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Archive for the ‘Cleaning’ Category

20150426_135642…and I thought last year my cleated tennis shoes would do the job on my multi-acre hillside, especially with a new self-propelled push mower. Not so! Even the propellation (is that a word?!) wasn’t enough for this little girl. I used to watch my dad mow this entire yard, with seemingly little effort. Then he’d come in and take a drink of the sun tea he had made. I remember the first time I tried to tackle the job, after over an hour later with the upper hill still untouched, gritty and breathless, I thought, “he probably would have liked if one of us had made the tea and had it ready for him.” In later years he attached a piece of rope to the mower, to stand up a few feet and allow the mower to slide down on its own, then pull it back up with the rope, so he didn’t need to bend or walk so much. He did this the fall he had to have had the cancer, before we knew it. A dying “old man” still did a much better job than this relatively in-shape girl could.

I bit the bullet and put on my pristine pink Safety Girl boots, knowing the pretty toes would green up pretty quickly from grass. I was able to mow more of the hillside (all the way up to the second garden!) with these babies. I still can’t do the full job my dad did but I think he would have been proud of what I can accomplish.

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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.

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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.

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20140719_132813Good afterI took one week to give the wood in the living room some attention – it’s parquet that was salvaged from an area school gym back in the 60’s. I went over each square, scraping and polishing, first with wood cleaner and restorer, then lemon oil, then did the same again to the wainscoting. I used the disposable knee pads from Discount Safety Gear, as well as orange oil and a plastic scraper.

I will have Andy come over and help move furniture this week and then call this one good. It was under budget and done quickly, which I really needed! I am still at about $80 for this room and have enough paint to do the library similarly. Unfortunately, you will have to wait until after the first of the year for that, as I need to take a break. But here are the before and after photos of my living room. I may update after I finish with the decorating details.On Thanksgiving Andy and I slept in four days in a row (we typically get up individually between 4:30 and 5AM) and enjoyed leisurely coffee and television – two things we typically don’t ever get. I took Black Friday off and enjoyed part of a hockey tournament. Then I went through all of my Christmas ornaments in preparation of next week.

20140719_132755I wanted to include a before (left) and after (right) photo of the fireplace area. My mom shared with me this weekend that the beam for the mantle came from the Bradford house. There is so much rich history in this house!

20150117_10025020150117_100236In December I will decorate and clean what I can, as well as I can. I hope you join me! (who likes to clean and decorate alone!?)

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20140719_132759 N20141109_195138ovember was the month to start my dining room. I am a little late on the draw. This should be an easy room and after I am done with this, I will probably take a break to clean and decorate for the holidays. Probably. We’ll see. Friday I removed the carpet and padding from the hardwood parquet floors and oiled the wood wainscoting.

This weekend Andy had another hockey event and I was alone most of the time, so I had plenty of time to get stuff done on Saturday. This wallpaper stripped very well over most of the room. I used some liquid stripper, my paper tiger on the tough spots, and a scraper. From our stores, I used the disposable smock to keep the glue off of me when the paper came down and the disposable face mask for the dust and paper crumbs.

There is a ledge between the kitchen and dining room, that my dad repainted and repainted, using latex paint and not sanding or priming – so it was coming off in sheets. I got paint stripper and stripped the worst of the paint buildup all around. When I did this, I used the half mask respirator, for the fumes, and the thicker poly disposable gloves. I will oil and polish this and leave the wood bare.

Andy brought Gracie by for the first time, during a quick break in his weekend. She helped me choose colors for the trim and wall, which I bought the next day, and played some Christmas carols for us while we sat on the sofa in the room I had just finished.

20141108_15063320141108_104724Sunday I removed the cracking putty my dad used to add a pane of glass to the single panes in this room, then carefully pulled the glass out, to clean between the two. I will paint these window frames also. I removed the shutters. They are quaint and have been part of the house for as long as we owned it, but they are only decorative and keep the already-sparse light out of the room. These windows are high, small, and face a patch of woods between me and the closest neighbor, so I feel comfortable with them being bare.

I still need to finish deglossing all of the paint and finishing the last of the stripping, then I will be ready to patch, prime and paint!

You can see the room before, and then some of the work I did this weekend.

So far, the cost of this room is about $80 for paint and chemicals.

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20141018_10314220141018_103238This was to be an easy week, finishing the painting in the New Room but I spent about 10 hours on the trim and woodwork, and the color washes on the walls, and they are still not done! I used the brush and rollers from Construction Gear for everything, and they still look good as new. Plug for the brush: for a 4” brush, it is sure precise. I did not need masking tape on many areas. I mentioned that last week but you can see in the photo to the left what I mean!

To keep the brush and rollers fresh, when I was in the middle of a project and had to take a break, I wrapped them in a plastic shopping bag to keep them moist – if it was more than a few hours, into the fridge they went. When I was done with each color, I rinsed them thoroughly in just rain water (I love my dad’s rain barrel system!! But since you don’t have it, you can use regular water). When the project was done, I rinsed them and then ran them through the dishwasher. If you don’t have a dishwasher, just put a dab of dish liquid in the palm of one hand and swirl the brush in it to lather or run along the roller, then rinse until the water runs clear.  They held up fine and I will be using them again. So nice to have supplies that you don’t have to throw away at the end of a project – or even after one color! Well worth the cost.

Sunday I boycotted all restoration work and spent the morning in church, and the afternoon baking bread, then bruschetta. Andy and I had an Italian feast in the half hour from the time he brought the girls home from Lucy’s hockey game, to the time he needed to drop her off at work. Pasta, ravioli, cacciatore, and my offerings. Mmm. He dumped an entire pilsner glass of water in my lap and there was spaghetti on the table when he and Lucy rushed out the door. 20141019_133848Grace went upstairs, leaving me sitting in stunned silence. Andy returned 10 minutes later to finish the meal as adults. You know it’s good when you both have sauce on your face! Unfortunately, he neglected to tell me of mine until we got back from running to get pumpkin for Lucy’s baking. That’s ok. It was worth it to have one of the pumpkin vanilla snickerdoodles hand-delivered right from the oven.

Next weekend we are going to tackle laying carpet. Yes, I have informed Andy it will be “we.”

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20140719_132630I thought the laundry room would be the most disgusting room, but when I moved to the New Room, I saw I was wrong. Apparently the entire house is going to be a surprise like this. My parents had 3 birds and there were peanut shells and bird food under every single piece of furniture I moved in this room.

20140719_132626As I mentioned in the introduction to this year-long project, Daddy enclosed the porch after about 3-5 years and we started calling this the “new room.” It’s been probably 35-40 years being new. Over the years it’s been a TV room, craft room, office. It was the room in which Daddy spent his last month, and died peacefully in his mother’s chair. It’s really not a new room anymore. I plan to move my piano in here, as well as a table that can be used for crafting or surplus guests for a holiday. Would it be a parlour? Does anyone have any suggestions on its new name?

In this room, my tasks are removing the furniture and cleaning the room out, removing two coats of wallpaper that have been on the walls for probably 30 years, painting the wainscoting and chair rail, rag rolling the walls, adding trim, replacing the carpet and padding, and then decorating. I would like to give this room a new name (finally) but I’m not sure what that should be. I would also like to give this room a contemporary and elegant look. The carpet I got as a remnant the other weekend20140719_132651, in a subtle taupe. I need to mottle the walls with a combination of silver, beige, and white, to tie all the colors together. Right now the colors are a tealy-mint green under taped-on industrial grey carpet, and the latest pass of wallpaper is about 15 years old.

I’ve been using the sticky knee pads, gloves, respirator, and coveralls faithfully, and I like the products. But you probably would like to hear about some different ones, so I will dig back into my box of goodies. I’ll use the disposable face mask for patching the walls when I sand them and be sure I have the First Aid Kit on hand.

To get started on this room, I tried to clean it out of furniture. The local AmVets are getting the entertainment system and bookcases that I am getting rid of – unless they are too big to take. If that’s the case, I suppose they are just going to sit in my car port for awhile. I started randomly pulling wallpaper off the wall (and some of it is coming off very well!). I picked up paint chips and a paper tiger at my local BigBox. My dad had a comprehensive collection of railroad lanterns that he kept in this room, so my first task this week is to unscrew all of the old hooks that held his collection and continue cleaning enough so there is room to work and start to methodically use that paper tiger on the walls.

Until we meet again…

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