Friday, July 12, 2024

time for some small changes in my home

In my last post (I know, it's been awhile), I was explaining how we lived in a ranch-style house and that we basically lived on the main level. That we have a family room in the basement, but we're never down there. I also explained how we're at the age where retirement is looming, and that we need to decide if we're staying or moving. We started looking at other housing options by looking at homes in a nearby over-55 community. For various reasons, we have decided this particular housing development is not the right place for us.

In the meantime, I decided why not take advantage of the basement family room while we still didn't have any problem with the stairs? Besides, our living room is small and the wall by the fireplace is the only space we have for our TV. Not that this is a bad thing, but we don't have a foyer. So when you walk into the front door of our house, you're immediately in the living room. You're staring right at the TV. This was the only current (ish) photo I could find of the living room that shows the TV - from last fall. 

Another negative thing about having the TV in this space: the glare from the windows.

We purchased a big rug from HomeGoods to anchor the living space (the floors are painted cement; long ago we had carpet but had a basement flood...the contractor said at the time that even if we put down laminate, if we ever had a basement flood again, that the water would go under the laminate and ruin he suggested just having the floors painted). Then we moved the TV and media stand downstairs.

Ta-da! A usuable space once again. We're not big TV watchers, but sometimes on the evenings where Brian has the next day off, we've been enjoying our time watching TV downstairs. We're currently watching Season 3 of The Bear.

Tucked in back of the living area is a little alcove where Tim used to have his drum set. It now holds the treadmill and some other exercise equipment. To the right of this alcove is a small hallway with a door that leads into the unfinished part of the basement. Same with that bi-fold white door that you see. 

You can see in this wider angle of the room, that behind the couch are bookcases and a L-shaped bar. That bar area came in handy when our boys were little and we'd have birthday parties in the basement. It was a great area to spread out all the food. Same for when the boys were teens and they'd have their friends over: a great space for kids to hang out and use the bar top for pizzas, pop, and snacks. The bar has cabinets built in behind it, so that's where I store all my large kitchen appliances and big serving pieces and platters.

A view of the bar...not a very attractive area, but at this point in our lives, we don't have any desire to change it. It's "good enough" for our use right now. The wall with the staircase behind it used to have an assortment of metal faux-vintage signs on it, but I recently took them all down. Was tired of looking at it. 

Back upstairs, I moved the console table from Brian's office to the space where the TV and media console were. It's a weird place to put anything, with this wall being right next to the angled fireplace and needing enough room to walk into the kitchen or hallway. I don't think builders think about furniture placement or design challenges. ;-)

Thanks for still being here and leaving such nice comments, even though I've been posting sporadically. 

Friday, June 7, 2024

decisions decisions

We're at that age where we're thinking about what we want to do when Brian retires. Do we stay here, or do we move? There are many pros and cons. We have a ranch house with a basement. We basically live on just the main level, which is 1120 SF. The basement ~ which has a big family room ~ is wasted space. We're never down there except for when there's a tornado warning.The unfinished part of the basement houses our washer and dryer, an upright freezer, extra pantry storage, Sterilite boxes full of out-of-season clothes because we have tiny bedroom closets, and lots of "stuff". I'm still in good shape and my knees are fine, but it's getting to be a little scary going up and down the stairs, carrying a laundry basket full of laundry. How are the stairs going to be for either of us in ten years? Or 20?

We are also surrounded by houses full of children (why do they all have trampolines in their backyards?!), which means it can get quite noisy here at times. Another thing I don't like: having well water. When there's problems with the well, it not only costs a small fortune to fix, but it's never a simple fix. It usually takes several days, lots of frustrating phone calls, and then we're without water. Sometimes the water stinks, and it leaves slight rust-colored stains in the tub and shower. If the electricity goes out, we have no water because the well is generated by electricity.

Our house is now 36 years old. We'll need a new roof again in a year or two, we need new siding, new exterior doors and all new trim, both bathrooms need updating and so does our kitchen. There's other little things that need doing, but these are the main (expensive!) things. we stay here and pour our money into this house, or do we sell as is and move into a newer place?

Last weekend, we dipped our toes in the water to start exploring options. We looked a model homes in an over-55 community not far from here. I think we looked at nine models and I took so many pictures, I now can't keep track of which ones belong to which model. They all started to look the same and I got overwhelmed. Turned out, I only truly liked two of the models. All the homes in this community are one level. Most are two bedroom, two full bath and have a two car garage. Here's a couple of photos of one of my favorite models. I think this was the one with 2112 SF. I loved this open floor plan with the huge living room going into the kitchen with the big eating area surrounded by windows. There's also a covered porch off the living room.

Looking into the kitchen...

The covered back porch...

Some other things we liked: there's a lodge you can use for large gatherings. They also have a small fitness facility with treadmills and weights.

Walking trails go throughout the community.

The biggest negative of this community is the montly expense. It's a bit on the high side. You own the house, but not the land. Therefore, there's a monthly land lease (not a HOA). The monthly expense includes property taxes, lawn mowing (you are in charge of your own trees, bushes and/or flowers), snow removal, garbage and water. Of course, there were some things I didn't like about the houses. Most of the bedrooms are carpeted (I hate carpet!) and the vinyl decking and railing material is super cheap. Definitely not quality Trex decking and railings, which we had put in at this house five years ago.

Our next door neighbor sold his house a few weeks ago and is retiring to Wisconsin. We were told there are "two families" moving in. 😧 We don't know if that means a generational family with grandparents, or two separate families. We will be finding out in a week!

In the meantime...I look around my home that I've lived in 34 years and think, "do I really want to leave"? 

There are no easy answers. Moving is hard ~ and extremely stressful.

At least we're not in the position where we have to move. 

In other home news, the dreaded mulberries have already started falling. They're early this year. And it's all the unripe berries. In all the past years, we've only had a few unripe berries fall. Don't know what is different this year except maybe all the rain we've had. We're already dealing with mushy berries all over the walkway to the patio and on the patio itself. Worse yet, they're also falling on the roof and into the gutters. Oh! And speaking of the roof, we had storm damage a few weeks ago where the soffits blew out of the j-channel and water got in. Some of that water also leaked into the guest room and left light water stains on the ceiling. We're in the middle of working with our insurance company and roofing contractors. The fun and excitement never ends when you're a home owner!

Of course, once the berries ripen, the problem will get much worse. The berries rot and attract flies, plus they stain the patio.

We can at least talk to this newer neighbor about the tree. The woman that previously lived in this house (some of you might remember) was very nasty. This newer neighbor is nice, friendly, and cooperative. He understands our frustration with the tree and was going to cut it down last fall (he works with people who can help him do this) but had a freak accident at work where he broke his jaw, so was out of commission for awhile. In the meantime, we had a tree trimmer come out and look at the tree and he can at least trim it back to where we won't get so many berries falling on our property.

It looks to be a beautiful weekend here. A friend is coming for a visit tomorrow and Sunday I'm going back to the over-55 community with another friend because she wants to look at these homes, too. I hope your weekend is filled with something to look forward to and time to relax.

PS ~ if you leave a comment as "unknown" and it comes through to my email as a "no reply comment blogger", then I can't answer any questions you may send me! Someone on my last post said she wanted to follow me on Instagram but didn't know how. I couldn't privately reply to her. So if she sees this: Go into Instagram, search for melaniescomfyhouse, and click on follow. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

it's about time

Hello! I can't believe it's been two months since I've posted. Not sure what the future holds for my blog. I haven't had much of a desire to keep up with it. It's so much easier to post on IG. If you don't already follow me there, please send me a follow request (my page is on private) at melaniescomfyhouse. 

I think May is my favorite month of the year. Spring finally and truly makes an appearance here. Planting begins, weddings, graduations and barbeques are in full swing, shorts and t-shirts come out of storage, dining al fresco becomes a thing again, windows are open for the beautiful cool breezes, and there's usually a nice mixture of sunshine and rain in May ~ without the extreme humidity that we get in the summer. Though this year, we've had more than enough rain this month. Lots of thunderstorms and even a tornado warning the other night.

I've made my annual trek to my two favorite garden centers and got my big pots planted. Of course, they'll look much better when they fill out. I did this same planting last year: begonias, rosemary and a trailing vine. By August, this should be huge and lush, with vines trailing down the sides of the planter.

This is my first time planting the colorful annual, mimulus ~ also known as monkey flower. The licorine plant vine is also new to me.

Another new-to-me annual that I fell in love with with I saw it: Iresine, or Blood Leaf. It's native to Brazil. Love the bold color and shape of the leaves. 

We don't have enough sun on our small piece of property to plant a veggie garden, so we plant a few things in pots: tomatoes, red onion, purple bell pepper.

My butterfly garden is mostly green right now; just the Columbine is in bloom.

If you're in the US, I hope you enjoyed your long holiday weekend. (Thank you to those who served and sacrificed their lives for our country.) We attended a retirement party; I spent time with friends; and another day we spent the day in Wisconsin. We discovered an amazing garden center (Bluemel's) with an attached coffee shop. I was in heaven! The dome is from an old high school.

Inside of the dome still has the high school kid's signatures.

The inside of the coffee shop is welcoming and charming, but best of all was the coffee. They serve Colectivo ~ one of my favorites. (I admit: I'm a coffee snob.) Colectivo is Milwaukee based, but they now have locations in the Chicago area. 

There's a huge, covered patio between the coffee shop and garden center, so we took our drinks and sat out on the patio for awhile. 

Then we took a walk around the garden center. These are some of the annuals and hanging baskets I admired...

I came home with this gorgeous hanging plant ~ Thunbergia. Love the vines and the delicate pink flowers.

After we were done at the garden center, we headed to the charming town of Cedarburg. Spent the rest of the day walking around and popping into various shops, having lunch at one of our favorite spots in this town, and basically just enjoying the perfectly beautiful day. 

Lastly, on a totally different subject: a kitty update! Remember Blanco, the feral? He's still around and comes most every day for food. Poor thing currently has beat-up ears. I have tried several times in the past couple of years to trap him for TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release), to no avail. And now the trap I have borrowed from a friend is defective. A cat can squeeze through an opening in the front of the cage. Not sure where I can buy a trap; perhaps a farm supply store. It's on my to-do list. By the way, I am not this close to Blanco in this photo. This is taken through the glass of my screen door. He still won't let me within at least six feet of him.

And my sweet Clementine...she is still unbelievably very much with us! She's around 15 years old now and in stage 4 kidney disease. She also has hyperthyroidism. When she was nine years old and first diagnosed with kidney disease, the vet told me she'd probably only live about another 1-1/2 years. And then in 2022 when she lost an upper fang, the vet dentist said that without surgery (all her other teeth are bad, too - very common in cats, especially as they age), she'd get a massive infection where the fang used to be and that she'd only live another few weeks to a few months. But the thing was, it'd be extremely risky for her to have the surgery, because her heart might've not been strong enough. Not to mention, they estimated the dental surgery would be about $3000. Welp...over two years later with no dental surgery, she's doing just fine.

For those of you still following me here and leaving comments and sending me emails, thank you for hanging in there with me. 💖

Saturday, March 30, 2024

march update

It's been way too long since I've checked in. When I looked back in my journal to see what had happened since since the end of Feb when I last wrote, I noticed my life was filled with extraordinary moments: seeing friends and relatives that I hadn't seen in years; girlfriend get-togethers; making soup every week for a friend going through chemo; attending a wonderful poetry slam; getting an overdue massage; meals out with extended family; hunting for - and finally buying - new glasses. 

Best of all, Tim was here for a visit last week! Per his request, we spent an entire day in downtown Chicago. We found a cool bookstore filled with used books where the proceeds went to children's literacy programs in the city.

Bathroom walls in the bookstore...

Tim requested a visit to the new Guinness brewery...

The aesthetics were beautiful! The guys said the beer - some brewed at this Chicago location; others brewed in Dublin and shipped in - was fantastic. I wouldn't know, as I don't like beer.

Good food was definitely on our list, too. We decided to try beef bone marrow ~ supposedly a popular item at this restaurant. I didn't care for it at all. Brian and Tim loved it. I brought the bones home and saved one for my mom's dog and with the others, made a delicious stock.

The burgers were a different story though...holy yum! I'm not even much of a burger person, but with this one, all bets are off. Good thing it's only a once-in-a-blue-moon indulgence!

Another stop was a cool arcade filled with retro pinball and video games, air hockey, and pool. We got there when they first opened, so the place was empty. A few hours later, it was packed with tons of young people. My cousin had joined us by then. I told all of them that I felt like I was in a frat house. We decided it was a good time to leave. ;-)

We wound the night up by sharing a charcuterie plate and appetizers at this rather "interesting" restaurant. As you can see by the photo, the booths have solid doors! They were opened up for us, we slid into the booths, and then the doors were shut behind us. It was rather claustrophobic. And it made the serving of the food and refilling our water glasses by the servers awkward. The food was fantastic though. The meats and cheeses were all sourced from Illinois farms and the sourdough bread was made on premises.

Walking back to our car on the top floor of the parking garage, this was our view.

On the homefront with Tim, he made us the most delicious cabbage soup for dinner one evening. I admit: his soup (at least this one) is better than mine!

Tim's flight going back to California was delayed because of storms, so we spent some time wandering around the local antique mall.

And...that's a wrap. I hope by the next time that I post, it'll be about spring yard clean up and what's blooming. I can't wait! This last half of March has been cold and now we're having lots of rain. I'm longing for warmer days spent outside once on the front porch in the morning to start my day and working in the yard and planting flowers. 

For those of you who celebrate, Happy Easter!