Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Sorry to anyone who might have noticed that this blog went dark for a while - I was changing domain name registrars and forgot about a couple of settings.

Hopefully, things should be back to normal!

As far as the house goes, we're still settling in, but there are more projects and posts coming this fall! 

Monday, April 18, 2016

It's Good to Touch the Green, Green Grass of Home

While I've got nothing on Tom Jones, I most certainly have some green, green grass at my home! First thing this morning, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a not-so-miniature truck from Henderson Turf Farms! GreenPro wasn't far behind with their truck full of tools, trees, plants, sod and shovels!

(Am I overdoing it with the exclamation marks?)

It's a very exciting day here at the MonkShack, where we are going from dusty brown to glorious green all in the span of a few hours. A few hours where all I have to do is watch. Glorious.

Good morning grass!

Hello plants!

Marvelous mulch and our saved stones!

The first strip of sod!

Greening the backyard!

We were able to re-use some of the rocks that had adorned our lot as accent pieces for the landscaping. GreenPro was great about working with us and moving them around until we found their final resting places. We also moved the magnolia-ish bush a little further out from the house (when I say we, I really mean they) because I wanted things a little more spread out.

I was a bit surprised that we didn't have a choice in the greenery - the trees and plants just showed up. Neither of us recall making any decisions about the type of plants that would be planted - and if we had, we probably wouldn't have chosen the Bradford pear that now calls our front yard home. Minor complaints - all overshadowed by the glorious green grass that now covers our lot!

At the same time, Rich was frantically working to fix our egress window shell that had started to cave in on one side. You have to love a man who works miracles under pressure and never stops smiling! Couldn't be happier with the way everything turned out today!

Want to see the finished product? Here it is!
Backyard (yes, the deck is missing - you're very observant)

Side yard

TADA! The front yard in all it's green glory!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Is That Green on the Horizon?

Just let me say how sick I am of dirt. Piles of dirt. Muddy yucky gross dirt. We've been surrounded by a dirt moat for the last two and half months - but maybe, just maybe, the end is in sight.

Take a look at what just happened!
MISSING: One big, ugly pile of dirt.
FOUND: One crap-ton of rocks. Big rocks, little rocks. All kinds of rocks. 
Since some of the rocks that have graced our site are about the size of the iceberg that sank the Titanic (I'm exaggerating, of course), we decided to try to save some of them for landscape accents. I am pretty sure the didn't realize how many of them would be uncovered in this process.

In other landscape news, we have been in touch with GreenPro - the local contractor who performs the final grade and landscaping - for about the last two weeks negotiating the price to sod most of the backyard. Yes, we are THAT sick of dirt. And the thought of having to deal with straw and seed for the upcoming summer makes us want to gag. So we're going to cover all with luscious green wavy grass. Extra money? Sure - but grass is green too, it's an acceptable trade - and the cost is much less than it would be if we waited to do it later.

I say almost because we are opting out of sodding last twenty feet of our yard that is part of the drainage easement where seed has already been planted and seems to be doing just fine. It's a drain - do we really need sod there? We're also building a deck, so I decided not to lay sod that we'd just be ripping up in a month or so.

Here's the SketchUp version of the deck - don't laugh, remember I'm not an architect:
Our planned deck

Out key concepts were multi-level and no railings. We also are trying to find the happy space between having a deck that is too large or too small. This version has steps all around that flow the deck into the yard. The 10x12 foot lower level is a step down and we think we might add a white pergola over it at some point. This summer, we're only doing the deck. We haven't decided on pavers or concrete, but either way, we want to wait until the ground around the house settles before we do the hardscape.

In short, PROGRESS! We are finally closing in on being done with the big projects and soon we'll be able to only focus on the little fun projects - like organizing the garage. Doesn't that sound like a blast?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Let's All Sing the Driveway Song!

If I actually knew a driveway song, trust me, I would be singing it right now. They've just started digging out for our driveway including our expansion and additional side pad! After going the last few weeks with only gravel and dirt, we are very excited about having a solid concrete surface!

In anticipation of this day, we actually submitted plans to our HOA to expand our driveway and add a parking pad. Hopefully expanding the driveway will allow us to get out of a car parked in the driveway in the winter without having to step in the snow. Adding a parking pad just gives us a little more flexibility in parking since we weren't able to add the three-car garage option.

Here are our plans that were approved:
Driveway Expansion

Added Parking Pad

Friday, February 26, 2016

We Chose Tuft & Needle

New mattress shopping sucks. Based on the variations in models, it is almost impossible to comparison shop for mattress with any degree of reliability. And they are all ridiculously expensive. Our last mattress was a super deep, super expensive, pillow top mattress that we thought we'd love after spending a few nights sleeping on one while at relatives. 

Short story - we don't love it it. Not at all. Granted we've had it about 6-7 years, but in that short time (I was expecting at least 10 years out of the mattress, so short isn't quite accurate) we now have ruts in our mattress that make it impossible to sleep anywhere else. As a result, a new mattress has been a frequent topic of discussion - it's just that building a new house meant that our priorities kept shifting.

Then I came across a Facebook ad for Tuft & Needle. Yes, I know - I'm guilty of encouraging invasive advertising. I'm not happy about it either, but it happened. I read all - and I do mean ALL - of the posts and comments, questions and answers...and then I started really digging. I looked for reviews, I watched video clips on YouTube. I kept digging for the deep dark secret that would make me forget all about a new, comfortable mattress for less than $1,000.

I didn't find it. 

So with some subtle persuasion, I convinced my co-sleeper to buy a mattress that neither one of had ever slept on, laid on or even touched. I have to admit - I was a little scared and even concocted a backup plan to buy another mattress in the event it was unsleepable. Now, we are the proud owners (and very, very happy sleepers) of a king size Tuft & Needle foam mattress. 

It came in a box.Really, it did.

And despite be a little on the heavy side, it was still easy for one person (me) to carry upstairs to our bedroom - unlike any other king size mattress I've ever bought. There are some great YouTube videos that show new owners unpacking their mattress and the expansion that happens when you open the vacuum-sealed back the mattress is shipped in - go watch them, you'll be amazed. The truth is, that's really what happens. It's pretty neat to watch - but even better when you lay down on it.

Mattresses are highly individualized - just because we like ours, doesn't mean that you'll like yours. But we really, really, really do like ours. It has only been a month, but we couldn't be happier with our choice. And the mattress. I cannot vouch for how well it will withstand the test of time, but if we get to the point where it starts letting us down (literally and figuratively), we'll be sure to let you know.

Until then, I encourage you to check out Tuft & Needle for yourself!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

We're So Happy!

Most expensive key fob we've ever owned.

A Peek Inside Before We Move In

I have to admit, I was afraid to post pictures from our pre-settlement walk through on Tuesday - I didn't want to jinx the closing! Crazy, eh? That's why home buying does to me - it clearly pushes me beyond the bounds of all sanity!

Now that we've closed (can I get a WAHOO?) I have no more fears so here's the pics we took of the inside - before we start moving in and mess it all up. :)

First Floor

Here's the look around the first floor:
The kitchen

More kitchen (we now realize that we need 50, count'em 50, pulls/knobs for our kitchen cabinet doors and drawers - pretty sure we went a little overboard on the cabinets)

The pantry (it's huge!!!!)

The study (my new office!)

Stairs, study doors and front door

Second Floor

Now poking around the second floor:

Top of the stairs
Landing at the top of the stairs

Laundry room (on the second floor!)

Master bedroom
Master bath



Bathroom selfie :)

And that's about it!

We Closed!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Closing Week!

It's like Shark Week, but only better - at least in our eyes! We're closing this week and will be finally getting to post some complete interior pictures of all of the finished work!

The bad part about closing in January is that they won't be able to do the final grade and pour the driveway until the ground thaws. The mud from the yard and the base for the temporary driveway are two ingredients for a disaster inside our new house! Hopefully we'll be able to mitigate the damage until spring, but it's going to be a challenge!

Stay tuned for some more updates - really, we will post more, I promise! Our adventure is really just beginning - as is evidenced by our ever-growing Google Keep lists of things to do, things to get and everything else that is goes into moving into a new house!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Inside in January!

Ugh! Not spending any time at all inside of the house has really crimped our ability to post updates! We simply don't have much to say (as crazy as that sounds)! We've mostly been spending our time working on updates to our existing house to (hopefully) help it sell! There's nothing more annoying than updating your old house while your new house is being built!

The good news is that our PM has been diligently sending us updates which we look forward to like kids at Christmas! I don't think I ever posted these interior shots from either late December or early January - so here's what's been going on inside - cabinets!

I'll admit I fudged the date of this post a bit, but I wasn't sure of the exact date - so I may come back and correct  it later! Or not....