Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Attic Archaeology

 I've always said my favorite thing in the house was the banister.
Every time I walk up the steps, 
I think about how many hands must have slide along the railing.
 When we tore down the walls that separated the upstairs from the downstairs
into apartments, 
we discovered that the end of the railing had been sawed off.
It was rather depressing, 
more so when we were told it would cost around $400 
to have that section replaced.
 So we slapped a piece of wood on the end to keep every thing as stable as possible.
Rummaging in the attic,
I found one of the missing spindles in a box.
I thought for sure I'd find the piece of the missing railing too.
But Big E said that was unlikely, 
and in my rummaging, we didn't find it or the other spindle.
So just this past Monday, the day after Christmas,
Big E finally installed a second light in the attic.
He too rummaged around, but didn't find anything.
Then yesterday evening, 
I went up to the attic in search of a door for the old kitchen.
There are several old storm windows, 
old fashioned window screens, 
old windows and old doors
piled on one side of the attic.
Armed with a measuring tape, I was determined to find the door for the room
that was once the upstairs apartment's kitchen.
I had to move all of the windows and lean them against the chimney.
Once I did that, I saw that there were some panes of glass
with something under them.
I couldn't quite tell what it was, but at the same time, 
my brain was registering that it was something to get excited about.
 It was the missing railing piece!
I can't even begin to describe the excitement about finding this.
Plus, I also found the other missing spindle.
While it has been sawed, 
beat up, 
and missing about a 2 inch chunk,
I definitely want it reattached.
The abuse it has suffered only adds to its story.
I can not wait to have it back to its original glory.
there were a couple other finds in the attic too.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Winterizing the Coop

Tuesday I finally managed to get the chicken coop 
ready for winter.
I had already put the heated waterer in the coop, 
but I hadn't managed to get the plastic sheeting up.
With a deep freeze forecasted for today and tomorrow, 
it was important to get the run covered.
I left some areas open to offer some ventilation,
and to allow the chickens to see out.
If there is a bad storm forecasted or some seriously cold weather,
I'll cover up these areas temporarily.
I only have 2 chickens left, 
so they don't have the ability to generate as much warmth
as, say, 10 chickens.

This is the only pullet I have left from the 4 I ordered online.
She ended up pecking her fellow pullet coop mate to death.
It seems that my Jersey Giant hen was preventing 
the two pullets from getting to the food.
I've named this pullet Donner.
I'm not going to bother with any more baby chicks.
I'm just waiting for April to roll around so I can head out to the Poultry Swap
and grab some more pullets ready for the coop.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Secret Project: The Upstairs Bathroom

The following photos are the before shots
of the upstairs bathroom.
This is our only working bathroom while the downstairs bathroom 
gets gutted and remodeled.
The bathroom is ugly.
It's ugly, and it seems like it isn't clean, 
though I assure you it is, 
and that means it's a huge embarrassment when people need to use it.
So I came up with the idea to paint the paneling.
I met resistance from Big E, but he eventually gave in.
He didn't agree with me, he just accepted I was doing it either way.
The bathroom has the exact same formica on the walls
that is on the kitchen counter and backsplash.
And one of the previous tenants used that plastic window film
to winterize the windows, 
but they left the sticky strip of double sided tape behind.
It actually came off pretty easy with some scraping with a putty knife
and a little Goo Gone.
The room looked better just removing that old yellowed tape.
Afterwards, I washed down the walls with just some warm soapy water-
just using a little Dawn dish soap, nothing chemical.
Then I had to use medium grit sand paper to knock the shine off the paneling, 
and then use a damp rag to wipe the dust off the walls.

You can't see in these photos, 
but the wall inside the shower is actually damaged from the water.
That's what happens when you put paneling inside a shower.
(you an see that the tile doesn't go all the way up the wall)

Then I used a kitchen and bath primer to prime all the walls.
It took 2 coats to get really good coverage.

The room really brightened up and looked 100 times better
just with the primer!
The primer also covered the areas of damaged paneling.
I'm not sure how it will hold up with the water from the shower,
but it's still better than it was.
Big E grudgingly admitted it was an improvement.
Now he wants to paint the ceiling too.
I picked a peachy color for the walls.
These photos don't really do the color justice 
because the lighting isn't the best.
It took 2 coats of paint to get the best coverage for the paint.
I washed the mini blinds off in the tub with some warm water
and a little soap which cleaned them up pretty good.
I also got a new shower curtain to match the new walls.
Big E isn't a fan of the shower curtain, 
he thinks it's too psychedelic.
 But he also didn't think painting the bathroom was a good idea either.
The last thing I wanted to point out was 
the watercolor painting hanging on the wall.
It was painted by my very talented cousin for our grandmother.
The bathroom color was chosen to match this painting.
I think I chose well.
The bathroom turned out awesome if I say so myself.
I was unsure of the color once it was up, 
but it is actually exactly what I was looking for.
It makes the bathroom feel bright, warm and cheery.
The cost break down is:
Gallon of Primer- $20
Gallon of Paint- $15
Shower Curtain- $15
Picture Frame- $15
For a total cost of $65.00
I didn't go with the expensive paint because this room will be demoed in the future, 
I just wanted a quick fix to make it less embarrassing. 
I think I totally accomplished the goal.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Updates and a Secret Experimental Project

Lots has been going on the past 2 weeks.
My grandson turned 3 and we're hosting a birthday party
this coming weekend.
That means the "honey-do" list gets kicked into high gear.
Big E and I managed to take a large brush pile
to the local mulching plant.
That frees up a parking space
not to mention the yard looks a lot nicer now.
Big E has also hooked up the light in the dining room, 
so now we can see in there past 5:00pm.
I'm finishing up the Christmas decorating,
and I've started another project I'm hoping will be finished Thursday night.
During work on my secret project, 
I discovered that the upstairs bathroom was once painted a lovely pepto bismal pink.
That's only slightly uglier than the shiny speckled wall paneling.
Stay tuned for the updates on my secret.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Holiday Prep

I've really been slacking in the blog post production.
I blame the holidays-
Thanksgiving and now prepping for Christmas.
We're anxiously waiting for Santa's arrival.
(no, I don't have a fireplace in the house, this is my mom's office where
my grandson was checking for signs of the Jolly Old Elf)
We had a good Thanksgiving holiday
though it was a hectic one.  
I had hoped to host Thanksgiving at the house this year, 
but it just didn't work out that way.
I'd prefer a decent bathroom
and a dining room without a view of the upstairs bathroom plumbing
(not to mention the sound of the rushing water after the flush, though
it does signal when it's your turn to take a seat on the throne).
I have hopes for maybe Easter dinner.
There hasn't been too much going on as far as renovations go.
We did put up some curtains in the living room
(still have a few to get)
and I've got some ideas and plans spinning around in my head.
I just need to sweet talk Big E into getting on board
because getting him to agree grudgingly
is better than starting the project and yelling
when he comes home.
I can't share my ideas since he actually reads this blog
(probably to see what I'm up to or what I have planned for him)
and I don't want to give him a heads up before I have it all worked out in my head.
One idea might possibly involve friends of mine and demolition.

We did manage to get our Christmas tree.
It's up and the lights are on it
and the train is out.
The grandson loves the train, 
though there's only so much "All Aboard!"
and train chugging noises one can take.  
Unless you're 3, 
then apparently there is no limit for such things.
Hoping to get the rest of the house decorated in the coming days.

Monday, October 31, 2016

What I've Been Up To In October

October always seems to be an extra busy month.
Perhaps because there are 3 birthdays this month,
mine included.
Maybe it's because the season is changing to Autumn.
I don't really know for sure,
but it's always busy.
We're still working on replacing the windows in the house.
Or, rather, the window fairy 
my dad is still working on replacing the windows.
On the fun side of things, 
we attended a family friend's annual hayride.
It's always a good time, 
and this year was no different.
The food is always phenomenal, 
as is the hot cider.
Plus we had a visit from the grandson,
who always wants to visit the horses and chickens.
He said, "I wuv her!"
He's also quite angry that the raccoon ate all of the chickens 
(except 2).
He plans to have his Poppy get him a real gun so he can shoot the raccoon.
In other news, 
I've been busy working on a book of ghost stories.
Seems a bit odd perhaps, 
but I love the paranormal
and I love hiking
so that's how the idea of a book of paranormal stories
 from along the Appalachian Trail came to be.
And to tie all this in a little,
the very same family friend who plans the hayrides, 
is the same that helped nudge me towards wanting to write again,
though she doesn't really know it.
She said to me once, "Do what makes your heart sing."
It's something I try to tell myself on a fairly regular basis, 
especially those times when I get discouraged 
and think I have no business doing what I'm doing.
Because sometimes, you have to rediscover who you are and who you're meant to be.
Maybe that seems strange to some, 
but I know to others it makes perfect sense.
Life changes you.
So who you were at 18 and who you thought you were going to end up being  
aren't necessarily the same or even close.
Sometimes, you need to take a second to reorient yourself 
and figure things out.
Me- I need to write.
So if you want to read about hiking check out my other blog
and if you want to know what's going on and where I am in the whole book thing
like the Facebook Page

Monday, October 17, 2016

I Can See Clearly Now

One day, I came home from work and found this.
We had been visited by the window fairy.
A new window might seem like no big deal,
but I stood there opening and closing the window-
with one hand-
for 5 minutes.
I didn't have to bang on it, fight to open it
or prop it up with a stick.
Each day, I had another window from the window fairy.
Then Saturday, I came home to find 
the window fairy and his helper inaction.
I'm not sure my dad likes that I refer to him as
the window fairy.
I finally got some photos of one of the windows going in.
It's kind of a pain in the neck, 
especially when no two windows are the same.
No, really, none of the windows are the same measurement.
It's truly tedious when you need to put the window in, take it out, 
scrape something, put the window in, go outside and check stuff, go take the window out, 
bang around, but the window in....
you get the idea.
I'm lucky I have my dad to work on the windows.
Big E was able to help with this one.
He's never put windows in before, so he's learning something new.
He has about 14 more he can practice on.
Last night, I spent a considerable amount of time staring at the new windows.
When the original windows are 100 years old
and impossible to clean,
you really appreciate windows you can see through.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

New Floor

 These are photos of the kitchen from last year
before we started doing anything.
 You can see the duct tape patch on the floor
where Miss Bertha sat in her kitchen chair.
 The kitchen "table" at the time
was actually a cabinet and countertop
that we removed.
 We painted the walls and removed the linoleum
to find mostly hardwood floors.
But in the back portion of the kitchen, there was plywood subflooring.
This is the area that was added onto the house after it was built.
The line where the hardwood meets plywood is the original
footprint of the house.
I spent a lot of time worrying over that hardwood.
I went through a ton of possibilities of what I could do to save it.
But in the end, 
the reality that there was concrete under the plywood
and the very worn condition of the hardwood
plus the amount of water the dogs slop everywhere,
I decided to go with my original plan of putting down vinyl tiles.
Big E laid the first one in place.
And here we have a teaching moment.
While talking about the best way to attack the floor, 
I mentioned the instructions on the back of the box.
Big E mentioned he had done this before and wanted to start in a corner along the wall.
I agreed to go with his thoughts as I had never done any of this before.
So we started along the wall.
 It goes pretty easily once you get your first tile in place.
 But you really need to follow instructions on the box.  
Especially when your house doesn't have a straight line in it
to save its life
and you're laying tiles with a checkerboard pattern.
You can see the tiles by the doorway are crooked
compared to the tiles Big E is working on in the photo below.
We ended up needing to order 2 more boxes of tile
to replace what we started using.
Once we got things lined up and on the right track, 
it was simple to gets things put down.
And now we have a shiny new kitchen floor.
I miss the hardwood, 
but I surely don't miss the plywood!
Big E also removed the light fixture above the table.
So all that's left in the kitchen for now
is to get the cabinet painted white.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Caterpillars in the Garden

This is the milkweed plant called "Hairy Balls".
I'm pretty sure you can guess why.
And you'd be right to guess that I bought these for the Monarch Waystation
simply because they're called "Hairy Balls".
What can I say? 
I have the humor of a 12 year old boy.
The "balls" are the seed pods and form in late summer/early fall.
They're perennial only in Zone 8 and above, so just an annual here
but you can save the seeds for the following season.
Sadly, I haven't noticed any Monarch caterpillars on the milkweed, 
though I've seen some actual butterflies stopping for nectar.
I do have Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillars.
I planted bronze fennel just for them (their favorite food).
While I've been mainly concerned with helping the Monarch population, 
I also want to help butterflies in general because really, 
the world can't have too many butterflies.
In other news, 
I've nearly finished weeding the jungle garden.
With all the hot weather and lack of rain, 
I let the garden go way longer than I should have.  
I'm 3/4 of the way finished cleaning it up.  
And Big E cut down the last of the shrubs we needed to remove.
We still have some stumps to dig out, 
and a large pile of brush to haul to the mulch plant
but it's all coming along.
And once I clean the kitchen, 
I'll share pictures of the new floor.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Bedroom

This is the Master Bedroom.
It isn't that pretty.
Basically it looks brown.
Big E has a very large wardrobe/Armoire that was built by his great-grandfather
that we'll be bringing to the house in the near future.
And it's very large.
I think the dimensions are 72" high, 64ish" wide and 22" deep. Give or take.
So, large.
Needless to say, it took some planning to figure out where it was going to go
and where everything else was going to go
so that it all looked good and not squished into place.
This means, I had to make sure everything would look good and normal.
(because Big E likes to measure and say, "Yep, it fits"
and ignore that it just doesn't flow right, and I have to measure several different areas, 
get a visual of how far out things will sit and picture it all in my head so things do flow right)
We settled on moving the bed between the front windows,
and leaving the long wall for the wardrobe.
We'll be getting rid of a dresser and the tall chest of drawers
(that can be used in the future guest/grandson room),
which will make the room less hodge podge plus add a little space.
Eventually, we'll be building a window seat in the bay window alcove
that will provide storage.
So, while I was unsupervised alone this weekend, 
I decided to move things around and get ready for the wardrobe for when we can get it.
Did I mention it's large?
It has to be taken apart to transport and to fit it up the steps and into the room.
Anyway, I took the wrought iron foot and headboard off the bed.
The plan is to build a platform bed
out of reclaimed wood that offers storage along the base with crates.
But that's down the road a bit.
So I moved the room around, 
and the photos show the new configuration.
Job done.
I was left unsupervised alone. 
So I ripped up a section of the carpet.
After ripping up the section, 
I texted Big E to see if he minded if I rip up the carpet.
I find it's easier to do it, see if the other person thinks it's okay
and either carry on with what you were doing, 
or ask forgiveness and carry on with what you were doing.
Luckily, he didn't care.
But at that point, I knew there was adhesive on the floor.
Once again, someone thought gluing a carpet to a hardwood floor 
was a good thing to do.
It's not people.
Don't do it.
So I started scrapping with a little putty knife.
The process seemed a little easier than the dining room floor.
I think it's because the carpet that was glued to it had been gone a while
(the one in the dining room was still the one that was glued down),
and a bedroom doesn't have the same foot traffic as a dining room.
I decided it would be best to cut strips of the carpet,
and only work on small sections at a time.
This keeps the ugly, messy, dirty adhesive covered floor covered
while I work in small sections.
Plus it's easier to get rid of small sections of carpet and padding than to
coordinate the disposal of an entire giant room sized piece of carpet.
I also went to the local hardware store and purchased a couple of alternate tools.
One is a paint scraper (which I need for other stuff) and one was a 5 in 1 paint tool
that has a chiseled edge on it. 
It's also stiffer than a putty knife.
So far, I've used these 2 tools (mostly the 5 in 1 tool),
and I haven't needed to use any Goo Gone at all.
And they seem to be better at not gouging the wood.
  I started working along the wall that the wardrobe will eventually live.
When the wardrobe is large and heavy, 
I think it's best if it can stay where it is until it absolutely must be moved.
So the floor will be scraped, and the wardrobe can stay put until we're ready to renovate the walls
and refinish the floors.
Big E thought working in sections was brilliant,
which I am it is.
And I really like the look of the new floors.
The color is better than the color downstairs, 
and I think it's going to look awesome in a room with sage green walls
and woodsy/rustic/outdoorsy elements.

And in case you want to see what we went through in the dining room, 
you can check it out here and here.