Thursday, April 9, 2015

What Did You Do On Your House This Winter?

I've had at least a dozen people ask me that question. And until the end of February, my answer would have been, "Absolutely nothing." Instead of being productive, I read far too many books, sewed two quilts and played more video games than I care to admit (Ok, so it was two, and I beat them beginning to end. My husband is so proud of me!). About the end of the dreadfully frozen month of February, I finally got my butt in gear.


We desperately needed a toybox for Logan, especially after Christmas! I wanted an old wooden box to fit with our rustic barnwood/ old crate furniture pieces around the house. Dave, of course, knew just the box for us. Sadly, it was covered with old wallpaper, so I had some work to do.

Tools: Plastic scraper, hot water, vinegar, rags
Time: About two days of Logan naps (4-5 solid hours)
How To: Mix 1:1 ratio vinegar to hot water. Apply mix to wallpaper with rag. Wait 5 minutes.
               Scrape off wallpaper. Repeat if necessary.

Some spots were a bit trickier than others, but it was
a pretty simple process. Oh, what's that under all 
that wallpaper? *Gasp*

I LOVE this box. It fits perfectly with
our house and my personality :) 
And Logan loves playing in the box 
with his toys. 


I've also done some scraping/sanding of an old window I found in our barn. I'm planning on turning it into a photo frame for some of Daniel's best photographs. 

Doesn't look like much.

First I had to remove all of the old putty from the windowpanes without cracking the old glass. Once I did that, I was able to remove the glaziers points from behind the glass and take out the panes. Then came the sanding. And sanding. And more sanding.

Here is what I have now. I'm planning on following a This Old House tutorial on how to replace pane glass windows, so the next time I post I'll be able to show you just how I did it. I haven't decided if I should paint the frame, poly it, or just leave it. If I poly it, it may look like all the barnwood in my house, and y'all know how much I love barnwood!


Daniel and Dave did a bit of work around our library fireplace, covering up some of the gaps and seams. 


After. Hurray for crown moulding, corner trim 
and the obligatory deer antlers :)


We bought Dave a scroll saw for Christmas, mostly because he wanted to redo the gingerbread pieces that had been on the house when he originally bought it. The old gingerbread was falling to pieces, rotted through. Sadly, no restorative efforts made there, but we did make carbon copies of the old pieces. 
Starting with these. As you can probably tell, these
are not even close to being the same shape, so I took
up my dremmel sander and got to work. 

After many hours of sanding, smoothing and doing my darndest to make each piece congruent with itself, I had more than a dozen of these little pieces ready to be made into decorative pieces.

All set and ready to go on our porches
once the weather warms up! I'll be sure
to post a picture of what these look like
on the house. 


Speaking of porches... our new contractor, Fred, replaced all of our blocky, unpainted porch posts with these beauties.

They need a good coat of paint, but again,
we need to wait for some warm, dry
weather to make that happen.

I can't wait to get the gingerbread up, and everything painted! We are planning on painting our porches the proper color of grey (not the odd bluish shade they are now), the posts and gingerbread white, as well as painting the garage. Lots of spring/summer plans around our house!


Carrying on with the painting theme, we FINALLY agreed on colors for our bedroom. It has taken us five months to accomplish that much. Five. Months. It only took Mary Ann and I two days to paint, but five months for Dan and I to decide on a paint. It'll be a miracle if we ever finish this house.

Thanks to a Facebook query and a number of suggestions, we decided to paint the walls a very light brown and paint a green accent wall behind our bed.

The colors work great together, but now that I'm looking
at a picture, I realize how much we need an accent rug,
and maybe some matching nightstands. And things on
the walls. Someone help! I can't decorate. 

We just yesterday decided on a color for the window and door trim as well as the baseboard. White. Seriously? But it had to be the correct shade of white, otherwise the walls would look like they blended into the trim. And honestly, why are there so many shades of white? The walls are painted, and the trim is being worked on now. I'll post a picture once everything is up.


I also managed to paint our spare room this winter. Dan gave me permission to paint it whatever color I wanted, so the next day I went to Lowes and bought purple. No surprise to anyone who knows me. Mary Ann and I painted it just a few weeks ago so as to be ready when my parents came to stay with us. While they were visiting, Dad took it upon himself to put up the baseboard in the room. Now our spare room is almost complete! 

Dave is working on putting up the window trim as I speak. Once that is up, it's touch up paint and putty, window blinds and curtains to make this room look amazing!

We also have plans to do a bit of trim around the fireplace, same as we did downstairs. The fireplace itself needs a bit of work: re-bricked on the inside, new tile outside, and a pipe down the chimney to make it usable. All in good time. That might just wait until next winter when we look for indoor projects to work on.


As we head toward spring, I'm looking forward to doing much more outside. My early garden plants have been planted, I have lots of landscaping to do, as well as a lot of outdoor painting. Looking forward to getting out of the house and into the sunshine!

Monday, December 8, 2014

In Lieu of a Christmas Letter, I Bring You a Post!

Many of you might not know how renovations really happen. You start out with a "to do" list, get some contractor quotes, settle on someone to do the job(s) and then they tell you when they are available to work.


In theory.

But really, not ever.

My Christmas present from Dave last year was the promise of a sidewalk and a blacktopped driveway. I was pretty thrilled, because here is what our walkway looked like.

And our driveway was concrete patches with some gravel, but mostly weeds. Not terribly appealing.

When spring rolled around, we started asking around about getting the sidewalk poured. We got some extraordinary quotes (thousands of dollars, really?), had a few promising leads, and then life happened.

First we had to landscape.

Then we had to get drainage dug out back. 

Then I was gardening and freezing veggies. 

Then contractor machinery broke. 

Contractors backed out.


6 months later all of the major projects that needed done are finally being finished, all in the same week.

Sidewalk was poured. 


Watching the cement harden....

Driveway was paved. 

Logan loved watching the skid steer at work!

The finished driveway.

Dave and his new contractor completed barn renovations and fenced in the back pasture for the new tenants.

Our new "neigh"bors! Actually, there are four of
them, but they are typically only out two at a time.
I LOVE living next to these guys!

I suppose the moral of the story is that if it's gonna happen, it's all gonna happen at once. At the end of the season. Right before the holidays. At least it is done, and we have a sidewalk that can be shoveled, and a driveway to be proud of. And I enjoy looking out my kitchen window to see horses frolicking in the back yard :)

A few other projects of note...

My living room shelves are complete!

I had the boards sanded and poly'ed this summer, but it took a while to make it from the garage to the living room walls.

Good old barn wood. If you look at the top piece, 
you can see little white dots on the wood. Those are
air bubbles; the wood was so dry that once poly went 
on it, the board sucked it up and pushed the air out.
I literally had to put six coats of poly on these before 
the smooth surface was created.

Dan stuck the shelves flush in the corners of the 
living room so that we have room next to them to
display his photos.

And Dan finally got to put his surround sound speakers
up where he wanted them!

I think sometime I'll write a post on a dozen ways to use barn wood in your home. So many ideas! I really like the rustic charm these add to my house.

I finally finished up our master bathroom! I taped the room up, picked a color for the wainscotting and trim, and went to work during Logan's napping hours. I was so pleased with how the colors turned out, and I rejoiced.

And then I pulled off the painters tape.

I was left with this.

I would like to tell you just what went through my 
mind, but I'm not proud of those words...

It was everywhere. I cried.

So here is a tip for anyone that DOESN'T want to have this happen; use oil based primer on bathroom walls. It helps prevent your paint from peeling due to high moisture content. I put the tape on and didn't remove it for nearly a month (because let's face it, getting any project done with a one year old takes more time than necessary). Big mistake! Between the tape, a steamy bathroom with taped walls and a lack of proper primer, I have a mess on my hands. 

What to do? I need to scrape off all the loose paint, sand down the peeled spots, re-primer, re-sand, and repaint. Ugh. This is going to take a month of Logan's naps to accomplish. 

If you're painting your bathroom, please learn from my mistake. Only YOU can prevent a peely bathroom!

Merry Christmas to everyone! This might be the only proper Christmas letter that anyone gets. Between post-partum depression, a needy growing child and a house that still needs finishing, it has been an interesting and challenging year. I think I'm on the upswing of things, though prayers for us and our sanity are always appreciated. We love you all, and hope you have a merry Christmas, in whatever state or country you may find yourself.

Mommy's Christmas helper :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Aaaand We're Back!

Well so what if it has been eight months since my last post? It's not like we've been busy or anything...

Logan Paul was born on November 22, 2013. 8 lbs, 3 oz, 19 inches long. He is now 7 months old, and growing like a weed! He is our little goat, eating anything and everything that can fit in his mouth. He has just cut his first tooth too! Dan and I are very proud parents :)

The house work went on hiatus for a few months due to Logan's arrival and a very VERY cold winter. There wasn't much anyone wanted to do, though a major, ongoing project was started sometime in January.

Door, window and floor trim, huzzah!

What an adventure here! Because we took all of the original plaster out of the house and replaced it with drywall, we had some major gaps along the edges of the rooms, where the floorboards and walls were supposed to meet. Not centimeter gaps. Inches. Holes everywhere. When I swept the floor, I used to just sweep the dirt to the edge and dump it into the gap (no judging of my housekeeping skills, please and thankyouverymuch). Your typical piece of baseboard from Lowes would only cover a fraction of the gap, so we had to get creative.

What we did was commission and Amish woodworker to make two separate pieces of baseboard.

One to cover the rather large gaps.

The other goes flush with the wall on top of the other piece.

Dan and Dave have had quite a time trying to get all of the baseboard on downstairs. Because a lot of the floors are warped, and the corners aren't all 90 degree angles, they've had to do some creative finangling to get it on. You really can't tell unless you know where to look. Overall, I am really pleased with how it came out! Most of the door frames and baseboard are complete downstairs. What an improvement! It really gives the house a completed look.

More trim in the dining room.

My mom-in-law took it upon herself to paint a number of rooms in our house over the winter months. After looking at the paint chips we had up on the kitchen and bathroom walls since last October (!), we finally chose colors, and Mom got to painting. 

Our kitchen is a lovely shade of green. It isn't
the color I originally wanted, but the Easter-y
green has grown on me.

Our master bathroom also received a few coats of paint
in a lovely shade of blueish green. We decided to put
wainscoting on the bottom half of the walls because the blue
was a bit overwhelming on the whole wall. The wainscoting 
isn't finished just yet; it needs the trim put on to give it a 
finished look, but that is next weekend's project!

Daniel installed the door trim around both bathroom doors. 
Eventually it will be painted to match the wainscoting.

Other miscellaneous items of note: 

Our bedroom closet finally has a door!
Again, a master job of cut and paste by my
dad-in-law and husband. I am so happy to finally
have the gaping hole on my side of the bed
covered up!

Shelf in our living room. I include this because it is one
of a kind. I discovered it was cheaper to upcycle an old
piece of barn wood than it was to buy a shelf of the dimensions
we wanted. I sanded off the grey paint, used a fine sandpaper
to smooth it out, and finished it off with two coats of polyurethane.
And yes, that is a stuffed Yoda and a LOTR Lego 
set on display #geeklife

Seriously though, how cool is this wood? Old nail holes, 
cracks, knots and wood grain take this from a simple shelf 
to a unique living room piece. I love it! I have plans to 
do the same thing on the opposite living room wall, only
two smaller shelves instead of a large one.

With the advent of warmer weather came the desire to
get some outside work done. My brother Mark, Dan and I
dug up the grass, planted and mulched around the sides of
the house facing the road. We've got boxwood, hydrangea,
holly, mini lilacs and something else I can't remember. It 
definitely improves curb appeal!

This was an interesting project. Before doing any planting, 
Dan and Mark had to dig down two feet around the entire
porch and place wire in the ground to discourage the resident
groundhogs from coming back. Fifteen of them were also 
discouraged by the business end of a gun.

A huge thank you to Mark for doing so much work around
our house this summer. Dan and I wouldn't have much done if 
it had been left to just the two of us!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Nursery and the Glory of a Bedroom Door

38 weeks along.

Looks like I'm hiding a prize winning pumpkin under my shirt.

I can finally "nest" because the baby's room is finished! Wheeee!

My husband and my father in law have been spending most of their weekends over the past month trying to get everything taken care of in the nursery. Remember, this is an old house. Nothing is level, straight or at the proper 90 degree angle. It has been quite a challenge for them, but the results look great!

As mentioned in my last post, we were going to have some surprise artwork done in the room. Daniel's best friend Bryan is an amazing artist, and did a smashing job with what I asked him to paint.

I really enjoy the classic Winnie the Pooh books and art. Bryan took some of my favorite pictures straight from the books and painted them on the walls.

Piglet running with Eeyore's birthday present

Tigger and Roo playing with pine cones.

Pooh, Piglet and Christopher Robin playing Pooh Sticks
in the stream

Pooh saving his most precious possessions from the 
great flood in the 100 Acre Wood.

Pooh and the honey tree

Group shot of all the characters.

Love, love LOVE what Bryan was able to paint - such a talented guy! Many thanks to him for making the nursery completely unique.

Here are some pictures of the room itself.

Please take note of the wonderful straight door,
door trim and baseboard.

Dad and Daniel even managed to square out the windows 
so that they are square and no longer crooked!

Window overlooking the back yard. They
used some of the old baseboard from the
original house to form the frames in this room.
I sanded and planed and painted it - looks
much nicer now!

All this to say that we are pretty much ready for the baby to come. Ironic thing is that he won't be sleeping in the nursery right away; he'll be in our bedroom for a while. After all of that work in the nursery... well, at least it is ready to go.

Speaking of our bedroom....

We FINALLY have a bedroom door!
And the best part is that the door latches and locks!
I finished sanding and polyurethaning the door a few weeks
ago, and last weekend Daniel and Dad installed it.

I may be more excited about having a functioning bedroom
door than I am about the baby! We purchased reproduction
rim locks for all of our old doors, and I think that this one in
particular looks rather spectacular. Oh, and see that keyhole?
That is real. That is how our bedroom door locks. So. Cool.

That is about it for house projects until after the holidays (which are rapidly approaching, how did that year go by so quickly?!?). Dan and I will finish a few small things around the house before the baby arrives, but we're going to hold off on anything big until the new year. I think we're going to need some time to adjust to a wee one, not to mention that we'll probably be exhausted!