Friday, December 30, 2011

A Painter's Promise

Earlier this week, I was glad to hear that a close friend of mine, a NYC painter, had started to see a tremendous influx of work after a particularly dire dry spell. We met years ago, at the retirement party of a colleague of his that I apprenticed under for a summer, and we kept in touch, even worked on a few jobs together. He’s been around for a while and has some experience and, as such, I was glad to hear about the work but was woe to hear about the circumstances that brought him the job.

There are varying theories on just how much responsibility is put on painters, and all other handymen and service providers for that matter, when they take up a job. The times I’ve worked with painters, the only major responsibility we put to the customer was clearing out the way and ensuring none of their larger, more valuable items got splattered. My friend the painter (there’s no harm, I suppose, in referring to him as “Mike”) requests this service as well but I’ve seen him move more than one or two couches in our day.

One thing that is commonplace, however, is that the painter takes care of any repairs, as long as they are paid a reasonable amount for their time and labor. The gross lack of these minor considerations was the reason Mike was called into a young couple’s home in Seaford to steam and strip some wallpaper and paint. As was relayed to me, the original painter, an independent four-man crew, promised to have the work done within a week, didn’t contact the woman of the house for nearly three weeks (despite several phone calls to them) and then cited the fact that she hadn’t removed the wallpaper yet as the reason they didn’t start, even though they had originally stipulated that they would take care of cleaning and repairing before painting the walls.

Steaming and stripping wallpaper is hardly a job that requires any sort of expertise. Renting a steamer is a simple task and there are numerous ways to learn how to properly use the device. The one I used (I’ve only had the privilege four times in my life) consisted of a three-foot-high tank with rubber tubing running to a large square (about 2’5”x 2’5”) that emits heavy doses of steam. You press the square against a desired area for about 20 seconds to half-a-minute and use a paint scraper to remove the loosened wallpaper.

As would be expected, there are certain patches that require repair from the process, most of which can be fixed with some joint compound, a taping knife and some sandpaper to even out the repaired area. Even if it was more of a chore, however, it certainly isn’t something that would cause a three-week delay, and that is disregarding the fact that no one said that he had to ensure the repairs in the first place! Again, I am glad enough to see Mike happy and working but the NYC handyman in me gets riled by such deplorable behavior. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Garage Sales

There was work going on at my mother’s neighbor’s house while I was home in Albany last week and I couldn’t help but inquire with my mother’s neighbors about what the trouble was. In the suburbs, electronic garage doors are a far more regular sight than they are in the city, even in the outer boroughs of NYC. One thing that distinguishes electronic garage doors to manual ones is that the electrical ones can get into what any electrician, NYC or not, would call “phantom operations.” Apparently, this had happened to my mother’s neighbors right after the installation but they were unable to contact the man who had installed it to do a check-up. My mother’s neighbors, The Matthews, had even driven to their offices, only to find it closed, in the middle of the day, on a weekday.

Michael and Joan (The Matthews) were able to get a pretty reasonable price on an inspection and servicing but the idea that the installer felt the need to duck the repair is disquieting. Unless this was a straight-up bilk job – doubtful, seeing as my neighbor had received a recommendation for the man – there is no conceivable reason that wouldn’t fall under the rubric of incalculable greed. Having talked to my NYC electrician and installer friends this week, many of them said the main reason for phantom operations is a power surge, which most installers and/or electricians can diagnose pretty easily. Now, the Matthews are doing well enough that they can afford to have someone else come and do the work, but this should be something that the installer takes responsibility for, especially considering the installation wasn’t but a week old when the operations began.

There are of course other reasons: faulty remotes, nearby use of advanced electronics (think military bases or larger digital firms), and bad storage (keeping the remote in a cluttered glove department). But these are also things that could be very simply diagnosed by anyone who has installed electronic garage doors for longer than a year. To me, its just another way to make customers nervous about installers, which is certainly not the picture that should be painted when jobless claims are slow rising. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Christmas Clean-Up

As we slog through that often near-comatose period that exists between Christmas and the New Year, it’s a bit of a chore to concentrate on the job at hand. Luckily, my holidays (which went very well, thank you for asking) included at least one incident that made me think of home solutions and common things that homeowners find themselves dealing with even when they are attempting to be festive and care-free.

The harbinger of this solution was Guinness (formerly known as Gus), the pint-size French bulldog that became my mother’s ward earlier this year. I am thoroughly convinced that Guinness has some goblin DNA in him but those who have seen French bulldogs will no doubt attest to the impossibilities of not playing with them and showering them with attention. So it was, while my girlfriend was teasing poor Guinness with a rope toy as my father and me were preparing a salad, the little quasi-goblin canine decided to relieve himself quickly on the carpet, for seemingly little more reason than over-excitement.

When I was growing up in my mother’s home, my dog (Bishop, a golden Labrador) was prone to these accidents as well and as such, my grandmother taught both my mother and me the ins and outs of avoiding bacteria buildup and that inevitable, unbearable smell that comes along with it. The tools needed were, and still are, quite common: paper towels, white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, rubber gloves, a scrubbing brush, dish detergent and baking soda. Some current websites also call for a black light but I have done without, so I’m certain you can too.

Use the paper towels to do an initial soak-up of all the urine; depending on how you handle bodily fluids, the rubber gloves may be useful here.  When most of the urine has been soaked up, empty half a bottle of white vinegar into a bucket and match that amount with room-temperature water. Use a scrubbing brush to get this solution down into the fibers and get rid of any collected bacteria. Then, use the paper towels (or a wet-dry vacuum, if it’s available) to dry up the area once again and once dry, sprinkle some baking powder on top of the area. Pour a mixture of one cup of hydrogen peroxide and a teaspoon of dish detergent (Palmolive works best) over the baking soda and use the scrubbing brush once more to work the mixture into the fibers.

After you dry the last bit, the bacteria should be gone for good and your carpet should be in the clear until the next time your pup can’t keep him/herself in check. To be completely honest, this isn’t a family secret: most professional maids know this technique inside out. Nevertheless, it’s a nice process to have in your back pocket, especially if you’re a pet owner and have extensive carpeting in your house. It might very well save your next Christmas from smelling like the inside of a busy kennel.   

Monday, December 26, 2011

Super Easy Ribbon Storage

I love buying ribbon, but sometimes it's hard to remember what I have. I found a set of three of these hangers at the store for $3.99.  They are meant for hanging slacks.  They are very sturdy and the foam holds the spools really well.

Each hanger holds at least six spools of ribbon.   I have tried storing it in plastic boxes, but I think this is the easiest way to store it, to see what I have,  and to get to it when I need it.

 Thanks for your visit!


I am linking to the following parties:

Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
Tip Junkie handmade projects

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I'd like to wish a very Merry Christmas to all of you!  When I started blogging last January, I never expected to meet so many incredible people or learn so much!  It's been an absolute pleasure.

I hope you and your families have a blessed Christmas!

Thank you all for your friendship and the inspiration you've given me.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Merry

I can't believe Christmas is almost here!!!

{our Christmas tree...  my mom has given me an ornament every year of my life
& now I have a treefull!  ...thanks ma!}

.....And I swear I'm not 200 years old.. I've also been given many others & bought some myself over the years ;)

 We finished up the work year with a condo installation today and are now totally ready to veg.   Tomorrow is our last-minute shopping day & I'm also hoping for some downtime reading & cuddling by the tree (if at all possible) before the holiday rush of parties.   I'm off for the night, but: a very merry holiday - whichever it is you're celebrating!!- to you & yours!!!
Big hug.

xoxo, Lauren

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Blinds Or Curtains?

Blinds or Curtains is the age old question, when choosing window treatments. Yet, you don’t have to choose either for your whole home. You can have a mixture of both. Each window treatment has its pros and cons, and each has a room it is most suited for. I’d like to introduce you to some of these options. Curtains can create a soft and warm atmosphere, so they are great for your living room. You can get some dramatic styles and a fantastic array of colours, meaning there will be something available for everyone. Another pro for curtains is that in the winter, they provide good insulation. However, they take up a lot more space than blinds, and aren’t suitable for bathrooms or kitchens. Due to the moisture in these rooms, the risk of mould or staining is very high.

Blinds are a bit more complicated, as there is an endless source of styles and each has its own purpose. Wooden Venetian blinds are great for the kitchen. They possess an interesting combination of elegance and practicality. They look good, and can withstand the heat and action of a kitchen, and like other venetian blinds they give you the most control over how much or how little light you’d like to let in. Moving on to another room of the house, you often find roller blinds in children’s and teens’ bedrooms, as they are easier to use, reasonably tough and come in some bold and fun colours. Another important pro of roller blinds is that you can add blackout fabric to them, thereby ensuring that no external light from street lamps or passing cars can disturb your sleep.

In the dining room, roman blinds are very popular, as they are seen to be very luxurious and people like to show them off to their dinner guests. Similar to roller blinds, roman blinds are good at keeping light out and both styles of blinds take up the least amount of space. However, they are difficult to clean.

This guide is designed to show you that there’s a great amount of window treatment choice out there. You don’t have to commit to just curtains or just blinds. The choice is so vast that you may feel a little overwhelmed, so here you have at least a bit of a guideline.

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