Thursday, November 29, 2012

Once is never enough

I'm getting very frustrated with the way nearly everything has to be done at least twice in order to be done right.  The latest case in point is the appliance store, who failed to order a critical piece for our cooktop-ventilating system (I won't even go into the rotisserie piece that never made it).  But it seems that it's been this way for nearly everything:  the countertop people had to come back to recut the granite (NOT their fault - they did an amazing job with amazing service); the wrong toilet was installed; the front stairway carpeting was measured incorrectly; the furniture is 2 weeks past its latest delivery commitment, and after a phone call and a face-to-face all we can find out is that it's "in the warehouse," whatever that means goes on and on.  Waste of our time to have to keep following up and extremely annoying.  Where's the quality control?  Where's the professionalism?

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Thanksgiving is over and all our guests left this morning.  We had two wonderful sets of guests - could not have been nicer - and most interestingly, one of the Ganzel "girls" and her family stayed with us, the first time she'd been in the house for 7 years.

Our appliances were all hooked up and ready to go, except for the dishwasher, unfortunately, and we used them all to roast a turkey, bake a pie, and make lots of breakfasts.  We had a record 7 people for breakfast the morning after Thanksgiving, as Kate's mother and daughter joined us.  (note new lace curtains!)  We served fresh pineapple, baked French toast, and Amish sausage; everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Our kitchen designer is coming over today to work up a "punch list" with us; top of the list is choosing the backsplash tile.  Then no more projects for awhile!  At least not until after the first of the year.  Hopefully our new dining room set, which is already 1 week past the latest delivery time, will arrive soon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Almost-After Pictures

We're not done yet by a long shot but it's starting to look like a kitchen, and what's done is beautiful!  To give you an idea:
The cooking peninsula
Almost done

We are in love with all of it:  cherry cabinets, granite counters, and the wonderfully unique parquet floor that Brian installed.  That's our antique Hoosier on the right.  Not shown:  the refinished pantry doors.

Yet to be done:  wait for the floors to  cure, reinstall appliances, hook up cooktop, add trim, (choose and) install backsplash.

I haven't even mentioned yet the little bathroom that Kim has completely redone, including building a maple and cherry vanity.  Haven't taken any pictures yet so I'll save that for another post.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Kitchen progress

Well, we made it through parents' weekend with our kitchen in complete disarray, cooking from our old stove and microwave set up in the basement and washing dishes in the utility sink.  Big thanks to Sally, Gabriela, and Carolyn for their understanding and flexibility during their respective stays.  (At least we got our kitchen out of the dining room!)

Big progress was made today as the corner cabinet was installed as well as the new floor in the pantry.  The plumbing seems to be done, or nearly so, and the back entry is painted.  What a difference!  Kim has laid the tile in the little bathroom and today is painting.  Nothing is done - and we're still cooking in the basement - but we're getting there.

Maybe the best news we got is that the granite countertop will be installed on Friday.  That means the appliances can also be installed!  Dom's and my main to-do at this point is to choose tile for the backsplash.  Of course, he's in Harrisburg this week but that will have to be the main focus on Friday.  However, we want this to be right and if the tile isn't installed for our party, so be it.

Here are a couple "work-in-progress" photo from a few days ago:

We love our new parquet floor!  Nice work, Brian.

 We uncovered this historical treasure written under the cabinets above the sink.  Too bad it's not dated.  I'm afraid it's under a layer of drywall now.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Kitchen redux

The remodel of the kitchen is finally and visibly underway.  We really started several weeks ago with planning and design with Kim Annable, and Jeff Wooster has been building our cabinets in his workshop.  Kim also scraped all the old nasty finish off the pantry; with a new, flat finish, the beautiful cherry wood is really going to glow.  And we picked out new Thermador appliances several weeks ago from Home Appliance:  gas cooktop, electric convection oven, microwave, and warming drawer.

This is how the kitchen looked up to yesterday evening.  Kind of sad that our "before" pictures were our "after" pictures less than a year ago.  We didn't think we'd need to remodel so soon...this picture of Sunny and me was taken just last January and I can see I have my construction clothes on.

But yesterday we emptied all of the cabinets and today Brian and Christopher began demolition.  It's a big mess and has entailed removing the dishwasher, range, and microwave, so no more cooking for awhile.

 Demolition will continue for another couple of days, then the new cabinets and cabinet doors will be installed on Thursday.  On Friday we should be able to get Brian from Solid Source to come out and template our granite countertops.  I think the new appliances will be installed on the 12th but we should be able to use the old ones until then once demolition is done. 

Choosing the granite was a process in and of itself.  We were sent to Mont Granite to choose from I don't know how many colors of granite; I had no idea there was such an amazing diversity.  We finally narrowed it down to four then made our final decision on Saturday.  This is what we chose:
It's called "Fire Bordeaux" - is it gorgeous or what?   I'd like to take a piece of whatever's left over and put it on a wall somewhere.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Future egglayers of the B&F

Picked up 3 new baby Buckeyes on Tuesday from Meyer Hatchery.  All survived the first night (not the case the last time) so I think we're home free for awhile, knock wood.  As always, they're just as cute as they can be.

In other chicken news, our 2 older hens, Chipmunk and Mimique, are molting and so all egg-laying is off for now.  They look awful.  Our other Buckeye, who is about 5-1/2 months now, has yet to lay her first egg but it should be soon.  In the meantime, fortunately, we're able to buy free-range organic eggs from our friend Kim at Wild Goose Gardens just outside of town.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Five wood-burning - er, coal-burning - fireplaces

We had a chimney sweep in last week to have a look at our five fireplaces and possibly clean and repair them so that they'd be ready for winter.  We were surprised, and initially dismayed, to learn that they are actually coal-burning fireplaces.  However, it turns out that this is a good thing.
Dining room fireplace

First of all, if they were wood-burning they would be totally unusable as they are not lined.  Going up the center of the house, as they do, would present a huge risk in terms of embers flying up the chimney and setting the house on fire.  Something tells me our insurance company wouldn't pay for that.

However, since they are coal-burning, they do not have the creosote build-up of wood that is the chief cause of chimney fires.  Furthermore, coal does not throw off sparks and embers that could ignite a fire.  Coal is clean, burns hotter and more evenly than wood, keeps going longer.

Granted, our fires won't have the smell and sound of a wood fire.  On the other hand, they'll actually heat the house, and they're authentic to the period.  Now we just have to figure out where to find coal and how to light it (by Nov. 18).  Just what we need:  another project.

Oh, and what do we do with the ton of firewood in our backyard...?
Entryway fireplace

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Newest project: the shed

The shed last winter

No posts since July 21, huh?  Well, we've been busy, to say the least.  But we've got plenty more to do, so we're getting back in the saddle with a few new projects.

The big one will be the kitchen but we haven't quite gotten that one off the ground yet.  So the current project is turning the outside storage shed into a chicken coop, at least for the new chicks to come next month, eventually for all of them.  They'll still have their outside pen for free-ranging but this will give them some additional protection from the elements this winter since it's a space we can heat.  Plus, assuming we keep all 6 alive, we won't have room in our little coop for the whole flock so we'll need the additional space.

Here are the "before" pictures.  It's a nice little building but in pretty bad shape; fortunately, much of the foundation still seems to be sound.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

No more "one night stands"

We give up!  As a 2-person, full-time working, no staff B&B, we can't continue accepting reservations for only one night.  We've given it nearly 3 months, and it's just too hard.  I feel strongly that, being in the hospitality business, we should offer accommodations to everyone subject only to availability.  But to go through the routine of changing, washing, and ironing sheets; thoroughly cleaning the bathroom; dusting and vacuuming the bedroom, for just one night, well, I'm sorry but it's simply not worth it.  To do it several days in a row is exhausting.

A quick analysis showed that 65% of our reservations are for only one night, so we will clearly be giving up a lot of business with this policy.  I'm not saying we won't rethink it.  I'm not saying we won't try to find other solutions, like help.  But as a stop-gap measure to give us some breathing room, the 2-night minimum policy is now in place.

We've still got plenty of one-night stands already on the books, but I'm breathing easier already.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

To AC or not to AC

We've lost two guests - 3 nights total - due to the lack of functioning air conditioning.  The question is, should we use our AC for the comfort of our guests even though we (read "I") don't like it?  We are in the hospitality business, after all.  On the other hand, it's our home and we live here.

I really don't like AC.  I mean, I like being cool, of course, and these 98 degree days are kicking my butt.  But I prefer to have the windows open to the breeze and the outside noises.  I hate the sound of the AC.  I'm not sure how effectively we could cool this house anyway, with all its doors and windows, but to even try would mean running around closing them all, then opening them again once it cooled down.  Too much work.

And what's the big deal in being hot once in awhile.  Ok, it's uncomfortable, I don't deny it.  But so what?  You appreciate the cooler days that much more.

We're going to invest in ceiling fans and that will help a lot.  But - sorry, folks - we're not going to AC at The Buckeye and the Frog.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

B&B Do's and Don't's

A bed & breakfast is not a hotel.  It requires a different etiquette from a hotel.  Basically, you have to remember that you are in someone's home (unless, like 5 Corners, you're not; but to me that's not a B&B, that's a hotel that includes breakfast).  Therefore:

  1. DO let your hosts know if you're going to arrive significantly later than planned.
  2. DO knock or ring at the front door unless there's a sign specifically inviting you to walk in.
  3. DO compliment the hosts on the room you're shown.
  4. DON'T wander around the house looking at things or opening closed doors.
  5. DON'T change rooms in the middle of a visit unless you have a very good reason.
  6. DON'T use linens to clean up spills.
  7. DO make special requirements, e.g., dietary restrictions, known in advance or as soon as possible upon arrival.
  8. DON'T invite guests over without clearing it with the hosts first, especially for meals, and DO expect an additional charge for extra meals.
  9. DO treat the home, its furnishings, and anyone living or staying in it with courtesy and respect.
These are the ones that occur to me off the top of my head.  I'm sure I'll be adding to them, and invite contributions from B&B owners and patrons.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mini Zucchini Quiche Recipe

I was on my own for breakfast this morning with six people to feed (including Jessie and me) and a load of zucchini.  I decided to make zucchini mini quiches and they turned out so well I thought I'd better get the recipe down before I forgot it.

6 Mini Zucchini Quiches
Make one batch of double pie crust from the Joy of Cooking.  Roll out 6 pieces and cut a circle to fit into each mini quiche plate.  Prick each crust 3-4 times with a fork.  Bake 17 min. at 370 degrees.  (That's Dom's timing and temp; I suspect 20 min. at 350 degrees would work just as well.)  Let the crusts cool.

Grate one zucchini.  Beat 3 eggs and 1 cup of milk together.  Cut up some basil leaves.  Add zucchini and a couple tablespoons of basil, plus salt and pepper.  Fill each crust.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 min. (maybe longer).  Once the middle is set, add a couple tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese and put back in the oven until it melts.  Remove from oven and add a little paprika to look pretty.

I should have taken a picture but I was working pretty fast since my guests ate at two different times.  Anyway, they were great.  Obviously this recipe will work for a lot of other vegetables as well.

Monday, June 18, 2012

This week in Oberlin...

Even in summer Oberlin is a happenin' place.  In addition to on-going exhibits at FAVA and Allen Art Museum, and the comings and goings of prospective students and their parents, this week we have:
  • The Oberlin Chalk Walk coming up this Saturday
  • Two baroque music performances, by faculty and students on Friday and Saturday
  • A "Sonic Arts" recital on Saturday
(See the Oberlin College events page for more information on the recitals.)

We'll be crazy busy starting this Thursday with people coming and going all weekend.  But I think we'll try our artistic hand at the Chalk Walk.  I'm thinking of using the statue Reeny gave us as a model to create a buckeye and a frog.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Jumping the broom on Juneteenth

Sadly, my collards didn't make the cut - I think they were waaaay too spicy - but Dom and I did jump the broom, reaffirming our commitment to each other after almost 7 years.  Awwww.... 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Juneteenth in Oberlin

I've just learned from our neighbor Justin about the Juneteenth celebration in Oberlin to commemorate June 19, 1865, the day that the last slaves were freed in America.  This year it's mostly being celebrated on Saturday, June 16.

I have to admit, I'd heard of Juneteenth but didn't know exactly what it was.  It's actually very interesting and I found a web site that explains it well:  It also lists all the events around Juneteenth, which are extensive, to say the least.

I just noticed the "Greens" cook-off.  I've got a killer collards recipe - I think I'm going to enter it!  And Dom and I should definitely jump the broom!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Our new (but temporary) 5-star chef

With Dominique in Harrisburg at his new job, it was a relief to have another cook to prepare breakfast for our guests this morning.  Mackenzie Bierman, chef non-pareil, whipped up a fantastic breakfast of huevos con chorizo, fried potatoes, and flour tortillas.
I contributed grapefruit with fresh home-grown mint and the usual sides of cereal, juice, and tea.  The guests ate almost every bite and sent their compliments to the chef!

Here he is, scrambling up the eggs:

And serving it up:

Looks good, doesn't it?  And the room looks so pretty; it's a beautiful spring day here in Oberlin.

Finally, the chef gets to enjoy the fruit of  his labors. Thanks, Kenzie!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The egg production team

Dominique likes to joke that we should add a surcharge to the bill of guests who don't like eggs.  It's true that we are sometimes in danger of being overwhelmed by our brown and pale green eggs from our Dominique (yep, that's the name of the breed), Mimique, and our "Easter Egger" (a hybrid variety of Araucana), Chipmunk.
Mimique (left) and Chipmunk, the egg production team
These girls are turning 2 years old at the end of the summer, though, and egg production is likely to wane, so we've got our trainees standing by.  They're 3 weeks old today and won't start laying for another 5 months or so, but that should be just in time to take the baton and enable us to keep serving omelets, quiches, and more with eggs from our very own free-range, organic chickens.
Our trainees

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lesson learned: prepare the night before

We had a little bit of a breakdown yesterday and paid for it this morning.  For whatever reason - probably just an accumulation of too much non-stop work and the anxiety of doing something new - we were both exhausted last night:  didn't go to Illumination Night, didn't even have dinner.  And, most important, did not do one thing to prepare for this morning's breakfast.

Plus we somehow failed to take into account the fact that, duh!, today is graduation and parents need to be up and at 'em to get decent seats.  So we were really scrambling to get everything ready and on the table without looking too sweaty and harried.  I think we pulled it off...but if we did, it was mainly because everyone was focused on something else - like graduation.

Despite everything, Dom made these adorable quiches in our new ramekins and they were quite possibly the best quiches he's ever made.  And the table did indeed look beautiful with all our new things.

Anyway, the take-away from all this was this:  no matter how late it is, no matter how tired we are, we simply must get the room ready the night before and start the preparations (or at least have a game plan) for breakfast.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Economizing by spending

It's Memorial Day weekend and that only means one thing:  sales.  We have realized that our placemats and napkins are pushing 10 years and showing their age, so we drove 45 miles to a Crate and Barrel - yes, that's the closest one - and bought two sets of placemats and jewel-toned napkins to go with, as well as some ramekins, wine glasses, and one or two other indispensables.  Then we found a Le Creuset store so we had to augment our little casserole set, adding purple and green to the red, orange, blue, and black that we already have.  Plus Dom bought an omelet pan and more ramekins.  Then we had lunch at an Irish pub.  We tried to come home via Lakeshore Dr. but something went terribly wrong and we just took freeways.  Our breakfast table is going to look bee-yoo-tiful tomorrow.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Culinary disasters

Commencement weekend is generally going great, helped in large measure by some very nice guests.  But both Dom and I have had some big failures in the kitchen.

For whatever reason, Dom's quiche yesterday morning simply did not want to come out of the pan.  He's made how many quiches?  But even though it wasn't picture perfect, it was presentable and tasted great.

Mine, on the other hand, was a true disaster.  One of our guests didn't tolerate gluten, so I decided to try my hand at a quick bread made from brown rice flour and potato flour.  As usual, I forgot to read the directions all the way through, so although I mixed up the wet and dry ingredients separately the night before to save time, I didn't take into account the 10 minutes it had to sit before being taken out of the pan, much less the 30 minutes it needed to cool before cutting.  Plus it needed to bake 45 minutes or more.  The "or more" was the key.

The cooling part ending up not mattering very much, because in turning it out of the pan the bread fell completely apart.  Part of the problem was that it probably didn't bake long enough; part of it was that I didn't realize how fragile a bread without gluten actually is.  The upshot was that it stayed in the kitchen, and my attempt at being a super-host failed spectacularly.  Sigh.

To be fair, it tasted pretty good and I think I know how to do it better next time, starting with making it the night before.  We bought some strawberries at the farmer's market this morning and I think it will make a great shortcake.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Buckeye Room debut

We made it.  We went from here, in December 2011...
to here, in late April, 2012...
and finally to here, on May 24, just in time for our first guest.
Do I look a little smug? 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

One day before Commencement weekend explodes

So here's how the day went:

8:00 Janet ordering a quart of paint in order to finish the gray paint in the Buckeye room.  Approx. one ounce needed.  At 8:30, off to buy the paint and a new coffee maker - we still haven't found our old one.  Did we leave it in Atlanta?

Meanwhile, Dom is painting the staircase wood trim and the bathroom door.

10:30 Gray paint is complete.  Doing touch ups on ceiling and windows, taking up drop cloths, vacuuming paint chips.  Hung up a new set of sheets and pillow cases to dry.

Dom is painting windows while babysitting the dog and chickens.  Discovered the wood trim that Brian left for us.  When did he do that?  And why didn't he let us know he was here?  A call to him goes unanswered.

11:38 Janet is cleaning up paint spots on the floor.  With wall-to-wall drop cloths, how did paint get on the floor? 

12:20  Dom is finishing tinting the corner pieces for the floor and going on to sand the small patch on the second floor landing.  Janet is giving up on the paint spots for the time being; moving on to curtains, which need to be hemmed.  Oops, change of plans:  chicks out for fresh air and mental stimulation, sheets etc. brought in, hung up, thrown in washing machine.

12.35 Dom just finished first coat of taint on the corner never knows, Brian may come soon!

12:45 Good time for a lunch break.  Do we deserve a beer?  Can we afford one?  (Can we afford not to drink one?)

 1:35 Beer, yes.  Back to work:  curtains and patch priming.

1.45: Dom had to check some screen windows with Billy. Done
1.50: Dom start priming the base molding in the back stair case.  Oops, the door frame need priming, too.

3:00 Janet switches to bathroom cleaning.  Why?  Don't know, really.

5:15 Janet off to Lowe's to buy more curtain hooks.  And I was right next to a Home Depot this morning.  Arrrrrgh!

6:15 Janet back on the curtains.  Dom is still painting.  And Brian has shown up to do the corner pieces in the bedroom - yay!

7:00 Dom has to make a trip to Home Depot.  Incredible.

10:00 Philip Phillips is the 11th American Idol, and Janet just finished hemming the curtains.  Dom has been taking life easy :) 

12:00 Set the alarm for 6:00.  Doesn't seem like we're that close yet.  Will we make it???

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Floor finishing

Harry came today to finish our new oak floors - clear finish, no fill.  We took  a peek and didn't see much (read: any) difference, but I guess with a clear finish that's a good thing.  Unfortunately the room will be off-limits until he completes process, whatever that entails, tomorrow afternoon.  Good day to work on curtains.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Getting so big!

The baby robins are growing so fast they barely fit in the nest anymore!

The girls

Mimique and Chipmunk checking out the drawer where the new chicks will live for the first month.  They have no idea what's coming...Hopefully they'll treat the babies better than they themselves were treated by Chiquita, nearly 2 years ago.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Our new babies

I picked up these 3 Buckeye chicks yesterday from Meyer Hatchery, just down the road in Polk.  They will be dark brown (supposedly) when they're grown.  They're up on our third floor with an infrared lamp where they'll stay until time to introduce them to Mimique and Chipmunk, with supervised forays to the great outdoors in a couple of weeks.

Sadly, one of them (the one in the upper left) died overnight.  The other 2 seem lively and fine, so I guess she just wasn't viable.  Still, it's sad.  Here we go again:  the heartbreak of raising chickens.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Paint and prep dilemma

I'm feeling frustrated today because I can't tell how much prep in the small bedroom is too much or too little.  The current paint on the wood trim is in terrible shape - in some places it's peeling off, in others it's layers deep, with embedded drips and ridges - and my instinct is to strip it all down to the wood and start over.  On the other hand, I don't think there's anything special about this wood, so am I trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear?  But if all I do is slap another coat of paint on it, I'm just adding to the problem.

To complicate matters, I only have a week to get it all done before our first "Buckeye" guests arrive.

If only paint stripper worked as promised, i.e., it actually stripped the paint off.  It doesn't.  It loosens it, but it's still a lot of work to scrape it off and then there's still a ton of sanding to do.  So far I've been using it without the plastic scraper that's recommended, so I'm going to buy one of those and see if it helps.

But for right now, I think I'll go for a fast walk and take Sunny with me.  We both need and deserve a good walk.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

You know it's spring when...

These adorable baby robins are in the evergreen tree just outside our dining room. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

First guest!

We did it!  We were ready in time for our first guest.  I'm not gonna lie, I was hemming curtains and Dom was cleaning off furniture to move in that morning.  But by 2:00 we were relaxing in the dining room, congratulating ourselves on a job that we consider well done.

We couldn't have picked a better first guest.  He was friendly and nice and easy.  He checked in around 5, came down for breakfast at 8, left by 9.  He loved my nutmeg muffins so that endeared him to me.  (But he didn't eat his buckeye candy!)  He left a very nice note in our guest book.

What a relief to have that pressure gone.

Now to get the second bedroom whipped into shape.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

D-day minus 1

Tomorrow's the big day.  And I think - with one major exception - that we're going to be ready.  The bedroom has had the wainscoting added, the floors refinished, and the curtains hung; the furniture is in; the bathroom is decorated.  Couple of details to add:  soap and shampoo, the second curtain, the pillows.  Minor.

The landing is transformed, with wallpaper and wainscoting and refinished floors.  Unfortunately, this is the site of our one disappointment.  We have torn out the old carpeting and had scheduled new carpeting for the stairs from the ground floor to the third floor, plus a rug on the landing.  However, our carpeting person has apparently forgotten all about us and gone to Florida instead.  This is very, very disappointing.  Ok, infuriating.  We want to support local businesses but not at a cost to our own!

Deep breaths.  Back to the good stuff.

A green-thumb angel came by today and took over our front and side lawns, planting and pulling and mulching and I don't know what.  A messy, overgrown mass of weeds, a few daffodils, and an old ivy-covered tree trunk has been turned into a showcase of a garden.  It's beautiful!
Before I
Before II
Stay tuned for the "after" pictures - I don't have them yet!

It's nearly 11:30, it's been a long day, and tomorrow is going to be stressful, mentally if not physically.  Time for bed.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Trades

I'm in awe of all the tradesmen (and yes, they're all men) who have helped us transform our house over the past several months:  electricians, plumbers, dry wall hangers, wallpaper hangers, tilemen, plasterers, painters, floor refinishers, roofers, carpenters, cabinet makers, floor layers, carpet installers, gardeners.  Without this crew of skilled craftsmen, we would be lost and helpless before the mass of renovation projects we call home.

And so one question comes to mind:  How in hell did our local vocational school not get the funding it requested?????  We're missing a very big boat here.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Things are moving fast now

As we head down the home stretch to our first guest (4 days!), it's good to see that visible progress is being made every day.  So far we're so pleased with what we've chosen.  For example, the wallpaper on the landing went up today - it's beautiful!  You never really know with wallpaper until you see it on the wall, but this is exactly what we wanted.

Otherwise, I'm moving forward on the smaller bedroom and Dom did a lot of work on the front staircase between the 2nd and 3rd floors, deciding to paint the vertical parts of the stairs as well as the sides.  Big thing was to take out the carpeting on those stairs; they were incredibly filthy.  The stairs themselves are in pretty good shape but we're going to put a new carpet on.

I got to do some of the fun stuff today, i.e., decorating-type shopping:  mirrors, soap dispensers, bathmats, hand towels.  Got the rings for the curtains so I can hem them.  Now to find a jumbo-sized bottle of Dr. Bonner's Peppermint Soap and some good shampoo.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Weekend work

Billy started the wallpapering today - oh my god it looks so beautiful.  Tomorrow he'll finish the larger bedroom and hopefully the landing as well.

Brian came by with the wood for the crown molding and chair rail which Dom will tint or paint this week, then they'll go up on Wed.  We had some bad news on our floor - the milling of the character-grade white oak made from reclaimed barn wood got bumped by the miller for a bigger project.  He can't even give us an estimate of when it might be ready.  So we're going with new wood - still character-grade white oak and from Ohio trees, but not reclaimed.  Very disappointing.   The good news is that it's less expensive, but it's very frustrating that this guy let us down.

Dom painted the second-to-third floor stairwell today and it looks great; just needs the wallpaper on the lower third.  And I worked on the smaller bedroom, which needs a ton of work.  The "accent" wall is ready for its wallpaper, and the other walls are in various stages of priming and skimcoating.  Lots of patching, taping, and caulking required, plus we'll have to paint the ceiling and floor molding.  Fortunately we have until May 24 to get it done.

What's today, Saturday?  We're really in countdown mode:  5 days to go until our first guest.  We're not ready...!!  But we will be (I think; I hope).

I'll add some pictures later; too tired right now.  Where's that drinkie poo?  Or maybe a shower first, in our new shower, that is, one of our 3 new showers!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Together again

The crew has left, the bathroom renovation work is 99% complete, and we are back in our bedroom and in one bed again for the first time since mid-February.  To celebrate we put on the new sheets we bought back in January in Paris.  It wasn't bad, living in the garret, but it feels much more civilized to be in a real bedroom.

I skimcoated the smaller bedroom wall, the one that's going to be wallpapered this weekend, so after I sand it tomorrow all the walls should be ready for Billy, who's coming on Saturday.

The roofing appears to be done (2 days!) although there is some material laying about so I guess they will be back tomorrow.  And the shower doors will be installed tomorrow!!  It's starting to come together...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Where to begin...?

I'm so far behind I don't even know where to start.  Our major renovation project - the upstairs bathrooms - is largely finished; three-and-a-half weeks behind schedule, but nearly there.  Just a few details to finish up and the shower doors to install; they should be here on Friday.

In the meantime, Dominique has finished his office and the little room next to it, and we have painted the large bedroom as well as completed most of the prep work needed to be ready for the wallpaper.  I've made curtains for both bedrooms although they need to be hung before I can hem them.  Now it's a question of coordinating a number of contractors who will, in order, hang the wallpaper, put up the wainscoting,refinish the floors, lay staircase and landing carpeting, and lay and finish a new floor.  Then we'll move in again with the curtains, furnishings, and other final touches.

We've assembled most of the items needed for comfort and beauty:  new bed frames and mattresses, sheets, towels, artwork, bedding.  Need a few more bath items and some area rugs.

Have been trying out and/or refining several recipes:  waffles, granola, buckeye candy.  Have some great coffee and hot water carafes.

In the midst of everything else, our roofers - who were supposed to have started several weeks ago but couldn't because of the weather - have begun roofing this week.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Wallpaper and draperies

Notice that I wrote "draperies," not "drapes."  I have recently learned that "drape" is only a verb, never a noun; the correct word is "drapery."  I will never again speak of curtains and drapes.

Anyhoo, we are in the market for some wallpaper and drapery fabric and I have located 2 stores in Cleveland that sound amazing.  US Wall Coverings is one, with 4,000 different patterns at 50%-80% less than retail.  The other is Schindler's Discount Home Decorating and Upholstery Fabrics, featuring hundreds of fabrics, also at discounted prices.  We're going to try to see one or both tomorrow.  Hopefully they're as good as they sound.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Catch up - again

Not doing too well at blogging every day.

Lots has happened since the last time; unfortunately, not enough as we are officially 3 weeks behind schedule.  We want to talk to Josh about how we can work more in parallel - in other words, we start in on the bedrooms while they finish up the bathrooms - but so far no response from that quarter.  Frustrating.

Anyway, the dry wall upstairs seems to be finished and I think the tile work will begin next week.  We can now clearly see the bathrooms:  all the walls are up and the shower basins are down.  Yes, they're small but not tiny; they're going to be great.
The one on the left goes with the "French" room and the other goes with the "Ohio" room.  Guess we don't have a picture of our bathroom.

As for us, we have 3 main areas of attack:  Dom's office and the back staircase plus we've added the second floor landing.  Thought the landing was going to be relatively easy but of course it's not.  Lots of trim to be painted three times to achieve that "stained wood" look with paint; crown molding that has been plastered into the ceiling; and plaster walls in their usual poor shape.

Walls skimcoated, not yet primed; chair rail with first coat of base paint.

Pried out a piece of the crown molding which broke off.  Why they replastered the ceiling without removing the crown molding is beyond us, but this kind of thing seemed to happen often.  We have toyed with pulling it all down and re-doing the ceiling - especially since a light fixture that was installed on the ceiling was poorly replastered - but Reeny and Jon told us about putting a larger crown molding over this one which seems like the right thing to do.

Part of the landing project includes fixing the window cords.  Very interesting to see the inner workings of these old rope and pulley systems.  The (extremely heavy) iron weight has some interesting markings on them.

We're disappointed at the paint job we discovered on the exterior of these windows.  Billy did such good work everywhere else (that we've seen), but he really cut corners on these - virtually no prep work, just painted over all the old stuff.  Guess he thought they wouldn't be seen.  Dom's doing a better job.

The back stairs are the slowest project since I can only work on them during the weekend.  So far I've skimcoated about half of the area where the bookcase used to be.  I  plan to finish that area tomorrow and also finish patching and sanding the rest of the stairwell.

Dom's office, on the other hand, is voted "project most likely to be completed in our lifetime."  He's done his own electricity, he's hung his own drywall, he's done an amazing job of taping, skimcoating, and priming.  Tomorrow, I think, he's going to paint.  His motivation, if he needed one, is the fact that we bought a gorgeous 1862 bookcase to put in it today at the Medina Antique Mall.  We love that place.  (Got a dresser, granola jar, and salt/pepper shakers, too.)

This picture doesn't do it justice and is about a week old anyway.  Got to take some more tomorrow.