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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 a
nd 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

Last Rose of Summer

Rose of SummerJust about anywhere in the continental United States roses are still in bloom. However, in many places it may not be long until the last rose of summer appears. Meanwhile there is lots of work for the serious rose gardener to prepare this queen of the garden scene to endure the winter and bloom again next spring and summer even more strongly. There is pruning and mulching. There is cutting last blooms. There is cleaning the rose bed itself and lots more. The beauty of a home-grown rose is practically unparalleled in the botanical arsenal, growing roses is lots of hard work with huge reward at the end of the process!

There is peril in the process, however, due to the pesky thorns. These wonderful West County Gardener Gauntlet Rose Gloves from Construction Gear are just the ticket to avoid the thorns. Made of synthetic heavyweight suedegloves, they are intentionally thorn proof but also lightweight and fully washable. Unlike their shorter cousins, standard gardening gloves, these are gauntlet gloves extending arm protection up to the elbow to save shirts and skin from snags. These gloves are the perfect match for the last rose of summer and will winter over well to be ready for spring and another season of rose beauty!

~AH

20140906_18322220140906_183425The laundry room is at the back of the house but because the driveway dumps out to this entry, this is where every single visitor arrives. It is a quaint room with bright light but currently, too much chipped paint on the floors and walls. Over the years, the storage capacity for cleaning supplies and gardening tools have far exceeded a safe limit. Shelves were added as needed and white paint was added every few years. Spider webs prevail. There are more boxes of rose fertilizer than I could use in a lifetime, even if I grew roses. The birds outside would probably appreciate it if I could get their plastic tub of food out somewhere that I could actually feed them. Right now a hoosier cabinet waits in one corner for someone to put it back where it belongs in the kitchen. It was moved the day the EMTs had to get the stretcher into the house to pick up Daddy’s body.

This room will be light and bright and cheery. I will sand down the paint that is on too thick on woodwork (hmm. Should I strip the woodwork?), repaint the ceiling and walls (they definitely need it), and prime/paint/seal the cement floor. First is a good cleaning, and a good cleaning out. It is here that I started.

Much of the shelving is overhead, so I will be wearing the hard hat. I will definitely be wearing the disposable coveralls and poly gloves, with the amount of gunk and goo in this room. I will be wearing the respirator, too, as there are some chemicals.

20140719_132847 20140831_181323As I mentioned earlier, hockey season has started. Last weekend, Andy took Lucy and Gracie and I to get Lucy new gear. When we got back, she and Kay were trying it on and she grabbed my phone to take a selfie. With Andy’s permission, the photo is here. That’s Lucy, Grace, and Kay from left to right. Aren’t they beautiful girls? Anyway, this weekend he took them to Toronto for a showcase, which means recruiters will get to “shop” prospective scholarship-bound players. In today’s economy, a scholarship is necessary if both girls are to attend college.

Since he was gone, my mom and I spent a good portion of the weekend visiting with each other and going through the laundry room: a box to give away, a box to keep, and a box to throw away. Rather, some of the compostable garbage bags on our Construction Gear site. The bags were thick but brittle so I wouldn’t put anything sharp in them. Barring that, they were easy to open and tie, and were very durable. Plus I felt good knowing they are eco-friendly! This is my mom putting on the gloves.20140906_115803

After cleaning off the shelves, I disassembled the perimeter homemade shelving to open up the room. Next week I will be using the TSP cleanser at industrial strength to start scrubbing the room down, and replacing some of the removed wooden shelves with more delicate glass ones.

Pack Rat

mess100 years in the same house + 3 generations + the flotsam of life = 3 stories + 3 outbuildings gorged with stuff!  Some is treasure – buried to be sure! Much is trash. The buildings are headed for demolition so two cousins are spending hours and days sorting it out. It’s a nasty job but someone has to do it to retrieve the treasure – silver coins and much more!

Online StoresConstruction Gear, Safety Girl, and Discount Safety Gear can help:        

Hours of kneeling pulling from the piles – CHECK!  We’ve got you covered with knee pads

Disp RespiratorDust, dust, dust – breathe in, breathe out! CHECK! We’ve got you covered with disposable face masks.

Danger – hazardous to clothing – CHECK! We’ve got you covered with disposable coveralls to protect your clothes.

coverallsHeads-up – Hard hats must be standard gear! CHECK! We’ve got you covered with our construction grade hard hats! They even come in snazzy colors for fashionistas!

hard hatSorting, trashing, treasuring, saving – It’s all in a day’s work. No, make that MANY days! You’re on your own! We don’t make house calls!

~AH

This blog’s focus, two little words: install. lighting. Cost: $50. Total cost for the bathroom: slightly under $200 with some leftover materials for the next room.

20140824_161002My weekend started early; Thursday night Andy was busy with the girls and a friend chatted me to see if I was ok. JD was in our circle of friends in high school and we reconnected right when my slide down the slope of divorce, death, and job changing started. He checks in every once in awhile via text just to see if I am alright. I told him I was, but he insisted on stopping over just to make sure. At that point I was in my PJs and had found a leak in the bathroom plumbing. I tried to deter him but I suppose when some people care about you, it’s a good thing. I changed back into clothes and let Andy know I’d be visiting for awhile during our regular phone time. JD and I decided the marine sealant I used on the flooring was good for the leak – it was in the sink drain and all parts were secure except one soldered vertical piece. We sat in the midst of my disastrous house and caught each other up on the last few months.

Even a surprise visit from an old friend can’t stop the inevitable. The bathroom called. I was lucky enough to find some brushed nickel wall sconces at a reasonable price at BigBox but finding the help during daylight hours was the challenge, thus they are last. I am decent at wiring; once you recognize that the wiring either works or it doesn’t, and as long as you don’t use your body as a conductor, it is safe. Andy came over Saturday with tools and equipment, to knock it out with me.

20140824_171619If you know my dad, you know that no project is standard. He loved to create from found objects and scrap, and for the bathroom wiring, apparently he used salvaged industrial wire that had four strands. So not only did we have an extra strand to cap off, but what was coming from the wall was as unmoving as the rock of Gibraltar and barely fit in the box. Additionally, he somehow tied the ceiling fixture in to the left sconce wiring, so there were an extra full set of wires. We did not get the lights up Saturday.

20140622_090952

Left, Before

20140901_065820

Left, After

Andy came back Sunday with more tools and equipment, and after another 2 ½ hours, roll of electrical tape, and 17 different types of pliers, we got them up. Something is loose somewhere in the wall that if the lights aren’t a certain way, they don’t work. Or one of them does. They look beautiful, however, and Sunday night I finally got, and left them, positioned to both work. Monday morning, neither of them turned on. At least I got up early enough to spend 15 minutes wiggling them around so I could light my morning. I finally got them positioned properly and hope no well-intended OCD guest tries to helpfully straighten them that last millimeter.

I am including before and after pics just because it’s so satisfying!

Coming up will be my “gimme” week. I will sit back, enjoy a more open flow in this tiny space, and add the fun stuff: roll the towels and add the accoutrements. When we talk again, you will find me starting to tackle the laundry room, which is the most disgusting room in the house. It is next because it is how all of the visitors enter the house and I really need to be glad when people arrive, rather than cringe. Even though this room is also small and has no wallpaper, I know better than to call this job “easy.” I will be cleaning it out, cleaning it, and repainting ceiling, walls, and floor. Sounds simple, right? Hah! Five tasks, five weeks. I suspect that my one-year deadline for the whole house will not be met.

I will be featuring the pink hard hat but using the disposable gloves, knee pads, and coveralls, as well.

20140622_091036

Right, Before

20140901_065703

Right, After

~BS

Big and Tall

20140725_174314Let’s focus on one of my favorite topics: Andy! Andy is many things. He is a superb dad, is nothing short of miraculous in the kitchen, has a naïve innocence that is endearing and yet a hardness that stands up to pretty much anything, and is so unique in his thought process he keeps even me on my toes (!!). And yes, Andy is a wonderfully big man. He’s over 6 feet tall and he’s muscular, and when he engulfs 5’2” me in a bear hug, every single thing in my life clicks into place and I am at peace. Now you know about Andy. But did you know that we carry gear for Big and Tall men like mine?

Most people are aware that we carry larger sizes in pants and shoes and other work clothing. For example, our leather boots are sized up to 18, double-extra wide. Our flame-resistant pants extend to 54 waist and 36 inseam. Shirt sizes are up to 5XL. But when you buy for your man, do you remember your accessories?

To try some of our products out on Andy, I wanted to feature the “extras” you might not consider when shopping for work clothes for your big dog. I picked out Carhartt’s wool socks in Large, Online stores’ budget-friendly reversible belt (choose from a variety of styles regularly priced to $25, for only $5.95 each), and an Ergodyne Core Performance Workwear base layer shirt.

SockAndy educated me, on our first date, that his homemade daisy dukes (settle down, ladies; his are simply jeans cut off at the knee and left to fray) were like summer in your pants. When we spoke of our mutual admiration of brand new socks, I told him they were like a vacation on your feet. So this weekend, right out of the goodie bag, he picked the socks first. He liked the length – they are no-show but with a slight “lip” in back so the heel of your shoe won’t rub that delicate tendon. “Oooh! Carhartt! Wool! Are they winter socks?” he asked. I pointed to the “All season” text on the package. “Will you wear them?” I asked. “Oh yeah!” he said. That man gets excited about socks. “I like how they feel right away. Not scratchy like you’d think wool would be.”

20140828_143237The belt I wasn’t sure on fit, so I was glad that I could return it after he tried it on (see our return policy here). A few months ago, we had gone to a department store to get him a new work belt and it broke the third time he wore it, and me exchanging the belt for him was a true headache. It didn’t stand up to the rigors of his blue-collar management job and the department store’s customer service was bad enough I almost wrote to the company. Almost. Anyway, the Online Stores belt did not fit. It was the same exact length and stated size as one he currently wears, so it was sized properly – except the belt was made of thicker leather, which would add circumference, and it was wider, which would add resistance against his belt loops. If you order this one, I suggest ordering one a size larger. I got two different belts, both thinner; one his size and one a step up. This morning he showed me that they fit great. They looked great, too! 20140904_050310“I love this belt,” he said. At this price, I’ll be buying more. Here’s a photo of Andy in his belt, getting ready for his workday (a little eye candy).

The dry-wick shirt is perfect for this time of year, when we head into cooler weather. It can be worn alone or as a layer. It is cut to fit snugly. CG-6415_Ergodyne_BLACK_Core-Performance-Base-Layer-Long-Sleeve-Shirt“You know this is buff cut,” Andy said. “That means it’s going to be tight.” Yay for me!

Painting a Vinyl Floor

20140822_235959This is another segment in my farmhouse refresh series. I am still in the bathroom, forever in the bathroom. Over the last week I debated painting the floor, or laying a river stone floor. I decided I would paint the floor and see how it held up. Even knowing the vinyl is a step away from dead and I have a contingency plan, it made me nervous. Everything I read said painting it can turn out great, or a disaster. I read four or five different sets of directions on doing this, as if you don’t paint it properly, you regret the project. I was painstakingly careful with each step. I understand the finish won’t last forever but until I can afford reflooring, I wanted it to look nice.

I got a late start to the weekend, as Friday evening was a celebration for Andy’s parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary! I am so in awe of being able to put up with one person, day in and day out, for that long. Kudos to them. They are a beautiful couple, and the meal was a lovely family dinner at one of the nicer restaurants in their town. I had the lasagna – divine! Gracie went with us but Lucy had to work. I wore a boho dress Andy brought back from a cruise earlier in the year. You know, one of those long things with handcrafted lace at the neckline that makes you feel like a princess and is extremely comfortable all at  the same time? A table full of relatives, some who had traveled from out of state, everyone sharing and laughing. The word I’d use to describe the meal is exuberant.

We weren’t back late and Andy was asleep as soon as his butt hit the leather sofa, so I left and got an early start Saturday. I had already glued down the popped up tiles, and filled in chipped corners, with a marine sealant/epoxy.

20140823_065639If you decide to paint vinyl floors, I will pass on what I read were the important bits: sand it to scuff it and scrape any odd globs off of it, clean thoroughly (I used Trisodium Phosphate at household strength), let every step dry before starting the next, and make sure your sealant is clear. Take the time to tape your edges off carefully, and spend the extra money to get the better masking tape. Be sure every product is made for high traffic, and porch/patio or exterior use to ensure durability. That’s IF you decide to paint your vinyl tile floor.

I followed the directions on dry time but it still flaked off when walking on it after the allotted time. I touched it up and allowed it to cure for a few days before sealing. I used a high-traffic high-gloss clear polyurethane, three coats, with about 72 hours between coats, and then a full week before I put the floor into service. Maneuvering from the hallway to the tub, standing on sink and toilet was interesting but kept me off the floor – and limber! Until I added the sealer, I was not sure on the floor. The sealer, though expensive, really made the difference.

Cost for this project was $30 for high-traffic porch and patio paint, $10 for the cleaner and deglosser, and $40 for the clear gloss sealant (the primer was costed in a prior post).

20140823_132805The disposable gloves were an absolute necessity for the floor project. The TSP cleanser is not to be used on skin, so I wore the gloves when I was scrubbing. I used them also to wash and rinse the floor and hung them to dry, so they were ready to go with the deglosser and painting steps. And again I used the disposable coveralls. I think I may need to get a new package. A side note on those – in the heat of the summer, they were very warm. They are breathable, but it was definitely an extra layer of insulation.  Because of the gloves and overalls, I was able to go right from working, to the store, just by removing those.

I toyed with the idea of using the respirator when I sanded the floor, but as I didn’t use a power sander, it seemed like overkill. I gently scuffed and then scrubbed. There wasn’t much dust. I did, however, need it on the fumes from the polyurethane.

Next week I must tackle the lighting, which I have been putting off. I don’t like to do that alone, at least without anyone in the house to call 911 if I zap myself. I’ve wired an addition before, but it’s been decades.

~BS

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