Monday, October 8, 2012

First, I cracked open the can of yellow paint...

And here, I prove what my husband said in the previous post was true--I have no "off" switch.  Thing is, I want to get as much done on the cottage as I can before the really cold weather comes to stay.

Today, I cracked open the can of yellow paint and commenced.  I will say that I DO NOT like the "new" Lowe's Valspar Primer and Paint in one product.  Apparently they're switching all their Valspar paints to that formula.  If so, then I'll shop elsewhere for my paint.

So, like I said, I cracked open the can of yellow ("Croissant" actually). And this was the result.  It's a nice "buttery" yellow, but not too intense.

And my good friend Holly Van Scoy gave me another project piece.  This old trunk is made of pine, topped with rustic metal and old handles.  Love it!  It just needs a "bit" of work. :-)  I intend to use it as a coffee table in my living room. 

Now tomorrow, I rest.

Happy trails,

bobbi c.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Husband says I have no OFF SWITCH

Dear friends,

When we moved into our 1930s cottage, we assumed that most of our attention would be paid to the main house.  The little cottage/greenhouse/garage back behind us could come later, and only needed some paint and some built-in storage.

Then when the eaves started buckling and turning black, we paid attention, but not close attention.  After all, we'd just moved in and were exhausted from our year long remodeling ordeal.

THEN when the roof caved in on the greenhouse, we had to finally divert our attentions to it.  It looks like the underlaying decking is also rotted, and water is leaking into the greenhouse (and onto the ancient wiring), so that means a tear off.  NOT what we wanted to do now.

Make a note---NO flat roofs underneath large trees.

I wondered, could we completely tear off the greenhouse?  I hesitated, but mentioned it to Husband Rudy.  He was overjoyed.  He's never liked it anyway, mostly because he scrapes the top of his scalp off every time he tries to walk into it.  Note--Make overhangs tall enough for tall people to walk through without bashing their brains out.

We started talking about completely tearing off the greenhouse area, which is basically just a lean-to shed that was cobbled together at least 40 years ago.  Although I like the storage space, if it leaks it's worthless.  And the rot could travel up into the garage roof, something we have to prevent. And one wall is so low it's impossible to use.  And not enough sunlight actually gets into there to make it a proper greenhouse, anyway.  It's great for protecting potted plants during the winter, but most of it is wasted space.

I'll have to admit, reclaiming that almost 200 square feet for garden or outdoor sitting space did appeal to me.  And the slab underneath can be turned into a lovely brick patio.   We'd lose some privacy, but since we need to put up a fence anyway, that would take care of that.  Hmm......


Yesterday I decided to take the shutters off the front wall of the greenhouse we can see from the inside of the main house.  They need to be cleaned and repainted anyway.  You know, one of those ten minute jobs you do when you're too tired to do much else in the garden.

So I did that, and noticed that the vinyl siding was pretty loose around the window.  Thinking that it would have to come off either way if we tear the roof off, I started pulling it off.

Front greenhouse wall with most of the siding and foam backing removed

Four hours later, the original small clapboard ship-lap siding was revealed.  All it really needs is some scrubbing and mildew-busting.  It's in perfect shape except for the very bottom layer where it laid right up against the slab and dirt. 

That's another no-no, folks!  No wood touches dirt.

Now I have a pile of old vinyl siding, a lot of nasty foam insulation that was food for giant roaches and snails.  Boy, were they MAD when I let the sunshine in.

Now I wonder, WHY OH WHY did they cover up all that wonderful antique pine siding in the first place with horrible vinyl?  UGH.  And those 1960's aluminum windows?  Double UGH!

I really didn't mean to go this far with it.  All I wanted to do was take down the two shutters.

Husband Rudy says  I have no OFF SWITCH.  Maybe he's right.

The next step is to cut a small hole in the ceiling of the overhang to see how bad the rotted ceiling is.  We'll see how THAT goes.

I do love my greenhouse.  Or I loved the IDEA of having one.  At any rate, we'll definitely salvage all that lovely pine (which is hard as a rock now, BTW), and use it to build a smaller, more efficient proper garden shed/greenhouse in another part of the yard--out from under the pecan trees.  With antique windows, and doo-dads and maybe even a cute little weather vane on top.

BTW, the main house is covered with aluminum siding.  Presumably, the siding underneath it is the same as that on the greenhouse.  The original, hard as rock antique pine.  Maybe I'll just take off the back shutters and give them a good cleaning....

Happy trails from Tear-it-Down Texas!

bobbi c.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Quilts and Cats and Gifts from True Friends

Dear friends,

I was stunned a few days ago when our mail-gal drove up with a package for me from a dear friend who lives in north Texas--Debbie Burns, of Beulah Land Farmstead, who blogs as Farmer Woman.  When I opened it, I almost fell over. 

Look what she made and sent us for a housewarming gift!

Handmade wall-quilt, made by Debbie Burns

It's a little wall quilt she made using reproduction 1930's fabrics.  Now, HOW PERFECT is that, for the 1930's Two Sisters Cottage?  Couldn't be MORE perfect, if you ask me.  She explained that the appliques on the quilt are also symbolic.  There's the cat (no mystery there--LOL), the birdhouse represents our love for birds, and the two cardinals are the Two Sisters, former owners of the house.   We have a huge cardinal population here, and the property was decorated by numerous plastic and wooden cardinals when we bought it.  I love the way Debbie positioned the fabric so the pattern looks like cat eyes and nose!

The little butterflies are buttons, the cat has a heart button, and there are three little flower buttons on the bottom of the birdhouse base.

I absolutely LOVE these fabrics, and always have.  As a matter of fact, I own a quilt made by my great-grandmother that features original 1930's fabrics.  Look how perfect these are together!

New wall quilt with antique 1930 quilt

Of course, within a few minutes of taking the quilt out and placing it on the back of a chair, a cat appeared.  Luckily, it was Blanca the Perfect.  She assured me she would not touch the quilt, but only admired it from a distance.  And Blanca never lies.

Quilts attract cats, especially Blanca
Although Debbie told me I should hang the quilt outside as a banner, I told her that I would NOT do that.  It's going to be hung in the entry way, which is also my office.  I have a spot on the wall picked out especially for it--a place of honor, hanging above an antique oak chest that Rudy and I salvaged and refinished.  Against the blue wall in here, the colors in that quilt will POP!

Of course, there's a process that has to happen before I can hang it up.  First, I have to de-junk the top of the chest.  Then I have to find a dowel for hanging.  Then I have to find a nail.  LOL!  I assure you that I will have this hung up  pronto, and will post more pics then.

You can see a bit of the blue wall behind the chair.  This quilt will look perfect hanging up in here!

Oh, and by the way---I've never even met Debbie in person.  She's one of my dear friends on the Texas Homestead list that I've been moderating for years now (how I got that job is a story in itself).  We've talked online almost every day, though, and know each other pretty well.  She says I keep her sane, but the opposite is true.  She's always there with a supportive and inspirational message for us all, as well as tons of gardening and critter advice.  She's a special person, and I count her as one of the blessings of my life.

Thank you again, Debbie, for this amazing gift.  I'll cherish it always.

Oh, and readers, go check out Debbie's blog.  It's full of Texas homestead goodness!

Happy trails!

bobbi c.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Where have I been?

Dear friends,

I haven't abandoned this blog, not really.  But I've been a bit busy over on my writing blog.  My new mystery novel, Lone Star Death, was just released in e-book format for both the Kindle and the Nook. 

Yes, in between scraping paint, caulking and hanging wallboard, I write!  LOL.

Read all about it, here:

Bobbi Chukran Writing Blog

I hope to be able to get back to posting news of our house remodel soon.

Happy trails!

bobbi c.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Zest Fest 2012, Taylor Texas

Dear friends,

We spent this morning acting like locals.  Because after all, we are locals now.  First thing we did was visit the small Hutto Farmer's Market and scored some delicious fresh produce from the folks there---fresh cauliflower, tomatoes and cucumbers.  The first tomatoes are just now coming in and we can never resist them.  We bought from farms in Thrall and Taylor, and other than my own backyard garden, that's as local as it gets!

Then we came back home to Taylor and went downtown for their annual Zest Fest celebration.  I'll admit, it was a lot larger than I expected.  The entire downtown area was filled with music and crafts, local organizations like the Taylor Garden Club, Chamber of Commerce and the Blackland Quilt Guild had booths, and a classic car show got both Rudy's and my attention.  Here are a few photos I took along the way.  Forgive the quality of the pics, it was in the upper 90's, my camera was being a bit flakey and the crowd of people were often in the way.

Quilts flapped in the breeze, hung from a building.  Sorry I didn't get the names of the quiltmakers.

My favorites are always the brightly colored ones.

The quilts had many admirers, young and old.

Husband Rudy liked this one the best.  The quiltmaker used all floral fabrics on an otherwise simple pattern.

Blackland Quilt Guild is the local Taylor quilting group.

The Taylor Garden Club had a booth selling plants.

The classic car show also caught our eye.  I love classic cars, especially the Chevys.  I've been a Chevy girl from the get-go. :-)

 After wandering around for an hour or so, I scored a grape shaved ice (we used to call them snow cones---when did they quit putting them in cones?  LOL), and we followed our ears to the live music.  We got quite a surprise when we arrived at the stage.  A young girl with a gorgeous, strong voice was belting out some contemporary songs.  Turns out, she's Courtney Ging, the very talented 16-year old daughter of our beloved plumber and wife, Wayne and Cara Ging.  Her performance deserves a blog post of its own, so stay tuned!

We also checked out the marquee to see what's coming next at our restored Howard Theatre in downtown Taylor.  YES!  Dark Shadows is coming next week, and Rudy and I already have a date for the first showing.  We haven't had a chance to see a show there yet, and  I'm looking forward to it.

Hope you've enjoyed this little picture of our new friendly, vibrant community!  The temperature eventually reached 96-degrees today.  Crazy.  But that didn't stop the Taylorites (as we're called, I found out) from getting out, having fun, and celebrating small town Texas.

Happy trails on Cinco de Mayo!

bobbi c.

Just a few random photos for Cinco de Mayo!

I realized I have hundreds of photos that I haven't "processed" or gone through, all taken over the last two months.  It's going to take me some time to do that.  As much as I love my digital camera, I long for the days when I had a stack of paper photos to flip through, organize, sort, etc.  But I do not miss all the scanning that was required.  Anyway, Feliz Cinco de Mayo, everyone, and enjoy the pics!

Side yard, with new Texas persimmon.  The mystery plant in the left flower bed turned out to be milkweed.

A very odd green rose.  Can't decide whether I love it, or hate it.

The pallet veggie garden grows, with tons of peppers and eggplants.  Trellis added to clothesline post holds a baby grapevine.

New raised beds--my "So Easy it's Stupid" method :-)

One of the few natives on the property when we bought it, a red salvia blooms

The backyard by the porch garden, with salvias, iris and other natives.
More later!

Happy trails from Taylor, Texas!

bobbi c.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Before and After Photos

Dear friends,

I'm trying a new feature using Photobucket to show Before and After pics of the cottage.  Not sure how this will work yet, so I've only added a few photos to start with.  Comments would be appreciated.  In the meantime, enjoy the slideshow (to the right of the posts, in the sidebar).

Since the tags don't seem to show up in slideshow mode, I hope you can tell which are the Befores, and which are the Afters.  LOL!

Happy Trails!

bobbi c.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Nine months later....

We have moved into our new and improved Two Sisters Cottage, just a little over nine months after closing on the deal. It's been a trip, for sure, a huge learning experience and a dream fulfilled. Yes, parts of it were nightmarish, but I'm so glad we did it.

I'm still unpacking and will be for quite some time. I have been taking photos, and will share them as soon as possible.

Thanks for all your kind comments and support; I really appreciate it!

Happy trails,

bobbi c.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


I hope I don't live to regret telling Husband it's OK to put a lot of the old metal stuff from the cottage out on the curb for the recyclers to pick up. Piles of venetian blinds from 1960 are mixed with old stove pipe, old gutters, old galvanized plumbing pipe that came out from under the house, aluminum trim from bathroom walls, around the tub and kitchen sink, etc. We've already recycled much of it, but it still accumulated in the little cottage out back. Now that we're planning on moving in on Monday, we need a place to stash our six cats while the movers bring in the furniture. So the metal stash had to go!

One especially hard thing to give away is the original sink from the kitchen--an odd sized 12 x 30" cast iron monster that weighs a ton--and is rusted plumb through. I fancied making a small garden pond out of it, or using it in the greenhouse. Nah, that would never happen. For one thing, it's just too heavy--then there's the rust. Still, I feel a bit sad about not keeping it. It's a part of the history of this house.

The old cast iron sink as it was when we bought the house

I have to remind myself that never did we plan on doing a period restoration. Still, the sink is one of the things I noticed when I first set foot in the house, and the only thing I remembered weeks later when we came by to take a second look. I even asked Rudy "Now, which house was it that had the old sink?" I think it stirred some deeply buried memory of my great-grandmother's old house in Handley, Texas. I only visited there once, but still remember her 1930's era kitchen and a sink very similar to this one.

Metal is a hot commodity these days, and I know some wandering recycler will consider himself (or herself) lucky to drive by and see the "Free" sign sitting by the pile. There are many people now around here who feed their families from the money they get through recycling. I have to remember that when I get wistful about an old rusty sink that weighs a ton.

Happy trails!

bobbi c.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Front Door Fiasco & Kitchen Island Update

Dear friends,

One feature of our antique house is that it has two front doors. There are varying explanations for why so many of the older frame houses had these. Some experts say that one of them is a "Pastor's Door" -- the front door where you welcomed the pastor or preacher from your church. Presumably, you kept that room clean. The other door was for the farmer or homeowner to come into when they had muddy boots or shoes. That room, ahem, wasn't special enough for company. Personally, when I have muddy boots, I come in the back door, but that's just me. LOL.

Either way, since we are turning one of the front rooms into our bedroom, suffice it to say that I didn't want a front entry door right smack dab in there. For one thing, it's drafty, and noisy. So Husband and I pondered, and he came up with a solution. Block the door permanently. Since we aren't doing anything to the exterior of the house now, fixing that will have to wait.

First, he removed the doorknob. Yes, it's a gorgeous antique door. We have a matching one in the other front room, which is the combo entry and my little writing nook (the blue room).

Before -- Door with knob removed.

Then, he added a sheet of insulating foam, with a little indentation cut out on the other side for the escutcheon around the doorknob:

Fitting the foam in place, with notches cut for hinges.

Yes, I know it's ugly now. The master plan is to caulk all edges and cracks, then add beadboard paneling (maybe to the ceiling) and in front of that, we're putting an electric fireplace/media center with a new flat screen TV hung over it. The TV will be covered with some sort of framed in cabinet, hanging artwork or tapestry. We're sort of designing this as we go. OR, we'll use our existing TV armoire with will just barely cover the trim around the door. Either way, I'll post more photos as the project progresses.

LATER, THAT SAME DAY -- We have the finished door, ready for some big hulking piece of furniture to sit in front of it:

We also have curtain rods up--a small thing, but necessary. Shown are temporary Dollar Store curtains.

Oh, on the outside of the new covered front door, on the front porch, I have a screen door with a decorative metal trellis thingy hung over it. In front of that, a potted oleander bush sits. The back of the foam board is metallic, and shines in the sun just like glass might. The plan for that is to add painted stationery louvered shutters, much like houses in New Orleans have. I think it goes with the black metal wrought iron on our porch. This will also help to block the wind and noise from the front street.

Another project we were going to build was a small kitchen island, for storage, and as a place to chop vegetables. The thing about galley kitchens like ours is that sometimes they're a bit too wide to be efficient. I say "were" going to build, because we walked into BigLots! yesterday and found a perfect little red cart, just the right size. Discounted because it was a floor model, it has room in the bottom for the mixer (which we use frequently for homemade bread), and a little shallow drawer that's perfect for knives. AND a towel bar at the end, which we desperately needed in there.

Since I'm going with a fruit theme in the kitchen, this adds a nice bright spot of cherry red. Yes, I prefer homemade cabinets and furniture, but since Rudy's list is a mile long, we figured this would be just functional enough for now, and it looks good, too. Later on, this could be rolled anywhere in the house and used -- in the utility room, in the greenhouse/garage, etc. I always think of future uses when I buy things like this, since I almost never get rid of furniture.

I also like the stainless steel top, which matches the front of the refrigerator, the range hood and the trim around the range.

As for outside the house, check out new garden photos at The Earthly Gardener, my garden blog.

More later!

Happy trails,

bobbi c.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

We thought it was a good idea... save the antique french doors that were original to our 1930 cottage. Originally, they lead from the very large dining room to the front room, which was used as the living room. We got the bright idea to turn the large dining room into our living room, open up the wall between the two, move the french doors to that wall.

Easy, right? Not so much.

After months of cutting holes in walls, reframing them, patching, wallboarding, texturing, floating, sanding, painting, etc. we were finally able to get the doors back in today. After Rudy found the hinge pins, that is. :-)

The thing is, those doors were custom made for the original opening. Nothing in that house is plumb, square or true, and neither was that door opening. When we bought the house, the doors would shut, but barely. And of course, houses like that one shift when there's rain, or a bit of wind, or a bit of sun. LOL

Anyway, we have a bit of "tweaking" to do, which probably will mean that the hinges will have to be removed, shimmed, moved again, holes filled, doors repainted, etc. Hopefully, then the doors will shut. We shall see.

Happy trails!

bobbi c.