Missing Summer.

I can’t believe that it is almost Thanksgiving.  I am definitely not ready for Winter or the holiday season.  I have been really busy at work and that coupled with the short, dark and cold days are leaving me longing for some fun, sun and warmth. 

In reminiscing about the warmer days I thought I’d share some pictures of our house from Summer.  The picture below is of a spider that lived in the plants in the front of our house.  He spent the whole summer spinning his web on the various plants near our stoop. One day he would be sitting in the middle of his magnificent web on the Zebra Grass and the next day he would be furiously spinning his web on the rose bush.  He moved often but did not stray away from the front of our house.  Then one day it got colder and he was gone.  

We painted the brown stone on the front of our house in Toucan Black by Benjamin Moore.  By “we” I mean Scott.  He also painted the stone trim around the door and the six windows on the front of the house.  I would generally not recommend painting stone but it had already been painted brown by the previous owner and there was no cost effective way to restore the stone to its original glory. We primed the wall first with Benjamin Moore Fresh Start Exterior Primer.  Then we used “breathable” Benjamin Moore Ben Waterborne Exterior paint  in flat finish so that there wouldn’t be any issues with water retention.

These pictures were taken in June 2011.

Planning a Roof Deck

This is the view looking north from the roof of our house.  The views in all directions are absolutely stunning.

So why don’t we have a roof deck you are probably asking?  Well, we would eventually like to put a deck on the third floor roof.  However, even though I am planning (and dreaming) of the deck we first need to extend the third floor out, put a bathroom on the third floor and plan the access on to the roof deck before we can build the deck.  We would also need to remove the carpeting on the third floor and install new wood floors, replace the roof on the third floor, and figure out where and how to move the 100 pound air conditioning unit. 

The picture below shows the view from the third floor.  You can see the roof above Kiran’s room.  We would like to  build a room and a small deck on this side.

The window to the left in the picture below (now without the bars) is the guest room.  We would like to extend the wall out to the edge and put a bathroom in the area that is to the left of this picture.

This is one of those things that we would eventually like to do but there are simply too many other things that need our immediate attention.  Once we finish the basement stairway and install shelving/organization units in the basement and renovate the first floor bathroom we will be ready to start on the third floor!

EDIT: I can’t believe that I forgot to mention the small fact that this will be a dream for a while because renovating the third floor and building a deck is not in our budget for right now.  I guess the beauty of dreams is that they aren’t grounded in reality.

Dreaming of Renovations.

Whew! I have been busy. We had a few contractors come over and take a look at the brick on the side of our house.  The house was built in 1890 and still has the original mortar! However, there are some places where the brick needs re-pointing.  Most of the contractors these days don’t really know how to restore and work with original bricks and mortar.  It has definitely been a learning experience for me. 

The problem with re-pointing old brick is that some masons slap on Portland Cement, which is a very hard and non porous substance.  Brick on the other hand is very porous and it needs to remain that way so that water doesn’t get trapped between the layers of brick.  Our house has three layers of brick on the periphery walls.  When the brick expands the the Portland Cement does not expand which causes the brick to crack.  Basically the new mortar must be as soft as or a little softer than the old mortar.  There are labs where you can send the old mortar and they will analyze it and give you a breakdown of the original mortar ratio.  However, it is also possible to estimate the mortar composition from the age of the house. 

We have also had contractors over to get estimates on repairing the stucco on the back room (my office) as well.  I think that we will go with a dark grey almost black stucco.  Also, I have been dreaming about getting all the trim in the house, and the eighteen windows painted a deep black.  Since dreams have no limits I have also been dreaming of getting a deck installed on top of the back room which will be accessible from Kiran’s room.  I think that it will be nice to have a sand box and have some toys for Kiran to play on that deck. 

I have been having some problems with our computer so I don’t have any pictures of the other million things that I have been working on.  Instead I will leave you with this beautiful black house (and I will keep dreaming of my black/grey stucco):

Front of the House.

It’s been a long time since I blogged last. It’s not that I have been busy renovating or having a hectic time at work…it is just that the weather has been so nice that I have been enjoying the beautiful days. I also went away to Austin on our first family vacation since Kiran was born. This is a picture of my friend Maza, Kiran and me on top of some mountain in Austin. I remember the roads were windy and I was hoping I wouldn’t get car sick so I wasn’t paying much attention to the name of the place. It was definitely beautiful. Maza when you read this please leave a comment about the name of this place.


So when we got back from our vacation, and I got out of the cab, I was first relieved that the house was intact and second I felt welcomed by our house. This is when I realized that I haven’t posted many pictures of the front of the house.

This is a picture of the front of the house. You can see the tree that the Passyunk Square Civic Association planted a year and a half ago. I was so scared that it would die because they planted it in the Fall of 2007 and it got really cold very fast that year. Needless to say the tree survived.


This is a close up of the tree:

This picture shows my new planter. I have been trying to decide what sort of arrangement of plants I should have in the front of the house. I couldn’t really come up with any plan so I decided that what I needed to do was just decide on at least one planter and that the rest will follow. I got this planter from Ikea for around $49. I planted a boxwood in it because it is an evergreen and requires minimal attention.


This is a picture of the house numbers. I bought talavera tiles and glued them on a wrought iron frame. The frame is attached to the brick with sinkers and screws. I had originally planned on gluing the numbers to the brick but I didn’t want to ruin the brick. I bought these numbers before we even closed on the house. It took us over two years to install them.

This is a view of the front door with a dragon fly knocker. This knocker was given to us as a gift by our friend Michelle a long long time ago in Texas. I was saving it for the right place and now it has found its home.