Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Moat in the Front of Our House

Thank you, thank you for all of the lovely comments on my Photoshop 'look into the future' of the front of our house.  I am pretty pleased with the way my plan should look when I get finished.  (IF I get finished)

A few of you mentioned growing roses on the porch, or modifying the design by doing something closer to the house, and I realized that I should do a post to clarify the unusual  layout of the front of our house.  From the driveway, the place looks like any other house where the grade goes straight to the house ... but take a few steps toward the porch, and the situation becomes more apparent.

We have stairs on each side of our porch that lead to the area that we call 'The Moat".

The retaining wall you see here was probably built by the family who remodeled our house in the 1930s or 40s.  The grade of the land was changed significantly at that time, and it allows access to underneath the front porch ... you can walk straight under the porch from one side of the house to the other.  Sometimes, we call the porch "The Drawbridge".

When we bought the house, The Moat was mostly a swamp.  Rainwater tended to run toward the house and end up in the moat, not a good situation for a house with a basement.  To remedy the situation, we dug a trench, installed drain tile and a surface drain, added a second drain line to carry the water from the downspouts, raised the grade on the south side of our house, and now our basement is significantly drier.  The timbers you see between the house and the wall show how much we raised the grade on this side of the house to correct the drainage.

Our house originally had a typical English basement.  I have doctored this photo of the north corner of the house to show you where the original grade line was before the moat was installed so long ago.    These smaller windows are in our laundry room, and they are the only basement windows that are still their original size.  (When the moat was built, the openings for the other windows in the basement were enlarged.)

Now that you can (hopefully) see the challenges of our front yard, I think you can clearly understand the difficulties we have had to overcome in designing the landscaping for the front of our house.  Though I would LOVE to put a climbing rose on the porch (White Cap would be PERFECT!), there's no soil anywhere near the porch to plant it in.

In this photo, I have outlined the retaining wall in red.  See how these windows are significantly longer than the originals on the other side of the house? 

Here is the view of the planter and retaining wall, looking from the left side of the above photo toward the porch.  It shows the stepped-down far end of the planter and brick wall that is the side of our brick stairs on the front porch. 

Imagine boxwoods planted in that long, empty space.

What's planted in that bed lined with cobblestones that you see in the photo above, you ask?  Roses, of course!  Next year, when the roses have a bit more size, they will be trained to wire on the wall of the house.

The roses are:  1. Reve d'Or,  2. Marechal Niel,  3.  Perle d'Or,  4. Alister Stella Gray.  This bed also has clumps of heirloom iris and a row of peonies dug long ago from The Husband's grandfather's garden.  These peonies have moved with us FOUR times ... who says you can't move peonies?

So, the plan is set.  This morning, the ground is dry enough to dig, and I plan to be outside (as soon as I have a good breakfast) digging holes for our new boxwood bushes.  Once the boxwoods are planted, it will be time to address the blank grassy area between the planters and the driveway.  We already have a beautiful stone walkway ... but it needs SOMETHING ... put on your thinking caps and see if there's anything that you can suggest.

This is a stitched photo showing both sides of the front walkway. 

It's a beautiful day for digging some holes!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fiddling with Photoshop ... the Front of Our House

There were no cars parked in front of our house yesterday morning when I went out to check for hurricane damage.  (One of The Husband's things on his storm preparation list was to move our cars away from potential falling limbs, because we have large trees in our front yard.)  With no cars in the way, and the sun shining, I took the opportunity to get a really good, straight ahead photo of the front of our house ... then I came in and went to work with Photoshop to visualize my plans to improve our curb appeal.

This is the photo I took, showing the unedited truth of what our house looks like when we pull in the driveway.  It looks good ... but a bit bare.

Here is the imaginary 'after' photo ... showing boxwood bushes, my design for gingerbread for the front porch, and the new color of the front door.  (Highlighted words are links to previous posts)

It's a lot better, isn't it? 

As soon as the ground dries out enough for me to dig the holes for the new bushes, I will go to the nursery and pick them up  (The bushes are already paid for.  I tagged them and left them at the nursery until we were ready to plant them.)

It's going to take a while to make the actual house look like my rendering.  This has been quite a process ... and it's wonderful to finally see the results ... even if it only exists in Photoshop right now.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Good Morning, Morning After

Hurricane Irene has come and gone.  It rained, and it blew, and our house and our trees are relatively unaffected.  We lost power for a brief time at dinnertime last night ... very brief. 

The only damage I can find is to our front fence.

For those of you who haven't seen it in person, our fence posts are made of poured concrete and they are almost six feet high.  The fence was built in the mid-1950s, and it is a very prominent feature of the property. 

It looks like the earthquake on Tuesday compromised the posts, and the wind from yesterday's storm finished off this one.  I can see that it was hiding some damage ... cracks in the concrete had been letttng water in, which corroded the angle iron in the center of the post.  One big puff of wind, and over it went.

All of the pieces are here, so I think I can fix it.  Using adhesive and worm-drive band clamps, it should go back together like a big, heavy jigsaw puzzle.

Then, I will turn my attention to stabilizing the other damaged posts.  These cracks look pretty ominous.

I am incredibly thankful that this is all we have to deal with.  As I went to bed last night, I said a prayer for our trees ... our trees are my favorite feature of our property, and I worry about them more than just about anything.  No damage to them ... I am grateful.

So, all of our preparations were for naught ... thank goodness ... except for the cake.  German Chocolate Cake is the best thing to have while listening to the wind and rain outside.  It's also good for breakfast.  :)

Happy Sunday, Everyone.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Battening the Hatches

As of earlier this morning, we are on the dividing line between the Moderate and the Severe portions of the diagram that shows the probable course of Hurricane Irene as she makes her way north along a destructive path that only she knows.  In preparation, I spent the morning picking up and stowing anything outside that could potentially be thrown about and damaged by the tropical-storm-force winds expected to arrive here on Sunday.

My greenhouse is completely open to the weather right now.  I removed its plastic covering earlier this summer, hoping this would motivate me to complete its renovation before cold weather comes in late October.  (I haven't had a chance to do anything but work on the plans on paper as of now, but I'm still hopeful.)  It took quite a while this morning to dismantle and store all of the plants and supplies and tools inside ... including my set of stained glass windows.  I certainly don't want these to be damaged!

We are now about as prepared as we can be.  I have a little bit of shopping to do later today, and that should be the last thing we have to do.  The word around the blog world, according to Diane and Kat, is that an additional hurricane-supply necessity, along with the traditional flashlight, batteries, radio, candles, generator, etc., is CAKE.  We have a generator to use if we lose power, and it will run our well pump and enough outlets for the refrigerator and freezer ... and the TV and DVD player.  It would sure be great to have a piece cake while we watch movies.

I will be thinking about everyone in the Outer Banks (one of my very favorite vacation spots), and everywhere else along the path of this storm.

Be safe, Everyone.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Landscaping Decisions

The landscaping on the front of our house seems to have been a problem for most owners of our house.  In collecting photos, I found that it seems to run in a 20-30 year cycle.  There will be a photo with nicely manicured shrubs, followed years later by the same shrubs overgrown and dwarfing their allotted area, followed by a photo with nothing in front of the house.  (You can see some of this cycle in THIS POST, which follows the evolution of our house through photos.)

Currently, we are in the 'nothing' phase.  Our house is very symmetrical, and this is the one area of our property where I feel I should stick with a traditional landscaping plan.  The grade in our front yard drops off about three feet toward each side of the house, further complicating landscaping decisions.  We had brick and stone planters built in 2007 to help visually level the area and to keep whatever we plant in better scale with the facade of the house.

This part of the property is the only area where I feel the need to conform to a more conventional design.  To me, old houses need boxwood and that's what I had my heart set on.  After researching various types of boxwood, from traditional English boxwood, to American boxwood, to some of the more modern cultivars ... and I settled on Green Mountain boxwood.  It resembles American box, without the perskickety nature.  It is tolerant of a wide variety of conditions and is resistant to many of the boxwood pests.

I loaded Daniel up yesterday, and he and I headed to Roxbury Mills nursery in downtown Fredericksburg to buy our bushes.  They had eight beautiful ones in stock, and eight is exactly what we need, and I didn't want to let them slip away.  We paid for them, and put SOLD tags on them, and I will pick them up in a few weeks once the hot summer weather is behind us and planting conditions moderate a bit.  (The pots in the front of the house in the first photo are there to try out spacing to decide where the bushes should be planted.)

This is one more step toward making the front of our house a feature, instead of a work-in-progress.  It's about time.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shake, Rattle, and Roll

Yesterday afternoon, just before 2:00, I was upstairs in the sewing room minding my own business ... sitting on the floor cutting strips of fabric to make cording for the daybed I'm upholstering.  All of the sudden, the house began to shake.  This was violent shaking, unlike anything I have felt here (or anywhere else we have lived, including California).  It took a moment to realize that the shaking was an earthquake.

The Husbands paintings-in-progress fell behind the mantel.

We have earthquakes in Virginia from time to time, but they are usually the type that tickle your feet, sway the chandelier, and provide a moment of, "Was that an earthquake?"  The one we experienced yesterday was unmistakable, and historic.

Plaster chips on the floor ... a tell-tale sign that the crack between the old part of our house and the addition had moved a bit.

The folks on the news said that this is the strongest earthquake that we have had in Virginia since 1897, 114 years ago.  This means that our old manor (built in 1848) has been through this at least once before ... and she appears to have come through it again with minimal damage.

This crack is on the north wall of my sewing room.

We have a few new cracks in our walls.  My sewing room, on the upper northwest corner of the house, seems to have the worst ones ... and they aren't all that bad.  Some of our existing cracks (all old houses have cracks) are a bit longer than they were before the quake.  Cupboard doors rattled open, and some of the contents hit the floor ... nothing significant.  Our daughter was shopping at Marshall's when the quake hit, and she said that the contents of the shelves in their back room fell onto the floor.

Some mortar shook loose from the eaves of the back of our house ... the lower window is the sewing room, and the upper window is in the attic ... and the chunks landed on the deck below.

... along with what looks like ancient bat droppings.  Eewww!

All things considered, we came through a scary situation very successfully.  From what I saw on the news last night, there are people who aren't as lucky as we are.  No injuries that I know of, so that's a blessing.  School was supposed to start for our grandson today, but it's been delayed till tomorrow so officials can inspect the school buildings. 

Now we can all ask each other ... Where were YOU during the East Coast Earthquake of 2011?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Helpful Kitties

While I was working in the sewing room yesterday, upholstering a fantastic daybed that I will show you when it's finished, Alice came in and made herself right at home in the middle of what I was doing. 

I love this about cats.  They come in to remind us that life is not always about work and accomplishments ... sometimes one has to stop and appreciate the cuteness in life.

There's a whole lot of cute in this little furry package!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Have You Noticed?

It's been sitting over there on the right, at the top of my sidebar, for a month now ... and no one has said anything about it.  Did you see it?

One of our special guests at the "Take a Bite Out of Canine Cancer" benefit in November will be Victoria Stilwell!

I first saw Victoria Stilwell on TV when she was a judge on CBS's program "The Greatest American Dog".  Normally, I wouldn't watch a show like this, but Laurie Williams, a local woman I know, was competing with her dog, Andrew, and I wanted to support the 'home team'.  (Laurie and Andrew ended up coming in second.)  I saw that Victoria was harsh, but practical, positive, and fair, and I became a bit of a fan.

You have probably seen Victoria on her Animal Planet show, "It's Me or the Dog", where she assesses families and problem dogs and offers training and solutions.  What I like about her is that she cuts to the heart of the problem and focuses her 'training' on the humans, teaching them how to positively encourage their dog(s) to become polite members of the family.

For our event, Victoria will be the featured speaker at our Satuday evening dessert party (the signature activity at our event!)  We are incredibly excited to have her! 

This was yesterday afternoon's planning meeting, held at my house in our pavilion ... because it was such a nice afternoon ... until we were run inside by the threat of a severe thunderstorm.  In this photo, bottom to top, you see Windsor, Derby, Daniel, Mercedes, and TJ.

"Take a Bite Out of Canine Cancer" is a dog-friendly event open to all dog lovers and all breeds of dogs ... leashed, well-socialized dogs are welcome at all activities for this 2-day event.

Here are the details:

"Take a Bite Out of Canine Cancer"
November 12 - 13, 2011
Fredericksburg Hospitality House Hotel and Conference Center
Fredericksburg, Virginia

Tickets are $85 per person, which includes admission to the entire weekend worth of activities. 
(It's a bargain, trust me.)
For out-of-town guests, our group rate at the event hotel is $79 per night.

Details of activities, registration form, hotel info, and FAQ are all on our web site.

We are now less than 90 days out, and our plans and schedule are almost finished.  This is our 6th year of doing this, and every year our event gets better and better (in my most humble opinion).  It's a ton of work for our very dedicated and tireless small group of volunteers, and we all do it because of our love for dogs.

In response to comments, I am editing this to add:  We have a page on our web site where anyone can make donations.  You can donate by check or via PayPal.  (Click HERE to go to the donation page)  We are also registered with iGive. You can do your online shopping through iGive, designate Greyhounds Rock as your beneficiary, and we will receive a percentage of your purchase.  Donations of items or services to be used in our fundraising efforts are also gratefully accepted.

Every little bit helps.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rose Propagation Burritos ... Update #2

This post is for those of you who have been waiting for an update on how things have been proceeding with propagating rose cuttings by starting them in newspaper packets.  The results aren't all that great so far.

 In THIS post, I showed how 11 of 14 cuttings of the climber 'Pink Pillar' had calloused and were almost to the point of producing roots after spending two weeks wrapped in newspaper in my cool basement.  After transferring the cuttings into pots and putting them on the mist bench in my greenhouse, though things looked like success was inevitable, every single cutting died.

 Not to be discouraged, I decided to try this method of propagation on a tea rose, Comtesse Riza du Parc.  Teas form roots fairly easily, so it seemed like a good candidate to give it another go.

This is 'Comtesse Riza du Parc' ... isn't she lovely?

The cuttings shown below were taken on August 6.  I scored the side of each cutting, dipped it in Hormodin #2 rooting hormone, wrapped the bundle of cuttings in damp newspaper, wrapped the newspaper packet in Saran Wrap, and put it in a cool spot in my basement.  Today, I unwrapped the cuttings and found this:

Five of the cuttings have calloused nicely, and two of these have little root sprouts. One of the cuttings is brown on the end and I threw it away.  I have potted the five calloused cuttings into small pots and put them on my mist bench and I hope like crazy that they will grow roots. 

I will let you know how they do.

(Final update ... every single one of these cuttings died shortly after being planted.  My percentage of success with newspaper wrapped cuttings is exactly ZERO.  This may work for other folks in different areas of the country, but it does NOT work for me and I will no longer use it or recommend it.)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Playing Hookey

I was supposed to have spent yesterday afternoon getting ready to host a garden club picnic this afternoon.  Instead, I went with The Husband to Manassas to mow his mother's lawn (and I picked up Emma's prescription refill while I was there.)

While we were on our way home, a friend called.  She had been given complimentary tickets to the evening's Barenaked Ladies concert ... you know the rest of the story.

We rushed home, changed clothes, fed the dogs, and grabbed a bite for dinner for ourselves on the way.

We had so much fun!!!

The opening act was a band called "Jukebox the Ghost", three young men from Philadelphia, and they are fabulous!  Anyone who can work the word "tangentially" into stage banter can count me among their fans.  Barenaked Ladies was also wonderful, and I can guarantee that I will be humming their songs for days and days.

Anyway .....

Because I played hookey yesterday, I have to get moving and finish preparing for the arrival of my guests. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Two More Barn Paintings

Ed King came back yesterday afternoon to paint again.  He captured the barn from a slightly different angle this time, and he included my garden of English roses in the composition ... not that you can tell that they're roses, you understand.

Michael Dean, another artist that we know, came by to paint in the afternoon ... just as Ed was leaving.  Michael's style is totally different from Ed's.  Ed's paintings have a distinctly impressionistic style to them, while Michael's work is bolder and much more expressionistic. 

This photo doesn't show Michael's painting well ... it is wonderful and incredibly lively in person.

I met Michael years ago when he was recommended by a friend to restore the plaster in this old place ... In addition to being an artist, Michael is a preservationist plasterer who does things the old school way (meaning the CORRECT way, with lime/sand/horsehair ) and he thoroughly understands how an old building works.  He was here working on our plaster twice, once upstairs and once downstairs, each time for about a month.  He left town for a few years, pursuing his dream of a studio in New Mexico ... but he's back now and it was great to see him and reconnect.

(If you're local and you want to see artists like this in person, and you want to support a great cause in the process, stay tuned for details of the Hartwood open air art festival, which will be held here on September 17, 2011.)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rose Field Reality

We had a bit of a misunderstanding in our communication with the landscaper that was here on Monday clearing weeds from the Rose Field.

The sun rising this morning, on a whole new situation.

The price we thought we were paying per hour for the whole crew of three workers was actually the price he was quoting for ONE person ... which means that Monday actually cost us three times what we thought it did. This is highway robbery and we would never have agreed to this price if we had understood the full amount. 

The landscaper didn't make his terms clear, and we didn't ask him to be more specific.  We accepted his oral quote on good recommendation from someone we trust ... not knowing that it would bite us in the butt like this.  We will be calling him later today to see if we can get the price reduced.  Needless to say, this man will NOT be working here again ... my pockets are not that deep.  In fact, my pockets are pretty nearly empty at this point.

Lesson learned:  Get a written quote from now on.  I usually do this, but I made an exception in this case.  Never again!

Now I have to get busy and clear my own weeds.

Anyone interested in a work party?  I'll feed ya.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rose Field Reclaimation

If you have visited here this year, you have seen that the Rose Field is in a dreadful state.  A perfect combination of unfortunate circumstances came together to turn my beautiful garden into a weed field that is not to be believed.  Rather than dwell on what happened to get it into this sorry state, I am looking forward and working toward reclaiming it as a garden.

The rain we had this past weekend softened the ground and made conditons perfect for some serious weed pulling.  A crew of three landscapers arrived bright and early Monday morning and they got to work. 

Their objective was to see how far they could get in one day, pulling the majority of the large weeds, and clearing the paths.

By the end of the day, they had cleared seven rows!  I only had the crew for the one day, because they had another job for the rest of this week ... they will be back soon, when conditions are right, to keep going.

It is now up to me to kill the remaining small weeds in the cleared area.  Surgical use of herbicide is the most effective way to accomplish this.

So far this morning, I have carefully sprayed three gallons onto the paths and underneath the roses in five and a half of the seven rows that are cleared.  As soon as I finish here, I will go back out and spray some more.  Now that I have the upper hand, I want it to stay that way.

Tomorrow, we will return to our August Break, publishing one photo per day.  I took a 'vacation' today, because I'm so pleased with what has been accomplished in the Rose Field this week.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Tabletop Snapshot of Life Around Here

On Sunday morning, I made myself a late breakfast of eggs and an English muffin, on my NEW STOVE, and I ate while reading a chapter in my newest thrift shop book (The American Heritage History of Notable American Houses).  Yes, I read history and architecture books for fun ... the chapter on Gothic Revival was fascinating.

After I had finished eating, and while I was still reading and drinking my coffee, Dorothy jumped onto the table and laid down to share some 'Mommy-time'. 

When I looked at this photo later, I realized that it's a perfect snapshot of life around here.  It shows my Johnson Brothers 'Rose Chintz' dishes on our worn dining room tabletop, a good book, and a happy cat.

With all of the chaos that we have going on around here most of the time, I am trying really hard to relax a bit and notice the little things that happen here every day.  The format of this August Break, where I publish one photo per day, is forcing me to do this ... and I am grateful for it.

I have Rose Field progress to show you tomorrow!!!


Monday, August 15, 2011

Take Better Photos ... Turn Off Your Flash

I worked outside for a little while yesterday morning, on a project for the sewing room that I will show you soon.  After lunch, the sky was threatening to storm again, so I changed gears and came inside to rearrange and organize the sewing room a bit. 

Alice followed me, as she always does when I go into this room.  She usually begins by winding around my feet begging to be picked up.  After a suitable amount of hugging, I put her down, and she finds a cozy spot to relax and watch what I'm doing.  Yesterday, her spot was on top of some needlepoint in one of the cubbies of my wall unit.

She looked perfectly content and posed in there ... very photo worthy.  My little camera was in my pocket (you already knew that, didn't you), so I pulled it out and snapped a quick photo.  I didn't realize that the flash was turned on, and this was what I got ... a perfect example to show you why you should NOT be shooting direct flash if you want to get a good photo.

with flash

The most obvious problem is that Alice's eyes are electric, glowing yellow ... as the flash reflects through her pupils and illuminates the inside of her eyes.  The flash makes everything in this photo bright and harsh.

I quickly turned off the flash, and snapped another photo.

without flash

Isn't this one a lot better? 

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit to a small amount of editing to both of these photos using PhotoShop.  On both photos, I adjusted the levels to moderate the shadows, and I did a tiny bit of color correcting because my camera makes photos a bit too blue for my eye.  (Sliding the color balance 5-10% toward the yellow usually fixes this perfectly.)  I sized the photos to 640 pixels on the long side, and I sharpened them ... like I do with all the photos I publish.  Nothing to radically alter them, just enough so they display well on a monitor.

The next time you're taking photos inside, turn off your flash and see what you get.  You may need to use a tripod to keep your camera steady for the slower shutter speeds necessary in lower light, but I can practically guarantee that you will be happier with your photos.

If you try this, be sure to let me know how it works for you.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Laugh While in Traffic

I saw this bumper sticker yesterday while I was sitting at a traffic light.  I just had to share.

Yes, folks, those are rain drops on that truck.  It rained off and on yesterday ...  showers and storms, from early afternoon until after dark.  It's raining now, and there is more coming.  The garden, and the gardener, are smiling.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Greyhound Rescue ... While You Were Sleeping

I rolled out of bed this morning at 4:00.  The van from Florida, filled with ten greyhounds, was arriving in Ashland at 5:30, and I had to be there before then.  Ashland is an hour from here, so I gave myself enough time to get dressed, brush my teeth, and stop to get coffee on my way to I-95.

My part of this haul was to get two of the greyhounds and bring them back to Fredericksburg to meet volunteers who were taking them on to Maryland.  Two greyhounds in a transport is a lot like taking my own two for a ride ... The Husband and I are accustomed to hauling many more when we make trips like this.  I didn't need help handling only two dogs, so I went by myself this time and I let him sleep.

My passengers this morning were:

Chewey ...

and Alice.

No matter how many times I do this, I always get a great feeling of satisfaction and pride in helping these beauties along their journey to their new, forever homes. 

Want to learn more about transporting greyhounds along the Greyhound Underground Railroad?  Click HERE to see a more detailed post from last year.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Shhhh ... Artist at Work

We were visited yesterday by Ed King, a local artist that The Husband knows.  Ed paints in a fantastic, Impressionistic style ... and I love just about everything he does. 

On this trip, he brought his paints and brushes, and his camera.  After he wandered around the property taking photos for future paintings, and filling two memory cards in the process, Ed set to work on the most wonderful painting of our barn.

While Ed was working, The Husband came inside and said, "You're going to want the painting that Ed's doing."

We settled on a price, and it's now mine.

I love it!!

Ed loves to paint outside (known as Plein Air) ... he will be back either tomorrow or Sunday to paint some more.  It's amazing to watch an artist at work, making art out of scenery that I see every day.  I sort of hope that I don't like his next paintings, because my budget can't take the hit.

I wonder what he'll come up with next.

Ed King exhibits at Art First, a gallery in downtown Fredericksburg, and has two shows currently running ... one at Castiglia's  and another at Sarah Irby's Gallery in Studio A (1011A Princess Anne St).

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Your Morning Dose of Cuteness

As I walked into the family room the other day, Alice and Dorothy were sleeping together in their spot on the couch ... as usual.  They turned to look at me, and this is what I saw.

Next week, it will be a year since these little babies came to live with us.  (I wonder when I will stop thinking of them as babies?)  Time sure flies!

Adding kittens to our household certainly livened things up.  I recommend it for everyone who needs a little lift.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cookin' With Gas!

The building inspector was here on Monday morning to give his blessing to the rough-in gas lines and tank installation for our new stove.  Yesterday afternoon, the guys from the propane company came to hook up everything and slide the stove into place. 

I love it when a plan comes together!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Porch Progress

Last weekend, my friend Kim gave me a cardboard tracing of the brackets from the West Virginia porch that I fell in love with this spring.  This morning, I tidied up the tracing and cut two facsimile brackets out of posterboard and taped them in place to see how they look.

I think that we are DEFINITELY on the right track.  The design needs a little tweak here and there, but the scale of the brackets is perfect for our porch.

What do YOU think?

If you want to see how the porch design has progressed to this point, click HERE, and HERE, for previous posts.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Welcome to Hartwood Manor ... Our Foyer.

This photo of our foyer and staircase is from a real estate brochure when our house was for sale in the 1970s.  It gives our 1840s house a distinctive 1970s vibe.  Things have certainly changed a lot since then.

Last September, I did a very comprehensive Before and After post about our foyer.  Click HERE to go to this post ... to see what things looked like when we bought this place in 2002, and to see where we are today with the renovation and restoration.

It's fun and motivating to see how different the Befores and Afters can be.  It will be even better once this is finished .... whenever that is.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Snapshot ... Treasure Hunting in the Shade Garden

I was such a good girl yesterday!  I went out early, before it got too hot and miserable, and I planted three boxwoods, four hellebores, and an Exbury azalea in my shade garden.  (Are you surprised to learn that I grow more than roses?)  Whenever I dig in this garden, I always have to keep an eye out for buried treasure.

It's like this at many old houses.  Previous owners of our house have used this spot to bury trash.  It's not concentrated in a single area, like a privy, but spread out over most of one side of my shade bed.  (One day, it took me over an hour to plant one hosta because I had hit a particularly rich spot and I was unearthing nails and broken china.)

This time, most of the 'treasure' was glass, but there were a few odd items mixed in.  In the above photo, which reminds me of a page from one of those "I Spy" books, you will find:

Green glass
Blue Glass
Milk Glass
Beveled Glass
An old purse frame
The handle from an iron skillet
Stoneware shards
Two different patterns of transferware
Most of the pieces of a broken bottle
A nail
and an aluminum Jello mold.

I keep all this stuff, and I store it in two Costo-sized plastic biscotti jars.  It was trash to someone, but it's treasure to me.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hanging With My Sister

This is what my sister does on the weekends for fun ...

Dog agility ... and she's really good at it.  She and her Border Collie, Jackson, have been competing for a long time (he just turned 9) and they have qualified for Nationals two or three times.  Jackson is perfection in motion when he and my sister are running a course. 

Three-year-old Roxanne (Sheltie) is coming up the ranks, and she is a bit more opinionated than her brother.  In this video I shot of Roxanne running the course yesterday morning, listen to her telling my sister the way SHE thought things should be done.  (Roxanne refused the second obstacle, choosing a different one that was better to her liking, and the rest of the run was for training because she was disqualified.)

After her run, I told my sister, "Roxanne sure looked like she was having fun."  My sister just shook her head.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Dear Mr. County Building Inspector,

You didn't show up yesterday like you were supposed to.  We must have your seal of approval on the gas company's lines and installation before my beautiful new stove can be slid into its spot in the kitchen.

The crew from Lowes delivered the stove yesterday afternoon, and put it in the dining room.  (One of the guys was borderline-phobia afraid of cats.  I had to lock Alice and the gang away to calm his nerves.)

We will be maneuvering around a large stove in our dining room until next week.  That's the soonest we could manage to get things scheduled, because of the inspector's no show.  Thank goodness I still have my electric range in place until then.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Gas Man Cometh

Last month, I told you that we are installing propane for the new, beautiful, not-here-yet-gosh-darn-it stove in our kitchen.  This plan also includes a new propane tank for the greenhouse ... which is undergoing a bit of a renovation.

This 100-gallon tank means that we will no longer have to drag our 25-gallon tank to the gas place every 3 weeks to be refilled.  No more stressful monitoring of the greenhouse temperature as cold winter temps drag on and on, worrying about running out of gas.  The gas company will fill this baby on a regular schedule and I can sleep peacefully.

What about the tank for the house?  More on that tomorrow.

I'm participating in The August Break 2011.  I will post a photo a day in August, with or without words (you KNOW that I HAVE to have words ... I'm too chatty to go wordless.)  Let's see how far I get into the month before I bust out and break the rules.  :)
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