Dec 11, 2008

Curious cardboard

When we moved in we noticed some large sheets of cardboard tacked up to the rafters in one area of the basement. One day Greg decided to figure out why it was up there. So he put on a mask and got geared up to take it down. Well it was covered in dust cobwebs and many nuts which we are sure the chipmunks had stashed there. There had at some point in time been chipmunks hanging out in the basement. Well the cardboard sheets were interesting and had been up there for many years. They were old Zenith radio boxes most likely had been put up in the rafters for whatever reason by Theo. Edwards. One radio was a model from 1938 and one from 1939. We are guessing they were either models he had in the hardware store or actual radios that had been part of the households entertainment. I have included images of what the two radios would have looked like in their heyday.

Treasures if you can call them that!

So I promised an update on some of the things I forgot. When we were cleaning the ducts and heating system we found many items most were junk and were tossed but here are a few of the treasures we found. The bottles are the ones the heating guys found in the plenum when they replaced the system. Also on the photo is some of the knob and tube ceramic insulators.

Nov 21, 2008

More things I forgot

Well anyone who has been reading this knows that while we have owned the house since leap day of 2008 I really didn't get going on actually starting to write this blog until July. So from that point it was a try to fit it in and remember all the things that proceeded and had been done until now. Of course as much as I hoped I would forget nothing I realized in thinking back there are things that didn't get told. So over the next few days hopefully I can add in some of those bits. Like the pictures of all the goodies we found when cleaning out the heating system, the fact that no bed bigger than a full size will go up the stairs and how we actually moved in Queen size beds, the antique wardrobe we found on craiglist, interesting old cardboard found in the basement and I am sure a few more things that I have yet to think of. So stay tuned as they say and more will come!

Heating Update

So up to this point we really were not completely sure how low the temp. could go before the heat pump would not work and the gas would kick on. Well last night was our answer it seemed like 22 degrees F was the magic number. We know the gas has come on a few times since the nights have been around 15 degrees a few times but we were never up or home to see exactly when that switchover point would be. Now we know. The heating guys gave us conflicting temps. I heard around 30 Greg thought lower so we just had to wait and see. Pretty cool if you ask me that there is enough heat in the air down to 22 degrees that a heat pump can use that air to make the house warm and toasty. The next interesting thing will be to see our bills and how it changes as the temps. change over the winter. More to come as the season passes!

Nov 19, 2008

More basement craziness

So here are some more photos of the basement progress and Greg patching holes. The photos of him holding the stick shows how far he could poke it into the wall and needed to patch. And as you can see the more we cleaned the more slap happy we got-Yum concrete!

Nov 18, 2008

A Limey project

So after many months in the house we are still trying to sort and organize and make the spaces livable while we slowly remodel. I am at the point now where I just want all the chaos put away and finally be able to find what we need. For the most part it hasn't been to bad but it is a slow process and I know will be many months if not a few years before some of my antique things potentially get unpacked. We decided to make a 4 day weekend out of my veterans day holiday and spend that time working on the organizing and cleaning of the basement. The house being a hundred plus years has an old stone basement which has sadly been neglected for years as many things have been. The main problems down there are all the dirt and the neglected walls. The basement is structurally sound but there are spots that need patching. Well while researching the best way to preserve and take care of the walls we discovered that old stone basement need to breath and so you shouldn't paint them or use regular portland type cement. We researched online and found recipes for the old fashioned lime based mortar that was used and Greg has gotten good at mixing this for patching the holes inside and out in the walls. We also found articles about limewashing. Basically an old technique that is still used in barns and farms to give them a good white coating. It is actually very antibacterial and antifungal so that is why it is good in farm situations. So Greg experimented and figured out how to mix it but it is very thick and gloppy so it is nearly impossible to spread on with a brush. He kept looking and finally found a sprayer that he thought would work. It is one for acoustic type foams and joint compounds and other thick agents. So we ordered one from Northern Tool. We spent the weekend working on cleaning, moving things around, vacuuming dirt, and limewashing. The other problem is all the loose dirt. Most of the walls have lots of loose sandy type of dirt on the upper sills and along the floor. So I started with the sweeping and shop vacuuming. So far we have taken 3 garbage cans fairly full of dirt out of the basement and still are not quite finished. Hopefully we have made progress on getting the dirt cleaned up and hopefully it doesn't come back as bad as it was. I doubt our stone basement will ever be spotless but we have made good progress. While I was busy dirt busting Greg was limewashing the area he is going to use for his music practice area and getting that all cleaned up and ready. Also we needed to fix windows that are rotting out and have plants growing between them and all kinds of mini-disasters like that. Some things are temporary fixes to make the house more warm and comfortable until we can do the permanent fixing. So after 4 days of work things are much better than when we started but we still have a ways to go yet. I have to say those days were broken up with trips to menards and running errands etc so you never quite get as far as you think you will with projects. Anyone who has remodeled or had remodeling done knows things always take longer than you hope or anticipate so we will just keep chugging along. Eventually it will be organized and clean maybe when we are old and grey if we are lucky!

Leaky garage wall

Well one of the final outdoor projects was to try to fix the leaky garage wall. Greg had trenched the back of the garage wall and decided how to fix it. He used the black jack type sealer and sealed the wall and then made pieces of plywood to divide dirt and gravel that we were going to place in the trench. It was another nice fall day and we had ordered and had delivered a load of gravel so Greg and I started hauling and shoveling gravel in the trench then we backfilled with dirt and leveled it all down. After that we moved and blocked up the flag pole behind the garage til we can complete work on that. So hopefully that will solve the leaks we had in the garage wall when we moved in.

The last picture is what I live with everyday! Yum tar!

The '41' comes home!

Well the shed is in and cold weather is approaching. We have the garage cleaned out enough to finally get Greg's 1941 chevy home. It has been in storage for many years awaiting it's own garage. That day had finally come. It was a beautiful fall weekend day in late October(10/25) so we decided this was the time. We drove over to storage and loaded up some of the extra parts and things from storage and we were off. Through town and to the Beltline. We made our way into town and home. The car was finally in the drive and in the garage. Of course as usual it was the curiosity of the neighborhood. All the neighbors stopped to look as Greg drove it in the drive and even people came to take a closer look. That weekend and the next few were beautiful so we took it for a couple drives around town before the snow flew.


Well not a long time after we excluded the bats and as it was starting to get cool out one night after we had moved up to the upstairs bedroom we heard scratching in the wall. It was not really a mouse sounding noise so we thought perhaps there was a bat stuck in someplace that was trying to get out. Well not much we could do about it that night so we decided to tackle figuring it out the next day in the light of the day. Well the next day when I got home from work Greg said I think we have a bat in the furnace! WHAT! A bat-how did that get in there? So we went downstairs and there were little scraping scratching noises coming from the furnace. So we proceeded to try to figure out which side of the hepa filter side it was on. Had it come in from the outside through the venting pipes or somehow been in the house and got down one of the returns. As we were trying to figure out how we might extract this animal I said you don't think it could be a mouse do you? Greg said I don't know how but maybe. So we decided to brave it and we figured out by the noises it had gotten in on the house side so it had come down a return somehow. It had to be from the second floor since I had put screening over all the first floor returns to prevent any items from falling in them and getting into the new heating system. Anyone who is familiar with old house will realize that most runs and returns in old house have large hole grating that most anyting can fall into. So Greg and I suited up with gloves, safety glasses and garbage bags to hopefully somehow get what we were still sure was a bat in the furnace. We headed back down and started to take apart our filter system as I started to pull open the first tray of the prefilter I could see a little nose and whiskers poking out. A MOUSE!!! Well better than a bat I guess. So I carefully pulled out the filter and we tried to grab the little bugger. Well of course he was much faster than the two of us so off he scampered across the basement floor. We were relieved but now we had a whole different problem Not bats but a different rodent-mice. Traps were set and in a few days we had the little invader. Greg set about to try to figure out were he had gotten in and we realized what had happened. He had gotten in upstairs and ran along the rafters in the floor or along the baseboard and gotten to the upstairs air return. Down he went on the ride of his life down to the filter assembly in the furnace until we got him out. So needless to say there are now screens over all the house returns and we have been mouse free since then. And if it isn't one fuzzy mammal it is another-flying or scampering neither belong in our house!

Not enough space already!!!

So you buy a bigger place and assume you will have enough space but somehow you always find the need for more space. Does that mean we have to much stuff!? So we thought that having more garage space would be a good idea. Since we will have 3 vehicles plus all the yard implements and garden tractors etc. And all of the other tools etc. Well it isn't really realistic to build on to the garage at this point so a shed is the next best thing. First we thought we would buy one of the shed kits from a home improvement site. But after seeing some pre-made ones we thought we should check those out. So in the interest of getting things done as quickly as possible and seeing the prices on the pre-made ones we started shopping for those. We found a place called Cottage Works and took a road trip to check them out. A Mennonite family makes them and the price was not much more than the kits which are much more cheaply made than these so we decided to buy one from them. We ordered a 10'x10' shed and when it was done they delivered it. Quite the event. They bring it on a tilting trailer and then have a little motorized pull cart that they use to move it into place. It took a couple tries to get everything where it belongs but now we have an awesome out shed to store all the lawn and extra garage type items.

Nov 13, 2008

Gutters and bats

So later in Sept. we could finally have the bat man come and put the exclusions on the house. Poor little bats were very confused not able to get back into their home. Hopefully by spring we will have a nice bat house up for them to roost in and eat our bugs and stay out of our attic.
Once that was done we could finally have the gutter guys come and put on the new gutters and Master shield gutter covers. We saw a great improvement in the water flow and less water in the basement after this project was completed. So the spring with lots of rain will be the real test of the the new system. Time will tell.

Treasure Hunt (under the porch)

One of the yard projects I wanted to do was make the flower bed along the sunporch. This meant digging out a large section of snowball hydrangea shrubs. I finally got to them one afternoon and bagged them up and gave them to work friends. After doing this Greg was looking under the skirts of the sunporch and we wondered what was under there. So I decided to crawl under sunporch and see what it was like and what we could find. Oh the treasures we found! An old ski, a partial baby doll, flower pots, house trim, a 70's JCPenny sale catalog, a old tin, small blue insulators, old bottles, a steel mountain dew can,screen frames, old boots and a few other odds and ends. After pulling out our treasures I started researching online what we had found. The tin is a Between the Acts tin of smokes sold between the acts at the theatre. One of the bottles is a Frauerbach bottle. Another is embossed with spiders and spider webs. It was a whiskey tonic sold during prohibition. The photo included is one similar to the one we found from an ebay listing. It was a hot and dirty job but very worth it.

Drop ceiling Oh my why!?

Another lovely aspect of the house was that it has 9 foot ceilings but why oh why would anyone put drop ceilings in all of these rooms. We decided that we wanted the nice high ceilings back so another weekend was spent removing the drop ceilings from the living room, dining room and kitchen. While I am sure after removing them it was to cover the peeling wall paper and probably for the energy efficiency factor and of course most important is was the style of the 70's! As my friend Krissy said the 70's was not a good decade for home decor!
When we got to the kitchen we found lovely plaid wallpaper and peachy orange paint on the walls. Also while doing it Greg said oh this is a nice message and as you can see by the photo that we had some choice swear words on the ceiling written in pencil. So you have to wonder why? Was it irritation with putting up the tiles or was it a contractor doing it and getting irritated with the previous owners. I suppose we will never know but it was very funny imagining what the story might have been! And it makes up laugh every time we look at our ceiling.