Monday, August 31, 2015

Look at my crack

Someone thought it was a bright idea to fill the driveway expansion joints with concrete:

So naturally I had to fix it:

Maybe they didn't know that the purpose of those joints was to allow the concrete to expand and contract, thereby preventing cracks from forming. And are there cracks. By golly there are indeed.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Keep your paws covered

When considering restoration, it is important to factor in the cost of gloves. Now $50 in to buying gloves, it's time to turn to that $1.99 sewing kit from Wal-Mart–

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Swimming Toad

Found this little guy swimming in the zebra plantar, unable to get out:

Of course, he's free now. And look, he's even got a garden mushroom to catch some shade under:

Peeling off the Exterior (Part 2)

Removed the aluminum from the top gable! More asbestos has been removed from the front, side and back too!



The rear gable was also uncovered and more asbestos has been removed:

Also removed a lot of asbestos from the side of the house. I had Fernando remove most of the aluminum from the side since there are a lot of solitary wasps that live underneath it. One of the bastards stung Fernando on the upper arm, but better him than me since I'm allergic to them.

The half open window explains the moisture issue in the living room built-ins:

and oops, we accidentally pulled the window out while removing the aluminum exterior. An easy fix though. But regardless, there is no flashing around the windows. They are just tacked on to the original window frames.

It's hurricane season. Are your windows secure?

Videos of Fernando removing the aluminum from the front and rear gables:

Got the first portion of the rafters exposed! Unfortunately some of the wood was replaced, huuurrumpphh.

annnnddd the porch is completely uncovered!


 See Peeling off the Exterior (Part 1)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Thursday, August 20, 2015

CrAsh! BaNg! Boom!

Taking apart a 15'x10'x8' pile of aluminum quietly at night is like playing a game of pickup sticks.
...all the outside ones are easy but once you get to the main pile there's eventually a big crash

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Peeling off the Exterior (Part 1)

This all started because I had to remove a small piece of aluminum to caulk all the way around the back door. Well, that did it. Demolition bars are naughty things like that.

I pryed off some of the aluminum, then more, and then more. A few minutes later my neighbor Fernando stopped by for a surprise visit. Perfect timing. He grabbed a beer out of the fridge, then caught a glimpse of the demolition bar and before long, he was eagerly ripping down the whole wall. Clearly, he is also tempted by the mischievous claw bar.

The wall of aluminum Fernando removed. He too is a fan of vintage homes, so we share the same zest for demolition and restoration. 
Why stop there? We moved on to the side:

In one swift move, Fernando managed to get the entire gable uncovered with one tug. My jaw dropped when I saw what was underneath! 

The gable was trimmed with Arts & Crafts architectural details, including brackets, corbels, knee braces and widely spaced dentil blocks! (Arts & Crafts Homes featured a great article about these ornaments in the article Artful Cuts: Gable Trim)

Too bad that the architectural accents were shaved off when they installed the aluminum exoskeleton :_(
Fernando spraying down the exposed, original cypress clapboards. There is still a section of asbestos to remove between the windows and from the gable. Check out that detail that used to be on the side gable! 
I then began tackling the asbestos on the rear of the house. It took some trial runs to get the hang of removing the shingles without breaking them:

Of course, we just couldn't resist moving on to the front of the house:

step 1

step 2

step 3

step 4
Can you hear the neighbors gasping??!

On the front gable, I caught a glimpse of cypress shingles hiding under that awful asbestos siding! How cool is that!

The architectural details along the roofline of my neighbor Florencio's house really showcase the arts and crafts features that were once on my home. Apparently his place was in shambles when they first bought it--like in really, really, really bad shape. Year-by-year he has been restoring the interior and exterior and he has done a tremendous job.

Zoom zoom:

The gable is ornately decorated with gorgeous architectural details. I love those deep eaves and how the supports are accented along the fascia

So yea, some day. But for now, here's where we're at:

Sunday, August 16, 2015

It helps to have a helper.

Meet Little Fox #3. He's kind of like my stray kitty--always there when you open the door, likes to chill out on the couch, and always begging for food/I mean--beer.

Fernando lives a few houses down and has been a tremendous help with working on the house.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Garden progress

I pulled up a bunch of pavers that were crammed in too close to the tree stem, 
added some leaf mold and garden soil, 
and planted some baby elephant ears to fill in the gaps, since they were kind of patchy. 

The pavers that I removed are stacked up against the chain link fence for now.

Do you like my zombie cat?!

Most of the garden is still in containers:

A while back I planted 2 confederate star jasmine vines along the chain link fence. They're doing great!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

DIY Couch Spring Repair

The springs on the couch have loosened over the years and it was finally to the point where they needed to be reinforced so that the couch doesn't swallow visitors when they lounge on it. With 30' of rope from Home Depot, I ran it through the springs, pulling it tight at each turn. Believe it or not, it actually worked!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Priming the Workshop

Almost done priming the workshop. Time to go buy another 5 gallon bucket of primer.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

How to Strip Paint from Antique Hardware

I purchased a crock pot from a local pawn shop for $6 and placed the old hardware from the windows in the sleeping porch in it on high. 8 hours later, the paint was bubbling up and easily peeled off in large chunks. Using a brass brush, purchased from the paint section at Home Depot, I gently brushed off the remaining bits of paint.

The paint on the window latches started to bubble up after 8 hours in a crock pot

The brass brush also helped to get off some of the dirt that had accumulated on it. I was surprised to find that the hardware is copper plated, which was quite the surprise! Vintage, copper plated window latches are a rare treasure. They would have been custom ordered for the home and likely were unpolished in order to blend in with the natural tones of the wood floors.

Since the patina is coveted, and raises the value of the hardware, I elected to leave the pieces unpolished, although I did polish up the edges very lightly with some Brasso to give the pieces a slight visual depth.

The final result

The Pot and the Toad

This toad jumped in an empty pot and never got out.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

A Whole House Sauna: How to Make a DIY Swamp Cooler

It's 91 inside and 85 outside.
Thank you AC for breaking in the middle of a heat spell.
I'm going to go climb into the refrigerator now.

...or maybe I'll just make a swamp cooler. *trots off to Wal-Mart*

$30 and some power tools later:
The swamp cooler in my bedroom, made from a cooler, ice and a fan. I found that freezing water in milk jugs worked better than just throwing a bag of ice in it. It only cooled the bedroom down about 2 degrees, but at least it's now below 90. I outlined the holes with a pencil then used a Dremel equipped with an EZ-Lock attachment and a plastic cutting blade to cut the holes.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Part II: Filling the gaps in the baseboards

Removing all those layers of flooring in the kitchen left a big gap under the baseboards. It's made it hard to keep the house a comfortable temperature (well, in addition to the shortage of insulation). At first I thought I'd lower the baseboards and then place quarter-round along the edges, but that's a lot of work so instead I opted to just cut some 3/4" plywood scraps down and fill the gaps with that. The seams will be covered with quarter-round anyway and I won't lose any height to the baseboards, which is good because they are a little short anyway (only 8.5"). Shortening them would have made them a little unbalanced with the 10' ceilings.

Go back to Part I: Gaps along the hardwood floors

Little Fox Goes to Find a New Home

This little guy showed up at my doorstep about 2 months ago. He was so friendly and loving. I spent many nights asleep on the porch with him purring on my chest, just wanting a home and lots of love. But I already had 2 bengals--both a handful. He really wanted to be inside but that wasn't working out. So I gathered up some courage and made an appointment for him at the SPCA. They don't euthanize for space and said he would go definitely go up for adoption. So today was a sad day because it was time to take him. This was the last photo of the little guy before I dropped him off. I feel good knowing the my Little Fox will find a new home, but am sad to let him go because he was such a warm and loving friend.

DIY Kitchen Countertop Renewal

White laminate countertops are the devil.
Whoever invented them should be shot.

I couldn't take it anymore. Every little speck showed. I've spent more money on Soft Scrub over the last 8 months than I have in my entire life.

The white needed to go.

Behold, the power of caulk and Rust-Oleum, black matte finish, with a polyurethane protective coating:

This is temporary. An attempt to keep my sanity while tirelessly pouring over photos of gorgeous, flawless, and completely unattainable kitchens on Pinterest. Some day I'll have the kitchen of my dreams. But until then, painted white laminate countertops it shall be.