1900ish Victorian - pretty bare bones!

ashley_tJanuary 21, 2011

Hi there! I'm new here, although I have posted a time or two in other threads. I tried to post a new topic previously but it never showed, so I must have done something wrong...

Here's our humble abode! Located in rural Central Ontario...for reference purposes, we are just outside of Barrie, ON.

We don't know much history about the house, yet. So far all we know is that a three person family lived here (census indicates "house leased") in the spring of 1901. A father and son of a different family lived here at the next census of 1911. In the 2000's, at least 2 families lived here before we bought, however they rented and did not own. We haven't tracked down a build date yet! We are planning a visit to the Simcoe County Archives to see what we can dig up.

All the original woodwork that hasn't been painted out has "faux bois" which has been discussed in another thread. I'm not looking foward to the expectedly painstaking task of restoring it! It's pretty rough in some places due to years of being beaten and not looked after.

There are original hardwoods throughout the house, except in the bathroom. We think the kitchen floor is maple, however the rest of the house is pine. The living room floor actually does need to be replaced - previous owners cut gaping holes in the boards as well as the JOISTS in order to get a furnace/oil tank into the basement at some point. Oi vey. This isn't the worst of it:

I know Christmas is over, but you can see the original wood door (with original hardware!) behind the Christmas tree. This door, along with the french doors you can see in the photo higher up, are my favourite parts of the house:

If anyone might have some insight on what style of Victorian our house is, I'd be more than happy to hear them :)

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I don't have any information for you, but I love your house. The brickwork is lovely - ornate but still so clean looking - & that door is a treasure!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 11:46AM
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Oh, what a gem you have! I love that it is brick. Great shaped windows and your front door is really charming. It has so much potential to be restored. How long have you lived there? Do you think this is your "forever home", or that you'll be there for awhile anyway? You look young - hope that means you have lots of energy! As any old home owner will tell you - you're going to need it! Thanks for posting your pictures and telling us about your home. I always love seeing pictures. I hope you'll post more as you work on your home too. Welcome!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 1:21PM
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We've owned it since this past September, and have been living there since Halloween weekend. I'm 24 and my boyfriend is 25, so I'd say we're young :) It will probably be our forever home - my boyfriend's parents live a couple concessions over, and his grandparents live on a century farm in the area as well. We've JUST started doing some work (everything previous has just been painting the walls a liveable colour).

First thing to do was support the main beams in the basement...previous owners did some dummmmmmb things, structurally. We just had to fix our stair case this week, actually. Because of the stupid things previous owners had done...the walls on either side of the stair case were spreading in which the end result was...:

Thankfully, the bf is off work until February 10th and his dad is off work too due to the season (he's a crop farmer), so they've had time to fix!

We've started stripping and sanding the original treads. This weekend we'll finish the job! Risers will be white and the treads will be stained to match the colour of the faux bois'd wood work on either side.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 3:01PM
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Wow, what a beautiful home! Welcome, this is such a great group. How nice to have a collection of handy men around. The new stairs look great ~ and your front door is so gorgeous. So much character, your house is as lucky to have you as you are to have it.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 3:13PM
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I'd have to say it is a mix of styles and details. The interior woodwork is firmly in the Queen Anne/Eastlake mode, but the exterior is more like a Victorian Gothic.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 7:19PM
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your home has great potential!!! I love the brick! Good luck with it!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 10:10AM
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I love it! It reminds me of the farmhouse that Sarah Richardson did on a recent season of Sarah's House (probably a few years old, but we just got it here in the US).

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 12:25PM
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"I'm 24 and my boyfriend is 25, so I'd say we're young :)"

Good start, now most of us here hate you already...lol

"It will probably be our forever home"

I thought that about 3 times in my life already, but a (now ex) wife who changed her mind like I change sox, and a divorce, tend throw a wrench into those plans...finally in my "post-divorce" forever home...but hey, I'm only 46 plenty of time for that to change again!

All joking aside, looks like a very cool house, love the brickwork. I know it's cold up there, but resist the temptation to run out and replace all those double-hung windows...you'll regret it down the road if this is truly going to be your "forever house". Restore them instead.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 3:42PM
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re: the windows...

My boyfriend I are occassionally at odds regarding what to do with the house. I want to restore and save as much as possible, and he's willing to do that, to a point. There are some things he just does not want to deal with - so we compromise.

We will probably end up with new windows. However, I am pushing really really really hard for reproductions of the originals. I've been frequenting this company's website: http://www.hoffmeyersmill.on.ca/web/hoffmeyers.htm

    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 11:23AM
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The windows don't look that bad (of course I'm not seeing them up close & personal, LOL) - wait until you see a price for good reproductions! I'd invest in storms & restore the old windows when time allows.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 2:55PM
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You can get a lot better performance even from old windows if you make the seal better.

Conservation Technology (Baltimore, MD) has all sorts of 'flipper' and other seals that work well on double hung windows without showing much (if at all).

The flipper seals are placed in a very narrow groove in the sides of the double hung windows and make a decent seal as long as the tracks are smooth.
Nothing shows when the window is installed.

You can also use the flipper seals on the top of the upper sash and the bottom of the lower sash (they show slightly when the window is open).

Felt seals can be used at the meeting rail in the middle of the window, and again only show when the window is open.

You will never find any wood as good as the stuff in those old windows.
Minwax High Performance Wood Filler can be used to repair damaged areas and then sanded and painted.
If you do a good job sanding the repairs cannot be seen under a coat of paint.
The filler can even be carved when partially hardened to repair damaged molding profiles (you can shape after hardening further, but is is easier to shape the partially hardened material).

Hiring someone to rebuild and renovate older windows often costs as much as replacing them.
You can do window renovation yourself bit by bit if you have storms to close the opening when the sashes are removed.

Most of the advantage of new windows is in the gasketing that reduces infiltration.
Even old wooden storm windows can use some gasketing to improve their seal.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 3:35PM
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I tried to make a Follow up post up earlier and it didn't come through..

The majority of the window frames are rotten and moldy on the inside, unfortunately. We only seem to have half of the storm windows too, for whatever reason. No one bothered to take care of a lot of things here. Plus there's hardly a pane of intact glass!

We're not in any particular hurry so we'll see...

I found a random piece of stamped tin today nailed to a wall just inside the basement door. No date, unfortunately!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 8:12PM
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I agree with Jakabedy...check out the Sarah Richardson farmhouse. It will probably give you some great ideas! :)

She did replace the windows, but she changed quite a few things. The layout is much different, and she added an addition, but it's a beautiful home...and has the lovely brick, like yours!

You can view the episodes, on HGTV.com

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to Sarah's farmhouse pictures

    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 8:51PM
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Thanks, Ken. I've actually looked through your website a couple of times (I'd seen it posted in a couple other threads).

After thinking about it, I now have no intentions of getting rid of the original windows. When they come out, I'll try my hand at restoring them, bit by bit. That way, when the new windows that boyfriend is insiting on need replacing, the restored old ones can go back in!

Compromise in action :)

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 10:19AM
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Oh, I also meant to update you guys on the stairs! Here they are sanded, stained, and painted. The first clear coat has gone on and now we just have to add some moulding between the risers and treads so that it looks more finished.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 11:17AM
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You know, your house looks not unlike some of the small town schoolhouses that were built in larger towns in Virginia and Pennsylvania once towns became large enough that the old one-room school houses weren't suitable anymore.

There are a couple I know of here in Virginia, and a couple where I grew up in Pennsylvania that are similar looking to your home.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 9:29PM
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We found a build date! 1899.

Also, apparently it used to be used as a boarding house for teachers who taught at the one room brick school house down the road (1883 - 1950's).

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 3:34PM
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Love it! We had a 1903 brick home that we raised our kids in (just south of Ottawa). We had the very same trim, and pocket doors (those are pocket doors in your picture?). We didn't redo the trim, just left it battered as it was - gives character! Our doors had that faux grain, which we also left as is. I miss that house, but when the kids left home, it was WAY too big. Anyway, although I'm new to this forum, my suggestion would be to leave some things as is, to *feel* the house with its history and age.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 3:52PM
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I love your windows! And I see you have a typical Golden Retriever - always sneaking into pictures!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 10:40AM
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"Also, apparently it used to be used as a boarding house for teachers who taught at the one room brick school house down the road (1883 - 1950's)."

Now that makes sense.

It very well may have been built by the same builder who built the school, and may even have been owned by the school. That very likely could explain the lack of exterior decoration and the schoolhouse look about it.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 12:26PM
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Re: "Also, apparently it used to be used as a boarding house for teachers who taught at the one room brick school house down the road (1883 - 1950's)."

... but one-room schools were taught by ONE teacher. My mother-in-law taught at a one-room school as late as the 1950s, and she taught all grades.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 2:43PM
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Yes - I don't think they were implying that several teachers lived here at once, but that when one would leave another would move in and board. Although, there is another school not far so it very well could have housed more than one. Who knows. No way to confirm one way or the other.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 8:29PM
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Hi, I'm really enjoying this thread, and, based on reading this forum for a few years, I'd give a lot of weight to what brickeyee said about windows.

On to the fun part--could you please take a closer-up photo of the corner blocks at the top of one of your doors or windows? I'd really like to get a better peek at them--so distinctive.

And just for fun, here is another house with nice Eastlake woodwork details on the interior:

Here is a link that might be useful: Corner block, also called head block

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 8:10AM
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slateberry51, I'll absolutely take some closer pics! If I was home I'd do it right now, but alas, the power is out and it's a balmy 10 degrees inside, so we've sought temporary shelter elsewhere until the power is restored. Thanks for the link, as well. I'm really quite fond of the Eastlake style, particularily the door hardware.

We're having wicked windstorms where I am in Ontario right now. We've seen at least 2 trees completely uprooted, and the top of one of our trees came down across the driveway (probably a 20 ft section??). Many houses are losing siding, shingles, and shoddily installed steel tiles.

Anyway, here's some pictures of my most recent happenings and discoveries.

I finally got around to cleaning up the old Suffolk latches, and an almost complete rimlock set. Here's the first batch of pieces!

The neat "shingles" on the roof of the shack that collapsed back in December. A couple blew off in the storm today. I think they're tin?

Beautiful day yesterday

And the tree

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 3:31PM
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Like Slateberry, I'm riveted by your corner blocks. I live in a wooden Victorian house in Vancouver, BC, and while our house (circa 1905) has mitred original woodwork, I salvaged some old corner blocks and plinths (and mouldings) from a house down the street that was being gutted after a kitchen fire, and hope to find a place to use them. I really appreciate seeing how yours are installed. Maybe a thread on corner blocks is merited, but for the moment I'll post them here.

I have two comments for you, both about stripping paint. First, if you have significant amounts to do, consider getting an infrared paint stripper now, rather than, like me, finally getting one after going through a thousand dollars worth of chemical strippers first. Second, with respect to windows, if they're painted, think lead. I am just wondering if that safety gate on the stairs denotes a child or "just" animals. But even for yourself, you should maybe know what your lead exposure is, as there might be a risk if you have working painted windows.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 11:50PM
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Here they are! I was really surprised that they are one piece. Just to clarify, they are pointed in the middle, the boyfriend just took quick shots.

We have twelve in total. We also have 8 of just the 'bulls eye' block in what is going to be the master bedroom upstairs. The rest of the house casing is just plain wood (no mill work whatsoever).

Thanks for the tips about lead KarinL. The gate is for animals. When we did the stairs we took appropriate precautions like masks and plastic barriers so dust didn't travel.

On a different note, I'm originally from Nanaimo BC. I miss those winters!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 11:56AM
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I've spent a few winters in Ontario (London and Toronto), so I know what you mean! But being from here where there's nothing but wood, I love Ontario's brick houses. It's neat to see inside an old one.

Those blocks are amazing- Slateberry's post about how the heck they were made really resonates.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 12:21AM
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What's to know about installing corner blocks? Nail them at the corners of the opening. The whole point of using them is that no angles need to be cut in the trim, just make sure it's square at the end. The block sits directly at the corner, while the trip is usually set back about a 1/16th" to provide a small reveal.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 5:15AM
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Hey Ashley, your windstorm visited New England next and now we have the downed trees etc. At the peak of the storm, my husband put on his coat and was heading out the front door. "Where are you going?" I asked. "To get shaving cream, I'm all out." "Oh no, don't go out, it's not worth it," I answered. He looked at me like I was crazy, opened the door, stepped out, came right back in, and shut the door quickly. He got the shaving cream the next morning when the wind died down! We're not afraid of a little wind, but truly, it went right through you.

Thank you for the pictures! Your blocks are awesome. I love the playful gothic look of the tops.

Lead can harm pets too so I'm glad you're taking precautions. I've linked in a classic article by Bob Flexner on paint strippers. You'll probably end up with some sort of a heat gun too, but for some jobs the chemicals can be very useful.

Here is a link that might be useful: Flexner on strippers

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 6:53AM
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Thank you for that link! All the mill work upstairs has been painted out white (except the hall) and I've been going back and forth about whether to try and strip it back down to wood. I do like white, but seeing how beautiful my original stair treads are sans paint is really making me think!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 9:30AM
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Columbusguy, for me the question was how to place blocks that were clearly higher than the trim is wide. The way that Ashley's extend above the moulding is something I haven't seen installed much, if at all. I wasn't sure whether they should extend below the window frame (shorter upright piece) or above the trim.

Ashley, sometimes it's worth stripping even if you want to paint something. It is possible to have too much wood showing, and the grain and shade aren't all as pretty as your stairs. The previous owners of our house couldn't paint without making huge drips, and the trim had been painted so often that it was "profile, what profile?" So we stripped it all (or rather, are still stripping it), although I may repaint some of it. One coat of paint will be way better than ten.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 12:02AM
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my bullseye corner blocks upstairs have a wave, or horn shaped embellishment above them. I'd take a picture but my husband lost our camera.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 11:39PM
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I've been doing a lot of hashing back and forth lately. The replacement windows that boyfriend is insisting on are waaay out of our budget for the next little while. So, I'm going to take that as an opportunity to work on fixing up one of the current windows so that he can see how fantastic they'll be (for less!).

I have a lot of research to do. I think I will start with the bathroom window (or at least one of the ones with a storm). Wish me luck.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 10:45AM
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I love the look of your new stairs. I'm thinking about stealing your idea for our back stairs (only 4 steps rather than an entire staircase). The treads are painted white on ours so it always looks dirty - I'd much prefer the wood anyway and it'd look nicer year-round.

What did you use to strip the wood? How long did it take (approx/stair)? What did you resurface with (i.e. how did you protect the wood)? Thanks!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 2:17PM
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To be honest, we went into it totally unresearched and unprepared. It took HOURS for each tread.

We should have heat stripped first, then used a good chemical stripper, then sanded.

Instead, we used chemical stripper, scraped, chemical stripper, scraped, sanded, chemical stripper, scraped, and so on and so on and so on. I definitely do NOT recommend that route!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 2:27PM
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Oops, just realized I only answered half your questions.

After getting all the gunk off, we conditioned the wood with Varathane brand conditioner. We used just one coat of stain, and then finished it off with several coats of fast drying poly. The finish is definitely slick - the dog slips ALL THE TIME when she's running up the stairs and leaves scratch marks/indents (which I don't mind, because it makes the new treads look a little more worn!).

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 3:07PM
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Roger, if you search around this forum you'll find a lot of discussion about how to strip paint. Also, thanks for relating your experience with white treads, that will influence my plans for our stairs!

And Ashley, your plan reminds me of so many arguments with my husband through our old house project... no matter how many times I strip something and make it gorgeous, it is always, always horrible old junk to him until it is stripped and finished. Some people have imagination, others don't. He can take a box of old parts and turn it into a car or bicycle or motorcycle, but wood... he just can't see it until it's done.

But having said that, the threads about stripping paint also talk about heat stripping releasing lead fumes, so keep that in mind. And starting a new thread about your windows, with a photo, might elicit some other advice.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 4:12PM
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Thanks for the advice, KarenL. I had a look at one of the windows that has a storm on it. Apparently, they thought it would be a good idea to make it permanent by spraying foam insulation in any seams and then also nailing.

On the upside, the original hardware things to keep the storms in are still there.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 7:54PM
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Well, I am "late to the party" but Ashley, that is a gorgeous house. I have old family photos from Green Bay, WI and one of the houses looked like that. I love the woodwork. Mine is very simple in comparison (1938). I need to refinish our stairs, but doubt that our wood is the same quality (more like pine). Have patience and do one room at a time. Is your house warm, or will you have to add insulation?

Enjoy! That is a very special house.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 10:40PM
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Hi colorcrazy,

thankfully, it's quite warm. We lost power a few weeks back for 14 hours, and the inside temperature dipped down to 7 celcius. When the power came back on, we were up to 15 celcius in less than two hours. All the walls have blown cellulose that was put in at some point. The kitchen is noticably the coldest room, probably because only one of it's three windows has a storm on it.

I have some new pictures to share since I've last been around.

Front window with it's fancy-ness:

One of our upstairs originals:

Our windows are double hung, but they do not have a weight and pulley system. They are simply held open by propping up the sash. The top sashes don't move right now because someone tacked in a block of wood preventing it. I'm not sure if that's how they were originally or not!

I'm in the process of finishing up one of the spare bedrooms. The window you see above is in that room, and it is terribly, terribly rotten. I was vaccuuming out dead flies from between the window and the DIY permanent storm (insert eye roll here), and the vaccuum nozzle went right through the sill. Blech. All that's left to do in the room is the floor. And the window, but I'm ignoring it for now.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 1:59PM
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I love your house! Have you thought of doing a blog about your progress? There's this real estate site that features renovation blogs www.brownstoner.com - this is for properties in Brooklyn where we live, and not Ontario -- but maybe you'll find some inspiration for your own blog.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 8:43AM
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Nice stairs Ashley! Also nice front window!
The inside corner of the corner block lines up with the inside corner of the trim pieces, leaving about a 1/16-1/8" gap between the inside edge of the trim and the window opening--a 'reveal'. If the block has extra embellishments which would be above the top edge of the casing, that was to show that you could afford fancy trim, and wasn't a problem at all. :) A second-floor apartment in a victorian house I lived in had corner blocks which extended higher than the casing--a very nice house at one time, but the current owner didn't put any money into it unless he absolutely had to--it was in a university neighborhood.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 3:52AM
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New pictures! Thanks everyone for your lovely comments on our home. I love it more and more every day. I have thought about doing a blog, especially since I photograph EVERYTHING. I have one that I write about dogs, so perhaps I could add a house one to my account...we'll see.

The spare room! The only thing outstanding is to refinish the floor (worn, painted pine), figure out what to do with the light fixture (the fitter is a bizarro world size that no shade seems to fit), and restore the window. I'm pretty happy with my decorating, considering all of the furniture was FREE!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 11:24AM
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This past weekend we finally tore down the shack that collapsed in December from really heavy snowfall. It was sad - there as so much wood that would have been beautiful once, but it was completely rotten. Such is life, I suppose.

Still standing (if that's what you can call it):

Inside pictures before demo:

Down it goes...:

What we're left with:

A whole bunch of rotten wood, carpet, cardboard, straw, etc, etc, etc.

And finally, some treasures pulled from inside:

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 11:32AM
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