Since I wrote my last blog “The Hall of Shame” on Sunday, I vowed to focus my energies on my current project, hoping to have it completed by Easter Sunday. Soooo, that hasn’t happened. While working on this project was my top priority, I also had to work, take Daisy to the vet,
walk the lake, make repeated trips to the paint store, Home Depot, the bank, HomeGoods, blah, blah blah. So here it is Wednesday, and although the progress is intermittent and the pace is slow, things are coming along. Of my to-do list that I posted, the accomplishments thus far are:
2. “Re-paint and wallpaper something” I began the wallpaper stripping, the puttying, the sanding and general prep work to complete the transformation successfully. Can I tell you how much I hate prep work!?! The walls below the chair rail were covered in wallpaper- 3 layers deep, my doing, that I decided to remove to start with a clean slate. Using my handy Wagner 905 Power Steamer made this job a bit easier. It’s an all-purpose steamer that I use everywhere in my house to clean and sterilize without any chemicals! Along with a spray bottle filled with Vinegar, Dove dish soap and hot water, the stripping took approximately 4 exhausting hours. Puttyed and sanded all the holes, dings and scrapes. I typically use these sanding sponges because they fit into small corners and cracks, and you can rinse and re-use them. And this is the putty-Drydex. It is creamy pink before you apply it and turns white when dry. And I love pink!
And then came the bannister and railing. Curvy and dark, very beautiful, with 150 year old varnish that is virtually impossible to remove. The remaining progress has come to a screeching halt as I work my way slowly up the railing. I may hand everyone a sanding sponge on Sunday- do you think they will work for Peeps?
Ok, well I hired someone to do the front part. He only did half and hasn’t come back to finish. Not gonna name names, yet. During the great stretch of weather we had a couple of weeks ago, I started raking down in the “back 40”. Kept looking at the white picket fence and thought that it needed a nice new coat of paint. So I started painting that, and then I ran out of paint. Where’s Tom Sawyer when you need him? So I haven’t finished raking. Or mulching. Or painting.
4. “Wash all the windows” Haven’t finished yet, but I did make a great head start using this crazy “As Seen On TV” “Streak-Less Microfiber Cloth” that someone just gave me! You wet it and wipe the windows-no cleaners required and guaranteed not to streak! Guess what?!? It works!!! It only takes seconds to wipe each window, even the one’s with Daisy’s nose prints all over them. When the cloth gets dirty you wash it and keep using it. Crazy stuff. Too bad it won’t remove varnish from the railings…
So there’s the update. I have four days left. Wish me luck.
For some reason, it never occurs to me to NOT do a full-on reno project right before a holiday. So many times, with the deadline looming, the projects are not fully completed, or don’t get done properly. New wallpaper slapped over older wallpaper that never gets stripped, paint only gets one coat, the surfaces not properly prepped and sanded.
On several episodes of Modern Family, Phil Dunphy makes a mad dash up his stairs, tripping halfway up on a loose stair tread. As he mutters “I’ve got to fix that thing”, I think of our front hall. We use it 100 times a day, but at some point, we just stopped seeing it- the scraped walls, the torn wallpaper, the threadbare carpet.
Our “Hall of Shame” is like poor, overworked Cinderella. With some loving care and a glass slipper, it could be the Belle of the Ball, but right now it is the ugly stepsister. It was updated back in the 80’s, with cherry burgundy carpeting that is now thread-bare and worn from years of kids’ cleats and muddy paws. The floor is stick-on faux marble black and white check, with most of the ends curling up. The wallpaper has been changed a couple of times, but always with a nod to the horrible carpet. The bannister and railings? Well, they have been sanded and sanded and stripped and sanded some more, but never completed. I spent one whole summer stripping the paint off of the stair treads, only to find that that the wood was so worn, I went ahead and repainted them. BIG mistake!
So this time I started a week early-lol! But this time I am going to take my time and do it right, from the ceiling to the floor, both upstairs and down. I am creating my “mood board”, choosing my colors thoughtfully and adding the accessories carefully. As this week goes on, I will keep you updated on my progress. And if it is not done by Easter Sunday, so be it.
Hopefully, for my guests it will conjur up lovely images of faraway rustic Italy. I will just pour some wine, carve the ham and no one will even notice my latest work in progress. It’s gonna be a long week…
Happy Renovating! Susan
Would you like an App to finally start managing your photos on your Ipad? To anyone who owns an Ipad, you know how frustrating it can be to sort and store your photos. Whether you are downloading shots from your Iphone or content from websites like Pinterest, the pics just get added to file names like Last Import and Saved Photos. Not very helpful when you are trying to present a slideshow of your portfolio to a client, or just looking at travel photos and dreaming of your next faraway adventure.
Not sure why Apple didn’t think that people would want to name and sort their pics on their Ipad, because it is such a great port for showing off your photograpic genious.
I just found an amazing $2.99 App: The Photo Manager Pro by Linkus. This app allows you to sort your photos and create photo albums in multiple category file folders. It also allows you to share and sequence your pics, name or rename them and add captions to them as well. Once completed, you can view them individually or with a slideshow presentation with music you choose from your Itunes!
Once sorted, you are also able to transfer what youare doing to and from your computer, assuming you are using the same WIFI for both. It is so user-friendly, and takes little time to sort all of your existing photos into albums. Of course, if you want to name and caption all 915 shots you took in Scandanavia & Russia, that takes time!
Happy Picture Taking! Susan
For those of you who don’t know the continuing saga of the squirrel I refer to as Rocky, a quick back story to fill you in. About a year ago, in the very room where I am typing this blog, I started hearing loud, scratchy noises. Something was clawing its way up inside the wall, across the ceiling (and my head!!) and down the other side-yikes!! I pounded on the wall- hearing the 150-year-old horsehair plaster come tumbling down-and the scratching sound went away. I figured I scared the little guy outta there! Wrong!
The Trapping Part I: Caught Rocky on the roof in a Havahart trap using nuts and peanut butter. He finished his snack, switched his tail and busted out of the trap before our very eyes!
The Trapping: Part II . Success! Caught him red-pawed in the basement digging through a trash bag-so I promptly used my McGyver-like skills to create a trap using an old sheet and electrical cord (not plugged in, my mistake). Dragged the bag across the street and set him free into the lovely conservation land. Returned to the house and, according to the squirrel guy, Dennis the Mennis (nope, not making that up) he was back in the house before we were! He was now using our home as a flophouse and a storage facility. We found piles of Daisy’s dog food inside my husband’s sneakers and ice skates! Try explaining that to the clerk at the skate shop..
Three Unfortunate Souls: Persistant, destructive little guy. If we boarded up one eave, he ate a hole in another to get back in, causing thousands of dollars in damage. Early one morning, I heard the unmistakable chirping of teeny, tiny birds coming from somewhere very close to my bedroom window. Set the scene: At 5am, I climbed out the bathroom window onto the roof in my PJ’s. I pulled the chewed molding off with a hammer, only to find a bird’s nest with a freshly-hatched chick! As I yanked out the nest, it fell out onto the roof and rolled into the gutter, lifeless. Sadly patched up the hole, buried the bird. End of story-right? You should know me by now. Down the stairs to fire up the Keurig, passed by the downstairs bathroom and heard the unmistakeable chirping of teeny, tiny birds! The other two babies had fallen INTO the house and were now in the ceiling of our downstairs bathroom!! One way in, no way out. Reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Telltale Heart, the chirping drove me to the brink of madness, and by the third day I was ready to take a Sawz-all to the ceiling to free them. But the chirping finally stopped. Poor unfortunate souls. End of story-right? Read on.
It’s summer now, and Rocky seems to have moved on. I am leaving to join my husband in Scandanavia for a much-needed vacation. We had hired a contractor to repair all of the squirrel damage and he was scheduled to do the work while we were away. I get a call from the painter. He tells me not only is there a squirrel in the front (yet-to-be-repaired) eave, she has babies in there!!! Apparently Rocky had been “busy”. Or perhaps Rocky was actually Rosita! I left a message for the contractor to get Dennis the Mennis back, get rid of that nutty family and I get on a plane to Copenhagen. The story ends here. Right?
Fast forward to this past Sunday. While doing laundry in what I refer to as the dungeon (my basement), I spotted what appeared to be some wood shavings on a table. While I had noticed them before, and assumed it was from some recent electrical work we had done, the pile was most definitely growing. Grabbing my flashlight, I peered up between all the new wires attached to my basement floor joists, and there it was-the point of entry! Now I am no varmint expert, but I believe that a 3 inch hole in your 150 year old wooden sill with freshly chewed shavings is an indication that Rocky the Squirrel is using your home as a B & B. Lots of nice laundry in baskets for a cushy night’s sleep. And since I had repeatedly set out traps with Cheezits and peanut butter, breakfast included. Sooo, what to do? I grabbed a can of this great stuff- literally called Great Stuff! It shoots a foamy expandable insulation out of a long straw that fit neatly between the wires. I plugged the hole, hopefully forever ending the saga of Rocky the Squirrel. Perhaps.
But I’ll keep you posted.
If you are family or a friend of our family, you must love dogs. Even if you don’t have a furry companion living under your own roof, chances are that you’re sure to encounter some muddy pawprints and a cold, wet nose no matter what or where the family celebration. In our immediate and extended families, the dog count stands at 11 and cats round out the pet quotient to 14. We are a pet-loving family, and they’re all treated to the finer things in life.
At 16 years old, Winston the Westie is our elder statesman, and following closely behind him at 14 is our rescued Lab Mutt Daisy. Nipping at her heels is Jesse, a beautiful Black Lab.We have big boys Harry (he’s visiting with his pal Milo) and Brooks
& little dogs Bucky, Bartlet and Chessy
Now as you can see by the photos, our dogs are part of our lives. Most of them have free run of our homes including the comfiest sofas, beds and occasional tabletops. That’s a lot of fur flying around!!! Which is why I am happy to share this helpful posting from HGTV: 9 Tips for a Chic and Pet Friendly Home from the great book Animal House Style.
The pet journalist, Julia Szabo, presents tips on how to live in a house with pets (she has a dozen!) while keeping it clean and pawprint free. An author of several books, a writer for the New York Post’s Pets column and a frequent guest on Martha Stewart Radio’s “Morning Living” Show, she knows her pet stuff! Several of the tips are common sense, including vacuuming daily- the whole house-Yikes! That’s a lot of sucking up-literally- unless you have one of those little iRobots that magically keeps your house dust and dander free. She also suggests ditching the wall to wall carpeting and using washable covers and bed linens, which I do have on every soft surface.
And how about choosing fabrics and furniture that match your pets?! For my niece Lindsey, this seems a tad impractical, since her three dogs are black and white, which would surely limit her decorating and her wardrobe! Speaking of which, I have one additional suggestion:
If you have a pet that sheds, DITCH THE FLEECE. Got that? DO NOT WEAR FLEECE & TOSS THE FLEECE BLANKETS!
Pet fur and dander imbeds itself in this fabric, and it is virtually impossible to get it out unless you pick each hair out individually. Which really lengthens your daily prep time to get out the door. So unless you want to wear that North Face hoodie looking like an old “cat lady”, switch to cotton. In a color that matches your dog. While you vacuum.