Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Well, kind of... With Thanksgiving so late this year, we started the Christmas decorating a little late. The lights are on the house and the tree is up, so I guess the important things are done. Just thought I would post a few pics for you to see :)

Chris Putting up the lights

The finished product... We would like to put lights around the second story and the attic dormer also, but aren't sure if we have enough power, hahah!

Rita "helping" put up the tree

The glitterific tree!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

One down, one to go!

Since it's likely the last NICE weekend we're going to have this fall, I decided I better get out to the garage and finish up the doors that have been sitting there for... well... a while now.

I didn't have a lot left to do on the closet door, just some sanding and wiping with the nasty tack cloth (I hate that stuff...). Also had my first experience with wood conditioner (a pre-staining step). The doors were a little nasty looking, so my mom thought it would be a good idea to do that first. I think it probably was! Anyway, it turned out pretty well, I'll put the poly on tomorrow sometime.

Strippin' some hardware (can't wait to be done with those!)

All sanded and ready to go

Conditioner: Not just good for your hair

I like to see the bare wood next to the stained wood :)

Done staining! (this one anyway...)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pumpkin time!

We got some HUGE pumpkins to carve when we were in Wisconsin a few weeks ago and finally got around to carving them tonight. This is actually only the 2nd pumpkin Chris has ever carved (can you believe that?!?), so he was really excited to spend his birthday evening immersed in pumpkin goo.

I really like to use the fun templates you can buy at the stores, but we didn't get that done this year. I free-handed mine (not a very complicated design!) and Chris and JR found "templates" online to base theirs on. So anyway, here are a few pics from tonight.

P.S. Happy Birthday to Chris!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Other pre-party projects

Just a couple other fun things we did before the party!

We bought some almost-new furniture from a couple moving to Florida. I think it's the newest and best-matching furniture we've ever had, haha! See pics in their clean rooms below :)

When we moved in, my mom brought us this captain's chair that was taking up space in her hallway. It's been sitting in our dining room but it had this hideous green tapestry cover (over the top of orange 'leather'!). One night, I couldn't sleep so I decided to go ahead and recover it. I just happened to have some fabric left from recovering the regular dining room chairs, and had just found my upholstery stapler when I was cleaning my craft room, so it was quite the easy project. I was pretty happy how it turned out :)

Our street is gorgeous in the fall, so I couldn't resist finding a few choice leafs and attempting to press them. I stacked them between a huge pile of magazines that I need to get rid of, and they dried/flattened beautifully! I wanted to display them somehow, so I decided to reuse some frames I already had. I painted the cardboard mat in the frame the same color as the wall and stuck the leaves in. I think they turned out nicely, and I can change the contents of the frames with the seasons. I'm thinking paper snowflakes or maybe pine sprigs for winter...

Last, but not least... I had some cute small pumpkins and lots of glitter and decided that they would go well together. I made the mistake of not making sure the craft room door was latched when I went downstairs for a while. I heard a thump upstairs and immediately thought "Oh no, the glitter is out and the cat got in the craft room!" She did spread the glitter around pretty well, but thankfully didn't get the entire jar dumped out. I just thought the little cat prints in the glitter were funny. There was also a trail of prints on the rug, but it didn't photograph well, lol :)

We're having a party-

QUICK, Clean the house!!! Turns out cleaning the ENTIRE house is not such a quick task!

Since we moved in last December, various people have asked us to have a gathering of some sort so they could see the inside of the house. We've talked about it, but never decided it was the right time until about the 1st of October. We both love Halloween, and it's fun to decorate for it, so we decided it was as good of a time as any to throw a party. The easy part: Sending out the invitations! The hard part: Cleaning and getting everything ready!

Though I'm sure there are many projects we could have completed before we had this little shindig, the only major thing we needed to do was paint the dining room. Paint color was a decision about 10 months in the making. Our dining room at our old house was red and we loved it. We got some red paint samples and painted big splotches on the wall, but it really didn't compliment the three different colors of woodwork in the dining room (four if you count the painted crown molding). I was bummed and stuck of what to do, so it got shoved to the back burner and we ignored the bright red shapes in the dining room for months.

One day at an open house, I had an unusual number of comments on the paint color of the living/dining room in the house. So many, actually, that I had to ask the owner what the color was. Applesauce Cake, she said. She actually picked it out for her parent's farm house that has lots of oak woodwork. Bingo!! Maybe Applesauce Cake would work in my oak-filled room! Turned out that we loved the color, so we got our standard gallon and a quart that it takes to paint these rooms.

When it came time to paint, I couldn't find my trim cup, so I just held on to the quart and went around the room. I opened up the gallon to do the rolling, put some on the wall and thought "That doesn't quite look right... It must just be because it's wet." It wasn't until I was done rolling the first coat and poured the remainder of the quart into the gallon that I discovered I was right. They were two totally different colors! (see picture) UGH! So the paint went back to Menards, turns out the formulas were right, somehow the machine got some extra red color in the gallon and threw it off. Two new cans of correctly-colored paint later, I changed the walls back to the right color. Even though it took an extra trip to the store, we're really happy with the color and got lots of compliments on it.

Not having anything else major to do to get ready for the party, we set our sights on cleaning. Well, I did... Chris kept telling me we had plenty of time to get everything done. (He did admit, after the fact, that he had no idea how long everything would take, hahaha!) One of our friends suggested we get some plastic tubs, go from room to room and throw everything that doesn't belong in to the tub and hide it until after the party. Though that sounded like a tempting idea, we didn't resort to the plastic tubs :) Luckily, Chris was able to take the day of the party off work and we did get everything done in time. Good thing too- there were so many people here, there wasn't room for our crap laying all over the place! ;)

So what have we learned?
1. If you're using more than one can of paint in a room, make sure they are the same color before you waste hours painting!
2. When you have a big house, it's a brilliant idea to have a cleaning schedule. It's much easier to clean one room a day than it is to clean an entire house at the last minute! Either that or get rich and hire Merry Maids...
3. Parties are fun, this is definitely a party house!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Porch Sale!

Because the garage is slightly hazardous (and not to mention full...), we had our first "Porch Sale" today at the Big Pink House. It's been a long time coming... we had intended to do it in the spring when sales are plentiful and weather is nice, but didn't get it done. This was probably one of the last nice weekends we will have this fall, so we decided it was now or never! It was quite a chilly start to the day, but finally warmed up after 11 or so.

Luckily, we didn't have to do too much hunting and sorting to get ready for the sale. I've been putting things to be sold in boxes in the basement for quite a while. I suppose if I were a little smarter, I would have been pricing things as I went also :) My mom also sent a bunch of boxes of "stuff" for us to dispose of for her- next time I'm going to make her stay and sort it with me!

Because of our lack of actual planning for this sale, we are fortunate to live on a busy street! We put a couple signs up and nearby intersections and one in the front yard and stayed quite busy most of the day. We ended up selling quite a bit and making some good $$- yay! We boxed up the leftovers and took them to Goodwill right away. It's nice to be rid of some of those things!

We also got to meet quite a few interesting people, some that even live nearby. A few knew past owners of the house, lots made comments about how much they admire the house, and a few even thought of buying it over the years.

Monday, September 29, 2008

This is What Happens...

... when I leave Chris and JR home alone.

I come home to a pile of debris in the front yard and an enthusiastic, "Honey, we figured out where the front porch is leaking!" Apparently they were bored when I was at a party one night, and decided to get out on the roof and do some poking around. They pulled up some cracked, bubbled tar where we suspected the leak was originating and under it found layers of rolled shingle and some very wet plywood. So rather than simply putting another coat of tar on the roof like we had planned, they decided to pull up that entire area first and "fix" it.

So they went shopping, got everything they needed (well, not quite, multiple trips were made...), and went to work. They put new plywood in the hole to raise it up, caulked all the way around, covered it with tin, and spent lots of time (and many tubes of caulk) covering every seam and nail hole to make sure it was water-tight.

When everything was caulked, cleaned, and ready to go, JR went at it spreading new tar over every inch of the roof. We discovered half way through that two buckets wasn't going to be enough, so I ran to get a third. I can't say that I ever want to go fetch another bucket of tar again, those suckers are heavy! Anyway, he got the whole thing done, and was probably sore and tired the next day.

Rather than just buying a couple buckets of tar like we planned, we ended up using 3 buckets of tar, 58 feet of rolled tin, half of a box of roofing nails, a couple sheets of plywood, and a dozen or so tubes of caulk. Ugh! It's only temporary, but it still beats the $10,000 (no, I didn't put an extra zero on that...) it would cost to have a flat rubber roof installed.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

While we waited...

We had a lot of time to kill while we waited for the green goo stripper to work on the doors, so of course, another project had to be found!

It's pretty safe to say none of the windows in our house have throughly been cleaned in yeaaaaaaaars. Even the wood around around the windows was filthy (probably with cigarette smoke residue- yuck). The pictures aren't nearly as impressive as it is in person :)

Adventures in stripping....

At some point in our house's past, someone decided to paint our bedroom walls an ugly dusty pink. That's not so bad though, because a couple gallons of paint can take care of that :) Sadly, they also painted the doors and windows with the same chalky paint. We thought we could live with blue walls and pink doors for a while, but it clashed pretty badly and was even more nauseating than before!

My mom became a semi-professional stripper (hahaha) after a not-so-little plumbing leak destroyed the plaster and woodwork in their house 8 years ago. Lucky for us, my parents just happened to be free a couple weeks ago when we got the hair-brained idea to strip the doors. We didn't really know what to get at the store (they all look the same!), so we asked and were told which ones were good (AKA most popular...). Being big fans of the environment, we opted for the low-smell low-chemical stripper that cleans up with water and supposedly works just as well as the other stuff.

So, we slathered on the green goo and waited... And waited some more... The instructions said the stuff needed to stay on from 2-24 hours depending on how many layers of paint were on the door (up to 7- there were maybe two on the door), and it would turn a light green when it was ready to come off. Well, the color changed and we tested little sections every few hours but it didn't quite seem to be coming off right. Dad and I made an executive decision to leave it overnight and try again in the morning.

The next morning we found it didn't really come off any better, so we scraped all the paint/goo off that we could, and decided to give it another shot with the real burn-your-skin-off stuff. UGH!

A few rounds of the "real" stuff helped tremendously, but we were still left with little flecks of paint in the grain. UGH again! We used brushes and toothbrushes which helped a little, but took WAY too long. We tried sanding down to get the paint off and we tried stripping again after sanding, but I don't think we'll ever get all the little flecks of paint out.

At this point, the doors have been sitting (unfinished) in the garage for a few weeks and we have "learned" how to share the bed with the cat rather than shutting her out every night. One of these days we'll have a little free time to finish sanding and see what they look like stained. Wish us luck!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Our Sister House

A few weeks ago, I found myself down in LaPorte City for work. We were driving around town looking for a new listing we were going to tour, when I suddenly saw it... Our house! Except it was white and just a little different architecturally. I made a note of the address and was excited by the idea of looking it up later!

I actually kind of forgot about it until last week when I was looking up information for application to be on the National Register of Historic Places (a future goal, perhaps). I spent a little time checking out the properties listed in Black Hawk County, and was a surprised to see our "sister" house on the Register. It's known as the Gingrich House and was designed by local architect John G. Ralston and built in 1916. Other locally significant structures designed by Mr. Ralston and also on the Register include: The Black Hawk Hotel (the major renovations in the early 1900's), Black Hawk Co. Soldier's Memorial Hall in downtown Waterloo, the Emerson School in Waterloo, the Whittier School just a block from our house, and both the East and West Branch of the Waterloo Public Library. Right now, I have no idea if he was the designer of our house as well, but it seems that it's at least a possibility!

Today Chris and I decided to take a little trip down to LaPorte City and see if the owners would let us take a few pictures of the house so we could better compare it to ours. I can only imagine how strange she must have thought we were... :) We talked for a little bit and I explained that I had driven by the house and thought it was eerily similar to ours. We described ours a little, pointed out some of the differences, and invited them to stop by sometime when they are in town. She kindly agreed to let us take some pictures outside, and while we were walking around the house, she came back out and invited us to come in and see the main floor. The houses are laid out differently inside, the main factor being our stairs are right in the middle of the house, and theirs are on the side. Without the stairs in the middle, their living room and dining room are HUGE!! The woodwork is a different style, but there's probably just as much of it. They have only lived there for a few months, but I'm sure they too will enjoy their beautiful home (and all the work that comes with it, hahaha) for years to come.

Friday, August 8, 2008

No more carpet!

The only carpet in our house was this plush (well, 25 years ago it was...) dark green stuff in the living room. We wanted to take it out when we moved in, but were convinced by my parents to wait until spring when we could open the windows because it would probably be a very dusty job.

Spring arrived with warmer weather, and with it came a new attitude for the cat... She got quite crabby and was constantly scratching at her head and neck. One day she was drinking out of the sink in front of me as I got ready, and I noticed a little dark speck on my chest. What is that?? A flea?? It didn't click for me until that moment, but the previous owner had indoor/outdoor pets, and that nasty green carpet was infested with FLEAS- UGH! Chris had to work that night, so when JR got home I told him the carpet had to go NOW and we got to work.

Pulling up the carpet itself was pretty easy, but the old padding underneath was gross. You could definitely tell where previous owners had their furniture because the carpet and pad looked brand new along the walls. In the middle of the room (the walking path), it was decomposing, stained and stuck to the floor. Of course this job could not be as simple as just pulling up the carpet and pad... Under that was a 50ish year-old linoleum tile stuck to a layer of sub-floor. Thankfully someone was smart enough to lay a sub-floor on top of the oak floor rather than gluing directly to it!

So the next challenge... how do we go about getting this stuff up? We started hacking at the sub-floor with handy-bars and whatever else we could find and did get a little piece of it pried up after about a half hour! We quickly learned that JR's gnarly dented and scratched tools weren't going to work unless we wanted to scratch the entire floor as we went- whoops! After a quick trip to Menards to get some new, smooth tools that wouldn't scratch, we went to town on the floor. As with many tasks, the hard part was getting started! Once we got a system down, we could pry up a whole sheet of sub-floor at a time and it went fairly quickly. Chris was pretty impressed when he got home at 11 and the carpet was all gone along with half of the sub-floor. JR finished up another night, and we are left with a fairly decent floor. It's got some scratches and is worn pretty well, so eventually it will have to be refinished, but that's another project for another day :)

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Big Pink House

It's big and it's pink, so what better name for our new blog than Big Pink House?! We bought the house in December of 2007, and have talked about starting a blog to chronicle our projects and adventures in taking care of an old home, but never followed through- until now.

The previous owners told us we would probably meet lots of strangers who wanted to say something about our house. Boy, were they right! This past spring when I was only a little surprised when I was out front planting tulips and a lady stopped to talk with me about the house. She was in town visiting her sister and is always takes her daily walk past the house so she can admire it. She described some of the changes to the house over the years, and it was interesting and kind of sweet actually. We have also been asked to be on the Grout Museum's tour of homes this fall, but have declined the offer this year. We're going to try to be ready for next year though.

By far, the comment we get most from people regarding the house is, "Are you going to change the color?" Honestly, we don't know yet! It's kind of nice to just tell people you live in the big pink house on 3rd St and have them know exactly what we're talking about. If we toned down the color, we'd have to give people our address rather than a general location :) There are a few names people call our house, 'the pink house' and 'the pepto-bismol house' being most common. We have decided to re-name it and fondly refer to it as 'the money pit' (only half kidding).

After 7 months living in the big pink house, we've tackled a few projects and we'll blog on some of those soon. Chris and I are fortunate to have my sister's finance, JR, living with us. He's quite handy and likes to have projects to work on, so it works out pretty well.

We hope you enjoy reading our blog and following along with the work and many projects that are part of owning an older home. If you're feeling particularly handy, come on over, we'll put you to work!