Waiting For Irene

August 27, 2011

With Hurricane Irene bearing down, things get a little nervy!

I'm definitely not in a panic, but I can't imagine living in Hurricane Lane and dealing with this every year!  So, time to batten down the hatches.  Here's pretty much the extent of my preparations:

1.  Putting together an emergency kit.  Water, batteries, flashlights, and getting the old portable shortwave radio out.

2.  Filling the bathtub with water tomorrow just in case we have floods.

3.  Topping off the gas tanks in both cars.

4.  Putting down the storm windows.

5.  Going around the yard and putting away anything that could fly around (you know - flower pots, bird houses, trash cans...).

6.  We only had water in the basement once, and that was due to city lines being overwhelmed.  They're predicting 7-10" of rain, so gonna go through the basement and make sure anything of value is off the floor.  My air compressor immediately comes to mind! 

There you have it.  I'll probably think of some other things, but for now this is it.  To those of you in the direct path - good luck and stay safe!

Hanging a Valance (I always break into "The Man Who Shot...")

August 26, 2011

A good friend of mine made this super valance for the back porch, and I love it!  It really adds that finishing touch that I've felt the porch was missing.  (Ha!  At this rate I don't think the words "finish" and "porch" go together!)

I put a lot of thought into how to hang the valance.  I thought about rods, cables, bars, staples (yup - it was a thought).  Then I saw this picture at Fresh Art Photography  and loved the simplicity.  

I guess my thought was that my porch is just that - a porch.  It functions as a mud room, and it's out primary entrance (I could count on one hand the number of times I've walked through the front porch door!).  I really wanted something simple, and at the same time I certainly didn't want ugly!  This is what I did:

(I really need to get a "real" camera!)  I put nails over the window trim, and hung the valance using curtain rings with clips.  That's it...simple and we love the look.  We also experimented with gathering, I guess that's the term for having some hang down between the clips.  We might try it again another time, but for now we like it without gathering.  I wonder if there's a word for that?  LOL.

And here's one final look - in the other direction...

Kitchen Help Wanted!

August 25, 2011

For 14 long years we've suffered with one of the most outdated kitchens left in America.  No, really - I mean that!  It's not just hyperbole!  Anyway, like I've mentioned in a previous post or two, it's time to start addressing this issue.  Yaaay!  Wait, wait, wait - don't get too excited yet.  I'm still in the "thinking-about-how-to-go-about-the-whole-thing" stage.  I read a lot of great blogs, and watch all kinds of shows on HGTV, and they all make it look so easy.  Heck, on HGTV these people have new kitchens in an hour - and that includes commercials!

I'm really not procrastinating here.  I need to plan, mull, plan, fret, plan, understand, fret, plan before I can really dig in.  And that's where YOU come in!  With all the great bloggers out there - could, or better yet, would any of you care to share a simple step-by-step?  I don't mean the details, just the logical steps to get from beginning to end.  Here's what I know so far...

1.  Set up a temporary kitchen in the dining room.

2.  Gut the kitchen.

Aaaaand, that's about it!  What next?  Update the wiring THEN update and move the plumbing? At what stage does the insulation go in?  When does the floor go in?  Last?  No, that wouldn't make sense...hmmm.

So you see what I'm looking for?  Please don't feel the need to spend a lot of time with details, just the logical progression.  

Thanks in advance for any thoughts one might have!

Oh, and just for fun - here's a preview pic of the kitchen as she stands now!

Ha!  I went with black and white intentionally!  Color pics will come as the project gets under way!

Legacy Post: Garden Bench (From Leftovers!)

August 21, 2011

I'm in a hotel for the week.  Nope!  Not vacation.  I have one of those jobs that takes me out of town on occasion.  It's not a bad gig at all, but really - there's no place like home!  So, I'm sitting here in a small town, in a major chain hotel (which shall remain nameless because it's really run down), and I thought this was a good time to post another Retro Project...you know - a project I did some time ago, before blogs!

Today, it's a garden bench.  Several years ago we re-did the fence.  As with all projects, there was leftover material, and we're all about using stuff up!  One day we were at a nursery looking for some perennials and maybe a tree when we saw a gorgeous, simple garden bench.  After asking the manager of the nursery permission (so as not to look like a lunatic) I pulled out pen, paper and a tape measure and started making a diagram.  Using nothing but leftover lumber, this is what came about:

Okay, I know the finials may be a little kitchy, but they were left over too, so....!  

As you can see from the pictures, it was done with very simple joinery using nothing more than my circular saw and a chisel and hammer to clean out the joints.

After 10 years, it's holding up really well.  I had to replace one of the seat boards a few years ago, but other than that - it's all original.  The angle on the back board is perfect, making it a very comfortable bench!

I thought about doing some step-by-step directions for building one, but that seemed like an awful lot of work if nobody was interested.  BUT, if anyone IS interested in building this garden bench, leave a note in the comments and I'd be more than happy to write it out!

Thanks for reading!

Even More Door Stuff AND I Made the Reading List!

August 20, 2011

It's incredible to me how many little things go in to simply changing the color of the back door.  Here's the list (for crying-out-loud) SO FAR:

1.  Strip the door
2.  Make my own window stop for step #3
3.  Replace glass broken during step #1
4.  Prime the door
5.  Paint said door
6.  Touch up paint removed because I keep doing something wrong with the painter's tape
7.  Notice how bad the hardware looks - remove, strip, prime and paint, re-install hardware

Then today:
8.  Notice that the door sweep and the weather stripping looks horrible, so replace weather stripping.

Now, step #8 wasn't difficult at all, and the results made a fantastic difference, but - I can't get over the fact that I keep running into more things to do with the door!  Good Grief!  It's time to move on already!

A couple things I learned about weather stripping the door:

1.  It's REALLY easy - took less than 45 minutes.
2.  It comes in colors other than just aluminum!  I went with oil rubbed bronze to match the hardware
3.  While installing weather stripping, don't just close the door - lock it too!  Something about locking the door drew it into the frame tighter.
4.  The back door remodel is endless!  I can't even imagine what other steps lurk out there on the back porch!

I don't have Before and After pics of today's little project, and even if I did they'd probably be pretty boring.  But I took these pictures the other day and I love how the yellow door looks so what better place to share?

(Try to ignore the last bit of laundry on the line there!)

THEN!  There's this bit of fun news!  The folks over at The Stucco Bungalow have started a new blog called Blue Door Blogs.  It's fun because they...well, let me see if I can get this "Quote" tool to work:

No daily voting. No link party themes. No winning. No losing. No kidding. Just a big fat reading list of house blog posts from hard working folks with similar interests and very different points of view. 


I love reading house blogs, I find inspiration, education and motivation, so this should really be a great blog!  BUT - what makes it even better is - they listed MY blog!  I'd love to say that it's because they saw the quality workmanship and creative writing style and just HAD to list it!  Yeah! Umm, no.  The truth is - I asked them!  The really neat part is - they said YES!  I have no delusions of grandeur about this blog, but I'm honored that they didn't just wad up my request and throw it in the trash, and I'm excited that maybe more than 2 or 3 people might see it!!

So - THANKS Blue Door!

Punch List - Back Door Hardware

August 19, 2011

Snow day!  No, it didn't snow in August (although it wouldn't surprise all the "Global Warming" folks out there), "snow day" is what I call those even semi-unanticipated days off, like waking up in the morning in 2nd grade and finding school's been cancelled because of the 11" of the wonderful white stuff!  I hadn't planned any projects for today, but something's been buggin' me all week. After stripping and painting the back door, the handle and lock looked a mess...

Part of the problem was - they were simply old and worn.  The other part was that I'm just a horrible painter! When I stripped and primed the door, I didn't remove the hardware because it was old and I was afraid I'd never be able to get it back on properly (experience is a hard teacher!).  So this is how it turned out...

So this morning, I measured the hardware and - off to Home Depot!  I looked around for a new plate and door handle, and considered a new lock.  Well, I guess this door really IS old, because they just don't seem to sell simple hardware like this anymore.  Then I remembered a post I just saw from Young House Love about how they re-did their door hardware.  So - I saved a ton of money and just bought some paint...

Okay, before you say it - I realize I said the other day that I don't care for the Oil Rubbed Bronze look, but after seeing how the hardware at YHL turned out on their yellow door, I figured I'd give it a try.  I already had some de-glosser and Rustoleum primer, so I just picked up some 220 grit sandpaper and went to work:

Basically, I just followed the steps that they took at YHL:  sanded, deglossed, primed and painted.  The only thing I found different was that the 220 grit sandpaper didn't scratch the hardware.  Anyway, so we sprayed on the Rustolem, went to an Indian Buffet for lunch, and put it all back together.

So there you have it!  Copying is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, and sometimes the mark of wisdom!  I love how it turned out - TONS better than the before!!  Oh yeah - all the hardware went back on the door with no problem.  None!

The Back Door - The (next to) Last!

August 15, 2011

It really seems insane that the transformation of a back door would require this many posts.  I thought about that for a few minutes before sitting down to write, and I think I know what it is - it's NOT that it was such a complicated job, no.  It's that yours truly isn't patient enough to wait 'til it's all over to post something about it! As a result - the (next to) last Back Door post.  (There'll be one more just because I'm contemplating one more thing.)

So when we last left the back door, it was primed and looking like this:

So we decided to paint the door while on the hinges.  I know, I know, not best practice...but it was a rainy day and I just wanted this thing done!  So we got it all taped up.  One note here - the more I use painter's tape, the more I realize I'm doing something wrong, or it's just not what it's cracked up to be.  Every time I've ever used it, it pulled paint off the project (in this case the door) and I had to do some touch-up work.  

Last winter I was cruising through some blogs and came across The Yellow Front Door.  I really liked her idea of getting people to paint their doors yellow (I only wish she was still blogging), and like I said in a previous post, I had this yellow paint that I loved.  It's "Goldenrod" by Valspar.  On the computer it looks awfully bright, but in real life it's a rich, creamy yellow.  As I've noted before, I've used Baehr paint from Home Depot on a couple occasions and was less than thrilled.  So this time I gave Valspar a try.  I really did like the way it covered, it's going to (obviously) take some time to find out about its durability.

So here it is!  I'm posting a couple different angles because it's hard to get a full-on shot from inside the porch.

I love how it instantly added some color to the porch (of course, what would I expect from a yellow door - right?)! 

Like I said, I'm considering one more thing for the door.  If it happens, you'll see yet another door posting...we'll see.

AFTERNOTE:  This is fun!  One of the blogs I follow, Young House Love, just posted about painting their door - yellow!  Now, our house is nothing like theirs, but I've gotten some great ideas, motivation and inspiration from their blog...now we have similar doors!  We even used the same paint (albeit a different shade of yellow)!  Anyway, because of the similarities of our posts and the great stuff in their blog, I wanted to pass the information along!  See their door here.

The Back Door - Part Two

August 12, 2011

Finally the humidity has let up and, luckily, I had the day off today!  So I took the back door out to the car port and got to work.  The first job today was to sand the whole thing down

Then I used one of those small rollers and primed:

Then I had to replace one of the window panes I broke while stripping the door.  I went to the local hardware store, but they didn't carry 1/4" thick glass (I had no idea door glass was so thick, although it makes sense!), so I had to go to a local glass place (I guess it's a store, but I never think of places like this as stores).  The guy at the hardware store told me to bring my first born child and my best car because 1/4" thick glass was expensive.  But, as it turns out, it only cost $9!  The problem was though - while attempting to remove the glass, I broke one of the window stops, so I had to fabricate my own.  It wasn't that big a deal, I just ran some decorative base molding through the table saw and - wallah!  Window stop!  

Sorry, picture lost to posterity.
So now the window is in, and the door is primed - the next (and hopefully last) time you hear about this door, it'll be done!!

Provenance Pics!

August 3, 2011

Heat + humidity + me = not a whole heckuvalotta work getting done.  In the humidity I worry about the paint on the back door drying properly - so finishing that project is on hold for right now (although I do have a plan!).  The porch roofs need either painting or replacing.  I like the replacement option just because what's up there now is soooo old!  Gotta get the estimates in.
Then there's the windows in the upstairs.  Several of them need to be re-glazed and the insides re-polyed, I'll get to that really soon, but right now I'm mulling over what to do about the stain color. More on that when the time comes.
I also want to put a new roof on the car port, but I'm thinking we'll have to take our chances for this winter.  So there's LOTS of work to get done, maybe I should use some of the really hot and humid days to make a priority list!
So, a little crippled by the weather, but the granddaughter of the folks who owned 173 before us, has been sending some old pictures.  I LOVE having that connection to the history of the place!  With no further ado:
Here's the front of the house, looks to be early '70s.
Here's a couple shots of the side of 173.  Not much has changed since the '30s and '40s!
And the living room. I like the Christmas tree there, we put ours in the dining room...food for thought!

 And here's what the same angle looks like today:
The living room again.  They had a fish tank!  And that's my friend sitting on her father's lap!
The dining room. Ours will be re-done sometime around the time the kitchen gets done. So no current pics for now!
Dining room again - is that a fake faux fireplace??
And a final shot of the dining room:
So there you have it - some retro pics of 173!  Hopefully more will be coming later!

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