Mar 3, 2014

Consumers Choice

  The most recent snow storm to grace the Midwest had me thinking, I super need to defrost my fridge. Not something that’s difficult, but not the worlds most fun after school activity either. The exceptional lack of amusement that comes with defrosting ones refrigerator had caused me to put it of slightly past the manufactures recommended time. Its safe to say there was more ice in my fridge then at the Sochi Winter Olympics. Zing!

  While reaching for my trusty pot of boiling water I remembered a semi-recent thrift store find. A still in the box, lightly used, Davis Infra-Red Freezer Refrigerator Defroster. With only an estimated 50/50 chase of it killing me I decided it was high time to use the little rascal.

  No instructions where in the box, presumably lost to time and space. Not really an issue though, it’s a pretty dead simple gadget. Plug it in, it gets hot, ice melts. The product tag line is pretty much spot on. “works so fast that frozen foods cant thaw!

  What took 30 to 40 minutes the old fashion way was only 10 to 15 min with this fancy piece of modern living. How I ever lived without such a marvel I will never know. If you are a weirdo like me and using a vintage fridge I highly recommend tracking one of these or similar device down. 

Jan 31, 2014

Modern Light indeed

  The slow, pulsing, flicker, drawing me ever nearer towards the depths of insanity. That droning hum, was it real or all in my mind?  I was beginning to feel like I was lost in a French noir film rather then sitting in my living room. Or at least thats how my over active imagination was reacting to the old florescent lighting nestled behind the window cornice.

manufacturer logo
  Worse then the continuous flicker and hum from the tubes was the ridiculous energy waste created by the three, 4 foot T12 fixtures. I’m far from the most environmentally conscious person on the planet but some things are such blatant wastes they bother even me. Especially when my pocket book is directly involved. When I moved in I had researched LED tub replacements, but at the time they were crazy expensive. Nowhere near my tiny middle class budget. I spent some time considering other options like LED strip lights or maybe converting over to the new T5 standard. There were lots of options but because I’m weird I didn't want to remove anything original to the house, Even crappy old florescent light fixtures. From time to time I’d check the prices on the LED tube replacements. The prices where steadily dropping so I kept putting off any decisions, finding other projects to keep me busy instead. Then one fateful day, thanks to Amazon tracking my every move, LED tubes where listed in my "suggested items" section at a rock bottom price. Only 35 bucks, down from 150+ less then a year ago. I figured the time was right and ordered a set.

  Even though I was going to be cutting my electric usage down to a third, I was worried they wouldn't be anywhere near as bright. The lumens are close but not quite as high as the old T12's and the LED tubes don’t have a full 360 degree throw. Once installed, none of that seems to matter. Visually it looks almost the same. It’s a tiny bit darker but as a trade I was able to buy them in a soothing warm light and there is no flicker or hum at all.

One important thing to know with LED tubes is they aren’t just drop in replacements. You no longer need the old ballast from the fixture and have to bypass it. Seems daunting, but really its super easy. Just open the old fixture and take everything out. Run two new wires, one for positive and one for negative and you are done. The tubes I bought were single sided, meaning the positive and negative terminals where on the same side of the tube. The other side is just for support after its rewired. There are a lot of resources on how to do the rewiring, if you are a DIY guy like me just dig around on youtube. You will find what you need.
Finished install

Jan 20, 2014

And...We are back.

I can’t quite put my finger on it but it feels like I have been forgetting to do something…Oh right, I have a house blog I should be adding content to. In fact, I’m about to hit the one year anniversary of said blog and in my absence I managed to miss the one year anniversary of when I moved into the house itself. Shameful and unforgivable I say! Best to ignore the whole subject and move on. 

Considering it’s been a year lets start with something that has been hovering at the top of my “to do” list since day one. One of the two sinks in the master bath had some serious leaks. Not just a drip from the faucet, but water seeping directly from the knobs as well. Early on I had taken the knobs off in an attempt to discover the problem, but a lack of part numbers on the internals and an even more disheartening lack of plumbing expertise on my end led me to the simple solution of just shutting off the water. 

Day in and day out I was reminded of my failure. Every time I washed my hands I was taunted by the non functioning sink placed so much more conveniently to the towel rack.
Over the holidays, a conversation with family about home projects spurred me to give it one more shot before giving in and just calling a plumber. Which, mind you for an American male is the single greatest sign of weakness. 

Fearing the reputation of my virility was on the line I grabbed my trusty tablet and hunkered in for a long night of plumbing based research. At the least, I had a place to start. All the faucets in my house are Kohler and all original so I could date them to 1960ish. It was slow starting at first. Mostly because I just didn't know what I was looking at. Through perseverance and an almost inhuman desire for victory I stumbled my way through digital page after digital page of vintage plumbing material. To my surprise I actually found images of the parts and from there I discovered Kohler even still makes the dang things. One quick order from Amazon and I had the parts I’d need to keep my status of “all that is man.”

The installation was about as easy as it gets. Unscrew the knob, take a bolt off, pull out the old part, and reverse. It just goes to show, do enough research and you will be surprised what you can learn.

For anyone who might need it here at the part numbers to my old Kohler knobs.

For cold, GP30004

For hot, GP30002

Dec 6, 2013

Turkey Day

You know how on Thanksgiving everyone will go around the table and say what they are thankful for? Well, this year my esteemed declaration to the world is being thankful for having friends and family who support my wack-a-do ideas. This year they rather excitedly indulged me in one of my more unusual ones. Fondue Thanksgiving. Which let me tell you, turned out pretty freaking awesome. 
For the main course we had traditional style items like turkey, vegetables, bread and stuffing. For dipping we had the fondue standards of oil and fondue cheese. We also had gravy because whats thanksgiving without gravy. You really haven't lived until you have used gravy for a fondue. For safety reasons we pre-cooked the turkey some, then let everyone cook their pieces to individual liking in the oil. 

The best part was desert though, my sister counted 11 separate delicacies. Tasty items like strawberries, pineapple, cinnamon rolls, and poundcake. For the desert dipping we went with the always classic melted chocolate and a concoction of cinnamon cream cheese icing.

I don’t now if this would work for a large family but with just five of us around the table it was an incredible evening. Not to mention, the preparation was almost non existent. Instead of a full day of cooking we all just hung out in my den, enjoying good company on a pleasant afternoon. Most amusingly, my mom who normally slaves away in the kitchen on Turkey Day almost didn't know what to do with herself. She keep thinking she was forgetting to make something. It really was a fun and relaxing family get together. I having a feeling it's going to be a new family tradition.

Nov 11, 2013


Having friends who are just as weird as I am often has many advantages. More often than not they support my wacky life decisions with heartfelt encouragement. For instance, recently while rummaging around at an estate sale a friend came across a vintage floor buffer, complete with all its attachments for only five bucks. He snatched it up, bestowing upon me such a wonderful gift because, and I quote, “ Even if it doesn’t work, I thought it would look really cool in your closet.” 

It does, by the way—look cool. It looks super cool sitting in my closet! And as an added bonus it still works perfectly. The buffer is technically a Penncrest; however, minus a color change, it’s exactly the same as the Hoover Floor-A-Matic. Little to no info seems to exist for the Penncrest, but with some digging I found a manual for the Hoover in glorious ‘.pdf’ form.

The included pictures show the results after giving it one quick polish. All I did was sweep, mop, polish, then buff. Took about 30 minutes total. Not bad for a quickie— even has some decent reflection. I swear though, one of these days I’m going to have the gumption to go through the ultra shine process Doug lists on his blog, The House on Rynkus Hill.

Oct 25, 2013

Coffey anyone?

Continuing with the theme of really cool stuff I’ve found completely at random, this week out of pure dumb luck I stumbled across a beautiful set of Kent Coffey Perspecta bedroom furniture. A total case of being in the right place at the right time. I landed the 3 piece set which is in almost perfect shape for the ridiculously tiny sum of $150 bucks. When I’m old and grey and recounting my great thrifting adventures with park bench passerby’s, I will for sure regale them with this tale.

Honestly I have no idea if other people are interested in the Perspecta line. Though a cursory Google search does bring up some Etsy and eBay listing, I think most people seem to prefer the similarly styled and iconic Broyhill Brasilia stuff. I’ve never been one to follow the mainstream though. Always carving my own weird path of destruction and mayhem. 

Please excuse the poor photos. The old bedroom furniture was still in the room then I snapped these. Not a lot of room to maneuver.

Oct 11, 2013

the velvet bullfighter and the matching señorita

I know all of my faithful readers are beside themselves wondering what the heck fire Robert has been up to as of late. Well, ok maybe only two or three people are concerned and, in all possibility, no one actually reads this thing. But for all of my imaginary readership, don't believe the rumors. I haven't joined the foreign legion or been press ganged into a life on the seas. I've just been obsessing over my many hobbies. The last few months a group of friends and I have been systematically learning the art of mold making, latex and animatronics. What started as a tiny project got crazy real fast. Sadly that has nothing to do with living in a house from 1960. If the skills I have learned can work their ways into mid century modeling living, you can bet my faithful reads will be the first to know. 

Even though I haven't been working on much of anything around the house, I feel like I should post something. I did manage to pick up some really cool items at an estate sale about 3 blocks from my house so I can talk about them. 

First up, I finally found the perfect chair for my powder room. When I moved in and realized I had a room dedicated to makeup application I had this radiant vision of the perfect chair. I don't know where I had crossed paths with one before but I knew it existed. One of those little ornate metal wire chairs that look so delightful and fragile you are afraid to sit on it. For the last year every time I walked into a thrift store I hoped to stumble across one. It never happened but at this estate sale, buried in the corner of the basement, covered in spiderwebs and dust was the very chair, ripped directly from my imagination: a gold metal wire frame with white and gold speckle vinyl seat. The frame is in perfect shape but years of neglect have killed the seat cover. An easy replacement in the future when time allows. More to my amazement, nestled with it was a matching end table. A beautiful set.

While carrying the chair and table up from the basement something large and odd caught my eye. Under the stairs,
leaned against the wall was an old room divider. The wood frame had an unmistakable 60's feel to it but the centers were this horrible 1980's faux brick pattern. The two just didn't match at all. On a whim I set my chair down and went in for closer inspection. After dragging it out from under the stairs, it was clear that the faux brick was contact paper of some sort. I looked for a loose corner and peeled it back just enough to see what lurked beneath. Immediately I could tell I just found something awesome. I remembered an article I had read a while back on It was about some guy who found a stock pile of NOS patterned plastic sheets. The same sheets that were hidden away under the contact paper atrocity. Fearing the price would magically go up if someone saw what was underneath, I didn't peel the paper any further. I re-stuck the lifted corner and took my lucky finds up the makeshift check out area. 
Unrelated, this lamp is one of my all time fav thrift finds.

Check out led me to my third but sadly last awesome find of the day. Two velvet paintings were resting against the table. After inquiry, I found out they had been set aside when the last person to check out discovered they had spent too much. I happily picked up where they left off and snatched up the set. When one finds a velvet bullfighter and matching señorita, you figure out a way to buy it! 

All in all, a great estate sale adventure and some real cool additions to my slowly evolving home decor.