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DIY, how to, kitchen, making do

Home hack: Never Refill the Dish Soap Dispenser Again!

03/29/2021
In-Sink Soap Dispenser Hack - Never Refill It Again!

When we gave the kitchen a facelift and installed a new countertop and sink, I was excited to add a built-in dish soap dispenser. As a minimalist at heart, I looked forward to not having a bottle of dish soap sitting on the counter next to the sink. How easy it will be to push the integrated pump and dispense dish soap directly into the sink! And it really is convenient … until the dispenser bottle under the sink needs to be refilled. When that happens, all thoughts of minimalism and daily convenience are replaced by frustration as I climb under the sink to remove and then replace the little bottle that seems to only hold a few dozen pumps of soap. Removing that little bottle is easy, of course. Screwing the bottle back into the fitting under the sink? That’s some sort of torture!

Well my days of climbing under the sink are over! With the addition of a simple rubber hose, I can replace that tiny dispensing bottle with a giant jug of dish soap. Screw that little bottle! Or, rather, never screw that bottle back into the sink again! And all it took was a few feet of latex tubing. Specifically, latex tubing with 1/4″ inner diameter and 3/4″ exterior diameter – found at your local hardware store. I purchased a 10 foot coil of tubing because that’s what I found on the rack at the Lowes where I was shopping. I used only 3-ish feet of the tubing but am happy to have enough leftover to fix the pump back at the city apartment, too. If you can buy your latex tubing by the foot, get only as much as you need. But if you happen to buy extra, offer to use the remainder that save your friends from screwing the bottle.

But before you can go out and help your friends, you’ll need to know how to do it, right? OK, so here goes…

Standing at the sink, remove the pump. It should be as easy as pulling up on the pump – the entire thing, the pump and existing tube, should remove easily. Now, slip one end of the latex tubing over the end of the soap pump tube.

Place the pump, with tube attached, in the receptacle in the sink. Now, let this be the last time you climb under the sink. While you’re down there, snip the end of the latex tubing where it meets the bottom of the under-sink cabinet.

Remove the cap from that extra large bottle of dish soap that you’ve been using to refill the measly little bottle that came with the dispenser. Place the latex tubing into that large bottle of dish soap.

And there you have it. In just a few simple steps you’ve created a workaround that will eliminate the need to ever refill that little soap pump dispenser bottle again! It may take a number of pumps before the soap works its way through the latex tube and out the dispenser, but once it does you’re good to go.

Happy washing!

DIY, history, recipes

Happy Birthday Carole Lombard! Thanks for Introducing Us to Mustard Soaks

10/06/2019

Today – October 6th – is Carole Lombard’s birthday. We have a little tradition in our house. When a celebrity birthday pops up – especially if that celebrity is a beautiful actress of yesteryear (bonus points if she met a tragic end!) – we watch a film or two to celebrate. Today, to honor Ms. Lombard, we watched her 1932 film No More Orchids. And that’s how we learned about mustard soaks.

“Did she say mustard?” I asked The Mister as the grandmother in the film mixed a foot soak for Carole Lombard’s character.

“That can’t be right,” he replied.

But, yes, mustard soak! A quick Google search confirmed that a mustard soak is indeed a thing. An old-timey English thing, to be exact. Mostly used for heading off colds and flu. In the film, the grandmother made her own mustard soak – likely using ingredients similar to this recipe on Joy the Baker – but here in the 21st century you can also buy Dr. Singha’s Mustard Bath, premixed mustard seed powder, eucalyptus, rosemary, wintergreen and thyme, on Amazon.

With temperatures dropping and cold and flu season just ahead, we’re certain to try a mustard soak sometime soon. You better believe we’ll be picking up the ingredients for the DIY mix on our next trip to the grocery store! Follow us on Instagram for a blow by blow on the mustard soak.

Speaking of Carole Lombard, take a little peek at the house in Fort Wayne, Indiana where she spent her early years.

Image Credit: IMDB

American System-Built Home, before & after, DIY, renovation, stripping paint

Stripping Living Room Windows & Trim: Progress!

05/06/2019

This is how the conversation usually goes…

The Mister, with a glint of excitement: We should definitely strip all the woodwork in the house.

Me, flashing back to childhood weekends helping my dad strip paint from woodwork in our house: I don’t know. The white does make it feel a little more modern. Maybe we should just repaint it.

The Mister, downcast by resigned: Yeah, you’re probably right.

Me, leaving that window of opportunity slightly ajar: Although the trim really would be beautiful if it was stripped!

We’ve probably had this conversation a hundred times over the past five years of owning the house. That’s why we’ve left the trim untouched all the time. Until now, that is.

stripping wood trim in American System-Built Home

As I mentioned in the last post, we decided to take the leap and strip the wood in the living room. And you know what? It’s not so bad! Stripping paint is messy – there’s no way around that – but the work has been fairly quick. Well, some of the work has been quick. Stripping the windows is definitely more time consuming than stripping the picture rail and baseboard. All those little corners and crevices!

Stripping paint in an old home

But oh how good it looks!

I should clarify – when I say that I’m stripping the windows, I’m really talking about the frames. In the photos here, I’ve removed the interior storm windows so that I can strip the frame. I will not be stripping the exterior windows. The exterior windows will get a fresh coat of paint and the interior windows … well, now I’m getting ahead of myself.

stripping woodwork in an old house

By stripping the trim, we’ve discovered that some woods don’t match. Well, not exactly discovered. We’ve known this for a while – from our own strip test when we were pondering our options and as informed by former owners when they came to visit. Most of the wood that’s been replaced is around the windows, likely due to water damage.

The wood that is original has a very dark stain on it. While most of that stain comes up with the stripper, a dark hue remains on the wood. It doesn’t appear that the wood that has been replaced was ever stained at all. By the time the previous owner was replacing wood trim around the windows, all the other trim had already been painted. So of course they just painted the replacement trim instead of staining it. When everything is stripped we’ll face the task of using stain to try to make all the wood match.

restoring wood trim in an old house

There’s just something about 100-year-old woodwork! At the risk of sounding like the old man that I am, they just don’t make it like they used to! When the trim was painted white it looked flat and lifeless. By removing the paint from the trim, we’ve exposed the beautiful grain that gives the wood visual interest.

So many paper towels and garbage bags! Have I mentioned how incredibly messy stripping paint can be?!

rehabbing wood trim in an old American System-Built home

But just look at the difference!

Now, back to those windows. As I said, we’re not going to strip the exterior windows. The window sash that faces inward will get a fresh coat of paint. We’ve decided to use the same color that we used on the outside trim and windows – black fox. We will, however, be stripping and staining the inner (or storm) windows. These windows were not original and, like the replacement trim, were never stained. Stripping paint from untreated wood is not easy! Fortunately, the house had a little surprise for us.

I was poking around in the garage looking for some scrap wood when I spied a few old window screens in a dark corner. While most of the screens were painted, two of them had not been. And, like a gift from the renovation gods, one of those unpainted screens fits the living room windows that were just stripped! See that dark screen in the middle window? That’s the one! This old screen even has the original hardware attached to it!

Since this screen has never been painted and hence never stripped, we can finally see that this is how dark the wood trim was stained. This truly is a gift from the rehab gods because now we have a goal: stain all the woodwork to match the color of this screen.

I also started stripping one of the old screens that had been painted and installed it in the right window. You can really see the difference between the stained screen and the screen that’s been stripped. We’re still planning to go back and strip the storm windows but for now we’re just going to install the screen. Since we’re in the warm months, the screens will suffice. (Plus, we’ve never had screen in these windows so it will be nice to be able to open them for fresh air!) Come fall, though, we will definitely need to re-install the storm windows. They really do make a difference in keeping the house warm.

For now, let’s step back and admire the progress…

So beautiful, right? We have a long way to go but it’s heartening to see all of this progress. When it comes to DIY renovations, one must celebrate the small victories in order to forge ahead with the other projects.

DIY, living room, renovation, stripping paint

Adventures in Stripping: Tackling the Trim

03/30/2019

Stripping Wood Trim in Our American System Built Home

We’ve been in a bit of a holding pattern for the past five years, paralyzed by the question of whether to strip the interior trim in our house or repaint it. In the early days of ownership, when we were full of the exuberance that’s common to new homeownership, we stripped some small test sections of the trim and discovered that wood had been replaced in some areas. That discovery provided the excuse to put off the decision until a later date. And now here we are five years on and we’ve made a decision … sort of.

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