There’s no getting around the fact that a renovation is stressful. I am really tired of washing dishes in the slop sink. And it keeps going on.
We got the flooring in. A little grayer than I like but still light.
The same day the flooring went in the stove broke. No kidding. I was baking chicken in the oven and went to take it off and the entire handle came off in my hand. I can still get the oven door open with a potholder but it isn’t easy.
Fried food anyone?
In other news, with the garage door left open so the workmen can bring in flooring, cabinets (arrived but not installed) we have had an army of mice appear. Most recent count: 10. We’ve found dead ones in our closet (yuck!) and in the bathroom. I don’t blame them for wanting out of the cold but I wish they wouldn’t choose my house.
The contractors spent a few days getting up the sheetrock and painting. I see how The Property Brothers can gut a house in 4 weeks; the crew spends every day on one property. I wouldn’t like having the Property Brothers choose everything, though. I might not like the result. The contractor and I had a disagreement over the paint. He thought it should be lighter. When the flooring is in, we will see.
Meanwhile, I am finding not having running water in the kitchen tiresome. Can barely cook – no counters.
Well, we couldn’t keep the flooring that was already on the kitchen floor because of the holes under the cabinets. We were given three choices: hardwood, vinyl tiles or the engineered flooring like Pergo. (We could also have ceramic tile but I hate it – too cold and hard to walk on). We threw out the hardwood – we are already having hickory cabinets and I didn’t want a a kitchen that was like a wooden box.) So we looked at the last two. We chose two tiles, a first choice and a second. The first is no longer available and the second won’t be available until March 9. (So, Loews, why do you still have it in the store if it isn’t available?)
Then we looked at the flooring and chose a whitewashed look but the contractor told us it wouldn’t look good with the paint color we’d chosen. So we tried again for different forms of vinyl tile.We spent hours in both Loews and Home Depot putting samples on the floor and trying to imagine them in our kitchen.
After a week, we opted to go with the whitewashed flooring and change the paint. Who would guess that flooring would be such an issue?
With the gutting of my kitchen, I now have a fridge and a stove. That’s it. It’s kind of like camping out but without the trees. Considering the snow, maybe that’s a good thing. Anyway, I am preparing food at the kitchen table which now lives behind the couch in my living room. I am washing dishes by hand. I don’t mind that but washing in my slop sink
and putting them to dry on top of the washing machine, well, just lets say it is a pain in the butt.
I have heard it said that a kitchen is the heart of a house. I believe it. My kitchen is not only the heart metaphorically but also by location. Man, is it hard to live. The pantry where all our canned food is now stuffed and the slop sink (yes, the same slop sink I use for washing out dyes and other crafty things) is on the other side. The first day I did not realize I wouldn’t be able to get there. I had thought ahead somewhat; I had food, milk, juice etc for the babies. But I couldn’t get to my coffee pot Now we are talking a sacrifice. And there was no way to get a can of soup. So, after I fed the babies, I ate two handfuls of cocoa puffs. I hate cocoa puffs. To me they taste like chocolate flavored vitamins. I now have only a stove and a refrigerator.
Plus, we of course hit a surprise. We’d hoped to reuse the floor. Do you see? They went around the cabinets. So now we have to choose and pay for flooring and it sets the project back a week.
Before we humans made paint with oil (or our modern latex), paint was made with a variety of ingredients. Paint has to have something that provides color like ochre or, during colonial times in the USA, brick dust, and a medium for the color that provides stability and hopefully durability. Egg yolks was at one time used for paint. Anyone who has tried to scrub hardened egg yolks off a plate knows that egg hardens to something like cement. But it does wash off in water.
Another substance used in paint was milk. Since most people lived on farms up until the present, milk was something readily obtainable. We know that milk paint was used. Occasionally antique furniture and old houses in this country are discovered to have been painted with milk paint.
However, the recipe for milk paint is very important. In 1801 a French artist described painting with a milk paint and wrote that it was not durable. Among other things, it came off with the slightest friction (Don’t ever brush against it or it would come off on one’s clothing, and would dissolve in wet weather.) And milk paint must be used right away. It has a short shelf life.
The important ingredient is the protein casein. Sometimes borax is used to the lime to help dissolve the casein. Different recipes have been tried to make milk paint durable. We know that at least some of them were successful; surfaces painted with milk have been discovered in some old houses. It has a hard very smooth finish and was usually in pale pastel colors. It is impervious to paint strippers and is difficult to paint over. It is totally non-toxic, though, and can be used to give furniture an antique look.
Oh, and one final fun fact. House painters in the past did not ‘paint’; they distempered the walls.
My husband and I moved into a new house over a year ago. But it took us until now to begin painting. Of course we used Latex paint. It comes in about a million colors and cleans up with water. As I was washing brushes, I began reflecting upon paint. We take it so completely for granted. But its history is a lot more layered (pardon the pun) than one might think.
One of my earliest memories as a child was cleaning my father’s brushes. First, all the paint had to be removed with liberal applications of turpentine. Then the brush had to be soaked in linseed oil to keep the bristles soft. (Fun fact: Linseed oil is made from the flax seeds. The seeds are edible and was fed to livestock. Now, those of us into healthy living eat the flax seed.)
My father was a painter but not a picture painter or a house painter. He was what would be called now a Graphics Artist. He painted signs (and called himself a sign painter). When I was very little I remember him painting cartoons on the signs: little drawings of smoking horses and smiling pigs and so on. Even when I was in high school and learning what was then called computer science, he had a steady clientele who wanted painted paper signs to advertise sales and Christmas specials. But fashions change; even for signs. He went to school to learn to make neon signs and form plastic letters for plastic signs. If he couldn’t find help, all of us kids manned the block and tackle to help him raise the heavy signs to their places on the buildings. I was lucky in that I never had to go up the ladder and help my father. I was terrified of heights.
But I digress.
Oil paint was discovered during the middle ages, as anyone who knows anything about painting is aware of. But oil paint takes a long time to dry. And it is expensive so it was used in the houses only of the rich. Since white lead was a primary ingredient, lead poisoning was epidemic among painters. (Fun Fact #2: The first company to make paint that could be used directly from a tin can without preparation – previously powered paint ground with a mortar and pestle was mixed with water to make the paint – was Sherwin Williams in 1866.)
Poorer folk, and people in early America, had to use an alternative and that alternative, which is seeing something of a resurgence, was milk paint.