Monday, February 28, 2005

To Mailbox or Not to Mailbox

I can't figure out if I want to put up a mailbox. At our old place, we had a mailbox, and it seemed that everyother week my my would be blown all over the neighborhood. So, when we moved to Paw Paw, and found no mailbox, we happily signed up for a box at the Post Office.

Thing is, I never go there to pick my mail up (it's mostly bills, so it's not like that's a motivator), and I can tend to run behind paying people, and picking my packages up. And, it seems like as the kids get older, it's getting harder to do. I thought it would be easier, but it's not.

So, I'm stuck with what to do. I'd like the convienience of getting my mail everyday, but I also like not having the stress of my mail being stolen, plows taking out the box, or the wind plastering all the letters down the road.


Friday, February 25, 2005

Random Ramblings

Well, I have done too much for the house today, but I was busy in general. Lets see...

Today I built a cedar rocker/glider for our front porch.
I also picked up those leaded glass panels at the FedEx Freight facility in Peru, IL. I should've figured they would crate the panels vertically, and thank God I had the straps to secure it to the trailer. I pulled the panels out, and they are fantastic! I can't believe I got them for $10 apiece. Now, to find the time to make them into doors, lol.

Also, I put our SUPER UGLY boat on Ebay. It's turned into such a joke. I've had 3500 hits on it as of right now, and I still have it going until Monday. If you would like to see it go here. I should mention I was a very successful B2B exec before working for Karl, so this is something I'm doing for fun. Marketing is everything, even if what you're selling is junk, and you tell them that!

We have Karl's children over (from a previous marriage) for the weekend, so that means LOTS of mother-daughter time for me during the day, and computer time during the night, lol. They like playing video games, and weird role-playing games, and while I'm the first person they turn to to hook all the electronics up, I'm the last person to talk to about how to work a video game controller!

Oh, and Bambi comes out on DVD on March 1st! Yay!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Woodstick 2005!

Ok, restorers, we have a date!

June 19th, 2005. We will all meet at the Sandwich Antiques Market starting at 8am. Starting at 2pm, we will have a party/bbq back at our home in Paw Paw, IL. We won't have an end time, we'll part until we drop.

This party is open to anyone who would like to make the trip. Our home is located 20 minutes from the market, and located a couple miles from both I-88 & I-39, in Northern Illinois.

If you think you are able to make it, email me at and I can provide my phone number to find each other at the market (if we arrive at different times), directions to the market, and our home, and possible hotels for staying overnight. Our home website is

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Parlour

This is our parlour, located in the center of the house. The cage contains, Yoda, my african grey parrot. Someday we'll have better furniture, but for now we settle with what we brought from our old place.

Sorry I don't have a before photo, I lost a roll of film. This room had severla layers of wallpaper, and then someone painted it a lime green. There was also a lime green rug that spanned the entire room, and it SMELLED! It had been there so long that it faded the floor. Yuck!

The parlour Posted by Hello

The Coal Fireplace

This is a pic of the coal fireplace, located in our parlour. It is in good conditon, considering what they used it for! I only wish they had the more colorful majolica tiles on it! :(

The coal fireplace Posted by Hello

Pre-Raphaelite Art

Here's a pic of the reproduction canvas in our parlour. This is called the "Gates of Dawn", and the artist's name has slipped my mind! We have several paintings like this throughout the house. (Yes all semi-nude women, too). The frames I spray painted gold, and rubbed brown shoe polish on to antique.

The Gates of Dawn Posted by Hello


This is the detail of the molding found in the house

detail of molding throughout the house Posted by Hello

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Party Idea

Ok, I like the idea of the Sandwich Antiques Market. What does June 19th, 2005 sound for hosting Woodstick? We all could meet in Sandwich for the antique fair, and then have homemade beer and a bbq in the afternoon at our place. Sandwich is 20 minutes east of us, and it's an easy drive.

Yay Woodstick 2005! This sounds like it could be a yearly thing, so maybe we can rotate homes and see all of our um... progress.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Attention Illinois Restorers!

My husband and I were thinking it would be fun to get other home renovators/restorers together for a summer picnic. Another idea we had was maybe doing once a month tours of other people's homes that are being worked on to trade disaster stories and ideas. It seems there are alot of people in Illinois doing this blog thing on their home.

So, I'm located 1.5 hours west of Chicago (although we visit all the time). If this sounds like a neat idea, or someone has a different idea, email me!

We're up for anything, because we host parties all summer, and any excuse we can come up with to have a good time with people who share our intrests sounds great to us!

The Front Room: After

This is the new front room (without the stencils, its cloudy today, and I cant get a good picture). We put in a peacock ceiling light and medallion not pictured (because we have four peacocks in our yard), and I purchased the furniture and table custom from Magnolia Hall. The paintings are canvas reproductions of Waterhouse's pre-raphaelite works from the late 1800's (left painting: Hylas and the Water Nymphs; right painting: Circe Invidiosa). The statue is a marble rendition of Falconet's "The Bather" (from eBay, lol), and the sterling service is also new (I can't afford the antiques!). The rug is flokati (uh, from eBay!!!).

This is the room nobody but me is allowed in, not even the dog! The room is larger than pictured, it's just hard to capture all the angles. There's a large pocket door hall to the right, and to the left is a 48"x72" window.

The new front room Posted by Hello

The Front Room: Before

When we moved to this house, this room was the easiest to work on. It only had one layer of wallpaper that was easy to strip, and the ceiling wallpaper was easy as well, although it was painted over (lead of course) so we had to get the noish masks to do the work. I wish the photo was better, because the floors were badly faded and worn. The plastic you see on the window is the kind that covered ALL the windows of the house, and by the looks of the plastic, it had been there for YEARS. Man, that had to be so stuffy!

The original front room Posted by Hello

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Kitchen: After

The finished kitchen. We replaced most of the walls, and all of the wiring. Karl made the cabinets from oak boards, and the cabinet doors I got for $3-6 on eBay (did I mention I love eBay?). The stain is a gold oak oil rub, so we didn't polyurethane over it. I put in a slate backsplash, because although Karl is a wonderful cook, I swear no one is as messy as he is! In addition to the backsplash, we put in an exterior vented over the range microwave the moved 400 cubic feet of air a minute! Yes, no more greasy odors! The house STUNK when we first moved in, because there were no open windows or range hoods to get the grease out!

Other details that we put in to make life easier were a garbage disposal (had to replace galvanized steel plumbing, NOT fun!), a 9.5 inch deep sink with a high faucet for our large pots, over sized cabinets (we have 9 foot ceilings) for extra storage, and pull out shelves in the cabinet.

As for the "pass through" we discovered someone forgot to see if that was a load bearing wall (it was, and that's where that sag in the house came from!), and we had to put the wall back. It worked out ok, because then we had room for our huge refrigerator!

The kitchen is really small, because there is also a half bath (installed in the 40's), and a "new" (also 40's) stairwell to get into the basement. I guess the cellar doors were not convenient. But, it works for us, and since we started from scratch, it is tailored to what we need. One of the near future plans is to use one of the stained glass panels (yay eBay!) for the mudroom door to let in more light.

The finished kitchen Posted by Hello

The Kitchen: Before

This is the kitchen while we were gutting it. When we bought the place, it had plastic cabinets, a cheap radiator, and gold fleck white linoleum. There was also a "pass-through" between the kitchen and the dining room, but it was cheaply done. The light is new, because the old one stopped working about two days after we moved in.

The kitchen in the middle of us demolishing it Posted by Hello

The Drawing Room: After

This is the drawing now, just about completed. We want to put in a tin ceiling, and the shoe molding has to go in, but this is the room in a nutshell.

The woodstove is mage of soapstone from vermont castings, it readily heats 1600 square feet, and even though we are 2400, the home still stays very comfortable. It has a catalytic combuster on it, so it only emits 3 grams of smoke per hour. That ought to make the evironmentalist whackos happy. Maybe not... you can't ever make them happy, lol! The pipes are double walled insulated, since it burns so hot. The minimum clearance on that angle the stove sits at to the wall is 18"

The floors are green marble, or more properly named "serpentine stone", since marlbe can't technically be green. It was interesting installing this type of stone, since it's prone to spaulding. So, when grouting and mortaring, you really have to use an epoxy, not a mortar. To make it "code", we first used half inch cement board, then sheet metal, then the stone itself, which is 3/8" thick. We then had to resize the moulding to accomodate the new thickness in the floor.

The curtain is a roman shade, made by me. Since we have single pane glass, I used silk dupioni fabric, felt as the inside, and the backing fabric. I cut up some old curtains to make the stripes on the shade.

The wallpaper is just from Menards, nothing special! :)

We also have dragon wallbackets on the right side of of the photo, but I don't know how to post more than one photo per entry, any help?

With the ceiling fan, I purchased a wireless transmitter that could solve our two wire problem coming from the fan (so those pulls are now not there). The transmitter can work off the exsisting hot/neutral wires, and has a cell to replace the third (sometimes fourth) wires needing to connect a ceiling fan with a light. It does a great job with no interference, because I also have a wireless router for three computers in the same room.

Whew! I hope I explained the room well without boring anyone! :)

The "after" picture Posted by Hello

The Drawing Room: Before

I've decided to phase in the before & after photos into my blog from our website, so people do not have to junp around to see our home.

This photo is of the drawing room while we were laying in the floor. The room we started with had eight layers of wallpaper, a wood floor that was NOT original, and impossible to strip, and a collapsing ceiling.

The "before" of the drawing room Posted by Hello

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Exterior Photos: 2

This is the East elevation to the house. Quite the monster, huh? The front view doesn't elude to how much space there is to the house, but this view does! BTW, that hydrangea bush is almost 10 feet in diameter, I ALWAYS have people requesting divisions from it.

I had John from request photos of my neighborhood. I'm a little hesistant on that, because for one, we all have very large lots, and don't have any close neighbors (I have a church behind me, set waaayyy back), and my East neighbor has to much work to do on the place, and never gets to it, and my West neighbor is busy renovating her place back to a single family. However, both homes are just as large, if not larger than this one!

The East elevation Posted by Hello

Exterior Photos: 1

I have had a request for exterior photos, I didn't know how many people were accessing the blog before coming to this site (where I have all the photos). I'll post the East elevation next. Just so everyone knows, we'll be replacing the roof and restaining the siding in the next feww years, we just wanted to renovate the interior first. And these porch supports are temporary until we have the original columns returned. The porch was collapsing from the rot affecting the posts. We'll also ditch those ugly second floor aluminum storms.

Also, now there is a lifesized marble statue of a semi-nude "Venus Daydreaming" in the front yard. Next to her are two dwarf cherry trees and two wisteria vines. We hope to build an arbor this year to go over the stature.

The view from the South elevation. Posted by Hello

Friday, February 18, 2005

Ok, here's half the stencil

Well, I decided to post a pic of what the stenciling looks like thus far. I still have the frieze to do, but as I mentioned a few posts ago, I can't seem to pick a combination of colors that I like. Any artists reading this, feel free to give me suggestions, because I need three colors for the frieze pattern. To see the pattern, look at the post "victorian stencils". My dh likes it the way it is, without having a frieze pattern, but it looks so pretty, that of course I want to use it!

The problem I ran into with stenciling the ceiling was that these patterns are made for 90 degree corners, and I don't have many (see below). Apparently, the guy who built the place wanted to stand out, by making these "reverse" corners, and that's not even the complicated part! This room also has 60 degree angles in four other places in the room, so the room sort of takes on a giant bay window type of "footprint", with the center window recessing in about 1.5 feet (see below again). That corner stencil in the photo is two feet square. Any home restorer sees this photo and gags with how those builders managed all those angles in plaster! Hopefully, I did an ok job modifying the stencil patterns to accomodate the angle problem!

This is the partially finished stencil project. Posted by Hello

Spring is almost here!

Today, I ventured outside to check the "grounds". Even though it's only 25 outside, the snow that had hung around for so long is gone, so I thought I would take a look around.

Much to my amazement, my "naked ladies" (yes, they really are called that), my tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths are all poking through the ground. Wow, that seems sooo early. I planted hundreds of pink and white bulbs in the fall, and I do not notice any of them, I sure hope they come up. I have to laugh because I'm already forcing all those bulbs from the basement inside, and here all my plants are coming up outside!

I'm sure everyone is also receiving TONS of plant catalogs like me, so I wonder who can resist not buying at least SOME plants? Last year, I got kiwi vines, dwarf cherry trees, roses, grapes, and wisteria vines, along with other perennials I can't remember. This year, I've aleady purchased a paw paw tree (I couldn't help it), begonias (picotee), and cascading begonias for the porch.

If I can get all these plants to survive, I just might have a botanical garden! :)

I LOVE Ebay!

Wow, I have found the BEST deal ever on Ebay! Alot of my things in my home are finds on Ebay that I have modified to my liking. Some of those things that you'd find on my site are the sideboard in the dining room, the kitchen cabinet doors, the flokati rug in the front room, the marble statues, and the silk dupioni fabric on the curtains.

Last night I bid on a lot of six stained/beveled glass panels for doors. I got them for $60, brand new! HOLY COW! Karl and I have been wanting to replace some of the doors in the house, whether storm or main doors. Now, we can have SIX! Karl also wanted to make the doors himself, and he wanted me to do the stained glass. The problem was that I could not economically buy all that glass under the expense of just purchasing a pre-made door outright from Menards. And, those full stained glass doors are about $800 apiece. HAHAHA! I now can have SIX of those doors for under $300, including the wood and hardware! I'm soo excited. And, to give you an idea as to the size, the panels are 27x78 inches. AWESOME!

I can't even believe it, these panels are just what we needed, and we already have the tools and knowhow to turn them into doors! :)

The great deal on the stained glass Posted by Hello

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


Well, I'm all set to present to the National Register of Historic Places on March 11th. Anyone who reads this, please keep your fingers crossed! I would very much love to have this home on the register, as I have worked soooo hard on it, and (almost in a psychotic fashion) consider it apart of our family. Too bad they don't offer grants in restoring properties they list, because I ran out of money to do anything else to it for at least five years! :)

Anyways, I'm going to be very busy. I'm also running for school board (as a republican), and the election in on April 5th. It's a contested election, so I really have to make an effort to be noticed, since I am the newbie to town.

I'm done with the stenciling, and hopefully I'll have the pictures up in about a week, I keep forgetting about the digital camera at the office, and it will take that long for me to remember to bring it home!

I also hired a lawn service to come to our lot during this year. The lawn has seen better days, and although I have spent two years "fixing" it, it could use some professional help. And, I found out that my bulbs I've been storing in the basement forced themselves, so right now I'm enjoying over a dozen pink and white hycinths, and it took no effort! Yay! Now, if all those plants I put in last year come back this spring, I'll think I have a green thumb! :)

So, that's it for now, I'll post again probably when I take pics of the stenciling, and with the verdict of the National Register.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The History Behind Our House

For the past couple months I've had to research the previous (to the original) owners of this house for the National Register, and, as with everything I find in this house, there was more than I bargined for! I made a new page on our website to explain how all the history ties in, but I'll put it in here, in case anyone finds it useful!

Ever since I've started on the research of the history of our home, I've been facinated with every detail I find. Well, after months of research, and countless hours tracking down ancestors, I now have a complete picture of this house, and the settlers of Paw Paw, IL. I thought I would share a synopsis of what I found. There's so much more, but I don't want to bore you!Paw Paw is located on what used to be called Galena-Chicago Road. Now named Chicago Road, it is also known as "Old Chicago Trail". This trail was a stagecoach line from Chicago to Galena, IL. The road was founded on a well used indian route, and was discovered by General Winfield Scott while tracking the indians during the Black Hawk War. People found this area attractive, because there was a large forested area of about 2,000 acres (with a grove of Paw Paw trees), and little disease or hardship. So, Paw Paw it became, and we're located on the Western edge of the 850 person village.
We live in what is called Wyoming Township. This township was named for Wyoming Valley, in Pennsylvania, where the majority of the original settlers came from. For you history buffs, Wyoming Valley is an important piece of our American history. This was an influential battle during the Revolutionary War. The British allied with the Native Americans (called the Six Nations in that area), and used them as a tool to wipe out American settlers in the valley. What was so horrid about this battle, was not the battle itself, but what took place after the fact. After the settlers conceded to defeat, they drew up a treaty with the natives to stay on the land and farm, but not to draw up in arms again. The natives did not hold up their end. They came in, and no matter the age, sex, or abilities of the people of Wyoming, they captured and brutally tortured who they caught. There are tales of decaptitation, mutilation, and even eating infants alive by the savagery of the Iroquois. Even the indian "queen" danced around prisoners and smashed their heads in with a tomahawk. Who ever was able to flee the scene of carnage, had to make way through swamp land, where they were ambushed and tortured once again. Fewer than a dozen men survived. Hundreds of women and children perished from exhuastion and torture in the swamps. One of these women was Hannah Rogers, who collapsed from exhaustion, and she was documented as being buried under an upturned tree, with her epitaph written in charcoal.
The settlers that survived the massacre, wanted to return home, after hiding in neighboring settlements. One of the men, Josiah Rogers (Hannah's husband) is quoted to have said, "I will lay my bones in Wyoming". So, he and some of his neighbors attempted to return back to the valley, only to be persued again. These man fought the indians off, and while many minor battles occured for another couple years, the families remained. A generation later, the people of Wyoming Valley wanted to leave and forget the horrible memories. They traveled together, and headed West, eventually settling in Paw Paw.
Many of the surnames listed in the battle, are also listed in the censuses as settlers of Paw Paw (Wyoming Township), Illinois. There are two people from that area tied to this very home. One is William Sutton, Jr., grandson of James Sutton, who had a grist mill destroyed in the invasion of 1778. William Sutton is presumably the original builder of this house. The other is Francis Edwin (who later changed his name to Frank) Rogers, great-great-grandson of Hannah Rogers, the woman who died of exhaustion while fleeing the Iroquois. Francis's grandmother (Rhoda Drake) was the daughter of General Drake, who tried to defend the settlement, and was mortally wounded. Francis purchased this home from Mr. Sutton in 1878. I gathered this infomation through family trees on, relatives of William Sutton, and through the Lee County Courthouse.
Other surnames from Pennsylvania, who also settled in Wyoming Township are: Jones, Keith, Roberts, Atkins, Hampton, Davis, Gorton, Benjamin, Siglin, Miller, Cole, Harding, Rosenkrans, and Marcus, taken from the 1860 & 1870 federal census.
Great link about the Wyoming Massacre: Durkees Men of Wyoming