Location:Western NY

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Warm Windows

In order to try to keep the baby warm this February despite the original [beautiful but drafty] windows in his nursery, we decided to try a product called WarmWindow. It’s basically a system for making your own window shades using a special quilted, insulated lining with a system of magnets to seal it tight to the window frame. The insulation, rings, magnets and hardware are kind of expensive, but we bought them in stages at JoAnn Fabrics using 40% off coupons, and it worked out to be about $25 a window.

It took me an evening and and afternoon to finish sewing the first shade, but I think it will go quicker now that I know what I’m doing. It wasn’t really hard, but it was kind of tedious and tricky to get everything exactly straight. The instructions can be downloaded off the WarmWindow website, and are pretty straightforward. As I make the second shade, I think I will cut the insulating fabric just a tiny bit wider (a quarter of an inch or so), because once it was all sewn together, it seemed to bow or shrink just a little from side to side.

I also made a valance using an extra crib skirt (I bought 2 on clearance for $10 at Land of Nod - couldn't resist the tiny embroidered neighborhood...). When pulled up, the WarmWindow shade hides behind the valence.

You can see the long magnetic strips going down the sides of the inner edge of the window frame (the part that screws in and holds the bottom sash in place). The shade has magnetic strips sewn into it, which cling to the window frame as you let down the shade. The WarmWindow instructions say that you can paint the magnets, so I may paint and shellac the magnetic strips on the frame so they blend in better. I ordered some aniline dye in an antique cherry color, which I plan to add to amber Bullseye shellac to get the right color. I'll shellac the sill and other worn places as well.

When let down all the way, the shade keeps the cold air out and the warm air in. It blocks light completely, so during the day you leave it open to let light and solar energy into the room, and at night you pull it closed to keep the heat inside. This light-blocking characteristic also might help us trick the baby into taking a nap during the daytime…

Us, too...

This seems to be a pretty common announcement in the houseblogs neighborhood lately, but if you've been wondering where we were - yep, I'm pregnant!

T. and I are looking forward to welcoming a baby boy in early February or thereabouts. Our focus on the house has shifted into make-room-for-baby mode. (I had originally planned to strip the outside of all the windows this summer... That plan was scrapped with this new development - no lead paint for baby, thanks! Plus, with the puking and the headaches and general weariness, there was no way I was up for that job even if it was safe.)

Despite the total lack of blogging, we have made some progress on the house, which I'll try to share as I feel up to it.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Porch progress

Thinking of warmer days to come, this week T. turned his attention to the enclosed back porch. We plan to scrape and paint, as well as reglaze and rescreen the windows. But first he had to add electricity, another circuit for a GFI outlet and a ceiling fan. Over the past few evenings he's made good progress, and today he hung the motor for the fan and hooked everything up. We won't hang the fan blades til we scrape and paint the ceiling (scraping overhead beadboard, what fun...).

The way the ceiling is constructed, it was impossible to remove the beadboard without cutting it on the edges down the entire length of the porch. The ceiling is integral, essentially sandwiched between the framing of the lower and upper porch. Kind of hard to explain, but long story short we decided to just add a raceway for the wiring to the fan. You can see where T. removed a couple of the cedar shakes - we'll put those back soon. The top hole and wire will be hidden behind the crown moulding when we put it back up, and the raceway will get a top cap and a coat of paint.

Today we couldn't have asked for anything better weather-wise... warm in the sun, cool in the shade. I have a cold and felt kinda crummy, but the sunshine was irresistable and I spent the morning bagging sticks and leaves, and weeding the flower beds, while T. mowed the lawn. The back yard is filled with violets, and these pretty blue flowers that I don't know the name of:

Have a joyful Easter! He is risen!

Friday, April 07, 2006


Yay! The dining room rug arrived in the mail today. I ordered it from the "Outlet" section of CB2. (Crate & Barrel and CB2 always seem to have nice rugs on sale at reasonable prices.) I also ordered a rugpad from

We really like the way it finishes and adds warmth and color to the room, as well as protecting the floor. We tried to go pretty dark with the color - the better to hide the spills, my dear.

And the rug pad is wonderful. The pad we have in the living room is from Ikea and it doesn't hold up at all to a skittery dog who loves to launch herself from relaxing to racing in .007 seconds. This one seems to grip the floor very well.

Of course, for some reason, this dog (who has never chewed on any non-food item except her own toys) has taken a perverse delight in trying to bite out the knots in the rug's jute weave. Then today I caught her knawing on the new chair legs. Argh! Bless old houses and all their extra doors with which to shut dogs out of the dining room...

Hanging together

Although I'm an illustrator and have stacks of paintings and prints in flat files in the attic, we had yet to actually hang anything on the walls. Until this past weekend.

The larger monoprint on the left is a self-portrait done by yours truly. The smaller monoprint on the right was created by my great-grandfather F. Sands Brunner (b. 1886) - it's a portrait of my great-great grandfather Thomas Speers (b. 1867).

I unearthed the old print when looking through a bunch of sketches and tearouts of my great-grandfather's work, and was struck by it's beauty and simplicity. I love the way my new print and his old one seem made to hang together.

(I'm sorry now that I didn't scan the old print before I framed it, because it doesn't photograph well under glass. You can see a better image of the new print here.)

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Between the cold weather (a. unmotivating and b. heating bills draining the ol' bank account) and a busy work schedule, we haven't done diddly squat on the house in a couple of months. This weekend we finally did a little work on making the dining room more hospitable.

First, we bought a new table. Our old table was fine, except we could only seat 4 adults comfortably, and then there was never enough room on top to fit all the food. The new table should seat at least 8. We got on a scratch-and-dent sale at Value City, so it was missing one chair and one of the 2 leaves. But the wonderful discount made it, in our opinion, well worth it. Maybe we can even make some kind of extra leaf that will fit and can be covered with a big tablecloth for those rare occasions when we would need to seat 10 or so. T. and his friend brought it all home from the store, crammed in the back of Tommy's van (thank you!).

I never know if I should decorate in a craftsman, deco, or colonial style, since the original house seemed to be such a mixture. We chose a quasi-colonial table. In the right side of this photo, you can see our old, formerly white shelf which I painted black so it would match the new chairs.

I also finally bought fabric and started sewing curtains. Here are the first 2 panels...

I think the next order of business in this room is a rug. And hopefully with the arrival of Spring (it was 50 degrees today, the warmest it's been in 2 weeks) we will make some better house-related progress soon...

Monday, January 30, 2006

Doggy doors

This weekend we re-hung the two original kitchen doors, one leading to the basement stairs, and the other leading to the front hallway. The doors are heavy solid oak that we found in the attic. (The previous owner thought they got in the way so she took them down.)

Half of each hinge had been left in place on the door frame and painted over many times, so I used a heatgun to remove the thickest paint and unscrew the plates. Then I chucked the hinges and screws into a pot of boiling water and baking soda, which worked pretty well to remove the top layers, although not as well on the oldest paint. The hinge halves still attached to the doors had a layer of paint on them, too, but we didn't strip them because we were kind of in a hurry.


See, the reason we were re-hanging the doors was because we just adopted a dog. She's almost 6 years old and pretty much housebroken, but it's been a very stressful time for her... we figured better to keep her in the kitchen when we can't be watching her, 'til we're sure she's fully trustworthy.

This is Morgan. Ain't she cute?

She seems to be adjusting well so far, just understandably a little neurotic about being abandoned. She's calm and sweet when you're in the room with her, and just fine when you're gone, but if you come back from being away (even from upstairs. for two minutes.) she cannot control her exuberant, ouchy leaps of welcome.

We are working on sit. And stay.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Hooray for new socks and long underwear!

Remember when you were a kid and hated getting footwear or undergarments for Christmas? Well, I felt kind of old this year, because I got both, and was quite pleased about it.

My parents and grandmother gave me not just one, but two complete sets of my favorite Duofold long johns, aiding in my quest to have enough to wear a thermal underlayer 24/7. (Reminds me of this funny post from Mindy at Fixer-Upper.)

And my mother-in-law gave me some fun socks - complete with little pink hammers and wrenches...


We were also excited to receive some Lowe's gift certificates to buy more toys for the house (Thanks K+D!). Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Working like/Sick as a dog

In his one day off between Christmas visiting (we loved seeing everyone!) and going back to work, T. dove right back into the projects. He's been wanting a big workspace of his own for a while, so he decided to fix up the basement for this purpose. The first order of business was to tear up the nasty, nasty carpet.

The cement floor underneath isn't super gorgeous, but at least it doesn't smell! Later on I think we'll repaint the floor and maybe put down a carpet remnant or some kind of rug that we can remove and clean/dry if it should get wet or dirty.

Our new electric space heater makes the basement space much more livable, too. T. is planning to build a workbench with that plywood/chipboard stuff.

I, on the other hand, am sick (again!) and pretty much good-for-nothing. I have been really enjoying 2 Christmas gifts from T.'s parents, though. Flannel sheets and an electric blanket, mmm...

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas!

They went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. Matthew 2:9-10

Wishing you true joy this season and always...