Wednesday, September 28, 2011


The following two photos are just a reminder of what once was...

 Spring 2010

Removed patio roof and pavers Summer 2010

 First of all, let me apologize for not Blogging since May.
 It was not my intention to take the summer off! 
 I swear it was as if the snow melted
and we headed outside and that's where we stayed. 
 We have had a wonderful summer here in Colorado,
 lots of exploring, camping, swimming, hordes of company along with bringing in  firewood for our long cold winter!
Oh yeah we worked on the back of the house!
We chose to work on the back of the house first
 use it as a learning tool (basically trial and error if you will)
I have never prepped or painted the exterior of a house before or worked with mortar and stucco, so the entire summer was a learning experience for me.
I spent more time in the prep...
washing, wire brushing, repairing damaged corners with mortar and filling the cracks with Stucco Patch ( I LOVE THIS PRODUCT!)  

After... Summer 2011

Then finally rolling on the paint!
I chose Manchester Tan by Benjamin Moore
 and I am very happy with the color it is light and bright but still warm.
The windows received some new wood, new glass for one and new glaze for most.

Garage corner

 my husband had the daunting task of replacing all the rotten wood,
 trimming rafter tails, and finding a solution for the electrical 
before a good wind storm rips it from our house!

Apparently this was OK to do 80 years ago!

    He is the man.
Because he fixes things and brings me chocolate!


 I still have a short list of things to do out here before the snow starts flying!
    -Priming and painting under the eves.
    -Paint the glaze on windows.
    -Install new porch light.
    -Attach storm door.


P.S. I almost forgot!

We started our summer with...
  -The removal of  6 trees (and their stumps) all  in various stages of decay and leaning towards the house!
  -10 tons of gravel that we spread around the side of the house and formed a back patio!
           ( because I live with 4 males and 2 puppies, all of which attract mud!)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Years ago when we lived on the Oregon Coast
 I would drive our [now] teenagers to and from elementary school
  so they didn't have to stand in the wind and rain and wait for the bus. 
Everyday for years I drove the same route,
 past a large house on a hill with a bay window overlooking a park and the water.
Everyday I would look up to see
 a beautiful silver lamp sitting on a table in that bay window. 
One Monday morning as I drove the kids to school
 I turned up the hill to drive past the large house 
 and noticed the remnants of  a weekend estate sale.
"Darn" I thought, I'm always up for a good estate sale. 
Driving down the hill after dropping the kids off at school,
 I instinctively glanced up at the house as I always did
 and realized the silver lamp was gone!
That is about the most polite way to express my reaction for both missing the sale 
and not getting my hands on that lamp!
The days past and my disappointment grew,
 everyday I drove by the house on the hill and watched the cycle of changes
 as the house was emptied 
and the yard was cleaned up. 
Then a FOR SALE sign went up in the yard.
A couple of weeks later...
 I had few extra minutes and thought I would take a quick walk through
one of my favorite antique stores. 
I did this a couple times a month and often found treasures
 that I could take home and refinish and/or refurbish then in turn sell myself.
After parking and making my way down the sidewalk through the wind and rain 
I pushed open the door of the large warehouse like building. 
After shutting the door quickly behind me against the weather...
I shook off the rain,
Turned around,
  Took a step in and looked up,
And there it was!
 The silver lamp... 
sitting on a table!
Just sitting there!
I gasped and tried to control my inner scream of delight...
I calmly walked over,
picked up the lamp
 and made my way to the back of the building
 and asked in a calm and collected manner,
" Excuse me, what are you asking for this lamp?", "It doesn't have a tag."
The older man looked it over for a few moments 
and replied,
He said he bought it at an estate sale the other weekend
 at that big house below the elementary school
 and by the time he had arrived it was the only thing left!
What are the chances,
 the lamp I had been lusting after for years was in my hands!
Have you ever bought something and thought for sure that it had been mis-marked or that someone was going to stop you before you reached the door?
 I could not pay the man and get out of there fast enough...
You know, before the Vintage Mercury Glass Police stopped me
 and made me pay the real value of the lamp
 or just rip it from my hands! 
When I finally got into my car
 safely hidden behind tinted windows and the camouflage of the wind driven rain 
I'm pretty sure that I screamed! 
 I also think that I strapped it into an empty child's car seat!
The lamp was covered in dust, nicotine and cooking grease
 so I gently cleaned it up and brought the wonderful mirrored shine back.
We have made about eight moves since that day
 and the lamp always rides with me in a box
 surrounded by pillows or something of that nature.
It is by far one of my favorite finds,
 right up there with the antique solid oak Arts and Crafts style plant stand I got off Craigslist for $15...
but that's another story.

P.S. Other items in photo...
Shutters- Purchased from yard sale in Key West, Florida.
Conch Shells - Found  (Empty) snorkeling off Key West, Florida. 
Silver Bowl- Antique store Carbondale, Colorado.
Glass Float Balls- Found on various beaches in Alaska and Oregon.
 Vase- Estate Sale find $5.00 Port Townsend, Washington.

Monday, April 4, 2011


The original 1932 metal windows are throughout the house
 including the second bedroom closet and the bathroom.
All are in working order.
A few panes were missing and a couple were broken
all of which I replaced last summer.


The hard work was scraping and sanding layers of paint down to the bare metal.
I removed the latches and stripped them.
 I would have preferred to sand them but all the years of grime, layers of paint and the intricacy of the detail in the handle made it impossible for me to get down to the bare metal.


I painted the windows with an oil based exterior paint specifically formulated for metal.
I did not have to think twice about the color.
I knew from day one that these windows would be black inside and out.
I am pleased with the way they turned out and know we will enjoy them for years to come.
- Michelle

August 2010

Burt enjoying the sun

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Happy 5th Anniversary
 To my wonderful husband...  

Since we met and married in Astoria...


We created this character...

I can't imagine life without the two of you...

You love them as your own...

You complete us ( tee hee)

I am grateful everyday 
  you saw the potential in our little fixer upper
or as you like to call it the  "Taj Michelle" 

I love our life in Colorado
I Love You

P.S. I must thank my loving husband for the concert tickets 
to see  Mumford & Sons in June.
 A weekend of music and camping in Telluride!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011


 The Good...

- The old metal windows
- Hardwood floors throughout

- Fireplace wall flanked by little windows
    - Glass doorknobs 

- 9' ceilings
-  Arches

The Bad...
- Kitchen!

The Ugly...
 - Refrigerator nook!

I know these pictures are hard to look at 
but you have to understand that I see potential in everything.

This house was built in 1932 
 The updating through the years was limited to the kitchen... 
2 layers of flooring ( over hardwood )
 6 layers of wallpaper with it's coordinating coats of paint on the trim
 and upper cabinet doors
 The rest of the house has been left untouched
 no carpet! or 70's paneling!
 We realize the work ahead of us but that is exactly what we wanted. 
 After years of working on houses that belong to other people
 I am thrilled to finally put all my creative energy into this house.
- Michelle

Sunday, March 6, 2011


                               I started this blog to keep family and friends informed on all  projects
 large or small pertaining to our house.

 I guess in a way todays blog is about our new additions...

 Through the years 
we have always told the kids that when we bought a house and settled somewhere 
we would get a dog.  
Since July our youngest son Gage has reminded us of this on a regular basis.  
Whenever he found a ball he would put it away for his future dog.
Occasionally he would ask  me...
 "Mom, where do you think my dog is? 
What do you think he's doing?" 
 It's enough to break your heart!  
So the time finally came when we had to address this "dog" thing...
I searched the newspaper,  our local bulletin boards,  then finally the internet  
which led me to an animal shelter 46 miles away.  
I searched the listings of available dogs
 and found a sad faced puppy staring up at the camera
 (you know the picture I'm talking about)
 I called to see if she was still available and made an appointment to see her that Saturday.
When we arrived at the animal shelter they led us to the farthest row of kennels
 and there she was... 
looking up at us just like the picture. 
 What we were not prepared for...
 was her twin sister a few kennels down with the same look on her face! 
 Gage was thrilled!
An hour later we left with both puppies. 

Puppy Love

Gage  -  Sage  -  Siena

   They are a lot of work for all of us.
 There are times I question our decision to get both.

 That is,
  until I see Gage with them and know that he finally has his dogs. 
 They are inseparable.
We were told that they were brought into the shelter separately
  so you can imagine our delight in reuniting them and keeping them together.
Our home is full and so are our hearts - Michelle


P.S. The animal shelter listed them as German Shepherd / Corgie mix, 
 but we recently found out that they are Belgian Malinois.

Monday, February 28, 2011


The original back door was in pretty bad shape, having been 
 exposed to 80 years of Colorado weather and numerous dogs.

The window was a piece of plexi glass that was framed and being held in the door frame with wing nut type hardware. We knew we could not go into winter with this door.

We happened to have another wood door inside that was a perfect match and still had its original wavy glass intact.  So while my husband planed the door and jam to account for some minor settling of the door frame ,  I took that opportunity to strip the hinges of decades of paint and grime. 

                            The project took the two of us only a couple of hours and cost us nothing.
 This spring I plan to apply a fresh coat of paint both inside and out.- Michelle

P.S. The back door window at -35 degrees! 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011



This was the backyard May 2010.
( before we bought it )

Saturday Morning...

Michelle -"This thing has to come off before it falls off and kills a kid!"

Brian -"Sooo,  that's what I'm doing this weekend?  I wanted to go for a hike "

Michelle - "You can,  after we get this shouldn't take too long"

Michelle - "The kids can help,  it will be fun!"

Yes, folks, that's the four year old pushing over the rotted
support posts. 

Michelle - " Ta da!,  look at all the light we've brought into the house!  Now wasn't that fun?" 
              Brian - "Yep"

                                                                    Sunday Evening...

                                                         Brian - "Can I go for a hike now?"  
                                                         Michelle - "Yep"

Monday, February 14, 2011


1/2 of the original garage door

Shortly after moving in, the original wood  garage door fell off its track that was attached to the ceiling...then the track itself came apart.  It didn't take us long to come up with the idea of cutting the door in half (vertically), reversing it, and attaching hinges to the outer sides and rehanging them as carriage doors. 

sanded, stained, and new hardware

I have always dreamed of having wood carriage doors on a garage but knew how costly they could be. We spent $50 on heavy duty gate hinges and bolts, which I painted black.  We already had paint, dark stain and scrap 1x4. We reused the original garage door handles.  Reusing existing materials has been and continues to be a recurring theme in our renovation. This project took a full weekend with the two of us cutting, sanding and staining. 

The doors turned out beautifully and we couldn't be more pleased. -Michelle    

P.S.  The picture below was taken the other day and I can see now that when Spring arrives I need to apply one more coat of stain to the center board. 

Monday, February 7, 2011


Our goal this past summer was to expose the front yard to more sunlight.  My husband trimmed up the branches on the two large blue spruce trees that flank the house, and removed some large limbs from the two trees at the foot of the driveway.  Yes, that is my husband in the tree and yes the ladder is in the back of our truck tied to the tree!...don't try this at home people!

We removed the brush around the foundation and edged the walkway, what a difference that little job made. Looks better already!

When we bought the house the "hedge" was 8' to 10' tall and a mass of random bushes and small trees. Not really a hedge more like bushes gone wild!

  Deer enjoying our trimmings.

We trimmed the "hedge" three times ( thank you Jessica for the second trim) before removing it entirely.

We ended the summer with lots of light and new grass. Our plan is to plant a proper hedge at some point in the future. Our neighbors across the street came over to introduce themselves and said  " In all the years we have lived here we have never seen the front of that house".  -Michelle