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making do

DIY, making do, renovation

Adventures in Stripping: Or Maybe We’ll Paint


Adventures in Stripping: Maybe We'll Paint | This American House

The topic of the house’s woodwork and whether it should be stripped or painted has been hotly debated for months now. The Mister and I have gone back and forth on the issue at least a dozen times. He has a been a proponent of stripping the woodwork from the very beginning. I initially wanted to keep everything painted, but after some cajoling I, too, thought the trim and window frames should be stripped.

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city boys, making do, small town life

Good Health & Hot Water: Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Til It’s Gone


This American House

Friday the 13th hit the dream house like a curse.

First, I’ve been battling a cold that has practically crippled me all week. Instead of working on house projects this week I’ve spent most of my time lying in bed watching episode after episode of Mad Men and sleeping for 12-hour stretches. I’ve probably slept more in the past five days than I have all month. I’ve also polished off two seasons of Mad Men. So, you know, it wasn’t all bad.

To top off the poor health, our water heater seems to be on the fritz. After rushing through a very cold shower Friday morning, I self-diagnosed the water heater issue and then called a plumber. It seems that the pilot light isn’t staying lit and thus the water heater isn’t cycling on to produce hot water. A plumber came by Friday afternoon and, based on my diagnosis, said that the pilot probably wasn’t getting enough oxygen and was therefore being smothered. He loosened some screws on the front of the water heater and said we should be good to go.

Desperate for some relief for my runny nose and chest congestion, I was looking forward to a long, hot shower Friday night. You can imagine my disappointment when I turned the hot water dial and felt the lukewarm water running out of the faucet. It seems that even with the water heater turned up to the highest setting, the one that says, “Warning: this water will scald you skin!” the most I could get was warm water.

I started calling plumbers again Saturday morning, starting with the same plumber who had provided the “quick fix” on Friday. No answer. I tried three other plumbers that I found in the yellow pages of the phone book (how quaint, right?) and still no answer. And that’s when I remembered: we’re not in the city anymore.

Back in the city I would have hundreds of options for plumbers and, while it probably would have been expensive, getting one to come out on a Saturday wouldn’t have been a problem. Out here in small town Iowa, where things are a little slower and options are limited, it’s mostly impossible to get a plumber to come to the house on a weekend day.

While we wait out the weekend we’re taking pioneer baths – boiling big pots of water on the stove, dumping them into the bathtub and then adding warm water until it’s the perfect temperature. There have been lots of Little House on the Prairie jokes while we’ve been doing this. “Ma, tell Laura to bring me more hot water for the bath!” and that sort of thing. Hey, when you’re faced with a difficult situation, make jokes. That’s how we roll anyway.

Image: This American House


before & after, decorating, DIY, making do

Before & After: The Sofa That Lost Its Skirt


sofa skirt before and after

The conversation with our friend Joan went something like this:

Me: This sofa is so comfortable and I LOVE the white upholstery.

Joan: Oh, I’m so tired of them. I want to reupholster them but I’m not quite ready yet.

Me: I like the upholstery. 

Joan: But I need a change. 

Me: Have you thought about removing the skirt?

Joan: Yes!

A week later Joan and I had the sofa on its back, staple gun and scissors in hand, giving her living room a quick and easy makeover…

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decorating, making do, setting up home

10 Ways to Use Funky Drinking Glasses Around the House


10 other uses for vintage drinking glasses

In shopping for secondhand furniture and accessories for the Dream House, I’ve come across a lot of kitschy old vintage drinking glasses. Nearly every thrift store and resale shop has a few shelves stocked with 50 cent glasses. I started picking up mismatched glassware and, as my collection has grown, I’ve found quite a few ways to use the glasses that don’t involve drinking.

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DIY, kitchen, making do

DIY Inspiration: Painting Tile Floors



While we plan to switch out this flooring in the kitchen and side entrance hallway, we’re a year or two away from being ready for the project. We won’t want to replace the flooring until we give the kitchen a major overhaul. And to redesign the kitchen, we need to save all of our nickels and dimes. Meanwhile, I’m thinking about covering the existing flooring to give it a little refresh.

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