Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Cottage History

Aunt May is working on her website today! What a LOT of work! Not hard work, just LOTS of it. Hopefully, I will have enough wonderful items listed by the end of the week to open it up to the public. At any rate, please watch for my "Grand Opening" coming soon.

Meantime, I thought you might like a photo of the real cottage. This photo is from the front of the cottage. As noted in the sidebar, the cottage belonged to a widowed lady named Aunt May. She came here during the warm summer months and lived without water or electricity for that relaxing time. Her bother and his family lived next door in the farmhouse, so Aunt May was able to spent her days visiting with them, reading and tending her lovely garden. She eagerly anticipated her time at the Cottage each year during the winter months that she spent with her daughter in town.

Declining health and age forced Aunt May to cease her visits sometime in the early '60s and the cottage fell into disrepair starting about that time. It was used as a garage, barn, playhouse and storage shed over the next generation.

A new property owner emerged, and in the late '80s, rescued the cottage and opened an herb store therein. It prospered for a few years until those owners were forced to move due to divorce. The cottage, again abandoned, fell to the prey of wild animals, water and insects.

I wish I had taken a photo when I first looked at this place. The cottage was barely visible due to the overwhelming growth of honeysuckle vines, grape vines and Virginia Creeper that had enveloped the cottage. The lattice that was designed to keep the growth in check had been only an avenue for the vines to reach the roof of the porch, then the cottage roof itself, and finally, down the back wall of the little house. Talk about a "vine covered cottage"!! I was in awe of the look of it! Little did I think, at the time, of the damage it had done.

No air had reached that roof or some of the walls for a long time and they had begun to rot away, leaving constant moisture inside to create mold beyond belief. This photo is the back room of the cottage as it was after I removed all of the vines. Foolishly, I believed that if I left it to "air out", it would be ready to do a little patching and painting.

The following year, I decided to tackle that little job. To my surprise, more work than I originally thought was needed. A few pieces of plaster board had too much mold on them so needed replaced. A few spots where the raccoons had lived needed to be cleaned out. A few more spots of insulation had mold and mouse nests in them and before I knew it ..... this is what we had! After striping the entire back, we discovered that the studs themselves were riddled with termites! My cottage......

With the help of my son and husband we were able to brace the roof up and rebuild the entire back wall and ceiling. Water had been leaking into there from the roof and down the ceiling joists for who knows how long.

Then we needed a new roof. I'm deathly afraid of heights, so I hired that done. We then added new windows, replaced the outside siding, insulation and added all new drywall. Hubby rewired and put in the lighting. I mudded and taped the area and added a Venetian plaster finish. Then put up all new trim. I chose a yummy paint color by Dutch Boy called Vanilla Ice Cream. Reusing an antique door that came from the main house, we installed a pocket door that goes to the future bathroom.

Lots of time and work netted us this beautiful kitchen area now. This is just after I finished the ceramic tile floor and before we set the cabinets, stove and sink.

Next time, you will see the finished kitchen area and a little of the inside of the rest of the cottage as it is today. I still need to finish painting the cupboards, but who would have imagined the possibilities hiding inside that little dwelling!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Born A Little Too Late

I'm one of those women that are convinced they were born in the wrong time. I love the period clothing, decor, furniture, architecture, gardens and life style of the mid to late 1800's. In every sense of the word, I am a true Victorian at heart!

In our little morning chats, I may bore you with findings from my lifelong research into Victorian living. I've always been like a sponge when it comes to things that tickle my fancy. I will spend hours hunting down the answer to a simple question that floats in my head for over ten seconds. As always with me, the enjoyment is the quest, not necessarily in the answer.

Lately, I have been hooked on period movies. I just finished watching "Marie Antoinette" for the eighth time, and still don't know what it's about! I get so wrapped up in the costumes, scenery, furniture, florals, wallpapers, lighting, gardens, colors and food that I still don't have any idea what they are saying! I have recently added "Wives and Daughters" to my collection and am looking forward to devouring that soon.

Today's photo is of the back of our farmhouse home. It had an opened porch with banisters, railings and big, white posts and we loved it. But,when our heating bill, in the first full winter we lived here, went over $700.00 in one month, we knew we had to do something!

Because this is a south facing wall, we opted to enclose the porch. By far, this is the best thing we have EVER done to our home. I can take my tea and a book out on this porch, in the dead of winter, and be clad only in my sweats. The temperature on that porch rarely dips below 65 on a sunny day, regardless of the snow, wind or blustery Michigan weather outside that door.

We did a little research into solar collection before designing and that, I believe, was key to its success. There are five 5 foot square insulated, double-paned sliding windows and a standard 60 inch, insulated, double-paned sliding door to catch the sun's rays. We installed a dark colored ceramic tile on the floor to absorb the warmth. During the winter months, the sun is very low in the sky and it reaches about four feet up the brick, back wall of the house. With over 300 square feet of that heat absorbing material, we are nice and toasty out there for about two hours after the sun sets.

On winter days that it exceeds 70 degrees on the porch, I open the french doors to the kitchen and let some of that wonderful warmth into the house. Folks are amazed to come to our home on a 20 degree February afternoon and see the back door wide opened!

Perhaps you, too, can find some way to take God's wonderful gifts and harness them for your everyday enjoyment!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Already, I've Goofed!

Well, I knew this would be a learning process! Here goes again....

Hey, that worked!

Today is the first day......

....of the rest of your life! That goes through my head every morning after my daily prayer of thanksgiving. You might as well know right off the bat....I AM A CHRISTIAN! Proud of it, too. The Lord leads me in my daily life and He will probably be a topic of conversation once in a while as we sit down to tea. I truly hope that is OK.

As I start on this little venture called "blogging" (where in the world did they get that name, anyway?), I am a little apprehensive. Having given this much thought, there are times I believe that I can write fascinating tidbits every day and other times, that I won't be able to hold ANYONE'S interest at all.

Bear with me as I begin this new journey into cyberland and make (I hope) TONS of new friends!

I guess I should start with a picture.... How about that 1848 farmhouse?