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Doors, Boring Old Doors

December 13, 2012

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One of my earliest memories is walking though a beaded curtain in a doorway. I must have been about 2 or 3 years old. We’d gone to Florida to visit an aunt and I remember walking through one of the doorways in the house that was strung with long strands of pink, plastic beads. I was enraptured and walked through the doorway many times. The beads made a tinkling, snappy sound that appealed to me, enough to make me remember the experience years later. I’d never seen anything like it before.

Of course, today we’d consider hanging strands of plastic beads a choking hazard for young children. Back when I was a kid, I guess kids didn’t put things in their mouths as much and we had no choking hazard warning labels. It was tough back then, I tell ya.

I’m remembering those beads just because one of our doors fell off its hinges. AGAIN. This is the fourth door in this house to do that. The wood (hemlock) frames around the doors are so old and so soft that that old (solid wood) doors just give up the ghost after a while. We managed to screw that sucker back onto the frame but it wasn’t easy. It’s just a matter of time until another door decided to jump ship…

If I had a more contemporary (or eclectic) style home, I would consider beads in the doorways, yes indeedy. Well, today it’s more likely to hang something like PVC Strip Curtains or something, for informal areas (such as doorways leading into a game room or teen’s closet or the garage). No choking hazard. The stuff allows heat to pass through, too. You’ve probably seen them in the car wash or at automotive shops, but those are rather ugly, if you ask me. You can get them in a few colors and in varying widths today. My teenaged son would probably LOVE black curtains for his room. He’s at that age where black is “in.” Pink is such a nice color and I told him so, but he won’t believe me. 😉

Anyway, the PVC thing is interesting. Would you ever install something like that in your home? I might in a garage where such a curtain would block dust and automotive smells but still allow warmth between the rooms…. but I’d have to get an attached garage first, yeah. That’s a whole ‘nother ball game.

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Built-In Bookcases Project – Halfway There

September 12, 2012

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Here’s the progression thus far:

Before photo. There’s a lot of wasted space along this wall because of the doorway and the narrow width between that and the wall (13 inches). I’d had a fleet of cheapo Chinese particle board bookshelves there, but they were ugly and starting to flex. Plus, two bookshelves are not nearly enough to hold all our books! I have boxes of them stuffed everywhere in the house.

Living Room before 2

I purchased inexpensive unfinished wall cabinets. They are narrow enough to fit in the space (12 inches) but are not tall enough. So I built a simple 2×4 frame for the cabinets to sit on. The frame adds height and provides a toe kick beneath the cabinets, too. I secured this sucker to the floor and the wall studs. This bookcase is not going anywhere!


One cabinet installed already.


The wall has a few outlets and I did not want to conceal them behind the cabinets. So the trusty daughter (who does all my measuring) drew the outline for the outlets.


The son got to use the jigsaw to create the outlet holes.


This was the day’s work!


I have since installed oak plywood counters on both cabinet units, and everything is finally stained and sealed. I didn’t get a photo yet, but trust me — it looks great.

Next — the shelves!!!

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Just Sew Busy

August 30, 2012


Blogging has really taken a back seat this summer, hasn’t it? Well, it usually does for me. Summers are when I have to cram in all the house projects on top of all the other stuff I do.

We’ve been very busy working on redecorating the living room. I am happy to say that I think i may finally get my curtain drapes done tonight. The boys are very much relieved, as they are the ones who hang the sheets in the windows every night. :S

As always, Livvy likes to join in on the projects. She’s so cute, it’s difficult to boot her out.


My built-in bookcase projects has slowed considerably. It’s a large project and I’m not the type to do a little here, a little there when I can squeeze things in. I need a big chunk of time to get it all done. I haven’t had any chunks of time lately. Hopefully, next week I’ll dedicate my efforts to it. We are all so tired of seeing the piles of books and boxes around the house!

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This Is It: Living Room Re-Do

August 5, 2012

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In 2007, I gutted the living room. It was the first “big” project here and I never intended it to be such a large project. But as is the way with old homes, as soon as I opened a wall and saw what was there, I could not close the wall back up without resolving the problems within. So I ripped out everything and rebuilt it all: new electric, shoring up of the wall studs, insulating the walls, adding additional lighting, new flooring….

While I am very happy with the new wiring and Lord knows I’m thrilled to have an insulated room in the house, my final decorative touches were very rushed. I slapped up new paint and quickly installed a snap-together, laminate floating floor system. I originally wanted carpeting or hardwood but it is just too expensive right now. And after all was said and done, I hauled in our junky, second-hand furniture and settled for that.

Fast-forward several years. Since a section of the room is my little office, that area of the living room is a disaster. Papers and books and computer equipment and other things are scattered everywhere. I’ve expanded and have had no where to put my reams and reams of books that I use for my writing, nor do I have any storage options for all my computer equipment and things I review. The room is always a mess, always disorganized, never a pleasant place to sit.

So I decided to redecorate it. Well– to decorate it!

Living Room before 2

Painting is easy. Some of the other projects are new. I’m going to try my hand at furniture by making an enormous built-in bookcase along a wall. I’m going to use unfinished stock cabinets (they sell very cheaply), stain them myself, and use them as the base for a plywood system of shelves. Everything will be secured to the wall. I hope to give the room that “English library” look. I also hope that a 12 foot wall, 9 feet high will be able to house my very extensive collection of old and new books. I have boxes and boxes of them that have been in storage for decades because I’ve had no place to keep them.

I also have to create a faux chimney box. It’s not for a chimney, it’s for a gas fireplace insert that we are saving up for. I’m trying to plan for the future by making it now, so I won’t have to cover everything in sheets again! I’ll create my own wooden mantelpiece from stock wood, too.

And finally, I’m sewing some new curtains. I’m using this project to teach my daughter how to use the sewing machine, so next time I need curtains, she can sew them. 😉

So I’ll be pretty busy for the next two weeks. The kids are going to do a lot of the grunt work (staining, patching holes in the walls, etc). They already primed the living room trim so we can start painting tomorrow. Thank God the heat has abated, we were going in slow motion for a while, like fish in a murky pond.

Living Room before 1

It will be very good to have this room finally and completely done. I’m going to work hard and create an organized work station for all my stuff, too. I can’t wait until it’s done!

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I’ve Made Up My Mind…. I Think

March 31, 2012


I’m going to finish the living room this year, Lord willing. This is easier than ripping out rooms and rebuilding them, but it’s still no easy task. The hardest and lengthiest job will be building the built-in bookshelf units. I have never done anything remotely like it, so I must study up and find some good plans. It involves precision carpentry which, I admit, is not my forte. I have little patience for slicing and dicing dove joints and picayune stiles, so…. I may go with some stock cabinetry pieces if I can find some cheap enough. My local store sometimes sells defective or broken units which are easy to repair.


I got this cabinetry very inexpensively. It doesn't look pretty yet because the set is not complete, but it's a start.

I also plan to move the gas fireplace unit to a better location. I will create a nice fireplace box and mantle and The Hubs will reroute the gas lines. I’ll paint the walls, the trim, and sew curtains (I’ve had the material for a year!). I’ll install carpeting (first time for this) and *hopefully* get new furniture. All we have is hand-me-downs (one huge couch and a broken but beautiful wing chair). There will finally be enough storage space and organized working space for all the home office, school stuff and all the computer stuff. The more I think about it, the more excited I am getting!

Of course, nothing is budgeted yet! I will have to take it on a pay-by-pay basis. That’s how I did the kitchen in 2010. So I have to make a list of needs and then start bargain hunting at the scrap yards. It’s amazing how much money you can save in the “dent and ding” aisle!

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Building My Home Office

January 9, 2012


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).


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. 🙂

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.


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


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


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


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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What Summer Sheets Are Best?

August 10, 2011


After the blistering heat wave a few weeks ago, and now that a murky cloud of intense humidity has settled over us (70% dewpoint and higher, yuk!!) for about two weeks now, I’m reaching a point of desperation. I can’t tolerate the heat and humidity, and therefore I have trouble sleeping. It wasn’t bothering me much until lately, when the temps spiked.


Those pillow cases are part of the new "medieval" sheets I got. I think they are cool! But not... cool... if you know what I mean.

I have a memory foam mattress, and while it is spectacular in comfort, the thing is like an oven in the summer. It absorbs heat, and it feels like sleeping on a warm loaf of bread. I’ve been trying to find some good sheets, but I’ve already spent a good amount of money on some… and I can’t say I’m very happy with my choices. Now, I’ve already got winter sheets figured out– flannel sheets RULE; and I’m snug as a bug even when it’s 40 degrees in my bedroom. But during the summer, I’m at a loss.

I recently purchased a “modal/cotton” set. It’s very soft and stretchy, a little bit like a t-shirt. It’s very cushy and comfortable. but it’s almost TOO cushy. And what the heck is “modal,” anyway?

And then I bought a Better Homes & Gardens set (can’t go wrong with a name brand, right??). It’s a very, very attractive red design, with a medieval-looking pattern. They actually have some really nice designs; I’m partial to purple bedding sets. too. But these sheets are…. I think they are a cotton/polyester mix. It’s like sleeping between a lightweight tarp. They make a nylon-ish sound when you move around in them. They’re OK, but… they’re still kinda hot.

What the heck do you get for summertime bedding?! I can’t really find any answers online. IS there anything, really?

I have heard of Egyptian cotton bedding, but that stuff is $100! Before I get it, I need to know if it’s really worth it. Have you tried Egyptian cotton? Is it a “cool” sheet?

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I FINALLY Chose a Clock

March 9, 2011


Here’s the latest update for all you who wait breathlessly for the continuing saga in my pitifully mundane life! 😀

I FINALLY got a clock.

Woooo I live dangerously, don’t I??

Seriously… it’s been a long time since I started chattering on about this. EVen before we gutted the dining room, I didn’t like the cheesy $5 plastic clock that hung there. After we renovated, I wanted something very elegant. It had to be readable, large, but traditional looking. All the ones I saw at my retailers were upwards of $40. Whoa.

I found a beautiful Kalvin Large Clock in Brown Cherry by Howard Miller at CSN Stores! They sent it to me for my review! Aren’t they totally swell!!! Here it is.


It looks so pretty in my dining room with the Grecian accents.


I LOVE the large numbers. No more squinting when I need to know the time!

It’s a very simple clock– it runs on one “A” battery and has the traditional plastic wheel that you spin to rotate the hands. The clock has a second hand, too (I love those). The case is acrylic. It’s a big clock– over 15 inches. The price was a little over $27 (it’s on sale) and that included the free shipping. Shipping was fast and the packaging was good. I’m pretty impressed, a clock this large and this nice for such a price.

So. IT’S DONE! I finally got my clock!!

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Sit Like an Egyptian

March 3, 2011

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Hee hee.

Doesn’t it look like a Cleopatra chair?

It’s actually called a “chaise lounge chair” *ahem*.

I am looking to replace the living room furniture in the near future. I’m tired of the cat-scratched sofa and the two funky, upholstered orange throwbacks from the 1970s that were found curbside…. :-p I don’t particularly like the straight-back chairs and I don’t like futons, bean bags, or Barca Loungers. I actually prefer to lounge on a long couch, but I can’t fit it into my small office very comfortably.

Lounge chairs seem to be very nice. There’s a lot of them at the Chaise Lounge Chair Store, with a variety of styles and colors. I prefer the more traditional styles (I’m not terribly find of contemporary anything), but the store has some pretty eccentric styles that are amazing! I may get one for my office some day, that and a papyrus fan and a slave who feeds me from a cluster of grapes….

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