143. All the Gray Is Gone…

Just when I think I’m going to post about the new back porch that is finished just in time for September (it’s not);

Or the new door that we’ve found to replace sliding glass door #3 (we haven’t);

Mr. H.C. surprises me by saying, “Let’s do the front of the house.”

He must have read my post a month or so ago, when I listed all the projects that need to occur for the front of the house to look good better. (See post 136.)

New windowsThis is the cottage up until two days ago. (Uhmmm — the way it’s looked for the last two years. Just let me say that the front looks WAY better than the back.) So with the red brick, the faded blue gray cedar shakes, and the white clapboard siding, there was just way too much going on. Sort of a stripey effect, don’t you think?

I’m actually favoring the colors of white, red, and gray; but in a google image search for “white cottage red trim” this is the first image that showed up:

old_kurtz_house
Please pardon me, if this is your house, but it’s not at all what I have in mind for the cottage. Though it does look about like the color of red that is our back porch — Segovia Red — this color right here:

Back porch rails and ceiling, newly painted

Back porch rails and ceiling, newly painted

The back porch color can be seen from both sides of the house as one drives down (or up) the road. So it counts.

I always thought when we did the exterior of the cottage, that we would try to emulate what it looked like in the forties; but we can’t really.

Back then it was white with forties green trim.

The roof was green, now it’s gray, and it will stay that color when we put on the new roof (next year?).

There was not a red back porch.

And there was no brick on the front. I’ve looked at photos of white houses with dark green and red trim, and no, I don’t want a Christmas house.

Here’s what we have now:

apple hill cottage, newly painted

Neither of us are used to seeing it without the gray. Mr. H.C. thinks it might be too much white. I was originally thinking of whitewashing the brick, but now I’m thinking yes, that might be too much white…

The sliding glass doors will be replaced sometime before winter with doors that look something like this:

IMG_6391

There hasn’t been an interactive post on this blog for awhile, so here is your chance:

  1. Should we paint the brick? If so, what color of gray? :-) (Maybe if we paint the doors red, it will tie in the brick color?
  2. What about door colors? Both front doors can be painted. (Keep in mind that the back porch is Segovia Red, and one can see the porch from both sides of the house.)
  3. What do you think about shutters? Mr. H.C. brought that up the other day, just as I had been thinking about them too. But I have an aversion to shutters that don’t fit the windows, and that’s a 3-window series there in the front… I’m thinking more along the lines of flower boxes under those 3 front windows. What do you think — flower boxes or shutters or neither?

I’d like to hear your thoughts, dear readers. Of course, then we’ll do what we want anyway — whatever that might be…

Here are some more shots to get you thinking…

142. Skip the Cleaning Aisle: DIY easy green clean recipes

Earlier this summer several of us were cleaning a commercial kitchen at a children’s camp before camp started for the summer.

There was a lot of grease… everywhere.

My friend Joey introduced me to her recipe for an all-purpose cleaner that cuts grease better than the expensive, commercial, stinky stuff that contains “who knows what unpronounceable ingredients.”

I had been using a natural cleanser of my own — orange vinegar, sometimes with baking soda — which I like a lot, but this one is way better! I liked it so much, I went to the dollar store and bought my own clean spray bottle for it, instead of just using a hand-me-down bottle.

All purpose cleanerAll-Purpose Cleaner and Degreaser:

  • 1 teaspoon washing soda (not baking soda)
  • 2 teaspoons Borax
  • 1 teaspoon Castile liquid soap
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 10 – 15 drops essential oil (Good oils for cleaning use are cinnamon, lemon, orange, melaleuca, peppermint, and lavender.)

Mix all the ingredients and pour into a 16 ounce spray bottle, and get to work on that greasy stove top.

Green cleaning

Dishwasher Detergent

I’ve been using a green cleaner in my dishwasher, but I really don’t like it much. The glasses are cloudy when they come out, and the silverware doesn’t always get clean, even though I rinse my dishes in hot water before I load the dishwasher. I know it’s a waste of water, but I don’t want food collecting in the bottom of my dishwasher. And that’s the bottom line.

So I was delighted when I found this oh-so-simple recipe for dishwasher soap. I remember reading that homemade dishwasher soap was an issue, because Mother-in-Laws come to your house and inspect your glasses for spots. Well, guess what? This is a mother-in-law proof recipe! Here’s my glass bowl, fresh out of the rinse cycle.

IMG_6190

Dishwasher Detergent:

  • One part Borax
  • One part washing soda
  • White vinegar in the rinse-aid compartment

We have city water and I’ve used washing soda with great success. I have also heard that citric acid is a great addition to the rinse aid compartment if you have sediment on your plastic ware. But even the commercial dishwashing detergents leave sediment on my plastic stuff, and that’s just one more reason for getting rid of your plastic stuff. If you have citric acid, by all means try some with the vinegar. I was so astounded at how well this worked that I’m not going to bother with it. (If you are someone who wants research behind this, you can go to the blog post “10 things you should know before making homemade dishwasher detergent” by Little House in the Suburbs. Or you can just make this recipe, and be amazed that it’s so simple, and it works so well. Now if only I could discover a shampoo that is so simple and works so well…

Disinfectant

And here’s one more cleaner I love to spray on my countertops — both wood and soapstone. It is also a disinfectant, so it’s good for sinks and toilets too. And it is reputed to keep ants away. I can’t say about this for sure. What I can say is that it might work. I sprayed around Henry the Cat’s food bowl when I started seeing ants there, and now the ants are gone. But I’m also being careful to keep it cleaner and his food swept up better. Not only is he the King of Cats, he is the King of Slobs when it comes to the food bowl department.

Cinnamon Disinfectant:

  • 12 oz. hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon oil

Mix together in a spray bottle and shake well before every use. I use a bottle that has a mister option, and I love this cleaner for two reasons: the cinnamon in it smells terrific, and the peroxide in it foams up on contact with dirt, so you can tell it’s working. Use an opaque spray bottle — there’s a reason peroxide is sold in brown bottles. It’s a great addition to your green cleaning supplies. Use it as a disinfectant, on your tile grout, on your floors, or as a bleach replacement in your laundry. I’ve even poured it down our bathroom sink drain. Here’s a great article about using hydrogen peroxide as a cleaning tool.

But I’m not giving up on my orange vinegar — it’s the best on a linoleum floor.