Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Ok, we have windows, and then we have windows. Right now we are looking into making our windows functional and energy efficient... not an easy task when you have to keep them "period". A delightful quote of more money than I could even think possible was quickly tossed, and now we are looking at other options. Options I hope will be less costly. I hate this part of historic home ownership. People see this grand house we live in and don't even take time to think that maybe we have to eat ramen so that we can save enough money to fix it... though to be honest it is not quite that bad... yet. It is hideously expensive and overwhealming in that respect.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Almost done

Here is a great picture of the newly painted gold crown molding. We looked at possibly stripping it too, but it had a horrendous dark brown paint and so we decided to complement the colors we used in the room... I must say that it looks lovely.

Kudos to Kaos

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Well, at least the wine wasn't awful.

We have most of the living room primed and ready.
And in order to celebrate we had a family outing to a somewhat casual yet fancy uncorking of this years Beaujolais. Last years was much better, but that may be because I was bound and determined to get out of the house at least once while on bed rest. This year, Josef went with us in his jammies and in a sling and he was one happy boy. Who knew he would like spanokopita so much.
Anyway, we have a room almost ready for paint, and we are both so excited we are wandering room to room talking about what we would like to see, should we paint all the crown moldings gold, do we paint the hall after we remodel the kitchen? etc...
I am just so darn excited about this.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Whereupon we rejoin the house blogosphere

I finally found the silverware. I will spare people my picture of a drawer now overly full of eating utensils. The irony of it is that I found them as I was digging through a box looking for bed linens...

So, the great news is that we are almost ready to paint the living room. Here is Chris standing in front of the sealed up sliding doors (as in covered with plastic sheets).

Here is a wall of paint samples that I insisted on and that have driven Chris nuts since I did them. We are going with the color to the left of the red, and we will cover the fireplace projection with the red. Then for the nifty moldings on top we will go with a gold (not pictured). The green light color on top of the red might be what we do in the grand hall (OK, the only hall). I am also keen on the light color to the right too.

And I hate to bring up an old topic (issue). But here is a close up of the do-dad on the side of the fireplace. Only this time I opened it up. So, do you know what this is or does?

And here is what is on the inside of the fireplace where the do-dad is. See, it does not go through to the inside.

Now we (cough) just have to finish the re-plastering and then off to painting we go!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Before and After

It seems like that we started our wood-refinishing project years ago, but it was only August of 2005, when we moved into our new house. Just before we closed on our home we had all these big plans (hardwood floors, restoring the windows, getting rid of all the 70's abuse, restoring the kitchen to a more "Victorian look" and so much more. I even do not want to go into the mechanicals of the house like HVAC, Plumbing and Electrical).

We are just about to have the doors, moldings around the windows and the baseboards finished in the formal living room and are getting ready to paint the walls.

Since all the moldings from the seven foot windows are completely removed we are contemplating to have two window restorers come out and help us to refurbish the sashes and perhaps retrofit them to accommodate dual paned glass. We found two window restoration contacts at last Saturdays Historic Roosevelt Home Tour and took a look at the work they have done. Quite impressive, to finagle dual paned glass into these old and "skinny" window sashes. We'll have to see what the quotes are going to be.....and/or if it is even possible.

The Historic Roosevelt Home Tour was actually a good source for us to compare our home to other homes in the area from the turn of the century. The Ellis-Shackelford House at 1242 N. Central Avenue in Phoenix has similar but simpler Mahogany Moldings and were never painted. Built in 1917, it is amazing that all the wood trim survived without getting molested with paint. The second floor's wood trim however, got painted in a gray color and of course nobody is crazy enough to restore it back.

One may say that I am biased, however the wood trim in the Titus House is in far better shape after all the chemical stripping, sanding, staining and clearcoating compared to the untouched wood in the Ellis-ShackelforD House. This is astounding since The Titus House endured 25 years more of desert wear and tear.

We are almost three months into this wood-refurbishing project and we are getting close to having the formal dining room finished. At this pace (which is actually really fast considering that we are putting 30 to 40 hours per week into this project) it will take about an entire year for the wood-trim alone. OVERWHELMING in one word, but when it is done there won't be any words to describe how cool it will be looking and just to smile back at people who asked "You really did do that.....

Here is a before picture of a molested door...

Here is what it looks like after therapy... LOTS AND LOTS OF EXPENSIVE THERAPY...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Phew, parties, tours, molding stripping and painting

Can you say that three times fast?

The event went well, I over planned (as usual) but it went rather smoothly and it was nice to show people the house! And in my case over planning means having WAY too many leftovers... I will not, and can not complain!!!!! I love food!!

The exciting news is that there is a Neighborhood tour this weekend of house in a similar age range. We will be there to see how they got everything fixed up! I hope to take pictures too!

I do have to say, that while I may not be the best "old house" type, I do adore my home and I certainly do adore living in it. Though sometimes it is better than others.

In house news, we have pulled all the molding from the windows in the living room. So, as soon as they are close to getting done we get to paint. We have settled on a creamy yellow color, and we will be painting some swatches on the walls this weekend... Oh, and an accent color of red...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

OH S#*%!!!!!!!!!

So, it may have been apparent that I am rather UN motivated in the unpacking department. I have my basics, the rest is fluff and if I really need it, I just dig through boxes until I find it, though I still can't find the darn flatware!
Anyway, I have about 13 women coming over to my house this Saturday to spend the day discussing important things...
How far can saying we are in the middle of the big renovation carry me?
And here I thought it would force me to clean and unpack more... see how that plan backfired!
Oh dear!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


OK, it has been almost 9 weeks since we moved in, and all I have to say is where in this freaky world is my flatware!
They are (were) certainly not in any of the boxes marked "Kitchen"!
Has anyone else had this crazy experience of losing something like FLATWARE during a move?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

burning down the house... or the apartments next door (almost)

Well, still no reply on the doohicky... folks help me out here?
Very busy right now, my little brother is in town and I must pay attention... little as in 23 years... he is one cool guy!
But the joshua tree next door burnt down the other night. Sad thing, because i have been secretly coveting it and was thrilled to look at it every day and now it is gone. Plus, there is not a big chance I will be getting one of my own since a baby one costs $400!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The butt ugly built in decoupage

P7150039, originally uploaded by Blair Necessities.

Well, so far no one knows what the doohickey is in the previous post… too bad because I am rather curious.


I think I will introduce you to the built-in ugly art piece that also managed to destroy the house when it was built in…

See that thing? Yeah, that is in my equally odd kitchen, not sure what that it is doing in the kitchen, but it is there none the less. It is a collection of work from the golden age of abstract (as in Picasso and such… and don’t argue about my use of abstract, yes, Picasso was a cubist but there is not only cubism represented so… please indulge me if you will)

In order to have put this in, they had to dismantle and CUT (yes cut) the mahogany molding and put in a silly BOOK SHELF in the DINING ROOM so that I could gaze upon distorted pictures of naked little boys and lonely looking women. Now, some folks that walk in love it, and while I don’t really hate it I feel it is not a good thing to have in a kitchen. When we get around to taking that thing down, I will give it a place of honor somewhere outside, maybe near where the pump house is when I can talk Chris into getting some laying hens and setting up a coop (though I feel like the coop thing will never happen, it doesn’t hurt to dream does it).

OK, back to the decoupage monstrosity…

I have to admit that the built in is not all bad, because it is also where they installed the dishwasher (and as the laziest house wife in the world, I can’t live without a dishwasher)… but just so you know, the dishwasher is built in to a mahogany cupboard.

Also, molding update: there is only the molding around the three windows left to get the living room started in its long road towards it glory… once they are done we get to paint! Which means I will finally have a room that can be usable, the dining room will follow and then I suppose it would be the bedrooms and bathrooms… where the real work has to get done.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The dohicky

fireplace dohicky

OK... Living in a desert with modern conveniences like a heater prevents many of us local yokels from knowing what those fancy do-dads are on some of these here thingamagigs...

See that little round thing?

It is on the side of the fireplace...

What is it?

None of the other ones have them, these dohickies are on both sides and they open up and have a mesh screen with stuff in it, I don't think they go all the way through...

Thank you in advance!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

I heart Eastlake

I really do.

P7150084, originally uploaded by Blair Necessities.

but it is a love hate thing... because there are quite a few we need to get to replace the ones that have been tossed away...

I find them so pretty, and they look even prettier when they are all cleaned up.

I suppose I should take an inventory of all the parts we need, or is it want... but looking at what these things are going for I could be tempted to say oh are there any good reproductions out there?

I think we are looking for about 10 of these here hinges...

For some reason I am assuming the door knobs are related and I would need 7 door knobs...

6 faceplates (though it might be good to have 7 one looks like it may be cracking)...

one round thing that I have no clue what it might have been since we just have an empty hole...

I wonder if I can task some people that live where there are more than the six old homes (only slight under exageration) to go looking for these for me.... anyone out there willing I will let you know exactly what I need...


Oh, and you may be interested in knowing I am operating on about 4 hours sleep that I did not even have the pleasure of having these occure all at once...

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Leeches, leeches, what leeches...

OK, not leeches, it is leaches I am sorta talking about.

It has been a crazy time not just for us but for the USA.

Anyway, I think I can stop my constant tears and TV watching, what I was doing was just not healthy. Interesting thing is that natural disasters in other countries I am in I can handle, Katrina wiped me out and I live in Arizona....

So, in order to get on with my life as I am sure any survivor would want me to do, I will tell you about a neat little rigged job we discovered....

But first let me ask... where does your grey water go?

Most people might say the sewer or perhaps even the septic system.
We noticed an odd odor in the back yard... so we dug.

Only to discover that the grey water from the washing machine has been slowly killing the oleanders for years and years...
Pictures will come I promise.
I still marvel at how this house has managed to withstand not only this harsh desert climate but "fly-by-night" jobs...
So, if any of you readers (all one I think) have seen the flickr slideshow... is there something that you are intrigued by to help get me out of this Katrina induced slump?
Oh and the leak in the basement was a leak in the water main... the joys of old homes is NEVER ending isn't it!

And, another question... I have a huge front porch, how tacky would it be to have real furniture on it and have an extended outdoor living space?
Is this OK or are my southern (NC and TN 4 generations back) roots showing or are my northern roots (MA and PA 5 generations back) just horrified?

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


I (we) have not opened, ok I did open so should say, unpacked any boxes this week. They are a looming albatross. I hate them.
Then, with a teething cranky baby in the house... well, not much sleep either. The kaptain has almost finished the first pocket door. Not much news otherwise.

Are we there yet?

z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z....packing sucks... z z z z z z z z z z z z z

Friday, August 26, 2005

Architectural input

Josiah shows great promise as an architect. I think we need some of his touch here! I certainly think he would enjoy the secret room in the basement, there may be a red dragon protecting its fortune in there.

Secret room = the doorway that has been mostly cemented shut and through the area we can peek we think we see treasures of times past... OK, just a hints of a bicycle from what looks like the fifties if we go by the handle bars.

Historic Registries

This house is on three of them

a good thing (?)

Those $2000 windows repair/replacement I mentioned in an earlier post (the one just before this you blog readers that want links to the references, sometimes I wish blogs could be a bit wiki)... well, there may be a competative grant process early next year. At least that is what I was told when I called to let the cities Historic Preservation Program know that we are the new owners.

Mood swings

It is so strange living in an old house. I am not sure if it is because there are so few here or if it is the same with all old home owners... but (and it is a big BUT), I find myself going through these incredible mood swings about it. Most of the time I am so exstatic about living here. It is a one of a kind, it has a history that is precious to me, it has withstood this harsh desert for the same amount of time as has my family. Then we get quotes of $2000 per window for replacement (we have either 12 or 20 windows depending on how they count it), there are galvanized steel pipes that may need replacement, there is all that horendous paint to strip off to return the wood to a glorious state. And then I get a sense of shock... "Oh My Goodness, what in the world did we get ourselves into".

Then I sit near the pool or on the front porch and those dollar signs and the amount of hard labor that this place needs seems to fade away into a doable sort of feeling. I do really love this house and all teh mysteries it has within its walls and history.

I don't think I could really have said it any better than what was said over at the Big Yellow House. (though we don't have the 7 children, I could certainly get a bunch here, we also do not need a house jack).

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The marble fireplace


So I was looking through the pictures that my brother had sent from when he went to check out the house with his two sons... anyway, this looked like a good one to highlight first. This is the living room fireplace. The story, near as we can tell... is that in the 40's the fancy schmancy lady that lived here brought it (and the central hall chandelier) to the house from Italy. It is rather lovely and has a crack in it. It is also, we have been told, inoperable because it is missing a flue or something like that, though this is a desert and there is not all that much of a call for a fireplace, but then we do actually turn on our heaters in winter here so who knows, we may have a burn day and light it up.
Chris and I have debated about fixing in, or turning it into a gas fireplace... loads of discussion that is really rather irrelevant until we manage to unpack more.
So, we are unpacking, and we did make a dent in the mountain last night, but as I sat back and looked at it, I decided that I had overestimated my previous guess as to completion and that perhaps we are now actually truly really at the 15%... it is rather unfortunate that over half is hiding in the basement... there is so much truth to the old adage out of sight out of mind...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Our very own Flickr badge

Featuring the house...

My brother sent me a bunch of photographs he took before we moved in... So, for your viewing pleasure...

Chris and I plan on highlighting an area every day or so and explain what you are looking at.

Confusing, I know. But I wanted to get the before pictures up ASAP... Seeing as I can write up one for my 2:00AM feeding and feel like I may be ahead of the game.

You spin me round, right round like a BROKEN record baby

Someday soon, I will have to take you all on a tour of the jimmy-rigged portions of this house.
It can be quite amusing.

Though not as amusing as one thinks when one might wake up in a sweat at 2:30 am (this is a desert in August folks, quite hot at night) and try to turn on the ceiling fan only to discover that it only runs on "I will spin so fast in a vain attempt to create a frozen hell (insert evil laugh here)" HIGH via the light dimmer switch it is attached to? OK, I don't think Squink found it all that funny either as we both seem to have been built to be able to survive in a frozen tundra with the amount of body heat we put out when we sleep. The Schatz (aka Chris) rests comfortably (insert expletive here).

N.B. apologies offered in advance for temperamental post, but I have been up for an hour now and it is 3:00 AM!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Stripping paint off old trim - Our How To Guide

OK, here is what we do to remove the build up of paint off out doors and trim:

  • Use tons of the chemical that strips it off (We have ACE hardware backordered I believe)
  • Dremmel tools are your friend for intricate pieces
  • Invest in a good electric hand sander
And most important of all...
  • Get yourself a Kaptain Kaos - because we sure could not do this without him.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Why is it that if you throw away a whole ton of stuff when you are packing to leave a house...
You still find yourself asking "Why in the hell did I pack this" as you unpack in the new house?

Also, why is it that the boxes have gone forth and multiplied? Surely, we did not pack this many boxes!

I unheart packing and unpacking...

So, we have one pocket door panel finished... and interesting note here is that all of this trim is supposed to be mahogany right, well, some "pieces" are pine... I am assuming that these are replacement parts... and yes, so far we have purchased mahogany to fix this silly pine thing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 likes us


Hi Blair (edit),

Congratulations, your website titus house is now a member of the HouseBlogs
Webring. Your site now appears in the member list. Within the next 24 hours,
excerpts of your future entries will also begin to appear on the
home page.

To finish enrolling your site, you now need to take the following steps:
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Best wishes,

The (edits) are things you just don't need to see...

Maybe it took a while because I kept saying must be the packing!

Monday, August 15, 2005

So close

We have almost vacated the old house. I left a bunch of dishes in the dishwasher that I forgot to get. I am sorta sad as I will miss many things about that house in many ways.

Yes, that slate floor is the main one.
I had my first child there... or at least spent 17 weeks waiting at the front window for him to arrive... I mentioned this to Chris the other day and he pointed out the picture window and asked if I would miss the fights at that house or the memories of the dirt at that house and so on... I told him that even though I spent a long time looking out that very same window, that I was pretty sure that what, in the end, I would miss more, was just the view of our yard from that window. The birds playing in the sprinklers or in the pools of water... the gorgeous Palo Verde trees that were directly in front... I became close to that sight... it was what I saw for a long time (as in days in a row) and it became a part of me.

BUT... I am thrilled to have a gorgeous house!

We spent the first night in a hotel near the new old house. It is nice not having to unpack after all that packing, though I am fully aware that we have the mounds of boxes waiting for us when we do get there.

mounds and mounds of boxes...


Where would I start?

The only boxes that are labeled are the ones I did or the ones I reminded Chris to do, so I feel like I am in for a surprise when it come s to that.

Also, what is an acceptable amount of time to unpack? 3 weeks? 3 months? 3 years?

I just can't wait till I can get in and work on the house!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

A brief discourse on stripping


As I have mentioned before, there is some pretty trim, however it is usually hiding under at least 112 years worth of paint....
So, Kaptain Kaos is undertaking the stripping and refinishing... of pieces like this...

Here you can see what Kaptain Kaos has done with the wood...

I just have to show you what is going on with the doors... a during picture if you will... ignore the date, we have yet to set the correct date on Kaptain Kaos' digital camera.

This is a door mid process... I can only thank our lucky stars to have the wonderful help of Kaptain Kaos.

Kaptain Kaos also took a fabulous picture of the house from the front, so this is the New Casa.

Packing and more packing

Well, I am taking a break.

I am nearing the end of the tunnel as far as packing my current home is.

I will miss this house, I have the most incredible slate floor, there are many memories here, most of them overshadowed by the 17 weeks of bed rest I was on and my staring at gackles and all sorts of assorts animal life in our downtown hood.

However, I am so very excited to be moving to this home!

I guess that today I will introduce you to our chandelier.

From what I can tell from the records I have on the house a pretty fancy lady had it put in the forties, but I am not sure I buy it.

See, if you look where it is hanging from the ceiling, it looks like it may be falling, but... If you were here we might take you up to the attic so you could see the mechanism to raise and lower it (though it is August here and it would not be all that pleasant an experience)... That mechanism, I must say looks pre 1940... Though I guess that doesn't mean that she could not have bought an antique then... And replaced a candelabra... The good news that while it is not in absolutely perfect shape, it is in pretty good shape and I think I only need to find one little piece of glass to fix it.

Oh, just thinking!

Friday, August 12, 2005

For the most part, this is the layout of the house, not including the additions and the porches.

Molding and or trim

So, I just have to show you this picture of the door trim that has been stripped. In this picture you can see that the pocket door (which is currently being painstakingly "stripped" by Kaptain Kaos our assistant) is still white. As I get more time I will introduce you to the house.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I plan on proving them wrong!

I got this email from
I am feeling a little disappointed, but plan on proving them very wrong! I built this blog two months ago in anticipation, I have tons of posts pending... So, their webmaster will see that we mean business...

From: HouseBlogs Webmaster
Date: 2005/08/11 Thu PM 10:33:48 EDT
Subject: Re: [HouseBlogs Webring] Join request
Blair, thanks for your interest in joining. For folks like yourself that are just getting started blogging, we typically wait a short while until you've established some entries. This allows us to confirm you'll be actively maintaining the site, as we try to avoid having a lot of members sites that are just one or two posts and then abandoned.

I'll circle back in a while and then approve your site once you've written a bit more.


Too bad my other blogs don't count for anything!

This incredible house!

This wonderful historic house is now all ours. We move in next Thursday!

We are so very fortunate that this house is ours. It really found us!

I was on bed rest at this time last year, when a friend of mine came to visit me. My husband happened to be home and overheard her talking about her friend that owned this wonderful old home in Scottsdale. I knew in an instant which house it was. I said "I have always loved that house". My husband knew which one it was and said "tell your friend that if she ever wants to sell, we want to buy it". Neither of us thinking it would ever come to be.

about 5 months after this conversation (and one gorgeous little boy coming into our lives) I am back at work and I get an email that said "My friend is ready to sell, here is her number".
I jumped for joy and called my husband right away with the news. He was there that very afternoon meeting with the then owner. She definitely wanted to sell! We definitely wanted to buy. The trouble, how do we go from a small bungalow in downtown to a once upon a time mansion in Scottsdale... We were lucky, we came in when the market was great and actually were able to sell our house and our investment house and then make the payments on this special house!

This whole process has taken months, we love the house, it is incredibly special and we have already started stripping off the paint from the inside molding/trim (the last owner let us start these projects too) and discovered some of the most beautiful wood in the world! Mahogany!
So, from this post forward, you can learn about our wonder trials and tribulations as the very proud new owners of this awesome house!

I am still somewhat in awe, I have loved this house ever since I was a little girl and would drive past it with my grandmother. This house has been in this state almost as long as my family. It all just feels so right for me!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Thursday, June 23, 2005

testing from here

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Where the new house would be featured