Front Steps BEFORE and AFTER

Whew…exhaling….I just washed off all of the oil base paint and am examining the blisters in my hand.  My back hurts, my neck is sore and I will probably smell like mineral spirits for two more days.  But, for all of my bellyaching, I am very proud of my front steps.  You can click here to see me pressure washing, stripping paint and cleaning the stairs.  And you can look below for the Ta-da pic of the stairs….



When it dries, it is supposed to look like a brown paper bag.  The color appears light in this photo.  I sure do hope it darkens some. This picture is after two coats of paint.  The paint color chip is Benjamin Moore’s ‘Waynesboro Taupe’, number 1544.

How it came to be:

What Vivian was doing while I worked…

Now, I am enjoying a big glass of iced tea and feeling quite good about my day’s work.  Off to the porch swing now to admire the view…


Working on the front stairs


Ouch…my aching neck.  I spent three hours this morning stripping, bristle brushing and scraping paint off of our front yard concrete stairs.  I pressure washed them twice.  Here are some pictures Vivian took of me…lol…I look like Cinderella.  The first picture is of the steps ready to paint.  I was able to get all of the blue paint off.  The blue paint that was on top was not concrete or exterior paint.  The reddish color you see was the original color of the stairs.  It is NOT coming off.  I liberally applied concrete paint stripper and it seems that there is still pigment staining the concrete.  I don’t think that is coming off.  Anyway, Thursday I apply a new paint color.  The guys at Joseph’s Paint on Bolton hooked me up with some good, durable, concrete/deck paint.  After it is all done, I will take pictures and post the color chip in case anyone is interested.

The dirt to the left is what I pressure washed off first....

Projects – 2008 in Review

I was sitting around trying to think about what we did all year.  It seems like 2008 was a slow year for us as far as the DIY scene was concerned.  In the early part of the year, around March, we spent a lot of time getting construction bids and filling out mountains of paperwork for our construction loan, only for the subprime mortgage crisis to hit and, in the end, we ended up scratching the whole deal.  I had to go back through my pictures to see what exactly we DID accomplish this year.  I was glad to find proof that our year was not wasted.  Here is a pictorial review of our year:


Finished the rent house (Hallelujah!) and took our three year old employee to Chuck-E-Cheese.  Hey, we had to pay her somehow for all that painting she did!

chuck e cheese

employee viv


We celebrated our five year anniversary

anniversary flowers


My birthday!  Ahem….anyway.  In 8 hours, I cleaned, primed and put two coats of paint on the living room walls.  It wouldn’t have taken me 8 hours normally except that I: 1) painted alone; 2) pushed a very heavy 10 foot ladder around the room 8 times while I painted the middle and top of the room …twice! I have 13 feet ceilings.  [is it 13 foot, or 13 feet?]

living room bay

fireplace living room

lr bay

lr fireplace


In April, I redid an ugly 80’s dresser for Vivian’s room and, for storage, we revamped an old shelf my brother made many years ago by adding crown moulding to it and painting it.

Vivian's dresser

old shelf

shelf finished


We took down the ugly drop ceiling in the attic.   We also painted the Master Bedroom.

drop ceiling

master bedroom before

master bedroom in progress


I sanded, repainted and recovered an old chair I bought for $5.00 at a junk store.  I also managed to tick off the entire Ratcliff family and get called a potstirrer.   Hahaha….that’s definitely a new one for me!

old chair

chair finished


I started this blog. Yay!  I pulled a metal tray on wheels out of the garbage and remade it into a plant stand for my porch.  Click here for the details and pictures.  Even my husband could not believe I wanted something this ugly.  But it turned out well.

My new plant stand

My new plant stand


We went to the Philippines.  What a life changing experience!  Click here to see more photos of the trip.  In case you cannot figure out who I am, I am the very white girl in the middle!




Vivian’s Birthday.   Hurricane Gustav hit Cenla.  That was very interesting.  It took us about a month to recover and get all of the debris cleared and everything back to normal.  I can’t complain though, we did not endure anything like New Orleans did.  Click the link above to see pictures of that fun.


Was definitely not a project month.  I was caught up watching the media and reading the news regarding  local and national politics.  I did get a call from the Louisiana Historic Preservation Office in Baton Rouge telling me that they want to put my street on the National Register.  Which reminds me…..I need to give her a call.  That nomination is supposed to be sent to Washington in April.  I am definitely going to help make sure that happens!




I repainted and reappointed the guest room and stripped a fireplace mantel.

Spare room before

Spare room - almost done


We worked on the attic/loft area so we can add another bathroom upstairs.  Steven put up two porch lights in the back.  Steven stripped a door and a transom down to the bare wood.  We also stripped some paint in the hall that was caked on to the wainscoting.  Click here for December’s project pictures.

I guess all in all it was not a bad year.  We did not get as much as we wanted accomplished.  We didn’t nearly come close to the amount of work we did in 2007.  Oh well, put it on the list!  It will get done eventually!


Black Friday buy and what I did with it

Well, on my way out to spend my 50% off Michael’s coupon, I got talked into stopping by Harbor Freight by my husband and bored brother.  I thought it was a fair trade.  They go with me to Michael’s and I go with them to the tool shop.  I thought that I would not find much to look at, but I surprised myself.  I bought a 6 piece carpentry carving tool set for $5.00.  I was looking for old dental tools to start work on stripping the paint out of the fine details of my spare room mantel so coming across these was a Godsend.  I decided to try them out today.  After I removed some of the paint from the wainscoting in the hall, I talked my brother into helping me drag the mantel out to the porch.  I really didn’t have to twist his arm, after I mentioned it, I found him in the spare room with a drill unbolting it from the wall. 

The paint came off pretty easily.  I am not an expert in wood grains, but I think the mantel is some type of walnut.  Maybe someone can tell me.  The face and details are, of course, plaster.  I was not able to work on it very long because the paint stripper was making the plaster a little soft.  My four year old daughter even caught a picture of me. Here are a few pictures:

All in all, I am happy with my purchase.  I think I have found a new favorite store (Harbor Freight).

Don’t ask me what my outfit is doing.  It is a combination of clothing that has gotten paint or other gook on them over the years.  Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend.Me


I think only here on this blog can I say I am stripping and people know I am talking about paint and not clothes 🙂  My husband was so proud of his door today that he asked me to take a picture of the before and after.  He took the spare bedroom door down to take outside and try his new handy dandy stripper he bought.  I have to say, it works quite well!  It works better than anything I have ever used.  It is also blonde proof, it turns blue when it is ready to come off.  I get impatient and try to start scraping the paint off before its ready.  With a scraper and a copper steel wool-like thingy, he got two or three layers of paint off in three hours.  I was excited that it came off so easily.  I was ready to start on the hall again.  We have beautiful burly/curly pine wainscoting in the hall that is begging to come out from under 48 years of paint.  The only bad thing about the stripper is that it is not “green”.  It is some serious mambo jambo!  The stripper is called: Klean Strip, Premium Stripper, Color Change Paste.  A lot of people asked me what I used (umm, or what my husband used!  I cannot take credit for this one!).  This stripper pulls the paint off unlike anything I have ever seen.  I know it is not “green”, but all of the green methods I have used take a long time and do not strip paint as well as this product.  I have used the heat gun too.  The heat gun method is good for small areas, but if you have a serious job to do (like us, ALL of the trim and doors in our entire house were painted over about forty-eight years ago, and again about twenty years ago), I would recommend Klean Strip.  The paste is good for vertical jobs since it is thicker and clings to the surface and does not run down the wood work.

I can’t wait to sand the door down and re-stain it.  The next stripping project I have my eye on is the fireplace mantel in the spare room.  It has faces in the column.  It is very neat, but it has so much paint gooked on it that it is hard to make out the details.  About three hours way, in New Orleans, there is salvage company called The Bank.  It is awesome!   It is a warehouse full of architectural salvage.  Even more so now after Hurricane Katrina.  Anyway, they have a large vat of paint stripper and for about $200-$250 or so, they will take a fireplace mantel/door, etc. and dunk it into the vat and spray off all of the paint.  It is great for fireplaces or large items that are intricately carved and have paint gooked in it.  I have heard that it is clean when it comes out!  I may give it a try sometime in the near future.  I will keep you posted on the results, if I do.

Well, anyway, here is the door.  My husband is six feet tall, by the way.  So, that shows you how big the door really is.  I am starting to get excited.  We have been in blah mode through the Summer and into the Fall.  After our construction loan did not work out, we were really annoyed that we lost 5 months during which we could have been working.  Oh well, time to get busy now.