Monday, December 11, 2006

Update on stuff

First, I finished the December Dishcloth Knit-a-long. I think it's pretty cute, albeit difficult to photograph. It's a rocking horse in case you cannot see. I still need to weave in the ends. It's been waiting for me for 3 days now. I even procrastinate on the little stuff!
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After I finished that, I decided to give DPNs a shot. So I cast on a few stitches, and it worked! As a mostly solitary knitter who has learned from and books, I'm pretty proud of myself. So I'm showing the fruits of my experimental labor to you.
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I eventually practised decreasing on it, until it looked like the receptacle end of a condom. oops. My 4-year-old said it looks like a bell. We're going to go with that. yeah-- a bell.

I started a hat last night. Not enough progress to show yet. Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to show that off. It took me hours to find a hat pattern I liked that was within my skill set. There are a dizzying number of patterns on the internet. yeesh!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I cannot bring myself to scrub stuff with it.

I finished my first dishcloth. I'm happy with my first foray into the world of useful knitting. I have come to the conclusion, however, that I really don't like variegated yarn. I always thought I didn't like it, but now I know so. Maybe something more subtle would be better. But I digress.

Back to the issue at hand. I have grown an odd connection to my creation, and cannot bring myself to stick it in the dish towel drawer. I'm sure I'll get over that eventually, but for now, I just keep moving it from counter to table and then back again, keeping it from getting dirty. I'm such a dork sometimes.
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Anyway, I've started on a new cloth with a star pattern in the middle. I'm hoping it will be Christmassey and and pretty enough to give as a gift.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Um, I think I might be addicted

During my hiatus from major home projects, I've decided to start knitting. I started to learn last winter, but never really got the hang of it. I tried it again a few weeks ago, and now I'm rather obsessed. I have always fancied myself a seamstress, but with two kids and a sewing room in the basement (the kids are on the main floor, tee hee), I never get anything sewn. Knitting is much more portable, and easier to start and stop in ten-minute intervals. A necessity in this household.

I started my first dishcloth yesterday. It will have the Om symbol in it, provided I follow the pattern properly. I'm making it out of Walmart cotton yarn, but it probably should probably be made of natural colored organic cotton. I'll work on that for the next time. You can find the pattern here if you are feeling the need for more connection with the Universe whilst scrubbing the dinner dishes.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Taking a break

I'm absolutely burned out on house stuff right now. So I'm taking a break from big projects until after Christmas. Now if I could just get to cleaning the house and hanging stuff on the walls, we'd be all set.

I'm itching to see what this place looks like with holiday decorations on it. We didn't decorate last year, because we had just moved in, and all the boxes were sucking up my holiday spirit. But this year? watch out. I plan on putting every decoration I own out, and then buying new stuff just for this house. Funny thing is, I'm not really into the holiday of Christmas. But stringing lights and greens in the house for the winter make me all giddy inside. If I didn't have 2 kids and 2 cats, I'd put up 2 trees, each decorated with a different theme. Maybe one Christmas and one Yule. But I'm not sure how I'm going to keep the one from being destroyed, so the dream will have to wait a few years.

The waiting game for decorationing is killing me right now. (I'd look crazy if I started now, and I am trying to keep my nuttiness from public view.) But in less than 2 weeks, be prepared for pictures. I have a 1gb memory card for my camera, and I'm not afraid to use it!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Floor is done!!!

I was beginning to feel like we'd never be able to set aside a weekend to sand and shellac the family room floor. But I whined to my husband enough that we managed to clear our schedules and rent the sanders to work on it. Refinishing is not fun. But it is so very nice to move the furniture back into a room after so long. I might not have felt that same elation if we had gone from project conception to completion in 3 days. (Okay, I might be rationalizing a little here. I'm pretty good with the rationalizations-- I like to stay with my strengths).

Here's the floor before we started the sanding. I had stripped most of the old carpet adhesive off the floor prior to this weekend, as I really didn't want anyone breathing 20-yr-old adhesive dust. I'm glad I did that step. Even so, it was a giant mess. Our shop vac got a real workout. Thank the heavens for 3 mil. plastic and tape. At least I was able to spare the rest of the house from the dust by sealing off the doorways.
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This is my husband, doing the first pass with the sander. We started with a 45-degree angle, as the boards were cupped in spots. Not too bad, though, considering the floor spent its first few years as a porch (we think). It was clear, however that there was never any varnish on this floor. No one gots pictures of me working the edge sander or the belt sander ot the sanding block-on-a-pole, but I did lots of sanding too. We were both thoroughly sore after all that.
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After all the sanding was done, there were still several dark spots and stains. I assume those were courtesy of the pets who have called this place home over the years. I tried bleaching one of the spots, but it was pretty obvious that the stains weren't going to go without a hell of a fight. So we decided to call them "provenance" and leave them. The room will be filled with furniture anyway -- so we'll just plop things on top of the worst spots. I like to cheat like that.
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And here is the "after" shot. We covered it with 2 coats of 2-lb. cut of amber shellac, then a third coat of 3-lb. clear. I am in love with the color that the shellac gave the pine.
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Why shellac you ask? Well, I didn't want to use polyurethane--it's too toxic, and I also wanted something renewable. So, inspired by This Old Crackhouse and Life in the Prairie Box, I decided to give it a whirl. I'm rather in love with it. I hope it is durable enough for our family. It's a pretty "rustic" floor, so absolute perfection isn't really expected (or needed, either).

I learned lots of things about floors and floor machines and shellac through this process. I'll try to get to those lessons very soon. Right now, I need to go move everything backinto the room. Our reupholstered furniture is coming home on Thursday, so I have lots to do to be ready.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Next step, window treatments

I finally finished the wallpaper in the dining room, but now am stuck for curtain ideas. The window seat will be recovered with a coordinating fabric in the very near future.
It's a South-facing window, so I probably need some way to block sunlight in the afternoons, but in general I prefer to let the light stream in as much as possible. I am not a fan of miniblinds (is anyone actually fond of them, I wonder), but they do seem to be the most readily available these days. I love the look of the bamboo matchstick blinds, but in my experience they still let a lot of eye-blinding light through on super-sunny winter afternoons. I'm toying with the idea of a valance and cafe curtains, but maybe full-length sheers might be nice too. Too many options, and I'm horribly picky. If you are reading this and have an idea, please let me hear it!
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Monday, October 09, 2006

My name is Robin, and I am addicted to

mistinted paint. I just love that table piled with cans of "oops" paint that employees screwed up, or that customers did not want. I have a basement full of it. Sure I have projects lined up for almost all of it, but who know when I'll get to any of those.

But I can really justify yesterday's score. I found a gallon of exterior house and trim paint that is almost exactly my planned color for my front door. For $5, I coudn't not buy it, right? It's a good thing that I was still carrying around that batch of paint chips in my purse, huh? (My messy purse is a topic for another time and blog.) I might not got to the door until spring, but I am ready for the task when the mood strikes me.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

And another project gets started. oops.

I went to the store yesterday to buy some paint for my front door frame. I was so excited that by the time my 2-year-old's nap was done, I'd be able to cross something off my list. One thing COMPLETED! I had decided on "Kelsey Island Green." In the spring, I'll paint the door a coordinating, but darker green. I'm quite excited about it. I'm desperate to subdue the bright white house with hunter green porch look. But I digress.

I bought a quart of the paint at my local Ace Hardware. My 4-year-old was very happy to carry the paint into the house for me. She's quite the little assistant these days. I told her to carry it onto the front porch, while I head back to hang up my purse. I han up the purse, and immediately hear, "MOM! NIGEL DROPPED THE PAINT AND IT'S SPILLING ON THE FLOORRRR!" Sure enough, The boy had grabbed the quart of paint (in the living room, of course), and threw it to the floor, popping the can open, and pouring an entire quart of Kelsey Island green onto my living room floor. So I grabbed an old tray and a paint brush and salvaged about half of the paint into a plastic container. But it left a rather large reminder on the floor.

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-- That's $11 worth of exterior grade paint on the floor.
-- "Splotch" is not a decorating theme I was going for.
-- Now I need to paint the floor sooner rather than later. Another project to add to the list.

-- I hate that floor anyway. It's plywood, poorly faux finished to look like linoleum. At least I think that was what the previous owners were going for.
-- He managed to miss the sofa, the area rug, and my mother's childhood desk.
-- He also managed to not paint himself in the process.
-- I only bought a quart. Can you imagine the mess if he had done that to a gallon???
-- The first coat is on the door frame already. That was a built-in procrastination ender.

All things considered, I figure myself to be pretty lucky. He could have dropped that on the floor where the floors ahd already been refinished. (Just thinking of that makes me tear up a little). But I still think we should rename him "Calvin."

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Project status check in

I've avoided updating this of late, and I am a wee tad embarrassed about the number of projects I've got going, and the time it is taking me to complete any of them. But hey, it is hard to work around small children. Even harder when you're a person with a serious weakness for the internet and long walks in the brisk fall air. But I'm now here to own up to my slothlike progress.

-- Front door painting. Yes, this is a new project. I tested the paint that had been chipped off around the front door frame. Of course it was lead. So I spent Saturday washing and rinsing the frame and priming the lead paint away. I still need to paint it, but I have no exterior paint yet. A trip to the hardware store is on tap today.

-- Family room floor: I've gotten it about 75% stripped of the old adhesive. I had to hold off doing too much more until we got another working entry door lock. Previous owners had not repaired broken mortise locks, they just added slide latches. But now I've got a front door that we can use while the back entry area is being redone. I've decided on shellac for the floor, by the way.

-- Dining room wallpaper: About 80% done. It 'looks like more, but I left the worst area of the room for last. Lots of trimming and small sections. I might have finished this weekend, but my 2-year-old's nap was seriously truncated on Sunday. I hope to finish before this Friday. Then I'll have one room ready for "decorating." yippee!

Meanwhile, (since I obviously don't have enough to do), I started a new message board. It is dedicated to all things homemaintenance-- but with a eco-friendly, green, nontoxic spin. If you are interested in remodeling or redecorating your home "green," or just using less-toxic household cleaners in the kitchen, please stop by and introduce yourself. I really hope it takes off, and becomes a good resource for people who want to fix up their homes without destroying the earth (or their own health).

DIY ing the Green Home

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Adventures in Wallpaper

Okay, I'm taking a break from worrying about the rest of the house to FINALLY get some wallpaper in my dining room. We ripped down the old stuff before we moved in, in an attempt to force me to get the new paper up quickly. It only took 9 months of living with patchy, ugly, bare plaster walls. In house-project time, that's not too bad. (At least in my experience. Your mileage may vary of course.)

I went and bought all the necssary supplies, rounded up the other things I needed, and then set off to pry all the "secrets" from my mother. After the consultation with her, I boldly started on my project.  The first strip of paper went very well. But when I turned the corner, my home's complete lack of plumbness (that's a word, right?) caused an overlap on the loser half of the wall. It wouldn't be an issue, excpet it is in the corner that the eye goes to when entering the room. oops. I think I'll put a potted plant in that corner.
All in all, it wasn't so bad. I got about halfway finished with it before my kids were utterly sick of leaving mommy alone, so the rest of the project is slated for next weekend.  In the meantime I need to figure out how to get those two errant bubbles out of the paper, and clean up some of my trim work.

Please, if you ever visit my house, don't look at the walls too closely.
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Monday, August 07, 2006

Review: Soyclean Paint Stripper

After finding out that Soygel is a nontoxic miracle for cleaning up my adhesive-caked heart of pine floor, I went out in search of cheaper-yet-effective brands of nontoxic solvents.

I ended up going with SoyClean Paint Stripper. At $31/gal, it is about half the price of Soygel. SoyClean is a liquid, which makes it a little harder to wrk with, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly. It does have a rather overpowering citrus scent to it. I'd rather smell th soybeans, personally. It works, but is not nearly as impressive on the adhesive as the the Soygel. As I have a gallon of it, I will be trying it next on the old paint splatters and varnish on my stairs. I think it will be able to handle that much better. I will report back after that experiment.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Back to square 2!

Today's mission-- to decide if I still want to sand and seal the floor, or just paint it. I see good reasons on both side of the debate (which is raging on inside my head), but I just cannot make the leap to "painting is good, I should just paint the floor." I know I'll be happy with it either way, but I'm not one to go into such important life decisions lightly.
Here's the test patch that I put Soygel on. This stuff rocks, and is totally non-smelly. I slathered it on last night, covered it with some plastic to keep it moist, and took 10 minutes to scrape and scrub the old adhesive and paint off. Pretty good for 10 minutes work , eh?
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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Today's project: looking for the floor's finish

The more research I do, the more convinced I am that I should go with a "green" finish for my family room floor. Not only are they environmentallly friendlier, they are typically lower VOC than standard polyurethanes. And the people who have used them seem to be quite happy with their results.

Problem: The pros are not willing to work with me on this. They all want to put down 3-5 coats of oil-based poly and charge me $2.50/sqft for it. I will not spend top dollar to have people come to my home and do what I don't want. So I've now decided to DIY the floor.

My husband thinks I'm kinda nuts for even considering it. He redid the dining room floor at our last house, and vowed never to do it again. I do not have the benefit of his experience though. ;) Sooo, I'll rent an orbital sander from a local place, and then probably go with tung oil and wax, or "hardwax oil."

As exciting as all this is, I still think I'll need to move my family out of the house for a couple of days while I do all this. Good thing my in-laws have a big guest bedroom. :)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Oy- what have we gotten ourselves into?

So as we finished uncovering the wood floor, I realized the amount of grime involved. yuck. And the guy who was going talk to us about sanding for us has yet to call. So I have to call around to some other places. Why does nothing in home repair ever go smoothly?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Family room floor project, -- day 1

First step, pull out old carpet. It's actually a nice shade of green, but it shows every single speck of everything. And with two young kids, there are LOTS of specks of everything.
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Pulling up the carpet isn't an easy task, as the half-wall built to keep people from falling into the basement was built on top of the carpet. Who builds walls without removing the carpet underneath?
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And when I pulled carpet away from this wall, the beaverboard paneling was damaged. So I removed it, too. Under it -- more fiberboard paneling! And water-damaged to boot. I guess I'll also learn to hang drywall in this project. Old houses are one learning experience after another. I think that's a good thing.
That is a good thing, right?
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But this is what is under there. We believe it to be heart pine, like the rest of the first floor. I'm calling floor guys (or gals) for quotes today.
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And this is what we hope it to look like when we are done, minus the gouges that the previous owners caused by trying to DIY the floors in the past. There is a time for DIY, and a time for professionals. The owners of this house over the years have had troubles finding that balance. ugh.
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Saturday, June 24, 2006

First post -- how exciting!

You see, I tried to start a website to chronicle the updates we do to our 1900-ish house. I got a photo album up and everything, but then I tried to subdivide it by room and add comments. Apparently websites are smarter than I. So I decided to blog it all instead. I'll start tomorrow with pictures of our family room floor project's humble beginnings.