Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Eeek - The Finale

I am happy to report that the mouse "situation" has been successfully resolved . I sealed the lattice work on the front steps with hardware cloth and then covered that with black aluminum window screening. It actually wasn't that difficult as I was able to staple it to the wood of the steps. It doesn't look terrible; in fact I don't know that you would notice it unless you knew to look for it. And like any good project, I ended up with a new tool - a heavy duty stapler.

Once again, I went over every square inch of my house with caulk gun in hand to seal up any little hole in the baseboards, crown moulding, cabinetry, etc. My kitchen has been nuked with a nice bleach solution. I am still trying to figure out how the studs in the walls don't prevent the critters from traveling the horizontal length of a wall. However, I am feeling much better about StuccoHouse.

I am a little embarrassed (yet relieved) to admit that what I thought were mice in the walls of my bedroom, upon further research, turned out to be birds flying south for the winter stopping in a noisy bunch on my rooftop for a few consecutive mornings. This happened to coincide with my mouse discovery. I am not a morning person and not able to process my world very accurately in the early moring hours. Birds landing sounded like mice crawling to me. That's my story and I'm sticking to it ;-)

Of course, the front steps (and gaping whole in the foundation wall that leads directly into my house) will be the first project on the Spring "to do" list. Let's just hope that my little screen repair holds out til Spring .

Friday, November 18, 2005

Eeek - Part II

I am in the throes of a mouse problem. I thought things were under control, but I woke up to mouse noises coming from my bedroom walls this morning.

Two words. This sucks.

Three words. This totally sucks.

One of the previous owners of the house decided that when the top concrete step to the front door decayed they would just chop it up - leave the concrete pieces in a pile - and cover the whole thing up with a pressure treated wood platform. The sides were decorated with a wood lattice. The gap left by the stair near the foundation under the platform was left wide and clear.

This wood platform has been on my list of things to repair. Pour a new concrete step. But I wanted to figure out what my front steps looked like originally (my neighbor has photos). It appears there may have been a concrete arm rail (does that make sense?) on either side of the step.

Now, mice have apparently discovered this little highway into my house. Earlier this week I took off the lattice and discovered the pile of broken up concrete and the gap in the foundation. Its hard to see exactly what is going on under there, but you can see enough to know it is not good.

So, I placed some mouse traps there. I caught a mouse. It was ugly. I'm still trying to erase the picture from my mind. Seems though there is a family of mice - so the trapping continues. Did I say how much this sucks?

Today I went out there and stapled hardware cloth over the lattice and then a layer of black aluminum screening over that. It actually doesn't look that bad and I am hopeful it will work in keeping new mice out. I don't want to make any permanent changes, because once Spring comes I want the whole thing fixed properly (a new step can't be poured now that it is cold.)

I am just thanking heaven that over the past two years I have weatherproofed this house to within an inch of its life. I am fairly confident that the mice will not be able to find a crack into the house. Having said that, there is now a trap sitting in my bedroom.

Sigh. If I actually catch a mouse in my bedroom, I may have to move. Could it get any more gross than that?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Mudd Lake

I received notice today that Mudd Lake is having their Christmas Sneak Preview Sale.

If you have never been to Mudd Lake now is your chance. This is a fun place that sells all things house decor related. I've bought everything from picture frames to furniture there over the years. They are open on specially announced weekends. The store is located in a great old barn out in the country in Watertown, MN. A very fun drive in the fall and winter....especially when you can sneak out of work early on a Thursday or Friday.

The announcement says the upcoming sale is Nov. 17-20. 9-5pm. They have live music and Santa on the 19th.

If this sounds interesting, check out their website:

Monday, November 14, 2005


I was baking in my kitchen on Friday and pulled out a tipsy cake (like a fruitcake but edible) that I had been priming with liquor for the holidays and had temporarily stored on a lower shelf in my cabinets. It was wrapped in Saran Wrap and then a layer of tin foil.

A little scattering of tin foil pieces caught my eye. Then I saw it. The corner of my little tipsy cake was missing. Something had chewed through the tin foil, the plastic wrap and taken out a chunk of the cake.

I spent the weekend in denial. I am not a fan of small, fast moving things with fur....especially in my house. Actually, this is probably an understatetment. More accurately, I am hysterically afraid of small, fast moving things with fur in my house.

By Sunday I came to terms with the fact that a mouse had entered my kitchen. When I first moved into my house I cleaned and repainted all of my cabinets. As part of this process I had also caulked every gap in the room.....except one corner. So, it was fairly easy to determine where the critter was making his entrance. I said a quiet little prayer and pulled out the refrigerator. Thank heavens there were no little corpses laying there, but sure enough I spotted a gap between the wall and the cabinet back. I spent time shoving steel wool in each and every crevice. Those too small for steel wool received caulk.

The foundation of my house is somewhat unusual in that it runs about 18" up the side of my house. There are only small hairline cracks that I have filled in religiously since I move in. So, once again, it was pretty easy to figure out where the critter had entered the house. By the make-shift, wood front steps into the house (more on this topic in the future).

I went back into denial.

Today about lunchtime I was surprised to hear some wood gnawing going on behind the baseboard near my front door. Off to Menards I went. I cleared out the "pest" aisle and returned home with many different kind of traps, pellets, hardware cloth, and expanding foam.

I won't go into morbid detail, but let's just say if he is smart he will steer clear of the peanut butter. I'm not quite sure what I am going to do if I actually do catch something. I can only imagine there will be phone calls made, bargaining & pleading and large sums of money changing hands.

Two thing struck me as quite funny in this process. 1) That the makers of those traps actually advertise them as being reusable - as if; and 2) I managed to attract the mouse who thought he needed a cocktail.

More as it happens..........

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Leaves, Leaves Blow Away

My neighbor has a huge, old oak tree in his backyard. There is also a huge, old oak tree on the edge of the alley behind my house. Both of these trees drop all of their leaves directly into my back yard. In my front yard I have a beautiful maple tree that stubbornly holds on to it's brightly colored leaves until the day after the city will pick up leaf bags.

I am just so tired of raking, mulching and composting.

So, so tired.

You can imagine my secret delight in the weather forcast. A wind advisory. Strong winds. Strong winds for two days.

Here's to hoping my leaves all blow away. Here's also to hoping that none of my direct neighbors read my blog. ;-)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A New Shine

I've been slowly plugging away at restoring my bathroom in between other projects.

I've installed an L shaped shower curtain rod to protect the window sill, had a new tub drain put in, plugged up plumbing holes with plumber's putty, hunted down a vintage medicine cabinet (downstairs waiting patiently for me), added black ceramic base tile to replace a plastic strip, hunted down vintage black ceramic towel, etc. hardware, stripped & restored the window, currently stripping layers of paint off of the heat return grate......

One item I have been considering for a while is having the inside door knob & back plate (and possibly the plate to the lock mechanism) to the bathroom replated. I first thought it just needed to be polished but soon discovered the chrome finish is worn through. Then I hunted for a vintage replacement knob but learned due to varying spindle sizes replacement is almost impossible unless you are willing to change the entire lock and both knobs.

I'm not overly concerned with it looking pristine (I have rehabbed my old hardware everywhere else), but for some reason this knob always looks grungy & dirty the way it is. Not the look I am going for in my finished bathroom.

So, I'm considering the replating idea. I have seen the company advertised in the old house magazines and have located some companies nearby via the yellow pages.

Has anyone had this done? Does your hardware still operate properly once done? What kind of cost should I expect? Does it wear well? Advice?

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