Guess what day it is? Nope, not my new favorite day of the week thanks to an office camel promoting the significance of hump day. Instead, it's the annual Old Town Boutique District Warehouse Sale at the Masonic Temple here in Old Town! While I'm certainly no fashionista, even I can't resist the sweet siren song of the promise of great merchandise at hugely discounted prices. 

We're big supporters of shopping local small businesses, and that absolutely includes the various local merchants in Old Town and the Alexandria area. The cool thing about this event, put on by the Old Town Boutique District, is that so many of our favorite stores are in one place and have some really great markdowns on their items. In fact, it's so popular that there's always a pretty significant line of people waiting to get inside an hour or more before the sale opens at 9:00 am. 

We arrived early again this year to say hello to several of our friends and vendors, to take photos to share with you, and to do a little deal scouting of my own. As in years past, The Shoe Hive's booth was a popular spot, with frenzied shoppers pulling open boxes like kids on Christmas morning. All supervised, of course, by a giant bronze bust of George Washington.


I too couldn't resist getting in on the action and was thrilled to snag not one, but two pairs of new Hunter rain boots, including this cute calf height gray pair. I'm still not sure what, exactly, got into me. I mean, two new pairs of rain boots? But I suppose when you can get them for 55-75% off, it's hard to resist!

The shoe selection didn't stop there. Bishop Boutique had a great selection of flats, boots, and heels, as well as a humorous approach to their advertising. 

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Or maybe it's re-rope sash, or restring windows, or re-weight with sash cord? No matter, sit back, buckle in, and get ready for a riveting blog post about restoring antique windows! I doesn't get much more exciting. (I'm lying, it can only get more exciting.)

Antique double hung windows are beautiful, there's no doubt about it. I didn't realize this for many years, but after buying our home and falling in love with old homes, the old sash are one of the four truly enchanting elements of architecture I feel set an older home apart from the pack (the other three are their staircases, period doors & door hardware, and moulding/millwork). When I'm drooling over a magazine house, a real estate listing that I can't afford, or a falling down house with "good bones" I just wish I could spend another decade saving, these are some of the primary aspects I immediately look for. And if any of these homes are lacking any or all of these details...they're dead to me.

While I'm an equal opportunity lover of old windows, the majority of my restoration efforts are geared toward the style of windows in our home -- rope and pulley double hung sash. This is primarily because they're the ones with which I'm most familiar and comfortable.

Our style of windows are actually very common in the era of our 1880s home, and in about 50 years in either direction. The style is fairly straight forward and contains two sash, an upper and lower, which are movable and counter balanced by large weights that live in cavities beyond the jambs of the window frame. When the sash are raised or lowered, the sash weights, attached to the sash by cording, travel up and down in the hollow channels, allowing the windows to stay open without any other props or stays. It's a very functional system that works quite well. However, one of the common plights of the rope and pulley double hung sash comes by way of frayed and broken ropes (or sash cord).

After years of use and abuse, these weight cords begin to wear away. They're often painted by careless contractors, snagged by nails or hangers added in incorrect places, rotted by moisture, or just plain pulled on by one too many people. After they've had enough, they give up.

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Now that the post-holiday dust has settled, the pine needles are vacuumed up, and the decorations safely stowed for another year, I find the restored space in our home leads to one thing – a critical eye. Without the distraction of glitzy ornaments and color coordinated wrapping, the smell of fresh garland and baked goods, and the hectic pace of holiday shopping and parties, I find I have the time to notice—for the first time in months—just how disorganized our home has become.

January is typically the time of year for organizing, and I find in our home we too seize the slower pace and frigid temperatures to tackle a few projects that have been on the backburner. Over the last few weeks, both Alex and I have both begun commenting to each other just how jam packed our closets feel, how disorganized our cabinets have become, and how generally we can’t find what we’re looking for. (Well, more so my other half on this one, but then again, he can’t find his way out of our disorganized basement.)

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Like a bad 1980's daytime drama, we left off in our tale of antique oak dresser compromise with a major cliffhanger, only it didn't involve murder, amnesia, and a twisted love triangle. Instead, just a simple identity crisis.

After initially convincing my better half of the option to keep the natural unpainted wood grain from being covered up once and for all in a flat gray hue, or even in a design consisting of alternating parallel colors intersecting with one another in a repeating fashion, we proceeded with sanding the whole piece in prep for something...else.

But two questions remained. What, exactly, was the "something else," and would the dresser actually even make it to its potentially alternate "something else" destination after having been originally slated for the DIY paint factory? Or, would Wendy, surely cheerlead by Mel (he hates antiques, you know), decide painting the piece is where it's at, my desires be damned?

And now, the conclusion of "A Dresser Full of Compromise..." (Queue cheesy violin and piano music like Days of Our Lives.)

There comes a time in the life of almost any piece of furniture where it goes through some major life altering aspect of its own. Whether it's being set out on the curb for the next taker, sold at a yard sale, picked up on Craig's List, or offered up at a high end antique house, everything typically has a history, a past life, and a potential for the future. In almost every situation, the continued life of a piece of furniture, no matter if it's old or new, is determined almost entirely by the next owner.

In the case of our hand-me-down antique, we're opting to make it a somewhat permanent resident in our renovated home. Once this piece is in the closet, it's likely in the closet for good. We'll actually place it before putting on the door jambs, and though the door jambs will be removable, we're surely going to let this dresser convey when if we leave our home. With this in mind, and in the hopes our renovation will stand the test of time, we also want this dresser to do the same.

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With our somewhat substantial DC area snow storm of about 8"-9" in our neighborhood, we finally break the several year long streak of winters without a two inch or greater snowfall. The best news, the snow was actually quite nice. Light, fluffy, and perfect for running around in with Lulu (she's a fan of snow, no matter what her photo face tells you).

And since we're enamored with the snow, shivering from the frigid cold and wind that has followed, and elbows deep in work and taking Lulu for daily radiation treatment every morning (she's doing quite well, by the way), we're going to give you a little something different today in lieu of a "real" post. 

I pulled the camera out yesterday and took a handful of photos around Old Town and wanted to share some of my favorites with you. We hope you enjoy.

The Old Town Trolley Navigating the Snow

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