Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Terrific Broth

Category: Life (Page 1 of 7)

What’s in Store for the Ranch House in 2018

Hi, family and friends! I hope your holiday break is treating you well. We are soaking up the peaceful winter nights at home with music, hot pot dinner, and sparkling drinks. Last night, we baked dozens of cookies for our close neighbors, hoping to deliver some holiday joy and catch up with them.

Looking back, 2017 is undoubtedly our best year yet. Leaving our jobs and moving to Colorado was scary, but everything worked out better than we expected. Living in our mountain rental for a few months while searching for a nest made us realize how much we love mountain living. And after buying our first house together, we dived into non-stop renovations and learned a lot about construction and ourselves. We are grateful to celebrate the first holiday season in our ranch house – it feels so good to be exactly where you want to be.

But we think it is safe to say that the best is yet to come. We have so much planned for the ranch house in 2018, and these projects are incredibly fun! What we did in 2017 focused mostly on essential fixes – roof, patio, foundation, drainageelectrical, HVAC, water heater, washer and dryer. We also got our garden shed and garage in working order. In 2018, we plan to shift gear to make the living space truly ours. That means changing floor plans, assigning function to each room, furniture DIY, new paint and adding lighting and new accessories. We hope to optimize our ranch for the exact needs of our two people + two dogs family, and bring our style into it.

Below is a list for our 2018 renovation goals. We will be picking projects from the list to do, depending on weather, material availability, and our mood and priority. It will be fun to see how much we complete off this list 365 days from now!

1. The Insulation

Colorado winter is cold. We only have R-19 insulation in our attic, which is far from the suggested R49 value. We’ve been working on preparing our attic for blow-in insulation, which will happen during the first week of 2018.

While we are beefing up the attic insulation, we will be insulating the shared wall between our unheated garage and the house as well. Our garage has only R13 insulation on the two exterior walls, but nothing on the ceiling or the door. It results in a great deal of heat loss from the house. Because the roof trusses are framed with 2″ x 4″ lumber, there is really no good way of insulating the garage ceiling. So we decided to insulate the shared wall instead. We will be tackling this huge insulation effort in a few days, DIY-style!

2. Slav’s Office

This house offers a big upgrade from our past rentals – Slav has his own office now! However, except removing the carpet and moving in his desk, we have not done anything more to this room. Even worse, this office has been used as a dump ground for books, small electronics, and off-season clothes. As our first interior project of 2018, we will freshen up the office with wall-to-wall library shelves and a new corner desk for Slav. This guy deserves a room to call his own!

3. The Basement Guest Suite

Many of you may know that we are using only half of our house’s square footage right now. It is our intention to live small and simple. However, we do have plan to use the hidden half of our house – as a guest suite! Our basement is exactly the same size as the main floor and almost the same floor plan. We plan to remove the stingy carpet, add a kitchenette, and completely finish it as a two-bedroom apartment with its own entrance. We will use it as a guest suite for our friends and family, maybe short-term rental in between. It gives us a great opportunity to create as well as to experiment with new styles which we hesitate to try in our own living space. It will expose us to new tasks such as plumbing, windows and doors, and kitchen building. We will be applying these skills to main floor remodeling down the road.

4. The Fence

The last thing we’d like to complete in 2018 is to replace the chain link fencing with wood fences. This task has been on our mind since we moved in. However, with many more urgent and essential fixes in the way, replacing fully functional fencing does not rise to the top of our priority list. We’d like to tackle the fence project when next spring comes around, which will dramatically improve our curb appeal and add privacy.

Here you have it, our renovation wishlist for 2018. Every subject on this list will take considerable amount of effort, money and time. We hope to cross three, if not all four of them off our list – starting from insulation! We retrofitted rafter vents into our attic today, which rocks a 4:12 pitch roof and is filled with loose fiberglass insulation. Let me tell you, not my favorite renovation task. But it means that we can finally blow all these cellulose into the attic that has been sitting in our garage!

The Art of Airing Out

“Airing out” by Ka Fisher

I am letting out a big secret today – I don’t wash my clothes after each wear.

Of course I wear fresh underwear and socks everyday. But for pretty much anything else – pants, tops, skirts, jackets, as long as they are not visibly dirty or smelly, I do not wash them after just one wear. What I do, is to hang them up, and air them out between use.

I grew up airing out my clothes. My family did not have a washing machine when I was little, so all the clothes, towels, and bedsheets had to be washed by hand. Every Sunday, if there was no rain in the forecast (we also dried all the clothes outside), my grandma would pull out a big wooden bucket and a couple washboards. My grandpa would fill the bucket with water, and they’d sit down and wash for hours. The labor and the wear to clothes discouraged washing them after just one use, and this habit lasted in me even after I had washer and dryer. I still have an old picture showing the 4-year-old me washing handkerchiefs next to my grandpa. You can see the excitment on my face that I was finally trusted to take on such a big responsibility. I must have begged them and practiced so many times before my grandparents finally trusted me to wash handkerchifes for the family!

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I also grew up airing my bedsheets. I was taught to open the bedroom window and make my bed every morning by folding my comforter outwards, leaving the side touching my skin at night facing out. I was supposed to place the folded comforter under my pillow, so every inch of the bed that had been covered at night could be exposed to fresh air. It is considered sanitary to let the moisture out of the sheets, comforter, and pillows during the day. A light dusting before going to bed in the evenings should remove any dust might have accumulated.

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Such traditions may not make much sense nowadays, but I still live out of my old habit. When I arrive home after a day in the office and take off my jeans, which often still smells like laundry detergent, I do not think it belongs to the “dirty” laundry basket just yet. Even though this pair of jeans is not going to be washed by my grandma, with her hands cracked from using the harsh soap and her back hunched, it still feels like a waste to me to wash something that is mostly clean.

I know this is considered lack of personal hygeinge in U.S., so I am careful not to wear the same top to work two days in row. This results lot of worn-only-once clothing all over our bedroom. So last weekend, I brought in an old ladder to help with the mess:

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I bought this ladder in North Carolina back in 2011 to use as a towel rack in the bathroom. Once Slav moved in, this ladder became too small to dry two big towels. so we kept it as a drying rack for delicates in the laundry room. It was in a rusty red color, which is really cute. But I want to keep our bedroom mostly monochrome and calm. So I painted it black to match the bed and the mirrior.

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I do not think I’ve showed you this IKEA mirrior yet. It was only $30 and I like how simple and big it is. We like to keep the bedroom dark with only accent lighting, so I wrapped some solar-powered string lights around it to dress it up a little.

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It works pretty well as a night light – just bright enough to walk around with, but not too bright to interrupt our sleep.

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This light pretty much operates itself – the solar panel has a sensor, and we mounted it against the window facing outside. It will turn on by itself after sunset and off with sunrise. Since it uses solar, I do not feel guilty leaving it on all night long. For just $13, I think it is a great hand-off solution for bedroom lighting.

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We also had this metal deer antlers mounted in our bedroom.

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And lately, it has been used to air out Slav’s wifebeater:

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I know, what a ridiculous name. Wifebeater. OMG. I tried to call it “undershirt”, but Amazon does not give me the right search results unless I use the old terminology. I got Slav these in black since he likes to wear them for sleeping – I think they look a lot less offensive than the white ones, what do you think?

Here you have it, our little airing-out corner of the bedroom. It is cozy but not messy, jus the way I like it. I know that airing out clothes is not everybody’s thing, but we have been doing it for years and no one has ever complained about our smell. Besides, our dogs love it. Charlie loves napping under my pajamas. I think it is so sweet!

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What I Almost Bought From Rejuvenation

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I am thankful to spend this Thanksgiving with my sister. Since moving to the States in 2005, I stopping celebrating holidays all together. Chinese holidays are not recognized holidays in US, so I usually do not get the day off.  I am also not used to celebrating American holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. So it is hard to justify paying top airfare to eat unfamiliar food with my sister just because I have two days off. As a consequence, I ended up working during most of the holidays.

This year is a bit different – Slav’s mom will spend Christmas with us, so we are actually going to follow Christmas transitions. And for Thanksgiving, we have been my sister’s since Tuesday night. Needless to say that we are having a wonderful time!

Without work, the dogs, and away from home renovation, I suddenly had a lot of time in my hands. So much time that I even browsed home decor websites. I am super cheap and hardly buy any furniture with a huge sale. So poking around big store’s website such as Rejuvenations’ is a rare event for me.

It turned out that I was not that good of an anti-consumerism warrior as I thought I was. Within 10 minutes, I had more than half a dozen items in my cart already. I did not check out any of them, so it is still a win for me at the end. But I thought I’d share with you and why I liked them.

1. The Crosby bench

This bench was ~$50 dollars when I saw it. It is 71″ long, and they have a 64″ version that was even cheaper (in $40 range). Being an oak bench, the price is very good. We can definitely build something like this ourselves (who knows, maybe I can even build it myself), but the time and effect will not be worth it. The only reason I did not buy it is that I do not have a vision of where it should be. We have a round dining table so this cannot be used as a dining bench. Our living space is small (850 sqft) with very limited wall space. This bench is simply too long to be floating around the house.

2. The Crosby bar stool

I like the look of this bar stool, and it is only $43 when I saw it. I like the color, the finishes, and the fact that it was made from white oak. However, I do not have high counters in my home. This is a typical example of something I like but I have no use for. I even thought about buying it to pair with the light work bench in the garage, just to have it. But my principle of not buy anything I absolutely will use a lot won at the end.

3. Casement fastener

This fastener caught my eye because we need to replace our attic door, and this can be a great hardware for it. The local building code calls for a self-closing door that can be locked, so my current design for the attic door is with spring hinges and a casement fastener like this. It has many finishes to choose from, and the $12 price tag is comparable to the ones I saw in home improvement stores. The reason I did not buy it? This is the only thing I actually need now and the shipping is not free for just this. I guess it is really hard to convince me to buy something…

4. Red berry door mat

I adore this door mat. Winter is coming to Colorado and we have lost all the leaves on the trees. I started craving evergreen trees with red berries – they dress up snowy Christmas so well! But we just got similar doormat without the berries from IKEA. New mat will have to wait for the old ones to fall apart.

5. This rug

I’ve been wanting a calmer rug for a while. What we currently have is a green IKEA HAMPEN, which my dogs adore. It looks and feels more expensive than the $30 price tag, and it can take a looot of abuse. When it became too worn or smelly, which happens when you have dogs, we just replace it for another $30. But the color of the rug is too intense for this ranch. I want something that is more neutral, but not boring. And this rug really gets me:

$250 is not a bad price for a 5′ x 8′ wool rug. I especially like how it looks laying with a hemp rug.

However, the reason I did not buy it is the exact reason why we have the green rug at the first place – the dogs. See these fussy ends coming off the rug? I am 200% sure that Charlie will chew on them on day 1. The hemp rug will not be ignored either.

6. The throw

This throw is still over $100 when it was on sale, so buying it was not an option for me. All our blankets and throws are dog-tested, which means they all got chewed more or less. Based on how many holes on them, they all get discarded eventually. But I liked the pattern on this throw, which reminds me folk arts in the mountains in south Poland.

7. All-white pillowcases

The last thing is pure utility. We always use all-white pillowcases and I generally replace them every year (Slav’s pillow will be in cream color at that point). This pair is $17 and I like the simple design of it. I did not buy them because we are not replacing our pillow cases yet, and they are still $17 after the big sale. So I can get them whenever I actually need them. Again, a good price tag and the fact I like it are usually not good enough reasons for me to hit the checkout button – it has to be what I love, something I need immediately, and will be using a lot. 🙂

Here they are, the seven things I almost bought this week. Did you buy any home decor this Thanksgiving?

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