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Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Easiest, Laziest Way to Clean Your Paintbrushes

I'm about to show you something. If you're a serial DIYer like I am, it may just change your life a little bit, especially if you're a bit on the impatient side.

I've always hated cleaning paintbrushes after I'm done with them, so I've often either just bought really cheap brushes or let them get all hard and crunchy. I'd still try to use them after they were hard and crunchy, but that just never really worked too well and I would just get mad.

When my parents were here a few months ago, they helped me to paint the room we're working on upstairs and when they were done, they did something really amazing: They cleaned my brushes up really really well! When I went to use them again, it was like paintbrush bristle heaven. They were so soft and pliable and I just really couldn't go back.

Of course learning to be patient and take my time to clean the brushes properly just wasn't an option, so I figured out a way to get the same results, but with no effort or time required. Sounds pretty good, right? Here's what I came up with!

I've been using this method for about a month now and it works like a charm every time!

The first thing you need to do is get some kind of a container to stick your painty brush in. I use this old yogurt container. On a side note, this lime yogurt is insanely delicious and you should try it.

Fill your container up with some water. Hot or cold, it doesn't matter. Just stick your brush in there and leave it. Walk away. Take a break. You've been working hard with all your painting! Leave it in there for a few hours or a few days. Really it'll be just fine. Finish up cleaning it whenever you feel like it. Basically whenever you get tired of looking at the painty container sitting on your counter.

I should note that I've been mostly using this medium quality angled brush for this and it's kept my brush in tip-top shape. I did try it with a really cheap utility type of paintbrush and it didn't work so well for that. The metal on those ones seems to rust with this kind of exposure, so keep that in mind if you have a really special 50 cent paintbrush that you want to keep.

This is how it will look after soaking for a couple of days. You can see there's still a line of crust where the paint dried a little more than it should have during the painting process. The secret is this: Once you break the seal of the crust, all the paint will be free to escape the confines of your paintbrush, and you too will be in soft paintbrush bristle heaven!

Get a little of whatever kind of soap you have near your sink. I used some hand soap. Rub it in a little.

The secret tool! A green scrubby! I wouldn't suggest using your dishwashing scrubby for this, but if you have a dedicated cleaning one, like the one you use for removing orange water stains from your tub, that would work fine.

Rub the green scrubby over your brush, where the paint crust is, in a motion that runs down the bristles. The crust will just flake right off.

Rinse well! Now you have a sparkling clean brush with the softest bristles that you ever did experience! All that, and it really only took about 20 seconds of hard labour.

Well, OK, it doesn't look clean. It's a paintbrush, after all. But try it for yourself next time you're faced with brush cleaning and see the magic!

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Sunday, 27 January 2013

Use a Toothbrush Holder as a Vase!

I've had this little idea floating around in my brain for awhile now.

I bought this toothbrush holder a few years ago, but you see, I only have so many toothbrushes that need to be held and those ones already have a very fine holder indeed.

So I just kept it on a shelf and thought it had a pretty shape.

I bought some cheap flowers the other day to make the house feel a little happier and the time was right!

I made sure the little plug in the bottom was in tightly and filled it up with a bit of water. If you try this out, double-check that your plug fits tightly, or place the "vase" on a little plate, just to be sure you don't have any leaks.

 It only took a few stems and it makes for a nice little arrangement. Kind of like a built-in flower frog. Do people even know what those are any more?

Anyway, there you have it! It's a pretty neat trick, right?

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Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Tips From a Beadboard Painting Expert (me!)

Check out my fancy new half of a ceiling!

Nice, right?

Well, we (I) took a break of about a month and a half from the beadboard  painting, but I finally got back into it. And I got it done! And I figured out how to do it without losing my mind.

It looks like it should be pretty quick and easy to paint these thin little strips of nothing, but let me tell you: It can get some kinda tedious!

Never fear! If you've seen my pretty beadboard and you've been thinking about attempting this project too, I have some tips for you!

Tip #1: Set aside a couple of days to get it done. Make them "painting days". Wear your painting clothes the whole time and just plan to be a general mess. At first, each pack of 6 beadboard strips was taking me about 45 mins total to get done, but it was spread out over a couple of hours including drying time. I was thinking originally that I could just set aside 5 minutes per coat and kind of do it without making a mess hopefully in between all of my regular activities. Well, then it took much longer than 5 minutes per coat (more like 20-25) and sometimes I was wearing clothes that I didn't want to risk getting painty, because the whole process was a lot drippier than I expected, so it just wasn't convenient to get done in my day-to-day life. So it didn't!

Then I took a weekend and made it my "painting weekend" and things got done. I was already set up and in my painting clothes, just went to the room I was working in for 15 minutes at a time or so, then went and did something else for 15 minutes while it dried, then went back. I did 12 packs in one weekend and got a lot done around the house too! So dedicate the time. It's not as little of a painting job as it seems.

Tip #2: Use cheapo disposable rollers. I had been using a good mini roller before and putting it in the freezer in between coats. The problem is that it got a little too frozen to use right away when I took it out and I'd end up having to wait to defrost it and then I would no longer have the time to do a coat. Another inconvenience, another reason to put off finishing the job! With the cheapo rollers, if I got busy and waited too long between coats and the roller was too crusty, I just got rid of it and started with a new one. That only happened one time, but the point is that it wasn't something I had to worry about, so I had no excuse to put it off.

Tip #3: The technique. I went over the grooves and the sides first with a good angled brush before rolling. Sounds like a quick little step right? This probably took the longest of anything, but was totally necessary. I had a couple of good non-disposable angled brushes on hand that I switched out and cleaned up if they started to seem like the paint was drying on them too much. I'll share my super-easy paint brush cleaning technique with you next week. Oh, you just wait!

I saved a good 5 minutes per coat with a little technique I called the "beadboard rule of thirds". At least that's what I called it to myself in my head while I was doing it. I basically only painted one third of each board at a time, rather than trying to make the paint on my brush spread out over as much of the board as possible, I just filled my brush, put a few dabs down the center on just 1/3 of the board, used what was left on the brush to do the edges and then came back to the center. And repeat for the remaining 2 sections of the board.

OK, you think I'm a little nuts right now for telling you all that. It's just slapping some paint on some boards. But seriously, saving those precious seconds made all the difference between me putting off doing the job for weeks and months and actually enjoying getting it done in just a weekend!

Tip #4: Semi-gloss paint will make you happy. I used 2 coats of a medium-high quality paint on them and no primer and they look stunning. Stunning!

Tip #5: Be ready to get messy! Seriously, when I first started out painting, I wrapped my pretty new sawhorses in plastic wrap to try to keep them clean. You can see how well that lasted. Moving the boards around and switching to new boards just did not make it possible to keep the plastic wrap on. The fact that the edges are a little curved and need to be painted since they'll show a little bit leads to lots of drips. It just does. Set up somewhere you can make a mess and just run with it!

So as much as this was not an easy-peasy project, I still encourage you to give it a go, with the help of my tips of course! If you can make it to the end, the results will be worth it!

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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Felt Heart Valentine's Day Swooping Collage Wall

Well, now, that's a pretty ridiculously long title for a post, isn't it? I didn't really know how else to go about explaining this one so "Felt Heart Valentine's Day Swooping Collage Wall" it is!

You see, it's for Valentine's Day.

And it's Swooping.

It's kind of a collage.

And those hearts? They're made out of felt.

It's also in my mud room.

It's mostly held together with a glue stick I borrowed from Kennedy's school supplies...

,,,and it's lots of fun!

Stay tuned. I may need to come up with a post on how to clean glue stick off of walls!

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Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Easiest Trick for Cleaning Greasy Kitchen Messes that Your Granny Never Told You About

Now now now, don't go getting all mad at your grannies. I think this is the kind of thing that no one really talks about because they just assume it's common knowledge. I bet a whole lot of you reading this right now already knew this. I didn't though, so I'm guessing there are quite a few people out there who don't know this super-amazing life-changing little tip either. OK, maybe not life-changing, but it's pretty neat!

This was my range hood after probably several years without a good cleaning. I know I haven't really cleaned it since we moved in a year and a half ago and who knows how long it wasn't cleaned before that. Did I just admit that? I mean, I wiped it off and stuff, but I never really got in there underneath where all the gunk is. I just figured it's getting replaced anyway, so why bother?

It's gross. That's why bother.

I had this random thought pop into my head the other day while I was looking at it. I used rubbing alcohol to clean some Sharpie off of something awhile ago and I wondered if it cleaned just as well on other things. Well, on grease it does!

So off to the Google-mobile I went! I had a feeling that this was some kind of cheap old-fashioned cleaning solution that I'd just never known about. I literally Googled "Did our grandmothers used to clean with rubbing alcohol?" Yeah, they did!

How did I not know about this? Seriously. I've always scrubbed and scrubbed and scoured and soaked greasy kitchen splatters to try to get them off. With the rubbing alcohol they just kinda melt away with no effort at all.

Here's my paper towel after I was done:


So, just a cautionary tale first before I go on about how exciting this is. I read that you shouldn't use this near flame or heat sources because it's flammable and it may light on fire. Um, so, I have a gas stove. Isn't the stuff that comes right out of it kinda flammable too? Wouldn't whatever small residue of alcohol that's left on the stove after me cleaning it just kind of burn off instantly? I've been cleaning my stove with it all week and it's been just fine. But just so you know, cleaners beware!

Fun fact: It only seems to break down the greasy messes and not the burned on food part. I'm sure there's some kind of science behind that.

Another fun fact: After only a few moments of wiping, my range hood now looks like this!

Ping! (That's the sound of the superior shininess of my range hood.) Try it out.

And, if you were clueless about this like I was, you're welcome!

Psst! If you need a tip for cleaning your microwave too, my friend Jessi has got a great one!

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