Monday, April 23, 2012

Summer Projects: The Front Door

See the first Summer Project here.

On Friday, Paddy got what must've been a startling text message from me while at work.

"I need you to stop and pick something up for me on the way home, please," said I.
"OK. What do you need?" asked he.

It all started with too many episodes of that show on HGTV where the crew completes a huge yard makeover for one family, and they do a couple of other smaller projects around the neighborhood, too. Since it's not likely that a magic crew will appear and fix the curb appeal of my house, I had to take matters into my own hands. On that show, someone is always getting their front door painted, and it makes the house really pop from the street.

And that's how I ended up painting my front door while home alone with two children under 3.

Before we really dive in, I should mention that this was my first experience with oil based paint, and for the most part, things went well. I even got to send another text message canceling my request for the turpentine after I googled "how to get oil paint off skin". The suggestion listed there-- using vegetable oil and salt to scrub it off-- worked like a dream on my hands and anywhere else I found a stray drop of paint.

Here is a picture of the door before I got started. Plain, boring ol' white and, like most things that don't get a lot of attention, dirtier than I realized.

The hardware and kickplate (is that what that's called?) were a terrible brass color, and were also faded, stained, and peeling off.

I began by removing the brass pieces and washing the door, first with warm water, and then wiping it down with rubbing alcohol. I'm not sure why I did that, it just seemed like a good idea to get the surface really clean.

I'm going to be honest; I was scared to death to paint the hardware pieces. I'm not a super practiced spray painter (read: goody two-shoes as a kid) and I wasn't sure how it would look. After staring at the brass pieces for a while, though, I decided things really couldn't look worse, and I dove right in. While I didn't want to pay for new door fixtures, I figured it was always an option to buy new ones if I really screwed things up. I used a silver pain that promised a metallic finish.

In what I humbly consider to be a stroke of pure genius, I also came up with a great way to paint the screws to reattach the pieces later.

While the hardward dried, I tackled the door. I decided on blue because I thought it would look good with our red brick home. I had originally envisioned a darker, midnight sort of blue, but ended up with this pre-mixed shade. In order to pick my own color, I would have had to purchase an entire gallon, which I certainly didn't need. This came in a smaller can, and in the end I love the color anyway.

My fear of painting the hardware was totally unnecessary, too. Look how beautiful it turned out!

As with any do-it-yourself project, it's not perfect. There are definitely flaws that I'm hoping only I will notice. Luckily, no one really spends all that much time inspecting the outside of my door, so I should be ok. I couldn't be happier with how it turned out!

Here's one more before and after, just for comparison:

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Don't forget the lyrics!

In college, every girls apartment I was ever in had some version of a quote wall. Ours was an entire wall covered in butcher paper and scribbled on in crayon, but no matter the form, the function was the same-- document one-liners that seemed hilarious when they happened at 2 in the morning. Basically no one is interested in this except the girls who live there.

Anyway, the mommy blogger version of this is the "isms", the purpose of which is to document the funny things little kids say before they grow up and abandon words all together in favor of eye rolls and heavy sighs. I'm nearly positive that people are no more interested in this than they are the quote walls, but Bug's grandparents do read the blog and they probably care. Plus, it's my blog and I'll forget about it if I don't write it down.

Bug's been really into singing recently, which is basically the most adorable thing in the world. Her one hit wonder so far is Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, which she totally rocks.

Five yittow monkeys jumpin' a bed! 
One fell off an' bumped his HEAD!
 Mama called da doctor-- said

She grows increasingly more excited about singing it as she goes along, so by the end she is hopping up and down in pure joy.

We're currently working on Popcorn Popping, which is a cultural staple around these parts (see and hear real version here), and I just had to document her current version of the lyrics:

I yooked out da winnow an' what I see? Popcorn popping my eyes! 
Spring has brought me a yittow present!

After that, she sort of trails off, remembering that somewhere in there is a something about "making a tweat" that "smells so sweeeeeeet" but that's about it.

She's also a champ at Happy Birthday, which is basically an endless series of shouting "Happy Birr-day to YOU!" until she starts incorporating random birthday items like cake and candles into the song.

Another one of my favorites is Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, which goes something like this:

Tweentow tweentow yittow star, 
How I wonder what you doing!
Up above da worl' so HIGH
Yike a diamon' in da SKY!
Tweentow tweentow yittow star, 
What you doing?

Which, if you think about it, is really not a bad question.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Things that smile didn't say

With your belly full of milk, the smiles are easy to coax out. I propped you up in my lap, tickling your chin and pulling silly faces until your grin lifted the weight of your round cheeks and crinkled your eyes. 

You didn't glance at the roundness of my hips, wishing them smaller. Your simple joy was not tempered by silent contempt for the softness of my stomach and fullness of my face.

That smile said things, but it didn't say this:  Hurry, Mama. I will love you more when you are smaller, so hurry and get that way and don't be happy until you are.

Here is what I have been thinking but unsure how to say because I believe in being honest and, to be honest, I'm not quite there yet. My smiling baby asks much of me, but he didn't ask me to stand on that scale every morning and base my happiness on the numbers that appear, and while I'm thinking about it, neither did my daughter or my husband. So maybe, just maybe, it's time to reevaluate that.

The thought of my beautiful daughter believing that she will be more lovely if the number on that scale is a smaller one nauseates me. (But she will believe it if I believe it.) I will not raise my son to believe that women are and should be focused on a tiny number printed on the tag of their jeans. (He will believe it if I am.)

They are numbers, for heavens sake. Three pathetic little digits that pop up on a tiny screen between my toes and then disappear. Numbers that hide just below my waist or between my shoulder blades on a faded little tag and know nothing about the way I snuggle my babies or kiss my husband goodnight.

I don't quite know exactly how to get There yet, where There is that place where numbers don't make me happy or sad or anything at all because they are nothing but numbers, but I promise I'm going to keep working on it until I do. I have a feeling that spending a little more time teasing out those baby smiles is a decent start.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Summer Projects: Bathroom floor

In case you were wondering, buying an older home equals a lot of work. Unless you have the time and money to renovate the entire project at once, it means years of slow progress with improvements. Probably largely due to the fact that I've been watching some serious HGTV recently, I went ahead and made a list of a few of the projects we need to tackle on our 1950s fixer-upper this summer. Since Paddy had to work late and I needed to stay busy, I got a jump start on the first little project yesterday. I know it's ridiculous to call something a summer project when there is snow on the ground, but I'm being hopeful.

Neither Schmoops nor I are terribly handy, but we are learning the best we can as we go. You can see prior remodel progress in the house here and the bathroom here. Slowly but surely, we're bringing this house up to speed. 

Yesterday, I decided to tackle a small task: recoloring the grout in the bathroom. The tiles on the bathroom floor are in great shape, and the grout was pretty sound, too, though despite my best cleaning efforts, it was stained and unsightly. (Sorry about the weird lighting in the pictures-- I didn't edit anything so that it would be pretty true to how ugly it is, but it makes for some fairly inconsistent shots since I'm a crappy photographer.)

(It turns out it looks pretty gross up close like this, and I'm a little embarrassed to post the picture. It's amazing how you get so used to seeing something that you don't recognize how bad it looks.)

For just a little over $10, I got a bottle of white grout refresher from the local hardware store. Application was easy. All I needed was a clean floor and a toothbrush to work the product into the seams. 

Here you can see the work mid-way through the process. It's pretty clear where I've applied the product versus the old grout. 

Application went really quickly; I did nearly the entire floor while Mr. Baggins napped and Bug ate her lunch. 

Clean up was the longest part of the process. After waiting 30-60 minutes, I misted the floor with water per the instructions and scrubbed the excess product off the tiles. This was not terribly difficult, but took quite a bit of time. 

The results are not perfect, though I'm sure my own inexperience contributed. In addition, I think it would have looked quite a bit better if I was working with a floor that wasn't solid white in every direction. Overall, I am thrilled with how it turned out.

I feel like the bathroom looks much more crisp and clean.  Project #1? Check!