Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Best Dog Ever

I've known I was going to have to write this blog post for almost 2 months, but I wasn't looking forward to it. We've noticed her steady deterioration - especially since the first of the year. The Vet confirmed it. She didn't have long left. Our precious Chocolate Lab is gone. After 3870 days on earth, Cocoa expired Monday morning - a beautiful late winter day in the Keweenaw - 32° - bright sunshine - not a cloud in the gorgeous blue sky.

10-1/2 years doesn't seem like enough. We were hoping for at least 2 more years, but we're so happy she was able to spend her last year (shy 11 days) out here in the Keweenaw woods on Eagle Harbor Road. She loved it. You could see it. She was one contented pup.

Did I ever tell you about something she had been doing since Steve put up her new doghouse last fall? When it was "time for bed" (around 11 or 11:30 p.m.) and she was going into her doghouse for the final time at night, she would pause outside her doghouse and bark twice. It was like "Bark Bark" ("Good Night"). So cute. We're gonna miss that. We're going to miss a lot of things about her.

No more pooch tracks on the snow - no more nose prints on the window next to the front door - no more happy trips to the beach with her - no more peaceful walks in the woods with her leading the way - no more squirrel "hunting" - no more alarm bark to tell us when someone comes down our driveway - no more chasing away bears or deer - no more canine companion to walk beside us on the way to the mailbox - no more "help" when picking thimbleberries - no more friend excitedly running to greet us when we return from errands or from church - no more loyal buddy to follow Steve everywhere - no more chocolate nose to nudge our hands trying to get another pat on the head - no more paws to shake - no more velvety ears to stroke or tummy to rub - no more dark brown lump soaking in the sun on the front porch - no more loving brown eyes staring into ours - no more dog food or treats to buy - no more need for her insulated doghouse. The sign I made with her name on her doghouse will become her grave marker after all the snow melts.

Cocoa will be our last dog. After 40 years of dog ownership, Steve says this is enough. This was his best dog - my best dog - and she was our dog. We loved her - more than either of us had ever loved any other dog. We "reserved" Cocoa just before we got married and we picked her up when we returned from our honeymoon. She was sweet, obedient, gentle, good-natured, devoted, personable and people-friendly. Our Cocoa Puff was so stinkin' smart and chock-full of unconditional loyalty and love. We bid you farewell, Old Girl. 

Things will never be quite the same around here, but. . .

All is still well in the Keweenaw.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Antique Cheval Dresser - Refresh

I'm taking you back into Guest Room 1 today - to show you what's on the wall behind the door.

This piece also came out of my late grandmother's house. It's an antique cheval dresser from the late 1800's. Cheval refers to the long mirror mounted on a swivel frame that allows it to be tilted. A 3-piece dresser of this type was often marketed as a gentleman's dresser. The small chest that sits on top of the low chest had 2 drawers (for gloves) and a door that opened to store a hat.

This piece of furniture was sitting in the other guest room since last April (mirror was in the basement), but we've now moved it to Guest Room 1 and Steve attached the mirror. In the year I've had this in the house, I've obviously dusted this piece many times, but I never conditioned the wood. Once again, I was so excited to start deep cleaning and applying furniture oil that I forgot to take before photos. These are actually during photos.

This was sitting upstairs in my grandma's house and sustained some water damage when her chimney leaked years ago.

Of course, it also has plenty of nicks and scratches from well over 100 years of wear and tear. . .

and the mirror is far from perfect.

But, you know me - a little wear and tear doesn't bother me in the least. It just shows some history! Soapy water and glass cleaner made a big difference. Just ignore those large horizontal black marks on the mirror. Character!
 The furniture oil greatly improved the look of the wood. . .

and I like the details on this piece.

Could I paint it or refinish it? Yes. Many people took these dressers apart back in the 1960's and 70's & often discarded the small chest and mirror and refinished just the bottom dresser. In fact, my older brother has a similar bottom dresser that my mom refinished back then. I doubt I'll ever paint or refinish this one. Every nick and scratch has a story to tell, and I don't have the heart to cover them up.

Again, I think Grandma would be really happy to know this piece has a new home.

All is well in the Keweenaw.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Friday, March 25, 2016

Sneak Peek Friday - The Big Switcheroo

I mentioned on Wednesday that we made some big changes upstairs in the last week or so. If you remember, our upstairs consists of 2 guest bedrooms, a guest bathroom and a loft area. Our extra queen mattress and box spring has been in Guest Room 2 since last April. Now that Guest Room 1 is finished, we decided to move the queen set into it. We think most of our adult guests will prefer to sleep in a queen-size bed rather than in the full-size bed we'll have in the other room. Moving the queen bed into Guest Room 1 gives our guests the feeling of a little more privacy, as our bedroom is under Guest Room 2. We made the big switcheroo the other day. Here's what you now see to your right when you reach the top of the stairs.

The room looked like this the last time we gave you a peek into it on March 4th.

Let's peek inside today.

We also moved the side tables and lamp.

If you ever stay in these guest rooms, don't worry about the fact that we have no curtains at the windows. There's no one outside - for miles - we promise! The dresser to the left of the bed was in my mom's childhood bedroom.

A small antique rocker sits near the door.

We have something else to show you in this room on the opposite side of the door, but that will have to wait until next week. The room looks pretty cozy at night, doesn't it?

We have a few more things to do in the other guest room - like move the bed frame up from the basement - and pick up the new mattress - but that should all happen within a few more weeks.

All is well in the Keweenaw.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Translation:  A One And A Two!

Did you know that A1ANA2 was Lawrence Welk's license plate? Yeah, my head is filled with weird facts like that. Maybe we'll discuss George Washington's teeth sometime.

Anyway, back to the numbers - the guest room numbers.

I knew I wanted numbers for the guest rooms, and I thought about different options. Should I just purchase some exterior house numbers? Should I stencil the numbers on wood slices? We were at Walmart in Houghton back in early January when I saw these 5" MDF unfinished numbers - $1.47 each.

I already had a dark brown paint pen that would work for this project.

I painted the tops first. After they were dry, I painted the sides.

I also picked up a 2-pack of 6"x8" burlap covered frames - $3.97 for the package.

Since I was going to glue the numbers to the burlap, I cut some cardboard pieces for the centers to give me a sturdier surface.

Here's how they looked after I glued everything together - all for less than $7.00.

After Steve finished the door trim on the guest rooms, he took a few minutes to hang the numbers for me.

We made some big changes inside these rooms in the last week. I'll show you more of that on Friday.

All is well in the Keweenaw.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Buffet Mirror

Steve made great visual progress upstairs on Saturday. We often talk about how the smallest projects sometimes have the most impact. I'll be sharing more photos of that progress with you this week and maybe next week, too. While he's been busy upstairs for the last few weeks, I've found some projects of my own to do. One thing that was on my list for quite a while was to clean and repair my grandmother's buffet mirror. Here's an after shot.

Up until shortly after my grandmother died in 2012, this mirror was always hanging over the buffet that was part of her depression era dining set. She purchased that dining set from her neighbor back in the early 60's, and I believe she purchased this mirror from them at the same time. It's also depression era, so I believe this mirror's entire life has been spent above that particular buffet. You may remember that I'm using Grandma's dining table (with different chairs) and my mom is using the matching china cabinet and buffet. Mom thought about continuing the tradition of using the mirror above that buffet, but it didn't look tall enough to fill the space adequately on her wall. It didn't look tall enough to use above my buffet either, but I knew I had another spot for it.

The buffet mirror was desperately in need of an overhaul. It was dirty and the backing paper was shredded. I threw an old beach towel on the kitchen counter and got to work. After removing the remaining pieces of brown backing paper, I carefully removed the small nails holding the 3 mirrors into the frame. The center mirror was thick and had no cardboard in back of it, but the other 2 etched mirrors were thinner and had brittle old cardboard pieces in back of them. The cardboard and nails went in the trash, and I carefully removed the mirrors and gave them a thorough cleaning. I couldn't believe how nice they looked. Of course, that's when I remembered I didn't take any before pictures. Phooey. 

Since the camera was nearby the whole time, I grabbed it to photograph the rest of the process. Here's the back of the empty frame.

The front of the frame before cleaning:

A shot showing the frame detail between the mirrors:

The detail at the top - center:

After the frame was cleaned with a mild soapy water solution, I began the reassembly. I cut new poster board pieces to place in back of all 3 mirrors and inserted glazier points to hold everything into place. Glazier points are those little silver pointed things that you push into the frame with a putty knife or some type of flat pushing tool - even a large flat head screwdriver will work.

As long as I was taking this mirror apart and putting it back together, I figured I should probably date my work.

Speaking of dates. . .

look what was stamped on the back of the center mirror - JUN 24 1929 - depression era!

Maybe someone else will take this mirror apart in another 87 years. If so, they'll see the 1929 date and the 2016 date. They'll also see my Grandma's name and my name. Why stop at dates? OK, time for new backing paper.

All done!

I thought about replacing the cord with new wire for hanging, but the cord cleaned up well and felt very sturdy, so I left it. Oh, I wrote the 1929 date on the back of the frame, too.

The mirror is heavier than it looks, so Steve helped me hang it above our bed.

Once again, it's an object in our house that has a story.

I think Grandma would approve.

Hey, I just realized that TODAY (March 21) would have been my grandma's 99th birthday! Crazy that I decided to talk about her buffet mirror today, huh?

All is well in the Keweenaw.