All posts by Jon Hardin

Pool Updates

It’s hard to believe that the pool is almost a year old… Aside from spending time enjoying swimming in the pool, I’ve taken the time to make some minor updates. First on the docket was adding some additional furniture, including an outdoor living room area:

After that, I added a small cosmetic fence around the pool filters and equipment, while still making sure that all of the equipment was accessible.

I’ve also continued to water and grow the grass around the pool, which despite the drought is still going strong.

Here’s to continued warm weather and as long of a swimming season as we can hope for in Wisconsin!

Lake House Beach

After clearing the damage and breaking up all of the rocks, I was left with a pretty usable beach area at the lake house. However, the last approach from the end of the concrete stairs to the water involved a fairly steep, sandy hill. One option was to build additional stairs, but that would have put be back at square one from the perspective of vulnerability to future damage. Instead, I opted to built a set of 4×4 treated lumber steps, held together by high-test rope connected to the concrete steps. This allows the steps to flex as sand is eroded or as more sand is dropped down from the bluffs above, and has a minimal impact on the usability of the beach area’s sand.

I’m very happy with how it all turned out, and am looking forward to being able to use the beach for swimming for the rest of the summer! Just need to make sure there’s enough Busch Light Peach to go around!

Lake House Stair Reconstruction

Over the winter, a series of large sandstone and limestone boulders were dislodged from the bluff above the beach at the lake house, and they crushed the dock deck and the stairs leading down to the dock. It was pretty shocking when I first discovered it, but it shows the power of Mother Nature.

Instead of rebuilding things exactly as they were, I decided to take a different, simpler approach. Now that I keep the boat on a slip at the Bayview Boat Club, there’s less of a need for an elaborate dock and boat setup. Rather, I wanted to have more beach space for swimming, and wanted to make it easy to access. The first task was to clear the boulders, which wasn’t going to be easy. I bought a 65 pound jackhammer / breaker, and got to work breaking up the boulders into smaller chunks that I could toss into the water, far enough out from the beach that they wouldn’t disrupt swimming:

Once the boulders were gone, I was able to shovel and rake the sand to make a beautiful beach area!

My next steps are to build some simple, lightweight stairs to make it easier to get to the bottom of the beach, but easy enough to remove or rebuild if a similarly destructive event happens in a future winter. I’m also going to do some repair and reconstruction of the railing down to the water from the house, which should keep me busy the rest of the summer.

Lake House Summer 2023

Every year when spring arrives and the weather starts to warm up, there is work to be done to open the lake house for summer and get the boat in the water. This year, there were numerous downed trees to clean up on top of all the more routine tasks, but it didn’t take long to get things looking good.

With the help of my friend Bret, I was able to get the awning installed on the boat lift, and we got the boat on the slip.

It’s already been a great year on the water, and we’re just in mid-June. It should be a really fun summer!

Pool Grass

When the pool was installed last year, it was too late in the year to do much with the lawn around the pool. I just threw some quick germinating grass seed directly overtop of the fill to at least get some erosion prevention in place, and called it a day. This spring, I got to work on growing a proper lawn. First, Concrete Keith brought in a ton of top soil:

Then, I planted grass seed, covered it in hay, and set up a series of sprinklers to alternate watering and keep the grass wet through a very dry spring.

The grass slowly started to come in:

Now, it’s really starting to look like a lawn!

I also feel like I really have the hang of pool maintenance now, and have been able to keep the water nice and clear throughout the spring.

We’ve been using it a lot, and I just ordered more outdoor furniture for around the pool. Here’s to a great summer in the water!

Appliance Install

After ordering new appliances for the kitchen at the beginning of the year, they finally arrived in late spring and were ready to be installed. The new Cove dishwasher and Wolf induction range came first:

That install went without a hitch. I love both of them, and the induction top is truly life changing. The speed at which it can boil water and then immediately reduce to a simmer is incredible. It forced me to relocate some old pots and pans to the lake house kitchen, since they weren’t compatible with induction heating. I replaced them with a brand new set of All Clad:

The next appliance to arrive was the microwave, which is a Kitchenaid that matches the double wall oven. This installation was more complicated; the installers came when I was stuck in Dallas due to flight delays, and they weren’t able to do the installation because the new microwave was slightly taller than the old one and they thought that they would have had to cut tile. I was able to get them to just leave the microwave, and then I did the installation myself. Instead of cutting tile, I installed plywood on the back wall to match the depth of the plywood, and the installed the rear microwave clips overtop of the plywood and tile (still anchored into the studs). This worked very well.

The last appliance was the big kahuna, the Sub Zero refrigerator. Because I ordered it from a different vendor that doesn’t do installations, I took delivery of the fridge and parked it in the garage temporarily:

Then, I had a team of movers come and relocate the old fridge to the garage, and then install the new refrigerator and hook up the water supply lines. It took a long time, but worked with zero issues.

Once the new refrigerator was in place, I stained some maple trim to match the existing cabinetry and fill the gap between the top of the refrigerator and the crown molding:

At that point, I thought I was done, but life had other ideas. The water heater started leaking, and needed to be replaced. I took the opportunity to also replace the water softener at the same time, since it was the last appliance original to the house.

Six appliances later, I’m very happy with how everything turned out, but I’m also glad to be done with new installs for the time being.

Prestige Appliances

My biggest project for the spring is upgrading all of the major kitchen appliances. Almost all of the existing appliances were from 2013 when I bought the house, and so they were coming up for replacement anyway. My goal was to move into the Sub Zero / Wolf / Cove family, and so that’s what I did. I have a french door Sub Zero refrigerator ordered, along with a Wolf induction range and a Cove dishwasher. Originally I wanted to get a Wolf LP gas range, but my sales rep successfully convinced me to go with an induction range instead. It’s easier to clean, and doesn’t have the same drawbacks as electric.

I also decided to keep my existing Kitchenaid double oven and replace my Samsung microwave with a matching Kitchenaid microwave. That will leave me with a Sub Zero family refrigerator, range, and dishwasher, along with a Kitchenaid family double oven and microwave. In the future, I may upgrade the oven and microwave but given the life left in the Kitchenaid it was hard to justify throwing away an extra $10k on a new oven.

The only challenge I encountered with ordering the appliances involved the refrigerator. While the others would be available within 3-4 months, I was told that the wait time for the refrigerator would be approximately 15 months. That was hard to stomach for a $14k appliance, so I decided to explore other options. Sub Zero restricts their dealers to a 150 mile delivery radius, so I couldn’t look at larger markets like New York City or Los Angeles. I could, however, look at the northern suburbs of Chicago. I was able to find an Illinois dealer that was literally 149 miles from my house that had a delivery slot available for April!

With that in mind, I put in an order and then ordered the other appliances from my local dealer.

The very last step prior to installation was to source trim that matched my existing cabinetry. I was able to bring a piece of cabinetry left over from the last kitchen remodel and match the wood and stain at Menards, and have an order in for several pieces of trim that will cover the gap at the top of the molding when the new, much taller refrigerator is installed and the cabinets above the current refrigerator are removed:

Everything is currently slated to be delivered in April and May, so it will be exciting to see the transformed kitchen take shape!

Further Card Organization

As I’ve continued to grow my football card collection, I’ve had to expand my storage and display space. Around this time last year, I converted two drawers of an IKEA drawer set to store cards in top loaders or graded slabs. This January, I converted the remaining drawers in the two drawer sets that are currently in the library, significantly expanding my storage capacity.

My wife’s new cat Tilly attempted to help, but only succeeded in getting in the way.

I also expanded the number of display shelves that I have in the library:

As I continue to collect more cards and sports memorabilia, I’ll need to keep getting more creative to find storage space. That said, this latest project has given me enough space to last the next several years.