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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Siding Is Done - Back To The Bedroom!!

Remember in my last blog, I mentioned how sad Steve was waiting for the new trigger valve for his air siding nailing gun? Well, just look at that face!

That happy grin tells it all, doesn't it? The new piece came and he was able to install it into the gun correctly. And now it works again! Sure beats having to buy another gun. In the meantime, we had also called all over to see about renting one, and nobody rents them. So the self repair job was well worth the wait.

Bright and early, we hopped to it. I would hold one side and Steve would hold the other. We have a little spacer piece that helps to line them up. I double check it with the 4 ft level while he nails one end. Then as he moves down the slab of siding, we make sure that it's even as he goes along. The bottom board is the most critical.

We worked together up the side, one slab of siding at a time. It's slow going, but we know it's done right. So much better than vinyl siding! This is LP Smart Siding, and it should last a long long time. It looks like real wood. I think the warranty is like 50 years or something.

Steve worked along the narrow part between the window and the corner, and then finally up across the top part the last few boards. It sure felt good to finish this up and have it sealed in for the winter. I have the shutters painted that need to go up on each side of the bedroom window. I still have to locate some 74 inch tall ones for the bathroom window next to it. I'll be darned if I'm going to spend $50 for two pieces of plastic! From time to time they are in stock at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $5 each. I will keep checking back until I find some the right length and paint them to match.

Even though this is the back side of the house that nobody else sees, we know when we are in the yard we like to look back and have everything harmonious and matching. Even his goofy bulkhead he wanted that we installed over the entrance to the basement. It needs a fresh coat of red paint, and I will do that the same time that I do the last set of shutters, when I find them!

Now onto the inside!

Our plaster guy did a wonderful job, and we let things dry and cure. Now it was time to start painting. I bought ceiling paint with primer added, so all I needed to do was two coats of white on the ceiling. That went really fast. It sure looks nice to have a smooth wonderful ceiling without the old structure supports from the old closets or the old light fixtures or the old attic scuttle hole. Now we have a completely smooth ceiling!

You know, it's the little things that mean a lot. For two years now I have stared up at that crazy old ceiling and knew that sooner or later we would get it done. I guess it was later, but now it's done.

Now it was time to start on the walls! I happened to have a little helper here for the next couple days...  she put on her old paint clothes and got a new paint brush to be Grandma's Little Helper.

The first step was to mix up the paint. We had half a gallon of the white paint left over and we had half a gallon leftover of a creamy beige from what was originally on the walls and it was matching the rest of the rooms in house. By blending these two together, we would have enough to paint all of the walls. Plus it would be in the same color family but a lighter color tone than before. She helped to stir stir stir with the stick, just like making a cake.

Some people might think I'm nuts to let a four-year-old help me paint the bedroom. But hey, you got to start somewhere, right? It takes patience and it takes understanding and it takes a lot more time than it would if I was just painting the room myself. Sometimes it's the adventure that makes memories.

She did very well with the paintbrush and dabbed up the paint each time after dipping it into my tray. I had a roller to smooth things over as she completed each section.

Claire is a very clean and creative child, and very careful. You can just see it on her face as she is concentrating on what she is doing. Now if she were some messy crazy goofy kid, we wouldn't be attempting this. Plus with the floor completely covered and a bucket with wet rags nearby, we figured we were in pretty good shape.

After we completed that wall, we moved on to the next. I would like to say that she helped me paint the entire room, but really, she lost interest on the second wall. That was okay, Grandpa was ready on standby to take over and keep her occupied. That way I was able to finish the rest of the room myself.

She did pop back in after the second coat was done so she could pose for one more picture with Grandma. It was late, it was bedtime, and I needed a bath.

The next morning, after we toddled on in from sleeping in the motorhome, we went to work on painting the trim.  This time she got to use a little roller all by herself. She thought that was pretty amazing and she liked how it covered a lot more space with paint then using a brush.

We got most of the baseboard and trim touched up and taken care of. One more large piece of baseboard is still out in the garage. Steve has to remove the old massive original nails from it and patch up the nail holes. That will be installed on the last length of wall. He is also working on the window trim for around the new window.  Those things can take a little time. But for now the main part of the walls are all painted and we can remove the protection from the hardwood floors. It sure came out nice, if I do say so myself. The walls are a lighter sandy beige kinda gray than what they were before.

After supper, it was time to move furniture into our bedroom. Steve mounted my beautiful leaded glass light fixture onto the ceiling. I bought that fixture, believe it or not, at Goodwill many years ago. Actually, I bought two of them, one for each bedroom. I added the lamp shades which were from Menards sold as replacement shades. We took them down and replaced them with other fixtures in Chilton before listing the house, and packed them carefully in boxes to take here to Oconto. They match all of the other light fixtures and lamps in this house. So I was darned if I was going to leave them behind. 

Claire was spinning in circles in the free open space on the hardwood floors. She didn't want us to really move anything into the room, because she said it would make a great play space for grandkids. I suppose so. But we did need to have a place to sleep so she decided to help us move in the bed.

Little Miss helper girl has to be right in on everything. Here she is helping Grandpa carry the under bed drawer sections for our king size bed. They are pretty light, just awkward.

Next she had to help lay all the slats into each little slot. She had to count every board and make sure they were lined up and not criss cross she said.

She carried in the doggie bed and laid it down on my side of the bed on the floor. Binney sure was glad to have her bedroom turning back to normal. She does not like change. At all!

Soon this silly little girl was doing her best to be a monkey jumping on the bed. I had to kick her off before she fell off and bumped her head. We were tired and exhausted and the last thing we wanted to do was take her to the doctor.  Because you know what the doctor said? No more monkeys jumping on the bed!

As I laid down that night, to go to sleep, I gazed out my new window at the beautiful moonlit sky. I looked up at the beautiful ceiling that we worked so hard to hang the straps and sheetrock. Although we paid the guy to the plastering, we still put a lot of effort into the room. It's nice to have it finished. And we now have a normal ceiling.

I asked Steve to turn the light fixture on, just one last time, so I could take this picture from laying on the bed. Yes, our view has definitely improved.

It is crisp and cool again here in Wisconsin tonight. We lit the gas fireplace for the first time down in the she shed for the season. It sure felt good. 

We are going to get down in the mid-forties tonight and I am glad we are snug as bugs in the rugs in our newly redone bedroom.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

First Day of Fall - Weaving and Walls

 Ahhhhh the First Day of Fall!!!  Just as if right on schedule, our temps dropped and it's a beautiful crisp fall day. We woke up this morning and noticed that some of the trees are just starting to turn along the edge of the nature preserve behind our home.

Hot coffee tasted especially nice this morning, looking out into the backyard from through the windshield of the motor home.  Soon we had to crawl out of our cozy warm motorhome bed and head on into the house. Our plaster guy was coming over to do some more work and we wanted to get inside and take some quick showers and get started for the day. 

It was such a pleasant morning, we kept the heat on for a little bit to warm things up in the she shed. I decided to work a little bit on my big Finlander Barn Loom. Working on another "farmhouse rug". 

A fellow blog reader purchased one of these farmhouse rugs from me yesterday, and although she lives in Arkansas, she was up camping along the Wisconsin / Michigan border. So what did we do? We saved her having to pay the $14 postage shipping fee and took a ride to her campground and personally delivered her rug to her. It was so fun to meet her in person and to share with her puppies and her travels. Thank you, Deanna!

So it's time to get back to the loom and weave up a couple more rugs. I only have a few left in my inventory so I should get a move on.  The summer has passed quickly, and now with this cooler weather, I feel more like creating and exerting some energy to weave more rugs.

Sliding onto the bench of this great big contraption just puts a mesmerizing trance on me. I start weaving ----  the inches grow from underneath my fingers.  The shuttles fly back and forth, and the fabrics keep up with the flow of the loom warp.  I get up from time to time to advance the work for the next section to be woven.

I have my shuttles numbered so I can flow from section to section of the rug and not put too much of one color in one area and not enough in another. I alternate among the numbered shuttles weaving half of it off in each phase and then going back and weaving the other half off again in rotation.. It makes a nice harmonious blend of colors throughout the rug.

I love the nubby texture of where the seams of the rags are joined. It creates such an interesting surface for a farmhouse rug. I am really enjoying making these rugs. They may be simple in nature of plain weave structure, but to me they are artistic in the flow of the colors. There's something soothing to my soul when I weave these rugs.

While I was working on the rug, Steve was in the garage double-checking the amounts of siding that we are going to put up around the window on the outside of the house. I think I have enough pieces of siding painted up in advance. The new trigger valve part is due to be here tomorrow, delivered by FedEx for his special siding air nailing gun. We really can't put up the siding without that. We called around to some places to see about renting one, but nobody has them.  We really didn't want to have to buy another gun, they are over $200.00.  He's not about to hammer it nail by nail. So once the new part comes, hopefully he can fix the air gun and we can get back to the siding.

The plastering is going well!  He got a lot done this morning, and then left for a few hours for the newest surface to cure and come back later in the evening to spread the final coat. We are having it "skip troweled" so no sanding, no dust, no mess.  It will be the same technique he used in the She Shed and we love the muted soft texture which can easily hide flaws or new damages that may happen over time.

The amount of lightness and brightness is so refreshing to see.  Soon this will be all done and cured.  Then I can prime and paint the white ceiling.  The wall color is still up in the air.  I like the ligher cream color with the slightly "pearl" color of trim.  But then we tossed around the idea of a pale light blueish white.  Hmmmmm  Not sure yet.  We have a few days to decide. 


In between all our recent adventures, something else happened.  I might be cleaning up this loom, giving it a good tune up and getting it ready for sale to a new happy owner?  It's a Kessenich 4 harness loom with the bench, warping rack and other assorted goodies.  Stay tuned.  It might be available as soon as I get my butt in gear with my Howards Feed N Wax and some rags and who knows what else it will take??? 

For now, I am happy with the looms I have so this one will need to find a new home. 

Tomorrow I will work on more weaving, but I think tonight is a good one for a long soak in the bubble bath, and relaxing and taking a little break. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Getting Plastered and Canning Tomatoes While Missing Mom

The Packer game last night sure was good. We watched until half time while we were still in the house. We could see the rain start pouring down at Lambeau Field in Green Bay on the screen. It's only about 30 miles south of us. We figured this would be a good time to gather up our sleeping gear and head on out to the motorhome in the driveway.

Because of our bedroom being dismantled, we slept in the motorhome. I preferred getting out there in our jammies while things were still dry and not with the impending storms that were forecast. So we packed up the dog, some morning coffee makings and a couple donuts, and headed on out to the motorhome. We finished watching the game out there, in comfort, while the rain beat down on the motorhome roof. Packers won 35 - 17 over the Detroit Lions.

We woke up in the motorhome to sunshine, but chilly temperatures. Much better than the muggy humid stuff we had yesterday. We snuggled in with our coffee in the morning and watched a little TV before it was time to get up and start the day.

We wanted to get in the house and unroll some more of the rosin paper to make a protective walkway back and forth to the front door. That way when Paul, the plaster guy, came he could carry his buckets in and out and not worry about the hardwood floors. He has the outside water faucets, both hot and cold, to stand outside and mix up the buckets of plaster with his power mixing drill.

The original hardwood floors are so nice, we don't ever wear shoes in the house. But we sure don't expect a hired contractor to take off his shoes each time! Lol

Paul started on his project this morning and got the seams all taped up and first coat on every seam. It's important to get the first coat on and let it dry because the compound shrinks a little bit. Then before you put on the second coat, you are sure the first coat has done all of its shrinking. Otherwise you'll get cracks! Then he started filling in the rough textured walls with the new plaster. It's going to look amazing!

This is one of those wide angle shots that distorts the room, but you get the general idea. We are quite pleased that everything is filling in and it's going to be a nice ceiling surface as well as new walls ... without the splattered blown on textured surface that they were before.  Look at all of that beautilful sunshine streaming in.  Ahhhhhhhh

He said he should be completed sometime tomorrow. 


Silly me, remember when I was so excited my very first grape tomatoes this year? It was such a delight to go out and pick one at a time as soon as it turned red and pop it into my mouth. They started out slowly, one by one.  The grandkids would go out and look all around for even ONE little tomato, to nab it from the vine and bring it in like a treasure. 

Soon we were getting a handful at a time--- enough to cut up and put into a salad or even chop up and put into tacos. 

Now I get tons and tons of them and they're driving me nuts LOL. Soon the season will be over. So it's time to can them up. I chopped them up into little pieces and mix them in with the large tomatoes to process in my canning jars.

Yesterday I picked a whole bunch of ripe larger tomatoes. These are Better Boys and Early Girls. My tomato patch of 8 plants is getting almost to the end of growing season.  This batch is about 6 quart jars worth. I was going to can them up last night during the Packer game. But the game was so darned interesting, that I ignored the tomatoes. So this morning I washed them up and got them ready to process.

I chopped all of the little ones in my food chopper with the skins on. Then with the large tomatoes I cut out the stems and I slice an X into the bottom of each tomato. Roger, if you are reading this blog, that is your beautiful tray right there... I used it to carry the tomatoes over from the island to the counter. I love that tray!

Then I simmer the large tomatoes in a pot of water, just enough to loosen up their skins. By having the X sliced on the bottom it makes it much easier to peel the loose skin off the tomato.

I plunged the simmered tomatoes into a big tub of ice water. That helps loosen the skins up even more. I ladle them out with a large slotted spoon & peel the skins away to discard. In the bottom of the jars I have a tablespoon of lemon juice, a tablespoon of pickling salt, and a couple scoops of the chopped up little grape tomatoes.

As I peel the skin off each tomato I grab my little knife and cut it right on the large slotted spoon into sections or chunks. This is much easier than trying to hold it in your hand because the tomato is still very hot.

Instead of using my big canning kettle that holds nine jars and heating it on the outside propane burner, I am just doing six quarts in the house. I do not like putting the big canning kettle on my glass top stove, I have heard it may crack it. Instead I use my tall blue enamel soup pot, and I put in three jars at a time. Because there isn't a rack for the jars, I wrap each one in a burgundy cloth dinner napkin and I put one on the bottom of the kettle as well. That way the jars are not sitting on the hot metal. That can crack a jar. In the smaller red kettle on the right I keep the next three jars warm on a low setting just so they don't cool off too much after filling them. Once the first three jars have been in the hot water bath for 45 minutes, slowly simmering, then the next three jars will take their place.

As I type this, I have three jars finished and sitting out on the towel, and the last three jars are in the hot water bath right now. Soon I will hear the PING PING PING of their lids as they seal up tight. 

I line them up on my little pantry shelves. Row by row, jar by jar, my shelves are filling up for the long winter. Nothing can be better than popping open a jar in the middle of winter to make a pot of chili or a casserole. The smell of summer comes wafting up. I reach in with a fork and take out the first chunk of tomato and eat it straight from the jar. That is my reward for these hot days of summer, processing these tomatoes.

I wistfully recall my childhood years, of canning vegetables with my mother. Year after year. I would stand by her side in that hot steamy kitchen and we would process up all of our garden produce. We did hundreds of jars of everything. Not just tomatoes! We did all kinds of canned vegetables and sauerkraut and jams and jellies. One of my fondest memories is after putting the last few jars on the shelf of what Mom called her "Veg-All Mix" which was a mix of all different leftover vegetables at the end of the season. As we placed the last few jars on the big wide deep basement shelves, she stood back with such a look of satisfaction on her face. She put her hands on her hips and smiled after wipinig her brow. She said "My oh my, are we ever rich!"

That made such an impression on me, because we weren't rich at all financially. Life was not easy with a large family and a big garden and not a lot of money. But knowing she had hundreds and hundreds of jars stashed away for the upcoming winter, it gave her the sense of being rich.

Sometimes, it's the little things.

I miss my Mom.

Monday, September 20, 2021

And It Goes Up Up Up

Steve has determined that today is the day that we will get the three big sheets of drywall mounted up onto the ceiling. 

So he grabbed the covers and flipped me out of bed at 5 a.m. and said it's time to get a move on! LOL 

Not really, I woke up at 5 a.m. with thoughts buzzing through my mind of every step we have to take (or should take) by putting things in order in my brain.

I am really good at doing A B C D E F etc. Steve is sometimes known to fly by the seat of the pants and his alphabet goes P J E L A Z~~~~~ That is why we are good for each other. 

We disassembled our bed and all of the other furniture, to clear the room out and prep. It was necessary to clear it all out to get the sheetrock in and up on the ceiling.  We stacked the mattress and bed frame up against our dining room buffet.

Then we disassembled the bed frame itself with the under-bed drawers and moved them out of the room as well.  They are stuffed all into our dining room and office. We can eat in the kitchen for time being.  That is okay, we are adaptable.

We stuffed our end tables and drawers and the other items all into the guest bedroom. There will be just enough room to crawl in there if we want to sleep. But I think we're just going to sleep out in the motorhome in the driveway for the next couple nights.

We rolled out rosin paper on the floor and taped it down. That way (hopefully) there's no excess mess to clean up. We can just roll up the paper and throw it all away. Once everything is done, we can put the tall mopboard back on the wall under the window.

Next, we spread plastic across the openings to our closet and to the master bathroom. Taping it down securely, we hope this will keep out any excess dust or mess. That was better than completely removing everything from the closet.

Steve carried in the big drywall lift machine piece by piece and assembled it in the room. This is a very handy device that helps raise the whole big 12 foot long sheet of drywall, and hold it flat up to the ceiling. It sure makes life a lot easier getting it up there and screwed into place.

Our wonderful and helpful neighbor, Ed, came over to help Steve lug in the three big long sheets of drywall. I was going to help do it, but it sure was nice for Ed to come over and lend a hand. He and Steve trade favors back and forth to each other. I was very thankful that Ed was willing to help. I was in charge of opening and closing doors. Mainly to keep the air conditioning inside the house. It was getting to be a hot muggy day.

They quickly loaded the piece up on to the lift and had it raised up to the ceiling in the first position nearest the closet and the master bath.

Look how spiffy that works! It's a very heavy board and the lift is holding it up there in the perfect position.  What a helpful piece of equipment.  

They both grabbed handfuls of drywall screws and went to work securing it to the previous wood strips that we mounted on the ceiling yesterday. Zip Zip Zip and soon they had all the screws into place.

In came the second sheet, which they had to measure and cut out the opening for the light fixture. Then the third sheet was up and in place before I could blink my eyes.  

So here is the ceiling, already covered up, in a room that is 11 and 1/2 ft by 13 ft. Tomorrow morning, the young man we hired, Paul, will be here to do the skip trowel plastering for us on the ceiling and the walls.

It will be so very exciting to see the room come about and evolve. Then it will be my job to prime and paint. Steve will recreate the woodwork trim to match the original vintage trim on the other window and the doorway.


In between all this exciting bedroom stuff that we are doing, I picked another huge amount of tomatoes. I think tonight I will be canning up another four to six quarts during the Packer game. 


On the sewing machine, I am working on a new quilt. It's called a pineapple block and I'm using a lot of beautiful colorful batik fabrics. These blocks in this photo below are just laid out in no particular order. I have a couple more rows worth of blocks to do yet. I have a nice piano key style border planned for around the edges.


And on the Sanna Kangas Finlander Barn Loom, I started a new rug. It's in soft creams and blues and browns. I kind of like this farmhouse style of Hit and Miss rugs. I've been doing quite a few like this lately, and they are very pleasant to work on. 

The nubby texture, as well as the soothing transition from one color tone to another is so harmonious in this style of rug. I like the neutral warp string which doesn't add a lot of detail. The rug is the "Artistry" of itself, with the colors as they undulate from one to the next.

Time to get some supper going here. I tossed some boneless skinless chicken breasts into the pressure cooker with some soup broth mix. I will take out the cooked chicken and shred it up. Some we will use tonight for tacos. The rest I will put in quart ziploc bags and toss them into the freezer. They are very easy to grab out for a quick casserole, chicken salad sandwich, toss into some soup, or just use again another night for chicken tacos. Easy peasy.