Saturday, April 28, 2007

Is That The Phone Ringing?

I just about finished filling in & reseeding my front lawn. It took me all morning & afternoon. I will spare you the photos of a big pile of watered down dirt.

But, I will show you something else kind of cool.

It's a late 1930's Automatic Electric Company Monophone AE40 made in Chicago, USA. I've had my eye on it for a while, and this afternoon I broke down.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Storm Windows

I couldn't stand it anymore.

I took down one of the aluminum triple track storm windows on the front of my house. The other will follow this weekend.

I know, I on earth could I pull down something so attractive that is face nailed on the the exterior wood trim of my windows?!

After almost 4 years of hunting for vintage wood storm windows at my local salavage places (we are talking weekly trips), I came to terms with the fact that if I wanted wood storms, I was going to have to buy them new. So, I went down to Diamond Lake Ace Hardware and put my order in. They will arrive in 3 weeks.

Of course, I am a glutton for punishment. I told them not to put in any glass. I may have new storms, but I'll be darned if they won't have wavy glass. Now I just need to decide on a paint color for the wood trim (the storms will stay gray).

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Paint & Pressure

Every now and again I like to do something outside my house that lets my neighbors know that I really do intend to do more work on the house. A small gesture. Assurances that I know the house still needs help, and I actually do plan to eventually do something about it. Especially for the new neighbors on the block that may not have lived through the Great Front Step Replacement of '06, the Great Tulip Planting of '05 or the Great Lawn Green-up of '04.

Right now, I have the second ugliest house on the block (maybe 3rd, depending on criteria). Thank heaven for the lady that never mows her lawn or picks up her newspaper, or I'd be vying for the crown. My sewer replacement really did me in. I feel the pressure.

In all fairness, I need to explain that in most cases when you are restoring an old house....things need to get ugly before they can get better. Paint needs to be stripped, aluminum & tile needs to be peeled away, pressure treated wood needs to be disassembled, etc. Patience is a virtue. Patience is also a necessity.

One of the first things I plan to do when it warms up a bit, is to paint my front entryway. Last summer I stripped all of the paint off it and repaired the rotted wood. I only had time to prime it all before the snow fell. This Spring, I had a restored wood storm door installed. The whole thing shall I put this.....unfinished.

So, I bought 4 paint samples and put them on the screen door. Everyone that walks by can clearly see Something Is In the Works. I'm leaning towards to color in lower left. More on this in my next post.

Twin Cities Bungalow Club Tour

Time once again to mark your calendars for the Twin Cities Bungalow Club's Spring House Tour on May 12th. You can find the tour details at this link (as well as, some cool info on stenciling classes....and Chicago Bungalow tours) It's a nice way of legitimately snooping through someone else's old house ;-)

This year's tour is being advertised as "Fabulous Foursquares."

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Vintage Bungalow

I have a bunch of favorite houses in the Twin Cities. They are houses, big and small, that at some point I stumbled upon and they left an impression on me. If I'm driving in the proximity of the house, I'll usually drive by just to see what's new. Most of them are from the 1920's era, but they are all styles. One is a huge mansion on the shores of Lake Calhoun.....another a small Spanish Style cottage.....on the list is also a small white & green bungalow on the other end of town.

Today I happened to be driving by the white & green bungalow. I noticed an Estate Sale sign out front. This instantly made me sad because it meant the older gentleman that I often saw sitting outside in a lawn chair enjoying his large garden had passed away. Although the sign made me curious, I felt bad about going into that man's house and rummaging through his stuff.

Well, I was making the return trip from my errand and once again passed the house. It was my heart & head talking to each other....."don't you want to see the inside?"........"Have some respect"......"But what if there is something really cool for sale and you miss it." About a block past the house, I pulled over and parked. I walked back to the house.

The inside of the house would make the heart of any bungalow purist beat faster. Oak & birch/maple throughout. A nice, big, mission style oak buffet...original dining room light. A vintage galley kitchen with a built in bench & table cove.....vintage birch cabinetry...and a vintage Roper stove. The wood work throughout still has it's original varnish finish. There was even a vintage canning stove in the basement. There was a green shag carpet throughout that I'm sure was had done a nice job of protecting oak floors.

I didn't buy anything in the house.....although I seriously eyed the stove. I suspect the sale had been going on for a few days and I was hitting the tail end. There was a note taped to the (vintage) front door that said the house was going to be sold.

I hope, hope, hope this house is sold to someone that appreciates the vintage state of it. If you are in the market for a vintage bungalow in the south part of Minneapolis, drop me and email and I'll give you directions.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Fabrication of My Imagination

I just got off the phone with a metal fabricator.

Who knew finding a curved drip edge for a roof would be so difficult.

For the past two weeks, I have been searching for a solution to my current drip edge situation. To recap, I have a curved front door overhang. The pitch is quite low, so the overhang was covered in roofing membrane. Traditionally, they would have run shingles out a few inches over the edge and skipped a drip edge, but because of the membrane this isn't an option. The fascia was covered with aluminum. When it came time to install a drip edge, the roofer took a standard metal drip edge & snipped it every inch or so to make it "curve" (the word curved is used loosely here).

It has always been ugly, but when I took down the aluminum fascia it became apparant the the drip edge was not even fitting to the roof. There is a gap of up to an inch in some spots. Recently, this gap has been discovered by bats. I am suddenly quite motivated to resolve this problem.

I started calling roofers. I chose roofers that specifically said in their ads that they did repairs. I contacted the first roofer and carefully explained to him what I needed to have done. I asked if it sounded like something he would be interested in. "Oh, yes" I was assured. When he got back to the office he would call me to schedule a time. I waited. The creep never called.

So, I called a second company, explained to them in detail the situation. The guy came out to look at the overhang. Told me he knew how to handle it. Would talk to a fabricator and get back to me. I should have had a clue because his favorite saying seemed to be "I'm just a roofing guy." I guess he could install the stuff, but repairing it was beyond him (?) Again, I waited.

So, two weeks were wasted (thank you Topside Roofing and S & R Roofing) . Why these dopes don't just tell you they aren't interested in/capable of making the repair is beyond me. It would save everyone a lot of time, and I wouldn't have to get so irritated.

Anyway. Deep breath.

I then decided that maybe my best route would be to find a metal fabricator myself. See if they could make a drip edge for me.....then get a handyman (or myself) to replace any rotted sheathing and reaffix the membrane. But, how does one go about finding a fabricator?

I pulled out the Yellow Pages and started circling ads that looked promising. Then on a whim, I decided to see what the Roofer ads looked like. I saw a name that looked familiar. The company is both a roofing company and a metal fabricator.

They seemed like a good fit, so I gave the company a call and spoke to somone there that seemed to easily grasp what I needed. I got a little excited when she asked me if I was also looking for someone to install it. She promised to have a metal guy call me to discuss details. Please join me in crossing your fingers.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


I'm exhausted. I spent the day hauling dirt.

Last fall I had my sewer laternal line replaced. This left me with a front yard of mud. I was able to ignore this as long as it was covered with snow. But, alas, the snow is gone and something needed to be done. I was getting daily flyers attached to my doorknob from companies wanting to sell me their lawn services.

So, early last week I started buying top soil. I originally looked into hiring someone to deliver a batch to my house, but they quoted me a price of $80. At the time that seemed steep. Right now, I'm thinking it was not so steep after all.

Last week I went to Menards and piled 12 forty pund bags onto a cart. I was pretty confident that this would fill my entire front yard. 12 forty pound bags from the store shelf onto a cart, from the cart into my car, from my car into my front curb, from the curb up my front hill. I don't mean to whine, but I'm just saying.

Seems my estimating skills are a bit rusty. 12 forty pound bags only made a minor dent in the boulevard area from the curb to the sidewalk. I'd pour out the bag and a tiny little mound of dirt the size of a large ant hill would be sitting there.

So, today I went back for 12 more bags. 12 is the exact amount of dirt both my mini-suv and I can handle without collapsing. This dirt finished off the boulevard area. I was then able to put down starter fertilizer.....seed & then water the whole thing.

I need to repeat the whole process for the rest of the actual front yard. I'm guessing 24-36 bags for the rest of the yard. I took "after" photos...but the sad thing is they look identical to the "before" photo. However, if all goes well boulevard grass should sprout in 5-20 days.

One benefit of working outside......I was able to chat with a few of my neighbors that I haven't seen since last fall when we all went into hibernation. I also met my new neighbor across the street who seems very nice.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


I learned how to crochet when I was a little girl. Both of my grandmothers were prolific crocheters, tatters, and embroiderers. My mom smocked. So I guess it's in my dna.

When I was a student in Spain, my friends and I picked up crocheting again as a way to pass time while traveling by train (this was before ipods & cell phones). The little, old, Spanish ladies sitting around us took us under wing. They showed us new designs, fed us and introduced us to their grandsons. It was a nice little scam we had going.

After college, I would drive down to my Grandma's house and we would spend the afternoon crocheting. She would teach me new designs & give me tips (the rose & shamrock designs are hers). We'd always joke bout the poor folk that had to sleep on plain sheets.

Over the years, I've kept up with crocheting lace. I usually put the lace on bed linens. Whenever I see a nice, sturdy piece in an antique store at a good price ($5/pair for pillowcases), I snatch it up. As a result, I have a pretty good selection of high quality bed linens.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Melting Goodness

I ran across this vintage poster at a local antique store. They had a pile of similar small posters that were once used as advertising for a commercial Betty Crocker, I think.

I spotted this one because it has a design in the same colors & style as my kitchen will have when it (finally) is done.

One of these days I'll get it framed to hang on the kitchen wall. I have a sneaky feeling that I'll develop a craving for eclairs shortly thereafter.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The New (Old) Storm Door

Well, Greg from Blue Moon Remodeling (looks like his website is under construction) got the storm door installed. I am very happy with it and more than a little relieved. I'm sure my neighbors think I'm a little odd because I've been standing out there admiring it & taking photos. I tried to get all my admiration in before they got home from work, but a few caught me.

The door & the wood surround are all just primed at this point (I stripped the many layers of paint from the wood surround last summer). You can see the small patch under the new handles where I patched the hole from the old hardware & sanded.

Next, I will need to strip the tiny bit of paint that was under the trim of the aluminum door....and finish stripping the glass insert. Then paint the whole shebang. I have a very pale yellow picked out for the house trim....and I think I'll add another darker yellow shade for the inset panels.

The only glitch was that the door actually turned out to be about .25-.5" short when the trim from the aluminum door was removed. I'll probably have to add a door sweep on the inside before next winter. Not a big deal.

I love how the top panel matches the side windows in height. At some point, I may have the glass insert panel modified so it has a bunch of smaller panes of glass or maybe two panes (like the side storm windows) instead of the three horizontal.

Help Has Arrived

The handyman is here installing my salvaged wood storm door. I was stressed about this for months. Where could I find a handyman that I could trust to cut down & install my beloved door? After hunting that thing down, hauling it home, stripping it, repairing the original hardware hole and priming it......then hunting down the hardware......I got to the point where I was nervous to let anyone even touch it. The primed storm door sat in my entryway all winter (the photo is old, but shows the two doors).

I finally decided I had to find someone to install it. So, I went to one of my favorite hardware stores back in my old neighborhood (more people restoring their houses vs. remodeling over there) & asked them if they knew of anyone. I told them that I needed someone really good :-) They gave me a name.

I spent a few minutes chatting with him this morning when he arrived. He seemed calm & undaunted by my assignment...which made me calm. He's worked on old houses.....and he worked at two of my favorite old fashioned hardware stores. I am cautiously optimistic.

We chatted about a few of the other projects I have going on around the house, namely removing the aluminum soffits. I'm pretty sure I can't handle pulling all that aluminum down myself, and it would be nice to have a name of a back-up. He "gets" that I am restoring the house, not renovating. If things go well, he may be my new best (paid) friend.

Hopefully, photos of the installed door will follow shortly.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Flowers, etc.

It's time once again for me to post my annual notice of the Friends School Plant Sale. It's May 11, 12 & 13 at the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand.

I'm not affiliated with the school in any way; it's just a really good sale.

Even if you don't go to the sale, download their catalog. It's like a mini course in midwest gardening. I noticed they also have started a garden blog that highlights some of the new plants that will be at the sale this year (even more heirloom tomatos!)...midwest gardening tips....

I've posted about the sale for the past 4 years, so if you are interested in reading about sale strategy, types of plants I found, etc. use the "Friends Plant Sale" label below to pull up those older posts.

This year I'm hoping to pick up my garden veggies (of course) and then a climbing rose, and some more heirloom perennials for my backyard garden.......and maybe some more plants for the side.....and the front. You see how it goes??

Monday, April 02, 2007

A Breather

I spent a few days in Omaha, NE last week for work. It was a much needed break from The House. I have a lot of house work facing me now that Spring is here, and it was nice to get away and go into denial for a few days before it all hits.

Granted, Omaha is nobody's dream destination in March.....and it rained the entire time I was there.......and I had to work. Still. It was nice.

During my free time, I spent some time roaming through Old Town in the rain and discovered an antique mall and a store called Red Square that carried cool amber jewelry (I like jewelry). After that, I returned to my hotel and vegged out in front of the tv and watched an entire marathon of "Miami Ink" (I have a strange affinity to that show). Proof positive that I can never have cable tv in my house.

I also caught two episodes of "Flip That House" which I have heard about but never seen. I was prepared to hate it with all my being. One episode was a guy in Vegas that bought a 70's style ranch. He and his dad did a pretty good job of renovating the place, although they made the strange decision to outfit the entire house in dark, stamped concrete floors. Maybe this is a Vegas thing, maybe this is a guy thing. I'm pretty sure no woman was involved in that decision ;-)

The second episode was about a guy that bought a very pretty 1920's Spanish style home in CA somewhere. This guy made me crazy. He hired a contractor to do all the work. He kept telling the guy he wanted an "Italian Villa." He was all proud of these antique French sconces he put in the living room. Someone needed to hand this guy a map of Europe. Um, it was a Spanish style house. Pet peeve of mine....know what kind of house you have.

Anyway, I have to admit I didn't hate the show as much as I thought I would. Although I'm sure it would lose it's charm if I watched it more than once in a year. I also was a tiny bit alarmed when I caught myself might be kind of fun to flip a house.

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