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The First in the Deck Series

Our most recent DIY experience through the process.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Gotta love a new beginning, right?

Peppermint Shortage

Just a funny afternoon.

Coffeyville, KS

I loved this experience so much that I had to write about it. Then, through e-mails it spread to Coffeyville itself.

Photo Restoration

I had a lot of fun with this "old school" photo. It turned out too cool to not blog about it.

Kitchen Remodel (part one)

This is the first of a nine-part series documenting the remodel of our 50-year-old kitchen in our 100-year-old home!

Block! You're being annoying!

Who isn't on a social networking site these days? I consider myself very computer savvy and an avid surfer of the Internet, however not even I really know what a Twitter is or how many calories one might contain. On the other hand, I do write blogs (obviously) and maintain my blog page, I maintain a website for my photography, I have a profile on Facebook, I had a profile on MySpace up until about a month ago, and I have a couple photo-sharing sites that I seldom do anything with. I ditched the MySpace profile when I just suddenly realized that I never log on anymore. When I would randomly jump on, I would immediately log back out after seeing that I had no messages. I thought that deleting my profile might feel a little like ripping off a band-aid, but I was pleased to find that the act had no physical ramifications.

A couple blogs ago, I wrote about a certain photo that I spent some time restoring. I mentioned that I was going to try and track down some living relatives of the young men in the photograph. I wasn't kidding. I procrastinated a little, but I was serious about finding someone. I thought that it would be easy to find at least one living relative of one of these guys, but it might prove to be more difficult than what I originally had thought.

See? I decided to utilize one of the most well known social networking sites to aid me in my quest to reunite history with present. Facebook was my choice. It wasn't extremely helpful, but it sufficed, or so I thought. I clicked "find friends" and searched the last name of one of the players on the team. Then, I narrowed the search by city, which is one of three ways to narrow it down. MySpace was better than this. MySpace allowed you to narrow it down by 10, 25, 50, or 100 miles. I would of preferred it this way, but I'll take what I can get. I narrowed it down to zero people by doing this. I tried again using another name. Same result.

Finally, on the third name, I had 21 people in Springfield with the last name. I wrote out an e-mail explaining what I was doing and intended to upload the three photos to the message. But, Facebook only allows you to upload one photo for such a message. Oh well, I didn't really feel like waiting for all of them to upload for every message, anyway. I figured that I would just HTML code them in. No such luck. Facebook doesn't accept HTML coding in messages. They do allow you to slap in a link as long as you don't attempt to HTML code it in automatically. Nevertheless, I went through the stupid process of clicking the "add a hyperlink" button and pasting my link in there so that they could code it for me in their own little Facebook language.

So, I tediously went down the list of names clicking "Send a Message" then copying and pasting the Subject line, the message body, and adding the hyperlink. I got about five messages in and, all of the sudden, I got a message telling me that I was annoying, that I was sending messages much too quickly, and that I needed to slow things down or else. I took a screenshot which you can read for yourself here on the right. If the text is too small, as with all my blog photos, click on the photo and it will make it bigger.

Incredulously, I thought, "Isn't this what social networking sites are for?" Here I am trying to connect people with their past and doing it in a very polite, non-intrusive way and I'm being accused of being annoying or something? I wasn't about to let a pop-up warning message stop me, so I continued with my messaging only to see the same message a couple more times. I continued, anyway. Then, I got another message. The screenshot is pictured here. They shut me down. I can't message anyone now. Apparently, I'll be allowed to use the messaging system again in either a few hours or a few days, Facebook wasn't sure which. Is this my sentence? I got 3 hours to 3 days in Facebook Messaging jail? Come on!

I understand protecting people from spammers, but shouldn't Facebook recognize that I'm not a hacked program attempting to send out hundreds of thousands of messages to unsuspecting victims, but instead just a mere social network member trying to be social? So, if you don't receive any messages from me on Facebook in the next few days, don't get offended. I'm just doing time in Facebook jail. Some people showed up outside, though, to protest my incarceration. I'm especially touched by their willingness to stand around out in the rain just to support my cause. I really like the guy's socks who is holding the sign with my name on it. Hopefully, the socks will get me an early release date.

This Little Piggy Went To The Market

With our house pretty much ready to be on the market, Jodi wrote out a list of our house's features so that we could see what kind of listing it would be. It was actually a long list which is great. I kind of felt like it wouldn't be, but I've been guilty of looking at it through a different perspective. We've been in this house for over two and a half years now and even though it has come a long way we still have many projects that we've thought up that we haven't even begun. I'm sure that every home owner probably feels this way when they begin the process of selling their home.

We've put every extra dollar we've had into this house and many more that weren't extra at all. We've sacrificed vacations, fancy dinners, and many other things that lots of people enjoy not because of a lack of funds but because we took our available funds and bought building materials instead. So, in place of lying on a beach for a week one year, we spent a month working after we got home from work.

There are times when I start to wonder what it would be like to live in a house that was new and didn't need anything done to it. I realize that the majority of people live in this category. Or maybe they're not the majority. Maybe they're second to the group of people who live in homes that need work done but choose not to do anything about it. Either way, I wonder if I would be content to live that way or if I would feel compelled to run out and buy a fixer-upper just to tinker with in my spare time.

Speaking of spare time, we never have too much of it around here. Many people don't, so I'm not saying that we're special or anything, but I do take notice of the lack of time to dedicate to maintaining friendships. Sometimes, I wonder why I have friends at all. I rarely call anyone. I very rarely ask anyone to do anything. And, fairly often, when asked to get together with friends I have to decline because of something that we have to do or something we have going on. And, yet, we still have plenty of good friends. I guess, it's because they're good people who choose not to take offense when they don't hear from me.

So, thanks to you all who have hung in there with us. When we're rich and famous we won't forget you. :) But, also to all those who are familiar with our house, I have a job for you. Look at the "listing" below and let me know if you have any suggestions to make it better whether it be a rewording of something, an item to list that we forgot about, or a section to take out altogether. Whatever the suggestion, we'd love to hear it. Thanks!

1900+ sq. ft.
3 Bedroom
2 Bathrooms (1 full/1 half) both completely renovated and remodeled
Brand New Kitchen (cabinets galore, black appliances, garbage disposal, built-in recycling center, and many more custom features)
Formal Dining Room
Foyer with built-in bookcase
10 ft ceilings downstairs
Beautiful Molding throughout
Huge Brand New Mud/Utility Room
Refinished Hardwood floors
New ceramic tile in Kitchen, both Baths and Utility
Basement (partial unfinished)
Central Forced Heat and Air
New Roof (2008)
New Gutters (2008)
1 Car Detached Garage (New Roof 2008)
Covered Front Porch
Fenced Backyard w/Garden Wall
Mature Trees and Shrubbery
Alley Access
Great Central Location, Close to Downtown Shopping and Entertainment

Photo Restoration

Almost a year ago, I took on my first job of photo restoration. I haven't done a whole lot of it, but I love working on them. It mixes two of my hobbies, editing photos and restoring things. There's just something about taking something old and making it new again that I can't seem to get enough of. It's no secret that I love taking something unwanted and make it into something desirable, but it's even more rewarding to take someone's prized possessions and restore them back to their original condition. It's even possible to make them better than they were to begin with.

Recently, I added a section to my portfolio on my photography website for photo restoration. You should check it out if you get a chance. As a matter of fact, you should check out the entire portfolio if you haven't seen it in a while. I've updated all the different categories and some of my more recent stuff has been some of my best work ever.

I needed to add to my list of examples, so I thought that I'd hop online real quick and find an old photo that needed a few touch-ups. I went to a site that I had recently checked out that I knew was full of historic photos and found this one. You can see that the original black and white photo is heavily faded. Many of the original details have been lost already, and many more will slowly disappear as the passage of time continues. The problem is not necessarily the lack of care for these items, but usually due to the lack of quality of the paper and the chemicals used to create the photograph in the first place. Since it was first discovered that silver nitrate darkened when exposed to light roughly two-hundred years ago, the process of capturing two-dimensional images of reality has improved at a slow rate, or at least up until the advent of the digital camera. But even since the digital age, the quality of making hard copies of these images has been slow to improve. Photos from 100 years ago are fading whether they are exposed to light or not. Some photos from 50 years ago have contrasted out and have lost their precious details. Color photos from 25 years ago are turning brown or orange. No one really knows what modern photo paper will look like after decades of being stored or displayed. We'll find out in time, though.

This is after I fixed the de-contrasting, removed the spots and hand-writing, and gave it back some detail that was hiding from view but was still there waiting to be discovered. This baseball team was actually a semi-professional one from Monett, Missouri. They traveled around for all their games by rail. They were all paid players. Hundreds of people would come to watch them from all over Southwest Missouri. The price of admission was a quarter. Even though they came from a small town like Monett, they played big. They were one of the best teams in the state. This photograph was taken their first year in 1908. While working on this photo, I thought of how neat it would be to find one of these guys and show him the repaired photo. But, then I suddenly realized that no one pictured here would still be around today. That was kind of a sad realization. I then wondered if there were descendants from these men that could be found. Would they all be aware that their grandfathers played semi-pro baseball on a team that gained notoriety throughout the state?

I spent about an hour adding color to this photograph and I just love the way that it turned out. It really came alive for me. Old black and white photos are interesting but they lack the color that makes a photograph so vividly alive. It's difficult to imagine what life would have been like back then. So, adding color to this photo is exactly what I think that it needed. These guys may be long gone from us now, but studying this photo really brings them to life all over again in my mind. I think that I'll try to hunt down some living relatives of these boys and give them what I've got. If, I find anyone, I'll write a blog about it, trust me.

Craigslist Trolling Pays Off

Not so long ago, I remember scanning through the PennyPower, our local classified ads weekly periodical, for good deals. It was fun because it was in no particular order, so to find something specific you just had to wade through hundreds of 150-letter ad spaces that were trying to sell anything from dump trucks to garden gnomes. Our local newspaper, the News-Leader, also had a classified ads section, but it was never any good. Everything was in order, but it really lacked participation which I can only assume was because they charged too much for ad space. The News-Leader eventually bought the PennyPower after years of coming in a distant second place and incorporated it into their newspaper. Once again, I assume that the price for ad space has failed to become any more reasonable and so the ads are few and the power of the PennyPower is dead even though their name lives on.

Craigslist showed up here in Springfield just in time. The idea of having free ad space and to a great many more possible buyers than the paper could ever claim just got me excited. We quickly added Craigslist to our list of bookmarks on the toolbar of our Firefox web browser and jump on several times a day to see what's being offered next.

I've used it to give away things, get things for free, buy items, and sell items. I've managed to sell things that otherwise I would have had to just toss out to be rid of and I've obtained items with no more effort than dropping by and picking them up.

Out of all the different things we've managed to get for free on Craigslist, our latest find takes the cake for sure. Last week, I was checking the free section for the millionth time and I spotted a recent listing for a cash register. The ad said that it was from the 50's or 60's and that it was very heavy, more than a hundred pounds. There really wasn't any other details so I had no idea what it was, but I knew that I wanted it. I quickly wrote an e-mail showing my interest in it and explaining what I would do with it. I also threw in that I could pick it up any time at her convenience.

Two days went by and I hadn't heard anything. I saw that the listing had been deleted, so I had wrote it off in my mind and assumed that it had been given away to someone with faster typing skills than myself. Then, on the third day, I got a phone call. She wanted to know if I still wanted it. I restrained myself from screaming, "YEEESSSS!!" and simply said that I would love to pick it up. She gave me a few more details about including that it was made out of mostly solid brass. I can't really raise just a single eyebrow like people in movies, but if I could it would have been way up there, because I'm well aware that anything large made out of solid brass usually predates World War I. All the brass went to the war effort and since then almost nothing has been made from solid brass. Many items are brass plated but very few are brass through and through. I just figured that it was plated and kept my mouth shut about it.

She wanted to make sure that I wasn't just going to scrap it and asked me a few questions. I assured her that my wife and I both have a love for old antiques, particularly "turn-of-the-century" items. No, not 2000. She then offered me an antique sewing machine as well which I accepted.

I met her at the storage unit that the items were in. I saw the cash register and immediately knew that it was way older than what she thought, but managed to keep my cool about it in front of her. After loading it and the sewing machine in the truck she also gave me three mirrors, one of which is about 5 feet by 3 feet in a 6-inch-wide gold leaf frame. Score!

After getting home with the items, I did some research on the register and with the aid of the serial number and a couple collector's websites, I narrowed down the date of manufacture between November 1907 and January 1908! It is solid brass and weighs every bit of 180 pounds. It's amazing. We've been cleaning it up a bit, but we have decided to keep the aged patina look rather than get it down to the actual gold-colored brass look.

If I get nothing more from Craigslist, I will forever love it simply for this item. On one of the collector's sites I found these photos. I didn't include a photo of the back of ours but it looks exactly like the one in this General Store except ours is a slightly larger model than the one pictured. You'll have to click on the photo so that it zooms in so that you can make out the register at the far right. The other photo is one that has been fully restored but it is a slightly newer model so there are a few differences you'll notice. Neat, huh?

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