And the road goes on forever...

Friday, May 25, 2018

Awash in Lilacs

In our years of being here I’ve never seen our aged lilacs bloom like they have this year. I’ve been enjoying cutting the blooms daily to get their sweet, sweet, heavenly scent inside in every room.
As I note actually, every blooming thing is going to town—the apple trees have more than usual as do the ornamental plum trees. It’s been wonderful for bouquets since I love having flowers inside. The bees are busy trying to pollinate it all for my future harvest.
I’m back to my normal routine at home—all the yard work, mowing, gardening and mostly, weeding. God, they grow too quickly! Dandelions have overrun the entire region in masses also. I’ve planted some new ornamental grasses but not much else. I’m also still volunteering for the humane society. Despite the work burden falling solely on me, I’ve been enjoying my time at home immensely. Daily I try and sit out and have “porch time” and it’s always at this time that I reflect that I wish I didn’t have to make the trip west in the fall. 

I’ve found a new passion in refinishing furniture! I love the process of destroying a damaged or unwanted surface and turning it into some totally different concept and color. I have several projects in front of me but am now working on redoing my old antique iron bed. It was very chippy paint, falling off, probably lead paint, when I purchased it, so I let it sit out this winter and further deteriorate. Stripping it involved a lot of rotor wire brush, paint remover, sanding and repeated sanding. Now I’m working on building layers to accomplish a finish that is yet undetermined. I decided to use up more of the blue mineral paint I had used on the bedroom set but now I will use white wax instead of brown. All of it takes layers and layers. Finding a mattress for this bed has proved problematic; it seems the antique ¾ mattress size is no longer produced unless one wants to spring to have a custom one made. The twin size I used last year is just too small. So, I will be on the hunt for a source for buying foam in large pieces we can custom cut to size.
Word is that the construction crew should be able to start on the sunroom this coming Tuesday. It should only take them a few days to accomplish their portion as Marc intends to finish the interior with electric and what little wall will be necessary. The lower sills will be 18” off the floor to match what is going on with the house front windows and there won’t be much wall space between windows. I had thought of it as being all enclosed by the time they left but in actuality that won’t happen until Marc’s return because we don’t have a front door as yet! We’re planning for a single, all glass French door with side lights and possibly transom windows. Get home soon Marc—your construction skills will be badly needed!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Time Flies

As they like to say when you’re having fun. Of course, my idea of fun may not be what most people think of since many of the tasks revolve around yard work and interior improvements. It always seems when I return that there is a boatload of things on my to-do list, so I immediately dove in knowing time's short. We’ve enjoyed wonderful weather for the most part which has quickly spurred Spring into action. I had our first mowing yesterday just before today’s rain. The lawn should like that. When it initially wakes after winter, its like a verdant, lush green carpet and the smell after mowing it was heavenly. Makes one feel as though they are part of the very earth and is an endorphin of such magnitude!

Things are on target with the sunroom’s windows now ordered to hopefully begin construction of that in a few weeks. The windows are the major cost driver in this project, coming in at over $4000! In anticipation, I had researched myself silly about what to do for furnishings when I had an epiphany . Our big reclining, rustic couch in the living room hardly ever sees any use; why not just place it in the sunroom? I know it already blends in with other pieces I have on hand that I plan to use. Since we rarely have company that uses any seating, that freed me up to purchase a couple of accent chairs for the living room. I saw these beauties and just had to have them. Once they can be placed it should spatially open the great room in a beneficial way.
I’ve been working hit and miss on getting a small garden going. There are still some more seeds to plant when the rain abates. After the snow went away and it warmed enough for the hoses to work I was able to finally get the rigs cleaned and washed. Then I started tackling one of the most important projects of the summer, refinishing our bedroom set. We had ordered it online and although I usually like the natural knotty pine look, this set arrived as stained orange. It has only aged badly in the past few years and was positively looking like a ghastly pumpkin.

I was going for a stained top with the rest painted distressed blue. The first stain just didn’t cover adequately so after two coats of that I tried another color. That after two coats gave me a much darker color than I was really after but the thought of doing another complete sanding job had me figuring it wasn’t so bad as it was. Concurrently, I was also working on sanding and staining the trim on the bed.
The paint went on beautifully and is a great color which doesn’t translate well to camera. It looks fabulous against the gray walls though. Once two coats of that were completed it got a topcoat of Polyacrylic and then came the fun part: using dark wax to distress and highlight. There is nothing like adding something that stains your brand new fresh paint job to get your adrenaline flowing. Replacing the hardware would have been expensive since there were 21 of them, so I opted instead to work with what I had by painting the wood portion hammered brown to match the stain and left the silver inserts. As it turned out, it’s one of my favorite things about the entire redo as I feel it really sets off the dresser now.
Coming up I plan more. In the living room housing our stereo equipment (yes, we still have receivers, amplifiers and LPs) I have an old knotty pine armoire which is shiny and badly scratched; a relic from the early ‘90’s which is in desperate need of a redo, and we also brought back my childhood cedar hope chest. This needs to have the legs and some wood damage repaired, then it too, will be ready. It is solid pecan wood, so I need to get it stripped down to bare wood to see if it merits stain or paint. When’s the last time you saw a piece of pecan used in furniture? Nowadays, consumers think rubber and mango wood are “real” hardwoods since they are almost being exclusively used in furniture due to cost. That’s the primary reason I try and buy vintage or antique—if its lasted 100 years it will likely continue to last during my ownership.
Another thing I worked on was a total replanning of where we will head during daughter’s visit in August. Lake Superior is just too far for the short amount of time she has so we’ve decided upon the Wisconsin Dells area. Not for the tourist trap town, but for all the natural features and hiking and boating in the area. Wisconsin state parks are always very crowded and we will be visiting the state’s most popular, Devil’s Lake. I managed to snag an electrical site at nearby Rocky Arbor SP, one of the last available. More about that coming up.