93. Goin’ to town and buyin’ the mantel

Mr. H.C. is famous for saying “Well, as Dad used to say…” and then he’ll pop off with some odd phrase, and nine times out of ten, my mom (or grandfather) said it too. It might be just old time country talk, or it might be real Greene County lingo, I’m not sure. But three of four of our parents were Greene County lifers (Clara always made sure to tell you that she was from California!) so this post is lovingly for them — and anyone else who loves the hollows, ridges, and idioms of Greene County.

Over a year ago we wandered into Jan’s Country Nook, a little hardware/antique/secondhand store on the main street of town. The window display drew us in — cast iron ash buckets, galvanized wash tubs, old tools, and a fireplace mantel — together with a jumble of other old and odd items led us into thinking that if we found any diamonds or rhinestones, they might not be too high. After all, we have champagne taste and a beer pocketbook.

We pooshed open the door, but nobody paid us any mind. Two old codgers in red and black plaid wool jackets and orange hunting caps were loudly discussing the pros and cons of the weather, and what it had to do with the price of eggs, and the salt situation in India. One was settin’ a spell on an upside down tub, and the other was leanin’ his elbow on a cluttered ledge. He was big enough to eat hay, and he crowded out the place.  Nearby was a small, thin lady with longish gray hair and a gravelly voice; she was puttin’ in her two cents as well. They both seemed to be hollering at the man who was sittin’ down; could have been he was deaf as a stump, or maybe he just had the flaps of his hat pulled over his ears.

Mr. H.C never met an old tool he didn’t like, and I was chompin’ at the bit for a galvanized washtub, so we were in hog heaven. The wood floor creaked as I walked down the right side, Mr. H.C walked down the left side and we met in the back of the store and conferred. There was a double washtub (on a stand!) but we allowed how it was in pretty bad shape, and Mr. H.C. can be tight-fisted with a dollar. We agreed it wasn’t worth the money, switched places, and moseyed up the other sides.

Old dolls, blue canning jars, and wooden Flexible Flyer sleds mingled with hard-to-find hardware items. Mr.H.C. bought some slotted brass screws that are scarcer than hen’s teeth these days. He was tickled pink to find them.

Mantel

I found this in the archives. Proof of the date of purchase and of the fireplace soot on the finish. We were keepin’ our fingers crossed that it just needed cleaned.

Neither of us can remember who saw it first, but Mr. H.C. is givin’ me credit. It was leaning against the wall and it looked like it had been around the barn once or twice. In fact, we’d been all around Robin Hood’s barn looking at mantels in other places — in the Burgh and in little Worshington — but all the ones we had seen were for the birds, and they were too pricey to boot. We had a rough opening measurement, but not exact, so after we had given it the once-over and allowed how it might do, we had to go back to Apple Hill to be sure it would fit. We told her we only lived down the road a piece, and we’d be back if the crick didn’t rise.

What we had to work with…

Well, we had to redd up the place to make room; the area around the fireplace looked like a cyclone had struck it. But we measured it twice and determined it would fit, so we high-tailed it back to the store.

Seventy-five dollars, firm.

Seventy-five dollars, firm.

I asked her if she would take $65, but she was firm. “The price is $75,” she said.

So we followed her back to the counter and settled up. She must have felt bad for not bargaining with us, so she gave us a handy dandy little 2013 calendar book and pen to make up for it, which I just found and threw away last week.

And to think we pert’near bought one for $150 at Construction Junction down in the city…

coal burning fireplace
The mantel pretty much looked like this for the last 11 months — collecting dust, odds & ends and serving as a tool shelf. All along I had planned on lightly sanding it and experimenting with Annie Sloan’s Chalk paint. I’ve read about it, watched You-tube videos and I was ready for the challenge. Then I added up how much it would cost. Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat! It would have been a pretty penny, and we already talked about that beer pocketbook, and Mr. H.C. isn’t the only one who can be tightfisted with a dollar. As Joe would say, “We were feeling too poor to paint and too proud to whitewash.”

So for the next month I worked like a dog — I got paint in my hair and primer on my britches. I reckon I looked like the wild woman of Borneo. Here are some pictures of it getting fixed up…

I reckon I’m gonna try to make my own chalk paint sometime soon; I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about it, and I’ve heard tell all you need is some plaster of paris. And some paint. Wait till you see the dining room chairs…

92. DIY Organic Hand Cleaner for Oil-stains and paints (that’s actually good for your hands)

I had an amazing brainstorm discovery yesterday — and really? These things don’t happen to me that often, folks! I got so excited, I have to share this with you.

Sanding is hard on hands

Sanding is hard on hands

Since we have been redoing the cottage, my hands have not been lovely. They never were, but now they are worse. Stains under fingernails, oil paint that won’t come off, dry skin from various kinds of dirt and toxins. And now it’s winter!

Off and on for the past two years, I have been experimenting with DIY lotions and creams. I’ve made Lovely Lavender Lotion from Healing Heart Oils; Grapefruit Body Butter from One Good Thing by Jillee; Homemade Lavender Deodorant from Full of Graces; and Olive Oil Cleansing Lotion from Wellness Mama. I recently got really brave and made up my own recipe for Body Bomb from a ratio recipe. All these links are tried and make great stuff from easily available, edible foods and oils, and if you are at all inclined, I encourage you to check them out and make your own. Nothing like being able to eat your hand cream!

Yesterday I was using oil stain on the fireplace mantle that I am messing around with sanding, staining, priming and painting. I’m a tactile kind of person, and I hate wearing gloves. So at the end of the staining session, my hands and fingernails were stained a lovely red mahogany. A good name for a new nail polish?

This is a before picture of the fireplace mantle -- It is currently dis-mantled and sitting on sawhorses in the living room. Look for another post about it soon -- when it is finished.

This is a before picture of the fireplace mantle — It is currently dis-mantled and sitting on sawhorses in the living room. Look for another post about it soon — when it is finished.

I was looking disgustedly at my hands, thinking:

1. I’m glad tomorrow isn’t Sunday; and

2. Hmm. It’s time to make dinner and I’m going to make meatballs with these hands?

I washed my hands with kitchen soap and water, but I knew it wouldn’t be enough. They were still sticky with stain. Mr. H.C. always has wipes I can use, but the jar specifically says “Not intended for personal cleansing.” Hmmm.

As I was stewing about the stain on my hands, the phrase “Oil cleans oil” flashed through my brain. I practically ran into the bathroom to get my jar of newly made Olive Oil Facial Cleanser. I put a good dollop on my hands and rubbed them all over, and the red mahogany stain magically and wonderfully disappeared. Not only did it clean my hands, it made them feel wonderfully soft. After all, this is a facial cleanser!

So I hurried to find a jar that would hold the little cleanser pads that you can buy at drug stores for very cheap. I put half in the jar, and poured in half the oil; then filled the jar and poured in the rest of the oil mixture. Now I have handy little cleansing pads for either my face OR my paint-and-stain-covered hands.

And I finally found a good use for my Vintage Burma-Shave jar that we found in the glass dump on our property last summer!

And I finally found a good use for my Vintage Burma-Shave jar that we found in the Apple Hill Glass Dump last summer!

Here is the oh-so-simple way to make it:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or expeller-pressed Sweet Almond Oil)
Castor Oil (you can find this in most drug stores)
Essential oil of your choice — I used peppermint; lemon or grapefruit would be nice too.
Cleanser pads
Wide mouth jar with tight fitting lid

Mix the oils together and add a few drops of essential oil until you like the smell. If you are using peppermint, don’t overdo it; it is a facial cleanser as well, and peppermint isn’t always good in the eyes!

Here is the important idea: the castor oil is the astringent, so you don’t want to leave it out entirely, but depending on your skin type or the season of year, you can add more or less to the Olive oil. The mix to start with is one part Castor Oil to four parts Olive Oil. (If you would like to know the specific idea and ratios behind the Oil Cleansing Method, go to theOilCleansingMethod.com for an in-depth discussion and also options for differing oils and ratios to use in your mix.) Wellness Mama also has a very good article on it, and it is where I found my original recipe.

And just because I didn’t want to give you false information, I also tried this again today on my oil-paint-stained hands. (Mr. H.C. said to tell you all that this was stinky, sticky oil-based primer that gave us both watery eyes).

Before

Before

After 5 minutes with my little oil-saturated cleansing pad.

After — Just 5 minutes with my little oil-saturated cleansing pad.

It is also an amazing make-up remover. This wonderful stuff cleans your hands, takes off your makeup, and gently cleans your face — all with the same natural Olive Oil Cleanser. Try it, and let me know what you think.

79. The Corner Dining Room

I know, I know, you’ve seen beautiful pictures of the kitchen, beautiful pictures of the bedroom — you must think we’re about done by now, right?

Today it is back to ugly pictures again, folks.

In between the kitchen and the bedroom is the corner dining room. Well, the living room is there somewhere too, but we’re skipping that for now…

Sapele butcher block counter top

Right next to this lovely peninsula is this not-so-lovely little closet.Dining room closet
Actually, I’ve been working on it, and it is much better than it was. Inside. The doors to this little closet will be charming when they are finished. They were in my sanding room for awhile…Of course, they were painted orange.

I couldn't get all the orange paint sanded off, so I did the best I could and then just primed the heck out of them

I couldn’t get all the orange paint sanded off, so I did the best I could and then just primed the heck out of them

Dining room closet doors painted with Sherwin Williams Steamed Milk Satin

Here they are painted with Sherwin Williams Steamed Milk.

Inside the closet the first floorboard is a white pine plank; the rest of the boards are yellow pine flooring boards. It took MUCH effort to get the two types of wood to stain the same. The front plank has so much stain painted on it, that it may never dry..

 

Notice the good job of matching two different types of wood -- white pine and yellow pine.

I’ve been trying out green samples on the dining room wall. Very light, sort of light, and as dark as I want to go. None of them seemed right.

Greens on the Dining Room wall

Still life with lamp and ladder…

Then one evening while I was poking around on Retrorenovation.com I found the answer! Vintage Wallpaper! All colors of greens in one wall, which is just what I was trying to figure out how I could do! It’s perfect. I hesitantly brought it up to Mr. H.C. who immediately said he was game. (That was before he saw the price! :-) ) Now if I can only decide…I’ve got two samples coming from Hannah’s Treasures. I’ve put three in this blog post — comments please! Which ones do you like?

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Vintage wallpaper from Hannah's Treasures.

Vintage wallpaper from Hannah’s Treasures.

 

 

 

 

I didn’t order a sample for the bold plaid one on the right, because as soon as Mr. H.C. saw that one, he started shaking his head. I think he just doesn’t like it because it reminds him of the wallpaper he put up (on the same wall) for his mom, Clara in the seventies. (See post 1. The Story of Apple Hill Cottage.) Here it is:

This is the wallpaper that covered the door...

This wallpaper covered the door beside it as well… I think it is fitting that this wall be covered in wallpaper again!

Mr. H.C. assures me that it isn’t the wallpaper it reminds him of, it was a pair of his Dad’s golf pants… Okay, well I might give him that; I think my dad had a pair too.

I could go on… and on… about the floor, and the trim, but I won’t. I WILL show you just one more photo of the dining room table treasure though. We found it ages ago at a ReStore for $35, and it has been sitting in the dining room under three layers of plastic and tarps to protect it from all the junk on top of it.

harvest table
The top will be stained a darker, rich wood color. I’ve been thinking all along to paint the legs black, but I think I’ve changed my mind, and I’m going to go with the dark green (Benjamin Moore Peale Green) that is on the wall. And a couple of chairs painted that same dark green? What do you think? That’s at least two questions to comment on!

So, are we wallpaper lovers, or not?