Best Affordable Gifts for Ladies

Well we got the men covered on Monday, so I’m back with some of the best affordable gifts for the ladies in your life. Your sister, your wife, your mumzie or your bestie – we’ve got something for them all.

Again, everything is made in the USA!! Woot!!

Let’s start with the under $20 group.

Gift Guide Under $20

 

Maison Blanc Tin Candle $8 // Rachel Rhinestone $8 // Rifle Paper Pocket Notebook $10 // Kiehls Lip Balm $8 // The Balm Highlighter $20 // Let’s Get Lost $18

Ah sisters, where would the world be without them. Sister-less, what a horrific proposition. Well if you still are giftless for that sister in your life, look no further my friends, look no further.

Gift Guide for Sisters

Gold Foil Pocket Notebook $10 // Repurposed Wall Art $24 // Embroidered IKAT pillow $19 // Cocktail Maker Kit $30 // Almond Lip Balm $5 // Smooth Infusion Hair Treatment $26

And we can’t forget the mommas of the world :) Here are some of the best affordable gift ideas for the mumzies.

Gift Guide for Moms

Pink Peony Votive $25 // Kiehls Helping Hand Essentials $28 // Lab Magnets $22 // State Tablet Holder $38 // Burt’s Bees Shea Butter $20

Happy shopping!

Black Thumb

I still remember the moment. Seeing that beautiful little fiddle leaf, standing by it’s lonesome in Home Depot, just waiting for me to come and rescue it from the dole drum life of the hardware store. I couldn’t believe my eyeballs, and Jay couldn’t believe his ears – why, why was this woman so excited to get her paws on this tropical house plant.

I mean come. on. husband – that’s a whole lotta leafy green hubba hubba goodness. Am I right, or am I right?

Where to Buy Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees

But y’all – Houston has got a problem. I think I’m (we’re) killing the plant. A week or so ago, it looked liked this:

How to Care for Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees

And now, well now it looks considerably worse than that. I may be able to count the remaining leaves with one hand. :'(

Right now the plant is:

  • In indirect sunlight
  • Watered about once weekly
  • Kissed and cuddled and encouraged to get better soon

HELP! Do we have any (tropical) gardeners out there? Is this beautiful plant destined for the compost bin? Say it ain’t so – does anyone know what I can do?

My Boil over Oil

Holy pancakes. Y’all, oil heating, what theeeeee heecck? So, I’ve got one of those “What they didn’t tell you about being a home owner moments” coming right up for you. Our house has an oil heater, turns out, that’s bad. Now, normally in the South, we wouldn’t even be thinking about heating our house until like December, but truth be told, we put the cart in front of the horse again and got ourselves into a bit of a pickle. I’m (quasi) happy to report that Jay is totally to blame for this incident and that I had nothing to do with it 😀 Yes, I do take some pleasure in that.

See, it all started when Jay decided he wanted a gas range. To his credit, it’s a beauty of a gas range. 😉 Here’s a sneak diddly peak at what landed on our doorstep on Tuesday!

GE Cafe Dual Fuel

We kinda both agreed that we knew we’d want to convert everything over sooner or later, so we figured it would be a good investment to run some gas lines through the house. The good news, if we connected either a water heater or a furnace to said gas line from the utility, then they would run it to our house for free! Picture us nodding along like Ed the hyena at this point. Sounds good, right? So we proceed, and have the gas company come on out and install this bad boy for us. Here’s a photo of the furnace/water heater combo we had before.

Old Oil Burning Fireplace

The catchy catch (noted above) is that we have to install a furnace or water heater. Now, we knew we wanted to replace both of these things. We’d heard that both are quite a bit more expensive to run (oil vs. gas for the furnace, and electric vs. gas for the water heater). It wasn’t until we started doing our research though that we realized how expense they’d be to run. Specifically, this chunk of love oil burning furnace.

Oil Burning Furnace

Y’all, cover your children’s ears, because what I’m about to tell you is down right ugly. After sleuthing around a bit, we found out that the cost to heat our house for the winter, was going to be close to $1,500. We called a local oil company that services the triangle, and they indicated we’d be looking at a rate of $4.49 per gallon, and that we’d most likely need 400 gallons to get us through winter. If you pull out your calculators, you’d see that’s over $1,700. For just our heat. For just the winter.

You guys, we came from Michigan last year and our entire YEAR of heating and cooling and all our other electric things – like total utility bills for the year – was less than that. Like significantly. (We averaged just over $100 a month for the entire year) And it was -40 one day last winter – NEGATIVE FORTY, people! So, after I was done choking on my spit post telephone call from the sweet old lady at the oil company – I looked at Jay and said, son, we’ve gotta DO something about this!

Here in lies the conundrum. We got this news at a time when we were not planning on replacing the furnace. We knew we had to replace either the furnace *or* the water heater, but turns out due to a perfect trifecta of a “traditional” style water heater (i.e. tanked) not working with the existing furnace (since it can’t be vented via the chimney, since the furnace already vents through there and there isn’t room for both), we either had to proceed with an ultra efficient, ultra expensive, tankless water heater or we had to bite the bullet and spring for a furnace. Since along with running the gas line in the interior of the house the tankless water heater would cost us $3,500, we decided it would be prudent to convert the furnace first and put in a less expensive tanked heater later.

So I started shopping around, and we had (3) different HVAC companies come out to tell us about our options. Here’s what they said:

  • $5,500 for 90% efficient furnace, and gas line run
  • $4,600 for 92% efficient furnace, and gas line run
  • $5,800 for 95% efficient furnace, no gas line run

In the end, we landed up going with the least expensive option, at which at $4,600 was a pretty hard pill to swallow. Keep in mind, we were not planning on this expense whatsoever, so needless to say, it was a bit of a shock to the system. Lucky for us a few of our other expenses have been coming in under budget, so that gave us some extra dough to tackle this beast. As a point of comparison – we paid under $2,000 last year for a 95% efficient furnace in Michigan – so we were a bit surprised by the pricing down here in NC. I may or may have not cried in a corner. We’re like – wait – I thought cost of living was supposed to be lower in the South. FALSE. That is false.

Here is our new furnace, all shiny and well, ginormous. Not sure what the deal is with the space ranger vent off to the side. Apparently it’s necessary. Thank goodness this monstrosity is in our basement and not upstairs, y’all.

Converting from Oil to Gas

Bingo. Bango. Bongo. I’m personally a big fan of this hunka chunka metal, because although it cost me more money than I personally feel should be godly possible, it’s also going to save me a cool grand this winter. And the next one, and the next one. Once we sat down and did the math, we knew it was a no brainer, even though it was a heart breaker.

Compared to our old place, this guy’s venting system is super small and tight against the siding, too – which is great. You can barely notice it from the outside. See how it’s totally streamlined with the siding out there?

Furnace Venting out Side

It’s a little cumbersome on the inside, but some of the other options were way, way worse, so in the end, we’re pretty happy with how it turned out. This is a close up shot of the venting that’s outside.

Side Vent Furnace

In addition to installing the furnace, a sizable chunk of our expenses was for the gas line installation as well. Although it was pricey, it’s going to be so nice to have a gas range in this house (not to mention a gas water heater and furnace). Added bonus, since we already had the 220 line installed through there (the last oven was electric), we were able to get a dual fuel oven, which is supposed to be optimal for both baking and stove top cooking. Swanky.

Now that we’ve converted over the furnace though, we do still need to save our pennies to give the electric water heater the boot. Right now, this guy is nearly half of our electric bill each month, so it would be nice to minimize that expense in the future. See the energy usage chart? You want that arrow on the far left, not the far right.

Electric Water Heater

I really can’t recommend the company that came out enough (not paid or perked in any way to say it!). They’re Carolina Heating and Cooling, if you live in the area, and they were awesome about talking through our options with us. Added bonus, the guy gave us a quote right on the spot when he came, where we had to chase the other (2) companies down with tons of phone calls and emails. Do you want my money or not people, carrumba.

And a week after our furnace was installed, do you know what I got in the mail? A plant. From the furnace dudes. WHAT? I mean, talk about Southern Hospitality. Color me impressed.

Indoor Plants

Anyone else install a furnace in the middle of July? 😀 Although it was a chunk-o-change, we’re super happy that come winter, we won’t have to worry about the astronomical cost of paying for oil for the old furnace!

 

Strawberry Pickin’

Seriously, how have I lived on this Earth for 27+ years and not had the pleasure of tasting a freshly picked strawberry straight off the vine. It’s beyond sad, really. Now that I’ve seen the light though, I can tell you I’ll never be able to look at store bought strawberries the same way, that’s fo shizzle.

So Jay and I have been on a little household mission around here to transition our shopping habits a bit so that we are getting more locally grown, sustainably harvested and minimally processed foods into our belly instead of the plethora of unhealthy junk that’s out there seemingly lining the streets. So when I started to see tons of strawberry picking signs beginning to dot the landscape this spring, I told Jay that by George, we were going to join our neighbors and go get ourselves a bushel. 😀 (more or less). Seriously, we had so. much. fun. (and a TON of strawberries to eat after we got home)

North Carolina Strawberry Fields

Since we got a hankering to go strawberry picking on Sunday, and virtually everything is closed down south on Sunday’s, we landed up at a location that was a bit on the touristy side of things (aka, more expensive and gimmicky than most), but still in the big scheme of things – pretty sweet! For $10, they just gave you a big old bucket (that you get to keep in the end) and told you to fill it to your hearts content!

And we sure did! :)

Strawberry Field Locations Durham

Since we had never picked strawberries fresh off the vine before we did a bit of reading before we started out that basically said you should try to pick strawberries that were as consistently red as possible, with no green peaking through. Unlike a banana, for instance, a strawberry will not continue to ripen after it’s picked from the vine – so what you see is what you get.

Strawberry Fields North Carolina

Although most of the strawberries were absolutely perfect and ripe, it’s only about mid-way through the season down here, so there were quite a few that still had some time before they’d be ready to be picked.

Just look at all those ripe (and delicious!!) berries ready to be put in my belly!

Strawberry Picking in Durham

We seriously had the best time and we’re totally converted to the sweet, sweet taste of home grown berries. There really just isn’t any way to compare them with store bought berries. Can I get an amen, from anyone who’s seen the light? Normally I find strawberries to be a bit tart, but these glorious gifts to mankind are so sweet they taste like they’ve been dunked in sugar. Mmmmmmhmmmmm, that’s how I like my berries. 😉

Farm Fresh Strawberries

In addition to a few large fields of strawberries, there was also lots of other fresh produce available for purchase. Although it was a tad more expensive than our produce down at the farmer’s market, everything was still very reasonable priced, with full heads of lettuce starting as low as $2.

North Carolina Produce Station

We definitely had to get strawberry shortcake added to our dinner menu once we had a bucket full of strawberries sitting on our hands. So. Dang. Good. People!

Strawberry Shortcake

Since I’m sure all the locals that may either be new the area, or are not familiar with all the patches around these parts would be interested, I thought I’d also put a list together so all the Triangle crowd can enjoy the sweet taste of summertime, too!

Strawberry Picking Locations

Cates Corner Farm
Hillsborough, NC

Double R Cattle Services Inc.
701 Ollie’s Lane
Hillsborough, NC 27278

McAdams Farm
1100 Efland Cedar Grove Rd.
Efland, NC 27243

Whitted Bowers Farm
8707 Art Rd.
Cedar Grove, NC 27231

Waller Family Farm
5030 Kerley Rd.
Durham, NC 27705

Buckwheat Farm
2700 Holland Rd.
Apex, NC 27502

DJ’s Berry Patch
1223 Salem Church Rd.
Apex, NC 27523

Hilltop Farms
6612 Kennebec Rd.
Willow Springs, NC 27592

Jean’s Berry Patch
3003 NC Hwy. 751
Apex, NC 27523

Page Farms
6100 Mt. Herman Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27617

Phillips Farms
6701 Good Hope Church Rd.
Cary, NC 27519

Pope’s Strawberries of Raleigh
1305 Fayetteville St.
Knightdale, NC 27545

Confession, I have Wendy’s fast food digesting in my gut as I type this. #FeelingGuilty. Needless to say – we’ve been approaching this food transition in a very real way. I.E. Sometimes fast food will still make it’s way into our lives 😉 Baby steps, people, baby steps.

 

Country Living

I’m all about fresh air and rolling hills, nature, ahhh – isn’t it wonderful. That being said, I think if I had to pick a camp to describe which way I lean – I’m ya know, more of a city girl. It’s not that I don’t like being out in the countryside – I love it – I just don’t find myself out that way much since we’re usually hanging out on our own turf (don’t we all live in our little boxes a wee too much?). So when I saw a cool little flyer in our local paper for an opportunity to scoot our booties out to the land of endless sun and check out how the other half is making it happen – I jumped!

Piedmont Farm Tour

And by other half, I mean the most amazing group of hard working human beings – seriously – these people are something else. Jay and I are really trying to get more of our food from the local farmers around us (vs. the super market, where it’s carted in from half a world away), so we thought this little farm tour was a pretty awesome way to get to know the faces of the people that are behind all the magic. We’ve signed up for a CSA this spring, and the tour offered us a chance at seeing where our food was actually coming from – is there anything cooler than that?

Red Barn Photograph

In addition to being able to see the actual farm where our fruits and veggies will be coming from – the tour included like 30 other farms in the Piedmont region. From pigs to potatoes, there were farms along the tour that had it all.

Our first stop advertised puppies – I have to say I was disappointed that I exited and re-entered my vehicle without petting any pups – isn’t that sad. That being said, there were lots of other baby animals 😀

And kitties, lot of kitties.

This guy – umm – yeah. He’s definitely my fav. I think he wants a carrot. Or maybe some lettuce. He wants something.

Farm Tours North Carolina

All the cows made me think of my dear mumzie (Wisconsin born and raised). We only saw beef cattle on our little tour of the farm side, but I’m sure there are dairy cattle somewhere in this fine state. Side note – ummmm – milk is WAY more expensive here in NC – like twice as much! I don’t miss that whippersnapping, backbreaking cold, but by George, I miss my $2 milk. $4 whhaaaa??

Free Range Cattle Farm

In addition to seeing all the fine farm animals at our tour, we also had an opportunity to see some veggies in their prime. Seriously, I would just die of happiness if I had a veggie garden with this level of straightness in it’s rows. Scrumptious.

Farm Tour North Carolina

In addition to being able to see some of the plants that were further along on their growing journey to get in my belly, we also saw some seedlings just getting started.

Organic Vegetable Farms

The third farm we visited definitely took the cake though. First, it had herding dogs. I mean, that’s pretty rock solid awesome. But right as we were rounding the final corner to leave the farm (or so we thought), we stumbled across a big old field full to the brim with chickens!! I mean, like thousands of chickens just bagalking all over the place.

Free Range Chicken Farms

A fun thing about this farm tour set up, is that in addition to being able to be up close and personal with the animals, we were also able to purchase eggs, meat and veggies as we toured each location. This stop had cartons of eggs for purchase. You could either go collect them yourself (where the chickens were laying them) or you could be lazy and pick a dozen from this big old barrel of them.

Free Range Chicken Eggs

Doesn’t that shot just look like a slice of americana? I love it 😀

North Carolina Free Range Chickens

There were also chickens chilling with some big fat pigs along the back stretch. Funny little buggers. Man, pigs are stinky animals, are they not?

North Carolina Pig Farm

Overall, it was super fun to go on this tour. It’s more or less a fundraiser for the farms in the Piedmont area, so it was nice to support something (albeit in a small way) that we really believe in. Jay and I are pretty excited that we signed up for our very first CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) this year (an egg and cheese one, actually) so I’ll definitely have to report back for all of you guys on that as well! Anyone else out there do the CSA thing, I’d be curious to hear different perspectives on it!

 

Tobacco Trailin’

You know how they say opposites attract? Well in the case of Jay bird and I, pretty sure that’s right on the money. Jay’s as calm as a cucumber, chillin’ like a villain, not easily excitable. Me, I’m like FULL SYSTEMS GO all day, all night, watcha back cause I’m coming up behind ya kung foo fighting with a karate kick. So when my husband started exhibiting some of my aforementioned personality ticks about a certain little hobby of his, I knew that we were on to something this man just couldn’t leave behind him. Bikes people, this man is a little crazy sauce about his bikes.

See, look how happy he is.

Biking to Work

So, up in the mitten, Jay rode his bike day in and day out to work, and on the weekends whenever he could. He had a pretty safe route (although Lord above do I worry about him, mostly unnecessary worrying, but I do it all the same…) that took him along quieter streets and along bike lanes throughout town. When we knew we’d be moving down to North Carolina, one of the biggest considerations for us when selecting a city to call home was what his route to work would look like on his grown up two wheeled people powered mobile. When we found Durham, our hearts did a little pitter patter since it was really pretty darn perfect for his bicycle commute.

Now since I haven’t officially announced it on blog land yet, if you’re reading and thinking to yourself – commute – job – Jay, by golly, did that son of a gun land a 9-5 gig? The answer would be (praise the good Lord above) YES! Jay is now gainfully employed as a Quality Engineer with a company right in RTP. 😀

Bike Commute on Tobacco Trail Durham was the perfect location for us since there’s this nifty little trail called the American Tobacco Trail. It’s basically one big long multi-use path that just so happens to be perfect for Jay to commute on. It’s not his entire route, but a solid third of his trek in every morning is on this pretty sa-weet multi-use path. Great since it gives me some peace of mind about his safety, and gives him a nice, smooth (and direct!) ride into work each day.

Since we’re currently living in our temporary apartment digs, his commute is actually 2-miles or so longer each day, but overall it’s taking him just over a half hour to commute into work right now vs. about a 20 minute drive. Added bonus, he’s burning over 1,200 calories each day. Yowzer!!

The weekend before we both started working down here Jay and I thought it might be fun to take a little bike ride and simulate his commute so he would know which way he was headed come the work week. Lucky for us, Jay had a nifty little mounted holder for his cell phone, so we were able to navigate the entire way using gps bike directions from google maps, which I think is pretty sweet!

GPS Mounted to Bike

Traveling along the Tobacco Trail with Jay was so much fun, seriously, I was just scooting my little bike down the line with a big old smile plastered across my face. Our favorite part about the ride was all the different types of people you see actively utilizing this trail for both recreation and utility. There were of course lots of commuters on it (this trail basically connects the city with one of the largest engineering/tech hubs in the country, really…) but there were also tons of families, couples and even the hard core Lycra racing types, too!

American Tobacco Trail

The trail had lots of nice cutouts into the neighborhoods around it, which is super nice for people living right up against it.

Tobacco Trail Durham

There are a few (very well marked crossings), where bikes deviate from the path a bit and cross over a road.

Biking on Tobacco Trail

Coming from Michigan, the best part about the path and the entire route in was how smooth it was! We’re so used to dodging potholes everywhere, so to have something as nice as this to ride on every morning is a real treat!

After a few miles of riding on the trail, Jay enters his last leg of the journey on Cornwallis Rd. which lucky for him has a nice bike lane the entire way!

Commuting on Tobacco Trail

When we rode through town on our way back home, we spotted a few fun places to rest our weary legs for a bit. Since we’ve lived in Michigan our entire life and pretty much knew the turf we were traveling on day in and day out, it’s been so much fun to explore an entirely different area! We spotted another Tobacco named plaza downtown (notice a theme…) that we enjoyed checking out. All around this water tower there were eateries and cool things to look at and do.

Durham North Carolina

This bull was chillin’ like a villain in the front of the plaza. We may more may not have snapped some selfies next to it 😀

Durham Bulls Statue

North Carolina public radio also had some offices further down in the plaza – so cool! We’ve been loving exploring the city by bike – so many nifty places to see and things to do!

North Carolina Public Radio

 

 

Raise the Roof

So THIS, is what our attic looks like right now. Hella messy, but hella on. it’s. way. to being a legit room.

Adding Drywall To Attic

Since our attic has been looking like the photo below for the past oh, ya know, 4-months, it makes me want to do a flippin’ air bound somersault when I realize that the next attic projects will consist of fun things like painting, and carpet installation and bed linens – and not – oh, insulation! 😀

Raising Ceiling in Attic

But, I’ve had a few people emailing me asking about how we insulated the top portion of the attic (above the ceiling), so I wanted to show y’all a comprehensive play by play to help anyone that might be looking to try the same type of project. I know, yet another post about insulating yo timbers. Due to the amount of emails I’ve been getting on this one though, I’d venture to say that we’re not the only household trying to tackle making their space a bit more cozy.

The awesome part about all of this, is that we’re actually able to exceed the code regulated insulation value for our ceiling, which means our space should be deliciously toasty for our frigid Michigan winter’s. When your future forecast looks like this, extra insulation makes me extra happy.

Weather in Ann Arbor

After insulating all of the walls and roof deck, we were still left with the top triangle of our ceiling, which is where the most heat escapes from (hot air rises…). Since our rafters are only a few inches deep, we really thought we’d never be able to get anywhere close to code unless we used spray foam. We were pleasantly surprised though to see that with a bit of ingenuity and a lot of time and patience, we were able to get the desired level of insulation for our zone. Sweetness.

Insulation for Zone 5

Each step of the insulation process got a bit easier, and this one was really just a matter of creating a base for the fiberglass to sit on, and loading the insulation up onto the landing we created. Since we had extra foam around from our wall insulation process, we used that as the bottom section for the fiberglass to rest on.

For the pot lights we had scattered throughout our ceiling, we had to cut out a small opening for the foam to fit snugly on top of each light.

Insulating around a pot light

Once we would get the foam pieces up, we had a good floor for all of the fiberglass to sit on top of. Since we had enough room to accommodate it, we purchased R-30 fiberglass to sit on top of the R-5 foam – with the walls, that brings our R-value up to at least R-52 and up to R-54 in some sections. Holla holla give me a dolla.

You can see Jay in the photo below, putting some of the R-30 fiberglass up into the cavity above the foam board.

How to Insulate Around Pot Light

One VERY important thing to note when insulating around pot lights, is that you may have to build a structure around the light, in order to prevent the risk of fire. Pot lights get hot, foam is flammable, not a good combo.

Since we had extra drywall around, and didn’t want to let any scrapes go to waste, we opted to build a box to go around our lights in order to prevent anything that might be prone to catching fire from touching the light boxes. The boxes we built were about 8″ square – just large enough to pop right over the top of the pot light fixture.

Insulating Around Pot Light

This is how the box looked after it was installed above the pot light. Nothing fancy, but you can see that it definitely provides a barrier that prevents anything flammable from touching a light that could potentially get too hot, and cause a fire.

How to Insulate Attic

After we came back through to close the other side up with foam, this is what our ceiling looked like pre-drywall.

How to Insulate Around Pot Lights

Overall, we are SO happy that we were able to get as much insulation as we did in the space. Our last house also had a finished attic, but the amount of insulation was in no way sufficient and we were freezing our badonkadonks off morning noon and night. We don’t even have the heat pumping up there yet, and I can already tell that the insulation we added is going to make a huge difference.

Here is a side view shot of how each layer of insulation looked before we added our drywall. Nice and toasty my friends.

How to property insulate attic

For all you newer blog readers, you can read about our other insulating adventures here (and here).

Insulation Round Three Hundred and Fifty Seven

Yes, yes, it’s true. We are still insulating our attic. The good, we are o-fficially on our last round of insulation and after this is up, we’re onto DRYWALL. Drywall, people. That’s like prime time wham-a-bamma we’re almost donzo. The bad, well, ya know. 3-months later we are still insulating the attic.

As a reminder, this was our system for insulating the space.

How to Insulate Conditioned Attic

In the end, we landed up deviating just a bit from the plan above, mostly since the hubby had some big plans about creating a barrier between the drywall and the studs to make the heat transfer a bit less. So we decided to add another layer of foam to meet his grand plan vs. the foil wrap.

How to Install Foam Insulation

The final layer of insulation set us back $225 (15 boards of 1″ foam), so our total cost was just over $1,000 and we have the same effective R-value as the spray foam option, which was quoted at $3,400! Sweetness. Here is the cost breakdown:

  1. 800 sq. feet of foam board: $375
  2. 1,000 sq. feet of fiberglass bats: $400
  3. 3 cans of spray foam: $15
  4. 3 rolls of HVAC Tape: $30
  5. Extra Foam Board: $225

Since Jay is the engineer in the family and he seemed pretty confident about the path forward, I took a whatever floats yo boat approach to this DIY. I’ve been moderately persuaded by seeing a recognizable difference in temperature at the bottom of our steps where the attic meets up with the rest of the house, too. Here is what the side wall looked like pre-install.

How to Insulate Attic

The extra foam made the biggest difference on our end walls, where we just had room to add R-13 before. Although that’s technically code, we noticed that there seemed to be more airflow vs. the portions of the attic that had the foam installed for the baffle.

After adding the foam, we noticed a significant increase in temp in the room so that’s a good sign that the insulation is working!

Adding Foam Insulation

The great part about our second round of foam was that it was not nearly as time intensive or difficult as the first set. Since our original round of foam was put in to keep air flow out, we had to cut each piece to fit in the ceiling rafter exactly. That was a legit pain in the rear end.

This round was just a matter of adding some extra R-Value, so sealing and making sure each piece fit in like a puzzle, was just not on the radar. Slap it up, grab another piece and call it donzo. We just screwed in the foam directly onto the wall joists.

Foam Insulation Installation

The best part (other than noticing a significant bump in the heat retained in the room) was that we took down the partial side wall, which opened up the room so dang much. To date, I think removing this wall helped us really envision the space and see how open and large this room is going to feel. Here is how it looked before, completely closed off as a narrow and hard to navigate closet. Oh, and the PINK carpet. 😀

Master Suite Attic Conversion

And here is how it looks now. A whole lot messier, but I think it also looks a lot bigger!

Attic Conversion Master Suite

I was worried before that the built-in side of the room would feel too tight when you’re walking down along side it but taking down the wall made things look pretty darn spankin’ spacious. I’d gander to say there’s enough space to show off your chicken dance moves if the mood struck. 😀

Our final step will be to add some fiber glass insulation up into the top triangle above the pots lights. Since most of your heat escapes through your roof, we are trying to make sure the ceiling is as insulated as possible. We are hoping to get R-30 up above the ceiling (in addition to the R-23 we already have lining the walls) , which should keep everything nice and toasty.

Insulating Attic Ceiling

Probably the thing we are MOST excited about with the next stage of the process is that we are hiring this one out. We’re in the process of getting quotes right now, but it looks like we will have someone coming it to install all (or most) of the drywall. YIPPIIEE!!!

Even though in many ways, we’d be happy to do it, it will be nice to see something get done quickly, vs. having to scrunch in a few hours after work each day. Wham bam alacazam.

 

Killin’ it Cottage Style

Now, I know most of America likes to go with the mantra bigger is better but man – I’m a total sucker for a cozy little slice of the pie. The bigger my house is, the more my utilities are and the more I have to clean. You pickin’ up what I’m putting down? Our 1,200 square foot little home is just about right for me (to be fair, we’ve got a finished basement that puts the abode closer to 1,700).

So one day, while my eyeballs were browsing through pinterest I decided to play pretend and build a vacation cottage!! Care to take a walk into my (vivid) imagination and explore with me? Let me set the scene. We’ve gotta start with a killer lot, first. Let’s try on this view for size.

Rainy Blue Ridge

This view makes me a bit weepy. I mean, can you IMAGINE a nicer landscape with your morning cup of Jo. I sure can’t.

Since we are still hanging out in my imagination, let’s sweeten the pot and start our house hunting, ey? How about this house, would that do?

Southern Piedmont Retreat

If you’re nodding your head ferociously while making noises like Ed the hyena from the Lion King, then we are on the same page. ZOOMMEERRGGAAUUUDDDD. This is the point where I lean over to show Jay the house I just picked out for us and tell him that if I don’t own it in a year I’ll absolutely die out of desperation and then wait for a reaction. Since the poor man has heard this probably a million and a half times now, I might get a slight grin out of him before I’m back on the hunt for the next dream team abode. But seriouslllyy, does this cutie stop you in your tracks, or does it stop you in your tracks?

Here is a shot of the inside layout. Small, planned and perfect.

Russell Versaci southern piedmont While if that didn’t screech you to a halt, than this will. But wait, there’s more. 9 more cute as a button cottages!!

Pennywise Cottage Collection

And get this. They are all prefab. Like mobile home style. I know – whhhaattt?? That is one classy lookin’ spicy meatball of a double wide if you ask me.

Another cottage style I really liked was this cape cod. The first one sways me a bit more since it’s a two bedroom vs. a one bedroom, but I love the architectural detail on this guy, too.

Tidewater Cottage Pennywise

I think either house option fits nicely with my selected scenery, eh?? 😉

If you’re thinking a bit bigger, Russell Versaci (the architect) has some absolutely drop dead gorgeous larger homes as well. These homes look nothing like most newer builds you see today. These houses are just bursting from the seems with character.

Here is a farm house design he has. Umm – does that look 21st century to you? I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a clear and crisp picture of Benny Franklin himself down and around the fireplace smoking a pipe and eating some stew. Ahhh sigh. Americana at it’s best if you as me.

Russell Versaci Homes

Love these houses as much as I do? Here is the website to check out some more of their sweet digs. Dream on ladies and gents.

All I Want For Christmas | Little Man Shopping

Everybody’s waiting on the man with the bag cause Christmas is here again. Yep, it’s December folks, which means the gift buying days are well upon us. Since I’m sans mini me, I had to do some virtual gift buying and put together a gift list for a little man.

Here are my top picks for the 5 and under crowd.

Christmas List For Little Boys

1) Tool Set: Wood toy sets, classic at it’s best. 😀 This sweet little tool set would be perfect for a little human (boy or girl!).

2) Wash Cloth: Ok, true. Most 3 year olds will not be that impressed with a washcloth. Then again, they do have cute little animals on them :)

3) Where the Wild Things Are: The best little human book ever, right?

4) Backpack: I consider a backpack to be a gift that keeps giving. Give your kid some pride of ownership with their sweet little tote and then they carry all their goodies from place to place. Genius.

5) Puzzle: A personalized puzzle. Shut the front door, I’m sold.

6) Camera: Back to the wooden toys. This camera is hand made by the same etsy shop as the tool set.

7) Bath Spout: Thought this would be another fun addition to the bath routine. I think a whale spouting water trumps a boring metal faucet any day.