Fence Plans

by Stef on September 9, 2014

in Wyoming Home


When I originally started writing this post, we were waiting on our carpet install.  That install has since happened and the furniture shuffle finally just forced us to move, without the ever-so-important fence, which in turn escalated everything.   As much as I’d love for our dogs to be chill Wyoming dogs who roam off leash and don’t chase horses, they’re not. At all.  Second to maybe a functioning heat source for winter, a fenced yard for the dogs is the most important improvement that we’ll make to the house.

Ordinarily, I’d classify a fence as the type of project that we’d be happy to take on.  We both have experience using an auger (post hole digger) thanks to my parents Christmas tree farm, and I’m pretty sure our new (old) tractor has a PTO but we’re still fighting Alan’s recent back issues. He herniated a disc at the tail end of winter and powered through the pain before giving in and seeing the doctor.  He’s far too young to be dealing with a ruptured disc and managed pain so we’re trying to let him take things easy.  Between his standard physical exertion at work and moving our boxes and furniture into the house (I’m helping, obviously), he’s not getting a break at all.  The fence is way beyond our scope right now.

My sister-in-law laughed when I told her this story, but in the ultimate Wyoming move, we bartered for fence labor.  It didn’t seem odd at the time when one of our frequent customers desperately needed a new ATV for work.  We chatted about the house and he heard that we needed a fence, so he offered to put it up in exchange for the remaining payoff on his machine.  It sounds a bit “fuzzy money” but for us it was very straightforward.  Instead of getting the cash from him for the ATV, we paid cash to the business for his machine.  For us, it was the same cost (likely a bit less), we just changed where we wrote the check.

At the time, we didn’t have firm plans for where the fence would go and what size it should be.  For the sake of bartering, we defined it as a “privacy fence”.  Our (very lax) neighborhood covenants require perimeter fencing to be Buck & Rail style, which we already have.  With just under 2 1/2 acres, there’s no way we can afford to privacy fence the entire property, so this restriction is just fine with us. There are no regulations on interior/privacy fencing.  We also defined the fence as roughly the perimeter of our show room, measured at 180 linear feet.

At the time, I was imaging 6′ cedar panels from Home Depot, similar to what we had at our house in Michigan.  While it’s a great fence option, I felt like it was pricier than we could really afford and didn’t fit the look of our place.Lowe's 6' cedar fence

While our house is definitely a “Wyoming house” it’s also a bit more… modern? weird? I wanted a fence that would match our exterior but also not insult my neighbors, so I started thinking about corrugated steel or steel barn roofing.  I’d say 90% of homes here use this roofing and we’ll eventually replace our roof with the same.  I imagined that we’d install it horizontal, taking advantage of the standard 12 or 14 foot lengths, and place posts every 6 or 7 feet.  Of course, Pinterest was quick to offer reference photos.

via Pinterest, originally on flickr

Both Alan and our builder were quick to point out functional issues.  We get serious wind and blowing snow in Wyoming and they both thought the solid fence would catch like a huge sail.  Alan insisted that we’d be listening to wobbling steel every time the wind blew and our builder worried about long term reliability.  I can admit when my “vision” isn’t necessarily realistic and let the steel fence go.  Still, I thought the horizontal idea was worth pursuing and headed to the Pinterests to confirm my suspicions.  There’s no lack of inspiration photos, but this was my chief reference photo for chatting with our builder.

Via pinterest, originally from FG Fencing portfolio here

Fence style decided, I went back to my recent floor plans to figure out how we could maximize that 180 linear feet to get the most space for the dogs.

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I took the previous floorplan and added our garage (gray square).  We definitely wanted a gate between the garage and house, preventing access to the back two doors off the deck.  We don’t have a clear front door, so I wanted to deter people from coming onto the back deck when I’m potentially (often) walking around without pants.  We briefly discussed wrapping the fence around the side of the house so we could use the small side deck for grilling and hang out with the dogs, but quickly realized 180 feet wouldn’t cut it.  Though it’s not shown here, there’s a large irrigation ditch at the back of our property so we needed to retain suitable easement from both the property line and ditch.  Our choice became clear – take the fence far enough off the far side of the garage to still allow trailer access, take the other side off the far corner of the house, then just maximize the length out to use up our 180 feet.  That ended up looking something like this.

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I was doing these floor plans on my iPad while traveling and approximated things, so I feel like the yard looks proportionally huge compared to the house, but I know for a fact that the garage measurements are accurate so maybe it is just that huge

We walked the perimeter with our builder and decided on roughly 37″ off the garage, with a 10′ gate that could let us pull a trailer into the backyard.  With (ridiculous) hardscaping around the “front” door, we have limited access for bringing in large/heavy things so we frequently (like, daily) back a truck up to the ramp off the rear deck.  The large gate will  also allow for us to bring in a lawnmower or ATV with a trailer for firewood.  We decided on a 4′ gate between the house and garage.  Other than that, I sort of left things up to the builder.  I’d love to say I was casual about this, but it was 95% faking my chill attitude because, after a huge failure with our handyman, I was pretty much shitting my pants the entire time.


Outdoor tour

by Stef on August 21, 2014

in Wyoming Home


Right, so… I was half way through a fence post when I realized that I haven’t shown pictures of the outside yet.  Let’s run through things really quickly.  Most (all?) these pictures were taken immediately after we got the house, so we’re traveling back in time a bit.  I’m sort of piecing things together from what I have on hand, but we’ll see how it goes.  This is really just an informational post so there will be some appropriate context once I start obsessing about our fence.

living room 1

If you’re in the living room, directly outside the dining area, and head through the French doors, you land on this porch.

front porch

The porch barely registered on my mind when we looked at the house, but it’s since become my favorite place in the house.  We just have camping chairs out here at the moment, but we spend a lot of time just sitting, enjoying the quiet.  I guess we’re getting old.


Turn left and you see the side yard.  Before we even looked at the house, I was appreciating our neighbors lilac and told Alan we needed to plant one at our eventual house.  We found this place and boom. Lilac.  It’s massive.  Obviously everything is overgrown and I need to deal with it.  Because I was snapping photos without purpose, I didn’t accurately catch pretty much anything.  Right along the side of the house you can see a barrel? Yes? That’s a smoker/grill situation with another deck.

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Continue around the back of the house and you’ll hit this deck off the back of the house. We now own all the decks in the world.  I wouldn’t really call myself a fan of lattice, but I’m also not a fan of replacing perfectly functioning things, so hooray for me, this stuff is already horrible and falling apart.  I’m taking it off before winter.

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Turn around with your back to the house and you’ll see our back yard.  Alan insists that the crazy swing set is sturdy, but I’m pretty sure my ass would be the one to break it.  I wouldn’t have planned to own a clothesline, but its here so I’m pretty excited to use it.  We may have to relocate it thanks to the new fence.  Our long-term master plan is to discover who owns that large pasture beyond the perimeter fence and purchase it.  Someday…

front yard

In that last deck picture above, you can see the garage.  Pass through the stupid lattice door and you’re back here, with the house on the left, garage on the right.


I’ve shown this sassy lady on Instagram, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t talked about her here yet.  In this photo we’re behind the garage, looking back up at the house.

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Because I needed to feel productive while we were on the road, I messed around with an iPad app to try making a quick floorplan.  The rectangles with faux wood floors are the decks around the house.  The floor plan, which I’ll discuss more later on, was super helpful in finalizing our fence plans.

I know this is all thrown together and hardly noteworthy, but now I can start discussing fence plans.  Onward!




Our roadtrip home

by Stef on August 16, 2014

in Home, Travel

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This is why we have big trucks

We live in the middle of nowhere so home security isn’t exactly at the top of our list of concerns, but this is also the internet and I didn’t really want to announce HEY WE’RE LEAVING TOWN FOR TWO WEEKS, COME LOOT OUR HOME AND BUSINESS. We’re back now.  Good luck looting our home and business with Radio around.  This is also why I haven’t posted in weeks or accepted comments.  I was away from my main computer and appear to have been hacked (?) so I couldn’t get into my admin page.  I did a background password change and all seems to be well now.

So, yes, we went home for two weeks.  The two weeks was actually supposed to be three weeks, but we cancelled the work portion of our trip at the last second.  We were just too overwhelmed with work at the shop and the house and while that leg was “work” it was somewhat more “fun”.  Our conferences are great to attend, but definitely not required or even necessary.  We try to hit roughly every other one, so missing the trip to Minneapolis was hardly noteworthy.  Instead of going super out of the way, we headed straight to St. Louis then worked our way up to Michigan.  With the exception of my parents, who are routinely in Wyoming, we only see our families twice a year since the move, so these trips are necessary for our mental well being.  Instead of giving the full play by play, I’ll just mention some highlights.

Our second day on the road to St. Louis was our second anniversary! We aren’t one for celebrations, so it wasn’t a huge deal, but we also got stuck without a hotel the night before.  We drove multiple towns further and multiple hours longer than intended trying to find ANY hotel and eventually settled into a nasty place just to sleep for a few hours.  Tourism must been booming this year because we dealt with totally sold out hotels multiple times during our trip.  Instead of giving each other anniversary gifts, we discovered that Alan’s Grammy’s TV had broken awhile ago and she was using an old loaner so we decided to replace the TV and DVD player.  It wasn’t something we planned or budgeted for, but we just couldn’t leave her there without a proper TV and it seemed a better use of funds than trying to find a creative way to buy each other something cotton.

We have to pass through Indianapolis on our way from St. Louis to Ohio so Alan decided to set up a lunch with one of his old military buddies.  They haven’t seen each other since 2007 so this was a pretty big deal.  I got to hear a ton of stories from Alan’s younger years.  Their last deployment together was also the same deployment where Alan and I started talking online, so it was fun to tell him that I knew all about him and was “there” in 2007, even though he had no idea at the time.  Our lunch (Yats.  SO GOOD) turned into an evening tour around the city.

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Alan, his beard, and his friend

From Indianapolis we hit Ohio to see my Grandma, then headed up to my parents farm in Michigan.  This was our first trip home since they’ve finished work on their new barn house.  That explanation could be an entire post of its own, but I didn’t feel right being like, yo parents, clean up your house so I can take blog photos! I have my limits.  I did snap a few shots.  Using their house as a base camp, we went to Ann Arbor, my old college town, to see friends and hit Dominick’s and Pizza House.  Alan and I spent the night in Ann Arbor then headed to southern Michigan for the first complete Jackson family gathering in quite a few years.  I see my brothers and their families every time we’re home, but I didn’t realize that we haven’t had EVERYONE together in ages.  I took a picture, but now feel weird posting my brother’s kids without his permission.

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Christmas tree farm, critters around the property, Jambalaya on the grill

Perhaps the greatest highlight (I mean, not really, family is the best, but I’ve been talking home related stuff so let’s get back to the important things) – TRUMPET SOUND -  we finally brought our belongings back from Michigan.  WHAT?!

Our Pod was delivered Monday and the movers arrived Tuesday.  I know I should offer some legitimate feedback here, but I’m just not thrilled with our Pod experience.  Our move to Wyoming has actually been a series of small moves.  Our first trip was a pickup truck hauling the largest U-Haul trailer (which is not large at all) plus our Edge towing my MINI.  Our second trip took place last year when we did final work on the house and loaded another U-Haul.  That stuff has been sitting in a storage unit for far longer than intended, making us feel like we’re throwing away money every month.

Once our Michigan house sold we didn’t want to get more storage units but didn’t yet have a house in Wyoming, so a Pod was really our only option.  Shocker (except not) Pod doesn’t deliver to Wyoming.  Salt Lake City is their closest delivery point to us, but they wouldn’t let us deliver it to their warehouse and then unload in the parking lot.  Obviously that makes sense to my rational brain, but my whiny brain finds it annoying.  Instead, we hired movers to load the Pod at our Michigan home, had it taken to storage, had the Pod delivered to my parent’s farm, then hired movers to load the Pod into our snowmobile trailer.

I’m not even going to get into specifics, but moving over the course of two years has ruined most of what we own.  I’ve pouted about this to myself, but at this point I’m just being honest.  We can’t even track damage back to just one mover or one situation… when you pile stuff in trailers and move it repeatedly and let it sit around for two years, it doesn’t fare well.  Bottom line.  The movers that loaded the Pod did a shit job and our best furniture – the real stuff, the expensive stuff – didn’t survive very well.  We’re unloading our own trailer (the final phase!) soon and I’ll asses things once they’re in the house.  It’s shitty and sad, but also not really worth an insurance claim.  This isn’t life altering stuff here, it just sucks.  We’ll deal.

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Once the Pod was out of the way, Alan spent his days working around the farm while I went to IKEA and antique hunting with my Mom.  You may have seen me blowing up Instagram with my Babysitter’s Club book finds and I’m not even joking about how happy I am.  They’re such an awesome piece of nostalgia and I’m SUPER excited to read my finds soon.  I have every intention of finding the entire series and holding onto them indefinitely.  Otherwise, it feels like we bought a LOT of stuff for the house on our trip home which is suuuuuper necessary, but also a big trigger for my budget/spending/accumulating stuff issues.  I objectively understand that we need curtains in our house, but buying 10 sets at IKEA was a little painful.  I’ll run through these things in more detail as they’re installed in the house.

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From here, it’s back to work on the house.  I felt like a personal assistant on our drive home, checking in with our contractors and coordinating the work that’s coming soon.  We’ve made progress on some electrical work, our handyman did some bathroom updates, our carpet install is scheduled, we’ve finalized the layout of the privacy fence for the dogs and I need to get my compost bin going like now thanks to some rotting produce in our fridge.

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Finally, though entirely unrelated, I couldn’t help taking a picture of the original milkshed!

It feels odd to talk about St. Louis and not mention what they’ve been going through the past few days.  We were busy with family and not really following media, so we only got the news in casual passing and thought, hmm, we were just there.  During our long car rides we dug further and realized, hey, this is a big deal in a place we love.  Alan’s dad is a firefighter and has been put in standby mode plus his sister lives in the city, so the situation definitely hits home for us.  At the same time, and I know I won’t explain this as well as I should, I have a huge issue with people co-opting other’s tragedy as their own.  Which is to say, taking the events in St. Louis and making them about about me and my feelings isn’t right.  I’m a white female living in Wyoming who only has family in St. Louis.  While we’re staying updated and wishing the best for all present, this is not my struggle and I (we) cannot possibly understand/relate to the emotions of everyone in the neighborhood.  I don’t know… I guess I just have a lot of feelings better left off a dumb blog.


Appliance Savings

by Stef on August 1, 2014

in Wyoming Home

In the last post, I shared the appliances we picked and a rundown of their cost.  I managed to collect multiple different discounts together to give our final cost and wanted to share the final cost.

Samsung Side by Side Refrigerator, Original Price: $1699

Samsung  Gas Range, Original Price: $899.00

Whirlpool  Dishwasher, Original Price: $599.00

Samsung Microwave, Original Price: $299.00

Maytag  Bravos XL Dryer, Original Price $799.00

Maytag  Bravos XL Washer in White, Original Price $799.00

TOTAL: $5094

OUR TOTALL $3285.90 = 35.5% savings


Savings #1 – Home Depot Appliance Event


Bottom line – buy during a sales event!  Selecting our washer and dryer was as easy as walking by this sign, checking out features, and deciding they were worth the price.   For comparison, right now this same model is listed for $719.10.

We also checked out refrigerators in-store and casually looked at the Samsung model that we later picked.  Alan was really into it because he’s a whore for brand names (he knows this and will agree).  I loved the fridge, but definitely felt like it was more than we needed and wanted to look around.  The Wyoming store has a very limited number of appliances actually on the floor, so we chatted with a sales associate and all decided that we really  just needed to sit down and look at options online.

Savings #2…. ish - Buy more, save more

I mentioned before that we chose a microwave instead of a hood vent because it was an appliance, not merchandise.  As I added items to our online cart, I noticed a line item below our total that said Instant $ Saving …  -$200.00.  I poked around the site and found a banner ad for an additional savings event.  With 5 appliances in the cart, I was automatically given $200 off.  If I went from 5 appliances to 6, that savings would jump to $300.  When I realized that the hood and stand-alone microwave were merchandise but the overhead vented microwave was an appliance, I swapped the hood for the microwave and immediately took another $100 off.

I was really committed to saving this $300 and wasted time trying to make it work, but we’re being honest here… In the end, we were not able to stack this saving along with everything else.  I still think it’s helpful to note that Home Depot occasionally runs these kind of promotions.

Savings #3 – Price shopping

I was vaguely aware that Home Depot matches prices, so I literally googled Home Depot price match policy and landed on this page.


I quickly discovered that Home Depot already had the best prices by far, with the exception of our stove.  At the time, Best Buy was selling our stove for $599 so I just printed the online page.  Price matching is where things started to get complicated.  I wasn’t able to just order everything online because I needed price adjustments and Home Depot won’t deliver to our area.  I called the local store and tried to coordinate things over the phone.  The sales associate was fantastic and very helpful… but wasn’t able to make everything work.  She said price matching doesn’t apply to sale items, which seemed like a pretty reasonable policy at the time so I didn’t argue.  I started to feel like I was being a greedy asshole and should just take the regular sale prices, but when I read the page above later on, it very clearly doesn’t mention an exclusion for sale prices.   We’ll come back to price matching.

Savings #4 – Competitor coupons

I’ve heard that Home Depot accepts competitor coupons so I signed up for the Lowe’s Mover’s Program here.  Three days later, they emailed me a coupon for 10% off merchandise up to $5000.


When I talked to the local associate over the phone, she immediately said they would accept the Lowe’s coupon but their system wouldn’t let me stack savings promotions (the $300 savings) with the 10% off.  We decided to drop the $300 off and add the 10% off.  Unfortunately, her system then said that the 10% was limited to $50 (10% off $500… not $5000).  In an act of amazing customer service, she suggested taking 10% off each item instead of 10% off the entire cart.  I really appreciated the gesture, but with so many other things to purchase I was planning to run our cart all the way up to the $5000 limit to maximize savings.  At this point, it became clear - through no fault of Home Depot or their local associate – that this really needed to be settled in-store.  Obviously.  Tying both of us up on the phone to hash through details was becoming ridiculous.

Here’s where Wyoming just complicates things though.  At the moment, Alan and I don’t have any weekends to speak of.  Our shop is booming and we’re working constantly.   Driving 8 hours and losing an entire day to save money seemed… stupid.  We would drive just to order the appliances, then have to drive back to pick them up.  We had to draw the line somewhere.  Frustrated, I put a stop to the whole thing.  The sales associate confirmed that they don’t earn commission, so I apologized for wasting her time.

I was talking to my mom later on (of course) and realized that her Home Depot is less than 10 minutes away from their place.  Home Depot is a huge corporation – surely she could just place the order there, in person, with my price matching and coupons printed out in hand?

At her store, my mom learned why things have been so complicated for us in Wyoming.  Here’s a little lesson in how Home Depot works — Apparently all Home Depots get appliances through a central warehousing/distribution operation.  When the Michigan store looked for our preliminary order in the system, nothing came up.  That associate then realized that our Home Depot doesn’t participate in this nationwide distribution network.  He created a new order, applied all of our discounts, then tried sending it to the next Wyoming store.  Nope.  They don’t participate either.  The next one? Nope.  In the most ridiculous game of cell phone/text tag, we ruled out every store within a few hundred miles in Wyoming.  They tried Idaho Falls, ID, roughly 3.5 hours away.  Nope.  Finally I just suggested Salt Lake City or Denver because we could at least combine the trip to hit IKEA and get other supplies.

Turns out, when you special order appliances at Home Depot they’re always delivered to a home.  Always.  The Michigan store told us repeatedly that we needed to call Salt Lake City and warn them that the appliances were going to be delivered.  I called the same day and talked to a few people.  They took note of it, but were definitely didn’t follow my gameplan.  When the appliances were delivered I got a very confused call from a very suspicious person saying uhhhhh I have a truck trying to deliver 6 appliances with your name on them?  I explained the situation again, but apparently this flat out just isn’t done.

If you have a local Home Depot, obviously my lesson would be to find a great sales event and stack your coupons on top of it.  The sales associate in Michigan was very impressed with our final order tally and said events like this only come around twice a year.  We started searching mid-June.  On the sale sign above, you can see that pricing ran from 6/16 to 7/09.  If you find yourself in need of appliances next year, I definitely suggest targeting the time between Memorial Day and 4th of July.   Price-matching the sale prices is also a no brainer.  For 10 minutes of work, I saved ~$130 on our stove.  Using a competitor’s coupon is also a no brainer.  Both stores we talked to immediately accepted the competitor coupon.  I’ve been told that beyond these savings, Home Depot also has the discretion to offer in-store savings of 10% but I have limits to my shame, and that limit is flat out begging for more money off.  I already knew Lowes offers 10% off for military and military veterans but recently learned that Home Depot does as well.  I don’t think they’ll let you stack multiple 10% off discounts, but with all the options available it’s silly to not take advantage of one every time.  Finally, we all know about the additional savings that you get from using an in-store credit card.  I’m personally opposed to having store credit cards, but if you’re taking on a large project and see yourself heading to Home Depot or Lowes frequently, this may be a perfect fit for you.

At long last, here are the final numbers.  I was going to make you an adorable graphic, but we all have our limits.  Here’s the price breakdown once we stacked savings:

appliance savings

I mentally budgeted $4000 for appliances and assumed we’d have to go sort of “bottom of the barrel” with our selections to meet that number.  Instead of selecting $4000 worth of appliances and saving well below our budget, I actually chose to upgrade some of the pieces.  We still came in way under budget and ended up with units that are far nicer than we originally planned.  A sick part of me would have been overjoyed to score an entire house worth of appliances for under $2000 (totally possible!) but we’re trying to make smart, long-term decisions with the house, so I sucked it up and made (hopefully) smart choices, not just cheap ones.


Painting update

by Stef on July 28, 2014

in Wyoming Home

Last week one of the painters returned my phone call and was ready to start jobs immediately.  After realizing just how much I underestimated the scope of work involved, I jumped at the chance to get a bid for our work.  Quick reminder, this is what we started with:

living room 1

To expedite things and save money, I didn’t have him quote jobs that I could do myself.  We discussed having him paint the living room, skipping the low beamed ceiling that you see above plus the stairs.  While those are both annoying detail jobs, I can easily knock them out in a weekend.  I also had him quote the large vaulted portions of the stairway leading up to our master, but not the lower walls or kitchen.  Again, these are cumbersome jobs with lots of cutting in that would have added hours (days?) onto his workload.  If it required extension ladders, scaffolding, or planks, we decided it was a job for a professional.

His quote for the living room and master stairs was $600, or roughly 1/3 what I expected.  While I had him at the house, I took him up to see the flowers and butterflies on our master bedroom walls.  He warned me that the job wouldn’t be perfect due to the sun fading the wood, but said he could remove them and paint another wall for $100.  For $700 and one weekend, he could finish the work that was stalling us from making any real progress right now??! SOLD.


We gave him free access to the place and checked on progress after the first day.  I appreciated seeing that he put a lot of prep work into the job.  In addition to the drop cloths and painter’s tape, he removed old nails/screws and patched the holes!  I’ve seriously removed at least 75 nails, screws, and drywall anchors so far, so I was thrilled at this freebie (I mean, I guess we paid for it, but I consider it an awesome bonus prize).

We checked on the place today and, as promised, it’s totally done.  To give you a timeline:  We quoted Wednesday morning and called right after lunch to confirm the job.  He started Friday morning.  He had personal business Saturday morning and was done by Sunday evening.  I consider this astounding progress and I’m blown away with the result.





I tried to get some pictures that show the real scope of work involved.  I took some measurements of this room today.  It’s 16′ 7″ x 29′ 7″, making it almost 500 sq ft!  Maybe you have plenty of 500 sq ft rooms in your home, but to me it still feels huge every single time I come in the room.  Sometimes I spin around and marvel at all the space and how we have no way to fill it.

The “low” ceilings over half the room are 8′ high, the high ceilings are 13′ at the lowest point and extend to probably 20′ at the center beam.  The high ceiling was painted (cutting in along that beam! Imagine!) along with the upper walls of the loft/Alan’s music room, though not the room itself.  I’m finishing the stairs myself.  I’ll address the beams on the lower ceiling at another point.

I purchased 5 gallons of Sherwin Williams Cashmere, an Interior Acrylic Latex in Low Lustre finish.  The paint boasts “outstading coverage” which I felt was important given our textured walls.  If you disagree, don’t tell me, but I think the paint does a great job diminishing the appearance of the texture.   Once we booked the work, I panicked that the worst case scenario would be having a painter, but running out of paint, so we purchased one additional gallon.  From what I can tell, there are 2 1/2 gallons left, which I think is remarkable.  Normally I’m a $35/gallon paint kinda girl, but I knew that this wasn’t a job we could quickly redo ourselves, so I wanted something that would last.  Final verdict on Sherwin Williams Cashmere — it’s awesome.

We’re still without lights in this room and stopped by the house in the late afternoon while rain threatened, so the pictures are kind of dark.  Our final choice, Egret White, is somewhere between tan and gray.  I honestly expected it to look a bit more khaki. I think the orange/red of the surrounding wood and tile are pulling out a blue undertone.  I don’t know, I’m not a designer.  My style is usually super white/gray/neutral with bright accents, so the thought of going full-on tan with the place was a bit scary, so I think I’m happy with this color.  I imagine the color will shift as we start filling the place with furniture and artwork… your guess is as good as mine.  I think it’s a good backdrop.  Alan loves that it feels “cool” instead of typical Wyoming warm colors, so things are headed in a nice direction.  I’m further convinced that we were wise to not pick white or gray.  If this tan feels a little gray, who fucking knows how gray would have ended up.



Shut up with that yellow.  I cannot even explain how happy I am to see it disappear.

The first triangle is the outer wall to the stairs and faces the kitchen.  The second picture shows the stairway in progress, which is now finished.  Again, I’m taking care of the lower walls – you can see where I’ve started cutting in.


Here’s an up-close look at the butterflies on the tongue and groove in the master bedroom.  While not perfect, I’m just happy they’re gone.  We discussed some options for sanding the wood and feathering in new sealer.  Since the finish is a bit shiny right now, I may sand the entire wall and reseal it with a more matte option.  I’ll be honest, things don’t look great here.  The sun in Wyoming seriously fades everything (we’ve literally sun bleached a couch! eek) and wood is no exception.


The wood is significantly less scary once you step back.  We decided to skip the trim around Alan’s closet.  It looks terribly anyway, so we’ll just replace it down the line with something that better matches the other trim.  The wall on the right was painted during this same job.

Overall- THRILLED.  I think $700 and one weekend is a phenomenal deal and I’d absolutely use the same guy to do additional work on our place, if necessary.  The living room is the one place in the house that needed very little work, painting aside, so we may start emptying our small storage garage and live in there while we complete work on the rest of the room.  For now, here’s a quick look at the new rug I laid out so it can flatten before we start piling furniture on top.  I’ll talk more about it later, but I think it’s a good “link” between this crazy cabin house and our furniture and gives you an idea of what direction we’re headed.


Btw, lesson learned on the iPhone photos.  These all looked great on my phone screen but they’re blurry and shitty on the computer and I’m embarrassed to post them.  I’ll step up my photo game asap. 


When I shared the house tour photos, I mentioned two potential laundry room locations.  Now that we have appliances in the house, we’re jumping to get them installed so we can actually move into our construction zone.  I’ve also mentioned my battle with decision paralysis and this is a perfect example.   There are so many decisions to make so quickly and I’m just stuck.  We can put the machines in the traditional laundry room or the basement, and I cannot bring myself to commit to a location.

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I know, totally blown out photo. I am capable of merging exposures, I just chose not to.

This is the laundry room/entry at the back of the house.  My initial inclination was to remove the upper cabinets and add lockers to serve as a mudroom.  I know that’s a super pinterest-y plan, but our town is relocating schools at the moment and I definitely think I can source some lockers.  We’re also short on storage of the coat closet sort and have a ton of snowmobile gear.  I like the potential for helmet/gear storage that’s away from our normal coats so they don’t start to smell like 2-stroke engine smoke.  I also worry about laundry piling up and getting trampled by dogs and feet as they enter the house.  If we put the machines here, we’ll have to add venting for the dryer.

On the plus side, the hookups are here and ready to go.  With bedrooms spread throughout the house as-is, I love the idea of having a fairly central location for laundry.  Also, no shame, I’m super lazy about laundry and maybe having it here will encourage me to keep up with things.  I want to start using the clothes line right outside the backdoor and worry that I’ll get lazy about hauling things out there if the laundry isn’t right here.

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This is our small basement.  My initial inclination was to put the laundry here because otherwise the room will just serve as very large storage for a hot water heater and kitty litter box.  There’s a utility sink.  The hookups and venting are ready to go.  I have plenty of room and we don’t need to worry about muddy boots and paws passing through the place.

On the negative side…. I’m still lazy about laundry.  For real.  My fitbit would love all the extra steps that I’ll take in getting our laundry from our master to the first floor then down to the basement.  As I’m typing this, I’m thinking perhaps that’s a plus?  Our old Detroit house had a second floor master and basement laundry, so this is nothing I haven’t lived with before, but I recall letting things pile up a bit more than they should.   I also HATED our Detroit basement because it was dark and gross.  This room is large, clean (ish), and fairly bright, so I won’t be as much of a baby about going downstairs.  Very specifically, I don’t think I’ll use the clothes line if laundry is down here.   If we put laundry upstairs, I can certainly put lockers and snowmobile gear in the basement.

I need input.  Should we do a pass-through entry/laundry room or a dedicated laundry in the basement with dedicated mudroom upstairs?  Alan thinks laundry upstairs, but we’re both stuck on the idea of adding vents and making the space cramped.  I’m 50/50, maybe 51/49 in favor of the basement.


Appliance shopping

by Stef on July 22, 2014

in Wyoming Home

The first phase of our appliance saga concluded this weekend when we finally picked up this load of boxes.  Buying six appliances at once was scary (exciting, too! but mostly scary) but, like the lights, we knew it needed to happen.

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Why the saga? Because Wyoming.  From now on, just assume that’s my answer for everything.

We have a set budget for the immediate work that needs to be completed on the house.  If/when we ever finish, I’ll share the actual numbers.  The budget does not include things like a new couch, TV, and king size bed which are things that we “need” as opposed to things we NEED.  It is intended for roof work, appliances, a lawn mower, adding carpet to the bare subfloor in our bedroom, a wood stove, lights, wood floors, fenced yard for the dogs, etc.  Some of these areas are fuzzy and bleed over into the “fun purchases” realm (lights, you were sort of fun) but they’re all necessary in that they’re missing right now or are general maintenance items for the upkeep of the place.  Unsurprisingly, the budget is disappearing quickly so I’m being a straight up hardass about where it goes and how we save money.

You know the drill – Home Depot and Menards are 4 hours away, Lowe’s is in Idaho falls.   I did some price shopping and quickly ruled out Menards, Lowes, and Sears.  On my birthday trip to Casper, we scoped out appliances at Home Depot and mentally committed that no matter what we bought, it would come from Home Depot.

Brands:  We ruled out GE which I’m still annoyed about because I reeeeally wanted the new GE Artistry Series.  My parents have owned more than a dozen places and warned against GE based on their experience.  In Alan’s words, I spent a lot of years not listening to my dad, and now I’m old enough to admit that I value his advice.  They said to avoid GE, we listened.  It’s worth noting that I finally saw the Artistry Series this weekend and, while beautiful, everything is pretty small.  They would have been perfect in our Detroit house but may have been quickly dwarfed by this place, so I feel a little better about passing on them.

Colors:  I thought all black would darken an already dark space.  Alan was oddly excited about appliances so I told him to pick white or stainless steel and didn’t care which he picked.  He said stainless.  Fine.

Features:  Basic.  We wanted things that would last, but this was not the time to buy fancy, upgraded appliances.

This is already long, so for now it’s going to be a lot of look at all the things we bought.  I stacked a bunch of savings together to arrive at our final number, so I’ll share that (hopefully helpful) info next.


We started here and let that dictate the other choices

Side-by-side, no French doors or bottom freezers.  Given current appliance trends, this eliminated all but 3 options that we could view in-store.  We knew we’d end up selecting most of our choices online, but I felt strongly about seeing the fridge in person so I could open drawers, move things around, etc.

Lots of freezer storage – living where we do, I buy a ton of bulk produce.  I also do annoying things like saving veggie/meat scraps to make my own broth.

The layout of the ice maker on the door – Ok, this is crazy but Radio gets her own ice from the fridge and we don’t intend to stop her  so we needed a setup that she could use.  Thought I put this last on the list, honestly Radio’s ice maker was pretty much our #1 criteria, which is ridiculous to admit.

Samsung  24.5 cu. ft. Side by Side Refrigerator in Stainless Steel

Model #  RS25H5111SR

Original Price: $1699



Side-by-side, stainless, with a good ice maker for Radio.  Perks: the in-door ice maker made for a ton of freezer space and the produce drawers were very smooth.  I’ve only owned fridges with wire bins in the bottom of the freezer, never full drawers, so this is special and I’m going to feel really spoiled.




30″ width (We thought the opening was smaller, thrilled to find it out its not)

Yeah, that’s about it.

Since we’d already picked a Samsun fridge, I started my search with Samsung stoves.  Though matching wasn’t a priority, if they could match, why not?  My search process was literally -> click Ranges -> Gas ranges -> Brands: Samsung -> Color: Stainless or Stainless look -> Review Rating: 4 stars and up -> Sort: Price.  The cheapest one also had great reviews and anything is an upgrade from our current option.  Sold.

Samsung  30 in. 5.8 cu. ft. Gas Range with Self-Cleaning Oven in Stainless Steel

Model #  NX58F5300SS

Original Price: $899.00



Perks: 5.8 cu ft of space means I’ll have plenty of room.  My parent’s place has dual ovens and I’ll admit that I’m going to miss being able to do so many things at once.  The stove also has 5 burners, which is apparently a “thing” these days and I don’t hate that idea.  It matches the fridge… who would complain about that?



I don’t care one bit, as long as we have a dishwasher.  My parent’s recently redid the kitchen at their farm and my Mom highlighted a few things that are really nice to have – super quiet operation and tall tub for plates/big things.   I searched for “quieter” (among the rankings of quiet, quieter, and quietest) and stainless.  I didn’t worry about it being part of the same suite since it’ll be across the kitchen from the fridge.   With almost 1,900 reviews and 4.5 stars, I let the people’s voice be heard and trusted their choice.

Whirlpool  Gold Top Control Dishwasher in Monochromatic Stainless Steel

Model #  WDT710PAYM

Original Price: $599.00





I had some debate here – my original plan was to get a range hood and find a cheap standalone microwave that we could hide in a cabinet.  I’m not going to pretend we don’t use a microwave because it definitely gets used daily to defrost things.  I just, for lack of a better explanation, don’t really care about a microwave.  During our shopping I discovered that a range hood is “merchandise” and a over-the-stove microwave/vent combo is an “appliance” which was crucial to my money saving scheme.  Hood vent was out, over-the-stove microwave was in.  The reviews are currently showing 1 star which was definitely not the case when I picked it, so I’m now mildly concerned about my choice.

Model # ME17H703SHS

Samsung 30 in. W 1.7 cu. ft. Over the Range Microwave in Stainless Steel with Sensor Cooking

Original Price: $299


Washer & Dryer

I am not on the front loading/cool colors/fancy washer and dryer bandwagon at all.  They’re beautiful, but so unnecessary for us.  We wanted basic, basic, basic.  One step above total bottom of the line was actually our goal here.  Our current dryer (parents house, not our new house which has nothing) is an actual bottom of the line and doesn’t have a true cool drying mode, which means our stupid jeans shrink a few inches every month.  With both of us being tall, it’s a huge issue and we’re burning through jeans at an alarming pace.

True low/cool mode for drying

Large capacity.  Huge is better, massive is amazing.

Top loading washer, front loading dryer.  Simple.

Alan kept picking machines that were $899-999 each, I wanted to keep things under $1000 for the set, which is pretty much the perfect example of how we shop.  We checked out in-store models and saw this sale price, and made the decision within 2 minutes.



Maytag  Bravos XL 7.3 cu. ft. Electric Dryer with Steam in White

Model #  MEDB725BW

Original Price:  $799.00


Maytag  Bravos XL 4.5 cu. ft. High-Efficiency Top Load Washer in White

Model #  MVWB725BW

Original Price:  $799.00


Though FAR nicer than we originally planned, these were on sale and seemed to hit all our criteria.  I talked them over with my Mom and she said they purchased the same set for one of their houses and she loves them.  She was also pretty certain that they were $999 each back when they purchased the units, so the price seemed amazing to all of us.  Sold.

Rereading this, clearly we run a lot of things by our parents.  My parents have moved a ton and split time between multiple houses, so they just have a lot of experience under their belts.  They’re also finishing up work on their new house that they built in a barn, so this stuff is fresh in their minds.  Alan’s Dad is a firefighter by career but also has tons of years of experience flipping houses and working as a professional handyman.  He’s a general around-the-house badass and wealth of information.   Meanwhile, Alan has lived in base housing and been through multiple deployments with less than ideal housing situations.  I owned our place in Michigan and it came with the appliances that it came with, then I nursed them along with repairs until we sold the place.  Buying all (or any, actually) new appliances is such a foreign, fancy concept that we were happy to accept input from all directions.  So yeah, we’re 30 and run things by our parents and welcome their feedback.

I think we all know that appliances never sell for full retail, but before I break down where we saved money, I wanted to see the full retail total.

Samsung Side by Side Refrigerator, Original Price: $1699

Samsung  Gas Range, Original Price: $899.00

Whirlpool  Dishwasher, Original Price: $599.00

Samsung Microwave, Original Price: $299

Maytag  Bravos XL Dryer, Original Price $799.00

Maytag  Bravos XL Washer in White, Original Price $799.00

TOTAL: $5094

Our total, pre-tax, was $3285.90 which translates into 35.5% savings!  I’m really proud of this number.



I know this has nothing to do with what we’re talking about here, but I just saw the incoming search phrase, is it bad for a fat woman to go to vegas I know you were looking at this post, an unofficial fat girls guide to Vegas (which was a joke, but also… not) and I can’t not say hi to you, should you come back.  That you even considered searching for that phrase makes me sad, but I also get it so let me be clear – Vegas is amazing, yes you will have fun, and you will have no reason to feel lousy about yourself whether you’re fat or not.  Vegas this time of year is fucking ridiculously hot so maybe push that vacation off a few weeks/months, but you should go and have the time of your life.  Bring comfortable shoes, even if you think you’ll look frumpy.  When everyone else is walking the disgusting streets barefoot at 2am, you can be smug that you thought ahead.

Madame Tussaud's Las Vegas

How much fun? SO MUCH FUN


Paint progress (or lack thereof)

by Stef on July 16, 2014

in Wyoming Home


I learned the lesson of testing paint colors thanks to the gray in our Detroit house.  It was like 2008, I painted the house myself over the course of a weekend, and I didn’t realize that people bought paint purely for the purpose of painting test swatches.  Maybe in 2008 they didn’t do such a thing?  The gray always read more blue than I intended, but I figured ohhhh well, I’m 4 gallons into this badboy, so let’s just run with it.  Repainting that which had just been freshly painted was literally never going to happen, so for budget and sanity reasons I plugged away and accepted things in all their blue-gray glory.

Fast forward to this house and we need to get the bitch painted like… three weeks ago.  We no longer have a Home Depot and Lowes within walking distance (curse you, Metro Detroit, I never knew how good I had things) so while I understand the value of testing paint colors, paint is 90 minutes away and I value my marriage, so it was prudent that I take a path of least resistance of sorts.  To clarify, Home Depot is 4 hours away, Lowes is in Idaho.  Ninety minutes away nets us Walmart and Sherwin Williams so surely you already know where I headed.  I sent Alan, he of little patience, next door to check out wood stoves while I plucked one white, one tan-ish white, one gray-ish white.  With three paint chips in hand, I cruised along their swatch section and swapped them in and out maybe two times.  Done.  Sherwin Williams sells test quarts, not test pots, which is annoying and wasteful, but again… I’m working with what we have available here.  Three test quarts purchased – one white (Extra White), one tan-ish white (Egret White) and one gray-ish white (Frosty White) and we were outta there.   I didn’t even realize I took a picture of the swatches until I found it in my phone, so I’m preeeetty impressed with my pre-planning.

In a house that’s 90% wood, I’m not about complicating my life by selecting more than one color.  I slapped three swatches on the wall in three different locations.  You can see them thus:

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In the photo above – Extra White, Egret White, Frosty White

Pretty clearly, Extra White is just too white.  Frosty White, while I love me some gray, just doesn’t work.  I would be trying too hard to make this house into something that it’s not if I painted things gray.  Alan walked in and pointed to Egret White and I’m all about making him happy and letting him have choices, so conveniently he’d already agreed to my selection.  The insane person inside of me – we can try to call this a “perfectionist” but let’s just be honest here – wanted to go back and find 18 different variations on Egret White, but it’s, at the end of the day, just a fancy name for tan-ish whiteDone.  Just like that.  Look at how this house is making me all relaxed and aloof.

Lest you think I’m serious about being relaxed, let’s discuss the difficulty of paying someone to paint your home in our small town.  I CANNOT EVEN handle how complicated this has been.   To clarify, with the exception of fixing major systems (sewer, heating) I’ve never hired out housework.  Mentally accepting the fact that we’re way too swamped to do everything ourselves was a huge hurdle, so I dipped my toe in cautiously.   I actually love painting, so I have no issue with cutting in and doing bedrooms.  The living room is huuuuuge and tall and I’m not an ideal candidate for scaffolding, so I started calling around for someone to just take care of the vaulted area.  Everyone is busy or not returning phone calls or doesn’t drive 90 minutes from the nearest big town and I finally just gave up.  With time no longer on our side, I took my ass back to Sherwin Williams and picked up 5 gallons of Egret White and started painting this weekend.

I would love to show you a sweet finished room and real progress, but hot damn have I overestimated the amount of work involved!  I feel like I knew what I was getting myself into (see: Detroit house, by myself) but clearly I didn’t.

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There’s really no way to explain myself other than to say that I bit off WAY more than I can chew.  My weekend went something like this:

Sweet, no big deal.  If I can’t hire this out, I’ll do it myself.  I’ll do some cutting in and have a second coat on by Monday.

Ok, maybe this is a lot of cutting in and I shouldn’t do the ceilings right now.

Yeah, that vaulted area isn’t happening.  I’m no wizard! What do you expect of me?

For real though, fuck this noise. I should have just painted the lower part.

This all feels very irrational – like it’s happening TO ME, but I keep rationalizing that it shouldn’t be so complicated.  Part of my brain says I don’t know why it’s taking FOREVER but part of it says I do have some actual reasons for why it’s taking so long.  1.  The walls are textured.  I don’t know anyone who likes texture, but skim coating the walls is just not a reality in any sense, so we’re working with the texture as is.   Instead of a nice smooth cutting-in process, I’m cutting in along the trim then have to sort of smoosh the paint away from the trim to cover the texture.  If you aren’t careful, you either miss spots or drips happen.  2.  Egret white, while wet, is remarkably close to the top paint color (and we still don’t have lights) so I can’t even really tell where I’ve painted until it dries.  This means I’ve been hopping around from spot to spot quite a bit.  3.  The house feels huge.  I know we covered this before, but holy hell now that I’m facing it, I’m feeling pretty screwed.

That’s two failure posts in a row which is pretty much exactly how life/the house is going at the moment.  On the plus side, every time I walk in my heart skips a little and I feel actual feelings towards the house.  I love it more every day.  So I’m not just posting repeat bitchfests, let’s cover things that are going well — Before my mom left town we picked out carpet for their place and our master.  Again – path of least resistance, my new motto – we went into the store intending to select the same carpet and to “batch” our installs since they’d have to drive 90+ minutes to get here.  We both wanted something low pile (because I think carpet is disgusting), with a subtle texture, and light tan in color.  Since budget rules everything these days, I was very upfront with the salesperson and led the discussion with something along the lines of we need something fast, pretty much the cheapest that you have, then we’ll upgrade the pad.  We were in and out in less than 15 minutes.   On our megatrip to Menards we solved the countertop issue by scoring butcher block slabs in the discount section.  The 8 foot sections are now laying all over the house, awaiting time/patience/expertise.  This can be covered as part of a much larger kitchen discussion.  Our appliance delivery was rescheduled by Home Depot but we should finally have them this weekend.  Once the appliances are here, I’m ready to get some internet and just move into our construction zone as-is.  We originally had this lovely plan of finishing all the work before moving in, but we’re sick of driving back and forth between houses so I think its time to embrace the mess.



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Every time I walk into our master, I’m haunted by the painted butterflies and flowers.  It’s cute for a girl’s room, but maybe stenciled onto painted walls, not directly onto the wood that wraps the room…

The guys at my (not so) local Sherwin Williams suggested Mineral spirits for removing the paint which was a great, because we’d already bought a container at Menards.  Our main concern is damaging the wood, so we wanted to start with the least aggressive measure and escalate from there.   I was going to take photos and show how awesome it worked and make a great post but, spoiler, it didn’t work at all.  Like… not even a little bit.  I tried soaking with paper towels and the sponge and scrubbing with both.  Yeah… nothing.

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On the way out of the room I noticed this.  Someone has tried to remove these before, perhaps when they tried to sell the house pre-forclosure.  What you’re not seeing too clearly is the ghost line that still remains and the finish that has been totally removed from the wood.  I can’t decide which is a worse-r case scenario here – use paint stripper and/or sanding to remove the paint then have to refinish the wood, or just entirely paint over the affected walls… which…. I don’t really want to do that.  Ugh.  Thoughts? Suggestions?