The Never Ending Story (of the dining room)

We took a few days off back in mid- February to get started on the dining room.  Which I thought would be done three years ago!  We got started on stripping trim,  but then we had to go back to life,  so the room is currently in a state of “kind of a disaster mess” but I swear we will get it done before the summer!

One of the best parts was when Chris found the original bathroom door (there’s a small bathroom off the dining room that needs a full gutting. That’s on the Getting Budgeted, Demo’d and Done Soon List,  too! Oy, there are a lot of things on that list!!). I started stripping it,  which is oddly slow going for an easy, flat piece of wood,  but I’m super duper excited about the doorknob! This is my life now!  I get really excited about doorknobs!

Stay tuned for what I promise will be very dramatic “after” pictures. Someday!


The exciting doorknob! We're going to shine it up. Someday...


Beautiful trim...


Messy Before Photo




The door!


Powder Coated Goodness!


Who knew that a person could get so excited about a radiator?? This house is really changing my priorities…. If you would have told me a few years ago that a really fun weekend would involve cleaning out and reorganizing a closet while Chris installed a radiator, I don’t think I would have bought it.

The house is full of amazing radiators, like this one in the upstairs bathroom. Chris found a place nearby that does powder coating, and he brought this guy in for a makeover. I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out, and I’m excited to bring in some others…

It took a lot of wrestling, a million trips up and down the stairs and some milder versions of that scene in A Christmas Story where the Dad works on the boiler, but Chris got it installed and ready for winter!

If you like watching paint dry …

Then you are going to LOVE my new series:  Good God What Have I Done:  The Front Porch Edition.  It really has everything  — it’s going to be a loooong journey-type tale (like how they say all good stories are road trips?), it’s got humor, it’s got drama, you are really rooting for the protagonists and none of us have any idea how it will end.

Yup.  We started scraping the paint off the front porch.

I’m really, truly having a “what have I done” moment with this one.  It might never end.


We started this insanity last weekend.  I would say this current before & “after” peek represents about 12 hours of work and it’s maybe a quarter scraped and we haven’t even talked about paint, stain, taking the aluminum siding off the ceiling or repairing the broken shingles.

Oh!  But speaking of broken shingles … I was scraping paint on Sunday, enjoying The Glenn Jones Radio Programme, vacillating wildly between “oh, this is such nice, relaxing, rewarding work” and “this will never end.  Never”  when I heard someone saying, “Excuse me!” at the porch railing.  So I met a neighbor, who introduced herself, said she lives around the corner and she has a box of cedar shingles she can’t use that are the same shape as our front porch, and could we use them?  I might have screamed a little and I know I said, “My husband is going to freak out!”  So she came back later with some shingles to try.  They are a little smaller than the ones on the front of the porch (which led Chris on a rant about how everything in this house is in a size they don’t make any more!  Which is actually a good rant, and I will have him guest-blog and tell you his thoughts on the matter) BUT they are beautiful and they will be perfect for repairs.  Or we will move good ones from the back to the front and put smaller ones in the back.  In any case, they are going to come in handy and HOW  NICE IS THAT that a person would stop and say they have extra of something and they would like to give it to you.  Another for the Things You Don’t See in the City series.  Oh – -I’m also all about the series right now.  I think it will give me structure.

So please stay tuned for “People Who Visit Us/ A Series,” which will debut this week. In the mean time, please enjoy this slide show.  I hope to some day find this funny.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.




Original Apothecary Style via New Orleans

I’m months away from tackling the renovation of our downstairs bathroom, but since we moved in, I have known it will have an apothecary, Sleep No More style to it.  To that end, I’ve just been keeping my eye out for style ideas, inspiration and historical influence.  So while Chris and I strolled around New Orleans this past weekend, imagine my joy to happen upon the Pharmacy Museum!  Ideas galore ….

this gave us the idea that simple, colored water in bottles looks awesome!


The front window gave us the idea that colored water in bottles will make a cool display!


There were amazing cabinets — all the drawers!  All the bottles!

I like the old medicine posters ….


And who doesn’t love a good pair of glass eyes??


Like I said …. inspiring ……

Getting by with a little (more) help from (more of) our friends!

Our dear friend Janis came up this past weekend — it was her first visit to the house and we put her to work stripping baseboards.  She did an amazing job and is still talking to me!  A win-win.

If you were hoping to come over and just hang out in our upstairs bathroom, I’m sorry to say you’re out of luck.  It’s been pretty much gutted and awaits a re-do.  Photos soon ….


NOW what have I done?


I am a baseboard!

That’s a baseboard in the dining room.  The baseboards are all about 7 inches tall, in nearly every room of the house, and all (of course) covered in old paint.  Some of the quarter-round was exposed in places, and it is not very good wood– seems like a late addition and not great quality.  We weren’t really sure about the baseboards, so out of curiosity, and because the radiator was ON last night, which made it hard to scrape, (In case you are wondering, the advice to “wait for summer” to do that kind of work is probably pretty solid…) I hit a piece with the heat gun and found…. gorgeous wood underneath.  Damn!  Do we have to strip all the baseboards now?  Will I be able to look at the paint-covered ones knowing what loveliness lies beneath?  Le sigh.  Luckily, I don’t have a lot of social plans for the next few months.

Today we are trying out a new method — Smart Strip!

We (and by “we” I mean “Chris”) put some on the baseboard in question this morning before we left for work.  It should be doing its magic, eating through layers of paint, and we will scrape tonight when we get home.  We are figuring it will take a few times/ coats/ days.  If it works, though, it will be a real time-and-wrist-saver.  It’s also way less toxic than Zip Strip and doesn’t seem to create fumes like the heat gun.

Weekend Update: Raccoons & Pocket Doors

With our car in the shop, we were forced to stay home this weekend and keep plugging away at projects.  Chris got the porch cleaned up of the wood and tools that he and Kurt were using– looks WAY less Sanford & Son up in our parts.  I worked on starting to strip the pocket doors that separate the entry way and dining room.  I also started on the window frames.

view from the dining room out into the entry way. That white paint is getting STRIPPED!

other side of the door with some paint off … This is a long process, people!

While I worked on stripping paint, Chris discovered a  hole in the shed that a raccoon (or beaver?) had eaten through.  We’ve seen paw prints on the grill and other…. evidence that some raccoons were happily sleeping in the rafters.  The rafters are now covered with chicken wire and this entry way has been permanently blocked!

Yup. Those are chew-marks….

But the weather was amazing and the leaves are looking lovely.  Here is our view from the train station ….

And how was your weekend?

Please leave comments and like things you like!

I’m on a podcast!

Yesterday I sat down with he very talented and fun Julie Fei-Fan Balzer to record her Podcast, “Adventures In Arting.”  I’ve known Julie for a long time — she has directed many of my plays and is the person who got me into paper crafting and scrapbooking.  I have a link to her terrific blog on my blogroll.  We talked about all kinds of things, from standing by your artistic choices to digging post holes.

about the podcast

You can hear the podcast by visiting

Please leave your comments here or on Julie’s page.  Thanks for listening!

Roof photos by Kurt

The fellas worked on the roof of the upstairs porch all day yesterday.  It used to leak, but now it won’t!  I will have to have Kurt in to guest blog and explain what he did… It involved sister joisting and membranes and some kind of rail and Yankee gutters.

Meet Kurt!

Everyone should have a friend like Kurt.  He is one of the kindest, most generous people we know.  In fact, he’s using a week of his vacation to help Chris with roof and wood projects around the house.  He arrived Sunday night and the boys got to work assessing the situation on Monday morning.  Check out what they found already ….


Hey, thanks, Kurt!


So …. any suggestions on how we should paint this newly uncovered decorative piece?