Introducing Radley Cottage

me with our money tree in front of the house

me with our first purchase -a money tree- in front of the house.

Well, we need help with the name. “Radley” is a combination of his last name and mine, and cottage is all we can agree on, though “mountain haus,” “chalet,” and “izba” have been thrown out as options. Leave your suggestions in the comments!

I should apologize for being a lazy blogger as of late, but rest assured I have not been lazy IRL. You see, we bought a house! And not just any house. A circa 1790’s farmhouse cum 1950’s Cape Cod on 4 and a quarter acres of untamed land in upstate New York. It’s a total dream. Every day that I’m there I catch myself wandering around, lost in thought at what a fucking wonderland the place is. But I quickly snap back to, because most likely I’ve got a project I’m supposed to be finishing instead of daydreaming.

lil stream on the property

lil stream on the property

Thats one of the fun/terrifying things about this house; it has sooo many projects. Some are more necessary than others and some are more difficult or costly than others, so we’re learning to prioritize and make lists.  The place is totally livable yet somehow still a total mess. But we’re making progress.

We have no furniture yet so Simone gets her own room of old bedstuffs

We have no furniture yet so Simone gets her own room of old bedstuffs

So I’ll try to chronicle what our progress and all that we learn here. A few months ago when I started this blog, I knew eventually I’d have my house and be ready to start “homesteading” or whatever it’s called these days, and I knew I wanted to write about it. I’m almost 30, covered in tattoos and identify as queer, so when I go and google “top canning tips” or “how to compost” or “planting a butterfly garden,” the kind of results are not written by people like me. I think that there is a big tradition in heteronormative and politically conservative cultures that supports a woman working in the garden, making DIY pillows or whatever the craft of the day is. This woman normally has three kids and loves her hubby and is great at baking. She also probably doesn’t have to work a job. You can find her “How To’s” all over the internet. I love my (male) partner too but we’re a long ways off from kids and don’t always fall gracefully into cis gendered stereotypes and I really like it that way. Alan is as much of a feminist as I am and we won’t fit into that traditional family structure status quo no matter which way you shove us, a fact that both of our parents are still learning to deal with. I think his mom and pop thought he’d be more “normal” after he settled down with a permanent gal. LOL.

All that being said, I love gardening, cooking and am so fuckn excited to decorate the shit out of this house. So excuse me while I get my Ina Garten on! That bit was my accidental, rambling manifesto, so now you know where this blog is headed and hopefully it’ll help and inspire other girls and guys like me, people who love this homemaker-y stuff but who also love feminism and irreverence, who value different ideals and are forging their own path to reflect those values. Canning is for us, too!

Anyway, back to this old house! So we moved in and projects 1, 2 and 3 are: knocking out a couple walls, managing the wisteria infestation and laying a blue stone patio. But little things always get in the way, like the photo below. We had to replace the cord and socket from the dryer and the outlet itself. Road bumps. Fire-y, terrifying road bumps.

Day 1: So excited to do laundry not at a laundromat. First load = small electrical fire!

Day 1: So excited to do laundry not at a laundromat. First load = small electrical fire!

Luckily Al is a structural engineer, so he can tell me where we can and can’t take down walls. Or in this case, how we’ll need to reinforce it to get the wall down.

before- with massive pantry

before- with massive pantry

middle - most of the sheetrock is out, waiting to place the beam

middle stage (this view from the other side of the pantry) – most of the sheetrock is out, waiting to place the beam

It’s hard to tell from these crappy phone pics, but we’ve knocked out the pantry and are knocking down two other kind of half walls that separated the kitchen from the dining room and the dining room from the living room so that the whole living area is open. I have to give credit where it’s due, this is mostly Al’s project. and he’s killing it. We’re going to have to put a beam across the ceiling where the second wall (in the second pic- the one closer to the white door) is, so we’re stalled in the sourcing phase. To go big barn beam (we have some gorgeous ones in the barn but they may have bugs) or big iron railroad track? Decisions.

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our barn! it has no floor, but it has great beams.

My biggest project so far has been waging war on the wisteria that had infested my beloved pines. You can read about that here!

We have so many more projects I’ll share as we fumble and bumble our way through them. It’s the biggest undertaking I’ve ever …errr… undertook, but it’s soo exciting and fun. Especially because we always make time for swim and beer breaks! We have an amazing swimming hole 5 minutes from our house and can’t wait to discover more. Plz send all the swimming hole tips. We only have a few days of summer left and Simone needs to swim! xo

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