Monday, October 19, 2015

October 18, 2015: First snowfall! And the night temp dropped into the low 20's. Seriously. Dear Mother Nature, we Florida gals are definitely not amused. This is a picture of the first snowfall last year...on November 4th!

Well, we have to admit that there were signs this winter would be harsher and/or longer than the last. Ryan told us one indication was the abundance of acorns. Personally, we noticed a lot of the leaves were falling before changing color. And when the colors came, the display wasn't as vivid or plentiful as last year, and within a week of the change starting--before we even had a chance to take a drive along the Mohawk Trail--strong winds stripped most of the trees completely. So we shut off the pipes to the outside faucets, brought in the hoses and plants, closed the vents in the attic and spread out the stacks of fiberglass insulation up there. Plus, we've contracted with a new company--Whirlwind--to provide us with snow plowing service.

As Marilyn is typing this, Surner Heating just arrived to refill the oil tank, which is good since we've already been turning the furnace on at night for about two weeks already. On the positive side, we have a brand new, energy-efficient system AND the price of the oil is waaaaaay less than last year.

So we've gotten out our winter coats and hats and the doggies sweaters and will hope the quantity of acorns was a fluke.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


October 7, 2015: This post was originally dated July 31, 2015 and said -- HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to us! Exactly one year ago today, Joie, Marilyn, Milkdud & Sweetie took physical possession of Chateau de Joie. That's right, we've been working at making this olde house OUR house for 365 days!

The plan was to celebrate the mile-marker by launching our Video Log (vlog) but the need to finish all outdoor projects on the summer's list before Joie had to dive back into school mode and Marilyn having to finish her Christmas anthology and no one volunteering to hold the camera for us... well, the excuses go on but there WILL be a vlog and our own YouTube program one of these days! (We enjoy clowning around & showing off too much not to do it.)

That said, we still want to share the text portion of the belated anniversary blog post.

Despite the number of days that House won out over Humans, we are filled with pride when we look around and see how much progress we've made so far ...


5 tons of refuse removed from the house interior, garage, attic and yard (still plenty more in all those areas for next summer's dump run);

Hacked/tore down/dug out 6 pieces of heavy-duty playground equipment left over from property's previous use as a daycare center, including a huge sandbox;

All trees cut back from the house and overgrown bushes trimmed;

New electrical boxes plus replacement of wiring and about 3/4 of lighting fixtures;

Replacement of all kitchen and laundry appliances;

Removal of 1200 square feet of drop ceiling tiles, mouse infested insulation and plastic sheeting between main floor and walk-out basement;

Installation of 1200 s.f. of new sound-reducing ceiling tiles;

Evicted the mouse and carpenter ant population from every nook and cranny of the house (the outside is all theirs);

Conversion of the former mud room and storage area for the daycare center (along with a lethally unsafe shower) to an en suite bedroom;

Total renovation, clean-up, reconstruction and painting of the 2 pre-existing bedrooms downstairs;

Extreme cleanup of the downstairs bathroom including replacement and re-tiling of one entire moldy wall;

Renovation/updating of the downstairs kitchen including refinishing cabinets, replacing hardware and laying a new tile floor;

Installation of wood slat blinds on the downstairs bedroom windows;

Painting of all the downstairs walls and trim and replacement of living room furniture;

7 new doors installed and all openings, holes and pass-thrus walled up downstairs;

Outside pathway to the downstairs and adjoining patio cleared, replaced and refurbished;

Parking lot cleared of debris and expanded to fit additional cars;

Upstairs kitchen renovation begun, including tear-out of dividing wall and built-in table, conversion of dumb waiter space to a refrigerator "nook", conversion of corner (inoperable) double-oven space to a cozy, shelved appliance nook, plus installation of 2 additional (unfinished) base cabinets to commence the barista area;

Had old pool filter system removed and new one installed inside the garage;

Completely refurbished pool patio, coping and surrounding concrete wall;

Tore down dilapidated wood fence around pool and built a new one...with a wave on top;

Cleaned, renovated and re-purposed the stairs and garden area between the pool patio and downstairs patio;

Removed hundreds of feet of rusty chain link fencing and dug out 14 steel, concrete-based fence posts;


Cleaned and cleared overgrown area on the side of the house and converted an old tire swing to a whimsical planter;

Removed decades of filth and various items of clothing and garbage from the air registers and returns (what we could reach by hand) then had all the air ducts cleaned and sanitized;

Had 50-year old furnace, air conditioning system, pool heater, humidifier and electronic filter system all torn out of the unfinished basement area and had a new, compact furnace and a/c unit installed, plus had the washer and dryer stacked beside it so that the utility area of the basement is clean, roomy and totally functional...possibly to be re-purposed as a gym;


We planted our first tree;

Finally, since a part of this big move involved a drastic climate change, we learned how to build a fire in our very own fireplace, went sled-riding on our very own slopes and endured our first New England winter with only a few challenges;

And lest y'all forget why we're here, Joie successfully completed her first year as a doctoral student at the distinguished UMass Amherst and has now moved on to year two.

The above list was started because we were constantly working so hard without always feeling like we'd accomplished much. So we decided to remind ourselves why we're so very tired.  The review really picked up our optimism for the next phase! We highly recommend the process.

We hope you enjoyed our little flashback and continue to stay tuned as we move our efforts back indoors...