More fun with living room paint

I continued my painting spree this morning, and I put a second coat of paint on the living room walls and a first coat of "craft white" on the ceiling. I just can't get over how much brighter and warm the room feels now. Red is classified as a warm color, but something about the copper red made it sort of dreary and depressing. I didn't really notice how dark it was until it wasn't anymore. Stupid, I know, but whatever. I guess I'm a little slow that way. Here are some more pictures. Please ignore the ugly futon and the little stuffed moose.

I'm still going to put one more coat of gold on the walls and one more on the ceiling, but that will be next weekend's project...

Painting the Living Room: Redux

I finally decided that the Roycroft copper red just wasn't what I wanted, so I took my 2 gallons of hubbard squash gold back to Sherwin-Williams and had it shaken up so I could repaint. I only got one coat on yesterday afternoo0n, but the difference is amazing. And, best of all, I'm happy with it. In less than 2 hours, the living room went from this:

To this:

The bright gold just opens the room up and will really show off the woodwork. It feels a little pumpkin-y right now, since the ceiling is still gold as well (soon to be Valspar's Eddie Bauer Bungalow craft white), but I'm thrilled with the way it's turning out. I like the copper red, but I was never comfortable with it. From day one, I wasn't sure if I was really happy with it. Note to self: If you don't immediately love it, it ain't gonna work.


Garden progress

I haven't had much time this summer to work on the garden, and in the flower bed by the back porch the two varities of mint were starting to take over. I was planning on pulling it all out next year, but when I was at Meijer today all perennials were 20% off. They were only $5 to start with, so I picked up a couple Veronica, an obedient plant, a balloon flower, and an ornamental grass for $30. The Veronica is a little sad-looking, but I think it'll come back okay next spring. With all the rain we've had, it was a little waterlogged.

I didn't take a before picture, since it was just that hideous, but here's a picture of the same area last year. Just imagine it with a few more flowers and lots more scraggly mint. LOTS.

And my beautiful Meijer finds (icky mint in the background):

And an hour or so later, after much slaughter of the mint and multiple transplants...

We obviously need more mulch and some kind of border to keep the grass from taking over. The plants are a little wilted and some of them are twisted a bit, since I moved them. I think by next week they'll look better, though. It's not much, but believe me, it's a huge improvement. Now I just need to do something to hide the a/c and get rid of the bundle of coaxial cable...


The anniversary of our 2nd year as homeowners went by without us even noticing. On August 24, 2005, we took possession on the Prairie Box. In the past year, we've accomplished very little as far as the house goes... The living room still isn't done, the office is a big mess, and our budget has sort of disappeared. On the plus side, the stairway is all but stripped; the all of the woodwork (except for the door and window headers) is scraped, sanded, and awaiting stain; and the original garage has been insulated and drywalled to use as a workshop. We also found the door under the paneling in the office...

But for me, this past year has been more about personal progress than house progress. In February I was promoted from correctional officer to patrol officer, and since then I've been working my butt off training for my new job. I've gone through about 4 months of on-the-job training, followed by 15 weeks of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. It's been extremely fulfilling and exciting, but I haven't had any time off in about 18 months. It's been really rough to be gone 5 days per week, and the days that I'm gone, I'm working my ass off. Literally. I've never been overweight or really out of shape, but with all of the running and PT I've done (voluntary and mandatory), I'm definitely in the best physical condition I've ever been in.

But when I come home, I'm tired, sore, and stressed. Throughout my weeks of training, I've engaged in mock vehicle pursuits, performed high-risk traffic stops, been shot with Simunitions (soap-filled 9mm bullets fired out of real handguns) during live-fire exercises, gotten my ass kicked during groundfighting and physical tactics training, been exposed to OC/CS spray (apparently once wasn't enough, eesh!), and lived away from home in a paramilitary environment. It doesn't sound quite as bad when I write it out, but it's enough to stress me out even though I've had a lot of fun as well. I sometimes wonder how Shayne has put up with me during this time, but he does, and he's been wonderful and supportive throughout my training. I graduate in less than a month, and we can't wait until our lives return to some semblance of normal and we can take a vacation!

My goal right now is simply to finish the living room. We're so close right now. If I can just have it done in time to decorate the house for Christmas, I'll be a happy individual.


Kitchen inspiration

I found this picture posted over at Schmich Schack, and it was like a lightbulb went on in my head.
Those are our cabinets! Remember the fugly green cabinets out in the garage?

That's what they are supposed to look like! The ones in the picture even have the same hardware! I knew that they could look nice with some work, but I somehow wasn't able to extend my imagination far enough to see what they should be. I can't say I'm crazy about the green walls (they look nice, but it's not what I want in my kitchen), and I'd like a tile backsplash instead of the beadboard, but I now have a clear idea of what the cabinets should be. I ran it by Shayne, and it even meets his approval... :)


Progress! (with pictures)

After taking Bach for a long walk this morning, I got busy working on the living room. I decided that the front windows needed to be taken apart in order to do a good job sanding, since the joints were extremely gunked up with caulk and several layers of paint.

I'd already sanded the face of the trim visible in this picture. The other one was still all gunked up with paint residue from stripping. I used my little pry bar to pull off the interior stops (the strips of wood that hold the sash in place, or would if my windows hadn't been retrofitted with new sashes in the late '80s). Each only had 3 nails, and in 5 minutes I had all 6 of them off.

I hauled them all outside, then scraped the three sides that were originally painted. Because of the way my windows were retrofitted, one of those 3 sides is no longer visible, but scraping the old caulk helped it to fit flush. Within an hour I had all 6 scraped and sanded.

I was hoping to disassemble the window further and take off the trim pieces that separate the windows. I was able to wedge my pry bar in underneath one of them, but it didn't budge. Rather than force it (and probably wreak something), I decided to just sand and scrape them in place.

Since lead paint is an issue with our living room I wore a respirator with special cartridges. FYI, most standard respirator cartridges do NOT work on lead paint. The cartridges that are approved for lead dust and fumes are designated by a purple band and are NIOSH approved. To ensure the respirator is sealed properly around your face, cover the cartridges with your hands and inhale. The mask should pull tight on your face and no air should be coming in. If air leaks in around the edges, the mask does not fit properly and won't protect you from dust or fumes. For your safety, a respirator should be worn whenever you will encounter lead dust or fumes. I made the mistake of stripping lead paint with a heat gun without a respirator and ended up with the mother of all headaches for 2 days. Not very smart. You should also have a vacuum with a HEPA filter to clean up. There are other precautions you may choose to take, and I don't pretend to know everything about lead paint safety. Sand at your own risk!

Another side note... If I ever buy another respirator, it will have a full-face mask. I wore eye protection, but sawdust was flying everywhere so I still ended up with lots of dust in my eyes.

I scraped and sanded the 2 large separator pieces as well as the window sill and trim underneath it. Along with clean-up afterwards, it probably took 2 hours. A lot of the sanding was very awkward, since I had to sand the sides and underside of everything. Not fun for my back, but it looks really nice. Here's my official "after" picture:

There were some spots I couldn't get into with either the sander or scraper. I'll have to figure out something before I stain.

Since the living room was already extremely dusty, I went ahead and started sanding the piece of baseboard that we couldn't remove without ruining the plaster. That looks much better now too! I couldn't finish, since I ran out of sandpaper, but I'm very happy with the progress I made.


"Green" cleaning products: Drain openers

The sink in the upstairs bathroom clogs constantly. At least 3 times per year it becomes completely stopped up, and we then decide it's time to do something about it. Usually "something" involves buying several bottles of Drano or Liquid Plumr to blast the clog into oblivion. Usually it takes 3 or 4 applications before the drain is completely clear. This time, I decided to try something a little less... hazardous. Traditional drain openers can be bad for cast iron pipes, which is what our waste pipe is made of. Drain openers also contain very harsh chemicals like hydrochloric or sulpheric acid. Stuff like that will kill the good bacteria in the cesspool and slow the process of breaking down household waste. The chemicals will also leach into the soil.

The traditional method is to use baking soda and vinegar, so I decided to give that a try.

I dumped probably 1/2 cup of baking soda directly into the drain, then added about a quart of vinegar (slowly). It started to bubble up over the top of the drain, so I gave it 1 plunge with the plunger. The result was instantaneous: no more clog. I waited a minute or so to let the mixture work its way down the pipe, then flushed the drain with hot water for about 5 minutes.

Not only did it work better than commercial drain cleaner, it was cheaper too!


Can I come home now?

I don't know what made me think I could come home from the academy and work on the house on weekends. My weeks are so draining that when I come home, I'm exhausted. And usually extremely sore from one venture or another. At first it was from the huge amount of PT that we do. Once I got used to that, they switched routines on us, and I got sore again. Then it was from being being bounced around the backseat of a car during Emergency Vehicle Operations. It felt like I was in a car crash every day... Then another new phase of PT. This past week was physical tactics, which involved practicing take-downs, joint locks, pressure points, and groundfighting. I'm sore in new and exciting places and have so many bruises that I look like a battered wife.

I'm feeling a little bitchy and whiny today, did you notice?

I did accomplish a few things, but nothing renovation-oriented. Laundry, grocery shopping, and vacuuming are about as motivated as I got. My mom talked about bringing her cabinet doors over tomorrow, and she could work on those while I sanded some more woodwork. Sanding is a great mother-daughter activity... :)

I've also been occupying myself by learning how to use my new camera. It's a Kodak z612, and it has incredible zoom capabilities. Here are a few pictures that I've taken around the house (arachnophobes, beware!):

Columbine in the garden



Scary spider outside the laundry room/back porch