Thursday, March 31, 2005

Looking Up

Apparantly, my blog was down most of the morning.  Something to do with how AOL stores photos.....

At any rate, today I received the test results of the
asbestos test I did on my kitchen's tile ceiling.  The ceiling is quite old and made of a thick - almost foam type - material.  I figured better safe than sorry.

Well, the test results show no asbestos.  I'm not really sure if I am happy or sad to know this. 
Now I have no excuse not to proceed with my kitchen.......and holy cow is tearing that ceiling down going to be messy.  And to be honest, I have no idea how to install the tin ceiling I have my eye on.  Hopefully, underneath all the tile there are furring strips......

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Thrifty Shopper

Target sells some surprisingly solid switch & wall plates under the BetsyFieldDesign label.  I bought a bunch of them in an oiled bronze, greek key design for my living room.  I also bought a bunch in a brushed pewter for my bedrooms.  They actually are virtually the same design & quality as one I ordered from Van Dykes a while back....but a lot less moola.  A cute way to add alittle snazz to a room without spending a lot of money.

Anywhoo......I noticed they are now on clearance in the stores and "on special" online. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Ok, this is really neat stuff.  DAP Elastopatch.

I have been patching cracks in the corners of my plaster walls since I moved into my house.  This stuff works amazingly.  You apply it in the corner and then smooth it out with a gloved finger.  When it dries it stays flexible, so the cracks do not reappear.  It paints nicely.  My house has been crack free for year or so now :-)

Keep in mind that not only are those cracks unsightly, but in cold climates the cracks let a lot of heated air escape (I learned this from my energy audit's infrared reading).

At any rate, Elastopatch can be a bit tricky to track down lately.  A few paint places carry it.  I also found it at Sherwin Williams stores, but they said they wouldn't be restocking it.  You can also order it online.

Monday, March 28, 2005


If there is such a thing as adult onset ADD, I certainly have developed it.  Or maybe I've always had it and just never noticed.  These symptoms go beyond Spring fever.

I signed on to put a quick entry into the StuccoHouse blog.

Two hours later, I have:

**Located & downloaded a live version of a Counting Crows song I heard last summer at an outdoor concert (Someone to Watch Over Me - King of Pain).

**Contemplated how someone as flaky as Adam Duritz can write such decent songs.  And what this says about me that I like them.

**Ordered two new pair of jeans (smaller - teehee).

**Emailed friends.

**Scoured over yellow color paint online to repaint my livingroom.  I decided my livingroom's current color (although I like it a lot) is too dark and it's depressing me.

**Went upstairs and took a look at my newly painted upstairs bedroom to get a look at it in daylight.  It might be a bit too perriwinkle and may need more cream. (More on this topic later).

**Once again, eyed the iPod photo.  Then spent a few minutes trying to justify one.

So, here I am sitting now at my blog too tired and hungry to post something house related.

I promise....later this week pictures of the new shellac finish on the door to my chimney cabinet.  It's turning out very nice.......

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Happy Easter


Happy Easter!


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Ever Shrinking House

I moved to my house from a small condo.  It was 800 sq ft and had a small storage locker in the basement. 

My current house is 1400+ sq ft and has a full basement. 

Where did all the room go? Why after 2 yrs do I still have stuff in boxes?

Saturday, March 19, 2005


I hope to dash off a few quick errands today and then finish up a few quick projects.....

After, I shovel the 5" of snow we received.   Sigh.  I thought Spring was on it's way.

Anyway, this morning I'm going to order the repro black ceramic towel ring for my bathroom.  After much hunting, a few months ago I was able to find vintage set in a local antique store.  The set has a toilet paper holder, towel bar, soap holder and cup holder.   

Also placed an order for Tuffide and Tuffcote.  This summer I plan on encapsulating the asbestos insulation on my heating ventwork in the basement.  When you order, you are at the mercy of what they have on hand colorwise (they sell mostly to contractors who place special orders).  They had a light grey in stock, so I figured I had better take advantage of that.  I figured otherwise I'd end up with the neon orange.....knowing my luck.  The company assured me the product could sit a few months.

My second radon test came back yesterday.  The score was 1.9 pCi/L which is significantly lower than the first test (two done at the same time and averaged) score of 4.1 oCi/L.  Good news, I guess.....but the difference in the scores bothers me.  I'm going to sit on this for a while.

Finally, I'm about finished removing the paint from the door of the chimney cabinet I bought a few weeks ago.  I normally would just let the old paint on the piece, but it was peeling badly and we lead paint.  Not something you want in your kitchen.  The plan is to shellac the exterior with an amber shellac to match my kitchen cabinets.  Hopefully,  I can get the final specs of paint off the door and one coat of shellac on this afternoon.


Friday, March 18, 2005

Project Meeting

My email yesterday was timed perfectly.

I went to the neighborhood history project's first meeting last night.  A very nice group of people.  The organizers gave us an overview of what they envisioned.  Basically, the project will be collecting historical research on a wide variety of topics and conducting oral interviews with some of the older residents of the neighborhood.  It sounds like there will be a few ending projects......a book that will give a neighborhood slice of life.  A contributuon to the state historical society.  Walking tours of the neighborhood.  And maybe a website.  They anticipate the project to take 2-3 years.

Fun, fun, fun.  I hope to participate in both the research and the interviews.  My work requires a lot of research, so I am pretty good and hunting down information.  There are a few topics on their list that interest me.....streetcars, street paving & improvements.  Looking into the small neighborhood grocery stores would also be interesting.  I'd also love to look into "slice of life" topics like ice delivery and coal delivery.  I still have the icebox door on my house and also the former coal burning furnace in my basement.....and I'd be so interested in hearing what life was like using both.  We are also on the lookout for old pictures.

We have another meeting in a week.  As I start my research, I'll post assigned my topics........and would love input and suggestions from blog readers :-) 

Thursday, March 17, 2005

History Project

In one of the local papers earlier this month, I read about a neighborhood project to compile and research the 150+ year neighborhood history. The project will culminate in the publishing of a book.  They were looking for volunteers to do research or interview long time residents.  Sounds like an interesting venture.  I emailed the organizer for more, we'll see what I learn.  I love talking to people and hearing their story.  I'm still relatively new to the neighborhood, so it would also be nice to meet some of my neighbors.  This may be right up my alley.....we'll see.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


I'll have a little free time this afternoon, so I thought what I'd do is a little painting in my office.  A while ago I bought a "wall treatment" called Magnetic Creations.  It is a coating you paint on the wall that allows magnets to stick to it.

Cool, huh?  I'm a sucker for stuff like this. 

At any rate, instructions say to paint this coating on in two to four coats.  Let dry and then paint over with the paint of your choice.  No one knows its there, but you.  I was a bit concerned that it may affect my computer or other electronic equipment, but have discovered that this is essentially a coating of bits of iron that is *not* a magnet, but is receptive to magnets (i.e. a big refrigerator door).

And who can't use some more "refridgerator door" to hang their photos?!

Magnetic Creations
GPM — c/o Magnetic Creations
Cary, IL
Toll Free Phone: 800-850-0113

Update:  Since House in Progress mentioned wanting a review of magnetic, I thought I'd add an update to my original entry.  The magnetic paint was pretty easy to use.  It was really, really thick and needed a lot more stirring than the 20 seconds mentioned in the instructions.  Of course, this also could be because it sat in my basement for over a year.  I had purchased the "refill" container of paint, so I didn't have the official Magnetic Creations roller.  I used a 4" roller with a .25" nap and it worked fine. 

I had taped off the wall when I got to thinking......I'd only be using the middle portion of the wall to hang, I ended up only painting from the door top down to about 24" up from the floor.  The stuff is really thick, so you have to work a bit more than regular paint to get an even coat.  It dries surprisingly fast.  I put on two coats and may add one more before I paint.  Yeah, and magnets *do* work.  Not as strong as a fridge door, but enough to keep papers & pictures suspended.  

Clean up was easy with water & soap.  The stuff does stink and gave me a throat burn (yea, I know...where was my mask) you might want to wait for a day when you can have windows open.  I'm now considering putting a small square up my stairs and in my kitchen (for recipes).......    

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Hear No Evil...

I suspect I'm not the only old house owner that sometimes feels this way.  There are times when you just don't want to know.  Ignorance is bliss and knowing can be expensive.

The yellow water was back yesterday afternoon I stood and stared at it running down the sink for a while trying to decide if I really needed to know what was causing it.  Or, if I even wanted to.  Gawd, I don't want to have to pay for any major plumbing....and my luck with plumbers has not always been good

I debated.  It could be a tiny little thing......or it could be that the PO that redid some of the plumbing didn't take it out to the street (strongly suspected) and the main line was finally failing.  It was the cold water, so it wasn't my was something on the main line.

Curiosity always wins with me....eventually.  I called the City Water Works Dept.  They referred me to their hydrant division.  I chatted with them a while....turns out that they are in the process of replacing hydrants (from the 1800s) in my neighborhood.  They assured me that chances are that the yellow is just sediment that was stirred up in the city lines while they worked. 


Monday, March 14, 2005


Imagine for a moment the little Dutch boy standing with his finger plugging the hole in the dyke and saving his town in Holland from being flooded.

Now, picture me standing in my kitchen...staring up at the acoustic tiles on the ceiling.....holding an asbestos test kit.

Same story.  Different country.  Different century.

I suspect the acoustic tiles in my kitchen may contain asbestos.  This morning I sent in the asbestos test kit sample for testing.  I should have the results in a week or so.

If it comes back negative, I think I will try to rip down the existing ceiling and put up a tin ceiling.  I already know from peeking in at the light fixture that the old ceiling is long gone.  If the results come back positive, I will need to decide if I will just cover it (and be able to cope knowing what is beneath)....or have it abated.

Either way.....once the ceiling is done I can: 1) put up the wallpaper that I have now had sitting in my dining room for two years, 2) paint, install the new lights I have also sitting in my dining room, 3) have cabinets build that will match the existing vintage cabinets (to replace the original that was torn out on the side of my stove), hide a drawer dishwasher in one of the above mentioned new cabinets.

It would be nice to have a normal kitchen.

Friday, March 11, 2005


What an incredibly crappy week.  Phenomenally crappy on every level.  One of those weeks where you hold on to crawl into your flannel jammies on Friday and go to bed very early.  Coming home to an old house in disarray makes it all the worse.  Not a good week to be on old house owner. Sigh.

A Moment of Silence Please

A few days ago I woke up in the wee hours of the morning to a huge tussle taking place outside my house.  Either in the side yard or up on the front of the roof (I was in a dead sleep before waking and was a bit dilerious)....or even possibly up the trellis.  It sounded like two animals in a big fight.

I have a posse of racoons that live in the area.  I figured it was one of them up to no good.  During the summer they can cry like a baby in the alley and freak out the neighborhood, but that's another blog entry for later this summer....

Anyway, later that night I realized things were pretty quiet in the house.  Russel was unusually still.  Then again the next night.  No noise in the wall behind my tv.

Well, here we are almost a week later and still no Russel.   I fear the worst.  Oddly enough, I also miss my little buddy.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Don't Drink the Water

Well, we had a bit of a scare here at StuccoHouse last night.  The water coming out of the cold faucets was all a pale yellow!   I noticed it as I was about to brush my teeth.....eeew :-)

I was a little afraid that this was related to the rust that comes out of the kitchen cold faucet (started after the faucet fixture was replaced last summer).  The rust goes away after running the water for a second or two.  So, I've been in a tiny denial about this....and employing the "if you ignore it, it will go away" tactic.  

But...rust in the kitchen and yellow water everywhere else, leaves little room for denial.  Damn, a call to the plumber seemed inevitable.

Ah, but then I remembered that the street just down from me had been shut to traffic today.  I suspect they were working on the waterline.  Maybe also flushing the hydrants.  The yellow water was gone by bedtime.

Guess I'll give the city a call to confirm.  And go back into denial about the rust issue.  All is well with the world.


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Contractors (Final Installment)

Removed due to odd traffic.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Laundry Chute

In the process of cleaning up my hallway closet, I discovered a laundry chute. It's a little square hole in the floor to the basement laundry area. I've often wondered if there was a cover on the hole...and if so, what it looked like.  There is no evidence of harware holes on the floor surrounding the chute, but there are hooks on the bottom of the shelf directly above the hole. It's been an ongoing mystery.

In my mind I maintain a list (as do most other old house owners, I suspect) of things to watch out for - in magazines, in stores, online, etc.  On my list, is a laundry chute cover.

Well, low and behold I ran across a cover that would fit perfectly (link no longer good) on the existing chute.  The catch?  Direct from France it costs a mere $855 (for the low end model).  I had a good chuckle at the outrageousness of it all......and then added the link to my IE list of Favorites. You see what is coming here, don't you?)

For the past few months I have been hearing a very soft voice calling me from my Favorites list. "StuccoHouse.......we have the perfect laundry chute cover for you.....see how perfectly it fits? even has a push $855 really so much to pay for something so fine?.....just take a look at the picture one more time...."

I can't believe it. I'm actually to the point where I am seriously considering this. Is it crazy to spend that kind of money on something that goes on the floor in your hallway closet?

Sunday, March 06, 2005


I shouldn't have left my house yesterday.

I still have one piece of art from a long ago trip to China that needed to be framed.  It was the last day of a sale at my framing shop (Framstyles), so I hussled out of the house after my latte and headed across town to my old neighborhood to take advantage of the once a year sale.

I like to drive around the lakes to get to Kenwood.  This takes me around part of Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles.  It was a nice day, so many people were out when I hit lake Harriet.   The crowds were still steady when I hit Lake Calhoun, and I was thinking about my days living in that part of town as I drove up on Lake Street and hit a red light.  I stopped.  Then I saw it.  A gaping hole on the corner of Lake Street & Calhoun Parkway.  I sat at the light in shock and ran through my memory as to what once sat there.  Then it came to me in a bolt.  They TORE DOWN the Edgewater apartment building.

Almost everyone that has lived in the Cities during their 20's has done a stint in Uptown.  The area is filled with old, charming apartment buildings from the 1920s.  To the west you have Hennepin with the funky shops, restaurants and the bars.  To the east you have the lakes.  Your friends live in buildings around you.  It's young, it's diverse, it's edgy, it's artsy and it's fun, fun, fun.  Well, it used to be.

The trendy reputation and cheap money have drawn developers in droves.  Each time I drove through the area, another new "exclusive" condo building appeared. For a time the new buildings were limited to replacing old parking lots or really shabby warehouses.  This was fine.

Quite a few of my friend lived in the Edgewood over the years (I lived two blocks down from it).  It was on the shores of Lake Calhoun.  I'd guess, probably one of the first apartment buildings built in the area.  Some of the apartments looked out on the lake.  The others looked down over Lake Street.  You could spend the better part of an afternoon sitting in one of the old sun rooms watching people walking down Lake Street to the lake.  This was one of those old buildings with a grand entryway, hardwood floors, old style kitchens, huge sunrooms, walk in closets, divided light windows, brick exterior...... It oozed charm.  It would have done very well if it had been sold as condos.  Instead it is now a pile of rubble.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Habitat for Humanity

I signed up today to work on a Habitat for Humanity house for three days in April.  I've done this a few times in the past and always had great fun.  I have serious cabin fever right now and figured this was a good way to get out in the sun and do something out of my regular routine.

Before you go thinking about what a good volunteer I am, I should confess a tiny ulterior motive.  Turns out working on an HFH house teaches you a whole lot about house construction....and that is very helpful in owning an old house.  I have a really hard time looking at my house and imagining what is behind the plaster walls....and the stucco exterior.  It's pretty enlightening to see how a house actually goes together.

Last time I worked on a HFH house, I nailed shingles on a roof (yikes), put up vinyl siding (yea, I know), and applied a stucco finish to a foundation.  I would have never had the guts and/or inclination to give these tasks a try.......without being under the watchful eye of the HFH contractor that made sure nothing truly bad was going to happen to me or the house.

Its also just kind of nice to get out and work on something that is *not* your house for a day or two.

Now I'm just hoping for sun for those three days........

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Power Tools

It took me a while to figure out having the right tool can make all the difference in the world in completing a project.  When I finally discovered the window glazing tool and how to use it, my life became infinitely easier.  Who knew such a little gadget could make such a difference?!

I have grown to like tools.  If they have power, all the better.  You can find me at Menards stopping to look at the power tools on the way to the registers.  I have no idea what most of them do, yet I am strangely drawn.

Today, I will pay homage to my favorite tool.  I received my Black & Decker 12v cordless drill set last year as a birthday gift.  Here is why it is has three exchangable heads.  A drill, a circular saw, and mouse sander.  It has enough power and gadgets to be impressive, yet not so many that it is intimidating (like my miter saw).  This drill has become the most used power tool in the house.....and only falls behind my ratcheting hand screw driver in the overall tool catagory.

Now, if I could just figure out how that damn miter saw works......

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Back to School

I've taken two classes lately.  One in North Indian cooking and another in html website design.  Turns out each has an indirect effect on my old house......

I took the Indian cooking class because I love Indian food.  I figured it would be cheaper to make it at home than it is to haul myself to the other side of the city to either eat in or take out.  The class was a great sucess and I realized two things:  1) I was going to need more room in my spice rack.  2) my kitchen should be my next project (more about this later).

The website design class caught my attention in part because my house website doesn't do what I want it to do....and I hate the Easy Designer software that is used to create it.  We'll see what progress I make over the next few weeks :-)

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