Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Transformation - a Victorian Bedroom

My project this week is repairing wall cracks and skim coat plaster in the north bedroom. Here are some recent before and after photos. This is a large 17 x 13.5 north facing upstairs bedroom--which is not quite so private. The bedroom is street side.

The little round holes you see in the walls between the windows are ports where insulation was blown into the walls. The house is well insulated now, and new storms and screens added in October 2007. We heat with wood, and have a backup natural gas furnace. When the wood fire dies out each morning--the natural gas furnace kicks in. The upstairs is actually warm and comfortable in the winter.
Last night I photographed the three north facing windows. It gives you an idea of what the first the wall crack repair and first skim coat of plaster looks like. The new ceiling dry wall was installed first. Durabond and web tape to cover insulation port holes and every hairline wall crack, then allowed to dry thoroughly--then spits of durabond crumbs are scraped clean from the walls. A day later the skim coat plastering begins, then sanding, then a second coat of hand troweled plaster, and more sanding.
The bedroom entrance door is shown here. To the left of the door you can see the southwest corner of the room where there is a half chimney--noted by the hole in the wall where a wood burning heating stove once sat.

Here's yesterday's photo, showing crack repairs, half chimney hole patched a couple of times, and first skim coat of plaster.
Today I'm on the ladder with a mask scraping plaster spits and ridges of plaster from the walls, then and a light sanding, and ready for the second skim coat of plaster. Jon said he'd come help me today, and plaster the nail holes in the new drywall ceiling, and second sanding of taped joints.
I'd like to finished the wall and ceiling plaster this week and prime the ceiling and walls with Zinzer 1-2-3 before the weekend. Wish me luck. I'm almost 60 years old, and my oh my--going up and down the ladder really bothers my left hip.
Here are more before and after "work in progress" of the northeast corner (same view).
The plastering and sanding work is relaxing to me and gives me time to think about a wall color for the room.
Right now, I'm lost--I just can't settle on a color. I think what I need to do is take a "road trip" to find a bolt of drapery fabric to dress the 3 windows. Most of the time I find fabric first, then the wall color seems to fall into place.
I'm open to comments about color for the room. Any suggestions? Remember this--in the evening you'll be able to see the room color prominently from the street. My dining room is red, and from the street in the evening, it casts a beautiful warm glow. I'm leaning toward repeating the red dining room color in the bedroom. But, I'm afraid my Mom will make a comment about "red light district". Ha. Ha.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Our Christmas Story (True Story)

Hi friends. Linda here. I want to tell you about our strange and wonderful Christmas almost 40 years ago. Every year I think about Christmas 1970. It was the year my16 year old brother Jamie died in an auto accident almost two months before Christmas. We were trying our best to get through Christmas, then there was a miracle.

There was a family--the Porterfields--who were having a tough Christmas too. We learned their father was in the hospital and their situation suddenly felt as sad as our own. Through tears, my mother Lorraine and father Gale boxed up Jamie's clothes to give to the Porterfields who had boys about my brother's age.

Then, my mother had an idea! She decided we'd go get groceries for us and the Porterfields. Mom filled two carts with identical items for a great Christmas dinner. After we loaded the station wagon with groceries we ran over to Walgreens and purchased toys and gifts, wrapping paper, bows, scissors, and tape. We wrapped gifts as fast as we could in the station wagon, because the sun was starting to fade.

It was dark outside when we arrived at the Porterfield's house, and we were suddenly struck with stage fright. How would we approach the house? What would we say? We'd had such a fun day shopping for groceries and gifts. The day was joyful and a welcomed departure from the grief of the last 6 weeks. Finally, I volunteered to go up to the house and knock on the door.

Sweet Mrs. Porterfield greeted me at the door. I told her who I was, and I explained we'd lost our brother recently, and we were having a difficult time. I told her we brought Jamie's clothes for her boys, and if she would do us the honor of accepting some treats for Christmas. She smiled just like Donna Reed, and said yes, of course--please come in. I waived and smiled to the rest of our family sitting in the station wagon. My family emerged from the car, single file, each one carrying gifts and groceries up to the house.

Mrs. Porterfield made coffee in the kitchen, and then she took out a kitchen chair and climbed up and reached high up in the kitchen cabinet. There, she produced a plate of cookies--obviously ones she'd made and saving for her family for Christmas.

I know, I know. We put Mrs. Porterfield on the spot. But, how wonderful of her to see past all of our fumbling words and good intentions bringing gifts. Thank you Mrs. Porterfield. Thank you for helping us get through Christmas. I think about you and your family every Christmas.

The Miracle:
After Jamie died, after our first Christmas without Jamie, my mother decided she'd donate a Christmas tree to the church each year, and bake cookies, and host a tree trimming party for the youth group. My mother repeated this Christmas party in memory of Jamie for 20 years. Then my Mom started having trouble with her heart. She said she'd prayed and prayed for a sign that it was ok to give up the "20 year tradition of Christmas tree trimming party". She simply couldn't do it anymore but felt guilty. Then . . . she got her sign.

Christmas Eve at Church
We had a visiting minister for Christmas Eve service. He began his sermon by telling a story of a family who suddenly lost their son in an accident just before Christmas. And in their grief they reached out to another family who was having a difficult Christmas as their father was in the hospital. At one point, the minister said, "it was their first Christmas without Jamie". We were shocked, just shocked.

I think everyone in our little church (our little own of 200 people) were shocked as this minister told "our Christmas story". He did not know our town! He did not know our family! Mom said at first she thought someone was playing a joke and she didn't appreciate it one bit. Then she said, I came to my senses sitting there in church and I smiled . . . I had the sign I was looking for.

In case you are wondering, because I sure was wondering . . . yes, some of the congregation told the minister that the story he spoke about happened right here in this town to a family sitting in the congretation. The minister couldn't believe it either . . . to him, it was just story he'd heard or read about.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bird's Eye View of a Victorian Kitchen

Here is our kitchen. There are three doors in the kitchen To the left is the summer kitchen, and to the right is the dining room. I'm standing in the downstairs bathroom door adjacent to the kitchen. I've been standing on a ladder washing down wood work. I thought it was an interesting view, so I stopped to take a couple photographs.

Beside's being a Bird's Eye View of the Kitchen, it's also a Bat's Eye View of the Kitchen! Let me explain. Friday night we had a bat in the house, and Jon stood in the kitchen while the bat went round and round and round, and finally the broom caught up with the bat! We think the bat may have been in the Christmas tree we bought!

The doorway trim on the eight ft. high doors is original, and also this great hutch is original w/ original hardware. The drawers slide back and forth between the kitchen and the dining room.
DH Jon hates stainless steel, and he was dead set against a white kitchen, otherwise as he explained I could have anything I want when we built the kitchen. Hmmmmm, and I fell for that logic too. In the end I'm glad we followed Jon's idea for the warm cinnamon birch cabinets. Certainly easier to get past the everyday finger prints, that's for sure.

The kitchen is small 13' 8" by 15' 3". But it works well for us. The two-drawer dishwasher is excellent! Very convenient, and extremely quiet.

The drop leaf tall table serves double duty as a prep island. I want to comment about the paint color--its called Aged Photo. It is actually the color of coffee with a bit of cream. The photo makes its look like a mustard color--and that's a false read.

All the baseboards, door hardware and trim are all original 1893 throughout the house.

Here's another view of the original hutch--about 15" deep, plus the wall depth. There is another set doors on the dining room side.

Here are a couple of photographs without the flash and with the larger ceiling light "off".

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Shimmering Olive Green Tablescape in My Red Dining Room

It's Christmas. I'm decorating a bit here and there. The historical society is coming over Sunday for a party.
A couple of years ago I found this beautiful shimmering olive fabric. Last weekend I decided to make a table cloth out of it. I put the cloth on the table, making adjustments side to side, length to length, placed a few pins. Then I folded up the fabric and cut it with the cutting wheel and self healing board.

Next I grabbed the serger and serged the edges of the fabric. I flipped the serged edges and
sewed a simple stitch to finish the hem.
The leftover fabric I serged and hemmed also, and used it in the center of the table. The fabric front & back makes a nice two-toned effect.
I took down the autumn wreaths I was decorating with this fall, and re-used them in this tablescape. I placed my favorite four birdies on the table, and sprinkle the perimeter with jingle bells.
By the way, the only reason I remembered I had this shimmering olive fabric was---I ran across olive colored tapered candles in Kmart, and immediately thought of the fabric I had stashed. Ain't life fun?

The candelabra was a great find at Beth's--my favorite vintage shop in Auroraville, WI. It's a bit of a ways to drive--by my goodness--she's got neat stuff there. I'm going to get her to come over sometime and lay some of her decorating talent on my house--cause she's da bomb!

Pieces of China Inspire Me to Paint

I really love the transferware (birthday present to myself). Although I admit I use that line far too often. On the subject of transferware I don't know much about it, other than I like it. Mom gave me the beautiful amber colored candlesticks, and the vintage parrot bottle opener. I found the transfer ware at The Galesburg Antique's Mall. I especially like the teapot/cup container on the left.

Here's a little better view of the parrot--I think it belonged to Grandma Eva.
Pieces or parts of this will end up being subjects in a still life.