Story of the Cottage

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In September 2006, Bruce and I closed on a little cottage just five doors away on Main Street.  Made of stone and with a slate roof – hey, this will be easy to maintain.   Right?  Here we are – ready to go.  With lots of help from others, we hope to make it one of the nicest cottages in Lancaster County.

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American Gothic – Terre Hill Style

This page will keep you posted on our progress.  Like the cottage, it is a work in progress and won’t look quite as pretty as the rest of the website!

October and November were both warm enough to get some painting done on the outside.   With the help of our neighbor and professional painter, Dave Schenk, Bruce pretty much got the brown painted yellow and the mustard trim painted white.  The antenna came down, windows were caulked and Jan planted over 800 bulbs in the front yard.   Our electrician, Buddy Rossi, installed three lamposts in the back, upgraded lines and outlets and installed outlets in the front so that we could have little lights on the trees that we planted by the front door.  Several unidentifiable shrubs and plants were uprooted.

We started getting to know the cottage – Jan had a particulary enlightening Columbus Day weekend when Terre Hill received over ten inches of rain in two days.  Needless to say, we met the roofer, gutter guys and $pecial roofer$ that deal with slate.  When cold weather set in, we met a new resident – a little mouse that ran through the kitchen.   Burial was December 7.

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Our neighbor, Marcus, installed the arbor and the front was starting to take shape.

Here’s a glimpse into what the house looked like before we took possession.

Several conversations with the code inspector, architect and engineer took place in late November/early December.  We are still awaiting building permits, something called “wet sealed plans”, and inspection schedules.   Unfortunately, because this will be a commercial building, the state and local authorities think that we have deep pockets.  Not true!

We got our first nice snow on December 9 and Bruce and I went out at 5:30 in the morning to get this shot.  As you can see, the front is decorated for Christmas even though the inside is quite a mess.  (Sort of like our side of the inn!)  Gotta figure out how to convince the digital camera that the snowflakes are not meteors.

We are making demolition progress on the inside.  Meet our Master Carpenter, Bob.   He’s the one that made such a mess of what is left of the bathroom.

This used to be the bathroom, and where Bob is standing was the little bedroom.  It will become part of the master bath suite – with a Jacuzzi tub about where the big wastecan is sitting.

Meet our new best friend, the dumpster.  It will take away all sorts of messes.

Gone are the little closets.

This will become the long bedroom, with a reading area under the eaves.

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Through the magic of computers, here’s the same room after the insulation installation.

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We found a few surprises along the way, but Bob put his 50+ years of expertise to work and solved all the problems!

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It is amazing how much rain can pour through little pinholes in the copper valleys.  The roofers picked one of the coldest days in December, the only one on which it snowed.  They worked through the early evening, in the dark, to finish the job.  Thanks, guys!

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Ezra and Elmer install the Vermont Castings stoves.

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In go the gutters – originally scheduled for October, we finally saw them installed in January – – but they were worth the wait.

The architect, engineer and code inspector have measured, prodded, poked about, and rattled off numerous codes  we must compy with, leaving our heads spinning.  After repeated phone calls, letters, and discussions, we are still waiting for the building permit, worrying because the average human lifespan is only 78 years . . .

Tuesday, January 17 – a HISTORIC Day in Terre Hill.   We finally got our building permit!  Now the work can really start!

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Here’s Bob shoveling out plaster from the living room ceiling.   Braces hold the rest of the ceiling in place.

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Wow, he works fast!  All cleaned out and ready to go.

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New Beams are delivered.

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Bruce strips the wallpaper from the dining room.  Judging by the condition of this paper, we think it may have been put on during the Truman Administration   in 1949, when the house was built.  We do think that they had better glue back then – at least it’s better than the glue on our wallpaper in our bathroom.  Funny how that wallpaper comes off without any scraping . . .

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The new beam in the living room is in.  We (and the carpenter) would have preferred REAL wood, but the engineer got his way and this beam is made from that laminated fake stuff.

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The Jacuzzi room gets framed in and the beam is reinforced from the ceiling.  We’ve moved the wall from the bathroom back about 1 1/2 feet to make the bathroom feel less like a closet.

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Smoke detectors get hard-wired into all rooms on all levels.

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On one of the most windy and cold days, Bob installs the new window in the second bedroom.

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Here’s the new wall and door to the attic from the second bedroom.

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Here’s Bob clearing the way to take out the old plumbing pipes so the plumber can put in the new.  Can you tell he’s smiling?

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This is Bruce’s progress after three weeks of working on removing the wallpaper in the foyer – the smallest room in the house!  Warm water, along with gallons of every kind of wallpaper-removing goop that is sold in the county has been used, along with any flat, sharp object that we can find.  It’s a slow go.  The paper is very stubborn.

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Buddy installs a new light by the back porch.

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Bob chisels his way through a foot of stone for a vent for the kitchen exhaust fan.

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Jim inspects the shower area.

And the big day has come to boost the Jacuzzi up and over the second-floor porch . . .Jacuzzi braced small.jpg (39901 bytes)

The guys ponder whether this is a good idea or not . . .

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It gets a boost – mainly from Shannon’s head.Jacuzzi in balance small.jpg (43036 bytes)

Held in the balance on the old porch railing.  So was my heart . . .   and that’s the excuse for the shaky picture . . .

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But they made it!

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Bruce cotintues to work on the wallpaper.

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Drain and water lines go in for the tub and shower.

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Bob finishes off the vent in the kitchen.

And now the fun part – SHOPPING!  Good thing we live so close to Adamstown – known as The Antiques Capital of the USA..  Here we are with one load of antiques.  Of course, we took the small van lest we jinx ourselves with the big van and actually have enough room to haul furniture without making two trips.  Note that Bruce is captive until I remove the furniture that he has wedged in on top of him.  That explains how I got the picture . . . .

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February 9 – We make it through our first inspection and get the OK to start sealing up the walls.  Now things are starting to move.  Up goes the wall around the Jacuzzi . . .

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and the bath . .

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Jan decides that Bruce needs help stripping the wallpaper in the foyer.

Marcus and his brother work to install the new storm doors.  We discover that two of them were custom cut to the wrong size.

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February 11 – we enjoy a foot of snow.  It doesn’t slow down the progress inside.

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Kevin works with Lloyd on plastering the living room ceiling.

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Nelson finishes the beam and walls in the master suite.

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The greenboard goes in by the Jacuzzi.

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The last wall in the bathroom is insulated.

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Carl starts work on the shower base.

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The second bedroom gets plastered.  Literally.

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Meanwhile, Bruce continues to work the wallpaper in the foyer.  His new weapon is sandpaper.

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Bob carries in the wainscoting that he made in his shop.

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This is the shower after three days of work.

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Bruce puts the finish on the wainscoting.

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Bruce removes the border from the bathroom.  This is a breeze compared to the foyer wallpaper.

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Bob starts to install the wainscoting.

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Bruce is starting to lose it with the wallpaper.

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The shower is caulked and the new shelves installed.

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Wainscoting installation is complete in the master suite.

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Bob installs the wainscoting in the bathroom.

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Meanwhile, Bruce is still at the wallpaper project.  NASA has contacted us and will be doing research on the glue used to adhere this paper to the wall . . . glue that hasn’t lost it’s grip in over 60 years.  They are thinking of possibly using it on the tiles for their next space shuttle mission.

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Bruce vows to finish the foyer, working tirelessly day and night scraping the wallpaper.  He stops only for a short nap now and then and to go to an occasional art show.

February 20 . . . the foyer wallpaper is finally done!  YEAH.

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Worn out but happy, well, maybe delirious would be a better word, Bruce moves onto the next project – priming the wainscoting in the bathroom.

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Here’s a peek at the new bathroom floor.

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Bruce continues to paint his way around the house.  This is the dining room primed.

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It’s a happy day when the toilet gets put back.  It will be happier still when the water goes on.

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Bruce stains new trim to match the old in the second bedroom.  Notice the walls in the foyer?  Primed and painted and no sign of that nasty wallpaper.

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The second bedroom gets primed.

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The new water heater gets installed in the basement.  Now the real excitement starts!

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Bruce continues to paint his way around the house.

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The second bedroom trim is added.

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And the painting goes on and on . . .

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The bathroom sink is in . . . sort of.

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And the shower door.  Now all we need is water.

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Buddy installs the ceiling fans, smoke detectors, and lights.

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The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming and Bruce is sanding.   It must be spring!

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We are close to setting an opening date.  Stay tuned!

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Another day, another sanding job.  But the final coat is next.    And now for the exciting part . . .

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The plastic finally comes off the whirlpool tub,

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The sprayer is tested,

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whirlpool is filled and tested and it works!!  Of course, this is cold water – hot is yet to be hooked up.

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More fun ways to spend money – we get another load of antiques!  And since Bruce is in the car, I guess that means Bruce qualifies now that he has hit the big 50!

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Some of the 800 bulbs are starting to show in the front yard.
The Olde Stone Cottage will officially open on June 1, 2006.
To make your reservation, click here.

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Jan works on the bedroom drapes.

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Here we are showing off the flowers for Easter to our moms.   Be sure to ask Bruce about his ear problem the next time you see him.

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Bruce gets curious as to what is under that linoleum in the kitchen.   And the answer is . .. more linoleum, a couple of layers of black stuff that act like tar, and then, the original pine? floors.  Now the question is, can we get to them . . .

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Hmn.  After we reach the point of no return, we wonder if we have made the right decision.

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A week goes by.  In the meantime, Jan has made numerous trips to the nursery auction, greenhouses and local flower stores.  We plant grass seed and flowers and hope for rain.

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May 4 – the new mattresses are delivered and we learn the true meaning of “drop-ship”.  That means that the Sealy truck slows down just enough to push the mattresses out the back while it goes by.  Well, okay, we may be exaggerating a little.  But it was awfully hard to persuade the driver to pull across from the cottage instead of the inn – even though it was only 5 houses away.  He wanted us to carry the mattresses down the street from the church parking lot.  Said something about just getting our hand-truck.  Our what?  I persuade him to park in front of the inn and then I ran like crazy to the cottage to get Bruce.  Bruce persuades the driver (whose native language is perhaps Russian?)  to drive past   five more houses so that he is across from the cottage.

So here we are with a set of full and king mattresses leaning against the telephone pole on Main Street.  People take delight in waving at us as they drive by.   The King mattress starts to fall (it’s too big to stay steady), so we start hauling it across Main Street.  Bruce, being the taller one, holds his side much higher than mine.  Halfway across Main Street, he bursts into song singing “Day-O”.  That’s when I start to laugh.  He keeps singing, I keep laughing, and I drop my side of the mattresses in the middle of Main Street.  Good thing they are covered in heavy-duty plastic.  A neighbor takes pity on us and helps Bruce carry the other mattresses across the street.  I was tempted to run and get my camera but . . . you’ll just have to use your imagination.  Or ask some of the people that drove past us.

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Skip and Kevin install the new A/C unit for the upstairs bedrooms, or as we lovingly refer to it – the Monster in the attic.

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After a week of scraping with a pancake turner (he is a man of few tools), Bruce is disgusted enough to finally go to J. B. Zimmerman’s, our local True Value store, and enlist the help of Ralph and Gerry.  It takes half the staff at the store to contemplate  which sander to use, how to install the belts and then load the beast into the car.   Bruce starts out pretty optimistically.  The theory is that the sander is also a vacuum, so all the dust it creates will magically disappear into that canister.   After hours of using this machine, a return trip to Zimmerman’s is necessary.

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All good theories have their moments, but the guys at Zimmermans agree that THIS is the sander that is needed.  Bruce has to agree, as he feels that if he lets go of the darn thing, it would sand through the floor, joists, beams and into the basement on its way to China.  As you can see, it works much better and there really is wood underneath all that black gunk.  Now to tackle the floor near the cabinets.

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Another trip to Zimmermans and another tool, a second tool from a neighbor, a third tool here and a fourth there.  Now the decision is made to maybe just cover up the gunk – that perhaps Bob, the carpenter, can figure out some kind of trim to disguise this residual gunk, as we need to finish this floor sometime before the next millenium.  That’s when the cabinets were removed – something we should have done weeks ago.

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Ah, at last the first coat of finish goes on the kitchen floor.   Looks like another pair of socks and jeans will go in the dumpster when Bruce is done.

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This is the third of six coats of paint on the dining room wall.  I suspect that something is wrong with the pgment of the paint, because it slides off the brush in a peculiar way.   We’ve never seen paint act that way before.  But Bruce forges ahead and tries to work with it.  After a week, he returns to the store where they tell him, “well, once in a great while this will happen to a dark color where the pigment is just not right”.  So he asks for the next closest color and is told that this color will probably have the same problem.  That is how we ended up with something I will call electric blue instead of the navy that I wanted . . . . Bruce tries to convince me that it is “very close” in color.

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You probably think that Bruce is doing all the work and I just get to sit by the computer . . . but I am busy sewing – here the first shade goes up in the yellow bedroom.  And, yes, the first of the furniture finds its way upstairs.

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Bob is back and cuts formica for the kitchen cabinets.

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Bruce paints the cabinet in the new blue – yes, it IS a bit brighter than navy, don’t you think?  This is what my artist husband says is “very close” to navy.   And he’s an artist?   ARGGG!

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Flowers get planted in the back.  Don’t pay any attention  that group just beyond the lampost that are still waiting to go in the ground . . .

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About two weeks before opening, we realize that we forgot to order the headboard and frame for the blue bedroom at the cottage.  Since we have a king bed in our bedroom, our headboard and frame gets torn apart  walked down Main Street.  It looks like our mattress will be on the floor for a while.

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Kitchen trim is painted and the floor gets sanded and sealed twice.

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Bob is busy as he hangs our antique cabinet,

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installs the new kitchen sink, runs the lines for the ice-maker, and generally finished up all the stuff we can’t do!

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We are really getting close now – down to the final stretch making window treatments and hanging shades . . . three weeks later we thought the same thing.

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Our neighbors have taken pity on us as they see us drag ourselves home every day.  Offers of help pour in (even from our guests) and we start taking people up on some of them.  Maybe it was the bad case of poison ivy that Jan had . . . or the broken toe . . .then again, it could have been the patch on the eye from the eye infection.  Whatever worked, we are grateful for the help.

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Kathy gets the hard job of cutting contact paper to line the kitchen shelves.  Here she is on the first shelf.  That’s why she is still smiling.   Well, guests are due in three days and they would probably appreciate a mattress, so the day has come to get the thingt up to the second floor.  Bob, Kathy’s husband, has volunteered to help.  That was before he heard THE PLAN.  And THE PLAN would be to push it up the ladders and dump it onto the second floor porch. Here you see Bob and Bruce waiting for divine intervention.

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Bruce and Bob start up their ladders, pushing the mattress along.   All goes well until Kathy notices that the ladders are slipping on the grass.   So she runs over to try to steady them, and Bob (thank God it wasn’t Bruce) stepped squarely on her fingers.  So now we are beyond just injuring ourselves, but have put the whole neighborhood at risk.   Still, the mattress is up . . .

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and over . . .

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and in the bedroom.  Luckily, I missed all the excitement as I was down at the inn greeting guests.

Having successfully mastered that piece of furniture, the happy duo moves onto the next piece – the sofabed.   Since we forgot to measure the doorway and bring the measurements to the furniture store, we are anxiously hoping that the sofabed in the garage will actually fit through the porch door.  After a bit of maneuvering, it does . . . as does the settee . . .settee goes in sm.jpg (47590 bytes)

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Remember, Bob lives right next door to the cottage–so, if you stay here, better keep in line.  Does this look like a man you want to mess with?

Here are the “almost finished” rooms:

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Blue bedroom with Sani-Jet whirlpool tub

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Yellow Bedroom and sitting area:

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Living room:

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Dining Room:

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The cottage is ready and waiting for you to visit!

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The work continues as we put up a fence to hide the propane tank.   And proceed to kill the grass that we planted this spring . . .