Stairway Risers

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Before stairs

This weekend I had a decent chunk of time but it was too nice to spend most of it indoors. I had a nice lunch with a college friend Brit, and as we were eating Lebanese food at a new eatery, it wasn’t long before we each took out our phones to show each other our remodels. She mentioned that she has a pink tool belt – probably ours! I told her she can get a pair of workboots to match. Later I took advantage of the warm and sunny Saturday to get my mower out and make sure it was ready for the year. I also scrubbed out my kitties’ litter box. Both of these tasks were well-suited for my Safety Girl pink work boots. I was able to wash my sheets and hang them outside to dry. I love clothes dried on the line!

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In progress stairs, carpet coming up and first coats of paint down.

Sunday my friend JD came and helped me go through the garage. We cleaned, cleaned out, and organized, and I sent him home with whatever he wanted that I didn’t need, for his help. In about an hour and a half, it was still cluttered, but it was cleaner and more organized clutter. This will be an ongoing summer project, and will definitely require Safety Girl’s Tough Chix gloves. And a tetanus shot.

After the sun went down both Saturday and Sunday I forced myself to paint the stairway. I am still working on the trim. I removed the runner because I love the look of the bare steps. Prying out the staples in the carpet again required the gloves. I will still need to put another coat on all the trim and clean the steps well. I am debating whether to shampoo the landing carpet, which is still in decent shape but isn’t the most contemporary, or replace it with a leftover piece of the sculptured gray carpeting from the music room. I’ll let you know.

One more weekend here (two if I do the carpeting) and I should be ready to reveal it.

Brit is going to come help me with the flooring someday this summer and I will buy her those pink work boots for her effort!

Finishing Touches on the Guest Room

20150301_115556I had an upper respiratory infection over the weekend so, on doctor’s orders, stayed at home. Andy says the doc probably also mentioned the word “rest” in there, but I didn’t hear it. I took the opportunity to be “lazy” and watch an on-demand movie and sit with a cup of tea each morning. I skipped church, and only saw Andy for a little bit. Luckily, I felt very motivated. Aside from a family meal at Andy’s (and ice mandating I stay put), shoveling my driveway was the only time I was outside. I am really starting to love the Wellies for this – they aren’t as warm as our SafetyGirl fleece lined boots would be but when it’s near 40 they do a great job of keeping my feet dry and just pull on.20150301_120901

The guest room is almost done and I will reveal it next week, I promise! This weekend I used my blend of cleaner on the plank floors – hot water, a dash of vinegar, and a dash of olive oil. It didn’t get everything up but it it did a nice enough job that I am happy with it. Some of the paint has been there for 40 years – that didn’t budge. But I really wanted the feel of this room to be civil-war-era boarding house and I think what I could not remove keeps in this theme. Here are before and after pics of part of the floor. For this I used our poly gloves (the oil is great for your hands but the vinegar, not so much) and the knee pads.

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window with greenhouse

The other main thing I did here was taking stock of the condition of my dad’s mini green house. In the stack of clutter I went through to finish this room, I found some of his seeds. 20150301_101648The mini green house in the window is just the start of his obsession. He has a hot house on the hillside, and probably one acre of garden. He would always take us out to walk it with him whenever we’d visit. “And see, Bets, I planted my corn to come up every 3 days. You’ll have to come and we’ll have a roast.” I found the seeds he meticulously pulled from each tomato that   was a gift from someone’s garden, placed on a paper towel marked with “Uncle Fred” or “Maize,” effectively creating new heirlooms. I made his aunt’s (my great aunt) day when I mentioned that her deceased husband has an heirloom variety ready to see if it will bud. The ripples of this quiet man continue.

Add to my list of things to do this very early spring: buy peat pots and potting soil.

Spare Room Makeover

20150111_10005420150111_100009I want to bring this plain room up to a contemporary standard. When my sister and I were little, it was big enough to fit our twin beds and a partition separating sleeping quarters to a play area. Today I stand in the middle of it and think how small it is. It saw us through childhood, then my parents switched some of the rooms around and it became their room, then when we left home my parents each had a separate bedroom and this became my dad’s. This will be the office/spare adult bedroom. It has my grandparents’ antique spool bed. The last time my dad painted the trim, he didn’t tape anything off and the plank floors have an inch of sloppy paint strokes around the perimeter. There is still dust and clutter. The paint is peeling from the trim and the walls are outdated and full of nailholes.

20150111_100014Again I say this room will be easy – I will declutter it of discarded canes and stepstools. I found a leatherworking kit that will go to the basement until my brother-in-law comes to get it. My dad fashioned a gun cabinet to house his rifles and paraphernalia that will eventually go to my middle nephew but until he’s out of his parents’ house, he’s not permitted to have guns. My grandmother’s blanket chest, our first kitchen table, and an old chifferobe line the walls of this random room. I need to theme it out and organize the flow.

20150111_100030I will be cleaning, painting vertical surfaces, and scraping as much paint off the floors as I can. If I can’t live with the results, I may have to put carpeting down. I will need to get rid of the trestle table. I am hoping to finish this room in a month but I haven’t yet picked out colors.

Here are the before shots, and I will again be using the typical equipment from Discount Safety Gear, Construction Gear, and SafetyGirl. I still have some coveralls, an unused Purdy roller, the wonderful brush I have been using and cleaning for each room, and the gloves to which I have become addicted.

20150111_100042What does February have for Andy and I? Grace will be playing at an honors band comprised of the best of each area school’s musicians, Andy will be taking Lucy to yet another hockey tournament over Valentine’s weekend, but will be coming home early to participate in Grace’s Confirmation. We decided last year that Valentine’s Day is too overdone and commercialized. We chose a date in March to celebrate our blessings. There are many in each of our lives. As we head into this month of love, we here at SafetyGirl, Discount Safety Gear, and Construction Gear hope you remember to also count your blessings!

Odd Winter Jobs

20150125_162347I didn’t see much of Andy over the weekend, and it was to be the last good spread before a nor’easter hit. One thing I learned from living in the snow belt is that, when you have a gravel driveway and the snow is less than 4″ deep, sweeping it with a push broom is the way to go. The rocks stay in the driveway and the snow that’s left isn’t polished to a slick surface. In preparation for the upcoming storm, I swept my driveway of the dusting that was there.

Also, with the higher temps, I decided my two litter boxes could use a good scrubbing. Nothing beats snow for this. I empty the boxes best I can, fill them with snow, scrub it around with the scooper, then dump it all out. No spillage, no hands in cold water, no gross stuff down the drain. Once inside the house, I spray them with Lys0l and wipe down well. After the boxes are thoroughly dry, I add new litter. With two litter boxes, it’s not imperative I rush through this, since the kitties always have somewhere to go! I like to do this exercise a couple times each winter.

For both these jobs, I wore my Safety Girl pink steel toed workboots. They come in tan and black also, and you can get them in soft toe. We’ve just added fleece lined boots in all these colors, too. At under $50, I am strongly considering adding the black ones to my overflowing shoe closet.

Library Reveal

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Sofa wall, before

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Sofa wall, after

Before I give you the big reveal in the library, I wanted to include a link back to the living room blog. There are some updated pictures with some finishing touches. The cream chair in the corner by the fireplace came back from the upholsterers last week. It is an old, ugly quality-made chair that was my dad’s mom’s. It was his favorite chair. One year ago today as I write this, I came downstairs to get my dad out of that chair to start the ritual of pills and unmentionables that come with aggressive cancer and more aggressive chemo. Before I touched him, I knew. I double-checked. I woke my mom. I called 911. Then I called Andy. The chair was so ugly that no one wanted it. Bless my mom’s heart, she spent quite a bit to get it done.

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Window wall, before

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Window wall, after

On to the library. I am so pleased with how this turned out. Over the weekend I rearranged furniture, assembled the TV stand wearing SafetyGirl’s Tuff Chix work gloves to keep handprints off the wood, placed rugs, and cleaned everything again. I put my mom’s wedding portrait on the antique desk as well as some of the leather books that were gifts to my grandfather.  I love the chair by the window, to have a cup of tea and watch the news on the rare evenings I have time. Andy dropped by to help me carry the TV stand box up the steps and immediately tested the sofa’s dual recliner feature. He pronounced it comfortable enough for even his bum knee (the result of a basketball injury last month). The first thing I did when I put the room together was get in a  workout. I so missed those, since getting to the gym is only convenient a couple times a week. I have great peace in finishing this room.

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TV Wall, before

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TV Wall, after

20150117_100026I can’t say enough about Construction Gear’s disposable painting coveralls for making this job so clean and easy. Total cost for the twin rooms was $800, with furniture and rugs. Even with the deep discount, I am concerned new kitty Gus will be using the sofa for a scratching post and reserving the right to add a blanket over the sofa.

I was debating on which room should come next. Because I am not fully sure what I want to do with the kitchen, because it will require a lot of time and money and I will be taking my last two MBA courses this spring, and because I seemed to move my tools and gear to what will be the office/spare bedroom, I am going there next. Please join me while I feature again the great painting gloves and rollers and brushes from Construction Gear.

 

Cleaning and Polishing Hardwood Floors

We’re still in the library. I love working in here; it used to be our formal dining room when we were growing up and we never used it, except for Christmas parties, or to open gifts on Easter or Christmas morning. With the sun coming in the window this weekend, it felt like a cold winter morning of my childhood.

Of course there was a snafu in delivering my loveseat. For some reason it never made their docket, so I had to call and reschedule it. In the meantime, I worked on the parquet floors. They are horribly scuffed, dry, and dusty so like most people, I turned to Pinterest for cleaning ideas.

Floor, before shot

Floor, before shot

Upper portion undone; lower portion finished.

Upper portion undone; lower portion finished.

I read about a variety of homemade cleaners and chose the ingredients I wanted, for my purposes. Vinegar lifts wax with its acid, tea removes wax build up and adds richness to the grain, and olive oil nourishes and shines. So instead of the water base, I used strong tea, and added a shot of olive oil. I mixed a cup of white vinegar to 1 gallon of cooled strong tea made with 10 teabags, and then just a splash of the oil. The second time I mixed a batch, I added two healthy splashes of the olive oil because the vinegar seemed to dry the wood a bit. I scrubbed on hands and knees with a rag and bucket, the old fashioned way. I removed paint spills with a scraper as I went. I did this on both floors, the living room and the library, for good measure. My knees were happy that I used our knee pads!

The last step in this room was sorting through a small pile of things I don’t know what to do with – my dad’s banjo, my grandmother’s recipe box, a plastic shelving cart that house my jewelry making supplies. I polished all the furniture and set it in its place in this room.

There was another hockey tournament this weekend, this time in Pittsburgh. I was glad to go to a game and spend some time with Andy’s parents. Yesterday we had Italian night for Andy’s out of town hockey friends staying with him. I brought bruschetta but Andy’s homemade meatballs were the draw, and all the girls were in rare form. I made chai tea while the adults watched the game, and the girls did homework. Then they were off to another game and I was back to my house. The more I accomplish, the better it feels to be home.

Cleaning Brushes

  • 20141018_10314220141018_103238This was to be an easy week, finishing the painting in the New Room but I spent about 10 hours on the trim and woodwork, and the color washes on the walls, and they are still not done! I used the brush and rollers from Construction Gear for everything, and they still look good as new. Plug for the brush: for a 4” brush, it is sure precise. I did not need masking tape on many areas. I mentioned that last week but you can see in the photo to the left what I mean!To keep the brush and rollers fresh, when I was in the middle of a project and had to take a break, I wrapped them in a plastic shopping bag to keep them moist – if it was more than a few hours, into the fridge they went. When I was done with each color, I rinsed them thoroughly in just rain water (I love my dad’s rain barrel system!! But since you don’t have it, you can use regular water). When the project was done, I rinsed them and then ran them through the dishwasher. If you don’t have a dishwasher, just put a dab of dish liquid in the palm of one hand and swirl the brush in it to lather or run along the roller, then rinse until the water runs clear.  They held up fine and I will be using them again. So nice to have supplies that you don’t have to throw away at the end of a project – or even after one color! Well worth the cost.

    Sunday I boycotted all restoration work and spent the morning in church, and the afternoon baking bread, then bruschetta. Andy and I had an Italian feast in the half hour from the time he brought the girls home from Lucy’s hockey game, to the time he needed to drop her off at work. Pasta, ravioli, cacciatore, and my offerings. Mmm. He dumped an entire pilsner glass of water in my lap and there was spaghetti on the table when he and Lucy rushed out the door. 20141019_133848Grace went upstairs, leaving me sitting in stunned silence. Andy returned 10 minutes later to finish the meal as adults. You know it’s good when you both have sauce on your face! Unfortunately, he neglected to tell me of mine until we got back from running to get pumpkin for Lucy’s baking. That’s ok. It was worth it to have one of the pumpkin vanilla snickerdoodles hand-delivered right from the oven.

    Next weekend we are going to tackle laying carpet. Yes, I have informed Andy it will be “we.”

New Name for an Old Room

20140719_132630I thought the laundry room would be the most disgusting room, but when I moved to the New Room, I saw I was wrong. Apparently the entire house is going to be a surprise like this. My parents had 3 birds and there were peanut shells and bird food under every single piece of furniture I moved in this room.

20140719_132626As I mentioned in the introduction to this year-long project, Daddy enclosed the porch after about 3-5 years and we started calling this the “new room.” It’s been probably 35-40 years being new. Over the years it’s been a TV room, craft room, office. It was the room in which Daddy spent his last month, and died peacefully in his mother’s chair. It’s really not a new room anymore. I plan to move my piano in here, as well as a table that can be used for crafting or surplus guests for a holiday. Would it be a parlour? Does anyone have any suggestions on its new name?

In this room, my tasks are removing the furniture and cleaning the room out, removing two coats of wallpaper that have been on the walls for probably 30 years, painting the wainscoting and chair rail, rag rolling the walls, adding trim, replacing the carpet and padding, and then decorating. I would like to give this room a new name (finally) but I’m not sure what that should be. I would also like to give this room a contemporary and elegant look. The carpet I got as a remnant the other weekend20140719_132651, in a subtle taupe. I need to mottle the walls with a combination of silver, beige, and white, to tie all the colors together. Right now the colors are a tealy-mint green under taped-on industrial grey carpet, and the latest pass of wallpaper is about 15 years old.

I’ve been using the sticky knee pads, gloves, respirator, and coveralls faithfully, and I like the products. But you probably would like to hear about some different ones, so I will dig back into my box of goodies. I’ll use the disposable face mask for patching the walls when I sand them and be sure I have the First Aid Kit on hand.

To get started on this room, I tried to clean it out of furniture. The local AmVets are getting the entertainment system and bookcases that I am getting rid of – unless they are too big to take. If that’s the case, I suppose they are just going to sit in my car port for awhile. I started randomly pulling wallpaper off the wall (and some of it is coming off very well!). I picked up paint chips and a paper tiger at my local BigBox. My dad had a comprehensive collection of railroad lanterns that he kept in this room, so my first task this week is to unscrew all of the old hooks that held his collection and continue cleaning enough so there is room to work and start to methodically use that paper tiger on the walls.

Until we meet again…

Laundry Room Scrubdown

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20140928_092308This weekend was a continuation of the last in the laundry room, so I won’t bore you with details. My goal was to scrub the whole thing down and paint it, and the reassemble it in a more organized version.  I did the floor the same way I did the bathroom. I cleaned it with TSP, then I took 50 gallons of rainwater from my dad’s rainwater collectors, dumped it on the floor and squeegeed it off. Then I used TSP in hot water again and deglossed. Then I primed, painted, and sealed. When I painted, I wore gloves and a whole-body-with-hood disposable coverall, which made for a really sweet cleanup of me. Here are the before and after shots.

Sunday my mom came out and reupholstered four occasional chairs while I deglossed the laundry room. I am including a photo because they look so nice and I am glad she did this for me.

20140921_163659I talked to Lucy about the possibility of us painting a mural on the wall, including Grace if she wishes. If that happens, I will follow up with the design. Next week I am going to take a break on the home repair and give the whole house a cleaning. Then I will start looking at the New Room. It has always been an afterthought kind of room, in my life, though my parents used it quiet a bit after we left home. I am going to turn it into a crafty, musicy, artsy type of den. Some comfortable chairs, the piano, a table for beadwork or scrapbooking. The view out the window is wonderful for morning coffee. Thanks to Andy and the circus (see that blog here), I have the carpet on order and waiting for my call. For that room I will be stripping wall paper, painting both the plain walls and the paneling with chair rail, recarpeting, and maybe working on one light (ugh). I will be featuring the leather work gloves (for the carpeting), knee pads (carpeting) and the typical painting gear from SafetyGirl, Construction Gear, and Discount Safety Gear.

Industrial Cleaning: A Day at the Circus

During the week, I moved the hoosier from the laundry room to the kitchen. It feels very good to get things out of the house; I used four garbage bags during just a precursory cleaning and started a scrap metal box. We used two boxes for giving away. All week, the thought of how much gunk there is in this room, set me on edge. Even when my dad repainted the floor every ten years, he didn’t move the washer and dryer and give that area a good cleaning or paint under them. The blessing here, however, is that they got new appliances about 3 years ago and I am pretty sure all that was cleaned well when they units were swapped out.

20140913_101531This was going to be a short weekend at home, and while I typically start my weekend work Thursday night, by the time I got home, my new stove (another story for another day) was being delivered and when that was done, I went straight to bed. I spent Friday night feeling overwhelmed and didn’t do anything on the house. Andy came over at 7:30 Saturday morning with a big smile and coffee mug out. We walked around the kitchen a little and he gave me suggestions and vision. He really is good at thinking outside the box. He left to take Grace to Lucy’s track meet and I got to work. I took the remaining items off the shelves and wiped it all down lightly. Then I donned the disposable rubber gloves and a disposable coverall, mixed the TSP to industrial strength, and started scrubbing the ceiling and walls.

Because these walls need serious coverage, I decided to use the thicker ceiling paint on them. This will wipe out the can of paint. So far, the cost on this room is zero. I am using leftovers. Because of the cheap budget here, Andy took me to a local bi-annual warehouse sale to look for carpeting for the next room, the New Room. It was a big tent sale with free hot dogs and popcorn, and a local radio station with a wheel of prizes. While Andy went to look for his favorite saleswoman, I got food. “Want some popcorn?” I asked when he came back out. “nah.” “Hold mine, please, while I eat.” After my hot dog was gone and I reached for the bag of buttery goodness, there were but a few kernels left. Hmm. I also spun the prize wheel while Andy’s impatience very quietly peeked out from around the corner. The guy manning the booth said I won whatever I wanted from the table. After a weekend of festivities, there wasn’t much from which to choose. “Would the girls want clown noses?” “No.” “What’s on this CD?” “If I were you, I’d just take a T-shirt.” “Do you want to spin the wheel?” “No. I want to get home sometime today.” So I grabbed a T-shirt and the DJ gave me four clown noses anyway. I was going to write that they are still in my purse, but they are not. I have no clue where they went but someone is going to have a fun day when they find them!

We ended up looking at the remnants because if you find one that works, you get more bang for your buck. After rooms of cheap-looking and cheap-priced carpet, and gorgeous offerings in sizes that would not work, we happened upon the perfect shade of taupe in a subdued pattern, in a size that would work, and a price that was about 1/3 of retail. “I’d take it if I were you.” He stood guard on the roll while I finished looking and when I got back, he again insisted on finding his favorite saleswoman. She wrote me up while he flirted and stepped on my foot. I did something I don’t ever do – paid for delivery. But there was no way a 12’x20’ rug was going to fit in Andy’s sensible white minivan, much less my Miata.

20140913_131811When we got back, the girls were busy with their friends in the kitchen. I thanked Andy for the date (“hey – it was like a carnival, complete with a meal, right?”) and went back to finish my cleaning.20140913_131841

By the end of the weekend I had scrubbed, patched, and painted the easy half of the laundry room. You can see by the photo on the right, that the ceiling is done but the walls here are cleaned/organized but not painted. This room is going to take another week or two. When I dropped my paintbrush behind the dryer, I noticed that my parents did not, in fact, clean the flooring when they got new appliances.

So I will leave you with a big “to be continued.”

~BS