This post is part of the Before & After series I’ve started about the renovation of our house. If you’d like to read more about our projects on the house, please visit our Farmhouse page.

When we bought the house in August 2006, the kitchen in the main house was this room. The counter wasn’t quite as cluttered as it was here but otherwise this is what it looked like.

All the appliances actually work and we still have all of this stuff stored in our barn. Still trying to see if we can get any money for it or will just give it away.

We took it all out in one day. Turned out not to be too horrible aside from a few of the pieces being really heavy.

The room looked pretty sad once we had the linoleum out too. And then we noticed the water damage and drooping corners at the far side of the room.
When we pulled up the plywood we found hardwood floors. Unfortunately a big portion of the kitchen flooring not only had water damage but worm damage too. So we had to remove it. That experience taught us a bit about our house and the old styles of insulation used in it. For example, under this floor is about 12 inches of sand. The living room has the same construction judging from all the sand that comes out if you have the vacuum suction level up to high when cleaning in there.

To read the entire ordeal about us taking out the old kitchen and replacing the floor, read the posts below:

After we had the old floor out, we installed a new hardwood floor with the help of my mom who happened to be here (and knows what she’s doing.) This is more or less what the room looks like now. We added a door to the room to close it off from the world…and the dog. This project actually isn’t 100% finished yet because I will be redecorating in here at some point. The desk and other furniture replacements are going to be a while. But as you can see, it’s come a long way from that nasty old kitchen.


This topic came up a while back on Newf-L and I thought about it for quite a while before I had an answer. If Ayla were a cartoon character…I would say she is Elmyra Duff from Tiny Toons. She has that whole ” I want to love you, and hug you and squeeze you all over” attitude. In case you’re not sure who she is, see the video below.

Elmyra has those airhead qualities while still finding a way to manipulate the situation to her advantage…and if she wants something she won’t take no for an answer. Ayla is much the same…and will either just snatch what she wants when you let your guard down, or she’ll just make you insane until you finally scream, “ENOUGH” and give her what she wants. Yeah, not really the best reinforcement there but as every parent and dog owner knows, sometimes giving in is the only thing that can save you a bit of sanity!


A long while back we posted a list of current nicknames for Ayla. It seems like our nicknames for the dog are constantly changing…some get added and others just get forgotten. But it always amazes us a bit just how many names we use for our dog on a daily basis…and she actually seems to respond to most of them. Why do we try to confuse her like that? πŸ™‚

  • Ayla
  • Ayla Newf
  • Aylie-Wylie
  • Newf
  • Newfoundland
  • Newfer Girl
  • Newfers
  • Newfie
  • Newfster
  • Newf-a-floof
  • Floof
  • Floof-a-loof
  • Floofers
  • Floofster
  • Gorilla/monkey butt
  • Gorilla puppy/dog
  • Pantaloons
  • Pantaroo
  • Papaya (a very new one that she responds amazingly well to – sometimes better than her own name)
  • Puppers
  • Stinky
  • Bear Dog
  • Cow dog (but only when she’s eating grass)
  • Darkness
  • Darth Vader (cause her head looks quite a bit like his helmet)

We have found that taking a cutting from a tomato plant is quite simple and it roots really easily. But we’d like to do other plants as well and sometimes a rooting hormone would be useful. No need to worry about buying some expensive chemicals or organic something because we can actually make it ourselves. Chances are, you have everything you need growing somewhere nearby too. We might even do this tonight since we’re already in the foraging mood…and then do the blackberries in the morning when it’s cool again.

Willow (salix) trees all contain the natural chemical IBA (indolebutyric acid). It’s a little bit of steroids for your plants. When you leave a fresh cutting in willow tea rooting hormone for 24 hours, the IBA infuses into the bark and stems of the cutting. Not only does it make that little thing want to root but it will also inhibit viral disease, fungus and bacteria because it contains salicylic acid. It’s a good thing.

So how do you do it? First go find yourself a willow tree and take some foot-long cuttings of newer growth. Take your kids and you can pretend you’re making wands. Don’t bother with anything off the ground for your hormone though.

Clip the cuttings into 3-4 inch sections until you have about 2 cups worth and put them into a large container. Pour 1 gallon of boiling water over them and just let them sit for a day or two. As the twigs sit there, IBA is released into the water, making your rooting tonic stronger. When it’s finished, just remove the twigs, put it in a bottle or jug and you’re ready to start taking cuttings like a maniac. You can also just use this water on freshly planted cuttings or transplants. The hormone can be stored up to two months in your fridge.


I happened to ask Stefan this as well and within a few minutes he said, “Cocoa Puffs. They’re dark and sweet. It’s not a serious cereal which works cause she’s goofy. It just fits.” I have to say I agree. I have had this question sitting in front of me for a long time. At least a month. It came up on a Newfie list I subscribe to and I thought it was fun so I told myself I would answer it one day.

So what cereal do I think Ayla is? For some reason I keep thinking of Choco Rice Crispies. I’m not sure why but something about the snap, crackle and pop of them seems fitting to me. She makes all sorts of noises herself…and causes noises to be made…and they are a constant thing! Yep, that’s my final answer. πŸ˜‰

What about you? What cereal do zou think fits your dog’s personality?


Over the past few days I’ve been painting the doors inside our house and Ayla decided yesterday that she needed to help. I don’t think it was really her main intention but she came in the house, leaned up against a door jam, froze in place when I told her to move, back up, get out of the way (anything I could think of that might communicate to her to un-stick herself from the door) and then finally moved away when I led her away.

Paint in the fur? Oh yes.

I’m convinced that she’s once again trying to look more like her brothers and sister and become a Landseer…but she’s got a long way to go. So far, no one we know has seen her looking like this but she doesn’t look great. From one side, she looks completely normal and the other side she’s just a mess. We’re hoping that most of it will have come out by the time of our housewarming party…otherwise we’re just going to tell everyone we dunked her in the paint so she could help us πŸ˜‰