Monday, May 30, 2011

Choosing a Paver Color

The back/Kitchen door is the door we use on a daily basis. There is a path/sidewalk/a couple pieces of asphalt leading from the driveway to the big stone steps in front of the door. As ugly as it is, it wasn't exactly one of our top priorities. We're focusing on the interior problems first, and will deal with the exterior and landscaping when we're done. However... With all of the rain we've had this spring, the little path has gotten to be a huge annoyance. After only about an inch of rain, the pathway transforms into a stream. It must have been installed a long time ago, and incorrectly, because over time the asphalt has sunken in the ground. In some spots it is completely under the grass. In others it has sunken to form a "V". So if it is raining, or rained yesterday, you have to walk on the grass alongside the path. Which isn't any better than walking through the river path. The bottom 6" of my pants and shoes get soaking wet and I'm mad by the time I make it to the car.

Last week I saw a commercial for Lowe's saying they were having a Memorial Day stone sale. All stone pavers were on sale.. 20% off. While at Lowe's a couple days later (to get stuff to build the garden) I checked out the pavers. I didn't really love any of them... but if I had to choose one, I'd choose the cheapest one they had. Just plain bricks.. in red or gray. Nothing special, but I didn't like any of the expensive ones either, so why not just buy the least expensive ones? 

This Saturday we bought a sample of each color. R wanted red and I wanted gray, and arguing about it at home is usually better than doing it in the store :) The bricks sat outside for 2 days.. and of course, one of those days it rained. Before the rain, I still preferred the gray one. The top rock step is reddish in color, but the bottom one is more grayish. Both colors looked good next to the bottom step, but I thought that the gray looked better against the grass (and I hate red). But after the rain, the gray looked horrible! I can't even explain it. So red it is.. And they're only $0.38/each (though that really does add up when you realize you need 585 of them).

With the help of my dad's friend, we went and bought the bricks today. As big and heavy duty as his truck is, we still had to make two trips (luckily Lowe's is literally one mile down the road). It was horribly hot and humid today, so this is as far as we got:
They're piled up behind our garage.. hopefully we'll get a less humid weekend soon..

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Me & A Pick Axe

Today I tore up the back sidewalk... With a pick axe (which is an awesome tool btw). The sidewalk was asphalt, but wasn't installed correctly, so it wasn't too hard to tear up. Most pieces came up in smaller 4"ish pieces, but toward the garage they came up in huge huge pieces (like 2'x2' or larger).
Unfortunately it was wicked hot and humid this weekend, so I'd work for like a half hour and then have to go inside and rest for awhile. It took me all day to tear up the sidewalk (all that's left is the little bit between the lean-to and garage), which is about 32 feet long (not including between the lean-to and garage).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Our Backyard Farm

We're turning into farmers over here. Friday we had our baby chicks for the weekend. My mom is a first grade teacher and one of the units she is doing with her kids is hatching baby chicks. Once school is over, we will be keeping them here. Until then, we only get them on the weekend. They were only 3 days old when we got them.. they're so cute! The two we had this weekend are Nugget and Patrick (Nugget is Ryan's, Patrick is mine).

Saturday, May 21, 2011

We Build a Garden

Today was a beautiful day outside, so we took advantage of the nice weather to finally build our garden. We decided to make the garden 8'x4' and two 2x6's tall. USE UNTREATED WOOD!! You don't want the chemicals from pressure treated wood seeping into your vegetables!

Step 1: R cut two of the 2x6's in half. Those 4 pieces became the end pieces. Measure 18" lengths on the 2x3 and cut 6 pieces. Also cut 4 24" pieces, and cut the ends so they come to a point. While he was doing that, I used a measuring tape and marked out the location in the yard. We chose a spot that basically has direct sun all day long.
Step 2: Using 3 2 1/2" screws, screw a 2x3 posts into the center of the shorter 2x6's. Do the same for the pointed 2x3's at the ends using 3 1/2" screws. Dig two holes in the ground at either end of this wall and lower the pointed ends into the ground. Use a hammer or mallet if necessary. Make sure that the dirt is packed down around the posts.
Step 3: Install two 18" 2x3's on the two longer sides and then screw them onto the posts on the first end.
Step 4: Repeat Step 2 for the final end. We made our garden level (even though our yard slopes down here), but it isn't necessary. As long as the top of the walls all line up you will be okay.
We have two resident groundhogs and a bunch of bunnies, so we had to take them into account when planning the garden. They're too cute for us to take measures to get rid of them (the #1 way online to get rid of groundhogs is a shotgun... that is just not acceptable in this house!). So instead, we took measures to make sure they couldn't get in the garden.
Step 5: Cover the bottom of the garden with a roll of chicken wire. This will prevent the groundhog from tunneling up into the garden.
Step 6: Cover the chicken wire with weed fabric. This isn't necessary, but we will definitely appreciate it when there is little to no weeding to do! We used a staple gun to secure the wire and fabric.
Step 7: Fill garden with dirt. We used free composted soil that our town provides (it is made from the leaves the town picks up every fall) for the bottom two-thirds. On top of that we added 2 large bags of vegetable garden soil we bought at a home improvement store. Rake the top to mix the soil around a little bit. We also added a little lime.
Step 8: Install metal fence posts at the edges and in the middle of the longer sides. We used a metal garden fence which came in a roll and very easily attached to the posts. The fence is adjustable and can also be opened easily when we need to access the garden. But most importantly it keeps out our groundhog friends.

Walls and Posts: (6) 2x6's, (2) 2x3's - $33
Chicken Wire, Fencing, Garden Soil, Weed Fabric - $78
Vegetable Plants: Watermelon, Cucumber, Tomatoes - $4
Vegetable Plants: Tomatoes, Squash, Beets, Beans, Broccoli, Strawberries, Raspberries, Pumpkins - $0 (from my dad)

Total Cost: $115 (which shocked me at first, but then when I really thought about it the $33 and $78 will be spread out for many many years. We really only spent $4 for all of our summer vegetables, which is how much we would pay for vegetables for one meal from the grocery store)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Planning a Garden

We both grew up in homes with large vegetable gardens and got used to having fresh vegetables in the summer. For the past 4 years, we've lived in apartments, and while we tried to have some plants (tomato and strawberry) on our porch last summer, it just didn't work. I think we got maybe 4 strawberries and 2 tiny little tomatoes. So buying our own home also meant that we'd finally be able to have our own garden!

For the past year we've been trying to figure out where exactly to put the garden. Summer was almost half over by the time we bought the house, and we didn't actually move in until the fall, so we just used the time to scope out the sunniest spot in the yard. Luckily for us that spot happens to be where we have a big bare spot of grass. We think the previous owner had an above ground pool there for awhile and just never planted grass when he removed the pool.
R is concerned about the soil.. the house has been here for 240 years... who knows what is buried in the backyard. So we decided to build a raised garden. For now, we're planning for it to be 8'x4', and approximately 10" off the ground. I've also read that raised gardens help your vegetables grow quicker and better, because the sun can warm the soil faster and more efficiently, and you are able to control what kind of soil you use. So it's really a win-win situation for us.

We'll be building the garden tomorrow, but until then, here are some raised garden inspiration pictures. I like the little ledge/seat the first one has... seems like it would come in handy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Kitchen Inspiration

It's too rainy and wet here this week for any painting, so I'll post some pictures of my inspirations for each room. Today: Kitchen.

When we're done with our Kitchen it will have white cabinets, dark granite countertops, oil rubbed bronze hardware, yellow walls and a wood floor. As much as I usually hate red, I'm leaning towards having some red in the curtains.

I love this picture because of the large bump-out in the wall that reminds me of my own. I think that some day, when we put on an addition and I get a bigger kitchen, I'll do something like this. 
This is the blue color I was thinking for the built-in hutch and fireplace. I just love how this looks!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Half Bathroom Inspiration

I'm having the hardest time coming up with a design for our downstairs bathroom. The room is currently a full bath (with a tub/shower combo). The room is huge! When the house was remodeled to have indoor plumbing, they just turned an entire room into the bathroom. It's a strange space. Too big for a full bath, let alone a half bath, yet, what else would you do with the extra space? There is a utility closet right next to the bathroom, so I don't need that. I'm planning on using the lean-to and half of the existing bathroom as my pantry/extra Kitchen storage, so I don't need that. I can't come up with anything else.

If I just leave the bathroom the size I was planning (which is essentially half the size it is now because the back half where the toilet and tub are will become part of the pantry), it's still very large. And the window and radiator are pretty much dictating where everything can go.

There are a couple things that I definitely want to include in this bathroom. The first two are pretty simple requests. I want an elongated toilet (the toilets in our apartment seriously spoiled us.. we can't go back to normal round toilets) and a pedestal sink. I think that the pedestal sink would fit much better with the era and feel of the rest of the house. But that leaves me without any necessary under-sink storage. I found this picture online which I LOVE. The room is large enough that I could do this and not lose any important space. They put a wall about 18-24" out from the door wall, adjacent to the sink, creating cubby holes for baskets and towels. I love it! I figure I could have one small basket (maybe the top basket) where I could store simple cleaning supplies (paper towels, Clorox wipes, etc.) and the rest could have hand towels, soap, lotion.. It's open storage, which usually I find to be messy, but I think it could work.
This picture also has tall beadboard, which is another thing I'm planning on for this bathroom. The beadboard would be painted white to match the trim in the rest of the house, and I think the wall above would be painted a color similar to the living room in the above picture (dusty blue-ish). I also love having a little shelf at the top of the beadboard for decorations.
The beadboard is both pretty and necessary. The wallpaper in the existing bathroom wasn't installed correctly, so when we went to remove it, it took off the first layer of paper on the drywall underneath. If possible, we plan on only replacing some of the old drywall... what will be above the beadboard. We'll install the new beadboard over the old drywall and cut out the old drywall above. This will save time and money. And of course it's nice because I was planning on tall beadboard in here even before we knew the condition of the walls.

The floor in the bathroom is currently painted white. I think I will keep the floor painted (though a new coat/different color). I like that the bathroom is its own space because of the different floor color. The whole house has wide wood flooring, but it's stained in every other room. I just need to figure out a color I like. I don't think I'm adventurous for stripes or a really bright color. I need something neutral...

Friday, May 13, 2011

House Research

I recently went to the local library's Local History Room to do some research on the house.

What I already knew was that from 1770/1771 to 1843, the house was owned by Stephen Wilcox. When he died (at 97), the house was then bought or given to his great-great-grand-niece Adelia Wilcox. The house remained in the Mildrum family (three unmarried daughters lived there until their deaths) until 1953 when the last Mildrum sister, Hattie, died.

At the library and town hall I was able to find property transfers. It appears that Hattie sold the house on November 18, 1942 to Winslow G. Merrit. On February 15, 1957 Winslow Merrit sold the house to Leslie J. Wagner and Alice B. Delaney. On September 11, 1963, Leslie Wagner sold the house to Spence W. and Elizabeth A. Nelson. They sold the house to the person we bought it from in 1966.

I was also able to get a couple simple property maps from the town hall. They show inaccurate property lines (according to the map, our next door neighbor owns our driveway, garage and a corner of our house), which we know aren't true because there are metal stakes in the ground indicating the property lines.

I was also able to find a couple building permits from when the previous owner installed the pool and when he upgraded to 200 amps.

I love researching stuff :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Kitchen Hutch Inspiration

We are obsessed with This Old House here in this old house. It's the reason I became an architect. It started when I was two years old and would beg my mom to put Bob Vila on TV. My mom always thought it was strange for a two year old to be so into home improvement, but always acquiesced. It was better than violent cartoons or something. I think it's because of the show that I am also obsessed with old houses. And DIY.

So you can imagine my excitement yesterday when my newest issue of TOH magazine showed up. I flipped to the first page and there in the index was a picture of a built-in hutch almost identical to my own. 
The article is about transforming old furniture using simple painting techniques. The article is about the purple cabinet, not the white one in the background. But I just love how the cabinet is decorated! It looks so much like the one I have in my Kitchen, the one I'm having a hard time figuring out how to decorate (ok, so my Kitchen isn't done yet and I shouldn't be decorating it, but I can still think about it, right?). I love the baskets, and stacked plates, and framed picture, and bowl with flowers. I'm so happy I finally know what I want to do. Maybe I should even add a 1 1/2" piece of wood to the bottom of my shelves, to give them the appearance of being thicker, like in the picture..

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Stephen and Mary Wilcox

I came across these the other day and thought they were really interesting. Like I've said before, I'm really into old stuff..

This is the death notice of the original owner of our house... Stephen Wilcox. He was born on October 19, 1746 in what is now Berlin, CT. He died on December 31, 1843 in the house. I read somewhere that he was buried at the house, but we haven't found any evidence of that. He has a headstone at the Wilcox Cemetery down the street, so he may have been moved there. Showing how beloved he was, his death notice takes up 13 lines in the newspaper. All of the other death notices take up 1 or 2.. being only one sentence.
  Another soldier of the Revolution gone. In Berlin, Ct. on the 21st ult, Mr. Stephen Wilcox, at the advanced age of ninety seven years. He was a man respected and beloved by a numerous circle of relations and friends, his descendants being over one hundred. He was remarkable for his temperate habits through life, to which we may ascribe his longevity. He was a consistent and exemplary member of the church of Christ over seventy years. But like the scattered leaves of Autumn, which cling to their parent stem and are torn away by the rude blasts of December, he is gone. Papers in Ohio copy.

His wife Mary Kelsey was born on December 30, 1749 in Wethersfield, CT. She died on October 22, 1836 in Berlin, CT. According to her death notice she died as a result of a fall, but we aren't sure if that fall was at home or not. Her notice, while not as long as her husbands, was also considerably longer than the other notices listed.
  At Berlin, Oct. 22d, Mary, the wife of Mr. Stephen Wilcox, aged 87 years. His age is 90. This venerable pair have lived together almost 66 years, and have been exemplary members of the Church of Christ, nearly 65 years. Her death was occasioned by a fall.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hand Prints and Lemonade

Today was the first nice day in about 2 weeks. It has been raining and cloudy Which has been good and bad. Good because I sit down at my laptop and work all day. Bad because I haven't been able to get any painting in.

I decided to paint the Twilight Room closet because it is a huge closet where I could be storing all of my excess office supplies, which are still in boxes. It took me almost all morning to clear out the boxes from the area, and then clean the closet (vacuuming and Clorox wiping). 

I then put two coats of Kilz 2 Primer on the walls, door, shelf and ceiling. I used two coats because the dark colors of the hand prints showed through very clearly through only one coat. And there were hand prints everywhere! The Kilz also took care of the weird smell that the closet had (I'm assuming it's from being shut for so long).

Once that dried, I painted the shelves, trim and ceiling with my favorite white paint. For the walls I used Benjamin Moore Lemonade, which we had leftover from our apartment painting days (same as the other rooms... paint calculator told us to get 2 cans, we didn't even use half of one can). I normally would have painted closet walls white, but I had more yellow paint than white, so I figured I might as well use it. It means that if we ever change the wall color I'll have to paint the closet as well, but hey, it's yellow. It'll cover easily. It wasn't easy painting a 7' tall, 23" deep closet, with a 14" shelf and a lightbulb hanging down from the ceiling. My neck and arms were killing me by the end of the day and I was covered in paint.

I was very happy with how it came out. The yellow looks much better here than it did in the apartment. Less neon-y. And it definitely looks a lot better than the hand prints!