1902 Victorian

Bringing our old house out of the disco era and back into the Victorian.

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Saturday, November 27, 2004

Dishwasher Delight

Skyrockets in flight
Dishwasher delight!

Oh ... is that not how the song goes?

We have a working dishwasher! It's running right this second, washing the few dirty dishes we had ... we just couldn't wait to test it out.

Read more details about its installation here.

Darwin and his dad also installed the new cast iron sink and the fabulous faucet. Look - running water!

And Darwin and his dad picked up the two armoires and the trunk I bought the other day. The one in the bedroom with the possibly-bakelite knobs has already been put to use. The primitive one (shown below being loaded into the truck) was diiiirty, and I cleaned it this morning. Now it's airing out ... I'm hoping any spiders that are left in there will decide to crawl away peacefully.

As for the trunk, it has supplanted the Christmas tree skirt as Henry's napping spot of choice.


Friday, November 26, 2004

Holidaaaaaays are Joyful

There's always something new. But every daaaaay's a holiday ...
When I'm near to yooooouuuu ...
The lights on my tree I wish you could see;
I wish it every daaaaaaay

OK, sorry. Had to quote my favorite holiday song, "Merry Christmas, Darling" by the Carpenters.

My parents and sister came over for T'giving dinner on Thursday. I "helped" make the mashed potatoes and shocked my mother by my complete ignorance of the womanly art of cooking. Hmmm ... she never taught me - was I supposed to just absorb it somehow?

Mom and Dad brought the 6-foot Christmas tree since they no longer have room in their house, and we have plenty. Yes, we have a fake tree. Fake trees are a tradition in my family because my safety-obsessed dad says real trees are a fire hazard.

After dinner, we walked off our turkey lethargy by exploring the house next door (which I wrote about here and here). My mom is in love with that house ... she's kinda like me - falls in love with every house she sees.

In the afternoon, Mom and I decorated the Christmas tree. I've been collecting ornaments since we got married, buying in the after-Christmas sales. This is the first time we've had a full-size tree. I had more ornaments than I thought, and it turned out really beautiful. I love Christmas trees. We put it in front of the window in the foyer.

I feel all Christmassy now. I've been listening to the nonstop holiday song radio station and busted out my Carpenters Christmas Portrait CD and the Elf soundtrack. Now where are the rest of my holiday CDs? (yes, I have several).

Even li'l Henry has caught the holiday spirit and has adopted the Christmas tree skirt as his new bed. No ornaments have bit the dust yet.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Furniture Jackpot!

My mom found a cache of armoires at a business salvage place she frequents to buy shelving and junk for her costume store. We went there yesterday on my lunch break. Jackpot! I bought TWO armoires and a trunk, all for the low, low price of ... no, I can't tell you. You'll be too jealous.

One is a 1918 primitive pine cabinet with shelves inside. I'm going to put it in the hall and use it as a linen closet. The other is a 1934 armoire with clothes rods and a shelf inside. It has interesting handles (not sure what they're made of, some kind of plastic ... maybe bakelite? I'll post pictures when we bring it home) and locks with a little key. So cool!

The 1914 trunk has the intials R.F. in the top ... Ronald Fulman? Robert Foster? Renee Foshee?

We're going to pick them up this weekend. I can't wait!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Turkey Lurky

Two Thanksgiving dinners down, one to go.

I had T'giving with work people on Friday. Then we went to Darwin's parents' house for an early T'giving dinner on Saturday, so we didn't get much done on the house this weekend. But it was pretty fun. I played with the nieces and nephews (alternating in pretend-world between kindergarten teacher, mommy and nurse) while everyone was consumed with the BIG FOOTBALL GAME. My sister was at the game taking photos for the campus newspaper, but I couldn't see her for the snowy television reception.

On Sunday, we went to Lowe's (our home away from home) and bought all the parts for Darwin to install the new sink, faucet and dishwasher. Also a floor lamp for the living room, which has no overhead lighting. I found a few lovely pedestal sinks with some landing space for all my getting-ready equipment, but we haven't decided what to do about the master bathroom yet. I'm getting better at shaving my legs in the file cabinet shower. That's what I call it because it's about the size of one.

The strange smell that developed in our bedroom last week finally dissipated yesterday. We never did figure out the cause of it.


Thursday, November 18, 2004

Kitchen Inspiration (and/or Utter Despair)

I feel so unworthy. Like Wayne and Garth when they meet Heather Locklear - we're not worthy, we're not worthy.

Today at Old House Web, someone posted a link to a woman's photos of her kitchen. *SIGH* This kitchen is fabulous. Not a built-in cabinet to be seen anywhere. It had a hoosier cabinet and a huge double drainboard antique sink with legs. *SIGH AGAIN*

It makes my '70s cabinetry - and even my extreme desire for a dishwasher - seem so tasteless, so unsalvageable, so ridiculously practical. Who needs counter space? Who needs a garbage disposal, or *gulp* beloved dishwasher?

OK, I do. I need those things. But I don't want to need them. I want a lovely kitchen that looks like it belongs in my house. Not some hideous combination of 1969 and 2004.

It's easy to get disheartened when your kitchen looks like this:

OK, the work has barely started. I know this. I must take a deep breath and go back to trying to envision all the changes I'll be making. The floor will be pine again. The cabinets will be painted. The hardware will be antique burnished brass knobs and bin pulls from Rejuvenation. The light fixtures will be non-70s. The wall and ceiling paint won't be peeling. The sink will be cast iron. The faucet - ah, the faucet. Now there's something to get inspired about.

I feel better.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Anybody Want an Old House?

No, not mine! Two old houses in a row next door to us are for sale. One was built in the 1830s - can't remember where I heard that? - and the other was built in the 1840s, though the facade was changed in 1910.

Surely there's an old house lover out there who wants to move in next door and take care of these wonderful old houses. The empty 1840 one (directly next door) is my particular pet. Its the one I wrote about exploring here, the one with the cool old barn and the second abandoned house out back. It's a beauty.

When someone buys it, I'll have to stop walking around the house naked. Or at least close the shades first. Hee hee.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Floor Painting Ideas

On the Old House Web message board someone gave me this link to a terrific article about painting wood floors. Now I'm thinking I'll either paint the floor with brown and cream checks OR I'll paint it brown with a cream border ... maybe with a quote or the names of all the previous owners stenciled on it in script.

It's fun to think about but still a long way off. Got to carefully extract the plywood without making the nail holes worse than they already will be. Then get all the old paint off without getting lead poisoning. It'll be quite an ordeal, but worth it.


Saturday, November 13, 2004

Pine all Mine

Today Darwin started installing the dishwasher. It's a good thing, too, because we had a sink overflowing with dishes. Tonight we gave in and washed them (Darwin washed; I rinsed and dried) because we can't install the new sink if the old one is full of dirty dried-goo dishes.

We have the perfect spot for the dishwasher next to the sink, but it required cutting out the front and floor of a cabinet and taking off the doors. Darwin did the cutting, while I held the flashlight steady.

The exciting part came when Darwin pried out the floor of the cabinet, and underneath was the original painted pine floor. At some point in the past - when the cabinets were being built - POs put down plywood over this original floor, then put brick-print vinyl flooring down over that. We didn't know what might be under this atrocious stuff. Now we know!

There was also a swathe of un-repainted baseboard in all its light blue glory, but the best treat was the floor. After Darwin vacuumed up all the sawdust and several dried-up dead bugs, I hunkered down with the flashlight to examine the multi-colored floor. I dabbed at the grey-green mess with a Clorox orange wipe (it was the nearest thing handy), and the brilliant colors the floor once was appeared. It had at least two layers of badly chipping paint - red and more recently, brown - and then a mysterious orangey color that may just be part of the wood? For all we know, that red paint could be the original color the floor was painted. *Sigh* I'm giddy as a schoolgirl over this find.

Now all my thoughts for the kitchen floor are turned in one direction - rip out the '70s stuff, restore the original stuff. Before, I figured the floor underneath was unusable and was planning to replace the vinyl with ... well, I didn't know what yet, though I had considered black and white or brown and white checkerboard. Now I want to paint the old wood floor brown again.

Darwin cautions that the wood floor will have multiple nail holes from the evil plywood, but I think it'll just give the whole thing character. I am of the spare-no-expense mindset on the subject of this floor, if nothing else. Darwin looked under the house and said the underside of the floor has no major damage, so when the time comes, we'll be tackling this project! I can't wait!


Friday, November 12, 2004

Fizzy Lifting Drink

We found Jones Soda! Around here it's hard to come by. I haven't had it on a regular basis since I lived in the dorm and my friends and I would walk across the street to the Corner Store (yes, it was really called that) in the middle of the night for a snack. I tried going back to the Corner Store a while back specifically for some Jones Soda, but they didn't carry it anymore. What a disappointment.

Then this week Darwin found some at Bruno's and bought a whole 12-pack of Strawberry Lime and one of Green Apple, plus a 6-pack each of Fufu Berry and Berry Lemonade. It's almost as delicious as I remembered and I think would be fully as delicious if the SL and GA were in bottles instead of cans. There's just something about a Jones Soda in a glass bottle - the extra-fizziness on your tongue, the cold glass on your lips and your fingers. Mmmm!

On another totally unrelated note - except that it happened on the same night as the Jones Soda - we went with my sister to visit Mamaw and Papaw because Mamaw's birthday was this week, and Aunt Kim was down visiting from Michigan. It was nice. Papaw started telling stories about when he worked on a road crew during the Depression and when he was in France in World War II. Everyone sat perfectly silent for once and listened to him. I never paid attention to his stories when I was a kid (when Kelly and I would spend a week with him in the summer, playing Rook, eating pink Zeigler hot dogs and watching General Hospital).

Now I could listen all day long.


Thursday, November 11, 2004

Happy, Happy

Happy birthday, Darwin! He is 28 today.

I left work early with a headache, and we ate pizza from Mama Leone's, then watched the dumb movie Wild America on TV. Nothing special. We don't give each other gifts for birthdays, and anyway we'd rather spend the money on the house! Darwin's "present" was that I didn't harass him when he wanted to go to bed at 7:45.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Last night I took out the air conditioning vent in the master bathroom, so I could take a look at what's under the '70s ceramic tile. To my shock - and disappointment - there wasn't a layer of original tile anywhere to be seen. Only a 3-inch-thick layer of depressing concrete. Under the concrete is a metal grate-looking thing, and under that are the original wood floorboards. Why would someone pour a layer of concrete down in the bathroom over a crawl space? Is this normal?


Monday, November 08, 2004

Crawl, Shake, Slant, Quake

We are discovering new things all the time. When Darwin was cutting grass on Saturday, the neighbor came over to say hello, and we found out our property extends about 40 feet farther to the right than we thought it did (past the fence). Which means we own a whole row of enormous old crepe myrtles.

That same day we went under the house. I'd been longing for a peek under there, and I finally braved my fear of spiders and other mysterious creatures. I wore gardening gloves and long pants/sleeves, so I wouldn't have to touch anything! Fortunately, once we were past the cobwebby doorway, the crawlspace was actually quite clean and critter-free.

There were two main focuses of this excursion - to take a look at the flooring under the master bathroom and to determine what is making the floor slant in the guest bedroom. We were pleased to discover more insulation than we expected and an explanation of why certain rooms are colder than others - no insulation. Duh.

Under the master bathroom, we discovered the original plumbing. This bathroom and the guest bedroom were added on many, many years ago, and it apparently was configured this same way. There was a hole cut in the floorboards from where the toilet pipe once was, and we could see a metal grid - the backing on tiles?

But the question remains - is this the back of the original tiles or the back of the '70s ceramic tiles? Darwin is less than optimistic about the subject of the bathroom floor, but considering how much higher this floor is than the surrounding floors, I'm inclined to believe there may actually be a layer of older tile under there. Hmmm ... could we look in the air conditioning vent and see? Why didn't I think of that before?

As for the slanty guestroom, we have a possible culprit. The foundation of the house was originally brick pillars, which have since been filled in around the exterior with more brick. In the center of the guestroom floor is a brick pillar that looks a bit unstable ... looks like it has even been stabilized at some point with boards. I looked at the room from above again this morning, and it looks like the room slants from the hall down to the center and then levels out again. So this brick pillar in the middle seems a likely suspect.

But if we fixed this brick pillar and brought the left half of the room back up to level, wouldn't it make the right half (which looks level now) appear slanted down? Maybe the thing was built slanted in the first place. I am no builder, and Darwin surprised me by being less sure of what to do than I thought he would be. He is so handy that I generally assume he can do anything around the house. But it looks like we'll have to call in a professional for this one.

After Darwin went back to cutting grass, I explored under the front porch, where I had seen some interesting stuff. The stuff turned out to be a few stacks of metal roofing tiles, two old glass jugs (moonshine? hee hee) and - wonder of wonders! - a cast iron fireplace cover! It's a bit rusty and dirty but beautiful! We think it probably belongs in the living room, which is adjacent to the dining room with the matching fireplace cover. Cool!

This is a great development because it will look better but also because our cat Henry decided last week to use the ashes in the fireplace as a makeshift litterbox. Not cool.

Darwin is going to ask his brother's brother-in-law to sandblast it for us. Then I guess we'll repaint it black. Woo-hoo! I love discoveries!

But that's not all ... at 5:21 on Sunday morning, we were awakened by the sound of rattling doors in the house and the cats barreling down the hall in fright. Darwin says he felt the bed moving and saw the light fixture swinging. I suggested it might be a ghost (since I had seen a mysterious shadow of a man behind me outside that afternoon), but we called my parents - who are always awake that early - and found out they saw their china cabinet shaking a bit. Also, the dog next door was barking, so I figured it was something that happened to more than just us.

It turned out to be an earthquake, right here in Alabama ... 9 miles north of Eutaw, to be exact! We had never been in an earthquake before. This one was small - none of my precariously placed Fiestaware or dolls fell down - but it was quite a way to wake up!

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Monday, November 01, 2004

Playing Attic Tag

The door to the attic isn't fond of being shut. It likes to open itself - or fail to latch properly in the first place. After Darwin took the old vent hood up there, the attic opened itself, and Henry decided to go for an adventure up there. We had some tense moments chasing him all over the attic, his muscled panther body crouching low as he balanced on the ceiling beams.

Finally, we caught the tricky devil. Guess we'll have to be more stern with the attic door from now on. Once the cats discover a new place they're not allowed to be, they become determined to be there. Alistair discovered the back porch - thanks to another of those silly, self-opening doors - and has been hanging around more than usual as we enter and exit.

Also, in the attic I found something! A poker or something from a wood stove.

It had apparently been hanging there on a nail all this time, and I just now noticed it. I think it's because I had been looking at antique woodburning stoves on eBay last week and saw the little tools that belong to them. Before that, I wouldn't have known what this spiral-handled tool was. As it is, I'm not sure how old it might be. Perhaps it even belonged to the house's original wood stove?

Speaking of heating devices (OK, so that was a rough segue), I also removed the cast iron summer cover on the entry hall fireplace to peek at what's back there. The fireplace was surprisingly shallow with a metal basket for a single log. Lots of ashes and some leaves.

The only two of the fireplaces that don't have original tile on the surround are the same two that don't have a cast iron cover. They also appear to be deeper than the others, with a full-sized opening instead of this little one-log thing.

I don't know much about fireplaces. What does it all mean?