Friday, March 25, 2005

An Item on my Wish List

In the Victorian Era, no proper upper-middle class home was complete without taxidermy. Whether it was exotic birds, or a trophy hunt, there was usually at least one "stuffed" animal somewhere in the well dressed parlour.

Well, of course my home no longer feels Victorian, devoid of the proper decorations! So, I asked myself, what kind of animal should I look for? Deer seem too "redneck" for me, and any kind of thing with fangs would probably give my small children nightmares for the rest of their lives. I love birds, so why can't I appreciate one that is still beautiful, but requires none of the care, lol?

So, I thought I would look for a "golden pheasant". The Victorian era was the birth of oriental trade in America, and it only seemed fitting. My problem was that I couldn't find one that really "popped" on quality. I fell back to my Ebay ways, and lo! There was a peacock! That would be PERFECT for my front room. I have four living peacocks in my yard, a peacock chandelier, and even the stained glass transom is a peacock fan.

I went to the website that is selling this beautiful bird, and this guy does a fantastic job. He has others, and all of them are beautiful. My problem is the price. My dh says no, *sniff*. And, he is not the kind of guy that showers the ladies with gifts, if you catch my drift. I'm stuck, peacockless, with an empty corner in my front room. I guess you can call me "crestfallen" (get it?)

If you have a Victorian home, and you are NOT a p.e.t.a. activist, check the site out, because your Victorian home deserves it! :) And, if anyone reading this has any extra $$$ feel free to help me out.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

FEMA & "safe rooms"

After researching tornado shelters AFTER the start of the construction, I found they have an official name: safe rooms.

FEMA's site had a pdf page about the construction of the "box". We were right in the placement and the material, but we underestimatated the power of "missles" (the flying objects flung around by the tornado). At 100 mph (and hitting square) a 2x4 15 pound piece of lumber can blast through a masonry wall.'ll go back to Menard's and get more wood.

So, to use plywood construction, you must either have:

a.) 11 gauge or heavier sheet metal on impact side, and finish the interior with .75" plywood, or...
b.) FOUR sheets of .75" plywood and cover with the same sheet metal.

The moral was that the sheet metal needs to flex on impact.

Karl and I are going to take down the plywood we put up, and replace it with sheet metal, since this is the easier route.

The door was a nightmare, you should check out FEMA's site for how it needed to be. UGH.

Now, these specs were meant for a room above ground, and we're in the basement, so we may be going overboard, but when it comes to your children, every bit counts. Do you think I'd care about tornados if I didn't have kids?

To cheer it up a bit, I purchased bright fabric from Walmart for $1/yard. I also picked up a fire extinguisher, touch lights, and bottled water, among other things. I put all the goods in an airtight box. and we're ready for spring! And, as a bonus, it is cheery to look at, lol.

The bad part? Our state. Illinois is the only tornado alley state that doesn't offer a reimbursement program or tax break for having these shelters. Just like there's no incentive for the National Register designation either. Leave it to IL to be the stingiest state, with being only second to CA in ridiculous laws. Sigh...

This weekend's project? Following the advice of one of the comments, and placing a shutoff valve on the gas line. Thanks for the tip!

Thursday, March 17, 2005


Well, this weekend the kids and I are going to my parents' place so Karl can build a "tornado box"

I grew up in Kenosha, WI, and while I remember some wild storms, and having sirens, there was never any real worry about having an actual tornado. Heck, when I moved to Dekalb, IL, it seemed it never even rained, lol.

So, we move to Paw Paw, and by some freak thing of nature, I have never seen so many funnel clouds or tornados in my life! Geez, the first spring we were here, I remember the window frames creaking, and I got up and said to my dh: "I think we might be having a tornado". So, I jump onto the computer, and sure enough, there was a warning, specifically for my village of 850 people. So, we pack the kids, and RUN downstairs. I felt so vunerable in the middle of such a large basement. We could hear everything roaring, and even Karl was getting nervous.

At first, I thought this to be a fluke. But, after noticing the sirens never warned us in town, I purchased a NOAA radio. That didn't help me on the interstate however, my girlfriend and I were heading back from Menards, when the radio station told everyone to seek shelter for the tornado. I just decided to speed it up! I never saw anything though, and only minor damage was reported. We ended up with a couple other warnings again that year, and while I could see the wall clouds, nothing touched down.

So, the next year, our neighbors and us went to Milwaukee for a weekend of festivals with the kids, and when we came back, I looked around and wondered why the corn was "flat". Karl and I joked about crop circles, until we came up on the road block to the town. Trees that have stood for over 100 years were down, utility poles were down, and homes were damaged. So many trees were down, I thought our home was gone! The power was out for days for some people, and I think it took a month for the street to look "clean" again.

Anyways, this last year was the final straw. We could all stand outside watching one less than two miles from the house. Now, it was a puny thing, and it damaged a barn, but still, how many tornadoes ARE there in Northern Illinois? I guess alot. I went to a few internet sites, and there is this weird band, where this county alone can average five tornadoes a year.

Looking even further into this, there were two F5 tornadoes in Paw Paw. One in 1860, and one in 1890. Those made "national" news. There were a few F3's in the 1970's and 1980's, and then they get smaller from there. The tornado of Utica was only 20 miles from here, and I didn't even think it was supposed to rain that day!

So, needless to say, we are building a "box" for us. Our limestone foundation sits about three feet above ground, and if a tornado really wanted to wipe the house to ground level, we'd be in bog trouble. We also have several windows, which are a concern, and no real shelter from any of it.

Karl is going to use 4x4 construction, and drop the height below ground. We're also going to use surface bolts versus door knobs, and we're going to bolt the box to the side of the foundation (tricky), and to the floor. I also have supplies incase we get stuck in there for a day if we're under debris. I think as an insane measure, if we get a warning, I'll run outside and turn off the gas, because that would SUCK if we were stranded down there, and there was a gas leak. ALL of our appliances are gas, and we even have gas lines that go to nowhere!

So, Karl will have his work cut out for him, because the season starts in four weeks!

Sunday, March 13, 2005


Well, after a week of my husband having surgery, having a nasty cold, gathering things for my run for school board, Friday was my BIG day for the National Register.

I drove to Springfield, Illinois for the presentation. I brought my laptop, my runny nose and ringing ears, and my "back-up" disc of photos. I was fifth in line, which was nice, because I could see how other people were doing it before I had to. The council had about 13 people on it, and their professions ranged from historians, to architects, to archaeologists, to geologists. It was AWESOME (if I wasn't soooooo sick).

I had 10 minutes to show off my color photos, and after that the council asked me some pretty basic questions, and then they discussed among themselves, and voted.

So, in 30-60 days, the National Park Service makes it official, and our home is placed among the others that are recognized! I'm sooooooooo happy! :)

Monday, March 07, 2005

Darn it!

Go figure, we go to work on the stained glass doors, and I didn't take into account the new entrance set.

The stained glass panels are actually too big for what we need, but I thought we could sink them further into the wood to accomodate that. Oops. I never thought about how much room the door handle was going to use.

So, this means I have to cut the glass down to what I need. I have no experience in stained glass, but I do have experience in ripping things apart, lol. I consulted a few online clubs for stained glass, and they told me to gather a cutter, flux, and a soldering iron, along with new caming for the edges. Ok, fair enough. At least the border design is a straight symmetrical pattern that I do not have to worry about the aesthetics of the pattern.

It just stinks that my project has been set back. It's never any fun doing the work you can't appreciate looking at (like re-sizing these panels). It's always more fun to work with the projects that you can see take shape.

Of course I had a "little" too much fun this weekend with our friends we haven't seen in a long time. So, Sunday was a total waste, where hubby had to watch the kids, while mom died up in bed swearing she will never have another mochatini in her life.

There's always next weekend.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Busy Weekend Ahead

This weekend Karl and I will be working on replacing our side door (we use it as the main entrance) with one of the stained glass panels we got from Ebay. I think Karl may be able to work at the rate of one door a weekend.

To prepare for the fitting of a new door, I will have to chisel a new opening for a more modern lockset, replace the worn threshold, strip the paint off the hinges, and most likely tackling any new problems sure to come up during this. You know how it is, you think you're working on one simple project, and it explodes to an all out remodeling nighmare.

Also, I haven't received a call back yet, but I'll either desparately search for someone to make slides, or make a powerpoint presentation, or... if I get my way, make a slideshow presentation on my laptop to present to the National Register next Friday. Please keep your fingers crossed, it would be awesome to have this home go on the Register. Only one week left! That is a busy day, because after I go to Springfield in the morning for this, I have to be back, change clothes, and go to a fundraiser for Speaker Hastert where Zell Miller will be speaking.

Lastly, I have to work on my campaign for school board. Since this is my first run for public office, I'm going over the top with working on it. I have to speak at a PTA meeting, I'm holding a "meet the candidate" breakfeast, I have to order the voter list for Wyoming Township, and mail postcards. I also will be taking out ads in the local paper, and going door to door. The County Treasurer is my campaign manager, and another person from Speaker Hastert's campaign office is working on this with me.

Whew! I have to go take a nap now, lol.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Dining Room: After

This is the dining room now. The left wall used to be a pseudo-passthrough, which happened to be a loadbearing wall. We replaced it, and it made a nice spot for my mahagony sideboard that stands 8.75 feet tall (from Ebay, lol). The ceiling medallion is really plastic that I painted, and the HUGE chandelier is a find from...uh...EBAY. I replaced the crystals with swarovski french pendants. The curtains I made pinch pleated, and I thought of making a valance, but I'm not set on it. Oh, and another good deal is the clock, it was $50. Really! :)

The dining room completed! Posted by Hello

The Dining Room: Before

This is the dining room while we were tearing it apart. Left of the window, there was a bad "china cabinet" sitting on the radiator. High class, let me tell you! Anyways, if you look at the top of the photo, you can also see where we duct-taped drop cloth to the ceiling that kept dropping plaster into our coffee in the mornings, yummy!

We had already refinished the floors when this photo was taken.

The nasty dining room Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Exterior Paint

Well, considering the amount of debt we have from remodeling the place, we have decided that the roof and siding will have to wait about 10 years, so we can financially recover.

In the meantime, we figured we'd repair the really bad boards, and repaint to house to protect it. It's been stained about 15 years ago, so in some spots, the wood has become exposed. The roof will either stand as-is, or I might take a shot at re-roofing myself, since I'm not afraid of heights.

I was at behr and experimented with a few colors. I think I like this the best:

The paint scheme we want Posted by Hello

Then, I may also add in some light beige accents, but that will be decided after the rest of the paint is up. The pink will go at the top (where is is brown right now), and to bring out the bands of saw-tooth shingles, I'll probably paint those the moss color.

We're lucky, this home was scraped and sand-blasted the last time it was painted. So, there's no scraping or peeling to deal with, just a thorough power-wash should do.

Geez, March just started, and I'm already planning the summer projects.