Monday, March 31, 2008

Deeply Honored & Humbled....

I am deeply honored & humbled....

Sandy, over at Curly’s Corner, has bestowed an AWESOME award on me. I am very honored & humbled! By accepting this 'Excellent Blog Award', I have agreed to award it to 10 more people whose blogs I find to be Excellent Award worthy. Once accepted, you can give it to as many people as you want but need to award it to at least 10. You deserve this! Feel free to recognize blogs that have already received this award. So, here are my 10 (there are so many more that I visit every week, but it would take me DAYS to list them all):

1: Paul at Victorian Antiquities and Design . This is a truly informative site dealing with an eclectic mix in info centering around the Victorian period. Paul – you are truly an inspiration!

2: Katie & Steve at 108 North. You two are having WAY too much fun!!

3: Fred over at One Project Closer. The name says it all – the eternal optimist! You have been a wealth of helpful info and tips!

4: Jason & Heather at Oxford-Boynton House AND at Woodbury House. You two have too much energy – TWO houses – WOW! So much inspiration; truly a great read.

5: Heather & David at 1912 Bungalow. You two ROCK!! I get exhausted just reading your blog! I have learned so much just by reading your blog. Thanks for all the tips & tricks, especially for the floors!

6: Mike & Rachel over at L. Norris Hall House. You two make it seem so easy. I hope my wood working skills become as good as yours!

7: John at The Devil Queen. This blog is one of those you just don’t know how to describe or where to start. This blog has truly attained “Hall of Fame” status. Besides, you just got to love a person with a company name like ‘Voodoo Contracting’!

8: Greg over at The Petch House. WOW!! A blog well worth the reading. He truly loves his house and animals. SWBMO is a big fan of his.

9: Gary at This Old Crack House. I found his blog early on. Never thought I would find someone with a sense of humor to match mine! Another blog for the “Hall of Fame”. And what ever you do DO NOT click that button!!!

10: Jennifer at the Tiny Old House. What can I say – I like your style!!

11: Maryam at My Marrakesh. You allow me to travel and dream of a distant land.

12: Rhee over at The Pioneer Woman Cooks. What can I say….I have gained weight just reading your blog – not to mention making your recipes.

13: Melissa at The Traveler’s Lunchbox. What a life…. Read this blog and you will see what I mean. Travel and food, what more could a person want?

14: Last but, certainly not least (even though she has been awarded this award already), Sandy at Curly’s Corner. You brighten the day and give me a laugh when I need it. Thanks for being there!

Update & Prepping Progress

The garage sale was a big success!! The only disappointment was not selling a large whirlpool tub we have. It's worth over $2,000 and brand new. We had some serious lookers, but no takers. Oh well, we will find a way to get rid of it.

Sabu is also back to normal. We had thought that the garage sale was going to become the "Sabu Benefit Sale" since we were expecting the bill to be around $750. Thankfully we have an awesome vet and they didn't charge near that amount.

On top of that SWMBO let the money we made in the garage sale buy a new toy!

Check this bad boy out!

It is a Fein Multimaster.

I didn't buy the new model for several reasons, but the main one was the price. This one also comes with some attachments that they no longer supply in the same kits together AND it has metal storage case!!

There is just no way to tell you what all this tool can do, so go to the site and check it out! Be sure to watch the videos.

If I had had this tool from day one things would have gone a lot easier around here.

Prepping for the plaster skim-coat is in full speed.

I've never been good at mudding & tapping so I'm hoping the method I've decided to go with for the skim coat is forgiving.

Here's the chimney chase.

I need to do a second coat of mud to fill in some low spots.

Just another pic where the ceiling meets the wall.

The section above the powder room and basement doors.

The dark areas that look like mold are spots I had to scrape loose paint from.

The two cracks above the stove.

And last but not least - the hole in the wall where the vent was!

Now this patch I'm happy with! I need to do a couple more coats of mud before it'll be ready for the skim-coat, but I think it's looking good so far.

So, hopefully, Wednesday I will start the skim-coat process!! WOOHOO!!!!

Till next time...

Larry ~

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Exhaust Fan is all gone!

Thought I'd give a quick up-date before the weekend.

Not much has happened in regard to the house this week. We are super busy getting ready for a large, annual, garage sale we have every year with some friends. We've also been back-n-forth with the vet's office due to a sick kitty (Sabu has a nasty UTI).

However, that exhaust fan cover is gone!!!!

Not the best pic, but you can see daylight. Now that it's covered, perhaps that will help with heat loss this coming winter.

It was 'fun' removing the cover on Monday. We had a wind storm that was bad enough it blew over trellises, trash cans, etc. and I was on a ladder!!!

Several times I thought I'd be blown off.

We are going to keep the exhaust cover though. I got to looking at it and it might make a great cat door down the road. We could be able to shut it and latch it from the inside and it would also be a little more secure than some we've looked at. Besides, "waste not want not" right? We try to recycle as much as we can.


The hole is now covered and I can start preping it for plastering!!

This is a temporary cover. When we start the preping process for painting this summer we will replace all of this with clapboard.

Well, I've got to jet - got a lot of junk to get packed for the garage sale!

Larry ~

Friday, March 21, 2008

Speaking of Tools...

As you all know - I like, no, I LOVE old tools. The older the better.

I like the way the old hand tools feel in the hand and how the feel when you use them. There is something poetic about the sounds and smells generated while using these old hand tools.

Remember this picture? It is a testament to just how much I like the old tools.

This is a new hand plane and is easy to use. It sure made this task easier!

Since I like these old tools so much, and starting a woodworking business, I have started to collect them.

Today was an eventful day in the hunt for old tools.

SWMBO and I went to the local junk shop. While there I picked up a few new 'old' toys.

The little hand plane on the left and the big one on the right were part of today's haul. The little one is a Stanley #102 from the turn of the 20th century. The larger one I have yet to identify.

The middle one I found in a box of junk that my friend Bill (the guy getting me into the business) gave me a few months ago. I didn't find it until about a month ago though. It is a Stanley #220 also from the turn of the 20th century.

This grouping shows one of the 'real bargains' I found today - the large level in the back.

The level is a Stanley #0 Sweetheart level in Cherry wood. It's from anywhere between the 20s & 40s.

I picked it up for a fraction of the value!!

The other items are a wooden marking gauge; a wooden slide rule that measures openings (way cool how it works); and a hand drill.

Here's a close-up of the hand drill.

It's a Craftsman and has '1017' stamped next to the name. Not sure if this is a model number or not but am looking into it. I'm also no sure how old it is, but it works!

This next item Bill picked up for me at an action a few weeks ago. I knew they were going to be in the sale, but I was just too sick to go.

It's a homemade toolbox that contained several wood chisels, awls, files, etc.

All of the handles are wood. The large black one is actually dark, dark red and hollow.

The chisels and awls can be switched out with the handles.

Here is some more of the tools from the box.

The seven, wooden handled items are wood carving chisels from England.

Do you see the little dark handled chisel at the lower left? That's another piece of very dark red wood.

To be honest, a few of these tools (about a third of the awls & files) I found in the garage after we bought the house. That's one reason I wanted this box of tools - they matched what I found! How cool is that?

Do you see the thing that looks like a corkscrew at the top? That is a small hand drill called a 'gimlet'. This is one of the tools found on the property.

So - if any of you out there have any old hand tools you'd be willing to part with - I'd be willing to give them a home!

Well, it's getting late so I'd better sign off....

Larry ~

Nasty Nasty Exhaust Fan

Well, in preparation for plastering (yes - I'll start on this next week!) I forgot the old, nasty, NASTY, exhaust fan that is located above the sink. Okay - WHY above the sink? I know it is on an outer wall, but it looked so bad!

Anyway, it needed to come out so I could patch the hole before plastering. We had thought about leaving it to help vent heat during the summer. We then found that the motor was shot and we didn't want it bad enough to spend the money for a new one.

Sorry, but I forgot to get a 'before' picture of the beast.

As you all know - I HATE LADDERS!!!

Doesn't this look a bit scary and it's only about 12' up.

It doesn't help that this is the worst, ricketiest, extension ladder I have. All the good ones are at my dad's.

There's the gapping mouth of the beast now.

Do you see just how nasty this sucker is?! Once I was done I thought I would need a shower.

The grease and grime was like flypaper tape.

I have not removed the outside casing that covers the hole yet; I plan to do this on Monday and cover it with a piece of wood until we replace the clapboard this summer.

Unfortunately I forgot to snip the electrical wire leading to the beast before I but the sill cap on. So, I had to pop the cap and snip the wire first.

I guess I should be thankful that I remembered to turn the power off this time.

It was a real trick to get rid of this thing. It just would not come out!!

There were no nails or screws holding it in - IT JUST WOULD NOT COME OUT!

Being a guy, I did what guys do - I pounded the snot out of the sides and started snipping away at it with metal snips.

After pulling out the inner lining I had to snip the outer lining as well.

Once done, I folded it up and now it looks like an oculus shutter - ready to come out Monday.

This is what's left of the inner lining and the electrical connection.

Off to the junk bin it goes!

I'll leave you with this parting shot.

Consider it a 'Tool Box Still Life'. It's my primary toolbox, there are three more behind it on the wall cabinet.

Larry ~

Good News - Bad News

Well, we have good news and bad news in regard to the septic system.

The good news - all systems are a go and it is functioning properly. Everything is still connected and together which means no leaks.

Bad news - we've had such a wet winter with all the snow (so much for global warming), and February & March have been very rainy also, the water table has risen.

So that means the leaching field is full of rainwater. We had it all pumped out and it was nothing but dirty rainwater. We pumped it out again today and had the same. All we can do is wait for a dry spell.

On top of this, a huge amount of the rainwater that comes off the house flows right over the leaching field. Unfortunately the only possible place to put the septic system is where it's at. It would be nice to hook onto the city sewer system, but the city would have to spend about $8K - $10K to get the sewer line to our house and we would have to cough up about $2K to run the line from the house to the main.

Maybe one of these days we'll be able to do it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Treasure for the Loo

Last week was not the best week. In the famous words of Roseanne Roseannadanna:

"Well it just goes to show you, it's always something, you either got a toenail in your hamburger or toilet paper clinging to your shoe."

Basically, that's how my week went. First the septic system, then the Dandelion and on top of all of this - I got sick. I finally caught the creeping-crud that everyone else has had. So, nothing really got done this past week.

On Sunday I was feeling a little better so SWMBO and I hopped in the car and went to an auction in a small town next to us.

Among the many treasures we got, two were for the house specifically. One was a big ole' box of ceder shingles we can use to replace the missing/broken pieces of fish scale on the house.

The main treasure was for the upstairs loo. We are planning on replacing the el'cheapo 70s style lavatory vanity with a more vintage type.

What we have wanted to replace it with is an old lowboy dresser, or buffet, with a lavatory placed on top. SWMBO got the idea for this from the B&B we stayed in on our wedding night.

Here it is in all it's glory!!

Ain't it grand! (Hmmm...I know what you’re thinking and THAT'S what Annette thought when she first saw it too!)

We were suppose to pic it up on Monday, but the weather was bad and we had to wait till today to get it. Don't feel too bad about your first reaction, my dad had the same one!

Oh, before I forget - there were treasures inside the treasure! I found an old hand saw, buttons, and mice nests inside.

As SWMBO has recently discovered, she's the geeky nerd and I'm the free spirit.

Perhaps that's why I could see the 'diamond in the rough' and she couldn't.

In all honesty, the more she looked at it the more she liked it.

It does need a LOT of TLC - but hey, it'll be worth it.

During one of my working lulls today my curiosity got the best of my - I just HAD to see what the wood looked like under all that cruddy paint.

With masking tape in hand I decided to do a 'before & after' type thing with it. I placed tape down the center and applied some new stripper we got.

Let's just say we are not happy with this company or it's product. The customer service sucks, they charge an outrageous shipping cost, and it didn't work as well as it was suppose to. Anyway, you can see in to the left of the blue tape in the photo. Granted, the instructions say it can take from two hours to 24 hours to work, but the ads claim it's ready when the color changes (and the average is 3 hours). Well, I let it set for almost five hours and it looked like it dried out! The color did change, but not much.

This is what it looked like after scraping off the stuff.

BTW - It didn't come off as easily as it claims to and was messy than advertised also.

However, I will give it a second chance at a later date and will give an up-date when I do.

This is what it looked like after using the tried-n-true 'Stripease'.

Can you believe how rich this wood looks?!

After using the after-wash, and letting it dry, I used a 300 grit sanding pad to clean it up a bit.

Looks like all we'll have to do is add a sealer and clear coat. Let's hope the rest of the wood is just like top!

I'll keep you posted on this project as well.

Larry ~

New Toys


I love it when I get a new toy and one I've really been looking forward to arrived today.

It may not seem like much, but it is suppose to be AWESOME!

It's called the Magic Trowel from TexMaster tools.

What I bought was the Magic Trowel Kit.

It includes a 22" blade, 12" blade and stainless steel handle with non-slip grip.

Here is a better view of the 22" blade with the handle attached.

The company site has a great "How-To" guide as well as a video demonstrating it.

While researching this little 'thingy' I ran across an excellent review of it over at the Brooklyn Row House blog.

So, hopefully this time next week I’ll be up to my eyeballs in plaster!

Larry ~

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I think the title says it all.

There is an old Mexican proverb, I can't remember exactly how it goes but it's something like this:

"Life is like a water fountain. For every cup of happiness you draw you also draw a cup of sorrow."

Well guess what, the past couple of days I got a couple cups of happiness - remember the blooming Crocus and the wood replacement board? Well last night and today I got my cups of sorrow.

Here's the back-story.

About a year and a half ago we put in a new, state-of-the-art septic infiltration system. I can not recommend this system highly enough! Any one needing to put in, or replace, a lateral septic field needs to go with this system. It's from Infiltrator Systems Inc (listed in the links section).

This is basically what it looks like. You can see it better if you go to their web site.

This side view shows you how ours is installed.

We did not need to go with a double application, like in the above picture, but we did install one chamber more than we needed - just in case.

This is the scar left behind. It isn't all that bad and will be smoothed out this year (the guy who installed it suggests we leave the scare alone for at least a year).

The best part is that it only took about 1 hour to dig the trench; one hour to lay and assemble the chambers and connecting pipe; and about 20 minutes to backfill.

In the middle of this pic you can see a muddy patch with a clump of leaves in the center.

Early evening yesterday I walked past the spot and noticed a 'funky' smell. I turned around and coming from this spot was a little spring of dirty water.


So I checked the site for trouble shooting and new it couldn't be the septic tank its self. But there in the literature was a statement about drought conditions and lots of rain. So, we think that all the rain we had last summer and fall, plus all the snow this winter, has caused chamber system shifted and knock the connection pipe out of kilter.

The strongest evidence to this is the fact that the little spring is right above the pipe’s location, not above the chambers or tank.

So, guess what I get to do tomorrow!!

To top it off I will leave you with this pic - the first blooming WEED of the year.

Isn't it nice....


We have so many friends, and family, ask why we do not apply weed killer to the yard. If we did this we would have no yard! Right now, green is green. When the weeds are mowed they look nice too. Besides, the grass is making a comeback in some spots.

We just figure "why redo the lawn at this point when there is still so much landscaping to do".

Oh well...I guess I've got my two cups of sorrow. The next cup should be happiness.

Larry ~

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Spring has sprung!

Spring is finally here!!

The past couple of days the weather has been in the 70's and beautiful. I have even been wearing shorts!!

Sure makes it hard to stay inside and work on the house though.

The first sign of spring around out house is the blooming of the Crocus.

For the first few years of living here we might be able to enjoy this little flower for a day or two. Our youngest niece would see and immediately pick all the blooms.

Now that she is older we are able to enjoy them for the entire time they are in bloom.

The only bad thing about this little Crocus plant is that it's the only one on the property.

We have no idea how old it is, but it has bloomed each and every year so far.

I know you can’t see the single bee in the pic, but you can see the opening to the hive.

Last year we found out that we have a colony of honeybees living in the old Catalpa tree in the west lawn. We had debated about cutting this tree down because the top died out, but it still leafs out every year. Now that honeybees have moved in it will stay put.

BTW - we discovered the colony last year while working in the yard. I happened to walk past the tree and heard a subtle 'humming' sound. I looked up and saw thousands - and I do mean THOUSANDS - of bees all over the tree around that opening. We had several people over to have a look, but never even though to get a pic! I will this year though.

Larry ~

Stuff for the kitchen

As some of you who have been following this blog know, we have a theme in mind for the kitchen.

While we intend to take it back to the turn of the 20th century as much as possible we are still going to give it a twist. We are giving it a French/Italian bistro type theme.

So, with this in mind we have purchased of few items to add to the collection we already have. Along with those items we have purchased some of the new hardware for the kitchen.

This is one of the original sash handles for the large windows. I've added it here because it seems to fit.

Anyway, this one, along with its mate, was painted that other sickly color of green. In order to use it we will have to clean it up. Unfortunately that means the original finish will be destroyed. We really don't care for the original finish (IIRC it's called Bavarian Finish), but it's still a shame that it will be destroyed.

Why will it be destroyed you ask? Well, let me tell you.

The original finish is extremely fragile. At times you can remove it by just using soap and water! The stuff that will need to be used to remove the built up gunk will surely do away with it. Once clean, I'll have to figure out someway to spruce it up.

This is one of the little sash pulls we will put on the small windows. These never had sash handles before and so the windows were difficult to open at times.

Now here we have one of the new light switches.

Yes - they are the old style push-button ones. It is made to modern standards, but looks, and operates just like the originals in the house.

Eventually, these will replace all the toggle type switches.

This is one of the switch cover plates.

You have no idea how hard it is to find these and have them looking 'old' from the get-go. Hopefully they are as good as the pictures.

Okay, SWMBO has a 'thing' for cats - especially black ones. We both also have a 'thing' for vintage French items of the Belle Époque.

So, when we found this poster we knew we had to have it. It will be place on the wall you see when looking into the kitchen from the dining room.

This last one is a bit on the cutesy side, but hey, every room needs a little 'kitsch' to break up the everyday items.

And yes, it is a pair of kissing snails. Not only that, but they are salt & pepper shakers!

Why these you might be asking? Simple, they are goofy, they are French and we LOVE Escargot! Cooked with a little garlic and parsley butter and served with toast and a nice wine - YUM!

Well, as we move along, I will post more pics of what’s in store for the kitchen. Just wait till you see what we use for a pot rack.

Larry ~

A few steps closer...

Well, the weather has been nice, so it's been slow going on the woodwork in the house. The bad thing is I'm so close to having all the prep work done! If I could only concentrate on DOING it it would be finished in about two days, then I could start on the plaster skim coat.

Here's a peek at one of the 'little' problems I keep running into. Remember all that termite damage? Well, one of the worst spots was around the back door leading into the utility porch. A lot of the molding was eaten away from the back.

I tried to fix the problem by filling the back with wood filler. The plan was then to finishing filling in the eaten away spots from the front with top quality wood filler.

Unfortunately, the stuff on the back warped the thinnest section at the top of the board. No matter what I tried nothing worked to smooth it back out.

In this close-up you can see just how bad it is.

The pic doesn't do it justice, but the top is so warped you can not lay a straight edge on it.

Now, as you may remember from earlier posts, we were told that the wood was imported French heart pine. Since then we have found out that it is also known as yellow hard pine. What ever you might call it it is very expensive to find it in the board sizes we have in the house. I was told we could order it in at $10 a lineal foot!! That would place this board at around $60!!!!!!

Just look at the veining - looks beautiful doesn't it?

We started looking all over for a replacement piece of wood. A friend of ours actually had a piece, but it was too short.

Then the other day I was walking by the burn pit and noticed a board we had tossed out by it for burning. The original board was 10 feet long and painted that hideous green that the walls are painted. It was one of the boards used to cover the plumbing chase. When we first removed it the ends split, it was pitted, and the nail holes ripped out. We also thought that it was the cheap type of pine you normally find at the local DIY shop. However, with the way the weather has been, the paint flaked off while it was laying out there.

Low and behold!! Look what it turned out to be!!

Here is the board after I cut it out of the original board. I got lucky because the side edges and ends of the board were so bad I had to cut this board out of the center and that just so happens to be where the best veining was located.

Isn't this board a beauty?! I have rescued the other board that was with it and managed to save the left over pieces that could be used from the main board.

Caution - the next part is not for the squeamish!!

Cat barf - it's not just for cleaning up anymore!!

Yes - you heard me right.

The other day one of the cats got sick and barfed in a couple of areas. SWMBO cleaned it up. I don't do animal barf - I can handle just about anything else (I use to be a morticians assistant) but I can't do animal barf.

Anyway, when she cleaned it up look at what she found.

Do you see that nice, clean, shiny spot? That's where the cat did the deed.

The stuff wasn't there for long, but it sure removed the adhesive.

Yup...a close up.

Isn't it nice, clean and shiny?

Here's the second spot.

This is even in one of the thickest adhesive spots, but it still came up.

Another close up - sorry for the fuzziness.

Now if only I could come up with a way to reproduce the chemicals that create the 'barf'. If I could do this, I could bottle it and sell to other people who have floors like this!

On the other hand, perhaps I could just feed the cats some epicac and have a cat barfing party!!!

Oh well, here's to wishing......