Friday, 30 March 2012

Blackening stove hobs

Some while ago in the kitchen cleaning post I complained about the stains on the hobs. The hobs stay stained even though those had been cleaned many times.

Nina from No. 40 commented on that post that she had used a blackening paste to refresh the hobs on her grandmother's kitchen. I had never seen that type of paste and I assumed that it is not sold anymore or it has never been sold in Finland. But a friend of mine, lets call her Anne, read the comment and told me she has seen it. Anne said that I should check from Tarjoustalo if they would have it. And they did. The paste was there right beside the oven and stove cleaning products, just like Anne predicted.

Freely translated the product is called 'stove black'. It did not really have much instructions on how to apply it. It just said that it should be applied with a rag and hands should be protected with rubber cloves. It also stated that heat should be applied. Nina said that the paste had to be put on while the hobs were hot, but since the jar didn't say anything about when the heat should be applied I decided to put the paste on cold hob and then heat it. I thought that would be just easier.

The paste smeared the white areas on the stove easily but it was easy to clean those again with a rag and dish washing liquid. Once I had applied the paste I put all hobs on full heat and waited. The paste smoked for a while and it did not smell that nice. Luckily I had realized to put the hood on full speed. The hobs smoked for a while but stopped after couple ten seconds later (EDIT. Please check the Postscript).

I do think the hobs look so much better now, that paste really did cover up the stubborn stains. Although I don't think the hobs actually are black, I think the paste made them almost silvery. But that's fine. Silver is good. Thank you Nina and Anne on your excellent advice!

PS. I noticed some people have found to my blog using search words like 'blackening stove' and similar. I've been meaning to do a sequel for this post, since the blackening wasn't as easy as I imply here. I thought the blackening paste was stuck to the stove hobs, but later when I wiped the stove I noticed the paste wipes away. I read from the web that the hobs need to be heated very very hot in order for the paste to stick. I haven't tried it yet. I will do another post from that when I have time.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Spring clean: Living room to-do list

The living room has gotten a bit out of hand lately. A has been home on a sick leave with his knee and because he has had hard time moving he has gathered all sorts of things near the sofa. So the livingroom definately needs some cleaning.

This spring I've had the sudden urge to change the living room TV-unit/bookshelf. Also I want to paint the walls. And I want everything to be white. Our living room is so dark. The conservatory makes it even darker on winter when snow is on the conservatory roof and no light comes through. Now it's getting better, but the living room could be even lighter.

Just look at that arsenal of remote controls, that's ridiculous.

A's knee is already better and he can walk a bit without the crunches. Only a few days ago he had a huge pillow pile on the sofa where he could keep his foot up. Now he does not need that anymore. So maybe this is not too early to try to make the living room nice again. My plan is to do the following.

Take the carpet outside and give it a beat
Vacuum and mop floor
Wash sofa slip covers and dining table seat cushion covers
Wash curtains
Vacuum sofa
Go through CDs, try to convince A to let go of some

+ Brainstorm a shoe rack for the terrace shoes

I've already collected some inspiration on Pinterest. I would like to have a system where the shoes or the rack are not on the floor, although I do like the looks of the pebble tray.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Entry cleaning flowing better

The cleaning of the entry started to flow a bit easier once I turned the focus out of decluttering to actual cleaning. That was whole lot easier task because I can be responsible of it on my own. A will go through some of the entry boxes later and declutter in his own slow way.

Here is the chores list I had for the entry cleaning. In the end I did manage to check off most of the tasks.  Before pictures can be found from fridays entry post.

Vacuum the entry and the vestibule CHECK
Take the carpets outdoors and give them a beat CHECK
Polish shoes CHECK
Wash the down jacket and put it in the deep storage CHECK
Declutter and wash items from the mitten/hat boxes CHECK
Declutter and wipe the umbrellas and the umbrella stand
Wipe shoe racks CHECK
Declutter and organize the drawer unit CHECK
Organize incoming papers CHECK
Empty outbox

On friday I took the carpets out and gave them a beat. I left the carpets out to air while I vacuumed the entry. On the weekend I placed all the shoes and shoe racks from the vestibule outside and vacuumed it. I wiped the shoe racks clean and banged the shoes together to remove loose dirt. Then returned all inside.

You also see here two new small things I did for the vestibule. I made a shear curtain for the long window and added hanging loop for the shoehorn.

Sometimes it happens that we need to open the door to the vestibule with wearing very little clothes or otherwise ridiculous clothes. Before anyone was able to see right in. I had planned to make a shear curtain on the long window for a long time. But now I finally did it. It is somewhat see through and all light does come in, but it does diminish the visibility inside a bit which is good.

The curtain rod was already there. I guess there has been a curtain before too.

I did also fix the shoehorn, it used to have a loop where it could be hang on something, but it had broke.

I removed the scraps of the old loop and cut a piece of leather which I then glued on the shoehorn.

I did polish some of my shoes too, or actually polished two shoes and just cleaned ones and brushed ones clean.

I did check off most of the tasks, I still need to empty the outbox, since it's quite full and I need to figure out what I'm going to do with all of those umbrellas. More or less the entry cleaning is done, but I'm afraid the entry or the vestibule has not changed much. It's nice to have the entry cleaned anyway, here are some after shots.

Friday, 23 March 2012

The inconvenient entry cleaning

I remember having this same problem in last spring clean. The problem being that I have an issue with A's stuff. We have separate boxes for mittens and such in the entry for me and for A. I have very few items of clothing in the entry atleast compared to A. He has about triple or quadruple the amount of clothing stored in the entry than I do. When I've done the cleaning and washing of my things I feel that I've just scratched the surface, but I cannot go through his things. Firstly I don't want to, those are his things and secondly I have no idea which items he has used that need washing and also I'd like him to go through them and donate the things he does not use, but that seems impossible for him. You should have seen him last year when I almost forced him to go through the boxes. It was so slow and he found use (in his mind) for all of them and explained to me where he has got it and how important the thing might be in the future. It was so hilarious but also frustrating to me.

Also I'm afraid this spring clean came too early this year, I think that was the case last year too. I washed some of my scarves and such (more about that later) and then realized that I cannot do the grand switheroo from winter stuff to lighter stuff, because it's actually still very cold at times. Now I cannot put the washed items to the storage and I must use them and maybe wash them again before I move them to storage later. That is a bit dull.

Well anyway my plan for the cleaning is following

Vacuum the entry and the vestibule
Take the carpets outdoors and give them a beat
Polish shoes
Wash the down jacket and put it in the deep storage CHECK
Declutter and wash items from the mitten/hat boxes CHECK
Declutter and wipe the umbrellas and the umbrella stand
Wipe shoe racks
Declutter and organize the drawer unit CHECK
Organize incoming papers
Empty outbox

And again some before pictures. There are four doors plus two openings to other rooms, so it's quite a tricky space. Here is a tour.  Clockwise, starting from the entry closet.

Here under is the vestibule. It's located right behind that door with a window you saw in the pictures before. 

I have one box where I have all extra mittens, scarves, hats mixed up all together. Then I have two baskets on the top shelf of the entry closet. On the last ones I keep things I use on the season-to-date, on the other one are more neater pieces of clothing and on the other one are outdoors gear and pieces I use in the garden or when doing dirty work. I went through the boxes and decided to wash most of the pieces, which was a bit dumb decision like I stated earlier. I washed the darks and the lights separately with wool cycle in the washing machine. I almost threw in with the dark ones the red scarves I have. I thought that since those have been washed before that the reds wont dye the darks. I'm glad I didn't though and washed them by hand.

It looks like I had killed someone and I'm trying to wash away the evidence or that I'm bathing beetroots. The redness is just overwhelming.

I also washed my down jacket, I used the wool cycle on that too. The wool cycle on our washing machine is very fast only 30+ minutes so I was able to wash three loads in one evening. After the down jacket had dried I folded it in a box and placed it on the top shelf of the clothes cabinet in the bedroom.

The last thing I've done so far is to go through the stuff in the drawers, well I used most time on the top one and just quickly decluttered the other ones. In the top one we keep some keys and locks, extra reflectors, foreign money and also A keeps his sun glasses there.

I found atleast five reflectors to throw away, but most stuff is actually needed. Except that I found there seven sun glasses, but A claimed he uses them all. I picked a box for them and put them all on the same place. Otherwise it was just rearranging things.

I need to continue the cleaning over the weekend. I haven't really done much yet.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Crocheted blanket

I started to crochet granny squares on January. I wanted to do some crafts which I hadn't done in a long time and I wanted to use up scrap yarn that had accumulated in the crafts cabinet. It started out with good intentions. I crocheted many squares with the left over yarn and then realized that in order to make the squares somehow uniform I needed to make the last round to all of the squares with same colour. I decided that colour would be white. So I bought two coils of white wool yarn. And that's when the whole thing went out of hand.

I looked at the squares I had made and noticed how dull they were, the colours were not happy. I had lots of scrap yarn in broken colours and in dark colours. So I bought new yarn, yellow, orange and turquoise coils. Then I had to buy more white yarn because the two I had bought run out. In the end I ended up buying eight new coils. So I kind of lost the point I originally had, but I got nicer squares and used at least some scrap yarn.

Once I had done about hundred of those squares I laid them all on the floor and measured how much space they take. I calculated that on average one square was about 10 cm times 10 cm  ( 4 in times 4 in). Then I measured one wool blanket we already have. That was around 150 cm (4.9 feet) long  and 100 cm (3.3 feet) wide. After some simple math calculations I knew I had to make 150 squares. I made from all colours equal amount of squares, which was then 25 pieces each.

Lets talk math a bit more. On two occasions I checked from the clock that how long it takes me to make one square. It took 20 minutes, give or take a few minutes. So to make 150 squares 3000 minutes is spent, which is 50 hours. 50! If I would work for 8 hours straight each day it would take me one whole week to make those squares. Now I started the project in the middle of January and finished the squares on the middle of March. The 50 hours divided by 60 days is almost one hour a day. I knew I had spent lot of time making those squares but I never thought it was that much. And that is not even taking in count the amount of planning and arranging of the squares and then actually combining them into a blanket.

It was time well spent though.

When I had all squares ready I laid them on the floor and arranged them into a pattern. When I had done that I noticed that the pattern I wanted to create required not equal amount of squares per colour, but two squares were always left with the wrong colour. I hadn't thought of that. But I made two new squares from the right colours. When I was happy with the pattern, I piled the squares in that order and then started to combine the squares.

I combined the squares first into long bunting, then I combined the buntings with other buntings until I had them all connected on each other. Then I attached them from the other direction too. Then I crocheted around all the squares to create a nicer edge. I love the blanket and I love all the colours.

I used Novita's directions (in Finnish) on how to make the blanket.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Spring clean: kitchen reveal

Spring clean has been moving on nicely. On saturday I cleaned the back and and the sides of the oven and vacuumed the kitchen. On saturday I also wiped the counters on the right side of the oven. I always start by removing the crums from the counters with the brush I got from Viburg, Russia. Then I wipe with a rag. The counter right next to the oven has had some grime that has been impossible to remove, the counter seemed a bit gray. I had tried to remove the grime with dishwashing liquid but that did not really do much good. I have no idea how I hadn't figured it before but I thought I could use the magic eraser. And it really did the trick, on the right is the area cleaned with the sponge and on the left the area still not cleaned.

On sunday I wiped all other counters and the kitchen table. I also wiped the back splash and the cabinet doors. On the sunday evening I mopped the floor. Here is the kitchen spring clean list and what I managed to check off. 

Mop floor CHECK
Wipe counters CHECK
Clean fridge CHECK
Clean inside of oven CHECK
Clean stove CHECK
Move the oven and clean the back and sides of the oven CHECK
Clean exterior of small appliances CHECK
Clean trash can and trash can cabinet
Wash windows
Clean coffee maker CHECK
Wash curtains
Wipe cabinet doors and back splash CHECK

All cleaned up kithen in all it's glory. Check the before pictures from here.

I added a tray for the stuff we keep on the kitchen table. Those are needed almost daily so there is no point moving them anywhere else. But before they looked so missplaced. 

I didn't clean the trash cans or the trash can cabinet, those were not really dirty. I have a feeling I washed them before Christmas. Also the window and curtain washing will be done later as I already predicted in my previous kitchen post.

Next week the spring clean will be dedicated on the entry.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Changing soil in flower pots

I've actively tried to cut back on the plants we have, because I used to have so much that nothing else fitted on the window sill. Now days I only have a coffee bush, one Tradescantia (I only know the Latin name) and then the terrararium with cacti.

It was about time to renew the soil of the house plants, I hadn't done it last spring and I'm not even totally sure if I did it on the spring before that either. The coffee had certainly filled the pot with roots.

I'm sure you all know how to change the soil. Just pick a pot slightly bigger than the previous one, put some soil on the bottom of the pot, place the plant in the middle and add soil on the sides. It's not that difficult.

The Tradescantia was way too bushy so I cut it in half, and planted the other half and threw the other away.

It will look dull for a while, but I'm sure it will perk up in no time.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Spring clean: kitchen undone

Alana is again having an extensive list of chores for the spring clean in the kitchen. I will not be as productive. I spent lot of time last year cleaning the cabinets inside out. This time I'm not going to touch the insides much. It took just too long and those are still pretty neat from last year. I shortened Alana's list and altered some tasks to suit our kitchen. Here is my list.

Mop floor
Wipe counters
Clean fridge CHECK
Clean inside of oven CHECK
Clean stove CHECK
Move the oven and clean the back and sides of the oven.
Clean exterior of small appliances
Clean trash can and trash can cabinet
Wash windows
Clean coffee maker CHECK
Wash curtains
Wipe cabinet doors and back splash

And here are a few before pictures of the kitchen in all it's glory

On monday I started the kitchen spring clean by washing the dishes. We do have a dishwasher, but there is always something to wash by hand, usually just a few wooden spatulas and a couple pans or pots. I emptied the lowest shelf of the dish drying cabinet, on the top ones we keep our glasses and mugs permanently. Then did the dishes, there were not much, few big things. After I closed the cabinet doors it was already looking whole lot better.

Then I cleaned the stove. We have a very old fashioned electric stove which has iron hobs. The good thing about the stove is that it tolerates hard scrubbing unlike ceramic or induction stoves (at least so I've understood).

I use this kind of metal brush to get the gunk from the hobs. It's very efficient. Not much chemicals is needed with that. I'm a bit annoyed that the hobs have some stains on them that do not just come out. I cannot really understand why they don't. I don't know what could cause as stubborn stains on cast iron. Those have been there for years.

Also finished three other tasks, and I was going to write about those but it felt just boring. Scroll up and read there all the tasks that have been checked.

So I'm not finished with the kitchen yet. I will continue work there on the end of the week. I will post the final kitchen post either on Friday or Monday depending how I get things done. I will wash the curtains when ever I need to wash light coloured laundry which might not happen this week. Also I will wash the windows if weather is ok and while I'm at it I will most likely wash all the east and north facing windows.
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