In the midst of noise, trouble, and hard work

There’s a ladder living in our bathroom.


A small seven-word sentence. It doesn’t even have an exclamation point at the end. Although it should!

In 2011, when we became official owners of this little cottage, the bathroom was the first room we intended to refinish. It’s small, we thought; yes, start small. But then we ran into a few problems, so Mr. H.C. decided it would be better to redo the kitchen first. Now, six years later we are finally starting on the bathroom. The photos below show you what we’ve lived with for lo, these many years…

Yes, it would definitely win the Ugly Bathroom Contest. And just so you won’t think us total Appalachian hillbillies, I will show you the finished door that goes in to this contest-winning bathroom…

Through these years, we have collected most everything we need. Remember it was the first room we were going to tackle? Practically the first thing we bought for the house was the bathroom vanity and mirror. They’ve been against the wall in the garage bedroom covered in plastic all this time. The truth is often Not Pretty; but there is a glass-half-full outlook  — We already have:

  1. the sink,
  2. the sink faucet,
  3. the shower head and handles
  4. the vanity,
  5. the mirror,
  6. the lights,
  7. the toilet,
  8. a lovely cabinet with glass doors that was left over from the kitchen project,
  9. the tile for the shower floor,
  10. the tile for the vanity top, and, drum roll please….
  11. the pull-down attic ladder that will go in the ceiling — which was the initial problem that stopped this bathroom project all those many years ago.

That long list above, makes the list of still-to-purchase items rather short: subway tile for the shower walls, a shower pan, some incidental plumbing materials, and ceiling boards. Oh, and paint. And maybe a glass-block window. We haven’t really decided about the window yet. That’s the least of our worries; we haven’t gotten to that wall yet…

But can I just be honest and say, this prolonged bathroom project has made for a lot of anxiety and needless tension? The last unnecessary comment I made was earlier this year: Mr. H.C. thought maybe we could invite some folks over for dinner.
We have a lovely kitchen.
We have a lovely dining room.
We have a lovely porch.
We have a lovely living room.
Did I focus on any of those? No.
I said, “No one is getting invited here for dinner until the bathroom is finished.”
I mean, let’s face it: you can’t invite people for dinner and then shove them out the door right after dessert because you don’t want them to use your bathroom….

Bathroom wall — looks like old Italian plaster, eh?

Yes, there it is again: the ugly truth. It’s right up there with those ugly bathroom walls.

And no, I never have had peace about living in the midst of a really ugly bathroom. Oh, every morning when I take a shower, I’m grateful for the hot running water. I lived without running water for several years, so I know about praise for hot showers…

It’s just that I really appreciate beauty, and there’s been no beauty in this bathroom for a long time…except in my mind’s eye. And I can’t show you any pretty photographs yet, because we are still in the midst of noise, trouble, and hard work. In fact, it’s only just now begun… But I can say that it is certainly easier to have peace knowing that the noise, trouble, and hard work will soon morph into that finished bathroom that has lived in my head for so long,

The longer the wait, the more we appreciate.

The absolute, very last ever post on the mudroom…maybe

Why?

Because it is finally finished. And I have to say this final bit was all Mr. H.C. The only share I had in this last wall was painting one coat of paint on the door.

There won’t be too many words about this, because words cannot describe how completely and utterly finished it looks.

Unfortunately photos can’t do it justice either. Because it is all painted in Sherwin Williams’ lovely creamy white color — Steamed Milk. The same color as the kitchen walls. The same color as the dining room walls. The same color as the living room walls. The same color as the ceiling in all those rooms as well. Yes, we like creamy white walls. And ceilings.

In my humble non-decorator-just-average-person opinion, creamy white walls make a humble cottage look bigger, lighter and brighter, and just all-around more cheerful. And anyone who saw the cottage before, with its orange walls and wallpaper and 70s dark paneling would agree.

So without further ado, here are some befores, durings, and afters of our finally-finished-after-five-years mudroom entry to Apple Hill Cottage. (Trumpet sounds here…)

One can see that it is so new, there isn’t even any art on the walls.

This gallery below shows the progression of the outside wall of the mudroom — from the initial window, cedar shake walls, and plastic ceiling — to what it looks like now:

The next gallery of photos shows the progression of the second wall:

The floor has been done for a couple of years, but it still merits a before and after photo shoot:

The finishing of this room took so long because an exterior roof was necessary before the interior ceiling could be installed. Since the roof was finished this past summer, this winter we were able to proceed with the ceiling:

The last wall to be finished (February/March, 2017) was the wall with the most issues. There is an electric panel two feet from the wood stove; there were wires traveling the whole length of the wall that hooked into the electric panel; and this wall was also the orginal entry into the kitchen before the mudroom was enclosed and was just a porch. When we took off the cedar shakes, the wall was down to its original siding and it wasn’t pretty:

These photos below show the electric panel side of the doorway:

The sliding door that covers the electric panel is made from concrete board and trimmed with wood grain concrete board so it mimics the other interior doors in the cottage, but it is safe for being next to the wood stove. It hangs from the ceiling with pocket door hardware.

One of the best things about having the mudroom finished is that now the doorway into the kitchen is finished as well. In the last post on the mudroom,  I showed you the photo on the left. Now the far right is the finished picture.

Five rooms down, two to go. Three if you count the back porch; four if you count the laundry room.

But who’s counting?

The Pumpkin Disaster; little events that change your plans

A week ago I still had a pumpkin from my garden.

I was planning on cooking it soon, I really was. The thing is, it was Christmas time and the orange pumpkin just didn’t go with Christmas decorations. So I put it on top of the corner cupboard to be cooked in January.

It’s February 6th. Yes, I’m aware of that.

Just yesterday I looked at that corner cupboard and thought, I really should move it out and sweep behind it, and maybe change it to a wall cupboard, just to see how it looks. I didn’t notice that the pumpkin was missing.

This morning I had plans to sweep and mop the kitchen floor, go to the grocery store, visit my neighbor, and maybe when I was done, I’d have some quiet time to write on my novel.

img_7753When my broom and I got to the corner cupboard, my jaw dropped in dismay. There was stuff, gunk, all over the floor, the wall, and everything I could see. I couldn’t tell what it was, but I was sure it was the mice we’ve been having trouble with.  (See former post…) It looked like a lot of mice had been partying hearty behind the corner cupboard.

Of course, you, dear reader, can see where this is going. But I hadn’t a clue. The corner cupboard is filled with all of our dishes, bowls, china, and many heavy items. I had to empty the cupboard before I could move it out from the spot where it has lived for three, maybe four years.

Yes. The overripe pumpkin had fallen six feet onto the floor. On the way down it bounced off the walls and the back of the cupboard. After I moved the cupboard, I didn’t take any pictures of the mess because it was truly disgusting. (And here I realize, for the second post in a row, you may seriously take exception to my housekeeping skills…)

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I didn’t get any writing in that day, but the space behind the cupboard is spotless. And while I was cleaning I thought about these little events that change our plans.

Quite honestly, I’m not very good at having my plans disrupted. Oh yes, I know better. I know what the great philosopher John Lennon said — Life is what happens when you are making other plans. — Turns out he just wrote an already popular sentiment into a song. And the reason it is a popular sentiment is because, Yes, no one likes to have their plans disrupted.

A few posts ago, one of my friends made the comment that how we live our lives generally depends on how well we deal with disruption. I’ve mentioned this quote before, because it is one of my favorites:

c.s. lewis quote on interruptions

I try to practice this — you know, the Keep Calm and Carry On philosophy — but I’m not often successful; imagine if we could just always think of those interruptions, disruptions, intrusions… as our real lives. Forget about our own plans for that perfect day, that perfect week, that perfect life, for those plans (and those lives) don’t exist. Just because our plans are perfect in our imaginations, does that mean it’s real life? Lewis calls them phantoms.

The earlier we learn this in life, the happier we will be. The sooner we learn that every event in our lives is sent to teach us, the more joyful and purposeful we will be. Whether it was actually in our plans or not, God sent it to us to be a part of our lives. No Whining.

And I’m happy to say, that this day I managed to do fairly well. Of course, that’s partially because I didn’t have any big plans. No appointments, No lunch date, No place I really had to be…. And since I had to empty the cupboard, move it, and clean behind it, I took advantage of really moving it and trying it out in a new spot. Where it’s likely to stay until the next disaster… The disaster that, of course, is part of the life God is sending me day by day.

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So since I had pumpkin on the brain and chocolate chips in the cupboard, I made a delicious pumpkin cake. When life hands you smashed pumpkins, make a cake. (Don’t worry, I didn’t use the rotten pumpkin that is now out on the compost pile…)

Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×9 square pan. Gather together: 1 cup pumpkin, 1 cup unbleached flour, 1/2 t. baking soda, 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t. baking powder, 1/2 c. oil (I used 1/4 c. melted butter and 1/4 c. warmed coconut oil) 1/2 c. chocolate chips, 3/4 c. packed brown sugar, 2 eggs, and pumpkin pie spices of your choice — I used 1 t. cinnamon, 1 t. cardamom, 1/2 t. ginger, and 1/2 t. fresh grated nutmeg. You can add 1 t. vanilla too.

Mix together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl beat two eggs and add the pumpkin and the oil. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips.  Pour into the greased pan and bake for 25-28 minutes.

Pumpkin chocolate chip snack cake

It’s always good to share…

Variations:

  • You could add chopped nuts with the chocolate chips.
  • You could add more chocolate chips on the top and spread them around when the cake comes out of the oven.
  • You could add raisins instead of chocolate chips.
  • You could add raisins and chocolate chips and nuts.
  • You could add a teaspoon of rum instead of vanilla.
  • You could bake it in a 8×8 pan and have it be more like a real cake, than bars or a snack cake. If you do this, add 8-10 minutes of baking time.
  • You could put cream cheese icing on it and call it a real cake instead of a snack cake.

I’ve made this twice now in trying to make sure it is a good recipe for your enjoyment. The second time I used half pumpkin and half applesauce because this IS Apple Hill and I have more applesauce than I have pumpkin.  It was just as delicious.

Enjoy the interruptions to your day…