Monday, September 28, 2015

Miniature Portrait Mystery

I had a trip to Denver last month and had a little too much fun there with the shopping. We checked out their Goodwill Outlet stores which put our Omaha store to shame! In case you don't know, they sell stuff by the pound and it's like a giant treasure hunt! Or a disgusting mess, depending on your thrifting level. I spent $30 and got an antique quilt, a pouf (which I looked up on wayfair and it was $125), a combined 30 pieces of clothing for me and the little one, a couple pairs of shoes, misc. toys I got talked into and some other random stuff. It's a good thing I don't live near those suckers or I would be a level 10 hoarder in about 2 months!

l have most of my treasures boxed up yet because I'm still working on the plaster etc. on the walls so why pull it out to get dirty (my excuse *cough* hoarding?) I did pull these out of my stash because they fascinate me. It was the last sale before lunch and these were just sitting on the table. This was the first to catch my eye.

At first I thought it might be a good gift for my brother but nah, the style is what would you guess? 1850's?? English?? a little pre-Victorian era so it would be a little too "old fashioned" for his house. (I know he's reading this right now going "whatever") I then noticed the glass was hand beveled and also the metal on the frame was all hand cut.

I examined the what I thought (and probably what the estate people thought - since you see the $2 price tag) was a print only to discover it is a painting! Perhaps a very old painting?? (I have a minor in art history so I only know enough to get myself in trouble) I can see she is on velum but I'm not going to take it apart and disrupt it.

The artist signature looks to be D.J. She's only about 3" tall but the detail is incredible! These photos just don't do her justice and I personally think she should be in a museum somewhere but I know next to nothing about miniature portraits and she seems pretty happy at my house...

This gal was $4 so maybe they could tell she was hand painted? as she's not as detailed and looks to have been in a fire (or maybe just was sitting above my fireplace for 50 years, ha!) She also is in a celluloid frame so maybe is newer? or perhaps the frame was added later as the painting almost looks like it has been trimmed, perhaps something in hopes of minimizing the fire damage??

She seems to be painted on something solid ivory? celluloid? so not as fragile as her friend. I am tempted to free her from her 1950's velveteen job and it also looks like she might pop out if I remove the metal trim but need I say "half finished project" again? Her signature is also hard to make out (I guess I should get a closer shot of it) and it looks like part of it has been trimmed away to add to the illegible-ness of it.

I think my mom and I are fighting over these still but you can see they are at my house. I do love a good mystery item! I enjoy looking at these ladies, wondering about their history and imagining them sitting in a fancy parlor somewhere long ago! I was reading a little into the history of miniature portraits and it's very interesting. In this era of having a cell phone full of photos, I never thought about what one did if they wanted an easily portable picture of a loved one pre-photography. If anyone has anymore information or good reads about these let me know!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Ongoing Projects: Bookcase and Fireplace

With the temperature cooling down a bit outside, I have added to my list of busywork. My ongoing weed battle has returned and hopefully will be ending for the season soon! After everyone else is in bed I can also escape to the garage and work on this project:

Yes, this is the bookcase which I had in my dining room.

A normal person would have just put it back in after finishing painting and then worried about it after the rest of the house was under control in the project department. I guess I felt I needed a 57th item to add to my daily schedule last spring. Off course it got to be 110 degrees before I finished so it has just been sitting in the middle of the garage for 6 months. It's ok though because I find stripping paint with a heat gun at 11 o'clock at night rather therapeutic.

Another thing I've been working on is cleaning out 100 years of crud from the fireplace.
This is what we've had in the fireplace for 5+ years.

Yep, the first thing you see when you walk in the door. A spray painted, squished gas insert which is way too small for the fireplace opening. This, and the gross carpet on the stairs. But I won't add another half finished project to my list yet so just this, a weird looking fireplace insert.

And here is the actual size of the unit without all of the extra metal framing they added to make it "fit".

I am now left with:
At first glance, I thought they had painted the inside of the fireplace but once we finished pulling out the gas insert I could tell it was just gross fire crud. I looked online to see if vinegar would clean a fireplace and sure enough, Apartment Therapy had that suggestion. About a 50/50 water, vinegar mix. They also mentioned not using it on an old fireplace due to the acidity but wouldn't any official fireplace cleaner be harsher? Maybe if I was cleaning it out every week? But I have a delightfully tacky, log shaped electric heater to sit in here so I don't plan on really scrubbing it again. I used the vinegar on the bottom stones to the left in the photo and you can see they cleaned up nicely (they were the same as the right side). Of course, the gunk on the right side barely budged when I used my vinegar concoction so I'll have to test something a little stronger on it.

It was nice they ran the gas line through the ash trap door and tucked the original cast iron trap door and frame behind the insert so we just popped them back in place. I figured there was going to be a giant hole of some kind under the insert we were going to have to patch. The porcelain log is sitting on the trap door as it pops open if you put pressure on one side or the other. Convenient if you're sweeping away ash, not convenient with a curious cat and hyperactive 3-year-old. My dad was concerned about the cat. I was more concerned about fishing out a Thomas or favorite race car from amongst 100 years of ash/dead whatever in that hole in the basement. Yuck!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Disgusting Air Conditioning Situation

About a week ago, the air conditioning (the heat pump/furnace end of it) started making the worst thump, thump, thump sound so we decided it was best to turn it off. It could not have happened today when it's 80 something with little humidity. Nope, it happened on a Thursday night and the next several days were supposed to be over 100 with 80% humidity. I called my dad on the situation and he said it sounded like a screw fell out of the squirrel cage and informed me I could just turn off the furnace, take off the panel and poke around. You mean the panel with the picture of the guy's head being blown away by flames!!?? I was not confident enough in my abilities so I called bright and early Friday morning in hopes the furnace people would have an opening. The receptionist got my info and informed me someone would call me back to schedule an appointment. I hate calling people on the phone so I procrastinated for 3 hours and finally called them back. "Ohh, well, we have an opening on Tuesday afternoon." Yeah, I wish they would have told me that at 8am in the morning so I could have tried someone else! I called around and finally looked to see if anyone was open on the weekend and found John Henry's (who snaked our main drain since that also happened on a Saturday morning I believe.) They had a Sunday opening which was better than Tuesday! Then they called around 3:30 and wondered if they could come take a look. Umm, yeah you can!

Here comes the disgusting part. The repairman pulled off the panel and found a mouse stuck in the squirrel cage. Eww! When the mouse was untangled, the ac was up and running again. It was a very easy fix but, yuck! I'm glad I called someone in for the "repair" as I'm not sure how I would have handled that situation. I am also eternally grateful for John Henry's because I didn't have to listen to my husband whine for 3 days. I informed him this house most likely didn't have air conditioning until 1982 to which he responded "no one could have survived in here without air conditioning!" I comfortably leave the windows open until it hits 90 outside (when the humidity is decent) and he starts complaining when the temperature starts getting above 75 so that sounds about right.

Here is the 2-year-old's take on the situation:

Starting from the upper right and moving clockwise we have: a drawing of our broken ac, me and Lucca, Thomas (the train), Uncle Frankie on his computer and then Uncle Frankie's working air conditioner.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Free Friday Floating Toy Shelves

 This is what the living room typically looks like. (though we were trying to weed out the 1980's Little People this day) The little things can be tossed into the boxes and bins but what about those awkward buildings etc.? They stayed on the floor. 

I've had it in the back of my mind to add shelves to this area of Lucca's room but I didn't know how and it wasn't a priority:
(note MORE big awkward toys)

Our salvage store has a free day on the first Friday of the month for random things they haven't been able to sell. Needless to say I am a frequent attendee. When my mom is in town with the van? Lets just say it is not wise to let us go by ourselves. 

 Last month they had a huge stack of these doors. My mom said "oh, these doors make nice shelves. Too bad your dad made me get rid of mine." Wait, shelves? I could use shelves. So I selected a set which wasn't too scratched up while she went on about how if she still had hers she could have given them to me blah, blah blah. Reminder these were free so I'm not sure why she felt bad about getting rid of her set of door shelves! 

I took off the hardware and they were an inch too long so I cut them down. I was originally planning on carefully filling the holes and painting the shelves but decided to let go of my OCD ways and just hang them up. I also originally was going to use the adjustable metal brackets but there is a little bit of trim on the corner of the closet door so they were then a 1/4 of an inch too wide. 

There is that closet door trim which ruined my plan! 

I had an hour before I had to get to work so what was I going to do to get this done!? For some odd reason I had these short pieces which brackets fit into and viola! they fit behind the trim and seem to give the boards enough support. 

The finish color even somehow freakishly matches my woodwork color so it's a good thing I didn't paint them. I thought I wanted them to be adjustable but I like the clean floating look better so it all worked out perfectly. Her toys are lightweight so they don't need much support in the middle and if she decides to swing from it, or something weird, the shelf probably will fall but she will be showered with toys and a 3 pound shelf instead of something solid wood or particle board. We shall see! It keeps a few awkward things off the floor/at least I have an easy place to stuff them when I need to vacuum.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Scariest Troll Dolls EVER

Maybe I have scarier ones? My husband can be the judge of that statement. I almost didn't buy them because I thought they were scary. Then I came to my senses and realized I would be crazy to pass up the chance to add these guys to my collection!

The photo doesn't really do them justice. It looks like they were a kit of some sort as the fabric is printed but the sewing is someone's homemade project. I am wondering how they made all three of them?? I would have gotten about half way through the first one, realized they were not turning out the way the pattern showed and it would still be up in my closet. I could have a forgotten one up there for all I know!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Meet Lucca and Clifford

This is Lucca and Clifford.

Lucca was received as a bribe at the 18 month doctor visit and ever since has been the figure of choice for, well, Lucca. Lucca does everything big Lucca wishes she could do - attend school, fly a plane, drive a car, hang with the My Little Pony crew and Clifford is usually by her side. Lucca is about 2" tall and flat. If Lucca is not immediately seen in the morning I have to listen to "Lucca!? Where are you Lucca!?" over and over until Lucca is found. Usually she is napping in a castle tower but some mornings it is a bit more of a challenge. One morning, after a good 20 minute search, Lucca was discovered only because I caught the glimpse of a tiny red hand sticking out from under the school house. She has also been known to hide under a bus or be stuck in the trap door slide of the Sesame Street Clubhouse.

It usually isn't as vital if Clifford isn't around in the morning but Lucca has to know where Lucca is before her day can begin. We probably have 75 super cute Little People figures ranging from Disney Princess' to a construction crew but Lucca always has designated this little guy as Lucca. Yep, I could probably get rid of all of those Little People and she wouldn't even notice!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Sandbox Time

I don't remember the last project my husband did, perhaps it was paint 3/4 of the house 5 years ago? Or maybe it was breaking the sink while trying to unclog it last weekend? Anyways, he is the first to admit he is not handy - which is fine with me because he lets me do whatever I want around here. When he said last weekend he was going to build a sandbox I was a little leery and figured I would have to figure out how to fix and finish it but it actually went rather smoothly.

We picked out some cedar wood. We actually found fence pickets which were the exact length we wanted (minus the 1/2" of picket at the top) and they were $4.97 a board.

I cut the top picket shape off  - neither I nor my husband trusted him to cut it straight.

The boards were sanded and then screwed together.

 We have a pretty square!

Come on dad! It needs more sand!
 While looking at other sandbox tutorials, I noticed most people put a board on the bottom. My dad just stuck this black garden cover stuff under my sandbox as a child and it held up a good 10+ years so I just went with that in our sandbox. Plus it is cheaper and way easier than measuring/attaching a bottom.

We'll be adding some corner benches for support but it's being used as-is for the moment.

 One thing I would recommend is leveling around the edges prior to filling with sand. Two of the corners were a little lower than the rest of the box so sand was threatening to escape. I did cram dirt under and level it that way but it would have been easier to do before! I also am not really crazy about the sand. Menard's, Wal Mart and Home Depot all had the same looking sand labeled "play sand" but it is really red and really pebbly. Menard's also had super fine sand for twice the price but I don't think that is really good to crawl around in either. The small child obviously doesn't care as it works just fine for sand castles!