Saturday, December 29, 2007

Miles of Tiles

If you follow my blog with some regularity, you know that I usually have a number of projects in progress at any one time.....and another dozen or so in the planning stages. My bathroom is one of the up-and-coming projects.

Other than the upstairs (which was never really finished) the bathroom is the only other room in the house that has been messed with. We can thank The Flipper for that. The bathroom was gutted. Thank heaven removing vintage hex floor tiles is pricey, or I'm sure they'd be long gone too. The original plaster, wall sink, toilet & medicine cabinet all bit the dust under her reign. In her defense, I will state that she did add a shower....and at least when she slapped up that drywall, she removed the window trim and reinstalled it after the drywall was up. For this, I remain grateful.

When the shower was added, the tub surround needed to be made waterproof, so The Flipper tiled it. Again, to her credit she chose basic white tile and somewhat vintage black trim. It's just really, really white. When I moved in, there was a crappy plastic (yes, plastic) base strip where the drywall met the hex floor. I couldn't live with that, so that was immediately replaced with the black ceramic sanitary base you see in the photo.

I detest the drywall & it was not installed well, so plans to tile the lower half of the the rest of the bathroom quickly made it on my "to do" list. It took me many trips to tile stores and big box stores before I was able to track down matching white 4x4 tile. In true Flipper form, the tile was the cheapest white tile sold at Menards. $.09/tile. That said, this is a simple bungalow and the plain tiles fit in fine. It's not the blunt edge, a tinge off white restoration tile, I would have chosen......but it is fine (really. It is. This is me talking myself into it.).

Then things got tricky. In order to match the existing tile spacing around the tub, I need to add 2" (in addition to one white 4x4 tile) from the black base tile at the floor up to the first tile above the tub. No problem, I thought.

I quickly found a .5" wide, vintage green sizzle strip at Menards. The plan was to stagger two strips above and below a row of white tiles....adding 2". I bought a sample of this tile to try out at home. When I went back to buy what I needed, the store did not have that color. I asked if I could special order it. Nope. In fact, the sales person that was "helping" me used the "I have worked here 5 years and we have never carried that color" approach to customer service. Whatever.

I let the whole tile thing slide for a few months. Then this past fall I made a trip over to a local shop that custom makes art tiles. They also custom make replacement tiles to match damaged vintage tiles in restoration projects. I was prepared to plunk down some serious cash for some artsy strip tiles. I rationalized that my bathroom was pretty small and the white tiles were very cheap, so custom accent tiles would be fun and not put me that much over budget. I described what I needed to the gal working in the studio. I told her I was looking for a vintage inspired, creative design to add 2" to the white field tiles - the sky was the limit on design. She kind of shrugged and looked at me. I ended up leaving the studio with samples of a very expensive, skinnier version of what I originally found at Menards. Disappointing.

So, once again I sat on the project. Then right before Christmas I was at Menards again. On a whim I decided to check the tile. I spotted vintage green, 1" strip tiles that had a very subtle Venetian glass shimmer to them. Very simple. They were on sale. I bought them. Problem solved. I'll use a row of white tiles above the black base, a row of green tiles, a row of white, a row of green and this will bring us up the existing row of white tiles above the tub.

Of course, these new tiles will join the wall sink , my salvaged black ceramic fixtures, the new bathroom light , the replated hardware & my salvaged medicine cabinet in waiting for their project to start. I still need to hunt down a pair of vintage tub faucet handles.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Travel Prints

This afternoon I picked up from my framer a print I bought while in Oregon. I dropped the print off before Christmas, and I spent a long time finding the perfect frame. I think it turned out well. I have a second print that I dropped off today to be framed using the same frame.

These travel prints are created by a commercial illustrator named Paul Lanquist. He fashioned them after illustrators' work from the 1920's, 30's & 40's.

The prints remind me of Works Progress Administration (WPA) art of Depression era projects, and I think they fit well in my bungalow. He also has prints of the Timberline Lodge (I visited it, but I vow to stay in the lodge sometime before I die) and the Oregon Coast that I may add to my collection at some point.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

How does it's little cactus brain tell it that today is the day to bloom? Not yesterday, not next

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Stating The Obvious

I'm going to sound like an idiot when I say this. I guess it should have been obvious.

Last summer I replaced an ill fitting drip edge on a front door overhang that led into the unfinished portion of my attic with a custom drip edge. I also tore out two old, aluminum triple track storm windows on the front of my house and replaced them with vintage style, wood frame storms. I completed these projects because, more than anything, they were unbearably ugly and I wanted to make them pretty.

However, the weatherproofing effect of these two relatively small changes has been astounding. I'm pretty hip to weatherproofing a house and have had multiple energy audits done......and spent many an hour on weatherproofing projects. That said, the dramatic change this year has taken me completely by surprise.

The wood storms have eliminated the cold spots that used to waft from my front windows and over my sofa into my living room. Even more dramatic is the change to my upper level. The cold air was entering through exterior gaps in the drip edge and invading both my attic and the space between the living room plaster ceiling and the attic floor. Last year the difference in temperature between my lower & upper level was about 10 degrees. I had an oil filled heater up there to use on really cold nights. This year the difference has been 1 degrees. Yes, one measly degree.

I can only imagine how the house will change as I continue to replace the triple track storms. Pretty and useful. Who knew?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Comparing Notes

A few weeks ago I wrote about the chance meeting with a former coworker of mine......who in a bizarre twist of fate knew the previous owner of my house. Well, on Saturday I met my former coworker and her husband for lunch to share notes and once again laugh & shake our heads over the coincidence of it all. In order to offer "proof" that she actually had been in StuccoHouse and knew the previous owner, she brought photos :-)

This PO purchased the house in 1990 and sold it under some financial duress in 2000. It was then owned by a flipper followed by a semi-flipper....and then me in 2002.

After a very fun lunch, we took the grand tour of StuccoHouse. First of all, I have to say it is very strange to see photos of someone else standing in the house you now call home. Unfortunately, the PO passed away at what appears to be a fairly young age (hopefully not from lead poisoning, asbestos or radon)....prior to my purchasing the house.

The first thing I noticed about the photo was the missing crown moulding. I knew it. I knew it. The crown moulding had been removed. When I moved in, it was stained but not finished. It also was a color just a tad darker then the rest of the woodwork. One of my first projects was to even the stain and finish both the crown moulding and the baseboard with shellac. My theory has always been that it was painted and then removed to be stripped. The second photo shows the PO with a friend out in the back yard cutting what I suspect is the crown moulding.

For the record, I've included a photo of the living room now. Note that the same old, ancient mini-blinds remain - for now.

Other tidbits that I learned:

-The textured ceilings were added in the early 1990's (so, asbestos probably is not a concern - yeah!).

-As late as 2000, there was a vintage stove in the kitchen that was lit by a match (my soul died just a little when I learned this had been yanked out by the flipper).

-The bathroom did have a vintage medicine cabinet (also, a victim of the flipper, I believe). They also laughed about the clearance between the tub & the toilet. The bathroom did not have a shower (which explains the semi-flipper's redo of the shower area tile when she probably added a shower).

-The living room & dining room were carpeted and the PO had cats - which may explain my early wood floor discoveries. It also explains the damage to the back door (I'll cover this in a future post).

-The upstairs was originally three small partially finished rooms. The owner before me, finished off the expansion attic and removed the old walls. When I first moved into the house, I had the upstairs floors refinished, but I remember the shadows of the old walls on the floor. My friend remembers a charming, small little window from one of the smaller rooms into the larger area. I wonder if it could have been one of the mystery glass windows I discovered in my attic area. I love little quirky things like that.

-I had to laugh because the PO was humored by the hallway with all of the doors too.

-At one time there was talk of knocking down the wall between the living room & the kitchen. Thankfully, it is a load bearing wall and that plan was dropped.

-Bless his heart, this was the PO that planted the three lilac trees just outside of my living room windows. I enjoy the smell from those trees each Spring and get comments from the neighbors at how nice they look.

I had a very entertaining time learning all of this about StuccoHouse, and I was a little relived to hear that my work on the house seemed to fit in with the plans the PO also had for StuccoHouse. I still can't shake the feeling that somehow the PO, from the great beyond, had a hand in this whole little Ghost Whisperer scenario.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mini-Road Trip

This time of year gets a little crazy for me workwise. But every year for the past 5 or 6 yrs. I've reserved one day for shopping. It's become a much needed ritual mini-road trip. In the morning, I go and pick up my clients' gifts.

Then I head north up to the outlet mall. It's the only kind of shopping that doesn't suck the life out of me this time of year. Every store has it's own door, so you don't need to wade through the madding crowd to get to what you want to buy. I'm not a good shopper.

Then, I continue on the road up to my former college. There they have a small store that sells local crafts. Many of the artists are retired professors, so the quality of their work is pretty good. Every year I buy a piece of pottery from my former pottery teacher. I've got quite a diverse collection by now. This year's purchase is a porcelain piece. I usually also stop in the bookstore & buy myself a sweatshirt.....all the while marveling at how all the cell-talking-students look 12 yrs old. (because we know it's not me getting old)

By accident last year, I discovered the the stores in town are not nearly as crowded as they are in Minneapolis, so I usually finish my shopping up there.

Finally, I eat lunch in my favorite sandwich place (BoDiddly's) and then head home.

Christmas shopping completed....and a treat for myself :-)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Trend Spotting

Here's one of the reasons why I like living in an old neighborhood. If you keep your eye's peeled, you can spot little tell-tale signs of history.

Most of the houses (and garages) in my neighborhood were built in the early 1900-20's. Homeowners had to take some ingenious steps to accommodate the big cars that became all the rage in next few decades.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The True Test

Southern readers - This post is optional reading for you.

This is last year's ice dam. By the next day, the icicle you see was about 2 ft long and 3" in diameter.

And these are the same corners this year after the ambitious aluminum soffit removal/roofing/drip edge/wood repair blitz of Summer 2007. The repairs stopped at least the majority of the hot air from the attic from escaping and heating the underside & edge of the roof beneath the snow.

Because of the funky design of the overhang (the attic runs into the overhang), I doubt I will ever able to completely prevent a small ice dam from forming on the left corner. But, I think the improvement is noticeable and should cause me a lot less stress.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Hey, It's Me

Being a "regular" at your local stores has benefits.

When I first moved into my house, I painted the living room using Devine paint's color Sundown. The paint is oh-so-cool. Thick like pudding, smells like yogurt and has an uber high pigment density that makes the colors do very cool things in different lights. If you haven't tried this paint, you must. I am a big fan. Just don't paint when you are hungry.

Over the years, I've been completing other projects in that room and now there are some spots that need a small touch-up.

So a couple of months ago I stopped in at Hirshfields, a local paint store. Depending on the brand of paint I'm buying, I always go to either Abbott Paints or Hirshfields - and I've been painting a lot and almost always ask for their advice, so both places recognize my face. Anyway, my mission was to buy one of the sample packets of Sundown to do my touch-ups.

When I went to the Devine display, I discovered that Sundown had been discontinued. Not a big deal with most paints, but Devine doesn't not mix non-Devine colors. I panicked slightly. The sales guy took me under wing and told me he'd look through the formulas to see if perhaps they had just changed the name. Whew, my new color name was Organza. Unfortunately, they were out of sample packets. The paint is on the expensive side and I was in no huge rush to touch up the paint, so I decided to hold out for the sample size.

I stopped in again the next week. And the next. And one more time. On my last visit, I was chatting with the sales guy about when he thought the next shipment might arrive and he suddenly excused himself saying something cryptic "...let me just check on something." A few minutes later he reappeared from the back room with a quart of Organza paint. For me. Without charge :-) They knew me. They knew I had been in a few times. They thought I had been through enough and wanted a happy customer.

Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Red or Green?

This is the sum total of Christmas decorating that will be done at StuccoHouse this year. I plan to put one bulb up on my front porch light. For the life of me I can't imagine creating yet another mess that I will need to clean up again in a few weeks.

If I put up the light and it doesn't seem enough, I may also set up my Frankoma Nativity set. It's one of those sets where you purchase a few pieces every year. Unfortunately, the company was sold last year and they stopped production - right before the wiseman were to be issued. For a while it looked like I had sunk my money into a set that would never be complete. I just didn't have the heart to put up the set and watch baby Jesus laying there waiting for the Kings bearing gifts when I knew they were not going to show up. But, just last week I checked their website and they are now selling the remaining wisemen. When I called to place my order she was missing one of the wisemen, but she agreed to send me the rest. I guess two Kings are better than none.

I still haven't decided if I should use the red or the green bulb.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Down & Out

I've been down and out with the flu. Although I did manage to haul my fevered self outside to shovel the 4" of snow we received this weekend off my sidwalk and am gearing myself up to also shovel the 4-5" of anticpated snow this afternoon. Oh, the joys of winter in Minnesota!

One happy note in all of this is the arrival of the v- channeled spring bronze weatherproofing strips I ordered from Kilian Hardware (it's taped to a board).

I haven't posted about it yet, but over the past couple of years I have been (very) slowly restoring each of my 80+ yr old windows. I've been terribly unimpressed with the spring bronze available in the stores, so I decided to go with the v-channel. Now that I've had a chance to inspect it up close, I think I made the right decision. It is very sturdy. (And am I the only one to note that the postal packaging Kilian used would be the very kind that another compay could easily use to ship, say, backband molding to a desperate customer?)

I promise to do a full account of the windows one of these days. I'm doing a full restoration (i.e. stripping each sash and trim down to bare wood, reinstalling the old glass, reputtying, repainting, replacing rope, weatherproofing, and reinstalling). I'm kind of a perfectionist, so this job is taking some time.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Suck It Up

The majority of my neighbors subscribe to the "no leaf left behind" philosophy of fall lawn clean-up. When the first snow flake falls into their yard, it falls on shortly clipped, leaf free grass. I honestly think some of them take time off of work to regularly remove leaves.

Out of necessity, my approach is a little more laissez faire. A leaf here or there does not bother me. Even if I wanted to follow The Philosophy, my lack of time and stamina would pretty much put an end to those aspirations. This does not mean that I don't feel the peer pressure. After all, who wants to be known in the neighborhood as the house that does not rake properly?

So, this year I bought a Toro (A MN company) Rake & Vac - electric mulcher. It sucks the leaves up and slices them into small shreds. All the owner has to do is spend some time walking around the yard trailed by an electric cord and strapped by a huge leaf bag. I can do that.

I was a little dubious of how well it would work, but I have to say...thumbs up. Other than the fact that the machine seems to have been made for a 7 ft man (the bag dragged on the ground behind me even on it's smallest strap setting)....and the bag should zip from the bottom up (to make emptying it into a trash bag smoother), it was quite easy to use.

I usually bag about 15 bags of leaves.....this year 7. I also was able to put some of those leaves in my compost bins and over my perennials knowing that they actually would break down over the winter.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Blogarist, Again.

The blogarist is busy trolling my blog. Again. Sigh.

Every time he returns to go through my posts, I'll comment on it and he will dredge up the whole topic again. Because after misappropriating my posts to use on his clients' websites, I don't trust him.

I apologize to those of you that just want to read about restoring houses. Honestly, that's what I really want to be writing about.

If he was wise, he'd just leave my blog alone and go along on his slimy little way.

Hex All Around

Only an old house owner could get excited about something like this.

Behold my new ceramic toilet bolt covers. They arrived yesterday and will replace the plastic covers currently on my bathroom toilet.

Again, only an old house owner.....but note that the covers have six sides just like the hex tile.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Flag

Of course, yesterday was Veterans Day and today is the government observence of it.

I've been making an effort this year to fly the flag on the officially designated flag days. I printed off a list and have it taped to the inside of the door to my front closet, where my flag is stored.

I'm a female who owns her own house and business. I have a good education. I travel wherever & whenever I want. Today I'm wearing jeans, boots and a sweater. I am very aware of the fact that in probably 3/4 of the world....all or at least some of those items would be dramatically different. Restoring a house without internet, wearing a burka while rocks were being flung at me would not be fun.

I figure flying the flag is a pretty easy way to show some of my appreciation to my country and to those people that sacrificed to make sure I could lead the cushy life I lead.

Last summer one of my neighbors & I discussed making an effort to start flying the flag. I noticed yesterday that one of the houses across the street has also been making an effort. It's kind of a fun sight to see when you are driving down the street. I'm hoping a few other neighbors will join in.

One last little tidbit. Did you know that you can request a flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol? All you need to do is contact your Senator or Representative and place a request. The cost is in the ballpark of $15 to $25.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

New and Vintage Stoves

In a never ending parade of things that up and quit working at StuccoHouse, my oven has now stopped functioning. The burners are fine; the oven is not.

My current stove is fine. It is a Kenmore with bells and whistles. It's maybe 7 or 8 yrs old. I have never liked it. It has a black front which I find yucky, although I know some people think this is cool. It was filthy when I moved in and I had to scrub, scour & sanitize it top to bottom and that's something you never really get out of your head. It's most likely the stove that took the place of the original old one, and I think it looks silly in a vintage kitchen. The plan has always been to ditch it sometime down the road.

Now that the oven is no longer working (yes, I pulled out the manual and did all of the troubleshooting stuff), this is going to force my hand. I am reluctant to spend even one thin dime fixing the current stove. I have been mulling over my options:

1) Call the repair guy and pay to have current stove fixed; or

2) Buy a new 30" stove - something all white and a little more upper-end than Sears. Then, have a new bank of cabinets built that match my vintage cabinets for the space next to the stove (where there are wall shadows of a missing original cabinet) and include a single drawer dishwasher (with wood front); or

3) Find the vintage 40" stove that in my heart-of-hearts I really want. Forgo the dishwasher due to lack of space, and have a bank of cabinets built to match the originals in the space next to the stove.

I really want to take option three, but there are so many factors involved. First, I need to locate a local stove in good condition. Then, I need to figure out how to get it to my house. I've called around and have a piano mover that would do it for $200.....add another $100-$300 for so for the stove itself! Then I need to make sure it's safe (although there's a lot of info. online on this - I'd still need to find someone to do it).

But the end product of all of that effort, I think, would be one of those Mastercard commericals where it all ends in a warm fuzzy moment with me taking perfectly baked cookies out of my vintage stove and the word "priceless" flashing on the tv screen.

What to do, what to do, what to do.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Portland - The Hardware

I alluded to it in yesterday's post. If you are an old house owner visiting Portland, from the moment your plane lands you hear a soft whisper beckoning you from across the Willamette River.

With the Oregon countryside under my belt, on my second free day in Portland I headed across the river. For those of you that know Portland, I took the light rail from city center out to the Convention Center. I got off the train, located Grand Ave NE and started walking south. Now you know my dedication ;-)

My first stop was School House Electric. I ordered my kitchen lights through them a few years back (to be installed as part of the kitchen restoration). I adore their hand painted shades. It was fun to see the lights from their catalogs in person. I asked them if they knew of any other old house type places in the neighborhood and they handed me the Resource List (I hope they don't mind that I included it here) with a recommendation to go see Hippo Hardware.

So, off to Hippo Hardware I went. Three floors filled with old (and some new) hardware, lighting & plumbing. I had a very good time chatting with the guys in the lighting department about how no one make sockets with bottom pull chains for sconces any more. This is a sign of a true old light store, when they know this.

I worked my way down to the hardware department and just for fun asked the salesperson if she had any idea what hardware would have been used on an old ice delivery door. I restored my ice delivery door a while back but the hardware is missing, and I have been on a bit of a quest to find replacement hardware. I don't think she really knew the answer, but she pointed me to a bunch of boxes of salvaged ice box hardware. I spent the next hour and a half sitting on the dirty, concrete floor going through those boxes. In the end, I found a nice brass latch that I bought. It looks like something that might have been on an ice delivery door.

After a lot more walking, my next stop was Rejuvenation. I bought my dining room light through them, as well as some bathroom fixtures & light. I have had mixed luck with their customer service, and this past summer much to my frustration they declined to help me buy back band they stock in their Portland store. However, there is no way you can be in Portland and not visit the store. It is impressive.

Armed with a little card filled with various measurements from my house, I ventured into the store. I bought two ceramic bolt caps to replace the plastic ones that came with my non-vintage toilet. I bought a nickel sash lock to replace the one I mysteriously lost while restoring my bathroom window. I debated buying the brass turn keys for my storm windows. I decided not to buy them and now could kick myself; I'll end up ordering them via phone soon.

Then while digging through the clearance bins, I found a brass storm door set at 50% off...identical to the one I used on my front storm door. :-) Perfect for the wood storm door I intend to hunt down for my back door.

I made my purchases and then strolled back to look at their salvage. Holy cow, salvage prices in Portland are very high. I just about had a heart attack when I saw what they were asking for a bathroom wall sink. Of course, being a glutton for punishment I had to wander over to the millwork section and go look at the perfect back band I am not allowed to buy ;-) I fingered it longingly and briefly considered pleading with them in person to ship it to me. But, alas my pride wouldn't let me.

I toyed with the idea of walking down the McCoy Millwork & 1874 House Antiques but it was still a pretty far ways off and the sun was heading down, so I turned around and made my way back to the light rail stop and headed back across the river to my hotel.

Of course, TSA loved all that metal when I went through airport security.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Portland - The Views

This was my second trip to Portland, Oregon. The first time I visited Oregon was for work...and it was very reluctantly. No one ever talks about Oregon, so what could be worth seeing, right? I was blown away at how beautiful it is.

On my first trip out there I had more time to spend, so I was able to see many of the sights....from the coast inland to Mount Hood. This visit I had less free time, so I had to hit the ground running.

I knew I had to see the Columbia River Gorge and the waterfalls again this trip. I will admit to you that I snuck out of a work session in order to make it happen. Shhhh.

Of course, the next day I did what every old house owner visiting Portland is compelled to do.......

Friday, November 02, 2007

Ghost Whisperer

I'm not sure if I should be amused by this or totally freaked out. I'm leaning towards totally freaked out.

Here's the story. Stick with me on this one.

This past week I was in Portland, OR for a work conference. I arrived a day early and was staying in one of the alternate hotels (because I made up my mind to attend kind of late). So, I was a little surprised on the airport shuttle bus when the woman sitting next to me told the driver that she and her friend were attending the same conference and staying at the same hotel as me.

The ride in from the airport was kind of long and as the woman next to me chatted with her friend, I started to think I recognized her voice. I kind of glanced sideways over at her and was pretty sure I had met her before, but couldn't place where or when. For whatever reason, she asked me if I was in town for work. I told her that I was attending the same conference as they were......and then told her I thought we had met before. Long story short, we finally deduced that we had worked in the same department for a company 15 years ago. We marveled at what a small world it was.

We got to the hotel and went our separate ways. About an hour later, I was down in the hotel lobby taking a look at my city map before venturing out, when the two women came down the elevator. They saw me and asked me if I'd like to join them for dinner. So, I did.

We were sitting in the restaurant waiting for our food to arrive and making small talk about what we each had planned for our free time. I told them I was restoring an old house and was going to visit some of the" old house" stores in Portland. My former co-worker asked me where my house was located, and I told her the general neighborhood. She mentioned that a number of years ago she dated a guy who lived in that part of town near a popular local restaurant. I told her that I also lived really close to that place.

She paused for a second and then slowly said her ex-boyfriend's address as she remembered it. It took me a minute before I realized the address she had just said was MY ADDRESS. I even had to repeat my address silently in my head to make sure.

My former coworker's (who I met on a hotel shuttle after 15 years) ex-boyfriend lived in my house. We had to stop talking for a few minutes as our brains imploded.

She had a very detailed memory for what my house looked like. She commented on the quirky bathroom with zero clearance between the toilet & tub. She told me there were little benches on either side of my front door. And she confirmed my suspicions that as late as the 1990's the house still had it's original stove (which of course, points to the realtor who flipped the house as being the one who yanked the vintage stove out - a pox on her and her children.) She even thought she may have some old photos. She confirmed and corrected some of my assumptions about this guy (based solely on my vivid imagination and what I could find in my house abstract). She also told me that he had passed away at a fairly young age.

We had been discussing all this for a bit when she said "I'm not sure if I should mention this or not...." It turns out the the ex-boyfriend has mentioned his thoughts on the after life. Of course, this led us to try to figure out if he was trying to reach her or me.....and how much of a hand he might have had in us meeting on the shuttle, etc. Bizarre, huh? What if he hung around to help me figure out what my house is supposed to look like before passing on into the bright light?

We have plans to meet for lunch & a tour of the house sometime soon.

Freakishly small world, huh?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Slip Joints

My dad came to the rescue and helped me solve my kitchen sink plumbing problems. When he heard my tale of plumbing woe, he called me and told me he could probably show me how to fix it.

We were a little concerned about how tightly the old pipes were melded together, so the night before the repair I sprayed WD40 on all of the joints.

The J trap (forgive me if I don't get these names just right) came out surprisingly easy. The sink drain also popped up, so we decided now was the time to replace that too. So, off to the hardware store we went. I chose the local hardware store with the widest product selection, but the more inexperienced staff. We brought the old pipe & drain with us....and the guy in the plumbing dept. picked out replacement pieces for us and sent us on our way.

We were out in the parking lot of the hardware store and I was feeling all optimistic. I told my dad that this looked like it was going to be a breeze. My dad kind of chuckled and told me that plumbing jobs had a way of going wrong.

We got home, took out the new pipes and began fitting them in place. For some reason the top end of the J trap would not secure to the pipe coming out of the wall. We spent some time trying to figure out what was going on, when all of a sudden my dad realized what the deal was. The pipe coming out of the wall had a slip joint and the J trap they sold us was threaded (how's that for impressive plumbing lingo?). So, back to the hardware store we drove. We found the slip joint J traps, but they still were not set up to join the wall drain pipe in the same way as my old drain. In the end, we decided to buy a new drain pipe from the wall with a slip joint, a J trap with a slip joint and the new drain.

My dad did most of the work in cutting down the new pipes and getting them together. We had one test run with a leak, but the second test held.

Behold my shiny new drain pipe. Eventually I'd like to clean up that odd bend in the copper water pipes, but that's another project for another day.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Vanity Painting

This past weekend, I spent some time painting the wood trim surrounding my front windows. I stripped the wood earlier this Spring. (For some reason every photo I take of the front of my house leans to the right. That's me, not the house)

Painting the windows now probably wasn't the most logical order in which to accomplish things. I was going to wait until Spring, but I got tired of the roofers I had out last week giving me the "why bother, you live in a crappy house" attitude. This even after I explained to them I pulled down the aluminum soffits and am restoring the wood. It was hard on StuccoHouse morale.

So, this was a vanity painting.

I still have not located & bought the backband trim to replace the exisiting trim that is in really bad shape. I have been dragging my feet on this mostly because I just can't wrap my head around the fact that it is cheaper for me to pay $100 for UPS shipping from a mill in NJ than it is to buy the stuff less than a mile from my house. At some point, I will just need to break down and buy the stuff and replace the trim. Most likely next Spring.

The top horizontal trim board also is in bad shape. The soft wood around the hard grain is worn out and there is some "suspicious activity" going on behind it (i.e. punky wood). Next Spring I need to pull that board out, address some issues behind it and replace the board.

The vertical boards are hard as rock and stripped quite well.

So, I primed the vertical boards & painted them. I left the back band border trim unpainted (easier to pull off later). I didn't want to leave the top horizontal trim board unpainted, so I skipped the primer and painted it. From the street it looks almost properly painted. The more yellow that goes onto the front of the house, the more I like it. I think the yellow & gray make it look more "crisp" than the dingy white.

I did make a minor change to the painting color scheme. I'll post more about that on another day.

Finally, just to show some progress I've included a photo of the old aluminum storms & grungy front windows.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Ladder

Here is a photo of my ladder. When I bought my house it had small trees growing in the gutters, so the ladder was one of my first purchases.

When I was at Home Depot choosing the ladder, I decided that I should buy the tallest ladder possible. I figured that if I was going to plunk down the cash for a ladder, the extra footage would be relatively cheap. So, I went for the 24' model. That was thinking ahead, I told myself.

It was quite a brilliant plan until the first time I tried to drag that ladder out of my garage myself. A minor miscalculation. It was so heavy I couldn't lift it. I spent much of the summer of that first year dragging that ladder inch by inch to where I wanted it to be.

By the second and third summers I had finally developed the arm strength to lift the ladder (slightly) off the ground. Then the challenged became getting the ladder propped up against the house without looking like Wiley Coyote with the ladder swaying dangerously from side to side. I'm pretty sure I provided my neighbors with some humor...and possibly a little fear when they happened to catch one of these episodes. But, by the end of that third summer I was getting pretty proficient at carrying the ladder and getting it propped up against the house...without causing harm to myself or the house.

So, this summer I was in the confident position of being able to actually lift the ladder and get it propped up against the house with only minor mishap. The only task left to master was getting the ladder back down once I was done working on the house. I had plenty of time to practice this while working on my front door overhang. I tried many different techniques.

First, I tried to lean the ladder to the side and slowly lower it. This was hard because there came a point where the ladder was too heavy and most of the weight fell to one arm. Then I tried to pull the ladder vertical and slowly let it ride down the side of the house by pulling out the bottom. This made a lot of noise and wasn't that good on the stucco, so I abandoned it. Finally, I tried to pull the ladder upright than slowly lower it over my head...while at the same time walking backward out and moving my hand down rung by rung until the ladder was safely on the ground. It took months of fine tuning, but this became my preferred method.

I have mastered the ladder.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Severe Disenchantment

I am currently disenchanted with my house.

I have a kitchen sink totally out of commission with a big hole in the drain pipe.

For the better part of the morning, I listened to a flapping noise in my basement that I strongly suspect was a bat. He refused to fly out the open back door to save his stupid life.

And this afternoon, I met with roofers to get bids to repair the hole that the copper edge roofers were supposed to repair. The first words out of their mouths were "why didn't the copper drip edge guys do this?" I smiled politely and forced myself not to scream or cry.

So, tonight I am ordering out and sitting in front of the tv to watch Dancing with the Stars all the while pretending I own a new house in good repair.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Expect The Unexpected

There I was.

Basking in the warm glow of my newly painted & copper encased front door overhang. An ever so slight gloat of a smile while I thought to myself about how much progress I was making on restoring my old house.

The dishes were waiting to be washed in the sink. I ran the water when all of a sudden I heard an unfamiliar woosh and felt soapy water on my feet.

If I didn't know better, I'd swear this house timed these things. Looks like I get to reacquaint myself with my plumber.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Haint Blue

Okay, I took your advice and painted my itty-bitty beadboard "porch" ceiling haint blue.

It is 25% the color of the wood storms below it.

It looks surprisingly good with the yellow. I think it's going to be one of those quirky things that makes me smile whenever I walk up to the house.

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