Things Mom Never Told You, Vol VI.

Reusing Razor Blades…

Have you ever used a single edged razor blade around the house for projects? I do all the time, from scraping my glass top stove to scraping paint off woodwork, and in the past I’ve used a razor until it seems dull, then tucked it into the plastic container it came in, on the “dispose” side until it was full and then tossed it. But I got to thinking, “isn’t that a waste? Can’t I sharpen them?” Guess what, it turns out you can! IMG_2542Get a blade sharpening kit, or if you already have a whetstone then get honing oil. You can see in the photo to the left, my whetstone with oil on it after I had sharpened a few blades along with my razor blade collection. (I managed to pull them back out of the plastic container with a tweezers. Carefully.)

After putting some oil on the stone I took the blade, and swirled it on the stone in the oil a bit, then held the blade at about a 20-30 degree angle, and pulled it backwards against the stone.IMG_2543 In the photo to the right, that would be pulling the blade from right to left. I did that on each side about 6-8 times, then wiped off the oil and  tested it by pulling it against the edge of a piece of paper. After all were sharpened, I put them back in the storage container, and labeled it so I knew they were sharpened but not new.  Now I’m all set with 14 freshly sharpened blades, and all it took was a kit we already had, and maybe 30 minutes to do all of them. And if you’re really in a rush, you can just pull them against some sandpaper. I used some 100 grit, that worked pretty well too.

Sparkling Porcelain…

Ever wondered how to get stains out of the toilet bowl, especially those under the rim? Pumice stones are apparently an insider trick of the housecleaning trade, according to the folks at Real Simple Magazine, who compiled a great list of 12 Things Only Professional Cleaners Know.  I’ve been using these for a while now, and they really do get the nasty stains out of the bowl, making it sparkling white again. Just make sure you get the stone wet first, or you can scratch the bowl. The article has some other really helpful tricks, well worth a read.

Winter Over Plants…

If you’re like me, you have plants that move from outside to inside over the winter, and of course that means a big adjustment for those poor plants in terms of available sunlight. Even if you have plants that stay inside year round, as we move through the months into winter, there is less available sunlight, and plants can get starved for sun (and really, who can’t, for the love of Pete, which is a different issue that can be solved with a plane ticket to Key West, but I digress). After a few weeks, plants can start to look pretty pathetic. An easy solution is to get grow lights for them, and the ones that are out now are so much better than the old ones that we used to use. Back in the day we used to get cool and warm fluorescent lights, which would cover the spectrum of light wavelengths needed to best simulate sunlight. Then they came up with a bulb that was in the shape of a floodlamp that was specifically for plants and had the right spectrum in one bulb. You can still get the floodlamp bulb in an LED style, which is really great and saves money, but even better you can now get one in a regular light bulb shape, which, if you’re geeky like me is known as an E26. There are a number of different brands, Feit is the one I have, which is what I’ve shown here with the green base.

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You can see it looks like a regular light bulb, which is nice if you have some sort of directional light like one that clamps on, that you can put it into and aim it at the plant.

 

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I took a picture of the bulb from the top (not quite centered, hence it looks slightly skewed) so you can see how they get the spectrum of both cool and warm light covered. It’s amazing what a difference it makes on my plants, and I can even keep my hibiscus blooming most of the winter with this. Add in a timer, and you’re good to go!

 

My promise: I will never share something with you that I haven’t personally tried. I won’t tell you it works if I can’t prove it. Where possible I will share photos or a video. If something is an epic fail, well I’ll tell you that too as I think that is just as valuable, even if I end up looking ridiculous doing it.

Things Mom Never Told You, Vol V

How to Keep Patio/Deck Plants Looking Fantastic All Summer…

Are you like me in that you absolutely LOVE having plants outside on your deck or patio in the summer time, but hate the chore of having to water them every day? My patio is my oasis from life, I have Adirondak chairs and side tables that are painted cheerful colors, and everything is done to give me a tropical, “down island” feel for those few months out of the year we have summer. Having lush, well-watered plants for me is a must, and in the beginning of the summer it’s fun, but honestly by August, it’s a chore. IMG_3638 (1).jpg

The solution was to install a drip irrigation system, which sounds difficult, but really isn’t at all. I purchased my initial setup from Proven Winners, although there are others out there including the DIG system I found at Home Depot, which is what I’ve supplemented with. Here is a link to a video about the Proven Winners system, and you can purchase directly from them as well.  The customer service staff at Proven Winners are incredibly helpful and have a really fast response time. I’ve had emails answered within a day and sometimes the same day. The DIG website has a wealth of information as well, take a look at it too.

The way the system works, is that you have a coupler consisting of a backflow valve and adapter, that reduces the water pressure from your system down, and then the drip tubing connects to that. You then run the drip tubing around to where you want for your plants. You cut the tubing and insert a coupler to branch off tubing to extend it. They have “T” shaped couplers if you want to just have a single extension off, and “X” shaped if you want to have 2 extensions plus continuing your run. There are also different drip heads as well, depending on your needs. You can bury the tubing in dirt or under rock to hide it, run it behind objects, etc.

For the past several years I’ve put a brass “Y” splitter on our outdoor spigot, which allows us to have our hose still connected and then the drip irrigation on the other side of the “Y”. On that side I connect an automatic watering timer. For our patio I use a 2-zone timer, so I can run two separate sets of tubing. One set goes one direction, to the flowers, and the other set goes the other way, to the tomatoes and a few other flowers. That allows me to set two separate sets of times and frequencies. This year I also ran tubing through PVC pipe that I buried in the grass between the landscaped area off the patio, and out to a landscaped area further into the yard where I have a few potted plants. Then I know they get watered on the days our sprinkler doesn’t run. Depending on how many plants my patio ends up having, I may end up getting a 4 zone timer, as I’m not sure how many times I can branch off the tubing before I lose water pressure.

Pros and Cons of The Two I’ve Used

Pros: What I like about Proven Winners’ system is that the tubing is softer and more flexible than the DIG tubing I found at Home Depot. That allows me to disconnect it from the connectors and watering ends each year so I can change up the configuration every year. Another thing that I really like about PW, and I mentioned this above, is their customer service. I had a small problem this year with a part, and emailed them one evening about it, telling them what the issue was, and how I had tried to troubleshoot it, asking what else I could try. A few hours later (at 11 pm!) I had a response, which was basically “sounds like you have a broken part, I checked your order history and will send you a new one tomorrow at no cost.” Am I going to keep going back to them? You bet I am!

A couple of nice things about DIG is that it’s readily available from Home Depot, and they do have a bigger variety of drip heads available. So if I’m in the middle of set up and run out, or if I find that some of mine are no longer working I can just run up there and get new ones. I don’t have to order them online and wait, and is a bit more cost effective.

Cons: The tubing from Proven Winners so far only comes in white and tan, while the tubing from DIG comes in brown and black. IMG_1341Our patio is stained a terra cotta color, so both white and tan tubing show up VERY well, as you can see. I did talk to the nice folks at Proven Winners and even sent them this picture of our patio with white tubing showing, letting them know that not everyone has white concrete patios and could they perhaps get brown tubing? They said they would mention it to their vendor, but so far their website still has only the white and tan.

Another con, and this is a biggie for me, is that the tubing from DIG is very rigid and inflexible, and much more difficult to remove it from the connectors. So if I want to change configuration I have to boil water, and put the connection in the water for several seconds to make the tubing very pliable and I can then pull it off. If it starts to cool down, it won’t come off.  At that point I have to go back in the house and reheat the water, or cut the tubing off the connector and then take a utility knife and cut away the small amount of tubing that is still on the connector to start over. I’m either wasting additional time or money. I sometimes have to use warm water to soften the connections from Proven Winners to get the tubing off, but the water can cool down a lot more before I have to reheat it, so I have a lot more working time with it first, and I find I don’t always have to do that. Sometimes I can just pull connections apart. However, do that too often and the Proven Winners tubing will stretch out at the connection, leaving you with a leak.

Overall, it’s a toss up. I like Proven Winners tubing better, but DIG has more watering end options and I really like that, plus their brochure is really informative. I do wish I had known about a drip irrigation system years ago, and if you’ve never tried one before, give it a shot. They really are easy to set up, and you’ll wonder how the heck you lived without one this long. Let me know if you have questions about setting one up, or your success using one.

My promise: I will never share something with you that I haven’t personally tried. I won’t tell you it works if I can’t prove it. Where possible I will share photos or a video. If something is an epic fail, well I’ll tell you that too as I think that is just as valuable, even if I end up looking ridiculous doing it.

Giving Thanks

This is such a strange time of year. Many of us sit at a table, surrounded by family members we’re obligated to spend time with but don’t really want to see, we try to make nice for a few hours and pray to God no one brings up politics while we stuff our faces with way too much food, alcohol and goodies. And pie. Pumpkin, pecan, mincemeat, pumpkin, lemon meringue. Oh, and did I mention pumpkin pie?

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This year is different for me, for a number of reasons. I’ve been out of work for 5 months now, looking faithfully every week for something that suits my skills and career path. It hasn’t been easy, not being able to find something, and I’m sure as difficult as it’s been for me, it’s likely been even harder for my husband. So as I think about what I am thankful for, he really is first on my list: he’s my rock, a source of quiet strength and support at all times. He pushes me to be my best in everything, but knows when to let me be. I’m thankful that we were wise enough to have money tucked away so that I can not worry (ok I worry, but at an appropriate level) about our finances during this time. Yes, we’ve cut way back on spending, and the list of things we need or want to get when I get a job is growing ever longer, but that’s ok. I’m thankful we have a home that isn’t in need of major repair, that we replaced the furnace a couple of years ago now that the temperature is dropping into the teens here. I’m thankful that we’re both healthy, that we have enough to keep us busy in and around the house when I’m not job hunting. I’m thankful for the fact that I can not only make Christmas gifts for friends and family, but that I have enough craft things in my home already to do it, and don’t need to buy much of anything so we’ll be able to have a very affordable Christmas this year.

I’m also thankful for so many other things around me. As the news of David Cassidy’s death broke on the news services, and I was immediately saddened and thought  for the first time, “we’re old!” But I’m so thankful for the joy he gave all of us young girls as teens, and that we got to have him in our life for a time, however remotely. Come on, admit it. You know you had his poster on your bedroom wall back then. I’ll admit it, but we were so young and silly and and young pre-teens and teens just thought he was so dreamy. I found an article yesterday on CNN that is worth a quick read that is a hoot, with a few facts about him we never knew. Take the time to read it, if you were a fan it will make you smile.

I’m thankful for my friends, who listen when I need them to, and who are just there to make me laugh, or hang out, or allow me to reciprocate for them in kind.

Speaking of my friends, I am especially thankful for some new ones this year I didn’t even know that I had. When I was laid off 5 months ago along with the rest of the team I worked with, I was just getting to know the team I’d worked with for only 4 months. We were all telecommuters, and worked from coast to coast, and were on different projects, so we didn’t all interact with each other every day. That meant after 4 months I was still just barely getting to know some of the team. After we were all let go, a group of 5 of us started group texting. It’s become a sometime support group, a virtual happy hour, and a wonderful sisterhood. So I am so grateful for Salpy, Jamie, Kathy and Blair, I don’t know what I would have done without you wonderful women.  Along with them, my friend Morissa, who has also been an uexpected source of support and assistance that I never saw coming. Along with all my other fantastic friends who listen, guide and help me look for jobs, I wish you joy and blessings this Thanksgiving.

What are you especially thankful for this year?

 

Things Mom Never Told You, Vol 1

From time to time I find these little helps referred to as “lifehacks” by many, a term my husband detests. I’ve put a couple of them together to share with you, and over time as I come across more I will keep doing so. I want to make you all a promise right out of the gate – I will never share something with you that I haven’t personally tried. I won’t tell you it works if I can’t prove it. Where possible I will share photos or a video. If something is an epic fail, well I’ll tell you that too as I think that is just as valuable. So with that, I bring you the inaugural edition of “Things Mom Never Told You”.

Have you ever wondered…

…What to do with old toothbrushes?

Bet you always wondered what to do with a) your old nasty squished toothbrush or b) the free toothbrush you get from the dentist that you don’t like/use because you have an electric one. Well stash em all over your house, because they’re amazing cleaning tools. They’ll get the dust out of little crevices on your appliances, in grout and corners, in windows, in your car. Firm bristles scrub well too, and aren’t just for getting light cleaning done. We have them everywhere! I’ll even wrap a sanitizing wipe around one for some of the cleaning, like when I’m cleaning the caulk around the sink to get into the tiny crevices.

…New use for old flannel sheets

I cut mine up into small pieces, and I’ve used some as dusting rags or glasses cleaners as they don’t give off lint, others for wrapping up delicate items before packing away like china or other breakables. If you cut off the edges that have the elastic on the bottom sheets you can use those too. They also work well for staining and painting rags.

…Breathe new life into old plastic flower pots (or other plastic stuff)

Get a large bucket that you don’t mind ruining. I use a Homer bucket – you know the ones I’m talking about, from Home Depot, the big orange project buckets. You’ll also want plastic or latex gloves you can wreck, just get a cheap pair of the dishwashing kind. Next select 2 (or more) colors of spray paint that you like and want to have together on an object. Finally, choose the item you want to work with for this project. For this project I picked a plastic flower pot.

IMG_1287I’m doing this one with the color it is, which is the mock terra cotta, but I’ve also done it by first spray painting it with white primer so that my base was white. IMG_1288

You can also see this pot wasn’t new to start with, and was pretty sun bleached and dirty. I did scrub it up with some simple green but you don’t need a new one, just a well cleaned object.

 

 

Step 1. Fill up your bucket with cold water, deep enough to fully submerge the item. Take the bucket outside and put it on the ground, either in the grass, or on something that protects the area underneath it.

Step 2: Set up some method for drying the item you’re going to cover. You may want to hang it to drip dry, if possible. I have several large “S” shaped hangers that were originally used to suspend birdhouses or birdfeeders from trees, and I now use them as hangers from trees to spraypaint items or as my dryers. If you don’t have a way to suspend outside, you can hang the item from a garage track with something underneath, or even inside as long as you have something underneath to catch drips.

Step 3: Take your spray paint and spray on the surface of the water, alternating colors. You can spray in concentric circles, or vary it up. Do a bunch of concentric circles, then start a new set next to that. You’ll need quite a bit on the water’s surface though. (I know, in your mind you’re thinking “that much?” Sorry I can’t be more specific. It’s a learning process.) After you spray on what you think you need (add more for good measure), take a popsicle stick or tooth pick and with the tip lightly pull a bit through the paint, so you’re creating a bit of a pattern on the surface. You don’t need to do much, and if you try to do too much you’ll get paint sticking to the stick and start pulling it out of the water.

Step 4: Put on your gloves, then pick up your item and SLOWLY immerse it into the water. I recommend starting with the top of your item, so if you run out of paint, and have to respray and resubmerge it will be toward the bottom of it, not the top. For the first time, however, dunk the item all the way under water and hold it there for about 30 seconds, which helps the paint to start setting up and harden.

Step 5: Remove it from the water, hang it up and let it drip dry. Voila! You have a crazy new painted pot!IMG_1745

IMG_1245Here are a couple of other things that I’ve done as well. The table was originally black, we then spray painted it a light blue. I decided to try the two colors but it was too big for the bucket.

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In a flash of inspiration (and sheer stubbornness because my husband didn’t think I would be able to find anything large enough to dunk it in), I lined our wheelbarrow with plastic and then filled that with water, and took the table apart into two pieces, dipping those separately.

 

 

 

 

IMG_1259The shell was a plain white/cream. I did that in a magenta/pale pink to accent in our bathroom. In hindsight the pale pink barely shows through, it almost looks like it’s the white, so I could have selected a different color for more of an accent. Don’t get me wrong, I like it, and can tell the difference between the pink and the white, it’s just subtle.

 

…Remove Old Stain

OK I admit this one isn’t something most of us run across too often, but the need we had and product we found for the job was such a revelation that I have to show it to you. We had an old aluminum canoe that was under a deck when the deck was restained, so the canoe had oil-based stain that dripped onto it. We didn’t notice it right away…or even later…we saw it probably a year later. Ugh. Fast forward to about 18 months later when some friends asked if they could borrow the canoe. Now it’s not a new canoe, it’s probably 30-40 years old, and has gotten banged around on rocks a fair bit, so it’s scratched, dinged etc. But stain? So I did a little research and found on something called Motsenbacher’s Lift-Off #4, Spray Paint and Graffitti Remover. It doesn’t dissolve the paint, it breaks the chemical bonds between the paint and the surface it’s on. Here are some initial before and after shots:

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In the top photo I had already started to remove stain when I realized I’d better get a posterity photo so I quick shot one, hence the little gap on that middle spike. On the bottom photo you can see the left spike of stain is gone. I literally sprayed on the Lift-Off, waited 2 minutes, then used a plastic scraper (like the ones you get from Pampered Chef) and just a tiny bit of elbow grease to get it started. Once it started to come off, it truly peeled off. Once my husband saw how well it worked he said he’d finish it up, then decided he would also give the canoe a good overall scrubbing. Here is how it looks now:IMG_1424.JPG

Crazy, aint it? I linked to a YouTube video on the product name above so you can learn more about it if you would like.

 

I hope you found this fun, informative and/or helpful. Volume 2  is already underway, packed full of more great tidbits!    

A Trip to the Twilight Zone

Several years ago, my husband brought a proposal for a trip to witness an event to my attention, and at the time I really didn’t think he was all that serious about it. Fast forward to a few months ago when he brought up the topic again, and it was readily apparent to me I’d significantly underestimated his interest in this event, so we began planning how we might be able to be among those who watched the 2017 Solar Eclipse, and in August we took a road trip down to Columbia, Missouri for the big show. We are terribly fortunate, my husband’s brother and his wife live there, so we were able to stay with them, and his nieces were in the process of moving from Florida to Jefferson City which is about 30 minutes south of Columbia. One was there already and was gracious enough to let us stay with her for the first two nights in spite of the fact that she didn’t even have towels or pillows unpacked yet, items we were happy enough to bring along. (Thanks Mary!!)

The trip down was mostly good, up until the last half hour before Jefferson City, when we hit a heck of a rain storm. Suddenly our long drive got even longer, when hubby had to slow WAY down just to see the road. Fortunately that didn’t last terribly long, and after winding our way on a curvy, hilly road in the dark, we got to Joanna and Mary’s house, a couple of weary travelers stumbling out of the car and into an unexpected wall of warm humidity. Yeah, that wasn’t planned for at all, after all that time in an air conditioned car and we were instantly dripping wet. Fortunately his nieces’ house had AC, so we were quite comfy inside. What we didn’t realize is that Missouri is known for it’s humidity, and the air conditioners go on May 1, and don’t go off until the end of October. The other thing we didn’t know, is that there are armadillos in Missouri…yep, you read that correctly, armadillos. We saw a couple of dead ones on the road, and fortunately other drivers hit them, not us, as I’ve heard they can do some awful damage to your car. I guess it’s because they have this weird startle reflex causing them to jump straight up in the air…so when cars drive over them, they jump up, and that lovely armored shell causes all kinds of damage to the undercarriages of cars. Ugh.

Sunday morning we headed up to Columbia, where we had the unique experience of attending church where my husband’s brother is the pastor. It’s not an ordinary church, but rather is an international church on the campus of Baptist University. There were attendees from a number of different countries and cultures there, so his brother is kind of acting as a missionary right here in the United States. His wife teaches Sunday School to the children, and she said it can be really interesting as some of the children don’t speak any English at all. She finds she has to be creative, and uses lots of crafts to teach the kids. Look out on glitter Sundays!

Monday dawned, and was the big event. We set up our lawn chairs and waited, then watched in dismay as hazy clouds started to fill the sky. Apparently this isn’t an unusual phenomenon with eclipses, as the moon begins to cross in front of the sun and the temperature drops, it causes clouds to form. So on top of the partly cloudy sky we already had, we got more haze blocking our view. We did get to experience and see the eclipse, and while it wasn’t nearly as good as some parts of the country, I can’t really fuss because back home in Minnesota, I understand it rained all day and where they were hoping for a partial, they got nothing so I really shouldn’t whine.

The experience – now that was something else. While I can’t say the four of us were moved to tears or were overwhelmed, like some folks seem to have been, it certainly was an awesome and amazing sight. IMG_9633Perhaps if the sky had been clear it would have been different for us, but the sun/moon were periodically disappearing and reappearing behind clouds, so we had less than the 2 min of viewing the corona that a lot of others got. (I want a do-over!) It was beautiful, eerie, and kind of otherworldly. My husband and I took some photos that unfortunately were also a bit on the hazy side. The thing that was weird though, is that it got dark out, but not as dark as I thought it would. IMG_9651The light that remained literally made you feel like you were in the Twilight Zone, and then all of a sudden it was done, the sun peeked out, warmth came back and the haze disappeared.
We also got a few photos on the “exit” side. You’ll note that the sun looks orange, which is more from the color of the filter covering the lens of the camera than anything.

So would I travel again to see an eclipse? You’d better believe it! They happen about every 18 months somewhere in the world. There are total, annular and partial eclipses. I’d never heard of an annular eclipse before and had to look that one up. That’s when there is a ring of the sun that is still visible, where the moon isn’t quite covering all of the sun. In that case you can’t remove the protective glasses at all. It’s like having a “ring of fire” in the sky. I think that would be interesting, but not nearly as much fun as a total eclipse. So who knows, maybe we’ll plan some around the world vacations around the coming total eclipses. There are a couple that go over Australia, and I’ve always wanted to go there. Can you imagine what a trip that would be? Dive the great barrier reef, visit New Zealand AND see a total eclipse? Truly a trip of a lifetime for us. Have you gone anywhere that you considered your “trip of a lifetime”? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

 

It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over

And so the saga of the bathroom remodel continues…

So after 6 weeks,  you’d think it would be finished, right? Oh no…it’s never quite that easy. 3 of the 4 walls had gotten done, except I still had to touch them up because I reused an old roller, which I am vowing to never do again. It’s not worth it, unless someone can tell me they’ve found a roller that really truly doesn’t shed after it’s been washed. But one thing I can’t abide is the residual gunk that sticks to the walls from the rollers, and now you’re left with the ‘gift’ of texture you didn’t plan on. So going back to get rid of it, means that when you lightly (and I truly do mean lightly) sand it off, you mar your semi-gloss finish. Yep, a spot for a little touch up. Many of them.

Or perhaps there was that spot on the side of the shower where I peeled off the painters tape and waited a smidge too long…and some paint came up with it. Got to sand and spackle THAT spot over, then touch that up too.  (At least I used painter’s tape!)

The last wall to be painted was the one behind the sink. It took forever to chisel out the old caulk on that last bit of wall space. The sink is set into an alcove, so it was caulked in on 3 sides, and the back wall was like concrete. I had to rotate between using a razor blade and a paint scraper to get it out. We were also a little challenged in coordinating schedules with the electrician to get the wiring done so that the sconces could be mounted.

Then of course there was the “paint the ceiling” adventure. Did you know that when ceilings have only the popcorn texture, unless they are painted, they can be a mess? Yep, get them wet and the popcorn falls right off. So when you actually paint them for the first time, the first coat of paint becomes like glue but initially ACTS like water. Let me explain.

Most people don’t own paint sprayers, nor do they hire someone to spray paint their ceilings (although if they were smart, they would do one of those two things.) They roller paint them. If your ceiling has never been painted, the first time it’s done you need to be very careful, as the paint will merely moisten the texture, and if you roller back and forth like you do on a wall, popcorn will just fall right off the ceiling…on your face…your shoulders…the floor…you get the idea. It’s a mess. (Handy tip #1: Use Glidden’s pink ceiling paint. It dries white but it makes it SO easy to see where you paint. The stuff is AMAZING.)  I did know that I needed to be careful but I expect because I was doing a bathroom ceiling, perhaps the popcorn was maybe a little extra touchy in a humid room I ended up with several places where it came down in spite of my cautiousness. Off we went to find a tube of popcorn touch up. (Handy tip #2: Get the stuff in the tube for a small area, not the spray can. Way easier to use, according to hubby who has done both.) That added a couple of days to the whole adventure, by the time he patched it up, we let it dry for 24 hours, and I was able to get the spots touched up.

Then got the electrician in to do the wiring and add the mounting boxes. No problems there. We got all the rest of the work done, painting completed, mounted the medicine cabinet so truly all that was left was to put in the lights. It was a Sunday evening, around 7 PM and I’m thinking “why not, let’s do this. We’ve installed light fixtures before. White to white, black to black, ground to ground”. Meanwhile Karma was laughing herself silly at me, it’s just too bad I couldn’t hear her.

We got the first light fixture out, wired it up and prepared to mount it, only to discover that it could’t be mounted to the box because the box was oriented straight up and down, and in the “12” and “6” positions are 2 solid plastic pieces that were exactly where the backs of my mounting screws needed to be. Without getting into detail, I’ll just say I have a clever husband who was able to solve it, but we sacrificed a bit of sheet rock in the process…on BOTH sides of the medicine cabinet. So…3 more days for patching and sanding sheet rock to make it sufficiently smooth, then tape off the cabinet, paint, wait for that to dry and then mount the new lights.

You’re thinking I was done, aren’t you?

Nope. In an effort to be eco-conscious, we ordered LED bulbs. I wanted to make sure they were bright enough as this would be where I put on makeup, and I’ve not used LED bulbs before so we went with fairly high lumens of output. They were bright alright so we said “hey, let’s get a dimmer switch for it!” So we headed off to the store, picked up a dimmer and installed that. Tested the dimmer by starting to dim the lights and they went from on to instant off. Huh? Looked at the lights I’d bought….I bought non-dimmable LED’s. Sigh. Back to the store. Got the dimmable LED’s this time, and they work beautifully. All that remained was adding a small cabinet for towels and a few decorative items on the walls, and some new valances. Doesn’t sound too bad, right?

And…3 months later, I can’t find the cabinet I want for the towels, let alone the towels I wanted in the right color. I’ve searched every combination of key words online for the cabinet, and everything looks too cheap, is too big, or to expensive. You know how it is when you have a particular look that you want? You don’t want to settle for “good enough” or “make do”. So we’re at the point of probably having hubby make me a cabinet in the spring. The towels are an entirely other story. Since I couldn’t find the color I wanted, I decided to dye them the color I wanted. Surprisingly, they are almost exactly the right color, although they didn’t dye as evenly as I would have liked. Fortunately I plan to use them as decorative, folded up accent towels to add color more than anything, and since this is our master bath, hubby and I are probably the only ones that will ever see them. Note to self: Use the washing machine, remember that the thread on the towels doesn’t dye.

Only 2 bathrooms, a bedroom, 2 hallways, and great room with 12 foot ceilings left to go.

Projects One-O-WTH

We’ve all done it. Started projects with the very best of intentions and plans, right? Scripted them to within an inch of their lives, laid out everything to the nanometer, knew exactly what we wanted, where we wanted it and when we wanted it, so that when we did it, it went as planned, and then we all lived happily ever after…I’m sorry, did you just  hear my snort of derision through the computer? Because if you’re anything like me, the end of one project brings about a strange euphoria that somehow erased much of the pain associated with it, so that you’re foolishly willing to take on the next one. When my husband let me know he was planning to go out of town for several days last month, I thought, “aha! here’s my chance to take a couple of days off work and paint our master bathroom! I hate the mustard color it is now, why not get it done?” And into full scale planning mode I went.

First, selecting paint, which as anyone with a half of a brain knows, is painful. I mean, we’re long past the days of merely light blue, or light green. Nope, there are now thousands of colors and shades to choose from. It’s positively mind numbing, and while the ability to get the little sample jars is certainly a help, it’s not without it’s own drawbacks, but more on that later. For now, I get the little cards in the colors I think I want which is a pale turquoise. My husband and I talk over which we like, I went back and get the sample jars in a couple of colors, and get them on the walls in the bathroom in a couple of spots so he can see it before he leaves town, and in different light during the day and at night. We agree on one of the samples, and I’m thinking nice, we found our color! (I should have known it was too easy, I got a little cocky there.)

Next, a light fixture. Currently we have light bars over the top of our mirror and detest them. You know the ones…4 light bulbs on a metal holder, which resemble the ones that are found on the sides of theatrical mirrors. I really liked one a friend had, found it came from Menards, internet check says one left on clearance. I’ve got a good feeling…and the next morning I run up there to get it. The one left is the display model, so they have to remove it from the wall for me, but it’s worth it to get it more than 50% off, right?  While they were taking it off the wall it was raining so hard we couldn’t see across the parking lot, and a neighbor told me later that his wife reported their widows actually sucked inward during the storm! I didn’t recognize the storm going on outside as on omen of destruction or the voice of doom, as it were.

Husband leaves town, time for me to get to work. Out comes the spackle, I start fixing dings and divots, scraping old, old, old paint off the woodwork. (Lesson #1 for everyone…do the free world a favor. USE FRICKING PAINTERS TAPE AROUND WOODWORK FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PEOPLE. I don’t care if you like the blue or green. Really I don’t. I DO care that as the new owner of your former home, because you were a lazy ba***rd I have to scrape 3 layers off my lovely oak woodwork.) (Lesson #2, if you spray it first with Pledge Multi-Surface Cleaner, and let it soak for 3-5 seconds, then scrape with your razor blade, it helps to soften the paint. Don’t ask me why I tried this out, I haven’t a clue, but it works.) Finally it’s time to paint. Get the light down, paint the walls around our sink and the ceiling over it. I wanted to do that first so I could get the new light up right away, then I wouldn’t be without a light in the bathroom for more than a few hours. As I bring the new light fixture into the bathroom, I realize my next problem.

Remember I mentioned that the old light was a light bar, therefore it’s very lightweight, and mounted on the wall with two screws. The wiring merely came out of the hole in the wall. No mounting box. Lovely new fixture needs a mounting box. Sounds simple enough, right? Just call the handy dandy electrician down the street to put one in? Which I did…only to find that the lovely little pipe I could see next to the hole in the wall where the wires came out would mean that the mounting box would be mounted to the right of center…and subsequently all light fixtures thereafter would be too. So now we get to have him split the wiring and put up sconces. Sigh. So back up went the old fixture until husband can get home and I can break the bad news that a) we ‘get’ to spend more money on rewiring and b) we ‘get’ to buy more lights.

Continue painting….and why am I not getting the same lovely warm fuzzy about the color that I did about the sample? As I studied it, it didn’t look at all the same to me. It didn’t look anything like calm and restful. Not even close…it looked more like 1968 turquoise! Now I’m starting to feel my WTH moment begin…what happened? Remember earlier  when I said I’d come back to the samples? Well, the paint samples were in eggshell…and the paint I bought was semi-gloss. It went on a completely different color in semi-gloss, and suddenly was intense! I thought maybe it was me, but figured I’d better wait for my husband to validate, so I held off any more painting until he got home from his trip, which I felt awful about since my goal was to present him with a finished bathroom, not one still covered in paint swatches. He agreed, however, it was too intense and we went back to the drawing board on paint. Hopefully I’ll finish before his next vacation.

Oh yeah, and the caulk has to be chiseled out too.