Archive | February, 2010

Homemade bread

26 Feb

I recently learned how to make bread — I took a WONDERFUL workshop at the WONDERFUL Genesis Center in Westfield, MA.

I had tried to make bread in the past, and it was always a disaster and I had a big phobia about it. But thanks to our patient and gifted teacher, Katie Pinard, and thanks to the support of the other student bakers in the class, I did it! I was sure my loaf would be a rock, but it was delicious! There were no dud loaves in the whole class. Yay!

So today, I gathered up my courage and got some yeast out and experimented with four different loaves. This is a great project for the semi-employed because it is time-consuming, requires physical exertion (read: free workout), is very inexpensive, and provides food).

The first photo is all of us at the workshop with our beautiful loaves, and the second are the four I baked up today.

We’re hoping for a second bread making class (maybe braided breads!). Yay bread!

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True love.

24 Feb

Claudette and Jerome

Sink refinishing

22 Feb

Wow. I had an old sink, covered in dirt, the porcelain eroded. Gross-o-rama. I read about powder coating on Door 16 and brought it to a powder coating shop in my city (Morini’s Performance Coatings, Springfield, MA). Here are the results:

Our fair city!

16 Feb

One of my city’s neighborhoods won the This Old House “Best Old House Neighborhoods of the Northeast” for 2010!!!!! The web site that a friend and I created to promote the city, ChooseSpringfieldMass.com was cited in the article, so I hope we’ll be getting lots of increased traffic and lots of interest from people who love old homes but hate to spend a lot of money. Our houses were listed as “shockingly affordable” AND “Western Mass’s finest houses.” DAMN STRAIGHT!

Ta da! Banisters and newels done.

13 Feb

It took about 15-20 hours over the course of two weeks to get the banisters and newels stripped, sanded, and oiled up. I didn’t stain them. After stripping with PeelAway7 and sanding (mostly by hand, but with the help of a small electric sander on some newel places), I wiped the wood down with de-natured alcohol, and then applied boiled linseed oil to the wood. I did a lot of research online and in a woodworking store about the best way to make the wood look and feel great. I’m really glad I went with the boiled linseed oil, as it seems more natural than stain and polyurethane, and it feels much better than poly.

I had some boiled linseed oil in stock from another project, had the sandpaper and rags and stuff, so I estimate that the total project cost about $35.00 in new purchases (I needed some more steel wool, and I got eye protective goggles, plus the cost of about a third of a bucket of peel away). It was messy (the stripping goop, the sawdust, the clean up — not quite done cleaning up), it was time consuming, but now it’s done and I think the wood looks GREAT!

Again, please forgive the photo quality. I’m using my phone’s camera and it doesn’t have a flash (but who’d a thunk it that a phone would even take pictures???)

Before and after banister

5 Feb

I missed this photo when I was uploading the last batch. This shows before (on the left) with the brown paint and after (on the right, ‘natch) with the natural wood. And the inspector on the stairs 🙂

Banister paint stripping

5 Feb

I decided to re-do my hallways and bathroom this year as economically as I could, rather than wait to get a full time job and take out a big home equity loan. My hope is to get these two big projects and lots of other little projects in the house done by the end of the summer and start a new life and new career in the fall. Vediamo.

I decided to start with the halls. I wanted to strip the poo-brown paint from the banisters and newel posts. I have a four storey house, so there are three flights of stairs, four landings, and two newel posts. One strip of banister had already been stripped, stained, and was lovely.

I used Peel Away 7, which did quick work with the banisters. The newel posts have been a bit more recalcitrant, and will require vigorous sanding. They have more nooks and crannies, and have some old varnish or something in spots that is just not coming off.

I got a huge bucket of Peel Away 7 (it was on sale at Home Depot for $47.00), as I plan to use it on several other projects. I bought a new pair of heavy duty rubber gloves and a disposable brush. I had a plastic scraper already, so I feel that my outlay for this project was about $20.00 and it took around 20 hours.

I’m going to sand, stain, and polyurethane the wood next week. Ta da!