Just wanted to post some pictures of our victory garden that Brice, Melanie, and myself worked so hard to make. It has been pretty productive, but sadly our squash and pumpkins got the powdery mildew! Boo! They look very sad and snowy now. It is a learning experience. Next year I will plant fewer squash and zucchini plants, and group other plants together based on their similar environmental needs.

It was a cold May, but here we are tearing out the old raised weed garden. We moved a serious amount of dirt!

The finished garden. Looked better before the squash went south. Never mind that the lawn needs to be mowed pretty badly, but it did fill in from the spring. We had such a wet year this summer. I have never seen anything like it in Colorado before.

Although we had a lot of soil, we brought in some quality composted soil from a local business. We created a rock chip path around the beds, and lined that with brick from the hardware reclamation store. So much better now that there is less grass in the yard! We also had to move a small apple tree that is visible in the second picture. Since the cottonwood out front died, we planted it there.

Small Spaces - Tips for a Fabulous Craft Room!

I have a personal passion for tiny spaces. Lucky for me, all spaces in this house are quite small. As I worked through the design and organization of my craft room/studio, I marveled at how normal a bedroom this small would have been one hundred years ago. Barely enough room for a twin bed, this room is about 7 x 9 feet. However, even the smallest of spaces can be livable if a person plans well. The key to this room was to use the vertical as well as the horizontal space.

So without further ado, I present the nearly finished craft room...

The first picture shows the new window, which is such a vast improvement over the storm window that was in place there. That is correct, there was no window in this room. It was removed and only the thin, aluminum storm window remained. The new one opens so easily and keeps out the cold in the winter time. Plus it was a piece of cake to install. This type of window is a vinyl insert, meaning you don't have to strip the window down to the rough opening, you can simply slide the window into the existing framed and trimmed hole. The most difficult part was creating shims to level the window, since the majority of the windows were no where close to a right angle. If anyone is considering replacing the windows in their old house, do it! Window size makes very little difference in price. After replacing ten windows in this house, I spent around $2500. Sadly, I replaced my windows before the rebate was offered...

The dresser was a thrift store find at ARC. I bought it half off for a total of $15. Originally it was white laminate, but it I sanded and painted it using purple paint samples from Ace. I also repainted the hardware with a brushed nickel spray paint. I just love purple and orange together.

Above the dresser, I added some ribbon holders. I made the holders out of some scrap lumber that we had lying around from the window install. I will most likely paint them when our air compressor returns from the shop.

The cabinet in the corner, is unfortunately covering an electrical junction box. When the electricians came, we asked about moving all the wires to the outside, but they felt that would be a lot of work. So it remains an obstacle to work around in this room. I am in the process of stripping the old hinges and adding a colorful knob to it.

These are hanging glass lanterns that I have found at garage sales and hardware reclamation store. I decorated one with beads just to make it a little more fun. I can use them strictly for decoration by putting a candle in them, or I can use them for storage such as knitting needles and the like.

Peg board is critical (and cheap) for good organization in a craft room. I will be adding another piece under the cabinet. There are a lot of great peg board supply stores online.

We used a large (19.5" wide) piece of laminate for the working bench. We secured it to the walls with heavy duty brackets hung onto the studs and then added two table legs to prevent the front from sagging. The brackets claim they can hold 250 pounds per pair if hung into the studs. We used four for each side. This room only has two outlets so Brice drilled a couple holes into the bench to bring electrical cords up through the top rather than stringing them around the room.

Lots of shelving! Simple to install, but completely necessary for this room. On my shelves I keep my craft books and patterns, fabric, beads, sewing supplies, etc. using interesting bottles and baskets, any craft supply can be put on display.

Here are jars of sewing notions such as ribbon, zippers, rick rack, and cording.

Here are jars of buttons.

Here are jars with various craft supplies, game pieces, bottle caps, fabric leaves, sequins, etc.

And my favorite addition, a couple of refrigerator bins as baskets for holding my patterns and more sewing supplies (bias tape, elastic, etc.).

I love to sew, so I have lots of fabric. I decided to roll it onto bolts, since that would make it easier to view. I used to store it in a plastic tub, and have bought the same fabric twice, because I didn't know I already had it. Now it is time to use it. I still store my fabric scraps in a plastic tub that is under the bench.

Here is an up close picture of the fabric. I cut up cardboard boxes to create a 6" X 12" core to roll the fabric onto. Worked great!

Under the shelves is not the best place to work, so I use this bench space for more storage. I keep my knitting and crochet needles in a wine bottle gift box and jars, paper in a white laminate paper holder, and my bead findings in a garage organizer.

Of course you don't want to use all the space under your bench, but I found this dresser at a thrift store and knew it would be a perfect addition for the craft room. Originally it had a cracked marble top that I removed, making it fit perfectly under the bench! As I said before, I also keep a few bins under the bench with my scrap fabric in them.

I keep my paint brushes and pencils in this neat canister light (another thrift store find).

And I keep my Sharpies in this remaining vestige of my former job as a scientist, a bright green micro tube holder...

Finally, I bought this organizer for the closet to put my yarn in. Again it allows yarn to be displayed rather than shoved in a box so that I can see what I have on hand. I will put closet doors on the room eventually, as I am using this closet to store exercise equipment, musical instruments, wrapping paper, games, and heavy coats that won't fit in the other closet (their are only two in this house!).


How to Cover Wood Paneling

I thought that I would post a quick "how to" on hiding wood paneling. In my house, the wood paneling was on both the walls and ceiling. The addition was built at a time when this particular style was popular and the paneling took the place of plaster. Now I realize that some people really like this look, but I was not so fond of it. After much consideration, I decided that I would skim coat the paneling with joint compound and then hang a textured, paintable wallpaper on top.

Here are the steps that we took when covering our paneling. This worked for us, but modifications could make it even better.

Step one: Give your paneling a good sanding, especially if it was stained at some point. If it was painted as ours was, a quick sanding and then a wipe down with tack cloth will help the joint compound stick.

Step two: Cover the paneling with joint compound. We use the quick setting joint compound as it is structurally stronger and actually goes through a chemical reaction as it sets unlike the premixed types which merely dry. It is a pain to have to keep mixing it, however.

Step three: Sand down the joint compound. By far, this is the worst step. Be sure to wear a dust mask and tape off other connected rooms. This step is messy, hot, and allows you to breathe your own exhaust for an extended period of time. Splendid! I would never want to work as a drywall installer.

Step four: Paint the joint compound with drywall primer. Do not saturate the joint compound as it will try to come off. Several coats may be necessary, but make sure that it dries completely between coats.

Step five: This is something that we did not do, but would do in the future. Paint the room with a latex paint. We didn't do this, and when we hung the wallpaper, the joint compound would sometimes try to come off. It seems like a coat or two of latex paint would probably tack down that joint compound a little better.

Step six: Hang your wallpaper as you would normally hang wallpaper. Be careful when rolling the seams, as pushing out the paste could mean pealing wallpaper later.

Step seven:
Take care of any peeling or loose seams. We used paintable caulk around baseboards and trim, and along edges to secure the wallpaper further.

Step eight: Paint the wallpaper. We encountered some bubbles as the wallpaper became saturated again. These disappeared as the wallpaper dried, but we were worried for a while.

Step nine:
Enjoy your room. As with any wallpaper, keep some paste handy in case humidity changes cause your wallpaper to peel some. Since we live in Colorado, our problem is the lack of humidity, which creates formidable plaster and joint compound cracks.

The before and after pictures are in the post prior to this. This picture shows the "after" detail. You would never know there is deep, wood paneling behind this paper.


Another Hiatus

This time, the hiatus was from the blog...

We have been very busy since November. My parents came up and helped to install all new windows and doors. They still need to be trimmed and painted, but it is so nice to have windows that actually open! In May we tore up the backyard and put in four 8' x 4' raised gardens. We will have enough squash and zucchini to sell at the market. We also moved a crab apple tree that was under the power lines in the backyard into the front yard. I won't post pictures of all this work in this post, but I will get myself organized and enter them in next time.

However, my favorite recent project was fixing up the back bedroom as a craft room/studio. As many of you may remember, the back of the house was an addition that was made entirely of solid wood paneling. Walls and ceiling! Since the ceiling was so short (seven feet!), it felt like I was living in a motor home with siding. My brilliant idea was to skim coat the siding and then cover it with a textured, paintable, wallpaper. My mother is a whiz at hanging wallpaper, so she came up and helped me.

Zip ahead to current time, and I am without a job. However, that has given me time to think about where I am going and what I need to do to get there. I realized that I purchased this house because I wanted to have a room that I could make into my studio. For the last three years, I have put my art on hold (save for knitting, since it takes almost no room) and I have been a little depressed as a result. So Saturday, I came into the computer room and told Brice that I wanted to finish the craft room. This was contrary to everything that I had been saying the last few weeks, which was that I wanted to complete all the little things that we have left undone before starting something new. That day, we finished hanging the wallpaper. Sunday we hung up the trim. Tuesday I primed and painted the trim. Finally, on Wednesday we painted the room...macaroni and cheese orange!

Here are some "before" pictures of the room...

You can see the old window in this picture, which was an aluminum storm window. These rooms in the back addition had their "real" windows removed at some point and there was an enormous amount of heat loss in the winter time.

In the next picture, notice that there are two light switches. One was for the porch light, but we moved it into the room with the back door. It was difficult trying to figure out what all the switches were for in this part of the house. You will also notice the plug in the closet. Although not visible in this picture, there was also a phone and cable outlet in there as well. The last owners did not have a closet door, but we will be ordering one soon. While everyone wishes they had a plug in the closet, we moved it.

Now to paint it orange...or juicy cantaloupe to be exact. Orange is said to be a creative color and just so happens to be my favorite. Being native Coloradans, the orange with the blue painter's tape reminded us of Bronco colors. But once it was removed, things looked much better.

In this picture, you can see the new vinyl Pella window that we got at Lowes. More on that later...

Definitely reminded us of macaroni and cheese or maybe even a creamsicle.


For the Reader...

I had a comment in the last post that asked if I could put a detailed picture of our baseboards up. So here it is:


Catching Up...

Since my blogging hiatus, a few things have occurred in my personal life. I realize that this blog is dedicated to home repair, but I thought that I might toss up a few pictures of the vacation that we took over the Fourth of July.

Brice and I try to see as many national parks as we can. So far we have visited:

Rocky Mountain National Park (CO.)

Grand Tetons National Park (WY.)
Yellowstone National Park (WY.)

Colorado National Monument (CO.)
Great Sand Dunes National Monument (CO.)
Mesa Verde National Monument (CO.)
Arches National Monument (UT.)
Petrified Forest\Painted Desert National Park (AZ.)
White Sands National Monument (NM.)
Carlsbad National Park (NM.)

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument (CO.)

Grand Canyon National (AZ.)
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument (AZ.)
Wupatki National Monument (AZ.)
Montezuma Castle National Monument (AZ.)
Badlands National Park (SD.)
Mount Rushmore National Monument (SD.)
Jewel Cave National Monument (SD.)

Not bad for just four years. Although I have visited numerous other National Parks in the U.S. when I was a child, I really don't remember them very well.

Recently we went to South Dakota for the Fourth of July weekend. We started at Mount Rushmore thinking that there is nothing more patriotic than spending a fireworks-filled fourth of July in South Dakota. However, there is one important point I should make about Mount Rushmore on July Fourth: the fireworks display is actually on the third of July! Disappointed, we stayed for the lackluster ceremony and took some pictures anyway.

**Note the total lack of fireworks.

Here are the South Dakota Badlands after a record year of rainfall. It was very green there and the mosquitoes were terrible at night.

Here are some pictures inside Jewel Cave. Carlsbad is prettier, but Jewel Cave carries the title of "world's longest cave system". We took the Scenic Tour, but that came complete with 732 flights of stairs. I had discovered the week before we left that I had torn my medial meniscus after I had a MRI screen to address my chronic knee pain. This most likely occurred years ago on a backpacking trip in Rocky Mountain National Park. Since that fateful day, I have fought knee pain in my right knee, particularly when going down hills or stairs. I did okay in the cave, but on July 29th, 2008 I went into my first (and hopefully last) surgery for a partial meniscectomy. Now it appears I will have some more time to blog!


Do You Have a Door on the Bathroom Yet?

It has been quite some time since the last time that I posted to the blog. Most of our work (albeit not very much) had been on the exterior of the house. We have worked on getting the front lawn in better shape, since a year or so of no water has taken its toll on it. Unfortunately that required us ripping out the weeds that had replaced the front lawn. With a little re-seeding, we have managed to bring back a few clumps of grass here and there (pictures posted later).

I also began to replant the flower garden near the porch and the curb. I chose plants that require a lot of sun, but not very much water. In other words, cinquefoil, Russian sage, salvia, barberry, thyme, and some shasta daisies. Anyone who lives in Colorado is probably familiar with these low-water species. Unfortunately low-water and no-water should not be confused, as a few have died. Perhaps we are better candidates for a rock garden.

In addition to all this extensive gardening, the cottonwood continued to lose branches in the latest windy spring. In fact, we had quite the collection of sticks on the side of my house. Fortunately, my parents were kind enough to come up for a visit from the southland and grind up all that biomass. It took them one full day, but the pile is gone and the trees look better. That is, one of the cottonwoods looks better. The cottonwood closest to the street has started its journey to the great beyond. You know a tree is looking bad when a couple of guys show up at your door and offer to take the tree down for a mere $1500. I really don't like the idea of paying $1500 to remove something that I am actually fond of.

Anyway, our most recent accomplishment, as the title suggests, is the near-completion of the bathroom. For almost a year, guests have come and gone in the house. Their biggest complaint has always been that the lack of a bathroom door means that one must announce their bathroom intentions to the others in the house. Although there is still a few more things to fix in the bathroom, Brice has finished the trimming, caulking, and painting in the bathroom. I know in previous posts I had decided to paint the bathroom blue, but a last minute decision led to what you see before you.





Finally, I was able to sew some curtains from a matching shower curtain. I am quite proud of them. Brice suggested that they should "snap" together, so that the neighbors can't see in. However, I thought a button might be a little more stylish. I used a button from some old buttons that my mother gave me and a Jade donut that my friend Jody brought back from Hawaii. Thanks to both of you for your contributions to the curtains.

I should also address the plant on the counter before I get some comments. It has not been planted in the pot yet.

So to answer everyone's nagging question... Yes. There is a door on the bathroom.


Our Friend Gary

There hasn't been a whole lot of action around the house lately. We have discovered a leaky pipe under the bathtub drain. Since it is the drain line, the pipe only leaks when someone is taking a shower or bath. Unfortunately the pipe is hard to get to and requires going into the "difficult" part of the crawl space (inside the bedroom closet). In addition, the area where the leak is located is not really possible for an average-sized human to get too. Thank God Brice is so thin!!

Now I don't know anything about plumbing. Brice says he knows two or three things. So together, we decided that we could (probably) fix this problem. Either that or I will have to shower at the gym and use the toilet at the gas station. The plan is to re-route the bathtub drain into the drain coming from the washer. Why not repair the existing pipe? Well, the existing pipe is a flexible plastic pipe that could be replaced, but eventually it drains into a very large cast iron pipe. The connection between the two pipes is so corroded, that we thought it would be best if we didn't push our luck with the ancient apparatus. If that cast iron pipe goes, we will have some serious trouble. Instead, we will block off the existing flexible pipe, and just drain into the nearby washer drain line.

Recently we have obtained a new pet. As if four cats wasn't enough, an orb-weaving spider moved into the area between the storm and kitchen window. Although the weather is very cold, Brice started feeding the spider. We named him Gary. I made a video of the momentous occasion when we delivered a rather large fly to him.

The video is a little blurry, since the camera had a hard time focusing on the spider.