Sunday, July 7, 2013

Four Years and 200 Posts!

4 years and My 200th blog post

I can hardly believe this but I have owned the MokeHill house now for four years. It was a house I put an offer on and then withdrew, and then a month later put another offer on and got it. It was originally built in 1976 as a custom home for a single guy who then married a woman with 3 kids and then they went on to have 3 more. It has an elevated play house (remember 6 kids) that eventually I hope to make into either an office or guest house, unless it falls down first. When I got this house, it was a foreclosure property that had sat on the market for 9 months. The yard hadn’t been watered so the plants and trees that survived were really amazing to me. The property has a beautiful view from the deck as the house sits up on a hill and my first 2 years there I think I took about 100 pictures from that deck.  The reason the house didn’t sell, even though it was a ridiculous low price, I really believe was the wacky floor plan. You see the house had an outside concrete patio that was accessed through the master bedroom and a sliding glass door. At some point, the owners built an addition on top of that patio and created a laundry room and office. To get to the laundry room, office and outside, you had to walk through the master bedroom. In the fall of 2010 Nick and I along with a retired contractor fixed that strange floor plan and now it flows really nice. (I actually could make the TV room into a 4th bedroom if I want to update the septic system.)
Here is a list of the things I have done to the house in the 4 years since I bought it:

1    Replaced the roof
      Replaced the siding
Remodeled the floor plan
Replaced the sink and faucet and all the appliances in the kitchen
New flooring
Painted almost every room
Retaining wall in yard area for my veggie garden
Created the veggie garden

My next project is replacing the windows in the house. They are really inefficient and some leak if you squirt them with a house. Oh and hopefully, the bat removal will not cost too much and I can put some money into the driveway.

I started the blog as a way to share pictures and updates with my family and friends since I am not on Facebook. (Well I am sorta..)No one really read the blog unless they knew me. But now it is really amazing. I have had over 11,000 page views from countries all over the world. After the US, Sweden is the most avid reader of this diary of mine. But I have gotten hits from Jamaica, Moldova, Ukraine, Iraq, and really all over the world. If you are reading this from one of those places, could you email me and let me know why you read and what interests you? It intrigues me that someone so far away would be interested in my simple home, D.I.Y projects and my garden. (Email Julie at
My garden has been a source of joy and consternation since moving there. I love gardening if you can’t tell from all my posts. I am never not in the mood to do work in the veggie garden. But the area when I first moved in was rock hard dirt that was full of weeds and junk. I must have pulled at least 50 pieces of broken tiles, landscape nails, old gopher traps and just bunches of garbage out of there. Usually I would just amend the soil and move on, but this has taken a more long - term effort. I decided to try “lasagna gardening” and I am now in my 3rd year of it. I did it out of desperation really as I knew the lifeless soil would end up just breaking my back and diminish my enjoyment of the garden. So it started with layers of cardboard, newspaper, Starbuck’s coffee grounds and some bagged amendments and just kept at it. This year I added corn stalks at the end of last season and straw the beginning of this spring. And finally I am seeing signs of life like worms! Still have gopher issues though and until I can move there full-time I probably will until I can get some cats.  (The gophers created some additional complications – see the next blog for more info.) The plants in that section have gone crazy! My sunflowers are over 8 feet tall!
The house is a lot of work and when my job and the 2 houses was getting to be too much for me, I decided to sell my Moraga house and move to a condo in Walnut Creek. The MokeHill  place makes me happy and sitting on the deck and looking at the hills at the sunset calms me. Of course, now that I am approaching the end of the remodeling chores, hopefully in the next year or so, I am trying to decide what to do with the place. I want to start CSA or something like that but I am just not sure this is the right place. My dad says I have “gypsy blood” that comes from my mom’s side of the family. Buy a wreck of a house, fix it up, sell it and move on. Not really a flipper because I don’t do it for the fast cash… more like a serial remodeler.
I want to thank everyone who has helped me out with the house over these last few years. My son, Nick, has been the most constant person to help me. Right now he has been painting the last few rooms left unpainted and is really great to have around. Thanks to my family members who never know how to respond when I call up and ask them if they have any plans for a certain weekend. And the tradespeople who have been just awesome up there, my landscaper, realtor, plumber and electrician. Super nice people in Moke Hill.
Finally, thank you to everyone who has read this little weblog… if any of you are ever in central California on the way up to Tahoe, feel free to stop by!


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