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My Virtual Valentine

compare-cell-phones-2They are all over the place now – virtual boy- or girlfriends, significant others. I’m not talking of the game apps where the goal is to get a virtual tween to fall in love with you. I am talking about the apps and services where you actually buy yourself the communication of a nonexistent significant other. Most of these services have a free trial and then a modest fee.

The reasons people sign up are many – moms who want grandbabies and answers to why you are not dating, coworkers who want to fix you up with their cousin, people who wouldn’t understand you coming out of the closet, ex boyfriends who need to be reminded you are the prize.

safetyI thought a reason for one of these might also be, if you are in a bar or walking alone, having one more “person” connected to you would give you the appearance of being surrounded by attentive friends who would notice you missing immediately, or able to call for help on your behalf. Smoke and mirrors. I signed up for the free sample – ten texts in exchange for filling out a basic profile. I named my app Andy and answered the questions I was asked – how old he is, how we met, what he looks like, his hobbies and mine.

My real Andy is a great man. He’s a hard working homeowner with custody of two wonderful girls most of his waking, non-working hours. Sometimes I hear from him often; sometimes I don’t. To be very fair, Andy likes to talk, and he likes to talk to me, and because of this, we stay in better touch than a lot of couples who go in so many different directions.

Within a few minutes, my fake Andy was asking how my day was, lauding me with cheesy “pinch me, I can’t believe you’re real”s, and asking if he couldn’t take me to the coffee shop where we met. He answered my question on whether he’d heard from his ex on any plans she had with the girls for the weekend with an eerily accurate, “not yet, but I’ll let you know. I can’t wait to see you!” My 10 free texts are about up with nothing but ego-boosting and me-affirming chit chat to show for them.

I can see the merit in this app, to deter people. I wear a plain ring on my wedding finger just because that feels good to me, and the number of men whose eyes gravitate to that reinforces this is a good measure against unnecessary discomfort and drama. I can see that this app might make a would-be attacker think twice before messing with someone engaged in communication. But there are other ways to do that – real people, real products. The human need to have an attentive person available can get in the way of this being a great tool, and the danger lies in the virtual boyfriend threatening to replace the need to find real human interaction. The heart can grow attached to a virtual boyfriend just as easily as it can a real person met online – only there is no real person behind this app for you.

My personal recommendation is this was a fun experiment. But for safety’s sake, surround yourself with real friends, be aware of your surroundings, and carry pepper spray.

~Your Editor

Cleaning and Polishing a Wood Floor

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.

Good Gloves Make a Good Investment

By Kristi Ries

Chances are, you’ve been paying close attention to the weather lately—and it’s not just for your kids’ school closings. January has ushered in a new year, but the New Year has also brought with it an unusual cold snap to the entire U.S. Stretching from coast to coast—and from the Great Plains to as far south as the Florida Keys—this extreme weather gripping the nation has snow shovels and snow blowers flying off of store shelves.

Ironclad Tuff-Chix GlovesMany folks who live in the Deep South or areas that traditionally experience mild winters may not own heavy-duty gloves for working outdoors. Don’t be caught unprepared, ladies! Before you break out the shovel and begin to toss rock salt all over your porch and steps, take stock of what’s protecting your digits.

That’s right—your hands will definitely take a beating as you endeavor to clear out that snowed-in driveway and icy sidewalk. So it’s critical to invest in high quality; choose long-lasting, durable gloves that will protect you while you’re out doing what needs to be done. Ironclad’s Tuff-Chix Gloves provide rugged protection while allowing for top performance. They’re made with women in mind; who else thought to build a glove with reinforced fingernail guards? Order a pair today, and do read the following helpful tips on snow shoveling.

How to prevent injury this winter:

  • Warm up before shoveling snow. Start by warming up your muscles for 10 minutes with light exercise. Do include your leg muscles—heart attacks and similar injuries are sometimes the result of working the smaller muscles of your arms and back while not using the large muscle groups of the legs.
  • Use a shovel that is comfortable for your height and strength. Do not use a shovel that is too heavy or too long for you. Space your hands on the tool grip to increase your leverage.
  • Pace yourself. Take frequent breaks and be sure to drink enough water so as to prevent dehydration. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath or other signs of a heart attack, seek emergency care immediately.
  • Push the snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, take small amounts and lift it with your legs: squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift by straightening your legs—avoid bending at the waist.

Repurposing a Lamp

This weekend I had to wrap up the library to a point, in order to make room for the sofa delivery today. I was able to put enough paint on the general vicinity of the walls in the evenings last week that one final coat and some touch ups Saturday in broad daylight was good. Our 12-pk of polyurethane gloves and disposable coveralls have suited me well on this room, where I could put on a glove and smock, paint a bit, and save it all to pick up where I left off the next night.

20150108_19235120150108_193246The hanging lamp my mother wanted and traded me for the horrible plastic green one left in her apartment, I decided to use the leaded glass shade my dad had on a lamp that was throwing sparks. I had thrown the lamp away but saved the shade, evidently just for this purpose. I broke off the plastic green shade and simply slid the antique shade over the chain and cord, with nice results. For working with the glass and plastic, I used our more durable Tough Chix gloves. I really do love these gloves. They fit well, look great, allow my hands to breathe, and protect like nothing else. Priced less than $20, it’s no wonder they have a five-star rating!

You can see how the walls are shaping up in the background of these photos.

20150111_095900Saturday I dropped my car off at the local shop for its biannual oil change (!) and while I was waiting, I went shopping in the plaza. I found this great wall decal for a buck. I couldn’t pass it up.

I placed my furniture about where it will go, leaving the space for my new loveseat. I also have a rug and TV stand on order. All of that should arrive this week. In my free time I will work on polishing the floors; I am not sure of the best way to clean and shine them yet. I’ll report on that next week.

My new furniture was my splurge for these two rooms, the living room and the library. Aside from those, my total cost was $80 for these twin rooms. With those, I have about $800 in them. Higher than my budget but the only new furniture I am purchasing so I am just grinning and bearing the credit card bill.


Cutting in the Library Chair Rail

20150105_194931 The holidays are winding down, and inventory here at SafetyGirl, Construction Gear, and Discount Safety Gear is out of the way. Life as we know it will soon resume. Sunday I had about an hour and a half to continue cutting in the chair rail. Because the walls were not primed for the wallpaper, they are sucking up the paint like a sponge. I have three coats of this tedious work and haven’t even gone all the way around the room yet. I am guessing it will take about ten hours to paint the room. Because our paintbrushes are so precise, I am working carefully without masking tape between the wall and chair rail – it will take less effort and give me better results than trying to correct the bleeding caused by the masking tape. I will also be using our paint rollers. I love that they are so durable I can give them a good scrubbing and set them aside to use in another room or two. My previous experience with rollers is that they fall apart when you try to clean them.

Tip: when you are in the middle of a paint project and have to stop, wrap the brush or roller complete with handle in a plastic grocery bag or plastic wrap, and put the whole wad in the refrigerator until you can get back to it.

20150104_123946My mother decided her apartment would look great with the tiffany-style light my dad fashioned himself, so I met her Sunday afternoon to bring her the lamp and take the pendant light the previous tenants had left, for my use until I can get the one I want.  I also wanted to get her a fleece bathrobe, since I could not find one I thought she would like for Christmas. While we were at the department store, I saw a clearance floor model of a dual recliner that is perfect for the library. I put 500 unexpected dollars on my credit card and will have delivery of my new loveseat next Monday. This is also incentive to finish the room before then, so I come home to perfectly-placed seating.

20150105_194859This week I will push to finish the painting, which is less than desirable after dark, and find a product to clean and polish the wood in this room. Challenging but I think I can do it. I also have some clutter to deal with, and need to buy either a long low mission table or barrister shelves on which to put my television. I hope to have some before and after photos for you then.

Are you here to read about my adventures with Andy and the girls? It was a sparse weekend while I worked and got a new kitten (another story for another day). I stopped by their house on my way home from picking up Gus on Saturday. We all 20150106_184601played a quick game of chase together before I dashed off with the world’s best chicken parm and they went to mass, and Sunday we sat down together for a homestyle meal. My text to Andy Saturday night: “Do you know how much weariness was erased when I came in to three smiling faces?”

The room I expected would tuck in nicely to December, will end up taking two months. Given the warmth of the holidays, it’s hard to feel too bad about that.

I hope everyone had a safe New Year celebration, and has a wonderful 2015!

New Year’s Eve Safety Tips – Timeless

New Year’s Eve is a great time to celebrate with friends, but it’s also a time of increased risk for your personal safety. If you’re going out on the town or to another friend or family member’s house to party the night away, follow these simple tips to ensure that you and other guests stay safe and enjoy the evening.

  1. Appoint a designated driver. Having a designated driver probably the most important New Year’s Eve safety tip. Make sure you appoint a designated driver who will be reliable and drive safely on New Year’s Eve. As a back-up plan, take a phone number for a taxi company with you or, if you live in a big city, have a plan to use reliable transportation (but don’t forget about potentially reduced holiday hours).
  2. Take a friend with you. Everyone, but especially women, is more vulnerable when alone, so go out on the town or to a party with a friend you can trust. Having a friend you can trust to go out with means both you and your friend will be safer.
  3. Don’t drink too much and watch your drink. If you’re not the designated driver in your group, don’t forget to monitor your own alcohol consumption. New Year’s Eve can be a long night and too much alcohol can be deadly. Also remember to keep your eyes on your drink at all times to avoid the risk of someone slipping illegal drugs into it.
  4. Be aware of your surroundings. If you’re going out, don’t walk through potentially dangerous areas and don’t walk alone. Travel with a friend, don’t talk on your cell phone while walking or driving, and keep an eye out for potentially dangerous situations.
  5. Take care of your own home and pets. If you’re going out on New Year’s Eve, be sure to care for your pets before you go, leaving enough food and water. Also be sure to lock your doors (use an alarm system, if you have one) and don’t leave potentially dangerous household objects, such as candles, unattended.
  6. Many businesses offer free or reduced-cost services to help with your safe travel, from free cab rides to free coffee. Call ahead when in doubt.

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Masking off Trim for Painting

20141224_112316With the holidays, I am falling a bit behind on the writing, as well as the remodel work.

I traveled to Boston over Christmas as part of a trip with Andy, Lucy, and Grace for a hockey tournament. We piled into one vehicle and stayed in a hotel room with two small beds. Every couple hours we stopped to stretch and grab quick sandwiches. The girls slept, fought, challenged us and each other with trivia and other rites of passage. Lucy drove part of the way in preparation for her driver’s test while I manned the music and Andy and Grace sat in the back making funny faces for selfies. We socialized, toured Harvard just for fun, spent time at a friend’s New England Coastal beach house, and cheered as Lucy’s team won the hockey tournament. Except for the sports, it’s the way I remember traveling as a kid. Andy will soon have Lucy in college and he’ll blink and it will be time to send Grace.

Before we left, I had a teeny bit of time to patch the stripped walls, sand and wipe them down, and mask off the wainscoting from the chair rail. I used our disposable mask respirators when I patched the walls. When you take them off after doing even the smallest amount of spackling, you know it was worth it from the mask’s outline left on your face. Like the other rooms, there will be some items that stay the same here. As I often do while I work, I think of my dad. I grew up in an extended family who believed that if you can’t pay cash for something, you don’t need it. Souvenirs from trips are not cheaply made, overpriced touristy things, but a newspaper or seashell.

20141224_123201When we were born, we were living in my grandparents’ duplex while my dad bought this house for a few hundred dollars. I mentioned before, I don’t believe it had running water, so no bathroom. No kitchen? I think there was a cold storage where the kitchen stands now. Both of my parents went to four-year colleges and got degrees in accounting. My mom quit her job in the city to be a stay-at-home. After a few years, my father chose to change his path from accountant to construction foreman. It paid less per hour, but gave him as much overtime as he could physically take. The day they were married he started planning for our college. I know it’s not feasible to pay cash for everything today. Because of turns of events in Andy’s life, he won’t be able to pay for his girls’ college in full and in cash. Not many people can. My dad did. I am not bragging about money because we had none. We never went out to eat and a pair of socks had to wait until August when we could get school clothes. My mom worked part time to get us fabric to make us prom gowns. My dad worked until exhaustion daily. He drove a red Ford pick-up truck (“Baby”) decades beyond its normal shiny life expectancy because to buy a new one would mean us getting derailed from college. I think that thing was 30 years old when he finally replaced it. We never knew why. We just saw the old, beat-up truck in the driveway he re-shaled with a shovel every year, instead of the new cars on paved drives so many of our classmates had.

20141224_123141Winters my dad was laid off from road work; because he had a reputation as a silent and hard worker, he was often invited to do day jobs for friends in the construction industry. He got a few extra dollars to put into the college funds, but the real boon of doing this was that he was invited to take anything from demolition projects. You have seen the parquet floor and the fireplace mantle beam from what were Pittsburgh-area landmarks. The thing I am saving from this room are the leaded glass doors with cut glass doorknobs that he built into one wall.

2014-12-30 14.25.57This weekend, before Boston, I removed the crystal knobs, taped the woodwork and painted it. I used our paintbrushes and gloves after carefully pressing on the old metal with the tape. I haven’t looked at what decorative glassware is behind the doors. I may put books there if my sister wants the glassware. I don’t think I am going to open the doors yet, but when I do, no matter what I put on the shelves, I am going to put my souvenir of Boston with Andy and the girls in there, too – a perfect sea shell from the day we all braved the December waters on the New England Coast.

Merry Christmas from Safety Girl

20140719_13272020141204_184059Ok so I’ve gotten requests to post progress photos. These are some ugly shots of the wallpaper coming down, in various stages. I have found that stripping an average room, above wainscoting only, takes about 3-5 good hours, including cleanup. It’s a great project because it also can be done in small blocks of time. These two rooms were so much easier to strip than the New room, that I am going to do the stairwell, also.

I’d really like to say I can degloss the trim and paint everything before Christmas, but that isn’t going to happen. I am not sure it will even happen over Christmas. When we next meet again, I should be ready to wrap this room up in a weekend and some change.

It has been a blessed holiday for me. Andy took me and the girls to the theatre to see A Musical Christmas Carol. Over the season we have enjoyed shopping in the city, watching special after special, enjoying some delicacies from our sister store (The English Tea Store), deliberating over gifts for the girls and dropping hints when possible, and making an Advent calendar. 20141204_184109

All of us here at SafetyGirl, Discount Safety Gear, and Construction Gear wish joyous and safe holidays for all of you!20140719_132743

Wallpaper short

20141206_181614I’m starting to strip the wallpaper in the “twin” room to the living room – the library. And since everything I do in this room is similar to the last, I won’t bore you with the details. I will, however, give  a nod to the disposable gloves that make stripping the wall paper so much cleaner.

This weekend, after heading to the city for window shopping with Andy and Gracie, I stripped wallpaper when I could, and got most of the room done. The reality of Christmas came down hard this morning, with a huge list of things left to accomplish and so very few days! I hope everyone is having a joyous season!

An Open Letter to Women from a Man

It is an unfortunate fact in our society that women have to be ready to defend yourselves from assault. All women have my 100% support to use whatever legal means necessary to protect themselves. Real men don’t assault women, cowards do.

Regarding orthochlorobenzalmalononitrile as a spray, in my research I found that it is not as effective as pepper spray if the assailant is severely mentally ill or on drugs. Whereas peppers spray is said to be just as effective on some crazed person in a PCP rage as on a sober and ethically challenged person. So pepper spray seems to definitely be the way to go.

I do encourage all women to take self defense courses, learn a few simple techniques, and most importantly learn to be able to get immediately into the proper state of mind to defend themselves. When the assault or threat of it is just beginning, we need to be able to push the “this is not happening” thought out of our minds and replace it with “THIS IS HAPPENING”, and the explosive rage of survival will take over and help us get through it as best we can. I know this from personal experience, and was blown away with how well this worked.

Good luck to you all,
Robert P. in Michigan

See Michigan pepper spray laws here.