Friday, April 22, 2011

We have awesome friends.

Something old? Ummm, check.
Something new? Well, there will be a new fridge soon.
Something borrowed? Check, check, check, check... This is the house
the village (re)built.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Still kickin' (and scrapin'), and a Word from Our Sponsor

A promissory note. We've been busy scraping paint and moving stuff, and we'll have pictures of some lovely naked wood (I hope that phrase doesn't impact our Google Safe Search rating. Gosh, along with all the "stripping" references... what is this coming to?), ready for varnishing, by the weekend. We've also been meeting with various contractors, and, best of all, arranging to borrow some very necessary and very expensive tools (a HUUUGE thanks to Steve!). Which brings me to the topic of today's post:

A word from our sponsor

This stuff is expensive. Tools, materials, accessories, replacements, beer for the volunteers (if you made vague noises about joining in the work, know that there will be reward and drop us an email!)... it all adds up. To which end we are selling out.

We've signed up for the Amazon-Affiliates deal wherein we get a kickback for directing traffic to Amazon. So if we mention something with a link to Amazon, you click through there, and then purchase anything at all from Amazon within 24 hours, we get a few cents on the dollar. And cents on the dollar add up; our last two Amazon purchases were both under $10: Tyvek painting overalls and safety glasses.

Given that our traffic consists mostly of those who love or at least pity us, we've also created an Amazon wishlist for the house. If any perusers of the wishlist have comments in the vein of "Oh, you have the Dickens & Bronte brand smokeshifter on your list; the Tolstoy-Kropotkin model is much better," we'll welcome them. Now...

Back to our unusual programming

Just for kicks, I googled "un-muddied" to see where we stack up (not very well). This wasn't the top hit, but it was the best: An Un-Muddied Bloody Mary, using the seeds-and-juice that one usually throws away when making tomato sauce. It looks delish; and I can't wait to sip a few on the back porch. When the tomatoes grow. And when the work is done...

Coming down the pike
A post on The Worst-Hung Door in the World (and coming even further down the pike: "What We Did About It").

Monday, April 4, 2011

Listing photos

We've gotten a lot of, "okay, now we know what the floors and the baseboards look like, but a wider perspective of the house would be kinda nice, too!"  So, for your viewing pleasure, I've included the listing photos, so you can see how the place looked when we fell in love with it.  I'll post more pictures of the rooms as we go along with our moving and renovation, but I thought these photos might be a nice start because they show the house when it actually had things in it!  My apologies, though - these aren't the highest quality....

Our little brown house:

Front entryway and staircase:

Front parlor (we've debated calling this a living room, but the furniture in this picture clearly says, "parlor!"

 Dining Room:

Office.  This room was originally the kitchen, which is why the door to the basement is in this room.  (Behind you, in this picture.)  Also, the white post hidden in the corner on the far right is actually the old fireplace/chimney for the kitchen, which has been sealed off.  This room became an extra bedroom when the original owner got older and didn't want to be traveling up and down stairs (in the 60s), and a new kitchen (stay tuned for a classic 1960s kitchen in a frame or two) was built, complete with plastic tile, birch cabinets, and an additional resplendently pink half bathroom.    We are going to make this room our library. 

I told you it was classic 1960s.  Like the sink?  Yes, it is seafoam green.  Enamel over cast iron, we believe.  All that empty space above the tiny cabinets are empty soffit.  Seriously?  Cabinets, here we come! 

Master bedroom, main room.  Through the doorway is the second room of the master suite.  The painting on the wall to the right is of Mount Calvary, complete with crucifix.  A little heavy, first thing in the morning, don't you think?  To the left, you can just see the wing of a skeletal pteradactyl, at least that's what we think it is.  Yep. 

Attic room!   I'm super excited about this room.  It was a bedroom for the previous owners, but we're going to make it a craft room for the family.  Yay!  Also, will double as a guest bedroom, don't worry!  Note:  much as it causes us great glee every time Nelly talks about the "snowsuit staircase" (i.e., the hallway that is as hectically painted as her snowsuit is patterned), that spongepainting will not be there for much longer, we hope.....

Deck and view of the back yard in the spring/summer.  Hard to see in this photo, but on the left rail of the deck is a waxing and waning moon series, including stars, a galaxy, and a UFO.  Nelly loves the UFO.  And on the front and right sides of the deck is a beautiful carved rising sun.  This is really hard to see in this picture, since the tree is right in front of the sun itself, but you can see a few of the carved rays in the rails on either side of the tree.

View of the back of the house, fish pond, and deck.   We haven't seen the yard in bloom like this yet, so we are excited to see what comes up.  But, as you know if you've been following along, we've had some hints here and there of things to come....

You might be thinking, aren't there other rooms, like the kids's rooms, and maybe a bathroom or two?  Yes, there are two other bedrooms (yellow = the one Varro will be in, where we've almost finished stripping paint, and blue = the one Nelly will be in), and a bath and a half.  There are reasons these weren't included in the listing - the two bedrooms were both being used as offices, so they were completely full of stuff, and I'm sure it was hard to take a good listing picture at the time.  And the bathrooms....well, the half bath is about 3 ft wide by 10 ft long, is pretty much floor-ceiling in beige plastic tile, and includes a pink sink, a pink toilet, and a 1960s medicine cabinet with cracked plastic sidelights.  The upstairs bath is more promising and has some great tile, which we will showcase later, but, I'm sure the agent wasn't excited to put out there right away that there's no proper shower, by modern standards!  But, there is a lovely clawfoot tub....with red-painted toenails.  Sigh. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

The death sconce

So, a few weeks ago, brimming with motivation to de-fuzz/dust/clean the main floor of the house, I mopped all the floors with that magical solution, Murphy's oil soap, cleaned and oiled the baseboards, cleaned the fireplace with granite cleaner, and then set out to tackle the light fixture that I could reach, that being the sconce on the wall in the parlor.  It's not our style, and it's not really the style of our house, but hey - it's a light fixture and if it works, right now, it wouldn't be high on our list to replace. 

It was a goldish-brassish fixture with brass-colored rosettes, chandelier crystals and candle-like lights.  And, it was so dirty it actually had dirt-fur (you know what I mean).  "It was..."  Am I, perhaps, foreshadowing a wee bit???

So I carried over my step ladder and my roll of paper towels and my squirt bottle of glass cleaner.  I tackled all the crystals and the brass wall plaque and got it looking looking pretty decent.  Then, there was the matter of the candle-stick looking things, which were stained an unpleasant, "I'm really old and not in a good way" brownish-yellowish color.  So, I unscrewed all the lightbulbs, cleaned them, and placed them carefully on the mantle and started pulling off the candlesticks.  To my dismay, I discovered they were actually wax-coated cardboard.  Not super great, and certainly not really cleanable with my current set of products.  But , this was all something I was willing to consider addressing.

HOWEVER, the second problem was rather more significant - as I was cleaning the candlestick platforms, the ******* thing nearly electrocuted me!  Yes, it was off (thanks, those of you who immediately leaped to that question.)  I got a shock so bad I nearly fell off the ladder, and my arm tingled for two days afterwards.  Not so fun.  Tim turned off the circuit for the fixture and we reassembled the fixture while the circuit was off, and then contemplated the future of the now named death sconce. 

I'm happy to say, this is what we decided on:

Yep, my friends, the death sconce has left the building.

Anyone looking for a wall sconce that may cause near death experiences?

Tim thinks it was a wiring issue, not necessarily the sconce itself (which somehow has not really mitigated my mistrust and dislike of the scorned sconce.) 

But, he's written a helpful explanation of what happened, for those of you DIYers who may be considering the pitfalls of old electric appliances in your homes.   

Says Tim:
Standard practice: switch the light off, clean it.
What the hell happened?
It seems that the electrical mastermind who wired up the lamp figured, "Ah, well, as long as I wire a switch into the circuit, when we open (turn off) the switch, the circuit will be broken and the light will go off!" (It's all too obvious that the phrase "light going off" can apply to a mental state, and mean either beginning to glow or ceasing....)

Well, that's great, except that the electrical power to the fixture comes from one wire (the black wire, according to code, and in fact the circuit was wired correctly; black wire was hot) and the other wire is neutral; it's necessary to complete the circuit, but when the switch is off, there's no charge in the neutral wire. This lovely little fixture was wired with the switch in the neutral rather than in the hot wire, so that when the switch was off, current didn't flow, and the light didn't light...but the whole fixture was loaded with a 110 volt charge.

With the switch in the wrong place, it would be like shifting your car into neutral when you park it rather than turning off the engine. Not exactly great for, say, changing the oil. Another helpful illustration is a zookeeper's experiemce:  cleaning the lion cage when the beast is sleeping, rather than moving him to another place is not a recommended practice.

Here's a good link: How to Determine Which Wire is "Hot" in Household Wiring |
Text is informative and funny:
"If you have not switched off the breakers like you're supposed to and you grab the copper conductor of this wire, you will probably feel an unmistakable tingling sensation quickly travel up your arm. If you do feel it, let go of the wire because this sensation is not good for you. If this happens to you often, be sure to have someone around who knows CPR and first aid when you do home repairs."