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Well hello, friend!
When you count the actual number of days, February is a short month. But for many, it can feel like a long month. Do you feel that way too? Here in my part of Iowa, February traditionally doesn’t appear even remotely close to spring. The days are usually cold, windy, and altogether quite unpleasant. But this year has been different. February brought minimal snow and a sprinkling of above-average days of warmth. Really, it felt like the weather was playing tricks, making the mind think of spring and then flashing right back to winter.
This warmer weather came at an ideal time, though, right as my second-floor renovation began. In case you missed it, the second floor of my house was gutted, including the old insulation, lathe, and plaster. We’re talking all the way down to the studs! This has been a long time coming, and it’s been an exciting process thus far. Full details on the remodel are below.
This weather is a welcome omen of the changing seasons: a fresh beginning in an old house, spring right around the corner, and seeds for the garden soon to be started.
I hope this newsletter finds you in the same boat, anticipating a new season. Winter can seem long and unending, especially in cooler climates, but thankfully there are signs of warmer weather. So grab that cup of coffee or tea, and let’s chat about thinking ahead.
Let’s talk about my upstairs remodel.
My house is a late 1800s foursquare Iowa farmhouse that my grandparents purchased in 1980. The home is very close to my mom’s current generational farmhouse, which is likely why my home was purchased. We only know a little about the home’s history before my family owned it, but we do know it has been well-loved over the years. In the 1970s, the previous homeowners added a breezeway and garage. In the 1980s, my parents (who lived here at that time before switching homes with my grandparents) renovated the kitchen. And in the 1990s, my grandparents made some adjustments to the first floor after they moved in. Thirty years later, I worked on restoring the first floor’s historical elements while protecting the heart of the home.
Throughout all of this, most of the second floor has been left untouched. When the home was originally built around 1890, there was no electricity. At some point, the first iteration of electricity was added in the form of knob and tube wiring. This worked well then, but it has become a slight safety issue over the years. The first floor has updated wiring, but the second floor is due for some changes.
A lot of planning has gone into this second-floor remodel. When I moved into the home in 2010, I knew some renovations would be necessary, so I began dreaming up ideas of how I’d want the second floor to look. The floor plan began several years ago, and I’ve reworked it over and over until perfect, at least for me.
As is customary for remodels, they usually start with one issue, the electric wiring in my case, and become more complex as walls are opened. For me, I found out that the windows need to be replaced, the insulation should be refreshed, and the HVAC requires some enhancements. This should come as no surprise as there were no air vents when the home was built 120+ years ago. It’s always been a challenge to properly heat and cool the upstairs.
Recently, I posted a video showing the second floor during the demo process, so check it out if you want to see what I uncovered.
As I write this, everything is down to the studs, the new framing is finished, and the windows are mostly in! A big part of this remodel includes adding an office where there once was a small, uninsulated bedroom. Since I work at home, I have days where I’m not in the kitchen and need a place to sit, write, and create. This new office will have a desk and a few new windows through which I can view the backyard.
I’ve always believed that a home needs to reflect how a person lives. What started as a way to fix the electrical wiring will now be the perfect space for working at home with an office dedicated to Wyse Guide. In my head, this space may help keep me from procrastinating on my work. We’ll see if that happens…
Let’s talk about some food.
February feels like a transitional food month. Comfort foods are still exciting, but lighter foods slowly begin to sound more appetizing. In terms of comfort food, I recently posted several new recipes that fit the bill:
- My sausage French bread pizza is truly a gift. The best part is that everything is customizable. Plus, the bread can be made with my easy French bread recipe for a completely homemade version. I’ve been amazed at the beautiful pictures that so many of you posted showing your beautiful loaves of bread, and this is a terrific way to use up a loaf.
- Homemade bolognese is a meal that takes a bit more time to prepare but hardly any effort. The sauce cooks slowly over time, creating so much flavor. When paired with pasta, it’s genuinely irresistible.
- Cheese-stuffed pizza bites were a perfect Super Bowl appetizer, but they’re ideal for any party!
- My ultimate meatloaf recipe is a classic and is as good as the name suggests. If you’re looking for a Sunday dinner, make this one!
- For dessert, make my recipe for chocolate fudge pudding cake. It’s like a magic trick where the result looks totally different from the assembly.
If you’re looking for something lighter, try these:
- My spaghetti squash casserole is an ideal way to enjoy a comforting casserole but not feel heavy afterward. The idea is taken from pasta primavera with chicken and vegetables but swapping the pasta for spaghetti squash. The flavors are fresh and a great way to enjoy a low-carb squash that’s often hard to use.
- I’ve still been enjoying my kale quinoa salad, a new recipe from last fall. But since it isn’t the season for apple cider, I use chicken stock instead. It’s a hearty light meal that makes me feel good!
- My citrus chicken salad is right on time when citrus is in season. I love the combination of juicy chicken with avocado, oranges, grapefruit, and cashews.
Let’s talk about Kip.
Kip has been able to enjoy some of the uncharacteristically warm weather. For the last few months, he really has been at his best: running, playing, happy, and just enjoying life. But with the good always comes a bit of worry. While Kip has been great, his liver numbers remain elevated, which is undesirable. Most likely, this is caused by medication but figuring out which one is something the doctors need to work on.
This all means that Kip is on a tightrope. Balancing multiple medications that work well but can have side effects over time is tricky. Even as Kip improves in one way, a medicine may cause an ill side effect somewhere else. And that is what we’re dealing with in his liver numbers this month. Kip will go to the awesome team at the University of Illinois again soon to work on his treatment, and I hope they find a workable solution.
Kip and I recently took a gator ride in the field if you want to see his joy!
At times, I wish I could simply talk with Kip and ask him how he feels on the inside. It would be nice to know if anything hurts and understand his thoughts. To many, that sounds crazy, but to those with a beloved animal friend like Kip, I know you’ll understand. As always, I’ll continue to update you through this newsletter and post all the happy Kip stories I can on social media!
That’s all for February. By this time next month, I’m guessing that I’ll be deep in the throes of garden planning and biding my time with the renovation. But I’ll make sure to save all of that for next month’s newsletter.
Until next month, stay joyful and know that spring is coming!
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