Back At It! Garden Bench Repair

July 1, 2012

It's been a long time since I posted anything - but that's because I haven't DONE anything since May. That's when I took a spill and fractured five ribs.  I'm mending really well and can move around well, but I still can't lay flat so I'm STILL in the ugly rented recliner.  I've tried doing some very light work on projects, but the muscles on my left side are still healing so there isn't any overhead work yet.  But! ... Today I actually ticked another item off the 2012 list.  It's not a major project, but something that had to be done.  A number of years ago I built the garden bench out of scrap lumber from the fence project.  It's held up really well over the years, just needing one of the seat boards to be replaced a few years ago.  But this summer the bench began to show its age...
In the picture above, you can see the rot on top of the backboard and the same was happening on both of the seat boards.So today I decided it was time to #1 - do at least SOME work, and #2 - fix the bench.  When I built the bench I used pressure treated lumber for the frame and non-treated for the backboard and the seat.  I built it with replacement in mind so I put it together in a way that would make it easy to take apart.  
After dissembling for the replacement boards, I simply cut a few notches and put the new boards in place.
Tonight I'll stain the whole thing again with Behr Deck Stain and it should be good for a number of years to come!  Staining tonight because, while the repair took less than an hour - it's 90+ degrees outside!  Felt great to get out and DO something, even if it was a small project!
UPDATE:  And here it is - just like new!

Learning To Be Grateful

May 10, 2012

Sometimes it takes some kind of extreme disruption to make us remember how good we have it.  Over the past month or so, on at least a couple occasions, I found myself lamenting the fact that it was taking forever to finish the wallpapering of the halls and stairway.  Now, I sit here and long for the days of tedious work.  Days filled with measuring, pasting, cutting, trimming, rolling, hanging.and smoothing.  Days chewed up by two or three lengths of paper.  I sit here and think over all the outdoor projects I need to get done before winter comes again.  I long for a time when I can, once again, take for granted freedom of movement, climbing ladders, carrying stuff, digging!

Okay, to take all the drama out of it - it's really not all that bad, but a week and-a-half ago, while helping my daughter move I fell and fractured five ribs.  Yup!  Five!  Now I gotta tell ya - for the first 48 to 72 hours after the accident - I was in excruciating pain.  Ten or eleven days later, I still have some pain, but the most painful thing of all is just sitting here.  Cautious about how I move, stand, sit, cough and even laugh.  From my rented lifting recliner:

(and yes, it really is that ugly) which has become my bed/recovery room, I can see out the living room window onto the porch that I wanted to have finished before it got too hot, and the temporary wallpapering setup that mocks me day and night.

In the grand scheme of things, this is pretty minor.  A few weeks of recovery and I should be back on the path.  I guess I just need to remember this the next time I start griping about things and how quickly my ability (limited as that may be) can be taken away!  

Health and safety to all!

Hallways: Getting Bogged Down

April 21, 2012

I know you must weary of me whining about the wallpapering taking so long, but I finally figured out why it's dragging on...and on...and on!  See that picture?  You probably think that's the Three Stooges huh?  Well, that's what wallpapering at 173 looks like.  Yes, it is the Three Stooges, but it's a striking resemblance!

In the first post of the year I made a brief list of projects I wanted to get done this year.  Working on the hallways and stairs was on the list, but it's taking much, much longer to get done than I anticipated.  Back in late January I got started on stripping paint on the front porch, but I put that on hold because I really, truly thought I could wallpaper the hallways and stairwell in a weekend or two.  So about a month-and-a-half later, and after a few pieces went up today - we're still not done!  AAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!  But it's coming.  When the whole thing is done there's going to be a HUGE celebratory post!  In the meantime, I'll continue to post about plants, and flowers, and maybe even the ice cream truck- who knows!

Hope everyone's having a great weekend!

UPDATE:  The wallpapering finally does get done - in 2018!

Spring Is In The Air!

April 17, 2012

Spring is definitely here!  Actually, today felt more like summer with temperatures in the 90's - and that's in Upstate New York!  Stuff around the yard is blooming like crazy!  As I pointed out in my last post, the Rhododendrons are in full bloom:
Then I posted a shot of last year's tulips.  Here they are this year!
Here's the Weigela (sure hope I spelled it right!)...
And here are the Lilacs. They aren't in bloom yet, but I love the neighbor's flowering tree in the background. Maybe a Locust tree?
I'll post some more as the season develops, and yes - the wallpaper is still going up.  This seems the eeeeeeennnnnnnddddddllllllleeeeeesssssss project!

Happy Easter (and still wallpapering)

April 7, 2012

Happy Easter everyone!  And happy spring!  Of course it seems as though spring has been here almost since November (we didn't have much of a winter), but now it's really spring!  I love the rhododendrons next to the car port, but they sure don't last long.  The forsythia's in bloom and the lilacs are only a couple weeks away!

I'm afraid this will be the year the honeysuckle will need to come down, it's getting pretty old and scraggly, so I suppose it's time for a new honeysuckle to go in.  I don't think honeysuckle had anything to do with Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer, but it always makes me think of reading those books when I was a kid.  Hmm, might be a good summer to pull one of them out!

The tulips are almost's a pic from last year, I add it here just because I like the picture:

Anyway, as I troll around the yard I think of all the things I want to get done out there, but I'm still in the midst of this:

Yup, that's a banquet table set up on the front porch.  It's just the easiest way to stay "set up" to get this wallpapering project done.  And done is what I want it!

Hope everyone has a great Easter!

Product Review: EZ Twist Paint Stick

March 25, 2012

NOTE:  I have in no way been compensated for,  or contacted by the manufacturer regarding, review of this product.

Significant progress is finally being made on the wallpapering of the two hallways and the stairwell.  One significant thing that's changed is the priming/sizing is finally done.  Yesterday, a neighbor came over to help me get the stairwell primed.  This is significant because, somehow in my dotage, I have developed a bit of uneasiness with heights.  This particular post is about a product that was used - the EZ Twist Paint Stick.

I hate painting.  I hate painting nearly as much as I hate a root canal...nah, I think I might hate it as much as a root canal.  I'm not a big one for taking shortcuts, but when it comes to painting, I'm always more than willing to find a way to get it over.  Truth be told, if I could, I'd find someone else to get it over with!  But the EZ Twist Paint Stick makes painting fun and easy!  Okay, that may be a bit of hyperbole, but it really did make painting easy and a lot faster!

Photo source:
I picked up the paint stick at Lowes for about $25.  It took about two minutes to assemble, and the instructions were clearly written.  The plastic lid goes on the paint can with the little spout.  There's a port near the end of the roller-end of the handle, and that port goes on the spout.  You pull back the end of the handle and the entire handle fills with paint.

Photo source:
To get the paint into the roller, just twist the end of the handle and it feeds the roller.  A little trick I figured out was, put the roller against the wall and push up and down in a rolling motion as you fill the roller.  This will even out the paint on the roller from the inside, and will prevent you from over-filling the roller.  That's about it!  Roll the paint on and twist the handle a little when the paint starts to run out and it keeps feeding the roller!

My neighbor with no sense fear of heights.
Cleaning up after the job is pretty simple too, although I think it helps to just have the cleanup instructions with you and follow them step-by-step.  Altogether cleanup took less than ten minutes.

Stairwell all primed/sized!
REALLY easy to use
No need to keep going back to a roller pan.
No dripping
The long handle makes for great reach!
Easy cleanup

I haven't come across this yet, but the only potential con I can think of is if replacement parts become obsolete or just hard to find.  The roller is proprietary, and I would guess that the "O" rings might need replacing on occasion.

I flat out love the paintstick.  Once all the cutting in was done, the priming of the entire stairwell was done in about 20 minutes (after taking down the homemade scaffolding).  At this point, after using it for one job so far, I would HIGHLY recommend the EZ Twist Paint Stick!

OTHER PEOPLE'S REVIEWS (more detailed and better written!):
Organize With Sandy also a nice video HERE

PS:  I still hate painting.

Hallways: A (Very) Little Wallpaper Progress

March 23, 2012

Remember my last post wherein I was bemoaning my inability to estimate how long a project would take?  Well here's exhibit A...

 See that corner?  Looks innocent enough right?  See the two doors on adjacent walls?  See the little bit of moulding on the door trim?  Long story short:  an hour-and-a-half for one piece of wallpaper!  That's right kids, you read right.  An hour-and-a-half.  The upside is I've subsequently hit an area with straighter shots so I'm beginning to see progress!!

Hallways: Estimating Time Requirements - Anyone's Guess (but mine)

March 16, 2012

Notice to anyone out there who may, in some crazy, Twilight-Zone induced stupor, ask me to do a project for you:  I cannot, with even a modicum of accuracy, estimate how long ANY project will take.  You've been warned.  Problem is - I know this about myself.  I see a project, mull it over, think on it, dream of it, plan it all out. I get the steps in my head and can see every phase and every detail in my head and think - well, this won't take long at all.  I should have this done in XX hours - no time at all.  Oh yes, I will remember my sad and humbling time underestimations of the past, but OOOOHHHH not THIS time!  This time'll be different!  I'm older and wiser.  I've honed my skills over projects past!  This'll be done in a jiff!  No problem. And guess what - I did it again!  I've deluded myself, suppressed memories (or would they qualify as nightmares?).

Here's what happened.  I decided to wallpaper the two hallways and the stairwell (before you judge - I'll explain that in another post).  Well, as all who have ever hung wallpaper know - hanging wallpaper is not as simple as putting paste on the paper and hanging it.  Not.  At.  All.

All I wanted to do was paper this hallway:

As you can see, there's not a lot of "wall" in this hallway.  It's mostly doors and trim.  So I figured prepping, priming/sizing  the walls, mmmm what?  Maybe an hour?  No.  Nope.  Uh uh.  Two - with all those doors and trim there was a LOT of cutting-in.  

Then there was the upstairs hallway.  

Again - prepping, priming/sizing  the walls, my guess?  Another hour.  Reality?  Two hours.  This is not encouraging.  

And the stairwell...

It's hard to get this on camera, but the stairwell walls are huge!  My pre-project guess - two hours for prepping, priming and sizing.   Reality?  I have no idea - haven't even gotten to it yet.  So what I thought would be a weekend project, has stretched to a whole weekend and several after-work hours.  I have about half of the downstairs hallway papered, the upstairs hallway prepped and primed and the stairwell, well...

Moral of the story...I cannot estimate, with any sense of near accuracy, the time needed for a project.  That, or I grossly overestimate my abilities.  Either way - projects take a loooong time!  Happy weekend everyone!

Winter Has Finally Arrived!

March 1, 2012

Winter in this part of New York has been virtually non-existent this year.  It may have been good for the wallet, but with everything being brown and gray - it really hasn't been great for the mood.
Well, February 29th, thaaat's right...the very end of February, a day in which most years would have been March 1st...winter arrived! Thought I'd post a couple pics of 173 in all her winter glory!  Oh, in case you can't tell - I love snow!  The birch tree and the fence line always look so nice draped in snow:
And I love the hemlock in the back yard:
And finally, the apple tree in the front yard.
This got me to thinking...maybe this summer a should do a post of a tour of the yards.  I think most would be surprised how much is packed into the postage stamp yard here at 173.  Happy winter everyone!

Public Records - Creepy

February 26, 2012

I'm in a hotel for the weekend for work, in one of those towns that doesn't have much going on 'til summer and in the winter they roll the sidewalks up at 6:00 pm.  So I can't get any work done on the house. Mr. Griffin is in pieces on the dresser, and I have hotel-quality cable TV.  With little else to do, I find myself looking up off-the-wall stuff on the internet.  I have no idea how I got onto this particular line of searching, but I came across some public records about ol' 173.  At first I thought it was pretty cool to find this stuff, then it got to buggin' me that there's so much information out there - for anyone's perusal!  Well, I guess there's not much to be done about it.
So what I found was the Deed, Property and Tax records and this is the information on the very first page:
Property Address
Town Name
Square Footage
Property Class
1 Family Res
Building Style
Old Style
Year Built
School District
Tax Map #
Swiss Code
Parcel Status
Tax Code
Bank Code

# of Bedrooms
# of Full Baths
# of Stories
# of Fireplaces
Heat Type
Fuel Type
Central Air
Basement Type
1st Story Sq. Ft.
2nd Story Sq. Ft.
Finished Attic
Overall Condition
# of Kitchens
Valuation District
Here's a few things I thought was interesting.  First, was the "Building Style".  Looking at my previous post, you probably realize I suffer from a small case of Identity envy.  Seems like the tax assessors were kinda muddled too!  The next thing of note to me was the square footage which came up to 1,231 sq ft, which by today's standards I guess, is pretty small.  Funny, seems plenty big for us!  Of course, what isn't mentioned is the finished attic and a fully functioning basement, complete with laundry room, workshop, and what?  Basement space?  Anyway, 173 certainly lives larger that 1,231.  The last thing that really caught my attention was the year built.  1927.  For years I thought it was built in '29, then I adjusted my thinking to '28.  Well, apparently I was still wrong - 1927 it is!
That's my stuck-in-a-small-town-hotel surfing safari.  Wonder what other scary stuff I can find.

What's Old is New Again

February 20, 2012

173 is a simple house, but there's just something about the simple, classic, old-school lines that I love.  And now it seems 173 may not be quite as old-school as I thought!  I just came across a really interesting article, which lead to some digging...apparently architect Marianne Cusato likes ol' 173!  Okay, maybe not specifically 173, but her design for the New Economy Home seems eerily familiar!
Just a little back story.  When we bought 173 some umpteen million years ago, it was listed as a Victorian.  A Victorian!  Really?  See the picture to the left?  Victorian?  Over the years I did some research and found that there was a style similar to 173 that was called a Folk Victorian, but 173 doesn't have all the gingerbread fixtures that would make it a Folk Vic. I saw one website that called it an Industrial Folk style.  I dunno...I guess I just call it...Kindergarten-drawing House Style.  Okay, on to the New Economy Home (NEH).  Here is Marianne Cusato's vision of a nice, small, modern home:
Thaaat's right ladies and gentlemen!  173 seems to be stylish again! Oh but wait, when you take a tour of the NEH   and compare it to 1928's version - well, 173 doesn't quite have all the "green" technologies.  But I do love that the lines and style of the house is being recognized once again.  

Progress Shots: Mr. Griffin

February 19, 2012

I follow a lot of other people's blogs (see the list on the right?) and one of the fun things other people do is blog about hobbies other than just the house.  I don't do a lot of "crafty" stuff.  I failed cut and paste in kindergarten so a lot of crafts are just beyond me, and I just can't muster up enough interest to take up knitting.  But I do enjoy putting together models (as I've previously mentioned thank you very much!).  So while the latest house projects make painfully slow progress, I thought I'd show a little progress on Mr. Griffin.

So just a couple shots.  The one to the left is pretty cool.  It's just a skull that goes on the book case (of course - the invisible man wouldn't have a visible skull!).  The next pic is just to give a look at the Nomadic Modelers work station while there is mad scientist kind of work going on:

And the final shot for now is just another of the skull:

That's it for now, maybe soon there'll actually be some house progress pics!  Have a great week everyone!

A Great Tool for the Color Challenged!

February 5, 2012

The other day I was trolling through some of the blogs I follow and came across something really cool.  The writer of the Perfectly Imperfect blog pointed out a really cool online tool by Sherwin Williams.  It's called Chip It, and it's a really useful tool for those among us (particularly me) who are color challenged and/or unimaginative.  When you see a picture on the internet that has a bunch of colors you like, any picture, you copy the picture URL and paste it into the Chip It tool and it analyzes the colors and tells you what color paints represent the colors in the picture!
With the front porch project (slowly) progressing, it won't be too awfully long before colors will become a consideration.  Last night I did some searches for pictures with colors I already have out there or colors I'd like to have on the porch, and did some experimentation with Chip It.  Here's a couple examples:
Believe me - for the color-challenged, this is a great tool!  And yeah, I like the yellow door!

Mr Griffin - Just Havin' Fun!

January 31, 2012

I still have a couple projects going here at 173.  As it turns out, they're going to take awhile to complete, and I've been yearning to post something so - here's a little hobby project I've been working on.  I've always been into the old classic scary movies, and when I was a (younger) kid I put together just about every monster model on the market.  I've recently rediscovered the joys of painting and assembling these little gems. They're a blast!

So currently I'm working on "The Invisible Man" based on HG Wells' book of the same title, of course I don't call him that - I call him Mr Griffin for obvious reasons!  While I was working on some of the pieces, I got to thinking that maybe this was also some bizarre way of satisfying my yearning to build/refinish furniture at a time when there are too many higher priority projects in the works!  I dunno, maybe I just like to build models, you know - that whole existentialist thing has to creep into everything!

Here's a couple more pictures of the progress thus far...probably won't post any more 'til it's complete, but at least my yearning to post on the blog has been satisfied!

Oh, and just for fun, here's a shot of Frankie I finished in the fall:

Portable Craft Table - Made at 173

January 14, 2012

173 is an old house.  As an old house it requires a lot of maintenance and the occasional emergency repair.  But there's also a bit of a kid in all of us.  When I was young (thaaaat's right, I said young not young-er) one of my favorite things to do was building plastic models at the kitchen table.  A few decades have passed since then, but as I remember it through the cloud of time, it seems like building those models was a Sunday afternoon thing.  My thoughts go back to the days of sitting at the table working on Dracula, Frankenstein or some car or other, while my sister and mother played cards and Dad watched TV out in the living room.  Warm memories, makes me want beef stew.

Anyway, I've come to enjoy making models again - that inner kid thing.  I work on them in the bedroom, the kitchen and even in the living room.  I've kept my supplies in an old model box and just moved around.  The Nomadic Model Maker.  A week or so ago I saw a model-makers table for sale on some hobby website.  Totally affordable, but for some reason I don't like buying things like that - especially when it's something I can build and customize to my needs and tastes.  So I started looking around the basement and came across this:

It's an old drawer that I found in the basement when we first bought the house.  I stored it away because I knew there'd come a day!  The drawer wasn't exactly the right size - it was 4 feet long and not quite deep enough, so adjustments had to be made.  First I cut off a good portion of the drawer (yup - I kept the leftover piece!).

You can't tell too well from this picture, but I removed the drawer bottom, made it a bit deeper and made adjustments to the dividers on the inside.  Then came some specific customizing.  I used a Forstner bit and chisel to make a spot to hold a paint bottle - I'm clumsy so anything to reduce the chances of knocking the bottle over...

...and I drilled some holes about 3/4 of the way through the top to hold the brushes I'm working with.

I used an old piece of piano hinge (also inherited on purchase of 173) and another old hinge...

Then came the priming and painting.  But here's the neat part of the whole thing.  I actually planned ahead a little and thought out the use of this little box and thought - I don't want to have to clear off the top every time I want to pull out another paint color.  So I cut off part of the top so that it's a two-part piece.

I lined the sections of the box with some cheap Wal-M@&* felt, and voila!  Simple project done!

Yup - That's a magnifying glass - my eyes aren't what they were.  Actually I've been saying that since the 10th grade.  See how the paint bottle sets down in the top a little?  An ounce of prevention!  That '48 Ford Woody looks like fun!!  So, the Nomadic Model Maker has a portable headquarters!  Made at 173.

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