Memory Lane

There are things that come with building a house that you expect: lumber, mud, tears, sore muscles, paint swatches, gray hairs, heavy equipment, and depressingly fewer zeros at the bottom line of your bank statement.

There are things that come with building a house that you don’t expect: weight loss, increased balance at the top of rickety ladders, intimate knowledge of the cobweb filled spaces between your floor joists, and a cure for insomnia. I think that last one is because at the end of every day we collapse from physical exhaustion and the oppressive weight of one thousand un-chosen tile samples bearing down on us. (Maybe that last one is just me, actually.)

So imagine my surprise when after doing something completely unprecedented after work today and– lord have mercy– taking a nap, I find myself mocked by the blinking cursor and blank computer screen in the wee hours of the morning. I’m going to do what any good blogger does at a time like this…. divert you with previously written content!

Actually, it’s just slightly shocking how many years I’ve been plugging away at this website… who would have thought when I bought my first house in 2004 and started writing about the trials and tribulations of a single, twenty-something, first time homeowner on the internet, that I’d end up here. Writing to you from the garage that I live in.

Only a handful of you have been with me since back in the day (and that’s probably fortunate, because there was a lot of “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing” drivel coming out of my mouth way back when) so for the many more of you who haven’t, here’s what was going on around here in Septembers of past…

September 2005

Crooked broom - Rough 2

I bought my house on Garrison Road in July of 2004. By September of 2005 I had already broke the shit out of my house by freezing and bursting all of my water pipes (you know what’s fun? coming home from a weekend in Vegas to find a waterfall from the second story bathroom all the way down to the basement) and subsequently tearing out and replacing the entire kitchen.

With the kitchen done, I had this crazy idea…. I wanted a funky broom I could leave leaning against my kitchen wall that would be both fun to look at, and functional. So in September five years ago I was attempting to make the very first “crooked” broom.

Who knew I’d end up making dozens for people all over the country?

September of 2006

My worst DIY injury to date (and dear god I’m knocking on some wood as I type that) occurred four years ago while setting flagstone for this patio…

flagstone most done

That pound of flesh was worth it for a patio that eventually turned out like this…


September of 2007

A year later I was sleeping on a mattress in the dining room (living in chaos is what I do best, apparently) while MysteryMan and I tackled refinishing all of the hardwood floors in the Garrison house.

kit staining

There’s kind of a sweet irony between this and another one of the 431 projects currently on my plate, but that I’m not quite ready to share that one just yet.

September of 2008

And then, then there was 2008. The year in which we lost our minds and bought our little country home. Blissfully ignorant of the path we’d started out on– that would eventually lead to living in a garage and spending a lot of hours pondering the meaning of existence and soffits– we were charmed by the views…


… and contented ourselves with little projects, like replacing the gas station roof and planning a couple dozen trees in a weekend.

The house looked, ah, slightly different back then than it does today.


There wasn’t a toilet sitting on the front porch, for one.


September of 2009

Now last year, all of our illusions were stripped away. We were working hard weekends at the house trying to make the gas-station livable, we were finishing miscellaneous projects on Garrison Road to get it ready to sell, and we were finalizing the plans for what our little country house would eventually become.

I think there was still a part of MysteryMan back then that didn’t believe we could turn the current state of the station bathroom…


…into anything even close to what it resembles today:


And there’s probably still a part of him that doesn’t think the living room of the house will ever look like anything other than a large pile of rubble…


Anyone want to take bets?

Thanks to the crazy few who’ve been around since the very beginning, and all of the new readers who’ve come along in the last five years to give advice, encouragement, or just a little dose of DIY fun. All of the projects would be way less compelling if I didn’t have all of you to share them with.

8 Responses

  1. I missed out on the first few years, but ever since I found your blog, it’s been one hell of a ride. Very informative, highly entertaining and oh so real. I love the fact that you rat yourself out when you make a mistake. That makes me more confident to try things without fear of screwing it up.

  2. I’m a newer reader, but I love following along with your projects. It is refreshing to read about another female who tackles the non floofy side of renovations as well as the designing aspect as well. 🙂 Cheers from NJ!

  3. Looking at what you’ve done here, I find myself thinking I maybe should have done the same thing when I started my much-too-elaborate backyard paradise. That sucker took me nine summers to complete! And now the benches have problems, and there’s dry rot in the casita! Ah, the things I know now that I didn’t know then! On the other hand, back then, I knew something I don’t know now–where my marbles are!

  4. I’m a newbie reader – just found you maybe 1-2 months ago, and I’m lovin’ what I’ve seen so far. Thanks for being such a great inspiration! Not many females around who do their own construction work on a home!

  5. Well I’ve been reading your blog since 2008 when I started getting into blogging. It’s nice to be able to reflect back and see how far you’ve come and I think that is one of the big benefits of blogging. And just think in September 2015 you’ll just be kicking back and relaxing with the miniature donkeys, right?

  6. Aw, this was an extremely good post. Spending some time and actual effort to produce a superb article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and never seem to get anything done.

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I'm not interested in a mediocre life. I'm here to kick ass or die.