Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmastime Is Here!

I've always loved the sights and smells of Christmas. I am thrilled this year to fill my house with them! As Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" plays from the other room, I look to my left and there stands a lovely REAL Christmas tree, fully decorated and welcoming the season.

We put our tree up in the library. Can't wait to put
a fire in the fireplace and sip some hot chocolate!

With the onset of the colder weather, we've begun our inside-the-house projects. Actually, Dan and I didn't start them; his parents started them for us! We came home from our Thanksgiving trip to find that our downstairs doors had been installed, stained and polyurethaned.

Basement door at center and two office doors to the

Looking from the office to the dining room
and bathroom (way in the back).

Hurray for doors! Daniel's home office now can be closed off while he is working. I am most excited about finally having a bathroom door; curtains just weren't cutting it. It isn't perfect yet; if you notice, the doors do not yet have knobs or latches. I am trying to find old doorknobs for everything to keep with the "old" house theme. No luck yet, so if anyone knows of people getting rid of old doorknobs, let me know!

Just this past weekend, the men did a bit of outdoor work between rainstorms. Our side porch now has a railing on it. We didn't really want one, but the insurance company insisted that a railing was necessary in order for them to insure the house. Dan, Aaron and Dad whipped up something that would work for now.

Might make something a bit fancier once the weather
is warmer and we decide what kind we want.

A bit of landscaping was done this weekend as well. Dad asked a friend of his to come and bury the old chicken coop that has been an eyesore for months. In preparation for the burial, Dad had to pull the trees out of the coop. 

Part of the coop fell down with the tree, and we realized that the walls were flimsy enough to pull or push down. While I held the camera and stood at a safe distance, Daniel and Aaron took down the rest of the walls.

From this ugliness...

Much better! Now we can see all of the garbage
that was in the coop. Can't wait until this gets buried!

Standing on a field of victory :)

Lastly I have something to show you that I've been working on. We are currently using a metal CD tower as a coat rack - not exactly what we had in mind. While rummaging through the barn, Dad found an old wooden coat stand, and I've decided to clean it up, sand it down, and make some minor repairs to it. 

It's pretty dirty, but I'm going to make it
look sharp.

Really old hooks that have rusted over. I'll be restoring
these as well. 

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

Oooo, and it just started snowing!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


It is Thanksgiving week, and this year Daniel and I have so much to be thankful for. Honestly, every Thanksgiving we have many blessings to celebrate, but this past year we have been overwhelmed with God's provision and an outpouring of love from family and friends. In the spirit of gratefulness, let me give you a tour of our new home!

Our library/office. I am thankful for a fully functional
fireplace, as well as for the opportunity Daniel has to 
work from home 4 days every week. And yes, that is
a classic Wolverine poster on the mantle :)

I am thankful for my rocking chair, given to me by my
father in law. He received it as payment for allowing
a local Amish woodworker to use some of the wood on
his land. My rocker is made of hickory straight from
his backyard, and it is my favorite piece of furniture!

I am thankful for bright windows, my afghan that my
Grandma Heotzler made, and for an old brown couch that 
has been in the family for generations.

I am thankful for those who gave us furniture - we
have truly been blessed with generous friends!

Thankful for a kitchen with beautiful wood cupboards,
a stove that heats evenly and the luxury of a dishwasher!
Please note the chic plywood countertops as well :)

Thankful for a refrigerator that doesn't make awful
noises in the middle of the night!

Thankful for a soft mattress, warm blankets and
blackout curtains in our bedroom.

Thankful for the curtains on the doorways as well
as my mother in law's hard work trying to get the old doors
stripped and sanded. It's going to take a while, but they
will be beautiful!

I am thankful that we had an extra bed and mattress 
(given to us!) so that my parents could sleep on 
something better than an air mattress when they came
to visit. 

I am thankful for a huge bathroom and a shower that
drains properly. Compared to our apartment bathroom,
this is a suite!

Thankful for my finally unpacked books (the rest
 are in the library). Apologies to everyone who had 
to carry those boxes. 

Thankful for a wonderful view every morning!

We've also been able to get a few "house-ish" things done as well. No big projects, but we're making some progress.
I stained and sealed the porches on an 
unusually warm November day. It came out
more blue than it should have, but at least they
are sealed against the winter weather.

I'll be repainting these a darker shade of grey once
spring rolls around.

Doors! We had to buy some new doors for the house -
not all of the old ones were usable. These two, once the
stain and polyurethane dry, will go on Dan's office. Mom
in law has been working on these, and they look great!

Despite the chaos of moving and unpacking, we have managed to have some fun. Every November we celebrate the birthdays of our "November Boys" - Daniel and two of his friends, Bryan and Aaron. We dubbed the big celebration Operation Trifecta. Tradition dictates that presents must be wrapped in girly wrapping paper, birthday cards must be silly and fun must abound. For the first time, we had a party in our home!

We truly have been blessed - a new house, working from home, furniture, a fuzzy kitten, a real backyard, wonderful neighbors... the list could go on for pages and pages. Thank you to all of you who have helped us with the move and with fixing the house. We are forever in your debt!

Though the big projects are done for this year, we'll be working on the inside of the house during the winter. We have trim to put up, baseboards to cut, windows to frame in and doors to finish. We will be sure to post more once we start!

Happiest of Thanksgivings to all of you! May your turkey be moist and your pies sweet :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

'Autumn Fire,' or 'Unmitigated Disaster'

It has been a stressful week or two. Between packing up our apartment and trying to get the farmhouse ready, there have been numerous challenges, but the good news is that we are finally in! That's right; tonight will be our first night in our new home. But wait, you may say, wasn't that supposed to happen last weekend? Yes, yes it was.

So here is what happened to mess up our best laid plans.

Wednesday: Threw out my back while packing. I lay on the floor all day while my wonderful husband and in-laws packed up all our furniture and took it to New Castle.

Thursday: Chiropractor realigned everything from my neck to pelvis. Was at least able to walk around. Many thanks to my mom-in-law for taking me to get myself taken care of and helping me to clean the apartment.

Friday: Brother and sister in law helped me finish packing and cleaning. Locked the apartment and said goodbye to Pittsburgh.

Last weekend: finished sanding all of the upstairs floors with the help of Mark and Sophia. Started staining/polyurethaning the floors, and then we ran into more trouble.

Dan and I decided to stain the upstairs floors a much lighter shade than we did downstairs. We wanted the bedrooms to have a lighter look to them, so we bought this stuff:

It's a nice light color, we said. It will bring out the grain in the wood, we thought. All lies. We tested it on the old wood in the bedroom, and this is what happened.


Come on! That wasn't supposed to happen! The 150 year old pine flooring turned a reddish/orange color with the "natural" stain. Bugger. The patched sections of floor stood out like a sore thumb. 

Master Bedroom with the patched chimney hole.

We probably should have called it quits at this point - forget the stain and go right for the polyurethane- but we didn't. I stained every floor upstairs, and they all turned out like this. They don't make a stain to match this...whatever color. I shall call this color "Autumn Fire" or "Unmitigated Disaster;" I haven't decided which yet. I was pretty mad, but there wasn't a darn thing I could do. I needed a stain that would be close in color to this one (for the new wood), so I pulled the kindergarten card and started mixing stain colors hoping to get something that would be close.

Bam and Bazinga, I win. 

Here are the before and after shots of our upstairs rooms.

Spare Bedroom 1 before sanding

Spare Bedroom 1 after sanding

Spare Bedroom 1 after "natural" stain and 2 coats of polyurethane

Master Bedroom before sanding

Master Bedroom after three weekends of sanding

Master Bedroom after "natural" stain, mixing and matching 
stain to use on the new wood patch, and 2 coats of 

Spare Bedroom 2 - half old pine and half new pine. I was really 
worried about getting this room matched well.

It's not a perfect match by any means, but I'll take it. I probably
should have done two coats of the mixed stain on the new wood, but
we were running out of time to get these done.

Hallway - all new pine

Mixed stain and polyurethane - not too shabby!

Overall, I'm satisfied with the colors. It's definitely not what we expected, but we'll work with it. Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, our floors refused to dry for three days (yay humidity), so we haven't been able to move our bed or dressers upstairs. We've been staying at my in-law's house this week, and Dan has been commuting back and forth to work. It's been stressful to say the least. Looks like we will be able to stay in the house tonight though, and we're pretty excited to finally get settled and take care of this mess. 

Other random notes: 

We have a lovely chandelier hanging in our stairwell now. Daniel is very proud of getting it up there, so I thought I'd post a photo of it.

We have a kitten in residence :) His name is Tigon and he lives in the garage currently. Dan is really allergic to cats, but he agreed to an outdoor cat that occasionally gets indoor privileges. He is cute, loves to chew on cords and really likes to perch on shoulders.

Dan and I will be taking a break from working on the house for the next few weeks. We're both exhausted, and could use some time to settle. We'll pick up posting probably before Thanksgiving. 

Happy post-Halloween to everyone! Enjoy the candy sales :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Battle Royale: Don't EVER Paint Your Floors!

First of all, I apologize for not writing anything sooner. We've been so busy at the farmhouse, and I forgot to take pictures as we were working. We've also been packing up our apartment and trying to purchase everything we'll need to get started in our house. It's been a crazy few weeks to say the least, but this house is beginning to look awesome!

Priming - finished. I did double coats of primer on the ceilings in case we decide not to paint them again. Neck cramps are not fun!

Heat Pump - we have our heat pump placed behind the garage, so we had to run a huge number of cables/connectors/insulated pipes through a 4 inch tube buried under our side porch to connect everything. After a bit of creative finangling, we managed to get that stiff black roll of pipe through the underground S-tube. All of this means that we will finally be able to heat the house in an efficient manner.

Electrical - so this mess of wires has finally been fixed. Dave and Dick (our resident electric consultant and fixer of our mistakes) have connected all of the wires to the box, so we now have working electric outlets and lights in every room of our house! Dick has been working on some of our 3-way and 4-way switches upstairs, and we still need to buy covers for everything, but we're almost there!

Being an adult makes you excited about things like cabinets... who knew?!?!  These were delivered almost a month ago, and they have been in storage in the barn. In the past few weeks,we were able to put the kitchen cement board down as well as plywood on the floor where all of the floor cabinets would be. 

Last week Dan and Dave installed all of the wall cabinets. We put boards between the wall studs about 6 inches down from the top of the ceiling so that we would easily be able to fasten the cabinets to the walls. We were extremely glad that we had taken photos of where these boards were - some of the spaces between studs had pipes in them as well as wires, so we were able to get them up without much mishap (which means we missed a few times, but eventually got it right!).

Ahhh! So pretty! These are solid oak Kraftmaid cabinets,
 Roman style (the top cabinet doors are arched in design) 
in a "fawn brown" finish. Also, please notice that we have
a sink finally!


This was actually something that Dan and I took care of 2 months ago. We went to a local appliance/furniture place in New Castle (of course, Dave knew the owner!) and chose our kitchen appliances. The store agreed to hold on to them until we were ready to put them in the kitchen. We aren't 100% ready - the tile floor isn't down yet - but our move in date is one week away, and we couldn't wait anymore!

Refrigerator and dishwasher - I can't begin to tell you
how excited I am about these two. Our current apartment 
does not have a dishwasher, and the refrigerator is almost
40 years old and makes awful noises sometimes. Brand spankin'
new appliances - I am so looking forward to this!

New stove too! Our apartment oven doesn't heat evenly,
so we bought an oven with a baking coil on the
inside to make baking faster/easier. Anyone who knows 
me knows that I love baking; I can't wait to make tasty
treats in this!

Upstairs Bath Cement Floor - We got our shower framed in, so the next step was the cement board floor. Had to vacuum, vacuum, vacuum everything to get the plaster dust and mud spots off the floor before we could even start. 
Dan "mudding" where the toilet will be.

Fini. Thanks to an odd floor height between the bedroom and 
the bath, we had to use two different sizes of cement board 
and lots of mud to make the floor even, but we got it right.
Oh the joys of an old house with new parts added on! Again,
We'll be waiting to tile until after we move in.

We spent the majority of this past weekend sanding all of the wood floors in the house. And like most things with this place, it took much more work than we were expecting. All of our upstairs floors are original pine boards that someone had painted at least a three times. Ladies and gents, please don't ever do this to your floors. If you have wood floors, for the love of all that is good and right in the world, don't EVER paint them. Use stain. Please.

Master Bedroom - Used a sander that had 4 rotating
 pads on the bottom. This room is literally the worst because of
the amount of paint on the floor. Not sure how it will turn out.

What happened was that we went through sanding pads every 5 minutes. Running the floor sander over paint causes the paint to fuse to the pad and burn through. It also made using the sander much more difficult because it would pull in different directions depending on the paint stuck to the pads. What a nightmare! We literally went through almost 80 pads to sand 3 bedrooms, and they still aren't finished. Paint stripper just eats at the floor, so we're going to try something else this weekend.

Spare Bedroom #2 - the darker half of the floor is original pine.
The lighter half is new pine flooring made for us by the Amish.
The old bathroom used to be here, and most of the floor was
rotted through, so this room and the hallway are new boards.
You can still see some of the brown paint around the edges, but
we got most of it off in this room.

Spare Bedroom #1 - what a joke! Someone put carpet on 
the floor and then painted the spots that were not covered.
3/4ths of the floor was a piece of cake to sand, but the sides
were (and still are) a nightmare. Don't. EVER. Do. This.

The downstairs was much easier. It was old polyurethane and stain that came up easily. Because the floor was uneven, the sander couldn't reach certain spots, so we had to hand sand a few areas.

My wonderful sister-in-law Amy Lynn :)

It was a long weekend to be sure, but for me it wasn't over. I spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at the farmhouse cleaning, patching, re-staining and poyurethaning the floors downstairs. If I do say so myself, I did a darn good job of it too!

Library after sanding.

Library after staining and polyurethaning.

Living Room after sanding.

Dining Room after staining/polyurethaning. You can tell in
this photo that we had to replace some of the oak flooring
in here (bottom left corner). With the stain on, it's hard to
tell the difference between old an new floor, unless you know
that it is there. So glad that worked out!

Dining Room after sanding

Dining Room after staining/polyurethaning. The "keepable" floor
in here was probably the worst. Note the large sections of dark
floor and the visible streaks. There wasn't much I could do about
that. Patched flooring is on the left by the grate, but it blends in 
alright. By the way, that grate there is original to the house. It is
real wood slats that we cut to fit a smaller area. Love it!

I have literally spent the last few days on my hands and knees on these floors. I'm sore, my knees are killing me and I have bruises everywhere, but my floors look really good! I used a Zar wood stain called Spanish Oak, and used a satin finish with the polyurethane. Stain is easy - rub it on, and rub the excess off. Polyurethane is evil - if you don't get it on smoothly, you end up with tiny little bubbles in it that make the floor rough. Luckily, I only found a few spots with bubbles right where I had started, so I don't think it will be a big deal. I dare you to go find them :)

It's Friday, and tomorrow we go back to the house for our final weekend of renovations before we move in! Praying that we can get everything working that we'll need to live there.