One Hundred And Thirty Years Later, The Floors In My Bedroom Are Done.

March 20, 2013 § 1 Comment

No Union Breaks.

The floors in my bedroom are done.


This means that a room in my house is habitable. As in I can move stuff into it. As in it only needs switch plate covers. I’ve even walked around in it more that a few times, mostly covered in sawdust, hence the smudges on the floor that my crazy renovating eyes are immediately burned by. I think there’s sawdust in my camera’s lens permanently at this point.

Let’s take a little trip through time, via pine flooring. beam is inMy house is 132 years old. I didn’t really occur to me at the time that I was buying a house built exactly one hundred years before I was born, but that’s what happened. See that there floorin’? That floor was put in a little later than the initial 1880 homestead – it’s approximately 100 years old. We tore it all up. de-nailed it, cleaned it, ran it through the thickness planer, and installed what was left of it after all that it in my bedroom. It was in pretty rough shape in spots. It had been painted a few times. but it was actually really clear, beautiful stuff. IMAG0520  That’s some damn long flooring. Apparently there was a ton of old growth pine in Missouri that was heavily milled around the turn of the(20th) century, and it’s fairly common to see completely clear wall-to-wall heart pine flooring in the older buildings around here. IMAG0526 Dad almost looks like he could be in 1880.
IMAG0527See the end grain? Looks quarter-sawn to me…

I knew that there was a chance I would not be able to finish the bedroom with the left over flooring from the first floor, so before committing to the plan I did some research and found some “reclaimed southern heart pine” at The Salvage Barn in Iowa City. Sure enough, I needed that stuff, and so we traveled up there and picked up some of the most awesome flooring ever. 0

Wow. Dad in Tevas with no beard. These floors really have taken for ever. Anyway, Dad is standing next to the extremely long pine flooring I picked up for under $2 a square foot. This flooring was used to make bleachers that sat in a high school in Norway, IA until presumably they upgraded the gym (?)  Anyway, this stuff was in much better condition than my old downstairs flooring, and I was concerned that it would look so different, but in the end I decided to go for it. It was fun to see initials carved in my flooring, and scrape gum off the planks to some extent, and imagine the teen dramas that took place in Norway High.

Up came the gross carpet, IMAG0184off came the Christmas Balls, IMAG0166and in went the floor.IMAG0293I guess I painted at some point too. The pine had no old finish to remove, and is pretty soft, so I rented this light-duty drum sander that worked nicely.


Ta DAAAAAA. You can see where the old downstairs flooring ends, and the new, Norway High flooring begins, but I’m choosing to see that as character (Ugh. Next I’ll be saying “charming.”) and a good use of the original materials in the house.

Tech time; We sanded at at 80 grit and then 120. I edged with both an orbital sander and an edge sanding tool, then vaccuumed and tack cloth ‘ed all over that like a boss. For finish I used Minwax’s water based polycrilic, as per the recommendation of the dude at Menards. It’s not necessarily intended for floors, but this is an upstairs bedroom with minimum traffic, and it kept my lovely pine from darkening and yellowing, which was my goal. The Polycrilic gave a nice soft, satiny finish on the pine, and was fairly easy to apply. However,  I did this by myself in what was maybe not the easiest way – I probably looked like a bad high school theater interpretation of Pollack. I would definitely have someone help you get this stuff on if you’re considering using it. It dries really damn fast, and makes lap marks in the process like a mofo. If I did it again, I would have one person to get the stuff on with a mop head applicator (that’s what I used) and another to follow behind evening it out with  a foam paint brush. I did this myself, and by the end I was sweating profusely and in dager of having my back snap in half. I sanded the whole thing down with 220 grit using my little orbital sander, which actually went pretty fast, added another coat, and that was it. I suppose I could’ve done a third coat, but it looked good to me, and I was admittedly ready for something, anything to be done.

Not a bad days work for one that started out with this rare McDonald’s irregularity;IMG_20130126_102624Phil won the caption contest with “EGG MCNUTHIN’




This Is Stove

January 4, 2013 § 4 Comments

There you are, you beauty.


It’s been way to long, since I’ve shown you anything going on in this baby. I keep waiting to post things because I’m trying to be all “before and after” but technically NOTHING IS COMPLETELY FINISHED AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!  However there has been some progress. Oh yes there has. You may notice that there seem to be wood floors where once there were not. More on that later. For now, this is the story of something that is actually done. My beautiful, toasty little Christmas miracle: my wood stove. Should I name it? Maybe. Anyway, I picked out this wood stove and started payments on it exactly a year ago. The chimney was installed ages ago, and then began the deliberation that would haunt my dreams for months. What the hell do I put under it?!?! You don’t wanna hear about that. I can’t relive it. The emotional trauma is still a little fresh, but the breakthrough came at the Creative Edge remnant sale.IMAG0155 (1) Creative Edge is a world class operation based here in Fairfield that creates amazing installations of marble and granite, etc. A couple of times a year the Fairfield community has the opportunity to buy the remnants from their massive projects at extremely generous prices. IMAG0165 (1)IMAG0158It’s really dangerous to start looking at all these things and start getting ideas. You know, ideas. 101612535312859784_9MV5YC0U_c

Mies Van Der Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat

I wanted something simple and black with a matte finish that wasn’t too terribly cheap looking. I had been toying with the idea of getting something custom made, because apparently only people in Belgium or St.Paul, MN are allowed to purchase stove plates like this one from Morso.  wMorso1440

But Creative Edge came through, and I found a piece of beautiful, honed black slate that was going for $5 a square foot (pretty much everything there was $5 a sq.ft, which is effing crazy if you know what’s up) The very nice Mr. Chris Higdon made the appropriate cuts, delivered it for me, and voila. I had my dream hearth plate. This thing is deluxe, so it’s not a stove board, it’s a hearth plate. That’s what the fancy ones are called. IMAG0212

This is post installation. It’s somewhere between an eighth and a sixteenth proud (above) of the floor, and the plan is to bevel the edge down, which won’t be such a big deal because slate is relatively soft. I wish you could see a little more of the natural pattern in the slate, it’s actually quite pretty, but these are phone photos, so oh well. Now for some boring, technical DIY stuff. I’ll understand if you tune out now, but for those who are interested, here’s how we installed this puppy.

Upon delivery, we had the stone laid in the approximate place where it was meant to be installed. We then fudged it a bit to get it lined up just so. There was some wiggle room for us to work with because we have yet to install the baseboard/trim. We were lucky that the floor boards lined up in such a way that meant we would only have to do one cut. I had installed floor underneath the area before, and in the framing under the sub floor I had extra reinforcement installed. Did I ever tell you that this is the oldest part of the house and that I had to raise the floor because under that (now gorgeous) floor is a bunch of bark-on logs for support beams, and somewhat decayed pine planks from 1880? Unfortunately They’re bad old, not good old. True story.

The slate was exactly what I wanted, and being that it’s not quite as sturdy as granite, Chris suggested we install the slate directly onto the plywood sub-floor with a layer of thinset for added strength. So that’s what we did. Frist, the cutting:IMAG0204

Dad used a nifty little saw to cut right up against the edge of the slate. We then moved the slate and pulled up the flooring underneath. IMAG0206Two things: the floor is still unfinished, hence the mill marks, and that little crook at the end is there to fit the remnant slate, which had a little chip on the end. after we got all those floor boards up, we put down the thinset. We used dry mix, the more expensive variety,  and it was fairly easy to mix up and apply. It’s basically like installing one giant tile. IMAG0209You smooth that stuff out with a drywall knife, and then technically you’re supposed to make a criss-cross pattern with some variety of grooved trowel, but we didn’t. We only did one direction of groove. So there. Have I said that I still have a lot to do in this house? Because I really do (see: bizarre outlet covers). After we got the thinset in, we quickly got the slate back into place using some long pieces of wood that we slid the slate on top of and then removed. The hardest part about his is the fact that the slate is really heavy. You have to have 2, preferably 3 people to do this. The slate was finally in, we let it sit for a day, and on Christmas day, I beheld my new stove! Good thing too, it was a sultry 19°.IMAG0225There’s a filter on this photo because my silly phone camera lost all detail, and this way you can see a little. So the stove was in! And I lit my first fire, with my Christmas present – a new blowtorch – which is a really rad present. Yay little True North stove! It may look like Dad does everything around here, but I promise you I lit that fire. And it was goodIMAG0235And now, stove porn! Enough to crash your computer even! Stoves that will make you think mine’s not so hot ( blog puns!) and have been photographed about a bajillion times better. 26599454019740870_W7QBhpqO_c26599454020849269_VmV01UIc_c135671007494455119_dXlR1ZuT_cwittus---fire-by-design-wood-stoves-shaker---short-bench-4009781324160969336_I8cfZEbf_c140667188331497070_FHxvXezo_c199213983487354507_VDxTa4cM_c85286986664920873_cf3YxJhQ_c85286986663025696_gfozJ3jE_chouse-russia-olga-freiman

Suddenly, Jørgen realized he was finally, truly alone, both with his stove, and his choices. After a few hours, he quietly conceded that in retrospect, he should have let her buy that chair. 26599454020959585_nDHM4U5N_c



Yay Frame

October 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

Apples and Oranges.

It’s that time friends. The time for a little collection of A-frames and geodesic dome structures. Let’s start with one you may have seen if you’ve ever been on Pinterest at any point in time ever.

This was designed by WIlliam O’Brien Jr. Understandably, when I saw this thing, I internet stalked Mr. William O’Brien Jr. He’s kinda successful I guess, if you’re into lots of awards and academic star wunderkind genius type stuff. I feel feverish just thinking the words silver birch grove build site.

And now, A-frames covered in snow. Classic!


You know, I really would like to have one of these. Much like our friend below, I’m totally into A-frames and nature.

Now for the oranges.

This thing is just a cutie pie of weird and great. Someone get a pygmy goat on that roof right now!
I had a jungle gym, I had a tent, and look at that! It’s both in one thingy. This property, (silver birch grove build site) as I learned on this nice website, is owned by a Japanese couple who design and test outdoor gear for a living. The little compound runs on solar and is next to Chichibu Tama Kai National Park. And no, I had never heard of Chichibu Tama Kai National Park before, but now I want to go. Damn.
Sigh. I can’t remember if I’ve posted pics from this place or not. It’s an eco-hotel in the Swiss Alps. Truth. 

There’s stuff in them…and stuff…and…ugh.
I can’t go to the swiss alps, so I guess I’ll just have to go to the A-frame of solitude and despair.

Actually, I kind of love that thing. Damn. Maybe I’ll just move into the A-Frame of despair and disillusionment as represented by the mirrored exterior. Desapir and disillusionment…oh yeah! This!  Eh, whatever, though. That’s not even an A-frame, and even though I love it, it might be the most pretentious cabin ever. Would you say this is a cabin? Who knows. I’ll be huddled in my basket-balcony of nihilistic self-loathing and defeat. 

Happy Halloween fairly soon!



Cold War Couch

September 3, 2012 § 4 Comments

Hey you, I’ve been thinking about you all day.

My grandmother had a velvet sectional. I remain partial to them.

I’ve been digging this somewhat shabby 70’s conservative thing lately. Almost as if it’s the 70’s, but some of your furniture is left over from the 20’s or 30’s or something, making a Cold War Chic moment happen. If you want to see what I mean, the movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a pretty darn good example. Check out, um, Benedict Cumberbatch. (Maria!! It’s Sherlock Holmes!! I found a way to get him on my blog!!)

Whomsoevereth was the production designer on this thing is a badassical genius. That Swedish dude (natch) who directed Let The Right One In, is also the director here, so, yeah.  An old telephone in every shot! Drab golds and khaki and olive and denim everywhere! I feel cold and sweaty just looking at you Gary Oldman!

Or that movie by um, Florian Henckel Von Dennersmark, The Lives Of Others, which I quite enjoyed. A lot of sexy corduroy in that one.

It’s  like I want everything to look like the year I was born or something. So I guess I’m totes self-obsessed. But UUUHHHH!!! I love iiiitttt.


Is it sad? Is it brown? I’ll take it! Now we go from East Berlinese restraint to one of my bestest sectionals ever.

This fits, right? Um, cumberbatch. Maybe not. But what does Miss Arrow say a lot? Don’t care! Yay! Bring on another goddamn sofa!

Yeah, there’s one right there. In the corner. Ok maybe I just like this loft. Hey, Owner Of This Gorgeous Loft; Please be happy in the knowledge that when the bomb hits, you’ll be safe in your repurposed concrete missile silo (never mind the windows, nit-pickers). Well done. At least that’s what I think every time I see concrete interiors. Which is a lot, lately. Nice set-up for listening to your Serge Gainsbourg vinyl collection here, too. Snark, snark snark, snarkitty snark snark.

So what I’m getting at, is if you need me, I’ll be here, where the nuclear fallout won’t affect my dog, Mr. BalanChien McGiggles, or my hair, which I have yet to name.

It feels so undisclosed in here. Love it.



Wheel Love

June 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

It’s a regular Mayberry up in this piece.

Weekends in this town are jammed with activities. I’m actually having difficulty keeping pace. Recent hot F-Town action includes but is not limited to the annual Vintage Power Wagon Rally. One weekend a year enthusiasts rumble into town in a cloud of diesel smoke and lift their hoods. This particular event was the 25th anniversary, and there were some beauts. Golly these things are cool.

A while ago, before I moved actually, I spotted this little number in town and had to snap some pics as I’d never seen one before. Built on a Chevy Astro chassis, this conversion van is called a Tiger.

That’s right, Tiger. YES.

So, last weekend, Dad and I were on a break from working on the house, when we saw this kitty in the parking lot of the local health food store and boom – “For Sale” in the window. The owner saw us peering in the windows, and let us have a look inside!!

So cute! That little toilet area has a drain and a shower. It’s got all the practical goodies and a ladder on the back. I love a ladder on the back of anything. Here’s Tiger with the top popped.

And a bike rack. Pretty Sweet.

Meanwhile, All Things Italian took over the square. This thing is big. Not even some of the heaviest rainstorms and strongest wind the town has seen in a while could stop the force of nature that is The Society Of Fairfield Italian Americans.

S.O.F.I.A. was not going to take no for an answer and they put on quite the event regardless of the weather. I didn’t really get great pics, but the whole town was out and there was a lot of dancing, entertainment and food. Area business stay open late and serve you pizza, tiramisu and cannoli, like The At Home Store, a lovely Fairfield Institution.


Colossal floor post soon!

Natural Swimming Pool. YES PLEASE.

June 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

Are you there God? It’s me, Miss Arrow.

I finally figured out what I want more than a Peaches ‘n Cream Barbie Yeah, I know.  Instead of MTV Cribs, Imagine if Pitchfork did “Pitchfork Cribs”. This is what that shizzle would look like; Kinda reminds me of that Bon Iver Erotica tumblr.

Someone is there, right now. Casually messing up those folded towels. Looking at these pictures and the fantasies they inspire has reminded me that life is so full of possibilities and opportunity and it’s totally freaking me out so I have to stop now.

ADD Weekend Update

June 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

Take me down, F-town.

Let’s talk a spell about ‘lil ‘ol Fairfield. After a little badly needed vacation, I’m back. There’s a t-shirt you can buy at a store in Des Moines called Raygun that says “Fairfield – 12 square miles surrounded by reality”. This may be due to the, erm, behaviors and ideas held by much of the Transcendental Meditation community which register at varying degrees on the “alternative” to “bazonkers” scale. Many see this as a negative thing, but I think that it’s actually pretty great. I thanks Jeebus that this place is a little un-real. I could say more, but it took Oprah like two hours to explain Fairfield and in any reality I’m no Oprah. So here’s a little recap of some of the recent events in my Fairfield life, ever so slightly edited to look pretty, idyllic  and productive for the internet.

Firtst off, check out the very nice job my brother did painting the metal roof!

It was such bad news before, all peeling and gross. Now I must find a good way to clean the cedar…which I have been told is actually cypress. Ok.

And now check out Mom! Mom planted me a little garden! Thanks Mom!

The day truly began however, with a trip to the farmers market. Fairfield has a great farmers market, It has Amish farmers, vegan deserts makers, organic herb growers and a boatload of other local craftsmen that sell all kinds of fantastic things. The whole town seems to be out and about getting groceries and hanging out on Saturday mornings.

On this particular morning local builder Eric Hoffman brought out his new sthapathya-vedic tiny home.

$11,000 materials, 700 hours of work.

We liked it so much we brought it home!

Ha! Just kidding. Eric stored it at our house over night. But the whole rig looked pretty sweet in the yard.

The previous weekend, my lovely friends Jon and Louise Lynch threw a really swell party to celebrate their five-year anniversary. They currently reside in L.A., (check out Jon’s company Shark Pig) but they own the house with the barn that housed their wedding reception here in Fairfield.

Eli, Louise (please check out her blog homeslice) and little baby Jack!


And  hay rides! Yay!

Great job guys, thanks for throwing a thoughtful, beautiful, epic yet relaxing event!

AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH…Wilikers! This not so little friend made an appearance whilst I was de-nailing some of the old heart pine flooring. Dad rescued him and set him free outside. Phew.