Saturday, May 30, 2015

How to Soften Hard Paint Brushes

Forgotten brushes!!! And hot water isn't working. Arrgh!


Let's try to save them.

Without chemical cleaners.

Just by using vinegar...

heated almost to a boil...

then place brushes in a foil lined pan and pour the hot vinegar over them.

Then let them soak in the hot bath for about 20 minutes...

while still warm, scrape off the dissolved paint with a wire brush.

Pouring the vinegar out, you can see the dissolved paint remaining in the pan. Unreal! Right?
Roll up the foil and toss out.

Heat more vinegar for another good rinse while combing through the bristles again if needed.

Then wash the brushes with hot soapy water... which should have been done in the first place!

Rinse under the faucet with hot water and squeeze dry with towels.

Then hang to dry.

Maybe not in the kitchen though.

This may not be worth the effort for cheap brushes with falling out bristles, but if you discover you left a good expensive brush out to dry with paint in it, this technique works pretty well!

You can actually see the vinegar dissolve the paint. I included a video of the action.
(Please excuse the upside down portion of it. My videographer is 11 and hereby adds the disclaimer that he is not a professional. However, he was paid well with cookies.)

Video ---> How to Clean Hardened Paint Brushes

Hope this helps others with the same problem I have sometimes.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hello Spring and Summer Living

The snow has melted away and spring arrived late. Unfortunately, the spring blooms come and go too quickly and now we are looking at summer living. 

You're welcome to come take a look around our outdoor space. Just don't mind the mess while I pull things together. Each year, I try to improve and expand as I work on the outdoor spaces. With so many plans and so little time, I get overwhelmed while wishing there are 10 of me. 

This crab apple tree bloomed and the winds blew away most of the petals the short week it sported its beauty. I'm glad I got a photo of it while I worked upstairs and thought of it. 

The havoc of winter means a lot of spring clean up around here. So that is what I'm doing this week. And next week too, I'm sure.  

Draining and cleaning the pond is always the worst job, especially this time of year. The leaves and microorganisms that laid under ice and snow are... quite frankly... gross! 

The frogs don't think so. This one won't budge while I clean. He's obviously claimed his territory.

Putting this monster sized fountain back together is a task that takes two of us. Hubby helped me with it on Monday. It's a "cleaning out the home gift" from hubby's Uncle Fred a few years ago when he sold his house after his beloved wife passed. We lost him too, just recently, which makes this garden piece more special to us now. I call it the Fred and Joanne fountain.

The never ending deck and backyard projects are getting put together to welcome summer. I pressure washed everything and will freshen up the wood with new paint. I usually shade the top of the pergola with these drapes that I sewed together. That technically means I use a ladder to juggle myself while straightening out the fabric the entire length and width of the structure before securing it to the beams.

It's got to be comical if anyone is watching.

Undetermined at this time is a section of the long deck. I'm contemplating a screened off section for our birds to join us while we enjoy the outdoors. Being tropical Amazons, they love humidity and the summery temperatures outside lately has been very healthy for them. Keeping them protected from the sun and predators means more custom deck work. For now, they use their cages. So it's another unexpected project in the works. They always pop up. Don't they?

I've been planning a poured concrete and rock garden pool in the back corner section of the huge yard. That plan has been a dream since we moved here. Now that the kiddie pools, jungle gym, fort and swing-set are all outgrown and given away, it can be a reality. We have the equipment; it's a matter of getting it done or at least started. I can hear the water falls already... splashing from a pump disguised behind a tall rock wall. Landscaping... shallow walk in pool... spitting water sides... lounge chairs... night lighting... I've planned it and sketched it on paper. Ok, back to reality.

In the meantime, it's snowing maple seeds everywhere.

The advantage to that is, the chipmunks love them! They fill their cheeks as they munch out the seeds and leave those whirly jig casings all about.

While I work around the outdoors, the one thing I truly enjoy are the plants and blooms.  It's my absolute favorite seasonal passion! I swear I fall in love each time I look at them. The rebirth of nature in the spring time is so beautiful. Getting excited over plants and flowers is something that takes over me. When sharing them, I kinda feel stupid with the males of the house because it's not their thing. But it's certainly mine! I already missed the hyacinths and crocuses under the snow. The tulips didn't even have a chance...
again this year...
because we have wild life friends who enjoy them before I do...
and last year it was a deer.

This year it was...

a rabbit!

Who is still hanging around; and now with two babies. At least I feel good about contributing to a needy family.

So, before I get all lost in projects, it's time to stop and smell the flowers. Take in the beauty.

Like this gorgeous Shooting Stars hydrangea that  I planted in a pot at the front entrance.

Along with this Strawberries and Cream hydrangea, in the same planter.

I totally dumpster dived the planter. When I saw it on the top of the pile, peeking out at the world, it completely screamed "save me"!!!! Quite large and heavy, hubby helped haul it and asked "you sure you want it? It looks like a crack on the side." I responded with "drainage is good for plants". Son and Husband shook their heads no while they smiled. And here it lives. All's well that ends well. 

And that crack is hidden, while making all 4 hydrangea plants happy and healthy. 

And there are the irises in full bloom at the garden pond in the back yard. All in their blue/purple glory.

I'm loving the colors of this "red" rhododendron. Lucky to have planted two bushes, I can't wait to see them mature over time. Crazy beautiful, aren't they?

Purple and Pink rhododendrons are here and there on the premises. I have several that seem to tolerate the horrific winters we endure. This particular bush blooms quite full with lots of velvety petal puffs.

And here is a spring time perfume. Living on the shade side of the house, it's the Lily of the Valley.  

Hmm.. the greens of these lilies look a bit chomped here and there. I wonder... 

Lilacs, Lily of the Valley, Hyacinths, Violets and Peonies always give off a sweet aroma. They intoxicate the floral tour.  ( I need some lilacs and violets! ) I did plant Wisteria this year while not sure if it will bloom and can't wait to see what next year brings! That baby is sitting at the grilling throne. (You've got to see that brain storm!) It's where my best outside restaurant reviews come from.

Aw, and here are the hardy,  mysteriously beautiful, Hen and Chicks.

I love succulents. My mom gave me some from her gardens way up north. I planted them in rocks. These new species are riding in a flea market find. Even if this iron trike rusts it will look awesome with the patina.

So much to take in. So much to do. So much to enjoy.

These plantings and outdoor projects are my spring and summers. The wrap around the house deck is finished. The patio and fire pit are set;  dining at the garden pond is a joy; the hot tub is getting opened up and the front entrance is getting all inviting like. Every start from scratch project took a lot of hard work. But, every aching bone part of it has been worth it.

I love spring and summer!

I'll post the finished and "in use" next time and hope you'll stop by to visit.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Salvaged Cornice Brackets

My mom had these old brackets in her stash and when she learned that I love them, she gave them to me.  I honestly didn't know what to do with them and didn't want them just stuffed somewhere. Nor did I have a designated place for them in the house. 

That was until I looked at my boring archway between the kitchen and the dining room. HA! 

Layers of cracked paint were flecking off. Without removing all of the paint, I just scraped off and lightly sanded them to leave the aged characteristics of them. 

This little washer was a great help getting into the rounded areas. 

When most of the loose stuff was removed. I was ready to hang them.

I added picture hanging brackets to the backs for easy hooking.

Using nails to hang them up, I was so excited to get great use of these awesome old architectural pieces! 

I'm thinking... I can make similar brackets to do the same thing between the dining room and the living-room because we have a huge archway there as well.

What would you do with old cornice brackets? I'd love them outside the house too, but we don't have the frame work for them anywhere. (yet, anyway)


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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Upcycled Laminate into Media Center and Desk

Oh that laminate stuff. We love it for the price and quick temporary furniture cure, but hate the lack of durability and quality.

Using these pieces in my son's room has been serving it's purpose, enduring childhood wear and tear. But he's not finished with it yet and his never ending growing interests make clutter. 

Dog collection all over the room, sports memorabilia, gaming, movies, music, and other odds and ends just stacked up. 

This really needed fixing up and organizing. 

So I took the junk outdoors and lightly sanded for painting. (The slick finish of the paper like material needed to have a scuffed surface for the paint to adhere to it.)

The appearance was still junk. So I chose some printed paper (sold in book format at Hobby Lobby) to decoupage the shelving units.

Lots of boyish themed prints was perfect.

It really went easy and looked better.

But not totally liking it yet. It needed more. So I dragged out this thrift shop find that I bought just for the wood, and repurposed it to top off the units.

Securing the units together while adding the wood planks, gave some character to the appearance. So I screwed the plank onto the top of the units.

Trial look: Liked it. 

Then stacked the shelving units on top of the cabinet units with brackets screwed on to the secured plank.

To disassemble this, it's going to be a lot of unscrewing. I used quite a few. 

One plank served the top of the cabinets and another over the top of the shelving.

Then I needed to top off these two cubby units for a desk.

Carting this shelf around for 30 years finally came to end. I reused two of the wood shelves to make a desk surface.

After cutting, sanding, gluing and clamping over night...

I brought it in to see how it fit.

Way too wrong.

The square corners looked dangerous. My hip hurt just looking at it.

Rounding off the corners would work, yet allow enough desk space.

Using the jig saw to round off the blunt corners was much better. Then I sanded the entire surface for a distressed look.

Then gave it a single quick coat of stain and screwed it into the top of the cubby shelving. 

It didn't hurt my eyes and hip anymore.

And it became a desk.

That cluttered wall of hobbies, collections and interests finally became organized. Everything has a place. Streamlined and functional.

I wouldn't mind hanging out here. It turned out much more pleasant.

So far, the tween is keeping it neat and tidy. Thank goodness. A cluttered room makes a cluttered mind. And vice versa.

Now if the garage could look this organized.

Maybe the next challenge... not yet scheduled but should get done as soon as possible!


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