• Christine Shuck

Improvements Underway

Here at The Cottages, I'm always asking myself, "How can I improve the property? What can we do to make it more welcoming, more accommodating, more like a home away from home?"


And this summer, and beyond, we are working on two big projects.

  • A roof for the Airstream deck

  • A retaining wall for the back of Cottage West


Cottage West Improvements

My teenager recently commented, "Mom, the good thing is, you never expect anyone to work harder than you. But Mom? You work really, really hard."


And for the past eight weeks, my kiddo has worked right alongside me, every weekday, for 90 minutes (or more) at a time. It began with weeding and expanded to (drum roll, please)... the retaining wall I've been wanting for, oh, five years now.


The difference in heights between our yard and Cottage West is clear, and has been marked with a sloped, and somewhat crumbling hill for quite a while. It is just steep enough to be a pain in the patoot to mow, and not steep enough NOT to mow. The dirt is loose fill soil as opposed to the dirt so pervasive throughout Missouri - which is typically thick clay that is impossible to dig in.


And honestly? I've been dying to fix it forever. I finally had the means to do so. Factor in one 15 year old, and a very determined early 50-something (yes, that's me), and I decided a couple of weeks ago that this was the summer we were going to get it done.


By next summer, I hope to have the following done there in the back of Cottage West:

  • The retaining wall in place and at its full height

  • The backyard relatively level and the edge along the retaining wall planted with low bushes and perennials, the rest of it spread liberally with clover and grass seed

  • The enormous aging cottonwood tree cut down and some of the tree trunks utilized for seating and planters

  • A firepit and BBQ

  • A fence on the west side, to block the view of the neighbor's house and yard

  • A newly rebuilt back stoop and stairs leading down from the back door off of the enclosed back porch

This will be a boon for folks who want to stay for extended periods and would like a nice place outside to relax and grill out.


It's a lot of work, but we are moving along at a good pace. I expect we will have the retaining wall part of it wrapped up by mid-August. As for the rest of it? Well, we are still working that out!



You're Never Happy When it Rains

Our guests at the Hedy Lamarr Airstream have been giving us rave reviews, but I want to take it a step further. Who wouldn't want to enjoy the rain (or hail or snow) by sitting on that spacious deck and looking out at all of that wonderful wetness without having it falling on them?

Sort of like the picture above...


I don't know about you, but one of my favorite things is to sit out on the deck and watch the rain fall. And I want that for our guests too. So we are having a corrogated metal roof installed over the 12x24 deck outside of the Hedy Lamarr. And the roof will also likely cover the Airstream itself, which will help reduce the temperature fluctuations inside (namely the waves of heat) and help that a/c unit continue to function effectively.


These changes will improve guests' experience exponentially and I can't wait to put them into action!

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I'm not making any promises about how often I will be posting here, but I think it is high time I added a blog to my website. Years ago, I had multiple blogs - one that focused on our garden/home. Ano