Saturday, November 30, 2013

Under Pressure

One of the first steps on your list of requirements when tackling any painting job is 'cleaning.' Gotta remove all the grime, grease, and dirt that has built up on any surface before you can hope a new coat of paint will actually adhere properly and look good for many years.

For historic houses the recommended way of cleaning the old wood siding is gentle washing with a brush and water from your run of the mill garden hose or a gentle cleaning with your pressure washer to avoid damaging the old wood siding. Newer pressure washers, especially the big industrial, gas powered ones, exert too much pressure and can cause serious damage by removing the softer areas of the wood between the grain. Since we have concrete pavers to clean and maybe, someday in the future, a wooden deck as well (not to mention bikes and cars, and garden furniture), we decided to look at acquiring a low-level electric pressure washer.

I don't know about you but since our budget is small and limited, my first 'poking around' usually involves checking out what Harbor Freight has to offer. We have found that we can often find just the tool we are looking for at a very reasonable price there. Granted, these tools won't last a lifetime. They are not the kind your children will inherit and talk about with gleaming eyes, but for the occasional 'around-the-house' use, they can't be beat.

They were offering the 1650PSI electric pressure washer from Pacific Hydrostar for very little money; with a coupon it came down to a whopping $74.99 - well within the price range we'd decided on and with all the features we wanted. Also, the reviews weren't bad. When I decided to poke around on the internet to see if there were more reviews elsewhere, I discovered that the same pressure washer was also available through Amazon.

For $279.53.
Wait ....WHAT???

Yep, you read that right. I had to take a screen shot because I couldn't believe it. Long story short, I decided to buy the $279.53 pressure washer for $74.99.
It was super easy to put together, the included instructions were easy to follow, and in less than 20 minutes I had our new toy ready to go!

It's really lightweight which makes it easy to lug around and if you make sure to tighten the connectors properly the first time around, it doesn't leak. So we took it for a spin outside, playing with the different nozzle sizes and just familiarizing ourselves with it before embarking on the big adventure of using it to clean our house's siding.

Front yard - we have concrete pavers and this little retaining wall that sets our property apart from the sidewalk - both of which were dirty and in places a little mossy after the especially wet and warm summer we have had.

Yes, that's Halloween decorations - I've been a bit sidetracked lately, obviously. Heh .... anyways, this is one of the fun tools. It's easy to use and comes with instant gratification in discovering that there's a color pattern in your walkway (when you thought they were all the same color) and seeing the crusted dirt of decades wash off and reveal clean, light colored concrete underneath.

"Before" and "After" in the same picture. Isn't the difference mindboggling? Gah! I can't believe it was that filthy (and that we waited so long to deal with it).

After you are done pressure-washing anything, it's you who needs a thorough cleaning.

The backspray covers you, top to bottom, with a layer of mud - wearing wellies might be a good idea. Maybe next time, heh!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Halloween - A Recap In Pictures

Little Man and me were on our own this Halloween - usually I hold down the fort and hand out candy to ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties while the husband takes Little Man trick or treating. 

Unfortunately the husband teaches on Thursday nights and we couldn't wait for him to come home since it was a school night, so off we went together, Little Man dressed up as an evil Ninja Assassin Clown and me as evil Minion. 

No matter the holiday, our historical houses pull off any decoration really well. Whether creepy ghosts and rotting zombies, or sweet Christmas bows and twinkling lights - they all wear these adornments with aplomb, style and grace. 

The streets were filled with roaming children, laughing and chattering as they scurried from house to house, parents in tow!

So many houses were lovingly decorated!

 New and long-time neighbors really got into the spirit, and many porch lights stayed on that night!
It seems that Historic Springfield has grown into quite the Halloween destination.

 Instead of hayrides we tried a trunk or treat this year and it worked beautifully (although people are already planning bigger and better and improved for next year - gotta love the spirit).

As night fell, the decorations looked even better! I really loved this house with its spooky blue-lit winged angel on the porch!

So much candy!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Halloween Aftermath

 Will you look at that - Halloween came, and was over in a flash. Or at least that's what it feels like these days where - caught between work, household chores and baseball - time spent at home passes in a wink of an eye ...

I also realized I never posted a picture (or two) or what Halloween looks like at our little old house, so here we go, a day late and a dollar short!

Since I'm not particularly fond of all things gory and grew up not at all allowed to go from door to door asking people for candy (during my youth Halloween wasn't celebrated in Germany, and while we do have one celebration that allows for door to door solicitation of treats - St. Martin - it was in general something frowned upon in my family. Aaaaanyways ... it took me a couple of years to get the hang of "trick or treating' and it was made easy in my lovely neighborhood. More of that later :)

Decorations at the little old house concentrate on the fireplace mantel, the ubiquitous door wreath, and a smattering of ghosts, gravestones and black crows on the outside.

We feel mightily inspired (and ever so slightly intimidated) by one of our awesome neighbors who goes out and creates a themed decoration for her family's house every year and maybe, maybe next year we will have all our planning and decorating skills together and go all out. This year, we kept it simple.

And of course we dressed up the door wreath to go with the season. After Halloween, the 'Boo' comes off and we're ready to roll for Thanksgiving. Ha!

Over the top, I know. Hardcore decorating, right? These days I'm happy when I manage to keep my wits about and my family in clean clothes and fed. Oh, and the menagerie, must not forget the menagerie.