Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Toy Proofing an Antique Vent

Does anyone else have this problem? Surely someone else has this problem.

A pretty, decorative vent. On the floor of their small child's bedroom. A small child whose favorite toys include tiny Legos, miniature doll houses and we're also starting to get into Barbies. Basically, anything which will fit down the vent. I have access to the bottom of this vent but it is behind the buffet in the dining room so who wants to move that every time Barbie loses a shoe? I needed some sort of preventative feature which didn't involve completely covering the vent or *gasp* replacing the vent.

The vent pops off pretty easy. It has louvers which open and close that screw onto the back. I guess I didn't get a photo of them but you can hopefully picture them.

I was thinking window screening might work, and probably will but I was worried about it getting clogged with fuzz and fur. I had some square chicken wire (1/2" I think) I used in the garden last summer already which is sturdier than window screening, maybe a little easier to keep clear? I did double it up so what you are seeing is two layers. I just cut it, and then the louvers screw back over the top and keep it in place. Why didn't I get a photo of it with the louvers?

 Here it is set back into the floor. It looks better than I thought it would and has saved a Littlest Pet Shop tea cup so in my mind it has paid for itself already.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Beginnings of a Pink Victorian Bedroom

Last spring I quit my part time job with the intent of getting some much needed work done around the house and maybe think about adding child #2 to the mix after a few months. I put in my 2 week notice and discovered I was already pregnant. Whoops! So much for being productive, I spent my new found free time staring blankly out the window from the couch. That is all said and done now but my free time is spent on feedings so I have have gained negative free time since I quit my job. I did get some non-toxic work done around the house last summer, mainly cleaning out the spare room since we now would have 2 children to house. Sure, they could share (and #1 really wants to share) but who wants the baby waking up the pre-schooler and vice versa?

Cleaning out a spare room isn't a problem for a normal person. Get rid of that futon, the desk, shelf of knick-knacks and maybe some old college books. On my side though it meant cleaning a room which I stuffed everything I didn't know what to do with for the past 5 years - another reason for the kiddos not to share since we weren't REALLY using this room for anything anyways! I had already boxed up some of my trolls here because I definitely am not one to have empty shelves. 

Here is proof the room did indeed look like it was straight out of an episode of hoarders. Minus the rotting food and feces. The trolls are packed away under the eves in the back of my closet and a bunch of stuff went to the garage sale. Though don't go in the basement!

I asked #1 if she wanted to stay in her room or pick colors for the new room and move. She wanted to stay in her current room but paint it pink, get new curtains etc. I told her only one room was getting painted and since the green room was the only bedroom which has been painted in the past 30 years, it wasn't going to be that one. She must have really wanted a pink room because she opted to move down the hall. 

This is the repair work I did do to the walls/ceiling.

The insulation holes were still showing! So those are officially patched. What I didn't do at 7 months pregnant was strip off 3 layers of wallpaper with 3+ layers of pain over the top. Which is OK because the wallpaper does a pretty good job of covering any plaster cracks! The ceiling had fresh drywall on it already so that looks good. 
The room is painted BUT not much else has been done. She also was very specific and wanted her "new" furniture to be Victorian. We went shopping in my parent's garage and since the furniture I grew up with in my bedroom was from that era, we just dug that out.  

I haven't had time to do anything else! This side was my wall of troll shelves. My sewing machine hasn't even left the room. Poor kid. Luckily her sister isn't officially in her old room yet so she still goes back and forth with her toys. Plus she is four so does she notice she has no pictures or shelves up? It doesn't seem to bother her any! She's got some new Trolls sheets and some Hello Kitty Christmas lights hung up as a night light so she's good. She picked out the color herself and I was hoping she would opt for something other than pink but nope, I painted a sample on the wall and she declared "it was beautiful!" so that was it. I was afraid it was going to look like a Barbie Dreamhouse in there but I actually like it. 

Yep, no staging here. This is it! Hopefully some decorating will happen. I imagine myself carefully staging everything, getting some good lighting and taking some fancy photos...oops, gotta go! Someone is having some juicy gas across the room and I'm hoping it's the baby.   

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Finally! We Have Some Bookshelves Behind the Door

I believe this is something I pinned on Pinterest 4+ years ago? while I was planning my nursery.

I was just going to nail/glue some boards together, put them on the wall and call it good enough but when my dad heard this plan he was all "no, no, no, you need to use biscuits and blah, blah, blah" OK dad, I know you are right but you have to help me! So 4 years later, here we are BUT the good news is a child could climb up these and they will be fine - pending the whole wall doesn't fall down.

Since I am cheap and like to recycle, I used some of the knotty pine paneling I took off the bathroom wall and have hoarded down in the basement which means these shelves cost me $0. I'm not sure what my dad spent on biscuits and glue, under $3? I might stain the shelves to match the woodwork someday though that will be another 5 years down the road.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Dryer "Installation" Drama and Craigslist to the Rescue

As much as I enjoy our funky 1970's kitchen, I assumed one/all of those 40 yr old appliances would be next on the replacement list but alas it was our 6 year old dryer, purchased new, which quit. I was hoping it was the belt but we took it apart and it was something in the motor (my dad had a fancy name for it) so he basically advised us to get a new one. If he thinks it's not worth repairing, then it's not worth repairing. I was thinking go with a refurbished one but the husband was whining about it so FINE he can pick out a new one. I line dry all of the kids and my clothes and the sheets so, apart from towels, he's the only one who uses it. Yes, I will cater to his laundry needs since he does his own laundry!

We found one we liked at Lowe's on sale though the first indication I was not going to be a happy camper about this process was they required us to buy a new cord. "We don't know the current condition of the cord you own" Umm, OK, I do because it's not very old but whatever, it was $15. He asked about the dryer vent hose and I told him that was good - we have a solid metal duct. Haul-away for the old one was $15. I guess, just do it so I don't have to worry about dealing with it!

Delivery day came and they show up, bring in the dryer and ask where I want them to put the old one. The husband had taken the receipt at the store while I had taken little one to the bathroom so I didn't even double check but the other $15 charge on the receipt turned out to be a new crappy accordion dryer vent hose instead of the haul-away fee. OK? The only thing I could have them do is shove it to the side. The guy asked if I wanted to use the old vent and I told him yes, PLEASE! thinking I could return the crappy, lint collecting one. I wasn't paying attention but the next thing I know he couldn't get my old vent pipe/duct onto the new dryer so he whipped out the accordion hose. I informed him not to worry about it, we could finish it up. I really just needed someone to help haul it down into the basement. "oh, no, no, I've got this!!" The accordion one was too small to fit onto the main duct piece which vents outside - at which point I should have told him to leave my house immediately but I am terrible at being a b**** to someone I don't know. He ended up using a piece of my solid duct for the top, attaching the accordion to the bottom of that, wadding up the excess and stuffing it behind the dryer. Yes, you read that correctly, he literally wadded 5+ feet of already-prone-to-collecting-lint hose and stuffed it behind the dryer. Seeming very satisfied with his work he FINALLY left. I was left with a messed up dryer vent and a non-working dryer.

I had no clue what to do with the old dryer and figured I might as well try Craigslist and if someone does happen to show interest, hope it doesn't turn out to be a mass murderer. Someone messaged almost immediately, came promptly wearing an appliance repair-like outfit, had a fancy appliance cart and hauled it away. He didn't even need any help. Geez, OK, next time I know save the haul-away fee because that required almost no effort on my part.

The moral of this story is next time I will try to avoid a big box store for my appliance needs and try for someone more local. Though we have 1? local appliance store I can think of which sells new appliances. So my options are REALLY limited!

My old dryer. I had no real connection since I rarely used it! 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Chimney Tuckpointing

What is this? Yes, I am still alive and believe it or not, I have been working on stuff and taking photos thinking all along I would be doing a blog post. See, here is proof. I finished the last section of wall in the living room before Christmas...or is my tree still up??? Maybe. No, the husband starts whining mid-January when it's still up. Party Pooper.

The main project I had done recently was the chimney. Water was coming in around the chimney and I just assumed it was the flashing and started calling roofers to see if they could check it out. I think I called 8? 9? roofers and ONE showed up. He came down from the roof and showed me this photo:

Yikes! I knew the joints in the chimney were bad but I didn't realize they were this bad. We figured this is were the water was coming in so then I had to start the process of who does tuckpointing? The roofer knew a guy so I thought he would come out and give me an estimate but the roofer just called me back and said his guy "did" chimneys for $600.  He "does" chimneys? what like takes a bag of cement and slathers it on? I moved on to a company who has done a lot of historic buildings around town and they gave me a $4800 estimate. What!? Next. I found another company who also works on historical buildings and also the owner lives a few blocks from here. They gave me a $1300 estimate which seemed like a happy medium to me. Maybe it's still expensive? I don't have any experience on masonry estimates. Also, I don't have too much of a choice of contractors who correctly work on old houses around here and I wanted my chimney to look nice!

Sorry, I'm not climbing on the roof just to get an "after" shot but you can see white blob areas on the brick where someone had previously gone up and just caulked missing joints.

I didn't like the fact they randomly showed up at my door early one morning. Possibly the disadvantage of him living close "oh, my guy got back into town late last night so we thought we would pop by and see if he could get started" BUT I am pleased they came right out as soon as it got warm enough and it is all done before the spring rains

Monday, September 28, 2015

Miniature Portrait Mystery

I had a trip to Denver last month and had a little too much fun there with the shopping. We checked out their Goodwill Outlet stores which put our Omaha store to shame! In case you don't know, they sell stuff by the pound and it's like a giant treasure hunt! Or a disgusting mess, depending on your thrifting level. I spent $30 and got an antique quilt, a pouf (which I looked up on wayfair and it was $125), a combined 30 pieces of clothing for me and the little one, a couple pairs of shoes, misc. toys I got talked into and some other random stuff. It's a good thing I don't live near those suckers or I would be a level 10 hoarder in about 2 months!

l have most of my treasures boxed up yet because I'm still working on the plaster etc. on the walls so why pull it out to get dirty (my excuse *cough* hoarding?) I did pull these out of my stash because they fascinate me. It was the last sale before lunch and these were just sitting on the table. This was the first to catch my eye.

At first I thought it might be a good gift for my brother but nah, the style is what would you guess? 1850's?? English?? a little pre-Victorian era so it would be a little too "old fashioned" for his house. (I know he's reading this right now going "whatever") I then noticed the glass was hand beveled and also the metal on the frame was all hand cut.

I examined the what I thought (and probably what the estate people thought - since you see the $2 price tag) was a print only to discover it is a painting! Perhaps a very old painting?? (I have a minor in art history so I only know enough to get myself in trouble) I can see she is on velum but I'm not going to take it apart and disrupt it.

The artist signature looks to be D.J. She's only about 3" tall but the detail is incredible! These photos just don't do her justice and I personally think she should be in a museum somewhere but I know next to nothing about miniature portraits and she seems pretty happy at my house...

This gal was $4 so maybe they could tell she was hand painted? as she's not as detailed and looks to have been in a fire (or maybe just was sitting above my fireplace for 50 years, ha!) She also is in a celluloid frame so maybe is newer? or perhaps the frame was added later as the painting almost looks like it has been trimmed, perhaps something in hopes of minimizing the fire damage??

She seems to be painted on something solid ivory? celluloid? so not as fragile as her friend. I am tempted to free her from her 1950's velveteen job and it also looks like she might pop out if I remove the metal trim but need I say "half finished project" again? Her signature is also hard to make out (I guess I should get a closer shot of it) and it looks like part of it has been trimmed away to add to the illegible-ness of it.

I think my mom and I are fighting over these still but you can see they are at my house. I do love a good mystery item! I enjoy looking at these ladies, wondering about their history and imagining them sitting in a fancy parlor somewhere long ago! I was reading a little into the history of miniature portraits and it's very interesting. In this era of having a cell phone full of photos, I never thought about what one did if they wanted an easily portable picture of a loved one pre-photography. If anyone has anymore information or good reads about these let me know!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Ongoing Projects: Bookcase and Fireplace

With the temperature cooling down a bit outside, I have added to my list of busywork. My ongoing weed battle has returned and hopefully will be ending for the season soon! After everyone else is in bed I can also escape to the garage and work on this project:

Yes, this is the bookcase which I had in my dining room.

A normal person would have just put it back in after finishing painting and then worried about it after the rest of the house was under control in the project department. I guess I felt I needed a 57th item to add to my daily schedule last spring. Off course it got to be 110 degrees before I finished so it has just been sitting in the middle of the garage for 6 months. It's ok though because I find stripping paint with a heat gun at 11 o'clock at night rather therapeutic.

Another thing I've been working on is cleaning out 100 years of crud from the fireplace.
This is what we've had in the fireplace for 5+ years.

Yep, the first thing you see when you walk in the door. A spray painted, squished gas insert which is way too small for the fireplace opening. This, and the gross carpet on the stairs. But I won't add another half finished project to my list yet so just this, a weird looking fireplace insert.

And here is the actual size of the unit without all of the extra metal framing they added to make it "fit".

I am now left with:
At first glance, I thought they had painted the inside of the fireplace but once we finished pulling out the gas insert I could tell it was just gross fire crud. I looked online to see if vinegar would clean a fireplace and sure enough, Apartment Therapy had that suggestion. About a 50/50 water, vinegar mix. They also mentioned not using it on an old fireplace due to the acidity but wouldn't any official fireplace cleaner be harsher? Maybe if I was cleaning it out every week? But I have a delightfully tacky, log shaped electric heater to sit in here so I don't plan on really scrubbing it again. I used the vinegar on the bottom stones to the left in the photo and you can see they cleaned up nicely (they were the same as the right side). Of course, the gunk on the right side barely budged when I used my vinegar concoction so I'll have to test something a little stronger on it.

It was nice they ran the gas line through the ash trap door and tucked the original cast iron trap door and frame behind the insert so we just popped them back in place. I figured there was going to be a giant hole of some kind under the insert we were going to have to patch. The porcelain log is sitting on the trap door as it pops open if you put pressure on one side or the other. Convenient if you're sweeping away ash, not convenient with a curious cat and hyperactive 3-year-old. My dad was concerned about the cat. I was more concerned about fishing out a Thomas or favorite race car from amongst 100 years of ash/dead whatever in that hole in the basement. Yuck!