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. 

Aug 20, 2013

Just livin'

What’s new around the Home of Tomorrow you ask? Not much, just livin’ man, L-I-V-I-N.
We had beautiful weather over the weekend so I did have time to do a few little things in addition to my standard yard maintenance. 

A friends neighbor cut down a tree and had free fire wood. I nabbed a truck load for myself and artfully used the stack of mysterious center blocs that came with my house as a wood rack. Not the most beautiful thing but the overall price of FREE fits my current budget nicely.

Also, I finally had the time to use the little power washer I received from my mom as a gift. Let me tell you, its a little odd when your mom drops by randomly holding a power washer and saying “this seemed like something you could use.” Heart of gold that lady.

The washer is nothing fancy, she picked it up at a JC Penny’s outlet of all places. Sure as heck fire gets the job done though. It took what I can only assume is 50 years of grim off my stairs and walk ways like it was nothing. Super easy to use and in a weird way, I even had fun doing it. 

Aug 2, 2013

Friends call me Snow Miser

It may come as a surprise but our modern day internet doesn't have much information about how to defrost a 70-some-odd-year old fridge. There are no webpages, blogs, or DIY YouTube videos dedicated to the subject. Apparently that’s not something people have to deal with much these days. 

Damn kids and their fancy self-defrosting refrigerators!! They don't know how good they've got it.

While most wouldn't consider this too life-threatening, I have to dissagr... Actually I have to agree. On a list of full blow home emergencies I don't think frosty freezer is even on said list. 

It was a tad daunting considering it’s probably months past whatever the manufacturer suggests, and you might even say, I had never defrosted it. Because I hadn’t...ever...defrosted it. The time had come. Not for any of these reasons, though; for something far more important: it was getting difficult to fit in my ice cube trays. I need ice.

With a lack of instructional videos to stream at a whim from my smartphone, I turned to the next best thing: my mother. A woman of many talents, who just so happens to be a top notch research librarian. If she couldn't help, I was doomed. When I called her in a panic, she just chuckled and said, “ I wondered when you would ask about that. Just do what Grandma always did. Boil some water in a pot and stick it in the freezer. The heat and steam will melt it in a jiffy.” 

Could it really be that simple? Was steam all I needed to defeat the icy arctic sarcophagus entombing my pizza rolls? There was really only one way to find out. I thanked my mom for her advice, told her I loved her (like a good son should) and hung up the phone with as much dramatic force as one can hangup a touch screen phone; for this was not a time for dilly dallying: this was a time for ACTION.

After chiseling out any still edible food items from the freezer cube, I boiled the water as instructed and placed the dangerously hot pot into the icy tundra. Immediately the temperature difference caused a reaction and steam began to rise. I threw my hands up into the air like a mad genius and screamed, “IT’S ALIVE!!” (Okay, I have a weird mad scientist appreciation but that’s another story.)

 To my surprise, it did work. The steam and heat loosened up the bricks of ice clinging to the freezer panels. It didn't come off as easy as I hoped but with a little extra love they broke free. The process took roughly 20 minutes. I did, however, have to reheat the water pot 3 times to keep it nice and toasty. If I’m a bit more vigilant about how long I go between defrosting this will be, as they say, “easy as a cake walk.” 

Jul 17, 2013

Open sesame

There I was, thinking another week would go by with nothing of interest to report around the homestead. Then late Friday night I received the modern day equivalent of an Indian attack. The torsion spring on my garage door snapped, trapping all my vehicles inside. Ok so maybe that’s not the best comparison I’ve ever come up with, but I’ve been watching a lot of old westerns lately.

Being the “do it yourself” kind of guy I am, I immediately set about figuring out how to replace the spring. This being my first ever garage I had no idea that torsions springs have a bad habit of killing people if they are installed wrong. Now most people would be deterred by that information. Often to my detriment, I am not most people. 

Ever the optimist, I was positive I could do the repair as long as I took the proper precautions. Really, what could go wrong? Well, I may never know. Apparently you can’t just go down to your local home supply store for these things. Probably because of that death and dismemberment thing. To my dismay, I was forced to turn to a professional. The only other option would have been to order online. Considering all of my many modes of transportation were trapped inside my sealed garage, waiting wasn't an option. 

After some quick internet searching I found a local company that seemed trustworthy. Most importantly they were able to come early the next morning and thankfully didn't cost much more then I would have spent ordering the parts myself. While I had a pro at my house I asked him to check out the rest of my arcane garage door system. With the exception of the rusted and almost non moving guide wheels he said the door and its components looked to be in very good shape: a huge relief considering the cost of garage doors. 

With the new wheels and springs, the door runs so smooth I no longer hear the clanking metal monstrosity inside the house. The repair was worth every penny.

Jul 7, 2013

It's all about location

  I have nothing to report on the home front. Other hobbies and vehicle repairs have taken up all my time again. On the plus side, I now have full working knowledge of motorcycle carburetor repair and the home brewing set up at my friends house now has dual zone, low power, automated fermentation temperature control. All thanks to some foam and a Raspberry Pi.

  I did discover that my house is a block away from the local 4th of July parade. That was an excellent surprise. I'm a sucker for kitschy americana like that.

Jun 21, 2013

Everyday I'm shufflin

Until recently, I was letting an old friend stay in my basement while he saved up for his big move out of state. Because of that, I’ve never really talked much about my basement. 

Like any other part of my house, it’s wonderfully vintage. It’s about 85% finished, surrounded in the same beautiful wood paneling that adorns much of the upstairs. There are three sectioned off rooms: a laundry room, a workshop and an office area. There’s even a fireplace and a full bathroom. It’s darn close to being its own house. I often refer to it as my summer home because it stays a constant 66 degrees.  

Most importantly, it has one built in feature of pure unadulterated 1960’s awesome. My friends, I speak of nothing other then in-floor shuffleboard. Complete with the original discs and push sticks. 

Even though in-floor shuffleboard was almost common in many mid-century homes, it’s surprisingly difficult to find rules for this size of floor shuffleboard. Most of what can be gleaned through a Google search is for the full size courts: the kind that my childish imagination pictures being on cruse ships and in retirement communities. Sadly, certain rules don't translate over to the smaller court. For instance, the rule of not scoring if your disc comes to rest on a line sounds like it wouldn't be a big deal. After you play three rounds and no one scores, your tune changes quickly. And don't even get me started about the difficulty of the “over the line rule” when alcohol is involved.

For the better advancement of humankind, my friends and I have chosen to follow a set of made-up rules deemed best for maximum fun value. For anyone who may stumble upon this page in search of rules for their mid century in-floor shuffleboard, or for those of who one day will randomly discover one hidden in your own basement,  I will present them below:

Best played with teams of two. One member of each team stands on either side of the court. (My discs are black and red so I will hence forth refer to teams as either the “black” or “red” team.)

Chose a side of the court to start, the player on the black team shoots first. (smoke before fire)

Play goes back and forth until all four discs are shot. 

Tally score for each team. There is a “ten off” section the disc can land in, but we don't allow the score to go below zero. Negative numbers take away from the total fun factor. 

Best two of three rounds wins. 

Everybody high fives and grabs another beer. 

I know there are many more rules and this is an ultra simplified version but I don't care. I’m playing to have a goofy time with friends. If I want to be serious I’ll spend the day strategically playing Axis and Allies.

Jun 14, 2013

Suburban Slacker Dream Scenario

 Last week I cleaned the patio. This week I ask: what does one do with said nice clean patio? 

Answer: invite friends over to hangout on it, of course! Nothing says summer to me like an impromptu patio party with friends, food and beer. It also gives me a chance to try out one of my more recent wacky, yet ingenious ideas. 

About a year ago I came across a projector on the cheap. I didn't really need it, but I have trouble passing on super deals (it’s a weird consumer driven compulsion I suffer from). I never got around to using the projector because of space issues or the general cost of screens. 

The railing on my patio, however, has given me an idea. If I could find something the right shape for a screen I could attach it to the railing and project movies while sitting outside. A suburban slacker dream scenario, if you will.  

While roaming my local big box home supply store, I came across one of my favorite building supplies: polystyrene sheets. It’s good for all kinds of nerd hobbies, anything from convention costuming to miniature gaming terrain (probably good for building houses, too, but that’s out of my league). The sheets are 4ft by 8ft making them a great size for a projector screen and very close to the 2.40:1 cinema aspect ratio. 

Best of all, they’re only twelve bucks. 

Throw on a little white primer (or screen paint if you want to get fancy) and BAM, you have a projector screen. Not perfect, but more then enough to satisfy your cinema loving friends on a summer evening and a heck of a lot cheaper. 

Jun 9, 2013

Gets The Tough Stains Out!

A week later my muscles still burn from scrubbing my brick patio. Mold, dirt and general grime had built up from who knows how many years of neglect. Being the center point of my outdoor life, there was no way I could stand idly by and ignore the filth. Something had to be done. 

After digging through the DIY filled interwebs for options, I quickly learned power washing was not the way to go and would kill the patio. Other options seemed costly and full of harsh chemicals. Neither of which I’m a fan of. Then, out of the darkness I saw a light; a tiny glimmer of hope, fueled by late night infomercials: OxiClean. 

Yes, you know what I’m talking about: that thing miracle cleaner Mr. Billy Mays was always talking about. Supposedly it destroys organic dirt and grime and is completely environmentally friendly. At least the first part, I can attest to. The OxiClean worked wonders on my patio and it’s really easy to use. Well, easy minus the back breaking scrubbing part that my muscles won’t let me forget. 

The steps are simple. Add a few scoops into a bucket of water. Mix and let sit for 5 min. Pour out onto the patio and let it sit there for about 10 min. Take a push broom and Scrub, scrub, scrub.

Thats it.

May 31, 2013

Revenge of the Toilet

When most people take vacations from work they go somewhere...else in the world, away from their everyday life and home.

Not this guy.

I took a week off work and spent almost the entire time here at my house fiddling with things. Guess it comes with the territory when you are madly in love with your house.
The first thing I tackled was that damn peach toilet. It’s been plaguing me since I moved in. Constantly running and full of crusted over original equipment, I cringe every time someone used it. 

With one failed attempt to repair it looming over me, this was my chance to regain my honor. This time, my strategy was simple. I was going to replace every single part inside the tank. That way I would be positive to knock out all possible scenarios of failure.

I’m proud to say the plan worked and after replacing all of the crusty vintage internal parts I now have a fully functioning toilet. Thanks to my local ReStore I was even able to upgrade to a brand new never used dual flush system. You know, the kind where it’s up on the handle for liquids and down on the handle for solids. I have to say so far I’m impressed with the system...but the true test will be the next party I have.

May 24, 2013

The General and Me

The GE

I’m coming to discover a difficulty with writing a blog about one’s house is that, from time to time, nothing interesting is going on. Seriously, not a thing has broken and nothing is in dire need of change. Hopefully I don't curse myself by saying this, but my house is great. 

And there’s more to this great house than the things I fix and acquire. Lets talk about some of the wonders I’ve already surrounded myself with. For instance, anybody know what it’s like to live with a late 40’s GE refrigerator? I do and let me tell you, its not for everyone. 


Size. I get the distinct feeling people in the 40‘s ate much more fresh food than I do. This GE, a gleaming white beacon of times past, is barely large enough for a child to trap himself in. Distasteful jokes aside, it is really small. Only about 5 feet in height and 3 feet in width. It’s not bad for just me and my girlfriend but if I had a family of any size I would need something much bigger. 

Freezer. As it is I’ve picked up a cheapo deep freeze to compensate for the world’s most adorable freezer cube thats nestled in the corner of the GE. It’s perfect if all you need to freeze is two ice cube trays and one bag of pizza rolls. Don't even consider fitting a frozen pizza in there. The GE strictly forbids it. 


Strangely Efficient. Honestly though, size seems to be the only draw back. Everything else is great. It looks incredible, it keeps my food super cold, it’s surprisingly quiet and really not that expensive to run. 

Sweet Sci-Fi Noises. When you open and close the door it makes some of the coolest noises ever heard. It’s like something out of an old sci-fi movie, right when the frosty horrors are sealed safely shut with a WHOOMP and a CLACK of the door.

Party Pleaser.  It's always a good time when someone sees it in your house, too. My favorite experience so far was from when I first moved in. The HVAC guy stopped dead in his tracks and stared at it. After mumbling an unidentifiable curse word, he turned around, looked at me, and said “don’t tell me that thing actually still works. I just had to throw out a 6-year old fridge and you have one older than my father.”

Apr 25, 2013


  When I started this blog just a few fleeting months ago I set myself a goal. I am to post at least once a week. I’ve always been one of those people that thrives with consistency. It’s also a kindness for you, my readers, to know something new will show up in a relatively timely manner. I must admit my folly though. 

  Recently my other hobbies, which there are many, have taken center stage. With the weather getting marvelous I could specifically no longer ignore my two wheeled interests. All of which needed some repair and attention.

  My bicycle was the easy fix. Needing only new tires and tubes. My scooter on the other had needed a little of everything. Tires, brake pads and front disc, exhaust and even a freaking new throttle cable. I ride the heck out of that little thing, I’ve enjoyed it so much over the last 5 years that I made the decision to finally get my motorcycle license. (not required for a 50cc scooter in Missouri) This last weekend, down right all of my time was spent in a motorcycle safety course. Even though I’ve been ridding a scoot for a while I’m amazed how many things I learned during the course. I wish I had taken it sooner and I highly recommend taking one in your area if you’re considering some two wheeled freedom.

  Don’t fret though, I have many, many, more home related projects. In the near future I plan to unleash hot furious restoration upon my backyard patio. Not to mention I’m currently formulating my number one summer expenditure. PROJECT: TOTALLY RADICAL SUPER EXCELLENT GARAGE RESTORATION. I may change the name though. 

Apr 17, 2013

The great outdoors

  I don't know how it is where the rest of you live, but around here it magically decided to become spring. Which means I’ve finally had time to assess my jungle yard. According to my neighbor, the original owner was an avid horticulturist and was out working on the yard every chance he had. Fast forward to the year 2013 and it resembles the way Dorothy found the emerald city in Return to OZ. It’s completely overgrown and and in total disrepair. From what I’m told it has been at least two years since anyone has taken care of it. I’m guessing thats a conservative number, considering my hedges are so large they cover portions of the driveway. This full blown wilderness is now in the hands of a man who has never owned a yard and suffers from severe allergies. More then once, my friends have referred to me as “bubble boy.”

  Like most things I know nothing about, I shrugged and proclaimed “how hard can it be.” Relying on a combination of faith, raw luck, and general chutzpah I’ve made a first stab at getting things under control. I can tell this will take years rather then weeks, but I have a vision and to be honest I'm finding yard work to be strangely relaxing. Maybe it’s because I spend my days on a computer, but its nice to go out and play in the dirt.

 I always thought a yard was three feet, then I started mowing the lawn. ~C.E. Cowman

Apr 8, 2013

Little grey box

  One of the really great things about my house isn't the house itself. It’s my neighbor Shirley. She has lived in her house next door for sixty years and was very close friends with the original owners of my house. I’ve only had the pleasure of talking to her a few times, but each one has been filled with insight into the life and times of my house and the people who built it.

  Recently she stopped me to ask why I didn't use the heated gutters during the last snowfall... When I stared blankly back at her she just laughed and said ”Somewhere on your back porch is a little grey box with a switch. Paul (the original owner) installed it himself. I told him he should have labeled it.”

   Thusly, I’m officially adding “electrically heated gutters” to the growing list of reasons why I can call this place The Home of Tomorrow. A tiny part of me hopes for one more snow just so I can use them.


Apr 1, 2013

Cocktails for 30

  For around 15 years or so my friends and I have held an annual cocktail party. It all started back when a good friend, who would later become and excellent brother-in-law, decided it would be really funny to see a bunch of punk rockers, goth kids, and general slackers get all trussed up in suits and dresses. Not surprisingly, he was right. It was hilarious, and we had a heck of a good time. What started as a good idea became an excellent tradition. This last weekend I had the privilege of hosting the 2013 Cocktail Party. My friends unanimously decided my new house would be the perfect location for such a swanky party.

  Never one to take the easy road, I spent the last month collecting glass wear and hors d’oeuvre trays from thrift stores. All of which, I’d decided, had to be period correct. I must say St. Louis and its surrounding areas are full of incredible finds. I managed to quite quickly fill my bar with every kind of glass a drinker’s heart could desire. Highballs, lowballs, champagne and martini glasses. I’ve got it covered and with abundance. Most of them are of the silver rimmed, Dorothy Thorpe design style. Tres chic.

  This was also the first big party I had thrown at my place. Every inch had to be clean and shiny. To explain the level of obsession that came over me, I used my electric car wax polisher to buff my tile floors to a glossy shine. My girlfriend looked at me like I was insane. Being the sweetheart that she is, and to keep me from going truly crazy, she took over the job of the hors d’oeuvre preparation. Which was perfect, because while I have many hobbies, cooking is not one of them. I’m lucky I haven't poisoned myself yet.

  By the grace of whatever divine being you believe in, the party went off without a hitch.  Everyone in attendance enjoyed themselves and I was told more then once that my time capsule of a house made the perfect setting for a cocktail party. I won’t lie, I was beaming with pride all night from the complements I was receiving. And I also won’t pretend that I didn’t enjoy the opportunity to regale an audience with my knowledge of vacuum tube based home intercom systems.

  I think my favorite moment was when one guest asked me if it was ok to take food into the den. He said, “Everything is so clean and retro. I was afraid to go in without asking first.” A friend who overheard the comment said, “Don’t worry, your grandma will never know you ate food on the good sofa.