Saturday, May 28, 2005

Loppers, etc.

For the record, today was not the day to go to Home Depot.  The phrase “jam packed” does not do justice to what I witnessed this afternoon.  Sometimes I just don’t think before hopping in my car and driving across town.


I was determined today to spend my $60 in gift cards before they expired (that would be just my luck).  So, even after seeing the teeming masses in the parking lot I decided to shop.


First stop was the garden shop to pick up a lopper.  My back hedges are going to be pruned.  My lilacs are going to be cut way back.  A whopper of a lopper was needed for the job.  I picked out the “pro” version that promised to cut 2” branches.  I spotted a “Garden Weasel” that seemed like a good idea, so I picked that up too.


Next stop was the garage door opener section. I wanted to pick their brains on my garage door/thief situation.  The sales guy was very knowledgeable on all kinds of openers.  When I told him my recent tale of woe, he sympathized.  Then much to my amusement instructed me in how to wire the remote keypad to give anyone that touched it a good jolt J  Sounds like my kind of fun (people messing with my stuff brings out the non-sympathetic side of me).


Last stop was the mulch area.  Sigh.  I feel like I have been buying this stuff or months.  I’ve now learned to totally disregard the advice on the bag as to how much area the bag will cover.  To say they are optimistic would be kind.  12 square feet coverage 2” deep… ass.  However, the guy working in this area called me “young lady” and this lifted my mood slightly.


Shopping done I went home to try out my new toys. 


Of course, the 5 bags of mulch covered somewhere in the ballpark of 3 square inches.  More is needed.  Enough said.


I moved on to my back yard (unidentified) bushes. They have not been pruned in many, many years.  Although we did trim them back last year from about 10 ft down to 6 ft.  This lopper tool was fun.  Before I knew it I had cut one of the bushes back almost to the ground.  It’s a little like trimming your own hair (girls, you know what I’m talking about here)….you start on one side…then cut the other side to even it…..then go back to the original side to even it…….  Three hours later, all 6 of the bushes were cut back to the ground.  Both the bushes and I were a little shocked by my ambition.


Last but not least, I took the Garden Weasel out for a spin in my newly dug garden.  I’m still killing off the sod and the GW did a good job of breaking up the dried sod chunks.  Now if it ever warms up and the sun comes out, I can plant.


Whew, now which of those restaurants around me deliver?  We deserve a little treat :-)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


I subscribe to the This Old House email newsletter.  My old house philosophy differs vastly from theirs.  However, I will admit that they do know their stuff and generally I find the articles very interesting (even if not applicable to my house).

In today's newsletter there was a little piece of trivia that I loved.  I'm sure I will be able to pull up this piece of info. at sometime in the future and impress someone.

Ever wonder why that hook on the end of a tape measure isn't fixed in position? It wiggles on its rivets to make up for the hook's thickness. Push the tip against something for an inside measurement, and the hook is included in the reading; hook it on the end of a piece for an outside measure, and the resulting gap equals the space the hook would take up. But if the hook leaves you guessing when you’re measuring short distances, line up the 1-inch mark at the start, then deduct that extra inch from the final measurement.

Cool, huh?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

CSI Twin Cities

Big excitement here this past week at StuccoHouse. We have joined the ranks of Vegas, New York and Miami with our own crime scene investigation.

The StuccoHouse garage was broken into.

It should be noted, however, our little criminal may not be as sophisticated as what we would find on tv. Not by a long shot.

First clue is the fact that someone would envision anything of any value within the four walls of the humble little StuccoHouse car shack. This just makes me chuckle.

Second clue, is that he has been working on cracking the code to the keyless entry for a few weeks. Yes, he left little clues for me that he has been working on cracking this code nightly. Conveniently giving me plenty of time to chat with my security company :-)

Third clue, is that upon getting into the garage he took nothing. He either: 1) spotted the little trap laid out for him; 2) was satisfied with just getting the door open; or 3) wisely decided there was nothing there worth getting caught over. He left empty handed with the door open.

There are four people that know the code. One being me, two living out of town and one totally not interested in what I have in my garage. They have been pretty much eliminated as suspects...for now. No DNA tests needed. We do have other clues though.......

So, today (a very handsome, I might add) policeman stopped by take a written report. My job is to inform the neighborhood. He will let me know when & if the perp has been apprehended :-)

Monday, May 23, 2005


Just a quick tip.  I received my new Schoolhouse Electric catalog this past week.  If you haven't ordered one, do it immediately.  They have loads of yummy, new designs :-)

I ordered all of my kitchen lighting (yet to be hooked up) from them a year or so back and had quite good luck with their product and service.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


If Noah rang my doorbell with the arc parked out front, it would not surprise me.  It has rained here for the last 40 days & 40 nights.   Okay, I exaggerate.  It has rained for the past two weeks, before that it was snowing.  Sigh. Life in Minnesota.  For goodness grief, I still have two wool blankets on my bed.


Last Saturday was particularly cruel.  The sun would come out and it would shine.  You would quickly scramble to do one of a hundred things on your “to do” list that was been put on hold during the weather.  You would get outside tools in hand….and even a bit of a smile on your face…..and down would come the rain.  The rain would be falling at the same time the sun was shining and there wasn’t even a rainbow.  This is character building weather.


Ok, so now you know my mood.  I got defiant.  I ran outside with my shovel and it started to rain….and I decided I didn’t care.  I was digging, by George, rain or shine.


I turned over the sod for my new garden.  It is ¾ the originally planned size due to the discovery of an electrical pipe (I knew it was there, just not angled in the way it was - see the little patch where I had to replace sod - oops).  After many calls I had decided earlier in the week that renting a tiller was beyond the scope of my capabilities and not worth the effort.  For the record, I may not have been correct on this.  Hand digging a garden is a lot of work…..3 hours worth.


At any rate, now the garden is dug.  The sod sits on a pile…because it is raining too hard to apply a spray of RoundUp.  Enough already, I want to plant the rest of my veggies.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Kitchen Tour

Ok, the Kitchen Tour.  This tour was sponsored by the Twin Cities Bungalow Club.  They have sponsored a tour annually for as long as I have been a member.  It's a fun way to get ideas, meet your neighbors and keep interest going for bungalows (and other old houses).

This year there were 6 houses on the tour.  I did a bit of a speed tour in order to accommodate other plans.  I skipped one of the houses that was a little further out than the rest.

I've posted some pictures scanned from handouts given out by some of the homeowners.  It didn't dawn on me to bring a camera.  All but one house were restorations of kitchens that had been modernized by previous owners.  At least two of the houses were also included in Bungalow Nation (p. 126 & p. 142 - House #2 & House #4)

Some highlights...

I will start off by saying....these kitchens were small, I mean really small.  All of them ended up being tres cute and very functional.

House #1 - Had stunning custom oak cabinets...inset doors, no kick space, old style hardware.  You can't see it in the photos, but the idea I took away from this house was a very discreet stove exhaust hood that blended in with the plaster walls.

House #2 - This house had the original kitchen.  The homeowner stripped the birch cabinets of 8 layers of paint and then finished them with a stain and a hand rubbed poly.  This kitchen was no doubt my favorite because the cabinets were twins to the ones in my house, it had the old wall sink......and I am a sucker for an original kitchen.  They had just purchased a 1940's O'Keefe & Merritt stove.  The homeowner was nice enough to let me peek inside to get an idea of what needed to be restored in the old stoves.  I had come to the conclusion that I would never find an old stove in relaible condition in these parts......but seeing theirs sucked me right back in to wanting vintage. Sigh.  She had a cute very old style looking doorbell in the kitchen....that much to my surprise, she said she bought at TruValue. Huh.

House #3 - Was all about English Arts & Crafts.  It dawned on me that there is a whole other level of old house restoration that I will never reach as I toured this house.  Bradbury & Bradbury wallpaper abounded.   Furniture all had pedigree.  Two things of note (to me) in the house:  The owner had built in bookshelves in the upstairs expansion where I had been considering knee wall drawers....theirs had glass inset doors and looked spectaular.  Ooohhh, and he also had an old stove.  A 1930's Magic Chef.  I chatted with him about the stove, restoration, shipping costs......

House #4 - This was the Breakfast Nook house.  You could hear people gasping when they came in.  It was cute.  Very cute.  It had a rebuilt breakfast nook table & benches fit in the spot where the original had been ripped out.  The homeowner had also made a set of stained glass windows that were very impressive.

House #5 - Sorry, I skipped this house.  I wish I had been able to talk to the homeowners about their wood storms/screens.

House # 6 - Overall this was my favorite house (did I mention that most of the homeowners let you check out the rest of their house in addition to the kitchen?).  The house itself had a cozy feel.  They had found their original birch cabinets in the basement & garage. They had a friend build matching cabinets for the remaining walls.  Damn, I need friends like that.  They had added modern elements like open steel shelving for additional storage.  They had the mailbox that I have had my eye on, so I was able to check that out.  Again, I realized the whole other plateau out there for home restoration when I eavesdropped on homeowner/visitors planning to set up a pot luck for those who had "made the book" (I couldn't figure out what "book."  A Jane Powell or Bungalow Nation, no doubt).

At any rate, a fun fun day.  I'm hoping next year is the Bungalow Bathrooms tour......   

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Free Woodchips

I promise I'll post a review of the Kitchen Tour in the next day or so. 

But, until then I'm providing a nice link to free woodchips in the Minneapolis area.  They say you don't need to be a resident on Minneapolis to partake.  I had remembered that there were a few locations where they piled the chips for taking.....and got motivated to find them after buying 8 bags of mulch for one (read that one) of the garden beds surrounding my house.

Friday, May 13, 2005


I apologize for being such a slug in keeping up my blog this week.  A few times each year my allergy to trees, mold & flowers conspires to knock me to my knees.  This past week was one of those times. 

However, all was not lost.  Even when laying on my couch being whiney.....somehow my mind still runs at 1000% and can think up a thousand things to consider:

1) A Wednesday spent on the living room couch cemented in my mind that the living room needs a new color. Sure, I like the color it is now (Devine - Sundown), but it has never been just "right."  As if I don't have a thousand half-finished projects, it needs to be repainted.

2) Who knew rhubarb needed three years to become established?  This means it will be the summer of 2007 before I am able to can rhubarb or make rhubarb crisp again.  I am down to my last half bag of frozen loot from last year.  This really hit me yesterday when I  ran across a recipe for vanilla pudding and baked rhubarb in my new issue of Martha Stewart Living.  OMG, yum.  Between you and me (and to be fair it probably was the allergy hives/fever/Allegra speaking).....I briefly toyed with the idea of sneaking into the community garden and borrowing some of the rhubarb in full bloom.  Sadly, I get caught any time I try to do something, I had to drop that idea.

3)  I planted my tomatos last weekend.  I know, I know....too early.  But it was so unusually warm for a week or it seemed unthinkable that it would get cold again (never mind the fact that two weeks ago it snowed).  I'm sure my neighbors enjoyed me sneaking out each day this past week in my jammies to make sure those little Brandywines were holding on.

4) I also decided that I would like a chair rail in my bathroom.  Wallpaper above and either paint or tile below.  I will need advice on this one, so stay tuned for pictures and a desperate request for input.

5) Now if you will forgive me.....both the Farmers' Market and the Twin Cities Bungalow Club Kitchen tour are this weekend, so I have to go try to pull myself together for them.......

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Squirrel Part II

Well, the squirrel that bit the tops off my tulips has recently been eyeing my newly sprouted sweet peas.  Over my dead body will he get them. Over my dead body.

Off to the garden store I went.  Keep them growing strong and smelling bad was their advice.

$17 later I left the store with what amounts to a bag of old cow poop and a box of dried fox pee.  There is something just so, so wrong with this.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Lawn Equipment

My new Black & Decker lawn equipment arrived yesterday.  I originally wanted the hedge trimmer but in shopping discovered that if you buy all three, the price was 50% off the price you would pay had  purchased each piece separately.  The set also comes with three batteries, a 3 port battery charger station and a storage station.  The reviews were all pretty good.......I needed a trimmer/edger I thought what the heck. 

Similar to my drill, they are all 18 volt battery run.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Plumbing - A Guide to Repair

One day I will write a book.


It will top the NY Times best seller list.  Plumbers and homeowners from near and far will flock to my seminars.  The curriculum for trainee plumbers nationwide will be revised to include my new theory.  I will quit my job and tour with the book.  I will never have to hire another plumber to work on my house….ever again.


The book will be written based on a theory I have developed after my years of careful study.  I will provide examples of my success using this method.


The title of the book will be Plumbing: The Denial Method of Repair.


For the sake of illustration, I will use my yesterday’s success in “repairing” the indoor turn off valve for my outdoor faucet to demonstrate the essential steps of this theory.


1.   Discover problem.  In this case, a turn off valve that was shut off too tightly and would not open……and started leaking water.

2.   Curse your bad luck. This must be done out loud and with emphasis.

3.   Curse the person who originally turned off the valve. (skip this step if you did it yourself)

4.   Go upstairs and pull out your copy of Reader’s Digest Home Repairs Guide.  Study Index in the hopes your exact problem is covered in detail.  Put book back on shelf when you can’t find your exact problem in the Index.

5.   Go back downstairs and stare up at problem for at least 10 minutes.

6.   (Optional step) Curse your bad luck again.

7.   Spray WD40 on problem.  This step must be followed regardless of nature of problem.

8.   Go back upstairs and search This Old House website's Homeowner’s section for your exact problem.  Read articles on a number of interesting gardening and decorating topics that have nothing to do with your plumbing problem.

9.   Talk to family & friends about your plumbing problem.

10. Bargain with a higher power.  Be sincere. Promise your first born if need be.

11. Spend a few hours fretting over how much a plumber is going to charge you to fix said problem.

12. Go into denial.  When family & friends ask you about problem, respond “What problem?”

13. Spend at least two days (but up to two months) ignoring problem.  If you must pass problem on the way to something else, avert eyes.

14. Finally come to the decision that as a responsible homeowner, something must be done to remedy the situation.

15. Prepare to call plumber. Check calendar to see when you can schedule a visit.

16. One last time go and inspect problem.

17. Be amazed when problem has resolved itself.  In my most recent case, turn on valve and notice water has stopped leaking.

18. Brag to all that you repaired your own plumbing. Be a little fuzzy on the details on how you accomplished this. Vaguely allude to tools when you tell the story.

19. Say short prayer that problem will not resurface anytime soon.

20. Give advice to others based on your success.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Friends School Plant Sale

The Friends School Plant Sale is this weekend. It is one of the largest, if not the largest, sales in MN. Here's the skinny.....

May 6, 7 and 8. Friday - 11:00 to 8:00. Saturday - 9:00 to 8:00. Sunday - Noon to 4:00. Grandstand Building at the State Fair Grounds. This is the first year at the Fair Grounds. Scroll down the page for the .pdf catalog (which is worth a read for the articles & plant descriptions even if you don't go to the sale).
Things I learned last year: If you have a wagon and plan to buy, you might consider bringing it. People love this sale and in the mornings, there may be lines. Plants sell out. Sunday is half-price day.

They zone streach a bit in their plant descriptions - some of the flowers they said would winter in zone 4 are crisp as a potato chip in my yard this year with no signs of recovery (although this could be my doing too). The herbs I bought were not the best. The tomatos I purchased were great - I mean really good.

The students volunteering couldn't be more helpful (and adorable). The people watching in general is excellent - this is a serious gardening crowd mixed with gardening fluff (me).

If they use the same system this year, they issue you a piece of paper and a pencil....and you write down what you pick up to buy. Write down everything that is on the table sucks to have to go back and find the table later :-)

Happy shopping and planting!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Gift Card & Girlie Tools

Last month I helped my parents purchase and set up a new computer.  In thanks, they gave me two Home Depot gift cards totalling $65.  Cool.

Well, I have been holding on to these gift cards like they are Willy Wonka's Golden Tickets.  I can't decide what to buy.  For some reason, in my mind, a purchase with a gift card has to be perfect...something special.  Way too much pressure.

So, I have been trolling all the links currently on  The topic of the past few days has been women's tools.....some in pink :-)  Right up my alley as I currently have the start of a nice collection I do have the serious mechanics tool set, the corded drill, the cordless drill, a miter saw, a random orbital sander, etc.......but I love my colorful, hand painted hammer.  It makes me smile when I see it.  Now I just need to figure out what to add to my collection ($65 or under). As always, suggestions are welcome.

Now if we could just find a company that makes a pink motorcycle helmet........

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Spotted in Traffic

I think I need to cool it on the antique shopping for a bit.  Why?, you ask.

It is probably a sign that a person is spending too much time shopping when the owner of your favorite store waves to you.......while you are in your car.....driving by the store (admitedly checking out pieces on the sidewalk) traffic.....and he is outside helping customers.

Hmmm....maybe EBay....

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Green, Green Grass of Home

In retrospect, it was a mistake.  A rookie error.


My lawn has had crab grass in areas. So in this, my first year of fertilizing, I chose the fertilizer with crab grass control.  I read the directions and applied it carefully to my entire yard.


The dandelions laughed at my mistake and took over the backyard and parts of the front.  Took it over with a vengeance.


It has now dawned on me that I probably should have purchase & applied the fertilizer with dandelion control for the whole lawn…and then spot applied the fertilizer with crab grass control to the small areas with crab grass.


In the light of day, it seems so obvious and logical. How did I miss that? It stings to be outsmarted by a pack of dandelions.

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