Antique Doilies as Framed Art

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Top: My mom’s doily. Bottom: Two of my doilies.

I’m a crocheter. As a young girl, I was fascinated by my mother’s skilled handiwork in the needle arts. Unfortunately, she died when I was young, and so I never had the opportunity to learn from her.

My husband taught me to crochet 20 years ago when I was laid up with a broken ankle. Since then, I have strived to mimic my mom’s skill and style, learning first basic stitches, and eventually learning to read patterns.

Three years ago, I reunited with my mother’s cousin, who had kept a couple of my mother’s doilies and gave them to me. Since I didn’t have much that she had made, I considered them truly precious. And I determined to frame these pieces as works of art.

A lot of us have old doilies and afghans we may have kept that were created by our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers. Not many people decorate their tabletops and backs of sofas with them anymore, but they still want to feature them in their home as a point of sentimental pride. Most are at a loss to determine how they want to display these beautiful heirloom pieces.

 

I decided to feature both my and my mom’s doilies much the same way I often frame my silk wall hangings. Essentially, I purchase pre-stretched art canvas at local craft stores and stretch cotton fleece and vintage cotton quilting fabric over the front, sides, and back stretcher bars of the canvas. I miter and clip the corner folds, like I’m wrapping a present and adequately staple the fabrics to the stretcher bars. I tack the doily at crucial hanging points in the doily to provide support and keep the doily from buckling. Then, I screw in Ook hook loops and stretch picture hanging wire along the upper back of the canvas. It is then ready to hang.

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The back of my framed piece. You can see it doesn’t really take much to tack the doily down to the canvas. It can be removed at any time for care and re-tacked.

Several people have come into my home and asked me if they could steal my idea. I’m not sure it’s an original idea, but I thought I’d share it on my blog. Steal away!

Now it’s time for you to reach into that old cedar chest or dresser drawer and grab those beautiful doilies and put them on display in your home!

Thanks for visiting,

Lois

Creating a Headboard From an Old Door

For months we focused on downsizing and moving out of our old home. We sold and donated lots of furniture believing we were going to live full-time in our RV. We put many items of sentimental value in storage. Maybe one could argue that we didn’t downsize enough, but we really got rid of a lot of stuff.

Despite our years of planning and preparation, we changed our minds. We bought a new home and faced a dilemma. We didn’t have enough furniture to fill the house!

We sold our king-sized bed to our old neighbors, along with all the old bedroom furniture. Our new home had a huge bedroom space. But we had nothing to sleep in–no bed, no bureaus, no nightstands–nada.

Although large, the problem with the layout of our new bedroom is that we wanted to keep the bed’s headboard up against the dormered wall. We were sure we wanted a new king-sized bed, but we couldn’t find a headboard that was short enough for the bed we wanted. The wall curved in at 48″. Most king headboards–even the short ones–were at least 52″ in height.

I wanted a shabby chic feel to the bedroom ensemble we purchased. The most important consideration for us at our age was the size of the bed and quality of the mattress. We found Broyhill mattresses which were really split twins on a king metal frame. These beds had the memory foam mattress, gel cooling systems, and the remote control reclining and snore feature.

Then I got the idea to use an old door for the headboard. We could adjust the headboard to whatever height we wanted by using 2″x 4″s cut to the length we needed.

One of the nice things about Frenchtown is that it has a plethora of antique shops with old doors. I found a shop a block down the street which had a (dare I say) crusty old door with the veneer peeling off. I do not exaggerate when I say it was crusty. But I wanted it anyway, because I thought it would be perfect. It measured 80″ in height, a standard height for doors, which is coincidentally the same width as a king-sized bed.

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Shown here is the door, puttied, restored, and reveneered in spots. Joe measured and attached 2″x4″s to get the bed to the right height.

I painted the door antique white. I purposely picked an asymmetrical door when standing on its side. I wanted people to know that this used to be a door. I didn’t want it to look new or like a factory-made headboard. I really wanted a look that was a bit more shabby than chic.

Painting: If this was a high end piece of furniture, I would have primed it first. However, I planned to eventually sand the chalk paint down to allow some of the wood and rough spots through. I painted it with General Finishes Antique White Chalk Paint. I chose not to use poly coat, because in this case, the poly coat would have yellowed the off-white paint color. After the paint dried, I sanded down the corners to give it a slightly distressed look. Finally, I painted “Hers” and “His” in acrylics for our corresponding sides of the bed. (We’ve always slept on the same side of the bed for over 35 years.)

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Here is the finished door. (Notice my side of the bed is the bigger side.)

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You can see the finished headboard fits perfectly under the roof dormer.

Of course, you can do this type of project and design it to fit your own unique design needs and bed size. There are old doors aplenty here in Frenchtown (probably at a substantially lower price than I paid for this one.)  But it might be something to consider if you’re looking for a specific style of headboard and are tired of the MDF junk currently available at even the high-end the furniture stores.

My headboard project is just one of the many furniture upcycling projects I’ve gotten into since we moved here. I’m proud to share it with you. If you like this idea, feel free to steal it and make it your own!

I’ll feature more on the other furniture projects in a later blog.

Thanks for visiting,

Lois

 

 

 

Our Historic Home and the Frenchtown Quilt

IMG_20180801_105622184If you read my last blog entry, you know that we sold our home in Saint Peters and bought a historic home on Third Street in Saint Charles. This area, located North of Main Street, is known by the locals as “Frenchtown.” Originally established by French colonials, other European immigrants began settling the area around the mid-1800s.

Our home was built by a German immigrant named John Borgmeier in 1852. Even though he was German, the architectural style of this home is still considered French Colonial. Like other houses in Frenchtown of this style, there is a distinct symmetry to the home. It has 6 doors and too many windows to count, but I find it adorable. A friend of mine told me “It looks like a doll’s house.”

The architecture of the home has changed throughout its 166 year history. After the World War II housing shortage, it was turned into a quadruplex. Believe it or not, our backyard neighbor actually lived in a couple of these obviously cramped apartments many years ago.

The previous owners took great pains to restore the home’s exterior and completely updated the interior to a single-family, two bedroom home. It has been beautifully updated with all of life’s modern conveniences. They had really done a marvelous job and put in a great deal of work and money into it–for which we are so grateful! They made the home move-in ready for me and Joe.

Not having to pour a lot of work into fixing up this ready-made home left me all kinds of time to focus on my art. I was inspired by the beauty of this home’s architecture, its grand history, and the surrounding Frenchtown neighborhood and its community. That led me to one of my current and ongoing projects, which is my Frenchtown quilt.

The Frenchtown quilt will feature a combination of homes on the Historic homes walk with their current facades and a few of the thriving businesses and cozy homes here in the area. Each square is actually a watercolor I have painted. I will ultimately print those paintings on fabric and sew the squares together. This is definitely an ongoing project and will take some time.

ourhouseMy Home

driftwoodsecretgardenEbeling Tin Shop, Now Known as Driftwood Music and Frenchtown Secret Garden

weekslawlerLawler-Weeks House

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Working Men’s Chapel, Third Street

I entered a couple of these paintings in the Riverfront Paint Off which was held in Saint Charles last October. I didn’t win anything for the paintings, but I did win a Main Street gift basket in the raffle, which has all kinds of goodies from Main Street and Frenchtown businesses. I absolutely love my cup from Life is Good and my aloe plant from Frenchtown Secret Garden!

Considering that each building is going to be a square in my quilt and that I have to get at least 24 squares to make a decent sized one, it will take some time. But I’ll get there. Perhaps I’ll have it all done and sewn together by the time we have our next Frenchtown House Tour in June. (Yes, my house will be on the tour.)

For now, I promise to keep you better posted on what’s going on in our little town of Frenchtown, Saint Charles, what’s happening down in my basement studio (and Joe’s workshop), and what generally keeps me inspired.

Thanks for visiting,

Lois

 

 

The Pros and Cons of the RV Lifestyle

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I have to be honest. I really thought the full-time RVing lifestyle would work for us.

It didn’t. At least not for now.

While we were waiting for our home in St. Peters to sell and close, we did live full time in our RV. We packed up everything, put it in storage, sold it, donated it, and left some larger furniture items for the new homeowners.

What I found was that even with as large of an RV as we had, having Joe work full time and share the working space wasn’t quite meshing for us. True, there are young families that do make that situation work, but the majority of full-timers are either retired or use their RV for their work.

As an artist, I grappled with the challenge of trying to make my projects small. It proved frustrating for–as you know–I need lots of room to work. As sweet as our pad was at Sundermeier RV Park in St. Charles was, there wasn’t space enough to stretch out a silk canvas and paint in the great outdoors. For Joe, who was virtually tied down to his office on wheels, once we were free to travel, moving from spot to spot during the day became very problematic. Check-in and check-out times for spots occurred when he should have been working from his makeshift office at the steering wheel. Frustrated, I found myself waiting for him to finish his day job just so we could venture out into town to enjoy life.

Spreading out in the big wide open spaces of Colorado didn’t seem like a huge possibility either. Our dream of ultimately living on the West Coast–either in an RV Co-op or buying a property and home–was fast becoming just a wild fantasy.

Why? Because we discovered that housing was crazy expensive. For the amount of money we gained selling our home here in Missouri, we might–at best–buy a hovel for the same price -in California or Washington State. Either that or we would be out on the edges of civilization away from all human life and any cell phone signals.

I had no space to work, and I personally didn’t want to live out the rest of my pre-retirement and retirement years being house poor.

We finally decided to buy a home right here. During the two months it took to close on our old home, we searched diligently. In the evenings, when we rode our scooters around Frenchtown, Saint Charles, we really fell in love with the historic ambiance of the city. I loved the feel and especially the people of the city.

The idea of owning a centuries old home fascinated us.

We looked at many, many properties. Finally, we found this beautiful French Colonial home on Third Street which the previous owners had gutted and completely and beautifully updated. This was not the typical house flip. They spent top dollar renovating the property, originally intending to retire there. Unfortunately for them–but fortunately for us–their plans changed.

This 166 year old home had character. It was the right price for us. Both I and Joe could use the entire basement floor for a studio/workshop space. (Joe loves to tinker, too.) Yes, he does bang his head on the basement ceiling from time to time (poor Joe) and there are a lot of stairs. But I find this house and neighborhood charming and truly a place I feel I can call home.

The full-time, work-from-home RV lifestyle didn’t work for us now, but I still hope that we can spend many happy vacation days in the RV before retirement. Then we may just yet full-time it.

Thanks for visiting,

Lois

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The Differences Between Silk Painting and Silk Dyeing

When people ask me what I do, I often say, “I’m an artist” or “I’m a silk painter.” In reality, I’m a silk dyer. I mostly use a paint brush to paint dye. Since there aren’t many silk painters (especially in the St. Louis area), people really don’t know the difference between the two. That’s not a bad thing. Most non-fiber artists really cannot differentiate between what is painted and what is dyed silk.

Last night I hosted an art reception of my silk exhibit at the St. Peters Cultural Arts Center. I featured my original silk dyed scarves and wall hangings and provided a demo to the group who attended to help them understand the difference.

Here is the exhibit, which is being held in the Emerald room at the Cultural Center. These pieces are almost all dyed silk using Jacquard Green Label Dyes and steam fixed. This exhibit will be on display until December 8th, 2018.

Silk is either painted or dyed horizontally. When I dye silk, I stretch it on a stretcher frame. I apply resists (either water-based or latex) and then dyes with a paint brush. Unlike watercolor, the dyes flow out on the silk. By applying resist, I am able to control the flow of dye to get the desired effect.

My stretcher system, starting with the application of resist, then dyes to the dried scarf. This method is known as the Serti method. (I featured my peacock scarf here, which is one of my most popular designs.)

After the scarf has dried, it must be steam fixed. In order for the dyes to chemically bond with the silk, steam heat must be applied. I roll the silk up in newsprint and steam them in my pressure steamer system.

 

“Lois,” you ask, “that tells me about silk dyeing, but what is silk painting?”

Silk paints are really fabric paints for silk. Examples of brands are Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow, Marabu Silk, and Set-a-Silk. There are many brands. Essentially, your silk is the canvas. You paint the paints like standard acrylics onto the surface of the fabric. Silk marbling is a technique of painting using silk paints. When the paints are dried, they are heat-fixed by ironing the fabric (usually the back) to get the paint to stick permanently.

How do you tell the difference between finished dyed silk and finished painted silk? Easy– the back! Dyes will color the entire silk fabric from front to back. Turn the piece over and your design will be the reverse of the front. Paints, on the other hand, stick to the painted surface of the piece but do not bleed through to the back. Turn the silk over, and you will only see a faded image of the front.

Dyes versus paints also affect the “hand” of the silk. If you feel a silk piece which has been dyed, it feels soft and drapes well. There should be no plastic feeling to the silk where paint (or even some resists) have been applied. When the surface is painted, it often feels like a relief, depending on how much paint is used. A lot of paint really does affect how the fabric drapes on your neck, if being worn as a scarf or clothing. Many people–especially true silk artists–don’t like that feeling.

So which is better?

In my opinion, it really depends on what you are painting or dyeing and what effect you wish to achieve. Generally, I feel if you are doing clothing to wear, dyes are best. Silk which is dyed properly drapes beautifully and elegantly. Case in point–silk kimonos. If you love beautifully vibrant colors, nothing beats silk dye.

However, if you are painting a wall hanging, say–where the back is never seen and the drape really doesn’t matter much–you may want to use paint to achieve what you are going for.

A lot of silk purists may try to dictate to you what is “proper” and what is not. I find this in any media. Some seasoned artists try to dictate what is right. Their way is the right way. For instance, watercolor purists will try to tell you that you can’t use white (opaque) paint or gouache. You’re supposed to rely on the translucence of your paint and the white of the paper to effect light.

If any of you know me, you know I don’t like being dictated to–especially how to convey my art. These people are simply art snobs. My advice to you is if you decide to pursue silk painting, don’t let anyone tell you how to paint. Not even me! If you want to paint, paint. If you want to dye, dye. If you want to mix, mix!

Hope you learned something from my little diatribe today. Perhaps you, too, will get turned onto silk. And if you live locally, please check out my exhibit at the Cultural Center. It’s free to all.

Thanks for visiting,

Lois

 

Saying Goodbye to the Old Abode

I have been remiss in my posts. In my defense, I have been very busy.

For the last few months, we have been moving, cleaning, staging, making last minute improvements, putting our house on the market, selling, and closing on our home of 18 years.

After interviewing three realtors, we found Mike Galbally of Saint Louis Finest Homes. He was the only realtor who realized the true value of our home and appreciated the efforts we had made to put it in pristine condition before we sold it. He listed the house, and after one day, we had an offer above asking price.

Joe had inadvertently met the new buyers the night before they submitted their offer and proudly showed them the koi pond he had built. I think that was what really sold them on the home. I will miss the beautiful koi pond, the five koi, and our resident frog. The new owners are thrilled with the pond and the backyard Joe had worked so hard to make. Joe even met with them after the sale to show them the ins and outs of koi pond care. They are a truly awesome couple, and I am happy they are able to call our old home their new home.

Just a few months before we moved out, we remodeled the back porch by tearing out the old bronze aluminum windows and putting in 14 brand new Anderson windows from Home Depot. Originally, we bought the house, the room had garden lattice for the outside wall and wood paneling on the concrete side. At some point a few years ago, we had pulled all that off and put up cement backerboard along the outside wall.

I knew I was going to stucco and go with a look in keeping with the outdoor Tudor style. I had a lot of leftover mortar from my tile job, so I skip troweled that on the three outside walls. It took me a full day, and by the time I finished, my knuckles were raw. But it really did look better already.

 

Once the stucco had hardened and dried, we decided to tackle the floor. I tell you, I wish I had known about this awesome product before I bought an entire pallet of ceramic tile to do the porch! It is called Lifeproof Vinyl Plank flooring from Home Depot. It has the look of wood yet, unlike laminate, it doesn’t require underlayment, is 100% waterproof, and hides a multitude of sins. Although the instructions on the package say you can use a utility knife to cut it, do yourself a favor and use a saw. It is extremely thick, but I have no doubt it is durable and will withstand the elements and lots of abuse.

For the ceiling, Joe ran furring strips along the plaster ceiling and stapled Armstrong Country Plank ceiling tile from Lowe’s. It looks lovely–we didn’t even paint it. But it was hard to locate and seemed to be something most of the Lowe’s employees knew little about. I would recommend that you buy extra for waste, because it is very, very fragile. We bought too much extra, but I left it all for the new owners, just in case they needed to replace any in the future for any reason.

IMG_20180622_114123148Here is a pic of the original exposed concrete wall and original plaster ceiling.

Joe re-glued new stucco paneling to the exposed concrete wall and trimmed everything out so it looked truly polished.

We hung two new cottage style flush mount ceiling fans.  I won’t recommend the brand here–should have gone with a more expensive brand.

Finally, I painted all the trim, paneling, and stucco. The porch was finally finished–and much cooler during the middle of summer with the new windows. We wished we had done it sooner, because I think we would have spent more time out here!

We had one last task to tend to, and that was to replace the concrete driveway. For that, we called Blake Gamber of Joint Sealing Solutions, a company I had located from HomeAdvisor.com.

Within minutes after clicking to register with HomeAdvisor, Blake called me. I explained to him that time was of the essence, because we were ready to put our home on the market, and we wanted to make sure the driveway was done correctly and quickly. Within two hours, Blake was out to assess the driveway. We had a quote by the end of the day, and by the end of the week, he and his team were out to replace the driveway. He did such a great job that both my neighbors on either side had their walkways removed (did I say that all our homes were display homes?)

He did a great job, making sure to do everything correctly every step of the way. Best of all, he kept us informed and followed up several times after the job was done for cleanup and to make sure we were satisfied with his work. Kudos to Blake and his team!

Before and after of the driveway job. You can see the growing depression in the old driveway. What a difference a brand new concrete job makes!

Today I droned on about my old home. Really, this post should have been three separate posts, but now that I have great internet and lots of space again, I have been brimming over with inspiration. For that, I apologize.

But I’m so glad we were able to finish all these last minute projects, list the home with a great realtor, and find a qualified buyer who genuinely appreciates the work we put into it. I’m pleased as punch that this family chose this home as their own.

Next post–the ins and outs of the full-time gypsy life and how we chose to resolve it.

Thanks for visiting,

Lois

Creating a Niche From an Old Medicine Cabinet

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Have an old tract house originally erected in the 70s or 80s? You know, the ones with the builder’s grade mirrors, tubs, and tiles in the bathroom? What dates the bath worse than all that stuff?

Those blasted old medicine cabinets!

I’m talking about the old wall cabinets with the mirrored doors behind which we traditionally kept our foot cream and Mercurochrome. Yeah, remember that stuff? Everybody has had one of those medicine cabinets at some point in their life.

But medicine cabinets décor-wise have gone by the way of glass grapes and macramé owl wall hangings. (Although I hear some of that is coming back.) Why, you can’t even find decent medicine cabinets at the home improvement store anymore! Sure, you can order them, but you just can’t go buy one the size you need right off the shelf.

When we ripped out our old master bath, we took out the 16″ wide, very outdated medicine cabinet.  This was one of those medicine cabinets that fit into that huge hole notched into the drywall between the wall studs. Believe me, when I was looking to update, I looked everywhere for a medicine cabinet that would both suit the new bath décor and fit the wall space.

No dice.

That left us with one of two options: 1) patch the open hole back up with drywall, or 2) find something new and updated to do to utilize the space.

When we ripped out our shower, I thought–for a split second–that I would put in a new tiled shower. Ultimately, I wised up and went with a shower insert from Menards which is acrylic but looks very much like real tile. One of the things I liked about a true tiled shower was the fact that shower niches (the tile guys pronounce it “nich,” but I pronounce it the French way–“neesh”) are a growing and very attractive trend.

A niche is simply a very elegant hole in the wall with a shelf upon which you put all your toiletries– things like shampoo, conditioner, and soap. I came up with the idea of just repurposing that big gaping hole in the wall that used to be a medicine cabinet and making a niche above the sink.

My hubby cut some drywall to fit flush around the inside studs and nailed it in place. No drywall patch required. Then I found some peel and stick tiles: a flat slate sticky tile from Home Depot and a little of the Bengal natural stone tile I had leftover from doing the backsplash. I had hubby cut a shelf to fit out of nice pine, and I lined the inside of the cubby with tiles, picking out some of the protruding natural stone to stick out enough to provide support for the shelf.

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Niche without shelf (notice thin layer of Bengal stone sticking out to function as shelf support)

The nice thing about making a niche is that you can coordinate the tiles to match your décor. In my case, I cut a frame and painted it to match the mirror we had already bought for the vanity.

Everything sort of came together in the end. I found a relatively inexpensive solution to update my décor and repurpose an otherwise useless gaping hole in my bathroom wall.

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Problem solved!

Thanks for visiting,

Lois

 

 

Creating Curb Appeal with a Window Box

IMG_20180617_075103949_HDRWe’re getting down to the wire here with home improvements in order to sell our home. The end is in sight!

For a year and a half we have been steadily remodeling, refurbishing, rebuilding, and repainting in order to sell our home of 18 years and move into our Class A RV full-time. We have enlisted the services of a realtor, started remodeling the gutted back porch, and hired a guy to redo the concrete driveway.

Ultimately, we would like to get the fairest price for our home, but we also are anxious to sell and get our wheels on the ground.

All the realtors nowaways talk about curb appeal. First impressions are lasting. From the beginning of our home reformation, I had staging and curb appeal in mind–even before my husband redid the siding.

We decided to take a leap and change from the stark Tudor browns and golds which predominate our floorplan in this subdivision and go to gray. This was after I perused the web and saw some beautiful Tudor revival homes done in that color. I wanted that for my home– that quaint, European, cottage-like feel. It might not appeal to everyone, but it  appealed to me, and I was sure that style would set our home apart from the other Tudor revival homes in the area.

Since we installed new casement windows in 2011, I took it upon myself to make mintons last year and install them myself out of polystyrene moulding. This enhanced that cottage-like feel.

But the trio of casement windows from the front elevation still looked a bit clunky and cookie cutter. So, I perused Google images once again, and found some Tudor cottages with–you guessed it– window boxes!

I found two 72″ PVC window boxes at Lowe’s. These were self-watering boxes which came with 5 mounting brackets a piece. The height of the boxes would cover the bottom beam of our exterior casement windows and give it a very homey look. “I’ll plant petunias or impatiens,” I thought to myself. “Yes, that would be lovely!” And it would be a menu far out of reach of the bunnies who like to frequent my front and back yards.

I had to order the boxes. And they were not cheap. But they came in quickly, and I truly believed they would add something special to our curb appeal.

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Mayne-72-in-W-x-10-in-H-White-Pvc-Vinyl-Hanging-Self-Watering-Window-Box/3187583

As I thought about what to plant, I encountered a problem. Yes, the boxes self-watered, but how would I water them? Anything I planted would partially occlude the casement windows on either side (the center window is just a picture window.) If you opened the window to water the flowers, you would ruin them. I would have to stand on a ladder to water them from the ground below. No, I had to think of something better.

I came up with idea of fake flowers which looked real. I started to look at every craft and hobby store in my town, looking for sturdy flowers which could withstand the outdoor weather but, at the same time, look realistic.

Being a silk painter, I knew silk flowers would probably not cut the mustard, since silk dyes fade with the sun. I bought lots of flowers and vines, the majority of which were either foam or hard plastic. And I didn’t want to go too big on the flowers, since that would have been a dead giveaway that they were fake.

Fake flowers are not cheap either. But despite all my talents, I have a brown thumb. I can draw a flower. I just can’t keep one alive. I bought lots of flowers and spent lots of money on them. It takes a lot of fake flowers to fill two 72″ window boxes!

One of the most expensive parts of shopping in the floral department is buying floral foam. I don’t know why, but it’s mega-expensive. Not really worth it, if you ask me. My hubby had some stuff called insulation sheathing laying around. It is pink, and comes in accordion-style sheets from the home improvement store. I asked him if I could use it, to which he responded, “Have at it!.”

I began folding and cutting the foam to fit my boxes. I decided where and how to place the flowers and poked holes to plant them with a common screwdriver. I glued every flower and piece of ivy in place with the hot glue gun so my flowers would not blow away in the first storm.

 

I did two boxes, knowing that my boxes would meet in the center and carefully placing draping plants on the inside ends of both boxes to hide the gap. My husband then cut, screwed, and painted small firring strips along the bottom of the window beam. He mounted the metal brackets to furring strips and then mounted the boxes, screwing the bottoms into the metal brackets.

Voila! Window boxes were set.

 

Here are before and after photos of our home front elevation.

I have had several people tell me that they love the window boxes. And many were surprised to discover they were fake. The rest of the flowers outside are alive, and I’m doing my darnedest to keep them that way.

But I can’t help but enjoy my fake flowers the most. When I sit at the dining room table, drinking my morning coffee, I look out the front window at our cul-de-sac and wonder to myself how long they will be in bloom. Of course, I giggle a bit to myself…

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Hopefully, that special family–searching for their forever home–will say to their agent, “Yes, I want that house for my home–the one with the pretty window boxes!”

They’ll have their new home, and Joe and I will be off on our gypsy adventures.

Thanks for visiting,

Lois

 

The Journey Begins…

Yep, we did it.

We upgraded our dear Winnebago Minnie to a 2006 Damon Tuscany Class A diesel pusher. The new vehicle was costly, but it was still a good buy and pretty darn near everything we needed in a motor home.

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Isn’t she lovely?

Joe loves driving the new Class A. It takes him back to his days of driving truckloads of bees from Florida to North Dakota and back–but in a much nicer vehicle and under more favorable conditions. I love our new gypsy home. Riding in it I feel like queen of the universe. It is very roomy, and I have no problem seeing myself living in this thing full-time.

We took a lengthy cross-country maiden (for us) trip in December to Pensacola, Ft. Myers, and Jefferson Texas and back lasting 17 days total. By the time I got back to St. Peters, I felt like a stranger in my bed at home!

The beaches in Gulf Breeze Island, Florida were gorgeous. If you ever get the chance, take a trip out here and make a point to visit Ft. Pickens National Park. The campground was a tight fit with our 41 foot motor home, but it was well worth the squeezing into. Located on the other end of Gulf Breeze Island near Pensacola, this park has only one access road and miles and miles of breathtaking and unspoiled beaches.

Unfortunately, last December watching the sunset in Pensacola was a bit too chilly for us. As soon as the sun went down, we packed up our lawn chairs and ran back to the car. Still, I snapped a few photos with my camera phone. These are the inspiration for one of my next few art projects.

So what’s in store for our future travels? We’re hoping that the weather here will warm so that we can finish the interior and exterior home improvement and quickly put the house on the market. Then we’re off to our next adventure in the Tuscany–wherever that may lead.

Thanks for visiting,

Lois

Residing and Re-Siding, Part 1

 

I haven’t blogged in a few months, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. Hubby and I are slowly making the transition to the gypsy lifestyle.  I have even purchased the domain name “professionalgypsy.blog” in case you need to find my otherwise non-Google-able page.

Since my last entry, we purchased a new motor home (and traded in Minnie) and have been working within the confines of the fickle Saint Louis weather to get our home renovations done. I have also been spending a great deal of time crocheting and knitting projects, mostly to donate, some to keep and give away to family members.

Our home re-siding project has been ongoing since May, 2017. Our home is a Tudor-style split-level– the first such home in our subdivision when it was established 30 years ago, and the original subdivision display unit. Like all the other Tudor homes in the neighborhood, the home had original lap siding on the back three sides and a stucco front (not real stucco, of course) all painted various shades of cream and what I call poop brown. Yes, it was Tudor style-ish. But it really looked more like a 70s era revival home.

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We had replaced the original bronze metal windows back in 2011 with white vinyl casement. I felt that the home needed a color change to a less stark, more neutral and cottage-like gray, which would blend in better with the new window choices.

The house had celebrated her 30th anniversary this year. She was in desperate need of new siding. We, however, could not afford to hire someone to completely rip off all the old siding and put up new. A project of this magnitude would–no doubt–cost us upwards of $40,000!

I was not about to ask my husband to take on such a monumental task. But he gladly offered to re-do the siding, working around the house, around the St. Louis weather, around his full-time work schedule, and around our budget.

In truth, the siding should have been replaced 20 years ago before we bought the house. We did not know this. Apparently, there was a huge settlement shortly before we bought our house for defective siding after which the previous owners pocketed the cash and just put it on the market. Hubby painted the home once several years ago which only prolonged the inevitable. It is often standard practice to simply side over the existing siding, but in our case, everything had to be completely removed.

Sometimes, when we do these renovations, I tell people it’s like peeling layers of a rotten onion. There’s a point where you keep peeling and peeling and find this underneath. Joe peeled, and I tossed trailers and trailers filled with rotten lap board and stucco, composed of what I can only think turned out to be compressed fiber board. Some of it crumbled in my hands. Some snapped easily like a twig. Some simply rotted away as you can see here. Since we’re human, all we can do is wipe the sweat from our brow, sigh, and curse profusely.

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For the rear sides of the home, we replaced the traditional lap siding with CertainTeed Dutch Lap Vinyl siding in Heritage Gray from Menards. Here’s the deck, which we repaired and repainted after my hubby completely replaced it a few years ago. This gives you an idea of the siding choice we used.

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Obviously, the front of the house also needed to be replaced, and Joe decided to keep the Tudor style intact. He replaced both the stucco board and the faux-cedar trim. He painted the stucco a light cream Behr color called “Mourning Dove”. The trim boards he painted a shade of gray I picked which closely matched and blended with the Heritage Gray siding on the remaining sides of the house.

When I say “we” did this project, I really mean that Joe did the majority of the work here. He labored in both the sweltering and heat and battled the too-cold-to-paint chills doing every bit of the work himself. He ingeniously thought the project out every step of the way, inventing the most efficient ways to achieve his project goals. He did every bit of the work with little help from me. From May to November, not a month passed when there wasn’t at least one layer of scaffolding erected to enable him to rip, tear, wrap, or nail on his weekends. Not only did he re-side the entire house himself, he also added soffit and fascia to the roof eaves and replaced all the original brown gutters with white.

I say this blog entry is only Part 1 of two parts. Since the December cold crept in, we have had to postpone completing the last bits of re-siding until spring of next year. Eventually, doing all this hard work himself, Joe became completely exhausted. His right arm became more and more painful from all the hammering and painting. He earned a well-deserved vacation.

So we bought a new RV and did exactly that.

To be continued…