Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Home Over the Range

Big E has become enamored with Facebook Marketplace.
His latest find was an over the range microwave for $25.
Since I've wanted one
 (I hate that we use precious counter space for the microwave we have)
and this one seemed like it was in pretty decent shape,
he went and got it.
That meant cleaning out all the spices and meds from the cabinet.
So I cleaned out the cabinet,
and finally Big E had an evening to get to work.
He had to cut the cabinet above the stove.
He used this really cool gadget called an oscillating tool.
I NEED one. 
It didn't take long to get everything cut to make room for the microwave.
Really, I didn't even have to move the canning supplies until
he was ready to drill holes for screws and wires.
Take a look at the wall color on the plaster!
After a few hiccups,
we got the thing mounted and in place.
Big E used an extension cord to make sure it worked
(thank goodness it did).
We just needed to cut the doors down to fit 
and put them back in place.

Once everything was back in place,
you couldn't even tell that the doors were cut. 
I'm thrilled with this over the range microwave.
It's much bigger than the one on the counter top,
and now I have a bit more counter space.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Salvaging History

Anyone who knows me, 
or who has spent any time at all reading this blog
knows that I like old things and history.
Abandoned, dilapidated buildings make me sad.
I see old dreary farmhouses, and I can see their potential.
I want to know their story
and share it.
In my town, there is a building slated for demolition
(actually for today, but not sure because of bad weather).
Part of the building is the firehouse built in 1886
(Shown here as it was originally built. 
There have been 3 additions since)
The other portion of the building was the public school built in 1901.
It was later turned into the Community Center in 1963.
Unfortunately, the buildings fell to ruin,
and the cost of repairing them was apparently
more expensive than destroying and building new ones.
So when friends of Big E and I needed help saving artifacts,
I was eager to help.
Our friends had a dilemma.
There was a large cabinet that they wanted to save, 
but it was too large to go down the stairs.
The cabinet was built in place,
so the only option was to saw it in half.
Long story short, it got cut in half, moved downstairs, 
loaded into a truck and taken to my garage to live for a bit.
(It's their story to share which is why I went for the quick overview on this part)
While all the sawing was going on, 
I commented on how sad it was that the wainscot 
was just going to be part of a pile of rubble.
Big E mentioned how nice it would look in the dining room,
but unfortunately, we had no hammer.
Until our friends mentioned they had a hammer-
and a crowbar.
So began my job of carrying wainscoting down to the first floor
to load in the truck.
The wainscot was the old type-
the thick tongue and groove wainscot
not the thin MDF type you find today.
So I carried entire sections of wainscot,
and I carried armloads of bundles.
Some from upstairs, 
some from the 1901 elementary rooms downstairs.
I was a little worried I wouldn't have enough for the dining room.
What I ended up with was a truck bed full of wainscoting.
As you can see, the entire bed is filled to just past the top of the bed.
But that's not all.
I also saw a door with textured glass that I thought would work well
as a door between the kitchen and laundry room.
While not original to the building,
the door was still on the old side and solidly built.
It would let the light in from the laundry room
(which is full of windows)
without allowing guests to see into the room
(the dog that eats everything stays there during the day,
 plus the laundry and it's also the "mudroom"- literally,
 so I don't really want people to see it).
Big E was saying no to the door though.
But while Big E was busy loading the wainscoting,
one of the people helping with the cabinet said
if I just wanted to get new hinges for it,
he could tap out the pins for me.
So, knowing if I got the door off and carried it out,
Big E would have no choice but to take it home-
I hoped-
I had them take the pins out.
Big E was a little not thrilled about the door
making the comment that it might not even fit.
But like our friend said, we can cut it down.
I love friends who think the way I do-
that old is good, that historical items need to be saved 
and that I really needed to have that door.
The door ended up riding home with a section of the cabinet,
because our truck was full
(and if it had slid and busted out the window of Big E's cap
 I'd be in big doo-doo).
The next day while I was in the garage admiring my new door, 
Big E started talking about how he was planning on redoing that door frame
when he works on the laundry room anyway
so the door won't have a problem fitting.
(this is where I smirk to myself)
So, thanks to this salvaging crew,
some local history will be preserved and used.
The cabinet and a few odds and ends are being saved 
for inclusion in a museum in the future,
and the wainscoting and the door will be used in our 100+ year old home in town.
(so look for all the blogs about that process in the future)
I'm going to try not to be too upset over the original hardwood floors,
or the gorgeous old wavy glass windows 
or the rest of the wainscoting and woodwork
that we couldn't save.
One last look out of the school windows before demolition

Monday, January 22, 2018

The 100 Year Old Stairs

 Before we owned the whole house and we rented the upstairs apartment, 
I was in love with the banister.
Granted, we didn't really see much of it since it was in the landlady's portion of the house 
behind a makeshft wall,
but when I would go down to help her out I would admire it.
So imagine how disappointing it was to discover
that when the house was converted into apartments,
the contractor hacked off the end of the railing
and 2 spindles were missing.
Big E screwed a scrap piece of wood to the ends of the railing
to keep it together, but it wasn't an appealing look.
We spoke to someone about repairing it,
but the cost was going to start at around $450 just to remake the end.
I found one of the missing spindles in the attic, 
and I hoped I might find the missing banister there too.
Big E thought the chances were slim to none, closer to none.
But while poking around a stack of old doors and windows, 
I found it.
You can read about it here
Fast forward a bit to present day.
I had a thought that the old piece of railing could be attached
by using wood biscuits.
(I'm always full of thoughts and great ideas).
So Big E called in a friend who likes to do woodworking projects,
and he said he thought he was up for the job.
The idea was to reinforce the entire section of railing, 
not just the missing piece.
(I'm glad I didn't have to witness these steps, 
I would most likely have panicked silently)
There were also a few loose spindles 
that were reinforced with dowels

 Everything was also screwed together with finishing screws.

 When I arrived on scene, 
they were putting the missing corner piece back on.
Biscuits weren't possible because they spilt the one piece into 3 pieces.
Apparently being over 100 years old and sitting in an attic for 40+ years
makes one brittle. 

All in all, the finished product is fantastic.
I couldn't be happier to finally have the banister in one piece.
 Next step is to strip the paint off the wood.
I'm pretty sure the wood is walnut, and I'd rather have a stained wood railing 
than a painted one.
Then we'll need to fill some gaps, slightly smooth down some rough spots,
paint the spindles
(rip up the ugly carpet, clean up the wood floor, strip the steps....)
and finally it will really shine.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The OTHER Bathroom

Our house is a 2 bathroom house, though currently
the downstairs bathroom is under going
a complete tear out and renovation.
So that left us with the ugly upstairs bathroom.
You'll recall I painted it last year.
If you can't recall, you can read about it here.
Anyway, here is what it looked like prior to painting the walls a peach color.
Here is a photo from just the other night.
Yes the walls look lovely, 
(and so does the brand new window behind the blind)
but I want you to focus on the flooring.
The yellowish flooring with the creases that held
decades of dirt and grime
that no matter how much, long or hard I scrubbed 
on my hands and knees
would never look like it was completely clean.
Plus, it just didn't match.
But I don't think yellowish grimey floors match anything, really.
So, I was walking the aisles of Ollie's Bargain Outlet at lunch,
looking for cheap good stuff
when I came across some flooring.
Long story short, I ended up finding 6x8ft sheets of vinyl flooring.
I measured the bathroom and sure enough, with the exception of a small strip
behind the toilet, 6x8 ft would work.
So I talked Big E into putting in vinyl flooring.
Oh, I forgot to mention it was only $20!
I was expecting to just slap that puppy on top of the existing floor, but Big E said the old floor had to come up.
This is where it gets a little hairy, 
and I'm not talking about Big E's chest hair.
I, in my "I found $20 easy to install flooring" high,
assumed that I'd cut the caulk that ringed the flooring
and that old floor would pop right out.
I've been involved with several projects in this house, 
and not one has gone completely as planned
so I can't really tell you why I thought this was going to be a piece of cake.
Other than the $20 piece of floor euphoria.
There were 3 distinct layers of flooring in the main floor areas.
The yellowish one, another one that was whitish with flowers or something and a blue/green
old linoleum tile with the tar backing.
And under that, 
original hardwood floors.
Even stranger was the cement or plaster I found 
in the floor.
At first I thought it was the part of the original wall
before the house was added on to.
Turns out it was a chunk of plaster.
It was used to fill a hole in the floor.
I'm not sure what someone does
to cause a hole in hardwood floor 2 inches or so deep.
It added more work because we now needed to fill the hole properly.
It took about 6 hours, 
but I managed to get all the floor up.
Over by the toilet I found 2 other types of floor that were 
nailed in place.
The toilet was also raised up for some reason.
Seriously, even the tar covered wood floor looks better
than that yellowish floor.
It took a little longer to get the floor clean enough for adhesive, 
but it finally got done.
Definitely an improvement,
and worth the hours of labor.
Just a couple of decorative touches and it'll be good for a long time.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Mailbox

This was my mailbox.
I always forget to take photos at the very start of a project, 
so this photo was taken just after I removed the offensive object from my house.
The Day of the Dead duct tape really adds a little somethin-somethin.
The tape was actually placed there to keep the mail man from
putting the mail in an open area in the back that
wasn't large enough to fit your hand into.
I really hated this mailbox.
This is the new improved mailbox that I just picked up
and installed myself.
(please look past the road grime staining the siding,
it won't come off so we're painting the house house in the future)
It's definitely more aesthetically pleasing, and
it's close enough to turn of the century style mailboxes to appease me.
I found similar mailboxes online for about $50,
which was why I was still living with the ugly plastic monstrosity.
This piece I found by accident while checking out
a turn of the century pie safe on a site online.
The store is called James and Jess House of Goods in Waynesboro, PA.
I learned this mailbox was only $21.
So I planned a short hike on the Appalachian Trail with a stop in Waynesboro to check out the store.
The mailbox is great.  Not an antique,
but I like it and it works.
The store is fantastic.
Full of odds and ends, some antique some not,
but all very cool.
Not only did I grab the mailbox, but I grabbed a rooster hook for the kitchen
and a small antique lantern that I have in mind for a project.
And I'm still thinking of the pie safe
that I'd like to use in the new bathroom as a cabinet for towels and such.
(but really there still aren't complete walls or a toilet in the bathroom so I'm not really ready for a piece like that).
So if you're around the area, 
I recommend checking out the store.
Even my mom and sister left with stuff.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Turkey Lurkey

This is Fernando the Black Spanish turkey.
I wasn't sure if he was going to be a tom,
but there's no question.
He's not Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner
or dinner at all.
He just spends his days hanging with his duck friends.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Make Way for Monarchs

Last year I started working on making my gardens
a monarch waystation
(you can read about that here).
I was little discouraged because I didn't really see many monarchs.
Actually, I didn't see any.
But I did see some swallowtails, 
so it was worth the work.
This year was entirely different.
I discovered that I have monarch caterpillars all over my milkweed.
And I also see 5-10 monarchs in the yard at any given time.
Hoping to eventually see a monarch chrysalis or 10
on the milkweed soon.