Gunther Brewing Company Crate

Cleaning out the basement I found two wooden crates. I sold one, and kept the Gunther crate to restore. The George Gunther, Jr. Brewing Company was founded by George Gunther Sr. in 1900. It was the second largest brewing company in Baltimore.

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A wire brush was used to scrape off the paint, and the bottom nailed together and reinforced. Linseed oil was rubbed over the entire crate to preserve the wood and enhance the Gunther logo print.

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I repurposed my own little piece of Baltimore history, and use it to store my Architectural Digest magazines.

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Francois Carre Sunburst Garden Chair Restoration

The house was full of amazing antique treasures, many of which were falling apart. It wasn’t discouraging, but inspiring. I didn’t see trash, I saw potential and projects!

My favorite find is the Francois Carre Sunburst Garden Chair, which I mentioned in my Picking for Smalls Part I post. I discovered this style chair was designed and manufactured by Francois Carre for parks in France in the 1860’s. In 1866, he filed a U.S. patent and they began manufacturing the garden sets and chairs in the United States. They became very popular in the 1920’s and continued to be manufactured through the 1940’s.

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After my research, I noticed Sunburst garden sets and chairs on several historic house tours. Unlike Alfred duPont’s beautiful set, my chair was falling apart. Several seams on the seat were rusted and threatening to break. It also needed a fresh coat of paint.

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A family friend welded and fixed the rusted seams on the seat. Next, it was sanded and painted black to match the rest of my outdoor décor.

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I would like to have a few more Sunburst pieces to go with my chair, but haven’t had much luck finding any in my price range. Sets and chairs tend to sell for $1,000 – $3,000. I did spy two chairs on a porch in East Baltimore a few weeks ago. They were rough, but salvageable. I stood on the sidewalk for a few minutes thinking about knocking on the door and asking if they would consider selling them. I decided that a total stranger knocking on your door offering to buy your stuff would probably be unwanted and rude. I wrote down the address though…just in case.

Kitchen Backsplash

It’s been a while since my last post. I usually try to blog once or twice a month, but life has been hectic with the holidays, a new job, and starting grad school. I let my blogging fall by the wayside. Work on the house has been ongoing…LOL it never ends…so I have plenty of projects and updates to share with you!

The kitchen was renovated when I purchased the house. If you forgot what that horror show used to look like, check out my kitchen before/after post. At this point, I had sold my other house and had been couch surfing with relatives for three weeks. Tired of living out of a suitcase, my ultimate goal was to get the place livable so I could move in. Spending time and money installing a kitchen backsplash seems trivial when you need running water and a stove.

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It was only recently that I had the spare time and money to install the kitchen backsplash. I liked the clean and simple look of the white walls, so I decided to install white subway tile with white grout.

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It isn’t a huge difference, but it does give the kitchen a finished and polished look. Plus, I no longer cringe every time something splashes on the walls.

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Thank you to all my followers who sent messages/posted sending well wishes and asking for updates! More posts and updates coming soon!

GBMC Nearly New Sale

This was the first weekend of the fall GBMC Nearly New Sale. Next week it opens up to the public. I highly recommend checking it out! Not only do they have amazing items at super low prices, but all purchases help support a local hospital.

I didn’t really need anything, but I always keep an eye out for seasonal decor. I love decorating my house for the holidays, but hate spending a ton of money on stuff that is only used 30 days out of the year. So sales like this are perfect for holiday items.

I found nine feet of beaded garland that I plan to wrap around my Christmas tree. I got three for a $1 each. Can’t beat that. I also picked up some Christmas ornaments for $5.

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I found a beautiful Christmas tablecloth that I’m going to repurpose as a Christmas tree skirt. I’ve been looking for one that I like for awhile, and have been surprised how expensive they are. This was only $3.50. Sold.

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I picked up some decorative pinecones and berries to put in the fireplace garland I purchased at Pier One. Only $.50 each.

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I purchased three pumpkins for $2 a pop, a thanksgiving runner, and my favorite bargain of the day a large ceramic turkey from Williams and Sonoma. No clue where I’m going to put it yet, but I had to have it.

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I also purchased some books, kitchen supplies, and gardening tools. They sell a little bit of everything. Plus, the volunteers are super nice and helpful. Last year, I purchased some construction materials for my house. The volunteer that runs the materials section always remembers me, and asks how my house is coming along.

So be sure to check it out next week. If you don’t get a chance to shop at the sale, remember you can always donate items throughout the year!

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Secret Garden Overhaul Part I

The first time I saw the house it was the beginning of spring and the overgrown garden was in full bloom. Pink camellias, azaleas, Japanese laurels, holly, morning glory, and dainty purple blooms of vinca covered the garden. Ivy crept across the brick walls and spilled out onto the crumbling brick path. Neglected for the past seven years, I had to duck and weave to avoid being hit in the face with leaves and branches. It didn’t matter. Walking through the rusted wrought iron gates, I couldn’t even tell I was in the city. Church bells tolled softly in the distance. I believe I used the phrase “secret garden” not once but several times. Cut to one year later, after six months of landscaping, all I can do is shake my head and laugh. Secret garden? Ugh…so dumb and naive.

My appreciation and respect for gardening has grown immensely. I’ve learned it’s not as easy as buying a plant, digging a hole and putting it in the ground. You have to consider zones, types of soil and PH levels. Is it a full sun, part sun, or shade loving plant? It is a high maintenance plant? Will you spend hours pruning, or picking slugs off of it? Then there is the garden layout and design. There is so much to consider before buying plants!

I didn’t know much about gardening. So I checked out books and a gardening DVD from the library. The gardener in the video walked through several gardens and was giving tips and recommendations for certain plants, flowers etc. The very last garden he walked through was absolutely gorgeous, and I thought, “I want my garden to look just like that.” He speculated the owner probably spent a good three to four hours a day maintaining the garden. Um…what?! The more I learn it’s become obvious why gardening seems to be a popular hobby for the retired.

So I had to be honest with myself and address unrealistic expectations. Easier said than done. Shopping at a nursery and starring at the dozens of colorful and beautiful flowers its so easy to talk yourself into anything. I would love to be the gardener in that video, spending several hours a day toiling away in a beautiful and high maintenance garden. Will I ever be that gardener? No.

I planned out the garden and decided on low maintenance perennials. I figured, with my limited gardening skills, these would have the best chance of surviving. I also liked that they would come back every year and I would only have to fertilize and handle basic maintenance.

The other consideration was sunlight. I loved that the trees provided privacy from my neighbors, but it created a lot of shade in the garden. Only one area gets full sun, and only for a few hours. Therefore, I would have to find part or full shade loving perennials that flowered.

Overhauling the entire garden was going to be quite an undertaking and I decided to tackle it one section at a time. It was hard to tell what the original garden design looked like. Ivy, vinca and other vines were growing into the majority of the shrubs and smothering them. So first and foremost, the ground covering needed to go.

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Once the ground covering was ripped out, and I discovered that only three feet of the brick border was still somewhat intact. Luckily, the back portion of the garden was filled with bricks which I dug out to rebuild the brick border.

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I planted three azalea bushes. I picked bushes on the smaller side to give them room to grow into the space, plus let’s be honest they were cheaper. Next, I cut and laid down weed barrier fabric and mulched. Weed barrier fabric is not cheap, but its sooo worth the money! It has saved me hours in weeding.

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This corner section had been taken over by some sort of grass, and mosquitoes loved it. I hated it. So it was removed along with the interesting small section of wood fence, and rotting bird house.

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I planted two blue hydrangeas, put down barrier fabric, mulched and rebuilt the brick border. I left the Japanese Maple, and other small tree. I think its a Crepe Myrtle, but I’m not 100% sure. Regardless, it provides shade for my hydrangeas and the butterflies and bees seem to like it.

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Eventually, the hydrangeas will grow large enough and help hide the odd empty space between the brick wall and my neighbor’s fence.

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I cleared this entire area, including the large Japanese Laurel. It was in an odd spot, and the fact that it wasn’t centered in the flower bed annoyed me. Plus I already had so many of them in the garden, did I really need another one?

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This area of the garden only gets a few hours of morning light, so I chose perennials that thrive in part shade. I tried to get a decent picture, but either it was too sunny or dark. So here is a little bit of both lol.

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I planted pink and white mountain laurels, tree peonies and wisteria that I am attempting to train to grow across the fence. I learned that this is where patience comes into play. I could have gotten larger more mature shrubs, but it would have cost a lot more money. I decided to wait and see how they grow into the space next year before adding more.

Tree peonies can take up to two years to bloom, but when they do the beautiful plate sized flowers are worth the wait. Ditto for the wisteria.

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By the time I started working on the area by the gardening shed it was the end of July and very hot and humid. I was pretty much over landscaping at this point, but it was an overgrown mess and I couldn’t bring myself to leave it the way it was. I cleaned it up a bit, ripped out the ground covering, put down mulch and rebuilt the flower bed border.

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Among the vines and overgrowth, I discovered a small camellia tree and decided to leave it there. Its amazing to watch how quickly new growth appears now that its getting some sun.

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I also decided to leave the shrub that was directly under the dining room window. It has large sharp spikes hidden among the leaves, and is the perfect deterrent for uninvited guests. I just trimmed and cleaned it up a bit.

The tree stump needs to be removed, but I’m putting that off until the spring. I have no plans to plant anything there this year so I’m going to leave it alone.

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I planted a hosta in the small square flower bed next to the shed. That particular spot gets virtually no sun, so its doing quite well and has even sprouted a few flowers.

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The bushes that separated my yard from my neighbor’s were dying from neglect. Like everything else, ivy and vines were smothering it. This picture was taken in early March, but as spring progressed, the situation wasn’t improving.

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I wasn’t sure if they could be saved, but replacing them was not in the budget. I ripped out the ivy and vines, trimmed, fertilized and watered. They have improved slightly, but I’m still not happy with it. It doesn’t help that my neighbor allows ivy to grow into the bushes from his side. I can’t do anything about that, so I think this is as good as its going to get.

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I’ve been toying with the idea of ripping out these bushes and putting up a fence. It would provide better privacy, and I could plant more appropriate shrubs in its place. Next spring of course. Clearly I’m going to be busy next spring.

Its odd, this is the only spot in the entire garden that gets full sun and Japanese Laurels are planted there! Japanese Laurel is a shade loving plant, and the leaves turn brown in the sun. I think red roses would look nice. Any suggestions?

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I discovered that the light post was purely decorative, but I liked it anyway and decided to keep it. Well that…and its cemented into the ground so its staying put for the moment. I gave it a good cleaning and painted it black to match the rest of the wrought iron in the garden.

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I found extra fencing in the basement and decided to incorporate it. It got a good sanding and a coat of black Rust-Oleum paint.

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The existing wrought iron outside needed a little more work, and also got a fresh coat of paint. This also included the fencing on the second floor terrace.

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This post only focuses on the front half of the garden. There was so much that was done, I’m splitting it up into several posts. Part II will focus on the back half of the garden, which looked even worse if you can believe it. You can see a portion of the overgrown jungle in the picture above. If you think this before photo is bad, wait until you see the after! Part II coming soon!

Cat Lady

I was under the impression that the house had been vacant for close to a decade, but I was mistaken. Stray cats had taken over and claimed the property as their own. Two cats had laid claim to my front porch, and three more had taken over the garden as their territory. *sigh* Termites, cave crickets, and now cats. Awesome.

They didn’t appreciate the newcomer, and showed their displeasure by reminding me who was boss. Several times I stepped outside…and into cat poo.

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They would spray and mark their territory all over the garden. The last straw was seeing large clumps of cat hair stuck to my patio chair cushions.

I’m sure there are benefits to having an outdoor cat population. I’ll admit I have not seen a rat, NOT ONE, since I moved into the neighborhood. If you’ve ever lived in Baltimore City you are aware how impressive that is. I’m sure part of the reason are the cats.

I also learned about the pros and cons of indoor vs. outdoor cats from a very long and unnecessary thread on my neighborhood Nextdoor site. Apparently, several of my neighbors have “outdoor cats” and lets them roam the neighborhood.

Regardless of your stance on cats, I don’t want my patio and garden smelling like cat piss all the time. So I needed to find a way to get rid of the cats without harming a possible beloved family pet.

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I called this one Gandalf. RATS SHALL NOT PASS!

First, I tried using coffee grounds. I read that this would keep the cats away, and fertilize my yard. I saved my coffee grounds and when I had enough, spread them around the yard and porch. Coffee grounds does not work. I found a cat hanging out under my shrubs, laying right on top of a pile of them. He just starred at me as I walked up to the porch. Mocking me and my coffee grounds.

Next, I tried moth balls. I put moth ball packets under the cushion chairs and in containers around the front porch. It worked! Apparently cats dislike the smell of mothballs and it keeps them away.

It was time to defeat the backyard brood. I didn’t want to go wild with the mothballs in the garden because frankly I don’t like the smell either. I had read that gardens often have plants growing in it that attracts cats. Considering how overgrown the garden was it was definitely a possibility. So I cleared out all of the overgrown ground covering and bushes in the backyard.

This seemed to solve my cat problem! Without the overgrown brushes and ground covering to hide in they had moved on. I haven’t seen or smelled evidence of cats in weeks!

 

Laundry Room

Laundry room may be a bit of a stretch at the moment. Perhaps laundry corner is more appropriate? The house had a washer and dryer in the basement, but they didn’t work. The basement had flooded at some point and they were ruined in the flood. My washer and dryer were sold with the house, so I was out of luck. I’d have to buy new appliances. I decided to take advantage of the latest holiday sale and purchased a washer and dryer from Sears. Total cost, including delivery, was less than $700!

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The basement walls got a coat of white paint to brighten the space, and the floor was painted gray. Please excuse the dish rag curtain. Once the basement is spruced up I’ll invest in better window treatments LOL!

I’d like to turn this area into a proper laundry room with tile and cabinets, but the washer shares a wall with the Outhouse. Since I plan to turn the Outhouse into a half bath it makes sense to wait and renovate both at the same time.

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Over the weekend I checked out the Cedar Grove United Methodist community flea market in Parkton and scored a new laundry tub (with a nice faucet and hook up) for $15! Mine is covered in paint and has seen better days. I plan to install the new tub in the next few weeks. It was a beautiful day to ride around and check out the other sales and farmers markets in the neighborhood!

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When I purchased the house the basement had a cave cricket infestation. Apparently, these ugly and frightening creatures thrive in dark moist places and jump at their predators as a defense mechanism. Enter my basement, specifically the laundry tub drain and the area near the basement door.

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First day of renovations, I turned on the faucet to clean a paint brush and four of these suckers jumped out of the drain and into my face! I screamed bloody murder. At the time I didn’t even know what they were! *shudder* The crickets would migrate up to the kitchen drain, and it became a habit to wave my paint brush over any sink to avoid getting a face full of cricket.

Luckily the infestation was easily taken care of by spraying bug spray around the foundation. I also purchased a dehumidifier at Lowes to help rid the basement of moisture. By the time I moved in the cave crickets had been eradicated.

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The basement continues to be an ongoing project, and as the opportunity arises a little is getting done here and there. In the meantime, I get to enjoy my new washer and dryer!