Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve!!!

Hope you all are enjoying your day and not too stressed out.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Painted hardware (my pet peeve!)

What idiot paints over hardware? How hard is it to either remove it, tape it or go around it? While I was on hold with my eye doctor I started chipping away at the paint on the front door hardware, I just can't stand it.

Okay, I feel better now!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas decorations done!

It’s taken a week but I’ve finally finished decorating the house! I am a little disappointed because I didn’t use my bubble lights this year. I was going to put them on a small tree in the kitchen and decorate it with silver cookie cutters but I can’t find the base so I guess I’ll just pass (and I was so looking forward to gloating about having 6 trees this year!!!). I love our big 9’ tree in the front parlor but it takes almost 3 days to get it up and decorated. I still haven’t found my “Christmas spirit” yet but I think now that the work is finished I’ll begin to enjoy the holiday!

We are taking the kids to Bass Pro Shop tomorrow to see Santa’s Wonderland; as one of my friends said “Nothing Screams Christmas like Bass Pro Shop!”. My kids like going there on a normal day, I’m sure they’ll love it even more tomorrow.
My vintage silver tree ~ I just love it!
After the kids go to bed tonight I’m going to pop in one of my favorite Christmas shows and relax!

I hope your holiday preparations are going well and you are enjoying yourselves!!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New concrete floor, dust and "A Major Award"!

Up until the first of the week we were still pumping water out of our basement. Unfortunately there are too many cracks in the floor and walls to keep the water out so we decided to have new concrete poured over the floor. The guys came Tuesday morning to start as I was leaving to go to work. The door to the basement is in our kitchen, it wasn't originally but now that it has been opened up to one big room... there it is. It would be nice to have an outside access for just these types of occasions but a girl can't have everything. Needless to say I had a mess to clean up when I came home. It's amazing how far dust can travel in your house! We don't have a door closing off the kitchen to the rest of the house (we found it this summer in the shed and are thinking about putting it back up - I think now I'm leaning towards "put it back up") so the mess wasn't contained to just the kitchen. Oh well, my house is now REALLY clean and the new floor should help with the water problem.

Now about that award! Victoria at Confessions of a New/Old Home Owner awarded me with the "Superior Scribbler Award"! Yea, thanks Victoria!!!!!

As the rules for the award indicate I must pass it on to 5 noteworthy blogs - here is a link to the rules:

I am going to pass this Award on to the following Blogs that I enjoy:

Stephanie at The Nienie Dialogues
Thanks for making us see there is a purpose to our lives and we should strive to live them to the fullest each day!

K at 1902 Victorian
For letting us see the struggles some people go through to become a family and for sharing the good and the bad. Oh, yea and for all the work they have put into their home!

Rosie at Pondicherry Cottage
For making me green with envy at all the wonderful things she finds at garage sales and thrift stores!

Tiffany at Plain Jane Victorian
For preserving a wonderful Victorian home and doing it the right way!

Nora at Raising Laura
For not only saving one wonderful piece of history but doing it twice! I admire your compassion!

Keep on writing Ladies!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

We dried out from the storm, mostly. There is still water being pumped out of the basement and it has been raining most of the week so I assume it's going to be awhile before we are completely dry. The roof cap was replaced and hopefully we came up with a better idea to keep it secure (we are beginning to run out of options!).

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and although I tried to be happy it was not a very good day for me. We have had a rough year and it's beginning to wear on me. I'm trying to be positive for the kids but it's hard to put on a happy face when your crying on the inside. I promised the kids we would put the small Christmas tree up in the den tomorrow. Let's hope when I wake up I can snap out of it and make it a fun day for them. I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving!!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The wind blew, the roof flew and the tide came in!

For those of you who don't live on the East Coast we had one hum-dinger of a storm Thursday! Hurricane Ida blew her way up the eastern seaboard and decided to kick ass and take names along the way. The day was pretty uneventful for us until after dinner; then holy crap the shit hit the fan! The tide came in, the winds picked up, we had one huge gust, the power went out and then it happened. All of the inside doors blew shut, humm that doesn't sound right..... better go check. Oh look, I can see the sky through the ceiling! We have an access hole on the third floor (why anyone would willingly go on the roof is beyond me!) and the cap had been sucked off. This, unfortunately, has happened before. The last time it happened the cap landed in our neighbor's yard, this time it was still on our roof. Matt looked at me and said there was "No way in hell I'm going out there now!" so he went to the basement for a tarp. When he came back I asked him where the tarp was. "We have another problem, the basement is flooding" good thing we have a sump pump and generator (that we had never used before). So Matt and I went to the leaky shed and proceeded to read the directions on how to use it. Let me suggest that you have gone over this procedure at least once before you actually have to stand in the rain and wind with a flashlight trying to figure out how to use a generator. We decided that we really didn't need to follow the "suggested" safety tips (you know, don't sand in the rain while operating, do not use in an enclosed area, do not use a patched extension cord, etc...). We got the thing (death trap) started and the sump in the basement started pumping the water out. Then we went up to the attic and got the roof patched until he can retrieve the cap, which hopefully will be in one piece. The power was only out for about 3 hours so we didn't have to worry about having enough gas to keep the thing going for an extended period of time.

Not too bad, it could have been much worse. In fact the neighborhood less than a mile from our house was inundated by the Elizabeth River. Olde Towne is prone to flooding but I've lived here my entire life and I don't remember it ever flooding this bad. The crazy thing is we were actually warned about the amount of water that would come at high tide and the city offered free parking in their parking garages but since it has never flooded this bad before people were totally caught off guard.

Here are some pictures our friend Peter Youngblood took (you can see the front of his boat in one of the pictures).

An apartment building:

A parking lot:

That's Peter's house to the left of the picture:

We drove down there tonight and most, if not all, of the water has receded. We do expect flooding living in a coastal community, but the magnitude of water was amazing.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cast Iron Radiator Humidifiers

I love my radiators, it's one of the things that will not change as long as we own the house. I'm not sure when they were added (originally the house was heated by eight coal burning fireplaces) but I'm glad they are here now. There's no blowing air (because really, do I need more dust in the air?), they're great for drying rain coats and when I'm really cold I can sit on them and warm up in no time!

One of the disadvantages of radiant heat is; it really dries the air out. For years I have been searching for ceramic radiator humidifiers like my Aunt Ute has. She brought them over from Germany when she married my Uncle. I searched the Internet but only found those ugly metal things that you clip onto radiators. This was the basic idea but they were so ugly I couldn't bring myself to buy them! Last year I was searching again when Ta-Da!!!!! I found Tullula's Treasures. She had a similar story and luckily for us she worked in ceramics and decided to make (and sell) her own. This is the second year I have used them and, not only do they look beautiful, they do a great job of adding moisture to the air.

I recommend these to anyone who has the same problem. Check out her website for more information:


Kitchen close up:

Front Parlor:

Dinning Room:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Olde Towne Portsmouth's Ghost Walk

Every year for Halloween, Portsmouth's Olde Towne (one of our 3 historic neighborhoods) has a Ghost Walk. My kids have been asking me for a month if they could go! We have so much fun listening to all the stories and ending the night with hot apple cider and good friends. If you have a chance and are in our area, you should put this event on your "Must Do" list. If you don't believe in Ghost (and anyone who lives in an old house has to!!!) you will at least enjoy the history and architecture of our city. For more information check out the link:

A past poster and one of my all time favorite houses. It's the "Dr. Madblood House", I'll know you are a local if you know what I mean!!!!

The graveyard, where it all begins!!!

Colonel William Crawford, back from the grave....

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Kitchen Cabinets finished (finally!)

Our original kitchen was horrible and I'm not exaggerating one bit. It was incredibly small and the pantry had been turned into a full bathroom. It's GREAT to have a bathroom in your kitchen - the nicest touch was the transom over the door so you could hear everything! At one point there had been a fire and instead of replacing the damaged plaster the walls and ceiling had been covered with knotty pine paneling (I'm guessing it went great with avocado green appliances!!). Part of the floor had been ruined when the washer, which drained into a utility sink, constantly overflowed in the floor and rotted everything it touched. Most of the back of our house was at best a cobble job (and I am being polite!). I don't ever want to tear down 100 year old plaster or hardwood floors but sometimes it just can't be helped. When the demolition was started I blocked off that part of the house and wouldn't look until it had all been hauled away.

I tried to blend the kitchen into the rest of the house but it's hard to make new appliances and cabinets look "period". The cabinets have the same trim that our doors and windows have, Matt wanted stainless appliances so I bought vintage aluminum accessories to try to tie it all together. I think I miss my floor the most, but you can't look back and it is much easier to clean!

I got my last two cabinets and the toe kicks last week and our very dear friend Buzz Guyot came over to install them.





This is what happens when you ask my daughter a question, you become her best friend and she in turn will be your best helper ever! If the toe kicks fall off, I'll know why. Buzz, you're a saint!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Milkman's here!!!!!

After hearing a radio commercial about Oberweis Dairy, I thought it would be a good idea to start having our milk delivered. It seems like we are always running out of milk and yogurt and maybe this would be a good way to avoid that problem. Not to mention this milk is supposed to be better for you because it's "fresh from the dairy"! No yucky hormones, cows free to roam the fields, just all around better.

I remember going to Bergy's Dairy in Virginia Beach with my nieces around Halloween to visit the pumpkin patch and get fresh milk. Yum! I'm not sure it made it through the week (and that was before I was married!). Sadly the last two dairy's in the Tidewater area closed or don't have home delivery anymore. My parents still tell stories about the milk and ice being delivered to their homes weekly, how the horse knew just where to stop without any prodding from the driver. I love hearing those stories, I think it was a simpler time, not always better, but it sounds like somewhere I would like to live. I'm sure when our house was originally built there were a lot of things delivered to the owners. The milk bottles clinking at the front door, the ice man throwing chips of ice to the neighborhood kids on a hot summer day. Well, now we too have that option, but with a twist! Instead of my husband hearing the milkman while he was reading the paper and I was busily preparing the morning breakfast it went more like this.... Matt was downloading information from his computer (one of 5 in the house) and I was listening to the beep, beep, beep of the alarm clock when I hear him shout "Your milks here" (there was a plastic thud of the Coleman cooler being placed on the front porch). Oh, well not quite the same memory but still we get fresh milk. My son jumped out of bed and got dressed double quick, raced down the steps and helped his dad carry in the cooler.

By the time I got downstairs he was enjoying his first glass and ready to try the chocolate milk we "had" to have. It was pronounced the best milk he every had (although I think he was just caught up in the moment and glad I was allowing him to have chocolate milk!). When my daughter drank her glass she said "It tastes yucky!". Aaaahh, the joys of having a picky eater. Another Norman Rockwell moment ruined!

Friday, September 11, 2009

I'll Never Forget, will you?

Where were you 8 years ago today? Doing something mundane... reading the newspaper, getting kids off to school, washing the dishes? I was going to work. I was 8 months pregnant and happy that I had an OB/GYN appointment that afternoon (I wanted that baby OUT!). By the time I got to work everything had changed, everything stopped. For hours we huddled around a very small television and watched those towers collapse, watched a city change, watched our world change.
There are two things I will never forget about that day. The first is how the world became smaller. I started receiving emails from around the world; an outpouring of grief came in each one of those messages. No one could believe the events that unfolded that horrible September day. The second is how the Portsmouth Naval Hospital became an armed fortress. My house is across the street from the hospital and 1/2 block from the back gate. Before 9/11 Matt and I would ride our bikes along the waterfront at the hospital. After 9/11 it was a closed Military Base . When I came home there were tanks, concrete blockades and numerous Marines armed with machine guns at each gate. I tried not to watch the endless television shows, it was too upsetting and my pregnant emotions couldn't handle it. On the first anniversary I allowed myself to watch, allowed myself to grieve. I wrote a letter to my children and told them how I felt on that day. I let my 7 year old read it yesterday, he asked if he could take it to school and read it to his class.
We live in a military town. Everyone I know has either served or is related to someone who has. My kids know the people in the uniforms are the good guys, lets just hope they never have to see the bad guys.
Never Forget September 11, 2001

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

School days, school days, dear old golden rule days!

My Dad always sang that song to us on the first day of school, it used to drive us crazy (DAD! Please stop!!!). Guess who sings it to her kids now? Somethings you are just destined to repeat. Marty started 3rd grade on Tuesday, Louisa (and I) will start Preschool next week. Hopefully I can get back to some kind of schedule and continue painting the kitchen trim. So many projects, so little time!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


We got the news last week that Matt's Dad has cancer, his yearly October pilgrimage to Virginia will have to be postponed. Matt flew to Illinois to spend a long weekend with his family, it was the first time in 6 years that they were all together. It was a good trip, Thursday we get the final diagnosis and treatment plan. Isn't it funny how one phone call can change everything?

When Marty was born we started a tradition of taking a picture of the 3 generations of Eykamp's on the front porch. Let's hope we can continue that tradition in 2010.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Things I love about my house

While I was cleaning my little girl's room today and sorting through her books (something I don't mind having a lot of!) I was thinking how much I would have loved that room when I was little. It got me thinking about what we have and what things I really love about this house - there are plenty of things I don't like about it but most of those are things that need to be painted or patched! Here are a few pictures of my favorite things....

Upstairs sink:

This room was a kitchen when we bought the house, we turned it into our closet (since we don't have any to speak of) but I don't have any idea what it was originally used for. All of the appliances were removed but my husband wouldn't take the sink out. It's cast iron and very heavy! I thought he was a little crazy for wanting to leave the sink in there but we weren't married yet so who was I tell him to take it out. We have bathed both of the babies in the sink and I don't think I would have made it through the kitchen remodel if we didn't have it. This room is next to our bathroom and laundry so it gets used almost everyday, plus I just love the look of it (I wish I had one in my kitchen too!!). Good call Honey!!

Sleeping porches:

We haven't used the upstairs porch in a couple of years. I didn't want the kids going out there when they were little and the paint was peeling badly. The downstairs porch has been used a lot and now that we have a new paint job and swing... I think we will use it even more! As soon as I can I'm going to get some furniture for the upstairs so we can start using that too.
Closet door:
We have a storage closet under the 3rd floor stairs, I used to have a hanger for wrapping paper on the door. I took it down and found this little signature. It says "Anna Lisa". Who is Anna Lisa and what was she doing in my closet?? Well, she was one of five daughters of the second owners of the house. She probably signed this in the early 1920's but why on the inside of the closet door (the ONLY one that has never been painted!!). Sometimes I just touch it to try to get a feel for who she was and how life was then.

Roof detail:
This detail runs all along the roof line. I don't know if anyone else notices it because it's 4 stories up but I think it goes to show the beauty of old houses. Is this element useful or strictly decorative? I'm not sure, but I'm glad it's there.

Transom openers:
I only have one complete opener and it's in my room. Three out of the four transoms upstairs do actually open (one is sitting in a frame that is hopelessly warped) and this year was the first time I got them operational. I am missing one piece of the opener in my son's room and unfortunately the other two have been removed. I would love to know what people are thinking when they carelessly destroy history. For what reason would these have been taken down?? I would love to talk to the previous owners and see what exactly they were thinking!

"The Library" :
OK, we don't have an actual Library but my daughter calls this small closet in her room "The Library"! We have two small closets in the bedrooms (not sure why there were only two when we have 5 bedrooms). They are just deep enough for this bookshelf but not to hang a coat hanger sideways. I have a closet in my bedroom and I added a rod so that I could hang our winter coats (cock-eyed but it works). I also have a bookshelf for storage. They are very wide but not very useful for clothing.
Sometimes my husband finds me on my hands and knees with a flashlight trying to find "something". So far we have found a few trinkets but the most exciting was a mailing tube from 1913 to Herman Aspegren. This was the clue that opened up the entire Aspegren family (Anna Lisa's family) history to me. I had all the names and dates but this round the world search turned up real people. Maybe one day I'll tell you the story....

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Porch Swing!

For an early birthday present the kids gave me a new porch swing (Yea!). It's very nice, too bad it's been so hot I haven't been able to enjoy it! We're going to get the table cleaned, oiled and put back on the porch this weekend (the chairs that go with it are in the background). I would like to get an outdoor rug but think that will have to wait until next year. I also need to get some furniture for the upstairs porch. Louisa saw this on one of our trips and really wants me to get it for her. It's really cute but a little small - I don't think she will get a lot of use out of it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Trying to survive summer vacation!

We have about a month left until the kids are back in school. I would vote "yes" for year-round schools if a ballot was sent out today (and most days!). I think 3 months of doing nothing is entirely too long. I have been trying to take the kids somewhere one day every week. Last week the vote was for Chuck E. Cheese (ugh!), to say I hate that place is an understatement!!! The next day I was sick, you do the math... This week we are either going to Nauticus in Norfolk or the Norfolk Naval Shipyard Museum in Portsmouth, I guess we'll take a vote later.

With both of them home there is no way I am getting anything done inside the house. The painting has been put on hold (I have 3 windows left to paint in the kitchen), this is just going to have to be put off until September. I haven't been able to dust the bedrooms much less pick up a paint brush!

To make myself feel better I'm posting a picture of the kitchen before and after to remember how far we have come!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sleeping porches

Since we got the house painted the kids have been allowed to go on the upstairs porch (I wouldn't let them go out before because the paint was peeling so badly!). They asked (begged) me to let them sleep out there, so we got the air mattress and sleeping bags out and let them have a "porch camp-out". It was cooler last night thanks to a small storm that passed through so it was great weather for sleeping (we were able to turn off the a/c in the house too.). I'm not sure if the original owners slept on cots or just took their mattresses outside but I'm sure they didn't have blow up mattresses and Ipods for comfort! We've come a long way, baby!!!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Painting complete (for now)

The painters are finally done and gone - yea! I'm not going to put any of the furniture on the porch for a couple of days (I want to make sure that it is dry!) and besides Louisa wants a new cast iron table and chairs!!! Here are couple a of before and afters....

Downstairs porch before.

Downstairs porch after.

Double porches after

Back wall before

Back wall after

Back porch ceiling before

Back porch after.
If you have 4 porch ceilings and three are painted light green, what color would you paint the fourth???? I guess we weren't specific enough when we said "Paint all the ceilings green". Oh, well... at least it has paint on it. As you can see they did scrape the paint off the door windows (not the best job in the world). I'm thinking this fall I'm going to take the door off and strip it so I'm not too worried about it. The best news is the city said we are off the hook for the peeling paint!
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