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That Darn Bank!

It was full dark with no moon that evening. I had piled a pretty impressive stack of branches and sticks beside our driveway. All of a sudden inside the house my cell phone rang.  This strange sounding male voice that also sounded very like my husband said, Help! Help me! I can’t get up!  In trying to pitch the yard trash over the guard rail along our drive, he also pitched himself (all 6’2”) over the guard rail and then rolled all the way down to land in a patch of bushes almost at the bottom.

bankWe live 70 feet above US 19 with access and egress directly onto 19 from our driveway.  Fifteen years ago we moved into a house with very good bones and lots of elbow grease needed. There was no landscaping except for a couple of trees on the edges.  That bank was truly ugly! Over those years intervening a LOT of work has gone into the interior and exterior of our first home we ever owned.

I have had my own encounters with that bank as well.  It is a very steep incline so weeding and planting is often very dicey to say the least! Thistles seem to prosper prolifically on that darn bank and they have to be sprayed and pulled.  It’s difficult to pull or spray with one hand holding on to a root.

cleatRecently I found a fabulous product that makes a huge difference: STABILicer Lite Ice Cleats from Discount Safety Gear. I can actually keep from sliding with these wonderful cleats.  They are meant for winter safety but work great for dust or mud safety on that darn bank!

~AH

I tried to knock out as much as I could on the bathroom while Andy was away on his annual golf weekend. I had high aspirations. It’s a tiny room; how hard can it be!? Ha!

Thursday evening I mapped out my plan. Ceiling first, then cabinetry. I assembled my supplies and equipment, and Andy called.
“Why are you whispering?” I asked.
“Because if the guys know I am calling you, they will be merciless. They think I’m in the shower. You know Tom and Brad are bragging you up.”
“Tell the guys that if I am all that, you gotta maintain it.” I don’t understand how men miss that logic. “How was your day?”
“Incredible. I am having the time of my life.” [tons of noise in the background] “The guys just came in and busted me talking to you. I gotta go.” {click}

disp work glovesSaturday morning while Andy was having a three-aspirin cup of coffee, my first priority was the ceiling. I found a can of usable ceiling paint in the basement, so my only cost was an $8 roller kit on sale at a local big box store. I have heard many people say, “I didn’t think it needed it, but after doing it, what a difference!” Not so much for me. The ceilings in the house are generally good. My advice: if it looks like it was painted in the last year or so, a good washing is sufficient.

coverallThe SafetyGirl pink toolbelt was really handy for the overhead work. I stood on a small step stool to reach the fixture and with the belt, my cleaning supplies as well as screw driver were all there. No need to get up and down off the stool to retrieve items. The belt fit over the disposable 3M coveralls, which again were a huge help. I didn’t ruin any clothes with white paint drops. While these are meant to be tossed at the end of each day, they were so durable that I was able to use them for the entire two-phase project.

20140810_093800I decided to refurbish the cabinetry with a restoration kit that was left over from my prior home. The vanity was a dark wood and the kit was espresso – not much difference that I didn’t need to be immaculate with the procedure. I cleaned it, deglossed it, and then applied two coats of the espresso bond coat. I added a horrible textured silver patina and while I like the look better than if I had not used the metallic product, I was not entirely pleased with the texture and spreadability. For the deglossing, I wore the disposable gloves because the liquid was supposed to be pretty caustic. The thing I like best about the gloves is that they are breathable, yet offer great grip with the coated palms.

I purchased new hardware for the vanity from Big Box, and was hugely disappointed. Apparently the ceiling painting was just one time waster over the weekend. Some of the drawer pulls required a silicone lubricant to remove, which was another half hour. Then the new brushed silver drawer pulls fit only some of the drawers because the sink base is so old. The two sets of different sized screws that came with, were either too long or too short. I tried to use the old-hardware screws, which were the mama bear size, but they also did not work because of the mechanics of the old pulls. After much frustration, I painted the old tarnished hardware with the metallic textured finish and reinstalled them. They look better than they did, but are definitely dated. Now I have another trip to Big Box to return the new hardware. I am deciding whether I should try again on different handles and ask if Big Box will give me additional screws in the proper size. Let me know what you think!

Again I wore the disposable coveralls, which was a good thing. The glaze was very sticky and the silver paint was dark. Any miscalculation would have ruined my clothes. The cost for this task was $3, for the metallic paint, thanks to the leftover cabinet kit and the return of the hardware.
While Andy was hitting golf balls and drinking Patron, I cleaned and put away best I could. Time to start stripping wallpaper.

Saturday evening I got a text: “Call me on the hotel number. Reception here is bad.” I called and again, a whispered hello.
“Were the guys merciless last night?” I wanted to know.
“Oh yeah. They think I’m talking to Lucy. I actually did call her first.”
“Tell me about your day?” [noise again]
“Yeah, dad, tell mom I miss her too,” he said in a loud voice.
“Seriously?!” [shuffling and phone changing hands]
Tom: “Who is this?” [me trying to sound like Dad and ending up laughing instead] “Dude, you gave her the ROOM phone number!?”
Andy: “I gotta go.” {click}

20140810_093358I removed the over-toilet cabinet and shelving so the wallpaper stripping would go easier. I also removed the large homemade sconce lighting to see what I’d be up against in the wiring of new fixtures. To my great relief, my dad just had small junction box holes and the wiring capped nicely. I expected the lights may be covering huge defects of some sort.

Sunday after church, while still in my dress, I started pulling wallpaper while I waited to hear from Andy. A relatively clean job. The vinyl layer came off pretty easily and I sprayed the paper layer to soften the glue. The bathroom was quickly littered with shreds of old paper.

True to form, I got a text that Andy would be home earlier than expected because he needed to pick up Lucy from work, for me to be at the house at 1:30. As it was 1 and I had a hamper in the tub and hadn’t eaten lunch yet, I told him that time frame would not work (go, me!). My first time with a counter offer on together time. He told me to do what I needed to do to have peace about the upcoming week, and stop by when I was ready. I had had enough of that bathroom and was there by 2. I stayed until supper time so he could finish his day with father-daughter time.

And you know, he brought the girls back new sunglasses, and me five little “his and hers” Patron XO sets.

XO

~BS

Ready, Set, Go!

Floor20140715_201112The single bathroom is a tiny space with peeling wallpaper and dark and outdated cabinetry. I have chosen to start here because it should be relatively easy to freshen this room quickly. Call it my warmup, if you will.

I propose to paint the flooring and cabinetry, remove some of the outdated accessories, and add new fixtures. All over the course of four weeks. Sounds pretty simple. I’ve done my homework on what is needed to paint the vinyl flooring but until I’ve removed the wall sconces, I’m not sure what I am going to be getting into electrical-wise. We’ll find out together!coverall

The products I am going to feature for this room are SafetyGirl’s tool belt, sold on our SafetyGirl, Construction Gear, and Discount Safety Gear websites; and disposable coveralls, sold on our Discount Safety Gear and Construction Gear websites. Some other stuff I will use on our site will be featured in later room blogs, but I will also be using a respirator, gloves, and safety glasses.

My goal for this room is to complete my transformation in about $200 and one month’s time. The look I am going for is a spa-type one. I understand with a smallish, oldish bathroom and only $200 I will not get the pebbled-floor walk-in oversized glass shower with multiple shower heads that I want. Maybe when I add a master bath…Use vanity

Use wallI have purchased latex porch and patio paint, and Bullseye 1-2-3 primer. I will need to sand the floor, clean it, maybe also buy a deglosser, and definitely find a clear top coat. The paint is the palest seafoam green latex and I think it was supposed to be acrylic-based so I am unsure how it will fare.  The cabinetry will be done using Rustoleum’s Cabinet Transformations in Espresso. None of these companies has compensated me, nor do I represent them. I would like brushed stainless hardware for the cabinets. The existing towel bar will need to be replaced with something more modern. I also want to strip and paint the walls. So far, I am up to about $150 in consumables. Paint brushes and rollers will round out my parts list. I can keep the existing shower curtain and liner, and tub if I give it a good scrub. I want to keep the room uncluttered so I will be removing the curtain from the frosted window. If I have budget at the end of this project I will replace either the medicine cabinet’s sconce lighting or the ceiling light/fan fixture.

To interject some heart into this post so it doesn’t sound so commercial, Andy went for his annual golf weekend with the boys since I last blogged. My heart is heavy; the night before he left we had to deal with some pretty big pain from a pretty important girl. Some days are simply filled with introspection.

~BS

Last month you were introduced to my small world. So far we have Mo, my mom who has moved to independent living. We have me, who will be updating the old farmhouse. We have my BF Andy, who lives with his two daughters, Lucy and Grace, about five miles from my house. We all live about 1-2 hours away from where I work (depending on traffic) at Online Stores. Construction GearDiscount Safety Gear, and SafetyGirl are the stores whose products I will be using during the farmhouse reboot. While Lucy and Grace fight over who gets to test the Mace pepper spray guns, I root through my box of goodies and try to sort out what I will be using on what room. Soon I will start in the bathroom and walk you through some of my projects with featured products, but since I opened Pandora’s box of construction and safety stuff, I took some photos and have some thoughts to share on a few products before I start.

20140726_101031
20140726_101018My sister is a nut for keeping her body pure. Since my dad died early of cancer from working hard as a construction foreman all his life despite a squeaky-clean lifestyle, I wanted to reassure her that I will not be breathing anything harmful. This respirator is only $13.31 and is very easy to assemble and use. There are also additional cartridges and filters to extend the life of this mask. It is comfortable, adjusts well, and was easy to breathe in. I will be using this when I use solvents and other chemicals.

20140801_192656Andy was with me when I opened the safety glasses. I got a couple pair because I couldn’t believe how attractive they all are. I’m middle-aged and I absolutely love the bifocals. All of these glasses double as sunglasses. I know I work for this company and am supposed to say nice things about the products, but honestly, it is so easy. The Edge Kazbek pair sells for only $11.09. They are ANSI compliant, they block UV, and they look killer on. Andy, who wears safety glasses daily (he manages operations at a steel mill), tried on the Edge Reclus and said they were by far more comfortable than any other pair he’s worn, and would be great to wear for biking, too.The bridge is made of flexible notched rubber to seat properly without pinching. I bet these go missing from my house…

One 20140726_130824last item I dug out of the box while I still had enough energy to use them: shoe cleats. I put these on my lawnmowing shoes, as there is a hillside behind the house. They looked kind of small out of the package but stretched nicely to cover the shoe, and stay there. They were light. My feet dug into the dirt while I mowed the slopes. I am thinking they are going with me to the golf course and will be great in the winter, too.

That’s it. I’ve introduced the stores, the house, the key players, and some products. I have no more excuses not to dig in!

~BS

I’ll Work On It

So I take a deep breath, look around me, and see possibilities and a ton of work. I am going to update a farmhouse, in real time, myself. I intend to do most everything I can myself, excepting if I add a second bathroom. That will require someone who likes to do plumbing more than I do. I am not even really sure what I want for each room so I will accept all ideas!

Let me tell you a bit about myself. I am a middle age woman living in a rural pocket on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, with seven acres of hillside in a dilapidated house that did not have indoor plumbing or a kitchen or bathroom in 1965. My dad bought the house for a few hundred dollars and he and his dad set out to do what our family does best: repurpose and build. His new wife would soon be pregnant for the first time, living in half a duplex. My dad worked all day and went to the house every evening and on weekends to dig out the cellar; add a garage, basement, and bathroom; and turn the cold spring house into a kitchen. Parquet floors were put in downstairs, salvaged from a school gym when it was torn down. Cut glass doorknobs and leaded doors were added to a built-in bookcase when the “new room” was added over 35 years ago. Slate flooring went on the landing, oak from the family barn was added here and there. The piece de resistance, however, is the old glass in the Dutch door, signed by etching pen by everyone who entered our family. My parents did a decent job of maintaining the large house through the years, and in retirement my father added a glorious mancave on the hillside overlooking the valley. There is a shooting range, and a storage barn. There is a chicken coop and playhouse and other outbuildings that should have been demolished decades ago, and over the years my parents became more reluctant to let things go. Add feathered and furry friends to line their now-empty nest, a mother whose heart condition precluded much physical activity, and a dad who was as busy as busy could be inventing his next irrigation system or perfecting a pie recipe. It’s a lot of house to handle.

Fast forward to December 14, 2013. I came home for my MBA class and visit with the folks for the weekend. My husband had filed for divorce earlier in the year and I scheduled a blind date. The as-yet-unknown man insisted we meet at a very public coffeeshop for my comfort. I challenged him to order for me and I would meet him there. Test #1. He gathered opinions, followed clues I left on my Facebook page, and made sure there was food at the coffeeshop (black coffee and raisin bread so I would have something in my stomach but not too much, if I was subject to nerves) and a pub nearby. He passed Test #1. We shook hands and I stood in the rain, watching him drive away in his minivan.

My sister and her family were coming to celebrate the holiday, too, that weekend. I drove my mom to church because she didn’t drive and my dad wasn’t feeling well. Halfway through the service, my cell phone rang. My dad. I memorized the message. “Don’t drive like a nut. I’m not dying or anything. I just want to go and have someone check me out.” Maybe I could take him in to the ER. Coming from a man who never missed a day of work in his life, I drove l like a nut. He felt a bit better by the time we got home, so he called off the trip to the hospital. We celebrated Christmas as a family. I offered to stay the next day and take him to the ER. He was hesitant. He didn’t want to inconvenience anyone. “It’s a lot less inconvenient to do it this way, Daddy, than to drive 2 hours mid-week to come do it.” After his tests, I sat and read Porky Chedwick articles to him while we waited for the doctor to come give him an antacid and send him home. Just when we were bored beyond belief, the doctor came in. Stage 4. Terminal. Pancreatic, lung, liver, lymph. The indestructible man’s head snapped back, then forward to his chest as if he had been hit as he heard the C word. “Ooof.”20140719_132626

Between my sister and I, we started living there 6 days a week, cooking, cleaning, feeding, driving, talking, administering pills, shopping, making phone calls. A month later he was gone.

His wife, the only woman he ever dated, the only woman he ever loved, is moving into an independent living apartment where we don’t need to worry about her heart. She can’t take care of the house on her own. The last six months have taken its toll on it. It hasn’t been scrubbed. Everything was as it was in the fall when my dad got it ready for winter: storm windows, covered landscaping ponds. My sister has slowed coming home for the summer, now that her kids are out of school. Packing my mother’s life into cardboard boxes takes every minute of housework time I have. We are lucky to get our laundry and dishes done.

20140622_091012The house is grimy. Some rooms are classically and tastefully done behind the disarray; others are simply outdated. Having only one bathroom is a problem. How quickly the beautiful English gardens have become overgrown with weeds! The new room – we still call it the “new room” – has never been re-wallpapered or re-carpeted. The paper is peeling and the carpet is beyond stained. The lighting is dim and the walls are scuffed.

So I am moving back into the house to see if I can handle it, financially, physically, and mentally; if not, it will be fresh for the market.

I did the same, on a grander scale, twenty years ago, when I bought my first house – a little hunting cabin with no heater and plaid carpet and velvet wallpaper that became something I loved with a cathedral ceiling and skylights and spiral staircase to loft and exposed fireplace. I wish I could do that here, but I feel my age, and I think you would grow bored long before I finished. My goal is to keep each room or area to one month, and only spend $250/room on average to refresh it. I would like to add a bathroom, but I am not sure where yet.

I hope you will travel with me on this journey. You will meet my family and friends as we go. I will be highlighting some of the great products from Online Stores, Inc.’s three construction sites: SafetyGirl, Construction Gear, and Discount Safety Gear. I welcome your questions, advice, and comments.20140629_101530

First up will be the small bathroom. I want to give it a facelift and brighten it up, with the hopes of it becoming the second bathroom eventually. I will review our tool belt and disposable coveralls while I restore the cabinets, paint the floor (yes!!) and swap out hardware and accessories. The additional gear from our stores that I will be using for the bathroom will be a respirator, gloves, and safety glasses.

20140719_132838 Please stop by often and let’s see what we can do!

Meet SafetyGirl

I20140719_094724n anticipation of restoring my new-to-me home, I brought some Safety Girl, Discount Safety Gear, and Construction Gear products home last week. Happily, I got a Friday commute text from my boyfriend that his daughter had decided to rip up her bedroom carpet, that I should stop over, and he was otherwise speechless (him speechless is as close to a medical emergency as you can get). Upon entering the house I could barely make my way to the voices coming from some random crevice upstairs – furniture lined the hallways and sat in the middle of every room. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Hello?
He: Up here! Can you squeeze through? Or did you have chocolate today?
Me: I think I got it. How did all the heavy wood furniture get downstairs?
He: Lucy carried it.
Me: By herself!?
He: Yes.
Me: I’m impressed.

There he stood, delegating and watching like a good dad. The old carpet was up already, showing beautiful bare hardwood. Engrossed in her work, Lucy pried tacks and staples out of the floorboards. I vaulted back downstairs to get the gloves, disposable knee pads, and tool belt that were already in my car. “Hey! Try some of this stuff out!” I threw her my bag of new goodies. She was a good sport, especially since I wasn’t sure whether to put the knee pads on horizontally or vertically. I let her do her thing. They protected her knees from stray nails for sure, but one helpful bit of information: don’t put them on bare skin. I think I lost points for that one and she won’t have to shave her knees for a month. Needless to say, adhesion with these knee pads is top-notch. If you put them on coveralls or pants as they are intended, they will last through the job or until you wash the clothing. Note to self: read the instructions before using the product.20140719_094745-MOTION

The gloves fit her like, well, a glove, and kept her hands safe from the sharp tacks, as well as blisters from the pliers when she pulled up the staples.

The story has a happy ending: Lucy finished most of the impromptu bedroom makeover before her sister Grace got home from almost a month abroad (another story for another day). There is some finishing work to be done, but with both girls working together, it will get done quickly. And with products from SafetyGirl, Construction Gear, and Discount Safety Gear, it will get done safely – except for that knee thing.

Afterward: Because Lucy and Grace are under age, I changed their names and forwarded this to my BF for approval. He suggested his alias be something along the lines of movie-star worthy, with authoritative muscle and a heart of gold. He will be known as Mutt. Simply because I can. But he shared that after Lucy removed the knee pads, he put them on himself and said he loved them. They were convenient, easy, and didn’t hurt a bit when he removed them.

Our sites, Construction Gear, Discount Safety Gear, and Safety Girl, have gotten a ton of great-looking new work boots. Avenger, Nautilus are some of the names you will see if you are shopping for the latest looks. Some are the metatarsal style, some are clogs. All are high quality. We know a few companies are revamping their safety shoe and boot programs now, so we wanted to spotlight some of our newest arrivals.


CSGBOTM1000032308_-00_Avenger-Mens-Black-Met-Guard-Mining-BootThe Avenger Black Met Guard Mining Boot boasts a removable insole and offers electrical hazard protection. It’s a lot of boot for under $85.

Another boot by Avenger is the brown Steel Toed Boot made of full-grain crazy horse leather. Full-grain is the strongest leather you can buy. Crazy horse leather is also known as saddle leather and is made by applying special waxes to the surface. It’s an abrasion-resistant boot with a steel toe cap and removable dual density insole.

Here’s one for the ladies: Nautilus’ Women’s Composite Toe Clog in full-grain Nubuck leather with a composite safety toe cap. What’s so great about Nubuck? Nubuck is a top-grain leather that is buffed to give a velvet-like surface. It is highly wear-resistant. While it is stronger and thicker than suede, it is just as soft. It is a luxurious leather and a bit more expensive because of the processing.

CSGBOTM1000032305_-00_Nautilus-Mens-Composite-Toe-ESD-HikerWe offer the ESD hiker, also in Nubuck and also by Nautilus. ESD stands for Electro Static Dissipative construction, which reduces excess static electricity. This handsome brown composite toe boot is waterproof with a removable sockliner.

And what about the Avenger Composite Toe EH (electrical hazard) Boot? air bags, bumper toe, and cross stabilizers! This shoe’s list of specs reads like a new car window sticker!

The list goes on. Why don’t you head over to one of our pages now and find the shoe that will make you glad you retired your old pair!

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