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Find the Kitty Friday: Spring Cleaning

April 27, 2012

3 Comments

I love hard work. I could watch it ALL DAY!

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Wordless Wednesday: Feeling Like Hercules

April 25, 2012

2 Comments

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I came to the computer this morning and saw this.

*snort* !!!

Have a great week, friends.

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Chic-ifying a thrift store ottoman

March 24, 2012

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Guest post written by Robin Powers

I love going thrifting and finding all kinds of little things to go in my home that would otherwise cost way too much in a store. That’s how I’ve decorated most of my home and it’s an interior decorating tactic that I’m going to keep using. I recently picked up an ottoman that I knew had all kinds of potential that I couldn’t wait to uncover.

I went online to see if I could find some good ideas for refurbishing the ottoman and saw some HVAC Deals. Spring, or I guess I should say summer, is just around the corner and I think that it’s time to replace our current system. It was definitely on its last leg around August.

I’m so excited to see the final result of my little ottoman overhaul makeover. I bought some great upholstery fabric that matches our living room decor and I think it’s going to be perfect for some extra seating and a little place to put our feet when we’re watching TV.

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102 Years Later… New Windows!

March 17, 2012

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…my living room has new windows!

I’ve endured these old windows for a long time. When we first moved here, we got a few new replacement windows to replace the broken ones. The remaining windows had to wait until we had the cash to buy new ones. I reached my tolerance level last year, when these old windows developed icicles on the panes in the winter and no longer kept the bugs out in the summer. It was almost better to have an open hole in the wall than these old windows!

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They would no longer hold paint. I had painted them and painted them, but every year the paint peeled off. Time to replace.

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These windows are not original to the house. They were installed in 1910 or so, after the builder died and his housekeeper bought the place. She did many “improvements,” such as replacing the old 9/6 windows and painting over the beautiful Black Walnut trim in the living room. šŸ˜

Garage Window

This is one of the original windows, protected behind a storm window. They are called 9/6 because they have 9 panes on the top and 6 on the bottom. Hstorians can determine the age of a home by inspecting window styles.

 

Well, after 100 years, the windows have reached the end of their life span. (Actually, they reached the end of their life span about 25 years ago). On with the new.

The hardest part of replacing the windows is removing the old. We have to cut through the paint seal (more like HACK THROUGH the paint seal) and pull off the sash stops and the parting stops. 160-year old wood does not like being removed, you know that?

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You have to be very, very careful with this kind of job. Old timers put all sorts of toxins in their paints back then. We had to clear the living room, cover everything with sheets, and make sure no one spread any of the paint chips or dust. I frequently misted a spray bottle to keep the dust from flying around.

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Another problem was fitting the window into the existing frame. The height and length were very good, but the depth of the window gave us trouble. The old sill was too narrow for the thick replacement window. Our only option was the chisel away the 3/16-inch wood off the sill.

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AH! Success!

We got two out of the three done so far. One more goes in the living room, and then it’s to the upstairs. And because we had to remove the old window stops and chisel the sill, I also have some patching up and molding replacement to do. But it is SO GOOD to have new windows!

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Windows are not difficult to replace yourself. Oh sure, you can pay a professional, but expect the bill to be twice the amount. I figured that our labor was worth $100 an hour. we just watched a few instructional videos on the computer, read a DIY book, and away we went. It’s not that difficult. The hardest part is making sure you measure for the new windows accurately and removing the old window…. And containing the mess!

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Rental Homes on the Rise

February 29, 2012

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Have you been seeing an increasing amount of homes for rent in your area? I have been reading news reports of increased rentals and other such phenomena (lol) across the board. I think it’s related to the “housing bust,” what say you?

Here, rentals are BIG. I live in a relatively “rural” area close to a big city. I say the area is relatively rural because it sure doesn’t seem very rural. The population is probably under 1,000, but there are no rural gaps between the neighboring townships. Way back when, when settlers were first building around here, they discovered the amazing power of hydropower, and built a ton of mills around the many fast-flowing creeks nearby. The mills brought workers, who needed homes, and so homes were built up and down the creek. After 200 years, you can imagine how crowded the creek areas got…. so it’s often difficult to tell where one town ends and another begins because there is no visual gap between the municipalities. As a matter of fact, some municipalities even share or double up on services— for example, our area gets mail delivered by TWO different post offices. :S It’s confusing.

My area also doesn’t seem very rural because there are a LOT of rental houses here. We see people coming from the big city, finding cheap apartments here. And of course, crime usually follows. Plus, the rental homes here are not anywhere near as attractive and well kept up as. These houses are usually one wind storm away from collapse, and yet landlords seem to make the money. ???

Personally, I greatly dislike the growing switch from home ownership to rental buildings. It’s not good for the country, politically, economically, and morally. I think that a top-heavy renting population generally feels less connected to the country and local events, and has less interest in community pride, voting, etc. America was once the land of dreams, where a person could OWN land and not be enslaved to the feudal system of Old Europe. What’s your opinion?

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Building My Home Office

January 9, 2012

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I’ve taken the teeniest, tiniest leap into building an official home office here. I’ve been working at home for over 3 years now, with a little desk and bookshelves showhorned into a corner of the living room. It’s so messy and my living room has become engulfed with stuff that I’m desperate to organize.

Well, I finally found some inexpensive kitchen cabinets suited for a home office. They are Aristokraft, in saddle oak. They are very plain, and are made of particleboard. But I don’t care– I don’t need a solid wood desk and the simple style suits me. The cost of the three cabinets with countertop was a fraction of the price of a new desk (one of those cheapo Chinese-made junk desks).

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All I’ve got done so far is the bottom half. Eventually, I will build the top hutch portion when I can wrastle up the funds. For now, the base will have to do. Livvy likes it. šŸ™‚

The area looks quite empty and sterile. Oh, I have plans, though! I am going to build my own hutch. It will have two narrow bookshelves and a pair of cabinets. Eventually, I will create a huge built-in bookshelf along the wall. I intend to convert the room (living room) into a library, with big wall bookshelves and a gas fireplace.

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I also plan on installing crown molding along the top of the ceiling and placing LED white lights in the tray. It will give the room lovely ambient lighting.

The garage, once I have renovated it, will become the new family room where we will have sofas and chairs and the family’s huge assortment of musical instruments.

But before I rebuild the garage into living space, I have to build a barn in the backyard, to hold our power tools and auto equipment. Oh yeah, I’ll be busy for a long time. And then , of course, I still have to renovate the upstairs of the house and the downstairs bathroom….

Sheesh, who knows, maybe by the time I’m finally done renovating, I’ll be too old to maintain such a big house. I can then turn around and sell the place for a nice profit. It sure would be nice to enjoy the fruits of my labors here, though. I’ve spent most of my years living in a dumpy house!

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Find the Kitty Friday

December 30, 2011

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My daughter snapped this on her cell phone. Where could that skulking kitty be?! She’s doing it rite! LOL

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Well, another year is winding down. I haven’t been thinking of any thoughts on renovation lately until about a month ago. It was about that time that I really “let” my desk “go.” I have always been a neatnick with a super-tidy desk, but I’ve been SO SO busy the past few months (since October, really) that my desk is a SHAME. A cryin’ shame. I even took a photo for you to see how bad it is. lol

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The desk is actually one of the best ones I’ve ever had, The thing is solid wood, an old teacher’s desk from the 1940s. But it’s not exactly computer-compatible, as you can see. I just juggle way too much stuff on this desk, and with all the paperwork for the home business, I’ve run out of places to put things.

Which leads me back to thinking about renovation again. I’m going to create a built-in bookshelf and desk system in the living room. We have tons of books, most of them in boxes, still! I think my living room will look beautiful with some elegant shelves and a nice tidy area to work. I’ve ordered a few base cabinets and am waiting for them to arrive. Once they finally do, construction begins. I will have to reroute one wall sconce light and make a bit of a mess with the existing furniture, but we can handle it. I think I’ve finally got a vision for the room. It will probably take us about a year to or more to finish it, as it also involves removing an existing gas heater and installing a gas fireplace to a more central part of the room. Because a large portion of this room is my “home office,” I can deduct some of the expenses on my taxes. Thank God.

Anyway, I’ll have more updates about this later. I intend on building my own shelves from wood, so the project will certainly take some time. But when it’s done, it will look and function SO MUCH better. And the new shelves will give Livvy all sorts of amazing new places to hide!

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Good to Be Home

November 30, 2011

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We were away for a few days, traveling to the rural outback of Upstate New York (Schoharie County). This county ranks — in my estimation — as one of the most rural areas of Upstate New York. And these folks are not just rural, they are fiercely rural. No fancy, high-falutin’, city slicking city life here. Oh, these folks appreciate progress, just without the urban arrogance and unrealistic reliance on “the grid.”

It was our first time Livvy was alone in her 3.6 years she’s been with us. Well, the dogs and the bird were home, too, but they don’t count. I had the webcam set on surveillance and Livvy mostly sat by the back door and in my desk chair, waiting for us. Nearly broke my heart. I couldn’t bring her with us this time, though. We were staying at a nice hotel and would be strolling through caves during the day. Not exactly a cat vacation.

But Livvy survived and she is all lovey and cuddly now. šŸ™‚ Hey, I could get used to this!

While we traveled through Schoharie County, we saw many, many homes devastated by the flooding from Hurricanes Irene and Lee. These folks were hit the worst– bridges and homes and barns and cows just floated away. This is a rural area where money is always tight and work is always hard. New York’s Upstate economy really shows here, and then the floods came and made bad to worse. I saw some homes that were skeletal, just barely able to stand upright.

Lots of our photos were taken from the moving car, so they didn’t turn out very well. We saw yards filled with garbage bags and strewn tree limbs, boulders and rocks in weird places, and bulldozers everywhere.

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In one area, I drove past a small group of trees on the bank of the Schoharie River. The trees were literally covered with tons and tons of white feathery strips of what appeared to be toilet paper and paper towels (me being a suburbanite). As we rounded the bend, we saw that the white stuff was not toilet paper. It was the plastic wraps that go around hay bales. Large hay bales were clogging one area of the river bank, and great strips of the shredded white wrapping hung from the TOPS of the 20-foot trees. My heart ached for these folks. Wow.

Yet what makes this area so remarkable is the amazing cheerfulness of the people. EVERY SINGLE PERSON I met was cheerful and generous. Even when they spoke of their losses (some folks lost everything on the first floor), they smiled and said, “Thank God, no one was killed” or “It’s just stuff.” Now that’s an amazing community. No self-pity and wailing for government help. Help is welcome but these people weren’t going to sit on their tears and wait for FEMA. They just sucked it up and are starting again. And wherever we traveled, the folks were so generous. The coffee shop gave us two free coffees. The hotel gave us a free breakfast. The New York Power Authority Visitors Center gave us free coffee travel mugs and light bulbs. I can only admire their generosity, grace, and happiness. I also wonder if Schoharie County has the most churches of all New York’s 62 counties, because it seemed there was a steeple peeping out from the farms and forests every mile or so.

Houses come and go but communities are what make or break a town. It’s good to be home again but I can’t get those folks out of my mind. I understand flooding problems– yes, indeed. But I’ve never had to rebuild EVERYTHING like these folks have. Ya got guts, Schoharie County folks. God bless you all. šŸ™‚

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Domestic Cat Climbs Blue Mountain

September 27, 2011

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I wonder if Livvy is the first cat to ever climb Blue Mountain, in the Adirondack Mountain range of New York State? Our climb was quite the adventure! The mountain rises about 3700 feet into the atmosphere, and the views are incredible. The climb, however, is rather laborious. Livvy could only get so far.

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She wanted to stop constantly, to smell the balsam fir and ferns. These were new smells for her.

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Some of the trails were pretty rough.

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After over 2 hours of hiking (and being carried in a cat carrier some of the way), Livvy stopped. She was probably 20 minutes from the summit, but the climbing was very intense and I didn’t feel comfortable hauling her carrier up such a steep incline (and back down again). I was afraid one of the guys would slip and Livvy would go tumbling down the incline. Also, Livvy had had very little water and I didn’t want her to continue climbing. So we stayed put on the trail and waited while the family reached the peak.

We Quit

While we waited, several other groups of climbers passed us by. Each one of them exclaimed about Livvy— “Well, that’s a new thing!” ‘OH, what a beautiful cat!” Livvy got lots of attention. I really think she may be the first domestic cat up Blue Mountain! šŸ˜€ It was good to get away from home, away from the hustle and bustle of work and the city and news about the economy and all that stuff. Livvy ABSOLUTELY LOVED the Adirondacks. We came home a week later, and she was disappointed—- I think she thought we were going to live there! Ah, if only!

If you want to read more about our climb and see some spectacular photos of the views from the summit, you can read my article about our adventure, on my New York Travel blog.

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Find the Kitty Friday: What’s Mine Is Mine…

September 2, 2011

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…and what’s yours is mine, too.

Livvy Milk

Livvy! I was going to drink that! šŸ˜

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