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Next Steps on the Deck

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Now that the deck and the porch are connected, I consider them one thing. Not so with Mr. Math. He still considers them separate so I will give you the deck only run down on what we still need to do to get it finished. The porch is on the horizon.

First we need to add cedar around the pergola posts. We want the posts to match the front porch and carport porches like you see below. That will not be a hard project. We will get to keep our feet on the ground most of the time.

Next, we need to add a wind break for where the grill is going to go. We have 5 feet of deck outside the pergola.

I saw this windbreak online and saved it but can’t find the source. Ours is going to look a lot like this only with the boards closer and going around the corner. The gray porch paint and cedar stain will look a lot like this.

We are also going to add Edison patio lights to the pergola and this globe candle holder.

Finally, about August or September we are going to stain the deck with a cedar color. It takes up to six months for the treated wood to be ready to accept stain but the heat and rain seem to be speeding it along. It already has stopped beading water which is a sign it is ready.

Once the deck is finished the porch gets underway.

We are enjoying our summer and hope you are too.

Blessings,

Karen

Phase 1 of the Deck is Done

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When I shared with you the Far from Perfect Patio furniture I told you the deck wasn’t ready for you to see yet but as of 11:00 a.m. today, phase 1 of the project is done! Woo hoo!

We have a great group of friends who love to get together to hang out, eat, and drink. Mostly we just want to be together. In early March, everyone showed up at our house for supper. The weather was nice and the group ended up jammed on our 12x 12 back porch.

I took this today and am dying because I forgot to take my next project out of the picture but this is the back porch. The porch is about to have a makeover too. Imagine 12 people in folding chairs, around the table and avoiding the grill on this space.

Having our friends all crowded up on he porch got us thinking that we needed a bigger space in the backyard. We also didn’t have an easy way to move from the carport to the back porch. Most people went through the house to get there. We decided that the best solution was a 12 x 20 deck to connect the porch and the carport. The porch faces west but there are a lot of trees back there to give evening shade.

The first step was to clear the space, grade it to a slight slope away from the house and attach ledge boards to the house and porch.

He did get help to put the giant pergola posts into the 36 inch deep holes. A hardworking college kids came out to help him. Once the pergola posts were in I drilled pilot holes in the deck boards and he screwed them to the joists. We got the whole deck down in one day. Then we headed to our friends’ hot tub to work out the kinks. I didn’t take a single picture of the deck until we got the giant header boards up. I was too exhausted to think. Once again thank goodness for the college kid. We could not have done this alone.

The top of the pergola tested us. We got all rafters up then went on a scheduled camping trip. We returned and it stated to rain. It rained every day at least an inch for a week. We then left again for another camping trip. When we finally came home and could work the pressure treated boards had warped some. We, an I do mean we, Had to get up on the ladders and had to work hard get them back where they belonged so that an end board could be attached at each end. I recommend working with treated lumber as quickly as you can. It is very wet and as it dries it changes shape.

Finally, today Mr. Math got on top of the pergola and attached the cross pieces. We selected rested 1×4 for this part. It took him a while to get things set up but he finished the cross pieces in about an hour. The clean up took almost as long.

I put this watermelon on the table to remind myself that even though we were not super speedy getting the deck done to this point, we weren’t idle. We planted a pretty high garden this year that included squash, zucchini, green beans, purple hull peas, corn cucumbers, tomatoes, tomatillos, okra, cantaloupe and watermelon. I am pretty proud of us.

In the near future we will be wrapping the posts with cedar and adding a wind screen and place for the grill to go. While waiting for the treated wood to be ready to stain we are moving on to the porch. It is in desperate need of love and attention.

I hope that this trying time finds you and yours safe and healthy.

We love to hear from you.

Blessings,

Karen

The Far from Perfect Patio Furniture

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Hello friends from Providence Acres where I always seem to have a project going and my sweet husband does the heavy lifting. We are in the process of building a deck on the back of our house. We are adding a total of 240 square feet of semi shaded outdoor space that will connect our carport to our back porch and I cannot wait to get it finished. It has been slow going for us, but we are making steady progress in spite of lots rain, humidity, keeping up with the garden, mowing, and heat. Lots and lots of heat. We set a budget of $2000 to get the porch built and we are going to be close, but a little over. I can’t wait to show it to you but we aren’t quite ready yet. As we worked on the deck I kept thinking about a patio dining table and chairs we had out in our barn. The set was given to us by our buddies across the road. It was rough when we were given it two years ago and storing it in a barn didn’t help it get any better. When we pulled them out of the barn I had my doubts. Serious doubts.

Mr. Math had to rebuild a lot of the table underside. It is a butterfly leaf table which we had never messed with before.
Every chair needed work, some more than others.

The set was probably pretty expensive when purchased and was well used. It had been refinished at least once but probably twice. Anything wooden left exposed to sun, rain and humidity is going to deteriorate without lots of maintenance and this set was no exception. There was rotted wood, loose screws, broken boards, and general wear and tear.

After Mr. Math got it all repaired, and I learned how to use wood Bondo, I used some Behr Low Luster Porch paint the I found on the oops shelf at Home Depot for $9.00. I find the best stuff there and hang on to it until I find the right project for it. I am not sure what the problem was with the paint but it is definitely a Behr porch paint called Sea Cave.

I hand painted the chairs. Every stinking chair. It took me three days. All because I was afraid to use the airless sprayer I bought two months ago. When I came time to paint the table I knew I was never going to get the finish I wanted without using the sprayer. 2 hours of reading and two YouTube videos later, I asked Mr. Math to help me. The sprayer turned this:

All that work, both underside and top side just over an hour including wait time to turn it over. Why was I a scaredy-cat?

Just thought you might like to see some of the repairs. This set will never be mistaken for brand new, but with the paint job it doesn’t look half bad.

The set turned out better than I expected.

I found the cushions at Family Dollar for $5.00 each. They make the chairs more comfortable and add a bit of color.

All together, including the cushions, paint, screws, plates and Bondo this project cost about $40.00. Not bad for adding seating and a table. We are looking forward to having family and friends over to enjoy them.

1940’s Chest of Drawers

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Waaay back on December 30th Mr. Math and I headed off to collect a chest of drawers, vanity, and mirror. Somehow along the way I also picked up a lime green claw foot tub but that is a story for another day.

The furniture belonged to my friend’s grandparents and had been in a garage for 20 years and was showing what humidity can do to furniture over time. The veneer was coming off and the drawers were warped. The mirror is going to really need some attention down the road but it is a beauty. I had no idea when I picked up these pieces that shortly I would temporarily go back to work. As a principal. Then there was a pandemic. Then online learning, zoom meetings, virtual everything. The bedroom furniture got put on the back burner. I have been busy people. I promise. So the furniture moved from one garage to another.

I honestly thought that the chest of drawers would be too much work to save but that original folk art factory stenciling kept staring at me. I knew I would have to give saving at least some of it a try. I got busy stripping the veneer off. I had to get a steamer after parts of it but it came off and got sanded. I bought water based polyurethane hoping I could seal the drawers after cleaning them. The first coat was a disaster. The old varnish under the poly started bubbling up. I stopped after one coat thinking that this was all getting primed and painted. I went to bed thinking about that darn chest of drawers. The next morning I decided to try going over the bubbly varnish with steel wool and to my surprise it wasn’t horrible. It took four coats to get them looking decent. They still aren’t perfect but I am glad they were preserved. The top was totally stripped and sanded by my husband including all those wiggly grooves around the top drawer. I stained it all dark walnut

I am keeping this set for my guest room. The base of the chest of drawers was painted a warm white called cinnamon bun. I liked the original hardware patina so I kept the as is but will be spraying them with a sealer soon. I convinced my husband to stop moving it inside to take some pictures, but I still have some touch ups. I love how it turned out and look forward to having it in my home.

Laundry Room Touch Up

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We have a small laundry room right off the mudroom and kitchen that has no door to close it off. There are two openings to the laundry room, two windows, a full sized sink and cabinets under and over the cabinets, a full sized top load washer and dryer, and upright freezer in the teeny tiny space. It is also where our mean old cat eats and has her litter box.

Can you tell it isn’t my favorite space?

It also gets cluttered in there because, well, we have stuff and a serious lack of storage space in this house. We knew we needed more storage in there so we looked to the only space we have, the space above the dryer. We made a plan to add shelving to make the room more functional. The photo below is a little late. Mr. Math got busy before I took any photos but this is how it looked at the beginning of the progress on our little touch up. Was always embarrassed for anyone to see it.

The first thing added is a white laminate board above the washer and dryer to keep things from falling behind the machines. Next, we added two very old, rough cut cypress barn boards from a barn in Kirbyville, Texas that we took down the day our first granddaughter was born four years ago.

The shelf brackets were made from pipe fittings.

I wanted a sort of closed storage on the shelves so large rustic tubs are filled with dog and cat supplies, extra cleaning supplies, paper goods, and laundry spot cleaners.

Mr. Math used more pipe to create a hanging clothes bar. We are tall so the space above the door is a great spot.

I still want to change the lighting in the room but I am pleased with how it looks.

This old glass washboard was my great grandmother’s. I hung it to remind myself how good I have it when I complain about the laundry that I have to do.

Another project done during our stay at home time.

We love hearing from you.

Blessings,

Karen

Kitchen Plans

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Well hello there. I don’t know about you but I seem to have a lot of time on my hands right now. I just watch the news once a day because man, it is heavy. I am working from home 2 1/2 days a week but the whole no commute thing means that I am spending a lot of time daydreaming about projects I want to get done. Poor Mr. Math.

We have three properties that we have projects either currently planned or underway. We ( I ) am/are a little crazy like that. We have our home in little Coldspring, Texas where we recently replaced the flooring in and are now planning to make the laundry room more functional and cute. The big project of turning the Guest Shed into a true guest house is on hold until we can feel good about having contractors on the property. We have a house and garage apartment in Huntsville, Texas that are rental properties. We are going to be doing some landscaping work on soon particularly in the back yard for two little girls who have birthdays coming up, but mostly I have been thinking about the Redneck Retreat in what Apple Maps says is Wiergate, Texas but I think is in Sharpsville. The Redneck is a deer camp and almost exclusively a dude property from October until the end of February. It is a rustic cabin with the only running water coming from rainwater collection and there is no internet or cell service available on the property. The one room cabin sleeps eight in bunk beds and a foldout sofa. I want to start using the camp more to get away and connect with nature. I also want my girlfriends to want to come there. We are near lakes, Louisiana, and sweet little East Texas towns that need to be explored. I have spent a lot of time thinking about the Redneck kitchen while mindlessly scrolling through Pinterest after we started the process to get the kitchen up to a functional state (yay for a vent hood and working microwave!) I now have a plan of sorts for the rest of the kitchen. I say of sorts because we are still thinking about the base cabinets. We are either going to just buy stock unfinished cabinets and paint them or we are going to modify what is there and add cabinet doors/ drawers then paint. The top cabinets are all going to be white, the bottoms are going to be a sage-ish green. Our Habitat Restore has recycled paint that they sell for much less than retail paint in the following colors. I am planning on Spring.

Here is my inspiration:

A Beautiful Mess

The countertop is going to be black Ikea laminate. It will take 3 sections of the laminate to get the u-shaped kitchen completed. Of course the laminate is going to have to wait. Ikea is closed. Just for grins I looked at what it would cost to ship the laminate to us. It would be more than the cost of the laminate for it to come that way but a girl can dream.

Easter week we will be unplugging at the Redneck and will be getting the last two sections of upper cabinets in and we will be deciding what we want to do on the lower cabinets. We will be measuring, drawing and dreaming. When I look at the different counter top levels and pieces, I know whatever we do it will be an improvement.

I definitely know I want a closet to the right of the section of cabinets in the picture below for brooms, mops, cleaning supplies etc. That move will help to relocate the drinking water we have to bring with us closer to the stove and sink. I even have a great vintage door that I think would work there.

We are headed the property over the Easter holiday and I am looking forward to making progress.

We love hearing from you,

Blessings,

Karen

Updating a 1990’s Butcher Block Table

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I don’t know about you guys but I am ready for a few things to change. I am ready for a little warmer weather, to be able to have friends and family over, and for this whole stay at home thing to end.

I hasn’t all been bad around here though. We live on 15 beautiful acres of land that allows us lots of space. Another benefit is knocking out small projects that were going to get done “one day” like cleaning out storage buildings, organizing the linen closet, fixing some minor cracks in the Sheetrock, and paint touch ups. We also have a few projects coming up. Before the world slowed to a crawl we had a new washer and dryer delivered and installed (FYI- in the country you have to switch a gas dryer from natural gas to propane and that is a pain.) With the laundry upgrades, the laundry room is about to get spiffed up. I am getting excited about that one!

We also did a project that turned out beautifully and will make our main eating area much more functional. Every since we moved into the house we have had a table that was once in our formal dining room as our breakfast room table. I really do love the table and we have had it at least 35 years. It just hasn’t worked well for us in the space that we have.

This is the most recent picture of the table I had before it got moved out.

The design of our ranch house is a little unusual. The front door of the house, that is really not convenient for guests, opens directly into the space that our coffee bar and table are in. When we moved in the former owners had closed the front door off completely and had a china cabinet sitting in that space. We have installed that beautiful mahogany door and added a really large porch so the space gets lots of traffic now. The space isn’t very large and when we have a crowd over it is tight in that space.

We kept using the table there even though it wasn’t a great fit because, well, we liked the table and we already had it. The 47 inch diameter table had a leaf that extended the length when we needed more seating which was great. The final straw that forced the change (and I am glad it did) was when moving back into the house after getting the flooring replaced the leaf was damaged. It was time to go. I started looking on Facebook marketplace and found this solid wood table for $50.00. The information on the underside said it had a1998 shipping date.

It was solid wood but had some wear on the top.

My son gave us some dark walnut stain from a project they were working on and oil based poly for the tabletop. I found a mistint can of paint at our Home Depot a while back that I knew would be perfect. It is almost a dark pewter gray. My husband did an amazing job sanding and sanding the the top, staining it and then applying three coats of semigloss polyurethane to the tabletop.

The color is closest to this picture. For some reason the other photos look greenish.

This table is going to work so much better for us. When we have a party we will be able to move the table against the wall as additional serving space. The 32 inch width gives almost another foot of walking space through the area. It feels good to make progress on the house during this time of such uncertainty and sad news. We have decided to use this time to turn lemons into lemonade on our little corner of the world and get projects we can do without bringing others onto our property.

I hope this week finds you and your family safe and healthy. We love hearing from you.

Blessings,

Karen

New Flooring

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Mr. Math and I joke that our motto is: We don’t do easy at our house. Getting new flooring was no exception to that statement. After only five years the flooring we put in was failing. Part of the problem was ours because we didn’t have the floor leveled prior to installing and our ice maker leaked on the kitchen floor for about a week while we were gone and the drain line in the laundry backed up several time before we could get the problem resolved but a quick check online told us that we weren’t the only ones having problems with the product we used. Whatever the issue, the floor had to go. When Mr. Math and I talked about what we both wanted, here was our list:

  • Waterproof
  • More rigid flooring
  • Flooring leveled first
  • Mr. Math DID NOT want to do it ourselves again.

We selected NuCore from Floor and Decor for all of the house except the mudroom, laundry, kitchen, and baths and are in love with the look and feel of the floor. Even though NuCore has a lifetime guarantee, my last experience made me a little skittish. All the rooms that have plumbing along with the room where muddy and/or wet shoes and clothes land got an outdoor slate-look porcelain tile. It was important to me to find something that made the new flooring and the gray kitchen countertop make sense. We will be putting the flooring on an odd little step we have going into the house too soon.

NuCore Driftwood Oak

The flooring going in.

The not easy part for us was moving everything on the floor out of the house. We literally boxed up, packed up and moved out anything that touched the floor and moved into our rv with a dog and cat. The other not easy part of the process was that I unexpectedly returned to work 2 1/2 days a week just as the process started an oh, we had four day of rain out of the six days our furniture was displaced all over our property including on the front porch and carport under tarps. It was terrible.

Mr. Math sort of got his wish about not doing the physical work… sort of. We did have the floor leveled, and 90% of the flooring installed. We had awesome friends who helped us get the old flooring up and saved us a ton of money. Mr. Math hired a young man and recruited neighbors to help him move the furniture out and flooring into the house. He had to unload 78 boxes of NuCore and 25 boxes of tile. He also had to redo a few areas we weren’t thrilled with how the installers did the work, and had to install all the shoe moulding and caulking. He spent several days on his knees but the results were amazing. We ordered a new washer and dryer but are waiting on the part to connect the dryer to propane gas so that room is a mess still and you can see the mess from the kitchen and mudroom. Those pictures will be added once we settle in.

We are so grateful that we got the flooring finished before all that is going on. We are in a beautiful home, not trapped in a rv for an extended time.

I hope you are all healthy and taking this time to spend with your family.

Karen

Mersman Drum Table Troubles

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We have a cat named Chloe. She is a 17 year old, grumpy cat who works hard to make sure we all know that she is queen of the house. She only eats soft food ( extra gravy variety only) and cat treats. Chloe hisses at everyone, and she would probably smoke and drink whiskey if she could figure out how to make that happen. Her feeding time is somewhere between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m. We either have to get up, give her a clean bowl, fresh water, and food or she will stand in the hallway and yowl until we do.

The picture above is the best shot I could get of her. She was making another attempt to get up on the table after I had run her off twice.

I was given a 1950’s mahogany Mersman drum table with a damaged top and today I am going to tell you the tale of the table. The photo below is not mine but is similarly to how the table looked when I got it. The only exception is that my table had a large stain on the tabletop.

By now you may be wondering what a table and our old grumpy cat have in common. Well, I named this table Chloe. Does that give you an idea how much trouble this table was?

In my quest to get my stash of unloved furniture moved along I started work on the drum table. Everything except the top of the table was in great shape. I have no idea what in the world was spilled on the table but it soaked in and the top couldn’t be saved. Even after sanding, painting ( primer then paint) and polyurethaning the top the darn stain bled through. I had to get out the serious primer to knock it down. It took two coats of primer. That was when I knew this table would be trouble.

It took three coats of paint to get the top smooth. I spray painted the feet and drawer pulls old gold so I decided to try stenciling roses on the top. Finally I added a coat of poly to seal it…again.

She turned out pretty didn’t she?

I have been pretty spoiled selling my furniture up here. Nothing has been posted more than a day or two. The piece took a while to sell. There were two no shows, then I got sick the morning that a real live owner was coming to get it. I had to let the buyer know I would have to deliver it for them once I felt better. My son volunteered to take it to the new owner but it wouldn’t fit in the back of his car.

The final, and I do mean final straw was the delivery. The table tipped over on the way. I stopped the car and checked the paint. Thankfully there wasn’t any damage to the paint job so I continued on. When I delivered the piece to a sweet older couple, this was laying in the back of the suv.

That darn table.

Drum table 1, me 0.

I literally gave the table to the couple for free and walked away.

Bye Chloe.

Ever have one of those projects?

I hope you week has been amazing.

Blessings,

Karen

Cedar Shutters for the Rent House

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Our Rental property has come a long way since we bought it three and a half years ago.

We bought the property in Huntsville, Texas which is a college town near where we live. It was a hot mess. The 1950 bungalow was deemed uninhabitable by the city due to electrical and gas leak problems and in general it was gross and/or really ugly. There was a garage apartment on the site as well that was rented but we couldn’t check that out too much what with the two growling pit bulls and guns inside and visible. We looked past the ugly and at the potential for two income properties. It has been quite a journey but the house is now a sweet little quirky place with hardwood flooring and surprisingly the garage apartment only needed deep cleaning, paint, a new fridge and a/c. We are even more fortunate that our son’s family rents the house so we get the bonus of getting to see our sweet granddaughters frequently. Win-win.

I really like the paint color we chose for the exterior. It is Sherwin Williams Slate Tile. The yellow door was totally not my idea but I love it. My daughter in law chose the yellow and suggested we stain the handrail you see that isn’t stained in the photo above. I was planning on painting it white until she suggested that we stain it.

The paint and new roof look great but I have always thought the house needed more pizazz. My daughter in law shared a picture of a blue house with stained wood shutters and I knew that was what it was missing.

A friend gave us some reclaimed cedar that Mr. Math cut down to 1 X 4’s then ran them through the planer and finally cut to length. He stained it with a cedar stain and I loved it. They were simple, plain, and I think a little elegant.

The results were dramatic. For the cost of screws and stain the look of the house looks more finished. We will continue to add wood accents like the stair rails as they are needed.

The photos aren’t perfect because frankly the yard is not ready for prime time. With all the rain and mild temperatures we have had it is weedy.

I still have a few projects that I want to do to the exterior. There is an exterior door that needs to be covered and I know exactly what I want it to look like. We will be possibly adding an additional driveway if we can get the permit, we will be painting and patching the porch concrete, and one the swing comes down porch railings will be going up.

What do you think of the shutters?

We love hearing from you.

Blessings,

Karen

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