Category Archives: Home renovation

Painting with a puppy

We’ve come up with a new saying. When something turns out to be harder than it should, “That’s like painting with a puppy.”

We packed the car and hit to road with Winn to go to my mom’s house in Southeast Colorado.  She lives in a very small, rural town and wants to sell her house, downsize and move closer to one of her children.

Her house is a beautiful, old, brick Georgian style home that needed a fresh coat of paint on the interior along with some other repairs. We had a very long list to accomplish and I’m happy to say that we got almost everything done but I had to repaint a few areas several times because Winn would be right behind me rubbing against it and licking it.IMG_2444

When I was on the ladder she was always right beneath me.IMG_2486

When she got bored, she would start to cruise around, taking things she knew I would need in order to get my attention.  She grabbed my gloves, paint rollers, garbage bags, my empty coffee cup, and as often as possible, a roll of paper towels.IMG_2659.jpg

Since she wanted to always be near, I finally tied her to a radiator pipe so that she could see me but not disrupt my painting progress.IMG_2473

I took lots of breaks when she was feeling restless and was most productive while she napped. She loved my mom’s yard, romped through her lily patch, played in the sprinkler and ran around when she got the zoomies.IMG_2500.jpg




It took a week but we accomplished what we set out to do. Her house looks beautiful and is ready to show!



Weekend activities

our first group walkIMG_1355

latest DIY–I decided we needed a ramp, and once again hubby was willing to comply (use some new tools).


catching up with good friends

most importantly, remembering–my dad’s navy years were very influential and I have always appreciated and honored those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us.

In my fantasy life…

I would win a huge lottery and have so much money I could pay off all of my debts and buy the Haunted Mansion.

There is a house in town that looked abandoned for years. It is huge and was once owned by Oscar Mayer, yes, that Oscar Mayer the hot dog man. It was covered in vines, had tarps all over the roof and was pitch dark when we drove by at night. It’s not really my style, I like old Victorians and we happen to live in an old Victorian that my husband and I have painstakingly restored over the years. But…there is something about this place that always grabbed my attention and I have always called it the Haunted Mansion.IMG_0548

A couple of years ago it went on the market, apparently by court order. Given the condition, it was severely under market value, but it easily needed a million dollars in restoration. Maisie and I would walk by, I would take pictures and send them to my kids saying things like “what do you think”, “perfect place for the future” and “my next project”.  I was very close to calling a good friend who is a realtor, just so I could get inside and drool for a couple of hours. There is something about an old, run down and neglected home that really gets my blood flowing. Again, let me be clear, this was TOTAL fantasy. A really great fantasy.

I couldn’t get it out of my mind and I had all kinds of design plans. The 3rd floor was a big open space that was originally a ballroom, very common for mansions of the Gilded Age. I would make it the perfect play space for grand-children (still many years away) with climbing toys, a trampoline and shatter proof windows so that the flying hockey puck, lacrosse ball or other projectile wouldn’t cause any damage. For the record, I have restored all of the original windows in my house by myself. I would always choose to keep the original frames, just replace the glass on the 3rd floor only—again, in my fantasy.IMG_0547

It’s 2 blocks from the lake and beach, so even though it doesn’t have a view it is still pretty much a beach house. It is so huge that I could still have formal and casual living spaces. There would be enough bedrooms and beautifully restored bathrooms for as many family members or friends that we would want to invite for a stay. I could even dedicate one to be a bunk room for sleep-overs. (I am planning on entertaining lots of little kids in the future). Best of all, I could create a large dog room that would house the crates, have my dream doggie shower (which we actually did install in our current house, that’s a different post) and a grooming room with a central vac and ventilation to suck up all of the hair. Pretty great, right?

The house is built on a double lot—I would guess each lot to be about 50 feet wide by 200 feet deep. The house pretty much takes up one whole lot, so the yard space is the second huge lot off to the side. This is the best part, I pictured a huge glass solarium with a built-in pool! Heated year round of course, with an enclosed walkway leading to the house. There would also be room for a sport court. As far as fantasies go, I think this is a pretty good one but everyone I shared it with looked at me like I’d lost my mind. I am perfectly aware that this was completely unrealistic but geesh, can’t a girl dream without being faced with a grimace?

View of the back of the house and the large open lot ready for an indoor pool and sport court.

Someday I’ll win the lottery and I’ll show those naysayers. There’s a different house I have my eye on now, it is across the street from the beach with 180 degree lake views. The dog beach is ½ block away and we could watch the 4th of July fireworks from our front porch. Of course I should probably start playing the lottery if I have any chance of making that happen.

P.S. The Oscar Mayer Mansion was purchased by people willing to spend the money necessary to do a pristine, historic preservation. It’s now back on the market, waiting for a family to appreciate this beautifully restored house.  IMG_0348

Here’s a couple of links if you are curious.




Weekend update

Aren’t long weekends wonderful? For us, it means having time for fun, a house project and a little rest in between. For the dogs it means playtime and meeting new people, baths and lots of sleep. Maisie thinks this is all wonderful, Annie still has her moments of doubt.

Chris and I are finally tackling one of the projects we have postponed every summer since we moved in: replacing the shingles on the north side of the house.  When we moved in, we ripped the old siding off and began the slow process of restoring the clapboard and molding, replacing what was necessary and repainting the house in a cheerful 5 color Victorian scheme. We have worked our way around the house each summer and have even made second passes of touch-ups when needed. The top portion of the north side has been out of reach from our 35 foot ladder and has been a topic of debate every summer.  I wanted to hire someone to complete the job, I really don’t like Chris being up that high.  He  wants to do it himself, so we’ve been at an impasse. I finally caved, he bought a 40 foot ladder and 4 boxes of new shingles and the process has begun.

Chris is getting the paint stripped off of the sides and then underlayment and shingles will go up.
Last weekend the rotted and warped shingles were removed.

Setting aside time to have fun was part of the weekend plan so we managed to take the dogs to the beach on 3 occasions.  We had our niece over for dinner Friday night, friends who were in town for the weekend came by for brunch Sunday morning and we had our new neighbors over for drinks Monday evening. For Maisie, this was all lots of fun and she was completely worn out by Monday night.  I hoped Annie would be receptive to house guests since she has become so much more relaxed in the house.  She knows Maggie (our niece) and when she came in the house Annie was wagging her tail and started to approach her.  Unfortunately, she got spooked, put on the brakes and backed up until she could turn around and retreat to her crate.

When our friends came for brunch I knew Annie would spend the entire time in her crate but at one point she did venture out and walked around so that she could take a look at who was in the dining room. When she was acknowledged, she quickly turned back around. I always think this a good sign when she wants to see who is in the house.  When they left, we walked them out to the sidewalk and they weren’t even to their car when I felt Annie by my side.  She listened for the goodbye and came right out once they were out of the house.  So there she was, next to me, as we waved goodbye.  Baby steps with her and hopefully one day she won’t hide in her crate when we have visitors.

After a full day of work Monday, Chris on the ladder stripping off the old paint and me removing the thistle bush (truly one of the worst things I’ve done in a while) that the dogs keep brushing past and picking up terrible, prickly burrs that are very difficult and painful to remove from their fur.  We got our work areas and ourselves cleaned up just in time to get to know our new neighbors.  We stayed outside and while Maisie was very social, loving the kids, running in the yard with them, Annie stayed by my chair most of the time but didn’t seem to be uncomfortable with the new voices.  All in all, a great weekend.  We got a lot accomplished but still took the time to have a little fun.

A trip to the beach is a great way to relax after a day of hard labor.

My favorite DIY: The doggie shower

IMG_2494We have been taking Maisie to the beach almost every weekend since she was old enough to go.  She loves it there, rain or shine, hot or cold, it is one of her favorite things to do and she knows when it’s time for another beach day.  She can tell by the way we are dressed and how long we sit and drink our coffee, a trip to the beach is on the morning list. Before we got Annie, she would head straight for the basement shower when we got home and patiently wait for all of the sand to be washed away.

To say this shower is rustic, is probably being kind. There is nothing fancy about it and the opening is about 24″ wide.  The best way to get her clean was to get in there with her because there is no way to reach her otherwise.  The sink is right next to the shower opening so you need to squeeze by the sink to get into the shower.  Really, the whole thing needs to be torn out and reworked, but for dog washing purposes and the occasional teenage boy sleepover it served the purpose.

When we brought Annie home I knew that there was no way she would go in there.  She didn’t like small spaces or doorways and this was the tiniest space in the house with the most narrow doorways.  We had to figure out an alternative because in order to treat and control her itchy skin, she needed twice weekly medicated baths.  The tiny shower just would not work!

My best ideas come to me in the middle of the night, and that’s when I found a solution.  Shortly after we moved into this house we relocated the laundry machines from the basement to the second floor.  Left behind was a huge 48″ cast cement double sink that we were using mainly to wash paint brushes.  Talk about wasted space!  If we removed the sink, we could build a shower base 20″ off the floor and the drain and water supply lines could stay in the same place.  When I said to my husband “I have an idea”, as usual, he was completely willing to put in the work to make my vision come true.IMG_2452

The deep mop sink, which was found on a bargain website, gets filled with soapy water and then we use a submersible pump and hose to lather them up. ( Annie’s foster dad gave us that brilliant idea when he gave her a bath the day we picked her up.) We got tile from the tile discount warehouse nearby and a rolling cart to tuck into the corner that houses my supplies, towels, and the dryer.

Chris built a rolling step with locking casters that stores underneath the baIMG_2465se.  Maisie jumps right up without the step but Annie uses it so that she can easily walk in when it’s bath time. It also works well with the grooming table (Maisie despises the grooming table, Annie stands patiently like it’s no big deal).






I hung pictures of all of our dogs all around the IMG_2455room but the 3 Princesses each have a place of honor right over the rolling cart.  Bailey in the snow, Maisie at the beach and Annie in our backyard.

IMG_2506We didn’t intend on bathing them together but one day Maisie decided to jump in with Annie and they both fit so we went with it.  We also blow off a lot of the water with the dryer before they get down. It keeps the hair and water contained and then I can move them one at a time to the grooming table if we are doing a full groom. (This doesn’t happen after every bath, only when I’m feeling especially motivated). IMG_1750

Once they are completely dry they get a full brush out and trim.

No more climbing in the shower with the dogs, we can now easily reach them to wash and rinse.

Voila, a fabulous area to wash the dogs and sweet-smelling pooches as the final result!