Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fall Harvest

The frost has finally come, and out ahead of it, we picked the last of our vegetable bounty. We grew the usual suspects, mostly: cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, green and orange peppers, habanero peppers, basil, dill, oregano.... All of these plants did very well. This is the third year I've done a vegetable garden, and I feel like I learn more and more every year. This year, I tried something new: baby watermelon. I LOVE watermelon, and the thought of being able to harvest them from my garden had my practically dancing when I found the plants at the garden store. I nursed the plants through the summer drought and had two baby melons growing by mid-summer. Alas, the squirrels took one out, which left me with one. And here it is. Smaller than I had hoped, not as sweet as I would have liked, but a baby watermelon from my own garden, nonetheless. So I'll try again next year!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

House History

When we purchased the house, we were eager to learn as much as we could about its history. Luckily, the house had been in the same family since it had been built in 1911, and the previous owner was happy to share her stories with us. Here are some of the more interesting details:

1) At one point, each of the upstairs bedrooms were rented out by different single women. One of them was a milliner (a hat-maker) and had the whole room decorated with hats.

2) The house next door was built for the original owner's daughter. It stayed in the family until the current owners purchased it. How'd you like your mom to live right next door?!

3) A late state senator was the ex-husband of the most recent previous owner, and the home hosted many DFL fundraisers and political parties.

4) There used to be a back door to the house. In the late 1970's, they finished the back mudroom and the basement and got rid of the back door.

5) The house has been a number of different colors, including tan, grey-blue, and pink!

6) Upstairs in the attic, there are wires that run around one of the dormers. After much pondering about what they could have been used for, our home inspector guessed they were old antennas used with old radios back before television. Sure enough, one of the owners came up to the attic to tune in the old-time radio for entertainment. These days we joke that the men go to the garage... back then, it must have been the attic!
It's kind of fun to think about someone sitting up there just listening away...

We were also able to find a copy of the original building permit from 1911 at the Ramsey County historical library!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Laminte floor, do not vex me!

Installing a laminate floor is not rocket science. I know this because I learned pretty quickly how to lock the tongue and groove together and gently tap panels into place. And I am no rocket scientist. Our kitchen floor went together very well. I can honestly say that I really enjoyed that project.

It works like a jigsaw puzzle, really. And I like jigsaw puzzles.

But this puzzle wants to come apart.

There is one seam in our basement floor that simply will not stay completely tight. It fits together like a glove until we get about four rows away, and then we look back and it has separated just a wee little bit.

It might have something to do with the fact that our basement floor is considerably less-than-level. A wavy line would be a more accurate depiction of it, actually. But I’m not sure “level” was a highly sought-after quality when they poured basement floors about 100 years ago.

The first time we saw the seam, we thought we might have missed it before. And we weren’t so far along that it was painful to go back and fix it.

(ok, it was a little painful. But we thought it was worth it to have it done right.)

And so we tightened it up, put humpty back together again, and continued on. And then looked over to that same very spot to find the teeny crack reappeared.

So, we (Translation: “Sean”) tore the laminate up and put it back together three times (now THAT was painful). And there is still a teeny seam in that same darned spot.

I think we are at the point where we have to live with it.

But it’s a basement, right?

More tin-ceiling wallpaper pics

Friday, October 12, 2007

We're at it in the basement... again!

Sean has lovingly finished trimming the egress window... I say "lovingly" because he does, in fact, love trim work. We used a laminate for the deep sill (to withstand any water or weather that may, in time come in the window) and birch for the rest. We may or may not stain. What do you think?
Here's the before and after:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Historic Saint Paul pics

I posted a couple of weeks ago about the National Historic Preservation Conference that came to the Twin Cities last weekend. Turns out, folks were impressed with the efforts people are making in historic preservation here in St. Paul. PreservationNation blogger Sarah Heffern highlights some of what she saw. These pics happen to be taken just a few blocks from where I work! They also visited my neighborhood... Thanks to Historic Saint Paul for their organization of the Dayton's Bluff and w. 7th tours. I'm particularly obsessed with the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood at present because, as part of my work, I am working on a neighborhood immersion experience for work. There is a rich history in this part of the city, which is directly west from my neighborhood. Old house lovers... take a look at the photo tour and drool over some of these gems...

Monday, October 08, 2007

That thing you smell

So you go on vacation. You forget to take out the trash. You come home to a wonderful aroma or week-old trash reeking from your garbage can. Come on, we’ve all done it once or twice. You know the smell. Blech.

So, what if you haven’t gone on vacation? And you haven’t forgotten to take out the trash? What in the world is that mystery odor? And why is it getting stronger every day? Even though you have, in fact, just cleaned the garbage can with bleach. And taken out the trash. And cleaned the fridge…. The upstairs fridge, at least.

(This is a story that tells you we haven’t resumed our basement projects yet!)

We finally followed our noses to the downstairs fridge to find it hot and dark. Although death is usually indicated by cold clamminess, the fridge death was marked by a clear sense of warmth. Uh-oh. We only store freezer overflow down there, but at time of fridge death, the freezer overflow consisted of one full size turkey. We’re not sure how long it sat at room temperature in the dead fridge, but it smelled like death itself when we opened that freezer door. The turkey had started to rot and, well, ooze… I’ll save you the rest of the gory details. We promptly took everything out, cleaned it out, sprinkled baking soda around the whole thing. But it still reeks.

The fridge is only a few years old, and although it’s probably still under warranty, the smell is so bad we are thinking we might just need to get rid of it.

So I’m soliciting ideas. Anyone have suggestions on how to successfully un-stink a very nasty fridge?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sunflower Success

If you thought I was obsessed with sunflowers before the wedding, you should see me now. I have a bit of history with the sunflower. To briefly summarize: They were my grandfather's favorite flower, partly because they are the national flower of the his homeland, the Ukraine. As a little girl, I remember him pointing out wild sunflowers on roadsides. At about age 6 and approximately 3 feet tall myself, I marveled at their towering height and simple beauty in his small garden. To honor him, I chose them as the flowers for our wedding. And, to save money, we decided to grow them ourselves.
After some research, I ordered seeds and sowed away.
After that experience, I would highly recommend adding sunflowers to any garden. Here are my favorites: Strawberry Blonde

The Joker
These are all pollen-less varieties, so they work well for cutting.