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.”