Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Slight Problem

So I have a confession. I can't stop playing 2048. If you like number puzzles, you should definitely check this game out. The goal is to combine tiles to get one that adds up to 2048.

screen shot of one of my less than decent games
Basically, you shift the tiles up/down/left/right and when two of the same number hit each other, the two tiles combine to show the sum. So if two tiles displaying a 2 hit, they disappear and a tile that has a 4 appears instead.

Every time you shift the tiles, a new tile appears in one of the open spots. Usually it is a 2, but sometimes it is a 4 instead. When the board gets tight, you should really pay attention to how the tiles will shift so that a 2 is always going to be open. Otherwise, your empty slots will start filling up and you lose flexibility and eventually the game.

I played this game during my drying time for my glam thrift store lamp project. Usually I cannot stand waiting for things to dry, but I had to set a timer so I would not forget while playing this game! The game is super addicting for me, so I almost feel irresponsible for recommending it to our readers. 2084 is a true time suck, but you can think about it as brain exercise. That will make us all feel better after spending too many hours to count playing.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Thrift Store Lamp Restore

Guess what. I actually finished a project. Unfortunately, it was not one of the projects I discussed back in February but we can look past that and just focus on Briana actually completing something in its entirety. Prepare yourself, this post is super long and full of steps within steps. It is a miracle I finished within a few months of purchasing the lamp.

I bought this lamp for $5 at Habitat for Humanity. I really liked the glass base and immediately thought about gold leafing the brass on the bottom. While the lamp worked (tested by Habitat), it was in rough shape. You can see the rust between the glass and brass in the picture below.

J took the lamp apart for me, thank goodness. I prefer to let him handle dismantling things that eventually need to go back together.

He tried polishing the brass with a brillo pad but it didn't do much good. I upgraded to a sanding block, which made more progress. Melinda finally took pity on my frustrated efforts to sand away the rust and googled home rust remedies. Some internet source said to soak the rust in white vinegar/water mixture and then sand away. It really worked! The rust came off so much easier.

1. Just brillo pad - could not see a difference
2. Sanding block - a lot of the raised up rust came off, but there was still quite a bit
3. Vinegar + sanding block - the rust came off with a lot less sanding on my part, but I still couldn't get everything clean. I finally decided that it was good enough since I had a sealing spray to lock in whatever rust was left.

 Next step was my sealing spray primer. I used X-I-M primer 400 clear, which was recommended to me by my paint store guys. I let the first coat dry for more than a day before applying a second coat, just to be sure that everything was fully sealed. My paint store guys strongly recommended that you seal immediately after wiping down the piece with a dry cloth.

Then came gold leafing. As I tweeted a while back, I don't enjoy this task. It requires steady hands and patience, but the final look is well worth it. I ordered this gold leafing set on Amazon because my local Michaels store's only set had broken up gold leaf sheets. There are plenty of online tutorials about gold leafing, so I will just give a brief summary.

Apply the adhesive in a thin coat, but not so thin that you don't get full coverage of the area. The leaf will stick wherever there is adhesive, so stay within the lines! Wait for the adhesive to turn clear (15-20 minutes for me) and apply the gold leaf. I found it was easier to cut the sheets into smaller pieces as they were easier to handle. Move slowly and turn off the fans and air conditioning, you don't want a breeze. These leaf sheets very easily fold into themselves and then you have to start with a new sheet.

in the middle of the leafing step
Once you get all the surfaces covered with leaf (it is ok to overlap), take a dry brush or cloth and rub off the excess. All the bits that are creased or overlapped will flake off and you will have a textured yet smooth to the touch surface. Apply the sealer if you are not using real gold leaf so your color does not tarnish. Let dry, and you are done!

I gold leafed all the exposed metal: the whole base, the center pole that goes through the glass, and the cap on top of the glass.

I went to my local lighting store to finish up my lamp. I bought a shorter 9" harp for $2, a square finial to coordinate with the glass for $11, and an off white silk shade for $42 (on sale 25% off). Overall the lamp cost me $60 plus tax and $11ish for the gold leaf. I had all the other supplies on hand and I used less than three of the 25 gold sheets. I could have saved money on the shade and skipped the finial, but even J said the silk shade is definitely worth it.

I need to touch up the front of the lamp base; I accidentally scraped off some leaf before it fully dried. I recommend you let your project cure for at least a day before flinging it around to a lamp shop like I did. Another note is that the lamp works with our incandescent bulbs but did not work with our CFL bulb.

I'm thrilled with how my lamp turned out! Now I need a break from DIYing before I attack anything else on my long list of thrift store rescues.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Weekend Activities

Hey y'all! Even though I don't dread Mondays, I find that I appreciate my weekends a bit more now that I go into an office in the afternoons. I have also learned that since I am not at all a morning person (as Melinda learned while hosting me for a summer), I have to devote some of my weekend time to chores. It is almost as if I am a real adult or something. 

Despite my groundbreaking realizations and the mountains of housework that had piled up, J and I managed to have some fun. We tried out a local restaurant Cang Tong for the first time and it was wonderful! The menu had both Chinese and Japanese dishes and sushi as well. Sometimes ethnic restaurants can't make it in our more rural setting but I was happy to see that there was a long line when we left.

J also squeezed orange juice. So yummy! Our local farm was selling juice oranges by the bucket, but we were able to grab half a bucket's worth for $4 - more suitable for a two person household. We still have over half the oranges left, too. By the way, that monogrammed glass pictured is part of a set my sister Kimberlee gave me as part of our wedding gift. She found a set of 9 at a thrift store and knew I would love them.

 It was prom weekend in my town, so I got to do my niece's makeup. She was so pretty! Of course, I snapped a picture of her with the awesome sunglasses I gave as a birthday present, so you can't see the eye makeup.

Normally, my two older sisters and I take turns hosting everyone for Sunday lunch. This month is a bit busy so we decided to skip until May. My sister Bekah organized a Taco Bell event Saturday night so we could still all get together. After eating out two nights in a row, J and I were in serious need of a healthy meal. I made hummus, chicken, quinoa, along with a variety of cut up vegetables.

One of my favorite parts of this meal is getting to use one of my Anna Weatherly platters. So overall, great weekend! Did y'all do anything fun/new/exciting? Make sure to come back tomorrow for my exciting DIY project that I actually completed! 

Posh Purpose Review: Shark SC650 Deluxe Portable Steam Mop

I'm about to share with you something I never thought I would post on the Internet.  Something that people would never dream of me sharing.  Something that I'm ashamed bathroom grout. (cue slasher horror movie music)

Eeeeeks!  My apartment bathrooms are white tiled with white grout...something I've grown to despise.  No matter how much I Swiffer, Tilex, Magic Eraser, or Scrubbin' Bubbles the floors, the grout has taken on a grayish tinge that won't go away and looks horrible - even if I know the floor is technically clean because I've used so many chemicals.  (While Briana and I believe in eating organic when we can afford it and using natural ingredients like baking soda, lemon, and vinegar to clean in the kitchen...we take no mercy in the bathrooms and aren't afraid of using harsh chemicals to fight the war against poopy germs as I like to call them.)  I've tried scrubbing the floor with a toothbrush and also a stiff bristled floor cleaning brush and nothing has worked.

The graying of the grout seems to be common in these apartment bathrooms.  Briana likes to remind me of the time she scrubbed my bathroom floor in my old apartment when she lived with me one summer.  She says it took a looooooooooooong time and I believed she had to walk uphill both ways in the snow to get to the bathroom as well.  However, I was really appreciative of her efforts and the bathroom looked much better for about 3 months.  

My aunt (also Briana's mom) told me about a Shark steam cleaner she used to clean the grout at their vacation home and said she had a lot of success with it, so I headed over to Bed Bath and Beyond with a 20% off coupon to buy the same brand (although, I'm not sure the same exact model).

Shark SC650 Deluxe Portable Steam Mop
Image Source: Bed Bath and Beyond

The Shark SC650 Deluxe Portable Steam Mop comes with a ton of attachments for all sorts of cleaning.  Steam kills germs so this makes it not only a cleaning tool but one that sanitizes as well.  I was most interested in the attachments that project the steam into crevices - which there was one with and one without a scrubby brush attached to it.

I steamed the tile in the bathrooms on two different Saturdays to make sure I wouldn't kill someone I would have enough time.  The picture above is of our master bathroom floor prior to any cleaning whatsoever (I probably should have put a warning label to finish any snacks before reading this article...oopsies).  I started off by dry Swiffering the floor to pick up any dust and hair (I shed like a golden retriever).  Then I heated up the steamer (using distilled water) and used the crevice tool (no brush) to start steaming the grout a few tiles at a time.  My aunt had warned me not to try to steam big sections and then clean up the water and dirt, because it would settle back into the grout if too much time passed.  So, I followed behind the tiles, mopping up excess water and dirt with a microfiber towel/shammy (I bought them a few years ago from Target in the automotive section) and also making sure to push the towel into the grout to push out the dirt.  I worked from the tub back to the door, doing no more than three tiles at a time.  I cleaned one bathroom and most of the second one this way before trying the crevice tool with brush.  I could have saved myself a lot of time if I had started with that brush.  The rest of the tile cleaning went much quicker and had the same results, but I still had to use the shammy to push out the dirt.  I should note that about halfway through I had a sudden thought that maybe it was the towel and not the steam cleaner and I tried a few tiles with just the towel.  It did get the dirt up, but not entirely and I had to use a lot more force.  The steam must help loosen up the gunk enough to be scrubbed out.  Here's a picture showing the results.  Notice the top tiles are much whiter than the bottom tiles.

It took me about an hour and a half to do one bathroom and my bathrooms are small.  Overall, the floor looked like this when I was done:

The steamer was easy to use, heated up quickly, and came with a long cord to stretch it across the bathroom.  I only had to refill the water tank once.  I think I will only partially fill the tank next time so the steamer isn't as heavy and just refill more often.

After using the steamer, I also figured out which tiles were actually stained or had old discolored grout and just couldn't be cleaned.  Those would to be regrouted or re-colored.  Neither of which I plan to partake in since this is a rental.

I'm really happy with the results, but I'd prefer not to spend my Saturdays losing my sanity cleaning my bathroom floors.  However, now that my floors are nice and white (just in time for my Easter potluck for next weekend) I don't think I will have to steam clean them again for another 3 months. I'm considering purchasing another Shark surface steam mop to do the routine weekly cleaning so that I could extend that to maybe 6 months (this is just a theory I have...not sure if will really work).  Shark makes one that cleans hard surfaces and carpet which would probably come in handy for the white carpet wonderland I live in now.

All in all, I recommend the Shark portable steamer.  Although cleaning the floors wasn't scrub-free, I actually saw results for my efforts in comparison to all the other tactics I have tried.  I also had many thoughts about future home ownership and my time with the tile has solidified my decision to only use grey grout in any future bathrooms that I actually own as opposed to rent...or just ditch the tile altogether and go for hardwood or bamboo.  Has anyone else had any luck with their grout?  Share below in the comments section!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thrift Store Finds

Sorry for the delay in today's post! I had some internet issues. I had so much fun reading Melinda's thrift store finds!  I have major end table envy here - totally would have snatched up that $15 table she photographed if it were in my area. Here are yet more pictures from our thrifting adventures during Melinda's spring break. When you go to Habitat three times in a week, plus visiting other stores as well, you end up with a ton of pictures.

This purple painting was quite large and in great shape. I love the colors, but I am just not into florals. However, someone else clearly was because it was snatched up a few days later. And for $40, I am not surprised.

Mom and I debated over this lamp, and she ended up taking it home for $20. She will be replacing the shade most likely, but the base is beautiful!

This lamp also went home with mom. She bought it for $30 to coordinate with the one above. The two lamps just belong together, which is why I decided she should buy them. I am not currently in the market for two large lamps. She has already set the pair up in her house so I am able to enjoy whenever I visit.

This $20 floral chair is covered in a plasticky material that is in great shape. You can update an upholstered chair by just removing the skirt, so always check the legs underneath to see if it is finished enough to take scissors to the skirt.

This plastic set of some pouring thing and a pair of salt and pepper shakers was pretty cute, and cheap too! I believe each piece was 50 cents - great for an outdoor set or something to put at the kids table.

This retro china set was so wonderful. I feel a slight twinge of sadness that I did not buy it, but I was happy to see that someone had picked it up when I visited two weeks later. I hope the new owner loves these dishes as much as I would have. As you can see, the set is pretty complete and priced at $15.

The gravy dish was particularly fun. See how it angles down? Sadly, the base had a tiny chip. The creamer and sugar bowl are in the background to the right. My favorite part of this set is how everything is shaped.

close up of sugar bowl

stack of plates

This picture is of the table stacked on top. Habitat was clearly running out of floor space that day. Melinda was very drawn to this style of end table, as she mentioned in her post yesterday. This one had a cool swirly pattern to it and the legs angled out nicely on the bottom. Even though it was not made of great materials (no hardwood here), the price tag said $10 which seemed quite reasonable.

Mom also bought this solid wood frame for $1! The pattern in the center is actually part of a towel bench that I bought for $15. I did not take a picture of my purchase from the side, and I would go run do it now except I think the piece is stored somewhere else? I'm not sure, it went home in mom's vehicle and I haven't seen it since. Neither has J, although I'm not entirely sure he knows I even bought it.. Ah the joys of thrifting when you have no space for your newfound treasures.

Check out our other Posh Purpose thrift store finds!