The Wolfeboro Project: Thank you! (It’s Not Over, Yet)

Summer in our Happy Place has sped by. And as the world and our society shifts, evolves and develops, so too does our second home here in Wolfeboro. More than the home, though are the wonderful people who make a house a true home.

Our screened porch project took many weeks; from April until after the end of July we had our contractor crew, electricians, roofers, gutter installer and our garage door installer in and out of driveway. They became part of our extended family – if only temporarily. While the final numbers on this portion of our renovation have been eye-opening and sometimes eye-popping, we have been so happy with the results.

Spending quiet time, family time, reading time and just being in our porch oasis is everything we hoped for. Thank you to these skilled workmen who were always pleasant; they cleaned up; corrected any problems along the way and offered insightful ideas on how to make our porch so beautiful and comfortable: Craig Howland, Howland Siding and Insulation and Larry, George and Terry.

When I met the owner of the garage door company, Nick Leighton, Overhead Door Options, I was in the middle of a nutty work day. He actually gave me a hug at the end of our meeting saying, “It looks like you need a hug.” We were still in the midst of having the porch completed and he understood our concerns about this 70s home and our continuing project.

To top it off, Nick’s price was better than other prices we checked out; his installer, Jason was truly a pro; and the doors arrived and were installed on time and on budget. Oh, my! And the house looks amazing – despite other improvements still needed (siding, paint, etc.).

We’re now in the midst of mediating an invasive species – Japanese Knotweed. We have 2700 square feet of the plant on our corner property. Ephraim Baker is doing a terrific job so far; we hope to start considering some plant cleanup so our corner property looks less wild.

Beyond our home, the people we have met and spent time with this summer are overall – so amazing and lovely. I have been working in town and get to see Wolfeboro residents as well as so many visitors and tourists who actually lean in to hear recommendations for restaurants, museums and more that Wolfeboro and the Lakes Region offers during the season. One of my co-workers told me I should work for the chamber of commerce because my knowledge of the area was so impressive. It’s hard to believe I have soaked up so much knowledge about the area during our years of vacationing here and now owning a home.

Our new friends have been so much fun; from Thirsty Thursday on the Winnipesaukee Belle with co-workers and friends to Tom and Cami’s staff party at their island home; the Ossipee Boys Concert, Cate Park concerts, our Katie’s Kitchen friends: Patty, Bruce, Grace, Joyce, Joe, Bonnie, Roger – and so many others; co-workers Mary Ann, Cindi, Louise, Julia, Ellen; Olympia Gym pal Roxie – and others there who were always so nice – including staffer June; our Springfield Point friends, Laurie, Mona, Randy, Susan; Winterhaven friends, Missy, Doug – and new friends Joann, Charlie as well as Penny, Paul; and Cate at Wolfeboro Corinthian Yacht Club and some of our Alpine Meadows neighbors – the list is getting longer.

Our family and friend visits this summer have been tons of fun and those visits go way too fast. From Doug’s mom’s 85th birthday celebration week and the family in town for that and their vacations – to our friends Jarrod and Leah visiting to Adam FINALLY getting here and visits by my mom, brother Steve and wife, Sue – there are not enough thanks – and hours in the day – to enjoy everyone.

While this post is meant to be a Wolfeboro Project update, it is a bit of advice to people who are considering a second home or a move to a small town: embed yourself in the town. Listen, learn, share – and be an active participant. Embrace the local culture; adapt to how your new community does things since it’s probably different from your other town.

I’ve been to local community meetings, the library, town hall, non-profit group events, museum lectures about the region and more this summer. I’ve chatted with the police chief and officers, fire department staff; went to the library and public safety open houses; I wish I had done more.

The thing I am embracing is – this is now our life. We’ll be here seasonally as we continue to work (with visits throughout the fall and winter as we can). Our Wolfeboro Project will continue – and we’ll learn the lessons of home renovation, living in a small town and basking in this beautiful place we call home: Wolfeboro, NH.

The Wolfeboro Project: The Ugly Truth

The Wolfeboro Project: The Ugly Truth

Porch addition051417Damn that #HGTV! Between #FixerUpper and the other home makeover shows I’ve watched for the past 10 years, I thought I was savvier than most. Frankly, I know nothing about home improvement.

Today marks one year since we closed on what I continue to call my ‘Happy Place.’ It’s

obvious to us now, we’re looking at a 10-year project. Unless we come into a bucket-full of money, we’ll renovate what we can ourselves and plan and budget for the major projects.

After just a year invested in this project, here’s my best advice if you’re considering a fixer upper:

  1. Be sure the bones of the house are in good shape: unless you’re buying a ‘knock down,’ be sure you have a solid home – from the windows and floors to the roof and walls.
  2. IMG_0390Location, location, location still rules; if you love you view, neighborhood, home site – almost everything else is cosmetic.
  3. Break projects down into smaller, manageable chunks. Doug managed to re-do the guest bathroom in a weekend. But we made sure in advance, we had all the necessary items including a new vanity and fixture, flooring, lighting, most major accessories, paint for the walls and cabinet, etc. We could not have completed the update in a weekend if we did not have all the items and supplies.
  4. Pick your battles: it’s easy to disagree about a project. Realize not everything will go your way. Compromise, compromise, compromise.

All this as I work in my office listening to a comedy radio channel blaring outside and our three artisans are literally hammering away at the screened porch addition. Doug is really admiring the craftsmanship (yay); I just want it to be done. Patience, Brenda.

We chose our contractor mainly because Doug really liked him. I yielded since Doug had a background in construction. So he is able to talk construction language with the contractor – which is hugely important.

Once this addition is done and we can enjoy New Hampshire days and evenings on the screened porch – then we’ll breathe a while – and figure out what project is next.

The fixer-upper truth may not be pretty, but we keep our eye on the prize knowing it’s a long game and worthwhile.

The Wolfeboro Project: Money Pit?

The Wolfeboro Project: Money Pit?

The 80s film, “The Money Pit” with Tom Hanks and Shelley Long parodies what it’s like to buy the home of your dreams and fall into a black hole of dollars spent to make the home your own.

Our 6 Long Stack property is far from the movie (thank goodness), but it doesn’t stop me from worrying about spending money sooner rather than later or vice versa.

We spent a terrific Memorial Day extended weekend at our home up north. Beyond spending $4000+ on water and air radon remediation and meeting our wonderful handyman Rick, I thoroughly enjoyed yard sale shopping throughout the Wolfeboro area. For under $450, here’s just some of the 6 Long Stack goodies we purchased:

  • two lamps and a virtually new lamp shade
  • an old school Hamilton blender with glass blender jar
  • new sofa slipcover ($2) for the ugly, flowered sofa that came with the house (we don’t have to by a new sofa now)
  • assorted kitchen gadgets, glasses, cooking utensils
  • antique oak dresser and mirror (the most expensive find)
  • ladderback maple chair in great shape ($10)
  • maple rocker with flawless upholstery (a minor stain I can work with)
  • two wicker chairs and matching table in great condition

The cleaning continued. Dealing with the musty smell in the lower level where paneling has gone to die is frustrating. We’re hoping the ventilation system to remediate radon build-up will help. I believe only ripping up the 40-year-old carpet and replacing it with top-notch flooring will help – and that is a project down the road. So baking soda and vacuuming are my regular tools.

What really struck me during the visit to our new home is the need for landscaping. While we decided that adding a screened porch is a priority, we must spend some good money on good landscaping. That is the conundrum at the moment.

I’ve gotten what I had hoped are very good referrals from our new friends in New Hampshire and I’ve inquired on the Web site #Porch. So far the total number of returned phone calls and online inquiries is ZERO. I’m not counting the one call I got from a call center supposedly representing a franchisee or landscaping contractor in New Hampshire.

Yes, it’s IN season. You’d think a project clearing out brush; leveling an area for a parking spot and shoring up rock-lined paths around the house would be a no-brainer. It’s probably a two to three-day job that a crew of three or four can handle and we’ll even help as much as we can. I’ve even reached out to #DIY #Yardcrashers for help.

Our terrific handyman responded to us this morning and will be stopping by to trim up long grass that popped up close to the house. Most of the nearly two acres is trees; but we do have to plan and cope with the natural landscape so it does not take over the house. Also, Doug braved our tall trees and spent a half day taking down three trees to improve our view. He even survived the attack of the New Hampshire ticks – another reason we need to take down brush. (We will also contract with a bug company during our next visit.)

We have booked three contractors to come to the house during our upcoming visit to give us estimates on the screened porch project. That expenditure is something we hope to handle either this coming fall or early next spring so the screened porch is ready for summer 2017.

For now, anyone know a good landscaper who will return a phone call or email in the Wolfeboro area?

 

Happy Place…Revisited: Lake Winnipesaukee

Happy Place…Revisited: Lake Winnipesaukee

*This post was submitted and published by The Philadelphia Inquirer October 4, 2015. I have added more photos here. Enjoy!

Promise after you read this you won’t tell all of your closest

Westerly view from Tuftonboro, Lake Winnipesaukee, NH

Westerly view from Tuftonboro, Lake Winnipesaukee, NH

friends and relatives about this amazing place, since crowds and traffic are almost non-existent. Lake Winnipesaukee is a bucolic, serene and truly happy place where lifetime worries evaporate in the fresh air (no need for air conditioning). Over the past 18 years, we have visited this New Hampshire wonderland as well as the White Mountains and Lake Ossipee region.

This summer’s two-week vacation combined the best of every experience we’ve had on the lake. Our three bedroom, two-bath lakefront cottage in Tuftonboro’s Melvin Village was the best rental house yet. Its wraparound eight-foot wide 20150801_192843porch became the dining, resting, and reading place. The renovated kitchen allowed six of us (family members) to enjoy dine-in meals in comfort. So what if there was no dishwasher; we had low-maintenance meals and several meals out that kept dishwashing to a minimum.

The 40-foot dock was our living room on this crystal-clear Sunset7_06lake. Our 20-foot Four Winns powerboat we trailered to New Hampshire was docked just steps from the house. Over the years, we’ve visited many parts of this lake that includes 244 islands and is 182 shoreline miles around.

The eastern side of the lake has drawn us over the past few years. The main town, Wolfeboro is a less than 20-minute drive and is quintessential New England with its Main Street mom-and-pop shops and restaurants (no Starbucks), Town Docks where you can boat from your house and dock to get ice cream at Bailey’s Bubble (low-fat Mint Patty yogurt is my favorite); and a terrific gym, Olympic Gym and Fitness where you can work out as much as you want for two weeks for $35 (or $5 per visit).

On the lake, we ventured to Ragged Island twice. You anchor close to shore and children swim in a sandy-bottomed, roped

Ragged Island

Ragged Island

off area or out to rocks that jut above the surface from the lake bottom. The Lakes Region Conservation Trust maintains this tiny gem with a dock and short walking trail with plants and flora marked with signs and wild blueberries that burst with flavor.

My adventurous husband encouraged me to try a hike along part of Rattlesnake Island. Visible from Wolfeboro and many spots along the eastern side of the lake, we boated to this distinctive looking, two-mile long island that rises 900-feet at its highest peak (370-feet above lake level). After docking, we

Rattlesnake Island

Rattlesnake Island

hiked up the rocky trail to enjoy breathtaking views of the lake. Other enjoyable family hikes accessible by land include

Hiking up Rattlesnake Island- What a view!

Hiking up Rattlesnake Island- What a view!

Mount Major and Red Hill. The Abenaki Tower in Tuftonboro offers the shortest, easiest hike with eye-popping 180 degree views of the lake and Ossipee Mountains.

Two weeks is becoming too short for this vacation destination.

Rattlesnake Island hike

Rattlesnake Island hike

From visiting High Meadows Farm and its horseback riding class to abundant farmers markets and enjoying countless day and night-time trips exploring Lake Winnipesaukee, this happy place is tops for a family getaway – but please, don’t tell anyone.