Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cherry Trees

The cherry trees are approaching six years old. We've never had more than a handful of cherries but they sure put on a great flower show:

I've looked into many possibilities on why the trees don't produce. I think it could be any of these theories: One tree flowers too late in comparison to the other, no honeybees in the area, frost, or that the trees are still too young. This year, if there is an impending frost I will cover them with bedsheets over night to try and eliminate that theory. Stay tuned...

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Garlic Mustard and the New Chimney

Ok, so the chimney is complete. I can't tell you how happy I am to have that done. NOW can all the leaks can go away!?!?!

I recently read an article in the news about the invasive weed called "Garlic Mustard". The article went on to describe how it is destroying the local plant life on forest floors and how there is no natural fungus or parasites that kill it off. It is recommended that you pull it out and either burn it or throw it away because this plant is so hardy that it will re-root into the ground if you just leave it to wilt.

The name of the plant had me wondering. A short google search produced articles about how it was introduced by immigrants as a culinary herb. Adding "recipe" to garlic mustard produced many pages of recipes for pesto. I think the news article I read should have referenced how the roots are like a mild horseradish and that the entire plant is edible as a part of salads, pizza, etc... If it is anything we humans do best, it is consuming everything to the point of exploitation. Making this the hottest new item at your local restuarant should surely descimate this species, making it a "win win" for us and the native wildlife.

Here's a photo of a young garlic mustard plant in my yard:

I also picked this plant and will be making a pesto taken from "Bon Appegeek" after I publish the post.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Updates to the Blog

I have been updating the links listed in the blog - in particular, in the "Tour Our Home" section. We have made many changes to the interior so please take a look at the new links. I will be dismantling the Geocities website since Yahoo has closed their hosting service and wants to charge $120/yr to allow me to edit my website. I moved all my photos from that website over to Flickr and the neat feature about Flickr is that I can link the room "sets" to the blog in a form of a slide show. Pretty cool.

Friday, April 09, 2010

It has been a while...

It has been a l-o-n-g time since I have posted on our house blog but I assure you, we have done some major remodeling with more on the way! We are 99% finished with the interior and have just begun the exterior repairs.

Completed July 2009 was our new roof. We hired Advanced Roofing out of Yorkville, IL primarily because of their impressive work on suburban Chicago historical homes. We had them install GAF/ELK Camelot shingles and also the much needed gutters. It cost a fortune but considering Karl and I plan on dying here, I wanted quality materials and work that will outlast me before I needed to worry about it.


After (ignore the date, my old camera doesn't know what it's doing):

After a new roof one would assume all leaks would be taken care of. Not so! Once spring made its first showing about a month ago, I began seeing water spots on my ceilings on the second floor. I peeked into the attic and all the beams surrounding my chimney were black. Ugh. I had a few restoration specialists come out and was told my chimney need to be completely replaced. Bricks rot and turn into sponges over time. I had no idea, you learn something new every day!

As of this morning, I have a new chimney. As you can see in the old pictures above, some of the components missing on the chimney were a proper cap, flues, and their corresponding rain caps. This new chimney is all new brick, TWO new flues/rain caps, and of course a new cement cap. The guy says it will last another 150 years which fits in with my "anything I fix better outlast me" theme. Work was completed by Valley Chimney Sweep & Restoration.

Here's a close up of the new chimney:

Next, we will be rebuilding the front porch. We found out that it is supposed to be a two story "piazza" design and will be receiving the materials around the end of the month. In the mean time, I'm looking to reproduce my old columns which has not been easy.

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Friday, April 07, 2006

The Summer Projects

Well, as you may have noticed by the SEVERE lack of posting on this site, we've been on hiatus.

With the weather warming up, and the cabin fever overwhelming us, we came up with a list of projects to get done this summer:

1. Replace more windows and storm windows. Karl had two sets replaced already last fall, and they've been working out great. He's getting his groove on the technique and it's only costing us about $10-20 a window to replace it. Can you believe it?

2. Insulate the attic. I think the last time it was insulated with blown in cellulose was in the 1940's. It's only about 3" deep, and with the new stove upstairs, it was really obvious this needs to be a priority. I need to research the correct way to put new insulation over old blown in insulation. One question I have is whether I need to use a vapor barrier between the layers.

3. Probably the most fun project is putting in a stone wall. The fence around the property is temporary, and we'd like to have at least the front be a dry-fit sandstone wall, 3 feet high. It would cut down on the traffic noise, and look much nicer. We got quotes for $3 a ton, unbelievable pricing. We will also use this stone to patio out the north side of the house. It hardly gets any sun due to the house and mature trees, and after 3 years of bad luck with the grass, it's coming out!

4. Make a path to the wood pile. Since we officially converted to using solely wood heat, we made quite a mud path to where we dump the wood, and it would be nice to have a nicer pathway.

I have no photos as of yet, so I'll post when we get rolling

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Master Bedroom

Here is another room I don't really care about. I know in most families, the parents usually take the largest room, but we opted to take the smallest, since the kids make more use of all the space in the other rooms. I also didn't want to spend too much money, so I did this on the cheap.

I'm obsessive when it comes to remodeling. This room has has three looks in three years.

When we moved in:

Master Bedroom: Before

The first remodel:

Master Bedroom: After

How it looks now, although you can't see how it connects to the loft where the stove is:


Here's the new dressers I got.


They're teak, cool huh? Going for the "feng shui" look. I used Dutch Boy Granite paint in the room, a matte finish grainy sort of paint. I really like the texture. It's the texture of bar sugar. I want to make bamboo valances for the windows, and bamboo frames for the prints on the wall. I just haven't got there yet!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Master Bath

This is the last room we really need to work on. It's also the room I care the least about, so it's not taking priority attention!

But, it is from the late 30's or early 40's (toilet was marked 1932 or 1939), and is in desparate need of remodeling. This room I want to use alot of stone work, and with the stove and marble floor in the drawing room directly beneath it, I'm not so sure the house was meant for the weight load. I'll have to hire an engineer. The other thing is that the linen closet is almost large enough to be a bedroom (!) and I'd LOVE to tear it out and put the second floor lanudry in there. The room used to be a fifth bedroom, so it's very large.

Being as I can't really do what I want with the bathroom due to my overstretched finances being sucked by this house, I'm going for a "design on a dime" look, and keep it under $1000.

Here's the bathroom as it looked when we purchased the place. Keep in mind that half the room couldn't fit into this shot, so a 4x6 foot window isn't shown.


This is it now, so far keeping within budget:


I painted the tub with Rustoleum, and changed the clawfeet to silver. I installed new lights/fans, and painted the "wainscoting" (which is WAY cheap and fake, but it'll do for now), put in a new toilet, and put in a Victorian Delta faucet, granite undermount sink, and a cherry cabinet.

I still have to replace the vanity light, and put up new wallpaper. Then, I can at least live with the bathroom. I also have to tear out that mess by the radiator. Why did they cover it up? Why not just put a corner cabinet in above it?

Oh ya, remember this post about the central air conditioning leaking in the attic? Well, this what happens when water damage meets cold air:



That #$!#%@$ Stove!

We didn't have this problem with the first stove's chimney.

Our new stove has an "angle" to the projection into the house. It is like this because the "tee support" was an assmbled part, leaving room for error in the alignment when attaching the tee to the house. I mean, it actually SLIDES on purpose. I suppose it could be a benefit to some installers, but not to us.

If it wasn't for the fact it's -5 outside, I'd take a photo to show how the rest of the chimney looks. It's not going to affect the saftey, for everything's bolted, but it LOOKS BAD, both inside and out.

You can see the angle at the elbow.

stupidstoveangled (1)

So, that's our project to fix!