Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

[The first Loquats - unbelievably tart this year thanks to the crazy weather we have had]

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Staircase Challenge: On and on it goes

Another week, another teeny bit of progress. I'm so grateful for this challenge and for all the other inspiring ladies suffering alongside me. I'm convinced without it I'd have thrown the towel at least four weeks ago.
But ...!
Behold, there is progress!
Not an awful lot but it gives an even better idea of where I'm headed with all of this scraping and sanding and patching. One third of the staircase is now primed, and I got the first coat of darkbrown paint on the top of the newel post and the handrail. Hallelujah!

I'm becoming somewhat of a contortionist - getting the area between the upper and the stair part of the balcony scraped and sanded is .... uh, something best suited for somebody with rubber arms. I have added scrapes and bruises to my heatgun burns trying to maneuver my hand between the two sets of spindles to tackle the baseboard.
I'm thinking spray paint for a chance to actually paint this area with a smooth coat of paint but if you have any ideas, I'm definitely open for suggestions!

The first spindles are primed and ready for the first of two coats of paint. The relief of the spindles is beautifully crisp - a far cry from the gunked up mess they used to be which tickles me pink.

And that's it for this week! 
I hope to have a bit more to show for next Tuesday. Don't forget to check out how the other duelists are doing and visit

Monday, February 25, 2013

Let's talk about history

Let's talk about you and me ... and the amazing fact that our house will get to celebrate its 100th birthday next year.
Not only that, but in 100 years it has also come full circle in regard to its owners. How so, you wonder?

I'm so excited to share this with you! When our house was ready to move in for the first time in 1914, the first couple to ever live in the Little Old House - when the plaster had just dried and the paint was still fresh - were Henry and Emma Stukenberg. Both, henry and Emma, were half-German, born to immigrant parents from Germany and the Netherlands who had settled in Indiana in the 1800s.
How crazy is that?!
I'm a born and bred German citizen, and immigrated to the US in 2003 (I like telling people I'm a mail-order bride but that's not quite how I met the husband). Little Man was born on German soil, but thanks to the good relationship between the US and Germany, he holds dual citizenship (and has two passports). After 100 years the Little Old House is again home to people with German roots!
Crazy, isn't it?
I mean, what are the odds?

[This is not an actual picture of the Stukenbergs - I wish I had one!]

Henry Stukenburg was born on June 15, 1868, in Aurora, Indiana, to Herman and Margaret Stukenburg (also spelled Studenburg, Stukenburg or Stuckenbirg). He was the second-oldest of six children and had two sisters (Mary and Lena) and three brothers (Fred, Frank and Edward). His father made a living as a cooper and his mother was a homemaker.
His future wife Emma was born  in either 1869 or 1870 as the second-oldest of five children to Fredrick and Katherine "Katie" Wesler in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. She had three sisters (Maggie, Minnie and Carrie) and one brother (Harry). Her father was a local coal dealer.

Henry and Emma tied the knot on November 17, 1890 in Lawrenceburg/Dearborne, Indiana, and sometime between 1910 and 1920 moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where Henry worked as a foreman for Wright, Barrel & Coal Company.

Their union remained childless, and Henry passed away on October 26, 1929, in Jacksonville, Florida. He was buried on October 30, 1929,  at St. Mary's Cemetery. Mrs. Emma must have loved him very much because she followed him only a short time later, passing away on June 19, 1930. She is also buried at St. Mary's. I still need to go and look up their grave site and bring them some flowers.

And in case you are related to our Stukenburg family - please don't hesitate to contact us! I'd love to learn more about the first family at our Little Old House!

All this information I gleaned from census documents and other records through and I really enjoyed and had the best results through their site. As an added bonus it's free to use but you might run into finding documents that require a paid account through I tried their 14 day free trial but can't really get the hang of their interface well enough to make a full account worth my while - for now.

Maybe when I have more time on my hands .... yeaaaah, right. Like that will ever happen!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dueling DIY: The Staircase Challenge

It's been a whopping six weeks since Kit from DIY Diva and Sarah from the Ugly Duckling House started the Dueling DIY: The Staircase Challenge.
Six weeks of stripping paint.
Six weeks of talk about stair case parts, color schemes, no-slip solutions, runners, spindles and more. Six week of stairs.

While the staircase at the Little Old House isn't anywhere near being done, I wouldn't have made as much progress over the past six weeks as I did thanks to the staircase throw-down. I also 'met' a few more inspiring DIY ladies online, and enjoy following their blogs.

This past week was a slow week here at the Little Old House. Both Little Man and I were down for the count for most of the long holiday weekend with the sniffles. On top of that we had a serious (ahem ...for Florida, that is) cold spell with temperatures below freezing at night which always triggers my hibernation mode. I wasn't really up to doing more than bundling up on the couch with a good book, making a batch of dark chocolate fudge with a sprinkling of salted sunflower seeds and fixing meals.

Yesterday I felt a bit better and well enough to pay some attention to the staircase. Since I was in dire need of some very obvious and REAL progress I decided to prime the stringers and risers.

Oh yeah, baby! Don't mind the dusty treads and ignore that the primer isn't a solid coat of paint but look at the neat crisp white trim and risers. YUM!

I couldn't wait and also primed the newel post at the top of the stairs. Double YUM!

Am I done?
Far from it.
There are 20 more spindles and a newel post to strip, sand, patch, and prime before they are ready for paint.

Here's a full view of our small cantilevered staircase balcony - it's all that remains of the original staircase (aside from the original trim encased in the new drywall on the lower part of the stairs).

It's a cute little spot, and although I still have to figure out what exactly I want to do with it (reading nook, gallery wall, ...? Buehler?) I love how bright and airy a spot it is.

That's all the progress I have to show for last week, folks; check out how the other duelists are doing and visit

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

[Inky-Binky demonstrating what we've been doing this past weekend: staying 
warm under the covers getting over the sniffles - thus the lack of progress]

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

House Tour 2013

When we bought the Ugly Duckling, the interior did little to inspire awe and house envy. Sure, it did have good bones, and all the space we were looking for at a steal but it wasn't pretty. No, really. Honestly, I look at these pictures now and can't help but think "Oh goody, what were we thinking?"

We have come a long way and while I occasionally feel like asking "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?", it's been a lot of fun and a whole lot of growth.

Hop on over here to this post for some scary Before pictures, and then lean back and enjoy some "After" pictures. I know I certainly did. Phew!

P.S.: There is no rhyme nor reason to the order of the rooms in this House Tour. Heh. For a floor plan of our little old house, visit this ancient post here.

Our Guest bedroom: With neither of our families living nearby, a dedicated guest bedroom to keep them comfortable during their visits was a must-have when we started looking for a home. It's a darling room - not very big, but sweet and bright and peaceful - and Little Man just loves camping out there on the weekends (it's a special treat).

Our stair case: After breaking it free from the wall that separated the upstairs from the downstairs, refinishing the treads and painting the risers, and adding a newel post at the bottom, all that is left to do is to remove the remainder of the wall and restore the spindle baluster on the downstair's half of the stair case. That is, after I'm done restoring the upper part (read about in the Staircase Challenge).

Our entry hall: Hard to believe it was the tiniest bedroom ever when we bought our little old house. It's hardly ever this tidy, though. 

Our Living room: It's such a cozy snuggly room. 'nuff said!

The dressing room: It's finally starting to look like a real room!

Our dining room: It's still the room in which we spend most of our days;
we should really consider changing its designation to 'living room' and call the living room "sitting room" instead. It's also the one room that we haven't tweaked at all since we moved in.

Our lovely lovely kitchen: We are still madly in love with the big farmhouse sink, and haven't made any changes here either (although I see different hardware, a backsplash and an eat-in nook sometime in the future).

Half Bath: The world's tiniest bathroom but serving its purpose beautifully. No changes here either. I dream of getting rid of the wall time and put in wood floors though ... one day, one day.

Our master bedroom: In its second incarnation we are loving it even better! We traded the dark rich teal on the upper half of the walls for a soft cream color (BHG's "Cultured Colonial Cream") and painted the ceiling a custom-mixed light turquoise like a southern porch ceiling. LOVE it! It feels so much brighter and bigger now.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A First: A Give-Away Just In Time For Valentine's Day

 Aaaaand ...we have a winner (courtesy of's number generator)! 

Congratulations, Dave Lohnes! Entering this giveaway sure 'weorc-ed for you! 

The give-away is now closed but you can use the special coupon code LOH217 to receive "Free Shipping" until February 28, 2013.

My friend Amy and I met over the creation of a historically accurate Persian dress for a 16th century dancer. While we cut and measured bright silken fabrics, Little Man cooed over her darling baby boy, and both of us were distraught when they had to move. Thanks to Facebook we have been able to stay in touch, and when she started sharing pictures of her jewelry creations I became an ardent fan in no time.

I may be more of a tomboy kind of girl, more comfortable wearing jeans and flats than a girly dress and make-up, but for once I'm actually considering getting my ears pierced so I can wear one of her earring creations. 

Aren't they stunning? Beautiful and intricate and customizable to boot! I also love her sweet bracelets. I was really excited when she offered a give away, just in time for Valentine's Day!

Seven years in Hawaii teaching, dancing, and surfing inspired Lora Amy Bright's chain maille designs. Her pieces attempt to capture the turquoise, greens, and pinks of the islands as well as the motion of the waves and the movement of the ocean.
She stumbled upon chain maille while living in Honolulu in a room carved out of a mountain. A bead shop resided at the bottom of that mountain. One day in a fit of creativity, she traversed the curvy road to the bottom, bought tiny sterling silver jump rings and made a few frustrated attempts at Byzantine weave. Her eventual success led to a few more pieces, but a queasy pregnancy gave her impetus to fill the dizzy hours cutting jump rings and piecing together more intricate patterns.
Along with her handsome 9 month old son, Lora Amy Bright now lives in Spartanburg, SC, poring over maille lore and mandrels while plotting her return to belly dance.
You can find her work at

PRIZE: A $35 gift card to Labweorc
TO ENTER: Comment on this post with the words “Weorc Me!”
NOTE:The give-away is now closed!

"Little Old House" readers also receive "Free Shipping" with the coupon code LOH217!

Friday, February 15, 2013

One Upping It

After a lot of fun with the new trim router aka "Mighty Mouse" and going crazy with excitement over all the things we can do with all the fun router bits we are going to add to our collection over time, we put our money where our mouth is and gave three 2x6 pressure treated pine boards chamfered edges courtesy of our 45 degree chamfer bit.

Wearing eye protection and a breathing filter, of course. Inhaling saw dust isn't a good thing at the best of times, and a really bad idea when it's been treated with all kinds of chemicals to make it rot- and insect-resistant.

Then we switched sites, and moved tools and boards to the front porch. Some more measuring, a quick cut for a good fit, and we were in business!

We now have beautifully chunky porch railing. They are rock steady and sturdy and just lovely!


They make great additional seating for both people and porch cats alike. Now our porch actually looks like a porch.


I can't wait to paint them. And the house. Especially the house.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Cub Scout Goodie Bags for Valentine's Day: Two Graham crackers, two 
Hershey chocolate bars and two giant marshmallows, all packed with love ;o)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Dueling DIY: The Staircase Challenge

Good grief, it's Tuesday again! And that means, its time for another episode of "Spindle Stripping: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or Addiction?"

Last week I felt I was finally making some progress on my staircase. Even though I didn't slave away at it every day, I did manage to find some time between everything else that week to strip four spindles and finish stripping a, newel post, all risers and stringer boards.Excavating the fine relief of the spindles from underneath many layers of paints feels good, even though the repetitive nature of the task is mind-numbing. I'd love to dip-strip the spindles or even better, just wave a magic wand and have the paint fall off, but no such luck. It's slow and tedious and yet worth all the effort because I'm preserving a detail that is original to our little old house, and that matters to me.

"It's not good because it's old - it's old because it's good."

I have seen infill construction go up at an unbelievable pace in our neighborhood but I seriously doubt those new houses made to look like our historic houses will be around in another 100 or more years. How good, how solid and with how much sophisticated craftsmanship can a house be built that shoots up from the ground as quickly as mushrooms after a summer rain? Built from particle board and pale yellow pine? I s'ppose not having to pre-dill holes has some kind of benefit ...  but I digress.

The grain on the spindles is very fine and dense, and doesn't compare to the new stuff you can buy at the box stores. So, here we go, stripping one after another.

Eight done - twenty more to go! There is nothing more inspiring and encouraging than seeing the progress the other duelists are making on their own staircases. I"m loving each and every single one of them!

I also patched a few rough spots on the risers and the stringer boards with wood filler where at some point in time termites had caused some damage. Those beasts prefer the softer woods of trim to the hardier fare of structural timber just like we prefer pudding to hard tack.  There were a few places where the surface of the wooden risers was pitted and scratched up, and those got a quick skimming with wood filler as well. A quick sanding and everything is looking as good as new!

And I also put an order in for a couple of these guys here which showed up lickety-split yesterday

I mentioned these nifty dust corners in this post here waaaay back in January last year and inspired by Preservation SOS's Walnut Court House, and since the staircase is officially coming along, I officially ordered a batch last week. I can't wait to install them!

Unfortunately I'm out of primer (Gack!) and white trim paint (Double-Gack!) - I have no idea how that happened but now I have to run to the home improvement store to stock up again before I can prime and paint the risers.

In the meantime, why don't you visit the other duelists and check out their progress, and don't forget to enter yesterday's LabWeorc Give-Away for some beautiful jewelry!

Friday, February 8, 2013

All Dressed Up: Our Dressing Room

While most of our house is still in a perpetual "almost done" kind of state, even after two years, there are some rooms that are starting to look rather civilized.

When we bought our little old house it had been chopped up into a duplex with two apartments. We got rid of pretty much everything that wasn't original to our house and returned it to its single family layout including the upstair's kitchen. Since it backed up against the existing bathroom and was connected to what we would claim as our master bedroom, we  knew the former kitchen would make a great master bathroom with extra space for a walk-through closet/dressing room. A real master suite - sweet!

After the initial demolition, our contractors put up a wall to separate bathroom from dressing room, we laid tile, painted, added baseboards and door casings, created built-ins and are finally approaching a completed set up (read more about some of the projects here).

This past weekend I decided to add a few more finishing touches. While we still have to finalize the flooring issue (right now the floor is new sub flooring that's been sanded smooth and painted) - we are thinking cork at this point - it's amazing what a rug and some art will do to a room. We went from construction site to pretty dressing room in no time flat!

I scored the little 5'x3' brother of the big 8'x10' chevron rug in our bedroom during one of the last Rugs USA sales for a whopping $20 (no kidding). While these rugs do tend to catch and hold on to our cats shed (the pup doesn't shed - hallelujah!) and have convinced me that I do NOT want carpet anywhere in our house, it's nothing a bit of vacuuming and lint-rolling can take care of, and other than that they are rather low maintenance.

I had those three-dimensional flowers for two years, but never found a good spot for them. Girly touches like those have a hard time in my 1 tomboy - 2 boys household and so I kept them stashed away until now. Together with the empty black frame, I felt they worked well for that spot above my old dresser without looking too frilly.

I still need something like a clothes hamper, definitely window treatments of some kind and a bench or chair but so far I'm really really happy with how it's turning out!

Bad Blogspot - No Cookie!

I don't know what is causing this but I've had the hardest time uploading pictures to my blog for the past two days. Anybody else having this problem?

Restarting the computer, emptying caches and doing all kinds of basic clean-up jobs on the computer don't seem to abate the problem so I'm at a loss.

I was hoping that the blog would be less glitchy this morning, but no such luck.

I'll try again later today so stay tuned and wish me luck!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dueling DIY: The Staircase Challenge

A day, ahem two days late and a dollar short :o)

Sorry for the delay in posting my update on the staircase challenge but while I didn't encounter any of the misfortune that the other challengers have been struggling with this past week (no flu, no bat bites, no broken bones, no exams, homework - take your pick and don't forget to swing by to wish them well; they can use it) I have probably just as much progress to show.

So I went to town after work yesterday and scraped and stripped paint for a few hours. Yay me!




aaaand now I don't know what else to write. After all this is - what? - the one-hundredth post on stripping paint at the little old House? Yeeesh ... but obviously people can't get enough of it and I haven't run out of episodes of "Vampire Diaries" to watch yet, so the fun continues!

I thought I'd show you just how much the gazillion layers of  paint obscure the detail on the spindles. At first glance they look just fine, except for the chippy paint and old, painted over runs. Using the heat gun works but rather than coming off in sheets, the paint needs to be lifted off piece by piece of the curvy profile.

The paint is so thick that it gunks up the nooks and crannies to the point of evening them out completely. Imagine the surprise when the bulbous parts of each spindle revealed to be several staggered curves.

More paint lifted off - Now you can see the curved profile in much cleaner clearer profile. Also proof that the baluster spindles were always painted and never stained.

The upper part of a spindle: freed from dozens of layers of paint most of which were white/off-white with the exception of a fairly recent layer of black.

Four spindles down, many (waaaaaay to many) more to go!

Show the other staircase challenge duelists some love:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

New Toys!

I don't know about you but given the choice between, say, clothes shopping and visiting the hardware store - guess what wins?
The hardware store - hands down.

On Saturday I escaped for a quick trip to Harbor Freight - not because I really needed something, anything, but because I had seen an ad on a heat gun accessories set and I wanted to take a look at it to see if it was worth splurging on (all of $8 - and I did. Splurge on it that is.).
I spent an hour happily browsing the aisles for power tools, gardening gadgets, canvas drop cloths, tool boxes and more! Bliss!
Heh ...

I spied a cute little trim router on sale and!

The boys were excited and couldn't wait to try it (and yes, I reminded them to put on eye protection and a face mask while taking pictures. Obviously we love living on the edge.)

This little router is surprisingly powerful and together with a simple Skil 45 degrees chamfer bit it went through our test piece (and all subsequent pieces) like butter!

It's so simple Little Man could do it!

We can't wait to add more fun and funky router bits to our tool collection. How fun!

And tomorrow I'll show you what we did with it!