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At least our house doesn’t look like this anymore…Phew! Source

It’s exciting now that we’re getting close to finishing work on our fixer-upper.  Rather than a run down shanty that shakes violently every time there’s a rumble of thunder, it’s looking more like a cozy cottage.  I told Jack the other day that I wouldn’t mind moving onto another acreage that needed a little TLC as long as it wasn’t as extreme as our first home (I’m thinkin’ no corroded tubs, rotted windows and I’d be a happy woman if I never had to pull down another piece of plaster).

By now, we should probably have had a wing at the local home improvement store named after us but as of yet, it hasn’t happened.  Looking back, there are a few things we should’ve invested stock in before we started.  With all of it that we had to buy over the years, I’m certain our contribution to these company’s products helped them avoid any of the economic downturn.  Honestly, their stock probably skyrocketed because of our purchases.


Anyway, if you’re thinking of doing some home improvements or have your sights on a fixer-upper, here are a few things you should probably have on hand:

1.  Spray Foam Insulation


You can never have too much spray foam insulation.  It comes in handy for filling all those little cracks you discover, like when snow starts blowing into your house (true story!).

2.  Fiberglass insulation


Like spray foam insulation, this stuff is great for keeping drafts out of your house.  Rolled, paper-backed, plastic-lined, blown-in…it’s all good.

3.  Giant vats of drywall mud


There will always be a need–at least at our house–to have drywall mud readily available, whether we’re putting up new drywall or Jack your spouse has managed to gouge a giant hole in the wall while toting the window air conditioner or a refinished door up the stairs.  To date, we’ve gone through about twelve 60 pound-sized containers (and I’ve got the buckets to prove it)!

4.  Sandpaper


From 24 grit all the way up to 320 grit, for everything from hand sanding to rotary tools, floor sanders, belt sanders and vibrating sanders, sandpaper has been an essential around here.  How else do you think we saved all of that beautiful trim, doors and flooring?

5.  Snap Traps and Peanut Butter


Ok, so not technically  a home improvement tool, rodent snap traps and peanut butter are the most effective when it comes to ridding a country home of mice who might think a nearby house is a five star hotel after moving in when a neighbor harvests his corn field.

6.  Screws


Like sandpaper, any will do.  We probably should’ve just bought a couple huge buckets.  It would’ve saved us some frantic trips to the home improvement store when we were in the middle of a project and discovered we couldn’t finish because our screw stash was depleted.  It’s not fun being the one left behind to hold up the drywall until the other person returns with a box of screws.

7.  Tools


It seems like a lot of the cost of home repairs is from purchasing or renting the necessary tools to get the job done.  Obviously we weren’t going to drop thousands on a giant floor sander that we only needed twice but it’s pretty much essential to have a few basic tools like hammers, screwdrivers, saws, wrenches and sanders.  Occasionally we have splurged on a few specialty tools like a table planer but man, I love that thing.

8.  A truck


We have been blessed with some pretty awesome friends.  One family sold us their beautiful truck for half the value because they knew it was something we were going to need.  With about 250,000 miles on our old SUV and two small children, there’s only so much plywood, siding and drywall we could wedge into our SUV before it became a really tight squeeze. We are definitely not the kind of people who drive a truck just for looks.  We put that baby to work (and it seems to have made us more socially acceptable during our stint in Texas…).  The best part is we can all fit in the cab without having to duck under six pieces of plywood on our drive home.

9. Facial Tissues


You never know when you’re going to burst into tears, need to sop up blood or sweat or blow your nose for the hundredth time to get all of the dust out of your sinuses.  There is no such thing as too many boxes.  Plus, little kids find it incredibly entertaining to rip them out one by one and shred them into microscopic pieces.  It’s like having a cheap babysitter while you work.

10.  Ice Cream


In order to keep sane while improving a rundown home, you must have ice cream on hand.  If ice cream isn’t your thing or you’re fresh out (which rarely, if ever, happens to us), chocolate, candy, cookies or a mouthful of granulated sugar will probably do the trick.  At the end of a long day of work, you’ve got to have some way of patting yourself on the back, regenerating the many lost calories sweating throughout the day and to give you some motivation to do it all again tomorrow.



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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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