31 October 2007

Ms Scarlet In The Dining Room With The Hammer

La Fonda Geranium Red also makes for a lovely inadvertent Halloween decoration this year!

Molly as Little Red Riding Hood

(the costume was mine when I was little)

Elsa the pumpkin

Happy Halloween!

29 October 2007

Review: EZ Clean Paint Brush

Web site for you to check out: EZ Paint Tools, Inc.

Also check out what others thought.

First off what I used to paint with. i.e. the comparison brush, or for my fellow scientific types the control. My paint brush of choice for most of the rooms in the house is made by Rubbermaid. It's just one you pick up at the local Wal-mart. It had a nice grip and didn't seem to fall apart after a couple of uses. My biggest problem would be washing it up too later or not thoroughly enough so it would gum up and have to be thrown away.

Secondly, painting with the EZ brush. The EZ brush was a dream to edge with. Much better than the control brush. Yes, it didn't hold as much paint, but that was well worth the nice clean lines and the lack of colored goobers on my nice white ceiling. Also the handle of the EZ paint brush is kind of funky. I expected it to be very uncomfortable to paint with, especially since the Rubbermaid has a nice rubber grip. And yes that was true. However, it was not as bad as I thought it would be and in the hour that I used it did not get fatigued. Painting wise I'd choose the EZ brush over the Rubbermaid.

Thirdly, cleaning the EZ brush. As you know I don't really have the set up to clean the brush here at home currently. It would be nice if they could set up some sort of laundry room sink attachment. Plus how do you clean the thing once it gets to be winter and you can't use the hose? A couple more weeks here in Iowa and I won't be able to clean the thing outside even if I had a hose.

Our solution for no hose was to take it to my parent-in-laws. Here's a shot of when you first turn on the water. The water pretty much runs though the center of the bristles so...

I started squishing it around in my hands. Which pretty quickly took the paint from the outside.

Tim wanted a shot, still being upset he didn't think of this idea himself. His way of hitting it on the propane tank also worked, so it just depends on how sensitive your hands are to the cold water.

We should have timed the clean up time, but we didn't. I would defiantly say it wasn't over two minutes for both of our tries. An easy win over the Rubbermaid.

Conclusion: I have one unknown variable that makes this hard to write, the price. If the Rubbermaid brush and the EZ paint brush cost the same I would easily choose the EZ paint brush. However, if the EZ paint brush is 1.5x more expensive than the Rubbermaid I would probably choose the Rubbermaid because I am cheap.

Also, even though Tim may disagree the EZ paint brush should not be used as a water throwing weapon.

26 October 2007

You Think You're Having A Bad Day...

at least you aren't walking around with a can on your head.

So Elsa and I are hanging out on the couch watching Martha Stewart when we hear this banging on the kitchen window. So I put her in the swing and head over to check it out. Well, it's this greedy little cat. So I'm torn about what to do because I was taught growing up not to mess with strange animals. And even though it's kind of funny watching the poor thing stagger around (I know- bad person, I can't help it, it was funny) the front yard I do feel sorry for it. Plus it would probably spend the last of its days in my front yard and end up dying there and how evil and trashy would that look.

Tim had a pair of leather gloves laying around so I put those on and headed out. It didn't run away when I, talking REALLY loudly so it could hear my through the can, walked up to it. It took me five tires before I got it un-stuck, it was really lodged on. And boy was I glad I had those gloves because it was not happy during the attempts. But finally it fell out and ran away hissing.

Of course it chose to run right into the basement. Stupid cat. No, it's not our fault we leave the basement door cracked. Remember what happened last time we had a unwanted cat in the house?

All I know is if it's down there it had better kill some of those mice who keep showing up at night in the kitchen in gratitude.

Dining Room Wall Color Revealed

Here's the dining room with the final coat of paint. Two coats did the job, I was very impressed with the tinted primer.

I like the red, what I don't really know if I like is the white ceiling with it. Well then paint it you say. Easier said then done. It has a finish on it so you don't have to paint it. It's paint-able anyway, but I hate to go to all that work when we don't have to, plus it will make it something to maintain. I'll have to get opinions.

25 October 2007

Murphy's Law of 18 Month Olds

If you have shut to door to the dining room to paint (don't worry her kitchen set blocks the other doorway so she was not left unattended) it's bound to happen that your 18 month old decides that is the day to figure out how to work the door knob -sigh-

Oh was she proud of herself, and of course wanted to repeat the trick over and over. Luckily I was just about done. UN-luckily she just about knocked me off the ladder opening the door.

24 October 2007

Dining Room Primed

So here's the dining room all primed.

I really like the gray. It looks super with the woodwork. I'm worried I like the gray better than the red. I'm still undecided. It doesn't help that when you paint the red it's more of a deep hot pink. Luckily it drys into a more reasonable shade.

I primed Monday, painted the first coat of red Tuesday, and the second coat today (Wednesday). I think two coats is going to cover it, but I'll have to make a final appraisal tonight after it's had a little time to dry.

Tomorrow's plan is to take a little artists brush around for touch up where the ceiling meets the wall.

Next on the dining room agenda is refinishing the floor. I spoke to Tim last night about taking care of this and he said after he has the fall tillage done. Also, I need him to extend the frame of one of the windows and I might try and persuade him to install the light fixture. It's a little chandelier and I'm so excited to finally see it installed.

Oh, and check out this cute picture of Molly courtesy of Aunt Jen's blog.

22 October 2007

King Corn

A movie made in Greene, IA? And about a subject I'm starting to really get into, how cool is that!

Remember me telling about that book I was reading on agriculture? Well this seems to be a movie version of the first part of the book. There's going to be a lecture and screening of the movie at Iowa State University and I'm hoping I can make it. Kelli want to come along :)

Check out the trailer. The guy who says "That's corn..." he the funeral home director. And I should know the guy who says "carbs" and the one with the crap quote I'm pretty sure goes to our church. I think I read somewhere that they filmed in 2004 so we would have owned the house for a year, but not been moved in yet, I think.

21 October 2007

The Paint Brush Goes To A Party

Wall Street Journal alert- I took a home improvement tool to a venue where alcohol was being served! :)

Yesterday was homecoming at my college, Wartburg so we had festivities to attend. The plan was to go to the parade and do a quick walk-thru of the campus, head home and prime the walls while the girls napped. Then if was off to my roommates husbands thirtieth birthday bash. Well plans got foiled. As we were heading out we ran into a couple of friends and ended up having a long lunch with them. That didn't leave enough time to buy painting supplies and give the girls a nice nap so sorry but the nap won out.

While at the parade I asked my old roomie if she had a working garden hose (she being more normal than I, did). So I asked if it would be possible to bring the paint brush and wash it out. She, having lived with me, is not surprised by weird questions like this and agreed.

So after nap time I loaded the paint brush up in a cooler with ice packs to keep it as frozen as possible and took off for the party. Only problem is we all got to having such a good time the bush was kind of forgotten about.

Well today we have to head up to Tim's folks for a family-get-together. I know Ronnie has a garden hose so the plan is to wash it off up there. So stay tuned.

Oh, and Molly learned to parallel park...

19 October 2007

Seriously, I Did Something On The House Today

I know, late night readers are rubbing their eyes and you early morning guys are spilling coffee on the keyboard :)

Primer edging complete- check.

You'll also notice that Tim got the doors out of the way. The bathroom door is on (the one next to the window), but it doesn't actually shut because it hits the bottom of the frame. The bathroom closet door is now sitting in the closet, and the door to the kitchen is in the foyer leaning against the wall (I know, not safe for the toddler. I'm going to talk to him about it tonight) so every time I walk down the stairs I think someone left the exterior foyer door open.

So I know you are all dying to know how the brush worked. I'm going to save that for a later post. Mostly because the major selling point is how easy it is to clean and I haven't cleaned it yet. Remember the hose problem? So it's currently wrapped in foil and a zip-lock in the freezer. Hey, that's better than I'd treat my other paint brush so it can't complain (plus you can't hear it 'cause it's in the fridge -get it hehe).

So it took me 40 minutes total. Not too bad, only time for one kid to wake up. Guess which one- hint look at the photo. But what's strange is I wanted more. Yes, if I had a roller pad I would have probable had the whole place painted today. It felt so GOOD to be accomplishing something. I forgot what a high it was. Unless it was just from the paint fumes.

Our Morning

7:35 AM- "Where is he!" asks Tim who is going in late to work this morning so he can meet a contractor for a quote on cement in the barn. "He said 7:30." "Oh," I reply, "Then he definitely won't be here any earlier than 8:00." There's a chance he won't show at all, but I just think that and don't tell Tim.

7:40 AM- "I'm just going to start the car so it will be warmed up once he leaves," he says. "Do you really want it to run that long?" I ask. "Well, if he's not here soon I'll just have to leave," he replies.

7:45 AM- "I know he'll show up if..." Tim heads into the bathroom.

7:55AM- "There's a truck coming! And it's white!" as he heads for the door happy again.

It seems it's been much to long since Tim has dealt with a contractor and has forgotten how they work.

18 October 2007

T - 4 Days And Counting

Room cleaned- check,
Walls wiped- check,
Paint and primed located- check,
Tools located- brush (of course) and ladder ready...
rollers, roller pads, and tray still needed

Only one thing impeding progress,

He needs to get these doors on in the bathroom and the spots he patched sanded down.

But as of right now I can at least do the edge work. The only problem is I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to find a hose to clean this brush.

17 October 2007

La Fonda Geranium Red

That's the future color of the dining room in case you were wondering.

I did end up being able to go on that tour of homes a couple of weeks ago and one of the homes had a deep red dining room like this. Their taste was perhaps a bit more eclectic and modern that my own furnishing-wise, but I think it will look fine with what I plan to do also. I liked how the dark color drew the walls in and made the room cozy.

Molly is at the grandparent's today so I hope I can get the rest of the room cleared out tonight.

16 October 2007

Slightly Cleaner Dining Room

Looking a little cleaner, right? Last night Tim took down the baby gate (the tile backer board screwed into the above doorway), not to worry the play kitchen set is on the other side blocking access. Still it's weird to have a view into the mess from the kitchen. Maybe this will motivate me further. He did this to fix a piece of tape that was coming up so it will be a few days of sanding and patching before painting takes place.

The good news is Tim did know where the paint was. I was just over looking it in the mess of the library. The primer was with it.

And for those of you wondering what that piece of furniture you can only see a corner of is...

It's and old cupboard out of one of the local schools. My mom's neighbor had it sitting outside the house with a free for the taking sign. I was going to use it in the downstairs bathroom as storage, but it's just the height where it hit exactly where the chair rail tile sticks out. So it would look a little funny. So instead I'm thinking of using it on one of the dining room walls. I can store some of my dishes in there. I have a few sets ;) and as you can see I'm quickly filling up the built-in cupboard.

So where did all of the stuff go...

The already packed library of course. Things will get better when the dining room is finished. The trim piled in the middle there is for the dining room, and under that trim is a table and four chairs.

15 October 2007

Blog Action Day 2007

Today, October 15th, people in the blogging community were called on to speak a bit about the environment as part of an effort to raise awareness, it's being called Blog Action Day.

I would love to say that I have undertaken some major project here at the farmhouse, but I can't. So instead I am going to pass on a cool article I read in our local electric company's news letter. It gives steps on how to do a do-it-yourself home energy audit. I haven't tried it myself yet, but I definitely plan to. I'm just holding out because there is a contest where you can win all of the tools they mentioned in the article (well, maybe not the dollar bill). I'm going to hold out for a month and keep my fingers crossed. Well that and I think I will become severely depressed if I try the incense trick. I don't need the incense, you can feel it blowing in and the cracks are VERY visible to the naked eye -sigh- But anyway... here's the link, check it out:

How to save energy with an incense stick, a flashlight and a dollar bill.

Also, for those of you who read in from the area and belong to the Butler County REC (like us) check out their Change a Light Campaign. Defiantly something we will take advantage of.

14 October 2007

Mystery A Brewing

Where's the paint?

Tim's folks were going to be busy today so we ended up staying home. Elsa, even though she is only 2 months old, has decided this ticks her off and is protesting by being VERY fussy today.

I did find the door knobs for the bathroom doors so they can be removed from the dining room. Then I started looking for the paint and primer which we bought sometime before Molly was born. Can you believe it's MI-nonA?

Maybe Tim will know where it is.

Hard to test a paint brush without paint or primer.

13 October 2007

The Paint Tool Arriveith

Need the back story? Check out yesterdays post.

The paint tool is here. And I am already developing issues with the paint job and the brush isn't even out of the box. You need a garden hose to clean it. This seems to be the major selling point of it. Tim is impressed. I opened the box and he said, "Cool, why don't I ever think of things like that."

So back to the garden hose. We don't actually have a "real" outside water hook up. That was on the list of things to do this summer. And since we didn't do much house-wise this summer it's not done.

Our current hose hook up situation right now is you have to attach it to the bottom of the water heater in the basement and then run the hose up through the basement doors. This is Tim's area of expertise. i.e. something Becky doesn't want to do because learning to do it will limit her ability to whine about there being no outside water hook up. Yes, I use ignorance as a weapon. Better that then -ahem- other things.

So again back to the garden hose. This is what I know if it. These pictures suck because I wasn't in the mood to trek around to the back of the house so I took them out windows. Sorry.

Here is a photo of the hose tangle on the scaffolding we built over the basement staircase to side the house.

This photo shows parts of a garden hose. I worry that the ones it the tangle have this same issue. I'm guessing here, but I thing Tim ran it over with the lawn mower. I was watching mow a couple weeks ago and saw him take out an extension cord. I don't know if it was plugged in or not. I didn't want to know. I really need to up the life insurance on him -sigh-

And in case you can't tell I'm not cleaning out the dining room. And it's definitely going to rain tonight/tomorrow so off to Grandma and Grandpa's (Molly's not ours) house we will go. I will clean Monday. I promise, just don't hold your breath.

12 October 2007

Oh My, What Have I Done!

Deep breaths. I need to take very deep breaths.

I have a problem. I have a weakness for free things. If you want to get me to purchase something. Put a "buy one, get one free" sign on it. It works every time. In fact, I will usually buy 5 or 10 or 27, even if it's something I never use. Ask Tim. He'll have multiple examples of specific products. It's one of those problems in our marriage.

So I signed myself up for a free paint tool over at Houseblogs. Figuring I need a little motivation to paint the dining room. We are still planning on having Christmas this year. This is a running joke with my family because we volunteered our hospitality back in 2003 and every year since have been canceling on them. However, we really need to get a move on because back in 2003 there were only 20 of us. This year there should be 25. Already two of my cousins are pregnant so that's a 27 count already for Christmas 2009. Soon our enormous house won't hold everyone and we'll have to rent out a pavilion.

The catch. And there always is one, is that it needs to be done by October 22.

So why freak out. It's just a little prime and paint. It will take a day at the most right? Well maybe pre-kids.

Here's the current dining room situation.

I figure Tim will be in the field this weekend so that gives me Saturday and Sunday to get it cleaned out in anticipation for the wonder tool. Stay tuned for what's likely to be a mess.

11 October 2007

Halloween Decorating

Last week instead of doing laundry like I should have I dug around in the closet up-stairs and found some fall and Halloween decorations. It's not much, I really need to get all crafty on the place ala Martha. I just keep telling myself next year when one is out of diapers and the other can motate on her own.

This painted oil can and the shingle in the top picture are done by this really cool artist from Minnesota. One of the shops in Osage carries her work, she paints on reclaimed items (there are some really cool old windows). I stopped in to the shop and asked if she had a website to share with you all, but the owner got a little nasty with me. I guess she thought I was trying to cheat her out of her commission. My mother-in-law is the one who bought these things for me and she has some cool pieces herself. I'll try to remember to take a camera next time we head north and I'll also see if she remembers the artist's name.

The lighted cat in the window isn't really my style, but Tim really likes it so I put it up. There was a bat one too, but it died.

These little ghosts were a surprise. I found them in a box separate from the rest of the decorations. Neither one of us can remember where they came from. I'm thinking we bought them while we lived in the house in Waverly to sit in the four porch windows.

So for the time being if I want to sit anything on my little plant stand (plants included) it has to be Molly-proof. This little trick or treating basket gives her a chance to practice for the big day. Now we just have to get her to say trick-or-treat.

There are three little bat candle holders in the center of the piano that are hard to see. My hope is next year we will be able to put them on the dining room table. The pumpkin is on it's last legs. You can't tell from the picture, but the stem is broken and it's pretty dented up. Plus, the little blinking light inside decided to die last year.

I don't think I like these leaves here. The looked really cool over the door at the house in Waverly, but I'm just not feeling it here. I tried them on the staircase, but they weren't long enough. I originally wanted to drape them from the kitchen light fixture, but got scared that I'd burn the place down. The fixture gets really hot and the leaves are cloth.

Last, but not least is the cool luminary we got from the Pottery Barn (that's where we got the bats on the piano too) during a sale. The only way it will ever be lit is if Tim does it with out my knowledge. It's made of wax so I'm afraid even though the candles inside are small they will still melt it. And I'm way to cheap to throw it away and buy another.

It's not much, but it's a start.

09 October 2007

Houseblogging With Children

Tim finally got Molly's birthday (May 6th) swing hung on the front porch.

A while ago I read an entry on a blog I enjoy reading that made me terribly uncomfortable and more than a little self conscious about the content of my site. It basically was a quick little comment at the end of a post about houseblogs that "devolve into garden or baby blogs." I don't think they meant to be mean, but it kind of hurt my sensitive post-baby hormonal feelings. I really wondered if there were a lot of others out there that felt the same way. I thought about creating another site, but I'm already not blogging as much as I should here what would splitting myself between two sites really accomplish?

So here is what I've decided. I will keep blogging here. There will be entries about my children and what I am working on landscaping wise. And this is why... I feel that the acreage and its look is important to the house. Our vision for this place when we bought it was so much more than just the house, and I think it is important to share all of it.

Also, our vision included living in the house with children. This house still bears marks of the girl who's parents built this house. I'm almost 99% sure that our children's bedroom was once hers. Our attic has her name and the names of friends written on a lower part of the ceiling during a play date. She is part of the house and someday my children will be too.

I like most owners of an old house am curious about the families that once lived here. Luckily I have been able to meet a few. I hope someday when another family owns this house they will be curious about me and my family, a kind of circle of life of an old house. I want to be able to show them how happy my family was here and wish them the same.

Life changes and therefore peoples blogs also evolve. It's not a bad thing. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

08 October 2007

Punch List Revisited

Back in 2006 I made punch lists to go along with my anniversary posts. Now I am setting up the nifty project tracker bars on Houseblogs so I need to revisit those lists. Would you care to join me? Note: It ain't gonna be pretty.


  • new roof -major leaks have been replaced
    install peak shingles
    touch up paint
    re-do north porch
    fill animal hole
    build stairs
    install trim work on porch bottoms -DONE, see post
    landscaping -started, see post, and post
    finish siding
    screen doors -two purchased and partially installed


  • refinish windows
    refinish doors
    clean up door hardware
    seal doors
    hang curtains -done


  • refinish window
    install door hardware
    hang curtain -done

Dining Room:

  • install trim
    fill nail holes
    refinish windows
    find swinging door hardware
    clean-up door hardware
    prime and paint
    refinish floor
    install light fixture
    hang curtains
    install outlets

Downstairs Bathroom:

  • install trim -done
    fill nail holes
    refinish window -done
    refinish doors -they are refinished, but not hung
  • clean up door hardware
    purchase and install light fixture
    install wall tile -just some touch-up work to do here
    install outlets


  • prime and paint stairwell
    install trim -about 75% finished
    fill nail holes
    seal window/build storm -ended up buying a storm
    clean up door hardware
    wall paper
    order door chimes
    refinish exterior door

Living Room:

  • install trim -done, see post
    fill nail holes
    seal windows/make storm -ended up buying a storm
    refinish exterior door
    clean-up door hardware
    wall paper -done, see post
    install light fixture

Master Bedroom:

  • fill nail holes
    refinish windows
    refinish doors
    clean-up door hardware
    touch up paint

Master Bathroom:

  • order curtain
    install missing trim
    fill nail holes
    refinish windows
    refinish door
    clean-up door hardware
    touch up paint
    attach shower plate

Laundry Room:

  • install missing trim
    fill nail holes
    refinish window
    refinish door
    clean-up door hardware
    touch up paint

The Girl's Room:

  • fill nail holes
    refinish windows
    refinish doors -all that is left is the closet door
    clean-up door hardware
    touch up paint
    install light in closet
    install outlets

Guest Bathroom:

  • install missing trim
    fill nail holes
    refinish window
    refinish door
    clean-up door hardware
    touch up paint
    fix shower head

Up-stairs Hallway:

  • refinish windows
    refinish doors
    clean-up door hardware
    install missing trim
    fill nail holes
    touch up paint
    install outlets
    install register

Guest Bedroom:

  • refinish window
    refinish doors
    clean-up door hardware
    install missing trim
    fill nail holes
    touch up paint
    install outlets

Hobby Room:

  • refinish window
    refinish doors
    clean-up door hardware
    install light fixture
    touch-up paint
    install outlets

Back Stairwell:

  • patch walls
    prime and paint
    install light fixtures
    install outlets
    install missing trim
    refinish stairs
    fill nail holes


  • refinish doors -all that's left is the exterior door
    clean-up door hardware
    install shelves
    install sink


  • install threshold plate -it is purchased
    hang curtain -DONE
    clean-up door hardware

And of course the past couple of years have added more projects to these lists. However, if you look at the big picture, compare what we've done with what we have left, like I have when doing my project tracker it doesn't seem quite as bad.

04 October 2007


My plan was to share these for the Autumn feature entry in Houseblogs, but didn't meet the deadline. Plus, it's not the greatest composition in the world. I was kind of in a hurry when I took it- hungry baby. Tim bought them this spring at Home Depot (I wanted nothing to do with them because I was a little leery of the quality of plant you purchase from said store). I might have to be a little more accepting of the big box store garden centers now because these puppies flourished. There isn't a square inch that isn't covered with flowers.

I love Martha Stewarts pages on how to care for particular plants (OK so I just love Martha Stewart all around). Here is her page on mums although I have to say I did nothing that she suggests. They pretty much got planted and watered every other day when it was dry.