Wow! What an Improvement!

During my Mardi Gras vacation, I decided to paint the living areas of the bungalow we recently purchased.  Gone is the garish orange and the brilliant green.  In its place is a neutral, light green called Timothy Straw by Glidden.   By painting both connecting spaces the same color, it makes the space look bigger and less like a fun house.  The room you can see through the swinging door, which is another bright shade of orange, will be painted the same color.  The hall, which you can see from the living areas, will be painted Cream Tan, which is also by Glidden and on the lighter side of the same paint chip as Timothy Straw.


Living Room and entryway

Living Room and entryway


bungalow living room

Once we refinish the floor and put down a baseboard shoe, I am going to repaint the trim in a white oil based paint.  Right now it is painted with a flat wall paint!  So, every time you touch it, it gets smudged.  Who would paint their trim in flat paint?  Insane!  I wish I had the time to strip the paint off of all of it.  There is a small chip missing on one of the columns and underneath all 3-4 layers of paint, the trim boasts of beautiful wood.  If I were going to live there, I would take the time and scrape all of the paint off.  However, I have enough paint stripping projects in my own house to contend with.  For the time being, it will get painted and if someone buys the house from us in the future, I will let the paint stripping become their headache.  Right now, I just have to get the thing back in good condition (New HVAC, new windows…most of them are broken or cracked….new appliances, floors refinished, new light fixtures, etc.) so we can rent it out without having to make two house payments! 

This color turned out so well, I can’t wait to get the rest of the house painted!  😀


The Fun House

(Not to be confused with our home, this is the bungalow next door that we purchased last week)

Living Room and entryway

Living Room and entryway

I use the word “fun” very humorously and saracastically.  Besides the “fun house” color scheme, there is nothing “fun” about this house!  The good thing is, it is in a LOT better condition than the other bungalow we purchased.  It took us nine months to return that house to a habitable state (this one is dubbed the “Little House” by our daughter).  This particular house (we shall name it the “Fun House”), was remodeled right before it was bought in May 2006.  The new owner made only three to four payments before he defaulted on it around late 2006.  On my way to work, I would notice now and again, things missing.  The blinds, a window screen, the flower pots, etc.  On my lunch hour one day, I caught a guy taking things in broad daylight.  He was cleaning the shed out.  He backed up his van and was loading flowerpots and other knick knack things that were housed in the shed.  I called the police.  By the time the cop got their, the other man was gone.  I gave her the license plate and told her that the man just left.  She said she saw him backed up to the house, but that he wasn’t taking anything real important, so she wasn’t really worried about it.  Besides (she said), I know him, he is harmless.  I stood there shocked!  He was stealing…….stealing IS stealing!  Since he was able to do it in broad daylight and the cops not stop him, that led to others coming in and taking what they wanted.  Anyway….we own the house now.  It is all shored up.  When I have the electricity turned on Monday, I will make sure the alarm is reset, have motion lights installed  and that will ensure that no one bothers this poor little house anymore.  I have not had any problems living in my house.  It seems that people will leave houses alone they know are occupied.  However, if they get wind that a house is abandoned or foreclosed upon, they come by looking to see what they can salvage.  But, even the richest neighborhoods are not immune to these happenings. 

Here are some pictures I took this weekend of the Fun House.  Besides a new paint scheme, it is in great condition and has beautiful columns and arches in the living areas.  I can’t wait to refinish the floors and have this little lady gleaming again.  I already have the paint scheme picked out!  The living room, entryway and dining room will all be painted “Timothy Straw” by Glidden, and the hall will be painted one lighter on that chip, “Cream Tan”.  The bedrooms will be painted a “Bone White” by Benjamin Moore and the back bedroom will be painted “Weekend Getaway” by Benjamin Moore and since the bedroom opens into the kitchen (Yes, strange I know), it will be painted a lighter shade on that weekend getaway card, a color by the name of “Aganthus Green” also by Benjamin Moore.  The bathroom will sport “Stratton Blue” by Benjamin Moore and the half bath (If I can talk my husband into it) will be painted a very nice “Spicy Cayenne” by Behr. 

94 color palette

The Benjamin Moore store is able to mix anyone’s paint colors.  I will probably take all of these chips to them and let them mix it.  I love Benjamin Moore’s second tier “contractor” paint.  It is of a much better quality than Behr and it rolls on so nice and smooth.  It has less of an odor than Behr paint too.  Even nicer are Benjamin Moore’s premium paints, but I hate spending so much money on premium when the second tier paints are of a better quality than what you can get at Home Depot or Lowes anyway.

Here is a Lowes Color pallette:

Lowes color pallette 94

 I guess I need to give my paint contractor a call. I am sure you all know her. She also happens to be my daughter. I guess a visit to Chuck-e-Cheese will be in my near future 🙂

employee viv

Wish us happy painting!


We shape our buildings…

…thereafter, they shape us.”  Winston Churchill


This is so true.  In about 20-30 years, a lot of the McMansions being built today, full of plastic doors and cheap stuff, will be run down eyesores begging to be torn down.  They just don’t build houses like they used to.  I am proud to live in my one hundred year home that was built by the last owner of the Kent Plantation, Sally Hynson-Ringold, and to own another significant older home right next to me.  I am happy to announce that this coming Tuesday, we will become the proud owners of a third piece of Alexandria’ history.  I am very excited about our purchase and am glad to aid this older, once grand, neighborhood and have hopes and visions that it can be returned to its former glory.

This lady is doing it, why can’t we?  And this group: Save the Bungalows 


Projects – 2008 in Review

I was sitting around trying to think about what we did all year.  It seems like 2008 was a slow year for us as far as the DIY scene was concerned.  In the early part of the year, around March, we spent a lot of time getting construction bids and filling out mountains of paperwork for our construction loan, only for the subprime mortgage crisis to hit and, in the end, we ended up scratching the whole deal.  I had to go back through my pictures to see what exactly we DID accomplish this year.  I was glad to find proof that our year was not wasted.  Here is a pictorial review of our year:


Finished the rent house (Hallelujah!) and took our three year old employee to Chuck-E-Cheese.  Hey, we had to pay her somehow for all that painting she did!

chuck e cheese

employee viv


We celebrated our five year anniversary

anniversary flowers


My birthday!  Ahem….anyway.  In 8 hours, I cleaned, primed and put two coats of paint on the living room walls.  It wouldn’t have taken me 8 hours normally except that I: 1) painted alone; 2) pushed a very heavy 10 foot ladder around the room 8 times while I painted the middle and top of the room …twice! I have 13 feet ceilings.  [is it 13 foot, or 13 feet?]

living room bay

fireplace living room

lr bay

lr fireplace


In April, I redid an ugly 80’s dresser for Vivian’s room and, for storage, we revamped an old shelf my brother made many years ago by adding crown moulding to it and painting it.

Vivian's dresser

old shelf

shelf finished


We took down the ugly drop ceiling in the attic.   We also painted the Master Bedroom.

drop ceiling

master bedroom before

master bedroom in progress


I sanded, repainted and recovered an old chair I bought for $5.00 at a junk store.  I also managed to tick off the entire Ratcliff family and get called a potstirrer.   Hahaha….that’s definitely a new one for me!

old chair

chair finished


I started this blog. Yay!  I pulled a metal tray on wheels out of the garbage and remade it into a plant stand for my porch.  Click here for the details and pictures.  Even my husband could not believe I wanted something this ugly.  But it turned out well.

My new plant stand

My new plant stand


We went to the Philippines.  What a life changing experience!  Click here to see more photos of the trip.  In case you cannot figure out who I am, I am the very white girl in the middle!




Vivian’s Birthday.   Hurricane Gustav hit Cenla.  That was very interesting.  It took us about a month to recover and get all of the debris cleared and everything back to normal.  I can’t complain though, we did not endure anything like New Orleans did.  Click the link above to see pictures of that fun.


Was definitely not a project month.  I was caught up watching the media and reading the news regarding  local and national politics.  I did get a call from the Louisiana Historic Preservation Office in Baton Rouge telling me that they want to put my street on the National Register.  Which reminds me…..I need to give her a call.  That nomination is supposed to be sent to Washington in April.  I am definitely going to help make sure that happens!




I repainted and reappointed the guest room and stripped a fireplace mantel.

Spare room before

Spare room - almost done


We worked on the attic/loft area so we can add another bathroom upstairs.  Steven put up two porch lights in the back.  Steven stripped a door and a transom down to the bare wood.  We also stripped some paint in the hall that was caked on to the wainscoting.  Click here for December’s project pictures.

I guess all in all it was not a bad year.  We did not get as much as we wanted accomplished.  We didn’t nearly come close to the amount of work we did in 2007.  Oh well, put it on the list!  It will get done eventually!


Another Bungalow


Well, if everything goes well, we will be the proud owners of our 3rd house.  Yes, I did say 3rd.  Its ok.  I am used to repeating myself.  Most people think they have heard me wrong.  They just can’t believe that I willingly bought and currently live in a hundred year old house, am a historic preservation nerd, am a bit of an oddity and own three houses in the same area.  Their stares and looks of disbelief do not deter me though.  They don’t have to live my life…I do!  And I am enjoying every minute of it.  To be cookie cutter is boring.  To let society dictate who, what or where I  “should” be, do, buy or live is completely unimaginative.

So, by the end of the month we will own the bungalow directly behind us.  We already own the other one on the other side.  Whew!  That is a whole ‘nother blog right there!  We bought the house we currently live in (you can see from the pictures how much work we had/still have on our plate) and then about four months later bought the bungalow next door.  In order to turn the property around and either sell it or get a renter moved in, we spent nine months gutting, undoing the ugly, painting, cleaning, more gutting… was just awful!  It was like birthing a child.  I will have to start a page for the pics and stories of that redo.

Yup, and we are asking for it again!  The bungalow on the other side of us was foreclosed on and has been abandoned for two years now.  I did a walk through of it and it is not in as bad of shape as our first bungalow.   Two years ago, a man bought it, completely remodeled it, made four payments on it and left.  Pulling back the carpet reveals beautiful hardwood floors and the walls are in great condition.  It has a few missing light fixtures and some windows need to be replaced, but it STILL is in better shape than our first project.

I am hoping to get it fixed up and rented out. I never really did want to become a landlord, but since the house market is shaky right now, I don’t see selling these two houses anytime soon.  Its ok though.  Since they are on either side of my house, I can control who my neighbors are.  The other reason I am not sure about selling is, if these properties for some reason are either defaulted on or the people die and their kids inherit, I might be right back in the same spot I was in when I bought them….empty houses next to me tied up in a legal mess.  So, we will probably just hang on to them.


Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.

Cesar Chavez
American, Activist Quotes
more famous quotes




This Tuesday, I was awakened by the sound of lawn equipment.  I went outside and the nice man who comes and cuts my lawn twice a month, came by to make sure the yard was nice for Thanksgiving.  That was so nice of him.  We asked him to start cutting our yard at least twice a month.  Steven sometimes works long hours and can’t get to it.  I am not allowed to cut the yard (see my previous posts about incidents with me and tools) so in order to keep the yard nice and the city code enforcement at bay, we decided to hire it out.  Usually the man brings his children and his littlest daughter comes in to play with my daughter.  Here is a picture of them on the porch racing.  Both completely decked out with “Princess” sunglasses and all.


Alexandria’s West End

My family and I have lived in our Monroe Street home for two years now.  During this time I have listened, learned, met with neighbors and tried to figure out exactly what it is I could do that would help make my neighborhood better.  I looked at other’s failed plans and, although they were good, they all seemed to lack the “How to get it done” part.  It seems like everyone was waiting on someone else or, maybe the city, to wave a magic wand over this blighted area and it magically reincarnate into a beautiful thriving community.  Unfortunately, this has not happened yet.  I am sure if it were within their power to do so, Mayor Roy or other city leaders would have waved a magic wand in a heartbeat.  However, I do not believe “Wizardry 101” was a required course during their years of college education. 🙂

So, that left me puzzled and full of questions.  I am not arrogant enough to think that I can conquer where others have failed…but why did they fail?  Part of the conclusion I have drawn is: I believe that many people complain but don’t ever offer a solution or offer any personal involvement to tackle the issue.  Many people complain about nothing getting done, but when someone stands up to do something, they attack them too.  That leads me to conclude that certain people just like to complain and it doesn’t matter what the issue is, they’ll never be happy!  There is a certain lady (she no longer lives here) who was also very passionate about a variety of issues.  But, when she approached city leaders and the council, she told them: “You are of no use, you have never helped us and you never will.”  Well then, she had already help defeat her own argument.  This reminds me of a joke, it goes something like this:

There was a man who ran out of gas and broke down on the side of the road in a rural area.  He knew there was a gas station close by, but he didn’t quite make it.  He got out of his car and looked around to see if there was a house nearby so he could borrow a gas can.  Through the woods he could make out the glow of a porch light.  So he started walking towards the house.  He said to himself: “Hmm, what if they’re not home.  I bet they are all sleeping.  They will probably be really mad at me for waking them up in the middle of the night.  I bet they are going to be mad.  All I need is a gas can.”  He kept walking and as he got closer he kept getting more and more nervous and upset. “Yup, they probably will tell me to go away.  I bet they won’t even have a gas can and if they did, they probably won’t let me use it.”  So, he got to the house and knocked on the door and when the door opened the man shouted “KEEP YOUR OLD GAS CAN, I DIDN’T NEED IT ANYWAY!” and stormed off.

The man in this story borrowed trouble and defeated himself before he could even get out the gate.  Since living on Monroe Street, several people have told me “the city won’t do this, the city won’t do that” so I decided to give their theory a try.  When I saw a code enforcement violation, I called code enforcement.  Surprisingly, code enforcement (most of the time) took care of it.  When I see a street light out, I call or send an email to First Call, the utilities division comes right out and fixes the lamps.  I have reported fighting in the street, the police department promptly shows up and takes care of it.  So far, I have proved all of the “that will never happen” folks wrong.  It seems they defeated themselves in their minds and therefore gave up altogether.

As I told many city leaders and volunteer groups, I stand at the forefront to volunteer my time to do whatever is necessary to make Alexandria’s West End Neighborhoods a better, safer and nice place to live.


Florence Avenue and the National Register

Early this year (January/February), I sent a letter to the Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation exploring the possibility of getting my house on the National Register.  I included the history and pictures of three more large notable houses that are in a row on the same side of my street and also gave a short history blurb on my home.  I understand from several sources that many people before me have tried and failed…but, people who know me well enough know that things like that don’t deter me.  What’s the harm in trying?  I said to myself, “If I get another rejection letter, I will just add it to the pile.”  So, I sent my letter on and waited for a reply. 

I had a lady call me about a week or two after I sent my letter.  She was very excited to get my “preapplication” letter.  I was very excited and was wondering why others have had problems getting this house on the register.  Well, I did not have to wonder for long.  The lady on the phone did not read my letter and thought that my house was the Thompson-Hargis mansion. (I have a post on the Hargis mansion somewhere on here if you want to see a picture of it.)  I quickly explained that the Hargis home was down the street, but my house was the FIRST picture on the front page of the letter.  It seemed that she lost interest in our conversation after that point.  This lady (I am purposely not giving her name), told me that she believed my house was already in a National Register historic district and that I probably don’t need to apply.  I patiently explained that I was not in the National Register historic district, but I was in the local historic designation named Area 3, or the Garden District.  The whole time I was thinking that if she read my letter she would have known this.  She kept on the phone for forty-five more minutes trying to convince me I was in an area I was not, then she looked up the map and realized that I was not in that area, then she put me on hold… get the picture.  She did tell me that I would have to renovate the house and rebuild the turret before they would give my preapplication any serious thought.  To back track a little, I was told by historic minded individuals and also by the LDHP’s website that I must contact LDHP first before doing any renovations or making any modifications to the home so as not to jeopardize any possibility of a future listing on the register. I pointed this out to her.  She said that was not true.  After I hung up with her, I told my husband that the LDHP office must be run by idiots and I totally despaired of ever being able to obtain National Register status.  I told him we would just order our own sign and put it in the yard.

In the meantime, I hired a architect to draw the plans for the turret rebuild.  I already had an interest in restoring the turret, so we found Lestar Martin, a very capable, enthusiastic and historic minded architect.  I found out later that Mr. Martin is on the National Register nominating committee for the State of Louisiana.  Mr. Martin came by and was very positive about our home and the turret rebuild.  He felt that our home did merit National Register status.  His very upbeat attitude and positive comments were very welcome and infectious.  Mr. Martin drew up blueprints to restore the turret and also did a rendering of what our house would look like now after all of our repairs were made.  It is beautiful!  I scanned it in to post on the site here, but the file is too big.  Sorry guys!

Anyway, I said all of this to say, I received a call from Pat Duncan at the LDHP about a week ago.  My file was transferred to her and she read my letter.  She agrees with me that the area my house in is very historic and warrants National Register status.  Although we did not discuss listing my house individually on the National Register, she did say that she is going to nominate the four houses in a row on Florence Avenue as their own separate National Register Historic District!  So, my house would be included in a small historic district.  I would still receive the tax credits and recognition as if I were individually listed on the register.  I am very excited about this!  She is working on the legalities and paperwork and hopes to have the nomination ready to send to Washington, D.C. by the next meeting in April.  Some locals call this area “Mansion Row” or the “West End District”.  The suggestion for the listing on the National Register is the “Florence Avenue Historic District”.  I am very excited!

Side jobs…

Pulled from the TrashI know, I know…you are probably rolling your eyes just like my husband did and wondered “Why in the world would anyone want THAT?”   I seem to get a lot of those comments.  It really isn’t anything new to me.  It seems that I have always been a little odd and, according to my mom, do things that “normal people just don’t do.”  I like to call it: Thinking outside the box.  I saw this little cart and thought it would make a cute plant stand.  I mean, if it didn’t work out, I could stick it out on the curb anyway, right? So, I stripped the paint off of it, sanded off the rust, primed and repainted it.  I was quite proud of the result…..ta da!  My new plant stand!

This cart was metal and rusty.  So, I took it apart and put the screws in a jar (I am notorious for losing things).  I then laid it out on newspaper outside and took a non-plastic (plastic will melt) cheap paint brush and applied Klean Strip-Premium Stripper.  I let it sit for an hour (I think — there is a new Klean strip out, it turns a color when it is time to take the paint off.  It worked great on my door…totally blonde proof), and then scraped the paint off.  The paint came off pretty easily and exposed the bare metal.  I then sanded all of it (trays and legs, etc) with medium sandpaper and then fine sandpaper (electric hand sander).  Since it was rusty, I spray painted the the trays and legs with Rustoleum’s Rusty Metal Primer.  After that dried, I painted the legs one color (white).  I used a Rustoleum spray paint that works well on metal.  I did the same thing for the trays, I painted them another color (red).  So far, I have watered my plants and the tray has gotten wet, but the paint has not peeled, puckered or anything. Overall, I am satisfied with my $5 tray!  Hope this helps.  If I did not answer a question, let me know!

Gustav Aftermath

Well, you see the picture below of the dumpster.  Here is the same picture, except with a pecan on it!  Lol. I have more detailed comments on my other blog at: but here are some pictures of what our backyard looks like now.  If the dumpster were not there, my car and my brother’s truck would be pancakes.  The tree managed to hit all four of our cars. 

We had power for a long time. I was not worried about flooding because we are five feet off of the ground.  I was worried, though, about the two old pecans.  One came down and the other held firm.  The other one, that is still standing, did take out our phone system though.  Branches fell down and ripped the lines from our house and off the pole. 

Pecan on the dumpster and the car

Pecan on the dumpster and the car


Got the truck too

Got the truck too