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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.

 

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.

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.

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Saturday 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.

 

 

20150105_194931The 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) but we all 20150106_184601played a quick game of chase together Saturday 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!

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.

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

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