Basement Entry Doors

I blinked my eyes, and suddenly a month has gone by without a single post.
Oh, well. Who’s paying attention, anyway?

About the time of my last post, a not-so-fun, but desperately-needed-to-be-done project was finally completed (well, mostly, anyway… we rarely ever completely complete anything around here).

Up until last November, our exterior basement doors looked like this:

Priiiitty bad, right?

We had a contractor come out earlier in the year to give us a quote for replacement doors, but Tim was pretty confident he could make something decent for a fraction of the quoted price, so…


He built a frame, and fashioned two doors from tongue and groove board.
Then he primed, painted (Benjamin Moore Aura “Soot”)

…and suddenly the weather got too cold to paint the second coat.
So, he had to wait ’til spring to finish.

As for hardware, the original hinges (or pretty old ones, anyway) were still kickin’, so there was no need to get new ones.

And here’s the end result:

Not too shabby, eh?

However (isn’t there always a however?), you may notice that the doors appear one shade bluer/lighter than the outside edge. Well, we underestimated how much paint the job would require, and ended up needing an additional can… which, as we expected, did not quite match the first one. You know how it is — just off enough to cause a slight but persistent annoyance. :)

To end on an up-note, let’s see that always dramatic before and after:

Whoo hoo!

Now we’re on to our next project — giving our back door an overhaul.
What about you guys? Have any exterior projects in the works or in the wings?

Pressure Cooking in Philly

We live a half-block down from our neighborhood’s public high school. About a month ago, when walking Moxie, I noticed there was an unusual number of white vans and work trucks parked alongside of the school. I mentioned my observation on Facebook and a friend directed me to an Inquirer article about Rachael Ray remodeling the school’s culinary arts classroom. Whuh? Come again? Rachael Ray at little ol’ Frankford High??? And wait — Frankford High has a culinary arts program??? Mind you, previous to this, I’d only heard negative comments about the school. So, it was nice for me to hear something redemptive was happening there.

Rachael Ray invited Bobby Flay to share a recipe with the class.
Photo by David M. Russell (Rachael Ray Show)

To my surprise, after further web-searching, I found that the story gets even better. Not only does Frankford High have a culinary arts class, but that it has a 100% graduation rate (as opposed to 60% school-wide). Not only that, but Frankford’s culinary students have dominated the city-wide Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) cooking competitions for over a decade. And much of their success can be attributed to the dedication and toughness of their teacher, Wilma Stephenson, who has been at it for over forty years. The success of her students caught the attention of Jennifer Grausman (the daughter of C-CAP’s founder), who decided to produce a documentary following the story of her classroom and students over the course of a school year. Named Best Documentary at the 2009 Philadelphia Film Festival, Pressure Cooker just came out on DVD and is next up in my Netflix queue.

Pressure Cooker DVD, and images from the filming

So, a month after noticing the work trucks, I got to see the much-awaited classroom makeover episode of Rachael Ray on Monday morning. And lemme tell you, the tears were flowing during every segment. But, hey, I’m a crier (really, ya don’t say…). But seriously, I dare you to visit Ms. Ray’s site and watch all the segments of the show (in order). If your eyes stay dry throughout the whole thing, please see a doctor immediately, for you must have a lead soul.

Using my keen sense of observation, I figured out that Christian, one of the current seniors in Ms. Stephenson’s class, lives right up my street! (Screen captures from the Rachael Ray Show)

On a side (but very related) note, if you watch the final segment of the show, you will hear Ms. Ray mention that the C-CAP program is ending. That is not technically true. Rather, C-CAP’s relationship with the School District of Philadelphia is in danger. In order to get more state funding, the school district has made a decision to transfer the focus of their culinary arts curriculum from “back of the house” (read: kitchen) jobs, and more towards “higher paying, front of the room” jobs. Because this emphasis is not within the scope of C-CAP’s mission, after 2012, they may no longer be sponsoring contests and scholarships in Philly. And that would be a shame, because the chance to compete for scholarships is one of the main goals that Ms. Stephenson’s students strive towards all year. Those scholarships give them hope for a better future, one that they’ve worked hard for and deserve. I really hope that whatever decisions are finalized, are made with the best interests of the students in mind. Because I want want to continue to hear about great things coming out of Frankford High in the days and years to come!

Before & After: McCobb Headboard

My use of the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser on my Pro-Keds was just a bonus side trip on the road to its original intention.

Last fall, we won a McCobb headboard on ebay for $50. We picked it up in Connecticut en route to our anniversary weekend spent in Concord, MA. While we were loading the piece into our car, the guy told us to just take it – no charge. It had been part of his mother’s bedroom set, and he was glad to see it go to a good home. Nice! (But, I do wish we had gotten a few of the other pieces of the set…)

The headboard is not in perfect condition (but, hey, neither is anything else in our house). Overall, though it’s a solid piece. The top had a lot of water rings (many bedtime water glasses) and scratches (more like graffiti), and the sliding grasscloth panels had some nonuniform staining. So, I applied Howard Restore-A-Finish in Golden Oak (the lightest shade available at our Home Depot) to all the wood, and Erased away with all my might on the sliding panels. And here are the results:

As distracting as that nasty wall paneling is, I hope you can see why I am so happy with the way the panels came out (not quite as happy as I was about my Pro-Keds, though!).

As for the wood – most of the water rings have been greatly reduced. But, I’m thinking we should have used the lighter Maple/Pine shade of Restore-A-Finish (the piece is maple, afterall). Because now, the scratches are more accentuated. Now, we can more clearly see that, at some point, someone really wanted us all to “Eat at Joe’s”.

Before & After: Royal Hi

I love Pro-Keds…evidenced by the fact that I have five pairs (and want more).
I really shouldn’t be buying more sneakers right now, so keeping the ones I have looking good, is about the best I can do.

Enter Mr. Clean Magic Eraser:

All the scrubbing I’ve ever done before with soap, water, and a toothbrush has never gotten the dingy outsoles this clean. I mean, it’s like years of ground in dirt has been magically erased…from existance!

(My pair of Royal Hi Pro-Keds before and after an encounter with Mr. Clean)

Excuse me, now I have to go soak the laces! (This has me way too excited.)