Victorians in New Jersey

The town of Cape May is located at the very southern tip of the Jersey shore.

Cape May is at the southern tip of New Jersey.

It is quaint and quiet.

Hotel prices change with the seasons.

Many of the houses there including inns and B and Bs are classic Victorian structures.

Old houses in my neighborhood are brightly painted.

I live in a historic district in Maryland where many of the homes date from the 1880s and were built in the classic style.  One of the most distinctive qualities is the colorful painted finishes.

The beach is fine white sand.

Charlie and I enjoyed driving along Beach Avenue.  We parked and got out at the beach.  We took a short stroll on a very windy day.

Corner of Beach Ave and Brooklyn Ave in Cape May, New Jersey

After visiting Cape May we plan to come back for a longer stay.

Do you have a favorite vacation spot?

Finally Finished #4

Today I finally finished #4 of my 101 in 1001 list which was to stain all of the unfinished natural wood closet doors.



First I stained two sets of doors in the conservatory.



Then I stained the set of doors on the walk-in closet in the master bedroom.



More recently I stained the narrow set of doors to the pantry.



Last week I finally worked on the final set of doors which is in the mudroom.

One small stain project to go above the closet doors.

And I almost finished last week except for the door to the special compartment above the main closet — the compartment I insisted on when the house was being renovated.



Today I finally finished this last door  — woo hoo — which means I can check off #4 on my 101 list.  All the interior doors are either painted (#87) or stained (#4).

What is your current tah-dah project?

Design Ideas for a New Space

I’ve been brainstorming and searching for a new color scheme.

I love this green door.

I’m hoping we’ll soon have a fixer-upper to work on.

I can picture a kitchen before and after by painting the cabinets Galway green by Behr.

I start by pulling together colors and textures that go together.

The Galway green makes an interesting base for this suggested color scheme.

Galway green as a secondary color and a coordinating wallpaper.

I like to design spaces that are not in my own preferred color scheme.

An outdoor shower should be easy to install on a large property.

I also think an outdoor shower is fun and useful.

The new roof may be a more neutral color.

Hope to have more details soon.  Tomorrow I’ll set up the inspections.

What’s your favorite color?

There’s Alway a Hitch

Today I wanted to finish staining the last of my unfinished doors.

The mud room closet doors are the final set that needs staining.

Yesterday I purchased oil-based pre-stain conditioner because I was sure the full can stain I had at home was also oil based.  It was not.

Conditioner, Sunbleached, Weathered Gray (left to right)

So after I removed the doors from the mud room closet (by popping the hinge pins) and conditioned them, I made a trip to Home Depot for a can of Weathered Gray.

Sunbleached on the left and Weathered Gray on the right.

I carefully mixed Weathered Gray and Sunbleached in an approximately 2:1 ratio to lighten the gray.

The stain not only looks blue in the photo, it looked blue in real life.

When I was happy with the mixed color I tried it on a stir stick which I carried into the house to see how it would look. The mudroom is painted Benjamin Moore’s Moonshine with an Edgecomb Gray ceiling.  The stain color was fine.  However, when I started to brush it onto the doors it was shockingly bue.

The stain became greyer as it dried.

Instead of freaking out I continued with the color and allowed the process to create the color I knew should be there instead of what I actually saw.  I know that paint and stain applied outside always looks bluer than it will inside.  I think it’s due to the blue sky reflecting on it.

The mud room doors are finally stained.

Anyway, when I returned the doors to the mudroom the color was just right: not too dark and not blue.

Before:  Mudroom closet doors.

After:  The back of the exterior door is painted Benjamin Moore “Sparrow”.

I rehung the two doors but was unable to pull the hinge pins on the horizontal door above the other two.

One small stain project to go.

I’m hoping to stain this final door and mark it off my 101 in 1001 list next week.  I might have to stain it in place which will not be easy.

Do you run into inconvenient issues on your projects?

Green Planters

Back here I made a pair of cedar planters.

Small cedar planters.

However, I trimmed the tops with scrap wood.

These planters stay out in the weather all year round.

Over the years while the planters have remained sturdy, the trim has deteriorated.

The rotten wood might be termite damage.

Sug decided to fix that by replacing the rotten wood with new miter-cut pieces.  The old wood was removed and the new pieces screwed into the planter.

New trim has been screwed to the top edges of the planters.

She bought another can of “Bunker Hill” green semi-gloss paint and repainted the entire planter after priming the new wood.

Bunker Hill green planters for The Glade.

Next item is to fill the planters with beautiful plants.

What needs a small repair at your house?

One More Set

For over a year I have had on my to-do list to stain the remaining 2 sets of closet doors.

The pantry doors (left) go well with the bottom cabinets.

Finally this this morning I was able to stain the doors to the pantry.

The bare wood had become dirty and needed light sanding before staining.

Earlier this week Charlie sanded dirt and stains off the doors.

The doors are stained front and back.

I stained the backs and sides first and finished with the front side.

The pre-stain conditioner darkened the wood slightly.

Step one: Paint the doors with pre-stain wood conditioner.

Varathane stain has a soya-oil base.

While the conditioner was setting I looked at my stain choices.  I had a can marked on the tops “doors”.  Unfortunately when I opened it I realized it was too blue for the doors in the kitchen.

The lower kitchen cabinets are a warm grey stain.

My goal was to use a color that would match as closely as possible the kitchen cabinet stain which is “Silas stain with graphite highlight”.

I originally bought this brown stain to make picture frames.

In order to mix this color I used “Weathered Gray” stain to which I added a tiny can of “Special Walnut” both by Varathane.

Late afternoon sun shines on the newly stained doors.

While I gave the back of the doors one coat the front seemed to need a deeper treatment so I put two coats on front.

First coat of stain.

Step two: Paint on stain.

Step three: Wipe off excess stain so the woodgrain shows through.

View from the kitchen into the dining room

Step four: Allow to dry two hours and repeat steps 2 and 3.



Then I hung the doors at the entrance to the recently straightened pantry.

Mudroom closet doors.

I still have the mudroom doors (3 of them) to stain but the color is not as critical there.

How do you choose color?

Marching, 2019

In the beginning of this month I was hoping to have a new and improved vigor that spring always seems to bring.  Indeed, now that the weather has warmed up and the days are longer I have more energy and focus to complete old projects and start new ones.


We had a special musical treat to celebrate the birthdays of Charlie and Sug.  We attended a concert of the Maryland State Boychoir  at a local venue.

Maryland State Boychoir

They are inspirational and very well-trained.


This month, I saw The Green Book due to the Academy Award buzz I thought it was entertaining although I would have liked it to have more of Don Shirley’s music.

I enjoyed this movie — Dumbo.

I saw Dumbo today.  It is a charming film. It didn’t get particularly strong reviews but I enjoyed it very much. Danny DeVito is always fun and Colin Farrell is very attractive.


We marked both Charlie’s and Sug’s birthdays with a nice meal at a local Italian bistro. Charlie ordered capellini Alfredo which he enjoyed so much that he wanted to make it at home.

We also made multiple trips to Starbucks for free birthday drinks.

That wish came true last weekend when we discovered there are only 3 ingredients in Alfredo:  cream, butter, Parmesan cheese. We made it (Charlie boiled the pasta and I made the sauce).  Ta-dah!


I finally finished making door curtains in the master bedroom.  I also finished making shades for the windows.



It took an entire weekend but now they’re finished.


Over the past year I have spoken with our carpenter who is supposed to reroof the deck outside the master bedroom and add a railing.

The arrow points to the deck that still needs a railing.

He just needs to be motivated to work on this complicated project.  I’m hoping the mild March weather encourages him to get started. He has not started yet so I’m hoping April will be the month.


I have started in earnest getting all clutter out of the Treetops room. As every surface (including the floor) is cleared I become more and more hopeful that this will just be the beginning of less stuff, more freedom.

Getting there.


I managed to finish one of the two projects I had listed in the beginning of the month:

  • stain closet doors — I need a warm day which I’m hoping will be tomorrow.
  • neaten the pantry — I’ve accomplished a bit of clearing up and clearing out.  I’m hoping to sneak a few more unnecessary items out.  Charlie wants me to remove my mixer.  No thank you.

The peak bloom of the Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC is April 3rd this year.  We’ll be heading down to see them very close to this date.

Peak bloom for the cherry blossoms in DC this year is April 3.

We must take the DC Metro downtown so I made sure we both had SmarTrip cards to use on the subway to expedite the trip.

Will April cheer you up?

Marching Toward Spring, 2019

Ah, the month of March named after Mars, the Roman god of war.  We’re always so busy in March — Charlie with his garden; I with painting and planning; and Sug with everything else.

I have been working on eating through the out-dated items in our pantry.

I’m determined to get some projects finished in March, even the ones I by-passed in January, so I can post some Before-and-After reports.


Charlie and I had tickets to the Baltimore Symphony pops concert last night. The first half was all my favorite American musical overtures:  My Fair Lady, Funny Girl, Gypsy, etc.  In the second act Christina Bianco impersonated all my favorite divas:  Celine, Dolly, Judy, Liza, Barbra — even Reba.  So much fun.

If there’s a piano, Charlie wants to play.

Charlie will be playing the piano/organ at local services including Ash Wednesday, a funeral, Sundays at various churches, and his regular gigs. There will be lots of music all month.


This month, with my new aspiration to see more movies, I’d like to see a couple of films:  Dumbo, The Green Book, and maybe, Five Feet Apart.

How cute is this little elephant?


Both Charlie and Sug celebrate their birthdays one day apart so I need to think of something or someplace to memorialize their special days.

My favorite food is (and always has been) steamed crabs from the Chesapeake Bay.

I’m thinking about the Stony Creek Inn because it’s right on the water and who doesn’t like Maryland seafood.


I need to focus and finish making door curtains in the master bedroom.  I keep putting it off but March is the month.

I know how, now just to DO.

I have to remind myself how nice it will be when they are finished.


Over the past year I have spoken with our carpenter who is supposed to reroof the deck outside the master bedroom and add a railing.

The arrow points to the deck that still needs a railing.

He just needs to be motivated to work on this complicated project.  I’m hoping the mild March weather encourages him to get started.


I have started in earnest getting all clutter out of the Treetops room. As every surface (including the floor) is cleared I become more and more hopeful that this will just be the beginning of less stuff, more freedom.

Getting there.


I need to finish two projects that only I can manage:

  • stain closet doors — I need a warm day.
  • neaten the pantry — I need to use the space in there more intentionally.

At the end of March (or the beginning of April depending upon the weather) we would like to visit Washington DC at the peak bloom of the Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin.

We’ll be riding the Green line.

We must take the DC Metro downtown to make getting around more easily.  Even though we have used public transportation in many European cities, we seldom use it in the States. It’s always an adventure.

What adventure are you planning?

Do We Have a Wastepaper Basket?

Charlie was in the powder room replacing some supplies when he asked if we have a wastepaper basket for that room.

Leather book-spine trash can has been moved to the master bedroom.

When the theme in the room was library we used a can that looked like book spines.

This small trash can feels like wood but I think it’s pressed paper.

The plan was to move the yellow wood can from the master bedroom.

I gave a good basecoat of silver.

Yellow is no good in this room so, ha ha, I decided to paint it much like the one I did here for the master bathroom except I went for straight shine this time instead of mercury glass.

I covered the silver with chrome which is almost mirror-like.

The paints I used are silver and chrome. I didn’t worry much about drips because no one examines a wastebasket closely.

The can adds a bit of glitz to the world tour in the powder room.

I’ll probably tuck it back into the corner when it has totally dried.

What needs a bit of glitz at your house?

15-Minute Makeover

As I was preparing the side porch for our upcoming party, I noticed I still had my polar bear welcome mats from last winter at the doorstep.

The doormats are were predominantly blue with touches of orange and ochre.

Instead I decided to resurrect the hard rubber mats that I bought in 2013.

We still use this mat when it rains and there’s a lot of mud.

They had lost all their color.

I love the pale blush of the magnolia seed pods.

Using some magnolia tree seed pods as a color inspiration I decided to brighten up these mats if only for the night of the party.

Tan and coral with red in the middle.

In my stash of old paint I found tan, coral, and red which I laid out on a piece of aluminum foil.  Using a regular paint roller I rolled through the 3 colors allowing them to touch each other but not totally blending them.

Now both mats are colorful and welcoming.

I rolled the paint on each of the two mats being careful not to go over too vigorously so each color would in places keep its own character.

A bowl of magnolia leaves and pods is near the door.

Since the mats were 3-dimensional the flowers once again appeared but in reds and pinks this time instead of blues and ochres.



The whole process took about 15 minutes.

Have you got a quick spruce up?