Halloween is a holiday I have always found to be entertaining and fun. I spent weekends for the last couple of months working on a project making Grim Grinning Ghosts busts for my son who decorates his yard in Southern California with fantastic props that pop up, fly through the air, glow eerily in the windows or stands around adding to the spirit of Halloween. Here is the link to my other blog describing my project to help make his yard a real treat for trick or treaters. http://halloweengrimgrinningghosts.blogspot.com/
Not too spooky to make guests lose their appetites.
Fall came too quickly this year. Here is October’s table setting to help set the mood for the holiday. While at Michael’s I found this Halloween centerpiece on sale. The price was right, and I like the color combination of purple, orange tones and black. I added a couple of orange butterflies I had bought several months previously. I purchased two spider-shaped candle holders from Michael’s, purple napkins, black with silver trimmed napkin holders from Bed Bath and Beyond, black chargers and orange candles from Tai Pan Trading. I made a purple table runner and bread basket liner. I found the purple and black tassel for the table runner in the shopping district in Los Angeles. I previously purchased over 100 pieces of Arcoroc dinnerware from a friend. The clear glass with an etched wheat pattern is easy to decorate around, and the numerous pieces add a variety of possibilities.
Grew up in a small town and moved to the "big city" after graduating from high school. As a single parent, raised three children who are the light of her life; children and grandchildren give life pleasure.
Just prior to her last child graduating from high school, she went back to college and earned a BA in fine art. She works as a senior graphic designer for an engineering firm. She writes, "I can not deny it; I am a computer geek (using them, not maintaining them). Thanks to my oldest son who is a software engineer, I was introduced to blogging."
"Let's make a story," I told Darfie. He was downing his third bottle of
Tanduay Ice when O-Bar's show girls took the small stage."Once upon a time,
Helpful Hints and Tips
Hint: Remodeling Notebook I carry a small notebook with me containing measurements and layouts of each room with a list of items I need to purchase. When I am out looking for an item for one project, I will often come across something else I need for another one. I take out the notebook and refer to information I have already jotted down. I do not have to waste time to return home to take a measurement. You never know when you will come across an unexpected treasure!
Hint: Keep a Log You will be grateful later if you have photographs and descriptions of the before and after of your remodel so the information is at your fingertips. I found it helpful to use a binder containing a page or two for each room that includes a paint chip to to refer to if I need to remix any paint later for touchups or if I run out of paint. I also include a swatch of fabric from upholstery, drapery, carpet or accessories. I take the binder with me when I go shopping so I can match other items in the room with any new purchases. I used my book to help make this blog.
Tip: Never Lost Place items such as hardware or switch and receptacle plates with their screws in zip lock bags or plastic containers and label them with a black marker. Take the time to write which door the hinges, doorknob or window hardware is taken from etc. Later after the room is finished and is ready to be put back together, you will not have to try to remember what went where. It is always marked and easy to identify.
Tip: Paint Stripping Paint strippers contain chemicals that loosen paint from surfaces. These chemicals can harm you if not used properly. I used three types of paint stripper. 1. Jasco® is fast and strong, but dries quickly. 2. Klean-Strip® Strip-X® Stripper took longer to work but did not dry so fast. 3. Citrisrip remover is the mildest, smell nicer but takes the longest to work. I found that soaking or wrapping worked depending on the type of item I needed to strip (see my blog: Stripping: Not for Entertainment.
Tip: Stripping Paint Off Hardware I used two methods for stripping hardware. To take paint off metal hinges you can boil them in water until the paint peels off. A second method is quicker but more toxic. It is to pour paint stripper (Jasco works good) in a wide-mouth glass quart jar. Drop hardware in the stripper and partially screw on the lid because as the stripper works pressure will build up in the bottle. Let the items soak in the jar for a couple of hours. Put on rubber gloves and remove each piece. Wipe off softened paint and then wash the items with soap and water. A toothbrush is a handy tool for removing paint from crevices. If some paint remains, repeat the process. The stripper can be used several times.
Tip: Painting Screws To spray paint a number of srews, poke the sharp ends in a piece of styrofoam. Spray them with a couple of coats of primer. When dry, spray them with desired spray paint.
Tip: Removing Masking Tape First: after painting trim, remove the masking before the paint is completely dry so none of the paint peels off with the edges of the tape. If some of the paint starts peeling as you remove the tape, use an xacto knife or utility blade to lightly cut along the edge. If the masking tape will not come off without doing damage to the surface it is stuck to, hold the hairdryer just three or four inches away from the tape. The heat will soften the adhesive as you gently pull it off the wall. This technique will work on almost any kind of tape or label and remove it from wallpaper, paint, wood finishes.
Tip: Cleaning Brushes The type of finish you are using will dictate the solvent or thinner you use to clean the brush. A painting project can only be as good as the paint and paintbrush you use for the job. Always buy a couple of expensive brushes for painting trim and cutting the paint at the corners of a room and around trim. After using latex paint, wash the brush with dish soap and hot water until when you bend the bristles the wate runs clear. After washing a brush, put the handle between your palms and spin it back and forth to spin out the excess water. Shape the bristles back in place and let it dry. If paint has hardened up near the ferrule of the brush, soak it in paint remover. When the paint has softened, wash the brush and comb it with a metal brush comb to remove paint flecks.
Tip: Rollar Covers - to Wash or Not to Wash When I paint with latex paint using a synthetic roller cover, I don’t wash it out between uses, I freeze it instead. I wrap the paint roller with its cover in a plasticgrocerybag and keep it in the freezer between uses until I am finished with a paint project using the same color of paint. Keep the roller loaded with paint and as long as most of the air is excluded it will not dry out, even with oil-based paints. When I am ready to apply another coat of paint, I take the roller out of the freezer for about 15 minutes until the paint thaws. I love a lambs-wool roller cover for nicer applicaton and a smooth finish. These are worth washing for use on another paint project.
Tip: Firestarters I have a wood stove for supplemental heat, and I use a lot of fire starters. Pine cones dipped in wax work great. I bought a used crock pot at a thrift store and use it to melt old candles. Using a pair of tongs, I quickly dip the pine cones in the melted wax and place them on a sheet of wax paper. After they dry, I put them in plastic grocery bag and store them in my antique commercial butter churn. I put some of the wax-covered cones in a large crock near the stove (but no to close since they are flammable) for easy access, refilling the crock as needed. I store any excess wax in the crock pot until I need to dip more cones.
Tip: Rain Chains If you live in a climate with lots of snow, ice and freezing temperatures, it is recommend that you take your rain chain down before winter sets in. The weight from ice can pull them down, sometimes damaging rain gutter.
Tip: Cutting Cinnamon Roll Dough Roll out dough and spread with melted butter and cinnamon or other topping. Roll it up like a jelly roll. Take about 12 to 18 inches of dental floss or heavy thread. Slide the center of the floss under one end of the roll of dough, about 1 inch from the end. Cross the length of floss over the top of the dough and pull. The dental floss will slice right through the dough without flattening it. Repeat about every inch. See my blog: What is that Smell? for an illustration of this technique.
Hints: Successful Bread Making 1. Do not use liquids that are too warm, using liquids that are above 130 degrees will kill the yeast in your dough. Liquid should feel very warm to the touch - not burning hot! 2. Old yeast will not rise, but yeast can be stored indefinitely in the freezer! I prefer quick-rise yeast. I buy it in bulk and store it in the freezer. 3. Coating the crust with butter after baking while it is still warm produces a soft, buttery flavored crust. 4. If you are not sure whether you bread is done, tap the crust lightly with your finger tip. If it sounds hollow, it is done! 5. Cut bread with an electric knife. You can even cut warm bread into even slices.
Hint: Metal vs. Fiberglass Insect Screening Insect screening for doors come in bronze, galvanized steel and aluminum. Bronze is expensive, galvanized steel can rust so aluminum is the most widely used. It comes in natural aluminum color, black and charcoal.
A slightly less expensive alternative is fiberglass screen coated with vinyl. Fiberglass screening will not rust, but is easier to tear than metal. It is also prone to stretching when pushed. Fiberglass screens tend to get hard and brittle with age. The coating material also wears off with age and sun exposure leaving patches of white fiberglass strands exposed. Fiberglass comes in more color choices, ranging from charcoal, brown to aquamarine.