Jill’s Notebook:

Ideas and Insights from Ron’s Fearless DIY Partner

How to Dry and Save Herbs

Last year, we started our first garden. It wasn’t much but we had some surprises, like a basil plant that got so big it looked like a bush. Unfortunately we waited too long to harvest the basil and then we lost it in an overnight......

Spring Project: Making Our Sidewalk Tree Wells

Our tree wells were weedy and ugly. When we finally got around to them, Ron was looking for a fast fix. But i’m a stickler for details and I reminded Ron that our motto is, “Do it once, do it right!” So I said the......

Reclaiming Our Urban Front Yard

Our neighborhood — originally named Peabody Heights — was an early experiment in suburban amenties. Each rowhouse featured a small plot of grass out front. Apparently, this was guite a luxury. Even the best houses downtown fronted directly onto the sidewalk. As you see from......

Antique Brick Completes a Victorian Courtyard

My dream for our backyard was that Ron would pave the entire thing — 65 feet by 20 feet — in vintage brick. Mind you, this was not Ron dream. Laying brick, on my hands and knees, for days on end! No, sir.The task was......

Iron Cresting Crowns a Victorian Back Yard

In early spring 2011, we installed ornamental iron atop our brick garden walls for a thoroughly Victorian touch. It was specialty work, done by an ornamental iron company. We weren’t sure it’d ever get done because we’d been waiting two years for the iron. The......

Betsy’s Coat Rack

Our friend Betsy needed a coat rack, so we decided to help her out. Ron and I drove to York, PA, to visit our architectural salvage friend, Big Steverino. He travels all over the country salvaging cool stuff from old houses that are going to......

Making the Most Out of Your Lights

Recently, Ron re-wired all the lights on the third floor, changing out the knob-and-tube old stuff. He put in some lights where there had been none. (Victorian houses were really dark; they used limited lighting.) So I took this work as an excuse to get......

Re-claiming the Servants’ Stairs

If you’re a stickler for historic accuracy, then you might not like the project we just completed. What we did was improve the back staircase in our house. If we wanted to be absolutely true to the way our house was built 116 years ago,......

What’s With the Wallpaper?

Ron and I own a Victorian house. You know what that means: wallpaper. The Victorians loved their wallpaper! They loved their wallpaper so much that they put it everywhere, even in their closets and on their ceilings. Unfortunately, wallpaper does not last forever. You can......

“Energy Efficient” Lightbulbs: Are they worth it?

Ron and I keep a fairly green house. We recycle, we conserve water in our toilets (waiting to flush if we do number-one), and we use eco-friendly household cleansers. So it made sense for us to buy energy-efficient light bulbs or CFLs, compact florescent lights.......

Vintage Hardware Dresses Up Tired Cabinets

Collect sets of vintage pulls and latches to revamp the look of your kitchen cabinets. You can match these to new vintage-style knobs to complete the look I decided that the chrome pulls, knobs, and latches I had put on our kitchen cabinets weren’t quite......

Used & Old Tools Are a Great Bargain

Autumn is the season of flea markets and yard sales. It’s an especially good time to pick up old tools at bargain prices — as people are cleaning out their basements and garages. Some homeowners buy a lot of new tools with the best of......

Buying the Best Old Rugs For Your House

No matter what condition your old house is in, you need good rugs. A good rug can dress up even the dingiest room, adding color, warmth, and comfort. The problem is, rugs are expensive. Antique rugs are especially expensive. Most people make compromises with their......

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