Days Thirty-Eight + Thirty-Nine

Sorry for the delay in updates- unfortunately the long, running diary I had been keeping of all the things done to the house over the last few months was lost when my computer’s hard drive died. 😦 Of course, it was the one thing I neglected to save to Google Drive. After multiple attempts to retrieve the file, I have finally given up. Thankfully, all major and a lot of minor projects are still recorded on our calendars, in receipts, in photos, and burned into our memories.

On November 14th, it was new roof day! During our home inspection, the biggest ticket item was the roof. The original metal roof was still on the parts of the house that were the oldest. They had put plywood over the metal then two layers of shingles over that in those areas. Needless to say, it wouldn’t be a simple or easy roofing job! After getting multiple quotes on the roof and the new windows we needed (every window needed to be replaced) we decided to go with a local company called Feazel to do both the roof/gutters and the windows. They were the cheapest and seemed like the best quality for the amount we were able to spend.

A huge crew showed up Monday morning and wasted no time getting to work! By the afternoon they had the whole old roof off and began putting on the new. They literally worked until 10pm cleaning up and had to come back for most of the day Tuesday to do additional finishing work and to continue cleaning. We love the color we chose for the roof and were happy with the overall quality of work. Our only negatives were that no one on the crew spoke English (so it was difficult communicating things that we wanted to make sure they were doing- like correcting some old venting issues) and after they were completely done, there were still countless pieces of shingles and roofing nails around our house and in the bushes. Another issue we have run into since then is that one area of gutter has started to droop or was never installed properly so the water isn’t able to drain correctly in that spot.

While the roof was getting put on outside, our painters were here for the first time starting to work inside. The trim work in most of the house was painted a brown/almond color, which made the house look dated and (in my opinion) made the floorboards look dirty and in three of the rooms upstairs, the trim was painted green. We had all trim, including doors and moldings painted a bright, glossy white. Our painters had their work cut out for them because there were only two of them and they needed to paint every square inch of the inside of the house. They started work upstairs, because upstairs was more finished, and for the Monday and Tuesday that the roof was being put on, they didn’t even have all of the trim finished in the four bedrooms. If we had chosen to paint the house ourselves (which would have been a straightforward, relatively unskilled job) it would have taken us multiple months to finish. We were glad that, even though it took our painters a very long time, we chose to pay them instead of it taking up all our time. Also, we both really hate to paint so it was a good investment for our overall happiness and marriage. 🙂

 

Days Thirty-Six + Thirty-Seven

On November 12th, we had Home Depot paint-match the color on the existing balusters and I worked on painting the new ones to match. Luckily they matched really well! Our trip to Home Depot was a big one because we needed lots of random supplies and the rest of the materials to build the half-wall to separate the foyer from the front living room.

When we got to the house, Mike started building the half-wall while I ripped out the remaining ivy and regraded the ground then sprayed the entire area with RoundUp. I finished taping all the door hinges and did a little more touch-up paint on the balusters.

Mike decided that the wall would be sturdier if he inset the wall into the opposing drywall. The wall went up quickly and pretty easily but the mudding took a long time to dry.

While the mudding dried, Mike started work on ripping out the main floor bathroom/laundry room because the guys who would demo the bathroom floor would be there next week. After a lot of work he was able to tear off the sink top and cut the sink pipes. He had to use his reciprocating saw to cut through the pipes and again used SharkBite compression valves. He took out the sink cabinets and we donated them to Habitat for Humanity.

We ended the evening with another in a series of trips to Menard’s to get chimney caps for our upcoming new roof and more compression valves so that the next day Mike could work on removing the toilet and the washer and dryer from the main floor bathroom.

On Sunday the 13th, we tried a new church that we noticed on the drive to Home Depot. Unfortunately we didn’t love it. Another trip to Home Depot to pick up supplies before a short stop at the house to sand and add another coat of mud to the half-wall before heading to our nephew’s 5th birthday party. The REAL Captain America showed up at the party so it ended up being pretty exciting. 😉

When we got back to the farmhouse, I started work on the ivy area around our garage and covered it all with black landscaping fabric to kill the ivy and any weeds underneath and secured the fabric with landscaping staples. From what I knew about Ivy and from what I had read, it’s almost impossible to get rid of, so we did everything possible we could to keep it away since it had been growing through the siding and the cement foundation of our garage.

Mike continued work on the downstairs bathroom and was able to unhook and recap the washer and dryer as well as take out the toilet! This was a very typical weekend for us at the house. Lots of projects going on and always a couple that NEEDED to get done by a certain time so that things were prepped for the workers who were coming in.

Days Thirty-Four + Thirty-Five

While we had been gone on our trip, the ceilings had been finished being scraped and the window installer had been out to take final measurements. Mike’s parents graciously checked on the house every day we were away.

When we got to the house, we were so excited to see how the ceilings had turned out! It made a huge difference in making the house look more modern. The electricians were also there to put in the kitchen recessed lighting that first day back. The kitchen with the scraped ceiling and new bright lights looked amazing. It was so nice to come back to some progress rather than feeling like the house project was stalled while we were away.

Mike and I installed the light fixture I had spray painted gold in the nursery.  Baby’s first semi-flush mount. 🙂

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On November 11th, the electricians were back again to keep working on installing the recessed lights around the rest of the house. They worked on the family room and dining rooms. Mike’s parents came over and helped take out a ton of ivy that had been growing out of control around the garage and we are so thankful for their help!

I had my 23-week doctor’s appointment that day and all’s well! “BooBerry” kicks me all the time. I’m beginning to hope that he’s more active in the womb than he will be outside.

We mostly did a bunch of small, odd jobs the rest of the day… I stained the new upstairs balusters that Mike had installed and we realized that they had not been stained but instead the original balusters had been painted! When we had bought the house, the upstairs railing rungs were clearly spaced out too far. In our home inspection, it was one of the many things that came up as needing to be fixed. Thankfully, Mike is great with carpentry and bought matching balusters to match and set a new one between each existing one. They turned out great and now our future baby won’t fall through the railing!

I worked on taping off all the door hinges around the house so that they could be painted a matte black. I also took off all the door knobs around the house so they could be replaced with matte black ones.

Mike sawed off the railing in the foyer with the reciprocating saw to get rid of the balusters and hand rail so that we could start building the new, solid half-wall between the foyer and the living room.

The stained glass guy was back with our beautifully restored and repaired front door window and transom! He installed them as well as added reinforcement so that the window would not pop out again. It looks amazing and we both missed having the window there since it adds so much character to the entryway!

Days Thirty-Two + Thirty-Three

On November 8th, George had to work again so Mike and I walked to downtown High Wycombe to get breakfast and look around. We had breakfast at this American BBQ place called Bluegrass BBQ and were not disappointed! We would have loved to try every meal they served based on how good breakfast was.  We then walked around their main shopping area and went into their department stores and wish we could have bought so many things! If only we had more pounds leftover and like ten more empty suitcases. M&S department store had so much nice things in their home goods. Because we still had the afternoon to kill, we decided to eat lunch at another great place called Bill’s, and to see a movie. We saw The Accountant and both really enjoyed it. By that time it was dark and time to walk back to George and Alyssa’s place for dinner. They had made us an amazing dinner of pork belly, asparagus, and mashed potatoes with homemade apple crisp for dessert. (It was a good food day :)) After Mike and I packed to leave the next morning, the four of us sat around all evening and speculated about the election.

Homeward bound on November 9th! Back our country with a new president elect. The flight attendant sarcastically asked the passengers around if any of us had heard anything interesting on the news recently. Our flight was on time and felt so much shorter than our flight there. When we landed about an hour early, we were so happy to be home!

We picked up our car and headed for Cincinnati and back to our fixer-upper!

For more on our trip, and for European travel in general, please check out my brother an sister-in-law’s amazing blog, thebrittainsarecoming.com. You won’t be disappointed!

Days Thirty + Thirty-One

In the morning we woke up, had breakfast at our hotel in Hallstatt again, and headed for Salzburg. Unfortunately the weather was cold and rainy all morning. We parked the car in Salzburg and walked to our hotel, Star Inn. The hotel was very nice and modern! We headed out in the rain to see as much as Salzburg as we could. We first headed to Café Tomaselli (the oldest coffee house in Austria and a favorite haunt of people such as Mozart and Max Reinhardt) and had a traditional tea, with what we in America would probably refer to as a Viennese Table, where the waitress brought around a large tray full of cakes and sweets and each person chose which they wanted. All the desserts were delicious so you couldn’t go wrong!file_002-11

We then attempted to walk around the shopping area but either because of the season, the weather, or the fact that it was Sunday, most places were closed. We did stop into one amazing shop called Peter Priess that only sold blown, decorated eggs. It was a very cool place. We bought a Salzburg ornament egg there but if I had hundreds of dollars to spend, I would have gladly bought dozens of the unique, colorful eggs. We thought about going to the Christmas museum then decided against it and walked towards the Museum of Modern Art to see the view from the top.

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Thank goodness my raincoat fit my belly back then!

file_000-16The four of us continued our freezing, wet walk to find Augustriner Braustubl zu Mulln for lunch. We got to the brewery before they opened so we took refuge from the weather in a large, beautiful church across the street. The wait and the walk were worth the authentic beer garden and brew hall! We had pretzels, beer, cream puffs, schnitzel, and chips. While we were there, the rain turned to snow. When we left, the snow was sticking and made our walk even colder.

file_005-7We headed towards our hotel by way of the Mirabell Palace to snap at least one Sound of Music photo. We got back to the hotel and warmed up for a while before deciding on checking out the pizza place next to our hotel. L’Osteria had a cool vibe and unlimited free pistachios! So we decided we liked it. The food was decent but it was a nice warm place to sit and enjoy a meal. (They also had a great non-alcoholic beer list!)

We woke up and headed for the airport in the morning, dropped off the rental car and again our flight left on time! We arrived back in Stansted and decided to drive to a large antique place in the countryside before heading home. Unfortunately we didn’t find anything we loved but it was fun to look at the antiques of another country.

Once we got back to High Wycombe, we ordered Indian Food in for dinner and watched a bunch of episodes of Family Tree on Amazon.

Days Twenty-Eight + Twenty-Nine

On November 4th, George, Alyssa, Mike, and I left our hotel by 4am to drop off the car for parking and took a shuttle to the airport (where I got yelled at again for opting for the pat-down). We grabbed breakfast in the airport and our flight left on time! Yay! We arrived in Salzburg, Austria early so that we could get our rental car and head for the mountains. The drive there was beautiful– I felt like I could almost see Heidi on a mountaintop with her grandfather and her friend Peter. (If you’ve never seen the classic Shirley Temple movie or read the book by Johanna Spyri, you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about..)

After about an hour drive, we arrived at our destination for the next two nights, Hallstatt, Austria. Hallstatt was sunny, clear, and gorgeous! We made our way to our hotel and then headed out to find lunch only to discover that most of the restaurants either were closed for the season or weren’t open for lunch. Luckily we found a little place right across from our hotel that served pizzas. After lunch our rooms were ready. We stayed at the Seehotel Duner Baum Boutiquehotel. It was a great hotel and both our rooms were huge with balconies overlooking the town square.

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The view from our hotel room’s private balcony

We then headed through the town up to a lookout point near the historic salt mines that the city is known for. Up until recently, you could only get to the town by boat until a tunnel was dug through the side of the mountain to allow for car traffic. We paid to take the tram up the side of the mountain above Hallstatt and we were not disappointed in the view. We had coffee and tea at a little café on top of the mountain but decided to forgo the additional cost to tour the salt mine. Although we did all find some salt-related souvenirs in the gift shop!

Once we got back to the village, we walked through to the other side to see the view from there, which the village is best known for.

file_008-3For dinner, we decided on eating at our hotel, since they were known to be the best restaurant around. The food was good, not great but we had a nice dinner together. After dinner we wanted to check out the included spa located in the top floor of our hotel. They had a sauna and a steam room. George, Mike, and Alyssa enjoyed the spa while I read and we all relaxed. It all felt very “Alp-y”. 🙂

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The next morning, we didn’t really have anything planned for the day in advance so after a huge, delicious breakfast at our hotel, we decided to drive to Germany and go up a mountain over there to see the view of the village Koingssee. The town was small and mostly closed for the season but the views from the mountain were good and the restaurant at the top was nice. We paid to take a ski gondola up and down the mountain and from the top you could see the Eagle’s Nest which was known as Hitler’s summer house and was a gift to him from the Nazi Party. Had the Eagle’s Nest been open (it’s now a restaurant) we would have loved to go there instead, but seeing it from the neighboring mountain was cool too.

After our mountain-top excursion, poor George white-knuckle drove back to Hallstatt on the dark, rainy, winding, mountain roads and we grabbed dinner from a food cart outside our hotel for dinner.

Days Twenty-Six + Twenty-Seven

On November 1st, we woke up in Edinburgh to a sunshiny day! Because our hotel did not include breakfast, we set out down the Royal Mile to find a place to eat. We found Deacon’s House Café located in a little close. We had a great breakfast including a delicious, freshly-baked, apple scone with friendly service. We then walked up the street toward the castle. Edinburgh is stunningly beautiful! There are so many old buildings and because of where the castle and the city sits in a hilly area near on the coast, you can catch great views as you walk the streets. We paid 16.50 to enter the castle and Mike paid a few pounds extra to get the audio guide. We loved the castle! Not only was it huge, but there was so much history and lots of original parts of the castle intact. The view from the castle is amazing as well. We found our Scotland ornament in one of the many shops and museums that are scattered throughout the castle grounds.

After touring the castle, we walked back down the Royal Mile and stopped in the numerous shops along the route. The majority of the shops sold wool, cashmere, and/or whiskey. I bought a cute pink winter hat with a fur pom-pom. We bought a few gifts for family members and then stopped for lunch at Deacon Brodie’s Tavern. The real life story of Deacon Brodie is known to be the inspiration for Scotsman Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. When in Scotland, eat Scottish food! We had haggis, a scotch egg, rarebit fondue, and a meat pie for lunch.

file_001-9After lunch we continued walking back to our hotel to recharge our phones and to come up with a plan for the rest of the day. We decided to walk the opposite direction from our hotel toward the Palace of Holyroodhouse. By the time we got to the Palace, it was closed for the day but we were able to see where you take the path to walk up to King Arthur’s Seat. If we had another day to spend in Edinburgh, which we both wished we had, we would have made the hike up to see the view. We went back to the hotel to change for a light dinner and dessert.

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Our first stop was a pub called No. 1 High St. where we got drinks and an appetizer. They had this delicious non-alcoholic pear cider that was excellent. Our next stop was dessert and we stumbled upon a place called The Holyrood 9A. The dessert was delicious—especially mine, a warm fudge brownie with pistachio ice cream covered in white chocolate sauce. Hands down, it was the best thing I ate the entire trip. (Of course, the baby had to put a damper on it for me and I had the worst heartburn ever all night!) Our hotel had tons of new, free movies on demand and we were tired out from walking all day so we ended the evening by watching a movie in bed.

In the morning we decided to go back to The Holyrood 9A for breakfast where Mike had a black sausage breakfast burger and I had what they call a “stuffed bun” which was really just a breakfast sandwich. We didn’t have all that much time to spend in the morning before we had to head to the airport so we quickly made a visit to the shops on picturesque Victoria Street (and bought the cutest mobile for our baby’s nursery!), packed up, and caught the Airlink 100 bus back to the airport. For the first time during our trip, our flight left on time back to London!

When we arrived back at Stansted, we had to take a three hour long bus ride to get back to High Wycombe. From there George picked us up.

On November 3rd, George had to work so after we visited him at work, Alyssa took us to the cute, nearby village of Marlow where we walked around, window shopped, and got a traditional, British afternoon tea at Burgers of Marlow. The town is quaint and upscale with some familiar celebrities calling the area one of their many homes, such as George and Amal Clooney and Ricky Gervais. Unfortunately, we didn’t see anyone we recognized.

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Once George got off work, we packed up again and headed back towards Standsted airport where we stayed in a Travelodge because our flight to Austria left the next morning at 6am.