Friday, June 28, 2013


Heat, humidity and mosquito population have skyrocketed in the last two weeks, and has turned chipping away at flaky paint on the exterior of our little old house into a slightly less pleasant task.

We have reached the eaves on the backside of the house and are gearing up for minor siding repairs, the restoration of some window trim, and lots and lots of caulking. I'll make sure to share progress and more detail on the window trim project soon, perhaps even this week (*keeps fingers crossed*).

Summerbreak with little trips here and there has begun in earnest, and Little Man is enjoying his camps.

Since it was just too hot to do much outside I decided to crank up the AC and tackle part of our upstair's landing. It may be too hot to strip the remaining stair spindles with the heat gun but I had a couple of doors and frames in mid-progress (i.e. partially stripped, sanded) and what better time to stop procrastinating and getting'er done when it's too hot to do anything else?

[A relic from the husband's bachelor days ...No, I have no explanation why it's still around]

So I cranked up the AC, turned on the music and got going. The process is the "same ol, same ol" - strip, sand, prime, patch, caulk, sand, prime and paint.

After a coat of primer and a quick spray of 'vintage brass' for the hardware

and with a first coat (of three) of sweet glossy Behr "Ultra Pure Premium White" it looks like this:

Why the prettifying inside?

Well, the inlaws are expected to arrive at our little old house in a week from now and, boy, do those visits ever generate a flurry of activity around here!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Save Our Springfield

After more than a year of no demolitions we lost two houses to so-called emergency demolitions through Code Enforcement within the last four weeks.

Something is foul in the State of Denmark ... would Hamlet say, and we are again in need to raise our voices and fight for the preservation of our nationally registered historic district. It's bizarre - you would think that this is a no-brainer - but time and time again we have run into the same scenario where houses are torn down for thousands of dollars in tax payer money rather than mothballed and preserved for a fraction of the cost and less devastating to the architectural and cultural heritage of the city.

This house is no longer. Just a few houses down from the last 'emergency' demolition, this former boarding house with the massive wrap-around porch was destroyed last Friday - nevermind the fact it had official NSP funding and was a restoration in progress with new trusses, studs, and duct work. The mind boggles.

You see, an emergency demolition means it poses an 'immediate threat to the physical safety of the public'. How a house can pose such a threat if it refuses to fold and collapse even after a bulldozer has been eviscerating it for four hours is beyond me.

Something is obviously foul in the State of Denmark.

We have started a petition to review and change the process of demolitions in our historic districts and requested a moratorium on all demolitions until the ordinance has been changed. If you feel strongly about preservation and our historic district, I urge you to join your voice with ours and sign this petition:

Councilman Robin Lumb has already voiced his support, standing up once again in support for our historic districts, but we need your support as well!

Friday, June 21, 2013

With A Little Bit Of Luck

These guys may make an appearance at our Little Old House sometime soon (don't they look just like our dog?? Killer!)!

Hens in Jax has been pushing and making huge strides in changing local ordinances to allow backyard hens even in our downtown neighborhood and we finally have an official proposal headed for city council:

"Amending Section 656-403, subpart B, part 4:
(g) Hens shall be permitted in conjunction with a single family dwelling.  No more than 4 hens may be permitted on a lot in conjunction with a single family dwelling, unless the property is larger than one acre.  Four additional hens may be permitted per each additional 21,780 square feet in size above one acre.  Roosters shall only be permitted in AGR and RR-Acre districts.  A shelter shall be provided for any hens.  It shall be unlawful for a person to allow chickens to run at large upon streets, alleys, or other public places, or upon the property of any other person; chickens running at large within the city shall be deemed a nuisance."

Keep your fingers crossed!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Springfield Home Tour Picture Show

Did you miss it?
Did stuff come up and kept you from exploring my 'hood, aka Jacksonville's best kept secret?

Well, there are always pictures!

And of course the next Springfield Home Tour, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

In Case You Were Wondering

 If you have this in your house

(spindles that need stripping ... or door frames ..or windows ...or baseboards)

and you do this

(Work the heat gun, baby, work it!)

You will soon find out that you can indeed heat your house with a heat gun. 

That may be nice in like December or maybe January, even March might still be okay, but in June?
In Florida?
Not so cool.
In fact, it's crazy hot.
I managed to rack up the interior temperature upstairs by 3 degrees within 20 minutes of gunning up.
So much for good intentions ...

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What's Blooming?

Our backyard is nowhere near what I have envisioned for it and won't be for quite a while but between weeds and scraggly make-shift lawn I love what's been blooming happily. So when I snapped pictures of our knuckle-busting scraping fun, I also turned around to capture a few of my bright happy flowers blooming along the fence.

While we mostly planted bee- and butterfly friendly flowers, and the hive is going gang-buster, we have not noticed an increase in bee activity in our yard. We spy the one or other girl buzzing about the weeds (Spanish Needle and Spiderwort, for the most part), but that's about it, in case you were wondering.

 My favorite corner - Bleeding Heart and a blue Salvia. The colors are crazy bright and contrast so sharply it makes my heart go pitter-patter every time I look at it.

Florida bumblebees are huge, easily measuring two inches, and they are loud. They are also absolutely "NUTSO" about the blue salvia (we also planted another purple salvia and red salvia since they do well in Florida soil, are drought resistant once established and bee/butterfly friendly).

Our Bleeding Heart vine is doing really well in its new corner. After languishing on its trellis in the pot next to our entrance, I moved it out into the backyard. Then I read it loved half-shade. Well, it is planted in full sun, gets more than 6 hours of full sun and is loving it. Weird.

Those darlings with the filigree flowers are a fairly recent addition and I'm madly in love with them. They are "Orange Bulbines" which are great for Florida gardens. Again, they are drought resistant once established which makes them easy to care for, and they are bee and butterfly-friendly.

This year our African Iris finally started to bloom - it's been two years since we planted them - and our red Hibiscus is growing strong. Our banana that I planted last year had her first 'baby' and we have big hopes for all our vines (trumpet vine, Confederate jasmine and Arabian jasmine).

So, what's blooming in your garden?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Knuckle-Busting Fun

If you thought restoring a staircase required a lot of scraping and sanding, wait until you start painting an exterior. Ha!

Our exterior clearly needed help and we had ...well, have areas where the paint is failing, peeling off in small and large flakes. Since paint is an important shield for your house defending it against the elements, pests and your neighbour's disdain, painting the exterior of your house is a task that rolls around every 10-15 years along with a bit of spot painting and touching up every now and then. Our Little Old House was beyond the point of touching up and since we also felt like giving it a new color, we decided to go the whole nine yards this year.

After helping Preservation SOS with two house projects I was convinced we could do it ourselves. It's not difficult, just labor intense because you are essentially painting a big box. Squirreling money away each month allowed me to buy new ladders, and just two weeks ago I picked up a large paint sprayer along with the usual odds and ends for painting such as drop cloths, extra scrapers, roller brushes, brushes, tape, caulk, and more.

Last week and especially this past weekend we finally allowed ourselves to pick at the paint flakes.
It felt SO good!
Like allowing yourself to pick on a peeling sunburn.

Sure, the novelty of  large scale scraping paint, patching and caulking outside will wear off soon (or at least I suspect it will) but right now, we're on a roll, baby!

We also took the opportunity to remove some of the old 'ghost' wiring and plumbing on the outside of our little old house. Generations of phone and tv providers had left their mark on the outside with wiring going nowhere, and there were two pvc pipes sticking out of the side of the house not connected to anything at the top and the bottom, and so we snipped and caulked and, boy, did that make a difference!

Good riddance!
It will look so much neater and cleaner once it's painted.

The plan is to finish prepping the backside of the house next weekend. Fortunately there is not much to repair, just the window trim of the kitchen window is showing signs of wood rot that will need repairing, and of course, our little old house needs a refresher run of caulk along the trim (not the underside of the siding - that will just cause moisture issues in the long run because historic homes need to breathe).

So, we are pretty sure that the knucklebusting fun (my husband's and my knuckles are all busted from accidentally scraping over the siding - bah!) we have had with our house's backside will wrap up this coming weekend and that we finally will get to apply a coat of primer!

After that it's on to paint, baby!
I can't wait to see how it'll look!