Saturday, August 27, 2005

What a Deal!

A quick little post just to let those in the Twin Cities know that the ReUse Center is closing their store....and everything is 50% off.

Items of note on my quick walk through this afternoon - 4 claw foot tubs.

Also check out the basement for a big selection of doors - if I heard right $6 each. Also, if you have measurements for needed storm windows....they have those in spades. It actually might be worth it to buy windows for the old glass and storm window hardware.

Things were going very fast, so if you are might want to run over there.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Green Acres

My garden this year has needed more attention than most small children. No exaggeration. The people at the local garden store now openly laugh at me when I come in. There is no more polite stifling their snickering. They insist it is not me.....just bad luck.

raccoons, squirrels, slugs, squash vine borders........if locust lived in my part of the country, I am sure they would be just over the hill.

This week my pumpkin vine, my acorn squash vine, my zucchini and my cucumbers have developed a severe case of Powdery Mildew. It has also spread to my phlox and my lilac bushes (which surround my entire yard). Powdery mildew forms a white powdery coating on all of the leaves.......and grows a kind of white fur on the top of the soil.

Not quite as bad as the squash vine borers, but pretty unattractive none the less.

I'm tempted to just let the whole thing die at this point. But, as luck would have it there is a pumpkin and 4 acorn squash on the end of those vines. And for some damn reason, I can't let them die. Not like this.

So, off I went to the local garden shop to get advice and MORE chemicals. Of course, this is tricky because we can't use anything that would harm the fruit. They pointed me to a spray. I plunked down my money and I was off. I spent the afternoon, yes the entire afternoon, spraying down those leaves - top and bottom.

Then suspiciously, I sneezed. Then I sneezed again. And again. It dawned on me too late that mildew (a form of mold) would trigger my rather bad allergies. It's that horrible feeling when you are at the very top of the rollercoaster and about to go down the other side really fast......

Anyway, a few days have now passed and the vines are looking better. My eyes are no longer swollen shut and the hives have disappeared. The air purifier is humming quietly in the corner, and I am hopped up on Allegra, etc. Once again, all is well at StuccoHouse :-)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Window Trim

I spent some time this weekend stripping window hardware. Not a glamorous job, but fairly easy and rewarding. Like every other old house, the hardware in my house had been painted over a bajillion times (in addition, note the lovely paint/glazing job on the picture)

I've been restoring my 80 yr old windows one at a time. Admittedly, this project has taken a really, really (did I say really?) long time. Mostly, because I don't like disassembling the whole contraption. Secondly, because stripping paint is a pain in the neck (even if you have a "method."). But, I'll talk more about the windows themselves in another post.

The windows I am working on were in various stages of waiting for primer to dry, for glazing to skim over and for mildewcide to be added to, I decided to tackle the hardware.

Most old house owners know (or quickly learn) the trick of boiling painted hardware in water & baking soda (I tried just water once and it didn't work as well). It works nicely. I have an stainless steel pot devoted to this task. I throw the hardware in the bottom and cover it with the solution and then bring to a boil for 15-30 minutes. The paint just peels off. You are left to polish the hardware up with some steel wool.

Its always fun to see the hardware once the paint is gone. The top row in the picture is from the bathroom....a nice shiny nickel finish. That is except the window pull which is a flat cast metal. I have these pulls on all my windows. I actually wonder if they were meant to be painted as they are pretty utilitarian and do not match the other hardware.

The bottom row is from my upstairs window. This set is kind of cool because it mixed two types of metal - brass and a silver colored cast metal. At first I thought that a coating on one of the pieces had just worn off, but then discovered my kitchen hardware is the same mix of two colors. These are my favorite. I haven't seen them anywhere else - original or reproduction.

Finally, on the far right in the top row are copper holders for a roller shade. These copper shade holders are on all of the windows on my first floor. The other window hardware on first floor is otherwise all oil rubbed bronze. All in all, a nice mish-mash of different metals.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Hardware Stores - The Real Deal

I stopped by the local hardware store yesterday to get glass cut for a window I am restoring. I've been stripping my 80+ yr old windows down to bare wood, reglazing them, repainting, adding new sash rope, and reinstalling (more on this later). Anyone that has tackled this project (or any other, for that matter) knows that your local, old fashioned hardware store can be your best friend.

I frequent 4 hardware stores in town:

Falls Hardware Hank - Is probably my favorite. It is a tiny hole in the wall with shelves stacked to the ceiling. It is a hangout for retired tradesmen. I've lucked out on trips there when a retired plumber and and a retired electrician were there to hold my hand and walk me through projects beyond my skills. They know old houses here. They even fixed my broken keychain there for free while I waited for my glass to be cut :-)

Grand Avenue Hardware - I could spend a day here just looking at stuff. They have a housewares section (which carries my beloved canning jars) and a hardcore hardware section. 2 floors. After searching high and low, I was able to find the allusive asbestos testing kits here.

Bayers Do It Best - I went in there a while back to buy a mouse trap. Not even the hint of a snicker crossed his face when I told him it needed to be instantaneous, bloodless and able to be scooped up from a distance with a shovel and tossed. He found me just the thing and sent me on my way.

Olson Hardware. Family run. Excellent service. They spent almost an hour brainstorming with me one day about where I could get a vintage stove rehabbed. They always have what I need or will order it.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Organized Basement

Typical of bungalows in my neighborhood, my house has a fairly large, unfinished basement. Perfect for storing a lot of crap :-) Unfortunately, in my house that crap had started to form big piles on the floor in all corners.

When I first moved into my house 2+ yrs ago, I immediately made a trip to Menards to purchase a bunch of sturdy metal shelving. The shelves turned out to be a little more difficult (huge understatement) to assemble than they promised on the packaging. I managed to get 5 units up and then stalled. The boxed shelving then sat in a corner until today.

Well, this afternoon I had some willing & motivated help. All told, we managed to assemble 4 more units. Yeah! Yippie, I can see my floors again!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

In Print

Nice article on house blogging in the local paper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, today.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Plant Surgery

My acorn squash, pumpkin and zucchini vines have flourished and grown to great lengths. However over the past week, I've noticed some of the leaves turning brown. After slaving over them for months and then checking their progress daily......I was concerned. So, I did a little internet research. My vines were demonstrating the classic symptoms of squash vine borers (SVB for those in the know).

One would assume that after thousands of years of perfecting the art of gardening, a simple spray or powder would have been invented to cure this little problem in a jiffy.

I was soon to learn that if one assumed this, they would be wrong. After visiting a number of websites and trusted local garden stores, I learned that the only way to cure this problem, once it has begun, is to cut into the vines and dig out the big, white grubs and squish them dead. Then take a hat pin and continue stabbing them for a few more inches up the vine. Could this be any more gross?

The helpful lady at Leitners Gardens felt my pain/horror and suggested that maybe I could find some jr. high boys in the neighborhood that would think it was cool to kill them for a quarter a piece. (Damn, this is the perfect example of why I should have gone to the neighborhood picnic and chatted up the neighborhood kids. Mental note for next year)

There was no way those plants were going to die without a fight. So, this afternoon....pocket knife and hat pin in hand, I performed major surgery on my squash vines. There are a number of little, white SVB corpses laying in the dirt to prove it. Now I guess we wait with bated breath to see if my "patients" survive.

I've finally stopped gagging, but I think I'm going to skip lunch ;-) Next year I'm hoping for something simple like aphids.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Log Cabin

A number of years ago, my dad designed and built a log cabin.

The cabin was built on land that has been in our family for many years and was the site of an older log cabin that my dad used to visit when he was young. There are many great stories associated with that old cabin and the surrounding back well as building the new cabin.

Anyway, after some prompting, my dad has started a blog to write about his experiences building the new cabin......and memories of the old. If interested, you can find his blog at

He would love to hear your comments, I'm sure.

Friday, August 05, 2005

How Much is that Doggy in the Window?

StuccoHouse is contemplating getting a dog.

I am a low-key, big dog fan, I think (think black lab). However, the bungalow is more of a medium sized dog house, I think.

The StuccoHouse neighbors are definitely non-yippie dog types ;-) I also have allergies to animal hair, so a short hair breed is a must. And although I have a nice fenced in backyard, this dog would be a city dog.

Oh, and I have never owned a, it shouldn't be too fragile :-O


P.S. extra points to anyone that remembers the last part to the song in the title of this post.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Water, Water Everywhere

Here is my latest purchase. No, its not jewelry. No, its not a new outfit.

It is a brand spankin new lawn faucet and inside stop valve. Green to match (some of) my house trim. Only an old house person could get excited about this.

After 82 years of loyal service, the original spigot and inside pipe/turn off valve gave up the ghost. While my garden plants liked the slow leak of water coming out of my garden hose, I was not thrilled with my last month's water bill. I'm pretty thrilled at not having to stand in the basement anymore chanting "righty-tighty, lefty-loosy" anymore while trying to turn off my water overhead.

I have used the same plumber for a number of years (except for one bad, bad experience elsewhere). He heeded the call the day after I closed on my house when the kitchen faucet blew (the previous owner had held that together by sheer will power until an hour or so after closing). He also arrived on my doorstep post haste when I used way-too-strong drain cleaner on my bathtub and it ate through one of the few remaining old pipes and spewed acid all over my basement (lesson learned). So I was pleased, but not surprised, when he told me he could fix my outdoor spigot on the same day I called.

This plumber knows how to work on old houses, he answers my questions, he endures my purist side that insists on keeping my old fixtures (even if parts are hard to find), he works hard to get me into his schedule and his prices are reasonable. For those of you in my neck of the woods, Lakes Area Home Improvement.

Well, now I am off to pick up my second-latest purchase. New brake pads and rotars. Does the fun ever stop?!

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