The Cresson House B&B: Warm and Welcoming!

Cresson House B&BCresson, PA is a small town. A very small town. And when I visit the area, I stay at a hotel about 10 country miles away. This trip back I didn’t want to drive those winding country roads (full of deer waiting to jump out at me) after dark. So I looked on Trip Advisor for alternatives, never really thinking that I’d find any. But I did. The Cresson House B&B popped up! The reviews were really, really good so I gave them a call to see if they had a room available on a Monday night. Luck was with me and Marti, the innkeeper, booked me into the Samuel Lemon Room, which has its own private bath.

I had a fast trip (less than five hours) west on Route 80 and arrived on schedule. Marti was waiting to greet me. She gave me a brief tour of the historical home, which is nicely decorated and very well maintained, then showed me to my room.

Cresson House B&B Samuel Lemon RoomCan I tell you? The Samuel Lemon Room at the Cresson House B&B is great: toile cotton bedspread on a comfy queen-sized bed, a well-lit desk and chair tucked in a corner (with a little sign that informed me that they offer free wifi to guests), a nightstand with clock, tissues and a flashlight…just in case. The bathroom is larger than my childhood bedroom and offers amenities like fluffy towels and hand-made fragrant soap! And the shower is divine: strong water pressure!!

The Cresson House B&B offers round-the-clock drinks and snacks (raisin cookies!) in the kitchen, a welcoming front and side porch with old-fashioned swings and chairs where you can sit and pass the time, and lovely gardens.

Marti cooks a large American-style breakfast for her guests. After a peaceful night’s sleep in the quiet home, I went downstairs for breakfast. I was greeted with my preferred hot tea and a warm scone. Marti followed up with a peppers and onions (my choice) omelet with bacon and toast. Yum!

If you’re traveling and need a place to stay in the Cresson, PA area, give Marti a call. The Cresson House B&B is a great place to stay.

 

Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, NJ Blogger, Pennsylvania, Travel | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Home Reno: The Big Reveal!

Do you want to build a custom home? Do you want to renovate your existing home? My husband Mike and I have done both. 

building permitAre you planning a home renovation project? Our third-floor renovation project is finished! Yes, after months of planning, months of professionals working daily at our Victorian home, it’s time for the big reveal. My husband Mike and I are thrilled with the results!

The stairwell leading up to the newly renovated space!

3rd fl reno reveal 5

The tower room aerie has an epic view of the NY City skyline.

3rd fl reno reveal 2

The serene rear bedroom overlooks our lushly planted rear garden!

3rd fl reno reveal 3

The black and white classic bathroom!

3rd fl reno reveal

The window seat (one of three now on the third floor) in the main living area. The view is of our magnificent copper beech tree in the front yard. Can you say “treetop view?”

3rd fl reno reveal 4

If you’re planning a home reno project, do yourself a favor and hire the best trades you can for the job. Talk to friends and neighbors (and the woman at the food store) to find the right person/people for your personality and the job you want done. Doing your diligence up front means that your home reno job will go that much smoother. Trust me. I know.

And now? It’s time for our next project!

Up Next: Operation ReloSouth: Hampton Lake SC

Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Hampton Lake SC, Home Reno, Home Renovation, NJ Blogger, Operation ReloSouth, ReloSouth, South Carolina | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Home Reno: Painting with Mike

Do you want to build a custom home? Do you want to renovate your existing home? My husband Mike and I have done both. 

building permitAre you planning a home renovation project? Our third-floor renovation project is just about finished! The next step is painting. And I know one of the best painters ever. My husband Mike!

Are you looking for a painter? Do yourself a favor and call his/her references before you decide. And ask to see the painter’s work. One sign of a good painter? The straightness of the paint line between the woodwork and the wall. Wavy or sloppy? Don’t hire him/her.

Another sign of a good painter? Ask the references how neat the painter was during the job. Sometimes a painter can lay an epically straight line, but they “splash” little specks of paint when they roll the walls. That’s a problem. So make sure to ask his/her references.

3rd fl reno paintingMy husband Mike and I are particular people. We expect that if we hire a professional that we get professional results. Over the years we’ve had some good painters pass through our homes. That said, Mike likes painting so if he has time he will do the painting. Mike is an orderly soul. So it never surprised me that he can lay one of the straightest, crispest lines of paint where the woodwork and walls meet. He doesn’t use painter’s tape. He uses a steady hand, something I don’t have.

It took longer for Mike to paint the entire third floor since he does have a day job that keeps him pretty busy. That said, we weren’t in a rush to complete the space so…

Mike began by sanding and priming all the ceilings, walls and trim.

3rd fl reno painting 2

Then he painted all the ceilings and walls.

3rd fl reno painting 3

Next Mike removed all the doors/hardware, sanded/primed the doors, painted them using two coats of paint and then rehung them.

3rd fl reno painting 4

And while Mike spent his nights and weekends sanding, priming and painting? Our cats…watched.

3rd fl reno painting 5

Up Next: The Big Reveal!

Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Do It Yourself, Home Reno, Home Renovation, NJ Blogger | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Home Reno: Painting with Mike

How to Fix a Broken Clothes Dryer: The Tale of Lola & Me

Whirlpool Duet DryerLola and I are close personal friends. She’s my stalwart clothes dryer. We spend many hours together, week in and week out. We’ve long-term buds, friends since 2005. We’ve had a healthy relationship lo these many years. Until recently…I think I have a broken clothes dryer!

A few weeks ago Lola seemed, down, a little off. I thought she was feeling neglected since my husband Mike and I have been away a fair bit. As I loaded her up with wet towels, I encouraged her to have a positive mental attitude.

“Come on, Lola,” I said. “I know I’ve been neglecting you, but a woman’s got to have a little fun. And Nashville was loads of fun!”

I swear I heard Lola grumble under her breath. And when her timer went off 55 minutes later? The towels were still damp, quite unlike my Lola. Seriously, do I have a broken clothes dryer?!

“Lola, what’s the problem? Are you still sulking?”

Lola’s control panel blinked off.

As I folded those less-than-fluffy towels, I wondered if Lola had a more serious problem. Maybe even life threatening. Replacing a friend like Lola isn’t easy. A lot of dryers are, well, not true long-term friends. They come, and in a few years, they fade away. I didn’t want to think about. So I didn’t.

Until last night.

Last night I was drying the last of several loads of clothing. Lola buzzed, as usual, to let me know I could fold the last batch, but when I opened her door? Still-wet clothes greeted my warm hand. I snatched my hand back.

“Lola? LOLA?”

She didn’t reply. It was like she had checked out, maybe even breathed her last.

Without many (ok, any) option, I hung the clothes to dry and went to bed, hoping that Lola would make a miraculous recovery over night. Because sometimes friends get sick and they need a little space to rest and recover.

Whirlpool Duet dryer vent pipeThis morning I ran a load of laundry. Just a small load. And as soon as Marvin the washer buzzed, I tossed that small load into Lola and fired her up. She started as usual, but when I felt her exhaust vent? It was stone cold.

I rushed upstairs and consulted my gal Google. Up popped many bits of helpful information about Lola and her family of Whirlpool Duet dryers. I scanned the topics “What to do when your Whirlpool Duet doesn’t dry your clothes?” and read the four top posts as well as watched two YouTube videos looking for ways to restore Lola’s hot body.

Clever dryer, I discovered that she could run a self-diagnostic test. So I followed my YouTube instructor and tested to see what ailed her. Nothing! No codes appeared on her readout screen.

That’s when I tackled her jammed lower storage door, the one that’s been stuck since 2010, give or take. YouTube showed me that if I couldn’t get that door open then a trained professional wouldn’t be able to access her innards. Wielding 1 long screwdriver in one hand, a BBQ fork with wicked prongs in the other and with my missing-but-now-replace xenon flashlight clenched between my teethh, I worked on the drawer. After a good 10 minutes of poking, pushing and pulling, Lola’s drawer popped open! Never mind that I gouged a chunk out of my arm in the process. Good friends are worth one smallish hunk of skin, right?

Whirlpool Duet dryer storage drawer

I pondered my options as I bandaged my arm. And I realized that I needed help. Professional help. . .No YouTube DYI video for me and Lola. She (and my skin) are worth calling in a professional!

I thumbed through my appliance files, looking for the name of the handy dandy repair folks who I use in those rare instances when an appliance friend of mine takes ill. And…I couldn’t find a repair receipt! I figure my husband sneaked in, took the receipt, scanned it, then tossed it in the trash. He loves to scan shit that I then  can’t access (because, duh, he has the files on his computer, not on mine too) when I’m in a time crunch like today.

Desperate, I signed on to Angie’s List, searched and found Anytime Service Expert Appliance Repair.

I dialed the phone, heart sinking at the thought of strangers looking at Lola, but resolved to do the right thing by her (and my wet laundry). A woman named Jen answered the phone.

I gave her the 411 on Lola.

She replied, “Ok, is this Darlene? Do you still live at …?”

I gasped. My long-term repair folks!

Jen, sensing the seriousness of the situation, arranged for a trained professional to look at Lola immediately. Today! He arrived within the hour, a black briefcase in either hand and a confident smile on his face. I ushered him into the basement, to Lola’s room, and left them together. (Hint: give your trained professional a little alone time with his patient.)

Within minutes he popped into the kitchen, “The machine needs a thermistor and a thermo fuse. Including parts and labor it will cost $299 to replace both. I have the parts on my truck and I can do it now if you want me to.”

I didn’t hesitate, “Done!”

30 minutes start to finish.

Anytime Service Appliance Repair

Lola is fired up and drying my jeans as I type. Thank goodness, I no longer have a broken clothes dryer.

 

Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Do It Yourself, Home Manager, Humor, NJ Blogger | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on How to Fix a Broken Clothes Dryer: The Tale of Lola & Me

Home Reno: The New Bathroom

building permitDo you want to build a custom home? Do you want to renovate your existing home? My husband Mike and I have done both. 

Are you planning a home renovation project? Our third-floor renovation project included a new bathroom so I feel like we did two renovations — one of for the two bedrooms/common area and another for the new bathroom. Bathrooms take a whole different kind of planning what with choosing/buying the fixtures and the tile. I have to admit, though, I love me a great bathroom and I think our third-floor bath qualifies as great.

When you use a carpenter/general contractor like Jimmy you sometimes get a two-fer: he’s a great carpenter and he lays tile like a champ.

3rd fl reno bath 2I chose very traditional (for a Victorian home) fixtures for the new bathroom (see left). When we built our home yea 17 years ago, we had the plumbing for the bathroom roughed out. And we had the cast iron tub carried up and placed in the “bathroom.” That job took three strong men…grumbling the whole way! Because cast iron tubs weigh more than 300 pounds! Our plumber then is our plumber now. When Dave Ciccotti walked into our house for the reno the first thing he said was, “Thank god the tub is already up there. I’m not as young as I used to be!”

Dave did the original install of the plumbing so he made short work of attaching a main cutoff valve (NO water disasters, thank you very much) for both the plumbing and the humidifier for the third floor.

Then it was Jimmy’s turn. I chose a classic tiny black/gray tile accent for the shower surrounded by classic white subway tile.

3rd fl reno bath tub tile

And the floor? Mmmmm…I love the look of marble so that’s what he installed. Do you have a preferred flooring?

3rd fl reno bath floor

3rd fl reno bath towel barsWhat helps pull a bathroom together? A unified look: We used square lights, a square mirror (which I faux finished, but that’s another blog post!), square sink and toilet back, which is why we chose square trimmed towel bars and toilet paper holder.

3rd fl reno bath

Next Up: Painting with Mike

 

Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Home Reno, Home Renovation, NJ Blogger | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Home Reno: When You Have Pets

building permitDo you want to build a custom home? Do you want to renovate your existing home? My husband Mike and I have done both. 

Are you planning a home renovation project? Make sure you have a plan to keep Puppy and Kitty safe. No contractor wants a beloved family pet hanging around his construction site. And no home owner wants their precious pet injured.

The Great Whites are the muscle.

The Great Whites are the muscle.

We have three lively indoor Siamese cats and they are nosy, extremely nosy. We knew we’d need to keep them safely tucked away when the contractors were coming and going. And we figured the zipper door would keep them out of the dusty mess called our third floor when the contractors weren’t here. HAH!

Our two Great Whites don’t like strangers in their domain. They growl like dogs when the doorbell rings.  Apollo circles and sniffs strangers like a pit bull on a mission. Odie turns tail and runs, often with lamps and other stuff crashing to the floor as he makes his escape. So we made solid plans to keep the cats out of harm’s way when the contractors were working.

The three cats lived in our home office, safely behind glass doors, when the contractors were buzzing in and out of our home. The cats had all the comforts of home — little box, water bowls, food bowls, kitty condo, toys — but they had to spend 8 hours behind closed doors.

Do you have cats? Do you have Siamese cats? Then you know that our cats, comfortable as they were, howled, whined, scratched and generally misbehaved for hours behind those glass doors. Our cats hate closed doors.

That said, our contractors loved the cats. I’m not kidding when I tell you that one sheet rocker spent part of his lunch break every day talking to our cats through the glass doors. And the cats talked back. Other workers would stop and greet the cats on their way upstairs to work. Every day. Who told me people prefer dogs to cats?!

Of course, once the workers left for the day, I released our three whiners from their cushy cell. And they immediately raced to the second floor. To the zipper door. The one that was supposed to keep the dust upstairs. And our cats downstairs. Yeah.

The cats unzipped the door in seconds and raced into the construction zone!

The cats unzipped the door in seconds and raced into the construction zone!

Animals are smart. Animals are persistent. Our two 14+pound Siamese are the muscle, while our 8 pound Siamese is the brains.

The first of our 3 cats!

The “brains” is first of our 3 cats through the zipper door on his way to dust and danger!

Together, those three got through the zipper door and upstairs into the dust and mess no problem.

I blocked the zipper door with a 12-pound weight bar. The cats rolled it aside.

I added two 15-pound free weights. And I tied one to the zipper tab.

42 pounds of weights and the cats were finally stymied!

42 pounds of weights and the cats were finally stymied!

That shut them down!

Anyway, moral of my tale? Keep your pets safe and your contractors happy: tuck your pets away from the mayhem and noise that is home reno.

Next Up: The Bathroom

Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Home Reno, Home Renovation, NJ Blogger | Tagged , | Comments Off on Home Reno: When You Have Pets

Home Reno: Time for the Wood Trim

building permitDo you want to build a custom home? Do you want to renovate your existing home? My husband Mike and I have done both. 

Our third-floor renovation feels like an adventure that never ends! This is the stage where we are sick and tired of construction. The newness and excitement have worn off. But the work proceeds. And at a good pace! It’s time for the wood trim.

All along, our general contractor/carpenter Jimmy has scheduled and supervised the different trades and inspections. It’s easy to work with Jimmy. I always know what to expect. And he’s at least two steps ahead of where my brain thinks we are in the process, which means we had very few delays! So installation of the wood trim is right on schedule.

3rd fl trim adventures of a middle age mom blog It’s Jimmy’s turn to shine! It’s time for doors to be hung, window/door trims to be cut/installed along with the baseboards! In came the special saw, what seemed like miles of raw, uncut wood trim, and the doors. I ordered the door hardware and it was sitting in boxes stacked on the new window seat (one of three) just waiting to be installed too.

3rd fl trim adventures of a middle age mom blog

Jimmy and I discussed what sort of moldings he would create for us. We wanted to keep with the Victorian tradition of lots of heavy, gorgeous wood trims and moldings on the first floor (check), still ornate but downsized slightly on the 2nd floor (check) and we opted for simpler but still similar wood trim (no crown molding, for example) on the third floor.

3rd fl trim adventures of a middle age mom blog

We used the same style doors and the same style hardware on the third floor as we used on the first and second floors years ago. It looks great! And it’s the right thing to do.

3rd fl trim  adventures of a middle age mom blog

 

Next Up: Home Reno: When You Have Pets

Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Home Reno, Home Renovation, NJ Blogger | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Home Reno: Time for the Wood Trim

Eyelashes on a Car

I haven’t written my next Home Reno blog post about our third-floor renovation. Do you mind? I thought not.

car with eyelashes

Today I am focusing on this: a cute car with very cute eyelashes.

I have many tasks to accomplish, but I can’t focus on doing one task well when I have a dozen more clamoring for attention in my noisy brain. So I am focusing on this cute car with very cute eyelashes.

Because it made me stop, look, then smile during an otherwise horrible excursion to my local food store. Because someone cared enough about making other people smile that she took the time to install very cute eyelashes on her cute car.

Happy Monday, friends.

Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Food Shopping, Home Reno, Home Renovation, NJ Blogger | Tagged , | Comments Off on Eyelashes on a Car

Home Reno: Sheetrock Installation

building permitDo you want to build a custom home? Do you want to renovate your existing home? My husband Mike and I have done both. 

After all of the sheetrock shenanigans, I needed a rest cure, not continued third-floor renovations! The sheetrock installers and the tapers/spacklers had other ideas, though. They got right to work!

The crews that showed up for installation and finishing? Fast! Polite! Neat (for rockers, who create a tremendous amount of dust if they do their job well)!

3rd floor reno sheetrock team

Of course, our general contractor/carpenter Jimmy had the foresight to install a plastic zipper door at the foot of our third-floor staircase. Not only did the closed access (mostly) keep our three nosy Siamese from exploring the hazardous (for small animals anyway) construction site. It kept the majority of the sheetrock sanding dust from drifting ever downward to coat everything we own on the second and first floors in that gritty white stuff. Brilliant!

sheetrock dust deterrent

Have you lived through the noise of an active construction site? The sheetrock installers move fast. All I heard for hours on end was the sound of rapidly moving footsteps and the steady squeallll of a screw gun. At the end of the day, this is what our third floor walls looked like:

sheetrock on the walls Then came the guys who taped the joints and sanded them smooth. One of the guys is a cat man. He spent his lunch break yakking with our three kitty brats through the glass doors to our home office. Odie, who usually hid during daily construction, was lured out of his hidey hole on the third shelf of the bookcase by the soothing chatter of this guy. Apollo, our other Great White, sat on his hind legs and touched the glass doors with his front paws. Clearly, he was greeting his guest. I am always fascinated watching people with animals. I can tell a lot about a person by how he interacts with an animal. Can you?

At the end of day 2.

At the end of day 2.

At the end of the three days of spackling and sanding the many, many joints on our third-floor walls and ceiling, the space looked like this:

Smooth joints, smooth walls and ceiling. Ready for priming and painting by my favorite professional: my husband Mike!

Smooth joints, smooth walls and ceiling. Ready for priming and painting by my favorite professional: my husband Mike!

The sheetrock guys did a stellar job. My hand brushed smoothly over every joint. The edges of the taping seams were nicely feathered. My husband Mike was pleased with the job, especially because that meant our painter — Mike himself — would be able to jump right in to priming. He wouldn’t need to sand any leftover rough spots first.

Next Up: Home Reno: Trimmed Out!

Posted in Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Home Reno, Home Renovation, NJ Blogger | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Home Reno: Sheetrock Shenanigans

building permit

Do you want to build a custom home? Do you want to renovate your existing home? My husband Mike and I have done both. 

To this point in our third-floor renovation everything that our contractor Jimmy said was 100% accurate. So why was I worried about the sheetrock delivery? Jimmy wasn’t.

Mmmm … Have you ever worried about something going horribly wrong during a home reno project? I was convinced that the sheetrock delivery would be a disaster. After all, how often have I had a HUGE boom truck loaded with dozens of sheets of sheetrock pull into my narrow driveway?

Is this sucker huge or what?!

Is this sucker huge or what?!

How often have we popped out a window “figuring” that HUGE sheetrock boards would fit through said window opening?

Gulp! See the driveway? See the truck? See the popped out 3rd floor window?

Gulp! See the driveway? See the truck? See the popped out 3rd floor window?

And how often have I seen hundreds of pounds of sheetrock dangle over my front porch?

Never! That’s how often.

A disaster. 

I was convinced that the huge and heavy delivery truck would crush the belgian block curbing along both sides of our driveway as it moved into position.

It didn’t. The driver and his helper from L&W Supply were ever-so-careful. I gave them a standing ovation!

And/or crack our driveway. It didn’t. God bless Lombardi Paving for a quality job!

I was convinced that the cabling on the boom would snap and sheetrock would crush our front porch roof. It didn’t. In fact, the slight breeze on the day of delivery made each load sway slightly, but the fellow operating the crane compensated for the wind!

I was convinced the sheetrock wouldn’t fit through the window.

It did. Once piece at a time…on the diagonal!

3rd floor reno sheetrock unloading

So guess what? I had THE MOST FUN watching the sheetrock delivery. And the men had fun watching me film them (permission granted). Cheer them on. And generally make lots of noise while they sweated.

3rd floor reno sheetrock team

Next Up: Home Reno: Sheetrock Installation

 

Posted in Home Reno, Home Renovation, NJ Blogger | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment