56-year Battle With Spring Allergies OVER

I have suffered with spring allergies since I was 3 months old, January baby. My doctors always hoped I’d outgrow it, but it was bad when I was an infant and young child. My skin would break out in severe eczema. The mucous from my eyes formed so heavily over night that my eyes would be stuck shut until my mother used hot compresses to remove the dried, caked mucous. My eyes stayed blood shot red and they felt as if someone had poured sand it them they were so gritty. The congestion in my nose was as severe making it hard to breath. I was considered asthmatic as a child. I was placed on high doses of predisone and eye ointment to get through the season. The dose of predisone had to be gradually reduced as the symptoms subsided, I was never allowed to stop it cold turkey, so I was on the drug approximately 3 months of the year.

The ointment turned to drops, but the prednisone routine lasted until I reached my mid-30s when I decided to go to an allergist to find out exactly what I was allergic to, pollen wasn’t enough of a descriptor for me. Well it should have been as I’m allergic to just about everything blooming in the spring, but I did find out my worst allergen are Elm trees, which sucked given I had two giant ones at my childhood home. I started taking allergy shots, once a week, for the next 9 months. I was ready for my first allergy free season that spring and that did not happen. I had the worst season of my adult life. It was so bad that not only did I take prednisone, but I was given a steroid shot to obtain immediate relief. To add insult to injury I lost the ability to eat fresh fruits like apples, pears, peaches, plums, nectarines, and cherries. Eating them made my gums feel like someone was taking scraping a wire brush across them. I stopped the shots.

I started going to a new general practitioner who put me on Loratadine (now Claritin OTC), Azelastine HCI and Fluticasone Propionate (now Flonase OTC, but I still get prescription as I think its better) nasal sprays, and Naphazoline hydrochloride and pheniramine maleate drops (now Naphcon A OTC). I still suffered with red, itchy, swollen eyes that I would treat with ice packs in the morning and a runny, congested nose, but hey I was off prednisone. This was my routine for the last 15 or so years, but about 10 years someone told me about the medicinal properties of ingesting locally sourced honey and I tried it. I saw a huge improvement, especially with the redness in my eyes, but not enough to stop the drug cocktail.

I had to give that background as the last 10 days of my allergy life has been miraculous. I was contacted by a friend’s husband, Al, about an opportunity to become a distributor for the Vollara line of air and surface purifiers. He knew my career industry, hospitality, had been hit hard by Covid-19 and that I was looking for new revenue streams as I wait for my clients to return to meeting. I read his literature, watched some videos and was intrigued. I had cut my grass for the first time about three weeks prior and the sleeve of my shirt was soaking wet from the constant wiping of my nose and eyes. I knew it was time to get my nasal sprays refilled and restock my eyedrops and pills. For years I would take my Claritin at bedtime to reduce the overnight inflammation, so literally the day before he called I had purchased a bottle of Xyzal from Sam’s Club. I decided to try it because their TV commercial said you should take it at night. I had taken one pill from the bottle.  I told him I was going to try the FreshAir Personal unit and do an experiment on myself.  I stopped taking the Xyzal and did not purchase or take anything else during the three days it took to receive the device.  When it came, I charged it overnight.

The next day I put it on to cut the grass.  Unbelievable, my eyes never watered and my nose did not run.  I kept it on anytime I was outside and even in my car while driving.  The next morning my eyes had their normal early spring itch and I was a little stuffy.  I had early errands to run, so I put it on while I was getting ready and noticed that within about 15 minutes the stuffiness in my nose was gone and my eyes didn’t itch.  At that point I decided to wear it all day, inside and out.  I only took it off at night.  I have no symptoms that warrant the use of the nasal sprays or pill.  I did use the Pataday drops when I found myself rubbing my eyes.  I blame the dark circles under my eyes on my allergies.  The years of watery eyes and rubbing made the skin underneath raw and it scarred, so that was a preventive measure to not rub.

Day four I decided to order the Air & Surface Pro unit for my home.  24 hours after running it on its highest speed and purity level 2 I woke up with no stuffiness and no itchy eyes.  I am stunned, amazed.  As if the first 10 days wasn’t validation enough Friday I worked a catering job, a wedding rehearsal dinner, that was outside under a tent in a very wooded sub division in Liberty Township. I was outside from 4 – 10:30p and not one tear drop or nose sniffle. I am a true believer in the power of the ionization and ActivePure technology behind these products.  ActivePure® (originally called Radiant Catalytic Ionization (RCI)) is a proprietary air and surface purification technology recognized worldwide as NASA Certified Space Technology by the Space Foundation; inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2017.  It reduces up to 99% of airborne and surface contaminants such as mold, fungi, germs, viruses, VOCs and odors without ozone.  Who knew space technology was all a girl needed to be free of allergies and why didn’t someone tell me about it 56 years ago.

If you’d like to see videos on the product and technology behind it check out the bottom of the JTK Consultants tab from my home page. Even once my allergies are over and the mask mandate is lifted my FreshAir Personal will be worn around my neck to provide me with a personal shield of defense from the next toxin out there seeking to do harm.  My Air & Surface Pro will run 24/7/365 in my home. They also make a FreshAir Mobile unit that I plan to purchase when it is off backorder to take with me when I travel. It has the same ActivePure technology of the Air & Surface Pro and can cleanse up to 500 sf. Perfect for a normal size hotel room.  We are constantly hearing we should listen to the scientist when it comes to Covid-19. Well Dr. Deborah Birx, former White House Coronavirus Coordinator, has joined ActivePure Technologies as chief medical and scientific advisor and she is firmly behind the product. There are a couple of videos with her sharing her view on the technology on my JTK Consultants page also.

That’s What Friends Are For

20180726_112023Some friends say they are going to do something and others do what they say. My friend Joan falls in the do what they say category. She was the only non family member that performed physical work on my house without expecting to be paid. In my pre-electric days she or her husband Rick would come and change the batteries in my Simpli Safe security system if I was not able to do so. The batteries had to be changed every 3 days. She got down on her hands and knees to pull staples out of the floor and to clean the floors after the dry wall crew left them a mess. She painted walls. Many days she worked, since she had the key, while I was out of town on business travel.  She called Sista Girl with Skills about hiring her for some repair work and projects at their new condo; her friend showed up instead.

From close to move-in was only about 20 days, but fortunately she had access to the space prior to and was able to line up some key tradesmen to start the day of the close.  I felt like I was testing my GC (general contractor) skills as I was able to connect her with two tradesmen I used on my project.  There were noticeable fade marks and some deep scratches on the composite wood floors.  I referred and she used my kitchen floor savior, Sergio Sosa of Sosa Flooring to fix them and he did a fabulous job.

I also got to dabble a bit in interior design. The finish had worn off on the master toilet paper roll fixture. I found some Kohler Devonshire fixtures that were a perfect match to her existing faucets. She ordered and I installed them. Also in the bathroom for some bizarre reason the builder put a door with a huge glass opening for the water closet. The previous owner had grandma looking sheers covering it. Joan found this really cool patterned, static cling product that we applied to the inside of the glass. It obscures enough when door is closed.

The initial call included asking if I could replace the tile floor in her guest bathroom. She hated it. It was hideous red color and looked like a brick floor. It was it perfect condition. The first time I walked through another of her friends was there and suggested that she just paint the floor. I agreed and even reminded her to call Miracle Method, a company she had told me about. The floor wasn’t the only issue. The border in the tub area was red too. My biggest victory was getting her to leave a perfectly good, well made, dovetail drawers, vanity alone. She did not like it either. She called Miracle Method, they painted the floor white with black specs and painted the border black, the bathroom is gorgeous. That vanity just needs new knobs.

I helped put up curtain rods, set up the wifi, changed out some light fixtures and removed the existing closet wire racks, which left a boat load of holes that I had to fill and then paint the walls, so that she could get her California Closet systems installed. I so wish I had taken a picture of the wire racks before I took them down because she gave them to me. I’ll be able to use them in my garage project. It is amazing what limited pops of color can do to mundane spaces. Joan was the person that gave me the idea to wallpaper my closets, so that guest will get a pleasant surprise when hanging their coats.

My most time consuming project was patching holes created by my electrician Mr. McGhee. She needed several new outlets and he had to make small holes to fish wires through. Honestly I hate patching holes, drywall is not by strong suite. Plastering is truly an art. I have not quite mastered the feathering technique, so I over apply mud and have to sand a lot. I decided to try a new technique learned on YouTube, the California patch. You use the paper from the drywall as the tape. I will admit I was patting myself on the back after this work, my best patches to date!

My last project may become another side hustle, cabinet shelves. Joan had two boards, one painted white and another laminated particle board that she asked if I could cut down to the right length to give her some additional shelves in her kitchen cabinets. She did not care that they wouldn’t match the originals. The laminated board was too narrow and could not be used, but I planned to cut the white one down to size on my miter saw. I had not thrown away the scrapes from Cassandra’s bench project, so I told her I could make one for the smaller cabinet.

Her original shelves appeared to have a laminate meant to imitate birch. I ripped the scrap down to the right width, cut it to the right length and then applied 3/4″ pine trim on the outer edge to hide the plys of wood. I sanded them and then coated them with polyacrylic I had on hand (3 coats on the top, 2 on bottom). When they were done it was hard to discern which was which, especially the shelves I made with birch plywood. I hated the thought of her having this one white shelf, so I made one for that too. These turned out so well she asked me to make two more AND I even made one for my own kitchen. I had wanted an extra shelf in the cabinet where I store my coffee mugs, but they wanted $50 for that one tiny shelf. Since this was scrap wood, not all the grains were running horizontal, but that wouldn’t be noticeable and did not impact function. Hence the potential new side hustle. Need a shelf, call me.

I thought all was done and I got a request for three more shelves for the guest closet. They discoved the condo basement storage is minimal, so she wanted some additional shelves for her California Closet system. These would be painted and I didn’t have enough scrap left so I bought a 2’x4′ piece of 3/4″ pine and I did not get the good stuff. It was full of knots, especially on one side, but I thought they’d cover with paint. NOT. After the first coat I ended up filling the knots with wood putty. After 3 coats on bottom side and 4 coats on top side the shelves looked great, but lesson learned to buy quality plywood if I’m asked to make anymore.

The cover photo is a view from their balcony. I was in high school the last time I went downtown for the Labor Day fireworks. I was my mother’s number two when she was invited to her colleague’s Lytle One apartment for a fireworks party. I said then I’d never get in that crowd again, a private balcony party is the only way to go. Well I’ve already been penciled in, so now finger’s crossed that Covid-19 will be at bay enough to let the show go on.

Cassandra’s Bench

May be an image of turnoverI met Cassandra in 2019 at a client’s conference. She is a Black Studies professor at UC and as it turns out lives near me. She is also the owner of Sugar Tin Pies (her hand pies featured on a SGwS charcuterie board), the most delicious pies I’ve had. Covid reared its ugly head the very week of that same client’s 2020 conference. I was attending again, but decided about two weeks prior to drive versus fly to Atlanta. I reached out to Cassandra to see if she’d like to share the drive and she did. We had 16 hours roundtrip to fill the air and of course I talked about my house and DIY skills, which led to her asking – Do you think you can build a window bench??? I replied, Maybe???

I told her I couldn’t get to it until I finished my house and a couple of build projects I was working on (i.e. my dining table, desk, headboard, and beverage station). She was not in a hurry. I had everything but the beverage station complete, but when my headboard design changed and I used all my bead board for the foot and side rails that project was nixed. I had already bought and cut the plywood for that project, so I gave Cassandra a call and told her I could start her project and that I might already have most of the wood needed if the size worked out. I went to her house and took some measurements and sketched out my thoughts. With plan in my mind’s eye I went to work.

My design idea was to create two boxes, which would keep the area between her heat register and wall outlet free from blockage. The top would be cut in three sections that would be hinged for lids that would open for storage. The box to the right would be wider than the one on left, so I decided to put a divider in the center of it, just to make sure the lid wouldn’t sag over time. I would also add a support piece to the opening area, so that top would also not sag. First step was taking all my plywood boards to the Manufactory to rip them down to the right lengths and width. I need to either invest in a real table saw with outfeed table or figure out how to build one and attached to my work site table saw. I can’t cut long pieces at home, safely. Even though I have the Kreg jig system at home I used theirs to drill all my pocket holes. I’ve never used a dado blade on a table saw, so I decided to use it to create the channel that the divider would set in. With everything cut and drilled I did a dry fit, everything fit, so I went home for the final assembly. Once the boxes were complete I topped the exposed edges with 3/4″ pine trim.

With the boxes built I turned my attention to the lid, which I decided to make out of 5/4 x 8 x 10′ Select Pine Board I had Cassandra order from Menards and I picked up since it was near the Manufactory. I wanted solid wood for the top and wanted it thicker than the 3/4″ plywood I used for the boxes. It would mean I would need to join 3 boards together in order to get the needed width of 21″. I used the Manufactory’s joiner on the edges, but returned home for the glue up. I have added to my arsenal of tools a Makita Plate Joiner purchased at Rockler. The drive to Manufactory for quick jobs is getting old, although if I had glued it there I could have done the full 10′ at one time. I didn’t have enough clamps for that, so I cut enough for the small box and glued them and then glued up the remaining.

I am in a couple Facebook groups for HGTV shows I watch and another member posted a dresser she painted with Valspar Cabinet Enamel Semi-Gloss Enamel Interior Paint found at Lowes. Her project looked good, so I told Cassandra to buy that, thinking it would save money. I intentionally did not include a link to the product as I thought it painted on thin and the price difference between that and Sherwin Williams’ All Surface Enamel Oil Base, when on sale at 30% off, was only a few dollars more. I treated the Valspar as the primer and used Sherwin Williams for the final coats, 3 on the boxes and lid bottoms and 4 on the lid tops.

20210117_134714After applying the Valspar to the first side of the box panels I noticed that it really absorbed into the plywood, which was a mix of Birch I bought for my project and Pine left over from Funmi’s project. It was rough and the cracks in the grain was very evident. Luckily I painted the side I had planned to be inside of the box, so I hoped the layers of actual paint would make the surface smooth. Not wanting to take that risk on the outside I sanded the opposite side with 120 and 240 grit paper. Remarkable difference in smoothness and it showed once I applied paint.  Hugh and needed difference.

Before starting with the Sherwin William’s paint I attached 1×4, ripped down to 3 inches, primed pine trim pieces to the face of the boxes to tie-in to the trim around her windows. Since I had the small lid done I decided to take the small box and lid to Cassandra’s for a semi rough fit. Height was perfect, but upon seeing it she asked if the edges could be rounded as to not be so sharp. She lives in a cute 1920s bungalow so she no longer had sharp edges and didn’t want the contrast. It would have been easy to make that happen prior to attaching the trim by running the boards through the router table, which I’ve grown very comfortable using. This would have to be done controlling the router with my hands, I was nervous, and not sure it could be done.

I’ve joined the Cincinnati Woodworking Club and have gotten to know one of the members, Gene Wiggs, who actually came with his wife to tour my house after reading about it and also extended an invite from me to tour their home and his fabulous woodshop. I sent him pics of what I needed to do and he assured me it could be done with my router so I went for it. Fear of using my router free hand is gone. I gave Cassandra a choice of a 5/16″ or 1/2″ round over and also showed her my plans for the top’s edge; a 1/2″ round-over with a drop. She selected 5/16″.

With the edges complete I turned my attention to the lid once again. I bought Flat Tipped Butt Hinges w/Removable Pin, 2-1/2″ L x 2″ W, in Nickel from Rockler. When I was hanging the final door for my office I purchased a hinge jig. I pulled it out for this project and it worked like a charm. I used my clamp guide to cut off the excess length with my circular saw. When I first started using a circular saw I couldn’t cut straight to save my life. I never used a straight edge as a guide, duh! With the lid cut to size I used the 5/16″ round over bit along the edge of the underside and the 1/2″ round over set to step down depth on top. I cleaned out the can of Valspar to prime the lid before starting the final coats of paint.

I started the final painting during the snow and cold days Cincinnati was experiencing. My basement didn’t get warmer than 60 degrees, so each coat needed a full 24-hours to dry. I used a 6″ foam roller to apply the paint. Oil-based paint stinks, but after 2 coats they were pretty, the third made them absolutely beautiful. Since it was so cold I had Cassandra help me transport the pieces to her house so they could cure in a warmer space. I gave it about a week.

Friday I put them all together. It looks like it was always part of her house. All total there was less than $400 in material. She was my guinea pig. I plan to build two more and place them in my dormer windows of my garage project. I may be open to taking orders in the future. I am very pleased with the final results. Not bad for my first window box.

Shoe Box Greeting – My First Box

During the Jim Crow era, trains were segregated and Black people were not allowed to visit the dining cars. Many passengers would pack a meal in shoe boxes when traveling to southern cities. Road trips by automobile also present challenges for blacks looking for places to eat along the way. Planning a head with boxed lunches became a tradition. My friend Carolyn Wallace, owner of Perfect Brew Catering, resurrected this tradition as part of her business offerings. She krafted her own moveable feast box, adorned with artwork by Artistry T. Design, for her clients looking for boxed meals vs. a traditional catering setup. A friend of hers, Kashara, wanted to immortalize Carolyn’s paper box in wood and asked, given my newfound skill set, if I could make one. I took the challenge.

I have a boat load of oak wood from the failed first version of my headboard.  It’s coloring was close to the brown kraft paper of Carolyn’s paper box, so I decided to use it for the project.  Since I had never made a box my first step was to study the box Kendall Glover made for me.  I could clearly see he mitered the corners.  I knew the top was an inlay, but wasn’t 100% sure how he made that happen. Whatever the process I would need to do similar to attach her logo. My lid will come completely off, like a shoebox, so I didn’t have to worry about hinges although the lip (for lack of the proper term) he created that his lid fit around reminded me that my lid needed to fit over the entire bottom. Time to dive in.

No pics, but my first step was using a ban saw to cut the thickness of my almost 1″ thick board in half. My target finish thickness would be 1/4″. I could have ran the board through the planer until it was the desired thickness, but what a waste of wood, time and blade that would have been. I was a bit nervous since I had not cut anything that thin or tall. I didn’t hit the half way mark, my two sides weren’t the same thickness, so now I used the planer. With two equally sized boards of 1/4″ I headed home as I have all the tools for my next steps, building the bottom box.

I ripped one of the boards to the proper shoebox height and cut out the bottom of the box. I learned well after I completed the box that the next step I did was create a rabbit joint for the sides to rest in. I knew to do it, but only after watching Ben Napier’s new show Home Town: Ben’s Workshop did I learn the name of the action. With the cut made on my router table I was able to get the measurements for my side miter cuts. I was spot on with both the short and long sides on the first cut. I used my table saw instead of miter. I find my sides meet up tighter. With all cuts made I was ready to glue up the the bottom. I clamped the hell out of it, perhaps overkill, but I thought better too much than too little.

With the bottom complete I could measure the outer dimensions to obtain the size of the top. At this point I could have made a deeper rabbit joint to recess the lid enough to accommodate the logo, but my mind was fixated on using the CNC router at the Manufactory, so I returned to the shop. No pics of the process because the 2″ spoiler bit I used finished the process in seconds. I was poised to hit the kill button in case I made the cut depth setting too deep, but I did not. The 2″ bit made large curved corners which I had to use a chisel to clean out. I clamped my lid down. The first chisel I used was super dull, so I asked Ben (owner of Manufactory) if they had sharper or could he sharpen the one I had. He gave me another set. Clearly I’ve never used super sharp chisels (mine at home aren’t either) because I promptly managed to slice down the side of my index finger on my right hand, major blood flow, but not deep enough for stiches. Another reason for no pics. I did finish cleaning up the corners and returned home to glue up the top.

With lid complete it was time to test the fit……too tight, so what to do? I needed to shave wood from either the outside of bottom or inside of the top. I did both. I had a set of hand scrapers that I was able to use. I scraped and scraped until I had the perfect fit. There were a few subtle gaps in my glue up on the bottom, so I was able to use the scrapings and wood glue to fill them in. It was beautiful, I pulled it off, except for one issue. The lid slid on perfectly but only in one direction. If I flipped it around it would catch on one end. Not sure what was not in alignment, but I’d just have to give it to Karshara with instructions. I decided to add natural Danish oil as my finish. Once it dried I added the SGw/S brand. As long as the logo and brand were both upside right the fit was perfect.

The final step was adhering the logo in the recessed area I created in the lid. To protect and seal it in place it was recommended to me to use ArtResin, Epoxy Resin. After watching their video many times, I psyched myself out. The project sat for days as I feared messing the lid up and needing to start over. Kashara called concerned I’d miss the Christmas eve deadline and talked me off the edge. I had to buy a mini torch for the bubbles the mixing would produce. I decided to practice by making myself a couple of coasters for my office desk. I rinsed out a plastic cup, dried it, but not thoroughly enough as when I mixed the two parts it almost looked like foam it had so many bubbles. With torching I still couldn’t thoroughly remove all the bubbles. I returned to the ArtResin website and found in the FAQ section a response that said mix container must be completely dry. Even a small drop of water will cause excessive bubbles. Armed with that knowledge I went for broke. The pour and bubble removal went flawless. My first box was now complete.

I was invited to Carolyn’s to be there for the reveal. She was on a Zoom with all her family, so they were able to see it too. I grinned all the way back home. I amazed myself again. I truly have found a new skill set that I absolutely love, woodworking. I’ve joined the Cincinnati Woodworking Club in hopes of meeting people that can help me grow in my new craft and now dream of buying a warehouse to have a proper woodshop of my own.

Grandchildren Abuse Correction

For months, after reading how I restored the doors in my house, my aunt has asked me if I could restore her living coffee and end tables. She’s had them over 40 years. They have weathered her youngest daughter (who just turned 40) and 3 grandchildren (ages 23, 10, and 4). The furniture is solidly made; real wood, not MDF or particle. The top is a wood veneer finish. This holiday season she treated herself to a new sofa, so now was the time to see if I could bring life back to these tables and I went back to my tried and true product Howard’s Restore a Finish. The color of her furniture is close to the moulding in my master and the kitchen built-in, so I had the product on hand.

I used the same process I used in restoring all the moulding and doors of my house. Step one I washed the surface with water and Murphy Oil soap just to remove grim and sticky stuff and then followed with denatured alcohol applied with 000 steal wool.

I used a new piece of 000 steal wool to apply Restor-A-Finish, Maple-Pine color. It’s amazing how well that product evens out the discolored areas. In that light spot I did apply a bit of Dark Ebony color, Restor-A-Finish that I used on my doors. I let it sit overnight because the furniture was very dry, especially on the edges where the protective finish had worn off.. That product has an oil consistency, so I didn’t think it would hurt.

After applying Restor-A-Finish

The next day the more worn areas definitely looked more dry than other areas, so with a soft cloth I applied a generous amount of Howard Feed-N-Wax, which I also let sit overnight. Before returning to my aunt I wiped off the excess.

The end tables turned out equally as well. These are pics of the one in worst shape.

Warning Restor-A-Finish does not rebuild layers of polyurethane or another top coat that may be applied to your furniture. Up close you will see the raised differences. I believe the only way that can be fixed is complete sanding. I opted to not do that because there were several raised areas in the veneer, most likely due to water damage, and I did not know what sanding would do to those areas.

My aunt was please, not a bad outcome for 40+ year old furniture.

Christmas Gift To Myself

Happy New Year! My apologies for the drop in posts. I’ve been busy with the bakery division of Sister Girl w/ Skills. My family loves my carrot cake, so for the last few years I’ve been gifting mini loaf size pan versions, each person gets their own cake. The recipe is one I’ve had for over 40 years, which I got from my Big Mama, Inez Kent (she was tall, over 6′ so I distinguished my two grandmothers by Big Mama and Grandma). She was a scratch cooker, using the palm of her hand to measure out teaspoons and tablespoons, but she wrote down this recipe for me. I’ve got to get this framed before it disintegrates more. This year I followed her recipe exactly, putting the nuts in the frosting. Over the years I had morphed it to follow my zucchini bread recipe, which I’ve also had for years. It was given to me by a colleague of my mom, Vivian Dobur, who use to grow enormous zucchinis in her garden every year.

The zucchini bread recipe saw a lot of action this year too. My friend, Carolyn owner of Perfect Brew catering, asked if I could make it in tiny pans that would allow her to include it in a gift box she created called, Making the Holidays Bearable. I think she may have birthed another side hustle for me. Typically I have two versions of the bread raisin or pineapple walnut. Given nut allergies in some people we stayed away from that one, but a few months ago when I had a taste for some bread I stumbled across a combination that is to live for, cherry chocolate. I ended up making more of it and actually selling it to other friends. I’ve been encouraged by those friends to market the bread to local restaurants and coffee shops, so I’m strongly considering it. I now have three sizes x-mini, mini, and regular, which I’ve priced at $4, $8, and $12. Not a killer profit for me, but at this stage I just like that someone loves something else I created and it’s worth exploring since Covid is forcing me to reinvent myself.

Living A2

In regards to the gift for myself my living room is comfortable, but it lacked a coziness that made me prefer to eat dinner on a TV tray in my master suite while watching TV.  I was spending too much time in my master, so I decided it was time to make my massive Rookwood fireplace (100″ wide, 60″ to top of mantle) functioning.

When I bought my front door lock set at Bona Hardware in Oakley two years ago I noticed they sold log sets. Remembering this and the great service they gave me I decided to get pricing on their units. Guy, my sales clerk, showed me a couple of options. I was looking to spend as little as possible. The opening, which was only 18″ deep and 39″ wide at its narrowest point and the existing location of the gas line (hole for gas line was there when I bought house) became the driving factor. I selected the vented Rasmussen Cross Fire log set in a sand pan with manual ignition. Guy connected me with a plumber, Lyons Plumbing and Heating, they frequently partner with on fireplace installs.

Gary (owner) and his son Joe came out to access my situation and give me a quote, which I accepted. Given I had already paid my HVAC company a similar amount to run the gas line two years earlier I thought their rate seemed high. I have no point of reference to compare and I wanted it done by Christmas, so opted to trust the referral and not obtain other bids. They returned on December 22 with the third member of the crew, son/brother Matt, and got to work. I already new my HVAC company had not installed the gas cut-off in the right area. They put it in the fireplace and code requires it to be outside. I was fortunate the City inspector didn’t flag me for it at that time. I bought the correct part months ago and was waiting for this moment to have it installed. I selected an oil rubbed bronze finish since I knew it would be located in the floor.

Gary and sons did a great job; I’ve found another reliable plumber. They discovered that my HVAC company had failed to replace a key 1′ section of iron pipe, which needless to say really annoyed me once discovered. They had put new pipe and valve in the fire place, but the 1′ section that ran underneath, accessible in the basement, they did not replace instead only connecting a new iron pipe line to it that ran back to the gas meter. That 1′ section was completely clogged, so clearly they never bothered testing their new line. The pipe was hard to access. Gary and his sons spent an hour working to free it, which is probably why the other company ignored it. I’m so grateful they just didn’t give up, since running new pipe was not part of their bid. I had to pay an additional $100. After about 3 hours of work my gift to myself was up and running. That first night I wore my mother’s robe and Bombas gripper slippers while enjoying hot tea from Churchill’s Fine Tea laced with brandy, ice cream, and a Sugar Tin mixed berry hand pie. I think I’ve fallen asleep on my sofa (which isn’t a comfy couch) every night since.