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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Painting a rain barrel, swinging door, and a parrot?

Today is a "catch up post" with things I have been wanting to finish up around here....

When we bought the house in late December... out in the back yard next to the porch was this blue rain barrel.  I loved the idea of having a rain barrel.  My Great Grandma Today had a rain barrel and we would stick our hands it in and play with the water.  We are now paying for city water and sewer here at this house.  Our last house was our own well water and our own septic.  With a rain barrel, I think what a great way to water my flowers!  

I had seen a web page about painting rain barrels...   http://www.aquabarrel.com/learn_how_to_paint_barrel.php
so I decided to paint this one!   

I used "Fusion" paint by Krylon as it's made for plastic and should last a long time.  Previously I had used "Fusion" on some plastic lawn furniture about 10 years ago in Oconto and it lasted a long time---

Here is the blue barrel alongside the house....  I washed it good with bleach and let it totally dry in the sun.  I started out by setting it up on a box.  I sprayed the top portion white, and then the bottom portion in green with upward strokes.   

Note the stem of the silk flower setting on the ground. That is what I used with the white and green paints as a "reverse stencil" for the artistic spraying on the base coats.   What fun!!!!!   My neighbors probably all think I am some kind of nut already, I don't care.   My old neighbors used to call me "Martha" when they saw me out in the yard canning vegetable on a turkey deep fryer, or dying sheets spread out on the lawn, or rinsing out sheep fleeces and spreading to dry on the floor of the garage.  Oh well.

When Steve got home from work,  I had him drill a hole with the hole saw.  We had bought this plastic spigot at the Farm and Home store (Do It Best) and they had this neato two piece plastic plug thing with a rubber gasket on the inside.  It's specifically for making rain barrels.  You screw one piece from the inside and one from the outside with the rubber gasket making a water tight seal.  Once that is in place, you screw in the spigot with a little TFE paste or plumber's tape to make a good seal.

We set the barrel up on two cement base stones so it would be raised enough to fit my watering can underneath it.  The overflow hose (which was already on the barrel) is leading off  to the side yard where the tiger lillies are coming up.   The rain coming off the back shaker porch is what runs down the gutter into the barrel.   We had a little rain overnight, and it already filled the barrel up 1/3 of the way.

 (I still have to finish staining the two upper posts that support the porch roof) 

Another project that we tackled last night was a lot of fun and turned out to be a lot less work than we thought!

When we bought the house, there were two doors stored in the basement root cellar room.  One was originally from the fiber storage room upstairs where an accordion folding door has been installed.  Right away, we took off the accordion door and replaced it with the original door that belonged there.

The other door was a "Swinging Door" that was meant for the doorway between the kitchen and the pantry (now my laundry room).  In talking to one of the daughters who were raised here, she said she never remembers that door ever being in place.  Since the house was built in 1913-14, that means the door had been removed sometime over 40-50 years ago.  It spent half of it's life stuck down in the root cellar room.  We think it was taken out because when it swung inwards, it would hit the edge of the newer cabinetry that was installed later in the pantry?

So we hauled the door up from the basement storage area and laid it on some sawhorses in the garage.  We realize that the floor in the kitchen is now much higher than it had been 50+ years ago.  Three more layers of flooring and a subfloor occupy that doorway where this door once hung.  Steve sawed  3/4" off the bottom, cut out a new notch for the swinging hardware device and wire brushed off the rusty metal parts. I coated those with new rustoleum paint.  Then I decided to tackle the finish... thinking the door would need sanding, restaining and new varnish?  Well, with soft rags and a can of Liquid Gold... all the wood came out just gleaming clean!  The old varnish was still in very good shape and preserved the finish underneath all that dirt!

BEFORE                                                            AFTER

Amazing! No refinishing needed at all!   Note--- in the background is ANOTHER blue barrel.  I might paint that one too and put it under the rain gutter behind the garage and use it to water tomatoes I want to plant back there.

Back to the door:

Since it looks so good, Steve screwed in the swinging hinge pieces and we brought the door into the house.  It is now restored back to it's original place in the kitchen!  It looks so nice there on the left of the grandtot photos.

The door to the far left is also a swinging door that leads to the formal dining room
The middle door is the one we just put into place to the laundry room. 
The door to the right leads to the downstairs bathroom, back hallway and down to the basement. 

Speaking of the laundry room... it's finally DONE!   (just about) I want to coat the newer style oak cabinets with a layer of colored polyurethane to make it match the rest of our woodwork. We moved up the washing machine, dryer and laundry sink to this room after moving the main appliances into the kitchen and removing the bottom cabinets and sink.  We have a bit of trim to finish up, but mostly the room is done and functional.  The door to the right in the right photo leads up the back stairs to the upper floor.


On Saturday morning, Steve went to help his brother move some exercise equipment he bought from a friend's mother.  While there, the lady was preparing for a rummage sale.  She had Steve look at her "treasures".... and he brought home some wonderful things for our home! 

This stained glass parrot is wonderful!   I hung it up on the front porch and it turns around in the breezes from the open windows.  The stuffed collie is waiting in the grandtot bedroom for a hug the next time the wee ones visit.   Ducky, our collie, came in and laid down by it last night, like a littermate. Awwww

 And these two life-sized Raggedy Ann and Andy are going to bring squeals of delight...
someone hand made them! What a nice addition to the grandtot bedroom. 

Okay.. enough blogging and pictures today. I just wanted to catch up a few things on the blog that I forgot to mention yesterday.

Gonna put on my walking shoes, and hitch up the doggies' leashes.  We are heading to the post office where I tie them to the railing and run inside to ship boxes out... they wait patiently and I give them doggie treats when I come back out again.  It's about as far as old Ducky can walk now.  Three blocks over and three blocks back and she is all done in for the day.  Almost 14 now.  Elegant old lady who thinks a stuffed collie is her littermate... what a silly dog.  Reverting to puppyhood????

Monday, April 29, 2013

Birthday Boy, Socks and Weekend House Projects

Our dear Steveio has turned... gasp... FIFTY FIVE YEARS OLD!

All of the kids and grandtots came last Saturday for his birthday party.  The poor birthday guy had to work, plus he was LATE coming home from some meetings ---  so the kids were lined up at the porch windows, looking at each car driving past the house.  "Where is Grandpa?  Where is the Tracker?" they kept asking us!

 See why my porch windows are all smeared up with fingerprints????

He finally pulled in to be greeeted by their cheers and shouts.  Soon we had them all piled in our laps...  little Mason had enough of photo posing, they had just come from a photographer for their family pics, and he said enough was enough!   So I stuffed a bottle in and held on tight.  Then Clayton started fussing that he didn't have a bottle (he is now only using a cup)  so pretty soon we had to turn them loose!

The kids had a blast playing with the toys, we took a walk to the park, and later they were running around the house up and down and all around.  It feels so good to have a house full of wee ones laughter, shouts and screams.

We grilled out burgers and brats, and finished off with a chocolate chip mint ice cream cake for the birthday boy.   He officially can now retire after working his butt off for the state for 35 years--- but he is enjoying his new transfer job at High Cliff State Park.  Guess he will hang around for a while as we enjoy our new house in Chilton.

Seems strange that only one year ago we were selling the house up on the river in Oconto.  I hope the new people are as happy in that home as we are in ours!

Also, on Monday--- I trekked back up to Oconto area to go the library in Oconto Falls.  Twice a year we gather there to share sock machine knitting tips and tricks and swap and share.  Most of us have antique old sockknitting machines.  There is a company now making new ones from the old patents from the Gearhart company.  Here is their link: Earlbacher Gearhart Company

I brought along the extra machine I had for sale.  This gal Tracy came all the way from the U.P. of Michigan, hoping someone had one for sale.  Sure enough---- she bought mine!   Look how happy she is!   I gave her a hand's on lesson right there.  Soon she was cranking yarn and even turned a heel... twice!

We had a show-and-tell time--- and each of us shared something we had done. 
It was a nice day to get out and about, 
plus I made a fellow sock-cranker happy with a new machine to play on.  

The rest of the week flew by and before we knew it, the weekend had arrived.  The weather has finally warmed up in Wisconsin to daytime temps in the 70's.  WOW!   We had opened the windows and let in fresh air.  I scrubbed some of the screens and we got some house projects done. 

The trees all got the dead branches trimmed off
We raked the yard and collected the pine cones from the tree up front
Steve cleaned all of the rain gutters from old leaves
We planted some hydrangea, lilac and transplanted some perennials
We moved some bird feeders to a better viewing spot by the dining room windows
We mounted my new scrollwork rack for the garden hose  
Steve got the water lines hooked up to the washing machine and laundry sink 
and started nailing up the trim I had stained.  

That was all the "little stuff" that we got done on Saturday.  On Sunday we got up and had cinnamon muffins and coffee out on our sunny porch.  Ahhh the sun coming up in the east streams into the porch with golden warmth.   This is what we were waiting for...  springtime on our porch! 

See? We don't work so hard ALL of the time!

I got on a baking bug--- and bought some granny smith apples the other day.  I figured it was time for an apple pie!   Oh my the house smelled sooooo good! I sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on the top crust for added flavor.  

I missed my little baking buddy Chelsea who loves to make the apples go "round and round" on the peeler device.   Allegra likes baking chocolate chip cookies so she can eat the chips.  Jameson likes making rice crispie bars with sprinkles.  Wonder what Clayton and Mason will like to make?  They are now both one year old and time to learn how to bake with Granmuddah Pfun---

Sunday morning after muffines, Steve went to to Waupaca to help his dad with a few things.... so I got out my buckets of Cabots solid colored stain (looks like paint but don't chip, flake or peel like paint)  and started on the back stairs.  They had never been painted or stained, so it was like starting with a new project.   The wood was quite weathered, so it took three coats to cover it all up.  Those spindles take a long time and I worked on it on and off all afternoon.  Sure made a difference!

 BEFORE                                                                            AFTER 

I have to still touch up the upper rails on the shaker porch so they get spruced up too. 

Another project we worked on over the weekend was working on the front flower beds.  In my last blog, I had posted where Steve cut down all of the overgrown cedar shrubs and we exposed the lovely cut-out trellis work trim under the porch.  How pretty! 

Saturday night we picked up scalloped cement edging for the flowerbeds.  It only came in beige, red or grey cement.  So we bought the grey cement ones and I stained it all white to match the house.  My handy dandy saw horses were set out front as I stained 6 pieces at a time.  

 Whew... I look awful in this pic, but it was 8 a.m. and my hair was up in a clip.

I had 20 straight pieces and three curved ones to do to get enough to go across the front and also around the side a ways. Each one was pretty heavy... and Steve helped me place each on into place.  I think it looks so nice and neat trimmed up that way.

I am going to stain the sides of the porch steps too.  And maybe add some hunter green highlights here and there to the trim on the front of the house as a third color. 

Now if it only warms up enough to plant some hostas and other flowers in the newly made flower bed?   The side of the house is already planted with bulbs and other perennials... Coming up are tons of tulips, daffodils and Glory of the Snows tiny blue flowers.   I even hung out the humming bird feeder, hoping to attract some when they come north.   

While we were digging up the front flower bed, we ran across this tiny St. Joseph statue.  The previous owners' daughter told us they had put one in somewhere, in hopes of it helping to sell the house...  and it worked because we bought the house!  

During my years as a real estate broker, I had heard many times about burying a statue to help sell a house.  

This is the legend:   
Known in the Catholic faith as the Patron Saint of the home, Saint Joseph has been prayed to for centuries by those who wish to sell their house. Earthly father of Jesus, Joseph was made a Patron Saint because he taught Jesus to be a carpenter and made sure that he was always well housed. Interestingly, a ritual of faith developed long ago that involves burying a statue of Saint Joseph in the yard in order to sell a home. This tradition is continued by many people today in hopes of selling their home quickly and at a profitable price.  

How the Tradition Began:

  • The tradition of burying a Saint Joseph statue began in Europe around 1515 A.D. Nuns at a cloister needed to expand their lands. They began by burying medals imprinted with the image of Saint Joseph into the ground. Their prayers were heard, and within a short time they received their request. It is unclear how the use of Saint Joseph medals evolved into the use of Saint Joseph statues.

I am going to send the statue now to a fellow RVer who is trying to sell their home.  
Perhaps it will work for them... it did for this house! 

Last night Steve finished up the hookups for the laundry sink and washing machine in the new laundry room.  I will snap pics of it for the next blog.  He started nailing up the trim last night--- but I was so worn out from the day, I told him to STOP!   It was time to curl up and relax (and watch "Revenge" for the rest of the evening)  Whew.  I think we need another vacation????


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Chainsaw Man in my front yard!!!!

Oh my!
There was a chainsaw buzzing in my front yard last night... 
and this is the culprit! 

Caught him red-handed!   Or at least "red-chainsaw-in-handed" !   LOL   The center shrub had broken under the weight of the heavy snows this winter... so it needed to come out.  We removed the other two also, because they were quite rangey and awkward and not as full as they should be.  Time to get them out.   

And of course, the other reason was to expose this lovely cutwork trim!!!!

That is sooo much prettier!!!  It had been freshly painted when the house was resided, and it needed to be exposed to add to the style (and height) of the house.   Don't you agree?  Here is a pic from last fall.... and the one on the right was taken last night after we were done cutting. 

After we call Diggers Hotline, then Steve can get the stumpgrinder to take out the stumps --- and grind the ones in the backyard from the two trees we took down last fall--- then I can make a nice flower bed up in the front of the house.  I am thinking of low level annuals that can grow in the bed but not block the pretty cutwork trim.  Maybe add a couple pots of geraniums to the porch steps. 

Also, we are going to add a third color to the house.  Right now it's kinda tan/beige vinyl siding with white trim. It needs a third color to POP out ....  thinking either hunter green, or dusty slate blue, or maybe a rich burgundy?   With the magic of photoshopping, here is an idea of some of things I want to paint.    Maybe add some shutters?  Maybe stain the patched up cement on the stairs with a cement stain? 

We are thinking of adding what is called a "pediment" that is seen on Craftsman style homes of this area up in the gable end.  Saw some in white on other homes and think it will be a nice  touch.

Here is a photo of a pediment we saw on a house up near Sherwood.  I found the same one for sale at the local Menards and it's of vinyl and will be easy to attach to the existing siding and trim.
There is a green and white striped awning available that we are thinking of putting over the large southern window on the side of the house.  That would help keep the summer heat away from my Loom Room.   So doing the front with a similar design might pull it all together. 

As for the inside, our laundry room is almost ready to move up the appliances from the basement.  The flooring is laid, and the wall board is around the lower half of the room.  Next I am adding some stained trim to the transition between the wall board and the upper walls.  Steve has the dryer vent in place and is working on the electrical outlet and water/drain piping tonight.  

There is a bit more trim to add to the window frame, and also the bottom half of the door frame that goes up the back staircase.  I am thinking of coating those newer oak cabinets with a colored polystain that will make them darker to match the original woodwork.  And change those knobs over to match what we have in the kitchen.   

This week will be a good week to do inside stuff... because we are forcast for 2 to 3 inches of rain and then perhaps even *S*N*O*W* !!!!!   Geesh, we just got rid of all our snow the last few days.  Now to get more is going to be depressing.  Sigh. 

A bright spot will be tomorrow--- we are going up to grandtot Chelsea and Clayton's day care center for Grandparent Breakfast!   Steve is already off work tomorrow (he has to train his new summer workers on Saturday so took off Thursday) and we will both be able to attend.   I think we will switch rooms halfway through the breakfast so each of us can be with both grandtots during the breakfast.   I will be sure to take pics of tall man Steveio perched on those tiny toddler chairs eating breakfast... haha  
(on edit... sock machine is now sold) 
This week I also picked up an Autoknitter sock knitting machine that I am going to sell.  If you are interested, email me at pfundt@gmail.com    It's a 60 slot cylinder with 30 slot ribber, has set up basket, weights, buckle, and all new needles (with extras)   I already knit off four socks on it and it works very well.  Includes a "How To Knit a Hem Top Sock" DVD that I have self-produced.   I would suggest adding a baler counter, and I could add one for you for an extra $45 because I can pick them up at the local John Deere dealer and mount it to the mast.  I am asking $950 plus shipping.  If you come to my home to pick it up, I will include a free lesson!  

 (the table is not included) 

I have two people seriously considering it, but first come, first get-----  so if you want it, don't delay.  I will post an update as soon as it's sold so I don't get piled up with late inquiries on it after the fact.  

Well, my coffee cup is near the bottom, and my weaving loom is calling me to get more towels done.  It's 9 a.m. and I gotta get a move on here.   Later Gators! 


Monday, April 15, 2013

Work Week of Whirlwind Wisconsin Winter

I am sooo sorry I have not posted on my blog in over a week!   All I can say is "life has been crazy"!!!!

I last left off in my last blog about the pantry cabinets being yanked out and sold.  (yes, they sold right away on Craigslist).  We were fortunate to get a remnant piece of vinyl flooring that matched what we put in the kitchen.  This week we did get the flooring laid, and the dryer vent hole drilled through the wall to the outside. 
    (ignore the back wall in these photos... 
we are still restoring the window frame and will cover that wall with the textured wall board next) 

As we drilled out the hole for the dryer vent, it was interesting to see the wall composition---
  • First was the plaster and thick lathe material on the inside wall.  The lathe material in this house is about a half an inch thick.  
  • Then there was an insulation layer about 3 inches deep. 
  • Then the outside wall of the house was 1 1/4"  thick wooden boards nailed on crossways.
  • Then there was a layer where the old clap board siding would have been. That siding had been taken off years ago and replaced with an inch thick foam layer with foil on each side.. 
  • then the layer of vinyl siding.   
No wonder this house has been very easy to heat with all those layers!   This week we will work on the washer and dryer hookups, as well as mounting the big laundry sink and faucets too.

Speaking of heating (and cold weather)  our crazy Wisconsin Winter just won't let us out of it's chilling grasp.  We had severe ice storms which coated everything in a thick layer of ice.  Trees came down all around us in town, but fortunately we only lost 1/3 of a gnarly old lilac bush.

All the tree branches were covered with ice like glass tubes around each twig.  Ice clung sideways onto all surfaces because of the pelting winds and sleet.  Even our windows on the porch were coated in a sheet of ice where it looked like frosted textured glass.

After the winds died down, we could hear chain saws all over town clearing up the messes.  Many towns around us had power outages that lasted into the next day.  Ours flickered a few times, but stayed on.

That was during the week---- but I forgot to post about last weekend!

Last weekend started out very busy with attending the littlest grandtot Clayton's first birthday party!  We had such a good time watching all five of the cousins together at the party.  Erin and Mark made up a whole taco bar to let us all make our own lunch the way we wanted our tacos.  What fun!

The wrapping paper came flying off the toys and clothes, cake was eaten and the kids played and played and played.  All the kiddos got construction hats, and sand pails full of goodies as party favors!

 The little birthday boy got his own special cake to demolish....

Boy oh boy, he sure did demolish it!  It was the first time he really had any type of sugar....

I took Chelsea and Clayton home after the party to our house.  Then mommy and daddy could have a quiet evening to kick back and relax.  After a nice bath to get the frosting out of his hair and ears, we snuggled up in the Grandtot Bedroom to read a story before bed.  The little birthday boy was out like a light... we didn't even get halfway through his favorite book "Brown Bear Brown Bear"  and he was zonked. 

What fun in the morning to have some grandtots jumping around in our bed! 
Chelsea wakes up and toddles on into our room on her own... 
Clayton shouts from the other room to come and let him outta the portacrib.

We kept them busy all day with playing, walked to the store, and even baking some brownies!

It was good to have them come over and spend some time.  
That was it for last weekend... but ...

This weekend we also did a grandtot-sitting stint.  

A busy weekend started with a bridal shower for Steve's niece Faith.  I brought chips, salsa and some homemade guacamole. We did all the girly stuff and had a wonderful afternoon, while Steve stayed home to work on the laundry room.  Afterwards, when I got home, I made up some more guacamole and more chips and salsa to head out to the next party.  We had to bring treats up to our son Dan's house.  

He carefully planned a surprise party for his wife, Heather.  She had NO idea about it, and came in to a house full of 30 people----  for her 30th birthday.   He pulled it off without her knowing, with the help of her family and friends.   

He even pre-packed two suitcases for the wee ones and hid them in their closets.  About 9 p.m. we stole little Allegra and Mason.. taking them home overnight with us.  That way the grown-ups could party late into the night, and sleep in the next morning!

We didn't get to sleep in, because two roly poly little grandtots were bouncing around in our bed by 7 a.m. !  Hahahaha  the joys of being a grandparent!

It was a horribly snowing icky rainy morning--- so we had to keep busy with inside projects and toys and playtime.  Granfaddah kept Mason busy while Allegra and I baked chocolate chip cookies.

Later as Mason napped, little Allegra and Granfaddah took a walk up to the hardware store where they have a live pet department.  She got to see the hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, birds and fish.  She also talked him into buying her a big pink bouncy ball and then a bat and ball for her little brother.  He is such a softy!

Later in the morning, Allegra decided to give her Granfaddah some weaving lessons.  She told him where to put his feet on the treadles, where to put his hands on the beater handle and how to beat beat beat to make a rug!     Little Mason was busy exploring the cool wooden tractor I recently added to the toy box.  I found the tractor and a trailer at a rummage sale last weekend.  Just love those old toys!

Daddy and Mommy came about noon to get the kids... and hung around for a while.  The kids were getting sleepy and ready for naptime on the long ride home.  (about 30 miles)  

Once they left, we looked at each other, and said "Grandparent Naptime" as we went up to bed for a long nap ourselves!