Saturday, September 29, 2007
As I busily prepared the mountain of cleaning supplies needed for such a daunting task, I heard A hesitantly mutter from the back porch "Uh, Mom".
Upon closer inspection I found this:
Instantly, I was snapped back into reality like a twig in a hurricane.
Now the inside of my refrigerator sparkles.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
There is no need to be polite. No need to pretend you didn't see it. It wasn't me, I swear!
Welcome to the front parlor. Also known as the room I never use because it creeps me out to have those dolls staring at me. This is another room that has received little or no attention since we've moved in. We did refinish the floor, removed the mini-blinds and hung some curtains, but that's it so far.
The previous owners started installing a gas fireplace and never finished the job. Since this house was built with central heat, there were never any original fireplaces. From what they told us there was yet another door to the left of the fireplace leading to the family room. They left behind this beautiful old fireplace surround, but unfortunately it won't fit the gas insert. We'll either have to get a different insert or different surround. This one is made of oak and all of the woodwork in the house is pine so we're leaning towards a different surround and mantle. That would also give us the opportunity to make built in cabinets and bookshelves on either side to match.
There's another pocket door in this room. All the pocket doors in the house work perfectly. We even have all the original keys.
So one of these days we'll get around to stripping the wallpaper and painting this room. We're planning to add a picture rail with bungalow gold paint above and dark red below. Then add some stenciling. The paint alone should be a major transformation.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
This room has some great features, such as this corner china cabinet and the pocket door leading to the family room. The other door on the left leads to the back stairs. You'll also notice another door behind it that also leads to those stairs from the family room.
So far, we haven't done much of anything with this room other than replace the lighting fixtures. The wallpaper, while I would have loved it in the 80s, is getting tired. So tired in fact you can see that it's trying to peel itself off and fling itself on the floor so it can lay down. I'll be doing the humane thing and putting it out of its misery soon.
Note the odd placement of the window. According to the previous owners there was yet another door to left of it leading to the back porch. You can see through the door on the left there is also one in the kitchen. There was also a door to the right of the window leading to the basement steps. I'm telling ya, the builders must have gotten one heck of a deal at a door sale.
They took the extra doors out so they could install the original kitchen cabinets here to use as a buffet. They're great, but they don't go all the way across the room. That and the fact that the window now seems out of place drives me bonkers. I'm kinda particular, okay anal, about stuff like that. It seems out of balance and I notice it on a daily basis. So this cabinet is coming out and will be located in the new mudroom.
Of course it's not just that simple. This is the only room, other than the laundry room and the upstairs bath, that has vinyl flooring. There's hardwood under there just like in the rest of the house. Of course they installed the vinyl after the cabinet so once it's removed, so goes the vinyl. Which wouldn't be a bad thing and we probably would have already taken on that project, but the previous owners also informed us that there once was a bathroom in this room. A bathroom with some yucky tile that was put down with a tar like substance. So there's tar on the wood floor. This is not going to be an easy project. And if we're going to go to all that trouble, we still need to figure out something about that darned out of balance window. The simple solution would be to add another window.
The other major question though is, should we open up that wall between the kitchen and the dining room? We wouldn't be able to get rid of it completely or my sewing machine upstairs would end up landing in the sink. But we could open it up considerably and make it look just like the other pocket doors in the house. We'd have to move the corner china cabinet to the opposite corner. Then move the current window over to the left. And make one heck of a mess in the process.
For the most part, the way we live on a day to day basis there's not much need to open it up. We have breakfast and lunch in the kitchen and dinner in the dining room. But when we entertain, which doesn't happen all that often since I live with two anti-social men, the dining room seems really, really cramped. Any more than six people and it's elbow to elbow. Not to mention that the rooms just seem all chopped up in comparison to all the modern homes with that "great room" concept.
So do we leave the wall and the cool old swinging door? Or do we yank it out and open up the rooms? And THAT my friends is why I haven't done a darn thing to my dining room yet. I'd have to make a decision.
What do you think?
Monday, September 24, 2007
Another "upgrade" I wish they'd left alone. It's vinyl floor and melamine cabinets were lending nothing to the old fashion charm around here. And the two foot wide coat closet was grossly inadequate. It's a five bedroom house in Indiana for crying out loud. That's barely enough room to hold the spring outerwear, let alone the big-n-fluffy size winter coats and every other variety of layer known to man required to survive in these conditions.
But in spite of all that, I thought I could live with it for a while until we could get around to redoing the whole kitchen. Until one day earlier this spring when I decided to paint the pantry.
I had already stripped the wallpaper border and painted the kitchen.
Pleased with the result, I thought it would just be lovely to have the pantry match. Seemed like such a simple thing. Figured I'd have the whole project done by the end of the day. Mwah, ha, ha, ha, ha. Yeah, that didn't happen.
See, once I got in there we realized the gap between the cabinet and the wall was so large it would be nearly impossible to paint and have it look decent. I had already removed all the contents and shelving for the closet. So we thought maybe we could just move the cabinets out temporarily as well. So we detached them from the wall and promptly got them stuck in the door. They must have been assembled in place. The only way to get 'em out was to take 'em apart. Well, we knew we didn't like the cabinets. And we never had any intention of keeping them. We also didn't like the floor. We needed to reconfigure the kitchen someday anyway...blah, blah, blah. So one thing leads to another, as it always does, and the next thing you know we had the room gutted.
Right about that time the weather warmed up and the outdoor projects started calling our names. So we've been sitting here not only with an unpainted pantry, but a huge honkin' fridge AND a giant hole in the wall for five months now. Instead of the hole where the monster fridge would be recessed and the glorious mudroom I had envisioned on the other side, it's become my woodworking project finishing room.
But not for long! Now that the final coats of paint have been applied to the porch, it's time to get that hole filled with a fridge. I'll lose my handy finishing room, but that's okay. I'm afraid we'll be needing the expanded coat closet space before we know it.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
We even added a few extra dings as we moved the piece inside. :)
Then I followed a finishing process that goes something like this: sand, stain, sand, paint, rub, paint, rub, tung oil, wipe, tung oil, wipe, tung oil, wipe, wax, buff, wax, buff. If you missed any of that or just want more details you can follow this link back to Making It Old Again and Making It Old Again continued.
Next woodworking project will be to finish building a sewing table. We've spent some time this weekend scratching our heads on how to get the machine to recess into the top. We think we have a solution, stay tuned.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Then: Remember this? This is Old Mr. Kurtz's corn sheller that still sits in our back yard. They would have picked the corn by hand, brought the corn to this and fed it through. This is a "modernized" version. A large belt with a small steam engine would have operated it. Earlier models were hand cranked.
Now: Whoa Nelly! Wouldn't Mr Kurtz be impressed with this contraption? We've come a long way baby!
It's a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it. (Notice the wiping of the windshield so I can get some pics.) So who's driving this bad boy anyway? Meet the modern farmwife a.k.a. Mom.
So we're cruising along devouring everything in sight. Throwing the fear of God into any varmints that might be lurking in the field. This is not like mowing your lawn folks, you've got to line it up just right or you end up just smashing everything (which would be uh, bad). And the dust, oy. It might be an air conditioned cab, but it's still dusty as all get out.
As we go, we can monitor how much grain we're picking with this new computerized GPS yield tracking device. Wouldn't this just blow Mr. Kurtz's mind?
Once we've gone a round it's time to unload. This is trickier than it looks. The idea is to make it nice and even and fill the wagon so it looks like the top of a nice fresh loaf of bread without spilling it out all over the ground (which would be uh, really bad). Easier said than done. This thing isn't exactly nimble.
Once the wagons are full, off they go. Either to be sold or stored. Well the grain, not the wagons.
Repeat this process, over and over and over from dawn to dusk. Eat, sleep and do it all again the next day. So there you have it, harvest in a nutshell. Doesn't it make you want to run right out and buy a tractor?
Friday, September 21, 2007
I desperately want to clean up and reinstall these fixtures. It won't happen overnight though. The current location of the kitchen sink is directly below a window and this model, as you can see, has a wall mount faucet. This creates a problem. Is it insane to completely redesign your kitchen around an old plumbing fixture?
the bathroom sink
the tub only needs a little polishing, eh?
Doors and whatnot
And finally, you know you're in Indiana when the basketball goal is in the corn crib.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
I just removed the seeds and scooped out the pulp like a grapefruit. Man are these things ever good! We'll be heading back out with a ladder and a bushel basket now. Hopefully we'll get enough to make a pie. I found a recipe online. They also said they're great to add to a milkshake. Yum!
Pawpaw Cream Pie i
- ¾ c. sugar
- 1/3 c. flour or ¼ c. cornstarch
- 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
- 1 c. milk
- 1 c. light cream
- 1 c. pureed pawpaw pulp
- 3 egg whites
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 baked 9-inch pastry shell
Combine sugar and flour or cornstarch. Add the beaten egg yolks, milk, and cream. Mix well and add pawpaw pulp. Cook and stir constantly over low heat until thickened. Cool.
Make a meringue by beating the egg whites stiff with 3 Tbsp. sugar and a pinch of salt. Pour custard into a baked pastry shell and cover with meringue. Bake in a moderate oven (350o F) for 12 minutes or until meringue is browned. Serves 6 to 8.
Now if I could just figure out what to do with these persimmons, I'll be all set. Any clue?
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
6:30 A.M.: The woman awakes in the dim glow of dawn to the sound of the cat pawing and scratching at the bedroom door. She feels the space beside her, barely warm in the place where her husband had slept. She knows he's making his commute to the city for a day of computer work in the office. She dresses and pins up her hair and goes to the kitchen. The cat rubs her legs and bites her ankles until she gets her breakfast of gourmet canned food. The woman starts her coffee and heads to the back porch to feed and let the dogs out. She sips her coffee waiting for their return. Today is Thursday, the main day for housekeeping and errands. The woman starts in the kitchen cleaning up the remains of the late night snacks, then heads upstairs for a shower.
7:30 A.M.: The son awakes and makes his way to join her in the kitchen for breakfast. They eat quickly and discuss the day ahead. There is lot to be done in the first part of the morning and the kitchen is the hub of activity.
8:00 A.M.: Breakfast is over. Left alone, the woman sips her coffee, and then methodically begins to work through the morning. She starts with the dishes and the beds. Then gathers a load of laundry. In the mean time she's let the dogs in and out twice and the cat three times.
9:00 A.M: Time for school to start. She calls for the boy to join her in the study. They always start with math, then grammar, history, literature and geography. While he works independently she grades the papers from the day before, plans the next weeks lessons and checks in online with other homeschooling families in the area. She gathers the mail to be posted and finishes writing out the shopping list. Brings the cat in and lets the dogs out one more time.
11:30 A.M.: Time for lunch. While the son is eating she heads back to the laundry and then sweeps both sets of stairs. The cat wants out with the dogs.
12:30 P.M.: Typing, Chemistry and Reading. The son works independently for the most part while the mother starts with the housecleaning. The floors need swept, the furniture dusted, the bathrooms cleaned.
2:00 P.M.: The dogs have spotted a squirrel in the back yard. They will not rest until released to pursue the invader. She tends to one more load of laundry. Then it's time to make the 10 minute drive to town, squeezing in more education via The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on audiobook. The post office, library, pet food and grocery stores are all on the tour of the day.
4:00 P.M.: Back at the house the son helps carry in the groceries, she packs them away, lets the dogs out and heads back to fold and put away the laundry. She takes a break, checks her e-mail, checks over the son's assignments to make sure they were completed. Dogs want fed again.
4:20 P.M.: There is just enough time before dinner to add one more coat of tung oil on the chimney cupboard her husband built for the kitchen.
5:30 P.M.: Time to start dinner. Nothing fancy just pork chops tonight.
6:15 P.M.: The husband arrives home, hauls the trash to the curb and checks the mail. The family gathers in the dining room for the meal. They talk about the day and the work they will do the next day. They clear away their plates and glasses. Everyone is tired and takes their place in the family room. The son watches Myth Busters, the husband surfs the web and the wife adds a few more stitches to a quilt. One by one they go to bed. The woman is the last to go...after she updates her blog.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
3 P.M.: It is time to kill the chickens. While her daughter boils a pot of water, the woman expertly kills first one, then another chicken. She tethers the feet, firmly grasps the neck in her strong hands, swings the chicken, and then cracks it like a whip until the neck separates from the body. Mother and daughter set the pot of boiled water down on the ground and the woman immerses the quivering birds' heads into the hot water; this will make plucking easier. The long, messy business of cleaning the chickens is barely completed before they notice that the cows are making their way back to the barn for the second milking of the day. This task mother and daughter do together. They spend about twenty minutes with each cow, resting a head or shoulder on the animals' warm flanks. It is getting cooler and soon today's last wagonload of corn will be in the yard.
6 P.M.: Suppertime. Everyone in the household is inside again; it has been a trouble-free day. A new backlog in the big fireplace rests behind the flames of small logs and pinecones. The family eats. The table is illuminated by the glow of a kerosene lamp--so much cleaner and brighter thatn those that burned on whale oil, and cheaper too. Family members talk about the day and the work they will do the next day before their visitors arrive. Then they clear away their plates, mugs, knives, and spoons. Everyone is tired and takes his or her place by the fire for a while; one by one they go to bed. The man is the last to go. He leans on the bottom of the Dutch door looking out at the night, smoking his pipe of the day while stroking the head of his old dog. He muses that the world is becoming full of inventions that are changing how people farm and live: new steam engines that can be used in the fields, wire that keeps the stock enclosed, and the windows, doors, and furnishings that arrive at the nearby railhead every week. Every time the peddler comes by there is some new device. Paying their way is going to be hard, he knows, but with the two hired hands who start next week they will get the most out of this year's harvest. The unused room on the second floor must be made ready for them. But more of that when he talks with his wife--if she's still awake.
Monday, September 17, 2007
4:30 A.M.: The woman awakes in the dim glow of dawn. She feels the space beside her, barely warm in the place where her husband had slept. She knows he's in the horse barn readying the the team for the day's work in the cornfields. She dresses and pins up her hair and goes to the kitchen. The old collie comes out from under the dresser, stretches, and returns to the same spot. The woman looks at the big fireplace, where she is grateful to see that some of the banked embers in front of the backlog are still pink. There is lot to be done in the first part of the morning and the fire is the engine of activity. Today is Friday, the main day for baking. The woman shovels some of the blackened embers into the back of the bread oven built into the chimney, where it will be easy to get it glowing with a handful of brush. Keeping fires going had been so important until two years ago, when the kitchen was enlarged and a new iron cookstove was installed. Bending down, she riddles the ashes below the stove's firebox and stacks, and then kindles its fire with sawdust and woodchips. Now to the stone-floored pump room and dairy where she fills a big kettle of water for the stovetop. There is a rhythm to her movements. She goes toward the kitchen door where she gently touches the big cloth-covered bowls containing the rising bread dough made the day before. Unlatching the Dutch door she feels the cool morning breeze and is grateful for the new wire screen above the bottom half. This summer it had allowed the kitchen a flow of air, dissipating some of the heat and decreasing the number of flies. She stands of the boards of the new porch aware that the farm starts at this spot. On the porch there is an accumulation of material that had previously been stored elsewhere: two stacks with logs of different sizes, one for the fire, one for the stove; a collection of barrels ready to be filled with apples; a large iron pot in which a mixture of tallow, lye, and a little quicklime will be combined to make soap; two rocking chairs that are barely ever used, since it's rare to have time to sit; various tools; and at the far end, a quilting frame. On the way back from the privy, she sees the thin blue line of smoke pushing up from the narrow stove chimney; it looks to be a fine day. It is late September and harvest time.
She stops at the outside pump to splash water over her face; while wringing her hands on her apron, she remembers that the old dog kennel is a favorite nesting place for one of the hens. She walks over to it, feels inside on the straw for a warm egg, and puts it in her front pocket. This will be for the coffee pot.
6 A.M.: Now with the kitchen warm, the family is called together for breakfast, with chunks of a day-old loaf, cooked bacon, applesauce, fresh milk, and leftover pie--everyone has room for pie. Family members eat quickly and discuss the work ahead. This is the busiest yet happiest time of the year, and the kitchen is the center of all farm activities.
6:30 A.M.: Breakfast is over. Left alone, the farmwife sips her coffee, and then methodically begins to work through the morning. The kitchen floor has to be swept; last night the youngsters popped corn in the fireplace and burst kernels are everywhere. She would not sand the floors today but would wait until tomorrow, before her younger sister and brother-in-law come to visit. As she sweeps, the task leads her thoughts to other rooms. Passing the downstairs bedchamber, she crossses the hallway to the parlor. This is where the young couple will spend the night, and it needs to be aired. As it is a seldom-used room, the only one with wallpaper, its contents give her a moment for reflection; the woman smiles to herself as she gazes down at the big rag carpet--recognizing in it the evidence of old family work shirts, pinafores, patterned material, and red flannel--even some green wool that was left over from when her grandmother's worn dress was cut up for quilting. In one corner is the flax spinning wheel that needs to be taken up into the attic above the children's rooms; in another is the harmonium she hopes her sister will play. There is a trundle bed, a cabinet with some best china, and in front of the old filled-in mantled fireplace, a small round parlor stove that may be lit if needed.
7:30 A.M.: After the room is made ready, windows opened, and all the beds of the house are made, she continues with sweeping and dusting, tidying up as she moves along.
8:00 A.M.: The daughter returns from milking and letting out the cows, excited by the thought of visitors, and she and her mother talk while pouring some cooled fresh milk from the churn into spotlessly clean pans set on warming shelves; the milk will settle and curdle. Cheese made days before is turned and the cheese basket and press are scrubbed and dried.
9:00 A.M.: With the chimney oven warm, the woman starts her baking, sliding formed loaves onto the back brick surface with a long wooden peel; the pies and cookies will follow and be placed to cool in the pie safe near the door. The girl throws feed out to the chickens as they follow her and the grain bucket; she keeps them away from the low-fenced garden and it's apple trees. Her task is to gather unmarked windfall apples in her pinafore and fill the empty tubs with them, lining each layer with straw.
11:30 A.M.: Mother and daughter hear one of the boys as he returns to the farmyard with the wagon full of unhusked corn. He lets down the sides and they enlarge the pile of cobs between the barn and the crib. It's dinnertime and all three jump aboard as the team heads the wagon back to the cornfield. The girl steadies a jug of fresh apple cider and her mother carries a basket of cold bacon wedged in hunks of bread, some cheese, and on top, an apple pie.
As they walk back from the field, the woman and her daughter talk about school. With the harvest coming to an end in a few weeks, the schoolhouse will reopen. The girl and her next oldest brother will walk the two miles to school every day. She looks forward to meeting and making friends. She is especially pleased that her young aunt, a teacher at a distant school, is coming tomorrow afternoon and wants to try out the family Speller book on her.
to be continued...
Sunday, September 16, 2007
I've been trying to do a little sewing. Ethel, the cat, has been having a grand old time playing chase the string and reorganizing all my quilt pieces. Still I managed to get two quilts layered and basted and one top started.
I'm up to the tung oil coats on the jelly cupboard. I think the tung oil smell combined with the something's-burning-on-the-bottom-of-the-oven smell is what's causing my screaming headache. Or it could be related to the fact that I'm allergic to the earth, sun and the sky this time of year. Either way, my head hurts and I'm going to bed early.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
My baby boy has been pinching pennies for awhile now. I just assumed he was saving up for a new PlayStation. He'd mentioned he wanted one. But today he let it slip in a round about way that he was actually saving money to buy something *gulp* for a girl! I'm WAY too young for him to be buying something for a girl! In fact, I'm so young he should barely even know they exist! He should be buying matchbox cars or action figures. It's going to take me awhile to process this. Even then, I know I'll never really be ready.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Before: (note the undersized door and the plywood above filling the extra space)
Getting the doors back up and painted is a major boost to the curb appeal. Even my little buddy here had to come check them out. (That's a bug, not a stick.)
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Thursday, September 6, 2007
We've just been really busy. M's been working on the screen doors. He cut a rabbet to hold the new glass panels, built the panel frames, made some screen mold and painted the new hardware. Just waiting for the paint to dry now.
He's also been filling his time off with little projects like installing the casters on my cutting table, hauling the Mars (little green men) TV to the curb and has been making a cribbage game board to send to his Dad for Christmas. (When you're sending something to a remote island you need to mail it early.) The two blocks of wood will be hinged together creating storage for the cards and game pieces.
In between educating the young'un, battling the dust bunnies and dealing with the garage sale aftermath, I managed to get the antique quilting frame cleaned up. Figured out we didn't have it put together correctly. There are small carved roman numerals for each cog wheel, rail and trestle end. Brilliant! I still need to replace the muslin then it will be ready to go. I wish it could talk and tell me some of the stories that must have been told while sitting around this old frame. I used Kramer's Best Antique Restorer to clean it up. I swear by this stuff now.
I also finished the wallhanging I started this spring. (Completely hand pieced and hand quilted.) And cleared out a space to start working on some Christmas gifts of my own.
So, given that's it's been a short holiday week, you can see we're not ignoring the blog, we're just TIRED. :)
Sunday, September 2, 2007
We also discovered an old schoolhouse style chalkboard hiding in there. Obviously that'll get cleaned up and go into the office/classroom.
My parents came down this weekend. After a wonderful meal at our favorite local restaurant (okay it's the only restaurant) we stopped at one of the antique shops. We made out like bandits. I found the perfect pitcher and bowl to sit atop that washstand I just finished. I also found some old casters to add to the antique library table that I use as a cutting table in my sewing room. I needed it to be a little taller and these will do the trick. M. found an old hand plane, spent most of Saturday cleaning it up and realized he probably got the deal of the century. A. found a cool metal clip in the shape of a shield. Everybody went home happy.
Mom brought the antique quilt frame she had stored in her shed. We managed to figure out how to put it back together and it fits in the room! I'm thrilled. Needs some cleaning and a wee bit of refurbishing but not much.
Sold a bunch of stuff in the garage sale. A lot of work, but fun to chat with some of the folks who stopped by. We really lucked out on the beautiful weather. I even managed to sit out there and do some hand quilting. So all in all, it's been a pretty darn good weekend.