Under Pressure: An Adventure In Spring Cleaning

Now I know, it is technically summer, but this project was on my spring cleaning list and was just delayed a bit.  I whine and complain about pressure washing every year, but I will let you in on a little secret, I love it.  The fact of the matter is that with all the work and back ache involved I enjoy the heck out of it.  The power, the control, and the sheer joy of a bright and shiny house gives me goose bumps.

A couple of weeks ago I started the cleaning in the back yard, with the patio itself, and every inanimate object that was back there.  If it stood still long enough I washed it, I'm talking swings, furniture, plant stands, toys in the toy box, the toy box itself.  I even washed my husband's grill inside and out.

I began the same as I do every year by getting out and prepping the pressure washer.  The washer only makes an appearance once or twice a year so this is a biggie for me. I check to be sure all the parts are present and accounted for.  I get out the correct size extension cord, and make sure to secure the two cords together with my favorite Velcro straps. 

I make sure I am wearing the appropriate foot ware. I have learned from experience that Crocs do not make good pressure washing shoes, a stream of water at 1800 PSI through the holes of the crocks is not a pleasant sensation, trust me.  And lastly I wear my safety glass, you'd be surprised what will fly up in your face.  Better safe than sorry.

I use a little petroleum jelly to lubricate the o rings at each of the wand attachments.

I spent an entire Saturday washing everything on the patio and setting it in the yard to dry while I cleaned the brick and patio itself.  I wasn't ready to show you guys the after shots until I rearranged a few things back there.  So let’s move to the front of the house.

My before picture comes to you courtesy of Google, circa 2011.  I had just cut back all the hedges to 2 feet tall to give them a nice fresh start and expose the windows. Also the beds were lined with rail road ties my entire childhood.  I'm talking real ties that weighed a gazillion pounds apiece and were impossible to move on my own.  I put pictures on Craigslist "Free to a Good Home", and can you imagine, someone came and got them. 

A few weeks back I broke down and paid someone to dig the hedges out for me, because that was a bit more than I could handle myself. I was so pleased with how open it all turned out.

Then the hubby went out this past weekend and washed the front. The before shot shows how the trees and hedges had muddied things up, and the foundation and bricks had a definite aged patina. At least that is what I am calling it.

So he spent most of the day cleaning while I kept an eye on the baby, and the baby kept an eye on the daddy. 

When he began to spray the windows, I was inspired to get my dollar store squeegee and some Rain-X washer fluid and clean the windows.  He would then come behind me and give them a good rinsing.

Word to the wise, if you have older windows as I do, it is a good idea to have someone inside holding a towel against the sash.  This catches any water that finds its way through the crevices at such high pressure. 

While he finished the washing I worked on the inside of the windows.  Note: the reason I used Rain-X to clean the outside is because I haven't bought window cleaner in years.  I use glass cleaning rags that require only water and a good wringing out. 

Here is the reality shot after.  I know, right?!?  Single pane windows sweat quite a bit with the differences in temperatures inside and outside.  This is the result.

Here are the windows after shots, a tremendous improvement I think. 

Also, this gives me an opportunity to inspect the windows for any repairs or maintenance that needs to take place.  For instance a broken pane, flying rock chips, and missing glazing.  Be looking for those fixes coming soon.
So here is the beautiful 'front of the house' after shots.  Thanks hubs for all the hard work.  I rewarded him with a good home cooked meal and a cold one. 

How about you, what spring cleaning projects did you mark off your to do list.  Come back soon for a pretty awesome laundry tip (if you are a messy painter), and some recipe goodness I am working on. 

Trash To Treasure: A Shelf Fit For A Pirate

So this is pretty much a repeat of the chalk board post for several reasons:  1) I found this piece on the roadside and had a plan for it the second I saw it, 2) it started out as one thing and ended up as another, 3) I used the same technique as the chalkboard to restore the finish, and finally 4) it is going into the PirateBedroom.  Hold onto your hats here we go.
This piece was a headboard that I pulled over and picked up on a Monday, which y’all know, is pick up day in my neighborhood.  I actually stopped for some bed rails and noticed a foot board which I put in the back of the van as well.  Given a few minutes to contemplate what I would do with it on the way home, I remembered I was considering building a display shelf for my nephew’s room.  The light bulb went off, and I earmarked the footboard for a shelf project. 

As projects go this one was simple.  I measured to determine the size shelf brackets I would need and purchased two fairly masculine looking brackets from the Lowe’s around the corner.  I ran the foot board through my table saw to cut off the legs of the footboard. 

Next I refinished the shelf by using the blend and fill pencil to fill in the scratches, and wiped off the excess pencil with a paper towel. 

I used Restore-A-Finish and #0000 steel wool to wipe on two coats of the product on the shelf.  I was not heavy handed with the steel wool, I applied back and forth with the grain of the wood. 

The next morning it was still glossy with finish that hadn’t soaked completely into the wood, so I buffed the entire piece with an old cotton t-shirt rag. 
Once again I was blown away at how the piece was restored, and very glad that I had not chosen to paint the shelf. 

Once in the room I hung the brackets using a laser level, and because the shelf was 55 inches long I was able to find two studs to secure the brackets.  I then used a couple of short screws to secure the shelf to the brackets from the underside of the shelf. 

My nephew was immediately excited to put things on his shelf, and not all of those things fit with the pirate theme.  But hey we decorate these rooms to live in, and if planes, cars, and trophies bring that sweet boy happiness than who am I to stop him.   

There you have it another trash to treasure project.  This bedroom is very close to being done, and I promise to cook or bake something for you guys real soon. 

Trash to Treaure: Chalk It Up To Creativity

Well I hope everyone had a Happy and Safe Memorial Day.  We were on the road and able to spend a lovely time with many family members in different cities.  I have been waiting to share these projects with you, and I have just been so darn busy.  So here they are finally some things for the pirate bedroom. 
I may need to break these up into different posts, to keep this from being a monumental run on.  I will start with the finishing of the mirror frame turned chalk board.  This is the frame from a previous post that I rescued from the curb not too long ago. 

I knew the moment I saw it what it was going to be.  I began by first taking the frame apart.  It was held together with staples and I wanted to make it sturdier to survive being hung in the kindergartener’s room. 

Once the staples were removed I used my Kreg Jig to drill new pocket holes in the frame and reattach the pieces.  This made a big difference and I was glad I took the extra time for this step.  This one may survive until he outgrows this decor. 

Next I cut a piece of plywood on the table saw to fit inside the frame.  I primed the plywood  and painted it with two coats of chalkboard paint.  I used a foam roller to apply, rolling in one direction for the first coat and the opposite direction for the second coat.  I read that tip somewhere, and I was pleased with the results.  The foam roller did leave the occasional bubble here and there, but honestly it didn’t make much of a difference to my nephew who was so excited to have his own chalk board. 

While the paint was drying I began the process of giving new life to the finish on the frame.  When I showed this piece to my sister, she suggested I paint it.  It had quite a few scratches and she was probably worried it wouldn’t be finished until he was ready to go off to college.  But I hated to cover up such a nice finish because a few dings so I set my sights on restoring the finish.  I knew the right product for the job. Years ago a friend introduced me the Howard’s Restore A Finish and I have always wanted to give a try. 

I cleaned the piece with some Murphy Oil Soap.  There were parts that had a dark glaze on the edges so I removed most of that with a Magic Eraser.

I decided after some experimenting on another piece to use a blend and fill wax pencil which I used to fill in the scratches.

Next I wiped away the excess wax pencil with a paper towel. Then I applied a good coating of Restore A Finish that I wiped on gently in the direction of the wood grain with 0000 steel wool.  I allowed this to soak in overnight. 

Finally I finished the process the next morning by buffing the trim with an old white cotton t-shirt.

I was so very pleased with how it turned out.  I thought it would make a nice compliment to his existing furniture, and coordinate nicely.  I used a longer staple in my electric staple gun to attach the finished chalk board to the back of the frame. Because my plan was to hang this against the wall with a French cleat I thought the staples would be sufficient.  I used a hammer to be sure the staples were flush and I was ready to hang this piece. 

I was so excited at the finished product that I kept sending pictures to my sister as each step was complete.  Poor thing I don't know how she puts up with me.  This is the same sister that I called days before her birthday and begged her to let me give her the present I got her. 

I attached one part of the French cleat to the back of the mirror with the short screws provided. 

I was able to find two studs in just the right places and used the screws provided to secure the other piece to the wall.  This cleat is designed to be used with or without wall anchors depending on the weight of what you are hanging.  As you can see the screws for the wall are heavy duty.

I primed the chalk board with the side of the chalk and wiped it clean and it was ready for hours of imaginative play.  So there you have it another successful curbside rescue. 
Be sure to come back for project number 2, a foot board turn shelf.  This room is on the verge of being finished and I for one am excited, maybe more so than the kids.