Clippings by maryinthefalls

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RE: Additives to oil based primer (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: sombreuil_mongrel on 10.15.2014 at 10:28 am in Old House Forum

To make a long-oil primer, add an ounce of oil (boiled Linseed oil) to the quart. If you are priming yellow pine, add an ounce of stinky turpentine. For every ounce of oil, add about a teaspoon of Drier to see to it that the drying time is a day, not dayS.
If you want to thin it without the smell of turps, use odorless paint thinner. I use the turpentine on old dry yellow pine because I believe that there's something homeopathic about adding some yellow pine "essence" into the paint that's trying to stick to it. I heard this from some old-timers, and have stuck with it. certainly it does no harm.


clipped on: 11.01.2014 at 04:08 pm    last updated on: 11.01.2014 at 04:08 pm

RE: Window-film time, your tips/tricks to share? (Follow-Up #18)

posted by: bluezette on 11.10.2011 at 03:28 pm in Old House Forum

I have interior storms on all our windows. We made them ourselves and our handyperson skills are limited, so don't be worried. I made a single panel with the film from a standard window kit to be sure I was up to the task. Once that was successful, we purchased the materials in bulk for the rest of the windows.

We used a combination of the instructions at the link below ( and this link ( From the second set of instructions, I added the handles and the strip of plastic around the outside edge. They helped position and reposition the panels and prevented the foam around the edges from rolling to the front as the panels are pushed into place. The plastic also helps fill in any small gaps to compensate for my uneven cutting of the foam backer rod.

We made a few each year over several years, starting with the draftiest windows. They made a big difference before we had our original sash restored. Now that our windows have been restored and weatherstripped, we still use the interior panels to protect them from condensation.

Here is a link that might be useful: interior storms instructions


clipped on: 12.01.2013 at 01:26 pm    last updated on: 12.01.2013 at 01:26 pm

RE: Window-film time, your tips/tricks to share? (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: mainegrower on 11.07.2011 at 05:15 am in Old House Forum

Removable interior storm windows using shrink film are relatively easy to make. You can find fully illustrated instructions at The ones I made following these instructions are going into their fourth year with no problems other than resticking the weather stripping with new double stick tape on a few. Each one may take a bit more than an hour to make, but once done they can be installed each year in less than 5 minutes. No paint peeled off by tape on the windows themselves, either.


clipped on: 12.01.2013 at 01:11 pm    last updated on: 12.01.2013 at 01:11 pm

RE: What to pair with a formal boxwood hedge? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: deviant-deziner on 05.10.2012 at 08:16 pm in Landscape Design Forum

Beautiful home with classic landscaping bones. Fine architecture is such a pleasure to landscape off of.
I would suggest interjecting some silver foliage between the green of the boxwood and the green of the lawn to give it some pop.
Perhaps some artemesia silver mound ( a perennial ) interspersed with some white flowering annuals such as white petunias , dwarf nicotiana, white snaps or some white nemesia.
Simple , clean lined and classic that will add a sense of division via color and texture between the green hedge to the green lawn.

If you were in a milder climate I would have recommended Anthemis cretica which has both silver foliage and white flowers but I'm at a loss of perennial plant choices that are appropriate for your zone 6 climate.


clipped on: 08.01.2013 at 09:02 pm    last updated on: 08.01.2013 at 09:02 pm

RE: A non-dated looking boxwood hedge: How? (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: gardengal48 on 07.29.2009 at 11:50 pm in Shrubs Forum

Passe is a matter of opinion......and that's coming from a designer :-) If you have a colonial home and lean towards the more formal design approach, there is no good reason not pursue it. Designers have different ways of defining 'formal' but it usually involves symmetry and balance, often straight lines or very geometric shapes and patterns, a rather specific plant pallette and an attention to detail - i.e. shearing of hedges into neatly clipped forms. dlmill has the right idea - rather than 'passe', I'd encourage you to think of this as a more 'classic' approach to gardening. It's true this is a style that was much more popular in the past but both lifestyles and architecture have changed. However, it is still a design style that is appropriate to certain period architecture homes.

Shearing all shrubs and trees into unnatural rounded or squared-off forms is quite different (and a look I'd avoid), but a pair of cone-shaped topiaried shrubs as front entry focal points and a tidily clipped hedge can add a lot of character, curb appeal and formality to an architecturally appropriate home.

There does tend to be more maintenance with a formal garden design style (this is one very good reason why it has declined in popularity -- 90% of my clients demand low maintenance garden designs), so plan according to your desire to commit to it. Nothing looks worse than an unkempt formal garden!

And I think roses are a nice choice behind the hedge. They are a classic element in a formal design and offer a good, flowering contrast to the box.

Here is a link that might be useful: example of a formal entry garden


clipped on: 08.01.2013 at 06:06 pm    last updated on: 08.01.2013 at 06:07 pm

RE: 1920's gardens (Follow-Up #49)

posted by: Springcherry on 06.05.2004 at 04:09 pm in Garden Restoration Forum

At my library you can search by both subject -and- date(or in this case, decade) of publication.

In case your library dosn't have that option, here are the titles of some helpful-looking 20s gardening books. If your libes dosnt have them, ask about Inter-Library Loan.

Cloud, D. M. P.
Title : The culture of perennials, by Dorothy M-P. Cloud.
Call Number : 716.2 C62
Publisher : New York, Dodd, Mead and company, 1925

Findlay, Hugh, 1879-
Title : Garden making and keeping, by Hugh Findlay.
Call Number : 716 F491
Publisher : Garden City, N. Y., Doubleday, Page & company, 1926.

Henslow, Thomas Geoffrey Wall.
Title : Garden construction.
Call Number : 710 H39
Publisher : London, Odhams press, 1923.

McIlvaine, F. E.
Title : Spring in the little garden, by Frances Edge McIlvaine.
Call Number : 716 M18
Publisher : Boston, Little, Brown, and company, 1928.

Author : Thayer, Clark Leonard, 1890-
Title : Spring flowering bulbs, hardy and desirable materials for use in the home garden, by Clark L. Thayer ...
Call Number : 716.2 T33
Publisher : New York, Orange Judd Publishing Company, inc.; London, K. Paul, Trench, Trubner & Company, ltd., 1928.

Cummins, Julia H.
Title : My garden comes of age, by Julia H. Cummins.
Call Number : 710 C91
Publisher : New York, The Macmillan company [c1926]

The House beautiful gardening manual; a comprehensive guide, �sthetic and practical, for all garden lovers, both those who are still planning their gardens on paper and those who have had gardening experience, including plant lists compiled with the help of horticulturalists in all sections of the country, and an introductory chapter on garden design by Fletcher Steele ... with many illustrations, including sketches, diagrams, and plans as well as half tones.
Call Number : A710 H81
Publisher : Boston, The Atlantic monthly press [c1926]

King, Louisa Yeomans, 1863-1948.
Title : The little garden, by Mrs. Francis King; with illustrations and tables.
Call Number : 716 K5811
Publisher : Boston, The Atlantic monthly press [c1921]

Forestier, J. C. N.
Title : Gardens; a note-book of plans and sketches, by J. C. N. Forestier, translated from the French by Helen Morgenthau Fox.
Call Number : A710 F76
Publisher : New York, C. Scribner's Sons, 1928 [c1924]



clipped on: 07.19.2013 at 09:02 pm    last updated on: 07.19.2013 at 09:03 pm

RE: Any comments are welcome (Follow-Up #14)

posted by: woodyoak on 04.19.2013 at 09:26 pm in Landscape Design Forum

I quite like your house but am glad you talked about painting the shutters black. Look at the house that looks much like yours across the street that you show in the view from the house. It has the black shutters and that look is far more serene than the look of the white shutters. I'd be inclined to add shutters to your ground floor windows too - although that would probably require moving the front light fixtures....

I'd be inclined to keep the landscaping cool and subtle to go with the classic, quiet look after painting the shutters black. I'd stick to a largely green and white color theme with perhaps some deep, rich reds for accent. A nice white-flowering tree (dogwood...?) would be an elegant note on the right side I think. I wouldn't go wild - this is a house that would be well served by a less-is-more style.


clipped on: 07.18.2013 at 11:25 am    last updated on: 07.18.2013 at 11:25 am

RE: for v1rtu0s1ty - a different(!) sort of layout.... (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: woodyoak on 06.12.2013 at 10:59 am in Landscape Design Forum

Thanks Mary. This cool damp spring has been good for the garden here.

Another example of thinking about/using shaping the negative space to add impact is, I've found, to use the shape of one bed to determine the shape of another one, by making the intervening grass or mulch path or lawn a constant width so the two beds 'fit' together like pieces of a jigsaw. That's what we did when we made what we call 'the moat bed' - because it runs along the top of the ditch by the road in front of the house. The outer edge of the bed is a straight line running parallel to the road at the top of the ditch. The inner edge was created by measuring an approx. 3' distance from the main front bed. The resulting 'moat bed' is very narrow due to the space limitations but its tight link to the larger bed, the smooth line of the grass path, and the merging with the driveway border at the south end turned several discrete beds into one linked whole that has a lot of impact even in the fall/winter bare seasons. Of course, its maximum impact is when there is a big floral show going on :-) This show has just finished for the year but you can see that the bed and path layout/connections add value and impact to the picture:
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The same sort of shaping the negative space helped my neighbour to the north link an smooth-edged kidney-shaped island bed to a wavy-edged perimeter bed in the back yard. I suggested she measure a constant distance (in her case it's about 8' or so) from the island bed to the perimeter one. The original 'wavy' edge of the perimeter bed was then adjusted to be a smooth curve so now the lawn sweeps smoothly around between the island bed and the perimeter bed . The island is now both a separate feature but also closely linked to the rest of the garden space, and the whole feels much more relaxed.

This post was edited by woodyoak on Wed, Jun 12, 13 at 11:05


clipped on: 06.16.2013 at 03:17 pm    last updated on: 06.16.2013 at 03:17 pm

for v1rtu0s1ty - a different(!) sort of layout....

posted by: woodyoak on 06.11.2013 at 05:04 pm in Landscape Design Forum

I was out taking some pictures in the backyard today and thought maybe these would interest you as an illustration of a rather different layout than is usual - the 'negative space' (i.e. lawn) is a very prominent element because it has a distinct shape rather than being the residual after the bedrs are shaped. It's the calm green heart of the garden where yours eyes (and body!) can rest while you look at the detailed plantings that surround it. It is perhaps a more 'severe' shape than would suit many people and the rectangle is a bit too long relative to its width to be ideal. The path around the sides does emphasize the rectangle a bit more than if the beds came out to the edge of the lawn. I'm disabled so the path makes access easier for me, plus it's an effective barrier to grass moving ito the beds. At all times of year and from all viewing points, the layout is both striking and pleasing to us and to graden visitors here. An oval, or ellipse, or kidney shape, or even an wide meandering green river of grass could be equally effective if they suit your space. The particular shape is less relevant than the making of a specific, identifiably purposeful shape that arrests your attention and provides a feeling of order to balance the 'chaos' of the plantings surrounding it - that's my opinion anyway....!

Two views from the living room window:
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From the back porch:
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Same view two weeks ago when the white redbud was blooming in the back, north side:
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Looking towards the south:
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Looking north along the path at the back of the house:
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Under the pines across the west side, to the north of the shed:
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The path in the picture above exits to the right of the shed as seen here:
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A plan view of the bed layout in the backyard garden:
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The big old white ash completely shades the backyard so the backyard is my 'green garden' since green and white are the dominant colors.

This sort of thing might not be what you're looking for but perhaps it can give you an idea of what one alternative could be.....


clipped on: 06.16.2013 at 03:14 pm    last updated on: 06.16.2013 at 03:14 pm

RE: Roofing an older home (Follow-Up #18)

posted by: live_wire_oak on 08.21.2011 at 01:07 pm in Old House Forum

I don't believe that closets are required under the IRC, but realtor guidelines are pretty clear. If this home is being marketed as a 4 bedroom, then those 3 bedrooms must have closets, according to real estate appraisal guidelines. If the realtor marketing this house claims these as bedrooms, the description should be "non-conforming bedrooms".

The IRC does require bedrooms to be a minimum of 7'-6" with 70 square feet of floor space. Where the ceiling slopes at least half the room needs to be over the minimum and you can't count any area under 5'-0" toward minimum room size. 2006 IRC says when a sleeping room is added or created in an existing dwelling, the individual dwelling unit shall be equipped with smoke alarms located in each sleeping room and within an individual unit as required for new dwellings. The smoke alarms shall be interconnected and hard wired.

Habitable bedrooms must have at least 2 exits, at least one of which must be a door. The second exit can be a window that also must be a minimum dimension. The IRC sets the minimum opening area at 5'7" square feet with a minimum opening height of 24 inches and width of 20 inches. Windows less than 18" above the floor will need to be tempered glass. Rooms that are accessed by walking through another bedroom or bath can not be classified as a habitable bedroom. To be considered a true bedroom, it must open up into a common room or hallway.

The stairs to your second floor bedrooms must have a tread depth minimum of 9" and the maximum height of the riser is 8 1/4". The stairs must be a minimum of 36" wide and have 80" of headroom for the entire run of the stairs.

If these bedrooms met current building codes at the time of their construction, then they are grandfathered in as to their variance to current code until you touch them for any renovations. It is up to the current seller to provide you with information that will allow you to determine that the renovation passed the building codes in effect at the time of the renovation. Since you say that he did many renovations, it was incumbent on him to bring the home up to current code status and it is not grandfathered. If he did not do so, then it's highly likely that all of the renovations were not permitted. It's up to him to prove to you and to the city that they were done to code and to pay any fines that will accrue because of his failure to obtain the required permits. If he cannot prove that his renovations met current building codes, then most municipalities would require him to demolish the walls, ceilings, and floors of that second floor until the inspectors could determine if the work was up to par.


clipped on: 05.15.2013 at 12:46 pm    last updated on: 05.15.2013 at 12:47 pm

RE: Where Does Your Landscaping Inspiration Come From? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: Yardvaark on 04.25.2013 at 09:33 am in Landscape Design Forum

I'll add (now that I see the significance of your maintenance comment) that keeping shapes bold and simple greatly minimizes plant maintenance. What's more, such shapes are usually visually stronger and more dramatic than the "busier" schemes. I like to maintain plants, but I don't like to feel like I'm spinning my wheels and being inefficient. There's always enough to do that one does not need to go out of their way building in additional maintenance. Simple and bold does not mean "uninteresting." Usually it means MORE interesting and is easier to perceive without detailed study. What I find is usually the weak point in the average yard is poorly worked out geometry. People try to cover or distract from this by using a complex planting arrangement or excessive details (cheap, raised edging immediately comes to mind.)


clipped on: 04.26.2013 at 09:09 am    last updated on: 04.26.2013 at 09:09 am

RE: Any comments are welcome (Follow-Up #21)

posted by: Yardvaark on 04.20.2013 at 09:35 am in Landscape Design Forum

"... [I] am unclear how I have closed off anything." Your list of "likes" and "dislikes" does a fair amount of "steering" but not necessarily guarantees improved quality. One gets the impression that some plants are ruled out because the examples in your yard and in your neighborhood are pathetic looking. This is like blaming a nice car for being dented, scratched and dirty. It's not the car's fault that it's been abused and neglected. In your yard, I see only examples of plants that have been abused and improperly maintained. Overall, Yews are great, high quality plants. But your's look terrible.

"I see no reason to keep my garden to look like everyone else's." Of six of your neighbor's yards that we can see, none are examples of landscaping that anyone would wish to emulate. So the message is not to copy what your neighbors are doing. Instead, it's to bring a higher quality of landscaping (that others will wish to copy) into the neighborhood.

I don't think, architecturally speaking, that your house is as out of character for the neighborhood as you make it sound. It seems that it lacks details that help it look finished. There could be any number of various solutions that give it charm. Here's one example of how it might be done. I'm sure you, or someone, could come up with other ideas. (I don't know which driveway is yours so I might have picked wrong, but nevertheless, you get the idea.)


clipped on: 04.26.2013 at 09:05 am    last updated on: 04.26.2013 at 09:05 am

RE: front yard help - getting rid of large bed - pics (Follow-Up #21)

posted by: Yardvaark on 03.24.2013 at 09:52 pm in Landscape Design Forum

Woody, I'm not ignoring the lawn. In the balancing act that is landscape design, I'm going for what accomplishes the most and offends the least. As I first said, I consider those arrowhead pointed beds a landscape SIN. So one pretty lawn isn't justification for having them if a different pretty lawn can be had. (Actually, I could never find any justification for having them!) What's more, they create too much (complete) enclosure for the walk to the front door. Bad enough ... if not another sin. My first suggestion included symmetry (for a house that seemed to like it,) only modest (island) enclosure for the walk, beds shaped to accommodate trees and a carpeted path to the entrance. Say all the positive things you want about those arrowhead shaped beds, but until we see a real picture that demonstrates they have any value, the talk is just theoretical.


clipped on: 03.25.2013 at 07:31 pm    last updated on: 03.25.2013 at 07:31 pm

RE: front yard help - getting rid of large bed - pics (Follow-Up #20)

posted by: woodyoak on 03.24.2013 at 11:03 am in Landscape Design Forum

Yard - a key difference in our approaches is that you are looking at the beds and I am looking at the lawn i.e. shaping the negative space. This illustrates the difference:
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While my version is not ideal since the lawn is too wide relative to its depth so the proportions are not near the 'golden mean' proportions, and the necessary driveway flare prevents the space from having a neat finish (both issues could be solved with a bed on the left side shaped to address those issues....), I find it a much preferable shape to the upper one with the bite out of the corner. Having a deliberately shaped 'negative' space IMO doubles the interest of the space since the lawn now become a feature as much as the beds, instead of being a nothing residual space as it is when you only focus on shaping the beds. A shaped lawn does a better job of being the calm green space that adds drama (through contrast) to the more detailed and colorful planting beds. I think disregarding the shape of the lawn is a missed opportunity to add interest to a garden space.

This post was edited by woodyoak on Sun, Mar 24, 13 at 11:14


clipped on: 03.25.2013 at 07:29 pm    last updated on: 03.25.2013 at 07:29 pm

RE: Is water in the basement always a big problem? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: akamainegrower on 03.19.2013 at 06:24 am in Old House Forum

Many 19th century houses were built with stone foundations of various types. In general they were constructed so that water could enter and exit through a gravity drain. There were many advantages to this type of construction. Unmortared stones could flex with the movement of frost without cracking. Hydraulic pressure could not build up on the foundation's exterior side. Water could be directed to the drain by a gutter built at the intersection of the walls and floor. Many such foundations continue to function as they were intended after 100 or even 200 years. Two things to check: make sure the drain is not clogged. Make sure the grading on the outside directs water away from the foundation.


clipped on: 03.25.2013 at 02:43 pm    last updated on: 03.25.2013 at 02:43 pm

How to find out about your old house

posted by: anenemity on 01.16.2013 at 02:04 am in Old House Forum

A lot of people want to know more about their old houses and the people who lived there, but they don't always know where to start. I'm not a researcher or anything, but I wanted to suggest some things that I did while looking into my house's history. I know I've missed plenty of resources and methods, so please add your own to fill in the gaps!

First thing, I went to the courthouse and looked it up in the property record. I was able to see the owners of the lot all the way back to the city's founding as well as the appraised value of the property. Any substantial difference in value is usually indicative of a building being demolished or built. So even if your house was not the first one to be built on that piece of land, you'll get a general idea of when the current structure or later additions were built.

Then I looked at the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for my town. I was able to access them online with my library's subscription service. These maps came out every couple of years, so I looked first at the years closest to the major valuation changes I found in the courthouse ledger. I found a 1904 map with my house's footprint outlined with a note, "From plans." Presumably it was the landowner building the house, so I was able to determine who built the house based on the property record from 1904. The map also informed me of a change in the address numbers. The street name is the same, but the numbering system was changed at some point. Having the old system's number made the next step easier.

With the names and dates in hand, you can go to your local library and look for old directories. These will yield all kinds of information. You can search by name or by address, which is useful if you can't see your property deed record (I live in a small town where the courthouse is close by and never very busy, so they are eager to help, but you may not be so lucky). Searching by address for me was helpful. The owner apparently built our house as a rental property, so searching by his name wouldn't have helped much. I was able to identify the occupant by looking up the street address. It also listed his occupation and employer, which can lead to all sorts of irrelevant tangential research (I speak from experience). It's neat to see phone numbers begin to appear in these directories. The most prominent and important residents always had the smallest phone numbers - the owner/builder (not occupant) of my house was the town doctor. His phone number was 1!

Don't forget about the census. It's only done every 10 years, so check out the decade closest to your timeframe. These are also arranged by address, so it should be relatively easy to locate your house even if you've been unable to find any names. The census should reveal names, ages, and occupations of all residents, even servants. I know I'm weird, but census pages are beautiful to me. The meticulous note-taking and almost calligraphic handwriting of most of the census-takers practically elevates every page to a piece of art.

Once you have all these names and dates gathered together, you can start looking in the newspaper archives and local history books to see if you can find out any revealing information about the previous owners. My house's original owners were prominent enough to have somewhat regular mentions in the newspaper, if only for their church activities.

I know it seems silly to get into the details of the personal lives of folks who died before my parents were born, but I never feel like I can know an old house until I know a little about the people who lived in and loved it before I did!


clipped on: 03.18.2013 at 09:57 am    last updated on: 03.18.2013 at 09:57 am

RE: Kitchen Window Treatment Help (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: jamies on 03.15.2013 at 12:56 pm in Home Decorating & Design Forum

I don't think I'd introduce color at the window unless you have an overall plan for adding the color throughout the kitchen. For a basically white-with-dark-floor kitchen I think a soft color works. You might get an off white with some gray trim, or just a white. I wouldn't use a high definition color or pattern, because it doesn't seem like you want the window to set a new tone for the room, but just to sing along in the chorus.

For example, I don't really like this one; the print doesn't seem to relate to anything.

But these work for softening, without standing out.

And this looks good with an inside mount -- the fixture fills the space between the ceiling and the top of the window/shade. Yours would probably look good like this.


clipped on: 03.16.2013 at 07:34 pm    last updated on: 03.16.2013 at 07:34 pm

Marble, quartzite and other rocks in the kitchen

posted by: karin_mt on 02.27.2013 at 11:35 pm in Kitchens Forum

The thread about Super White, quartzite, marble and all things stone has run its course up to the 150 post limit. Who knew we'd all have so much fun with that topic? So we'll start a new one here. I guess the first thread was Rocks 101, so this one must be Rocks 102.

I'll reiterate some key points here:

Quartzite and marble are hopelessly (deliberately?) mixed up in the decorative stone industry. My point, aside from just loving rocks, is to help folks learn how to tell the difference between the two so you are not at the mercy of a sales rep when a multi-thousand dollar purchase hangs in the balance.

Quartzite is much harder than marble and will not etch when exposed to acids. You can tell the difference between quartzite and marble by doing the scratch test.

Take a glass bottle with you when you go stone shopping. Find a rough, sharp edge of the stone. Drag the glass over the edge of the stone. Press pretty hard. Try to scratch the glass with the stone.

Quartzite will bite right into the glass and will leave a big scratch mark.
Any feldspar will do the same. (Granites are made mostly of feldspar)

Calcite and dolomite (that's what marble and limestone are made of) will not scratch. In fact you will be able to feel in your hand that the rock won't bite into the glass. It feels slippery, no matter how hard you press.

PS - don't press so hard that you risk breaking the glass bottle. You shouldn't need to press that hard!

That aside, we can talk about other rocks too. Coal, pumice, sparkly crystals, you name it. OK, I guess we're mostly interested in kitchen rocks. :)

Here is a link that might be useful: the lowdown on Super White (aka Rocks 101)

This post was edited by karin_mt on Wed, Feb 27, 13 at 23:41


clipped on: 02.28.2013 at 04:04 pm    last updated on: 02.28.2013 at 04:04 pm