A backyard that lives up to the chicken coop!

We had some work done on the back yard. Here are some before and after pictures.

In the front of the yard, we added another parking space.

The entrance from the driveway before
and after!

In front of the main entrance to the house, we removed the cracked and concave concrete patio and put in a brick patio.


We have a nice flat grassy area that isn’t super lumpy and hard to mow! Hoping we can keep Oval from digging in it.

after- planning to get a hot tub for the gravel pad someday!

We have a water line running to the coop now too! Once we get it set up, no more leaving the hose out all the time.

after- a big raised bed for veggies (if we can keep the dogs and the deer out)!

Can’t wait for the sun to come out, so we can fully take advantage of all the great outdoor spaces we have now.

Before and After… finally.

After more than 2 years, we are finally posting some before and after photos from the house renovation! We had great timing and finished up just before COVID hit. If you have to spend a couple years in and out of isolation, this has been a pretty great place to do it. We are really looking forward to finally getting visitors more regularly.

The kitchen is definitely our hang out spot. We took down a wall to expand the space available for it and transformed it from a dark galley kitchen to an open space. We have really loved cooking in it!


We brighten up this hallway by removing the wrought iron and putting in a half-wall and removing the wood paneling.

We removed a lot of wood paneling. In the front door entryway, we added some windows to brighten up the space as well.

Front Door Entryway

We left some of the wood paneling… This is looking the other way down the main hallway, on the right after the hallway is the entryway, then the kitchen. You can see the wall that we removed to make more space for the kitchen. The house is pretty open and a lot brighter.

main hallway looking back towards the kitchen

There was a giant bathroom that served as both the master bathroom and guest bathroom. We split it into two bathrooms.

master bathroom

The deck was what we fell in love with when we were looking at the house. The views from the deck are amazing. We look out into a valley that is all forest lands. There are some houses down below us, but when you look out you don’t see them, even at night.

finished deck
views looking out from the deck

Bret built an amazing new home for the chickies. We now have seven of them!

Next up will be a big outdoor project to fix up our patio! More to come this spring.

Chicken Coop – Retaining Wall

First step, flat spot. Unfortunately we don’t have a flat spot where we want the coop.

Black box approximately where we want the new coop
Remove fence
Layout proposed flat spot. ~40 inch drop from high to low spot
Load of gravel from local quarry, pretty sure I overloaded the truck but seems OK
First load of blocks; pretty sure I overloaded the truck again but seems OK
Lots of earth moving to do to get a flat spot, but getting there!

We went to Italy and Bret turned 40!!

Mt Vesuvius

Bret had a conference in Naples, so I decided to tag along!

After a long flight, we got to Naples early on a Saturday morning. Our hotel room was not quite ready for us, so we spent the morning wandering around our neighborhood and taking in the sites.

In the afternoon, I got a quick shower in, then headed straight back to the airport. I left Bret in Naples to conference and I flew to Geneva to visit Cinda, Danny, their boys, and their new puppy Mousse! It was a quick turn around, but it was well worth it. We got out on the lake, ate well, and probably had a glass of wine or two. It was such a treat!

I got back to Naples in time for the end of Bret’s conference and HIS 40th BIRTHDAY!!! True to Bret, he wanted to keep it low key. He went to the last sessions of his conference in the morning, then we took a train out to Herculaneum, a town that was buried in the Mt Vesuvius eruption of 79 AD. We explored the town for the afternoon, then returned to Naples for a lovely dinner on the water.

The next morning, we jumped on an early ferry to Ischia to kick off the vacation part of the trip!

We were in Ischia for three days. In the mornings, we explored the nearby Aragonese Castle and some nearby towns. In the afternoons, we swam in the ocean and relaxed on the deck. We also ate well and had some great local wines.

Then we were on to Sorrento! We loved Sorrento. While we did not get to stay right on the water like we did in Ischia, we found a very nice and quiet B&B tucked into an alley in the heart of busy Sorrento. The first night, we returned to a restaurant Bret enjoyed on his previous visit to Sorrento, Trattoria da Emilia and drank my namesake rosato!

The next day we got up early and took the first ferry to Capri. We bussed to the Anacapri side of the island and took at single chairlift to the top of the mountain. The views of Naples Bay and the Amalfi Coast were pretty great.

After, we wandered around the town of Capri a bit. We saw this cool sculpture made of old bike chains. Then we headed back to Sorrento for another delicious dinner.

The next morning, we walked out to the Regina Giovanna Bath. The views of Sorrento were pretty great on the way out. Then we got to swim around in some ancient Roman ruins and have lunch out on the rocks.

The next morning, we were up early again and we took a bus to Positano. We wanted to hike the Path of the Gods from Nocelle to Bomerano , but first we had to climb 1,700 steps to get from the road to Nocelle.

We made it up the stairs and enjoyed all the amazing views along the 4-mile trail. It was a little crowded on the return hike, but we loved it.

When we made it back to Positano, we had well-deserved and amazing lunch on the waterfront followed by a swim at the public beach.

We decide to spend our last day in Italy lounging at a beach club in Sorrento. We swam around, relaxed, and ate until the afternoon, when we had to hop a train back to Naples.

We went to the one with the yellow umbrellas in the distance.

We spent one last night in Naples on the 9th floor with a view that could not be beat. We fell asleep to the sounds of fireworks and marching bands, although we could not figure out what exactly they were celebrating. It sounded super fun!

It was an amazing trip! We loved everything we did and got to come home relaxed and rejuvenated.

It’s been a while

We have had a busy winter, working on the new house, and training for and running the 25k hagg lake mud run. We did many training runs, exploring the school forest around our new house, including in the snow.

Didn’t get a lot of pictures from the mud run, but here are two the folks from the race took, and an after-race look at our shoes.

New Deck: Contractors are almost finished, just a few last touches before this outdoor phase of construction is complete. We meet with the architect this week to discuss the interior work.