Making things cozy

We have been living in the cabin on and off throughout the winter, depending how far below 0┬░F the temperature dipped. It took a little bit of time to get into the swing of things, but now we have a good system down. A fire is still needed most nights and we fall asleep to the sound of peepers.

There wasn’t much to work on during the harshest parts of the winter. I have noticed since returning from our trip, it is difficult for me to just sit around and be idle for long, but the long and very cold weather has zapped a lot of our motivation. With spring finally here, I feel the need to be constantly doing something. Before, that would be cycling, writing the next blog post or exploring a new place. So, in order to have another project, I have begun putting up the interior walls.



We were originally going to put up some free wood from Chandler’s uncle, but upon further inspection, the wood might have mold in it. Not wanting to take a chance, our next cheapest option was spruce and hemlock shiplap. Jeanne and I took a field trip to the lumberyard and discovered it would fit our needs perfectly.

The shiplap went up quickly around the door. I had no problem lining the boards up straight and made good time. When I moved onto the next wall, things went downhill. I was using longer boards and things weren’t lining up so nicely. The boards are slightly bowed in different ways and I found myself halfway through and very unhappy with the results. I ended up taking down half the wall and starting over.


Shiplap wall


Stove and finished wall

Once I convinced Chandler and Tayler to help, it was smooth sailing. The second wall was done in a day. The next wall has a stove pipe running through it and needs to be disassembled. We got about three inches of snow last week, so the stove is still being used. Whenever summer arrives, we’ll get the interior done.

The interior

After the rush of getting the frame up and the roof on the cabin, the construction pace tapered off. The interior of the cabin didn’t seem as critical, so things progressed slowly. I worked on tacking up insulation while Chandler and Tayler focused on the stove. The difference in an insulated cabin and an uninsulated one is amazing. With each panel I tacked up, the inside temperature raised a degree. Soon enough, I was toasty warm.

The stove was another project and not quite as quick. The little Jotul 602 stove was a hand-me-down of a couple generations, in really nice condition, but missing the sacrificial burn plates inside. We weren’t planning on sacrificing anyone, but we did need the burn plates protect the exterior stove metal from warping or cracking. Replacement plates were a little out of our price range, so Chandler and his uncle designed and cut some out of sheets of 1/4 inch steel. Chandler’s uncle Bill is a wood stove engineer, so it was great to have him check out the design and the overall integrity of the stove.

Before the stove could be moved into the cabin, we set up a hearth. We laid down a 1/2 inch sheet of Durock over the wood floor and also arranged two panels of 1/4 inch, behind the stove to protect the wall from stove heat. We offset the wall panels one inch using old porcelain knob and tube insulators salvaged from a building downtown. We used pink solid stone bricks, which came from the old talc mill in Johnson, for the hearth and we were ready to go. We moved the stove in and rearranged a few bricks so the stove wouldn’t wobble.

Lots of details

The stove

Now, we could officially move in. We hauled our sleeping bags, sleeping pads and a bed for lucy out to the cabin. Slowly, chairs, a fold up table and everything needed for coffee made its way out to the cabin.

There are a few decent sized maples that were taken down in the vicinity of the cabin which we blocked up (until the chainsaw broke) and split to use for firewood. It isn’t the driest stuff in the world, but it keeps us warm.

Lots of details

Chan chopping wood

All that was missing was a little cabin artwork, so Chan found an old poster in his closet that needed a home.

Lots of details

Perfect cabin decor

The cabin gets a roof

With snow in the forecast, Tayler, Chandler and I worked at a fevered pace. Our goal was to get the roof on before the weather got too bad. The third and fourth walls went up quickly and soon we found ourselves working on the rafters. Everything was moving surprisingly smoothly, cuts were done right the first time and piece after piece fell right into place.

Lots of details

Tayler nailing in a rafter

While, I enjoyed working on the cabin, I was not looking forward to having to actually work on the roof. I am not exactly afraid of heights but prefer to have my feet closer to the Earth. Lucky for me, I had a job interview the day the boys and their uncle planned on doing the majority of the the work. The day after they put the metal sheets down, we got a few inches of snow, which would have shut things down pretty quick.

I began work as a ski instructor and my hours on the cabin and taking pictures came to a halt.

The weather started to get really cold, but we had a small kerosene heater in the cabin to keep things a bit warmer than outside. The walls were totally closed in, but we only had three windows in the front from Chan’s uncle. The boys found some salvage windows at a recycled materials store and framed the openings from inside the cabin, out of the weather. They cut the sheathing out with a saws-all and quickly put the new-to-us windows in before the wind cooled things off too much. The exterior of the cabin was done before I knew it.

Lots of details

The cabin

Lots of details

Nice light

Next on the agenda is putting in insulation, building a ladder to the second floor and installing the wood stove. Then maybe we can hang out inside without down jackets on…

Home again, home again

November 20, 2013

Our return to the US from Colombia went pretty smoothly. Our plane was greeted in Atlanta by two German Shepherds and their Homeland Security handlers in the jet-way. After passing though that gauntlet we went through immigration. We sent up a small red flag because we had been out of the country for so long, and weren’t working overseas, so we got to go through the “special” line. All our boxes were x-rayed, but the only thing they seemed interested in was the several pounds of roasted coffee we had in our carry-ons.

We arrived back in Vermont to a warm welcome from Chandler’s family and our dog, Lucy! My biggest worry was that Lucy wouldn’t recognize us, but my fears were unfounded.

Lots of details


Our original idea was to spend the whole day relaxing, but with the sun shining, we headed out to the cabin. We started on the structure almost exactly a year ago, but couldn’t finish as winter arrived in force. We had a lot of work ahead of us and were eager to get started.

The boys brought out the lumber out of storage and immediately started working.

Lots of details

Making a few measurements

Lots of details

Tayler at work

The first order of business was getting the rest of the wall framing done. The work was relatively easy. We framed in two walls and nailed them to the floor of the second story.

Lots of details

Two walls up