23 November, 2010

News from the Original Family

A lovely lady whose family used to live in our house saw the blog and she sent me a picture of the original family in the music room. I believe she said the older boy with a violin was her grandfather, John Knox. I love the picture and I wanted to share it. The youngest boy, with a violin, is the man who was living in the house right before we bought it from his daughter. He was 90 when he died. His name was Joe Knox. He was born in 1916 so we guess this picture is from about 1926-28.

12 November, 2010

Fellow blogger Eric Stevenson asked me to post his short article on some hidden dangers in house renovations and I think it is good advice so here it is....

Aging Home, Renovation Nightmares
Many homeowners neglect a crucial step between envisioning their renovated home and breaking ground on the project. Unfortunately, failing to acknowledge that planning is the difference between successful results and a home in shambles is a major mistake many homeowners fall victim to. However, inexperienced renovators frequently underestimate the intricacies of home renovation and instead stroll through rooms jotting notes about trivial aesthetic details, calling that planning. They fail to acknowledge that serious renovation planning involves figuring out how to pay for the renovations, deciding which work to contract out and collecting at least three bids for that contracted work.
This key planning phase is where homeowners need to be honest to determine where they can do the work themselves and where a project will surpass their capabilities. Countless couples have found themselves weeks into a stalled project making little progress, smeared with drywall and letting the frustration strain their relationship. Inevitably, most couples mercifully end their struggles by hiring a contractor and letting an expert pick up the pieces.
Among the most important times homeowners can acknowledging that inexperience and defer to professionals is when safety hazards need to be addressed. Among these numerous dangers is discovering dangerous materials behind walls or in basements. Homeowners can unwittingly release and expose themselves to dangerous materials like toxic mold, urea-formaldehyde foam insulation and heavy metals, especially if their home was built 30 years ago or more. Furthermore, outdated electrical systems, including ungrounded outlets, can lead to lethal home fires that claim numerous lives each year. Without the skills of a professional, homeowners can easily overlook these hazards and put themselves at risk.
Another frequent threat homeowners frequently stumble upon is asbestos. This mineral’s effectiveness as an insulator led to its heavy use in past construction, meaning it appears in many forms and is difficult to identify. Improper removal of this material poses the greatest risk to homeowners because damaging this substance allows it to splinter into small pieces which are then released into the air. The intake of these fibers through breathing or swallowing causes internal irritation and can lead to a cancer called mesothelioma. Mesothelioma symptoms typically do not appear until 20 to 50 years after that exposure and mimic those of other ailments. This cancer is rarely caught early enough to provide effective treatment and sufferers of this condition usually have a poor prognosis.
Renovation demands homeowners evaluate their home, abilities and desired outcome. Unfortunately, eagerly jumping into a project with a hammer and a paint brush is a sure way to end up with sloppy results that can unleash serious dangers. Home renovation should accomplish more than modernizing a kitchen. Responsible home renovation includes determining dangerous substances and systems in homes and replacing them with safe, preferably green alternatives. Today a wide range of sustainable insulation and construction materials exist to ensure homeowners are putting the cleanest, most efficient materials in their homes. While aesthetic details of renovation are arguably the most exciting, it’s the more mundane aspects that determine the project’s success and leave a home looking the way the homeowner envisioned it.

25 August, 2010

Ghost hunt at the Worth Knox House

Some strange things do happen at our house. Doors open and close on their own. Windows open on their own...casement windows not sash weight windows. Noises are often heard in the upstairs master bedroom closet. Made beds look like someone has been sitting on them. Shadows are seen in the kitchen etc, etc. It never bothers me but a local ghost hunting organization came to check it out. I don't know yet if they found anything or had any experiences but I will let you know if anything turns up.
The weather has been so hot and humid we haven't been doing much for the last two months. My husband repaired the bead board ceiling on the porch but that's been about it. We plan to start on finishing the door frame to the sunporch in the next few weeks as the temp goes down some.

04 June, 2010

Well work is progressing on the solarium. We scraped and scraped and scraped..............

After a few days of scraping we primed with an oil based primer because we were unsure of the type of the original paint(or paints) The oil based primer allowed us to paint over it with latex. The first two coats of white are on the walls. We picked out a beautiful pale blue for the ceiling but that's not done yet, hopefully it will be finished today.

You can see where my husband repaired the ceiling...no more old lathe showing!

This weekend I hope to start on the small indoor pond that will be below the big double windows.

Here are just a few shots of our late spring yard. We have had so much rain the roses got beat up while they were blooming but now the lilies are starting and soon the Japanese iris will open up. I hope they are are beautiful as the Dutch Iris were this year!

25 April, 2010

The Kitchen Garden

We have been working on our kitchen garden for 3 years now. When we bought the house the remains of the kitchen garden included two mature apple trees, one pear, 3 mulberry and a peach tree. Sadly the two pecan trees had fallen in the back yard during hurricane Hugo 20 years ago. We have started a new pecan tree from a seedling that we got from our neighbor but I think it will be quite a few years before we get

pecans. Our goal has been to put in atleast 2 raised beds a years. So we have lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, tomatos, herbs, blueberries. strawberries and asparagus growing in raised beds. We still have one larger tilled garden where I grow sunflowers, collards, squash, beans and cucumbers. I try to grow watermelon, cantalope and pumpkins but some years they do well and others not so much. We don't use any kind of pesticide or fungicide so sometimes things just don't do too well. I have found that spraying milk cut in half with water really helps to keep the white mildew off of the vine vegetables and the black and yellow spot off of the roses. Of course it is harmless to us and our poultry but is causes a harmless fungus to grow on the leaves that pushes out the bad ones. You have to do it before the growth starts or soon after in order for the treatment to be really effective though. Our chickens and guineas take care of the bugs and then make us eggs out of those bugs...pretty cool!
My husband built me my beautiful chicken coop.
We have 19 hens, one rooster , 2 guinea hens and one guinea cock. The guineas really only eat bugs and weed seeds but the chickens are omnivores and will eat the garden up so we have the raised beds netted off. In the fall we take down the nets and let the hens clean up the beds and fertilize them!

When we clean out the hens house in the winter we dump it in the beds and in the summer we dump it in the spot where we are going to start the new beds next year. The chicken dropping are too hot to put right on the plants so they have to sit for at least a few months but boy do they make great fertilizer! We got tomatos until the first frost last year. Chickens are pretty easy to care for. I spend about 15 minutes a day feeding and watering and about an hour every 2 to 3 months cleaning the coop. In return they give us at least a dozen fresh eggs a day with the most beautiful dark orange yolks. In the summer they get to eat all the apples and pears and mulberries that hit the ground and they love it.Happy chickens lay better tasting eggs, its a scientific fact!

My newest project is the bee hive. I have started one hive and they seem to be doing quite well. By next year I hope to have two hives and produce between 50 and 80 pounds of honey for our pantry. Back in the day when our bungalows were new everyone had a kitchen garden and a few hens in the yard. People were not completely dependent on huge companies to produce and deliver our food. I believe that we can have this independence again and take back control of what we eat and what we eat eats! Last year during the summer we produced 40 to 60 percent of our food and I hope to top that this year.

Even if you can't have a complete garden stick a few tomato plants in some pots, grow a patio container of lettuce, use squash and other flowering vegetables as accent plants. The joy of eating what you have brought forth from the earth is lost to many of us but it is really as close as your bungalow's back yard!

16 April, 2010

Well I have spring fever so bad that I can't think about anything except working in the yard!

We put in Mazus, both white and purple between our stepping stones. It seems to have taken well...I hope it survives. I have tried moss and thyme and not had much luck with either. Our front yard is shaded by two 100 yr old oaks so the sunlight is filtered after about 10:00am in the morning. I also put in 10 new rose bushes and my husband dug in a small slate stairway next to the driveway. We mulched the rose garden and the quinea hens promptly scratched up all the pine straw! We pulled all the ferns and Brugmansia out of their dormancy in the basement and brought them out into the sun. The elephant ears were heavily mulched in the fall with straw and soil. They have to be gently uncovered and checked for frost damage. If there is damage you can smell it. It smells oddly like paint and the damaged area of the tuber will be very soft. Take a spoon and scoop away any soft areas scratching down to solid tuber. I have found that they recover quickly when the soft part is removed otherwise the tuber may continue to rot. Fortunately, even after such a hard winter ours were in really good shape. My elephant ears were given to me 42 years ago by my Great Uncle Neal when I was 8. I loved his so much he sent some home with me and I have carried them with me ever where I have lived always leaving some behind for the next family when we moved.
As you can see from the pics we have had a massive oak pollen fall. It is rolling like tumble weeds around the yard.
My allergies have never been quite this bad but they can't keep me out of the yard!

The front porch is now the favorite room in the house at least until the heat of deep summer when its best for early morning coffee and ice cream in the evening after dinner. My big project this week has really been our food garden and I will do my next post on our garden editions. I have just completed a 9 week course on bee keeping and added my first hive to the garden last week so hopefully we will now be able to produce our own honey.

27 March, 2010

Well hopefully winter is finally over and we can start on our next big project...the solarium. These pictures will give you a good idea of what we are starting with. The front doorway sits on the concrete floor of the front porch so there had been some rot at the bottom of the doors and the door frames. Unfortunately the previous owner had removed the original doors and thrown them away. We wish he had kept them because it would have been much easier to repair the old doors than get someone to custom make new ones to match the originals...oh well nothing is easy!
After about 1 1/2 years of calls, estimates and basically no real luck we finally found a carpenter to remake the doors to match the original doors. We used some beautiful dried cedar that my father in-law had been saving for about 20 years so hopefully the new doors will be very rot resistant. Richard, our carpenter copied the pattern from the front doors since both sets of doors are visible from the front of the house.
This is one of the new doors. We think we are going to stain them, the cedar is so beautiful.
You can see the pattern in this picture. Two above two long above two. The side lights are the same pattern and they will open on sliding arms that match the front windows. We bought two boxes of NOS brass arm openers out of someones garage and they match perfectly. You can see the pattern is also repeated in the really large side window.(That's a 10 foot ladder in front of the window)

This is the side door that leads back into the house. It opens into the music room. The doors also match these side doors.

The opening covered in plastic is the main opening out to the front porch. There will be two center door and the two sidelights.

There are two of these beautiful, very thin windows, one on each side of the large side window. The glass is only about 4 inches wide and the window is about 9 ft long.

We have begun the paint scraping. This is the only part of the house where the bricks have been painted and I think white will make the solarium really bright and cheerful. We have one section of ceiling that needs to be repaired with new sheet rock. It was originally plastered. This and the doors are really the main big repair jobs in this room. The rest will mainly be cosmetic. We plan to tile the concrete floor and add an indoor koi pond. You can see some of the remaining original lights and hardware.

This is the view out the south window.(Our next door neighbor is "Tara")Actually it is a 1930's southern colonial revival and quite lovely.

This is the view from the west which is actually another set of doors that open out into the rose garden. You can see our chicken coop way down in the back yard. Well if I can get my husband in gear I should be posting some work in progress photos soon. I can't wait to enjoy a nice glass of iced tea in the solarium this summer!

12 January, 2010

Well I haven't written in awhile...all wrapped up in the holidays, no pun intended. My husband has been doing plaster work in our upstairs hall off and on for the last two months but the pics of
that are really boring so I thought I would go over a few of the nice details in or house and also give everyone an idea of how much wood we have to strip! The brown tile fireplace is in the music room. It has a large oval mirror and the cast iron cover has the images of musical instruments. The dining room fireplace is the most ornate with leaded glass cabinets, double columns and a large mirror. The tiles are a mottled green and the cast iron cover depicts fruits. The bedroom fireplaces are less ornate. Two are blue tile and one is yellow. The covers are lighter copper instead of cast iron.
I dream of the day when they are back to their original wood finish. (I also dream of a swimming pool but that is another story) We have just had the coldest two weeks in N.C. since they started keeping records back in the late 1800's and these fireplaces have really been appreciated for the last few weeks!

The upstairs master has an adjoining room which was the nursery. While stripping wallpaper we discovered the original nursery rhyme stencils done in 1916 for Joseph Knox the couple's only child. We are preserving one wall of the stencils.

The largest built- in in the house is the cabinet in the butlers pantry. Again I can't wait to see it stripped! I have to stand on a three foot step ladder to reach the top shelf.

We have three matching chandeliers in the front three rooms of the house. In the back ground of the picture you can also see the oak leaf curtains tiebacks that are also original to the house.(We now have light bulbs in all the candles
this pic was taken when we were looking at the house.)

All of the doors are six panel.

I hope that when the time comes I can send them out to be dipped and refinished.

I don't know if you can see it in this pic but the cross shaped that is used as the attics vents is also carved into the tops of the inglenook benches. I thought that was a nice tie in design element. Well next week we prune the apple and pear trees. Hope its not 10 degrees!