Silly deadlines…

Nothing like a looming deadline of house guests to entice one to take a (huge) detour from projects that need to be completed

The past couple of weekends were dedicated to a place a guest will never see: the area under the stoop.

(yes, we didn’t think this through)

In all fairness, the work needed to be done – but whether it was more urgent than our bedroom, that’s debatable. In any case, the mortar was all but gone and the bricks were just hanging out there, held together by little more than hope and inertia.



Most stoops are made of a brick base topped by brownstone steps. A decorative brownstone veneer is often applied to the sides so that the whole thing looks like it’s made of stone – but really, it’s just smoke and mirrors. Periodically, the bricks need to be re-pointed, which in our case hadn’t happened in, well, ever. The 120 year mortar was mostly gone.

For some reason (gravity? age? evil unicorns?) there was a lot of brownstone powder on the floor under the stoop, likely from the underside of the steps.


We collected it for later use (mixing it into the cement mix to patch our façade, so that it doesn’t look fake like the terrible stucco jobs in the area).


There was a lot of it. Should we be worried?

Anyway, after the area under the stoop was cleaned up, the hubs set off to re-point all the brick. After 2 long weekends as the Stoop Troll, it now looks like this:


I’m told it’s not hard to do, however it requires a high tolerance for cramped, damp, dark spaces (where you’ll hit your head a lot). As long as you’re cool with that, and use the right cement mix, it should be easy enough to tackle (says the person that had nothing to do with this project).



I’m told that our neighborhood boasts some of the largest collection of original ironwork in all of Brooklyn. Rows upon rows of ornate stoop railings in block after block of brownstone homes.

As is the case with pretty much every surface of our house, our railings are caked up with paint and they are peeling. Water is the arch nemesis of ironwork, so it’s super important that the paint be in good condition to prevent rusting.

Our newel posts looked like this:


Gross, right? The first we* attacked it with our trusty PeelAway 6. It worked OK, but since we were working outside we decided to give harsher chemicals a try (Zip Strip). It worked OK, too – but not that much better. Because the third time is the charm, we tried a heat gun. Our previous concerns of scorching woodwork didn’t apply here, so we went to town:


Worked pretty well. It was great to see all that detail that had been lost under the gobs of paint.  Here is the after shot with a coat of primer:


There is still a long way to go to get all of our railing stripped. The newel post itself took about 2 days. The weather has been making progress slower – all this rain makes it difficult to camp outside for any length of time.

* by we I really mean the Hubs. I had nothing to do with this project, other than the occasional cheerleading.

Throwing caution to the wind

It’s impossible not to be excited about spring when this is the first thing we see when we wake up:

Disclaimer: we haven't painted our bedroom yet. The color (and terrible paint job) pre-date us.

Sure conventional wisdom cautions against planting too early. Freak snowstorms or icy frost can kill even the hardiest of plants. But last week common sense was not at an all time high around here. As a result….

Pretty perennials

And something I’ve been meaning to do since, well… forever:

English Boxwood bushes flanking the door

Seeing such a close shot of the door reminds me we need to give it a little love at some point. In the mean time, or at least until the next frost, this too is hanging out on the stoop:

I'm all about pink flowers this season