Sunday, January 30, 2011

Master Bedroom Redo

It was time to give our master bedroom a makeover. The room had the basics in place, but needed painting and a few extra elements for a more grown-up, sophisticated feel.

Here is what our bedroom looked like before:

Here is our bedroom now:

We chose a warm, grey-brown color for the paint in order to make the white woodwork pop.  Since I already had a nice set of Ralph Lauren bedding (wedding gifts from five years ago), I decided not to change the linens too much. We were extremely limited in the wall to which the bed could be moved due to the three doors, windows, and projecting portion that once housed a fireplace. We finally settled on moving the bed to the opposite wall of the windows, an almost perfect fit for the headboard. Not too much room for the night stands unfortunately....

The pink paint finish on this antique dresser makes it one of my favorite pieces.

As you can see, I am in love with cameos and silhouettes. Although the two over the bed are 1960s kitsch versions, I still adore them and paid only $0.50 a piece for them at a yard sale! Seriously.

This chair was moved from my living room- I think the bedroom suits it better :)

The missing piece that I have yet to find for this room would be an antique mahogany chest of drawers to match the wood of the antique pineapple bed (my husband's great-grandmother's bed). We could really use the storage considering that we share the pink dresser and the closet. I'd also like to incorporate the pale pink color of the dresser into the room in various ways. Until then I'll be perusing antique stores....

I've chosen this project for Kelli's Restored it Wednesday at Restore Interiors and Miss Mustard Seed's Copy Me Challenge!

Check out her site and let me know how I did!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

HELP!!! I think I've spoiled my chickens....

So I'll admit, I'm pretty sure my chickens are spoiled. How did this happen?!?  The little stinkers are becoming SO particular about things. My flock has created set routines that would make me feel guilty if I broke them. For example, they now get treats when I come home from work in addition to in the morning.  I think they hear my car pulling into our gravel drive because every night when I pull in I can see their little shadows coming out of their coop and down the ramp into their run, waiting for me to give them a visit.

AND they like to eat the treats out of my hand (they'll fly up on the ramp just so they can eat out of my hand). If I move my hand to let one of the others indulge, that hen will start "talking" to me to let me know she wasn't finished.

Mr. Rue has started this thing where he will crow and crow and crow on the weekends until we finally get up and go outside to pay them attention, give treats, or let them out.  Yes, I know, they have us trained.

Sometimes they receive extra special treats such as grapes, shredded cheese (their absolute favorite), watermelon, pumpkin, or leftovers.  I only do this occasionally because otherwise when I offer regular "scratch" treats they would just look at me like, "Where's the good stuff, mommy?"

The flock stuffs their faces with leftover cottage cheese- their beaks, combs, and wattles were completely covered!

It's gotten to the point that when they are out free-ranging in our yard and they hear our back door open or my voice, they come running with mouth-watering expectations. Oh, the joys of keeping chickens!  Perhaps this is easy to do with a small flock...does anyone else think that their chickens are spoiled?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Are modernist school buildings endangered?

I am hearing more frequently of local 1950s and 1960s modernist schools threatened with demolition. Within the community where I work specifically there are three mid-century modern schools currently slated to be demolished and rebuilt. 'Teardowns' are happening in early to mid-twentieth century neighborhoods across the country, replacing an older property with a massive McMansion that is out of scale and often incompatible with the surrounding character of the neighborhood. Are the nation's mid-century schools the next victim in this epidemic?

I sure hope not.  Many mid-century schools were constructed as large, sprawling complexes with sturdy materials that easily adapt to the educational needs of today's students. Modernist schools often tend to have a unique connection to the outdoors in the form of interior courtyards, covered outdoor canopies, and glass curtain or window walls. I would assume that most can be successfully rehabilitated if in good structural condition, resulting in enormous cost savings, recycling of materials, and conservation of 'embodied energy.' For a great article on saving historic schools, click here to visit the National Trust's blog.

I completely understand the need to update systems for energy efficiency and safety, but I don't understand the wholesale destruction of the building for simply being outdated or too small when it has the potential to be renovated for a different use.  Seems like such a waste....and why aren't life-cycle-cost analysis reports performed on every proposal to demolish and rebuild these schools?

In the case of one local school threatened with demolition, it opened its doors in 1962 with 600 students and today the enrollment sits at only 349 students. Yet, school administrators are still calling for more space.  Some endangered mid-century schools are actually buildings located on college campuses. NC State University plans to demolish one of its modernist landmarks, the current bookstore in the Talley Student Center. The bookstore is one of the few great examples of mid-century architecture remaining on NC State's campus and showcases unique folding or "zig-zag" canopies. View photos of the Talley Student Center and read the full article at Goodnight, Raleigh!

Perhaps I am in the dark--have educational facilities really changed that much in the past fifty years for the space requirement to increase that much? Or is it another example of our 'American Big' epidemic? Would love to hear your thoughts!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Craigslist desk find!

So excited to FINALLY find a good, practical desk for our home office! It's a wonderful 1951 mid-century piece made by the Lester Brothers, Inc., very wide and very deep, solid walnut, brass capped legs, and VERY heavy. We actually had to take the door to our office off its hinges in order to physically fit the desk through! The best part is: I found it on Craigslist for ONLY $25!!!!!

My new desk definitely needs a little TLC.....I would really like to refinish it because it has a great patina and I like the warm hue of the wood.  The desk will be the centerpiece in our office makeover (check back for this post) coming soon!

Monday, January 10, 2011

"The greenest building is the one that's already been built"

Coined by Carl Elefante, we hear this phrase a lot from preservationists (myself included) about how our historic buildings are inherently 'green.' Preservationists have literally been touting this for decades, long before the 'green' movement became all the rage.  I'll admit, I even have a bumper sticker that says "Historic Preservation: The Ultimate Recycling." But what does this mean?

There is a ton of literature and data out there that supports the relationship between historic properties and sustainability, and it can sometimes be daunting to sort through all of it.  I thought I would use this post as an opportunity to provide some useful links and distill some of the research into the basics for those of you who are new to the field of historic preservation:

- Embodied Energy: Historic buildings contain within them a form of energy called "Embodied Energy," meaning the energy it took to originally construct the building, manufacture the materials that form its structure, transport those materials, etc. By demolishing a historic building to build a new 'green' facility, you essentially waste all of the embodied energy which on average is not recouped by the new 'green' facility for at least 50 years.

- Reuse of Materials: Our existing buildings, many of them being historic, act as a very important renewable resource. By recycling our built environment, we cut back considerably on demolition and construction waste piling up in landfills. Additionally, we conserve precious natural resources that would otherwise be used in new construction or development.

- Energy Efficiency: Contrary to popular opinion, historic buildings can be very energy efficient due to their innate architectural characteristics. Some of these features include high quality construction (solid brick walls for greater thermal mass), passive heating and cooling systems such as transoms, awnings and roof overhangs, and large and plentiful windows found in many historic buildings, providing natural daylighting and less need for artificial light. Also, features such as operable wood sash windows were built to be repaired rather than replaced, and their old dense wood will last for a very long time if kept painted and maintained. Non-sustainable vinyl replacement windows are a petroleum-based product, can off-gas toxic substances into the air, and will only last a small fraction of the lifetime of an older wood window. Weatherizing, installing storm windows, using heavy window treatments, and installing insulation in the attic and basement are better ways to minimize heat loss in an old home.

- Historic Site Setting: many historic buildings usually have some old growth trees and mature landscaping, which, equals better natural cooling during the summer months.

- Smart Growth: Historic buildings are often located in historic districts, which, in many cases are walkable, mixed use communities. Historic districts contain and promote high density building practices, conserving green space and reducing traffic congestion and carbon emissions.

Be sure to check out the blog, The Greenest Building is the One Already Built, for more in depth information, resources, articles and links!

These are just a few of the ways historic buildings are inherently sustainable, and I've barely touched on the partnership between the green movement and historic preservation. To learn more about this topic, The National Trust has some great information located here: . Also check out the National Institute of Building Sciences Whole Building Design Guide  as well as

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Easy Pinto Bean Soup

So this is one of my favorite bean recipes for Amy over at Homestead Revival of a super easy version of Pinto Bean Soup. It is designed to be made after you cook a ham so that you can use the leftover ham bone which flavors the soup perfectly!


2-3 cups of dry Pinto Beans (more or less depending on size of your crockpot)
1 ham bone
3 tablespoons of salt, pepper to taste
6-10 cups of water depending on the size of your crockpot

Add first three ingredients to a large crockpot. Fill crockpot with water almost to the brim. Add seasonings to taste. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. This soup is delicious with cornbread. Enjoy!