Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Harvest

When I was a little girl growing up in California, there would be times that my brother and I would get the occasional cold or flu. Being the pesky eaters that we were, my Mom was forced to administer our medicine through food. The food she chose was concord grape jelly.

It was no secret that she was doing it, in fact we often watched her mash up the pills and mix it into the dark jelly. So perhaps it was knowing that the medicine was in there or perhaps the medicine was too detectable to our pesky palettes, but either way, grape jelly eventually became associated with medicine and sickness.

Through the years and long after my brother and I began taking medicine like grown-ups, the association between concord grapes and sickness lingered. In fact, every time I found concord grape jelly or juice on the table, I was always reminded of that bad medicine taste in my mouth when I was a child.

When my husband and I first walked our property, we noticed the two twenty-foot rows of grape vines up in the south field. We would learn later that they were concord grapes. The previous owners planted and harvested them for none other than...concord grape juice and homemade concord grape jelly.

Over the past two and half years we've been here, we've nibbled on a few of the grapes around fall time but we've always been too busy with the house stuff to actually harvest them. Until now.

Walking out to check on them throughout the past month, I have been astounded by their aroma. Standing between the rows of vines, the strong smell of grapes was astounding.

So as I was plucking the grape bundles from their vines, one after another, in the beautiful fall sunshine, I thought about my childhood memory and knew that from that day forward the association of concord grapes with medicine and sickness would from then on be replaced with the memory of this beautiful fall day... plucking grapes from old vines under the soft fall sun.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Evolution of the Exterior


This is the front of the house. Notice that you step down into porch.

This is the west side of the house. The future wraparound porch will come to the exterior door seen in this picture.

This is the east end of the house. You can see quite clearly all of the quirky additions that were made over the years.

The farmhouse was built in 1923. It's a simple one and a half story farmhouse that endured a little neglect, some quirky additions, and a very 1970's style 'remodel.' The previous owners were a lovely couple who adored nature. Mr. Winklebleck was a local school teacher and many folks who've come to work on our house, tell us stories about him. He was a very kind man. We've also heard lots of stories about dear sweet Mrs. Winklebleck. She had quite the reputation for feeding any wildlife that came knocking at her door. This included deer, skunk, raccoon, opossum and BEAR. That's right, she fed bear. Right off that back deck.

The home is nestled on 7-acres of land. The serene country setting offers everything we were looking for in a country home...privacy, peace and quiet, oodles of opportunities for long walks just outside our font door and spectacular views of rolling farmland with Mt. Adams as a backdrop.

Although we hadn't set out to necessarily buy a fixer upper, this house had so much potential and offered such a lovely spot in the country, that we decided that it was an opportunity we couldn't pass up. Upon taking ownership of the property in June of 2006, we immediately began working on our vision for the house.

From the beginning, we knew we'd do the following: 1. Add a shed dormer to make half story into master bedroom, bath, walk-in closet and home office, 2. Add a wraparound porch, 3. New windows and doors throughout, and 4. Spruce up existing kitchen, bath and other rooms. We did in fact accomplish all of these things, but as the blog explains, there was a bit more to it than we anticipated (there always is).

Just to give you an idea of how much more involved our little remodel was, I've included a few of my favorite "During" photos.

The benefit of having a civil engineer for a husband is their ability to survey your property so that it you can properly dig out your house. Notice now that the porch, which you originally stepped down into, is now several feet above ground. The ditch is for underground water drainage. By this time, we had already remodeled most of the downstairs. So at this point, we were waiting for the contractor we hired to begin the second half of the remodel.

Here's the kick-off to the second half of the remodel several months later. A large support beam gets lifted into ridge line by crane. This will support new dormer.

Dormer goes in.

Quirky additions get torn down.

Sagging is found and fixed.

And finally the after...

With new wraparound porch, new dormer and new dining room addition, the front looks much better.

The Marvin windows and Simpson doors create a whole new look to the house.

I love the Emtek door hardware. Amazingly, it's very similar to the original.

This is the east end of the house. It shows the new dining room addition, the removal of dated deck and new dining patio. 

This is the west end of the house after new wraparound porch. The window in the half story is the master bathroom window.

This the west end entrance. It offers a great view of Mt. Adams and farmland.

Go here to see west end post. 
Go here to see east end post. 
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