Sunday, August 26, 2012

Eastern Shore Vacation

Doug and I spent last week in a delightful carriage-house rental on the Eastern Shore of Maryland near Cambridge.

We love the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge down there, and we drove through at least once a day. I also rode my bike through twice and saw this beautiful sunrise:

On our last day there, we went in the evening and watched the sun set from an observation tower:

We met Alex and Ashleigh and their beautiful lab, Honey, for a picnic in Long Wharf Park in Cambridge.  This is them in the car on the way to meet us:

We went out to lunch, ate ice cream almost every day, biked every morning, and relaxed on our deck overlooking the water.

We also of course did a lot of our favorite thing--junking!

We went to five thrift stores, a Goodwill super store (which turned out to be not so super), two antique stores, a junk shop, a gallery that featured local arts and crafts, and a funky shop called Yesterday and Today that had a great mix of new and vintage stuff.

This junk shop near the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry is filled with, well, junk, including a Santa to greet customers:

 I'll share some of our purchases in future blog entries, but for now this is me going into St. Marks Thrift in Easton:

And here's Doug coming out loaded down with our purchases, including a wonderful $2 crate that held everything else we bought:

In all, we spent about $250 and came away with enough fabric, bistro glasses, mugs, stained glass, vintage canisters, Pyrex, and other kitchen items, baskets, small tools, flatware, tins, board games, books, picture frames, and Tupperware to fill our beach cottage--not to mention our Honda Civic.

Now it's time to get back to work if we want a nice place to put all of it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Celebrating a Life

Yesterday we said good-bye to a dear member of our family, our 19-year-old grey cat, Casey. It was a very tough day, and today wasn't much better. I'm hoping it will get easier each day, but right now, that's hard to imagine. She was still doing great just a few months ago:

Casey joined our family in 1993, when Christine, who is now almost 23, was just four years old.  The two of them had a bond that was unbreakable, even though Christine didn't live with us during college. Visits home often resulted in joint naps like this one:

She slept in Christine's bed and always came running when Christine cried (even if Christine faked it just to get Casey to react).

We got Casey and her sister, Max, when Alex, who is now 26, was only seven.  He told the neighbors, who had just rescued three kittens, that we would take two.  I'm sure the neighbors thought that was wishful thinking on his part, but we did indeed take two kittens.

Here is Alex a few years ago eating a bowl of cereal at our house.  Casey seems to be saying, "Where's mine?"

She loved laps and fires and blankets:

and boxes:

And she loved to look out the windows of our little Sears house:

Doug likes to tell the story of how she almost killed him about 8 years ago, before we were married.  He was allergic to cats but decided to hang out with her at my house waiting for me to return from a trip.  His airway closed up, and I rushed him to my bedroom where we opened all the windows, and I called 911.  Not only did Doug live, but after that episode, he was no longer allergic to cats. I guess Casey inoculated him.  They became friends, and she was his best buddy for 14 weeks in 2008, when he broke his foot:

Doug turned into an old softie when it came to Casey.  On a trip to Target for groceries, he was disappointed that there were no cat supplies on the list.  He wandered into the pet department anyway and came home with a refillable catnip toy for Case.  Here she is playing with it at the age of 18:

She gave us quite a scare when she got lost in the house a few months ago, which I detailed in an earlier blog entry.  But we found her several hours later.  Here she is, sitting in the living room when Doug came downstairs after another fruitless search for her.  She looks annoyed that anyone would question where she was all that time.

That wasn't the first time she had been lost--before we decided that she should be strictly a house cat, she was lost in the woods for 5 days and we thought she was a goner.

Her time wasn't up yet then.

But yesterday it was.  She died in my arms at the vet's office.

Bye, Casey, I'll love you forever.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The 12 Days of Rehab

I can't believe we settled on our property less than two weeks ago--sometimes it seems like it was two days ago, and sometimes it feels more like two years.

After the first few days of dumpster filling, we got to work rebuilding.  At some point, I will post an entire entry with befores and afters of all of our rooms, but for now, I just want to focus on the fresh and new (and shove the old and dirty back into the dumpster where it belongs).

So after several buckets of primer and paint, some new trim, and our stuff moved in, here are the three rooms we have finished.

The living room:

We already owned the couch, the rug, and the two wicker chairs (they got a new coat of slate blue paint--in their previous lives, one was a vintage white chair, and the other was a new brown one). The bookcase, the lamps, and the little blue table in front of the window were donated by our friends Martin and Jennie.  I got the military trunk on Craigslist for $50. We splurged on the framed Life magazine cover ($70) and the two chippy chairs ($30 each).  The blinds cost a total of $120 for six windows at Home Depot. All of the accessories (pillows, quilts, books, etc.) were culled from collections in our house, including framed photos by Doug. The floats hanging in the corner were $2 at a yard sale.

The dining room:

Doug got these shots of me posing with my adorable 22-year-old daughter Christine, who came down for the day to provide entertainment while we assembled a futon.  She also brought along the muscle to help Doug move in the boxes, which were pretty heavy.

The cottage-style futon was our huge splurge in this room.  It sells for $799 at LL Bean, which I brought down to $399 with rewards cards and coupons.  The slipcover and bolster pillows were another $250.  I already had the vintage kitchen table.  I bought the four chairs on Craiglist for $60 and spray painted them assorted pastel colors. I got the rug on for $120.   The blinds came to $100.  We already had all of the accessories.  For the floor, we simply (well, maybe not so simply) removed all of the nails and staples after we pulled up the carpet and then painted it with dark blue-grey porch paint.  Doug gets big points for repairing and adding trim to make the whole room look better.

The bathroom:

This was our cheapest upgrade, and we will do more later.  I painted the walls and ceiling, pulled up dirty linoleum, and painted the floor the same grey as the dining room.  We bought the sailboat wall plaques at a yard sale for $2 each and the shower curtain at Good Will for $4.  At Bed Bath & Beyond, we bought a toilet paper holder and floor-to-ceiling shower caddy for $20 each. We already had all of the towels and other accessories. It's not shown in the picture, but I also painted a hideous gold mirror and hung a blue ticking curtain over the vanity opening to replace gaping drawers.

After my hero Doug went home in his pickup truck, Christine and I stayed for a couple more hours.  We went to Walmart and bought some playing cards and board games.  We came back and ate lunch at the dining room table and then played a game on the trunk in the living room.

Now, it's truly a second home.

Monday, August 6, 2012

That Sinking Feeling

Doug and I pride ourselves on our ability to reuse, repurpose, and recycle, so when we bought our little beach cottage, our plan was to work with the kitchen as it was:

We knew it was bad--crooked cabinet doors, rotten wood, loose floor tiles, a vintage fridge that was rusting inside, drawers that were basically just boxes shoved into openings with no runners or stops....  The only thing good in the entire room was a brand-new miniature four-burner gas stove.

But we were still determined.  We had good-quality primer and paint from Sherwin Williams, and Doug is an awesome craftsman whose years as a research machinist taught him how to fix just about anything.

Our determination literally went down the drain, however, the day I cleaned the sink.

Or tried to.

I encountered a bumpy, rubbery surface every time I scrubbed.  Doug checked it out and solved the mystery. The previous owner had painted it.  Not with special sink spray paint.  Oh no.


So we started looking for a replacement sink and learned that size matters.  It wasn't possible to get one that would fit in the existing opening.

After a day or two of talking, we realized that the previous owner's idiocy was our wake-up call.  This kitchen was not salvageable, and there was still a dumpster in our front yard.  An hour later, most of the old kitchen was in the dumpster, and now the room looks like this:

Ironically enough, the sink is still there, as we needed a place to wash paint brushes while we worked on the other rooms. It's actually kind of nice because we don't have to worry about being neat.

And now Doug can design us a new, albeit tiny, kitchen with beadboard walls, a farmhouse table for a countertop, and a vintage porcelain sink that's actually still porcelain.

One thing is for sure--we won't design it with the fridge placed in front of the window.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dumpster Day

Every junker/thrifter/DIYer knows what dumpster diving is, and most of us have done it at least once.

But this morning, Doug and I were on the other side of a dumpster--tossing things in.

We had settlement on our little beach cottage on Monday afternoon and headed down to the property as soon as the papers were signed--my little Honda loaded with cleaning supplies.

We knew the place was a mess, but we didn't realize just how MUCH of a mess until we dug in.  By the end of the day on Monday, we had a mountain of trash in our yard:

It was truly disgusting--moldy orange tweed carpet, box springs with stuffing spilling out, stained mattresses, bags of bedding with mouse droppings in the folds.... Yuck.

The previous owners even left their used toothbrushes hanging on the bathroom wall. There was fertilizer in the kitchen cabinets and a car jack under the bed.  

You would have thought these people ducked out in the middle of the night to evade the police.

But this morning, we finished gutting and started refurbishing.

Here is Doug, happy at the full dumpster on Day 2:

One of the items that made its way into the dumpster was this lovely kitchen cabinet.  The doors are held in place with duct tape because in true junker style, I asked Doug to remove the white porcelain knobs before we tossed the cabinet.  You never know when you might need some nice knobs.

With the carpet removed (and about 1,000 rusty staples pulled from the subfloor), this is what our future dining room looks like now:

It's on our painting agenda for Friday and Saturday.  I'm already envisioning our Union Jack table in there.

The dumpster leaves tomorrow, and we'll be glad to see it go.  But I totally understand how author Mary Kay Andrews felt when she bought her fixer-upper on Tybee Island in Georgia.  All she wanted for her birthday was a dumpster.

Mine was a housewarming present.  Welcome to Kitts Hummock.