So we reached the end of Georgia’s stay at home restrictive period and while a lot of restrictions have now been lifted, we are still trying to stay at home as much as possible.
Not much of a change for me work-wise – doing what needs to be done right from my home office. The kids wrote their final exams a couple of weeks ago and are officially finished with their Junior and Sophomore years of high school and busy with Summer Vacation. They did really well with digital learning and we are extremely proud of them. Simon is still going to work to make pizzas and Sidney went back to her job as a children’s party host this week for the first time.
I feel like I’ve watched way too much television during this stay-at-home period. And we are not going to talk about the cocktail, wine and snack consumption! Let’s just focus on the rest of our projects for now (here is a link to Part 1, in case you missed it).
Quick Dresser Refresh
For a little side project, I asked Pieter to help me paint his dresser. We first sanded down the whole dresser and then repainted it in a dark grey color and added new hardware. My original plan was to just paint the dresser in our room, but when we decided to sand it properly before painting, we knew that needed to happen outside.
In a hurry to get started, I carried the drawers downstairs. My first trip was with two drawers, but laziness made me carry the remaining three down in one trip. Of course I lost my balance on the stairs (on my self installed carpet runner) and I fell/sat down hard on one of the stair treads. Both Pieter and Sidney were home and both came running expecting me to be seriously injured (I did make quite a racket, but at least I didn’t drop and break the dresser drawers). Luckily, I didn’t try to break my fall (would have broken a wrist for sure) but I knew from how my behind felt that this “misstep” was going to leave a mark. And I wasn’t wrong. By that evening I started to turn purple and blue and sitting down was very painful.
Again, lucky that it wasn’t more serious than just a big nasty bruise. It took almost four weeks for it to go away completely. A very painful but much-needed reminder to be more careful on the stairs.
The dresser turned our very nice indeed.
Cleaning and Staining the Deck
Since the weather was still holding with real Spring temperatures, we decided to finish the deck project we started last year (!). Back then we rented a sander and sanded down the whole deck, but never got around to applying the sealer. It was time to finish what we started.
Pieter power washed the deck and then sanded down the top of the railings with his palm sander. We still had some of the colored sealer leftover and applied it to the top with a small roller. I misjudged the amount needed to finish the railing – it soaked in so fast! – and we had to make a trip to Home Depot for one more can. I followed Pieter with my paintbrush and did the rest of the railing.
We liked the reddish-brown color for the railing but it didn’t look good when we sealed the deck with that same color a couple of years ago. So this time around we used a clear sealer on the deck. It too soaked in fast and immediately made a huge difference. The biggest pain about the staining process was moving all the deck furniture and potted plants from one side of it to the other. Taking everything off of the deck just wasn’t an option. Besides the weight, we didn’t want our belongings to be in the driveway overnight.
After the deck was done and had time to dry, we turned our attention to the table Pieter and David built while we lived in Rome (here is a link to the original project – Building a Bigger Table). It too got a good sanding and also a coat of clear sealer. I wanted to do the same redish brown, but I gave Pieter the final choice, since he built it himself. I have to say, it all looked so much better once we were done with all the sanding and sealing. It went from a dull grey colour to a warm brown again. As planned, we spent no money, since we already had the sealer in our supplies.
At one point, there were two light fixtures on the back deck. One by the back door and one on the wall by the kitchen window. This last one was taken down a long time ago and all that was visible was the open electrical box. Time to fix that. I was also never a big fan of the motion sensor light by the back door and managed to convince Pieter that we needed two brand new light fixtures.
We picked up two inexpensive fixtures at Home Depot and Pieter had them up in no time at all. We used the last two light bulbs in the house and while probably not what we should have used here, it actually works quite well with providing just some downlight. And we also kept the old light fixture – that will find a new home by the basement door, where I think a motion sensor light will make more sense.
Light Garage Cleaning
So this was another project that I started earlier in the year and just managed to completely finish just recently. My bigger garage project will include painting all the walls and maybe do something on the floor. I also want to take out the built-in shelf and build a new shallower shelving unit. But now was not the time for that type of capital investment. So I focused on what I could do.
First off, a good cleaning was in order. I unpacked our two shelving areas one day and got rid of a lot of items we didn’t need. I also identified items that we really don’t use very often and those were moved down to the storage area in the basement. Earlier this year, I bought some new containers and baskets at Biglots and I was able to use these to organize like items together. For example, one container keeps all my painting supplies handy and another all our extra garden tools and gadgets. As usual, you will end up with one container dedicated to miscellaneous items… I used the baskets for bit and socket sets, towels and gloves. Each container was labeled so you can quickly find what you are looking for. I focused a lot on getting items up from the floor and packed away in the shelving units as far as possible.
The rest of the cleaning involved dusting, sweeping, cleaning the windows and putting random items back in their designated storage spots. This is something that my family struggle with a lot around here!
As with every household, we had multiple cans of paint stored here as well. I spent some time checking each can to see how much was really left and quickly realized that most of the large cans only had a little bit of paint in them. Plenty for touch-ups but not hardly enough to paint a whole room. After doing some research, I decided to transfer my paint to smaller plastic containers. I found a type I liked at Dollar Tree and purchased 10 containers to start with.
I emptied the paint into the containers and then poured cat litter into the cans to harden the last bit of remaining paint. When you do this, you are allowed to get rid of the cans along with your regular household trash. But definitely research the rules in your area and with your garbage removal services.
Again, each container got labeled with the type and color and also where the paint color was used in the house (if I was able to remember). Getting rid of the larger cans and getting the paint into smaller see-through containers freed up so much shelf space! And of course, finally using some of the supplies we purchased a while ago opened up some more space in this shelving unit.
Not all our time was spent focusing on projects. It was really fun to have our little family together and we watched a lot of movies, new television shows and played card and board games. We cooked, cleaned and organized “stuff” together. We baked, braaied (that is South African for barbecuing) and we ate (a lot).
We walked in the neighborhood and in the nearby park. We sat around chatting with each other and spent quality time together. Our neighborhood pool also reopened recently (with strict Covid rules) and it gave us an opportunity to also spend time outside together.
Life is not back to normal and I don’t know if it will ever go back to the way it was, but we are healthy, together and very thankful for what we have.
How did you stay busy?
Stay safe out there!