Yo, that’s DOPE.

More plumbing!

The faucet aerator on my parents’ kitchen faucet had been threatening to break for a few years now, and, finally, while they were away (of course) it did, leaving me to fix it.  Fortunately, I actually really like plumbing.  It just seems so logical.

Pipe Dope 3
Yup, ew.

Anyway, while I was at Canadian Tire buying a new faucet aerator, I realized I had no idea where my dad kept his teflon thread tape, so I figured I’d pick up some more — it’s like a buck and a half so it’s no big.  But then I saw this little tube of pipe thread DOPE.  I’d never seen it before (my plumbing experience is pretty limited, after all).  I’m not a huge fan of teflon tape: I find it’s hard to apply at first, when it keeps unraveling on you, and after a few years it tends to flake out and then your pipes are leaking again.  So I figured what the heck?  And I bought the dope.

Pipe Dope 1

Pipe dope, while it may sound like a specific form of recreational drug, is also known as pipe-joint compound, and you use it the same as you would the teflon tape.  When I got home I looked up the differences between tape and goop and this website was very helpful in explaining.  Essentially, dope is messier but easier to apply (less finesse involved) and it never hardens, which means you don’t get that flakiness a few years down the road.

Pipe Dope 12

I’m sure many of you have replaced bits of piping over the years but I figured I’d post this just so you can see the difference between dope and tape if you’ve never used dope before (Kids: don’t do drugs.  Wrong kind of dope).

Pipe Dope 4

So you remove the old faucet aerator and clean and dry off the threads on the faucet.  This is easier to do with a male end but a good stiff brush will clean out most of the gunk.

Pipe Dope 5

You might want to test your attachment first, to make sure it fits. I ended up having to take out one of the washers already inside so that there was room to screw it on.

Pipe Dope 6

And when I opened the tube of dope there was this weird oily stuff in there so I squeezed it out and chucked it. The second squeeze came out okay.

Pipe Dope 7

Then you coat the male end of the threads with dope.  Sometimes this will be on your faucet, sometimes it will be on the attachment.  It all depends.  But always do it on the male end, which is the part that goes inside the other part.  Yup. Then you screw on your attachment.  Keep in mind that not all dope works on plastic attachments, like this one.  I checked the tube before I bought it to make sure.

Pipe Dope 8

Also with plastic attachments, generally they say you can simply tighten them by hand and you don’t need tools but I find that with my carpal tunnel syndrome I have a super weak grip and if I tighten things by hand then I get leaks out the wazoo, so what I like to do is wrap the plastic attachment with a cloth and then use Vice Grips to gently tighten it a bit more.

Pipe Dope 9

Then you just wipe away the excess dope and give it a test.  If, like you see here, you get tiny pinhole leaks, then just take off the attachment, apply more dope, and try again.

Pipe Dope 10
You can’t see the two tiny jets of water that are shooting straight up but they’re what is leaving puddles on top of the faucet itself.

Tada.  New aerator.  Easy peasy.

Pipe Dope 11

Fast Tip Friday: Let’s talk about THAT smell.

I recently got myself stricken with food poisoning and so spent an inordinate amount of time bent over my toilet bowl.  In doing so, I noticed that, no matter how many times I diligently scrubbed the toilet from top to bottom, I was still smelling … THAT smell.  Like a boys’ bathroom in a college dorm.  You know what I mean.

THAT Smell 1

Turns out that the problem isn’t my bad cleaning habits, but a gas leak from around the u-bend.  Fixing it is easy peasy.  Grab some all-purpose silicone and a pair of gloves.

THAT Smell 2

Run a bead of silicone all around the bottom of your toilet to seal in the bad smell.

THAT Smell 3

Run your gloved finger around that to smooth it down, and wipe off the excess with a dry cloth.  Let it cure, and you’re good to go. Smell solved.

THAT Smell 4

A Fan of Summer

I did this a couple weeks ago, one sultry summer afternoon when I had nothing better to do than watch the Pie play The Last of Us and poke the dog while I sort of read a novel.  I was even running out of things to pack, and the fact that most of our stuff was now in boxes meant that I was scrambling for DIY post ideas for you guys that I could do with the materials at hand. I was pretty sure you were tired of lessons on how to clean things.  And I know I’m tired of gelatin.  The Pie is on a gelatin strike.  He may divorce me if I make anything else.

Fan of Summer 1

So I stared at the electric table fan that was pushing a desultory breeze through the window at the dog.  I’d inherited the thing a decade or so ago when my grandmother and grandfather downsized, and I have memories of playing with it at their place as a kid (which was why I took it).  So there’s a good chance that it’s as old as, if not older than, I am.  And that kind of makes it vintage, right?  But it’s also rather boring to look at, and over the years the plastic has discoloured and gotten grubby.

“I’m gonna paint that fan,” I announced.

“Are you now?” the Pie responded by rote as he murdered spore-infected citizens.  He’s pretty used to me spouting random words at him and has a variety of canned phrases he uses in reply.  The dog said nothing but spared me a mildly apprehensive glance.  Neither of them bother to ask me “why” anymore.  There’s not really any point.

“Yep,” I nodded, warming to the subject. “I’m going to paint it all retro-style … with a rainbow.”

“With a rainbow.”  When the Pie isn’t actually listening to me his brain will simply repeat the last things that went into his ears in a survival-mode attempt to imitate what he’s like when he’s paying attention.  For the record, I’ve cottoned on to this ploy now.  Only took me ten years.

“Mm-hm.  I’m gonna DO it.”  I sat quietly for a few moments while the Pie threw a bottle to distract a hostile gunman and Gren began to snore over my shoulder.  “I’m gonna do it tuh-DAY.”

So I grabbed my as-yet-unsealed box of craft paints, stirred myself up a tequila sunrise (I didn’t want to waste the orange juice sitting in the fridge after all), and got started.

Fan of Summer 3

First, everything that can come off the fan has gotta come off, so you can clean thirty-plus years’ worth of gunk out of the inner workings.  And despite the fact that I dust this sucker regularly, a summer of construction work outside means that the thing is full-on FILTHY.  Um, I don’t want to need to say this, but please make sure the fan is turned off and unplugged before you start dis-assembly.

Fan of Summer 4

Then I began to paint.  I knew it was going to take a few coats to get a nice opaqueness to it, but that was fine, I had time. Just a warning, if you decide to do this, that craft paint painted on smooth plastic WILL chip. If you wanted to use spray paint instead, use something designed to work on smooth surfaces, and make sure to tape off anything you don’t want covered.

Fan of Summer 5

I thought a nice retro seafoam turquoise-y colour would be appropriate.

Fan of Summer 6

I decided to paint the fan blades in primary colours, so when they spun they would make a rainbow.

Fan of Summer 7

Fan of Summer 9

While the fan blades dried I worked on my second coat of the fan.  You can see it’s already starting to cover better.  I’m not that concerned with brush strokes showing, because really, who looks that closely at a table fan?  I painted the adjustment knob primary blue, mostly because I wanted to.

Fan of Summer 8

Then it was time to paint the grilles (or whatever it’s called).  I used Rustoleum in copper.  First I taped off the centre panel on the front grille because I was going to paint that a primary blue, just like the adjustment knob.  Then I painted.

Fan of Summer 10

Boy, it’s so easy to miss spokes when you’re using spray paint.  I went over the whole thing, inside and out, twice, just to cover any lingering white spots.

Fan of Summer 13

And pulled off the taped off area.

Fan of Summer 14

First coat of blue.

Fan of Summer 15

While that dried I put the rest of the fan back together.  Here’s the back grille.

Fan of Summer 11

Then the finished fan blades with their hardware that I painted black.

Fan of Summer 12

If you turn it on, it looks so cool!

Fan of Summer 16

This one makes me think of the “beachball” my computer shows me when I’m waiting for something to load.

Fan of Summer 18

Then with the front grille in place.  Now that I’ve done it in the primary blue I’m second-guessing myself.  I think I might paint it turquoise later.  We shall see.

Fan of Summer 20

Anyway, before and after:

Fan of Summer 19

Fan of Summer 2

Moving Tips: A General Timeline and Philosophy

I’ve got so many good moving tips for you.  Before I go into detail again on packing things like delicate items (which you will see Friday), I thought I’d take a step back and give you a more general idea of all the things you should be thinking about when you’re planning a move.  You may find some of the ideas in here repeated in some other posts, but that’s just because they’re very important ideas to my moving philosophy.

Do the Paperwork (and the Legwork).

Address changes: There’s always paperwork involved with moving, the least of which is ensuring that your new address is registered with everyone who sends you mail.  The convenience of modern technology means that you can change most of your correspondence online — or better yet, take the green option to have your correspondence (bank statements, magazines, charitable organizations) sent to you electronically.  Make arrangements to cancel or transfer your phone, power, water, and any other bills associated with the house.  Make sure the Tax Man knows where you’re moving, and notify your school, work, hair salon, veterinarian, and any medical professionals you visit, if you know that they keep your address on file.  And make sure your friends and family know where you’re going, as well.  It would really be lame if one of them dropped in only to find out you didn’t live there anymore.

Asking the professionals: Many people my age move with the help of their friends, because we are broke and it’s just easier sometimes, especially for short distances.  When the Pie and I moved from Ottawa to St. John’s, we booked (well in advance) a 36-foot UHaul and put everything we owned in it and drove it across the country (you can check out my photo record of that epic road trip here).  This time, my sainted mother has decreed that she doesn’t like the idea of us doing that again so she’s paying for a moving company to come and take our material goods away for us.  When hiring a moving company to work for you, make sure to shop around and get the best price for the service you want.

Me and the Pie. We took Angor to Fredericton and dropped him off on the way.

Do some research on the companies you are looking at and read the customer reviews of the same.  Make sure that when getting an estimate for a move a member of the organization visits your home in person to evaluate what you have before giving you a real cost for the move.  Find out if the company offers a discount for packing your own materials, and, if so, if they require you to use their company’s packing materials to do so.  There may be differences in cost for insurance as well, if you pack your own things.  In addition, some companies offer a discount for moves that occur in the middle of the month, as opposed to the end or the beginning of the month, so make sure to ask.  Remember that the summer months are a busy time for movers so if you’re moving between May and September, make sure to book well in advance.

Legal stuff: If you’ve signed a new lease or rental agreement or just bought a new home, make sure you have gone over the documentation carefully ahead of time just to make sure that there will be no surprises waiting for you on moving day.  Many rental agencies insist that tenants obtain renters’ insurance before they can get the keys to move in, so make sure to shop around to get the best rates.  In practice, you may never need your renters’ insurance, but that’s the case with most insurance.  We have had two sets of friends lose their apartments to fire and without insurance have been unable to recoup their losses.  Something to think about.

File forwarding: If you are moving between cities, states, provinces, or countries, you’ll need to make sure that you bring with you your file history for practices you visit.  This could be your lawyer, accountant, doctor, dentist, chiropractor, pharmacist — anyone who would have a case history for you.  If you know where you’re going, and if you know the name of the practitioner you are switching to, you can arrange for one practice to transfer your file from one to the other.  For doctors within Canada, for example, they can do this electronically.  If you don’t know where you’re going, however, you might want to keep hold of those files yourself.  For a fee, the practitioner can make you a copy of anything you need.

Purge, Purge, and Purge Some More.

You really don’t need it: From every move I’ve participated in, I would have to say that the major issues and mishaps that occur are entirely related to that vague and yet oh-so-appropriate term, STUFF.  I can’t stress this enough: you really don’t need all the “stuff” that you have, and you especially don’t need it when you’re about to pack it up and move it somewhere else.

Consider your space: If you know where you’re moving, you can get a general idea of what stuff you have will fit in the new space and what won’t.  If you’re moving into a bigger space, resist the urge to keep everything in order to fill in the gaps.  Stuff for stuff’s sake is never worth the hassle.  If you’re moving into a smaller space, then less stuff is ideal.  And if, like us, you are not sure of the space you are moving to (all of our things are going into storage for a while as we live with my parents for a couple months), then the less stuff you have, the better.  The last time I helped Stef move, I packed his tiny kitchen up carefully only to discover that he owned about 97 mugs, none of which even remotely fit into his new, tinier kitchen.

Take your time: If you have advance notice of your move, take time to consider what you want to bring with you.  Approach one room at a time, or one section of a room, or even a bookshelf, or just a cabinet, and sort through it, evaluating what you want to bring and what you don’t.  If you do this enough in advance you can probably go through the same area again at a later date and get rid of more stuff.

My rule of thumb for stuff management: We have a rule in our household for keeping what we own to a minimum, and keeping our closets and cupboards as decluttered as possible.  If you haven’t worn it, used it, or displayed it in over a year, get rid of it.  It’s that simple.

If you haven’t worn that dress in a full season, chances are that it is out of style now and you don’t have any accessories to go with it anymore.  Does it even still fit?  Never keep anything with the idea that someday it will fit again.  By the time it does you will probably not want it anymore anyway.  And do you really need that many pairs of socks?  Really?

Moving Closets

Do you use that extra-large party fondue pot?  Like, ever?  Don’t keep stuff (unless it’s emergency survival equipment) in case of a what-if.  And do you really need that many mugs?  Really?

You know that picture that your great-aunt gave you that you hate, but you feel like you can’t throw it away because it was given to you by a family member?  Don’t worry about it.  You might as well donate it to a thrift store and maybe someone else can have it who would appreciate it more.  Sure, we all have sentimental attachments to stuff.  But in the end it’s just stuff.  Your feelings about your great-aunt won’t change if you don’t have this picture.  Because the picture doesn’t have feelings.

That’s not to say that you can’t keep things with sentimental value.  We definitely have a lot of that kind of stuff on display in our house, right where we can see it every day and think about the person or event to which that object is attached.  And yes, we do have things we keep for sentimental value that we don’t display, or use, or wear.  But for each of us that’s limited to one medium-sized box, and we go through that box often enough to see what still pulls at our heart strings.  For me, it’s do you really need that many rocks from the beach and bits of shell?  Really?

Bell Island Take Two
Mostly my answer is yes. But I’m getting better.

Before you chuck your stuff in the garbage, however, ask yourself if there is a better place for it.  Many electronics retailers will help you to recycle old televisions and DVD players.  You can try to sell stuff on Craigslist or Kijiji or eBay or Amazon, and if you can’t do that, then have a yard sale.  And if nobody buys it, see if any of your friends or family wants or needs it.  And if they don’t want it, donate it to a thrift shop or charity flea market.  Or recycle it.  Or upcycle it into something else that you want or need.  And if all that fails, then yes, feel free to just throw it out.  Just remember that some items, like batteries, CRT televisions, and many electronics have special needs when it comes to disposal, and in many cities, you can make appointments with your garbage service to come and pick up large or hazardous items.

A Few Weeks Before Moving:

Get help: Let’s face it.  You cannot do all of this yourself.  Ask your friends.  Ask your neighbours.  Ask your family to come and help you move when the time comes.  Real friends are those who will help you move.  And you will help them move.  And they will not complain, and neither will you.  And those are the rules.

Box Party
We had a party the last time we moved. Most of the invitees to the party came out a few days later to help us load the truck.

Transportation: And if those friends own station wagons or trucks, then they are really true friends and you should keep them forever.  If not, if you’re over 25 in Canada you can rent a truck of your own.  Very handy for moving the larger items.  If you feel comfortable driving one, and you have a lot of stuff, look into renting a larger cube van, from a company like UHaul.  That way you only need to make one trip (though you will need to be aware of the parking situation at your home and future home to make sure this is a feasible option).


Food: Take a look at your pantry.  Are there packages of noodles and cans of peas in there that you aren’t going to use?  Donate those to the local food bank and stop stocking up on extra items when you grocery shop.  If you’re moving locally you can keep whatever food you want, but on a long-distance move you want to keep this stuff to a minimum, so clear out whatever you can.  Start eating what’s in your freezer, too, and go through all the opened condiments in your refrigerator.

Oliver's Stew 7

Fix it up: Living anywhere for any amount of time means a certain amount of wear and tear on the place.  If it’s fixable, now is the time to do it, and doing it right will ensure that you’ll get your security/cleaning deposit back when you go.  Start patching holes in your walls and touching them up with paint.  If you scuffed the wall, you can scrub that off.  If you changed certain features, like lighting fixtures or shower heads, make sure you return them to their original state before you move.  There’s probably only so much you can do, especially if you’re in a rental, but do your best.

Wall Scuffs

Pack It UP!

If you are having a moving company pack your boxes, then good for you — instead of dealing with the hassle of having to wrap up and pack everything you own, you will now just hover over their shoulders and hope they don’t break anything.  Because stuff breaks.  It just does.  But it’s just stuff.  Don’t sweat it.

The right stuff: If you’re packing on your own, make sure you have the supplies right for the job.  I like to re-use boxes and so have been keeping a stash in my garage for just this purpose, but you have to make sure the boxes you are re-using are sturdy and up to the task.  If you are packing fragile items, make sure the boxes are double-walled to avoid crushing.

Packing up the headboard
You can make your own custom-sized boxes with the aid of a knife and some good tape.

Bubble wrap is very handy for packing electronics and delicate items, but use it sparingly, as it is expensive.  Avoid foam peanuts.  They tend to settle in transit, leaving empty spaces, they get everywhere when you are packing and unpacking, and many forms of them are next to impossible to dispose of.

Newsprint is a good buffer and filler between objects.  Make sure to use plain newsprint on your nicer objects, as the ink from the printed stuff comes off on your fingers and can stain your stuff.

Packing Delicates 3

Packing tape and a tape gun are a must.  Have you tried using packing tape without a tape gun?  That’s an exercise in frustration.  And as someone who has worked in shipping before, I have my own preferences for what works.  I actually prefer the packing tape sold by Canada Post to every other kind — it’s tougher and it tears better.

Also make sure to have a few box cutters on hand to cut open the boxes you just packed when you realize you accidentally sealed your cellphone in that last carton.

Old dirt, new dirt: This is another major rule for me: I always clean off all my stuff before I move it.  That means washing curtains and rugs, wiping down pictures, dusting figurines and furniture … all that stuff.  You are probably already going to be cleaning your new house when you move in — even if it’s just sweeping up after the movers have left — so what’s the point in bringing old dirt with you?  Nothing sucks more than pulling out something from a box you just moved to find out that before you can put it away you need to wash it first.

Exercise caution: When you have sealed a carton, especially if it’s full of fragile material, should be able to shake the box quite roughly and hear nothing shifting on the inside.  Remember that your fragile stuff is going to be on the same truck as the rest of your stuff and it’s going to get bashed around quite a bit.

Labels are key: Make sure as well that each box is labeled (with a fat permanent marker) with the generalities of what’s inside and what room it’s supposed to go into at the destination location.  This will make everyone’s work a lot easier.  Because our stuff is going into storage when we get to Ottawa, I need to be a bit more specific with my boxes, and I’ve actually numbered each one and itemized the contents in a spreadsheet so I know exactly what’s in each one, and I can see which boxes I need to keep with me.  It also means that if I’m looking for something while it’s in storage I don’t need to cut open every box to find it, because I’ll know right where it is.  But that’s a little extreme for just a regular move.  If you label your box “KITCHEN: UTENSILS” that will probably be sufficient.

Last in, first out: I usually have a box or bucket or crate that is filled with basic cleaning supplies, like glass cleaner, surface cleaner, a few cloths, paper towels, toilet paper, a broom and a mop, and these are things that will leave my old house last.  They will be packed at the door of the moving van so that I can unpack them first.  You will want to do some last minute tidying when you leave your old place and some cleaning when you get to the new place, so it’s a handy thing to have.  Also you will probably use more toilet paper on moving day than you anticipate, so always carry a spare roll.

A Few Days Before Moving:

Finish that food: Go through your food stores one more time and donate, give away, or throw out everything you’re not going to eat in the next few days.  You will have some stuff to chuck on moving day, but the last thing you want to be doing that day is sitting there with your fridge door open, throwing out or packing food while everyone has to dodge around you with boxes.

For your furry, feathered, and scaly friends: Make arrangements for any pets you have to spend moving day somewhere quiet and secure, like a friend’s house (or better yet, the day before and the day after as well).  When my parents come to visit in early August they will be taking Gren home with them on the return flight.  Moving is a stressful business for pets, what with people coming in and out constantly, things being moved around, and it would be a simple matter for a dog or cat to escape through a propped-open door while you’re distracted with something else, or for a smaller caged pet to catch a chill in the drafts during a cold-weather move.  Best to just put them somewhere else where you don’t have to worry about them.

Big Game Hunter 1

Clean some more: Most of your major cleaning should be done by now — wipe down every shelf after you pack its contents, dust the furniture as you dismantle it.  Don’t move old dirt.  And if you’re lucky enough to have access to your new place before moving day, take a tour around there and see what needs to be cleaned up before you get there.  I’m not a huge fan of moving into someone else’s dirt, so I always want a few days to clean up before moving if I can get it.

Be organized: If you have lovely friends who are going to help you move, make sure you make it easy for them.  Make sure as the time draws near that everything is packed as it should be.  Dismantle all the furniture that you can without their help.  Ensure all your boxes are properly labeled, and sort out all the logistics of the big day so there will be no hiccups for your friends when the time comes.

Moving Day:

Delegate: You can’t be in both places at once.  Make sure you can delegate someone who can direct movers and give reasonable instructions and answer questions when you’re not around to do so.  Someone needs to be at the new place to greet the movers, to arrange for elevator service, or to let people in.  And someone needs to be at the old place to do the same stuff.  Moving is a team effort.  With the advent of cellphones this is easier, because everyone can be in constant communication.

Food for the minions: Remember that the people who are helping you move, regardless of whether they are your friends or if you are paying them to do so, are handling all your prized possessions.  So it behooves you to be very nice to them, and this includes FEEDING them.  Make sure to have your fridge or cooler stocked with drinks (especially if it’s a hot day), though save the alcoholic ones for the fridge at the destination house.  Put out some sandwich making materials and other snack foods.  Moving is rough work and people get mighty grumpy when they’re hungry.  Make sure as well, if it’s friends moving you, that you treat them to a meal and a drink afterwards, just as a thank you for their hard work.

When all is said and done: Finally the old place is empty … or is it?  Have you done your due diligence when it comes to cleaning the place?  Are all the surfaces wiped down and dust-free?  Has the bathroom been cleaned?  Make sure the toilet and bathtub are scrubbed, and remove old, stained shower curtains.  Take out the garbage and sweep and mop the floors.  Imagine how you would want a place to look the first time you walk in, and that’s the condition you should leave it in before you hand over the keys.

The things we leave behind: Some stuff always remains when you leave a place.  It might be the appliances, or the furniture, or whatever.  Before you leave it, make sure it’s clean and that it works, and make sure the manuals for any appliances are put somewhere that the new tenants can find them.  I’m also leaving the future tenants at Elizabeth the remainders of the paint from when we re-did the rooms, with clear labels should they wish to buy more.  And in the bathroom I like to leave a roll of toilet paper, and a bar of soap, for emergencies.

The Day After You Move:

You can never say thanks too much: Once you’ve got yourself settled in, make sure to contact your moving helpers with an official thank you, just to let them know you really appreciate what they did — even if they broke your teapot (or, in the case of Krystopf and Stef, put one of my statues through a wall).  If you’d been on your own, you probably would have broken a lot more stuff.

For Cait - No Trucks

We’re going with Allied Van Lines this time around.  We’ve dealt with them before and they offer very professional and efficient service.  They also have their own checklists and timelines that you might find useful, even if you go with another company or choose to go it alone.  You can check out some of their tips here.

Drawing on the Furniture

On one of our various moves, my brother-in-law Rusty scratched the headboard of our bed.  Big time.  You can see it here.

Drawing on Furniture

Fortunately, until recently we had been using a box spring on our bed, which pushed the mattress up and concealed the scratch from view. Now, however, in preparation for our new memory foam mattress that will be arriving any day now, we have ditched the box spring (it’s gone into my office to make it into a guest room) and are using slats.  This makes the mattress wayyyy lower on the bed, and now, If I haven’t plumped the pillows up, you can see the scratch.

Drawing on Furniture

I’m not sure exactly what the finish is on our bed.  It’s something that’s not quite a veneer, not quite just paint.  Either way, I came up with an easy solution.  It turns out that Crayola’s black coloured pencil is the exact colour of our bed.  How convenient.

Drawing on Furniture

So I just coloured in the scratch.  It was that simple.  I mean the scratch is still there, because it’s pretty deep and shows up quite strongly in relief, but it’s a bit less obvious.  I also took the pencil around the bed and coloured in all the chips and nicks from the past seven years.  It worked beautifully.

Drawing on Furniture

If you have wood finish, why not try it with some brown coloured pencils?  I have heard as well that rubbing a walnut over wood scratches helps to hide them.  Try it!

Drawing on Furniture

The Accommodating Office

This will (hopefully) be the last full summer that we live here in St. John’s.  Accordingly, our friends and families are taking advantage of it and we are having four separate sets of guests staying in our house from June all the way until August.

Normally when we have guests, we cram an air mattress into the tiny space that is my home office floor and force our guests to live in cramped conditions for the duration of their visit.

Sping Shuffle

This summer, probably because the Pie and I will be sleeping in there while our parents take our bed, we decided to move things around to make for a little more room.

Sping Shuffle

We got a Groupon deal for a new memory foam mattress, and so when (if) it arrives we plan to keep the old mattress for a few extra weeks and use it on the floor of the guest room/office.  As crappy as the mattress is, if you have ever slept with another person on an air mattress you will know how much more preferable it is to being flopped around every time the other person rolls over or gets in or out of bed.  Anyway, in order to do this we had to make a bit more room for ourselves.

Many of my teaching materials are going across the street to my school office.  I should really use it for more than meeting with my students, as it’s pretty spacious and, unlike most of the students in my department, I only share it with one other person, a per-course instructor like me who is never there.  I plan to stake my claim on the desk by the window. I’ve already dusted it, after all.

Spring Shuffle

If we could afford it, the Pie and I would be all over some amazing furniture that better utilizes small spaces.  Watch this video from Resource Furniture and see what I mean — it’s very inspiring.  As we can’t afford it, we did the best we could.  I found this desk online and decided that a small rolling desk was probably the best option for us, and that $60 was a decent price for it.  My old desk, which was actually originally in the Pie’s office, was a sturdy structure from IKEA, in the JERKER line.  I hated it.  Mostly because if you are familiar with IKEA furniture, you know that once you put it together the first time, you really shouldn’t take it apart ever again.  And we moved this heavy sucker FIVE TIMES.

Sping Shuffle

Fortunately our friend Kirby had a serious crush on the desk, and with no IKEA nearer than Québec City, had no way to get one of his very own.  So we gave him this one, and he’s very happy with it.

So, after de-cluttering my work area (so much stuff that was out in view that could be put away somewhere else), and shoving the freezer over to the other side of the room, there’s a lot more floor space in my office, plenty of room for a queen-sized mattress and some more to spare.

Sping Shuffle

We can simply roll the desk into our room or the dining room or wherever, so that I can still do some work at home while people are here.  And I will use my school office more often as well.

Sping Shuffle

I bought this little metal shelf from Canadian Tire to support my herb farm once I re-potted it and I suspect another one will do a handy job of holding all my fabric (the shoe shelf I am currently using is not really up to the strain).

Sping Shuffle

The new shelf in the office.

Spring Shuffle

Of course, removing a large and tall piece of furniture left a huge empty spot on my wall.  But I can fill that easily enough.  I added two more prints I got for Christmas, and then used Rasterbator and a picture of Gren to fill the rest of the space.  Cait tells me she looks forward to waking up to Gren’s looming face when she and her sister come to visit this August.  I told her that not only would she have the poster version, but the real Gren would probably loom over her to wake her up as well.  This is his favourite room to play ball in after all.

Spring Shuffle

The Empty Ocean Spray Bottle

Like a good little girl who suffers from frequent UTIs, I consume some form of cranberry juice on a daily basis.  In my experience, Ocean Spray has the right amount of cranberry goodness in their juice to make me feel all right.

Ocean Spray Bottle

As a result, I end up with a lot of empty Ocean Spray bottles.

So as a result of THAT, I recycle a lot of empty Ocean Spray bottles.

But you can do more than that.  The lovely squareness of the Ocean Spray bottle makes it a good fit for many things.

Currently, there is one, filled with water, inside the tank of my toilet.  It tricks my ancient toilet into thinking that it’s fuller sooner and so I don’t waste as much water every time I flush.

Ocean Spray Bottle

You can use them as  cooling packs as well.  Fill one about 2/3 full of water (because water expands when it freezes) and chuck it in the freezer.  Not only will it help you to keep your freezer full and thus working at peak efficiency (this is not a problem I have) but it will also make a handy cooler addition for picnics and camping.  The squareness of the bottle means it will fit anywhere, and as the water melts, it will keep your food fresh and provide a nice refreshing drink at the end.

Ocean Spray Bottle

Let’s not forget that you can re-use them for their original purpose, and put more juice, like the stuff you make from powder or concentrate, back in them.  They’re also a good way to store iced tea that you’ve brewed, or to flavour water.  I like to have an extra container of filtered water in the fridge for dinner parties, because we tend to get thirsty with all that talking and eating and my Brita pitcher just can’t keep up.

Ocean Spray Bottle

The squareness, again, lends itself to storage just as nicely.  Small pastas, like macaroni, or rice or any other small nodule-like dry good (jelly beans?), will be easy to find and compactly stored in your pantry — just make sure the bottle is fully dried out before you pour in your foodstuffs.

Ocean Spray Bottle

And if you want to get really creative, you can turn the empty bottle into a bird feeder to help out your avian friends over the winter.  Make it into a giant spare change holder.  Or  drum.  Or use it as a float (filled with air) or a weight (filled with sand) for keeping track of your dock moorings at the cottage.

Cut off the bottom and use the top as a funnel for birdseed, cat litter, sand … whatever you need to funnel.  Fill it with water and bury it in your garden to keep your tomatoes watered.

Ocean Spray Bottle

Use the square bottoms as drawer organizers that you can move around at your whimsy and fill with all your odds and ends.  Decorate them and keep them on your desk, in plain sight.  Make them hold pencils or buttons.

Ocean Spray Bottle

Many years ago I had a client who was a bit of a hoarder, and he had kept all his bottles, filled with water, and lining the shelves that ran near the ceiling in every room.  He was preparing for the apocalypse, I suppose.

That’s about all I can think of.  If you have any other uses, please feel free to add them in the comments section.  I would love to have more things to do with all my empty bottles!

Spray-Painting Indoors

Spray-Painting Indoors

Here’s a tip for the next time you need to do some spray painting and you have no choice but to do it inside.

Spray-Painting Indoors

To keep the mist of paint off everything else you own, do your painting inside a box.  It will catch most of the stuff that doesn’t land on the object you’re painting.

Spray-Painting Indoors

Just make sure to tape up any holes so you don’t have leaks.

Spray-Painting Indoors

Rack’ Em Up!

Rack 'Em Up!

This idea comes from Man-Made DIY, who, in turn, took inspiration from another designer. I love how the internet works.  I made a further spin-off of this when I made the jewelry stand for my niece.

This is a hat rack/coat rack/anything kind of rack made from fallen tree branches.  The wooden frame is made from old boards we scrounged out of our tipsy garage.  Don’t tell my landlord.

The branches came from fallen trees on that construction lot near our house.  You might remember that we cut down a bunch of saplings there in order to build our wattle fence (which I still haven’t finished, sorry).  These branches were ones that had already fallen due to hurricane-strength winds, or ones that were part of trees uprooted in the construction process.  So no trees were harmed in the making of this project.  Well, no trees were harmed by US, at least.

Rack 'Em Up!

We made two large racks, one for my dad and the other for Mrs. Nice.

First we cut up the planks we found in the garage, into 2 20″ lengths and 2 8″ lengths for each rack.

Rack 'Em Up!

With difficulty, we screwed them together.  The wood was pretty warped, so one one of the racks it came out a little crooked.

Rack 'Em Up!

Then we sprayed them black, because the wood wasn’t particularly interesting, visually.

Rack 'Em Up!

Then we cut lengths of branch to fit inside the rack frame.

Rack 'Em Up!

After sorting out what looked good where, we screwed those in as well.

Rack 'Em Up!

I later sprayed the top and bottom of the racks again to hide the screw marks.

Rack 'Em Up!

A finishing touch was a rusty bolt glued onto my dad’s.

Rack 'Em Up!

And some shells for Mrs. Nice.

Rack 'Em Up!

We left off hanging hardware because we weren’t sure where they were going to hang them.

Rack 'Em Up!

They look pretty good, all things considered.

Rack 'Em Up!

Functional, too.

Rack 'Em Up!

Frosty Lights

Frosty Lights

We never decorate this early for Christmas.  We’re more of the put-it-up-a-week-before-Christmas-and-take-it-down-New-Year’s-Day kind of people.  In fact, because the Pie and I always travel home to Ottawa for the holidays, we don’t decorate at our house in St. John’s at all.

But there is snow on the forecast tomorrow, and we decided we wanted to enjoy a little bit of the holiday spirit while we were still home.  Just a little bit, of course.

I was practicing my glass cutting technique and I had three jars with no tops.  What was I to do with them?

Frosty Lights

I like lights.  Why not make little hurricane lamps out of them, but without the prospective fire hazard of sticking a candle inside?  Yes.

I also remembered an idea that Karen over at The Art of Doing Stuff had, and worked from there.  If you don’t read her blog, you should.  She’s hilarious.  I discovered her site when she stole one of my photographs in the middle of the night.  Sneaky lady.

So here’s the plan.  I have these jars, and I have these LEDs that I can stuff in the jars.  You get the picture?  Good, because we’re not done yet.

Frosty Lights

I wanted these jars to look frosted, like someone had frozen three jar-shaped ice cubes and left them melting on my mantle.  So it’s time to haul out the etching cream.

You can get a full how-to on etching glass from a previous post here, but I’m going to remind you again to observe all the safety rules and wear the proper equipment: goggles, mask, and gloves.

Frosty Lights

And because my sink is ceramic, I needed a plastic bucket full of baking soda in which to rinse my glass, to neutralize the acid.

Frosty Lights

I used a different cream this time than I had before, because when I needed it Lee Valley had temporarily stopped selling it.  So this stuff looked like peanut butter with salt crystals in it, and it smelled much stronger than the other stuff I was using.  But it had the same results.  I didn’t want an even coating of frost, so I only applied a thin layer of cream and I only did one application.  I was hoping that some spots would remain un-etched, and that my brush strokes would show through.  And I was right!  That doesn’t happen very often.

Frosty Lights

So here are the jars after frosting and rinsing.  You can see that they look really like someone has just steamed them up on the inside.

Frosty Lights

Stuff some lights in them, however, and they go from steamy to frosty.

Frosty Lights

Up close, you can see my brush strokes in evidence.

Frosty Lights

Lined up on the mantle, with other things seasonal, it’s quite cozy.

Frosty Lights