about what 20 years of dust, food, and random stuff accumulated at the bottom of a stack of drawers might look like, but now I know. It was pretty obvious that neither of the previous owners actually took the drawers out to clean behind them. In the entertainment center, I found a Sarah McLachlan cd, and in the kitchen, an unopened bag of seaweed cracker snack things. (I would not have touched those things had they been fresh, but my guess is they were closer to 15-20 years old, and they did not look yummy.) But, the most exciting thing I found was blueprints in the dining room. None of them seem to be complete, and they are certainly  not the exact same plan as what was ultimately built, but they did answer some of our questions, i.e. what the heck is that weird enclosure thing next to the fire place in the middle of the house? Answer: iguana enclosure. Unfortunately, it doesn’t give us non-iguana owners any inkling of what to do with it.


One of the other big To Do’s in the kitchen is getting an oven door. The Viking range that is in the house is awesome, but the gaping hole in the front is not. We will be getting another rack for the larger oven (because cooking one pizza at a time is just not cool), and a new control panel so we can actually see which knob does what instead of guessing.

Activity in the Rest of the House

We were talking about maybe replacing the carpet in the two bedrooms downstairs early next year. Then Jeremy bought a UV light, and upon seeing how disgusting all of the carpet is, we have decided to replace all the carpet now. We’ve already picked out the carpets, even letting the kids pick out their own (and yes, the girls chose purple… sigh). We still have a couple of weeks before the carpet will be installed, and in the mean time, I will be focusing on PAINT!

Jeremy is a servant to the gods of white walls, but alas, I am not. We found a rug for the office with multiple shades of blue making up a nice wave design, and I’ve decided that I will pull my paint colors from that. Matching the colors on the rug to the colors on those silly little paper paint samples has not been easy, but I have acquired a nice fan deck, and my time is running out. If all goes well, the paint will start to go up on the walls this weekend. It is going to be a lot of work, but the reward of not having to see the previous owner’s horrid paint choices will be well worth it.



We have 10 acres to clean up, and the previous owners were kind enough to leave us lots to do. From a barn with stalls full of junk sitting on a foot of animal poop, to piles of concrete around the house, we have our work cut out for us. It’s finally October, and we will begin the task of trimming the trees to get any branches the recommended four feet off the ground, and really defining the 30 foot fire break around the house and propane tank. I have my work cut out for me in the multiple gardens that are currently around the house. I’ve mostly cleared the planter in the front of the house, and I’ve begun clearing most of the rocks, dead plants, and pieces of concrete away from the gardens behind the house. There are a few trees in the back that I have not been able to officially identify, except for one, a Santa Rosa Plum (nom nom nom). Unfortunately, it doesn’t look too happy (and I can only assume it’s because plum trees don’t typically thrive in desert climates), but I am hopeful I can keep it alive and get it to a happy place.


The plum tree is the one in the middle. The tree on the left looks to have dark buds of some sort, but we’ll have to wait and see what it is up to. There is another tree off to the right of this picture that is already changing to a nice Autumn yellow. I am not sure what to do with this whole area in the back, but I’m thinking about maybe getting some nice gravel and/or paving stones.

The garden on the side of the house will be completely taken out to make room for either a deck or a nice large patio area that will hopefully go in next year. The vegetable garden is a mess currently, and we are still bouncing ideas back and forth. What ever we decide to do, we will have to clear the whole thing and start fresh.

Stuff We Are Planning To Do

A big project we are talking about is a complete renovation of the laundry room. I am hoping (but not expecting) to get it done in the next six months or so, but as long as the room we have is still fully functional, then there is no huge rush. Another project we want done is in the upstairs, adding a door to the bathroom, french doors to the bed room, and pushing the furnace room wall back to incorporate the silly aquarium area in the master bathroom. I am also anticipating a complete master bathroom renovation sometime in the next few years or so, but it is definitely not on the table now, and won’t be for a while. (However, I am still thinking about it.  🙂  )

The two rooms I am most excited to get to work in are naturally the two least important in the house: the living room and the lounge/library/my office. In the living room, we are planning on replacing the wold wood burning stove, and I plan to have fun decorating it. Also, this is the room where my piano will be, when I get an piano. The lounge is one of the rooms in the master suite, sharing the double sided fireplace with Jeremy’s office. I want to put in floor to ceiling shelving and somehow incorporate a desk in it for me. In order to get the shelves in, the wet bar will have to come out. (Removing a wet bar just feels so wrong, but I get more comfort from looking at shelves stocked full of my favorite books than an ugly, oddly placed blob of cabinets and green granite.) The couch and tv we currently have in CA will go up here when we move in full time, and hopefully soon after that the room upstairs will be a little slice of heaven for me.


Basically, we have a lot going on. I have been working on this post for almost a week, and I’m still not particularly happy with it, but I need to get moving on my tasks I’ve set for this weekend. I am so excited to start slapping paint on the walls, and yet so very nervous because I’ve never painted walls before.

Wish me luck as I venture into the unknown land of paint, and Jeremy luck as he enters the land of antenna installation!