Wednesday, October 21, 2009

architectural/cultural extinction??

got a little troublesome news today, not about the house for once. at least there is a little distance between myself and this... Here's a blog post to read. If you are interested in historic preservation, architecture, music and history you should read it:

hopefully they can save this one.

Friday, July 31, 2009

my word

As promised here is a pic of the back yard. A year ago this was a muddy pile of dead shrubs. After regrading the yard, ripping up 5 inches of gravel with plastic under it (no wonder all the shrubs died, they had no water!) adding a rain swayle that runs into a dry pond with native plants.... *deep breath* a series of rainbarrels and two raised veggie gardens made with lumber reclaimed from behind all the neighbors garages... here is it! happily producing tomatoes, basil, ground cherries, squash and about a billion big chili peppers.

The brick edging is actually made of old St. Paul city street pavers. They weigh about 15 lbs each, so when the dog zooms around the yard they will stay put!

More to come soon! Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

upstairs, downstairs

I know it's been a while... again. I've got that same awful feeling about this blog that I get when I forget to write to elderly relatives; the ones that don't do e-mail.

There's been a lot going on. I guess I would rather be too busy with house projects than have all the time in world to blog, but that doesn't make for interesting reading.

I recently traded an old dresser for a new-ish 10" Jet Table saw. I'd call it a good trade!

Problem is that this is one of those Norm Abram heavy heavy cabinet saws. The thing took 3 strong guys to get out of the back of a big pickup. (one of these guys could probably have picked me up and thrown me over the fence with one hand) The thing weighs about 600-700 lbs... I need it in the basement. God bless our narrow staircase, but it's just a little too narrow, which means that I need to take the table off of the table saw and carry them down separately.

While on the subject of power tools, here's my new favorite site:
I have a couple of things to make from this site.

There's also a new firepit in the back yard, some old street-paver garden edging and about 1000lbs of flagstone for a patio. But not for this weekend... nooooo, this weekend I start the DRYWALL!! I'll be finishing up the holes made by the new addition, framing a ceiling and insulating while simultaneously stipping the paint and wall paper from the 1st and 2nd story hallways.

Oh for the endless weekend of house work :) Pictures will follow shortly, I just can't justify using my lunchbreak for both blogging AND uploading.

take care all

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Who wouldn't want Less for More...? Huh?

So, ever have this happen:

Grilling away, in the backyard or where ever and 'poof', out of gas. Kinda sucks. Well get used to it, because the Home Depot (and others) has decided to put LESS GAS in their tanks WITHOUT TELLING ANYONE! (this links to the Star Trib/Associate Press article) So be prepared to pay more for less... 'There have been no customer complaints, spokeswoman Jean Niemi said.'

Well, I filed one. And if this sort of ticks you off, you can too:

Consider this the first complaint regarding the reduction in fuel in
the Home Depot propane tanks. It's hard for consumers to file
complaints when they are not informed of changes to products that can
not be easily identified. I'll be giving my propane business to
retailers who are more transparent about their products and services
and changes made to them.



Well, maybe this is all a product of too much sun today and not enough sleep, but whatever.... oooh, now I feel better :)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Photo Tour

Well, The house is starting to shape up, though you'd never know it looking at it. The gardens are going (pics tonight) and the reseeding of the back lawn that the contractors mushed is almost done.

But I wanted to post links to the reno/resto photos. I'm working today so what I can do with galleries is limited, but I'll see what I can do. In the mean time here:

I'll put some more up here soo (like in the next day or two)

A quick history of the house: built in 1928 just before the market really crashed. A couple of months ago a kind realtor sent me the house abstract... and it appears that there have been a number of foreclosures on this poor house, in 1929 and recently (Not us!! Don't worry). It's interesting to see how little times have changed.

The place is a little atypical for Minneapolis. 3 Bedrooms (2 big ones upstairs) with 8 foot ceilings. Double lot to fill with gardens, and a very pointy roof. So much so that I have decided that we're really got a cottage (when compared with actual bungalow) BUT the name stays... I figure in this part of the city, it's a lifestyle rather than a type :)

Discovered soon after buying the place that all the woodwork on the 1st floor is Oak, which the previous house flipper/moron painted white... Using no less than 3 coats of exterior enamel. I've only begun the removal process.

The addition that went up, which I designed, filled out an existing space to create room for a bathroom (upstairs! Yah!). The work also allwed us to pull off the aluminum siding (Death by Alumicide as Stucco House would say!) and restore the bargeboards and ORIGINAL PATTERN cedar shingles all around the house.

Next on the list: Old fashioned gutters on the way (literally in the mail now!) to put together with Rain Barrels from Metro Blooms. Rip out nasty vinyl wall paper on first floor and get back to plaster and paint. Heat gun the whole dang place!! At least on the first floor where it's oak. Frame out and insulate the addition BEFORE NOVEMBER!!!

That's a big nutshell for the story, but there you go...

Here are a few more Local House Blogs to check out:

A little house that needs a lot of work

eMpTy Bungalow

Bungalow 23

Stucco House

Hope you enjoy the tour!

Sunday, April 26, 2009



I took another look and see now that the official time for the neighborhood garage sale is SATURDAY: 8AM-2PM Just saturday... which works just fine for me. I guess I will get up early and open up at 8 :)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bring the Wagon!

My blogging has been truncated as of late... but I do have an announcement in between all this work.

There will be a massive Neighborhood Garage Sale next weekend, May 2nd and 3rd. It will be in Northrop Neighborhood, in the area of 46th and Cedar Avenue. (sounds like much of the activity will be to the North West of that intersection)

I've been cleaning, cleaning CLEANING trying to get as much stuff together as possible. As it stands I have a substantial pile of clothing and stuff. I will be adding a Gas Burning Fireplace insert, a couple of maple cabinet doors that have been stripped down (see a previous post) and STORM WINDOWS... since the PO's of my home decided to rip out all the hardware. A twin bed (two of them)/dresser set (from the 1930's) and a set of chairs that came from my great grandmothers beauty parlor in the St Paul Hotel from 1940. We'll see what else we can dig up... There may be a cat added to the pile if she doesn't stop waking me up at 4am to eat.

I would imagine that there will be a few people looking for deals EARLY in the am next weekend... but I will open the garage at 9am...

If you're into the garage/yard sale thing it's probably going to be a big deal.. there are SEVERAL homes within a couple blocks that are going to participate. I think that some of them are pretty serious about this stuff :) Probably a number of plants.. so bring your cash, a good eye and your wagon (warm it up for the Friend School Plant Sale)


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Portable jungle speak out

Originally uploaded by gardenmonkey
Hey, look what happened to my window garden! These plants are so great. They only bloom in dry periods, so winter works out perfect. The quick evaporation from the furnace vent gives them just the right climate to send up a bloom. It's funny but plants like the orchid (the little yellow one) tend to bloom when they think they might die. But this one does it every year this time (sometimes earlier).

So, even if mother nature has decided it has to be cold for another week, at least I have spring inside :)

Friday, March 20, 2009


Originally uploaded by turbofan
So despite all the going on with the outside of the house there's not too much happening (anymore) on the inside. Brent and Brian (the dynamic duo!) moved the original door to center it on the new peak of the back gable.

Because of the size of the roof and the sheer weight of the addition they needed to put in 18 inch laminated valley beams... hence the big ick cutting through the ceiling. It actually will work out, since that will likely frame in the top of an opening to a storage nook... Think archival storage... I'm a collector AND a curator.. it's a perfect marriage of interest and business :)

Also, the hole on the ceiling to the right side of the pic... this will MAYBE end up being the coolest thing in the world. I'm hoping to open up a hole, frame it nicely with oak and run a library ladder up to it thus creating the coolest guest bed in the WORLD. And on the other side, you can use the ladder to access the attic space.

It's all still developing. Keep an eye out to see how things progress (slowly...)

Monday, March 2, 2009

New addition is done!

New addition is done!
Originally uploaded by turbofan
Attention, Men and Women, Boys and Girls, Children of all ages!!

The addition (and the outside 2nd floor restoration and the basement supports to level the floor etc) is done! On the outside. They did a great job and I would like to officially recommend Plekkenpol Builders. Friendly, SKILLED, honest etc etc. We worked with Keith, Flynn, Brent and Brian and would recommend them highly.

Now we just need to finish the inside and paint the trim. Don't know what color that will be. Any suggestions??


Friday, February 20, 2009

The windows are in!

The windows are in!
Originally uploaded by turbofan
Getting closer...

The roof is water tight, the bargeboard is secured, the sheathing is up and the windows are in... now I know, they look small, but keep in mind that this is a bathroom. It's doing to be nice to know that there is no conceivable way the neighbors could be exposed to.. well, anyone in the bathroom really.

Gosh, this project seems to be dragging on and on. I'm going to talk with a friend about framing and insulation this weekend (I hope) and the possibility of putting a sleeping loft up in the hole created by the construction. I suppose this is the most opportune time to try right??

Stay tuned, this should be winding up soon.. or at least changing tunes.


Friday, February 6, 2009

House update

House update
Originally uploaded by turbofan
Well, it's moving along. Surely but semi-slowly. We've had a good stretch of weather... which up here means it's been above 0F.

So Brent and the Crew scraped the snow off the back and brought out the saws! Ta-daaaa, we went from water-tight (sort of) to no roof to skeleton roof... and now to ROOF! When I left in the morning the goal was to seal 'er up. With the temp headed up to 40 degrees (that's 80 degrees warmer than a week ago!) we are expecting rain over the weekend, turning to ice and eventually to snow. Hoorah for Minnesota. (and you though that LONDON had it rough this week)

I thought that we would be freezing when they did this, but it turns out that virtually all the work is happening outside of what is already insulated. In face, they removed the trunk room door to put in a beam and replaced it with a chunk of plywood and some insulation. The plywood keeps out the cold better than the drafty old door! Don't worry, the door is going to be used in the bathroom. My hope is that no one will no the bathroom is new... just a really clean, old bathroom.

So I expect we will begin the inside mess next week some time. This will involve ripping out parts of the walls from the second floor to the basement to provide support for the roof in the even of a heavy snowfall. They will also be busting through the cement floor in the basement to put in 3 new support posts. 1 for the roof, and 2 to boost up the sagging spot in the floor. Gee, once they stabilize that I can finally attach the dishwasher and cabinets without worrying about having to take it apart to re-level it in a month.

I know that I promised to post a recipe or two. I am still thinking about it. The baking didn't go the way that I had hoped, but I'm going to do some more after work tomorrow. The pastry cream was awesome... and the creme brulee was to die for... and they might make it up here. If the new ones turn out I will post those.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

House update

House update
Originally uploaded by turbofan
and another photo, showing the front (still in progress). The eyebrow will get a bit of cedar, and paint. New screen this summer and (fingers crossed) installing a bit of trellis over the dining room windows... just maybe.

This is going to look great when the hollyhocks start to come up!

House update

House update
Originally uploaded by turbofan
Well, here's the first 'reveal'. really just a partial reveal, the painting still needs to be done... and I have to add the corbels. But damn! I'm liking this restored look.

more to come

Friday, January 23, 2009

Another full cord of wood

Another full cord of wood
Originally uploaded by turbofan
Well, consider the woodstove a success. SO BIG of a success that we decided to purchase another full cord of wood, and not a minute too soon. The last of the first load had just burned out in the fireplace when the guy pulled up.

I have to say what a huge fan I am of the Jotul 3CB! it's easy to clean, throws a LOT of heat (cut the bills in HALF!) and looks damn cute.

I only wish that it had a blower. Right now we use a 2 fan system to distribute the air around the house. Since the thing is recessed slightly into the original fire box we use a small fan to blow the heat from behind the unit and out into the room. Then we use a larger fan to blow the hot air over the (or under really) the arched opening and upstairs in the evening.

so the deal for next year:

Try out a new fan system. A while back I thought up this plan to install a small fan, maybe a bathroom vent fan (?), into the ash drop space in the basement. The idea would be to blow the cooler air from the basement up and through the trap at the back of the firebox and push the nice hot air out into the house. We'll see how it goes.

I COMPLETELY underestimated the importance of kindling. if you are thinking of doing the heat-with-wood thing start chopping up kindling now. Especially when you burn White Oak like us you NEED to get something going first. It's pathetic, I can be walking to work and find myself picking up sticks to take home! sick... This made my new years resolution 'chop more kindling'.

Vacuum more... this is a dusty affair this heating with wood. We finally got a shop vac, but I dread the spring clean. I'm going to look like a chimney sweep from Mary Poppins. In fact I'm going to start growing the silly mustache right now!

So the whole time we were hauling and stacking this cord of wood the contractors were nailing away at the North gable end. IT LOOKS AWESOME. I plan to post the pic tomorrow when I can see it DONE in full light of day.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Just a wee entry...

Well, it's a slow time on the house-front. This is mainly because everything I really want to do, (actually the only things I can currently AFFORD to do) like paint removal and scraping off popcorn ceiling, all involve opening windows. So, while I wait inside for the contractors to finally start again I got to baking.

My friends know I'm a binge baker. When the moon is in the right house I will fill the kitchen with bread, cookies, brioche... but today was a pastry day. I tried a variation on a family recipe. My new version involves making lemon curd and vanilla pastry cream. And that didn't seem like enough to work with (silly me) so I also made Grapefruit curd (very tasty) and Almond pastry cream.

Soooo, all together I used 15 cups of flour, 5 sticks of butter, 3 lemons, 2 oranges, 1 grapefruit, 1/2 bottle of almond extract, 6 sticks of butter... etc. So, while I sit here and listen to my arteries plug up I figured I would post about why I haven't posted

anyone hungry?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Pardon the vacuous blog, I'm just happy to be distracted from the contractor issue:

I just found the most perfect TV show (gasp) of all time: : It's not on cable (I don't roll like that) it's on PBS Create. Stuccohouse wrote about the Create Channel a little while back (you are SOO right about Rick Steves!)

So, I think I may be watching the premier, but here's what has happened so far:
When I turned on the tube they were talking with an artist that uses a woodworking lathe to make a moving sculpture of a 3D matrix that makes a wave... all by hand. they moved on to:
how to make a lawn chair out of a shopping cart using everyday tools then talked about a musician who plugs his Goodwill finds into amplifiers and they are currently making a Trebuchet out of PVC. I can see all sorts of ways that these projects would come in useful for ANYONE working on a home. I guess it just depends on how much faith you put into your re-sale value.

That's all. It's worth a look.

Sign of the Times.. the crappy, crappy times...

Well, here is a wake-up call.

Today I got a call from the contractor. I was at work so I thought that it would be: 'we need to leave the back gate open for tomorrow morning' or something like that...
Instead what I got was:
'We had to lay off the people working on your project, so it might be a while before there are enough people to start working again'
well, damn. I can't say anything bad about this company. They do great work. They are generally on time. did I say they do great work (so far). I'm lucky they hadn't torn off the back roof yet!
I guess this is just a sign of the times. Poor guys; I hope they can find a place worthy of their skills!
Oh, and I would have new pics up here now that the scaffolding is off the front, but I haven't been home in the daylight since this whole thing started!!
Stay tuned... more news in home re-newery to follow...