Friday, May 10, 2013

No Fridge

We've been camping out in the dining room for a week now. Tonight, it is even more camping since we have no fridge. A big cooler on the porch will do until we get the new fridge tomorrow, especially with 42º F (mid May, it's hard to believe).
The old fridge is not only too small, but also sounds like a jet engine most of the time and I'm sure it is a real gas guzzler.
Camping setup in the dining room. Not so bad except for all the running back and forth to the mudroom sink in the other end of the house.
Today our old fridge was picked up for recycling. ComEd does it for free for their customers and if you are lucky to have a coupon, you might even get paid! The $50 won't buy a new fridge, but is a nice contribution to two buckets of paint or so. Call 1-888-806-2273 for more info.
Off to recycling. Fridge is marked with a number and the cord cut off.

Free pickup of old refrigerators and freezers:)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Alluring Blue, Robin's Egg or Pool Party?

Painting the kitchen ceiling today while pondering what wall color to choose. The floor will be bluish with hits of green, orange, purple and pink, so almost any blue shade will work. I'm leaning towards turquoise to create a fresh look. Cabinets will be white, counter top and handles black. Now is the question which shade of turquoise?

Alluring Blue, Robin's Egg or Pool Party?

This is the linoleum for the floor.
Pure white for the ceiling makes the kitchen as bright as possible. I didn't realize how yellowish the old paint was. And it was even more brownish before I washed it...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Wall paper removal

Scraped off old wall paper today. Luckily the glue was water soluble, so a spray bottle with water, this nifty tool to perforate the wallpaper and a scraper did the job. See here how to use the perforator.

The spiky wheels make holes in the wallpaper so the water can go through and dissolve the glue.
Shortly after we moved in, I painted over the wallpaper with sunny yellow as a quick fix. I was surprised today, to find almost the same yellow under the wallpaper!

No more wallpaper around the door way!
Time to get out the Spackle and sandpaper...

Friday, May 3, 2013

Everything and the Kitchen Sink

Here it goes, after 63 years.

This was our kitchen.

Everything and the kitchen sink. Not sure what the metal drawer was for.

This was the exhaust fan, located at the gable wall. No wonder it didn't do much any more.

Multiple layers of old floor torn up. Vinyl from the 70's or 80's, two layers of plywood sub-floor and finally the original floor of red and yellow linoleum tiles.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Kitchen remodeling - finally!

The stove top broke down a couple of weeks ago and that was the last straw for a kitchen that has seen 4 generations of our family. Kitchen cabinets from 1949 and appliances from the 60's had done theirs and a bit more. Here are a few before pictures.
Resurfaced in the 80's helped the look (if you like this fake wood style), but the cabinets were still extremely inefficient in using our precious square feet and drawers were hard to open and close. A dishwasher and a few more cabinets were added after we moved in.

Tape marks the new cabinet layout

Typical and pretty design from the 60's. Other than that, there is no magic any more with this oven that burns most everything.

Not much work space around the stove and no real exhaust fan (just a hole in the wall, yikes!).

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The American Front Lawn

When it comes to suburban garden design, I've always been puzzled by the uniformity (isn't this the land of individuals?) and lack of imagination (isn't this the land where everything is possible?). Yesterday's post in Apartment Theory explains the American front lawn culture and I realized that my garden ideals are still firmly rooted in the Old World.

Our house came with manicured bushes, lots of lawn and flowerbeds for annuals. Since my dream garden is part nature, part English cottage garden and part fairy tale, there was a lot to be done. Among others, I've dug up quite a bit of lawn, both back and front, during the 3 1/2 summers we've spent here.

Small patch of strawberries, lettuce
and zucchini, July 2009.
Home grown strawberry cake - can
it get any better? "Och mitt i tårtan
skall namnskylten stå" (from Maja's
alphabet songs) 
Strawberry patch gone wild, 2011
The back yard strawberry patch is great! I love to give my kids the experience of gracing sun warmed berries straight from the patch. We haven't taken care of it very well, so we need to dig up all the plants and spread them out before winter. It started with 6 little plants two summers ago and they multiply faster than bunnies, so we've dug up a bit more lawn every year. This year we had enough berries for a birthday cake!

Narrow strips of lawn between driveway/walkways and flowerbeds are all gone :) The grass grew over the driveway and into the flowerbed, so it was a lot of work and it wasn't really pretty either.

Before - Silly strip of lawn between walk way and flower bed, May 2009
After - Lilies and other perennials now fill the entire space
between the house and walkway. 

Before - Another silly strip of lawn, this one is in the back,
between driveway and a flowerbed, July 2009
After - More space for perennials instead of the
high maintenance strip of lawn.

Can a front lawn get more boring than this? April 2010,
just after one of the maple trees had to be taken down.
The front lawn is still far too big for my taste, but with huge maple trees along the street, we end up with maple saplings everywhere. Those that grow in the lawn disappear after mowing a couple of times. However, with ground covering plants, the saplings need to be pulled up one by one. The ideal would of course be to remove all the maple seeds in the fall, but 
1) we never manage in time before it gets too cold, 
2) fallen leaves and wilted perennials make a great winter blanket for the perennials. So far, all our perennials have survived some cold winters very well. Unfortunately, with maple leaves come the seeds  and they grow fast during early spring.

For now, I feel pretty stuck with my large front lawn. As long as I haven't found a manageable solution to the maple saplings, I'll keep digging up the back yard lawn instead...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Slow Paint

Finally, the trim in the mudroom and porch has been painted. Yay! Also the sliding doors between porch and mud rooom and the door between mud room and bath room have two layers of much needed paint. It's all white. Between a full time job, three kids and great gardening weather, it has taken some time. I've promised myself to only paint in day light because it is so much easier to see any mistakes with proper light.

Finished the paint job.                                   Ready for wallpapering

White, #50003. linseed oil paint
by Allbäck and a good brush.
I used Swedish linseed oil paint. In fact, the flax, whose seeds have been pressed to make the oil grew less than 50 miles from where I grew up in Southern Sweden. It's available in the US from
In our previous house, we used linseed oil paint for ALL interior woodwork. For the ceiling, beaded pine board, we mixed our own white stain from linseed oil paint, linseed oil and a little bit of turpentine.
The paint is very relaxing to work with, especially when painting entire doors. It takes 24 hours for it to dry, so there is plenty of time to even out any paint blobs or irregularities.
A good paint brush is a must, you can order that with the paint. Contrary to "normal" paint, this goes on in thin, thin layers and the brush strokes shows a bit more. My doors and trim came pre-primed, which was nice.

The new fiberglass back door is going to be blue. For a long time I was waiting for stable dry weather and now it's too hot. Oh well, it has to be done soon.

I hope to have the mud room finished by our Independence day backyard cookout. Imagine how convenient it would be for guests to use the powder room right there by the back door!