Thursday, May 31, 2007

Window Box Rehab

I've been kind of jumping back and forth between small projects on the front of my house. While the paint dries on one, I'll work on the next. You know how it goes.

While trying to choose which paint color to use on my storm door, I decided to keep myself busy by continuing my rehab of my window box.

There were remnants of a metal trim along the top of the box. I'm not sure if just the wood trim was originally covered in metal or if the entire interior was lined in metal. At any rate, the metal was in bad shape.

So, I pulled up what was left of the metal and stripped off the remaining paint. Then I treated the wood with a borate preservative.

When that was dry, I used LiquidWood to consolidate the wood. I'm sure this is total overkill, but this trim sees a lot of water. And as anyone that has stripped layers of paint off can attest, once this thing is repainted I never, ever want to have to deal with that wood again. Ever. Never.

There were pieces of metal tube that served as a drain at one time. I wandered up and down the aisles at Menards looking for something I could use as a replacement. In the outdoor sprinkler section, I finally ran across some short pvc tubes that fit into the old drains.

The flowers are ready to go, so all I need to do now is decide on the trim paint color.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Now That's A Storm Window

The new wood storm windows are now in place. The center storm is vintage. The gray paint is also the original color.

If you can manage to ignore the bad wood window trim, the storms look much more impressive. Imagine the trim a freshly painted mellow yellow :-) You can also imagine the window box full of blooming yellow & purple petunias, if it helps.

And just so we remember the pure crappiness we left behind....

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


This past weekend I painted my salvaged, wood storm door. I'm still not 100% sure of the colors, but after going through about 10 different yellow, gold & cream paint samples....this is as close as I've come to a decision. I'm usually one of those people that knows what color they want, goes to the paint store and buys it and then paints. End of story. It hasn't been so easy this time.

The colors I choose for the door will also be the color I choose to paint the rest of the trim on the house (once all of the aluminum is down and I get a chance to strip off the layers of old paint). I chose colors that are very close to the original colors I found when stripping off the old paint.

There are two shades. I have been thinking the darker color for the door & the inset side panels......and the lighter color for the door surround (now primed white). Then I would go on to use the lighter color on the rest of the house trim. But then I get to thinking that maybe I'll use the darker color for the rest of the house trim.....

I discovered that I have to be a little careful in how much color I use. This is a bungalow, not a Victorian I have to keep reminding myself. I tried to get a little funky with the side inset panels and paint some of the moulding two tone, but in the end I think I like one color better.

Monday, May 28, 2007


Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Cilantro Quest

This morning I went down to the newly opened-for-the-season farmers' market. I was hoping to buy a couple of pounds of asparagus. I had it in my mind that canning some pickled asparagus would be a good project for me today. Alas, there was no produce for sale yet. I did manage to find a cilantro plant for sale though and bought it.

I planted my vegetable gardens (I have two) a couple of weeks ago. I've been freezing some rhubarb, munching on an ocassional asparagus spear, and just noticed that my lettuce is starting to appear. I also have half a dozen tomatoes, two tomatillo plants, strawberries, string beans and a bunch of herbs. The one thing that I am missing is cilantro.

Every year there seems to be one garden item that is in scarce supply. A few years ago, if you had not bought your tomato plants by Mother's day you were out of luck. This year it's cilantro. I've been to every home store, grocery store, and nursery in the neighborhood that sells seeds (or plants for that matter) and they are all sold out. I only found the plant at the farmers' market today because it was mistakenly located with the parsley. And even then I had another customer hovering over my shoulder mentally wishing me to put it down for a moment so she could snatch it up.

The Cub grocery store near me sells freshly cut cilantro most of the year, so it's not like I really need to grow my own, but for some reason when you can't grow your own....then that's all you want to do. I may check out a few places tomorrow when I go out to pick up a few more flowers for my front yard.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Drip, Drip, Drip

This morning I talked to the metal fabricator that is going to create a copper drip edge for my arched, front door overhang. He had come out earlier this week when I wasn't home and made a pattern of the curve.

He quoted me a price of $840 to create and install the edge. This includes cutting out the exisiting membrane roofing, installing the edge and then repairing the membrane roof. The price was higher than my $600 wishful thinking price (pulled out of thin air), but less than my $1,200 "I'll have to find a new alternative" price (also pulled out of thin air). So, the project is a "go."

While Steve the fabricator works on the edge, my job is to replace the missing board. The one that fell to the ground in a pile of rot last summer when I pulled down the overhang aluminum. This has proven to be fairly complicated for my non-carpenter self. I'll give more info on this in a future post. But, the missing board is currently primed and drying in my basement.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Scrap Metal Profits

Well, today was going to be the day that I loaded the aluminum trim from the front of my house into my car and brought it over to the scrap metal place. But, it is raining and the last thing I want to do is load a pile of soggy metal into my car.

So, I'll hold a little contest instead. They scrap metal place will pay me $.075 per pound. How much do you think I'll score? Enough to pay a band of painters to come out to scrape & repaint my house?...haha.

I'll post the real results when I get them.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Stormy Weather

Today much of the Twin Cities spent the day under a weather progression from thunderstorm tornado serious tornado warning.

Where was I as the tornado warning siren sounded? Up on my roof priming a small little triangle of original shingles that appear in the tiny space above the windows on my dormer.

They used to be partially covered by the now-gone aluminum trim. It's one area that I didn't have to worry about stripping off old paint....coudn't even if I wanted to. If you can look past all of the crud, the shingles are actually kind of cool. They have a very pronounced faux wood grain to them.

It's not much, but I'm trying to build confidence and get some of the easier mini-steps out of the way before tackling the big stuff.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Are You Paying Attention?

I have a bit of a mysetery for you to solve. Here are the facts:

1) The adrenaline of seeing the front of my house without the aluminum trim has now worn off, and this morning I was standing in my front yard having a "what have I done?!" moment and looking up at this sight.

2) Yesterday I received a flyer in the mail advertising this bungalow for sale.

3) An alarm suddenly went off in my head.

Can you see what clue I discovered about how my house might have originally looked?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Wood Storm Windows Arrive

This past Wednesday I picked up the two storms I had made to replace the most hated aluminum triple track storms. They looked good and I loaded them into my car and drove home.

Once home, I decided to prime them immediately. The oil based primer went on so easily and I was thinking happy thoughts when all of a sudden I noticed a section of the board move. My heart sunk. Upon closer inspection I found that there was a section of wood that had a fault underneath it that caused a splinter of wood, maybe .5" x 3", to come loose. I finished priming the second window and then gave the hardware store a call.

I tried to explain to them what I had discovered and they asked me if maybe I had bumped it. I told them that I would bring it back in for them to take a look at. On my way back to the store, I was rehearsing for the worst.....they blaming me for wrecking the storms after I left the store....and me proclaiming my innocence.

Well, my dread was short lived. I showed them the problem and they agreed that something was wrong with the wood. They offered me $30 off and told me they would repair it with Bondo or I could fix it myself. I agreed that that was fair (I guess) and told them I'd fix it myself (I'll use the WoodEpox I have in my basement). So, I have new storms that have already been repaired. I have mixed feelings about this.

Today I am painting them (two coats on one side and one on the other - a second will be added after I put the glass & putty in). They are outside drying as I type (Note the green grass down by the road - this was my seeded from scratch area. Feel free to admire).

I still need to add the glass and then the hanging hardware. The glass could take some time because I need to pull it out of the old, salvaged sash first.

I'm anxious to get them in the windows.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Tiny Rant

I was going to write about the new wood storms that I picked up yesterday, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. This afternoon I stopped by the ReUse Center. This is a bit of a rant, I will warn you.

Anyone that reads my blog regularily knows that I stop by there frequently. Over the years I have also bought a lot of stuff there (bathroom wall sink, storm door, lights, doorbell button, etc.). The stuff is dirty, often in bad shape and more often than not overpriced. But, they are one of the only games in town, so I've learned to shop only during sales and just deal with it....and admitedly I have found some good stuff.

Here is the thing that is so frustrating. You will walk in the door to a group of workers standing by the front register. Lots of times they are chatting; sometimes they are moving stuff. Every now and again, someone asks you as you walk in if you need help. I've learned just to say "no" and go on my way, because in the instances I have asked.....they don't know what I'm talking about....or the just tell me they don't have it when I know they do....or they point me back to the area where I already know the stuff is stored.

Today, I wanted to look for a wood storm door for my back door & some window sashes & storms. So, I walked to the back of the warehouse where they are stored. They have the windows & the doors lined up like dominos. Every so often there is a support bar on the wall or shelf holding them upright. But they are in there so tight, there is no way to move them. I've seen big, burly men back there swearing as they try to look at the doors.....I don't stand a chance.

That's what happened to me today. Usually I would just leave, but today I was motivated. So, I walked all the way back up to the front of the warehouse. I interrupted the conversation and directed a less-than-thrilled guy back with me to the windows. I told him what I was looking for and he just kind of looked at me. So, I asked him if he could pull out a specific window. He did and stood there. I finally told him I'd continue to look on my own.

Just at this moment, a woman that works in the offices was telling one of the workers that standing in front chatting instead of helping people was poor customer service. No lie, I thought silently to myself. He actually kind of sassed her back and laughed.

Miracle of all miracles, I actually was able to find two storms that I wanted. I was finally able to get them down from the shelves by climbing up a ladder and taking down the windows near it one by one and propping them up on the floor below. It probably took me 30 minutes to pull out those two storms.

Because no workers were anywhere to be found, I dragged both of those dirty storms through the warehouse and up to the cash register where 3 people stood chatting. One guy even made the comment "oh, good you found something" - which I found amusing & irritating all at the same time. I paid for my purchase and was not the least bit surprised when they were too involved in their chat to offer to help me carry the storms to the door (or even hold the door open). I was able to get another customer to hold the door for me.

Here's the ultimate irony. What were they chatting lively about? The outrageously poor customer service they received in ordering passports. I laughed out loud as I dragged my storms out of the store. What can you do.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Ugly Duckling

I have this uncontrollable urge to put a sign up in my front yard saying something like "I know it is ugly now. It will get better. I have big plans. Honest."

Today the aluminum trim came down from the front of my house & the dormer.

I know it may not look like it to some, but I lucked out. Both the fascia & the beadboard eaves are in good condition. The wood is solid. The paint is bad - ok, really bad....which in an odd way is also lucky because it it much easier to remove.

I think the first thing I need to do is get up there and caulk the gaps. It's strange but with every piece of crappy aluminum trim I pull down it seems like my house can breath a little easier.

So, here is what it looked like before with the aluminum trim. And after without the trim. Not that I'm paranoid, but without a doubt my house is now the ugliest on the block.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Football & Flowers

When I first bought my house, a friend of mine & I were sitting on my front doorstep. He made the comment "The previous owner must have been a football fan." I sat in silence while I tried to figure out how he came to that conclusion. I finally had to ask. He looked at me like it was the most obvious thing in the world. The tulips she had planted in the front garden were purple & gold. Clearly, Minnesota Vikings colors.

I realized there was a whole level of order to the universe that I was missing out on. In fear of tipping the balance of that unseen order, I continue to plant purple & gold plants in that garden even though I'm no football fan. Besides, it makes me laugh.

My mom & I hit the Friends Annual Plant sale last Friday. We arrived at 11:30 am and there were already several hundred (yes, hundred) people in line waiting to get in. So, we went and had lunch and then returned to a much more manageable crowd.

I bought: some purple & gold "football" petunias for my front yard; some moss roses for along side my front steps; a John Davis climbing rose & Jackman clematis to grow together on the fence in my back yard garden; and a bunch of heirloom tomatos, herbs and strawberries for my vegetable garden.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Creating a Drip Edge

The metal fabricator stopped by my house yesterday to take a look at my front door roof overhang and see if he could create a curved drip edge for me to replace the current awful, snipped aluminum stock piece I have up there now.

We discussed a copper drip edge that would form itself to the curve of the front door overhang and fit under the membrane roof. The top of the curve would have a short diverter that would steer water to either side, so I wouldn't have the waterfall over my door that now happens whenever it rains. The copper would patina to a dark brown and then in a few years to a very cool green.

Things sound hopeful. Steve, the metal guy, told me he'd give me a call next week with the numbers. I expect this one to be pricey. but it's really the only reasonably good looking & functional option.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Visitor

Lots of things going on around here today, but one really strange one.

I was laying on my couch reading a magazine & watching tv. I heard some noise at my front door (4 feet behind my head on the end of the couch). I figured it was the wind blowing through the storm door. I had been working on stripping the paint off the window insert and had removed the upper portion of the storm was open. I didn't bother to look up from my magazine.

All of a sudden I caught movement down by my feet. Large movement. I froze for a second while I tried to figure out what could make that large of a shadow.

At that moment a big orange cat stepped out of the shadows and looked at me.

Keep in mind that the storm insert on my new storm door is fairly high (just short of 3'). This cat had to leap through that open area, sneak behind the couch, slink along the wall.....and then appear at the foot of my couch.

He took one look at me and ran out the same way he got in.

Very odd.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007



Am I the only one that didn't have a clue that we have a ReStore here in Minneapolis?

Their website includes a 10% off coupon for May.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Disaster Recovery & Spring Cleaning

I have recovered from my minor meltdown yesterday. I was an English major and can tend toward the dramatic (and bad spoofs of literary reference) when something like this happens. It's just that I lost most of my backyard lilac bushes in a similar "incident" a few years back.

My front yard is now sporting a series of wooden stakes tied together by bright yellow tape. It looks like a crime scene. I was able to lift each and every little trampled blade of new grass out of the mud and prop it back up. It looks like we (meaning my grass & I) will bounce back.

So, today I thought I had better just stay inside. I started my annual ritual of washing down my walls. Every Spring (well, most) I wash down my walls in a weak solution of hot water & Dreft soap. I'm about halfway through the house.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Scream Heard Round the Block

Oh, I was so not the happy camper this morning.

I woke up this morning and went outside only to find that my neighbor had mowed 3-4 feet into MY boulevard grass. INTO MY FRESHLY PLANTED, NEWLY SPROUTED, STILL BABY SOFT.....BOULEVARD GRASS. He cut down the new blades and totally trampled over the new sprouts from the second seeding I did last weekend.

If you read my blog, you may remember reading (admitedly boring posts) about the past three weeks I spent hauling dirt, spreading fertilizer, seeding, watering said seeds daily, and generally fretting over my newly planted grass.

I am so lucky none of my neighbors were outside this morning when I spotted this. Words came out of my mouth that would have changed their opinion of me forever.

So, up until this point I had refrained from posting "Keep Off The Grass" signs because I thought they were tacky....and was so obvious. My first trip this morning (after my cool down latte) was to the damn hardware store to buy $10 worth of stakes & bright yellow tape.

Good grief.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Ultimate Toolbox

Every girl needs an oak toolbox with finger jointed corners and brass corner pieces & clasps, right? It reminds me of a toolbox you would find in a Grandpa's shop. It's just so pretty.

On sale now at Duluth Trading Company. A Minnesota company, I might add.

Just to clarify....the tidbits on the carpet are from the packing material....and not my lack of vacuuming

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Kinder, Gentler Walkway

I have to say that the daffodils are looking pretty cute next to the new(ish) sidewalk.

Last year at this time that walkway was covered in woodchips, slugs and waist high ferns.

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