Six-Month Check-In

We’ve been in our new digs for about six months now, and it’s time for me to give you an update.

Our backyard Thursday morning
Our backyard in February

Our first winter here was wintry, as noted earlier. The weather in Ohio was much the same, though, so that had nothing to do with our relocation.

We’ve been (more accurately, Craig’s been) doing a lot of clearing out of old, overgrown vines, shrubs, etc. and cleaning out flowerbeds. Flowers are pushing up here and there, and it will be interesting to see what’s planted in the yard. There’s still much work to be done out there, but we’ll leave that subject for now and move back to the topic of it having been a hard winter in Ohio as well as here.

Some of the firewood we left behind.

One of the reasons we moved to a smaller house was because the utility bills at our drafty old house in New Philly were ridiculous. We had no water bill there, as we didn’t have city water or sewers, and we didn’t have natural gas. But even though we have water and gas here, our utility bills are significantly lower than they formerly were. When I think what it would have cost to heat that old house this cold, cold winter with the price of fuel oil being what it is, I shudder.

We left plenty of firewood for the new owners, but apparently at first they didn’t realize the expense of heating without it, because they didn’t start burning it until winter was well under way. If they burned nothing but fuel oil during December and January, I estimate it would have cost them about $2000 to keep the house at 68 degrees. That’s just for the fuel oil; add the electric bill, and you can figure close to $2500 for those two months. Ouch!

I’m happy to report that we’ve paid considerably less than that in utilities in the entire six months we’ve been here. We’ve also saved money on gasoline, because living in town as we do, everything is nearby. Saving money on utilities is just one of the many reasons we’re glad we made the move.


Several weeks ago we finally got rid of all the stuff in the basement. I don’t think I ever took a picture of it all, because it’s not the sort of thing I want to remember. But there was a lot of junk left in this house when we bought it. We threw away/recycled/Goodwilled several truckloads, and filled half the basement with the rest, hoping to make a little money selling it. I won’t bore you with the whole story, but the end of it is, last month someone paid us $100 for the whole mess and hauled it away for us. We spent the weekend cleaning walls, floors, etc., and getting the area ready for our son and daughter-in-law to move in, and now they’re living there temporarily.

Did I tell you all this already? The reason they’re here is because he got a job in the area, but they’re not sure yet where they’ll

...and after.
…and after.

be living. In the meantime, they’re our resident cellar dwellers. And it’s not a bad arrangement. In fact, they have more space there than they did in their apartment in Ohio.

Some of you have expressed interest in our kitchen remodel, and I said I’d post photos when it was complete. Well, it’s not done yet, but almost. All that remains is the back splash behind the stove and in the area between the counters and the upper cabinets. Because the kitchen is fully functional as it is, completing that last detail is pretty far down

Before #2...
Before #2…

on our list of priorities. Therefore, I’ve taken some photos of the kitchen to share with you now before so much time passes that it needs to be remodeled again.

As you can see from the before-and-afters, everything in the kitchen is new except the woodwork (which I’m not in love with, but it’s not so bad that it needs to be replaced), the microwave, and the refrigerator. I rather like the ‘fridge,

...after #2.
…after #2.

because it’s a side-by-side. I’ve always wanted one, but because they’re more expensive than the kind with the freezer on top, I couldn’t justify the additional expense. This one is old, but it works, and we’ll keep using it as long as it keeps ticking.

Two more things I’ve always wanted and now, finally, I have: a gas stove, and an exhaust hood. You can see them both in this photo below, which I took to show the Kitchen 2louvered bifold doors we put up in front of my spice cabinet-which-most-people-would-probably-call-a-pantry-but-I’ve-had-a-real-pantry-and-this-isn’t-one. Formerly, there was a dilapidated wooden accordion door there, and it was annoying. It didn’t want to open and close, and when it was open, it blocked your view of the contents of far left portion of the shelves. We took the old door down before we moved in, but the shelves were open until yesterday, when we finally hung a new door.

Note the tea kettle on the stove. That represents one of the few things I don’t like about the house: the hot water heater doesn’t get the water hot enough for washing dishes, even though it’s cranked up as far as it goes. Y’see, my dream kitchen doesn’t have a dishwasher. Why not? Because, due to the lay-out, I had to choose between a dishwasher and an exhaust hood. And with just Craig and me here, that was an easy decision. I raised four kids, had a huge garden and did lots of canning, and have always been a serious cook, and I got by without a dishwasher all that time. Why would I want one now that I have a fraction of the dishes to wash?

2013-09-24 11.15.46
Last fall’s onion crop.

Though I’ve never had a dishwasher, I do like to wash my dishes in scalding hot water. So, since the water heater is such a wimpy little thing, I boil water on the stove to add to the lukewarm water in the dishpan.

Though we’re both very happy in our new home, I do have one sad thing to report. This evening I used the last of my Ohio-grown onions. Remember those?

The reds (in the back rows) are still growing nicely
Some of the same onions, last summer.

Though I’m pleased I was able to make them last until April, it’s sad that they’re now gone for good. We do plan on having a small garden here eventually, but I doubt we’ll ever be able to grow onions like that again. And I do love my onions.

Other changes to the house: we pulled up all the carpet in the living room, dining room, and hallway to expose the near-pristine hardwood floors beneath. They’re beautiful! Why would anyone want to cover something so nice with nasty, filth-collecting carpet? We don’t like carpet, but we did leave it in the bedrooms (one of which serves as my office). For now. Its days are numbered, though.

bathroomupWe’re also working in the main floor bathroom. Its biggest problem is its miniscule size. But addressing that issue would require us to knock down walls, and we’re not prepared to do. We also don’t like that weird tile floor, but again, that’s a bigger deal than we want to tackle at present. What we’re doing now is removing the wallpaper on the upper half of the walls and replacing the medicine chest, because the electrical socket in the chest was bad, and I need to use it on a daily basis for my curling iron. (Looking at the “before” photo above, I realize you can’t see the wallpaper. But trust me; it was bad. Not just ugly, but peeling.) We’ll deal with the awful floor and the amazingly dated pink tile on the lower part of the walls on another occasion. Oh, BTW, we got rid of the window and shower curtain a long time ago.

So that’s the news on the home front. In the writing news, we’re nearly done with the final edits on Ransom in the Rock, and I expect to begin the publication process later this month. I can hardly wait to release it, because I think you’ll love it. Want a sneak preview? Click on the “Gateway to Gannah” tab above and scroll down to the third book. There you’ll see the cover (don’t you love it?) and find a link to click to read the first chapter. I hope it whets your appetite for more!




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2 thoughts on “Six-Month Check-In

  1. Hey Yvonne,
    I do like the cover for Ransom in the Rock.. Really nice job. I couldn’t imagine it was 6 months already since you moved, but you seem to be settling in nicely. I can’t believe the figures you quoted for your heating bill in Ohio. You could have paid two mortgages with that. Want to know my total monthly electric bill? $61.00. Now, would you like to move to Florida? I like the kitchen too, but I couldn’t understand why the layout would cause you to have to choose between a hood and a dishwasher. One goes over the stove, the other on the floor.

  2. Hi, Angela,

    Always a delight to see your smiling face in my Comments section! That’s a good question about why the exhaust hood v. dishwasher. Here’s the answer: The only place we could put a dishwasher would be where the stove is. (There isn’t space for a dishwasher on the other side of the sink, as you can see in the second “after” pic above.) However, there was already an exhaust fan in the wall over the countertop range, and it vented outside. (You can see it in the first “Before” picture — it turned on with a pull chain.) If I wanted a vented exhaust hood, I had to keep the stove where the range was to take advantage of the existing vent.

    And, no, I have no interest in moving to Florida, thank you! I like my cold weather. Yeah, I know, I’m weird. But I loved last winter.

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