Friday, April 28, 2017

So fresh and so clean!

Hey, I forgot to post the after shot from my horrible bathroom!

Remember this super scary bathroom? Yeah, neither do I. That's why I took a picture of it, so I'd remember how terrible it was.

But here's what it looks like now!
You could actually get cleaner than you used to be in this room! Amazing what a couple hours and a couple hundred dollars will do for a space. No picture of the shower, because it looks like it used to look....but I covered it up with a new shower curtain, so that helps. 

Moral of the story: paint all the things! Second moral: don't be afraid of ugly! It can be fixed. Usually.

Thursday, April 27, 2017


First of all, everyone is fine.

Second, this was not a mess I pictured having to clean up when I started being a landlady.

"What the heck?", you say. "A drunken night of carousing by your young, hip, tattooed tenants?"

Nope. A minivan. With kids in the back seat. That tried to pass a bus and didn't see the oncoming traffic, so it swerved up into our yards (plural) to avoid a head-on collision.

We recently added two charming craftsman bungalows to our empire; they happen to be on a busy corner. Usually busy means that you hear sirens on their way to deal with someone else's disaster, not that you have a minivan in your yard. Here you can see the path of the van, with the trail of van debris. You can also see both of our houses; aren't they adorable? A little paint, a little landscaping, and they'll be the cutest houses on the block!

We're lucky, though. No one was hurt; none of the dogs were in the front yards; the houses also escaped. Going to need some new railings, though. That pole you see under the back of the van used to be a metal railing.
 And those steps didn't used to look like that.

Moral of the story: don't drive like you're in Fast and the Furious, Northside Edition. Other moral of the story: don't put in fancy, expensive railings if you live on a busy corner. And maybe skip the expensive retaining wall too...

Monday, February 13, 2017

Next bathroom project!

We have a couple projects going on at once right now. Like, unpacking our own house and getting settled in. And also getting our new project house ready to rent. Before we close on the next project house at the end of February. It's slightly insane, but this is how we roll, Northside style! I read somewhere that the average American spends 5 hours a day watching TV. Since I don't have a TV (or internet at home), I figure that frees up about 35 hours a week for me to get stuff done. Minus about 10 hours a week for napping, of course, so I guess I only have about 25 hours left for projects.

Anyway, here's one of the projects of the moment! We bought a charming bungalow that has been well-loved for years, but hasn't had much put in to it for a few decades. The house was owned from the 1940s until the 1990s by the Thompsons, and Mrs. Thompson had a lot done to the house, which is why it sometimes feels like a 1940s/50s time capsule. In some ways, that's delightful. In others, the time capsule is a little worse for the wear. Like this basement bathroom. It is technically a 2-bathroom house, but I don't know how clean you could feel after showering here....
And that's some pretty dingy wallboard. And those floors! Filthy, stained concrete.

And I forgot to take a picture while the tiny vanity was there, but here's where that went. You can fill in the details with your imagination; it wasn't great. What's that odd plumbing going on, you ask?

 That's some MacGyver level improvising! There are no shut-off valves down there, but I needed to take out the vanity to paint and replace the flooring. So, naturally we just re-installed the faucet so we could turn the water back on in the house. You could also buy caps to put on the pipes coming out of the wall, but that would be too easy. And would also require you to buy the right size. Or realize that you bought the wrong size before the store closed. Yep, that's why we are getting so good at making do!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Coop moving, part deux!

After our big moving party for part one of chicken coop moving, we decided to not exhaust our social capital entirely on part two, and moved the other half of the chickens' home using the power of physics! It helped that the run is on the ground, so we didn't need massive amounts of manpower (or ladypower) to lift it.

My dad gave me a pair of giant pry bars when I bought this house. So far, I've mostly only used them to smash the ice dams that built up the winter I didn't roof rake. Definitely not the recommended practice: ladders plus ice plus crow bars. It was lovely to use them for their intended purpose this time.

The theory: use the pry bars to lift up the corners of the coop. Place 2X4 rails under the coop, going the direction we want to move it. Lift it up a little bit more and put 2 inch PVC pipe rollers in place. Push.

 And it worked!!! It's always a bit surprising when something I learn fromYoutube actually works. We were able to push the run up into a low trailer and got to drive through the hood like the Clampetts again, still my favorite part.
 And with a little help from a random neighbor kid who happened to be walking through the alley, we got it unloaded and used some more physics to move it in to place.
Step three might be a while; it involves lifting the coop and walking it across the yard to set it in place on the run. But for now we have our lovely ladies living in their coop on the ground, and they get to run around the back yard. They're super confused about this new setup, and also not terribly interested in leaving since the temperature has yet to rise above 0. But we're all glad (the chickens and the humans) to be living at the same house!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Coop moving! Part one

So, we've accepted an offer on our current house, and we're moving to a different one (we were renting it out for about a year, and we decided to move there. It has three bathrooms; we feel very middle class now).

Moving is a pain no matter what. But when you've just spent months finishing a lovely, giant chicken coop, it's an even bigger pain. In case you forgot, here's the coop:

We can't leave that behind; we don't have time or energy to build a new one right now. So instead, we'll find time and energy and friends to help us move it!

Step one: move the house part. It's built to detach from the screened-in run, so all you have to do is find 6 or so people to lift it up and carry it. Super easy. 
 It's times like these that you find out who your true friends are. I owe all of you some serious social capital! There are no pictures of the actual lifting, because there were zero free hands.
 And then we got clever with ratchet straps to move the coop forward on the flatbed. Next time we'll use some kind of rollers. If these people are still our friends and agree to help us next time. Or maybe next time we'll have to hire professionals. Or just build a new coop.....
 And then comes the best part of the whole venture: driving through the streets of North Minneapolis like the Clampetts! Not sure if this was P's favorite part, but I was loving it!
We dropped (rather literally, I was a little ambitious in saying I had it when I definitely didn't have it) the coop in the new back yard. Next step is to move the run, but that will wait for another day. And probably some new friends....

Monday, October 17, 2016

School lunch!

Time for a tiny break from house and chicken posts; this is another topic that is very near to my heart. And to my stomach. I grew up in an era of beige school lunches. Lots of breaded chicken nugget-type things, instant mashed potatoes, and things on buns. Then I got to high school, where we had the option of a shake and fries, or my absolute favorite: the tiny round pizza.

So imagine my surprise and delight when my employer rolled out their new school lunch program and this is what I saw:
Grilled cheese and tomato soup, with a fresh green salad (with edamame and kale!) and fresh mango (!!).
Carnitas bowl with chipotle yogurt sauce and fresh poco de gallo. And a locally made Popsicle!
Wild rice and cranberry meatloaf, salad, and fresh kiwi and orange slices!

Enchiladas with black beans, roasted broccoli, and apple kale salad. Plus a giant bowl of canned pears, because I still need at least one throwback to my old-school lunches.

Seriously people, this is the most delicious $4 lunch in town. I love that kids in high-poverty schools are getting access to whole, nutritious, and super tasty food. And I don't have to pack a lunch anymore, and Perry knows that I'll eat vegetables for at least one meal each day. I'm super pumped for tomorrow; it's carnitas day!

Friday, October 7, 2016

New favorite tool!

A few months ago, we were having dinner with some friends and talking (naturally) about working on houses. One of the party remarked that his favorite tool was his checkbook, and we all laughed. And I decided I should give that one a try some day.

Yep, that was a good tool! After my adventures in floor refinishing at our tiny rehab last year, I decided that I would leave floors to the professionals. I did all the time-consuming, horrible scraping in advance, removing three layers of tile and old school linoleum inch by painful inch....

Then we piled up all the furniture from the kitchen, living room, and dining room like Tetris pieces in the back bedrooms.
And went on vacation!
And then when we came back, magically our floors were done and our house looked like it was meant to look!