Wednesday, November 12, 2014

3 down...2 to go!!!

Hello friends! If you've wondered where the Manor updates have been and why I've been MIA lately, here's the short version: Husband & I bought screen printing business. World got turned upside down. The Royals went to the World Series(WHOO!). Business went crazy and world got put in a blender & set on froth. Then it was Halloween and I don't do anything that's not Halloween related for about a week leading up to October 31st. :) That's pretty much it in a nutshell. I swear, sometimes I think I have a disorder where I say to myself, "What can I do to add some more stress to my life?. Hmmmmm...renovate a delapidated old house that's 2 hours away: check! a business where you are not only the owner but the accountant, graphic designer, shipping department, purchasing department, head of quality control, delivery driver, customer service rep, etc...: check!". One of these days I'm going to sit in a lounger with a BIG margarita or glass of wine, stare at the "finished" Manor with a cool breeze blowing through my hair and have absolutely NOTHING to do and nowhere to be. It will be a glorious day!

But until that day comes...gotta keep moving forward.

So here's where we are at. Soffits: 3 DOWN, 2 TO GO!!! This is beyond exciting to me since we have been working on them for over a year and the one we just completed last weekend was the biggest one on the house. Don't ya just love how I say "we" finished. Hey, I'm a pretty good fetcher and I successfully tossed a tape measure about 25 feet in the air up to Jeremy while he was in the lift which I think entitles me to say "we" this time around. ;)

So just in case you need a reminder of how rotten this soffit was, here's a little flashback for ya.

I can't really even say it was "rotten" was GONE. Now are you ready for this? *cue angelic choir*

What a beautiful sight!

Now while "we" were working on the soffits this last weekend, I had realization and discovered a little something about myself. I'm a pyro! We have a burn barrel on the patio and the first thing I do when we get there is find something to burn in it. As soon as I get out of the truck it's like some force takes me straight to the burn barrel and I have to light something on fire. It could be 110 degrees outside and I've got 4 foot flames shooting out of the barrel. *shrug*

This thing has been very handy though and if you should ever find yourself renovating an old house like this, get one! They're also nice to have when it's freezing outside so you can huddle around it and watch people drive by and look at you like you're a crazy homeless person. :) From the way the weather has been lately, it looks like we're going to especially need it this winter. Plus I saw 2 wooly worms and one was completely black which I think is a sign for armageddon winter...just great.

Every once in a while the Manor reveals a little secret about herself and last weekend she did not disappoint. I really didn't pay much attention to the floors when we first bought the house because they were not really pretty or exceptional or even noticeable really. The upstairs is completely covered in some kind of ugly linoleum and the downstairs is covered in parkay flooring. Bleh! I'm not really a big fan of parkay floors but I thought, "Well, it's what's here so I guess I'll have to get used to it". I'm not sure what drove me to do this but last weekend I walked in the house and I was determined to find out what was under that floor. I went to a corner with screwdriver in hand and popped up a few tiles. When I first popped them up all I saw was black glue so I was disappointed. Then I noticed a few lines and realized that there was something there. I took a chisel and scraped some of the black away and BAM!!! Beautiful hardwood floors.

Unbelievable! I'm not sure why on earth anyone would cover these floors with another type of wood floor but people did crazy things to their homes back in the 60's and 70's. Getting this black glue off of the wood is not going to be an easy task but I'm really hoping that the floors are in good shape when we sand them all down.

This weekend we'll be back at it and braving the cold with a couple of helpers that we're bringing from KC. I hope they'll still be friends with us after we get done. ;) The itinerary includes (you guessed it) soffit number 4!...and my favorite...DEMOLITION! We'll be tearing off a room that was later built onto the house that's muy rotten and needs to go. I call it, "The Bad Room".

Thursday, July 31, 2014

S.O.S. (Summer of Soffits)

Ahhhh summer! Hot days, warm nights, pool time, lake time, family & friend BBQ's, festivals, concerts, baseball, vacation, laughing with loved ones until your side hurts, lightning bugs, storms, bonfires, millions of stars in the sky...I am lovin' it all! Summer also always reminds me of being a kid growing up in Bevier. My friends & I would fish, swim, play basketball/baseball, explore the area woods or ride our bikes all over town & when the street lights came on, it was time for supper (yes, we call it supper) and you better high tail it home...or in my case high tail it to grandma's because she would yell for me which every kid in a 2 mile radius could hear (really embarrassing). I've had lots of people give me a friendly tease here and there for being a small town girl but I will always feel lucky that I grew up during a not so crazy time in a not so crazy place.

But enough of my nostalgic rant, let's talk about The Manor! Little by little there are things starting to come together. The soffits are still the "BIG" project that we're trying to get wrapped up & to say that this project has been tedious and slow is an understatement. Trying to rebuild something that has rotted away when it was originally built with architectural lumber has been a real pain in the neck. You can't just go to Home Depot & buy this stuff. Jeremy has either had to create the right size pieces or just make it work. If I was a true preservationist I could have all the lumber and trim milled but my bank account laughs hysterically at that idea. And then there's the brick. Behind every piece of rotton soffit wood that he's pulled off, there is brick behind it that is falling because moisture was trapped & the mortar disintegrated. So just when you think you're ready to rebuild get to switch gears & play mason for several hours.

To put it bluntly...

BUT! There is a light at the end of the tunnel! The soffits are closing in and the raccoons are crying from afar because they see their winter lodge slowly becoming unaccessable. oversized cats are going to have to find a new place to live.


Yes...I call it an "over window thingy". I have no idea what the technical term is so that is what it will be called until someone enlightens me. Speaking of the "over window thingy", Jeremy had to rebuild that too (which he was completely thrilled about!). The triangular area that the decorative pieces attach to was made from tongue and groove wood which I can't even imagine how they did that in 1897 with the tools they had...absolutely amazing.

It was gone completely on one side of the house so we had to use the dimensions from the one that (thankfully) wasn't rotten.

Check out that scalloping on the peak. *drool* There's a different pattern on every peak and it's going to be SOOO much fun to scrape the paint off of them. Is anyone picking up my sarcasm here? But when they're painted...I might just have a seizure.

As far as my task list...I have been doing random projects. I've started painting the front porch, I've got the attic about 85% cleaned (that will be a blog all of it's own) and I've pulled massive amounts of weeds out of the flower beds. Oh & guess what? Apparently, my right arm is allergic to poison ivy. I've never had it in my life but all of the sudden I'm just getting it on my right arm.

So weird...

Here's something else that's weird. I was bringing my 574th bag of trash down from the attic and noticed something kind of off at the top of the steps. There is a porthole window that is not symmetrical with the wall. It's way off to the left.

However, it's symmetrical on the outside of the house.

Obviously, the wood paneling is not original and I find it hard to believe that the builders would design that window to touch the wall....soooo....I REALLY want to know what is behind that wall! Jimmy Hoffa, maybe? ;)

Friday, June 6, 2014


We had a very productive weekend at The Manor recently. Jeremy's parents, Mike & Julie, drove from Kansas City to help out on Saturday. We also had help from my dad, sister, brother-in-law & was quite the (motley) crew. I have decided that I will only work on the house with a crew of at least 7 from now on. Hey, a girl can dream.

First of all, remember this picture from the last post?...the things that were "just popping up".

2 weeks later & YOU IN THE JUNGLE BABY! The foliage around this place never cease to amaze me, I swear.

I was going to pull out the weeds but this little area looks like the Taj Mahal for snakes so they'll just have to stay there for a while.

I did, however, get to play foreman for a day (my true calling in life) and give everyone their own little "assignment".

Dad's job was to install the door in the more ugly plastic!

I bought this door off an online auction for 12 bucks last year knowing I would probably need a door at some point in the reno of the house. It only needed a half inch cut off the side and bottom...impeccable planning skills or dumb luck? I'll never tell. ;)

Mike & Jeremy's job was the porch. Every beam was completely rotton at the bottom & needed to be repaired. This was no easy project but they got them all finished & it looks so much better...and our porch will not fall in! Yeah!

The rest of us worked on windows. You would think 4 people working on windows would be plenty but I found out pretty quickly that I needed an army for that project. The paint & glaze on the windows were spot welded on...LOTS of scraping! Poor Julie scraped the big window on the front of the house all day was pretty bad.

Did I mention it was 150 degrees outside? Being the great foreman that I am I look out for my crew so I bought this at the local hardware store. works. :)

Sunday we were able to slap some paint on the windows before we headed out. BEHOLD! THE POWER OF PAINT COMPELS ME!

It's amazing what a little white paint & Windex will do. My sister...the queen of clean!

So I basically have 2 windows that do not match the rest of the house & the realization that I'm going to be scraping trim until I'm 60 but that's's nice to see a little "glimpse" of what's to come.

PS-It was not all work last weekend...I got to celebrate with my niece for her 13th birthday. Officially feel OLD.

PSS-But I am still taller!

Friday, May 9, 2014

SPRING 2014!

SPRING!!! Things are popping up all over at The Manor.

Great things will surface when you get rid of all the weeds. Life metaphor? You bet.

Marie is making me look like I have quite the green thumb. I must admit thumb is as black as the dirt these flowers are planted in. Last year I was meticulously trimming a plant that had berries on it & my brother-in-law walked by me & said "You know that's a weed, right?". *sigh*

My Aunt Patty on the other hand has an unbelievable knack for identifying every flower on the face of the planet. She can look at any plant & tell you it's name, perennial or annual, if it needs shade or sun & how to care for it. Meanwhile, I'm like "That yellow one is pretty". I'm learning though.

So are you wondering where my before & after attic pictures are? Are you confused as to why I'm not talking about the horrible things I scooped up & how many bags of trash actually came out of there? Do you really think that all I did on our last trip was frolic around the yard and take pictures of flowers while poor Jeremy was battling the soffits? Well...I did. I'm not proud of it. I had every intention of showing up with guns blazing, strapping on my ventilation mask & marching up to that attic & not emerging until every piece of trash & other unmentionables were bagged up & ready to go to the dump. But...I frolicked & stayed as far away from the attic as I could. Don't judge me!

Exploring the grounds has not always been a complete waste of time. I've actually found some pretty interesting things while doing so. I saw this from a distance on the ground last year & thought it was a turtle shell.

When I flipped it around I realized it was actually a rock...I think?

If anyone knows what kind of rock this is, I would love to know. Completely stumped on this one.

It's not the first time I've found something like this. Last Spring I found a large wedge of obsidian in the house.

I've also found tons of smaller polished stones. My dad recently told me a few stories that shed a little light on the reason why. Marie LaSalle had a husband named Frank. I don't know much about Frank or what he did but apparently when my dad was a little boy Frank would give him $.50 to do little odd jobs for him. He said Frank would sit outside & polish stones & make jewelry out of them like cuff links, necklaces, bolo ties, etc... This is the only picture I have found of Frank.

I don't know about you but I think Frank looks like a pretty cool cat! I would love to sit on that lounger & talk to him for an afternoon. I bet he had some great stories.

In other news, the soffit that Jeremy has been working on is DONE!

Since the lift is already in that spot & is a pain to move we are going to get some paint on that peak on our next trip up...and you have no idea how excited I am about that! :)

After a hard day of soffits (& frolicking) it's always nice to have someone make you dinner. Thank you Mike Ugolini for the amaaaazzziiiing homemade Margarita Pizza. It was delicious! (And dad...nice photobomb)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Simon & the attic of horrors.

Spring has sprung, the frozen tundra has thawed & we got our first 2014 weekend of work at The Manor under our belts. I'm not gonna lie...this trip was tough. Murphy's law of "if something can go wrong, it will" was in full effect. But things have gone relatively smooth up until this point so I guess the balance is restored.

When we purchased the home, I knew that one obstacle that we were going to face was the fact that we live over 2 hours away and we were not going to be able to work on the house consistently. Two hours isn't too far but it's far enough that you can't make it an every weekend thing. And here's a confession and little known fact about me...I am not a good long distance passenger! Anything over 1 hour & I'm fidgity and asking "Are we there yet?".

Proof: Only an hour in & I'm so bored I'm taking selfies of my new light up safety glasses to use in the attic!

These things are the bees knees! Does anyone even say that anymore?

Anyway, I'm getting off subject.

Basically, when we show up Saturday morning to work it's like a clock starts counting down and you only have so much time to get things done. And when you start ripping into your roof and have exposed rafters with rain in the forecast, that clock starts ticking pretty loud!...which brings me to "Simon". Simon is the lift that has been graciously loaned to us by a family friend. It has been a complete lifesaver. It's enabled us to get projects done in half the time compared to climbing up and down a ladder or scaffolding.

But Simon has a dark side. He is loud, heavy, guzzles gas, has a huge air leak in one tire and leaks oil.

A LOT of oil.

Simon also has no reverse so if we need to move him we have to hook him up to a truck & tow him around. This is not an ideal situation but it has been working so far...until last weekend anyway. Apparently, Simon got pretty comfortable over the winter & decided to sink down into the dirt. So, how many trucks and tractors does it take to pull out a stuck lift? Four. Actually, two failed attempts by the trucks, one failed attempt by a tractor & finally success by a bigger tractor with chains on the tires.

Thank you so much Shelmadine family for the rescue! And thanks to Mike Ugolini as well! We really appreciated the help. :)

And thank goodness this house is in a small town. If it were in Kansas City I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have two different people say "I'll go get my tractor". :)

That little escapade set us back about 4 and a half hours. Tick-toc, tick-toc. But we got the lift in place & it was soffit time.

That was my cue to start on the attic. Guh. I think I was secretly happy the lift was stuck so I could mull around watching all the action & avoid going up into that disgusting abyss. However, I did have some help & company this time. My sweet little niece, Anna, decided to pitch in.

I know I've talked about the horrors of the attic before and how much junk and trash is up there but instead of going into great detail I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Crazy, I know. I'll spare you the pictures of the raccoon latrines in case you're reading this and eating something. You're welcome.

After a much needed air break from the attic, I went to check on the soffit king...yes, Jeremy has a new nickname.


Broken hydraulic line. :(

This is the moment you want to pack everything up & head to the tavern to get schlammered with the locals. But, we pressed on and $72 and a couple of hours was fixed. Tic-toc, tic-toc.

The last day we were there it rained in the morning (figures...I was not surprised at all at that point). Then around noon the construction gods cut us a break and the sun came out and Simon was running like a champ.

It was a scramble to get the roof covered and when the clock had run out this was where we were at.

It didn't get completely finished and didn't seem like much but the roof was covered in that small little section and it would properly shed water for the first time in years.

As we were leaving I turned around (probably to shake my fist and curse the lift) and the sun hit that house and it shined. I realized that even though there were frustrations and setbacks and we didn't get as much done as we had hoped it was not a defeat. It was a small step in the right was progress.