Tuesday, March 25, 2014


 As I had mentioned previously, when I was still single, I had taken up the carpet in the one bedroom on the main floor, the dining and the living room.  We have a marvelous floor refinisher in town.  I think they have been in service at least 60 years. 

In those days, circa 1939, these wood floors were 1 3/4 inch oak, something unheard of these days.  When the sanders had completed the re-sanding and refinishing job back in 1989, the floors were perfect.  Up until 2000, I know the floors were in pristine shape, because I had lived there.  Once we moved and had renters in the house, I always had a lot of angst about them caring for the floors.  Thirteen years later, there was damage, some worse than others.

Once the renters were out, a dear friend obtained the keys from the property manager and he went in to see first hand what shape the house was in.  These are some of the pictures of the wood floors.

This spot was from the dog urine.  Sad, sad is all I can say.

The dining room area where the table was sitting had scratches due to furniture with no felt pads on the feet of the table and chairs..

The most shocking floor was the back bedroom.  Five years ago, before the house was rented to a new tenant, the property manager mentioned that without allowing pets cut down on the number of people able to rent.  He encouraged me to change the lease and allow pets, however, at the time I remember telling him that smaller pets would be allowed.
Well, come to find out, the last tenant had a 'Marmaduke' type dog.  When the last year's inspection report came to me in the mail, there was a note stating, 'big dog', could not enter the room.  I questioned it, but should have pushed it further with the property manager. 
So when I received this picture via email, I was totally distressed.

Besides leaving the dog in this room all day while they were away, one wall of the baseboards were urine filled.  When Mr. Thrifty first saw the picture, he told me that that wasn't a dog, but a bear that had done this damage.  Mind you, at this point we did not know what type of dog the tenant had.
The following picture is a close up of the doorway in the room.  This 1 3/4 inch oak had been scratched down one inch in some places.

And a picture of the back of the door.  All I could do with the door was lightly sand, stain and seal it.

When I first arrived on site, I immediately called the same sanders to come evaluate the problem and see what could be done.  Luckily, they buy older homes' oak flooring pieces just for instances like this.
The entire floor area under the  door was pulled out and newer 'older' oak was replaced.  Nothing could be done about the door because it was made of Douglas Fir.  This type of wood door isn't even made anymore.  Once the newer wood was replaced, an overall sanding staining and Polyurethane was applied to finish the room.

As I said before, this company of floor sanders are miracle workers.  Luckily, we pressed the property manager into making the past tenant pay for this damage.  The door could not be saved.

The after picture is amazing!

The girls and I cleaned the baseboard with a solvent that pulled out the dog urine, sanded and refinished it ourselves.
I am so happy that the floors came back to life. 

One other item that wasn't cleaned since 2000 were the floor returns.  I know this because like my Grandmother, I would clean them and place newspapers in them for lining.  The paper I pulled out while cleaning, sure enough was from the year 2000.

 I'm sure Grandma would have rolled over in her grave had she seen this.
A close up...

And after cleaning......(with newer newspaper)

Finished with the metal cover.

After getting on my hands and knees with Murphy's Oil soap and washing the polyurethane floors, they looked like this for the realtor's pictures.  Quite an improvement.  Of course, all the walls in the house except for the kitchen were repainted during these same three weeks.


Notice the built in cupboard.  This cabinet was pretty much untouched from the renters.

And the dog room, as we now call it.

Minimal damage was done to the upstairs bedroom.  This room had wider pine planks.  I had refinished this floor after I had moved in.

 So now you have seen the work done to clean up and refinish the floors.  Stay tuned to the next segment posting on the kitchen.

Friday, March 21, 2014


This posting will begin a 7 part series on the house on Maywood.  Last summer, the two girls and myself trekked to Illinois to get the house ready to put on the market.  I like to think of this series of postings as our 'diary of a dirty house'. 
Having spent 3 weeks this past summer readying the Maywood house for the market was an overwhelming task.  The first issue was Mr. Thrifty could not take the time off of work to help on this momentous project.  The two girls were going to be part of my crew and they would be paid for their efforts.
If anyone would have told me how well this plan would have worked out, I would have never believed them.  Having not stepped in the house in over 5 years was a scary thought.(The house had been rented out for the past 13 years.)  A dear friend of mine that lived in Peoria would be my eyes and ears until I arrived in late June.  He would obtain the keys to the house from the rental manager and give me a quick look see at what damages had occurred.  I was astounded.  You have to keep in mind that while my grandparents, the original owners who had built the house, were fastidious housekeepers.  We use to joke that Grandma would catch dust in the air, because the place was always spotless.

Maywood house- circa 1939

When I first bought this property, many things needed to be updated.  In 1993, a new roof, new furnace and the first air conditioner were installed.  I spent my first summer going through 2 heat guns, stripping and repainting all the exterior wooden window frames. I couldn't afford to buy all new windows, so that was the alternative.  All the original wooden floors covered with carpet were sanded and refinished.  Every room was painted which was a feat in itself.  While painting the living and dining room, I returned the morning after applying the first coat.  It looked like the walls were in ancient Greece.  They had all crackled because some type of varnish had been applied over the paint.  I guess this was to keep them from absorbing stains.  I had to start from scratch after washing with bleach all the walls in the remaining rooms.  TSP  did not even work on these surfaces. New linoleum was laid in the kitchen and basement stairs.  The basement was painted with paint to seal moisture from coming in.  And that was just the inside.  With the help of a bricklayer friend, we laid a brick patio using old street bricks in the backyard.
After I had married, Mr. Thrifty insulated part of the attic and installed brand new easy clean tilt out windows.  He re-plastered and painted all the ceilings on the main floor.  With my Dad's help, he updated the bathroom.  All window sills were stripped, stained and coated with polyurethane.

This picture was taken after the new half-circle front steps and the front brick patio were completed. I loved the original wooden screen door painted bright red.  My dad had built and installed the window boxes.

By the time we finished, it was a glorious place.  When we moved out of this house, we videotaped the complete house just to validate all the work that had been done.

And this is the picture with all the tulips blooming right before we moved out in  2000.  The new glassed green screen door updates the original red wooden screen door.   This picture shows the lawn at its best. (And seated on the front stoop were our two girls, one of them a newborn baby and myself.

And so begins the documentation on the Maywood home.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


 When St. Patrick's day comes around, I always make a special card for two special people.  The first is my Mom.  The second is my Mom-Cecilia's first cousin Martha.  Both are very proud of their Irish heritage.  In order to honor both of them, I got the card making supplies out and began.

Since I was thinking along the lines of vintage Ireland, what better to start with than an old frame.  This frame would be a temporary frame for the card.  As you can see, if was a mere quarter for this one at a garage sale.

When I think of an Irish cottage, I think of baskets.  I knew that I had some basket weave scrapbook paper.  I found a vintage map of the Emerald Isle.  After printing it off, I measured the basket weave paper to balance the card out.  Once it was glued on the cardstock, it looked like this.
I love this copy of the map of Ireland with highlighted views of actual castles and other prominent historical sites.

Just gluing the map onto the card brings that look that I am looking for.

While doing a Google search, I found this distressed Irish flag.

and some sweet shamrocks....

Cutting out the shamrocks, adding a bit of emerald green glitter and cutting off the chain leaves my dimensional flag ready to be added to the card.

Though I will not be delivering this card with the frame in the mail, it was fun to place it upright to add a bit of Irish spirit to the household.

The luck of the Irish may be bestowed upon you.


Friday, March 14, 2014


I am always looking to infuse family items into my storage elements.  When I first moved into my Grandmother's house, this dish drainer was stored under the kitchen sink.
By the way, in the next month or two, I will chronicle last summer's cleanup of the Maywood house before putting it on the market.  I still marvel at the fact that we three girls, my daughters and myself cleaned for three weeks to ready the once loved house back to one in good condition.  But I'm getting distracted here.
Oh yes, the dish drainer........
My favorite color is red.  When I found the dish drainer under the sink, I pulled it out and knew that I had to treasure this piece forever.  Grandma seemed to always be at the kitchen sink cleaning up after somebody.  She was an awesome woman.
Anyway, when I first moved to this house, I did not plan my organization very well.   Part of that was due to the fact that I fell and broke my right wrist three days after the movers left.  That really put a damper on unpacking.  Mr. Thrifty did an amazing job helping out and did fill the majority of the kitchen cabinets.
                  OK, I'm back on topic once again.                   
I was always frustrated with pan lids in my previous homes.  They never seemed to stay tidy and organized.    So, I pulled out Grandma's dish drainer and put it to good use.
Dish drainers of the past are not solid plastic rather they appear to be a wire wrapped inside rubber tubing.  This dish drainer really cleaned up well.  Isn't she a beaut!
Starting with my smallest lids, I stacked them just like I would put them in the dishwasher.(Notice any OCD tendencies?)

I actually took a silverware holder from another dish drainer and filled it with my plastic funnels.  No more rummaging around for those anymore.

You might notice the tomato red oval casserole dish laid to the side.  How marvelous that the two items compliment each other, but I purchased this dish when in Belgium visiting an old teacher friend. 
You might also notice that I have Pyrex casserole dishes for an army.  Remember, I grew up in a house with 10 children.  I always want to be ready to cook for a large group!  I think I have enough casserole dishes to feed a church dinner.

Rather than appreciate one emotionally attached kitchen item, I now have two awesome memories that come to mind just by opening my kitchen cabinet door.  Some might think this foolish, but I put a lot into childhood memories.  I think they make us happier people.

Look around your house to see what items you can use for a dual purpose.  Maybe you can smile just by opening a kitchen cabinet in your home.

Monday, March 10, 2014


While cleaning out Mom's house, all of us that were left from the Thanksgiving 2013 festivities arrived at the homestead on Friday(Black Friday to some).  Who could imagine that in the matter of 6 hours, we could virtually empty most of the house--and have a great time doing it?  On hand were the majority of my siblings, our children and spouses.  We have quite a talented bunch in this family.  We worked like an army of ants. Someone was always off to collect more boxes at the grocery store, haul furniture, sweep a floor or occasionally,  hear the uproar of someone excitingly claiming a particular treasure.  It was a fun day and a lot of memories were made.

Which brings me to a particular set of items in the house.  My oldest daughter asked if she could have Mom's Irish coffee cups and saucers.  There were no other takers, so the set was boxed up.

Wanting to come up with a coffee table display for St. Patrick's day led me to these treasures.

I am going to preface this next statement with this thought.  I always say that I am going to the stash in the garage.  Seriously, I am going to the pile of junk in the extra bay of the garage.  I picked up this interesting piece.  I found this treasure at an estate sale in the garbage.  Literally, someone had yanked this top off of some type of furniture and threw it in the garbage heap on the side of the house.  I approached the estate sale person and asked if I could have this treasure.  I was obliged.  Initially, I had envisioned a breakfast tray.  When you look at the gaps in the corners, it is quite obvious that legs of some sort must have been attached. 
Well, for now, this piece would become the base of my St. Patrick's Day display on the coffee table.  I have enjoyed creating coffee table displays using atypical household items in the past.  I am happy to report, that I am continuing this streak to combine unlike items and mesh them for a beautiful coffee table display.

Other than being dusty, I love the carved details on the apron of the piece.  A quick coat of Old English revived it for this display.

I will place this wooden tray as the first layer.  I thought the scalloped like details of the edges added to that Old World look.

Because the base had rather sharp edges, I elected to place 4 of these felt adhesive pads on the four undersides of the tray.

Pulling the silver plate coffeepot from the bedroom along with one of my most favorite leather suitcases elevated the display up yet another level.  Grandma's silver spoons were placed to have at the ready when coffee is served.

A vintage Irish linen handkerchief that I have used in the past would double as a napkin.
One of my favorite charms from Dear Tara is tied onto the handle with kitchen green and white striped twine.
 I am really liking the rather beat up finish of the wood tray as far as being old and worn.  Look at the well worn scratches.  Only a person like myself could find beauty in this.  Well, maybe my Dad would too.

So we are now set for Irish coffee.  But something is still missing.......

 Aha! a fire.  Normally in Alabama we don't have much need for a fireplace but this winter has been different-really cold with even a bit of snow.  So, the fireplace has been lit to make us feel warmer and cozy.
And this was the perfect addition to the scene.

 Close your eyes and imagine being in your own cozy Irish cottage enjoying some coffee after dinner.  What a delight!


This posting was one of those that was created from pulled objects around the house(and of course Mom's special Irish coffee cups).  When a display comes together like this, without spending money, it is pure delight.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


I love to use white damask linen napkins when eating on our finer china for holidays and  entertaining company.  However, has anyone noticed that they do not have a market for them anymore?  I scour Home Goods and TJ Maxx all the time in hopes of replenishing my supply of these napkins.  To no avail, I am on a constant search for them.
Last Friday, while stopping at an estate sale, I spied a set of 8 never been used white damask napkins(all matching too).  They were $.50 a piece or $4.00 for the set of eight.  It felt like hitting the mother lode.  However, they seemed to have aged a bit, but nothing a good hot soak in Biz would fix to brighten them.
I have another confession regarding doing the laundry.  I loved pressed but not too starchy linen napkins.  I came upon this product at my local Hancock Fabric store.  I was in the store looking for quilt batting and the store employee asked me if I had ever used this product-Best Press. This product is usually used for ironing quilting fabrics because it leaves such a clean surface after ironing.
 My opinion on this product is totally my own and I have not been compensated.
The reason that I like this product so much is that it doesn't flake when you iron your linens or pillowcases.(Yes, I'm one of those that still iron pillow cases.)

Didn't they turn out beautiful?

I'd say I'm ready for a dinner party!