Labor Exchange

The farmers aren’t in the field around here.  Even the farmers who are first to plant aren’t in the field.  It’s the talk of everyone.  Ground temperatures need to be around 50 degrees for corn to germinate.  The ground can’t warm when overnight temperatures are still dipping to below freezing and on top of that, we’ve been getting regular rain and the fields are simply too wet.

That left Craig, our daughter Kalissa’s husband, with some free time this past Sunday.  He offered to come over and help me do a few things.  So, he helped me hang this mirror.  Hanging a mirror is something I am able to do but this was an old mirror and those are often heavy so I decided as long as he was here, I’d get him to help me.


You might remember that I bought this mirror at the thrift store for $15.  Right above this dresser is where I thought I wanted it and I think it’s perfect.  It looks great with the headboard on this bed.

The dresser below the mirror was also a thrift store find from the same thrift store.  I bought that many years ago and Kramer, my husband, refinished it.  It was the first project he did.  I was so impressed.  I think I paid $40 for the dresser at the time.

The headboard and the wardrobe in this room were all auction finds.

I just LOVE old furniture.  We have a mix of walnut and oak wood but I don’t mind.  I love all of the pieces.


I have a small collection of… vintage stitched samplers in this room.


All of these have been thrift store finds.


I keep my eyes open for them.  I don’t think I ever paid more than $2 for any of them.  I’m so blessed with great thrift stores.

But back to my story about Craig coming over to help me.  When he came in the door, he was carrying pants that needed mending.  So while he did some jobs here, I patched his work pants…I’m calling it a fair exchange.


I have two machines out, my Phaff Grand Quilter which is my main piecing machine, and my old Singer 15-91 which is my crumb/string quilting machine.  I have this Bernina too.  It’s a 165E…that’s the only machine I have that makes fancy stitches and rarely, if ever, do I use this machine.  It stays in the closet and only comes out for occasions like this.


For this pair of pants with the hole in the knee, I had to bring it out.  I needed the free arm to manipulate the knee of the pants in place.


While I was busy doing that, Craig had started work in my basement.  Something that was on Kramer’s long-term goal list to do before he passed away was to fix up the basement.  With the remodeling of the house, we ended up with one “nice” side of the basement that can be fixed up into good useable space, and one icky side of the basement that is “old basement” and can never be more than that.  It’s really a giant utility room.

As the grandkids become more abundant and they all get bigger, we can all see that it would be fantastic to “fix” the nice side.  I’m not looking for a fancy finished basement.  We really want someplace the older grandkids can go and hang out.  We were thinking that we’d have a television, Xbox and maybe a pool table or something like that would be great.

So…we’re gradually working on it… very slowly.  First up was to fix that bathroom.  We have the wall fixed and painted.  Next up we need to install a sink.  I’m supposed to be working on the trim but have been slow to do it.  I think I’m going to put that higher up on my to-do list.

Here is what Craig was working on while I was patching pants…
These are the steps going down into the basement.  The plan is to put the wainscotting that we salvage from the old part of the house that we tore off in the remodel and put halfway up on the walls going down the stairs.

Here is Craig’s start.


We have the same wainscotting in the bathroom so it all kind of ties together.  I’m happy with it.

It’s very slow going for Craig though.  Each piece had to be specially cut to whatever else is going on…such as cutting around the steps and the light switch.  It’s not easy but Craig is doing an amazing job.

We don’t have a ton of these boards but we are almost positive we have enough to go down the steps and then to the door that goes into the old part of the basement.

This is a long-term project.  With any luck at this time next year, the steps will be finished.

What’s really good about the project is that so far, it’s costing nothing as we already have the salvaged wood.  So far we have very little into what we have done so far and that leaves me time to save money to do the rest.  As I said, it’s a long-term project.

Right now, Scotty is the oldest grandkid and he’s six.  By the time he’s ten, I’d love to have a better space for the kiddos to hang out when they are all here.

So that’s the story of my and Craig’s labor exchange.  I said it’s a labor exchange but I would have patched Craig’s pants and he’d have worked on the basement purely on our own without an “exchange”.  He’s a great son-in-law.  I’m blessed to have him.

15 thoughts on “Labor Exchange

  1. Carla

    Is a good idea to save pieces of your house whenever possible. I have a stack of the old bits of my old house too. Little by little they are getting reincorporated or reused. My favorite saves are the plumbing access door and trim that were no longer needed when the bathroom was redone and the few random cupboard doors from the kitchen that somehow survived. I’d love to have them installed on a custom built cabinet of some sort. I put that work order in with my son who works in construction so maybe someday lol. Your spare room has such charm. You have an eye for decorating. Oh, I finished the Blessed piece. I set it aside until I get some finishing guidance. Take care!

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  2. Judith Fairchild

    What lovely furniture finds!!!!! The dresser and mirror are a nearly perfect match to the headboard. I would give my eye teeth or more for that oak wardrobe. It’s beautiful and well matched in terms of fitting in the room. Well done to both you and Craig for jobs well done your basement is going to be a great place to play in bad weather.

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  3. Kate

    Such a good trade-off! The mirror and the entire room looks very nice. You have such good taste and do such a good job of putting all your thrift store finds in just the right place in your house. I really enjoy seeing it.

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  4. Sally

    I hope you are feeling a little better each day, Jo. It will be great for the grandchildren to have the space downstairs for their get togethers as they get older. The “labor exchange” that your family does all the time is what life is all about. Not that it’s “if you do this for me, I’ll do that for you” but that you do for each other when you see the need to help and that everyone does that whenever/however they can. It’s an extra blessing that the grandchildren see this as your way of life. Hopefully they will be ingrained with this as the way to treat your family (and friends) and will be that way as they grow up regardless of what they may see outside of your family.

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  5. Jen

    I tackled patching a friend’s jeans using the longarm. Not pretty, but easier than on the sewing machine in my opinion.

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  6. Jane

    Someone shared this idea with me years ago and I now use it for all my patching. Use a quilt basting spray to position the patch. This eliminates the use of pins. Easier on the fingers and no chance of breaking a needle or damaging your machine.

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  7. Jan McCann

    I loved the quilt that is on the bed in spare room. I’m betting it’s yours, could you please tell me the pattern name? And I love old furniture too—it’s the only thing worth buying!

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  8. Elle

    I love that Craig came over to help you and had a pair of pants needing repair in hand. Your family “freely gives” and “gladly receives”. Makes me miss Mom. We did her “honey do” list every year for her birthday.

    Cheers to a wonderful Tuesday Jo. I hope your health has returned and you have a fabulous spring day!

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  9. Kay Christian

    Seeing your vintage stitched samplers I have one that says “The glory of the house is hospitality” flowers, a rabbit and a parrot etc. and a blank area and the date 1929. I acquired it when I bought and tore down the house next door. I would gladly add it to your collection if you would be interested. It is a little frayed around the edges but would not show in a frame. I will send you a picture on email if your are interested. Hope you are feeling better. Love hearing about your family.

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  10. Deb

    Craig did a very professional job – I can see how wonderful it will look when its all finished! I know how those long term projects go….we’ve been in our home a bit over 8 months, and the list is just getting longer.
    But bit by bit we’re whittling down gradually. Neither of us wants to approach these projects as a ‘job’ – takes the satisfaction out of it. Yesterday my husband did touch up painting, hung a new light fixture over the kitchen sink (how wonderful to have LIGHT where you need it!) and we started hanging up pictures. We’ve always made decorating decisions together, which is sometimes a little frustrating but mostly really good as he comes up with ideas I hadn’t thought of. It all works out.

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  11. Ginny Andersen

    It is such a blessing to have a SIL that is “handy” with so many things as Craig is and also that he is so willing to help you. I am so glad for you that you have him!

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  12. CA Bobbie

    Your family is a blessing to each and all. I agree with Sally’s comments about learning as a lifestyle, one the world needs to learn. I too love older furniture, besides so beautiful the craftmanship is lovely.
    Homes are always a work in progress aren’t they? Reading your blog is like getting a letter from a friend, thank you for all your efforts.

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  13. Kim from TN

    The bedroom looks great with the mirror and all that lovely wood furniture, you and Kramer had great taste. Having an open arm for mending is wonderful and I think you both got a great exchange in that deal. The stairwell will look great with the wainscoting being reused, sweet.

    Reply

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