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Friday, January 31, 2020

Three Days to a New Look

Guess what happens when your husband watches too many HGTV shows? We have been binge watching some old seasons of our favorites, Nicole Curtis of Rehab Addict, plus Ben and Erin of Home Town.

We were innocently sitting in our kitchen the other night, and Steve just happened to look at our brown painted cabinets. They had gone through many, many years of abuse with renter's moving in and out and multiple coats of paint. They have a lot of battle scars to show it.

Here is how they looked in 2015:

Their most recent resurrection in 2018-19 by the previous owners before we bought the house from them in April of 2019. 

They were all painted with a deep rich brown paint and new stainless steel handles, pulls and hinges were added. Not to mention a center Island was added and new counter-tops. It looked really nice. We added the open pantry and the french door since we bought the house. But it was dark, I must admit.

Steve was intently looking at the dark cabinets, he suggested: “what do you think if we painted them white?” Now I would NEVER paint nice wooden stained and varnished cabinets. NO way. That is blasphemy!~ But these are rugged painted 100+ year old cabinets of a common farmhouse style.

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you would realize that Steve does not like to paint. If he can avoid it at all possible he will. So that means... It was up to little old Me!

The more we looked at it, and the more we thought about it, it seemed like an interesting idea. So I grabbed a bundle of blank newsprint paper, and we taped sections of it up over the existing brown cabinet doors just to give us a visualization of what it might look like. 

Of course, this was at 9 p.m. at night. So we really couldn't get a good idea until the next morning. We agreed to sleep on it and left it at that.


The next morning we looked at the pieces of creamy white paper taped up and thought the kitchen looked brighter. Even though it was a gloomy cloudy day, the brighter surfaces of the taped up paper seem to give us an idea of what it would look like if we brightened up the kitchen.

I happened to have 2/3 of a gallon of the existing trim paint that matched the trim in the kitchen and the trim in the rest of the house. It's a soft creamy white called String of Pearls from Valspar. It's a nice thick coating semi-gloss paint and I figured two coats would be needed to cover all of the dark brown cabinets.

I got out all of my painting gear, and Steve helped by removing all of the handles and pulls as well as stacking the drawers in the laundry room so I could paint their faces without having them still sitting within the cabinetry itself.

I decided to leave the doors on and paint carefully around the hinges. Normally, I would have taken the doors off and laid them flat on saw horses. But since it's winter outside and the garage is cold, there's no real place to paint these doors laying flat. I decided to paint them in the upright position still hanging on their hinges. Later I would carefully unscrew each hinge, one at a time, clean up any little boo boos, and paint the surface around the hinge that might be missed by my smallish paintbrush. Then screw it back into place without ever having to remove the door.

I decided not to paint the insides of the cabinets because they had all been recently done and were in good shape. Who cares if the insides are brown? They are neat and clean and nobody sees the insides except us!

The painting went really well and I worked my way across the uppers. I figured I would tackle the hard stuff first. Steve was one step ahead of me with his caulk gun filling in any little holes or cracks that would show once the cabinets were lighter. When they were dark brown we didn't notice a lot of that.

By later afternoon I was able to finish the rest of the upper cabinets with two complete coats. My back was aching and my feet were sore from balancing on the little step stool all day. I decided enough was enough for the day and I would tackle the next part after a long soak in my tub and a good night sleep.


The next morning, it was time to tackle the lower cabinets. Again, Steve was ahead of me with the caulking gun filling in any of the cracks and I worked my way across while sitting on a little ottoman covered with a towel. This was sit-down work! It went much easier than up and down up and down the step ladder of the day before. 

I was able to work my way across the entire span of lower cabinets and give two coats to everything. A few areas needed a little more attention, and those got a third coat once we were done.

Again, that was enough for the day. Now that we are retired, I don't need to be working so hard, do I?


The very last day it was time to attack the island and the coffee bar. The island is newer cabinetry that was put in by the previous owners to surround the new larger stove and the suspended hood vent. 

On one side we have pull out bins for the trash and recycling, and on the other side it is all cabinet doors and drawers. The hinges were different on this unit, they are recessed and hidden. So the painting went very easy. 

The beadboard sides of the island really show up now, don't you think? When they were brown you really didn't notice them.

I think we are going to buy a 4x8 sheet of beadboard and cut out side panels for the ends of the cabinets and the coffee bar to tie it all together. More "Farmhouse-y". Maybe even insert some panels on the three lower cabinet doors of the island as well. 

Steve changed the baseboard on each side to a prettier trim that is the same that we use down in the she shed.

Next Steve had to change the 2 island electrical outlets from brown to white. Two coats of paint went quickly and I decided to go back and also paint the toe kick white. That may be a mistake in the future, but if it gets grubby looking, I can always give it a fresh coat of paint.

Also on the last day, I tackled was my adorable little coffee bar / wine rack that we recently built. We re-purposed an extra piece of cabinetry left over from the other side of the kitchen that had originally gone over a stove on the wall. Since the stove was relocated to the center of the island, that piece of cabinetry was not needed.

I love to re-purpose and recycle things, so by turning it vertical, it made a wonderful addition to our kitchen right next to our open pantry shelving. There had originally been a space here for a refrigerator and that piece of cabinetry overhead was kind of awkward with just a blank wall underneath it. 

By adding the coffee bar / wine rack, it really filled in that space and made the kitchen all come together. I decided not to paint the interior of the wine rack area because that tends to collect dust and I think leaving at dark helps hide it. (plus I didn't want to remove all those bottles!)

I stood back and admired the work. In just three days it seemed like the whole kitchen had been transformed. Steve helped me put the drawers back after things had dried and he attached all of the handles and drawer pulls into place.

My oh my! What a difference!

It has been 3 very cloudy dull dreary days, but this really brightened up the kitchen. I am anxious to see what it looks like on a sunshiny day!


There hasn't been a lot of other things happening. We are kind of hibernating in for the winter. I am working on a new quilt.

Since we haven't been doing any RVing, I decided I'm going to start posting blogs every day of our motorhome modifications. I start with A and go through till Z. I've done this twice in the past and I feel they are things that may be of more interest to my RVing readers. Recently, with the demise of the Yahoo groups, our Safari people have kind of meandered over to an IO list and some of the Facebook groups. Maybe by posting these blogs with my A to Z motorhome modifications, I will attract some of them back to reading the blog again.

Even though we're not traveling anywhere this winter, we still exercise the motorhome generator monthly. It's good to fire it up and get a load on it. We learned the hard way that if you don't use it, things go bad. At one point because we weren't using it enough, we had to remove it, have the electrical windings called the rotor rebuilt, and reinstall it. That will be one of my motor home modification posts. It was not a fun job. I guess when things sit for too long they don't work so well. By firing up the generator (and also the engine and letting it idle for a while), things get lubed up, used, charged up and exercised. We do have solar panels on the roof that keep the batteries charged, and Steve regularly goes out and brushes off the snow.

Now that we are done with the She Shed and a lot of the major house projects, we are looking forward to getting more camping and trips this summer. So stay tuned!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Getting Ready to Get Snowed In for the Weekend?

Sadly, we had a tragedy today in Oconto. At 3 a.m. this morning there was a house fire on the other side of town. A mother, three children and a pet perished in the fire. It is heartbreaking. The poor firemen battled the blaze in the sub zero weather and are still on site today yet. We don't know the family personally, but the next of kin are in our prayers.


The weathermen have now upped the forecast and we are due for 8 to 12 inches of snow on top of some sleety freezing icy mess. Doesn't sound like it's going to be very much fun?

We don't have to be anywhere this weekend, so we will stay home, snug as bugs in a rug.  They already spread brine on our county highway road in front of our house. It's one of the main drags out of town to the north, so the trucks have been spreading in readiness for the icy storm.


I got two coats of paint on the mantle and it sure is looking nice. I had two dogs that were supervising from the comfort of the couch behind me.  I enjoy painting and it was peaceful and nice this morning to get the first coat on.

I decided the difference in the original color of brown was like melted milk chocolate chips ... the contrast of the new color which is more like melted semi-sweet chocolate chips! Lol!

I am thinking maybe 
I better bake some cookies
 while this thought is in my brain?

The new brown color matches the leather on our two mission recliners and I think it looks much nicer.

It also matches the faux-leather brown of the couch. I think it even matches the dogs, too! By afternoon I did the second coat, and then we took a nap.

My sweet friend Juanita loves the color brown, as do I.  We are both October Sisters and this lovely rich brown is just right up our alley.

The little handle that I found at the ReStore for the firewood cubby door sure looks cute. The new paint was dry, so Steve attached it this morning.  Now it balances off the little black matchstick holder and the black frame around the leaded glass fireplace screen.

Someday in the future, we will convert the woodburning fireplace over to a natural gas one. We enjoy the warmth from the one we put in down in the She Shed. Having one in the livingroom will be great, especially in a power outage.  We will be sure to select one that can operate even if the power is out.

Once the second coat of paint on the mantle is dry, I can put back my little tulip accent lights and my few little knicky-knackies and doodads.

Maybe a third coat is needed? 


The dogs were pretty happy to supervise the separation of their dog food into smaller containers. We ordered from Chewy and it was a better deal to get the big 47 lb bag with the free shipping, and the $15 off coupon. We don't have anywhere to store a bag of dog food that big!  We save these large plastic containers from pretzels and reuse them over and over. It will probably take the dogs 4 months or more to eat up this much dog food! They have tiny tummies and only eat about half a cup of day.

We store them up on the top shelf in the laundry room and just take down one container at a time. I think it helps keep it fresh?


The other day, Steve and I stopped at the courthouse and city hall. We started digging into the history of this house. One part has been here since the early 1900's, the other part is also an older home that was moved here around 1960 on two big metal I-beams.  That half was put onto a new foundation and joined together with the original structure on the old foundation. Two small houses became one interesting National Folk Farm House style home. We are looking to find out more as we go along. Trying to find interesting things...  we will let you know what we find!


Supper just came off the grill-

Salmon and baked sweet potato for me
Salmon and baked potatoes for Steve
and some steamed veggies for both. 
Yummmmm  Gotta go eat! 

Thursday, January 16, 2020

327 Holes???

I am all for retaining character and charm, but I had just gotten out my putty knife and spackled up

on this mantel!!!

The mantle on this fireplace has been used and abused for many years. I think every Christmas for the last 100 years someone has tacked, nailed, thumbtacked or screwed into this poor mantle.

Once I got all of the holes spackled and dried, I lightly sanded over it with a fine light grit sandpaper on my little Skil Octo sander. I love that handy tool with its little pointy tip that can get into tight corners.

Steve has a larger palm sander and belt sander, but this little one is perfect for me.

As I sanded, I could see that the previous color under this reddish-brown had been black and underneath that it had been white. Kinda like excavation of the history? The mantle is not fine craftsmanship, it's rather rough and rugged. But I wanted to get rid of the holes as well as the drips and runs in the paint from previous coats put on by other people long ago.

I am going to paint it... Probably more of a burnt sienna brown than the raw umber reddish color that it is now.  I will use the same color paint that is in our kitchen on the cabinets and island. I have some left over from when we made the coffee bar / wine rack.

Then the mantle will coordinate better with with the woodwork and furniture in the room...  as well as my beloved oil painting hung up above, painted by my good friend Rosie DuPuy of Bethel, Missouri.

The mantle is all ready for tomorrow for the first coat of brown paint. I will work on it once it's daylight, rather than setting up the halogen work lights tonight.

The little handle on the firewood cubby was quite dilapidated and coated in layers of paint. I removed it and I could tell that of course the fireplace was the present pearly white ivory color, but underneath there had been a layer of a golden yellow, and underneath that there had been a bright layer of barn red! Probably painted to match the fireplace bricks and hearth that long ago that were red clay?

At a recent trip to the ReStore in Marinette, I found a cute little old-fashioned looking handle for a mere 50 cents.  I think it will be much more appropriate for style and character.

Today I gave it a spray of black paint and tomorrow it will be dry enough to mount on the firewood cubby door.

Our electrical rewiring project has almost come to a finish. The last few outlets are now done but I accused Steve of sitting down on the job!

It brings peace of mind to see the raggedy old fabric wrapped wires removed and replaced with good sturdy grounded electrical wiring and proper outlets. We will tackle the ceiling lights later in the spring when things warm up in the attic.

Speaking of temperatures, the weather has turned colder now. Although the last storm kinda missed us, we have another one coming in tomorrow night.  More snow and more wind too.

The dogs have been getting a little cabin feverish so we took them out for a romp in the snow --- all the way to the back end of the property.  They found lots of interesting smells to root their noses under the snow... and came up covered!

They love chasing and ramming around in the snow.  It was crisp and cold, but the dogs didn't seem to mind at all. They dodged and dashed around our feet as we walked back to the end of the 2 and a half acres of our big backyard.

We tossed them snowballs and played some fetch. They followed us around and made sure we paid them a lot of attention.

Had to get a pic of my rugged outdoor hubby...
in his Designer Wisconsin Winter Clothing!

Ahhh my Carhartt wearing guy
complete with his Stormy Kromer hat
and Sorel boots with felted wool liners. 

Here's a cute little video I shot of the dogs
 doing what they do best:

We got the dogs back into the house and we warmed up.  I made a big old pot of chicken vegetable noodle soup. I start out with one of those Bear Creek soup mixes, put in a bag of shredded chicken meat from my freezer, and add a lot more vegetables and noodles. It makes up a big enough pot that we can freeze some and have some for lunch again the next day too.

Even though it was bitterly cold this morning, the sunshine coming in was totally delightful. We sat at our table in our stained glass surrounded nook in the kitchen, enjoying our coffee this morning.

Days like this make me so grateful and happy that we are cozy and warm in our house.  It's been a long line of tasks to get it the way we have it now.  Time to sit back and enjoy it a bit. We sat in the kitchen almost all morning.  Going over shopping lists, clipping coupons from the paper, and planning out a few more house projects.  We might hold off on my kitchen sink for now--- (sigh) because we have a few more pressing things to replace or repair first. Gotta prioritize.  The morning passed quickly as we sat in the sunshine. 

The dogs were lapping up the sunshine too.

Steve ran to the hardware store and the post office, 
while I started the laundry and housework.

The dogs? 
Still soaking up the rays.


This morning we discovered fresh deer tracks in the backyard. Those little stinkers came right up to the back windows of the She Shed and were gazing in watching us last night! 

I think they were wondering when we were going to fill the bird feeders?  They have been standing up on their hind legs and battering it with their front legs to knock out the seeds!  They have been wandering back and forth from the feeder to the house, thinking they have to put in an order for a refill? 

We have been refilling the feeders almost daily, and I think more is going into the deer bellies than in the birds! 

We ran to the grocery store this evening for a few quick things. Tomorrow the snow will start, following by the cold and winds.  The weathermen keep changing the amount totals in the forecast, it's anybody's guess as to how much we will get?