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Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Little Pop to the Front Stoop! (Oh the puns I considered!)

Just a little project again this weekend.  Years ago when I built the front stoop, we decided that staining was the way to go - less maintenance!  But the other day I got the idea to paint the railings on the stoop.  I like the way it turned out.  On Friday I used 100 grit sanding pads to sand the whole thing, then it was a matter of painting.  So here's the first before:


And midway through:


Another before:


And after:


Before:


And after:


That's the first coat.  One more coat oughta do the trick.  After that, the next step will really add some pop to the front of the house!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Simple Project - Back Porch Door Trim

Some projects are so simple, yet make a big impact.  Ever have one of those moments - you've looked at something on your house for years, then one day you look and think - Hey!  I have an idea!  That happened yesterday.  I was in the back yard and thought - wonder how the trim around the back door would look if it was brown instead of white?

That's right - off to Lowes for a pint of Rustoleum Flat Leather Brown.  After washing the area, setting up a small tarp (I am a horribly messy painter) and laying on the first coat (the final coat went on today), the whole project took less than an hour-and-a-half!  Here's the before (ignore the back stoop - it's on the list):


Here's a side-by-side before and after:


And here's another shot that really shows the look:


Gotta love the high-impact, oh-so-simple projects!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Made at 173: Rustic Bookcase

Not long after we bought 173, we put in a new basement floor and while we were at it we replaced the basement windows.  Well...if you've followed this blog for any time at all, you know we're all about re-purposing stuff.  So we kept a few of the old basement windows.

One of them I put mirrors in and mounted on the side of the shed ... I dunno, sounded like a neat idea at the time.  The others I don't recall where they wound up, except for one.


After the front porch was remodeled a number of years ago, I had "my" little corner.  


I found that old Morris chair at a little country auction for $25 oh maybe 10 years ago or so.  Anyway, THAT'S what this post is about.  No, not the Morris chair - see that little bookcase?  Yep - Made at 173!  Like I said, I had that old basement window, and wanted something to go with the chair, so I got the idea for the bookcase.


I just use it for some old-school nick-nacks (is there supposed to be a "k" in front of those?) and a place to set my iced tea.  It was a quick project...I had a few scrap boards and two old hinges lying about the workshop, so it didn't cost anything.  And I just used butt joints because I wanted a kind of Adirondack/Maine forest feel to it.  


Because of where I was going to place it, I thought it would be better to put the hinges on the bottom of the case instead of the top.  


And I just used an old rusty hook for a latch.  Oh, and that old closet hook?  I inherited a drawer full of them with 173.  So I put one on the side of the case.  I also inherited a circa 1940s wire catcher's mask that usually hangs on the hook, but like I said, we're in the middle of a re-do right now so it's packed away.


Then I just put a few odds and ends in it. Well, that's it - Made at 173!

NOTE:  In the years since this book case was originally built, the front porch has undergone some changes.  Here is the most recent iteration of the case (as of March, 2014):


Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Cleveland Pear Tree for the Devil's Strip

What's that strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street called?  I've thought about that a few times...and I can't remember what we called it when I was growing up.  You know, I don't think we called it anything!  I don't have even a single memory in which I recall even talking about it! A couple years ago I Google'ed it (geeze, is that how you even spell it?) and found some thoughts here.  There's a couple interesting terms in there, but really - I LOVE the Devil's Strip!  Apparently it's a regional term used in Akron, Ohio but I think it's cool enough that in the last few years I've taken to calling it that myself.  I know it's a total affectation, and almost always have to explain it when I use it in conversation - but I'm a one man crusade to see if we can get the Devil's Strip adopted nationwide!  Or at least in my little circle of friends!

Aaaaanyway...when we bought 173 back in '97, there were three HUGE maple trees in the devil's strip out front and on the side (173 is a corner lot).  The trees were beautiful but they were old.  Probably as old as 173 itself.  I hated to do it, but every time there was the slightest wind, branches came down.  One huge branch actually hovered but about three feet over the front porch.  It just made me nervous.  So I called the city a few times about having the trees trimmed but never got a response.  Back in those days the Mayor had a radio show on the local AM station and he took calls from the good citizens of Albany.  I saw my chance!

One Friday morning I called to speak to the Mayor.  I told him about the trees and the fact that I had called the city a few times with no response.  He put me on hold and the next commercial break he took my name and address and apologized for the lack of response.  Well, the very next Monday I came home from work and wha-la!  The trees were gone!  I mean gone!  Stumps and all!  It wasn't what I had in mind, but it was probably best.  And besides, we kind of liked the fresh, open look.

Eventually, the city went through the neighborhood and planted more trees.  In the devil's strip out front they put in a Bradford Pear...
Random internet pic of a Bradford Pear tree.
We asked the city not to put any trees in the devil's strip on the side of the house because we wanted to choose what kind of trees to put in and where. We figured we would do that when we were ready.  Well, in the fall of 2011 we were finally ready so we put in a cherry tree and a Fringe tree.

Wonderful.  Beautiful.  Right? Wrongo!!  I HATE that Fringe tree.  It has an extremely slow growth rate so every time I look at it, it reminds me that I'll be long since in the ground before it's big enough to really be called a tree.  A few weeks ago, weeks after everything else was in full bloom, that stinkin' Fringe tree still hadn't even budded.  It looked dead (reminding me once again of that inevitability) and so I made an executive decision...OUT with the Fringe tree!

But we wanted a tree in there.  It was time.  Off to Lowes!  The selection a few weeks ago was pretty good, and after a few days of obsessively studying out urban treescaping (Microsoft Word is telling me that's not a word) I decided on ... on ... another pear tree!  Oh I can be such a creative thinker!  Buuuut...my obsessive studies lead me to realize that the Bradford pear had some issues and the Cleveland pear (a cultivar of the Bradford - ha! makes me sound smart doesn't it?) was a good improvement.  

I had to show you this...


I love my little Versa!

And here's the new Cleveland pear tree...all ready to give shade and beauty to ol' 173!


 PS:  I did call the Mayor's radio show the next week to thank him for his prompt assistance!

PPS:  That low-down, dirty-rotten Fringe tree is safe and sound in a pot awaiting decision on a new location.

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