Monthly Archives: June 2011

This Stinks

Skunks! We have a family of skunks living under our front stoop. More than a week ago I noticedhow to trap a skunk an odd pile of dirt and, later, a fuzzy black and white blur that quickly disappeared after I spotted it. And I realized we suddenly had pets. Now, they never made a stink around our place, but apparently they would head out at night at make their presence known to some of our neighbors. Still, with all their burrowing, they could do damage to our already crumbling front stoop. How do I get rid of skunks?

Devra from Parentopia suggested using mothballs to stink up their den. Ironic, huh? Also illegal, at least in Illinois. “Though shalt not scatter mothballs throughout the land.” Or something like that.

Debi from  SA Busy Kids suggested shining a light on their home and filling it in whilst the skunks were out foraging, but I never saw them head out for the night and who wants to surprise a skunk with something like that? Or anything, really.

Debi also sent me a link with info about how to choose the right wildlife professional for the job. It should be noted I asked almost none of these questions, but instead, relied on my Angie’s List membership and price points of the various service providers.

I was hoping to bring in a catch and release service (we’d fill in the empty den to keep the skunks them away). But then I learned that mothballs weren’t the only legal concern. According to Illinois law, captured skunks must be killed. Okay, euthanized, as the pros say, but they’re just trying to be polite.

I feel bad that they’ll need to be put down. The skunks are just doing their thing. They didn’t do us any much harm (she said prior to learning it would cost $3,000 to rebuild her front porch*), but apparently skunks carry and transmit rabies and other diseases.

As bad as I feel about being responsible for the murder of these little guys (and their mother. sniff.), it gets worse. In addition to paying for the traps (Note to self:  I just realized they put down two traps, not one. Cha-ching! I’m making a phone call later today.), each skunk has a price on its head: $55 per adult and $25 per baby, though some firms define adult as being able to leave the den and walk around.

It’s possible for a mama skunk to have up to 8 babies, (Cha-ching!) though 3-5 would be a more common litter size.

It gets worse.

The trappers kill them on my lawn.

“The technicians’ wives don’t like it when they come home all stinky. And caged, wild skunks generally do not appreciate being taken for rides in strange vehicles.”

Ugh. I mean, I get it, but, ugh.

This whole situation just really stinks.

You ever have a critter problem? How did you resolve it?


*This did not happen.  I’m just imagining that it might.

Carpet Decorating with Vecco

It turns out that just as I was writing about Vecco’s new DIY system to help unbore the floor, one of their smart PR Reps was mailing me a trial kit. The sample kit came with everything I needed to get started “veccorating.”

Vecco Carpet Painting Kit

It included four basic templates, two cans of Vecco spray (one pink, one purple), two cans of Vecco sealant and a small rug. It did not, however, come with an explicit set of directions.

Vecco templates

Vecco color spray andf sealant

That said, I’d viewed the video instructions on the Vecco website a few weeks prior and since this was just a sample, I figured my boys and I could wing it on a quiet summer afternoon that was neither warm nor sunny enough for a trip to the pool.

Note: it’s best to review the directions prior to application, especially if you’re preparing to do a full room of wall-to-wall.

It was easy enough. Place the template:

Planning a Vecco design

Apply the color:

Applying Vecco spray

Had I watched the how-to videos again (we don’t have Internet access in the house unless I borrow a mifi unit), I would have known to apply the paint in a sweeping motion to avoid the paint from pooling like this:

how to apply Vecco paint not

Oops. But never fear, the rug looked nice; I decided it just needed an extra day to dry. Which was a mistake. More about that in a minute. The nice thing about a reno house is you can get a bit wild knowing that things, like our green living room/dining room carpet, will soon be gone.

So I let the boys go nuts with our extra paint. Here is the teen using the Jazzy Dots template to paint a proper boundary line for his balloon volleyball court in the living room. Why not?

Veccorating the carpet

Because we had applied excess paint, I gave our sample project extra time to dry before applying the sealant. Imagine my surprise when we went to seal the rug and our design was starting to not just fade, but disappear altogether.

Dude, where’s my volleyball court? BTW, the Vecco site describes the criteria for carpet best suited for Vecco treatment and I don’t think this carpet meets any of those.

Vecco vanishes

Unsealed Vecco design disappears

Oh well, easy come, easy go. This gave me the opportunity to try out another Vecco feature- the fact that you can vacuum away your mistakes prior to treating your design with sealant.

Vacuum up Vecco design errors


Vecco was vacuumed away

My takeaways: Vecco provides a fun opportunity to explore a new medium, but as with anything new, there is a learning curve. I recommend starting out with a small project or even a sample kit, if Vecco sells them. I appreciated the chance to try this out in a low stress situation in which I did not have a pricey project (read: hundreds of dollars in carpeting) on the line and I think others would, too.

If the Vecco folks don’t have sample kits for sale, they should consider offering an inexpensive one, possibly even smaller than the one I received, just to let people play around possibly get hooked on it. I mean, if we’ve learned nothing from drug dealers bloggers, it’s the benefit of providing free samples, right?

If you’re a crafty DIYer, you’ll want to give this a try.

Disclosure: I received a free sample kit. I was neither paid nor asked to provide this review. My boys and I appreciated the chance to try this out, even if they are upset that the balloon volleyball court has disappeared. The green carpet, however, may not be gone until August September.


Basement Before and After

Before you starting reading, grab the tissues, or maybe a dust mask, or perhaps a bottle of hand sanitizer. This is, I hope pray, as bad is it gets when it comes to depressing home renovations. But I fear it’s not.

The basement is unfinished save for one set of built in closets. Which is to say the entire foundation of the house is visible, fully exposed, except for the three-foot area where a 15 foot-long closet meets the wall. According to Murphy’s Law, this is where the crack in the foundation revealed at our inspection* should be found. Indeed, it is.


Water seeps in through the cracks during rainstorms (something we seem to have had at least three times a week, each week since our inspection in April or May).

water in basement

In order for the foundation crack sealers to give us a repair quote, we needed to find and expose the crack. Which meant removing a little bit of drywall. Or so I naively thought.

I will plan a post about how to remove drywall. These were my tools. Plus safety goggles. Oprah was my guide.

tools to remove drywall


scoring drywall
That wasn’t so bad!

Except that I found some water damage from a flood that I suspects occured in the 1980s. It affected the first 10 or so inches on ONE piece of drywall, so it likely affected the nearby drywall. Right?

removing moldy drywall


basement after

This was followed by the need to do more removal work to uncover the crack which spurred this whole project on.

exposing the foundation crack

The previous owner, AB, the man who literally built this house back in the mid-1950s left a couple of surprises behind. (Sadly, no money; though I thought about tucking a few bucks behind the studs just for a quick photo just to mess with you, but I believe the owner’s daughters, their real estate agent and ours sometimes check in on my blogs and I didn’t want to raise a whole ruckus, even though we rightfully own everything left in the house. And again, there was no money.)

AB dated a few of the studs, so we know he built the workshop wall (behind the back of the closet) on October 12, 1966, but the actual closet was not constructed until 1980. I love that he not only signed the main closet stud, but also left this behind:

basement smiley

Speaking of closet studs, check this out.

Hubs removes drywall

Yeah, that’s the Husband lending some muscle to the project. Reluctantly.
*The house, an estate sale, was sold “as is.”  I believe this is legal speak for, “You can’t sue us even if the garage roof caves in on your car.”

Garage Sale Haul Weekend of June 25, 2011

{Remember the Serta Sleep Set giveaway runs through July 7.} The grand total of last weekend’s shopping haul was $5.75. I bought a few old records (which dear hubs hasretro bench all but forbid me from ever buying again. He’s just not into my “Rock around the clock” clock which I can’t a photo/link for at the moment. Although if I showed his this Re-Vinyl set, maybe he’d get my upcycling ideas. Or these. And everyone is getting a record bowl for the holidays.).

At any rate, in addition to the old records in really hip sleeves, I picked up a few old comic books (filler for camp care packages-shhh) and this retro bench for our attached rear porch/three season room. I’m not sure if I’ll clean it up much beyond a good wiping with a disinfectant solution. It fits with the current mood of the porch and a porch update is not on this year’s list.

We also picked up this solid wood table, which needs a good sanding to remove the ring marks on top. I’d like to try a blue stain on it and see how that works out. If I can’t sand out the rings, perhaps a collage on top would be best.

solid wood table

Finally, like the furniture is Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, this table jumped out in front of my car and begged me to take it home as I was on my way to pick up the boys from tennis camp. It came with a set of three chairs and is far from perfect, but is more than adequate for our pre-reno house. It might stick around after the reno too as we don’t have any other dining room set and I’m not sure how much will be left in the budget* once all the work is done. Or it might make for a nice basement poker or craft table.

dining room set

* Disclosure: I did indeed salvage some of these items from a neighborhood curb. How else could I get all this for under $6? No one required me to blog about them. In fact, Hubs cringes when I write stuff like this because he thinks I like to make us look poor. We are not poor and even if we were the love of my family would provide a wealth beyond material riches.

DIY with Duct Tape: Chair

I haven’t done it with duct tape, but check out the hip chair this DIYer created with a thrift store chair and black and white duct tape on the Poppytalk blog. If you’re looking for design inspiration of any type, plan on spending a few minutes poking around the site.

It certainly looks cool, but could be quite sticky on a hot day (no pun intended).

We’ve Been Hacked!

For the most part, we’re putting off the landscape and gardening issues until the fall, but this overgrown evergreen was a problem. It spread out into our narrow driveway producing an effect somewhat like keying the side of my car when I drove by it the first time.


You know what they say, “Scratch my car once, shame on you. Scratch my car twice, shame on me.”

Which is why the bush now looks like this.


Eventually, we will put the poor plant out of its misery. We also intend to replace this bush’s friends that line the front of our house, but if we pulled them all now, what would we plant where would the skunk family hide?