Saturday, July 20, 2019

Toilet seat paint job update

This summer I gave the toilet seat another repainting; it really needed it.

Looking back at my original post on this, and the one on the repainting after that, it looks like a toilet seat paint job will last for about six months in my busy household.

The initial cost was about $8, and I think I still have enough primer and paint left to do one more round. So it is costing us about $2 per six months, or $4 per year, to keep the current toilet seat going. That doesn't count the labor involved, which is roughly two hours each time, though much of that is 
spent waiting for the paint to dry enough to put on the next coat.

A new seat would last us 3-4 years, and would cost something like $10 per year. That puts my "hourly wage" for this work at maybe $1.50 per hour, which is lower than what I usually aim for.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Some observations

Our school room, without all the books and the rugs and the curtains and the coats and shoes, is LOUD. The sound bounces all around the room, sometimes doing more than one lap, I think, and it's not just the sounds generated within the room, but also those from adjoining rooms and outdoors.

It made me appreciate how much the carpet in the other areas of the house are quieting them, even though I thoroughly loathe that beige carpet.

I had the furniture more or less arranged, but I kept getting Ideas, and with the shelves empty, I could try them out fairly easily. I tried using one bookshelf as a sort of room divider, separating the entry area from the rest of the room. It was an intriguing option, but I decided against it, because it was blocking light and kind of fighting against the architecture of the room. There was also the matter of anchoring the bookshelf securely so that it wouldn't tip.

That particular bookshelf actually ended up somewhere else entirely:  downstairs, where there is a niche in the hallway that I have been thinking of making a bookshelf for. It just fits, and only because the light fixture there has the ability to swivel; I'm still discovering things about this house, after living here for several years.

Today I moved most of the books back. I think we may have too many.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Cozy minimalism in the school room

I was going to put off dealing with our school room until later in the summer, as the next few weeks are quite busy ones for us, but I decided to squeeze it in this week.

I'm glad I did; there was a lot that needed to be done in there.

I started by listing the purposes for the room:  it is our school room, our library, my office and craft room, and our main entry. It also has the biggest patch of bare floor in the house, which is used for sliding and dancing.

The biggest issue with it was Too Much Stuff. I have for some time been fighting the urge to buy even more things to put in it; a big reason why I wanted to deal with the room sooner rather than later.

The room also has a balance problem; massive bookshelves along one wall that seem to pull that whole side of the room downward. At the other end, there is a smoke detector hanging smack in the middle of prime wall space. Storage for coats and boots and shoes and hats and mittens and gloves and socks and sometimes snow pants has always been challenging.

The first step in the Cozy Minimalist method is to gather inspiration. I zipped over that, mostly, because the budget for this room at this time is zero dollars, and if I have anything that is inspiring for that room right now, it is the word "Gothic".

It took me only several hours to get the room cleared of everything but the main pieces of furniture. I say "only" because of the large number of books involved, over thirty boxes worth.  Then I took a few more hours to wipe things down and dust and vacuum under and behind everything. It was a lot of work, but it was good to get it all done at once, instead of trying to chip away at it a little at a time.

I've started a list of the other things that need to be tended to in the room.

The next thing was to work on the furniture arrangement. I highly prefer to measure the room and furniture and make little scale cutouts that I can scoot around on a graph paper room, although the book recommends just moving the real furniture. It helps me to see possibilities that I wouldn't think of otherwise.

But in the end, the furniture mostly came back to where it started.  A cabinet got promoted into a position in one of the room's focal points, and has been given the job of drawing attention away from that smoke detector. That displaced a so-so bookshelf, which is in a subordinate position that hopefully will help the cabinet balance the other bookshelves.

Next step is to work on rugs and lighting.

Friday, July 12, 2019

A much faster way to declutter

From Leila of Like Mother, Like Daughter, an outstanding post on how to quickly declutter and clean a surface:  clear it off completely, wipe it down, and then put back only the things that go there.  After that's done, then you can sort out and deal with the rest.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

More edible yard: Milkweed flowerets

Milkweed is edible!  I picked some flowerets off the milkweed growing wild in the yard, and fried them with eggs for breakfast.

There is good information on harvesting milkweed here.  The young stems, flowerets, flowers, and young pods are all edible, but should be cooked first.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Short book review: Restoration House

I recently read Restoration House:  Creating a Space That Gives Life and Connection to All Who Enter, by Kennesha Buycks. I don't have it in front of me now, but I'll give some of my impressions from it.

I found it to be a warm and inspiring book. It is a mix of the author's personal story, ways to graciously show hospitality in your home, and practical tips for decorating your house.

The pictures are in the same decorating style as the cover photo. It is a very restrained style, I would call it a subdued variant of Beach House, but it is also very simple and very accessible. I went to her blog, Restoration House, because I wondered how her style had evolved over time, but it is not set up for easy backward browsing, so it took me some doing to even see that her style has indeed changed a great deal in the last few years.

Her story of meeting God in the midst of refinishing furniture was something I found meaningful, as that is where I am sometimes managing to be these days. Her children apparently slept more or less on time, though.

Her idea of establishing a budget for hospitality, so that you can provide extra for your guests, instead of trying to stretch out what you have far enough to include them, is something that my family should probably begin to practice at this stage in life.

My biggest complaint about the book is that the sidebars and sidepages are visually too similar to the main text; they are set off mainly by a different background color, that is not that different from the plain white pages. So I'd be reading about her spiritual journey, and then I'd suddenly find myself reading about some completely mundane aspect of decorating, because I had missed the subtle change in background color.

Overall, I think it is a good book, and good for multiple stages in life:  starting out, starting over, and re-orienting in between.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Catching up

I've been doing a lot of things around the house. Here are a few of them:

Screen door bracket:  The little piece of metal that connects the screen door to the mechanism that closes it broke.  It is just a small, shaped piece of thin metal with holes drilled in it, and two sides bent in. I was fairly certain that I could make a replacement. I hunted in our hardware hoard, and found a similarly-sized bracket, salvaged from a piece of particle board furniture. It just needed a few holes drilled into it.

Many people don't know that you can drill holes in metal with a non-electric drill. The drill bit does need to be of a material and temper that can cut into the metal, and it is important to get the bit well-tightened into the drill's chuck, to keep it from getting stuck in the metal. It helps to use a little oil to reduce friction, and to put a piece of wood behind it to drill into. I did still have a little trouble with the metal dimpling out on the back side as the drill was about to break through.

We're still going to have to buy a replacement bracket, because the one I made is far too strong; the door's most likely mode of failure is now that the holes for the screws holding the bracket will strip out. The manufacturer (famous window company that starts with "A") has thoughtfully provided for this by putting extra screw holes into the door and bracket, but that only will save us once.

Sewing machine cover:  My sewing machine has a clunky metal case, and I do not enjoy moving the machine in and out of it. Also, I often leave my sewing machine out for long periods. I used a laminated plastic bag from our last bulk buy of rice, and sewed a quick dust cover for my sewing machine. The machine was able to sew the plastic just fine, though I used more care than usual, just in case.

Transplanting grass:  For some reason, the grass here loves to grow in the flower beds, but hates to grow in the lawn. Plus I had a bit of bare ground from shifting the landscaping timbers around a little. I moved some large chunks that were very nearly rollable sod, as well as one smaller clump, to that bare spot. After planting, I gave them a good dose of water. So far, they are surviving.

Free greens:  My husband brought home some lamb's quarter weeds from his garden plot, and I fried up the leaves. They are edible only in moderation, because they contain some oxalic acid. We also have wood sorrel and purslane growing in the yard (unsprayed), along with dandelions, of course.