Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rock On

Since the warm weather has disappeared (we knew it would) we have had to change our spring clean up strategy.

Raking is out of the question with the wind blowing about 15-25mph . There is nothing worse than raking a pile of leaves, laying down your rake, turning your back to get a leaf bag only to return to see your pile blowing across the yard.

Working on the deck is out of the question because we need to glue and the temperatures are in the 40-50 degree range. So no deck work until probably Sunday.

So that leaves rocks and dirt. It's not glamorous but it still needs to be done.

Over the last 3 years we have been filling in a very large depression in the front lawn with the left over dirt or sod that resulted from edging the driveway or leveling high areas. The pile grew and finally needed to be leveled. R used the lawn tractor with the snow blade to give the pile a preliminary leveling before removing the blade and installing the mower deck for the summer. We will still need to hand rake and level the area but the really hard part is done. The area is still slightly lower than the rest of the lawn but at least it isn't the crater that was there before we filled it with dirt.BTW....R was complaining that he had to remove the snow blade without having used it. I told him, don't worry I think we will pay for this mild winter by having a real doozie of a winter next year. Remember you heard it first....right here at Gear Acres.

Next we decided it was time to widen the rose bed along the driveway. All of our flower beds are lined with large cobblestones and then some are filled in with smaller rocks and stones. The first thing we did was widen the bed by removing the existing sod. We then outlined the bed with rocks making sure to put the flat side of the rock or stone against the sod. I also tried to keep the color varied by not placing two stones of the same color up against one another. Last weekend when we were raking out the area along the back fence we came across some half buried pieces of slate. These work perfect under the outdoor faucet on the back of the house. This should help control the mud that might form from splashing and dripping water. I also have a hose hanger and if I planted anything in this area they would be damaged by the hose. My plan is to plant hostas along the side of the house. These should protect the foundation from dirt splatter during a rain storm because of the large leaf size of the hosta plant. Also, this is the north side of the house and only get a very small amount of direct sun light in the very early morning. This should make for perfect hosta growing. Plus, I love hostas and am always looking for a place to grow a new variety. So it's a win win deal.

Notice the large paint chips already laying on the slate. Maybe if the wind picked up just a little more it will blow all the paint flakes off the house. I can dream.
Tomorrow if it is still cold and windy (which it is forecasted) we are going to move the stack of vintage pavers. We may or may not get to that project this summer so we need to move the pavers to an out of the way place for safe keeping.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Barn Loft Deck Complete

I should have posted this days ago but with the great weather we have been trying to get as much done as possible. We know this great weather is not going to last.

It's only March but the trees are budding and blooming and my neighbors are MOWING!!! We are at least a month ahead of schedule here in Michigan. I loved the mild winter and early spring but I am so afraid that we will get another frost and lose all the fruit buds.

On to the deck....

We finished the top portion. First we installed the posts using carriage bolts.Then added the top 2X4 that we inset into the posts.
Next we added the balusters. We were lucky and able to reuse some of the old ones.
R posing for a photo.
R putting on the final touches.
The top boards were biscuited together and glued. All the boards we glued last year and all the boards that were glued on B & G's deck (3 years ago) have held tight and not separated. If you glue your deck make sure you use weatherproof glue that is meant for outside applications.
We also finished off the back steps. They needed the baluster installed when winter set in last year.

Today we raked and raked and raked. Tomorrow's project.....more raking.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A post about posts

We we have never done that before...LOL

How did we miscalculate? We started with the hardest post to install and not the easiest working toward the hardest. Because of this we now have 4 more to install instead of maybe one or two if we had started at the other end.What made the first two posts so difficult was that drilling the holes in the deck was nearly impossible to reach. R ended up standing on a pile of fire wood that was stacked up against the barn. I have no idea how he didn't fall or how the fire wood didn't just collapse.

The weather was beautiful today and tomorrow is forecast to be warmer but cloudy with chance of thunderstorms. The plan is to get at it early so if it does rain we will at least have all the posts installed.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

This is the best spring EVER!!!

I seriously cannot believe how nice the weather has been lately. The weather forecast for next week 80 degrees. I'll be happy with 70 even 60 degrees is great.

We cut the 8 posts for the upper loft deck. I've already purchased the carriage bolts so we are hoping that we can get the posts installed. There is still some fine tuning to do to the posts like adding the little 45 degree bevel at the bottom, drilling the holes for the carriage bolts, and finishing up with a little sanding.But the plan is to install the posts on Wednesday. The weather forecast is saying that there is a chance of rain so installing the railing caps on the already finished railing is probably out of the question because we use the biscuit joiner and glue to connect the boards.

There is plenty of spring clean up to do, so if it looks like rain we will probably rake. I have piles of already raked leaves and twigs all over the place and that barely puts a dent into the mounds of leaves and twigs in the flower beds.

I feel a blister forming on my thumb already.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Free Qt of paint at Ace Hardware on Saturday

During the month of March, Ace Hardware will give away free quarts of paint on Saturday. I picked up mine yesterday and can't wait to paint one of R's curbside treasures with my free paint.

The paint is manufactured by Clark & Kensington and is primer and paint in one can. I received a coupon by email because I belong to the Ace Rewards program but according to my paint guy at Ace, he said as long as you sign up for Ace Rewards they will give you a free quart.Along with the free quart of paint, in your choice of color, you will receive a coupon for 20% off your next two gallons of Clark & Kensington paint.

If you have an Ace Hardware in your area it is beneficial to join their Ace Rewards. I receive $5.00 off your next $25.00 purchase and I also receive $5.00 off your next purchase of $5.00 or more when I accumulate 2500 points. They also send points for other occasions along the way.

Along with the rewards program they offer rebates which in some cases makes the item free. One of the items last year that ended up being free after the rebate program was a pair of heavy leather garden gloves that are perfect for trimming rose bushes.

Before heading to your Ace Hardware, you might want to call ahead and make sure your Ace is participating in this promotion.

This Saturday was actually quite lucrative when it comes to good deals. The mailman brought me a $20.00 off coupon on my next oil change at Valvoline Express Care. I can pair that with my ladies day discount of $5.00 off on Wednesdays which will make my next oil change of full synthetic oil about $25.00. Full synthetic oil will get me between 8k and 10k miles.Let's hear it for good deals!!!! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sunny but cold

I thought to myself, "good day to work outside" when I looked outside this morning and noticed it was bright and sunshiney. Bright...yes, sunny....yes, It was actually brisk outside because of the wind. But we were determined to get something....anything....done today.

We started out by working a little on the loft part of the deck. We rummaged through our scrap pile and found several pieces long enough to cover the existing rim joist with a wider piece of 2X10. Tomorrow will require a lumber run to pick up the two longer pieces to finish the other two sides.With the deck work at a standstill we decided that now is the time to remove the brush from the back property line. In between the large cedar trees and large pine there are hundreds of choke cherry trees and a tangled mess of river bank grape vine.The choke cherry trees are dangerous and covered with large thorns that can in a blink impale you. My neighbor had one imbed itself in his thumb which caused an infection. I'm pleased to announce that I did not get stabbed today but I did break two fingernails. Please.....a moment of silence in honor of my fingernails who gave it their all so that our yard will look tidy.

Well, I am off to bed because after an afternoon in the brisk spring air, I am tuckered out.

Don't forget to turn your clocks ahead one hour tonight. Spring ahead...fall back.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Another Kitchen Oil Painting

Last summer I purchased a still life oil on board of a rooster, bowl of bananas, and a plant. I paid $10.00 and at the time thought it would look great in my kitchen once I found a frame for it.

Several days ago I stopped in my favorite consignment shop looking for a frame. I needed a frame that held a painting that measured 16 X 20 and it needed to be fairly simple and not ornate. I found one that had a print and glass in it for $18.00. I wasn't wowed but thought it would work so I grabbed it and headed to the cash register.

I continued to wander around while I waited for the clerk to check out another customer. That's when I found an oil painting in a simple frame for $18.00. Lo and behold this one had a purple tag meaning it was HALF OFF!Nothing special actually kind of blah......but the frame was wood and of simple design which makes it perfect for my still life painting.

This photo shows the rooster painting in the frame before I painted the frame. Sorry about the blurry photo. The frame still looks kind of blah and really does nothing for the painting but wait...
This is what it looked like after I painted the frame. The frame is satin black and actually photographs a little shineyier (is that a word?...LOL) than it is in real life.
I love it!!! The frame is simple but has a little detail that popped out when painted. I think I did well for my total investment of $19.00.

I love these vintage still life paintings done by amateur painters. Most are very affordable and there are hundreds if not thousands on Etsy and eBay to pick from if you cannot find one at your local antique or consignment shop.

A lot of the amateur still life paintings are painted on 8X10 canvas board. This makes buying inexpensive frames really really easy. It also allows you to group 2 or 3 together. Pick a theme like veggies, fruit, or flowers and then group them with similar or matching frames.

Use one painting to fill in a small area such as the little area of wall at the end of a run of cabinets. How about hanging several under your cabinets in the back splash area? Need something larger? Group 3, 4, or 5 paintings to give a larger visual impact.

Remember if you plan on using oil paintings in a kitchen environment they will be subjected to airborne cooking oils. Using inexpensive paintings is perfect for the kitchen. Hang your van Goghs and Monets in the living room and use the less expensive and readily available amateur still life paintings in your kitchen.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Great day to demo

Demo on the railing around the deck outside the barn loft door started today. The temperature was in the 60's, but with the wind blowing in the 20-30 mph range, it felt much cooler.

R was busy with the deck railing removal while I went and had our taxes completed. While I was out I stopped by one of my favorite consignment shops and purchased an old oil painting with a cool vintage frame. Lucky was also 50% off. I really only purchased it for the frame to use with my vintage rooster oil painting. I'll post before and after photos when it is completed.

Tomorrow's weather forecast is for rain so deck work will stop. R was able to get the entire railing system removed and some of the deck boards trimmed back. I was surprised at how much progress he was able to get completed today....especially without my supervision....LOL

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Time to get back to work on the house...

Work on 'The Gear' came to a grinding halt during the fall due to the weather and my father's surgery. On the morning of February 22nd my father passed away from complications of the very delicate surgery that he had on November 29th. He put up quite the fight but his body just could not take anymore.

We are greatly sadden but need to move on so with this coming week R and I will make a list because every project starts with a list. First on the list will measure for lumber to finish building the deck.

The wide top board still needs to be installed on the main part of the deck. There are about 10 spindles that need installing on the small steps on the back. The small landing on the second story of the barn needs to have the old railing removed and a new decorative wider rim joist installed. We can then add the new railing and the deck rebuild will be done. EXCEPT for the million wood buttons that I need to install to cover the screws on the spindles.

Last month I purchased a small vintage oil painting on Etsy that I intend to use in the kitchen. It's a cute little painting of a bowl, flour sifter, egg beater, and a couple of eggs. The painting was a little dirty and had a spot on one of the eggs so I used a slightly damp Mr. Clean Eraser to lightly go over it to remove the surface dirt. DO NOT DO THIS ON A VALUABLE PAINTING. This worked like a charm and the painting looks a million times better.

I also repainted the brown frame with satin black spray paint and it is now perfect. Check out the before and after photos.

Before cleaning and repainting frame.After cleaning and frame painting.