Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mo' paint

While the final coat of paint is drying on the pocket doors on the living room side and ony the re-attaching of the hardware stands between me and completely finished pocket doors (on -both- sides, no less!), I put the waiting time to good use and moved on to my next target: the arch way.

When we bought the Little Old House, it was a duplex, its original floorplan chopped up into two apartments (one upstairs and one downstairs). The downstair's living room had been closed off from the former vestibule which had been turned into a teeny-weeny bedroom. Re-opening and restoring the original floorplan of our Little Old House was one of the first things we did, and the transformation was really mindblowing (read about it here, here and here)

Again, I'd finished it on the vestibule side a while ago, but hadn't gotten around to it on the living room side of things. Thanks to my master list of "all things to do" and some newly revived get'er done spirit, I'm now gettin'er done!

At this point I'm at two coats of crisp, bright white with one more coat to go for a nice even and cean finish. After that there are just the original house door (in its not-original location) and a replacement window that need painting. This, however, will have to wait. At least for a bit.

We want to move the door back to its historically correct position and replace the ugly 80s aluminum window with a proper wooden sash window. Since that affects the exterior of our house it requires the approval of the Historic Preservation Committee so there's some paperwork we'll have to tackle, and since it's a slightly larger project we've already touched base with our contractor team who helped us bring the Little Old House back to life last year.

So stay tuned while we're saving up money for this and many more projects!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Two sides to each story pocket door

This past week - amidst spring break fun and frolic - I got down and dirty on some more touching up action needed here at the Little Old House. You see, there is this list (described here) and when it says, for example "dining room pocket doors" it means just that: the pocket doors in the dining room.

As in, the dining room -side- of the pocket doors.

Yep, you got it.

Our pocket doors were finished only in as much as the dining room side of things was concerned.

It's all in the spirit of breaking down projects into nice bite-sized chunks.


Anyways, after getting lots and lots of practice painting the pocket doors on the dining room side, I'm making really nice progress with painting them on the livingroom side. Here they are in all of their patched and primed glory. The husband thinks I should paint something on them - a pattern or the like - but I'm not sure yet. Our living room has a slight Restoration Hardware look to it with the industrial dark grey on the walls, the white accents and the vintage brass touches, that I'm not sure it wouldn't be too frilly.

I -do-, however, want to add a few more white or at least bright accents to freshen up the moody look for spring and summer. Pillows come to mind and I'm currejtly fiddling with a knock-off version of a pillow I spied at Target the other day so stay tuned :o)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Stuffed Pasta Shells

Every once in a while I hit a jackpot with a meatless meal for my family of carnivores. We do love our veggies and carbs, but usually there is some kind of meat involved in our main meal of the day (ranging from cold cuts and bacon to fish, fowl and other fourlegged farm animals). While I try to keep things lean, I know we're rather carniverous und try to sneak in a dish or two a week that uses a different kind of protein.

This week it was stuffed pasta shells and boy, it was homerun time for Mama! Gooey, cheesy goodness with a tangy Vodka tomato sauce (a canned sauce doctored up) and a fresh crispy salad on the side that had both my men stuffing themselves silly with delight.

I didn't follow an exact recipe. I hardly ever. I'm one of those annoying people who can't follow a recipe to the letter if their life depended on it and happily wing it. Ever watched "Chopped" on the Food Network? That's me and my basket ...I mean, fridge! I secretly admire those who whip up weekly, even monthly meal plans, shop accordingly and stick to them, their freezers loaded with prepared meals but that's not how I roll. Nuh-uh.

About an hour before dinner I peek into my fridge and pantry, see what mood strikes me, and then I wing it.

I keep certain staples around, both in freezer and pantry, and that's pretty much it. All our produce (except for lettuce) comes from the local farmers market and on and off from our veggie bed in the backyard.

So, back to the stuffed pasta shells. Here's what I threw together:

1 container ricotta cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
2 eggs
pepper, salt, garlic to taste

Mix it up and stuff your pre-cooked pasta shells

Cover your pasta shells with your tomatoe sauce (I used a jar of Vodka Tomato Sauce but added a dash of heavy cream and some more spices) and top it off with grated parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Then bake the whole dish for 20-30 minutes in your oven at ...hmm, oh, about 380F.

For the salad I just tossed different baby greens from the garden, sliced cucumber, and shredded slaw and added fresh, blanched corn for a crispy mix with a simple vinaigrette made from apple cider vinegar, light olive oil, pepper, salt, garlic, a dash of sugar and a tiny dash of Maggi Sauce. You know, to taste.

It was delish!

Friday, March 23, 2012


It's been quiet over here at the little old house blog - not because there's nothing going on - far from it, really - but mainly because there are two guys distracting me from writing posts to keep y'all uptodate.

I mean, would you rather watch this little guy here sleep or stare at a computer screen?

How could you say no "No, I need to upload photos and write a blog post" when these two guys are begging you to come outside to play?

And would you know it - a cup of tea tastes even better watching these BFFs catching a couple of Zzzzs by your feet than to nose around on Pinterest for ideas.

Don't worry - Spring Break is almost over and life should return to normal by the weekend.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Meet my Neighbors: Springfield Dog Park

People in Historic Springfield have a love for almost everything and everyone, including our two- and four-legged furry and feathery friends. From chicken and goats to cats and dogs and everything in between, you'll find lovers of all of these here in Historic Springfield.

We also have our own neighborhood dog park which to a large part was funded by the Springfield Women Club! You'll find the Springfield Dog Park, a FREE off-leash dog park, in Confederate Park at 956 Hubbard Street in Historic Springfield (click here for a link to a map).

We took Mio there last week for a quick meet and greet with some of the neighborhood pooches to help him get acclimated and socialized. It was a little windy and overcast, but not too cold for a quick first outing.

It's a great place if you want to take your dog out for a spin: there are separate, fenced in areas for small dogs and large dogs, shade covers and benches for tired owners, pick-up stations in case your pooch leaves a present and you forgot to bring a bag for the mess, water fountains for both, four-legged and two-legged creatures and it's lit so you can even come (or stay) when it gets dark!

You also get to meet nice people, both from the 'hood as well as those who come visit on a regular basis.

Mio was busy checking out the trees; his nose was going into overdrive from all the smells, even though he wasn't too thrilled about meeting other and much bigger dogs. He was quite happy they were on the other side of the fence.

Pick-up station with trash can - how handy.

Looking for a dog park near you in Jacksonville?
Just follow this handy-dandy link to a map of Jacksonville for more

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fiddling & Tweaking

Slowly, work on our Master bathroom continues, mainly because I'm a little stumped when it comes to finalizing the design. Right now I'm not sure how exactly to pull everything together and make our bedroom, dressing room and bath a cohesive and sweet master suite.

So I turned to Pinterest for a little help in the inspiration department and searched for "black and white bathroom" and "vintage bathroom."

Oh, the lovelies!

Here are two of my favorites that came up during one of those searches. Vintage touches all around + crisp contrast = LOVE!

[source: via pinterest from here]

[source: via pinterest from here ]

What really stood out and captured my interest were the black window frames. How sharp does that look? Would that work for our bathroom? Not like that would immediately pull everything together, but hey, all is fair in the fiddling and tweaking of home decor, right?

It's not like a bit of black paint would ruin these fabulous blah industrial-looking windows circa 1980s, right?

[Before: Plain ... boring ... blah]

So naked and - I don't know - insubstantial. I'm thinking they need window casings, something to beef them up.

Armed with a brush, tape and paint I set to work. I taped off the glass to make sure I got nice crisp lines and wouldn't have to deal with black paint smudges and runs on frosted glass, roughed up the metal a bit and gave it a quick coat of primer.

[In Progress: First coat on - things are starting to look interesting]

Then I held my breath, through caution to the wind and brushed on some nice deep rich black paint.

I couldn't wait to see what it'd look like all done, tape removed and with the usual zink container with towels back in its place on the window sill keeping fresh towels within an arm's reach of the tub.

[After: Me likey!]

I actually like it! A lot! I'm not sure I'd go as far as painting any window casings black as well, but then again, looking at my first inspiration picture I just might. It's paint after all and changed easily enough. Maybe even tape out some faux mullions to create the look of an 8 over 8 or 6 over 6 window? Ooooohh, the possibilities ....

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pi-pa-pocket doors: The reveal

It's been a busy couple of weeks with life throwing a bunch of curve balls at us, not to mention the set back due to paint fail I described over here, but finally, after lots and lots of prep work (described here and here), the deed is done and the pocket doors are agleam with a fresh coat of paint and clean hardware.

Shiny! Like a new penny!

I cleaned the original hardware from old paint splatters and gave them a quick rub'n buff with a drop of olive oil to liven up that gorgeous old brass patina. They look almost like oil-rubbed bronze but instead of the reddish glint of bronze you see the warm golden glow of old brass shining through the aged patina.

For the moment we are very careful when opening and closing them until the paint has had sufficient time to cure and harden. Most of them time, we keep them open to aide the traffic flow between our main living areas, and only close them when it's cold or when Little Man wants to watch TV while the grown-ups are talking next door.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Jax Home & Patio Show 2012

On Saturday, the husband, Little Man and I ventured out to the Jacksonville Home & Patio Show. We'd had loads of fun at last year's show and came home with a similarly sized load of flyers, business cards and ideas, so we were excited to drop in again this year.

The Home & Patio Show utilized the showrooms at the Prime Osborn Center in Jacksonville, Jax's old railway station. I love the huge black and white photograph from its heyday in the 1920s welcoming you to the event location in the foyer. It hasn't changed much in all those years, except for those picturesque horse-drawn carriages. You don't see too many of those around here anymore (although the police's equestrian unit has a barn right around the corner).

Fitting the location there was a huge play train set taking up one of the many showrooms. It was HUGE! with buildings and little people figurines, vintage cars and a variety of trains, from steam trains puffing up billowing ribbons of smoke to large electric trains.

We had a grand time and enjoyed the very obvious love for detail of the toy train club that hosted the display and who were more than happy to explain and answer any questions we had.

The other showrooms looked a lot more like what you'd expect. We'd gotten there just after lunch and it got busier by the minute. We left two hours later (didn't want to leave the new puppy alone for too long) and by then, people were squeezing through the aisles at a much slower speed than the way we started out.

There were a couple of really neat things for sale (none of which we picked up; we just weren't in a shopping mood). These tiered planters caught my eye, especially since they came in different colors aside from the generic terracotta look. So cute!

This was hands-down the prettiest display: Rocks and pavers and other "hardcore" elements for your landscaping needs.

We also tested mattresses, watched cooking demonstrations and learned more about foam insulation. River City Lighting had the blingiest stand with glistening chandeliers, sparkling sconces and interesting pendant lights.

We didn't stay for the HGTV special guest presentation, but we did get to see another work by this artist whom we'd seen before at the Riverside Arts Market. Isn't the 3D chalk art incredible?

It really feels like it's coming out of the ground!

And we enjoyed watching the performance of the Living Fountain (although it's nothing I'd add to my backyard, heh).

I did come back home to a cup of tea and some cinnamon crumb cake with my pockets filled with business cards for painting businesses (Wanna paint my house? For free? I'll blog about you until the cows come home ... :o)! - One can wish, right?) and paint chips. Did you go to a Home and Patio Show recently? This one, even? What did you bring home?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

In the words of the famous Yoda

"Do or do not. There is no try."

So I have made a list with all the things I need to do (paint trim, touch up paint, etc.) and some things I want to do (create art, add rug, etc.) for each room as well as back yard and front yard and added a check box at the end of the line to get me going again on those many little projects before all of my spare time gets swallowed up again. It also helps the husband to see all the points on the "honey, let's do" list spelled out and ready to pick from.

I'm usually not big into lists but this time I think we really need one or else we're going to loose track and big time momentum. It was definitely easier to get things accomplished when we weren't living in the Ugly Duckling but just made time, every day, to stop by to paint and prep and prime and fix and beautify than now were life tends to get the better of us most of the time. This weekend, I got to check off three boxes already and boy, did that feel great!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New addition

As you may have noticed from posts like this one here and this one, we were in the mood for dog. And because of our special needs (cats and husband's allergies), our choices were somewhat limited. After ogling the listings at our local shelters (ACPS and Humane Society), trying a few rescue groups (of which only the Greyhound Rescue GAP was helpful - incredibly so - even if it didn't work out), I finally gave in and listened to my friend Nina's prodding to come and meet her dogs.

You see, she shows Chinese Crested and as luck would have it, just had a first litter born to her prize-winning dogs. Happy healthy puppies who'd grown up with kids (check!), a cat (check!) and are considered hypoallergenic (check!).

The problem?

Whenever I heard "Chinese Crested", this is what I envisioned:

[source: Miss Ellie, RIP]

A sight only a mother could love. A birth mother. A blind birth mother.

I'm clearly exaggerating. Actually, by now, I don't find her quite that ugly anymore.

Nina won. Three weeks ago, just after the Greyhound fail, we drove out to Mandarin to visit her and her little pack of Chinese Crested.

Within minutes, nay, seconds we were head over heels, madly in love with the rowdy bunch of puppies and their parents! This is a breed of dog you clearly have to SEE and FEEL before you can make up your mind. The Powderpuff variety is a Chinese Crested with a fine fluffy coat of fur and if untrimmed, looks like a cute little terrier. Groomed, they are ueber-cute with their little faces, soulful eyes and big bat ears.

[Mio checking out the kitchen while being checked out in turn.
Notice sneaky little Buttons in the back]

So we brought this little guy home with us: Sayuri's Amore Mio aka "Mio" (Mee-oh), this adorable 4 months old Powderpuff.

[Sweet little faces]

Here are my boys: Little Man and Mio, enjoying some cuddle time on Mom's lap. Mio is a darling of a well-adjusted puppy. He's attentive, happy, playful catching quick cat naps atop my feet in between walks and playing.

It took Buttons about 24 hrs to decide that Mio was the best plaything ever. The two -love- each other: they hang out together, nap together, share food and rough-house like a pair of puppies. When it comes to playing "Fetch!", though, Buttons has Mio beat hands-down. Boots, our senior cat, is glad that Buttons has somebody else to play with and ignores both (unless they get to close; then she calls them to order).

[Best place on earth? Mom's lap]

Mio is a perfect fit for our family and our first week together has been nothing but joy. I'm so glad we had the chance to get to know this rare but wonderful breed of dogs and are really lucky to add one to our gang.

Mio has two siblings who are still looking for a new home, so in case you are interested, check out Nina's webpage and drop her a line!

[source: Sayuris.com]

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rallying the troops

[1647 Pearl Street North in Historic Springfield needs YOU!]

As you may have noticed, I'm all over the beautiful historic houses, restored and yet waiting for somebody to love on them alike, in our historic district.

Yet, time and time again it's like a punch in the stomach when one of these "Grand Old Ladies" are being threatened by the wrecking ball through a city ordered demolition.

In a nationally registered historic district.

If you're just as baffled about how a city government can order a demolition of a historic structure in a historic district because the owner is neglecting to renovate, to slow to renovate, and would rather see a blighted weedy lot than a house, here's your chance to help:

The house on the picture stands at 1647 Pearl Street North. It is slated for demolition, not because it's in danger of falling on top of an innocent bystander due to severe structural issues, but because the investor has not done anything to it in a decade. Now the house and a national historic district are supposed to pay the price for this wanton neglect. We all understand the necessity for emergency demolitions, say, after a fire, but flaky paint, loose shingles should not warrant the death sentence.

So, if you're anywhere near your email and feel like raising your voice with us here in Historic Springfield to save some history, you could email the following people here in Jacksonville, FL, to point out that this house and others in similar situations in Historic Springfield need to be saved, that demolition is not the answer to negligent investors, that mothballing a structure costs the fraction of a demolition (Which city can afford to pay thousands of dollars on frivolous things anyways?) and that this nationally registered historic district needs protection and patronage and NOT more demolitions (since its inception, Historic Springfield has lost more than 400 contributing structures ... of, you know, a whopping 1,800+)

Historic Preservation Commission:

Our City Council Representative

And our city's mayor

Thank you!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Meet my Neighbors: Springfield Disc Golf

My neighborhood is special. Not only does it come with beautiful old houses, tree-lined alleys and huge potential, but with great people from all walks of life.

"Most move here for the houses, but they stay for the people."

That's pretty much Springfield's motto and boy, does it ring true. There is always so much going on, from monthly block parties, Mommies group, Gardening Club, our own neighborhood animal rescue, Wandering Cocktail Party, Urban Farming and, and, and - the list goes on. While my neighbors in Springfield couldn't be any more different and diverse, they all share a a passionate and adventurous spirit. Sure, we do clash over some topics. Tempers flare. People can and will hold old grudges, but yet ... it's like siblings: fighting and nagging and competing but nobody beats my brother (or sister) but me.

Oh, and we can't stop talking. Not like you would have noticed.

Kim Heyde had an idea, a passion for Springfield and after a little more than a year, her passionate idea took shape and we got to celebrate the Grand Opening of the Springfield Disc Golf Course last weekend!

Disc ...wha?

[Disc Golf Goal]

Disc Golf. Yeah, I know.
I had never heard about it before either so I was totally confused about the hubbub and excitement. If you call it "Frisbee Golf" it might make more sense. Imagine agolf course, instead of little holes in the ground you have baskets and instead of whacking golfball around, you throw frisbees.

Got it?

We went to the Grand Opening for a first taste and it's surprisingly a whole lot of fun. So much fun that Little Man was deeply disappointed and in tears when the next morning greeted us with rain and kept us from going back for another round of disc golf.

You should really check it out. It's kind of like a hip, alternative type of activity for any age group. You get to spend some leisurely time outside, amble through a park with views of Downtown Jax and beautiful old houses and you could even bring a picnic basket and a blanket.

You'll find the big sign with a map of the course and the rules on the corner of 2nd Street and Boulevard at Klutho Park, and it's easy to park in that corner too.

Here're a few links I found for you

  • Find Springfield Disc Golf on Facebook here

  • Check out the Springfield Disc Golf webpage here

  • Learn more about the entire process, from the idea to the Grand Finale here

  • Check out the thought process behind designing the logo here

Won't you come out and play?