Thursday, October 1, 2015

Live With The Visuals

Industrial safety vendors offer key components of household systems. A first-aid kit in a metal case can be wall-mounted someplace obvious or toted here and there in case of need. Fire extinguishers, not to mention smoke detectors, should be easy to spot and use. 

I don’t own a third item, because all the things I might store in it live in an outbuilding, but a small special-purpose locker for flammable liquids would make an ideal shower gift. Nail polish and craft materials deserve the same considered storage as industrial solvents.

More after the jump.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

This Old Sink

The powder room in this 1890 house is furnished with a vintage fixture. The bowl is porous from previous decades of cleaning with powdered pumice. Used only for washing hands, the sink accumulates a grimy haze that’s not easy to remove. I like the sink: it’s heavy cast iron and the high backsplash protects the fir wainscoting behind it.The economics of this development property suggest that replacing it is not practical.

I scrub the sink frequently with detergent and a nylon pad. Now and then, as in the current fall housecleaning period, I fill the sink with boiling water and detergent and let it cool. Sometimes I add bleach. The process lifts grime from the porous glaze and leaves the surface refreshed. For truly detailed cleaning, I wipe the sink with mineral spirits to remove waxy residue, and I burnish the worn chromed brass faucets with biker’s polish, the stuff in a tube, using an obsolete toothbrush. I do this just before Thanksgiving, and the work carries through until Easter.

For a quick finish on a weekly cleaning, I have found that wiping a splash of hydrogen peroxide over the sink and fixtures leaves them surprisingly bright and clean.

More after the jump.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Charcoal Yoga

I ran across a sale on mesquite charcoal. Years later I have yet to use the last of it. The dregs of a bag are small, difficult to grasp, and erratic when set on a fire. This morning I realized I could simply shovel petty mesquite fragments into a lunch bag and set it on a starter fire that had burned down to the right stage.

Did. Worked. Will bag the rest of the remains.


More after the jump.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Miracle On The Heap

Several years ago in a moment of July desperation, I scuffled a few holes in the kitchen compost heap, shucked wads of root-bound seedlings out of their flimsy plastic pots, and pawed topsoil over the starts. I mulched them with far too much complete organic fertilizer, because I was unwilling to store the container over the winter.

The area has been neither watered or fed and has kept us in greens and onion tops ever since. I risked not rotating the plantings, reasoning that a small and motley collection of species might not foster pests or disease. So far, so good.

This year’s record heat and drought turned the area to straw, although volunteer potatoes, tomatoes, and squash from the compost held their green heads high. I had let the greens go to seed. A light rain six weeks ago brought the mature plants back to life. Chard leaves are sprouting on stalks nearly as sturdy as walking sticks.

The household sexton buries kitchen leavings among the plants after dousing the resident rose with the liquid in the plastic pitcher that holds waste.

More after the jump.