Apr 112013
 

I know these are a bit over do, but I wanted to go ahead and post them anyway.  A picture is always worth a thousand words.  Besides, I like pictures.  I especially like showing you pictures that don’t involve a mess I made or am trying to clean up.

Cleaning the bathroom grout:

Before – notice the dark gray lines?  They are supposed to be a light beige or cream color.

bathroom tile floor before cleaning

Bathroom tile before cleaning 5

 

After – now that is much better.  Not the exact shade as what is under the tub (and hence never walked on), but it is much closer.

Bathroom tile after cleaning 2

 

The hardest part of cleaning the grout was the toilet.  Bar Keepers Friend ended up doing giving me the best results.  Of course that was after trying 3 other things first.  =)  I promise I will never let it get like that again.  Especially now that I realize just how easy it is.  The handheld steamer and a scrub brush really do wonders and no chemical is needed.

Vent Covers:

Next came repainting a few of the vent covers in our house.  Being that our home is over 90 years old, there are at least three different styles of covers found through our home.  These are my favorite as they are decorative, not just utilitarian like modern day covers (which we also have some of), and are sturdy.  Due to time costraints I was only able to do three of these, though I have plans to do the rest at some point in the near future.

To the left of the covers, in the top photo, you can see the bottom portion belonging to two of the covers.  These attach to the tops by screws and the whole thing sits down into the duct opening.  This means you can see these very well.  After pulling them out I realized they needed a cleaning.  After trying a few things to wipe them out with while dry I found a S.O.S. pad to be the best.  I easily and quickly picked up dust and knocked off any trash or loose debris that had fallen through.  When it came time to paint I decided to paint these also.  Over time rust has started to appear on these.  Not only did a new coat of paint make them look really good, it also added a layer of protection.  The bathroom one really needed this extra layer as the added moisture in there had pretty much rusted the whole thing.  Due to these being made of more sturdy metal than just regular aluminum  like the ones you find today, the whole structure was solid.  I oiled it and added two coats of paint to all sides.  The rest of the vent cover bottoms got a coat of paint on the centers but not on the bottom sides.

Vent covers ready to be stripped 2

 

As the stripping chemical starts to work, the paint begins to bubble up and pull away from the metal.

Vent covers with paint stripping on them 2

 

I’m not sure why, but apparently at some point in the past someone had painted this one a particular shade of green.  It reminds me of Kelly Green.  Really …. why …. oh well.  Someone after that apparently thought the same thing I did which would explain why it was brown when I started (see the photo above).  I also found a spot of pink on one but that was all, a spot.  It seems that the layers, oldest to newest, went this way: black, green, brown.

Vent covers after first coast of paint stripping 2

 

It took two coast of the paint stripping medium and steel wool to get most of the paint off.  The first two covers were taken to the car wash to use a power sprayer on.  This was the get the smaller pieces out from among the detail.  Need an exercise to practice your patience?  Try removing paint from items with detail.  Small detail that is hard to get even a tooth brush into.  After that I stopped by the hardware store and picked up some steel wire brushes.  That is what I used on the third, and final, cover and it worked so much better.

And in case you weren’t sure, make sure to wear gloves, not let this stuff get on you, and be aware that it will eat away at plastic if you should happen to spray it on something by accident.  (I learned that the first time I was stripping something when we first moved into the house.  The CD player still works, but it has some scars from the experience.)  Keep kids and pets away.  Also, eye protection is probably a good thing if you tend to splatter stuff.  I think it would be a good idea when using this stuff even if you don’t tend to splatter things.

Below you see the covers devoid of paint and drying off in the sun after a good hosing down.

Stripped vent covers 2

 

This happened to be a wind day, but was one of the few nice (sunny and above freezing) days we had in a long time.  It was also going to turn cold in the following few days.  Sometimes you have to make due with what you have.  Besides, I know from previous experience that a light spraying of spray paint of concrete will eventually wear off.  I thought I did pretty well till I noticed earlier this week that we have faint rectangles in our concrete.  This also explains the mysterious black spots on some of the toys (see them in the photo below) I saw the other day.

Vent covers with first coat of new paint

 

I finished these and installed them before my husband could see them.  They look so sharp and neat now, rather than old and messy.  Exactly what I was going for.

Removal of weeping cherry tree:

Somehow I forgot to take a before photo.  The dirt you see in the bottom of the picture below is actually the part of the yard where grass was shaded out by the limbs of the tree.  No grass would grow there, but weeds did just fine.

It took about 4 days of cutting on this tree before we finally got it removed.  The first day I cut off all the limbs and piled them up.  (I have since moved them next to the compost pile and am slowly chopping up the limbs and adding them to the pile.  Larger pieces are being piled behind the structure to dry out for use as future fire wood.)  The next three days saw me working on the trunk with a hand saw.  I cut a bit each day.  The angle was hard and I would start to get frustrated.  It as at that point I would stop.

The stump is hard to see in the picture below.  It is the light spot in the upper middle of the photo.  The tree had a diameter of 5 – 6 inches.  Not large, but it sure was solid.

 

Weeping cherry tree removed

 

The kids had fun kicking the tree trunk to watch it move back and forth.  I let them do this at first to see that it wouldn’t move.  I told them to push as hard as they could and of course there was no movement.  The second day it moved a little.  The third day, of cutting on the trunk, the whole thing would vibrate quite nicely.

I ended up making a  hinge as there is a root on the left side of the picture below.  Cutting downward actually saved me time.  As I got closer to that point, coming from the right, I knew I was really close.  The tree was moving more and starting to shake.  For the final strokes I had the kids push and pull the tree.  They thought it was so need to “knock a tree over”.  The trunk was quickly confiscated and has a new life as a ‘couch’ in their ‘house’ under the limbs knocked down by the major snow storm.  I told them they could do with it whatever they wanted, as long as it stayed out of the road.  Since it is so heavy, I honestly don’t think they could do much moving with it.

 

Weeping cherry tree stump

 

With the tree gone I was able to plant two blackberry bare root plants.  Here is one of them.  It isn’t much to look at but I have high hopes for them.  Besides, it would be nice to have some landscaping do something besides just look pretty.

Blackberry bush bare root transplant

 

I don’t have a picture of the final soup I made, but we had it last week and it was so good.  The search for a trashcan is still on going.

  1. Spackle stairway walls
  2. Prime spots to be painted (from previous replacement of door and window frames)
  3. Paint spots around door and window frames
  4. Repaint Horse post by street
  5. Strip vent covers in bathroom and kitchen
  6. Repaint bathroom and kitchen vent covers
  7. Seal pots and paint with chalkboard paint (to be used with herb plants on the deck)
  8. Add outlet cover for washer/dryer
  9. Add outlet cover for outlet on front porch
  10. Check credit report
  11. Replace light fixture in stairway
  12. Remove weeping cherry (to create a place for blackberry bushes)
  13. Put out a bird bath
  14. Buy new kitchen trash can – work in progress
  15. Organize and label kitchen pantry
  16. Move clothing totes to back of crawl space (instead of right in front), add shoe rack and rod to hang winter coats
  17. Divide out future clothing sized into clear totes, label
  18. Put camping stuff in tote(s), label
  19. Clean bathroom grout
  20. Seal bathroom grout
  21. Make and freeze 4 different soups, 3 months worth each

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