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Happy New Year from This American House


Christmas Card 2016

For the past decade or so we’ve been making our own Christmas cards. It’s our little way of creating something personal for the people on our Christmas card list. It’s also a way for us to release some pinned up creative energy. This year we jumped on the adult coloring book trend with our Christmas card. We even sent four-packs of crayons with our cards, as you can see in the snap below the jump from Matthew at Boy Culture.

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Phone Home: How to Reset the Lock Screen on iPhone iOS 10 So You Don’t Have to Press the Home Button


Phone Home: How to Reset the Lock Screen on iPhone iOS 10

My iPhone is such a big part of my life that it is practically an extension of my hand. I use it for work and my personal life, for reading books and watching stupid cat videos, for waking up and going to sleep. My phone is in my hand so much that I’m surprised my skin hasn’t fused with the leather J. Crew cover that protects it.

With all of this frequent use, it’s no wonder that I quickly develop habits with the phone. There are movements – like using my thumbprint to bring the phone to life and quickly access the home screen – that are practically instinctive. And then when Apple goes and releases a software update (which, admittedly, does include some fun new features) I’m forced to change my habits. Usually I can adjust pretty quickly but the new way to unlock the home screen in iOS 10 has been causing me all kinds of problems.  And clearly I’m not alone.

I came upon the solution to resetting the home screen in a friend’s Facebook link of MacRumors post. It’s just five easy steps:

  • Open the Settings app
  • Go to the General section
  • Choose Accessibility
  • Scroll down to Home button and tap the option
  • Toggle on “Rest Finger to Open”

Hooray for a simple fix! This old dog can continue refusing new tricks.


See You Later, Water Waster: Replacing the Kitchen Faucet


Replacing a Leaky Faucet in the KitchenWhen I replaced the faucet in the city apartment a few months ago, I commented to The Mister, “At least we haven’t had to a leaky faucet at the house.”  I should have known better than to put voice to the thoughts because that totally jinxed us. The next time we were at the house, we noticed that the kitchen faucet had developed a major leak.

We actually considered leaving the leaking faucet in place until we’re ready to overhaul the entire kitchen. I mean, it seems silly to install a brand new faucet on an old sink that we’re going to rip out in a few months. But then we discovered that what we thought was a minor leak was more like a constant flow of water. I’m talking Niagara Falls. And the falls were emptying into the cabinet under the sink and, eventually, into the bathroom in the basement below. So, yeah, our hands were forced on the issue. Besides, when we do eventually renovate the kitchen, we’ll just re-install this replacement faucet on our new sink.

New Kitchen Faucet Installed

Knowing that we’ll use this new faucet in the current kitchen as well as in the future iteration of the room, I chose one that we’ll want for the long haul. I picked up a commercial style faucet that may not exactly be period friendly for our 1917 home, but it will still look quite lovely on a white farm house style sink.

Replacing the faucet was just as easy as it had been back at the city apartment. The only real challenge was contorting myself to fit under the sink and around the garbage disposal. We did, however, run into one problem. The stainless steel sink is a little weak and thus doesn’t quite support the weight of this tall and heavy faucet. For that reason, the faucet leans ever so slightly to the right (which is why I photographed it at an angle). It’s not really very noticeable and it’s something that will be remedied when we replace the sink during the kitchen renovation. And it just goes to show that absolute perfection is a fallacy.

At any rate, we’re free of leaks and the new faucet works like a charm.

Images: This American House


From Sears to ASB: A Family History of Kit Houses


From Sears to ASB: A History of Kit Houses | This American House

One of the unexpected delights of buying the house in Iowa was the discovery that my dad’s 97-year-old aunt, Ethel, and her son Dwight live just 20 miles away. It’s been wonderful getting to know them both better, and to learn from them more about my family’s history and Scandinavian heritage.

It’s been especially exciting and fascinating, however, to discover that my family’s old farmhouse in North Dakota was a Sears “kit” house, just as the Dream House is a product of Frank Lloyd Wright’s similar system of “manufactured” homes. The Carlson house was a large structure, built in 1908 to accommodate a family of ten on their prosperous wheat farm. It cost a remarkable $1500 to build (which equates to just over $38,000 in 2014 dollars). Our house was built just nine years later at a cost of $2200 (about $40,000 in today’s currency).

The Sears catalog homes remained a popular, affordable option for untold thousands of American homeowners from 1908 through 1940. The American System-Built Homes, Wright’s early effort to enter the mass manufactured housing market, would not prove as successful. Only a handful of his ASB Homes were constructed before the scheme fell apart due to World War I materials shortages, and personal discord between Wright and his business partner, lumber magnate Arthur L. Richards. Wright would later reenter the “affordable” housing market with his more successful Usonian homes.

While the Dream House still stands, it’s been my understanding that the Carlson farmhouse was demolished some years ago. Or so I thought. On a recent visit with Cousin Dwight, he said that he had been told by another relative that the house wasn’t razed after all, but had been moved to some nearby town. Hmm. Do you think Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson make “house” calls?

– Michael

Image: This American House


This Frank Lloyd Wright-Designed Cat House is Purrfect!


Frank Lloyd Wright Cathouse | This American HouseFrank Lloyd Wright was responsible for a lot of human houses but, as far as I know, this was his only commission for a kitty. Painted in Wright’s signature Cherokee Red, the cat house was included in the commission for the Tonkens House in Cincinnati, Ohio. This awesome space age cat house was recently sold on ebay and will now live at the Feline History Museum.

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