Thursday, June 30, 2005

Kitchen, the ongoing saga

Last night I did some canning.  Mango-Blueberry-Frangelico sauce.  While the jars boiled away in their boiling water bath, I had a few minutes (20 to be exact) to reflect on my kitchen.  I will warn you now, this entry is a stream of thought thing....

My kitchen has been an ongoing "thing."  I hestitate to call it a "project" because I don't think activity levels warrant that term yet.

We pulled down the 1970's oak cabinets last summer.  I have tested the old ceiling tiles for asbestos.  I purchased the wallpepr, lights and paint.  I located a place that will make custom maple/birch moulding to match the existing and replace the missing sections.  I cleaned (gag) and repainted/stenciled all of the cabinet interiors.  We replaced the wall sink faucet so the water no longer splashed directly over the edge. I have managed to locate some replacement drawer pulled at Restoration Hardware only to discover their quaility was crap and have the screws snap off in the drawers. And I have started to slowly strip the old shellac from the original cabinets and reshellac them.  This has been a 2.75 yr process.

Still the majority of the work still needs to be done.  Like all old house projects, one step hinges on 25 other steps.  This drives my friends and family crazy - they are get it done type people.  I am a take my time and get it exactly the way I want it....and aren't there a jillion things to do besides housework....type person.

So, today I took one more tiny step.  I pulled down a strip of the painted crown moulding (this needs to be removed to get to the old tile) to see if it is old or new.  Much to my relief, it is new wood.    I say this with mixed feelings, because if it was old wood....being a purist.....I would have needed to strip off the paint and shellac it to reinstall after the new ceiling has been installed.  This way, I won't have that nagging guilt when I go buy new maple crown moulding.  Of course, there are all of those miter cuts..... 

Friday, June 24, 2005


I ran across an ad for a new idea in wallpaper.  I am always up for a trendy, artsy gimmick, so it appealed to me.

Interactive wallpaper.  The wallpaper is a series of frames (the product name is fittingly enough "Frames") of different sizes & design.  The concept is that the owner then fills in the frames by pasting photos or art.....or creating "art" directly on the wallpaper.  Fun for kids.....and kids at heart (me)....and the seriously artsy.

I think it would be fun used as a wallpaper....or also as a bulletin board.  At $19.95 for a double roll, this is a pretty reasonably priced venture.  Looks like it is available at Home Depot, Lowes, Shewin-Williams.....

Unfortunately, the company's website doesn't have this product listed yet.  I couldn't even find a photo to show you :-(  If you roll across the middle bottom square on their home can get a brief glimpse of the product.  Their website is also worth checking out for their other tres funky products.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

So close, yet so far

The temperature hit triple digits here today.  Not much for those Southern folk, but those temps will wilt a Midwesterner fairly quickly.

I have an old 1920's gravity furnace.......and thus no central air.  This generally isn't a big deal....although my friends think I am crazy.  I haven't had central air in any place I've lived in since my parent's house.....and my memory of that has long since faded.

Cruelly, the previous owner of my house left a gigantuan window air conditioner in my upstairs attic.  We are talking big.  Very big.  As some point when work was being done in my attic, it was heaved into the closet space that has the attic access and there is sits.  I step across it to get to my clothes.....I even display shoes on it.

This thing is a monstrosity.  It is so big and heavy that I can't move it.  Not an inch.  I have spent many an hour laying on my bed....looking into the closet....trying to figure out which window this Titanic could have even fit into.  It's frustrating to have cool, crisp air just out of reach.

I've also spent many an hour trying to figure out how to get it out of the closet, down the stairs and out to the trash.  Other than taking a screw driver to it and removing it piece by piece....I honestly don't think it can be done.  As near as I can figure only an Act of God could have gotten that thing up the stairs....and only an Act of God will get it down.

That air conditioner must have sensed all of that hostility. 100 degree sat there and taunted me.  When it got quiet mid could hear it whispering "ceiling fans keeping you cool?"  Just plain mean.

Tomorrow is supposed to be cooler.....and my plotting to get rid of that thing will double in effort.

Here is the beast (ignore the shelving currently holding shut the make shift attic insulated door). It looks a lot more benign sitting there in a photo.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

1920's Wood Screens

A number of people have asked me to post more pictures of the construction details of my wood screens. Here goes - some of the photos are pre-rehab, some midway, some as the paint dries.

A few items of note.....

The PO got the paint on the screens, not me :-)

The screens lay on top of the frame and are held in place by a three bead "screen mould." These strips can be found in old style lumberyards....I also saw them listed in Rejuvenation's Millwork Catalog. Next year, I plan on replacing the screens.

The frame of my windows is essentially the same as the wood storm windows (frame thickness & design)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Buried Treasure

 Some people discover buried treaure, antiques and even old bones.  While working in my garage I discovered a carefully hidden little plastic box containing these Boy Scout patches and pins dating back to 1973-1975.  Oddly enough, a few of them are for a D-BAR-A Scout Ranch from the Detroit Area Council.

So, the questions are:

What boy buried these and why?  Was he shipped off from MN to some camp in Detroit every summer?  What do I do with these pieces now.....hide them once again (after making sure they are in good condition and protected) in the garage for another future owner to discover?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


I absolutely underestimated how much work it was going to be to trim down all of the hedges surrounding my back yard.  It just didn't seem like that much green. I thought I could handle it alone.  I poo-pooed all offers to help.

Well, after going through that initial adrenaline rush of having a brand new lopper (yea, I know I'm wierd) and cutting down all of the last 7-10 yrs growth of every bush surrounding my property (50 or so), I was left with a pile of branches that completely covered my back driveway and loomed some 10 feet tall.

So, for an hour each day for the past two weeks.....I have been out there cutting down those branches into sizes that I can bundle and tie with rope.  Then I carefully set them by my trash bin in the desperate hope that the trash guys will take them and not leave me a nastygram rejecting them as too: a) unwieldly; b) heavy; c) wet; d) long; e) fill-in-the-blank.......for them to haul away.  So far so good.

Last Friday I discovered that my portable circular saw does an ok job of getting through the thicker trunks (3"+).  This has speeded up the process a bit.

But, on the positive side.....I now have some serious arm muscles and have lost about 5 pounds.  Who knew this was an aerobic workout?

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Screen Window Repair

 The weather here has changed in the past week or so.  It's still raining.  Raining and hot.  I figured it was time to replace my wood storm windows with my wood screens.  A previous owner replaced most of the storms/screens with those horrible aluminum triple tracks, but there are still 6 of the original wood storms & screens.

Last fall I spent a good chunk of time reglazing and repainting the wood storms. I was even able to track down those little numbered nails to put on the storm to indicate which window it belongs in.  This saves me from spending the better part of a day trying to figure out which storm window goes in which window.

So, I pulled out the wood screens from their storage place int he basement and cleaned them.

This is when the voices in my head started.  If you own and old house, you know all about these voices.

Voice #1:  "Geez, these screens could use a paint job. "

Voice #2:  "Let's just get them in the windows.  Its hot in here and we need a breeze."

Voice #1:  "Did you see the rotted wood and the missing corners?   We should really fix those. Its only gonna get worse."

Voice #2:  "OMG.  That's going to take SO long."

Voice #1:  "We can run over to the paint store and pick up some PC Woody petrifier and epoxy and have them fixed in no time.  They will look so much better."

Voice # 1 usually wins.

The photo above shows the screens mid-way through their repair. I put on one layer of two part epoxy goo to build up the repair.  Wait for it to dry and sand. Then I put on a second layer of goo to get the repaired spot up to the correct level.  Wait for it to dry again. Then I sand the whole thing to get nice crisp, square corners.  Once repaired, primed and painted....the epoxy should be undetectable.  And hopefully I won't have to address this issue again for a long, long time.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Portland, OR

A while back I was able to visit Portland, Oregon for work.  After work each day, I was off to see the sights and do some tax-free shopping ( you know you did some damage when the Coach store sends you a handwritten thank you card).  :-)

As any true old house junkie would have first stop was a nice afternoon walk (in the Portland rain) to Rejuvenation.  It was great to finally visit the store who sends me those catalogs that I have lusted over for years.....and who sold me my nicely crafted dining room light....and more recently some of my bathroom fixtures.  I was surprised to see the amount of hardware they have in the store that never makes it to the catalog.  I was happy to discover that they will mail those items if I have the stock, I spent some time writing down item numbers for future phone purchases. 

I also contemplated visiting Schoolhouse Electric which was a few miles further down the road.  But anyone familiar with downtown Portland....and the neighborhood of Rejuvenation....and the rain.....can tell you this is quite a walk.  So, I decided to skip it.  Now I wish I had gone. Oh well.

On my days off, I also drove up to Mount Hood & the Columbia Gorge.....and then to the Oregon Coast.  Wow, I was not prepared for the breathtaking scenery.  For anyone that has visited will see striking similarities.  Anyway, I have uploaded some of my photos to give you a break from all things old house.  Ok, with the exception of the photo of the sections log....which is old growth fir.  Yes, the same rock hard fir that many of us work so hard to save and restore in our houses.  I though it was an interesting visual.....the section of this trunk was as big as a truck trailer.

Anyway, enjoy :-)

Saturday, June 04, 2005


I woke up this morning to a loud sound on my roof.  A very loud sound.  Enough to wake me from a deep sleep at 6:20 am (I should mention, I am not a morning person).  This is the fourth or fifth time this has happened in the past two weeks.  I usually am pretty delirious and convince myself that it's not worth getting out of bed to investigate until some alarm goes off.

Today I was pissed. It is the weekend, and I wanted to sleep in.  So, I quickly changed and snuck outside to take a look.  Nothing was on the roof.  However, oddly enough there was crap hanging from the gutters.  When I looked down into the flower bed below, I also saw crap from the gutters in a pile.

Just as I was processing this, I heard a loud caw.  It would seem that the humongous crow that has been terrorizing our neighborhood wildlife has decided to clean my gutters.  Evidently, I had not completed this Spring clean-up task fast enough to satisfy him.

I'm thinking if I can train him to rake my leaves in the fall.......we will really be on to something.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


The plan was to take some time this evening to update my blog to show my most recent purchases.  But I got sucked into the Eagles Farwell 1 Tour on tv.   I might be dating myself, but I can't quite figure out when "my" music became the classics.  Ah, but I digress ;-)

Anywho.  I've been looking for a folding table to use in my kitchen for a while.  I've also been looking for a folding table to put my sewing machine on.  I like old ones because for the money, you can get a good solid wood table....and they have character.  

I hit a bit of a bonaza this past weekend.  While out on the town, I decided to stop into one of the local shops.  The owner is an older gentleman that finds old, broken furniture and makes basic repairs and resells it at reasonable prices.  We are not talking high end antiques here.....just good old work-horse type stuff.

I walked in the store and spotted a misson style phone stand that had been painted many times.  The hardware had been replaced with some cheesy brass stuff.  Ugly.  But, it was solid.  In pulling out the top drawer, I saw that it was hardwood (maybe oak).  I asked the owner how much he wanted for it.  $28.  :-)  I told him I'd take it. At that price even if I strip the paint off and it is horrible, I'm not out much.

On my way to pay for my new phone stand, I spotted a sewing machine table.  Birch top with folding metal legs.  It has a neat little door where the sewing machine can fit.  Company label on the underside of the table.  My guess is that it is from the late 1940's early 50's.  Cool.  $38.  Sold.

Ha.....the owner by now, spotting a patsy, mentioned to me he had a very cute, older folding table.  Motioned me over to look at it.  He was right.  It was bright yellow, and it was cute.  Had one of the those funky mechanisms where the legs folded underneath.  Nice smaller size.  Spindle legs.  Elm wood.  Perfect for using to can all of my garden loot later this summer.....and then fold away.  $44.  Sold.

So, I hauled my loot back to the nest.

I was able to remove the finish (keep the stain) from the sewing table.  I have some boiled linseed oil sinking into it now to "pop" the birch grain.  A few new coats of hand applied poly and we are good to go.

I plan to strip the phone stand.  I'll be curious to see what it looks like underneath. 

With the yellow table, I plan to strip the top to clear wood and paint the legs my "kitchen" red. 

Like I need more projects....... 

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