Saturday, June 11, 2016

Insulating the attic

A while back we had an energy specialist come check out the house because we were thinking that our not-quite-new windows were causing us to be energy-inefficient and waste money on that lost energy. Turns out our windows are pretty okay, and the real problem was in our attic followed closely by our crawl space. 

The estimated cost for getting all of that into better shape was astronomical (at least to us). So we ended up getting the crawl space taken care of because it seemed more pressing due to a minor amount of mold that we wanted to avoid turning into a major amount of mold. 

That left our heat-and-AC-leaking attic to contend with. Good thing we have a Richard around here who knows all about the best ways of adding insulation to an attic. 

He rented an insulation blower (this one) and bought twelve packs of the corresponding insulation (this stuff). Actually, the rental for the insulation blower ended up being free because he bought enough of the insulation. 

Our attic pre-insulation: 

And after our hard work: 

So, I actually didn't get that many "after" pictures. But it basically all looks like that one "after" picture. Just add pink, fluffy stuff to all of your mental images of our attic. 

This is one of those jobs that Richard would normally just tackle on his own -- as in, it falls into the category of him knowing all about it and me knowing nothing about it, so he would just do whatever he needed to get it done. 

But this time he got a helper: me! He needed to get the job done in a certain amount of time in order to get the rental returned. And he accepted my help when I offered. 

The hardest part (for me, at least) was getting all of the stuff up the front steps, into the house, up the stairs to the second floor, and then up the attic stairs. The insulation is pretty heavy even though it just looks like tightly-packed cotton candy. And the machine was really heavy. And cumbersome. 

What toilet?

I got nominated for (and accepted) the job of cutting the giant bales of insulation in half, removing the plastic and shoving them into the insulation-block-shaped hole that separated it and fed it through the tube to be blown out wherever Richard deemed appropriate. 

It was much harder than I anticipated, but, man, I was going to work my butt off to be the best assistant-attic-insulator ever!

 While I was assisting (maybe it was before and not during since those blocks of insulation look to be fully intact), I found a large, bathroom mirror that we're storing in the attic (?). I think this must have been back before the national championship when I felt compelled to show that we were number 1 (as in, actually, truly, factually number one). Anyway, go tigers!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Emerald Isle Spring 2016 -- Part III

Since it rained a couple of the days we were there, we did a puzzle!

Cherryl and I found this tiny, baby sand crab while we were sea-shell searching.

We got a four-generations photo! I'm so glad Bear has such a wonderful grandmother (Nonna) and great grandmother (Gumbie)! It was nice to be with them and get to celebrate Mother's Day a little bit early.

My sweet roommate for the week. 

From our afternoon in Swansboro

Our last morning at the beach -- enjoying some breakfast and ocean air on the deck.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Emerald Isle Spring 2016 -- Part II

Just a few more pictures of my favorite place...

This beautiful Great Egret just flew up and landed on our deck one morning. He hung around for about 30 minutes and was just as nice as could be. 

Cherryl stayed out on the deck with our new friend the whole time -- the rest of us were a little too nervous for that. 

While we were there, our Bear turned 10 months old. This was the best picture I could get of this wiggly, crawling, sweet boy!

This is more indicative of the attempt at photos. He's on the move, y'all!

Auntie Cherryl did a great job of keeping Bear entertained and happy. Larry was pretty much done with our day of shopping in Beaufort. 

This is my favorite store in Swansboro -- Poor Man's Hole. It's like a real-life version of I Spy. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Emerald Isle Spring 2016 -- Part I

Oh, Emerald Isle...

I love this place. And this time I got to experience it with my sweet babe in tow. He went with us for the August trip last year, but he was only 5 weeks old and mostly slept, so he didn't get to really experience the beach. 

This time he got to go down to the beach twice for about 10 minutes each time. It's a lot of work to get a squirmy, crawling baby beach-ready (sunscreen, fresh diaper, swimsuit, shoes, hat, blanket, sunglasses -- that will be promptly removed -- and a bag with snacks, bottle, sippy cup, more snacks) for only about 10 minutes of enjoyment (read: trying to keep him from eating sand). But I'm glad he got to experience the beach!

This doesn't even show everything... It's no joke packing for/traveling with a baby.

And going to EI in the spring is always nice because the beach is completely empty. 

My roommate (that cute Bear), woke up every morning right around 6:30 am, so we got lots of good morning time out on the deck before the rest of the house woke up. Bottle and breakfast on the deck with an early-morning view of the ocean? Sounds good to me!

And baby swimsuits! I just love these tiny swim trunks. He got all decked out in his beach gear for a short trip down to the actual beach. 

We also had some rainy days, so we hung out inside on those days. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Birthday Backpacking

For my 29th birthday, Richard took me on a much-anticipated and oft-planned-but-never-executed backpacking trip! We've been talking about going backpacking for ages, and we have a lot of the gear -- most of which we have used on day hikes and car camping trips. So, I was thrilled to finally try out backpacking and legit primitive camping. 

We hiked McAfee's Knob which is the most photographed part of the Appalachian Trail. There's a great campsite on the north side of the trail, and we set up camp there. 

We drove out to Roanoke early on Saturday morning and found the parking area on 311. It was incredibly crowded, as we expected it to be on such a beautiful, Spring weekend. Soooo, we parked just barely still on the parking lot grounds but managed to not block in any other cars. Many of the other people parking weren't so considerate. 

We headed up the mountain, and I was immediately confused. We had read about the shelter (Campbell Shelter) at the top of the mountain and the couple of designated camping areas around the shelter. We passed a shelter (Johns Spring Shelter) about a mile or so into the hike that we hadn't read about and thought that that one was Campbell. Incorrect. Then we passed another shelter that we didn't know about (Catawba Mountain Shelter), and some camping areas that seemed to be farther from the shelter (which one?) than we thought it would be. Basically, we thought we had read up enough about the hike and the camping situation, but we really had no idea. This is a great resource for actually being informed about the hike before getting there.  

We met a very kind and very helpful AT volunteer, and he told us to hike up the fire road to get to the Campbell Shelter area and surrounding campground instead of hiking up and over the mountain. This saved us quite a bit of time and effort. We were able to hike around the mountain (still on a steady incline) to reach the spot where we camped and then leave our packs and hike up the (difficult) path to reach McAfee's Knob sans heavy packs. 

And the view at the top is breathtaking -- a full 270-degree view of the beautiful surroundings. 

After hiking to the top and taking in the gorgeous view, we headed back down to our campsite and set up or eno tents. Then we relaxed. In all of our hiking up the mountain, around the fire road, up to McAfee's Knob, and back down, we had logged about 9 miles. We were pretty worn out, and relaxing in the hammocks felt amazing. 

The camping areas around Campbell Shelter were particularly appealing because that area has a privy (outhouse) and a water source. We filtered all of our water from the stream, but it was great to have that cool, fresh water within such a close range. We didn't have to ration our water at all, so that was great -- especially when cooking and then rinsing out our dishes. 

On Sunday morning, we woke up and had some coffee and breakfast around the fire. Then we broke down our campsite and headed back up the steep trail to the mountain peak. 

This was what I had really been looking forward to. We had the place practically to ourselves, and the morning light was so beautiful. 

We read Psalms 8, 19, and 139 and enjoyed God's glorious creation. Being able to see so much from one point and soaking in all of the overwhelming beauty really reminded me of the majesty of the One we love. 

It was so beautiful at the top, and the hike itself was really enjoyable.

We loved getting to try out all of the gear that we hadn't used yet and putting our outdoors-skills to the test. We had to hang a bear bag which we hadn't done before and we had to pack out all of our trash. We had to make sure that the food we packed could be easily cooked in our camp stove or in a pot over the fire and that the food (and packaging) didn't weigh too much. 

I can't wait to go backpacking again, and I can't wait to get back out on the Appalachian Trail.