Friday, September 30, 2005

Tiptoe Through the Tulips

The Friends School of Minnesota Third Annual Bulb sale is this Saturday from 10:00am to 4:00pm. The bulb sale is held at the school building at 1365 Englewood Ave., St. Paul (not far from Hamline University)

I'm not affiliated with this organization in any way, but have gone to their Spring plant sale for the past few years and have had a lot of fun and have been impressed by their prices and plants. The tomato and bleeding heart plants that I purchased from them last Spring have been very sturdy. So, I imagine the bulb sale would be just as fun.

They took preorders this year, but I was out of town the week of the deadline and missed it. So, I plan to go and just see what they have available. This year they also have peonies.....which I hope to add to my garden.

Even if you can't make the sale, you can download their catalogs from their website. They are a wealth of knowledge and really fun to look through. In addition to describing the plants, there are some interesting articles. As a novice gardener, I learned a lot reading through them because they are aimed at Minnesota gardeners.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Drip, Drip, Drip

The previous owner of my house remodeled the bathroom. Notice I did not say restore or refurbish.

There are things about it I like. I like the white tile with the black subway trim. I like the fact that they removed the window trim before putting up drywall, so the trim is at the proper level. The original hex tiles are still there.

There are things I just can't figure out. Why on earth would you think it is ok to put a wood "shim platform" under the sink so you don't have to do anything with the pipes? Wouldn't it have been easier just to leave the old wall sink there? Why would you buy a new toilet that allows only 5 inches of clearance to the tub....forcing everyine to sit sideways? What on earth were they thinking when they bought those lights?

...And then there are those things that I continue to discover over the years. The coat of latex paint that was slapped over the oil paint w/o prep (yea, its now peeling). The windows (same latex)...painted shut.....which made my ongoing window restoration a pain in the neck. The heater grate moved upstairs.

Today I added another to the list. Shortly after taking a shower this morning, I went downstairs. Directly below the tub there were water droplets on the floor. I panicked thinking the tub drain pipe blew out again (yup, I said again - that was a whole ugly story I'll retell when I'm to the point of being able to laugh about it).....but upon closer inspection I realized the drain pipe was ok. I pondered over the water most of the afternoon.

All of a sudden it dawned on me. I went into the bathroom and unscrewed the spigot, water handles and shower head. As suspected, behind each was an open hole. So, for the past three+ years.....water has been falling from the shower head down on the handles & spigot and then following the pipe and dripping back down in the hole behind the wall.....to the basement.

Nice. Off I went to pick up some plumber's putty to seal the holes.

It's these kinds of things that make me crazy....watch for a "we don't need no stinkin ruler or drywall tape...." post one of these days.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

New Haul

Anyone that has read my blog for some time can probably guess my weakness. (Coach purses and music cds, yes.....but they are not house related)

I like old furniture. I admire the valuable, pristine, predigreed furniture that gets ooohs and aaahs on the Antiques Road Show. But, the kind I really like are the odd pieces of misfit furniture that end up in the back room of some small antique shop. You know the kind.....painted way too many times, scratched, dirty, and no maker's name to be found. But like a mutt puppy, they have their own charm. I think I like the story they tell.

Well, long story short......I adopted two new pieces last weekend. On weekends when I am bored.....I wake up late on Sat......run to the local coffee place for my iced latte.....and drive a quick loop to a few of my favorite antique stores. My favorite shop puts pieces outside, so I can drive by and stop if I see anything that interests me.....or continue on my way. This past week nothing caught my eye, so I continued on my route.

My second favorite place has a brisk turn over......some of it good, some of it on its last leg. The place is piled floor to ceiling. The prices are good. It's small enough that I can do a quick walk through and not spend an entire afternoon (I am not a good shopper). This week out on the sidewalk in front of this store was the cutest, tiny folding table I have seen. It had the usual bumps and bruises.....but on top was a hand painted checker board. It is just the cutest little thing. I wondered how many games of checkers and chess were played on that table by the painter.

After I spot something I think I "need" I force myself to take short a "cool down" walk before I buy it.

This brings us to the store next to my "Second Favorite Place." The stores are kind of attached, so I've walked through this place a bunch of times. It has always seemed to me that there is something odd about the furniture in this store. I've been in there when the owner has been stripping down a piece of furniture with a vengance. I've never been able to put a finger on it, but I've suspected he uses some odd process. They have a dull look to them...they just look off. I don't buy furniture that has been refinished......if it needs to be done, I prefer to do it myself. So, I've never bought anything in this place. But, I was on my "cool down" walk after deciding to buy the checkerboard table....so I decided to swing on through.

Sitting to one side of this shop, I spotted a cute little bird's eye maple desk with - lo and behold - it's original finish. I've been looking for a maple desk to put upstairs, so I went over to check it out. Like any good antique shopper, I asked for and received a nice discount......so I made up my mind to buy it.

The owner asked me how I planned on finishing it. I told him I had no intention of touching the finish and would just clean it up with the traditional mineral spirits mixed with a few drops of boiled linseed oil. Hmmmm....he then told me this would not work and showed me a product he uses to "repair" the finish, with steel wool.....and then puts on a coat of straight tung oil. Ah, suddenly it was clear......I don't think he knows he's damaging the original finish and then putting on another finish over the existing. How he gets tung oil to dry over varnish or laquer is a mystery. But this explains that wierd look to the furniture in his shop. I nodded to him and smiled sweetly.

So, home I came with two new pieces :-) (Wow, that wall looks really purple)

Monday, September 19, 2005

One if by Land....

I spent this past week in Boston. There is nothing like a city celebrating 375 years to put a little perspective into what actually should be considered an old building. Turns out my 80 year old house is a relative baby.

After work each day, I'd rush out to tour the Freedom Trail and other sights in the city. I was staying at the Parker House (oldest continuously operating hotel in the US).....so I had some fun considering that Malcom X, Ho Chi Minh, JKF, Charles Dickens, Longfellow, Thoreau or Hawthorne may have walked down the same hallway as me (yeah, I was an English major).

I'll spare you the complete tour, but there were two items I will mention for other old house owners.

1) Paul Revere's house (The small green building). Built in 1680; bought by Revere in 1770 and sold in 1800. It was bought in 1902 to be saved from the wrecking ball. Debate raged for the next 5 years over to which century the building would be restored. The period in which it was originally built.....or the period in which its most famous resident lived in it. The 17th century won out and the third floor added by Revere was removed. Some things never change, huh?

2) The Old Corner Bookstore. You could spot me on the tour. I was the one checking out the window glazing putty technique and taking pictures of the wavy glass. Anyone that has worked on restoring their own windows will understand this preoccupation. Very cool. Oh yea, and some of the most famous authors this country has ever seen also frequented the place.

Ended my stay in Boston by meeting up with my college roommate and her three daughters for pizza in the North End. Fun week.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Be Prepared

It's probably the ex-girlscout in me that was drawn to this little item. That, and the fact that Los Angeles is currently in the black out and New Orleans is still without power in most areas. Be Prepared. This is my new motto.

After all, tornado season is still here and winter snow storm season is just around the corner. Not to mention the ocassional road trip.

My new little LLBean radio is powered by a hand crank. No batteries or electricity needed. One minute of hand cranking produces an hour of radio play. It picks up both local and world news, AM/FM, weather band and TV band. And it even will charge my cell phone battery.

Very cool, I think. I love gadgets. Now if it would only scrape the paint off the rest of those windows.......

Friday, September 09, 2005

I Did a Bad, Bad Thing

I will start off by stating in my defense....I have made an effort since I moved in to meet and chat with on a regular basis.....those neighbors living on all sides of me.

I know the statistics. In neighborhoods where neighbors are active and know one another, crime falls. One way to get people involved is to have neighborhood get togethers. I know this and I agree with it. Besides, it's just nicer to live in a friendly atmosphere.

That's what makes this so shameful to admit. My neighborhood picnic is tonight. I can't force myself to go. The thought of walking across the street with a pan of brownies (which I blew off making this afternoon anyway) and making awkward small talk with my neighbors about their kids is just not my forte. I want to unequivocally state these people are perfectly lovely and this is all about me being the bad apple, not them. Although, I have noticed that the other neighborhood singles also seem to make themselves scarce during these events....so, maybe I'm not totally alone in this.

Who knows. At any rate, for the record, I feel really bad and guilty. And I will have to slink around the 'hood this weekend holding my head down in shame (humming Chris Isaak - for those of you that recognized the title :-).

Monday, September 05, 2005

Nature. Again.

A few months ago, for my birthday, my parents bought me a small garden statue of St. Francis for my backyard shade garden. He's the patron saint of animals, for those that don't follow that sort of thing. It seemed pretty fitting & a little humorous considering the parade of wildlife I've had going through there this past year.

This morning I ventured out to my vegetable garden to pick tomatoes and much to my surprise when I glanced over at the shade garden I spotted the ears, feet and fluffy little tail of what was once a rabbit laying at the feet of St. Francis surrounded by blooming hostas and bleeding hearts. Hovering overhead was a small cloud of flies. I'll spare you the photo of this one.

I'm thinking I may have a faulty statue.......

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Little Break

Like most of you, I've been glued to the tv watching the terrible events unfold down south. It's hard to write about my house when so many people are without theirs. I'm gonna take a few days break until we start hearing some good news.........

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