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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Three More Projects Around Our Old House

I left off yesterday's blog post with a feature of upcoming attractions.... more of Our Old House Projects!

After we got home Sunday, and unloaded the motorhome from our fun weekend of Halloween Camping, we decided to hop to it and work on the faucet situation.  In our house we were adding a small corner sink to the half bath on the main floor.  We were robbing the faucet from the bathtub upstairs to put in the sink.  In it's place, the tub got a NEW faucet that I had wanted for a long time.... so it became my birthday present!   If you have priced faucets lately, it was a pretty generous present for my tub.  Thanks Hubby!

The new faucet was unpacked from the box, and dangnabbit, Price Pfister gave us a duplicate set of one type of fittings, but omitted another set that we really needed.  So it was traipse over 23 miles one way to Menards to get the right fittings for the faucet and back home again before we could even get started.

Soon Steve had the new faucet in place on the tub, and I didn't need to help much other than to hold the flashlight.  It's so cute, it's like a little water pump type with a lever on top.  Seeing as the bath is "my domain" it became a present for me to have it.  LOL

Here is the rest of our cute upstairs bathroom... the is the only room that we completely gutted and redid last year when we bought the house.  Previously it had an aqua colored tub/shower, and an acoustical tile dropped ceiling.  We gutted it out, put in new sheet rock, flooring, and lighting.  I liked the existing tiles, sink and toilet so we kept those.  Steve's "domain" is the shower, so he picked that out.

Once he got the other faucet off the tub, then he headed down to install it in the little corner sink in the half bath on the main floor.  I held the tools while he installed the drain pipe and the faucet to the corner sink.  Soon it was ready to drop back onto the wall brackets in place.  While Steve drilled up from the basement, I helped guide the drain pipe upwards into the proper location in the wall.  Once it was in place, we swapped positions so he could glue the fittings on the drain pipe.  I held it up from below so it wouldn't slip back down into the wall!   

Once that was done, we called it a night.  He will work on the hookups to the basement piping later this week.  At least the main part is done, and we got the water hot and cold lines just dangling down for now.  Later they will be pulled through the wall up higher out of sight.

Another thing we ordered for the house came in yesterday...  This was a "compromise" between Steve and I.  If he had HIS way, we would rip out all of the 100 year old windows and put in new ones.  MY preference is to retain the quality and charm of the old wooden casement windows, complete with window weights and turn locks on top and iron finger lift pulls on each one.  Some of them are featuring fancy panels of beveled leaded glass in designs, with workmanship and quality you don't see anymore.

For energy efficiency, there are newer storm windows on the outside of the house, but we do get some drafts, I do admit.  Those very cold blasting winter winds on subzero days are hard on any windows, new or old.

So to compromise, we have these plexi-glass storm windows that go on the inside of the windows and snap into place for the winter months. The previous owners had installed them and they are quite handy. The panels come off for the summer, and each fall they just snap into a grid type runner trim around the frame that stays on the window all year round.

It adds a third barrier of protection... and our most expensive heat bill last winter was $150 for heat (natural gas) and to be fair, almost $50 of that charge is meter fee, access fee, some fed fee, sales tax, and then a 3% charge for low income assistance fee for people who DON'T pay their bills... arggghhhh  So we pay about $50 a month for fees... even if we don't use any gas. So my argument is really the actual cost of the natural gas used was only $100. for the coldest month last winter.  Not too shabby compared to our last home!

So we put up the plexiglass windows on most of the windows in the house.  I say "most" because one was cracked and no longer usable... and there were never any for the bathroom window nor the walk-in closet in our master bedroom.   We tried to order more from the company that these plexiglass ones came from, but they were out of business.

We were in Menards a few weeks ago and saw that Larson company made custom storm windows for the inside called "Insiders"  ... very creative name, eh?  Here is a link to their company:  Insider Storm Windows by Larson   and a Utube on how they work:

 They're perfect for older and historic homes
 because they don't change the look of your home. 
Since they're attached from the inside, they will not weather, 
and can be easily removed for the summer months or for cleaning.

We carefully measured our window frames in three places across and three places up and down to be sure to have an accurate fit.  We placed our order and paid for them. They were on sale besides! The big one was $55 and the two smaller ones were $44.50 each.  And these are real glass, not just plexi like our other ones! 

They were shipped free of charge to the local Menards store. We got them home, took them out of the packages, read the instructions (well, I did--- Steve hates instructions)  and we had them all three installed in no time flat. 

 All we had to do was screw the three pieces of metal channel to the
wooden window frame, measuring for accuracy and even placement.

They fit snug right to the sill, and once I hung my lace curtain up,
you can't even tell it's there.

 Here are the bathroom and walk-in closet windows...
I am sure this is going to help with heat loss even more.

After we were done, I put curtains back on both of these windows too.
They don't look so bad, and it's a great compromise to 
keeping the good looking old wooden windows in our home.

Well, that's about it for projects around Our Old House.  I think I am going up to take a bath and admire my birthday present from a tub-side view.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

CAMPING - Halloween at High Cliff State Park

As most of you readers already know, (and for those who are new here)  my hubby Steveio works at High Cliff State Park.  He is the Facilities Maintenance Specialist Advanced... meaning he takes care of just about everything and anything that needs to be done. The last weekend in October before Halloween, there is a big celebration at the park.  The admission is free, and the Open House event has various things going on throughout the park.  Unofficially, the people camping in the park decorate their campsites and throngs of Trick Or Treaters descend on the park to gather treats and have some halloween fun.

This is our third October here at the park, and we try to reserve campsites for this special celebration weekend as soon as we can.  It's all whomever gets on ReserveAmerica first to book the sites.  Being an employee has no preferential treatment.

This year we were a bit late on the frantic rush to book sites, and could not obtain an electric campsite....  High Cliff only has 30 electric sites among the 112 campsites in the family campground.  Normally this isn't a problem for us, because we have 500 watts of solar panels on the roof and four 6 volt batteries to run from.  But this year our son Dan and family were joining us with their new travel trailer!  They only have one battery to run their heater and lights.  With the cooler October weather, we had to watch his power consumption during the day to enable their heater to run at night.

We got a double campsite for both of us to park together (SITES 14 & 15).  The weatherman was promising outstanding weather for the weekend, so we were okay to enjoy the rustic camping without draining their battery too much. We drove the motorhome out early Friday morning before Steve started his work day.  Dan and Heather came in the early afternoon and set up next to us.  We had a nice roomy site!

The sun was shining and the temps were just glorious! 
The grandtots Allegra and Mason took a walk with their Mommy
and here is a little video clip of them having a great day:

Steve and son Dan had a few wicked games of cribbage as usual.
We had a nice evening, and the kids fell asleep on our laps while we sat around the campfire. 

Saturday was just as wonderful in sunshine and golden yellow leaves falling 
The weatherman was RIGHT!!!!!
Daughter Erin and two more grandtots Chelsea and Clayton joined us.
We set all four kiddos to the task of decorating our campsite:

and this one too:

I had precooked at home a pot of chili, baked calico beans, and some pasta salads all ahead of time.  Then I could spend more time enjoying the grandtots.  I worked on getting in my share of cuddles and hugs.  One of the fun things we were doing was to lay back in the reclining lawn chair, and wait for the leaves to fall in our direction.... watching them twist and swirl down until they came close enough to catch!  One landed right in Allegra's hand!  Oh wow.. what fun of aimlessly watching the bright leave against the clear blue sky.  

I hope we created a lot of good memories while camping with the kids over the years.. and now that they bring our grandkids camping, we can build more.  

By later afternoon, it was time to get them dressed up in their costumes! 
The un-official event at the park is that the 
various campsites offer trick or treating ... 
nicely, the park closes off the road through the campground 
so there isn't any automobile traffic to hamper the thousands of visitors!  

(unofficial count was in the 5,000 range of visitors to the park this weekend!) 

We had a Spider Witch, a Pirate, a NinjaGirl, SpiderMommy and a Spiderman! 

 Yup, even Steveio and I put on our silly hats to hand out the treats.  Pretty scary, huh?  It was so  much fun to watch the little ones come to ask for tricks or treats.. and some big ones too.  We also had a big bowl of dog biscuits for the canine visitors.  Treat hours were 4-6pm

Between the 22 bags full of candy we brought, added to the bags that filled a tote that our daughterinlaw brought, we had well over 1,500 pieces of candy.  I would say at least 80% went, mostly one piece at a time.  A few times we gave extra...  but we had only a small amount leftover! 

This large group of family/friends comes every year dressed as a "theme"... 
one year they were Toy Story, 
last year they were Despicable Me... 
this year they were 
The Mario Game Characters

As our tired and sugar-loaded grandkids came back to the campsite, Steveio had supper all ready. He grilled out brats and hot dogs, had the table set and all the extras on hand to feed our hungry goblins. Wisely, the parents kept the candy-gobbling to a minimum, so they were able to eat a meal.  

We sat around the campfire until late.. with little wee ones falling asleep one by one on our laps.  Each sleeping tot was brought into the campers and laid in their bed--- to dream of candy, goblins and super hero costumes.  LOL ....   We grownups sat up until late, watching the campfire flames and sipping our beverages of choice.  It was amazingly warm out for October in Wisconsin, but the winds were up, and we huddled closer to the campfire for warmth. I think we toddled off into bed ourselves about midnight or so.  YAAAWWWNNNNN  it had been a long day. 

On Sunday morning, the breezes died down and the sun shone brightly! Another drop dead gorgeous day in Wisconsin!   Dan and Heather had to pack up early to leave, but before they left, I was able to whip up a couple pans of breakfast using this recipe:

  I baked up two pans in my Coleman propane oven in the background on the other table.
The kids were starting with cereal and fruit, but we had some of the breakfast bake too. 

Erin decided to keep Allegra with her while Dan, Heather and Mason headed back to Green Bay (Heather had to work in the afternoon)  .... so after our breakfast stuff was cleared away, we took the rest of the grandtots for a walk in the woods.

The temps were in the high 60's, all sunshine, no wind and it was just a perfect autumn day to traipse in the park.  The smells were awesome, the leaves were crunchy underfoot, the birds were singing, and the squirrels were busy as ever with the acorns and hickory nuts in the park.

There are many trails, and we wandered along the Indian Mound trail around the campground to the north. The kids were exploring a hollow log.... and they know their Grandfather works at the park and cuts down trees:

Here is a clip about their tree exploration:

As we wandered along the trail, they found a "real Indian house" that they had to explore... and they figured they could build one if they ever had to live in the woods.  But they decided they like our campers better, because they have bathrooms in them!  LOL   The girls found this tree with two burl growths on it.  They said it looked like hair buns on each side of the tree.  Silly kids!

Yup, this is how they felt about our walk in the woods

And when we got back to the campground, they found their Granfaddah resting and all cozy in the sunshine on his lawn chair!  Ahem!  They took care of that serene scene in no time.... hahahahaha

Erin packed up the last three grandtots in her car and left with hugs and kisses. We will be seeing them next weekend again when we go to help work on her kitchen.  

Steve and I battened down the hatches, packed away the chairs and reluctantly hit the road back home again.  That's okay, because we had a few projects in mind, and I will do another blog post about them, because this one is getting wayyyy too long! 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Getting ready for CAMPING - and Our Old House Projects

Ooooh wheeee got the motorhome loaded up today.  In the morning we are heading out to High Cliff State Park for the Halloween Weekend Celebration in the park.  Our kids and grandtots are coming to camp with us on a double site.  I am sooo excited to see them and have some fun....   plus it's my birthday on Halloween to celebrate along with the the festivities.  Yeeeeee

Today I cooked up a big pot of chili and used the rest of the little tomatoes from the garden.  The colors were so bright and cheery before I chopped them all up and tossed them into the pot.

Also I did up a big pot of my calico beans, and a container of my tuna noodle pasta salad, and of course a pan of rice krispie bars.  Add in some hot dogs, brats, burgers, and munchies, and we should be all set! I figure if I get most of the cooking done ahead of time, that is less I have to cook at the campsite on the weekend, and more time to enjoy the kids.

The doggers are getting excited to go, as I went back and forth with loads of things for the motorhome.  They finally got underfoot so much that I brought them out to the motorhome and let them sit inside while I went back and forth. That made them happy!  And got them out from under my feet!

They made sure I packed a bag of their dog food, and a container of doggie treats.  Of course their harnesses and leashes, and doggie pooper pick up bags.  They are set and ready to go.

I have about 20 bags of candy packed for the trick or treaters... last year we went through over 1,000 pieces, so I hope I have enough. Some are 30 pieces, some are 70 so I hope it evens out.

Around Our Old House we got one project finished .. .and another halfway done.

Back when we bought the house, I found these century old oak cabinets taken out of a butler's pantry in Fond du Lac.  Here is the blog post I did about them: Refinishing my Kitchen Cabinets   I stripped them down and refinished them for our kitchen. This photo was from CraigsList with the seller in the picture.  (note the 2 bins on the bottom left)

The bottom row was a bit too long for our wall, so we omitted one of the pull out flour bins... and made the space into a pull out trash bin.  Here is the final result... it was okay. But, the new little door from Menards we put in place of the big gap was not aging the same color and same tone of the century old red oak cabinets.  It was from new unfinished oak, and even though I used the same stain and poly on it as the rest of the cabinets, it was not looking right as the year went by. I noticed it was darker than the rest of the cabinets.

We decided last summer to take the leftover bin and have the front panel cut down to fit the space instead of the new one.... That way the wood would match perfectly.  We dropped the bin at a nearby oak woodworking place to have it done.  (Steve no longer has access to mortise and tenon cutting tools like he did at his old job)  The guy just never got around to doing it....   so we stopped and picked it back up and did it ourselves.

Why is it that you can never get something done by someone else in a timely manner?  It wasn't a huge job, just one that we thought could be done by another guy with the proper tools.

Oh well.....  
We decided we could manage redoing it 
with some careful cutting.  
And we did! 

Steve got the panel off the front of the bin.  He then cut apart the door carefully along one side of the panels and cut it free from the rest.  Shortening it up to only 11.5 inches wide was a bit tricky. He had to cut out 6 and a half inches and make it look balanced.  Once it was done, I was able to stain and varnish around the cut edge and make it look the same as the rest of the cabinetry.  Steve installed back into place tonight after supper.  Ahhhh I think it looks better! 

I know it's night time and the photos don't do it justice being dark outside and only the overhead lights to shine on the cabinets.  I am glad we took the time to do it right and have it completed ourselves.

The other job partially done is reversing the door on the half bath.  We are making it swing outwards instead of inwards so it doesn't hit against the cute little corner sink we are putting in there. On Sunday during the Packer Game half time, Steve decided to pull off the trim around the casing and remove the hinges. 

He carefully pulled it away and wow oh wow were there ever long long finishing nails holding that trim on!  In 1913 they must have only had certain lengths on hand in our small town, and this is how they held the trim into place.  

 (back when we cut the hutch away from the wall in the diningroom, 
we cut through about 100 of these nails holding that hutch in place!) 

Once he had the trim off, then he carefully measured and penciled in the sections for the hinges to be placed on the outside.  Then with a wood chisel, he cut out each little section perfectly so the hinges would look as original as possible.

The door is in place now, and he made some tiny blocks to fill in where the old hinges and latch were on the other side.  I will get out my stain and varnish and finish them off to hide where they were. It will be so much better to not have the door swinging inwards.  It already feels larger in there.

The new faucet is due to arrive tomorrow, so we will get to that next week and finish up the sink.  Then our little half bath that WAS a closet with only a toilet will now have a toilet, sink, heat and an outward swinging door!  

Well, it's after 9 pm and I better get this posted before heading to beddy-bye.  We are looking forward to a great weekend with our grandtots at the campground.....

trick or treating... 
morning snuggles.... 

sounds like HEAVEN! 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Winter's A Comin'

Each day it is getting darker earlier... and each morning we are waking up now in darkness.  To top it off, it's been rain, rain, rain all week too.  Even this morning, on a Saturday, when we want to maybe do a few things in the yard....  rain!

Speaking of yard, I did manage to snap a few pics of my coleus before the frost and freezing temps kills them off for the winter.  I just love the color of these plants in the fall.   I like coleus because it's instant color in the flower beds when you plant them, not just green. The leaves make up the bright fuchsia and pink colors, which is nice that you don't have to wait for blooms to be the colorful part of the plant.

I have kept this same coleus plant strain going since the mid-90's when my friend Connie gave them to me.... and every year I put them out carefully in the spring to make sure they don't get killed off.  I share some of them with friends... and two special friends shared the same plants back with me after we sold our house in Oconto.  When we bought the house in Chilton, it was the end of December, and I didn't have any coleus to winter over!  But these two friends kept their plants going for me, and I was able to replenish my stock..... awwwww

I have 6 pots growing in the basement under the grow lights to save for next year, and I might start up a few more pots today because I picked up more potting soil.  If you snip off the plants about 8 inches long, and stick them in water, they grow new roots within a week!

Here is the area on the side of the porch that we cleared out the winter-damaged shrubs.  This exposed more of the pretty cut-out fret work on the base around the front porch. I added an extra trellis to this side and planted another clematis vine and some hydrangea plants donated by my old neighbor up in Oconto.  I have always loved hydrangea and wanted a big clump on the corner of any house that I owned.  Now this will take off and grow into beautiful plants next year (I hope)

My other clematis plant on the south side of the porch was well established by the previous owners of our house. It comes back thicker and fuller each year. It has bright gorgeous deep purplish blooms and surprisingly there is still ONE bloom hanging on yet this fall! 

My weeping cherry tree is doing well in the front yard. During the extremely frigid winter, the bark split on the trunk!  In the beginning of the year I was getting a bit worried about it not making it, but it finally took ahold and grasped onto life with gusto! 

Getting ready this week to load up the motorhome... next weekend is the big Halloween celebration at High Cliff State Park!  We rented a double family site to share with our kids and grandtots!!!   Our son Dan is bringing their new travel trailer so we will have enough sleeping room for everyone.  We are looking forward to spending time with them all.  I am going to pre-cook up some pots of chili, calico beans, a big bowl of tuna noodle salad, bake some treats, and of course have a variety of hot dogs, brats and burgers on hand too.  We will be camping in non-electric sites, so have to think of foods that we can keep warm in pans over the grill or campfire.  Will have lots of hot cocoa and minimarshmallows for the kiddos too if it's cold.

Everyone decorates up their campsites and the kiddos do trickortreating from site to site.  Here is a blog post from last year's event: Halloween at High Cliff 2013  It's a special time for me because Halloween is also my birthday! It's a great way to celebrate it with all our kids and grandtots.

Got a few things done around Our Old House this past week.  The faucet has not yet arrived for the swapover between the upstairs tub and little corner sink in the half bath.  The website said it will ship on the 20th.  So that project is on hold for now.

My lower element went out on the oven in our kitchen stove. Heavens to Betsy, that means no baking!   I called around to a few places and finally found one that said they had the right replacement.  By myself, I pulled out the stove from the alcove, unplugged it, and proceeded to tear it apart.  A cover plate was removed for the bottom element with some screws and I unhooked the wires --- making notes of which color when on which connections.  I took the whole unit into the local appliance shop to match it up.  Uh Oh, nope it didn't match up with theirs after all.  Now I had to call around again, and found a place in Fond du Lac that had one.  So off I trekked 25 miles to that town and sure nuff, it matched!

Ahhhh my oven was operational again.  When I told Steve I had it all done, the only reply was "good"   HUMPH!  How many other women would do that? But at least it was working!

I cooked up a big pot roast and mixed up a couple of pumpkin pies!  I had a funny memory when I ran my big old mixmaster.  The mixer has an odd "electric motor" smell to it, you know, like some appliances and sewing machines, etc. I suppose anything that uses brushes inside an electric motor has that smell. It smelled just like the old mixmaster that my mom had when I was growing up. It reminded me of something.....

Long ago, in the mid 1970's my neighbor Cella was making frosting.  She had too much liquid and needed more powdered sugar. It was quite runny.  I think it was blue or green frosting, I forget what color.

Our tiny town in the UP of Michigan had only one groccery store, and it was closed for the evening. Sooo she was asking all of the neighbors for some more powdered sugar to firm up her frosting.  She borrowed some from us and a few others.  But soon her bowl was overflowing, and it still needed more powdered sugar.   She brought over her bowl to our house and we dumped half of the runny frosting into my mom's bowl, and we added even more powdered sugar!  I remember two other neighbors coming with their powdered sugar.  My mom's old mixer (like this one) worked and worked to make that frosting thicken up!----  Soon we had enough frosting to share with the whole neighborhood!

Funny how a certain smell can spark something so far back in your memory....

Oh, here are my pies.....

It's Saturday morning now, and we have a few things on our list of projects.  We were going to head up to our oldest daughter's house to help her with a few things. She had a change of plans. Instead we will go the last weekend of the month and help out then.  She is re-doing her kitchen and we said we would help out, along with our youngest daughter. It will probably be more than one day of work. We will bring up the motorhome and park by her house so the dogs can come along.  Should be a fun weekend!