Shut the Front Door!

19 08 2011

I just love that saying, so I had to use it as the title to this post which is about…you guessed it, my front door!

You may not know this about me, but I hate the paint color on my front door and shutters. I know I live in a beachy area, but that doesn’t mean everything has to be pale and well, ugly!

Here’s the front of my house (I apologize for the hazy view, it was really humid when I took this and my camera was unhappy):


It’s hard to tell here, but the shutters and doors are a very light blue.  I mean, are we baby boys?  My next door neighbor had painted them before the previous owner moved out – he was painting his and since our houses have to look uniform, and she didn’t want to have to do the painting herself (he offered to do it), she just let him go ahead with the light blue.


So the next time he mentions that it will need painting, I’m putting my plan into action for convincing the neighbors that it needs to be a different color.  I did a few mockups in PhotoShop to see what might be some good colors.  What do you think?

Dark Gray – it looks black, but I like a dark grey.


The colors appear lighter on the two front doors than they do on the shutters, but the shutters are closer to the colors I actually like. Which one is your favorite?


A Closet Makeover

18 08 2011

I’ve mentioned before that I’m embarrassed by my clutter.  I don’t have a lot of it, but sometimes, things just build up and it gets out of control.

My guest room closet was a good example – I am so glad I really cleaned out that closet and then it was ready for painting and loveliness.

One of the other things that was really bugging me was the linen closet in the hallway.  It had started to become a catchall for things I was giving to goodwill, painting supplies, all kinds of travel toiletries and more.   It was out of control.

The "Before"

I had picked up paint for this closet, as well as the closets in my bedroom and office, and since I tweaked my back carrying the guest room’s closet doors downstairs a few weeks ago, I thought it best to settle for a low key project.  This was low-key considering all the heavier stuff I’ve done lately, but it definitely didn’t help my back!

My first job was obviously to empty the closet out and sort through everything.

The way that these closets were all made, the shelves just pop right out.  That really makes a huge difference when you’re talking about a tiny closet!

Once I’d gotten the shelves out, I realized how yucky this closet was – I’d put contact paper on each of the shelves when I moved in because they were just gross! So I was really glad to paint over them!   I also saw another spot where the builders cut corners – I see them all the time – they had neglected to finish painting the inside of the closet, and part of it was just primed.  Not a problem, just one more thing overlooked – it makes you wonder about the hidden things that were “overlooked” that might be a bigger fix!

I painted two coats of the grey in the closet, which was a bit darker than I’d expected.  That’s okay, it was just a surprise:

All done!

In the meantime, I’d set up some drop cloths in the bathroom so that I could paint the shelves out of the way.

As they dried, I put clear contact paper over the top of each shelf – I wanted to have a very smooth surface for the items in the closet to slide off of – particularly any towels or extra sheet sets.   Then, I put them back into the closet one by one.

First the top shelf

I’d managed to clear out some space in the downstairs bathroom the night before, so I put the majority of the paper towels down there (that’s where I use them after all).  So I was able to fit a few paper towel rolls, tissues and toilet paper on the top shelf – I’m a BJ’s shopper, so I need space for bulk items!

I got another two shelves in – on the second shelf, I put plastic boxes with extra toiletries, and my travel items, and on the third shelf, a basket with hair projects and my extra toilet cleaner (hey, it has to go somewhere!).

The last two shelves actually went together on the fourth set of bars – I could have put one of them on the bottom set of bars, but I like that this gives me one larger shelf.  On the third shelf, I added a bamboo container of q-tips and an air fresheners and on the bottom shelf I put towels and sheets, along with a basket of extra soap and body lotion.  The only thing that went into the bottom of the closet is the bamboo shelf I have for the bathtub.  Big difference, huh?

Of course, in between coats, I was lying on the ground to stretch my back out, and I noticed that the door to the attic REALLY needed painting.  Since I had the trim paint out already….

I know, I know, I should have just left it, but I’m a glutton for punishment.  I got it done, and it looks great:

Hard to tell because the hallway is ALWAYS dark and it was nighttime, but take my word for it, it looks good!

I do need to do something about this though:

Just think of all the skin cells on this baby...shudder

Fortunately, I know that you can clean that without having to replace it. I just have to find the tip online and I’ll be doing that!

Also while I was lying on the floor, I noticed how gross this looks:

I won’t even show you what it looks like when it’s open and on and you can see all the dust in there that I’ve been promising myself I’d clean since I moved here…three years ago. Ahem.

My dad mentioned to me a few weeks ago though that he would help me take it down at some point so that I could spray paint it.  I have that lovely metal spray paint already, but it makes more sense to do it in white to blend with the ceiling. So that’s what I’ll do.

And then there's this.

I think this is the only smoke alarm to be originally installed with the house since the smoke alarm downstairs and the carbon monoxide detector upstairs are both white and upgraded looking.  This just looks gross.  So I’ll be looking to do what I did with my doorbell and just replace the cover.

It’s so true, every time I finish one job, I find four more to put on the list. But I think I’d be bored if I ever finished with this place! Or I’d just move!

Wordless Wednesday

17 08 2011

The Bush that Took Over

16 08 2011

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my parents recently helped me to cut back the three bushes next to my deck that were seriously starting to take over the house.  They’re looking a little naked lately, but I’m expecting the foliage to come back thickly as they get more sun, and I’m loving the cleaner look I have now that they’re trimmed.  I promised I’d show you how they look, so here they are!

Hard to get a view because the neighbors' trees in the background blend in a bit

From the driveway - it's still got some leaves!

And underneath - so much nicer! this is where I'll put more brick, stone and mulch to finish it off!






Updating a Light Fixture

15 08 2011

So I managed not to get a before picture.

But, I may have mentioned recently that I fixed the light over the sink.  I’m so happy to have the extra light in my kitchen, which tends to be a bit on the dark side in the evening, but it called into sharp focus the dated worn look that the overhead light had.  It’s nothing special – just a recessed light with a broken piece of glass and a rust-spotted metal surround.

I didn’t replace the broken glass yet, but I knew from my many trips to Lowes that I could get a spray paint designed especially for metal that I could use to spray the surround with.  So I took it down – no small feat, let me tell you – and managed to slice my finger open on the glass without noticing. I’m clumsy like that.

I took it outside with some newspaper:

As "before" as we're going to get!

Then I sprayed it with a burnished bronze metal paint:

Already better

I was so excited, I tried to think of anything else metal that I could spray paint. I have yet to come up with anything.

It didn’t take very long to dry, so then it was inside to put it back!

Of course, I *could* have waited a bit longer for it to dry…since when I tried to put it back in, some of the paint scraped off on the top of the blinds.  That may have been the case no matter how long I waited, so I fixed it by spraying some paint onto a sponge brush and touching it up.  And now, it looks just fabulous:

I can’t tell you how happy this easy, small project made me.  Knocking those little things off my to do list make me so happy! Of course, it also made me realize how gross the paint job is on this little bit of ceiling here, but with my plans to update the kitchen next year, it just doesn’t make any sense to spend time painting this little piece now!

The Cantaloupes are Coming, the Cantaloupes are Coming!

12 08 2011

So, the other day I was out in the garden, checking on my plants, pulling a few errant weeds, when I noticed a little something…

Hmm, what could it be?

I got FAR more excited than the situation warranted, but let’s be honest – I grew this HUGE cantaloupe vine from seeds.

I almost killed it by leaving it alone outside without water as a seedling, and planted it as a fluke, when I thought it was going to die.  And now, I’m growing real cantaloupes!!

I thought all the flowers would turn into fruit, but I read that there are male and female flowers, and you have to have bees around to pollinate them.  So it was sort of up to fate as to whether I’d get any actual cantaloupes at all.  And yet, here they are!

First, I found this little one….

Then, I was REALLY excited when I poked around and found an even bigger one!

You can see that it’s almost the size of my hand!

And then I went out to check on them again (which I’m doing as if I were stalking them), and I knelt down to take a photo of something else, and lo and behold…

This one is HUGE!

Definitely as big as my hand!

Of course, a certain nosy Basset hound got wind of this one yesterday, and I saw some serious tail wagging – I don’t think that’s because he was excited that his mom had grown cantaloupes, but because his favorite game on earth (really his favorite thing on earth) is playing fetch.  And to him, I think this looks like a really big tennis ball.  So I’ve got to keep an eye on it to make sure he doesn’t grab it off the vine to play with it!

Now I’ll just be holding my breath and checking them daily until they ripen – I’m so worried they’ll either get infested or infected! I think I may need to prop them up off the ground too to avoid rot.  I’ll keep you posted!

Replacing an Outdoor Light Fixture

12 08 2011

Okay, so remember back in February I mentioned that I’d picked up a new light fixture for outside my front door?

Well, I finally installed it! I know, only about six months after I bought it!

There are two reasons for the delay – one, I had it in my head that it would take a long time to install it and two, around that time, I got a copy of the HOA rules, which said that the front of our condos (each building has two units) have to look the same. My neighbors have a white outdoor light.

But mine is prettier!

So anyway, I waited until they were away on vacation – brilliant, I thought.

And the install would have been a breeze were it not for two things, which I’ll get to.

So here’s the before:

It’s not so bad – It just wasn’t what I wanted! Plus, it turned out to be a good thing I removed it.

So I started as I always do with electrical projects – by turning the electricity off.  If you’re going to be working with something like an outdoor light fixture that you can turn on, it’s great to turn it on before you turn off the power. That way, you know definitely when you’ve shut the power off (in addition to testing the wires).

It was tough to undo the fixture because the screws and caps holding it to the mounting plate had rusted.  I ended up using pliers to painstakingly remove them.  As I was working on the fixture, I heard a buzzing.

I didn’t think it was the electricity, since I’d turned it off.  But I suspected I knew what it was.

Any guesses?

That’s right…a mud wasp!

I knew there was one or two around, because we’d started to notice some tunnels in the brick facade – gotta work on closing those up – but I’d never seen  or heard it.  My original plan was to leave the old fixture connected and disconnect and re-connect the wires one at a time.  But when I saw the mud wasp next, and in fact, the mud wasp itself, I decided I had to go with full removal first.

But I really hate bees and wasps. Hate ’em. And this was a pretty big sucker (not quite as big as the spider they retrieved from the bathroom at the physical therapists’ this morning, but big).

He was sitting underneath the outlet when he realized I’d pulled his home out. Can you see him?

How about now? Look right in the middle.

I’m getting the chills just thinking about it.  Though in fairness, mud wasps don’t sting – unless you really provoke them.  I was really provoking him though, and I just don’t like bugs.

Anyway, this is the point at which the neighbors in the cul de sac must have thought I’d lost my mind. I mean, they don’t know I’ve been working on electrical stuff inside for months, so when I brought my step stool and the light out, they must have been thinking, “oh dear, how’s this going to go?”  And then once the wasp discovery was made, I headed straight inside for some gloves – my work gloves were in the shed, and Barney was outside. Although I generally don’t mind disturbing him, during the summer he thinks anytime I’m outside it’s time for fetch, so I decided to go with rubber gloves, which I had inside instead.

My rubber gloves are awesome – they were a gift.  They’re elbow length black rubber gloves….with red and white polka dot ruffles on them. Seriously.

Picture this – I’m outside, working on electrical wiring, wearing elbow length ruffled rubber gloves.  Classic.

At any rate, I kept the gloves on as I poked around at the wasp and he eventually flew away.  I was hoping to get rid of him entirely (Don’t call PETA on me) because I know he’s just going to do more damage to the house, but he was too speedy.  So I let it go.  He didn’t, because he kept coming back to buzz me periodically, but his home was a goner.  I disconnected all the wiring and got a separate garbage bag just for the old fixture. *shudder*

Then, I poked around and removed any of the mud tunnels that he’d started inside the box (I should probably call it a “she” since I understand they’re the ones that stay with the tunnels).  Once that was done, I sealed up the hole underneath the box with clear silicone.

You’ll see I’d already removed and put in the new bracket.

Since I was actually reading the instructions for the new fixture, I saw that I was supposed to strip the wires of additional tubing to expose more of the wires, which I did – the above is the before.  The next step is to attach the copper wire to the ground wire, the white wire to the white wire and the black wire to the black wire – fairly simple, right?

Easy-peasy lemon squeezy.

I then screwed the fixture on to the mounting plate, and had the brilliant idea to check that it worked before sealing it with silicone.

It didn’t.

I turned the power on and off, turned the switch on and off, checked each of the wires four times, stripped more of the tubing off and re-wired, checked the lightbulb and thought I was going crazy.  I mean, this was a SIMPLE wiring diagram! I’ve done much harder wiring with the three and four-way switches in my hallway! What was wrong?!?!

I was getting ready to send my dad a photo of the wiring or call an electrician when I looked at the fixture one more time.  And then I remembered.

When I bought the fixture in February, I bought a screw in extra that would turn the light on only after dark.

And of course, I wasn’t wiring this in the dark. So the fixture WAS working – just my brain wasn’t.  So I removed the extra screw-in and tried the fixture again. Hallelujah! It worked.

So much prettier, right?

It really does work – I’m not just sayin’!

So the front entryway is looking much nicer. And I did screw back in the extra to get the light to come on in darkness and that works too! I leave it off most of the time to cut down on electricity, but it will be a good security feature when I’m away!

I should also mention that once the fixture was in place, I secured it with clear silicone (for outdoor use) – the instructions note to seal only the top and sides to allow water to drain out.  I thought the last person who installed the other fixture was just being lazy! But I did seal up all three sides very well, so hopefully that will keep out the mud wasp!

And so far, nothing from the neighbors – of course, I haven’t actually talked to them since they got back from their trip yesterday, but I’m hoping they just don’t notice the new light. It kind of blends in when it’s off!

Of course, I now want to replace the fixture out back…