Monday, February 28, 2011

In Search of Lost Duckies

I'm on the search for lost rubber duckies. Why? Argus has stolen them. Why? We had them just sitting on the edge of the bathtub waiting for a home. Well, they finally have one...the shower curtain liner.

In my recent cleaning of the bathroom I decided to wash the shower curtains. The discovery was made that the shower curtain liner was on it's last...grommet. See:

So, off to the store. I picked up this awesome new liner that has pockets! Yes, you read right. It has a bunch of mesh pockets so that you can store all of those bottles and do-dads that you normally knock over while stepping in to the shower. Or, that your dog steals.

We're feeling pretty optimistic about this little change. We've been trying SO hard to have the house clean enough at all times that if people show up unexpectedly we aren't freaking out about what they might see. (And, we aren't rushing around like crazy people trying to clean while they're on their way over.) We think this might help us reach this goal...

Grand total: $13

So, we have just killed two birds with one stone. We live for this. Now to find all those rubber duckies...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Feast or Famine

So, we're taking on another huge project. As if we didn't already have enough old buildings to rehab (two houses), we will soon be the proud occupants of the building at this link:,+Fort+Wayne,+Indiana&ll=41.068319,-85.138078&spn=0,0.049438&z=15&layer=c&cbll=41.068688,-85.138153&panoid=CL3zFW4ozgtj45tJg6NTCQ&cbp=12,107.64,,0,-7

This is the soon-to-be home of Aaron J. Butler, Attorney at Law (or daddy Butler as we know him around here).

The building is pretty rough right now, but the owners will soon totally fix up the inside with some input from us. We are super excited. It's cozy, but has plenty of room to grow the firm. And, of course, I get something else to decorate. Yay!

Any ideas about decor, colors, materials, style, etc.? Your opinions are welcome (and needed). Or about what food we should serve to visitors??

Monday, February 21, 2011

Holy snow!

Why pretend to be modest? Our neighborhood looks awesome when it snows.


The Victorian:

The Craftsman:


Wanna guess how much fun this all is to shovel?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Playing in the Snow

We love our Great Dane, Argus. He's our 130-pound baby. He's unbelievably loving, loyal, and gentle. Believe it or not, he's never broken anything in our home. We have lots of antiques and glass decor that are on low tables and have never had a problem. However, sometimes he gets these Great Dane things called "zoomies". (Google it.)

As you can see zoomies are kind of crazy inside of a house. And, since we have a postage stamp yard at our Victorian (which we're still living in) we take him to our city's dog park, called Pawster Park, so that he can run. (Isn't that name great?)

Here's a great video of Argus playing with one of his best friends, Mick the puggle:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I love stripping!

Let's just discuss the original wood floors in the Craftsman's living room and dining room. When we bought the house the floors were covered with stinky, moldy, flea-infested carpet. At first we tried to save that gorgeous carpet....haha! Just kidding! We threw that crap out the first chance we got. (By the way, don't try to transport a truck-bed full of carpet without first tying it down. Bad, bad things happen when you're speeding down a busy four-lane street during rush hour.)

We were lucky in that the carpet was glued down so that there are no staples or tacks to remove. We were unlucky in that the carpet was glued down because we have to now remove glue.

So here's the deal-i-o. We're dying to keep the original floors because, well, they're original. How can you just throw something away that's withstood over 100 years of kids, pets, furniture, etc.? The floors are in good enough shape to keep, but in bad enough shape that we really can't use the big sanders to just sand them down and refinish. Instead, here's what we're doing:

1) Stripping off the glue (and spilled paint) with chemical stripper. Yes, this is tedious, messy, smelly, and kind of expensive.

2) We're then sanding the floors by hand. Yes, I said by hand.

3) Finally, in ten years we'll stain and finish the floors. :)


Aaron working hard:


1/3 how they originally looked, 1/3 stripped, 1/3 stripped and sanded:

You can see the remaining water damage here:

Stripping in the dining room:

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Nothing like having your house invaded by these.

(After Aaron commented that this looks like a urinal handle I should tell you that it's the soap dispenser in the bathroom.) Anyways, a bunch of these little guys showed up after Christmas. We thought that maybe they snuck in on our Christmas tree. But, old houses have lots of cracks and crevices, so they might have come in anywhere.

Despite their evil look, we found out that they're pretty much harmless aside from their stinkiness, but they only stink when crushed. Supposedly they aren't poisonous, but I'm still scared of the dog eating them, so the strategy has definitely not been live and let live. It's been a journey to the center of the vacuum cleaner canister for them. After a little research I found out that these non-native friendlies are invading all over the country. If you haven't met them yet, look for them soon!

Here's the website I used to find out what the little guys were:

I also found lots of info on them here:

A Victorian Christmas

I love an old-fashioned Christmas! I'm not talking old-looking here. I'm talking about doing the actual things that people used to do for Christmas.

I started making decorations a few months before Christmas. (I'm not crazy. I was quite pregnant, very bored, and had nothing better to do.) I got lots of my ideas from here:  And, we can't forget to thank that bane of college professors everywhere, Wikipedia.

One of my favorite decorations was popcorn garland. I decided to pop the corn the old-fashioned (and cheaper) way: on the stove. Note: make very sure not to overfill the pan...once it starts popping you will have crap all over your kitchen. This makes a big mess that's hard to clean up when you are fighting a 130 pound dog over the food on the floor.

I also made some ornaments by drying/baking apple and orange slices. They turned out nice, but not quite as cute as I had hoped. They shrunk pretty small, so next year I think I might use the biggest fruit I can find.

Additionally, I made super cute felt flower ornaments that I saw in Better Homes and Gardens.

Moving on. The big deal for Christmas was...dinner! I made an enormous dinner that I literally spent months researching and planning (again, I was bored). The menu: cream crackers, fresh goat cheese, chicken liver pate, deviled eggs, mirepoix bouillon, herb roasted chicken, herb roasted red potatoes, maple-glazed yams, steamed bacon covered brussel sprouts, apple spice upside down cake, egg nog, and fruit punch. Oh, by the way, EVERYTHING was homemade! How long was I cooking? Six hours! But, it was definitely worth it! I got most of the recipes out of How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman and the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Pictures:

The milk separating into curds and whey:

The eggs for the deviled eggs cooking:

The pate ready to be put into the fridge in order to set up:

The mirepoix bouillon:

And, the finished crackers:

I would have taken more pictures of the other food, but by the time I was done I was too exhausted. Sorry.

Pictures of the tree:

The bird's nest we found:

Finished! (A few things are kind of hanging off of the tree. Great Danes happen.)

And, a close-up of the ornament of our Victorian home that a neighbor made for us. You can also see the felt flower:

And, one last blurry picture of Argus and his antlers:

Merry Christmas!