Category Archives: Home Repairs

Mid-winter update

Just plugging away up here in the New England cold. As usual, it has been an unusual winter. We have had warm weather, lots of rain, and then absolutely freezing cold with wind-chills, no snow at all, and just last week a blizzard worthy of two snow days. We are supposed to get hit with snow tonight again, so we may have another snow day tomorrow.

I’ve been up to a few things here and there, including on-going brewing of kombucha, fixing the dishwasher (remember which screws go where), making lots of roasted veggies (I am loving roasted cauliflower and brussel sprouts),  maintaining my cast-iron pots (coat with oil and leave upside-down in the oven for an hour at 200 degrees. Put a paper towel underneath to catch the drips).

With all the warm and rainy days earlier this winter I had been watching my mushroom logs for progress (none so far). Now they are deep under the snow.

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A walk on a clear and cold day just after the new year prompted some thinking about family, passions, and the meaning of life. My son and I came up with three guiding principles in our lives and we have them posted on the family cork board.  It is centering to look at these words when life gets a little crazy and frustrating. Mine are Love, Explore, Contribute. My 9yo’s, with explanatory commentary, are Food (“like yummy food”), Love (“like hugs and stuff”), Skill (“like video games”).



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Filed under Cooking, Family, Health, Home Repairs, kombucha, Making Stuff, mushrooms

Concord Light Broadband Installation

IMG_6057Town broadband is here! I am so excited to ditch Comcast xfinity because they are SO EXPENSIVE! So far I’m using Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, and Vudu. I have a Samsung Smart TV and AppleTV. Why do I need traditional cable? Plus my Samsung TV has been fighting viciously with the cable box. I think that was planned by Samsung, but it is an easy choice for me – drop the cable.

The confusing issue I’ve been having is where to buy movies?  I can buy them anywhere, but then that is the only place to watch them. What if they terminate Amazon Prime instant video? For example, I just bought the Harry Potter series on the my itunes account, because I think it has the most potential longevity. But I bought The Sorcerer’s Apprentice on vudu, because itunes doesn’t work on the xbox we have upstairs. And strangely, the movie was then charged to P’s xbox live account instead of to my vudu account. I have a feeling that this may even get more complicated before it gets easier.

All that being said, I am proud of my town for leading the private broadband movement. It is great to have another option besides the media machine.

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April 14, 2014 · 11:16 am

Under-counter curtain for bathroom sink

Over the past few weeks I have worked on this under-sink curtain project here and there, finally completing it last week. When I moved in to this house the things I disliked most were the gold fixtures AND the terra cotta tiles squares in the master bath. These tiles were interspersed with the white tiles in the bathroom over the tub, in the shower, and on the counter fascia. I had Bobby remove the tiles above the tub, the tiles are still in the shower, and I decided to change the storage and cover the ones on the counter fascia. You can see the remaining shower tiles here.

To design the curtain I looked around online and decided that I really didn’t like the traditional bunched curtain style.  They can be really classy, but I prefer a simpler, sleeker design. So I came up with this plan and used amazing Irish linen leftover from when I used to sell needlework supplies at my store. Since this gorgeous linen is non-patterned and very expensive I first tested and then used Scotchgard Fabric and Upholstery protector to protect it. I didn’t want to design and make this great curtain and then get toothpaste drippings all over it! The first pictures show our severe coffee and wine tests on the fabric. The spray definitely worked hard to repel staining. I was sure to use this spray in a well-ventilated area away from children.

I was unaware that there is a velcro product which is sticky on one side and sewable on the other. The nice lady at JoAnn’s told me about it: decor. I used this to stick to the ugly counter fascia, just under the counter lip. I sewed the other side to my panels. I created overlaps of about 5 inches in two spots for access to the shelving storage underneath.
This bathroom is looking good! I am almost ready to move on to the next room!

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Mark Twain House, end of gold faucet project

Last weekend LG and I visited my grandmother – St. Patty’s Day corned beef and cabbage and celebrating her 94th birthday. On our way back LG and I stopped at the Mark Twain House and took a few pictures. He enjoyed the irreverence and humor of Samuel Clemence. In an odd mix of time periods we bought the Manga version of Tom Sawyer and he read it in the car on the way home.

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I am also considering the gold faucet project closed. Hooray! Here are the final work pictures of the shower enclosure. Overspray came off easily with GooGone. Next is the continuing with the linen skirt around the sink.

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Filed under Cooking, Home Repairs, Travels

Under-counter metal wire shelving

The plumbing fixtures looks great, so I am on to the next bathroom project! It is taking some restraint to stay focused on the master bath, but a wise person (my brother) once told me to finish one room at a time. This method yields a greater sense of completion.

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This metal shelf project is pretty simple, but it is step one of two in making a big change to the look of the room. The shelving doesn’t have to look pretty — it just has to be functional and maximize the storage possibilities. I am going to cover the under-counter area with a skirt in my next project, but I want the storage completed first.

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To build this storage unit I used wire shelving from my basement and cut the poles down to the size I needed. I did need to work out a few details to make this work well. If you are working with these materials, here are some comments from my experience:

1) Make sure that you have uniform feet for the poles. I had to pull the footings off some of them (on left in left picture) and add in those little cap dudes (on right in right). Once they are uniform, make sure that you cut them in a way to align the horizontal guide lines. Since the shelves sit on those guide lines you need to be sure that they align across poles.

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2) Once you have a plan for the pole feet to be uniform and guide lines aligned, measure carefully so that when cut, the top of the pole is just below the shelf sleeve. This way you aren’t dealing with a raw unfinished pole top. And it looks neater, too.

3) Wearing safety glasses, use an angle grinder with cut-off blade to cut the metal poles. Or use a hacksaw. I have a lot of tools in my shop and it really surprises me how frequently I use the angle grinder; I love it and all of its brother and sister cordless DeWalt tools. And regarding safety glasses – I’m not proud to say this but I am pretty lax with my safety precautions. However, I always wear glasses when cutting metal. I worked in a metal shop when I was younger and when I didn’t protect myself I got some pretty weird injuries. Once while I was drilling metal these tiny razor-wire coils of metal flew out of the drill press and gave me a gash on my neck. It hurt, but thankfully it wasn’t my eye!

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4) Double check for sharp edges. Metal cuts really hurt both for you while working and for any unsuspecting shelf users. Check if you need to level up the pole ends or remove metal burrs after you make the cuts. I used the lovely bench grinder that I got for my last birthday to do this. I used the grinding wheel to level and the wire brush wheel to remove rough edges and burrs. If you don’t have the machine you can use metal files.


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UPDATE #3 Gold faucet trim project

This project is making me a little batty — and I am wondering if I should have just bought new fixtures…   But I am determined to see this through!

The good news is that the new spray I bought, Chase Champion Metallic Silver, is great. While it doesn’t sparkle like chrome, it has a very rich pewter-like finish.  It looks very solid.


The bad news is I am worried that the paint will chip off and won’t withstand daily water use and weekly cleaning.

I sprayed the parts last night at about 8:00 pm and started to install them this morning at 7:00 am. This was not enough time for the paint to set and my hands left dull impressions. This spray paint needs a good full day to set. I also found that unlike the common practice of many light coats, this products looks better when you apply something between a light and heavy coat. If you spray it too lightly the paint doesn’t blend together to form a smooth coating. If you spray too much it drips.


On the homefront, last night we had a friend of LG, also age 8, sleepover. Yes, a school-night!! They did homework together and were asleep by 8:40. For dinner I made some rice, frozen corn and barbecue chicken and everybody loved it. You never know these days what a visiting kid will eat, so I was pleased. I marinated the chicken breasts with Bone Suckin Barbecue Sauce for a day and then cooked them on my grill.

I haven’t used it this much this season, but I love my powerful Weber grill. Mine is brown, which is apparently a special edition (in form only, not function). I learned the fine are of cooking on the grill through the winter from my father, who lives in The Adirondacks. Each year he snow-blows a path from the kitchen deck door to the grill. It is pretty hysterical watching him cook out there surrounded by 3 feet of snow and wearing full winter gear, kinda like this guy grilling outside (not my dad).


June 16, 2014 NOTE:

Since I’ve been using these fixtures a lot since I posted this, I wanted to add a note that the finish got sort of sticky with use. I tried waiting quite a while to let the metallic spray dry days before using it, but the faucet and handles sort of never dried and would mush a bit with hand use.
To fix this I sprayed them again then sprayed them with sealer after they dried. Unfortunately, the sealer made the metallic lose it’s awesome shiny look. Fortunatly, they now look like pewter and I like that look.

I may try one more time by giving them a refresher coat of metallic spray then waiting a week to spray them with the clear coat. If I get better results that way then I’ll add a note. Otherwise assume that they still look pewter!

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UPDATE #2 Gold faucet trim project

I was hoping for better results with the hardware store metallic paint. The color is good but the sheen is dull. I bought some Krylon metallic spray, which has a shinier cap on the top of the can, but the finish is the same as the Rust-oleum. I am leaning towards trying some glossier spray paints before I throw in the towel.

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There are some higher gloss specialty spray paints by the major brands, but based on the tests done by Diane in her In My Own Style blog.  (Thanks for the research, Diane!), I am going to try Chase Champion Metallic Silver.

This stuff is hard to find near me! I called Chase and they told me that there are no distributors near me, but I could order through their prehistoric online store. I put two cans in my shopping cart, $5.50 each, and with shipping the total bill was over $20. Instead I bought a case with free shipping and a $5 promotion from Betty Mills. What I don’t use on this project I will resell through my art supply store. Hopefully this stuff will sparkle!

The pot roast was great last night. I didn’t add additional liquids, so it had a good texture–not too mushy. And since I didn’t really flavor it, my kids and The X all really liked it. The other guests (JnJ, aka The Boys) and I added hot sauce, salt and pepper!

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