Category Archives: home improvement

Transformation Thursday.

Not my transformation, but  the transformation of our water feature!  We finished it up except for a little fiddling with some rocks, probably, but we are pretty pleased with how it came out. This is what the spot looked like when we moved in:


Lovely, right?  Last year we took down that little wall on the right and I spent time over the summer cleaning up the bed (broken glass, boards, fencing, etc.) with the plan to do the water feature this year. We used all the rocks I dug up from around the perimeter of the property and let me tell you – that was a strength workout on its own.

Here is that spot today:


This view isn’t actually seen very much because  nobody really stands here LOL. I need to scrub the dirt off the bricks there, too. We made the best view showing from the patio:


We’ve been eating breakfast out here and it has been so nice:


Doesn’t do much for making me want to go in and work, though. If you want to see more progress pictures of the making of the water feature, it’s on my garden blog.  It’s going to get to where I am never going to want to leave the house with all we’ve been doing to it!

Last night we took some time for ourselves. There is a trolley that takes you to the lake that leaves about a mile from our house. It only costs $1 to ride it and you don’t have to worry about finding parking in Lake George.  There are free Wednesday night concerts outside, so we hopped on the trolley and rode up.  It was a nice night, even if it was a little hot.


The concert was the John Jorgensen Quintet and they play gypsy jazz in the style of Django Rheinhardt – which I love!!  Here is a 30 second snippet of them.

Very nice night. I brought my phone and caught some pokemon there. I decided to see what the insanity was, so I downloaded the game. I have no idea what I’m doing and have texted my niece to get some help. I do like the picture option! This poke seemed appropriate for me.


It’s fun, but I don’t want to do all that involved stuff. I’m just enjoying catching them.

BTW, if any of you like Thirty-One items, fellow blogger Alissa (who does the Thanksgiving virtual 5K every year) is doing a giveway drawing for jewelry if you make any purchase through her online parties until Saturday. Here is the link to that.

Come back tomorrow night for the garden tour if you want!

First floor bath renovation!

Picture heavy post ahead! The first floor bath is complete now.  When we moved in last fall, this was what it looked like. Remember that?  I do!


Not shown is the damaged wall. The room was functional once we replaced the wax ring on the toilet and we just wanted a quick lipstick makeover on it since there were other pressing $$ needs in the house. So, it was wallpaper removal, wall repair and paint. Easy peasy. We went with same green paint we used in the kitchen to go with the exisiting floor.



The sink is really oversized for this small room and it most certainly isn’t our style. But, it was good enough for a while.

Fast forward to October and one thing caused a chain reaction of renovation. The leaking tub in the basement bathroom is what started it all. When that came out, we decided to add the utlity sink and redo the bathroom. We had planned to use the fixtures from the first floor, which meant that room had to be done so we could take those fixtures. Good thing I had already bought that $25 sewing cabinet for this project – thinking it would be much into the future. D’oh!



I had to remove the sewing machine, which was not really that hard. Just a million screws. Then we had a nice empty cabinet.


I also removed that stuff on the door, which I salvaged for a cute storage thing that I need to take a picture of and show you. Then it needed refinishing. I didn’t want to strip the piece since the finish was good, just faded. Enter Polyshades:


You go right over the existing finish. It is a tinted polyurethane. Very cool product, but you have to do coats thin or they drip, which I found out. Then I coated the top with several coats of the spar urethane because just poly isn’t enough to protect from water. I don’t want to have to worry about water drops on the sink. Hopefully that will do the job. Anyway, this is the nice detail on the doors and one of my favorite things about the cabinet.


While I was at the the festival of trees on Sunday, John drilled the holes into the cabinet for the sink and the faucet using a hole saw. I guess he was tired of me fretting about it LOL!

Saturday was spent ripping up the rest of the old tile, painting  and laying the new floor. I got almost all of that done except cutting the little pieces around the sink lines and radiator. Sunday I did  about 3/4 of the grout and finished up Monday. I made sure I grouted around the toilet and sink areas so that would have time to dry to put those fixtures in on Monday. Here is the floor:


We needed a hole in the back of the cabinet to go over the wall drain. It would have been nice to move the water lines to come out of the wall, but they were in the floor and you know we have those cement walls – so that wasn’t an option. 


The plan now that the cabinet is in place is to put a board across the bottom so we have a shelf for TP and cleaners. Just a little storage, which we didn’t have before. 

We got the fixtures in without too much of a problem. The only thing we had trouble with was water leakage around the pop drain in the sink. That took a lot of finagling, multiple tries and some plumber’s putty and now we have a sink!


I LOVE this sink. It turned out better than I had hoped!

The whole room:


I am just so, so happy with how this turned out. Bonus is that there were no injuries or tears during this reno LOL! It’s always nice when a finished project looks like what the head imagined.  This is much more fitting to Radiance Manor than what was there before.  The cabinet ended up costing around $180 to complete. The sewing table was the cheapest thing and the faucet was the most expensive. Now I am rethinking that mirror, but I won’t worry about that for now 😉  The nice thing is that in a couple years when we do the renovation on the master bath – I know we can create whatever vanity we want to fit that space. It was really an easy project and I have to say might be my favorite one ever so far.  That’s it for renovations for the rest of the year — other than finishing up the downstairs bath… 


Finished headboard

The prompt for 365 photos on Saturday was Surrounded By. With all the strife going on in the world, I took a picture of this bumper sticker that we have. This is what I wish we were all surrounded by:

Seems naive and just wishful thinking. I am still wishing, though.

We managed to churn out some projects this week. I finally finished the headboard earlier this week. Finally!  I had to put some legs on it. Since we have those cement walls, I didn’t want to try to anchor the headboard to the walls alone. So, I cut a couple 2×4 and made some legs, which I attached with braces. L braces on the sides:


T bracket on the back:


Voila – leg braces. Note, I covered the doorknob/lock holes with a thin piece of wood. They were very rough and splintery and will be behind our heads, so I covered them up.


And in place:


We have a queen size bed and this headboard would fit a king (It’s fit for a king!!) We need to get a new mattress and might talk to the mattress people and see if it would be possible to get a king size mattress up our stairs. We have a split box spring, but the queen mattress was a tight squeeze, so I don’t know if it’s possible. Anyway, I like having a headboard now. Feels more like an official bedroom 😀  Next up is new bedding. Some day.

Sunday was just beautiful weather and we were able to get out for a ride!  Me and my riding partner:


Goobers. We are goobers.

It felt great to be outside. 50s still feels pretty warm for riding, especially since they have been lasting for a long time this fall and you get acclimated to riding colder.  We even had to drop jackets part way through the ride:


Showing off my pink again! This jacket glows.

I am almost done with my curtains in the living room. The project started in September… I was stuck for the longest time trying to sew them. When John’s parents came out in October, his mother saved my bacon and hand sewed the panels together for me! I am so thankful for that. I sewed the top rod pocket and the curtains are hung up now. I just need to hem the bottoms to length. I’ll show a picture of those soon.

We had a delay on the sink in the basement. We had to order parts for the faucet and wouldn’t you know they sent the wrong ones. Now we have to wait for them to ship new parts. Of course, these aren’t parts we could find locally. Always a delay. Anyway – that pushed the bathroom part of the project along faster.  That’s been John’s project for the most part. He really went to town on it and that means I have to do my project of a new vanity a lot faster. We are going to take the sink and toilet from our first floor powder room and move them to the basement and redo the first floor.  This is my sewing cabinet for the vanity:


I had to remove this sewing machine from it to get a usable cabinet:


It wasn’t that hard, actually, and I will be listing this in my vintage groups to see if someone wants the machine. Now to work on the finish and get a vessel sink and faucet. This project really excites me. I think it is going to look cool. The upstairs bath won’t take that long to do (relatively speaking) with new flooring, paint and new fixtures.  We probably will try to get that done before our annual Christmas Eve dinner.

Still busy as ever. Working on top of getting my soap business up and running (a couple more weeks on that). I seriously have a problem LOL.

Tubs and treadmills

Man, it’s starting to feel almost winterish around here already.  We had overnight lows into the 20s!  That killed most of the garden, although the roses that I covered seemed to make it and I brought the mums inside the garage.

Saturday started off like fall, though.  John baked some pumpkin donuts with Bisquick. Here is a link to all their baked donut recipes.



I scored on a sewing cabinet that I wanted to make a vanity out of like in this post.  I was sort of half looking around on craigslist to see if there happened to be any sewing cabinets since it is not a project we are going to start immediately. I wasn’t expecting to find one, but not only did I find one, it was only $25 – with a working sewing machine!


Here is the machine:


I can hopefully sell the machine to some of my vintage people. It’s almost a shame to take the machine out, but the whole thing will get repurposed, so it’s all good.  We will put a vessel sink on top.  But that is a project for another day.

Something that did get started was the basement bathroom. This was the crazy bathroom that had the shower at shoulder level (for me!).


It was designed for kids anyway, but the tub was leaking around the drain, which we found out on accident. John dumps a lot of dehumdifier water down the tub in the warm weather and we noticed the rug in the hallway was wet. Ugh. So, that had to be taken care of after we were done with all the company we have had.  I heard John making a lot of noise down there earlier in the week and he was already pulling out drywall and the tub, which was so cheap and thin that he could pretty much break it apart with his hands! See how ridiculously small this is? Not sure if you can see it, but the shower spout is right where his biceps is.


Now we have an empty space:


Here is the view from the other side:


The plan here is we will put a wall in there and the space where the tub used to be will be on the outside of the bathroom and we will have a double utility sink in that cubby (where that box frame is). Then the bathroom itself with get a freshen up, but the first priority is closing it up and getting in the sink. We can use all the existing plumbing lines and drain for the tub, so that is pretty awesome. We only need to lengthen the water lines and put in some shut off valves.  I will be making soap again and I need a utility sink for that, so this hopefully will be a really good solution.  I tell you, we just never stop.  I wasn’t thinking this would happen so fast, but then John started it and how can I not get involved??

On another fun note, we have a new toy. A treadmill!  We ‘acquired’ it from my parents since they don’t use it and they can use the space.  It was kind of heavy, but we managed to get it up our stairs without any issue and have it in our exercise room. 


This room is going to be the last one to be de-wallpapered in the house. Maybe we will get to that some time this winter after the hallway/stairwell gets done.  Anyway, I can alternate the treadmill and my bike trainer this winter for variety.  


It’s also good because I don’t have to worry right now about getting the bike inside for regular exercise and I can squeeze every bit of outside riding in that I can while still having a way to exercise inside.  I don’t like John’s recumbent at all, so this is good for me.

Time for today’s pink item – my phone cover!




The Breast Cancer Site



Bathroom Finished!

Time for pics of the finished (mostly) bathroom!  We still need to do some decorating, but the other stuff is all done.  This was enough of an update to make us like the room a lot better before a major overhaul down the road – ’cause I am going to have a clawfoot tub, dammit.

Anyway, let’s all remember Jar Jar for a moment.








This is how a lot of conversations start around here:

Me:  So I have this idea.

John:  Oh no…

This particular discussion was about my idea for the stupid corner in this bathroom with all that mirror. I would never, ever put this much mirror in a bathroom and we certainly weren’t going to take it down because I didn’t fancy a trip to the emergency room and I didn’t want it to be that big of an overhaul on the bathroom.  Yet…

I figured I would just paint over the mirror to hide it and make it look like wall. Then I used wooden trim to make a ‘frame’ for the mirror and you would never know.


The fixtures are the same, except the brass ring around the bottom of each glass shade was taken off – and the shades were cleaned.  Makes a big difference in how they look.  My mother suggested painting the fixtures, but if they come off the wall – they are not going back up. 🙂  I still don’t like them, but they aren’t so bad now. Not to mention it helps that all the bulbs are replaced and functional now.  On a side note, that picture above shows the nice natural light we get in this room.

The counters were done with the Rustoleum Countertop Paint. A decent product. I would not recommend it for a kitchen and probably not for a permanent solution. It’s hard to get it on evenly and you cannot use the surface for 3 days while it is drying and curing. Try keeping hair, dirt and fuzz out of a room while a flat surface dries and see how far that gets you.  Anyway, the color is much better. Removing the white glazing on the vanity doors also helped it look new.


I had these pictures of vintage tubs from when we had our retail shop and thought they would look good here.


I left John’s jammies out of that picture.  :mrgreen: 

My shower curtain, which I love – and the new ceiling vent/light.


The lighting messes with the color a bit, so sorry about that inconsistency.


The corner.



I am on the lookout for some kind of short shelving here or a repurposed storage thing to fit on the countertop for storage and then have that star on top. Crates are a little too rustic for me, but I will find something. We do have a linen closet in the room, so it’s not a rush to find anything. And I need a new wastebasket to go underneath the counter in that cubby.

Again, it never ceases to amaze me the difference paint can make in a room.  This was one of the least expensive redos in the house. The most expensive thing was the vent/light, which was $85.  The whole room cost about $170.  Not counting my labor, of course 😀  Scrubbing out traces of the former owner? Priceless.

I am taking a break on the wallpaper front for a while. We still have the upstairs hallway, the stairwell and the other bedroom to go, but there are other projects to do :cough: 2 trunks :cough: and it is starting to be more like biking weather out!


Office and bathroom projects

Another post from the renovation files. We are pushing hard on some projects now. Biking season is approaching and we won’t be wanting to work on projects so much, so gotta finish some up.

John was like a demon and started and pretty much finished the office from Saturday to Sunday.  This is the room off the living room. We think it was more of a 3 season room and it used to have French doors on it.  Those same doors the former owner tried to sell back us  🙄   John has spent time sealing up the room so that it is warmer and we haven’t replaced the doors.  Then this weekend he took out the rug to lay cork flooring.


You know, he says that I am the ham around here.

It’s a small room and quite square, so he was already laying the flooring by the afternoon.


Saturday was Pi day, of course!  Uber Pi day as well 3/14/15.  After working hard, we stopped at a bakery to get a couple slices of pie shaped items to take home.  


This was a raspberry cheesecake and it tasted kind of old, unfortunately. I was kind of bummed and didn’t eat much of it.  Lesson learned about where not to go. Boo.

John finished up the floor Sunday afternoon.  The only think left is some shoe molding, which we have to go get.


This is the same flooring we have in the kitchen and nook area.   We really like it.  His office area is now set up:



I put my bench on the other end and of course, Ms. Pixie was all kinds of nosey.



So what was I doing while he was doing flooring?  Getting rid of the rest of Jar Jar.

I finally got all the wallpaper down in this room.



This is actually a good shot that shows where the shower is right now.






The funky corner:



Let me tell you that getting the wallpaper off the wall from under that corner was really annoying. If i was 5 pounds heavier, I probably woudn’t have fit LOL!


I have kind of a crazy idea for this corner for now, but I have to think on it a bit.

It’s funny, as ugly as the walls look now, it seems so much bigger without all that busy wallpaper.

Now time to patch the walls and prepare them for paint. I hope to get the room done by the end of the month.



Getting Jar Jar Binks out of my bathroom

I love how the time change gives us daylight later, but changing the time is never good for someone who suffers from insomnia – it always takes me forever to get settled again.

Anyway, one of the dozens of project I have underway is doing the upstairs bathroom. It really needs a complete remodel, but we can’t even think about that for a few years. So, for now it is just removing wallpaper and painting the room.  There was no hardware on the the cabinets. They must have been extra special or something 🙂  Here are some lovely shots of the bathroom with its 3 kinds of wallpaper and giant mirrors.



Excuse the stuff in there. I was just taking shots when I was up there a couple weeks ago.  John is warming is jammies on the radiator:


This room was remodeled by the owners that got foreclosed on and they really did some strange things to it. Some stuff wasn’t to code, like having a wall outlet right by the sink that wasn’t a GFI (which we changed right away).

I hate these lights, but they have to stay for now because I don’t want to buy new fixtures when we aren’t quite sure what the remodel will bring.


They bumped out a wall into the bedroom to create this vanity area. I don’t understand this corner at all. You can’t do anything with it.


Not to mention wall damage:


Seriously. They spent all this money remodeling and then let stuff like this happen.  Anyway, back to the title of the post.  You know how your mind will create pictures out of patterns and such?  While I dry my hair, I end up looking at the wallpaper a lot, particularly the border.


One day it popped into my head – “This image looks like Jar Jar Binks”



I mentioned it to John, and oddly enough he said he had recently thought the same thing – at least it wasn’t just me!  Anyway, you know how once you see, you cannot unsee and all I think about is Jar Jar watching me shower. 



😯 😯  😯

It’s time for Jar Jar to go.

My sister came over last week and helped me get started on the wallpaper, but I have only been futzing around with it since we both worked on it as I am doing a few projects right now (the chair is not quite finished, but getting there). Wallpaper removal not my favorite.  Plans after wall repair will be painting the countertop, staining the vanity darker, and paint the walls a beachy blue.  The eventual remodel will be removing the bumped out walls, adding a claw foot tub, reducing to a 1 sink vanity and making the current tub/shower just a shower, but we gotta start saving pennies for that (and selling the old house).

For now it will be good enough just getting Jar Jar out of there…

The next room

For those interested in the rehab of Radiance Manor, here is the next project.  I have now moved upstairs!  John is working his way into the basement 😀

This is the middle bedroom.  It is going to be the guest bedroom, although no one wants to stay in it now 😀  It is also my practice room for guitar, but it really is not inspiring at all, I have to say.



Out of all the wallpaper patterns in the house, this one is the least offensive in terms of color and pattern, but it is in the worst shape of all the rooms.

I am not exactly sure what was going on here. At first I thought it was just patched paper, but it is layers of paper over the same wallpaper with what seems like drywall compound in between? 



The wall could be messed up under this, so it should be interesting anyway…

There was a roof leak (anyone remember the slate work we had done in the fall?) and some of the wallpaper had gotten moldy:



Then there is this, and I don’t even want to think about what happened here.



And then there is the red closet door because why not?


Of course, there is the other door.  



Sure no one wants to stay here?? Again, I have to remember that the reason we were able to afford this house was because of how poorly it was treated.  Poor Radiance Manor.

 I do practice in this room, but like I said, it isn’t very inspiring right now.  It does have a big bright window, though.


This picture was taken over a year ago when we were first looking at the house. I think it was one of the subsequent checkup up visits we did because I see snow and there was none when we first saw the house. I just can’t believe how much time has passed.

Anyway, this room should be pretty straight forward. Wallpaper removal – which has been really easy so far – then patch and paint.  New window coverings, painting the closet door, new light fixture and replacing the missing door handle.  Seriously – what happened to the door handle?? Still working on paint color ideas, but I am leaning towards a mauve or rose colored room.  Or possibly light blue.

Bye Broncos


Supporting my team!  I do the dots with the head of a pin dipped in nail polish.


Too bad it didn’t work.  Broncos – the only home team to lose this weekend.  In a way it’s better than facing the Patriots in Foxborough next week.  I just hope the Packers beat the Seahawks.  Good thing we aren’t hosting the Super Bowl this year 😀  

On the home improvement front: The foyer is finished.  

Back in the day (that is our realtor in the shot):




Last week the wallpaper was finished and this week I got the wall and most of the trim painted.  Some around the window will have to wait until warmer weather when I can open the windows, as well as painting the radiators, which can’t really happen while they are in use 😀


The color is Golden Mushroom by Olympic. It is the same color as the upper part of the wall in the dining room so that it gives some cohesion when you look from the living room into the rest of the house:


Now we move to the upstairs!  I think the next room is the middle guest bedroom. We will be having an overnight guest in the spring, so that room needs to get finished and decorated for that.  

I also did some work on a dresser I bought a couple weeks ago for $50.


I used Restore-A-Finish on it and it looks better, although still a little sun faded.



I forgot to put that drawer back in before taking the picture LOL. The Restore-A Finish took all the scratches out really well. Or covered them up, I shoud say.  No so good on the fading, but for now it will do without stripping the whole piece.  This is a waterfall style dresser probably from around 1930s or so.  John is actually going to appropriate this for himself LOL!  I got the bigger of the 2 closets in the master bedroom, so I will give him this dresser.  Now I need to find another one.

Getting ready for the spiralizer to arrive tomorrow.  I tried doing a zucchini with a veggie peeler and used it as noodles:


It was pretty good.  Way better than using spaghetti squash, IMHO.  I just dipped the strips in boiling water for about a minute to get hot and that was it. 

I guess getting the spiralizer will be the excitement for the week now that my football season is over. 😀

More wallpaper and sister time!

Playoff weekend!  And wallpaper removal weekend 😀

Getting started right at the beginning of the year.  I actually wasn’t intending to do the downstairs foyer first, but I was taking ‘before’ pictures of the upstairs bath, bedroom and the hallway and then I saw a little loose strip of wallpaper and it pulled off a big sheet, so that was it.

Here was the old wallpaper:


It was dirty and had a lot of rips in it.  And kind of ugly.  I really don’t have a problem with wallpaper, per se, but it has to be well done.  That is absolutely key to pull off wallpaper.  It has to work with the house and when you combine papers, they should work together.  In this house on just the first floor, there were 12 different patterns of wallpaper used. TWELVE!!  That doesn’t count the layers there were underneath the top layers, either.  It’s almost like the people just found all the patterns they liked, couldn’t decide and put them all up. There are only about 8 different kinds upstairs, so there is that.

Here is an example.  This is the entry going to the downstairs basement. It had plaid wallpaper on the top.  That in no way goes with the paper in the foyer or what was in the nook/kitchen or dining room. This was John’s work area for the weekend:


He was lucky enough to have a double layer to work with. Lovely:



I was in the foyer:


I am an expert in wallpaper removal now and this area was a breeze to remove. It came off really easily, which after some of the tough rooms I did felt like a treat.  However, I decided after a while I would rather do a little shopping and on a whim asked my sister to go out to an upscale consignment shop with me that was kind of near her house.  It’s called La Moda Lisa and it is a huge shop that sells everything from furniture to clothes to jewelry. New, used and vintage.


I think Elton was here, maybe.


I *almost* bought these shoes. They were $8, but I can’t imagine where I would wear them. It was just fun to find spike heels that actually were comfortable to wear on my wide feet.


I walk too fast to have wobbly shoes, though.  I would be on my butt sooner rather than later.

You can get a red velvet barber/dentist chair if you want:


Pretty tops:



It’s a fun place.  I ended up buying a faux fur coat. I wasn’t anticipating buying a  coat, but the  price was great and it was really warm and comfy (and fun).  So in keeping with my 2015 goals to upgrade my wardrobe:


Now I see why people take these selfies high overhead. Thinner and taller.

Anyway, it was great to have sister time.  We stopped for coffee afterwards:


I wish we could do that more often.

Sunday was back to the wallpaper and I got it all down from the foyer.  It was lickety split!  I just patched the walls and it is now ready for paint.  I will be using Golden Mushroom for the walls.


I am going to paint the doors and windowsills as well. Just a few shades lighter.


It’s brighter without that paper.  I stopped where the next papering end to get a clean edge in the stairwell.  That is going to be a huge job and I don’t want to do that until the upstairs bedroom and bathroom are done.  

Do you like how I am drying my boots on the radiator?  Those things are great for drying laundry and putting jammies on there before bed to get them toasty warm 😀