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Those Brown Spots Aren’t Freckles

If I had known early on that having one’s place repainted would be emotionally, and not just physically, draining, I would’ve better prepared myself.

I had long wanted to have my unit renovated because molds had taken over many of the walls and other surfaces inside a home that you can think of. Molds look innocuously like brown spots until you realize they’re on that wall here, on that wall over there, on the ceiling, and . . . are those molds on the surface of the fridge?

When you see something similar in your residence – or even where you work – be slightly wary. If for some reason you develop an unexplained bout of colds or rash on your skin that won’t go away, chances are they’re caused by these small but offending organisms. Thinking of scraping them off the walls with a solution of soap, water, and bleach? It won’t work. Molds are hardy; once they grow on surfaces, especially those that attract moisture, the only way to remove them is to sand them away.

It actually took me several months since last year to find someone who’ll do the job, and the first thing he said when he saw my place was, “What happened here?” It sounds funny now, but in hindsight, it meant the situation was bad and needed remedy as soon as possible.

It took only a few days thereafter for the sanding and repainting job to begin. This is the start of the emotionally draining journey I mentioned earlier because what was once an orderly home instantly turned into disarray: pieces of furniture covered with newspapers or wraps were moved to the middle of the room or from room to room; there was masking tape everywhere; there was dust everywhere. “War zone” is a good description. For five days or so, I also had to supervise the painter, monitor (the quality of) his work, prepare his meals, and pay his daily wages. Oh, let’s not forget the trips to the hardware store to buy the paint and other materials we needed.

One would think that after all has been said and done, things will turn out “beautifully” or at least “great.” Not quite. You see, one has to let the paint dry thoroughly before all the covers and the tapes can be removed. And even then, brace yourself for some ‘surprises.’ In my case, I discovered areas that weren’t painted over properly, so guess what? I took the remaining paint and retouched those spots, hidden or not-so-hidden from plain view. It’s actually quite therapeutic, much like applying make-up on walls. Don’t rush the process, and you just might find yourself looking forward to doing a paint job yourself in the future!

This minor renovation project ended last week, but I’m still in the process of moving things back to where they were. I still espy paint drippings here and there (frustrating, I know), and there are still dust on some shelves. Overall, my place looks near normal again and should be fully ‘operational’ soon. I can’t wait to hit the home section of stores and shops to buy new accessories!

And what of the molds that triggered this roller coaster of a journey in the first place? I’m happy to report they’re gone, and so are my colds. And now that the walls are much more pleasant to look at, will it surprise you if I say I find more and more reasons to stay at home as the days go by?

Do you have a similar repainting project and experience? Please feel free to share.

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Random Thoughts – 31 January 2104

Sometimes I wish I pursued a fine arts degree instead of giving in to parents who, years ago, suggested I take up something “more practical.”

I don’t know where this sentiment is coming from; it comes and goes every year. I’m guessing it’s because I’m done living out the profession people think I excel in, and I’m ready to do something else. Something just as creative as crafting sentences and putting words on paper . . . or on electronic media.

When I said years ago that I had wanted to take up fine arts, I had planned on focusing on interior design. I was inspired by my maternal grandmother who was a homemaker. She cooked, which is a skill I’ll never be good at; she sewed bags, clothes, curtains . . . you name it; she tended to her plants; she took care of over-active grandchildren (including yours truly), and so on. How did she manage?

Grandma, in my eyes, was someone to emulate. (And I continue to miss her, but that’s another story.)

Today, I went to one of my favorite second-hand shops, and not surprisingly, came away with “goodies” for my place. Got some framed images; a wooden tray that I plan on spray-painting, especially now that I’ve gained some confidence in doing so; a wooden basket for my collection of rubber stamps . . . or maybe for hand-towels.

One of the items I picked up from the shop. I thought I’ve outgrown stuff like these.

One of the items I picked up from the shop. I thought I’ve outgrown stuff like these.

Yes, you can say I’m channeling the “interior designer” in me. I had not done this hunting-for-good-finds for some time now, and it felt liberating! So many ideas came rushing through my head as my hands went through shelves and boxes, dusty as they were.

The trip back home was tiring. Nonetheless, the persistent thought flitted back: “How I wish I can do this more often.”

DIY Notebook: Installing Cabinet Doors

I had to install the doors of a small cabinet on my own. I don’t normally back away from projects that require assembling furniture, except that this one’s a little unstable to begin with. For support, I angled one side of the cabinet away from the wall and pushed the other end against it.

One of the disadvantages of out-of-the-box products (like these) is that alignment of pieces may not always be up to par. These doors, for example, will ‘tilt’ downward and drag over the lower jamb if you simply screw them to the hinges. To hold them up during the installation, I inserted a folded piece of thick paper under both doors.

The cabinet doors that took nearly an hour each to install.

The cabinet doors that took nearly an hour each to install.

The original door handles are made of metal. They actually remind me of those chrome bumpers from yesteryears. While they reflect light, too, I opted for these ‘glass knobs’ because they look more feminine, and the delicate lines complement those on the beadboard paneling.

The delicate lines of the 'glass knobs' complement those on the beadboard paneling.

The delicate lines of the ‘glass knobs’ complement those on the beadboard paneling.

How to Hang a Picture Frame

There are so many resources on the Internet on how to hang a picture frame that this post shouldn’t even be here. I want to take note of it, though, so that someday, I can look back and say, “I did that?”

Credit: I got the idea to use “Velcro Removable Picture Hangers” from a friend who also loves DIY projects. Thank you!

Tools and materials needed:
• Velcro Removable Picture Hangers – Make sure you choose the product that matches the weight of the item you’ll be hanging.
• Level or what I call a level bar
• Ruler, pencil

Stanley 'Torpedo' Level

Stanley ‘Torpedo’ Level

How I did it:
• Position the frame where you want it to hang. Mark key points on the wall using your ruler and pencil.
• Position the Velcro strips on your frame as you would when you’re using regular hooks.
• Note: the Velcro strips and their matching soft sides are not the same size. What I did was, after cutting the strip to the desired size, I stuck it onto the soft side (which is slightly bigger all around) and cut that to match the length and width of the hook and loop.
• After putting the Velcro strips and matching sticky backs in place, go back to the spot on the wall that you had marked. Place the frame on that spot.
• Sometimes, you can eyeball if the item is at the right height and won’t be hanging at an awkward angle. If you don’t trust estimates (or “guess-timates,” as some would say), use the level. The bubble moving to the left and right of the vial will help ensure your picture frame – or whatever it is that you’re planning to hang – will end up exactly how you had envisioned it to be!
• Once you’re satisfied, remove the protective coverings on the sticky backs and firmly press the frame against the wall. Remove the frame again by moving it up and away. (That’s what the instructions on the package say.)
• Initially placing the frame on the wall is meant to help you ‘mark’ the soft-side backs. Now that they’re ‘exposed,’ cover them with a small piece of paper and run your fingers over them to make them adhere better.
• Wait for at least an hour before re-attaching the picture frame with the Velcro strips to the soft-side backs. Use the level again if needed.
• Enjoy your handiwork!

End result (1): Frame with clips

End result (1): Frame with clips

End result (2): Frame with unvarnished wood

End result (2): Frame with unvarnished wood

Admission: it took me two hours to put up two ‘frames’ on the wall because I’m a slow simmer kind of DIY person. I don’t mind lingering over steps because for me, they’re just as enjoyable as the end result. I’d much rather take things slowly than regret that I rushed through a project.

Random Thoughts: Recycle, Repurpose, Upcycle

When I’m not writing letters or not putting together tokens for mailing, I usually turn my room upside down to look for items that can be discarded, given away or recycled.

I think I’m pretty good at giving away things, especially if I haven’t used them in over a year or if I’ve no use for them at all. Similarly, I’d give myself a “B” for reusing items (e.g. PET soda bottles, plastic bags, corrugated boxes in good condition) as long as possible.

Magazine glossies reborn as Valentine’s Day envelopes (sent in 2011)

Magazine glossies reborn as Valentine’s Day envelopes (sent in 2011)

I’d love to see the day, though, when I have more time in my hands so I can indulge in repurposing and upcycling projects. The mirror I salvaged from a second-hand store, for example, is still waiting for the rest of its old paint to come off. (Sigh)

To recycle, repurpose, and upcycle: it’s not because I don’t want to spend on things that I know I’ll eventually grow tired of. It’s just that I think it’s a cool idea to be able to max out the usage and benefits I get from something I bought, say, a blouse. I also like thrift store shopping, and many of those I’ve been to (and you’ve been to, as well) are teeming with finds waiting for a second chance at life. My latest ‘fantasy’ (if you will) is to turn pretty cups and saucers into fancy pots and planter bases. If only I have the time (there it is again!) to learn how to drill so I can make drainage holes at the bottom of those cups.

The mirror project and any DIY activity that involves paint have been suspended for now. (Sad) I recently dug up a decorative pie pan, however, and repurposed that as a catch-all for letters and stray pens on my work space at home. Admittedly, there’s a pretty tin tray that I saw at the home section of a department store I recently visited. I decided against buying it because, well, I have two of those decorative pie pans I mentioned earlier! And they’re just the right size for my work space. No point in buying something new when I can reuse what I have on hand.

It takes discipline to embrace this lifestyle. But personally, it’s liberating to know that not everything new and shiny has the power to influence me (to buy).

A Closer Look at the Nokia Asha 206

First released: Q4 2012

Last month, mom lost her mobile phone so I volunteered to buy a new handset. I initially sought help online using words like “ideal handsets for seniors.” The phone models that turned up fit the “ideal” part, but I want handsets that are fashionable, as well.

It was then that I decided to go to a mall and look at actual mobile phones. Let’s see . . . I need something with a big screen and with a large font type. The phone need not have bells and whistles and apps that mom will not use anyway. But it should still look pretty, and it should feel nice in the hands when in use.

Too demanding? Does such a phone exist at all? Incredibly, yes! Have a look at the Nokia Asha 206, a basic phone with not-so-basic features.

First of all, it has a large and colorful screen (2.4 inches). The font size has three settings. The menu can be viewed in single icons, as a list, or in a grid with labels.

I’m “borrowing” this image from the Internet (pcpractic.rs)

The keypad has a rather weak backlight, in my opinion, but I think it will become more prominent if the phone is used under really minimal lighting . . . like a movie house. The volume can easily be adjusted to a level that’s comfortable for the user.

Don’t let the phone’s slim body deceive you. The Nokia Asha 206 has a Bluetooth. You can surf the ‘net if you want and it’s Facebook-ready.

I think the phone’s coolest feature, however, is the radio. Seriously, this phone that looks like a colorful candy bar has one! I use a Blackberry and an old Motorola Razr neither of which carries a tune that makes me want to break into a song.

For the sophisticated set used to smartphones and phones that take you out of this world (hint: Galaxy), do give the Asha 206 some thought. It’s the handset you’ll want in your pocket or hands when you want something basic yet delivers in style!

Note to mom: Hope you like your new phone!

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