Monthly Archives: September 2013


Summer is the time to work outside, especially here in the northeast. So when it got warm I switched gears from mostly inside projects to mostly outside ones. A lot of projects got tackled this summer – the meadow out back was tamed, and I began cutting down the giant forsythia bushes alongside the house that were threatening to eat the place.

In July, we really got going on the landscaping out front. The landscaping around the house was put in place in 1997 – I know because not only do I remember when it happened, but I happen to have both the bill and planning grid from the nursery. Grandma saved everything. When first planted, the landscaping was very nice, but I do not believe that they gave much attention to the adult sizes of the plantings. Over the ensuing 15 years the various items had grown together, and the deer devoured several things, resulting in Grandma replacing a few shrubs.

Generally speaking, we are minimalists, so the idea that less is more is pretty much a given around here. The landscaping wasn’t terrible when we moved in – in spring 2011 Mary and I came over and re-did the mulching and such for Grandma. But it needed some re-thinking regardless and some items were definitely overgrown. So you have an idea, here is where we started, this photo is from a few weeks after we moved in. I raked all those leaves by hand. (this year I have a “leaf sweeper.” Fool me once.)

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House Numbers Are Important

When you live on a dead end street laid out in 1957, one of the cooler things that happens is you really don’t have a complex house number. Ours is 7. That’s right…just 7. That being said, I still wanted to have a house number on the front door. When I come up to someones house that I don’t know and knock on the door, if they have a house number right next to their door it’s just that last bit that tells me “Hey man, you’re in the right spot,” and not knocking on the door of the creepy neighbor who only comes out once a month, abhors daylight and smells like cabbage.

Creepy neighbors aside (we don’t have any, coincidentally. Ours are all awesome.) having a house number on the door I feel is a nice touch. It looks nice and as mentioned helps people at the door confirm they are in the right spot while standing there and it shows you care enough to pay attention to the small details. The other day I put a house number up on both front doors (the “main” front door, and our kitchen door, which also faces the driveway.) These were inexpensive ones from Home Depot, but in a very retro mid-century compatible style. I immediately liked them – I’ve seen these pop up a few times on blogs for other mid-century house folks as well. They are very modern in their lines, so they would be at home on both a “modern” house and a “mid-century” house. Installation was also very easy: Mark the holes, get a masonry bit and drill into the brick the appropriate depth, then set the posts with silicone. The finished number can be either raised or flush – I chose to have it raised.

Here are the results:

Something Completely Different

During “wedding week,” my brother and sister came up with their respective families for the whole week. Most of the time both of them stayed with us – so our house had eight extra people in it. It could be a little hectic.

My sister has three boys and one morning we had to head out to run some errands so she was getting ready in the bathroom fixing her hair. Her youngest came up and decided he wanted to help. My sister was happy to oblige – he was the right size and it was certainly helpful for her:


Everyone also played some croquet. Tyler, my nephew, was particularly fond of it. I even cut a special area of the lawn. Sometimes, however, it got out of hand:


The Meadow, Part Deux

In the spring I posted about the meadow out back, specifically how I was going to work hard to tame this ugly beast this summer. It took most of the summer, and one set of mower blades on the new lawn tractor, but I think I’m most of the way there.

Along the way we have: trimmed and pulled any shrubs and scrub-brush; cut and hauled off a large log and fallen tree; dug out the crushed stone in the middle left by the town about ten years ago; moved trailers of dirt to fill in where said crushed stone was and; in places where I felt it was thin, spread grass seed around.

Having been overgrown for the last ten years it’s a little bumpy still, but I think it will smooth out over time. The week of the wedding our families and friends and their children spent a whole weekend playing on it, so it can’t be that bad.

Here’s the before (April) and after (September):

Our Mid Century Split Level House Plans

Our August was very eventful – Mary and I got married, and then went to Hawaii for our honeymoon. So much so that I only made one update to the blog during August. Now that I have also fixed the uploading problem for images, we’re back in business!

Not too many people have these for their house, much less have them hand drawn by your own Grandfather – but I am in possession of all of the original house plans that were used to construct the house. My grandfather sat down in 1958 and, having decided on a general house that he wanted, put pencil to vellum and whipped off a set of architectural drawings. You may ask if he was an architect? No, he was an electrical and mechanical engineer who worked at IBM as a Manager. But, he was a talented individual and apparently along the way felt he could do this himself. I never got a chance to sit down with him and discuss at length how he came about drawing the house plans, something I wish I had. I envision he probably picked up some books on the subject and studied up and had a bunch of books or magazines on popular house plans to start from.

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