It’s a Work in Progress!

This morning, John took a photo of the front of the house so that I could update my blog “header.” 

After taking the photo, he said the Amish barn star that we bought years ago in Kennebunk, Maine would be perfect above the front door.

Backstory: We were driving by, saw a barn with Amish stars displayed on the front, hit the brakes, turned around and walked inside the country-style store. John said, “How much is the smaller barn star?” The owner said $35. She explained the stars are made from recycled (metal) roofing material.

Click here to see the store.

The rustic star could not have been a better size; it fit perfectly in the half moon space above the front door and it’s an ideal accent piece.

Meanwhile, this is what is happening indoors…

The first room finished with baseboard and trim is the smallest of four bedrooms. This cozy-size, south-facing room will become a home office. 

We purchased baseboard and trim at Home Depot and Lowes. 

For a more high-end look, John selected 1x6x16′ (5 1/2″ high) for the baseboard. The cap added to the top of the baseboard is 1 1/4.”

The total height is 6 7/8.”

John used a scrap board to do a practice cut to see how the finished baseboard would butt up to the face of the trim. 

It’s more cost effective to use practice scraps before cutting the board to length that will be installed. You obviously don’t want to waste good boards. It’s also easier to handle smaller scrap boards than full length pieces.

By purchasing 16 footers (or as long as possible), mitre cuts are eliminated because a full length cut is made.

Photo taken looking down at the wall and floor: John put a pencil mark on the 1×6 and cut a 45 degree angle to marry the 1×6 to the trim. Otherwise, it would be a jagged edge (sounds like a movie) and look unsightly.

The space between the hinge and corner of the wall is 3 3/8.” Since the trim is bigger, John marked above and below the three hinges with a pencil and used a palm sander with 100-grit paper to sand off the 1/8-inch to make the trim fit.

John placed a pencil line where the studs are located to ensure where to nail the cap to the 1×6.

To eliminate all sorts of problems, and while a room is open, it’s worth making a plumb pencil line as high up as needed for the trim that is nailed. Otherwise, you’re doubling your work..


Looking good!

Ready for caulk and paint!

Caulking is a carpenter’s best friend. After finishing trim and baseboard, using quality caulk applied with a thin small bead will create an appearance of one piece. 

Amaryllis: Show-stopping Blooms in February

Amaryllis bulbs are super easy to grow; just plant the bulb in a 6 or 8-inch pot with good potting soil. Provide bright, indirect light (west window) and blooms will appear in six to eight weeks.

Amaryllis bulbs prefer to be snug in a pot. Use a sturdy, heavy container to keep the top heavy blooms anchored. 


In general, it takes five to eight weeks for amaryllis to bloom. Depending on the variety, some bloom faster. Once the first of multiple, fleeting and spectacularly beautiful flowers bloom, they last an average of 10 to 12 days. When the first bloom fades, cut it off.

Have a support stake ready, either inexpensive bamboo (click here) or a wooden dowel, otherwise the tall stalk with weighty blooms will bend over at the base. You can also purchase an adjustable amaryllis stake at Gardener’s Supply (click here).

Planting date Bloom timeframe
Dec. 1 Jan. 7-28
Dec. 15 Jan. 19-Feb. 9
Jan. 1 Feb. 6-26
Jan. 15 Feb. 19-March 12
Feb. 1 March 8-29
Feb. 15 April 5-26

You can buy pre-potted amaryllis bulbs or save money and pot a bare amaryllis bulb yourself.  I purchased the bulb on the right a few days ago at Lowes for $5. They’re located in the spring bulb section near the garden seeds. It’s not too late in the (indoor) amaryllis-growing season to buy one. If you plant it now, it will bloom around early to mid-April.

Choose the beefiest bulb in the box and one that is showing a green bud. Once you pot it, the bud grows a little bit each day and then suddenly shoots up.

Amaryllis are prized for their exotic trumpet-shaped flowers on 1 to 2 foot stalks or “scapes.” My blooming amaryllis grew to 26 inches.

They’re native to Peru and South Africa. The genus Amaryllis comes from the Greek word amarysso which means to sparkle.

Moisten the potting soil before planting the bulb. Do not use garden soil because it will not drain properly.

Position the bulb so the top third remains above the soil surface.

Once the bud/sprout is 2 inches tall, water regularly.

Rotate the pot periodically during the growing stage to encourage the stalk to grow as straight as possible.

To prolong the bloom, keep away from direct sunlight and heat. 

Amaryllis bulbs have been known to bloom for up to 75 years; they make a perfect gift for just about anyone.

In order to have the bulb bloom again next year, a critical step is necessary. After the blooms have faded, cut the stalk back an inch above the top of the bulb. Feed the bulb liquid fertilizer and let the leaves grow. After the threat of frost is over, take the bulb outside, either leave in the pot or plant in the ground for the summer months to store up energy from the sun to bloom again next winter. Don’t forget to bring the amaryllis bulb back in the house at the end of the summer, well before first frost.

After the bulb(s) is brought indoors, store in a cool, dry place like a basement for at least eight weeks. During the dormant stage, stop watering, let the pot dry out and the green leaves will die back.

Pot the bulb again in early December. If you  have multiple bulbs, stagger planting for blooms throughout the winter months.





How to Install Trim

This week, we’re focusing on trim and baseboard throughout the house.

Yesterday, John installed 3 1/2″ trim around the mudroom door. We purchased 16 foot trim boards at Home Depot. One board is enough for the left and right side of the door.

When purchasing material at Home Depot or Lowes, if you see a flaw, ask for a discount at the Pro Desk. Trim flaws can be avoided with a mitre cut.

Scraps can be used on smaller openings; we have hall and linen closets with small openings.

John added shims to ensure the vertical trim was on the same plane as the horizontal trim.

The cable wire will be re-directed soon.

John uses 2-inch finish nails in his nail gun to hit the framing (2 1/2″ nails create a larger hole).

The trim will be caulked so that it looks like one piece before painting with semi-gloss. 

Between the ceiling and the top of the trim, there is a 1/8th-inch gap–just enough space for a caulk line. The caulk line eliminates any difference in height from left to right.

It’s rare for any ceiling to be perfectly level, so when the 1/8th-inch gap is caulked, it will marry the trim to the ceiling for an appearance of a “leveled look.” Otherwise, it would look “off.”


Did you Know?

Approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular card-sending occasion after Christmas. In 1840, Valentine cards became mass-produced. 

Valentine’s Trivia:

As far back as the Middle Ages, Valentine greetings were popular. However, written Valentine’s didn’t begin until after 1400. The oldest known Valentine still in existence was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at Agincourt. The Valentine is housed at the British Library in London.

Installing New Steps & Risers

John started installing the treads (steps) and risers at the bottom of the staircase leading to the master bedroom wing.

However, he installed the top riser first to ensure the bullnose was in the proper position.

Each tread must be leveled left and right as well as front to back.

This is what the recessed high hats look like on the other side of the drywall. John installed 80 of these throughout the house. Each one costs approximately $20.00 at Home Depot or Lowes.

This is the stairwell underneath with the two high hats. The original oak staircase to the left will be sanded and finished with MINWAX.

John marked the center of the stringer to nail it later.

It took a full day to rip, cut, shim, level and install the pine treads and primed risers. (There is 3/4″ from riser to end of bullnose.)

The pine treads are not available primed; the primed risers are finger-jointed  (1x8x16).

We chose a pine route over oak because I plan to paint the treads and stencil the risers. Click here for one of my stenciling ideas.

John will cut 1×8 to cover the gaps on each side.