A blank slate for Vivian’s new room

Yesterday, I finished cleaning out the spare room.  Viv and I took apart the king size bed and put it out in the hall.  I also attached her fireplace mantel back to the wall.  We also swept it out, cleaned the baseboards and sealed her floor with some kind of special wood wax sealer.  It is a blank slate…ready for Viv to move in!  We have talked about adopting a little girl if all goes well with this adoption.  So, Vivian is always taking about future “sister”.  She wants bunk beds for her and sister to share.  I had a nice surprise yesterday, I posted on FB if anyone was selling a twin bed that I would be interested in it for Alex’s room.  One of my friends, Melendie, posted she had one and brought it to me yesterday.  When I got it home and Steven helped me assemble it, it was a bunk bed!  Hahaha…so…guess what?!  Vivian gets her wish.  We will put the bunk bed in her room and buy a twin bed for Alex’s room.  I have a toddler bed, but we are putting that in our room for him to sleep near us as he will most likely experience separation issues and we want to be close at hand.

I am going to paint Vivian’s bunk bed white, and on each end, there is this neat chain link type material on the bed.  Steven came up with the idea of attaching a chalkboard or memoboard to each end for each of the girls…what a fantastic idea!!!   I had a couple lying around, so immediately grabbed them and measured…they will fit perfect!  Can’t wait to get this baby painted and into Vivian’s room! I also need to paint white a chest of drawers I am going to put in her room. 

I just need to go shopping for Alex…a bed and a chest of drawers to match.  I already have his comforter and pillow set.  I am thinking about doing his room in transportation.  Since I just moved Viv out yesterday, I will have to touch up paint his room and redo his floor to look like Vivian’s.  Then I will be able to move in his furniture and decorate….so exciting!!!!!




Spare Bedroom, Before and After

Ah-ha!  I found the realtor walk through picture of the spare bedroom too.  Once I was finished painting the spare bedroom this past November because guests were coming to stay, I looked at the pictures and I did not feel that I really changed the room much at all.  However, this picture reminds me of how ugly it was.


spare bedroom before


spare bedroom presently

Well, off to make waffles for my patient.  I am surprised she wants to eat since she is feeling so bad this morning.  But, if she wants waffles, I will make her some!


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!


Spare Room – getting close

Well, I finally put a bed in the spare room and fluffed it up for my incoming Thanksgiving house guests.  It is not completely decorated or finished.  I still need to paint some of the trim and strip the mantel, but here is the before and after.  So, Mom, your bed is waiting for you!

Spare room before

Spare room - almost done

Oh, and remember that baseboard gap?  I filled it in with caulk and painted it the baseboard trim color.  Here is the before and after.  I did not have to rip out the sheetrock after all.

Baseboard before


I love caulk!  I think that has to be one of my favorite “old house” tools.


I think only here on this blog can I say I am stripping and people know I am talking about paint and not clothes 🙂  My husband was so proud of his door today that he asked me to take a picture of the before and after.  He took the spare bedroom door down to take outside and try his new handy dandy stripper he bought.  I have to say, it works quite well!  It works better than anything I have ever used.  It is also blonde proof, it turns blue when it is ready to come off.  I get impatient and try to start scraping the paint off before its ready.  With a scraper and a copper steel wool-like thingy, he got two or three layers of paint off in three hours.  I was excited that it came off so easily.  I was ready to start on the hall again.  We have beautiful burly/curly pine wainscoting in the hall that is begging to come out from under 48 years of paint.  The only bad thing about the stripper is that it is not “green”.  It is some serious mambo jambo!  The stripper is called: Klean Strip, Premium Stripper, Color Change Paste.  A lot of people asked me what I used (umm, or what my husband used!  I cannot take credit for this one!).  This stripper pulls the paint off unlike anything I have ever seen.  I know it is not “green”, but all of the green methods I have used take a long time and do not strip paint as well as this product.  I have used the heat gun too.  The heat gun method is good for small areas, but if you have a serious job to do (like us, ALL of the trim and doors in our entire house were painted over about forty-eight years ago, and again about twenty years ago), I would recommend Klean Strip.  The paste is good for vertical jobs since it is thicker and clings to the surface and does not run down the wood work.

I can’t wait to sand the door down and re-stain it.  The next stripping project I have my eye on is the fireplace mantel in the spare room.  It has faces in the column.  It is very neat, but it has so much paint gooked on it that it is hard to make out the details.  About three hours way, in New Orleans, there is salvage company called The Bank.  It is awesome!   It is a warehouse full of architectural salvage.  Even more so now after Hurricane Katrina.  Anyway, they have a large vat of paint stripper and for about $200-$250 or so, they will take a fireplace mantel/door, etc. and dunk it into the vat and spray off all of the paint.  It is great for fireplaces or large items that are intricately carved and have paint gooked in it.  I have heard that it is clean when it comes out!  I may give it a try sometime in the near future.  I will keep you posted on the results, if I do.

Well, anyway, here is the door.  My husband is six feet tall, by the way.  So, that shows you how big the door really is.  I am starting to get excited.  We have been in blah mode through the Summer and into the Fall.  After our construction loan did not work out, we were really annoyed that we lost 5 months during which we could have been working.  Oh well, time to get busy now.

Spare Room – In Progress

Spare Room - In Progress

Well, I spent 5 1/2 hours painting by myself this past Saturday.  In a normal room, I could have prepped, painted the entire room plus the trim and cooked dinner in 5 1/2 hours!  The bad part is, I still have to trim around the windows, the ceiling AND paint the trim.  Since the walls are so big, I have to paint them in three sections: bottom, middle and then the top.  I HATE climbing ladders.  Not so much because I am scared of heights, but because I can’t ever remember that I am on a ten foot ladder and it is not three steps to the bottom…it is more like eight.  I get busy painting and forget that I am several feet from the floor.  The last time I painted the hall, it was really bad.  I took about two steps down and put both feet out to touch the floor…the only problem was, I had about six more steps to go before my feet were anywhere close to the floor.  I fell hard, on my behonkus, and hit my head.  I blacked out for a second and then started laughing.  My husband and brother saw it happen and if they ever thought I was crazy in the past, my newest escapade had confirmed it!  Thus the reason I am not allowed to stay home alone with a ladder.

Spare Room _ In Progress 2I am going tomorrow to buy paint for the trim.  I kept going back and forth between ivory and dove white.  I think I have made up my mind to go with dove white.  I am going to strip the fireplace mantel back to its original wood and also strip the doors.  I would strip the baseboards too, but, unfortunately somewhere down along the line someone tried to pry the baseboards off in two places, cracked the wood pretty bad and then slapped some type of compound (not wood putty) on them to cover it up.  It is really bad!  So, I can’t strip them down since the wood is so splintered in two large spots.  I am sanding them down and wood puttying them. 

Lovely sheetrock jobI guess what they were trying to do was take off the baseboards so they could sheetrock the walls.  To sheetrock behind the baseboards would be nearly impossible, but it could be done.  You would have to take the doorjambs off first and all of the trim around the door and windows, then take off the baseboards.  I guess they decided that was too much work because they sheetrocked all the way down close the baseboard and left a 1/4 of an inch to a 1/2 inch gap.  Lovely….the good news is, I have caulked the gap in other rooms and painted it the trim color and it looks just fine, you can’t really tell where the sheetrock ends and the baseboard starts.  The bad news is, every room in my house looks like this!  The gap is about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in one room  It is going take some serious work to hide that!  I will probably have to pull the sheetrock off the wall and start over in that room.  Now, why do people do things like that to an old house?  More importantly, if you are going to do dumb stuff like that…DON’T.  Hire a professional, or at least do yourself and the next homeowner a favor, order a subscription of This Old House.

I am disappointed that the paint color looks so “blue”.  It was supposed to look more like a turquoise, blue green color.  When I paint the trim Dove White, it should make the color look a little greener.  I can’t wait to get the trim done so I can move the furniture in and do the fun part — decorating!  The wood floor is in great condition and I think it will look really nice once I get it all together.  Hopefully, that will be this coming weekend.  We were supposed to get our furniture yesterday, but the man was not ready for us to come pick it up.  He rescheduled us to pick it up this coming Sunday.   So…when I am completely done with the room, I will post an after pic.

I hope everyone enjoys their holidays and cooks good food for Thanksgiving! 


The Holidays Are Coming!!!

And what exactly does that mean?   Well, for me, there are too many things to do!  I need to re-weatherstrip my house so my utility bill is not bigger than my house note, I need to paint the spare bedroom I have been putting off doing for two years now (especially since everyone meets here at my house for Christmas), I need to assemble the Eastlake style king size tester bed from Steven’s aunt and get out the baking pans!

Since Steven’s aunt sold her bed and breakfast earlier this year and relocated to a small two bedroom apartment, she had a lot of furniture she needed to get rid of.  As of last month, she had a large dining room set and a tester bed set complete with the armoire and side tables to still get rid of.  I looked at the dining table.  It was very curvy and too Victorian for my taste.  I liked the bedroom set, but I feared that it would be waaaaaaaaay out of our budget to purchase.  Finally, after there were not any takers for the bedroom set and the price was just right, we decided to go ahead and make the splurge.  Steven and his family are going to go disassemble the monstrosity this Sunday.  I say “monstrosity” very affectionately.  You have to have large furniture in our house so the thirteen feet ceilings won’t swallow it all up.  I am excited about the bedroom set!

I guess that brings me to my point, somewhat.  Since the bedroom set is arriving this Sunday and the only place to put it is in the spare bedroom, I had to get busy scraping the horridly ugly mint green border off of the peach walls.  I think, that if I was faced with the decision of choosing to either replumb the whole house with nothing but a “how to” book and a wrench or scrape the border, I would have chosen the former.  I HATE wallpaper and further, I HATE scraping the nasty mess off.  When we moved in, there was a border in every room.  I am thankful that my brother scraped most of that nonsense off of the walls, but he left the two worse rooms for me to do.  One was the living room.  I swear someone superglued that sucker right onto the sheetrock!  The other was the spare room.  Although, I finally got smart this time around.  Instead of spraying the vinyl, peeling it off, then spraying the paper underneath and scraping it off, I just peeled off the vinyl, bought an orbital sander, and sanded the paper right off the wall!  BRILLIANT!  Now, why didn’t I think of that sooner?  It worked like a charm.  I do have a bigger mess to clean up, but I was finished in half the time and the tool did all of the work…not me!

Now, not all of my ideas have endings as positive as the above.  But, I do have to admit that the sander idea was brilliant!  It saved me several hours of yelling, griping, whining and fussing at the stubborn wallpaper.  Ideas like the one above is usually why my husband does not leave me home alone for long periods of time.  Usually my experiments get a little out of hand and he comes home to a bigger mess than before.  I will have to tell you the story about the ladder one day…..

Anyway, I am in the process painting the spare room “Lime Light” by Behr.  It is a light blue with a turquoise tint.  I hope to be done by Saturday so we can move the furniture in by Sunday.  I know that if I don’t paint it now, it will never get done.  I mean, how do you disassemble a full Eastlake bedroom set and move it out of the way to paint?  It is now or never!  Here are the before pictures and the “in-process” pictures.  When I get it done, I will post a follow up.













Have a great time preparing for your holidays!!!!!