LOVE Pillow Talk

It’s Day No. 3 of my LOVE posts. I LOVE pillows, the more the better. On the bed, on the couch, on any chair and bench in my home you will find a pillow(s). The more color, the more style, the more designs, the better. This is a needlepoint pillow that sits on my porch.

Home Is Where the Heart IsI made it sooo many years ago, and back then it was actually a framed picture, but now it’s a cushy pillow. Here are some other inspired Valentine’s pillows I found around the web (It’s not too late to make one for your very own Valentine)

Key to My Heart Pillow by Kathy Kuo Home-sweet and simple. Love the vintage, rustic style.

Kathy Kuo Home Pillow

One single pillow can create a vignette and make a space pop, like this little pink heart by Mhouse Inc, shown here on Houzz.com

Photo by Stephani Buchman PhotographyLoving this Pixilated Heart Pillow by S.O.T.A.K. Handmade. Super cute, especially if you love quilts.

Pixilated Heart Pillow by SOTAK

This gorgeous hand-painted silk pillow is by Crystal J Silk. Loving the aqua and red combo!

Hand Painted Heart Pillow by Crystal J SilkLoving this adorable quilted heart pillow with all the buttons in the center by Sew Me Something Good (and don’t you just LOVE that name?!)

Pillow by Sew Me Something GoodOne of the first posts I saw this morning on Facebook was by Setting for Four– absolutely LOVE this sparkly gold LOVE pillow!

Gold Sequin LOVE Pillow by Setting for FourNo way! These awesome heart pillows were created from drop cloths!! I always LOVE inspired design. These are from Posed Perfection and they are perfect : )

Drop Cloth Heart Pillows by Posed PerfectionThis little “Hearts on a Line” cutie is from Amy Smart from Diary of a Quilter. You can get the full tutorial on this U-Create link.

Valentine Hearts Pillow by Amy Smart

And finally, from the Etsy shop of Alfie And Rex comes this colorful, screen-printed Boston Terrier with Hearts Pillow. (they have other breeds too!)

Alfie & Rex Heart Dog Pillow

Seeing all of these pillows makes me so inspired to go and grab my sewing machine and start stitching something sweet! On the other hand, seeing these pillows makes me think it would be nice to curl up on the sofa..Susan

 

Sweet, Sweet LOVE

It’s day two of the LOVE collection!

Photo Courtesy of The Plotting Princesses

Photo Courtesy of The Plotting Princesses

Of course, we all remember these Sweetheart Candies from The Necco Company-based right here in Revere, Mass. They were the sweet treat of choice when I was a kid. But these days, homemade goodies are a must-do for Valentine’s Day, so today I am featuring LOVE-inspired sweets and treats from some of my favorite blogs-recipes included-because I LOVE all of you! Up first: What can be more delicious than fruit and nut stuffed pie crust cookies?! These beautiful Pie Crust Cookies from Nest Full Of New look soooo good!

Pie Crust Cookies Nest Full Of NewHow about some Nutella Filled Crescent Hearts from The Pinterested Parent?

Nutella Filled Crescents The Pinterested ParentThese Hidden Kisses Chocolate Chip Cookies from Our Kids Mom look amazing! Especially considering she is a mom of 4 kids and has time to bake yummy decorated treats!

Hidden Kisses Cookies from Our Kids MomNow you all know I am not a big fan of mice-but these! Chocolate Cherry Mice by My Turn For Us! Yum!

Chccolate Cherry Mice by My Turn for UsThen, of course, the Martha Stewart Valentine’s Treat: Heart-Shaped Whoopie Pies with Raspberry Meringue Filling-wow.

Martha Stewart Heart Shaped Whoopie PiesHeart Shaped Linzer Sandwich Cookies by Eclectic Recipes-these are one of my all-time favorite cookies. Crumbly shortbread sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar filled with raspberry jam. What’s not to LOVE?

Heart Shaped Linzer Cookies from Eclectic CookingAnd, finally, these look super cute and easy enough for kids to make for their favorite Valentine : )Marshmallow Treat Pops from Party City

Valentine Treat Pops from Party CitySo if you are having a sweet craving, try one of these tasty recipes, and have a sweet (Super) Sunday everyone! Susan

Vintage LOVE Sign

In this month of openly-proclaimed all things LOVE, I am celebrating by posting a new LOVE sign or picture each day until February 14th, Valentine’s Day. Some will be images and ideas I have found on the web that I would love to share, some are my own creations, like this reclaimed wood plank with LOVE letters spelled out in shutter slats and the “O” from an old mason jar top. Hope you love it!

Country Design Home Vintage Love Sign

I created this using a reclaimed wooden plank, some paint, glue, reclaimed vintage shutter slats and an old mason jar lid. Here is the “how-I-did-it”:Painted two coats of Annie Sloan French Linen chalk paint. This is my go-to neutral that I use for so many projects!

Annie Sloan French Linen Base CoatStenciled the background with Behr Gulf Winds

Behr Gulf Winds Paintin an all-over stencil pattern to give the piece a “wallpaper” effect.

LOVE sign stenciled backgroundThe blue I chose matched closely to the hue of the mason jar top. Isn’t it just the soothingest color?

LOVE sign Stencil Color Gulf WindOnce the paint was dry, I sanded everything to distress the top and edges

Vintage LOVE sign distressed edges

and then added a coat of Fidde’s Paste Wax to give the board a glowing effect.

 Fiddes and Son Supreme Wax

Cut the shutter slats into the letters necessary to spell out LOVE-without the “o”.

Antique Shutter Slats for LOVE signCoach initially cut them with the chop saw, but I discovered that these are easily cut with just a razor box cutter. They are pretty old and brittle, so it didn’t take much effort at all.

Vintage LOVE sign cut letters

I glued the letters to the board with Gorilla Glue. Just as an FYI, their label was one of the few I looked at during my freak-out session while writing “The Dangers of DIY” that says their product is non-toxic and has no harmful chemicals or odors.

Gorilla Glue LabelHigh five, Gorilla Glue!

Vintage LOVE sign Gorilla GlueJust painted the glue on the back of each piece, placed them into position and then weighted them down with some books and cans of paint and left overnight to ensure the proper bonding.

Add the “O”. Hot glue worked well for this.

Mason Jar Top O for Love SignJust glued all around the edges, pressed it down onto the board to complete the sign.

Mason Jar O for Love Sign

To hang it, I used a couple of tiny rings and some wire. The board was quite thin, so most of the screws and nail hangers I had were too long.

Screw Hook and wire for LOVE signThis worked great because the sign is very light and won’t stretch out the wire. So this is the before:

Wood plank for LOVE sign

And this is now: Do you LOVE it?!?

Vintage LOVE Sign TM

If you have a LOVELY craft, idea or recipe to share, please send it to me @ countrydesignhome@gmail.com and I will add you to my LOVE collection. Hope you have a lovely Saturday! Susan

Antiqued Mirror on the Wall

Antiqued Mirror Completed PM

Who’s the fairest (and most rustic, vintage and gorgeous!) of them all? This mirror was another “throw-away” Coach found “somewhere”. I don’t ask anymore. It’s like a magic cupboard-I need something, I open up the barn door and voila! Instant DIY subject! Today’s project was this old, dirty, chipping and peeling dark brown mahogany mirror. Despite it’s sorry, drab exterior in dire need of some TLC, the actual structure itself was totally solid and quite heavy, I might add. I transformed it from this in a few simple, easy steps.

Antiqued Mirror BeforeHere is the How-I-Did-It: 1. Cleaned the mirror and frame thoroughly with heavy duty cleanser. The mirror is not in perfect condition, but that’s fine by me. Adds to the charm, and it stills reflects the light, which is most important. Lightly sanded the frame just to remove any loose particles of old varnish.

2. Primed with Gripper by Glidden. LOVE this stuff. Seals in stains, odors, evens the color and preps the wood to accept the topcoat.

Glidden Gripper Primer3. Painted with one coat of Glidden Antique Beige

Glidden Antique Beige Can

that I added my “chalk-like-paint” mixture to. It is a nice, soft, matte finish that accepts glazes and waxes very well. That recipe here:

Antiqued Mirror Painted

4. Added the unfinished medallion to the top for detail.

Antique Mirror Unfinished MedallionI purchased this one at Michaels for a couple of bucks. Just glued it on with Gorilla Glue . You have to brush it on, then weight it down

Antiqued Mirror Glueing Downand wait until it’s dry to ensure a good solid bond. Then I painted it with the same Glidden top coat and allowed to dry.

Antiqued Mirror Medallion Primed5. Lightly sanded the whole mirror frame and detail to expose some of the dark wood beneath.

Antiqued Mirror Detail Sanded 26. Painted on this Antique Wax in Scrub Pine from General Finishes. I like this one because you don’t have to work it in with a rag. You literally paint it on!

Antiqued Mirror Scrub Pine Antique WaxBrushed it on with a foam brush, then wiped off with a rag, leaving the dark wax in places to enhance all of the crevices and lines and detail.

Antiqued Mirror Glazed and Sanded

It leaves some color, but it also adds a nice matte finish to the entire piece. Allowed to dry.

7. Scraped off the excess paint and stain insdie the frame of the mirror. Cleaned the mirror.

Antiqued Mirror Scraping Glass8. Here is the finished closeup of my antiqued mirror. I love it, but what do you think? Should I have left it alone or did I give this piece some love? (BTW, if anyone knows the trick to photographing mirrors without me being in the shot, I would love to hear it!!!)

Antiqued Mirror Top Details

This is a very simple DIY project, it just takes some time and a little patience to allow each layer to dry before adding the next. If you are thinking of trying this process, test it out on a sample piece of wood before taking on a big, detailed mirror or frame. But remember, it’s supposed to look old and messy, so perfection is not an option! Sometimes a little messy is a good thing… Hope you have a reflective Thursday, everyone! Susan

Hearty Oatmeal Jam Squares

Oatmeal Jam SquaresI have been making these super easy, delicious Oatmeal Jam Squares forever! This recipe was from an old, dog-eared Quaker Oats Wholegrain Cookbook.

Oatmeal Jam Squares Quaker Oats Cookbook

They only take a few moments to prep, make minimal mess because you mix it all in one bowl with mostly (I would guess) stuff you already have in your pantry and fridge, 25 minutes to bake and done. Delish! Here’s the how-to:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I have an electric oven, so I always set it 25 degrees less as I feel it cooks faster and hotter than gas, so mine was set at 325. Grease 13 x 9 pan and set aside. This pic looks a little weird, because I used cooking spray and it squirts out rather than lightly sprays. Whatever works…

Oatmeal Jam Squares Grease Pan

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups quick oats

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed (you can use either light or dark brown, but I feel the dark brown gives the bars a richer flavor)

2 sticks (one cup) butter or margarine, softened, not melted

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (Optional)

1 1/2 – 2 cups jam or jelly or preserves, any flavor Note: The original recipe called for 3/4 cup. You can use as much or as little as you like. The more jam, the gooier the bar : )

Measure out all dry ingredients, set aside.

Oatmeal Jam Squares IngredientsPlace softened butter in large mixing bowl (I used one margarine, one butter. Not sure why, I just do that)

Oatmeal Jam Squares Softened Butter

and mix just until sticks are broken apart, not creamed. I used dough hooks in my mixer, you can use those, or mix by hand with wooden spoon.

Oatmeal Jam Squares Blending Butter

Dump in all the dry ingredients on top of the butter in the large mixing bowl.

Oatmeal Jam Squares Ingredients in Bowl

Mix with dough hooks, or by hand with a wooden spoon, until mixture is crumbly and well-blended.

Oatmeal Jam Squares Dough Hooks

Remove and reserve 2 cups of mixture, set aside.

Oatmeal Jam Squares Mixture

Place remaining mixture into prepared pan and pat down until firm crust is formed.

Oatmeal Jam Squares Crust in Pan

Do not compress too much, but make sure there aren’t any errant chunks scattered around.

Oatmeal Jam Squares One Cup Jam

Spoon jam onto crust

Oatmeal Jam Squares Jam in Pan

and smooth out to the corners, completely covering the crust.

Oatmeal Jam Squares Jam in Pan Smoothed

As you see here, I am using two types of jam,

Oatmeal Jam Squares Jam Jars

but you can use whatever you happen to have available. I have used everything from orange marmalade to grape jelly, and it all tastes great! Sprinkle remaining topping over the jam, evenly spreading to corners. Bake for 25-30 minutes until jam is bubbling around the edges, the crust is light brown and set.

Oatmeal Jam Squares Baked

Remove from oven before crust over-browns! Over-browning is bad. Makes the bars crunchy instead of gooey. And I like gooey. If you like crunchy, then leave them in a bit longer. Cool completely. Cut into squares and serve.

Oatmeal jam SquaresThese are delicious (and nutritious) enough for breakfast and snacks but sweet enough for dessert. Have a yummy Wednesday everyone! Susan

Tagged by Tagxedo

Tagxedo Logo

Every once in awhile I happen upon a fresh new idea or website that’s just fun and creative and easy enough for anyone to try (and there is no sanding and painting and glazing and waxing to do : ) Well, hello, Tagxedo! This website creates “clouds” of words that you can personalize in a million different ways to print or save or have printed on shirts or whatever you would like to do with them. AWESOME.

Tagxedo Front Page

I went to the home page, where you can add essentially anything you wish to create a cloud-I just entered the URL of my blog and this happened in, like, 2 seconds:

Tagxedo Country Design Home Cloud

Here is their Facebook page where you can get ideas-and there are so many! I love this reverse print HORSE.

Tagxedo Horse

Just for fun, I typed in Sochi Olympics and this is the result-a large snowflake puzzle piece!

Tagxedo Sochi Olympics

I mean, seriously, I could sit here all day and play with this (well, I really can’t, I have rocks to climb with The Next 26).

The Next 26 Boulders for Boston

But this would be a fun way to spend a snowy afternoon, with your kids too!

Tagxedo Snowman

 

And, for the perfect Valentine for your very special loved ones…

Tagxedo LOVE

So, if you are looking for some simply creative fun, check out Tagxedo. Here’s hoping your Sunday’s not a uphill climb!!

Brooklyn Boulders Somervile

And if you’re looking for me, I’ll be on the top of a rock wall-NOT! Susan

Blog Better Boston HubLinks Feature!

BBB Hublinks Feature

Lately, I have been fortunate to become a member of a few local (to Boston and New England) blogging groups, because social networking really is about, well, social networking. Blog Better Boston is a site that was founded to help local bloggers put forth their best blogs through educational events and conferences.  I was pretty excited when I was notified that my blog post Snowflakes and Sopapillas 

Snowflake Blocks with Candles.png

was recently featured in their Winter-Themed HubLinks Series. Along with my blog, there were 5 other notable local blogs that were highlighted:

Styled by Jess, who shares a yummy recipe for making S’Mores Hot Chocolate

Nick Burka On the Music: Monday Mixtape: Finding Your Beach

Take Time Away, sharing her Top Three Best Travel Apps (to distract us from the freezing cold : )

Union Jack Creative, featuring Crafts And Craft Cocktails

 Trends & Tolstoy sharing some Cold Weather Tips & Tricks
So, thanks to Blog Better Boston for featuring our blogs, and showcasing Boston! Would you like to be featured in the next edition?
BBB HubLinks logo
Have a social weekend, everyone! Susan

Passionate About Purple?

Or not so much? If you haven’t heard (and seen) by now, Pantone’s Color of the Year is Radiant Orchid. Beautiful color, sort of a purp[y-pinkish hue, perfect for the runway.

Lady Lux.com

Photo by LadyLux.com

On the color wheel, it is complementary to yellow, and leans towards the red-violet family rather than the blues.

Color Wheel

But, honestly, when I first saw the announcement, I thought “where would you use this in design?!” Where does this lovely shade of purple fit in, other than Hawaii? Especially if you live in and design in a country style home?! So, I went searching on Houzz.com to see how designers and decorators are treating this latest trend, and what I discovered was amazing. Room after room of orchids and lavenders in all shades and hues, from the deepest purple to the loveliest, palest lavender.  Here are a few inspirational spaces, and some simple ways to add just a touch of Radiant Orchid to your life (without having to spring for a plane ticket to Hawaii : )

City Style

Robert Schwartz and Karen Williams for St Charles

Robert Schwartz and Karen Williams for St Charles

Country Style

Bedroom by Locati Architects

Bedroom by Locati Architects

Pretty Little Girl’s Room

Child's Room by Nicole Freezer Rubens

Child’s Room by Nicole Freezer Rubens

Country Cupboard in Rustic Entryway

Rustic Cupboard by Mark EnglishArchitects AIA

Rustic Cupboard by Mark EnglishArchitects AIA

Tropical Paradise

Kim E Courtney Interiors and Design

Kim E Courtney Interiors and Design

Dreamy White Style

Table Vignette by Dreamy WhitesSlick and Modern Kitchen

Kitchen by Mokomo MortonOMG-Kitty!!! (Jackie, this one’s for you : )

One Beacon Court Contemporary by Duane Kaschak

Kitty Room by Duane Kaschak

Man Cave-golfer’s paradise.

Study by Dave Fox Design Build

Study by Dave Fox Design Build

Who would think to paint a man’s study lavender? Love the rustic table, old leather chair, stone fireplace with lavender hued stone. Genius!

Office by Benjamin Moore. I could work here. All day long.

Office by Benjamin Moore

Office by Benjamin Moore

Sweet Dreams.

Bedroom by Tara Dudley Interiors

Bedroom by Tara Dudley Interiors

One Little Perfect Pillow

Passionate Purple by Mark English ArchitectsComplementary

Complementary Colors by Capitol Lighting

Complementary by Capitol Lighting

To see more of my favorite purple rooms, check out Passionate Purple on Houzz.com or Pinterest. So what do you think? Are you passionate about purple? Have a radiant Thursday, everyone! Susan

The Dangers of DIY

When doing any DIY project, there is always an inherent danger in using a table saw or a razor blade improperly,

Stitched up Thumb

or even using a large, unsecured pineapple that could hit you in the head and give you a concussion.

Williamsburg Apple Fan Holiday DecorationOr even this: fortunately, I realized I had dipped my paintbrush in my coffee before I took another sip. In my defense, the coffee and the paint were almost exactly the same color…

Paintbrush in Coffee CupBut recently, I came across this “Pin” for a collapsible spray painting tent made with PVC pipes and disposable clear plastic drop cloths from the DIY blog Makely School for Girls that gave me pause…

Makely Collapsible Spray TentWhat a great idea to be able to set up an enclosed area where you can spray, and then break it down and get it out of the way, right?! If you look closely at the tent, it is completely sealed on all sides, except for the double-draped opening.  Which is the intention, after all, to contain the spray to a confined area, but clearly you also have to be inside the sealed tent while spraying. Now, on this blog, called Makely School for Girls (so adorable!) the writer repeatedly cautions everyone about being properly protected from fumes and spray, encouraging, no, demanding that anyone who builds and uses this tent must wear proper protective clothing to cover her/him AND a respirator (NOT one of those little surgical masks either-we are talking the big mask with an air vent-like this 3M Tekk Protection Demolition one from Home Depot.

3M Respirator Mask @ Home Depot

(Imagine that $24.97 is all it takes to keep you safe from harmful fumes!)  In this post, the blogger, Lindsay Ballard’s cautions:

“*****IMPORTANT!  I also need to say that you MUST wear a respirator when you are in the tent.  MUST, MUST, MUST.  If you go in there without one, I’ll drive to your house and give you a stern talking to.  And no, those little paper masks just won’t work.  You should ALWAYS use a respirator for your projects if there’s any chance that some harmful particles (paint, wood sand, metal etc) will be in the air.  Don’t make me hunt you down.  Because I will.  And I can be mean.  Not really, but seriously.  My granddaddy was a machinist and we are certain that the metal dust is what caused his lung disease. I also recommend wearing safety glasses (which you should be wearing anyway when you spray paint), nitrile/latex gloves and long sleeves/pants when you go in there (so you won’t be covered in a fine mist of paint yourself).”

Kudos to the author for stressing the importance of proper protection and educating us all about the dangers of spray painting in an enclosed space. BUT, I know, myself, (and I am sure that there are many, many more guilty DIY’ers out there), and I might just be tempted to jump in there and spray one little thing without being hazmatted up.

Cordova Defender Hazmat Suit Home Depot

Cordova Defender ll Microporous Suit from Home Depot

Because even now I sometimes just grab a can of spray adhesive or paint while working in my (essentially unvented) basement workshop and think, “oh, it’s just this little bit, It will be fine.” Well, its not, folks. Not in the least. These companies are putting the warnings on their products for a reason! Just for my own FYI, I grabbed a few of my favorite products that I use on a daily basis in my workshop and was astounded at the levels of toxicity present in so many cans and bottles of goop and spray and paints that I thought were completely safe!! Here are just a few samples- this one is from a little pot of latex paint. It contains Ethylene Glycol– the chemical they use to make anti-freeze & airplane de-icer . According to eHow: Ethylene Glycol is a colorless, odorless synthetic liquid substance used to make antifreeze and for de-icing airplanes and runways. Ethylene glycol breaks down in the body, producing poisons that can damage the brain, heart and kidneys. Even with medical treatment, swallowing antifreeze is often fatal. Read more:  http://www.ehow.com/about_5977662_polyethylene-glycol-vs_-ethylene-glycol.html#ixzz2qk8hoEFC.

 Paint Pot Warning Label

Now clearly, I am not going to drink the stuff, unless, of course I happen to dip my paintbrush in it by mistake. But, breathing in stuff can be just as harmful. This is from my favorite spray adhesive:

Spray Adhesive Warning LabelProbably not the best decision to have a portable space heater right next to my work table… This label is from a popular brand of chalk paint:

Chalk Paint Can WarningAnd this one is from a can of furniture refinisher that I like to use:

Furniture Refinisher LabelAnd this one from my “odorless mineral spirits” that I sometimes use to clean up brushes:

Mineral Spirits Label

And finally this bottle of a cleaner/degreaser that I got at a natural food store to transfer prints onto wood. I saw this on a DIY show where the host actually put her nose to the bottle and took a deep breath to illustrate how non-toxic and great-smelling and harmless this stuff was! Yikes!

Citrisolv CleanerI looked up some of the ingredients on the above labels and this one scared the crap out of me!! Toluene: Toluene is primarily used as an octane-boosting additive to gasoline. It is also used as a solvent in paints, household aerosols, adhesives, solvent-based cleaning agents, and synthetic fragrances.
Read more:  http://www.ehow.com/about_6530607_toluene-made_.html#ixzz2qk9mAbwC According to Wikipedia: “Inhalation of toluene in low to moderate levels can cause tiredness, confusion, weakness, drunken-type actions, memory loss, nausea, loss of appetite, and hearing and color vision loss. These symptoms usually disappear when exposure is stopped. Inhaling high levels of toluene in a short time may cause light-headedness, nausea, or sleepiness. It can also cause unconsciousness, and even death.” 
On top of that, I started thinking about all of the old furniture I have been working on, sanding and releasing particles into the air-that I am breathing in without a mask-that could very well be mold, old toxic chemicals and even lead paint. If you notice, all of the above labels contain warnings about making sure that your work area is properly ventilated, and the importance of wearing protective masks and clothing.

Dangers poisonSo, enough label reading, time for action! What’s a DIY’er to do if you don’t have a vented workshop or an outdoor space you can use year-round? Well, for myself, a few decisions have been made and are being implemented immediately. No more spray painting or sanding or gluing in the basement, PERIOD. Until spring, when I can set up shop outdoors again, (at which time I may entertain the idea of a collapsible painting tent ala the Makely School for Girls project, because that is AWESOME : ) I am temporarily going to roll up the oriental rug and move my workshop to our upstairs living room (which is quite lovely, but essentially gets used once a year, on Thanksgiving. Hopefully, by then I will be moved out of our house and into a nice, open studio or workshop.)

Living Room Fireplace PMThis parlor has high ceilings, 4 windows for ventilation and a fake fireplace for a little ambiance : ). Electric sanding will be done outdoors, regardless of the temperature, and masks and gloves on from now on! Just out of curiosity, where do all of you DIY’ers do your painting, sanding and staining? Do you have the luxury of a beautiful, vented and well-lit workshop? Do you have any suggestions on the best place to DIY? And, on that note, gotta head to Home Depot  to pick up my mask and gloves. I suggest, if you are planning on doing any future painting, gluing, sanding or staining DIY projects, that you do the same. Have a happy and non-toxic Sunday, everyone! Susan

The Dangers of DIY

When doing any DIY project, there is always an inherent danger in using a table saw or a razor blade improperly,

Stitched up Thumb

or even using a large, unsecured pineapple that could hit you in the head and give you a concussion.

Williamsburg Apple Fan Holiday DecorationOr even this: fortunately, I realized I had dipped my paintbrush in my coffee before I took another sip. In my defense, the coffee and the paint were almost exactly the same color…

Paintbrush in Coffee CupBut recently, I came across this “Pin” for a collapsible spray painting tent made with PVC pipes and disposable clear plastic drop cloths from the DIY blog Makely School for Girls that gave me pause…

Makely Collapsible Spray TentWhat a great idea to be able to set up an enclosed area where you can spray, and then break it down and get it out of the way, right?! If you look closely at the tent, it is completely sealed on all sides, except for the double-draped opening.  Which is the intention, after all, to contain the spray to a confined area, but clearly you also have to be inside the sealed tent while spraying. Now, on this blog, called Makely School for Girls (so adorable!) the writer repeatedly cautions everyone about being properly protected from fumes and spray, encouraging, no, demanding that anyone who builds and uses this tent must wear proper protective clothing to cover her/him AND a respirator (NOT one of those little surgical masks either-we are talking the big mask with an air vent-like this 3M Tekk Protection Demolition one from Home Depot.

3M Respirator Mask @ Home Depot

(Imagine that $24.97 is all it takes to keep you safe from harmful fumes!)  In this post, the blogger, Lindsay Ballard’s cautions:

“*****IMPORTANT!  I also need to say that you MUST wear a respirator when you are in the tent.  MUST, MUST, MUST.  If you go in there without one, I’ll drive to your house and give you a stern talking to.  And no, those little paper masks just won’t work.  You should ALWAYS use a respirator for your projects if there’s any chance that some harmful particles (paint, wood sand, metal etc) will be in the air.  Don’t make me hunt you down.  Because I will.  And I can be mean.  Not really, but seriously.  My granddaddy was a machinist and we are certain that the metal dust is what caused his lung disease. I also recommend wearing safety glasses (which you should be wearing anyway when you spray paint), nitrile/latex gloves and long sleeves/pants when you go in there (so you won’t be covered in a fine mist of paint yourself).”

Kudos to the author for stressing the importance of proper protection and educating us all about the dangers of spray painting in an enclosed space. BUT, I know, myself, (and I am sure that there are many, many more guilty DIY’ers out there), and I might just be tempted to jump in there and spray one little thing without being hazmatted up.

Cordova Defender Hazmat Suit Home Depot

Cordova Defender ll Microporous Suit from Home Depot

Because even now I sometimes just grab a can of spray adhesive or paint while working in my (essentially unvented) basement workshop and think, “oh, it’s just this little bit, It will be fine.” Well, its not, folks. Not in the least. These companies are putting the warnings on their products for a reason! Just for my own FYI, I grabbed a few of my favorite products that I use on a daily basis in my workshop and was astounded at the levels of toxicity present in so many cans and bottles of goop and spray and paints that I thought were completely safe!! Here are just a few samples- this one is from a little pot of latex paint. It contains Ethylene Glycol– the chemical they use to make anti-freeze & airplane de-icer . According to eHow: Ethylene Glycol is a colorless, odorless synthetic liquid substance used to make antifreeze and for de-icing airplanes and runways. Ethylene glycol breaks down in the body, producing poisons that can damage the brain, heart and kidneys. Even with medical treatment, swallowing antifreeze is often fatal. Read more:  http://www.ehow.com/about_5977662_polyethylene-glycol-vs_-ethylene-glycol.html#ixzz2qk8hoEFC.

 Paint Pot Warning Label

Now clearly, I am not going to drink the stuff, unless, of course I happen to dip my paintbrush in it by mistake. But, breathing in stuff can be just as harmful. This is from my favorite spray adhesive:

Spray Adhesive Warning LabelProbably not the best decision to have a portable space heater right next to my work table… This label is from a popular brand of chalk paint:

Chalk Paint Can WarningAnd this one is from a can of furniture refinisher that I like to use:

Furniture Refinisher LabelAnd this one from my “odorless mineral spirits” that I sometimes use to clean up brushes:

Mineral Spirits Label

And finally this bottle of a cleaner/degreaser that I got at a natural food store to transfer prints onto wood. I saw this on a DIY show where the host actually put her nose to the bottle and took a deep breath to illustrate how non-toxic and great-smelling and harmless this stuff was! Yikes!

Citrisolv CleanerI looked up some of the ingredients on the above labels and this one scared the crap out of me!! Toluene: Toluene is primarily used as an octane-boosting additive to gasoline. It is also used as a solvent in paints, household aerosols, adhesives, solvent-based cleaning agents, and synthetic fragrances.
Read more:  http://www.ehow.com/about_6530607_toluene-made_.html#ixzz2qk9mAbwC According to Wikipedia: “Inhalation of toluene in low to moderate levels can cause tiredness, confusion, weakness, drunken-type actions, memory loss, nausea, loss of appetite, and hearing and color vision loss. These symptoms usually disappear when exposure is stopped. Inhaling high levels of toluene in a short time may cause light-headedness, nausea, or sleepiness. It can also cause unconsciousness, and even death.” 
On top of that, I started thinking about all of the old furniture I have been working on, sanding and releasing particles into the air-that I am breathing in without a mask-that could very well be mold, old toxic chemicals and even lead paint. If you notice, all of the above labels contain warnings about making sure that your work area is properly ventilated, and the importance of wearing protective masks and clothing.

Dangers poisonSo, enough label reading, time for action! What’s a DIY’er to do if you don’t have a vented workshop or an outdoor space you can use year-round? Well, for myself, a few decisions have been made and are being implemented immediately. No more spray painting or sanding or gluing in the basement, PERIOD. Until spring, when I can set up shop outdoors again, (at which time I may entertain the idea of a collapsible painting tent ala the Makely School for Girls project, because that is AWESOME : ) I am temporarily going to roll up the oriental rug and move my workshop to our upstairs living room (which is quite lovely, but essentially gets used once a year, on Thanksgiving. Hopefully, by then I will be moved out of our house and into a nice, open studio or workshop.)

Living Room Fireplace PMThis parlor has high ceilings, 4 windows for ventilation and a fake fireplace for a little ambiance : ). Electric sanding will be done outdoors, regardless of the temperature, and masks and gloves on from now on! Just out of curiosity, where do all of you DIY’ers do your painting, sanding and staining? Do you have the luxury of a beautiful, vented and well-lit workshop? Do you have any suggestions on the best place to DIY? And, on that note, gotta head to Home Depot  to pick up my mask and gloves. I suggest, if you are planning on doing any future painting, gluing, sanding or staining DIY projects, that you do the same. Have a happy and non-toxic Sunday, everyone! Susan

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