Friday, June 25, 2010

Got Milkweed?

I'm STILL waiting for my formal decision letter from the Zoning Board of Appeals. They say it takes "about" 30 days. Today is Day 29. Once I get that letter, I can take the "Public Notice" sign off my door (which most people think means my house has been condemned) but then I have to wait 20 more days to allow someone the opportunity to appeal.

My contractor is going to see if he can get a demo permit so we can at least peel back the layers and see what's underneath. Until that happens, what lies beneath is anyone's guess and it would be nice to get a better idea of what I've gotten myself into.

In the meantime, there's not much I can do but enjoy summer. The garden is just about at it's peak. When I started the garden two summers ago, There were a couple of milk weed plants that kept coming up by the back corner of the garden.
I eventually kind of let them go and on July 4th, a woman walked down the little alleyway when I was sitting on the back porch and said, "Oh, I LOVE milkweed; it smells WONDERFUL! And how nice you leave it here for the butterflies." I thanked her and couldn't wait for her to leave so I could go get a whiff for myself. She was right. Not only does it smell great but it also seems to attract Monarch butterflies. So now I leave these two plants until after they've bloomed. I kind of like how the flowers look in contrast to the japanese maple.

I also like the white daisies in front of the dark red of the maple.

And here are those odd double daisies that appeared last year. I thought they were gone but I'm happy to see they're back. I'm going to try to save some seeds to see if I can get more to grow.

Behind the echinacea is yarrow "Cerise Queen." It spreads fairly vigorously but it pulls out really easily. It comes in this bright pink...

...this very pale pink, almost white...

...and this amazing deep ruby red. There are only two little plants that bloom in this color but I'm hoping to let this one spread so I can move it to a few other places in the garden.

This is one of my day lilies. It's a melon color--I can't remember the name--and the flowers are HUGE.

Here's a shot of the sunny end of the garden.

And check out the tomato plant on my porch!

You'll probably not hear too much from me until the house is being stripped so enjoy the summer weather and have a safe and happy July 4th.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Trip Back Home

The images in my last post were taken around the area where I grew up in Western New York on Lake Ontario near the Canadian border. It's mostly farmland but there are also some lovely villages with old homes that are to die for.
This is Main Street in the town where I grew up on the Erie Canal. As you can see by all the hustle and bustle, there's no end to the fun!
About an hour west is Lewiston, New York, just north of Niagara Falls on the border of Canada. My family moved here when I was a teenager so I lived here through my college years. This is the Niagara River and the monument in the background is in Queenston, Ontario, Canada.
It's a quaint historic town where much of the historical feel has been maintained.
This is the park at the center of town.
The town was burned to the ground by the English during the war of 1812 so many of the houses were built in the early to mid 1800s. As you can imagine, there is where my love of old houses first started.
Even though we lived in a simple split-level ranch, the town has many enormous mansions overlooking the Niagara River gorge. This mansion is one my favorites and it actually started one of my OCDs. It's now several (gorgeous) apartments and if you live here, you can't touch the curtains--white cotton panels with white ball fringe--pulled back just so to ensure a consistent look. I had never thought about that idea but, to this day, all of my curtains have to appear white from the outside. Is that crazy or just good sense?
How's this for a front porch?
This 1837 colonial was for sale. Mom thought they should weed the stairs but I thought it was quite charming.
We're just passing through for lunch so it's time to move on...
...just to the north to Fort Niagara on Lake Ontario. This fort, built in 1729 by the French at the mouth of the Niagara River and was integral to trade between America and Europe. It was captured by the British and later by the American colonists.
But we're headed a little more to the east into the country where old farmhouses such as this one dot the landscape between corn and cabbage fields and apple and peach orchards along the coast of Lake Ontario. Notice how simple and spare everything is. No landscaping, no flower gardens. All the time is dedicated to the farm.
Here is a lighthouse on the edge of Lake Ontario just about a mile from my mom's and sister's house.
A few houses overlooking the lake.
And the little marina.
And finally to my mom's house. This antique tractor was on the property and she kept it there as a lawn ornament.
Mom collects (a lot of) teapots...
...and she's got some lovely antique pieces.
There are some great antique barns nearby that we were sure to hit.
They had lots of McCoy.
This dealer had everything organized by color which made a nice presentation.
And here's where I found the vintage light from an old schoolhouse in Niagara Falls. It was $40. I love when I find something for the house when I'm away on the trip. This light will always hold a memory of that trip home to visit my family.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Trip to Bountiful

Just got back from a little vacation about a 500-mile drive from Boston. Here are a few photos to enjoy while I do my laundry and sort through all my photos.
Any guesses where?

It's not the ocean.

And I scored this vintage schoolhouse light that I think will be perfect for my kitchen.
More later.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Architect's Kitchen Plan

I asked The Architects to show me what they would do with the house if it were up to them. I had some ideas of my own, and we did talk about some "must-haves" but I placed very few limitations in terms of layout. I wish I could I show you this animated model that allows me to "walk" through the space to experience what it will look like. It's SO much nicer than a floor plan as you can really get a feel for what it will look like.
So starting here in the living room, looking through the dining room and back into the kitchen...
...the walls have all been opened up. We are standing in the living room, looking through the dining room and back into the kitchen. Off to the right, the first door is a closet which is at the end of the front hall. The second door is the door to a new bathroom that sits between the dining and kitchen. You can't see it but behind the table is a gas fireplace. If we step to the right of the table and toward the new kitchen... is that door to the new bathroom on the right. On the left is the door to the back porch.
Here's a photo of the present kitchen. The wall where the sink is will be removed so the pantry and bathroom...
...become part of the new kitchen space.
The beams have been left exposed (love that) and three new windows (love that too but I would make them bigger) have been added above the sink to the wall where the stove is presently. A new 36" range (love, love, love) is on the back wall with a range hood over it.
Here is a closer look at the sink wall. The three upper cabinets on the left are where the bathroom is presently. My first reaction is that the dishwasher is on the wrong side. Shouldn't it be closest to the cabinets where dishes will be put away? To the right of the windows is the microwave at counter height, tucked out of sight (which I like), and a few shelves above are for display or cookbooks. And to right of that is the cabinet depth refrigerator.
As we turn around, you can see the dining area and a new laundry room. If this seems large, it's because they've enclosed the porch and integrated it into the new kitchen space. I love the idea of having the laundry room out of the basement, and the windows in the dining area overlooking my little garden would provide a great place to sit and enjoy meals. But I no longer have a back porch which I'm not sure I can give up.
Just for a point of reference, here is the back door that I showed you in the kitchen facelift post.
That back door is just on the other side of the center island so you can see how the back porch space has been captured to create the dining area. While it seems like a huge improvement to the kitchen, I wonder if it's too nice, too modern of a kitchen for an old cottage.

And while the dining area and laundry room are a nice addition to the room, I'm giving up a back porch. And let's take a look at how that will look from the outside.
Here's the front of the house in the same interactive model. Let's a walk around the side of the house.
Here is what the enclosed porches would look like. It adds a lot of mass to the house.
This is what that looks like right now.
The new space added to the kitchen (and to the master bedroom above) is separated from the front of the house by the two-story entryway to the back door. I'm not convinced that giving up the back porch is the best choice for the house.
Here's one more view looking straight into the back door entryway. What do you think?