New Virginia School

Courtesy DeNellda Conway
New Virginia School, District #65, began as a flat-roofed sod building. A frame house was built in 1884 by Rober McCallum and j.P. Braynard. This is the 1927 construction.

Bladen Centennial

Gated Community

One of the first things we needed to put up was a baby gate. Luckily Evenflo makes a nice looking gate to contain our craziness to one level at a time.


I Love This Bar

Our basement bar is complete, and it has been quality control tested by a few of us to ensure it is fully functional. The bar has a small sink and an opening for a mini-refrigerator. We went with a faux bronze tin ceiling above the bar area. These are a lightweight vinyl tile that look like tin, but they lay in a regular 2′ x 2′ drop ceiling grid. To finish it off we went with some Tiffany style pendants.

Take Off Your Shoes

Carpet is finished! We went with Dreamweaver Stratosphere carpet in the color Leather. The carpet also has a 5/8″ pad with a moisture barrier.

Making a Splash

Our backsplash is installed! We went with 13″ ceramic tiles set on a diagonal with 2″ aged bronze accents in between tiles. The under-cabinet LED lighting really lights up the countertop.


Fixed Up

For most all of our plumbing fixtures and other hardware we went with the Moen Brantford collection in oil rubbed bronze. Our kitchen faucet also has the Motion Sense feature for hands free operation.

No Skeletons in this Closet

Amber and I put in all of our closet systems. We went with Rubbermaid Configurations closet systems and have been really happy with them. They give us a lot of flexibility to move shelves and things around as things change.


Our stairway railing is up! We went with an oak handrail and newels (corner posts) with double-twist oil rubbed copper balusters (spindles). It turned out great! Now we just have to devise some sort of a baby gate.

Some Like it Hot

Water_HeatersOur water heaters are installed! Yes, that’s plural, as in two. The little (50 gal.) tank on the left is actually a pre-heat tank that doesn’t even power on, but it ties in directly with our geothermal system’s hot water generator feature. This is a function that allows a separate heat exchanger inside the geothermal furnace to heat water at a much lower cost. It then sends it into the pre-heat storage tank, which then feeds into the larger (85 gal.) Rheem Marathon water heater. The ClimateMaster rep said it would save somewhere in the neighborhood of $150-$200 per year on our water heating costs.

What’s Cooking?

Our appliances are in! We went with all KitchenAid stainless steel appliances and we purchased them online through a site called We sent out an RFP to a number of local and statewide appliance retailers asking for their best pricing on these specific models, with tax and shipping to our door. Nobody could come close to the pricing we got online, so that’s the route we went. Amber is really excited to see how she likes the double oven range!

You can read more about each model here:

Erection Successful

We erected a Rohn 25G communications tower this weekend. This is a 30′ tower which we can use for mounting any number of communication apparatus including a television antenna or satellite dish, weather station, wireless radios, or even an IP video camera. Amber thinks it would also work for Christmas decorations, but that is strictly prohibited according to the manufacturer’s specs…I think.

The tower has a 4 ft. hinged base which we set in concrete. Having a hinged base makes this tower much easier to lay down and work on things. The tower is grounded using three 5/8″ x 8′ copper-clad ground rods which ground each leg of the tower independently. The three grounds are then bonded together with 4 gauge copper and then everything is bonded to the house electrical ground using 4 gauge copper as well.

I Crown Thee

Colt put up the crown molding on our kitchen cabinetry today. This really made the cabinets come together nicely.

Taken for Granite

Our granite countertops were installed today! We went with New Venetian Gold granite and we actually picked out the slabs directly from Midwest Tile, Marble & Granite in Lincoln. We tried to select a set of slabs that had veining to add some character, especially since the island is such a large surface. The island has 12″ overhangs on three sides, so there’s plenty of room to slide up with stools. The granite itself is supported by a piece of 1/4″ plate steel to help bear the weight without needing corbels (brackets).

For our kitchen sink we chose a Blanco Diamond Silgranit II in the color Biscotti. This is an undermount sink that is also composed of granite so it has all the same benefits of heat and scratch resistance as well.

Ace of Base

All of the interior doors are hung and base trim and casing are going up quickly! For interior doors we went with raised 6-panel oak doors throughout. These are a solid core door from Bayer Built and are pre-finished in a Chestnut color. For trim we went with a 4″ oak base with corner blocks, and for casing we selected 3 1/4″ oak with rosette corners, all pre-finished in a Chestnut color to match the doors.

I Was Floored

Our LVT (luxury vinyl tile) installation has begun. We went with Armstrong Alterna in beige with a driftwood grout color. We decided to go with a 3-way opus pattern in the kitchen and dining area and are also using this same tile in the bathrooms, but in a regular 16″ pattern. The LVT looks very similar to a ceramic tile, but is much warmer.

Nothing Like a Nice Piece of Hickory

Colt and I began setting the cabinets this weekend. These are Bridgewood custom cabinets that we purchased through Lifestyle Kitchens in Hastings. They are hickory construction with Richfield raised panel soft close doors and a saddle brown finish. They also have solid wood, dovetail drawers with full extension soft close guides. We went with a staggered height look and crown molding to provide some additional character and definition to the space.


Batteries Not Included

I swapped out a couple outlets this weekend for these new USB outlets. They have two built-in USB ports at 3.1 amps for charging a variety of mobile devices. It’s a handy addition to the bedside nightstand and we’re thinking of putting a couple more in as well.


That’s Quite a Stor-E!

During the evenings this week Amber & I decided to go ahead and put up some shelves in our basement storage room. We went with Rubbermaid’s Tough Stuff shelving system. We had used these in our Kearney home and were really pleased with how they work. Each shelf is rated at 100 lbs. per linear foot, so we can really load them up! They have already come in handy for keeping stuff organized and up off the floor.


Whiskey is for Drinking, Water is for Heating & Cooling

The geothermal system was installed a couple weeks ago. We went with a Climatemaster Tranquility 30 two-stage geothermal unit. This is a water-to-air system that utilizes a vertical closed loop with three 200′ wells. It cycles a brine solution through the wells to take advantage of the consistent 55 degree groundwater to maximize heating and cooling efficiency. The great thing about these systems is how quiet they are, low maintenance, and we won’t have an outside AC unit either!

As amazing as these systems are, unfortunately they are quite costly. Luckily South Central Public Power District offer customers a $1,700 rebate for installing a geothermal system like this, and we can also take advantage of the 30% tax credit from the IRS as well. All of these factors make the return on investment much shorter, and a better long-term alternative to propane or natural gas.


The Battle of Little Big Wall

For the past two weekends we have been busy installing two retaining walls. We had some grade issues to contend with on the walkout basement, so these are there to extend the foundation wing walls and help gradually reduce the height. Each block is 77 lbs., and we had around 300 all together. My back is glad that this project is done!

Let There Be Light

The electrician has been busy hooking up light fixtures. We went with a lot of Glomar fixtures from Home Depot as well as Emerson Pro Series ceiling fans in each bedroom. We also used Cree LED bulbs in most of the fixtures as well which should help keep energy costs down over the long haul.

A Royal Flush is Better than a Full House

The plumbers were here today and put in the septic tank and have a good start on the leach field. The tank is 1500 gallons and will have 4 legs on the leach field. Let’s hope this is the last time we see this!

Get the LED Out

The electrician was here today and installed the LED trim rings on all of our Juno recessed can lights. These put out a lot of light and are incredibly energy efficient. We’re anxious to see the rest of the light fixtures go up as well.1

Walk the Walk

Colt and Jay came down this evening and poured our front sidewalk. It’s 5″ thick re-bar reinforced, I suppose in case a dump truck would ever need to drive over it, right? They did an exceptional job on the pour and the radius curve looks great!


Lee in Preschool

Lee started preschool at Silver Lake this fall. We can’t believe how fast our little guy is growing up!