Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lessons Learned

When we purchased our house, the appliances were all included in the sales contract.  We had some initial concerns about the age of our washer and dryer, but so far they have done exactly what their names suggest except for one minor issue.  We have noticed that occasionally our dryer gives our clothes a slight burning smell.  Each time it happens, we think to ourselves, "Oh great, looks like we will be buying a new dryer,"  but (thankfully) and miraculously, the burning smell goes away really quickly. 

Yesterday, it happened again....This time, the smell was quite a bit worse which made us pretty concerned.  While Deanne went on and on about how we shouldn't run the dryer unless we are standing right in front of it, I ran upstairs and googled the issue and I was  surprised by what I found.  Don't worry, the picture below isn't our house!

The very first link that I clicked said "the use of oil-based paints or stains in your home can cause your dryer to smell like burning."  Well...Guess who had just finished staining the desk with an oil-based stain, 20-feet from the dryer? Guilty as charged. We do all of our staining and painting in the basement and the thought had never even crossed our minds that our dryer could be affected. Apparently the dryer's air intake sucks in the fumes and and as the air is heated, it starts to smell like burning kerosene. If left un-attended the fumes can actually combust.  Washing the clothes again and running the dryer on a no-heat setting will get rid of the burning smell. 

It sounds like most user's manuals will explain this but since we didn't actually buy our dryer, we never got the manual (not that I would have read it if we got it from the previous owners).  Might be time to move our staining/painting location to somewhere with better ventilation.  Or better yet- we may start coordinating the laundry/staining schedule so they don't overlap.  Either way, we are very happy to discover we don't need to buy a new dryer (knock-on-freshly-stained-wood)... just yet.

Note: You may also notice this "burning" smell near the stove or if you run a hair dryer soon after staining.  So don't be alarmed.  And in case you want to read more, here is just one of many forums about the mysterious smell.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


When Reed and I start a new house project we try to evaluate what is worth the time and money to replace and what we can live with.  We were incredibly fortunate to buy a home with a beautiful kitchen.  The cabinets are gorgeous, not to mention, we were spoiled with amazing granite counter tops. Unfortunately our kitchen came with soffits.  Ripping out the soffits didn't seem worth the time and expense, so we moved on to option two.  Make them better.  

In an effort to add some color to our neutral kitchen, I was pretty set on buying this sign from Etsy to hang above our stove.  As cute as it was, the $58 price tag was really making me think twice about placing my order.  It must have been fate that brought me to the Kane County Flea Market a few weeks ago. When I saw these salvaged wooden letters, I knew it was meant to be.  At $5 per letter, I could have a similar decoration in our kitchen for a whole lot less!

The corner of the "T" looked like it had been chewed on (not literally), so Reed patched it up with some wood putty and sanded it smooth. 

 Next I sanded the letters a little bit to rough them up so the new paint would stick.  We gave them a nice even coat of primer and let it dry.  Followed by a brand-spanking-new coat of spray paint.  Have I mentioned how much I love spray paint?

Sidenote: We bought this handy dandy little tool (made by Rustoleum) at Menard's a few weeks ago and it was worth every penny! It looks like a garden hose attachment and fits onto your standard spray paint cans.  A real life saver for your pointer finger who typically gets stuck doing all the work.  Also highly recommended for applying nice even coats of paint (and its so easy on the hands!). If you are an avid spray painter, you should probably go get one ASAP.

Back to my letters. Once the spray paint dried they were looking fresh and clean and ready to add a much needed pop of color to our kitchen.  We used some Command Strips to put them on the wall (my indecisiveness may determine they belong in a different kitchen spot).

Just in case we ever forget, the kitchen is where we EAT (soffits to the rescue!).

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Clean Sweep: A Garbage Picker's Dream Come True

Last weekend Reed and I experienced our very first Glen Ellyn "Clean Sweep" Day! 

Clean Sweep was described in the Village Newsletter as "Unlimited Refuse Collection. The Village's waste hauler, Allied Waste, will be providing a one-time, unlimited refuse collection the week of Monday, April 30. Its purpose is to enable residents to get rid of odds and ends that can't be recycled."

As described by us:
Free garbage day

And we did just that... 

Saturday evening Reed ventured out and about and returned home with this nifty little dresser.  We don't have a particular room in mind, but we are leaning towards using it for some additional storage in the basement.  It definitely needs a little T-L-C. I'm thinking bright paint and some fun hardware.

Sunday morning (my birthday!) we went out and about once again. Iced coffees in hand, we set out to scour the curbs of Glen Ellyn.  This time we came home with 2 "new" chairs and some cabinet doors.  I've been wanting to add 2 more chairs around our kitchen table so we have 6 total. These babies are going to be painted and reupholstered (soon, we promise!) to make it a complete kitchen set. Reed plans on using the wood from the cabinet doors for some sort of woodworking project. 

The best part about the entire day was leisurely wandering around town watching people stopping every few feet searching for hidden treasures.  We laughed about how normal it was to be garbage picking ("I mean, everybody's doing it").  Clean Sweep weekend was the ultimate yard sale/flea market, but better yet, the junk was totally free!

As if my birthday couldn't get any better, on our way to visit my family, we made a quick pit stop. Our friends Kevin & Celeste contacted us a few weeks back asking if we would be interested in some old glass doors.  Of course, we would never pass up an offer like that (and thank goodness we didn't!).  We walked over to their barn and spent some time picking out a set of GORGEOUS mahogany doors with leaded glass (we are guessing they are about 100ish years old).  The hardware is just incredible.  We aren't sure what we will make with the doors yet, but the possibilities are endless. For now they are hanging out in our family room and we are in love. Totally made my day.

Coffee, garbage/barn picking, and a fabulous dinner (homemade by mom!) with the fam.  That, my friends, is how we spent my birthday.  And I couldn't have asked for a better way to ring in the big two-seven.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Attention:  If you are my mother or my orthopedic surgeon, no wrists were harmed in the project described below.

When I had my cast removed, I had two instructions; "Take it easy, and no heavy lifting until your followup appointment in June."  I was worried this would cause a delay in finishing the desk; but after some serious thought, I came to the conclusion that my 65 year old Doctor's idea of taking it easy is probably pretty different than mine.  Plus, Deanne does Crossfit so she probably wouldn't mind helping me with the lifting part.

With my plans for the desk-base already complete (more on that here), I put together my shopping list.  For this project, I decided to use plywood for the shelves and the sides (I'll call this part the box).  As you can see in the plans, in order to cover up the plywood edges, I decided to build a face-frame that would sit flush against the plywood edges.

Once I figured out how much wood to buy, I ran to a local hardwood lumber store (Owl Hardwood Lumber in Lombard).   After browsing for a while, I decided to use White Birch Plywood for the box and some matching white birch hardwood for the face frame.  Although it was a little more expensive than buying the wood at one of the big box stores, the quality of wood and the service that I received was well worth paying a few dollars more.   Since a standard sheet of plywood doesn't exactly fit inside a Honda Accord, they even ripped the plywood for me into 14 inch wide strips so I could get the wood home.  This probably saved me an hour's worth of work and the cuts that they made were probably more accurate than mine would have been.   

Before I made any cuts, I let the wood sit for a few days in order to acclimate to the humidity of our house (always a good idea when buying wood).  I started by cutting the sides and shelves to length.  

Then I cut grooves (dados) for the shelves to rest in using a dado blade on the table saw.  

Once all the grooves were cut, I assembled the box using wood glue, clamps and some Kreg screws for extra support.  

The face frame got the same treatment (Wood glue, clamps and Kreg screws).  

Lastly, I attached the face frame using you guessed it...more glue, clamps and screws.  I strategically positioned the Kreg holes to be in places that would be least visible.  You can fill the Kreg holes with special plugs or wood filler but if they aren't going to be seen, it isn't really necessary.


We are still most likely a few weeks away from having a functional desk but we are definitely making progress.  Here's what's left on our checklist:
  • Attach the back of the bookshelf
  • Sanding
  • Staining / finishing to match the other half of the desk base
  • Get an old door for the desk top (and cut it to size)
I'll keep you posted on the progress!