Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Cottage, No Toilet Paper, and The Phone Company

Sometimes, a cash and carry lifestyle can make you live a more sufficient lifestyle than you would like.  Shortly after buying the cottage, we realized the brand new plumbing was running slow.  We rented a sewer rodder, together with our buddy Dave, we rodded the sewer.  It helped for a lil while.

The issue arose again, so this time we called our other buddy Dave, who had a better rodder and is a plumber by trade.  He came out and said, there was sand - uh oh, that's a big red flag!  We had a plumbing company come out, they rodded it again.  They said there was an issue and that we would have to have a camera put down the pipe.  They also said our city had an issue, but that's another story.  They figured we had about 3 breaks in our piping.  They estimated that it would cost between $12,000 to $20,000 to fix.

At that point, everything at the cottage was put on hold.  We were beaten, the cottage was officially a money pit.  We didn't know how we would raise that kind of money.  The sewer company said, they bought us a year, as long as we didn't do laundry or put tp down the toilet. Eww, what do you do with tp; if you can't put it down the toilet.  And so it began, we bought a Diaper Genie and some doggie bags, I couldn't just throw the tp in the wastebasket, the thought of that just grossed me out even more.

We had to take navy showers and laundry had to be done outside with the wringer washer, so it could drain outdoors.  Needless to say, we learned a lot about how much we waste water and what we were made of.  Our water bill was next to nothing, which helped us save for the sewer.

Finally, we had about half of the money, so we had the plumbing company back out to put the camera down.  What they found was such a God send to us.  Two of the places they thought were breaks in the pipe, were just corners - whew, they don't have to bust up the basement concrete.

They found that the issue was underneath our sidewalk, out by the big tree in the easement.  We were all sure it was tree roots, but we had no plans to remove the tree, we need it for shade because we face the day time sun.  The cost was now going to be just over $4000.00.  Fantastic, now let's get it done!

It was scheduled for that Friday, they came out earlier than expected and got to work right away.   The utility company's had already marked the lines.  They even wrote Dig where the sewer company needed to dig.

After digging down so far, I started to see utility companies returning and city employees/officials showing up.  It turns out, there was a gas line running right on top of our sewer pipe, that was not on the utility map.  Thankfully, they did not knick it.  As if that wasn't crazy enough, there was a fiber optic phone cable running right thru our sewer pipe.  After all this time, we found out, that it was the phone company that caused this nightmare.  The sewer company took a lot of pics for us, and the city inspector also agreed, the phone company will have to reimburse all the money we are out for repairing the sewer pipe.  Here is a pic of the cable going thru our pipe.  Sorry for the quality, I will change it when I get the better pics.

Not everything at the cottage is roses, lol : )

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Adding Outdoor Cottage Style With A Touch Of Vintage

                   Our vintage Strawberry Shortcake bike brightens up the area between our sheds : )


Antique bears, doilies, and dishes under our lollipop shaped bush

An antique kerosene heater is the centerpiece of this corner of our porch.  We dressed the geese for the Memorial Day to Fourth of July season : )

Old tin pitcher for flowers

Vintage bucket for flowers

A vintage crocheted baby blanket, an antique book, and a milk glass coffee cup dress up the swing this morning

Adding a vintage fake pearl necklace to hold garden gloves, a vintage straw hat, and vintage garden tools gives our girl's tool shed some cottage cuteness : )

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Starting Small On Exterior Of The Cottage

Let's face it, when you buy a home with cash, most of the budget goes to the necessities, that doesn't leave much for the exterior.  We've taken baby steps this spring.  We put in new windows last year.  This is the before of our project area.   Pay attention to that giant bush in the back, it will make an appearance in the next post : )



We started with adding a lamp post, that was an easier project than we expected.  We changed out the broken porch light with a new energy saving led light.  Added an address plaque and a new mailbox, then, we added the vintage emblem off the old broken mailbox to the new one.  The most labor intensive part so far was removing the old nasty porch carpet, power washing the porch, and then scraping off all the old paint  There are a lot more projects in the works, but we wanted to show our progress so far.  We have a lot of weeding to do, so don't pay attention to that either.  By the time we are finished it will look like a brand new house, while maintaining it's vintage charm.  It will go from a house we were embarrassed to have people over too, to inviting you all in - Thanks for stopping by, Tonya : )

Saturday, April 23, 2016

At The Starting Line of Our Financial Independence

We actually began our financial journey in 2002, but it wasn't an easy step.  At that time, both my husband and myself worked full time.  Well, Dollface worked 40 hours a week, I worked 80.  I owned my own business, and while I made more money than Dollface, I was never home to spend it.  After a very long and stressful week, we had a frank discussion about what our dreams were, and found out we were far from our dreams.  It turns out, our collective dreams were more along the lines of an old fashioned lifestyle.  We both dreamed of dinners as a family, mom being home when dad and/or the kids got home, having time to play with the kids, date nights, and being able to travel on a whim without any work schedule conflicts.  We may have been living the modern American dream, but we weren't living our dream.  It was time for a change. We decided, that I would give up my business and become a homemaker.  Yes it sounded 1950s, but it was the new millennia and we were excited about our new modern day journey.

   pic via

Please tell me were were not alone.  Does anyone else dream of the old fashioned lifestyle with the modern day twist of being equal partners at home.  We had to learn how to live on less, especially in a two income world, but somehow; we have been even happier than before.  Dollface hasn't had to clean house since, but he does make dinner most of the time and I do the dishes.  On the occasion I make dinner, he washes the dishes.  It works for us, Tonya : )

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Why Berry Blossom Cottage?

I've always loved hearing how people would have names instead of addresses for their homes, so I thought to myself, someday I will have a named house.  I decided; if and when, we ever actually own a house, I will name it.  When we found this house we realized it had mulberry trees, that coupled with my extreme love of Strawberry Shortcake gave me the name I was looking for.  Thus, Berry Blossom Cottage was born.  

When I was a child we had mulberry trees in our yard, we would make lots of things with them. Sometimes we would just pick them and eat them.  We made a deal with my aunt - we pick enough berries to make two pies and she would make them, but she got to keep one.  It seemed like a fair deal to us.  Finding out we had mulberry trees gave me an instant childhood flashback, which warmed my soul.  Keep checking in because we are going to share our families recipes for mulberry pies, cakes, puddings, cookies, and maybe even wine : )

Sidenote:  When you live self sufficiently you have to use what you have.  For the chalkboard, we used a mirror frame that I have had for 14 years, a piece of leftover paneling, and some leftover chalkboard paint (not exactly a perfect match color wise, but it will work).  For the chalk and eraser holder we used my antique matchstick holder.  Isn't it cute?  Don't forget to like us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram : )

Monday, March 14, 2016

Breathing New Life Into The Living Room

Rehabbing started in May 2015 and here is what the living room looked like as of Christmas 2015.  The entire rehab was estimated to be done by July 15th, but boy was that a bad estimation, lol.  We knew we might go over a little bit, but we never dreamed we would run into so many unforeseen issues.

At first we did not pass the electrical inspections.  It seemed like the inspector would always find something else when he came. The biggest item that needed done was to put in a new water ground, we didn't even have a clue what that was.  This required hiring a professional electrician, lucky for us we knew one.  He was able to get us squared away.

If you have ever had to deal with inspectors, than you know how happy we were when we finally passed.  It had been one heck of a ride and we weren't even close to being done.

Reminder of what it looked like before

Finally, we, and our lil cottage could breathe.  Of course, there are still a million things to do : )

                                                     The other side of the living room

Reminder of what it looked like before

All new windows, flooring, the addition of cornice boards, and crown molding were some of the other big changes for the living room.  We still have to work on the front door area, but we are pleased.

Side note: We had bought a new set of furniture, but once we placed it in the new smaller living room, it did not work.  It was back to our old antique furniture, it fit perfectly.  I now understand why furniture was narrow back then.  My philosophy has always been to only buy furniture you can move by yourself, I should have stuck to it.  What do you think so far : )

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

First Scary Glance At The Inside Of The Cottage - Are We Crazy - Maybe

We have always dreamed of being self sufficient and debt free, but we didn't think it would happen for us until retirement.  Then it happened, the nudge we needed.  A very close friend had taken the plunge to self sufficiency and purchased a homestead.  They let us know we could get their original city home for a cheap price, so we went to look.  Sadly, it wouldn't work for our families needs, but it got us thinking.  

Why wait, let's look and see what else is out there. Let's be as self sufficient in our small city as we can, let us live our dream.  We called the realtor, gave her our bottom line and put our dreams in her hands. Then, we called our buddy Dave to help us pick out the right house, and lend his construction expertise where needed.  After looking at 3 other homes we found her.  She wasn't pretty, but everyone agreed, she would work for our family and supposedly stay within our budget - insert laughter here : )

Picture above is of living room

Could we do it, could we do all the work that was required?  Did we take on too big of a task?  

Pic above is the other side of the living room.  

Someone had obviously tried to take this cottage on before us.  There were new items that were not put in place and a lot of garbage.  We sold and donated all the usable items.  The money we made went right back into the house.

Pic of one of the windows an animal tried to get out of

Talk about scary!  The house had been vacant for 4 years and some poor thing had either gotten into the house or was left behind.  I can only hope that it was rescued or finally found a way out.  We never did find the animal, but we found traces of one, as evident with the windows.  I still pray for it, where ever it is.  This was our first look - what do you think : )

Please stay tuned for more first looks and to see the progress we have made so far