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Personal Guest Room Touches

I seem to be slowing down on this room. I still need to paint the ceiling, but Andy and I had a twice-a-year weekend without the girls and we wanted to make the most of it. A snow storm kind of sealed the deal that once I got to his place, I wasn’t going anywhere. We went out for sushi Friday night, we celebrated Mass together, we watched some movies, we did some cleaning, we shoveled driveways together. I was to have my friend Gale come in to play with me at my church’s service but the snow canceled our plans, leaving me to play alone. We were also to get together for Andy’s mom’s birthday, but the snow stopped our travel to his hometown. My family shut itself in for an afternoon game and pizza day.  It was a great weekend. When I found out back in 2013 that Andy had children, I was ecstatic. They add so much to life, even when things don’t run smoothly. I miss them after awhile of not seeing them. But a few days a year being adults is, well, great.

20150219_195842Even though Gale didn’t make it, I prepared the guest room as I am working on it, for her. I tried to consolidate paint cans and ladders to one corner of the room. While I was taking a break from painting, I added two homey touches to the room: a WiFi password welcome sign on the nightstand with some amenities, and a slate painting.

The welcome sign is simple. There are a number of free templates available on Pinterest20150219_200406 or you can create your own – add your home’s WiFi password, frame it, and put it on the nightstand. I also added some lotion and an alarm clock.

The slate painting was borne from a large piece of slate I found cleaning out my dad’s room. 20150219_182325I am uncertain what he intended to paint on it, but it is the right size and shape for something, with holes for hanging. I used a long, strong leather thong and knotted the ends so they don’t slip through. Before I painting it, I hung this on a nail close to the floor for a week to make sure the leather would hold the heavy slate. I found a template for one of my favorite sayings and modified it to be a bit more “artsy.” Using the light gray for the walls, I painted this freehand with several Q-Tips for paint brushes. To hang I simply made sure I was on a stud with my nail. I like it!

Continuing in the Guest Room

20150131_164514 This past weekend I finished the painting and removed the tape. Andy was at a quick hockey tournament with Lucy and then Grace had her Confirmation yesterday. It was a good weekend to work. I taped off the trim and did it first, then let it dry thoroughly and then taped to paint the walls. I used a fresh roller on the lighter grey to keep the color true.

I did not intend to paint the doors – I wanted to keep much of the wood – but when I looked at them from across the room, they seemed out of place. So I painted them. Here are some progress photos.

While our brushes do a great, precise job, I used frog tape because of the stark contrast in my paint choices. 20150214_164610

Among other things, my parents were Civil War buffs (War of Northern Aggression, if you ask Mo!). I didn’t want a shrine to my parents, because that just screams “creepy” to me. But as a nod to them, I tried to capture the feel of a boardinghouse in the 1800’s. I used the Confederate grey paint with a paler complement and kept the somewhat beaten plank wood floors. All the furniture is heavy and dark, yet still graceful.

I used my local Freecycle to get rid of a lovely but too-orangely-redone trestle table, a small flat screen TV, assorted clock parts, and finally the stair chair! I am pulling together my thoughts and the room as I finished painting.

I would have liked to have skipped painting the ceiling, but the more I look at it, the more the imperfections are screaming at me. So I will add a week and some extra money for some flat white paint, and at least go over the blemishes. I still have the floor, and a bit of moulding would be nice. I really do need a break. Until it’s done and livable, that’s not going to happen.

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Painting the Guest Room

With winter here, my time to work on the house is throttling down. I shovel and clean the litter box far more (see blog20150201_122417) since my cats are only inside in the winter. My mom has had some surgeries and I’ve spent some nights with her.

Because there is so much clutter in this room that is either waiting to be picked up, or will be repurposed in the room when done, I must work on this one wall at a time. I don’t like that. But the wall against the steps will be where the bed goes, and a dark gray. The rest of the walls will be a lighter gray with the darker trim. So I am painting the highlighted wall first, pushing everything I can against it, and finishing. This week is the prep work and dark wall.

20150131_164337Before I ever started, I had to remove all the pictures placed helter-skelter on the walls with random nailholes and many pen marks x-ing the spot. There were two sets of curtain brackets even tho that room has seen only blinds for at least a decade. I patched the holes and lightly sanded. Then I deglossed all the trim and taped off my dark grey on that wall.

The salesman talked me up to a greater-coverage paint for that color, and I am so glad he did. As it was, it took 2 brush coats and one roller coat to make sure all the dimples were hidden. With something so dark, any missed spots would be unforgiving.

Proof positive our paint brushes and rollers are the best – halfway through the wall, my roller handle snapped off the extension pole. I’ve been using that roller handle with our roller since the dawn of time, and the roller is still going strong. Because I didn’t want to stop the job to run into town to buy a new handle, I finished the wall with our 4” paintbrush. I cleaned the floor best I could with my tea and oil concoction, and decided that junction looked good enough to push the furniture against.

no64517_-00_purple_side_purple-rain-boots-puddletonsMy weekend with Andy was absolutely wonderful. We went out for about an hour for a drink to toast the memory of an old friend of his on Friday night. Saturday we attended Grace’s honors band concert and then to dinner with his parents. And Sunday we washed our cars together and broke up the ice in the driveway. I was so excited – I wore my wellies for the first time. I wish I had pics to show you, but take my word for it – they were adorable!

Updating Bathtub Fixtures

triplevertubdrain

courtesy of This Old House – click on graphic to go to TOH page.

Overflow drain proj I updated the bathroom but left the tub fixtures as they were, knowing I would need a plumber. I tried to do what I could. The old overflow cover’s lever no longer remained either up (to hold water in the tub) or down (to drain). This is a simple fix any homeowner can do, especially because the drain itself was in good shape. The overflow  part is sold individually for about $10 at most home repair stores and requires few tools. The old cover is unscrewed and when it is pulled forward, the old lever’s attachment pulls the linkage mechanism forward also. A clip on the new overflow connects the new lever to the existing linkage. The new overflow is then screwed into place.

The diverter I tried to replace myself but the old nipple had to be rethreaded. Given that, swapping out the spout is as simple as unscrewing the old one and screwing on the new one. An adapter is included with most diverters to suit most plumbing.

20141005_19431020150205_171326The faucet itself is a bit trickier. I knew to shut off the water and unscrew the old handles and the collars. From there it took a plumber, who removed the valves within and replaced the whole thing with a new assembly. It is very important here to either replace the unit with the same brand or be prepared to pay for replumbing to retrofit a new brand. I guessed, after living with my dad, that the old one was most likely a Price Pfister, and bought that brand for the plumber to replace.

The whole thing needs cleaned up a bit, but here are the before and after shots.

Life Hacks – Deglossing vs. Stripping

20150131_154204You’ve heard me say, on every room, that I degloss the trim before painting it. Why? You have a couple options for good adhesion of the new paint over the old: cleaning and sanding, stripping and cleaning, or scraping and cleaning. If the old paint is in reasonably good condition, a light sanding will do. If it’s pretty built up, you most likely will want to strip it. And if it’s beyond those things, you will need to scrape the flaking paint to provide a seam-free surface for your new paint. Either way, you have to clean it too. The deglosser will do the cleaning and the job of either the sanding, stripping, or scraping. Because it’s a harsh solution, you must wear gloves. But because it’s a harsh solution, it provides a lot of elbow grease of its own.

20150131_154223I’m not sure what on earth my dad was thinking when he painted this room. My guess is, he was getting tired of maintaining the home and just slapped some latex paint over the old stuff without doing any of the above. Bad idea. Because of this, the top coats were removing the bottom coats and the whole thing was chipping off. I didn’t want to remove all the old paint due to time and the reasonable condition of the rest of the trim. So I scraped a little with just a plastic scraper, to remove only the loose edges, then cleaned and smoothed it all down with my trusty deglosser. It penetrates and bonds the paint layers as well as provides a “toothier” surface for new paint.

Making a Planter Out of a Crock

20150124_133529 My parents collected antique crocks – the genuine non-reproductions, the really heavy ones you don’t know what to do with, yet fear them breaking. I have one in each finished room as a waste paper receptacle, but when I needed a little something to go beside an occasional chair in the library and found myself with one too many crocks, I decided to steal things from my house to put together a planter. These babies are heavy and breakable, and I was going to be working with plants and soil, so I used my go-to gloves: Tuff Chix work gloves from SafetyGirl.20150124_133558

I  believe in upcycling so I walked around the house to see what I had, that I could use. It’s like a miniature treasure  hunt. I had a few cuttings in plain pots by the kitchen sink. I had a spider plant gone wild in the soil of a floor plant. I had some raffia left over from a sympathy basket. I had a plastic kitchen container whose lid hasn’t been seen since the crocks were new, I’m sure.  I placed the kitchenware upside down in the bottom of the crock to raise the level of the plants, then set the pots inside. Using tumblers filled with water, I took rooted shoots from the spider plant, and set those around the edges. I topped the whole thing off with the raffia, to hide the plastic pots. 20150124_135731

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!

Life Hacks – Waterproofing Boots

You’ve been reading about how I’ve been shoveling the snow and doing other winter outdoor tasks, in my SafetyGirl boots. Last night I came home to about 6″ of snow in my driveway – maybe more. Whatever it was, my AWD with relatively new tires couldn’t make it. Of course my parents’ snow shovel broke in half, leaving me with only a push broom. Last post I think I said the broom was optimum for up to 4″ of snow. We had far more than that. By the time the sun went down I had only done a half-decent job on part of the driveway, and my boots and pant legs were soaked. It occurred to me then that I hadn’t waterproofed my boots.

My first pair of workboots was a beige pair my dad bought me in college when I started hiking. It was the second gift he ever picked out and purchased for me. They were hidden in his closet Christmas morning and after all the other gifts were open, he told me to go look in his closet for my final gift. Of course I saw the boots in the box in the corner, but I instead yelled down, “an old pair of your tennis shoes!! Thank you so much!” He laughed. “Do you know how hard it was to find construction boots in that size? I had to go to the boys’ section.” Back in the day, women didn’t wear construction boots, and petite women doubly didn’t wear clunky construction boots. “You know we have to waterproof those before you wear them. Even though the box says they are waterproof, that just means they sprayed a coating on them, and that coating eventually wears off – it’s the nature of the manufacturing process. You need to work it in by hand to really seal them.” He took his shoe kit down and together we rubbed in the waterproofing conditioner, then I buffed with a soft cloth. “Make sure you get good around those seams and the sole. That’s where water’ll get in.” After the first liberal coat, we set the boots in front of the register to melt the conditioner into the leather, then repeated the process the next day. “You’ll need to do this every year, before winter, if you want them to last.” I watched the boots turn a pristine, soft beige to a dark and smooth brown before I ever wore them. I was so disappointed that we had ruined my pretty boots just for the sake of keeping my feet dry.

20150127_044034In the 90’s a petite girl wearing mini construction boots was not the norm, and my dad got a kick of out it whenever he saw me in them. I wore those things everywhere for a long time, then when they started to show their age, I relegated them to hard work – hauling wood and shoveling in the winter, mowing and operating a stump grinder in the summer. Anyway, it took me fifteen years to kill those boots, and kill them I did. The toes were cut, the tongue was black where the laces had worn them smooth, the soles were no longer nubby. My then-husband told my dad before Christmas one year, “you better be the one to get her replacement boots. I have heard the story too many times to think I could ever replace them.” My dad got me a new pair of boots that Christmas, but he wrapped them and put them under the tree with the other gifts. They weren’t the cute, tiny boy version (by now they made small adult sizes for women). And we didn’t waterproof them together. I took them back home with the rest of my gifts, and they remained in the back of my closet. My husband and I didn’t hike, and I had a pair of old tennis shoes I used for shoveling and mowing. They are in the back of my closet, unwaterproofed, today.20150127_044259

These were my thoughts, taking all of a minute, after I was done sweeping my driveway last night. Before the snow started again in earnest, I headed off the hill to Andy’s for the night, in my pink boots. This morning, after I had the coffee on and Andy was in the shower, I took my bedside coconut oil (which is excellent for your skin) and rubbed the boots down quickly. Any stable solid fat or pliable wax will work in a pinch if you don’t  have boot waterproofer but you should use a proper conditioner as soon as you get a chance. I rubbed thick globs along the reinforced stitching and the crease where the leather upper meets the lug sole. I rubbed it in briefly with my hand and put them on for work today.

I inherited my dad’s shoe kit, and after I schedule this blog, I will add to my list of things to do tonight, “waterproof both pairs of boots.” 20150127_044453

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

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.

20140719_132706 20150117_100014 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.20140719_132708  20150117_095849EDITI 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.

20140719_13274320150117_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. 20150117_100045Please join me while I feature again the great painting gloves and rollers and brushes from Construction Gear.