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Showing posts from 2010

Happy Holidays!

From our family to yours.

A visit to Thomas Edison's House in West Orange

Since I knew that if I didn't act immediately, my planned visit to the Glenmont, Thomas Edison's house in West Orange, would probably fall by the wayside, I went there the next day it was open. And yet again, I was amazed by the things that I knew nothing about that were practically in my backyard.

The Glenmont is located in the Llewellyn Park, in West Orange, New Jersey. What I didn't know about Llewellyn Park is pretty much everything. Like, that it's probably one of the most beautiful parks I've ever seen. Or, that it is the first gated community ever built. Or, that it was a home to many famous people throughout its existence, from inventors to magnates and politicians. And so on.

As impressive as Glenmont was, and let me tell you it was, Llewellyn Park simply took my breath away. If you have an opportunity, do not miss this visit.

And here is a little takeaway from Glenmont: after the guided tour of the house was finished, I walked around the property, just to so…

A visit to Thomas Edison National Historical Park

Well, did you know that the modern life as we know it began in West Orange, New Jersey, not 4 miles from our House? Well, it did, because that's where Thomas Edison had his laboratory and factory complex were and are located. Anything and everything that we probably take for granted today was invented and made there. Coffee maker anyone? Oh, yeah.

For some reason, I kept thinking that all of that was somehow connected to Edison, New Jersey, and couldn't possibly be this close. But, then it occurred to me: at the turn of the 20th century, Newark was the center of the world, minus the stock market. Everything happened there. Industry, manufacturing, trade, arts, you name it.

Back to Thomas Edison. My visit began with the Laboratory Complex. I thought it would be just one of those placating visits, where I rush through the rooms, and move on to the more interesting subject of his home. Well, I thought wrong.

I am not sure how many of you actually know this, but in my heart of hearts…

A visit to Kip's Castle

It is sometimes frightening how we don't pay attention to things that are so close to us. Kip's Castle is not only less than a mile away from our House, but several friends from Montclair Historic Society and Victorian Society have pointed it out to me, as well as organized group visits. For various reasons, we never went.

This is why we simply had to go during the Holiday Historic House Tour. And, as the name says, it is a castle. And well worth the visit. Over the years, the Castle had several different owners, some of which were really attentive to the its needs, and some who let it go into disrepair. Fortunately, there are more of those who appreciate Castle's architectural and historic value, so since 2007 it has been a part of Essex County Park System.

The above is an image of the stained glass doors on the main level of the Castle. From the talk with one of the employees, the stained glass work throughout the Castle is being contributed to Louis Tiffany himself, becau…

A great local holiday tradition

This weekend, we are going on a tour, the Essex County Historic Holiday House Tour. It boasts an impressive line up of 9 architectural gems in the Essex County that should be seen by everybody. And, when you do it as part of the tour, you get to see them all in one weekend. Fun!

We will be going on Sunday, and visiting the properties we haven't had a chance to see yet. Personally, I am very interested in the Kip's Castle (yes, I haven't seen it yet), and Thomas Edison's house. See you there.

And, we have our culprit

Yup, a little poking around the third floor dormers, and we found this under the window sills:

Apparently, the flashing only went a couple of inches under the sills, leaving a huge gaping hole underneath. So, now every time we get an Easterly wind with rain or snow, it goes right into the walls. Nice, right?!?

Fortunately, it is a very easy fix, one we will attempt sometime next week, after this weekend's rain is done and it dries up a bit.


In the ceiling...

Yup, we have another leak. Just in time for the holidays!

This one is in our son's bedroom. I suspect it has something to do with the windows on the third floor, but the architect and the contractor are coming tomorrow to confirm.

I noticed this bubble last Spring and the husband got upset with me for pointing it out. I was hoping against hope that it was an old leak that the painters just brushed over, but I knew better.

Well, this was the view I found today when I went to air out the room. Hm. There is significant discoloration under paint that peeled off, so I'm guessing it is an old leak, but it's just showing its ugly head today, after this monstrous storm.

Happy Thanksgiving!

From our family to yours!

Now that we have a fire...

We need something to feed it with. The husband took it upon himself to supply us with firewood. And I didn't even have to ask. Here is the Little Man and the Grandpa loading it up from the driveway to the covered porch.

Unfortunately, the wood was freshly cut, and not sufficiently dry, a fact the hubby was not familiar with. So, the first attempt at fireplace lighting turned into a very smoky event. Now we are going to lay low for a few weeks until the wood dries out.

We have a fire!

It's actually quite awesome. I know, we sound like total novices, but this would be an official first time ever that any of us had actually built a fire on U.S. soil.

To witness this monumental event, we had my parents, my husband's parents, and our children present for the event. I wanted to do it while the kids are awake, in case of any issues, like excessive smoke, fire department visit, etc.

There was no need to worry - the chimney worked like a charm. I mean, after all, it was built 126 years ago, and has been serving the House since then.

So, we enjoyed the roaring fire and warmth it provided. We went quite quickly through the meager firewood supplies, so hubby went out and got some of that. Without having to be told. And he got a poker set. Again, without having to be asked. We were all quite shocked, but it passed.

Now, we are looking forward to a cozy winter.

New basement window

Among the swirl of activity that has been happening lately, I forgot to report that we had one more update to the House - a contractor has replaced an old, leaky window in the basement with a brand new one.

Now that it is getting a bit chillier, we are starting to notice the difference in the temperature of the room as opposed to the last winter. Just to remind you, in the dead of winter, there was at least a 5 degrees difference between the Kitchen and the Living Room. So, if the rest of the House and the Kitchen were 68, the Living Room, was, well, unlivable.

And now? With the new window, new insulation in the Basement ceiling/Living Room floor, new waterproof sheetrock on the Basement walls, plugging of a huge hole under the back terrace, covering of the fireplace, uncovering of the radiator, and peeling off the paint, we are down to 1 degree difference.

If we get the fireplace going, it could get down right cozy in there. Imagine that!

What is and what will never be

We were driving home the other night and listening to 104.3 FM. At about 8 pm every night, they have a show dedicated to the amazing Led Zeppelin. Well, this particular night, they happened to be playing the above-mention song. I found that particular song to be a perfect soundtrack for some of the thoughts we had about the House:

1. It has been in this location longer than in it's original spot on Upper Mountain Avenue.
2. It looked like this attempt at Cape Cod longer than it did as an Eastlake Victorian.

So, what exactly are we doing here? And why?

Do you have one of these?

Silly question, I know. Or maybe not.

This is what the electrician found where a junction box should be in the ceiling of the Harry Fenn's former studio. I am using this language to evoke the age of the item, since the electrician said it was probably as old as the House. Personally, I don't believe they had electricity back then.

Putting that argument aside, the lone fact that this is the third electrician that looked at it, and was the only one brave enough to take it down, is telling enough. The old "junction box" is going into a drawer of "really old stuff we found lying around." Hopefully, it is the last of its kind in this House.

This begs a question: should I look more closely into the hole in the floor in my daughter's bedroom? What would I find there?

A visit from the Montclair Fire Department

To coincide with the Fire Department's visit to the area preschools, we decided to afford the neighbors a show of our own.

Now, I am certain that everyone with visiting parents has a story of their own about mom deep frying something or other, and a surprise visit by the fire department. I mean, my friends take out batteries and put their central systems off line during these times. Luckily, my mom doesn't deep fry. But, she does roast her own coffee. And this particular morning, she decided she needed to make a new batch. See, roasting coffee is not a difficult task, if one has a timed roaster. But, if you are doing it in a gas oven, on a cookie sheet, with a toddler running around, it get complicated.

It was about 9 am. I just dropped off my son at school, and decided to stop at Belgiovine for some of their amazing fresh pasta. I felt like treating myself with the good stuff. Just as I was exiting the store, I saw a fire truck speeding up the Bloomfield Avenue, sirens and ligh…

Finally done!

Cool, right?!

Let me know what you think, but it has to said - it has significantly improved the curb appeal of the House.

Just take a look the next time you drive by the House. It just makes the front porch, and really the entire House, somehow "pop".

Now, imagine me sticking my tongue out to all the naysayers.

We decided, as a household, that the next project has to be the chimney. Please feel free to forward any mason recommendations.

The Wall - Again!

You remember the wall on the front porch, right? If not, you can read about it here and here.

As you know, we went from snow to Summer this year, and with temperatures being so high, the chemicals wouldn't work properly. Therefore, I shelved the project until the weather improved.

With October being so magnificent, and having extra helping hands, we dragged the chemicals and the ladder and the other supplies back onto the front porch. This time, on the advice of many experts, I got Peel Away and the accompanying tools. Also, having learned from experience, this time I only applied the chemicals to a small small section of the wall.

It started pretty much the same way as the last time. I thought giving it time would help, but it didn't. Now that we exhausted all the venues, I started calling around the handymen on my list to see if anyone would sandblast the damn thing. Nobody dared.

And then, a breakthrough: my dad accidentally hit the wall with a hammer and the paint started comi…

A Family Tradition

People always ask me how it is that I came to make children's bedding for a living. Well, it's a family tradition. My grandmother was a seamstress. My mother was sewing something her entire life. I also had an uncle who was a tailor. It kinda adds up.

So, when I saw this old Singer, dating back to 1927, all beat up and painted blue in an old kiosk in Brooklyn, I decided to bring it to New Jersey and give it a new home. It has been sitting in our garage for a few weeks, when my dad noticed and and decided he'll take a look and see what can be done.

Well, 4 days, a lot of elbow grease, a little wood veneer, stain, and tung oil later, this is what we have.

It is a stunningly beautiful piece, and the machine has all the parts. It works! Amazing!

Insulation is thy name

After having too many "energy consultants" tell us there is nothing they can do for us, unless we tear down the walls and the ceilings, we decided to take on the small stuff. In minuscule bites.

And here are our tools:

I visited the Home Depot yesterday and loaded up on insulating materials. I got weatherstripping, thermal curtains, outlet sealers, as well as draft stoppers. Everything was installed in under 2 hours. Let's see if it makes a difference.

The visitors

And speaking of mothers... My parents decided to visit for a few weeks, so to make sure they are not bored while here, we put them to work. Actually, they seem to find things to do. Or fall over them.

Apparently, the bird bath was in a wrong place, so my dad decided to move it.

Frankly, this seems to be a very good place for it. They were also very annoyed by the mums that kept falling over every time the wind blew, so they planted them into the ground.

We decided to let them stay a few more weeks. We need help with the Halloween decorations.

Small stuff

It's amazing how maintenance and decorating projects get lost in the mix, when one, or the household, has other things to worry about.

Our firstborn has officially started preschool, and I have been consumed with making sure he is well adjusted and will not hate me 10 years from now. I am told I am wasting my time. Apparently, it's inevitable I will be proclaimed the worst mother in the Universe less than a dozen years from now. It appears to be a right of passage. But, I digress.

Since the weather hasn't been particularly cooperative these days, we decided to take the cover off of the Living Room radiator and attack the paint removal and a possible restoration. We figured with the cover gone, it will be a bit more comfortable than last winter. Hm, why is it that every project in this House starts with paint removal? Seriously?!?

We thought it will not be too difficult, considering that the paint was already peeling in many places. And we were not wrong. But, we weren't r…

Electrical Callback

Oh, yes, the electrician is finally getting a call back. On the agenda: five (yes, 5) ceiling fans, leftovers from the Spring, three sconces (2 in the Powder Room and 1 in the Guest Suite), and one small chandelier. I was so excited when I got a call on Saturday, I couldn't wait for the delivery, so I drove all the way to West Caldwell myself to pick everything up.

Once again, the wonderful folks at West Essex Lighting Studio were so amazing through the entire process, I can freely recommend them to anyone who is looking for quality lighting products. And their designers will even come to your house to take a look at the space and help you make a decision - free of charge. How cool is that?

Anyway, now that the boxes are stacked up on our kitchen table, I can't wait for the work to be done. We were told two weeks. Yikes!

And just like that...

The Summer is over. We took down the last of the air conditioners yesterday. And, of course, it is 80+ degrees today. Figures. Here they are, nicely stored in the sweltering attic, not doing any good to anybody.

Oh, well, at least the heat will evaporate any possible leftover liquid in the drains.

Is it me, or did this Summer just fly by? It seemed last year it was much, much longer. Oh, well. Long Fall/Winter will just give us an opportunity to ponder the future of air conditioning in the House for just a little bit longer.


Not really, but that's what it feels like some times. We are buying all these pieces of furniture that we are not really sure where we'll use and how. Latest find: this amazing room divider/screen made of solid wood, wrapped in embossed leather with gold leaf details. We just had to own it. It's not really an antique, simply vintage, even used, but even such, it was still magnificent.

The current plan is to use it as a decorative piece in the bedroom, behind the new bed, whenever we decide to get it. So, we wrapped it in old sheets and blankets, and are hiding it from kids and crayons under our current bed. Hopefully, it will last.

More issues with deer

You may, or may not, have noticed that we took a little break over the last few weeks of the summer. It was a very welcome break from many things, including all things "House".

However, the trouble just won't go away. We woke up last week to find these fawns deep in our backyard. Apparently, it was so hot, that their mother decided our linden tree's deep shade was a perfect place for them. And, that our yard was safe enough. Not good.

We tracked them back to see how they got in, considering we have deer fencing. Well, it appears that our next door neighbors' 4-foot fence is not an obstacle at all. And they figured out how to navigate around their cars and garage, walk through the juniper trees, and find a shade under our linden tree.

Oh, well. New landscaping project on the horizon.

The green, green grass... ooops

Yeah, the more appropriate description would be something like "scorched Earth". I mean, it's just awful. And we actually don't feel as bad, since everyone seems to be in the same boat. Very few green lawns out there these days.

Yes, we could have watered more, but with so much grass and so little shade, it seemed like a waste of water, really. So, we let the automated sprinkler do its thing. It will grow back in the Fall anyway, right?!

A few interior design additions

With not much going on in terms of construction, we decided to add a few decorative elements to our living space. The first is this MacKenzie-Childs wrought iron farm bell, which we originally wanted to install by the back door. But, then thought better of it - the House is so huge, that we actually need something to communicate between the floors. This seemed like a perfect way to do it. And it's so much fun for the kids.

Also, having removed that monstrous refrigerator, we realized we had all this souvenir fridge magnets and no place to put them. Hubby thought a magnetic wall would be a perfect solution. And he was right. I got this one from Ikea. It was just the right size and the color.

But, if you require a custom size and different options, check out this place - Magnetic Wall. They are based in New York, and honestly, I was amazed with what they had to offer, including hand delivery and installation. Alas, we had to need for something this elaborate, but you never know. Right…

New century in the kitchen

Very happy to report that our appliances have joined the 21st century. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we decided to replace the dreaded water and electricity guzzlers, Maytag monsters, with modern, energy-efficient, and very nicely designed appliances.

This is our new refrigerator. Now that it is here, we can't believe we lived so long with what was there before. It's like a brand new kitchen, I swear. We have a wall we never knew existed. And there is no more that black trimmed elephant in the room. And the quiet.... Oh, the quiet humming... Amazing.

Big shout out goes to our local Karl's Appliance Store on Bloomfield Avenue. The staff was knowledgeable and supportive through the entire process. And we all know how stressful this purchase can be. Also, they entertained the kids while we shopped. How cool is that?

Hm, I think we are officially home

In an effort to get few more things off the official To Do List (nice, right?), I finally pulled the trigger and ordered our stationery. I had the hardest time making a decision on the design, until it dawned on me one day to use the House as the inspiration. This, of course, comes with its own set of problems, as printers won't: a) use color photos, b) retouch anything for you, especially the custom design, and c) will charge you an arm and a leg for every change, proof, etc. Awful, really. No wonder there are so many independent stationery makers these days. I do this very infrequently, so I guess I forgot what it is like.

So, here is the final result:

I used our magnificent window in the Hall as the basics. First, I had to convert the photo to black and white, then I had to "clean" all the little windows, because the printer threatened that all the little scuff marks will print. Then they said they couldn't engrave or thermograph this design, and will only print it …

Around town

For months now, I have been exchanging emails with a local couple that held a same fascination with the Fenn family as I have. And they also had a reason that related to their house: it was designed by Alice Fenn Coffin, Harry Fenn's daughter that seemed to have inherited most of her father's artistic gene. And was very successfully using it.

This beautiful house is in the Eagle Rock neighborhood, and it is simply a gem. I don't know much about architecture, but looking at it I found many details that reminded me of The Cedars. Where they a "standard" for the time, or Alice's homage to her house she grew up in? No idea. But, it's fun discovering and asking the questions.


I have to say, I am very excited that I have one more item checked of my rather long to-do and wish list. The driveway is all patched up!

They told us that we have to stay off of it for at least 4-5 days, since it is not cooling of very fast in this weather. Frankly, we haven't even been using that way, simply because it was so bumpy, so it won't be exceedingly difficult. It is nice not to have to look at the dirt, though. Now we have to do something about that dying grass and dismal landscaping...

Belgian block is in

They came yesterday, completely unnoticed by a half a dozen people that currently reside in this House, and installed the Belgian block that was loose. I only noticed them when they finished and were revving up the truck engine to leave. Pretty cool. Go J. Martin Paving!

And just like that

We'll have the hole in the driveway patched up.

Actually, it will take a bit longer. While the guys at J. Martin Paving are great, it took them a month to get to our driveway. I know people get busy, but seriously. So, today, they scraped off the excess pavement, and am told will leave it to settle for a few days. Let's see what happens!

Conditioning the air or how to make a summer bearable in this climate

Yes, it's hot out there. You don't need me to tell you that.

A few weeks ago, my plan to try to live this summer without air conditioning, with the help of breeze and awnings, fell apart, as I almost fainted with heat exhaustion. The combination of two active toddlers, heat, and not enough water did me in. Hubby immediately went into action, and supplied us with 3 brand-spanking-new air conditioners, and combined them with the 2 we bought last year, installing everything within a few hours time.

I hate to admit this, but the last few days, I LOVE coming home. The House is at a comfortable 78-80 degrees (yes, that is quite comfortable). And they are on only during the day, since the House does get a really nice, cool breeze at night.

But, with the heat coming so fiercely, it started us again on the conversation of installing central air conditioning. Here are some options that we are entertaining:

1. Install the awnings and ceiling fans in all the upstairs rooms, and keep the windo…

A new tenant

After many, many unsuccessful attempts, our new tenant finally managed to build her nest. We feel privileged that she chose our place, especially considering all the traffic we've seen lately. One of our visitors told us that it might get really messy when the chicks hatch, but we don't mind.

The pool issue

I know this has been debated extensively on the various message boards throughout the Town, but I had to get my 2 cents in. The reasons are following: it is stupid and cost prohibitive to have a private pool in this climate, because you can use it only for maybe 2 months, possibly 4, provided you have water heating installed. So, what is one to do in this heat? Turn to your municipal pool. And in there lies the problem - the municipal pools of Montclair are one step removed from being recycled water collectors.

This is one of those pools:

Nothing to write home about. Basically, a concrete slab with a hole filled with water and a 10 foot fence. On most days, you are lucky to have a place on this concrete slab to rest your things, and let me not talk about the quality and availability of the chairs and umbrellas. Or lack there of. And sustenance - who needs that? Area for small kids, who comprise a VERY large chunk of population - why? If you need to take a break and take the kids to the …

Yes, we are finally done!

We've passed all the inspections on Wednesday. The inspector even looked at the things he had no business looking at, but I guess he needed to justify almost $1,000 in permit fees that we paid. Nice little profit center the Town's got going there... But, I digress.

So, with this project finished, and the mulch finally installed (we've been a little busy with work), I think we'll take a breather from the construction projects for now.

We do have some things in the pipeline, of which you will be informed as they happen.

In the meantime, please enjoy your summer.

I think we are done

Nearly, that is. The carpenters will finish the trim today, and the painter is coming tomorrow for the exterior. I think the electrician is coming in tomorrow as well, to hang the last light, and we should be work-free zone by Wednesday. Phew!

Victorian Society Garden Party

If you remember, about 2 months ago, I went to the Victorian Gardens event organized by the local chapter of The Victorian Society in America. Well, last night was a follow up on the lecture by Jennifer Bakshi, certified landscape designer. She opened up her garden to the members of the Victorian Society. There was amazing surrounding, great entertainment, wonderful weather, fabulous food, and very good conversations to be had, all ingredients for a successful party.

Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera to take pictures, but Ms. Bakshi is very generous with both her time and her garden, and if you contact her directly, she will give you the address and a personal tour. I say, go for it. Totally worth it. I know I am going back again.

It's all coming together


Check out our new terrace door and windows:

Amazing! We are very happy with the final result.

What do you think?

Bedroom - FINISHED!

Nothing special, I know, without the furniture. But we are so happy to have it back.

Recently, we also found out there used to be a lovely little stained glass window where the mirror is located. So, we are either going to get the mirror of the same shape and design, or even open the wall and install the window.

You never know. We are crazy that way.

Real men don't need blue tape

And this is a story of how the best sheetrock and spackle job in the world got the worst paint job in the world.

Actually, the story begins a few years back, when my husband and I tried to repaint our apartment by ourselves. The picking of the colors was agonizing enough, but when we got into the realm of equipment, it got worse. You see, my husband didn't believe in tarp or blue tape. so, needless to say, we ended up in the heated argument over "spending" the money on such trivial and unnecessary "stuff". He thought he painted enough apartments in his life that he knew how to do it right.

It turns out, he didn't, but who's surprised. He was really upset with me for laying tarp and spending entire 2 days taping all the wood trim around the apartment. In a way, he was right - had I not taped everything, the job would have taken a weekend. This way, it took a week. And still I had blue streaks on my baseboard. Don't ask.

Fast forward to this weekend. We …

On the agenda this weekend - mulch

Oh, yes, all 15 yards of it. We kept thinking the portion of our property that has flower beds was small, until I started measuring and calculating. Well, it turns out we have quite a lot of flower beds, or portions of the yard that are under a shade so heavy, nothing can grow there.

Because the kids are so small, I opted for the really good stuff: cedar, without any color. Because it's cedar, it doesn't need to be treated with any chemicals, and it's a natural bug repellent. So, I searched high and low for it. About a month. I even drove down to Riverdale to get samples in little sandwich bags. No, I was serious about this.

Most garden centers nowadays carry the mulch only in bags. And for 15 yards, that's a lot of bags. Two of the centers I frequent mostly suggested I talk to the guys at RER Supply, local branch of 1800Topsoil. They said they get their mulch from them, and considering the quantities and quality I want, it's best to go wholesale.

So, we did, and the…

Mansion in May

Walk, run, drive, get a bus, but do whatever you can to get your behind to the Mansion in May. You only have a few days left until it's done.

Organized by Women's Association of Morristown Memorial Hospital, 15th Mansion in May Designer Showhouse and Gardens is at the Fawn Hill Farm in Harding Township, New Jersey. the doors opened on May 1, and will remain open until Monday. Mansion in May is their signature fundraiser and also our most profitable event, generating over $5 million for Morristown Memorial Hospital since its inception in 1974. This year, your tickets will go directly towards the Emergency Room expansion, a very worthy cause.

The 34-acre estate, location of this year's event, originally named Graymar Farm, traces back to 1937 when wealthy businessman Allan Kirby, the president of Alleghany Corporation, purchased part of a large farm located in prestigious New Vernon. The farm remained in the Kirby family until 1980. A few years later, the estate was ac…


Today, the House was awash in activity. In addition to all the work, the delivery, kids running around, we also had some visitors.

Remember how I wrote about the great, great, great-granddaughter of Harry Fenn (is that enough "grands", or too many?) contacted me recently, having stumbled upon my blog? Well, today she came to see me, along with her parents.

This is us around the kitchen table, going over all the different papers and comparing notes.

And that on the bottom left is the Little Man's head peeking out. He likes cameras.

It was such a pleasure meeting everyone in person! We had a lovely time walking through the House. I told them about everything we had planned for it, what we discovered in our research, etc. They've gifted us with the copies of Harry Fenn's and Alice Fenn Coffin's (Harry's daughter) works they still had in their possession.

Thank you, guys. And we hope to see you again very soon!

Moving forward in style

These last few weeks have been so slow, I was beginning to worry the work will never be done. Guys would show up every so often, spend a few minutes here, and leave. The truth is, they have been waiting for the new door, which was at this point 10 days behind. So, when the delivery truck showed up at our door today, full 24 hours before the new scheduled delivery, it was greeted by jubilation and even screams of joy. Most of those were mine.

The real treat was seeing it being unloaded from the truck.

And the driver was so cool about it. They took down the windows, and as we were happily clapping, he said: "Wait until you see the door. It is magnificent." That was a mouthful from a delivery guy. But, he spoke the truth.

They were custom built by Lepage Millwork, based on the drawings by our architect, Mark Wright, which were based on the original windows, illustration of which I found in the New York Library. Wow! A mouthful.

The new doors and windows are being installed bright a…

Our new ceiling

After long last, we have our ceiling back. It is actually nice not to have to smell the insulation anymore while sleeping. Not very serene.

The spackling will be done tomorrow morning. They should be done by lunch, then they leave and come back the next day for another coat. Then they leave it for another day to dry. I'm guessing sanding is day after, and priming on the heels of that. If I counted correctly, they might be done by next Monday. I sure hope so. I am really starting to miss my bathroom.

Now off to pick the paint.

The Inspection

As predicted, it went swimmingly. Couldn't tell you the details, because I wasn't there, but I am told he left satisfied with both structural and electrical work. So, I'm happy. He's coming back tomorrow to make sure everything is insulated and ventilated properly.

Good news: sheetrock and spackle should be done on Monday, so we can have our living space back.

Bad news: the door is not coming yet. They are now saying another week.

Well, it is what it is, right?

So close...

Yet, so far. The rain has delayed us again, as well as the inspections. The latest: inspector is coming on Wednesday to look at the structural stuff, then again on Friday to make sure everything is insulated properly. After that, sheetrock and spackle, and I can have my bedroom and bathroom back. Looking forward to that one, because the kids bathroom has been acting up these days.

Shower Yourself in Luxury

Recently, a friend introduced me to a bath-lover's heaven on Earth - a great showroom. Well, she actually introduced me to two great things, some awesome reading material and a great showroom.

The reading material is a new, bi-monthly, publication Aspire, which offers "an in-depth look at great homes and estates, inspiring design and the people who bring it all together", according to their website. As any girl, I love a good glossy, especially the one that has two of my favorite things in it - old houses and great design. So, lots of great photographs. And great writing to boot. They have some of the most sought-after contributors writing for the magazine. The format is much larger than your standard newsstand magazine, probably because you can only find Aspire in your inbox, provided you subscribe to it. And here is a sneak peak of the May issue cover.

And now, the icing. Last night, I've been invited to a design event hosted at Birdsall Bath Design showroom, locate…

Your Old House Workshops - Part IV: The Exterior

This Saturday, May 15
10 AM to 12 PM
108 Orange Road, Montclair, NJ

This Saturday is the final installment of the 4-part Restoring Your Home workshops, with a 2-hour program on the exterior of your home. Using the Montclair Historical Society grounds on Orange Road as the classroom, we'll walk the exterior, talking about foundations and roofs, and everything in between. We'll hear about some of the recent restoration projects on the grounds, and we'll discuss common historic building materials, common problems, things to watch for, and how to fix problems in a historically sensitive way.

Co-sponsored by MHSand the Van Vleck House and Gardens, the workshops are designed to introduce you to the knowledge you need to plan and execute a restoration or remodeling of your older home.

The cost is $10 per person per workshop. MHS members and Van Vleck House and Gardens members are always free. Please send a note to if you'd like …

It's been quiet around here

The carpenters have finished with the framing, and are now waiting for the new door to arrive. They have only been coming in the morning to check on the plastic covers over the frame. Other than that, they haven't been around much. I've been told today that the ETA on the new door is the 14th. Now we wait.

Meanwhile, the electricians have been working on replacing the existing high-hats with the new, insulation-contact rated ones, and installing the new junction box for our ceiling fan. But, then they had an emergency, so they haven't been back since Friday.

Oh, it turns out that all those junction boxes we had in the ceiling were actually dead, thank God. So, they simply ripped them out.

Next steps: new door, removing the drain, finishing the electrical work, insulating and Sheetrock. I can't wait. I really want my bathroom back.

Latest news


Apologies for not being able to update you daily on what is going on with the work. Partly, it's because everything is going really well, and there isn't much to talk about; and partly because I'm really busy with actual work, as in a job that pays for all of this.

Briefly, we've removed the sheetrock and the insulation from the ceiling in what is called a "sitting room" in the Master Suite. Again, once you strip all the layers we found the same thing we found elsewhere - good bones. And with good bones, anything is possible.

One thing that really worried us were 2 uncovered junction boxes, just sort of tucked in between the joists and the floor/flat roof. Not only is this against code, but it's also dangerous. The electrician was all over them the second he walked into the House.

The second thing was this:

Remember that drain we had smack in the middle of the flat roof that nobody knew why it was there, because it clearly wasn't working since it…

Garden centers

We love our local Home Depot just as the next person. I mean, you can get anything there these days. But, nothing beats a good garden center. And in the last few days, I discovered three.

One of these is Ploch's in Clifton, on Broad Street. It is very easy to reach and very close, so you can be out of there in minutes. They have great and very knowledgeable staff that will help you with tips on anything relating gardens. And the selection of annuals, perennials, trees, vegetables, herbs - never ending.

The other one is Orange Garden Center in Orange. Also close. About 5 miles from the House. They are about the same size as Ploch's, with similar selections and really nice staff. I know this probably shouldn't be on a checking list when making a decision which one to use, but Orange has a really nicely decorated entrance. Just saying.

The third, smallest one, in right here on Bloomfield Avenue, in Verona, very close to the Verona Park. In case you need something really fast and…

The "Poost" House

Another surprise in my inbox - a series of emails from the family that owned the House in the 1960's, 1970's, and much of 1980's. How amazing!

Well, I do have a confession to make: they actually contacted me about 2 weeks ago. For the last 14 days they have been delighting me with amazing stories of the House and the improvements/repairs that they made. Fantastic information to have.

Quick recap: the Poost family owned the House from 1960/61 to what I gather to be late 1980's (I forgot to ask). When we moved in 2008, one of the older neighbors asked us which house. We said 208. And then he said: "Ah, the Poost House." Naturally, we were intrigued. But, having a new baby in the House, we soon forgot to finish the research. But, the name kept coming up. For example, in the National Register of Historic Places, the House is listed as The Cedars aka The Poost House. That is a great distinction.

Needless to say, we were very excited to "speak" to them via e…

Update on the roof work, Part II

So many things to do, so little time...

Just a quick update, to make it your worthwhile being here today. Oh, shush, you know I am joking.

Our roofer, David Maret, finished laying the new roof on Saturday. It looks magnificent and it is "tight". I am told that is the correct term for a good roofing job. He'll also poke around to reinstall the asphalt shingles we lost in a last storm. Because I sure as heck am not climbing 40 feet to do it.

With all the rain, we moved the work indoors, and will work there until the rain clears up and the new doors and windows arrive. Anyway, we opened up the ceiling at the locations where we had visible leaks. Everything looked pretty good, except for one corner. This is what we found.

Funny thing is that this leak didn't look as bad as some of the others, that is it didn't show up as badly on the sheetrock. The surprise inside. I haven't touched the wood, because I couldn't' reach it, so I don't know how rotten it is …