Tuesday, October 24, 2006

the Mouse epidemic

In Minnesota, the chill has officially set in. Today it's a toasty 45 degrees, and the ten-day forcast has us in the mid-40's for highs and mid-30's for lows all week. There's no snow *yet* (but you can never tell...).

So, the mice are getting restless. At least, I presume that is what's happening. And, really, I don't blame them. I'd be shivering my bi-jivers off (very technical term that is- "bi-jivers") if I were a mouse out in the cold.

We haven't had any confirmed sightings of mice in the house, but we know they are in the garage. Specifically, we know they are in Sean's F150 (aka "the Beast," or, the work truck.) How do we know? Well, the little mouse droppings on the bucket seat were a great first clue. When we took the truck out of the garage and got rid of all the compost we had been collecting in the bed, we counted not one, not two, but three little critters scurrying around the bed, running for dear life as we pitchforked the compost out. There were probably at least three more that we didn't see. (I thought they were cute and actually felt kind of bad for them. Silly me.)

The next evening:
Since it's chilly, I get to park in the garage now, and we are leaving the F150 on the street. (Isn't Sean the gentleman! :)
So, we decided to do some ho-hum running around... groceries, errands, and the like. We took my car. Fresh out of its newly claimed garage spot. About 1/2 mile into the drive at a stopsign, we see this black flash... a critter scurrying up the windshield from under the hood compartment. YEP! Another mouse! A quick flick of the wipers sent him flying to the street.
ICK SHRIEK ICK!
Ok, crawling around the truck bed at the compost site, I can take it. Crawling up my window of my car while we're driving is quite a different story. Luckily, this one didn't have any friends with him. Or, at least, none that we found.
But every time I get into the car now, I am half-expecting one to crawl up my pantleg looking for a warm place to snuggle (*shiver*).
ICK. ICK.
Do I feel sorry for them now?
Not so much.

Monday, October 23, 2006

4 NEW windows! See for yourselves...

It is finished. We have four brand-spankin' new Marvin Ultimate Double-Hung replacement windows!! It took about five hours, and we think they look great.

If you haven't been a part of the windows debate, we have been researching replacement and restoration options for our windows for about four months. We finally decided to replace four of the worst ones before winter hit. These were the ones with cracked panes, wood rot, and broken sash cords, among other problems. I know these are all potentially fix-able problems, but the amount of work involved to restore these would have been pretty substantial, and with the Minnesota window breathing down our necks (literally), the 4-window replacement seemed like the best solution.

They weren't that complicated to install... we had these installed for us, but upon observation, we think we would do others ourselves.

These are Marvin Ultimate Double-Hung Insert replacement windows- replacing just the sashes and not the casing or trim, and wood on both inside and out. (I swear I should be getting a kick-back from Marvin for all this. But I'm not.) We are going to paint the outside to match the trim outside and custom-match stain for the inside. (We could have had the installers do this for us... for a fee, of course!)

A nod to the window guy (for any TC locals):
Of the three places we got estimates from, Lampert Exteriors (Roseville) came out cheapest, and we were very happy with their crew. They were timely, professional, and even did a couple of things that were above and beyond the "call of duty" so to speak. Also, I felt like the salesperson was the most "real"- he had good follow-up, but not a hard sell. And he was willing to work with us understanding that we probably weren't going to replace everything... we were likely to do some restoration ourselves.

We do notice a difference in warmth and noise level in the rooms with the new windows. Getting those weight pockets insulated is key. So that's the other project we worked on this weekend: Insulation! Stay tuned.... we are fighting Jack Frost to the death. (and so far it is unclear who is winning!)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The WINDOWS are coming! the WINDOWS are coming!

Note to our house:
The windows are coming. They are friendly windows. Do not be alarmed. Although they are alien to what you know now, they will be good to you. No, they will be good to us. We will be warm. We will not have cracked glass. We will have quiet. And we will still have many more windows that you know and love that have been with you a long, long time. I know this is a big change, so I thought you should know. But there's nothing to be afraid of.
So, the windows are coming. They will be here tomorrow. You will see.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Rejuvenation and other fun places from Portland!

Sorry for my nearly week-long absence… I have been in Portland, OR for a work conference. It turned COLD in the Twin Cities this week, and we are not yet totally weather-proofed. I picked up weather-stripping and 3M window kits before I left, but they did not get in place. As I waited for the bus to the airport on Wednesday, a nearly perfect snowflake landed on my black wool coat. I was pleasantly surprised to arrive in Portland to find the weather sunny and almost 70! Although I was working *most* of the time, I did find time to explore a few great places:

1) Rejuvenation- I had this shopping trip marked in my planner as soon as I knew I was headed to Portland. And it was every bit as good as expected. For those traveling to Portland, this is a MUST. They have both old-house salvage and new replicas of everything old-house. Some of the new replicas are pricey, but they are GORGEOUS. I spent about an hour just pouring through the doors and lighting. Lighting is one of their specialties, and after visiting the store, I see why. They custom-make every fixture, and the options are practically endless. Best of all, they have a great catalog!! We have some great salvage spots in the Twin Cities too, but this one rivaled every one of them. They also have a “books” section with just about every Bungalow book ever written AND a cafĂ©. Family-owned, this is NOT your local “Restoration Hardware”.

2) For knitters- Knit/Purl. Gorgeous handmade luxury yarn. And when I say luxury, I mean $50 per skein (50 yard skein) silk cashmere yarn. Decadent. Yarn eye-candy. Yum. I came away with a little less luxurious- although equally gorgeous- hand-painted yarn for a tote I have been wanting to make.

3) For dog lovers- Urban Fauna. I got “Lolly-pups” and “Pup-cakes”, hand-made treat from the Doggie Barkery.

4) For book-lovers- Powell’s Books. If you like books, just go. You’ll see what I mean.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Favorite Architectural Salvage Places

In the Twin Cities, there are some great places to hunt for salvaged architechtural goods. Here are a few I have had luck with. Some have online inventory and will ship, for folks in other places!

Architectural Antiques
1330 Ne Quincy St MINNEAPOLIS MN 55413-1541
(612) 332-8344
Bauer Brothers
2432 2nd Ave. N Minneapolis MN
(612) 521-9492
City Salvage Antiques
505 First Ave NE Minneapolis
(612) 627-9107
Guilded Salvage Antiques
1315 NE Tyler St Minneapolis MN 55413-1530
(612) 789-1680
Northwest Architechtural Salvage
981 Selby Ave St Paul MN 55104-6533
(651) 644-9270
Re-Use Center
2216 E Lake St Minneapolis MN 55407-1933

Siwek's Lumber and Millwork
Located in Northeast Minneapolis at 2536 Marshall St. NE
Minneapolis, MN 612-781-3333

(612) 724-2608
Wescott's Station Antiques
226 W 7 St ST PAUL MN 55102-2523
(651) 227-2469

Great websites in other locations:
(Do you have a favorite? Add it here!!)

Old House Salvage
3 Mill St, Exeter, NH 03833
(603) 773-5635

Architectural Salvage
614 - 618 East Broadway, Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 589-0670


Olde Good Things
Several locations, with an extensive website and online store.

Salvage Web
An online architectural exchange

Old House Web Guide to Salvage Retailers
An online guide by category

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Onion knows home remodeling...

The Onion knows home remodeling!!
Take a look!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

So, why the sunflower icon?

Since we are taking a break from the work this week and still happily dancing to the plumbing gods, I thought I'd post about something completely different. You might notice that my "icon" as a houseblogger is a sunflower- the same one in the heading of the blog. Choosing an icon was quite a challenge... I mean, how do you "brand" yourself?
I wanted something that held meaning for me, represented my personality, made sense for what I was writing about - all the looked pretty and fit recognizably in a small pixilated square. Piece of cake, right?
It seemed so, since so many other folks have these awesome icons.
After spending several hours just browsing through icons and photos, I landed on the idea of the sunflower.

Sunflowers were my grandfather's favorite flower... the national flower of the Ukraine. My grandfather- probably the most amazing person I'll ever know- built his own house... the house my grandmother still lives in... a few years after he came to this country from the Ukraine.

In Flint, Michigan, he built the foundation and the basement, where the family lived while he finished the rest, framing and hanging drywall after he came home from work at his shift in the factory. For the skills he didn't have, he hired someone, but he stood by to learn how they did the job, and then he finished it himself. He had a family- 3 small children and a wife- and not much money, so he saved wherever he could. But he never charged a neighbor when they needed help fixing a furnace or fixing a leaky pipe. He had an inspiring spirit of determination... of giving...of standing up for what he believed in.
Hmmm... so a sunflower. Represents my history, my family, the things I believe in and hope to acheive...

Yes.
My icon is the sunflower.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

More pictures of the plumbing project

These are not particularly exciting pictures to probably anyone but me (and maybe Sean), but they document our plumbing day. They are:
1) Our new plumbing on the house side of the water meter
2) Sean doing the bathroom-wall demo
3) The pex-into-pex in the basement
4) The new copper for the bathroom sink.
5) New copper in the basement preparing for the long run of pex
We still have to replace the ceiling in the basement and dining room and close up the access panels in the bathroom and kitchen. Maybe next weekend. I think we're taking the week off.

Why we have water pressure

This is what the galvanized pipes coming out of the house looked like:










GROSS!!! GROSS!!! GROSS!!!

I am absolutely amazed that we were getting any water at all through those little-bitty holes.
With our brand-new pipes and super-duper water pressure, we could now wash an elephant.
:)
(I'm still happy-dancing!)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Pex tubing rocks my world.

We finished the plumbing. Yes, that's right. WE FINISHED THE PLUMBING!!!!
(*fireworks and happy dance*).
We started at 10AM, and 12 hours later we had H2O in the bathroom. AND WATER PRESSURE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(*more happy dancing*)
And the verdict is in: I think Pex tubing is the greatest invention since sliced bread.

I had read a lot about it online before we decided to use it, but I didn't find a ton of information from *real* people that have installed it... especially non-plumber type people like me.
For the layman, pex tubing is a flexible type of plumbing pipe that can be used in place of copper. There are special fittings for pex that don't require any soldering or special tools, so basically anyone can put it together. Yes- ANYONE.
Another beautiful thing is that it is flexible, so you can curve it and use fewer connections (Fewer connections = fewer possibilities for leaks!) AND you don't need to cut huge access panels to feed the pipe in!

We needed to replace all of our galvanized supply pipes (hot and cold) from the main line in the basement up to the 2nd floor bathroom. These pipes were the only pipes in the house that hadn't been replaced, and the water pressure to the upstairs bathroom (and the rest of the house in general) was non-existent.
I have a bit of plumbing knowledge... I know how to do basic copper soldering, and I understand the basics behind household plumbing. That means I know what reducers, couplers, and elbows do, and I know what size pipes to use for different applications- All something a quick read of any "Plumbing for Dummies" book could give you. But I'm no plumber.
We did enlist the help of a friend who had done a fair amount of plumbing (Thanks Seth!), which made the job go a lot faster. But I emphasize that, with Durapex and Push 'N Go Fittings, you don't need a large amount of plumbing expertise. The fittings can also be used with copper and in combination with pex and copper.

Note: There are some pex brands that require a tool called a "crimper" and use crimped fittings. If you are going to be doing a lot of plumbing, you might want to take a look at this tool, but it's about $100. Push N Go fittings do NOT require a tool. Also, for consideration- there are only a limited number of sizes for Push N Go fittings. I couldn't find 1 in. fittings, and we had to work with basic sizes for reducers and elbows. We did have enough selection to make the project work, though.

After we turned the water on at the main, we had a couple of leaky joints that worried us. But, it turns out we just hadn't pushed the fittings into the pipe tight enough. You REALLY have to push them in all the way, and it does take a little strength.

We now have about 10 times more water pressure upstairs than we did before. We can actually run the bathroom sink and the tub faucet at the SAME TIME!

Gotta go... I have more happy dancing to do to the plumbing gods.