Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Heating Things Up

Disclaimer: This is not a post about warmer weather.

Our house is officially 200 years old this year! In houses this old there were no grand master bathrooms in the floor plan. They weren't built with beautiful walk-in showers. Instead, there are slanted roofs and tight floor plans, weird bump outs that hide vent stacks and waste lines, wonky wiring and water lines that were retro fitted to bring bathrooms indoors at some point. And they are probably all in desperate need of upgrading... unless you're lucky and the people that owned it before you bought it did all that for you. Well, we are those people.

In 2005 we tackled the only full bath in the house with a very limited budget. I found some tile I loved (and still do) and Mister put it down on the floor and put a row of accent tile in the shower for me.

There is a radiator in the room that takes up precious floor space- 12"x 22".

Originally, a door swung into the room hitting the shower wall. Mister made a pocket door for me using the existing door.

Mister also had built and installed some shelves on the wall to make up for the lack of storage but they always look messy.

Yes, that is a window that is 1/2 in the shower and 1/2 out! Who does that? 

And for the past 15 years it has sufficed.

Much more time at home lately has had us thinking about all the things we could be doing. I have wanted to put radiant heat in that bathroom for a l-o-o-ong time. There are 3 reasons for this: 1) that 12 inches I mentioned before and 2) a real vanity with storage vs. the pedestal sink would be so nice and 3)the radiator was the last one in the house to ever heat up-making it basically useless. Don't get me wrong, I loved that pedestal sink when we put it in years ago and I still do but I need storage!

Mister's initial and usual reaction to any of my ideas is "it won't work, we can't do that". Hmm. So, I let it sit for a little. But, true to form, it came up again. Now he has had a little time to get used to the idea and what that means as far as learning something new. We've never installed radiant heating so some internet research and some videos helped to explain how it all works. Mister said "I need to make a small hole in the floor to see what we are dealing with. The old radiator will have to be removed and the line will have to be capped." Me, I am okay with that. (I think it's because it's not me doing the dirty work.)

Off he went. 5 minutes later he came back with a hammer, jigsaw, and a flat bar. I knew it was about to get real. There is no such thing as a small hole with this guy. Upstairs he went. I stayed downstairs trying to occupy my mind with the pretty things that will fill the space after all the ugly happens. But for now, ugly is my new reality. 15 minutes later Mister informed me that he never said "little hole".😳😲

(The toilet waste pipe. If you're to attempt this, block that bad boy off! The gases are noxious.)

3 layers of flooring removed revealed joists that had been cut up to put in supply lines. All those had to be sistered up. That means putting uncut wood next to the original piece and screwing it in to restore integrity.

Long story short, it took a larger "hole" to figure out how all this old house was rigged but since it is our only full bath in the house we're trying to have product on site to make it still usable during all this. In the present state of our country that may prove more challenging than usual.

We were able to pull the radiator and supply pipe, clean up the joists, level out the floor better and put down new plywood as the underlayment.

Much better! 

My lesson in this has been that sometimes when Mister says it can't be done it means that he isn't confident that he can do it. That is where my inner high-school cheerleader needs to come out to encourage him. Worst case scenario... well, who knows but right now I just need to find my pom-poms. This is gonna be great!

Stay tuned.

Linking up to these blog parties:
Katherine's Corner, The Pin Junkie, Shabby Art Boutique

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Another Gallery Wall Tutorial

I love gallery walls. They are not just for museums. They've been popular in decorating for a while. and there are as many versions as there are decorating styles. They all appeal to me depending on the applications. I my home I have a wall in my living room that incorporates many different items rather than just photos. You can find the instructional post on that here. And the shelf allows me to add seasonal changes.

Sometimes, you don't want a lot of things sticking out from the wall. I've used a series of prints to build a much more formal grouping. Below are the same set of prints framed differently but displayed in the same manner.

(Print Source)

In a series of posts from late 2018 til mid 2019 I documented a makeover of a friend's house. In my friend's family room there is a large stairway taking up one side of the room. The ceilings soar in beautiful room and opposite the stairway is a large Palladian window. The window accentuated the vast nakedness of the opposing wall and we wanted to do something about that.

I wanted this to be a less formal grouping as it is a part of the family room. Some grid paper and a pencil helped to form an idea of what I was trying to achieve.

We purchased three photo ledges (don't pay a lot) to anchor the space. I stair-stepped the ledges to mimic the stairs. Measure the space you want to fill and divide that number in half. (I use chalk to mark the walls, easy to clean off.)

To mount my ledges I found the center point of where I wanted to collection to hang. I measured the center of my middle ledge and marked it with chalk on the ledge. Line it up with your mark on the wall, check for level and screw into place. Next measure from that center mark to edge of your space and divide by 2 again. That will be the center point for the next ledge. I did that on both sides. My ledges were 48" long and that allowed them to overlap a bit. This is subjective and really up to you. Because it is a staircase wall I wanted to be able to see the photos from the floor so I made sure to hang them high enough to be seen over the railing.

Next, I had my friend gather all her photos, most were already framed. We decided to use colored photos vs. black and white because 1) this family has some beautiful red-haired members and 2) the cost to reproduce all the photos in black and white would have made the project expensive.

Now I could start hanging photos. There were a couple of larger photos that I wanted to use as anchors and because of that I worked those onto the wall first. From there it was a matter of sitting some on the ledge, hanging others both above and below the ledges. Finding the right sized frames was trial and error.

The first attempt still looked too stuffy to me and there were sooo.... many great photos. Just keep adding until you get the look you're after. Don't be afraid to move a photo if it doesn't fit right. Notice where the military photo, top right? It won't stay there. 

Once I got the photos and placement figured out I took down the frames that were different colors. I wanted one, cohesive color. Now, you can buy matching frames like in the previous photos but this is a big project and it would take a lot of money to do that. My solution was to set up my spray tent and spray paint all the frames that were different colors. Black allows the eye/mind a place to rest and allows the photos to tell the story. I like the idea of different finishes of the frames that were already black so I left them alone.

After I was happy with the placements I went back in with some poster tack and put a little behind the frames to keep them from shifting. This is a stairway and it will get much traffic. Trying to keep photos righted would be a full time job. This is what I use:

I found a large gold B, the families surname initial. I painted it black.

My friend found some words online that she wanted to incorporate into the mix. You can find similar metal cutouts from Hobby Lobby for a few dollars each.  If you don't want to spend money on that consider something like this from another friend's house a few years ago:

I used a piece of fabric and a Sharpie and framed it. Easy right? Handwriting isn't pretty? Print it out on the computer and put it under your fabric and copy or just frame the copy.

Paint was dry, photos were reinstalled and all that was left was to take final photos.

Again, my drawing...

And the final...

You could incorporate your children's artwork or family keepsakes like marriage licenses or diplomas. This project's will cost you less than $100 depending on where you get your picture ledges and how long they are. That price includes ledges, picture hangers, poster tack and spray paint. Additional costs would be the metal word signs.

 So, what do you think? Is there a wall in your house that could use a refresh? Why not try a gallery wall? Happy decorating.

Party Time:
Finding Silver Pennies, Our Home Away From Home, B4 and Afters, The Dedicated House , My Uncommon Slice Of Suburbia, Create With Joy, Lou Lou Girls, April J Harris, Ducks N'A Row, Katherine's Corner, Gingersnap Crafts, Life Beyond The Kitchen, The Pin Junkie

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Seeing The Light

Mister and I took what is becoming an annual late winter trip to Texas. It is a three-fold trip. We first hit the Austin area to visit old friends from high school-and this time around we made some new friends!

High-school friend, Lady, and me in New Braunfels, TX

After a couple days we drove north to visit Chip and JoJo's wonderland! We perused Magnolia Market and picked up a healthy amount of cupcakes- like one of every flavor.

Then we headed another three hours north to visit with my dad and brother.

When we left for the trip this year we were just beginning to hear about CoVid19. Since then everything... plans, work, and life have come to a screeching halt. Everybody is home right now. We are six weeks into everybody being home. I have found myself overwhelmed by all I have seen on the news, in our country, in my state and local towns and grumbling at all the changes. Mister is home a lot now. I keep trying to distract myself-and him-with a lot of little things that have been needing to be done in our home.

One of the projects that we've talked about for years is to move a light over the stairs. Our stairs are treacherous! At least, that is how it seems to people who visit. The house is 200 years old this year-at least according to sign on the front of the house.

When the house was built 'codes' weren't a thing. The steps are short and the rise is not to today's standards but we have lived here for 17 years and we're used to them-mostly. Not gonna lie, there are sometimes when the steps just feel a little wonky, especially in the dark. Four years ago (!!!) Mister painted the stairs and walls for me. (You can see that here.)


I purchased a light for the front room a few years ago and Mister has not liked it ever since. I love the light and for several years you could find it anywhere "farmhouse" decor was sold.


Mister doesn't hate the light so much but rather the height it hangs at. Because it is over my desk area I am fine with it but since everything is feeling 'off ' in the world right now I am questioning everything and so I agreed to change it. But, I still love the light and Mister agreed to move it over the stairs! Seems like a perfect compromise to me.

Well, that is easier said than done but Mister is amazing (in my humble opinion) and did all the work for that which also meant that the attic got all straightened out! SA-WEET!

And.... since we took that light from over my "desk" (which is really a table my grandmother purchased in France after WWII) we had to get a new light for the room....



a new light for over the front door!


And it all started with the stairs being lit up. Who knew?

I've been spending some of my quarantine time watching Rebecca Robeson videos. Her lighting choices are simply    S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G!

And, this is what I have learned about myself recently... I love lighting, beautiful lighting but I'm on a budget (wah-wah). That doesn't limit me as much as I thought it would. I do have a propensity for locating the most expensive thing available- "Champagne taste on beer budget", my mom used to say. But there are options and I think I have found some reasonable ones considering our limitations.

Back to me... So, I now recognize I have a thing for fabric, pottery, and lighting.

It didn't stop with the entry, stairs and front room. I just purchased another light for what has become my dressing room.... more on that later!



What have you been up to? Projects, reading? Art? Teaching? Or, just trying to keep a sound mind with everyone home? My mom used to always say, "It won't always be like this." She was right.

Last week I met with my bible study group online. We had spent the time looking at Hannah's prayer in                    1 Samuel 2:1-10 as she poured her heart out in thanks to God for the gift of her son, Samuel. I could so intimately identify with Hannah's heart attitude in the previous chapter. She was well cared for and provided for by her husband, Elkanah. She lacked nothing. Elkanah abundantly provided for her because he loved her so much and yet for her it was not enough. She had her own idea of what it meant for her to be "complete"; happy and fulfilled. She wanted a child!

I know there are many women out there who can identify with Hannah. Every mom can identify with Hannah's later prayer that "for this child I have prayed". But what got me most is this... Hannah had a preconceived notion of what happiness looked like to her. All that had been provided for her was not enough-she wanted more and because she didn't have it she was visibly stricken, so much so that her husband asks her "Am I not enough?" (My paraphrase.) But God, -aren't those the MOST BEAUTIFUL words?- heard the pleas of her heart and answered her! Now, if someone said to me, "Hey, God heard your prayer and He will provide for you as you prayed", I may walk away a little encouraged but it wouldn't take long for doubt to creep back in and cause me to question and drag my feet. But not Hannah. We are told, "the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad." Oh. My. Goodness!

So, the light bulb went off in my dim brain. Have I been complaining in spite of all that God has provided for me? I'm tired of being in my house, tired of not seeing my friends, upset that I can't be at regular church meetings, painting class, and all the many other things I have been missing out on .... But, God has heard me! I am reminded that I have a home, our bills are being met, I have food (and toilet paper), I have friends and a church family to miss. God has provided for me, abundantly. Hopefully, when my heart is reacting rightly, I will look at the lighting in my house and remember this moment when I could see clearly; when I could recognize my natural bent to not be satisfied with all God has blessed me with. And reminded when the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ once again witnessed to my soul that because I am his my grumbling and discontentment can be repented of and forgiven. I too, like Hanna, can have a face that is no longer sad!

I think my mom had heard from God at some point in her life those precious words; "It won't always be like this." I believe her and more importantly, like Hannah, I believe God. Praying that you are seeing the same light; finding comfort and peace in the God of Hannah during these times.

Linking to these parties:
The Dedicated House, Our Home Away From Home, Blue Sky At Home

Monday, April 20, 2020

Garden Arbor Tutorial

At the onset of the CoVid19 lock down I knew I was in for some very rough days. My days were about to be invaded - full time. My family is going to be with me pretty much 24/7 and while I am a very sociable person the thought was totally overwhelming. All the projects that I always said I didn't have time for.... well, I wouldn't have that excuse anymore! Mostly, I was anxious for my husband who DOES NOT know how to be still. I knew he would be looking at project after project with expectations and a pace that I just couldn't and didn't want to keep up with. I've moved past that but in the beginning I needed to have something for him to do.

Fortunately, I had a few projects in mind that I had wanted to get done and I thought this one could occupy him for a few days.

After the garage was built we put in walkway from the driveway to the backyard using pavers and white stones. A year of so living with that taught us it was a bad idea. the stones never stayed put. We liked the cement pavers because they went with the what we used for the bbq shack in the back so we kept them and put down weed barrier and mulch with some dirt in  between. I made a concoction of buttermilk, moss and water and spread it in the cracks. (I will let you know if that works.) It has yet to grow.

And we built the arbor that spans the distance between the house and the garage. Here is how we did it:

1 bag of quick set cement
2 4x6x12' pressure treated posts
2 2x8x12' pressure treated pine
2 2x4x8' pressure treated pine cut to 2' lengths
Galvanized screws
Wood glue

Mister used a post hole digger to dig two holes for the 4x6x12 posts about 2 feet deep.

We bought 12' lengths knowing that we would be cutting some off the top once they were cemented in place. Using a level make sure they are plumb-straight, from two sides. Add the quick set and check your plumb, again. Add water. At this point we secured a strapping across the top to keep the posts in place, level/plumb.

We waited about 24 hours for the posts to set in the cement.

While we waited on those to set we got busy on the top, working in our garage. We measured the distance between the posts adding a few inches beyond each to really fill the span between the garage and house. I want a little detail on the outsides of the post.  I drew a simple design on a piece of card stock for our template for the crossbars and Mister cut them with a jigsaw out of the 2x8x12s. Nothing fancy here. This detail will sit beyond the posts on each side.

Next, we set up some sawhorses and placed our two top rails on them with a piece of scrap wood to space for the where the posts will be.

Now for the cross arms that will sit at the very top. (Not really sure what else to call them.) For these we cut the 2x4x8s into 2 foot lengths and later mitered each end. I measured making sure to keep an odd number of pieces (more appealing to the eye.) I landed on seven pieces. I marked the top of the crossbars for easy placement.

Mister wanted them to sit into the cross bars so he put them through several passes on the table saw making "teeth" that are easily removed with a hammer. (That was my job.)

Once they were cleaned up they sat down, hugging onto the crossbars.

Ready? Let's put this together!

Back outside! We removed the strapping the helped keep our posts plumb. We held up a crossbar at a height that seemed reasonable to us. The bottom of the crossbar is a little over 7 feet high. I wanted it to feel like you were walking into a separate "room" when you came through. The roof line of the house was factored in as well as the trim around the window. It all had to work together. If it went too high nobody would really notice it.

If you have extra hands you can just hold the crossbar or you can temporarily attach to posts. Make sure it is level, but sometimes level doesn't look right and slightly off makes more sense to the eye. Take your time, step back and look at it. Mark your posts where the top (you will notice in the picture that someone started cutting at the bottom) of where crossbars will sit. Remove your crossbar and cut off the excess post. Mister used a circular saw and it took two cuts, one on the front and one on the back to get through.

Attach the front crossbar, screwing and countersinking the screws from the back of the post into the crossbar. Attach the second crossbar onto the back of the posts, I didn't care if the screws show here. We used that previous piece of strapping to help us get both crossbars up and level with each other.

When the crossbars were mounted, one on the front of the posts and one on the back, you can start to place the small arbor arms. Mister lined up the arms with the marks I had made earlier and attached them from the top with galvanized screws.

*The "oops" cut got filled in with wood glue and a strategically placed screw allowed it to dry well and maintain integrity.

The arbor will get a few coats of white opaque stain when the wood has dried out enough. For now this is as far as it has gotten. I will update this post when the stain goes on.

So, what do you think? A good use of time? Here is the breakdown:

Time: 2 days
Skill level: Beginner, if you keep your cuts simple
Cost: $100
Worth: Priceless, as it kept Mister busy and is a great addition to the property.

A couple coats of opaque white stain and some temporary pot fillers were added. Also, my attempt to grow moss with the buttermilk mixture did not take. I ended up transplanting some from another area in my yard.

Linking parties: Our Home Away From Home, The Dedicated House, Blue Sky At Home, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Create With Joy, Lou Lou Girls, Grammy's Grid, Anything Goes, My Little Shop of Treasures, Across The Boulevard, April J Harris, Dabbling and Decorating, Ducks N A Row, Ginger Snap Crafts, Life Beyond The Kitchen, Katherine's Corner, The Pin Junkie, Shabby Art Boutique, The Answer Is Chocolate, Chic On A Shoestring, Coastal Bohemian, Create With Joy, Imparting Grace, The Cottage Market, Pieced Pastimes, Our Hopeful Home, Finding Silver Pennies