Or as Kathleen calls it…your terrace is flipping gorgeous

My friends Joan and Rick offered me their gorgeous teak bistro set, one they had for years. When I asked why they said because the chairs were hard to slide in and out due to the concrete surface of their condo terrace. I suggested sliders. They had tried those, but the concrete eventually wins the battle. I then remembered Cassandra telling me about an Ikea product she was considering for the floor of the greenhouse I helped her build. I found the product on my phone and shared the link with Joan. They decided to go for it, but needed some help from their Sista Girl with Skills friend. I love lying tile, so thought this click system would be a piece of cake and for the most part it was.

It took two full days (6-8 hour days) to do the entire terrace largely due to their desire to run the tile to the edge of their terrace, which curves and forced a need to cut around railing anchors. Rick found a couple of of videos people had posted showing the installation. One was cute, the other unrealistic if you have a bunch of cuts to make. No way would a $2 hack saw get their project done. I brought to the job my jig saw and new to me scroll saw, a friend and woodworker Gene Wiggs gifted me his when he bought a new one. I ended up using the scroll saw for the entire project. They wanted the plain tile to be in a crisscross pattern and discovered it doesn’t work when placing around the ceramic tiles set in even rows. They originally had the ceramic tile starting right at the door, 6×6. I ended up changing it to 5×6 and placed the plain plastic as the first row out the door. Joan ordered enough that they were able to repeat the ceramic at both doors to the terrace even thought that was not the plan.

Overall fun project and it did turn out pretty cool. I did suggest they get new sliders for their teak furniture, which they plan to do.

The Taj Mahal in Comparison

I have wanted to work on another old house ever since I finished my home. I put in offers on a few, but lost them all to higher bids. When 3067 Sidney Avenue, next street over from me, went on the market I jumped. From the sidewalk it look to be in decent shape, I have driven on street many times and never noticed it was vacant as the grass was always cut. The inside was a different story. I would learn the seller had purchased it in 2010, started his flipping work, but then stopped in 2014 and let his permits expire. He was asking $110,000, which was way too high for the visual condition. He had his electrical and plumbing roughed in, but his plan was flawed; seemingly based on maximizing the number of occupants (at closing he told me he wired 3rd to be two bedrooms, so potentially a 5 bedroom house). I offered $60,000, was rejected, but came back at $75,000 with no inspections. I really wanted this house…..I needed this house.

My $10,000 fixer was the Taj Mahal in comparison to true condition of my first flip. They have in common starting with no plumbing, electric, or HVAC, but even with the crumbling foundation at my home the bones were solid. I had a brand new roof. I knew there was a roof leak at Sidney before I purchased, but the extent of the leak didn’t manifest until after the close and I entered the house after a hard rain. The floor of the back bedroom was saturated and that leaked down to the first floor kitchen which leaked down to the basement. The rubber roof had about 15 holes in it. Laughably at closing the seller said I could fix that myself. Although not as severe, the asphalt roof over the third floor showed signs of leakage too. Depending on which roofer contractor you listen to the box gutters were shot too (spoiler alert: the box gutters were shot too). Oh yeah, I had snakes in the basement. The pics make them look bigger than they really were. I just hope I never run into their parents.

I’m a house restorer, not renovator, so the one thing I had decided to do from the first walk through, before purchasing, was to restore all the windows back to their original heights. All of the original wood windows, except for the two in the front, had been removed and the openings reduced in size. There was filler, approx 18″, above every window, but you can see where rosettes and moulding once resided. There were two windows on the back and the only window on the right side of house completely covered. This meant I would need to remove the hideous faded yellow siding (oh darn) from the entire house to make the proper corrections.

I had this naïve notion that under the vinyl siding would be perfectly preserved original wood siding that I’d clean up and then paint as I could see mint condition original siding inside the the toilet room the seller left as part of the full bathroom he was creating on the first floor. After the closing I started pulling the siding from around the front door just out of curiosity. Unfortunately it revealed that under the vinyl was fake brick look asphalt siding and under that the original wood siding not in mint condition. The margins on this project would not allow for the removel of all the asphalt siding, so I would need to re-side the house once the windows were reframed.

I stopped removing the asphalt siding, but continued pulling the vinyl when suddenly the right corner of house crumbled to the ground. I thought the entire porch was going to fall on me. Uncontrolled water has got to be one of the worst enemies of any home. For years the down spout from the roof gutter was left to dump water on the corner of the house and to make matters worst there was a hole in the metal roof of the porch right in that area too. The vinyl siding was the only thing keeping the house in tack. The rot had gone through the asphalt siding, the wood siding, all the way to the corner post of the house. My first project was connecting a corrugated extension to the down spout to channel the water away from the corner.

Believe it or not, as bad as it looked I wasn’t overly concerned because the plaster on the inside at that area was in tact; showing no signs of water damage. Now that was not the case in the upstairs bedroom where the floors were wet from roof leak. That plaster was peeling and flaking so I decided to start removing it. For the life of me I don’t know why the seller cut channels in the plaster to run his electrical and plumbing instead of taking the whole house down to the studs. What I uncovered was wood erosion and mold, so extensive that the first roof joist was floating. I knew then I’d need to go down to the studs in the entire house. It would be my only way of knowing the full extent of years of neglect the house had endured. Now I am starting to feel concerned and I most definitely over paid for the house.

Earlier I said I needed this house. This house needs me too. I can see the finish clearly in my minds eye and she’s going to be beautiful again. What isn’t as clear is if she’s going to yield profitability, but as my sign states….I’ll do it right or not at all.

Penofin, Does a Pergola Good

This is a very delayed post and I almost decided to not write it, but Penofin deserves the plug. I’m a real fan of the product line. Staining the pergola was my first maintenance project for my home. I did this work in May. The natural wood was so pretty when I built it, I thought about leaving it natural, but wood greys as it ages. I decided to stick with the plan and applied Ultra Premium Red Label Penofin in Mission Brown, to match the porch ceiling.

When I did the porch I followed Penofin’s suggested three step process, Cleaner, Brightener, Stain. That was a small, solid, area of almost 100 year old wood that had been covered in layers of paint.  Of course that process was needed. I was hoping that would not be the case with a barely 6 month old pergola, but I called Penofin just to make sure. The agent held firm to their process, so I followed and started by removing the top course of the pergola. I thought it would be easier cleaning them and applying the stain to the entire structure with them removed. I leaned them on the backyard fence and proceeded with the Cleaner. Immediately I could see why the agent stuck to her guns. The beauty of the first two steps is that you can go immediately from Cleaner to Brightener. With the top course complete I moved on and did the same steps on the rest of the pergola after wrapping my columns in plastic and draping plastic on front of house.

That was all I was able to do on the first weekend because the only store that carries the product locally, Doeppes Lumber, did not have Mission Brown in stock. They would have to order it in, so I decided to get it from Amazon where I knew I’d have it delivered to my door in two days. The mistake I made was only ordering one gallon. The project took two, so two-weekends stretched into three. I finished the staining on Saturday and re-installed the top row on Sunday. That was the most tedious aspect of this project. I don’t know if I’ll remove it again when it’s time to reapply.

At my old home I treated (stained) my deck floor every 2 years and the fence every 4 and I used a Porter Paint stain. Penofin states their product performs on horizontal surfaces for 9-24 months and vertical surfaces for 2-5 years which is a big range. Most of my surfaces are vertical, so I’ll monitor the wood and hope to stretch it out as far as possible. Easy, but not fun. I applied the stain with a brush and could not control the drip when working on the pergola. So grateful Penofin is a one-coat process.  I was a smelly, sticky mess, so much so that the t-shirt I wore while staining went straight into the trash.

Sista Girl with Skills Update

I have converted venusdiyworld.com to sistagirlwithskills.com and have created a full website vs. just a blog. Based on the limited feedback, all negative, and me not liking the logo either, I have landed on a new Sista Girl with Skills logo. Thanks to an Etsy vendor, The Carton Amiga, my bakery division has its on adaptation of it.

I’ve added two new navigators to the site: Bakery Division, which includes a drop down for my product offerings, and GC Division. GC stands for General Contractor as it is official, Sista Girl with Skills, LLC is registered as a GC with the City of Cincinnati. This was forced when I learned the City would not allow me to pull a building permit for my first flip house project. That’s right, I have purchased 3067 Sidney Avenue, an 1890 Italianate Victorian house located one block from me in Camp Washington. As with my house I plan to chart the journey of the “restoration” not “renovation” on my blog. 

Hopefully her future owner will appreciate seeing what went into saving this house from further deterioration caused by owner neglect.  The house has been sitting vacant since at least 2014 as that was when the previous owner’s building permits expired; he purchased in 2010.  He started the flip, I’ll finish it and as my sign slogan states: I’ll do it right, or not at all. Her name is Inez in honor of my grandmother whom I’m channeling with all the baking I’m doing.

In regards to baking I’m still servicing six coffee shops and a caterer.  Deeper Roots requested a pumpkin version for the season and I obliged by creating a Zucchini Pumpkin Dates muffin featuring Pumpkin Pie Spice from Colonel de Gourmet. I’ve never made anything with pumpkin, I’m a sweet potato pie fan, but that muffin is good!  They also have listened to their customers request for a gluten-free option, so one of the two varieties offered will be gluten-free.  Don’t be afraid to try your favorite flavor if it happens to be gluten-free on the day you visit.  Gluten-free flour changes the texture slightly, but the moistness and flavor of my muffins remains the same.

My muffins are dense because they are really individual portions of my adapted zucchini bread recipe poured into a muffin pan. So what do you get when you cross bread with a muffin pan? A Bruffin, which is what I’ll call my product for here on out.

A New Chapter Begins

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the Ohio River Paddlefest, recognized as the nation’s largest paddling celebration with 2,000 participants traveling 9 miles through downtown Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky in canoes, kayaks, and other human-powered craft. I love this event. It is therapeutic for me to be in my kayak and I don’t make the time to do it often enough. It was a blessing that this year’s event fell on August 7 as the day coincided with a chapter of and vision for my life permanently closing. I would have moped around in bed most likely the entire day, but I had a reason to get going early and what a beautiful morning it was.

I was armed with a PB&J sandwich, granola bar, mango Gatorade, an energy flavored Vitamin Water and my Pandora radio shuffle playlist of Yolanda Adams, Forever Jones, Wayman Tisdale, James Taylor, Macy Gray, Bonnie Raitt, Ashford & Simpson, Maze & Frankie Beverly and The Commodores. Pandora has a psychic sense sometimes as the very first song to start my journey was Natalie Merchant’s Where I Go, a song who’s lyrics talk about going to the river to “To soothe my mind, to ponder over the crazy days of my life, watch the river flow, ease my mind and soul”. The playlist was spot on throughout approximate 4-hour paddle. I paddle to the beat, so I had a great mix of slow and fast tunes and I stopped to nibble or drink during the commercials.

I’ll admit I started off sad, here I am in the midst of 1000s of people, but paddling alone again. I wasn’t 100 yards into the paddle and I came across this couple.  My mind quickly spun all types of positive scenarios on how great of a relationship they must have.  About a mile into Pandora struck gold again by playing Yolanda Adam’s Never Give Up who’s chorus states “keep the dream alive don’t let it die.  If something deep inside keeps inspiring you to try, don’t stop and never give up, don’t ever give up on you. Don’t give up”.  That song and the friendliness of the paddle community was the snap out of it slap in the face I needed.  Last year I traded my lime green Tsunami 12.5 kayak for a blue Tsunami 14.5 and it drew attention.  Several people gave me positive feedback on how well it tracked in the water and how natural I looked in it.  All were shocked when I shared that was my first time in it and first time kayaking since the last Paddlefest in 2019.  

I had a great conversation with the leaders of this group from River City Paddlesport.  They brought their 30-foot long voyageur canoes up from Louisville, KY.  I checked out their website and Louisville has an event called Mayor’s Hike, Bike, and Paddle, which sounds super cool.  It is held Memorial and Labor Day weekends.  River City coordinates the paddle portion and the plans for this Labor Day sounds absolutely amazing.  They will “lock through”. A flotilla of canoes and kayaks will leave the waterfront and paddle through the Portland Canal to the McAlpin Locks. Once everyone is secured to a line, the doors will close in the lock and drop 37 feet. The lower doors of the lock will open and we will paddle to New Albany’s Jaycee Boat Ramp near the Sherman-Mitten Bridge.  Sounds like a reason for a road trip.  I’m definitely going to try and make that, but my life is getting ready to get really busy (tease).

Despite not paddling for 2 years I signed up for the 9-mile (go big or stay home, right) and stretched it out even further by adding the optional 1-mile paddle of the Mill Creek.  Growing up in Cincinnati I’ve heard of the Mill Creek, but wow did I learn a lot more about it in that one mile journey.  I now know were my sanitation waste ends up.  I also now have another connection for paddling via the Mill Creek Yacht Club.  They’ve got a paddle coming up on August 21, MCYC Urban Stream Adventure, that I will definitely participate in, another chance to get on the Ohio River.

Coming out of the Mill Creek detour the winds picked up and we were paddling into it. I was starting to tire out, but then once again Pandora hit a chord with another Yolanda Adam’s song, This Battle is not Yours, and that was the spark I needed to fight through the winds. I actually abandoned the shuffle and went full on gospel for the rest of the paddle. I made it to the finish line, got my boat loaded thanks to the young men from Hughes High School football team, and enjoyed the best chicken and waffles from Sunny Side Brunch food truck. It was a great four hours.

So about my blog title and featured image. The new chapter is due to me officially filing Sista Girl with Skills with the state of Ohio and IRS to form a LLC and obtain my employer identification number. I’m still working through the logo, but the business is official. My business has two divisions. The first is a bakery division (yes I bake too), which is what prompted the official filing. In the last few weeks demand for my zucchini bread, zucchini muffins, and carrot muffins has soared. I am an official cottage industry and I have aspirations of taking it bigger. The second division I’ll keep under wraps, for now, but it will lead to more frequent post. Let the NEW journey begin.

I’d love your feedback on the logo. I’m working on getting a caricature image of me to add to the bakery text.

Serving Her Purpose

People that have followed my three year restoration journey have frequently read things where I talked about my vision for my home. Recently the vision of hosting friends as overnight guest materialized when my former employee, but more important descriptor friends Vicki Schwartz and her husband Steve spent a long weekend with me. Vicki worked for me when I ran the “good” visitor center that used to be located on Fountain Square in what is now Graeter’s Ice Cream. That center closed in 2005, but I have maintained a friendship with Vicki and her husband ever since. So much so that when I’ve traveled to North Carolina anywhere close to Winston Salem, which is where they live now, they have hosted me at their home (once by myself, once with a teenager, and once with my two dogs, now that’s friendship). They come back to Cincinnati at least once a year and they got to see my house during construction, I didn’t have walls yet. I told them then when it was finished they must stay with me on one of their visits. Covid delayed that opportunity by a year.

They got to stay in the Janet Suite and I gave them a key, so they could come and go as they pleased. They arrived on a Thursday night after an eight hour drive.  I was prepared with cheeses, ham, turkey, and a variety of chips; something light as I thought they’d be more tired than hungry.  What Steve had a taste for was a peanut butter sandwich, so thankfully I had that in the pantry. Vicki joined him and had PB&J.

Of course they loved the house.  I’ve shared pictures of the finished product, but they said the images didn’t do it justice.  They truly did not want me to put up a fuss.  For breakfast I had fresh baked muffins for them.  Steve just needed two cups of coffee and Vicki brought her own tea bags.  Friday they spent the entire day out visiting other friends.  I had not gotten a chance to give the yard a fresh cut, so I did that.  It warmed my heart to see clearly how at ease they felt in my home.  I loved seeing my “bathroom of positivity” (decor is filled with positive motivational statements) so lived in.  Friday night they had dinner with friends, so an easy day of hosting for me.

Saturday was hang out day for me and Vicki and Steve got to visit some of his car friends (he has a vintage Alfa Romero that he’s had in the Cincinnati’s Concours D’elegance many times).  Vicki was part of the original docent class for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, so she wanted to go there and hoped she see any of her former fellow docents.  We lucked up and caught James (Jim) Brock as he was arriving for his shift.  Before moving to Winston Salem Vicki hosted her docent colleagues at her home, so I quickly offered to host them next year when Vicki and Steve make their trip in 2022. They had recently lost one member of the original class, Verneida Britton who also use to work for me at the Visitor Center, to cancer.

Saturday evening I hosted a Visitor Center reunion cook out.  Our boss, Joan Kaup, and two other of my staff, Carolyn Sherman and Sandra Bowen came with their husbands.  I am the age now that these ladies were when they worked for me.  Sandra and I recently reconnected when she came to my first open house (I didn’t know she was following the journey), but Joan and Carolyn I have formed friendships too.  What was amazing is that it turned out Vicki and Steve knew Joan’s husband Rick from when he lived in Mariemont (where they lived) with his first wife and Vicki actually use to work for Sandra’s husband.  It turned out Vicki’s and Sandra’s tenure didn’t overlap.  It was an evening filled with great conversation and no concerns about Covid-19 as the entire group had been vaccinated.  It was nice to remember that I actually had some enjoyable years of employment at that start of my CVB career.  I’ve gone on road trips with Joan, Carolyn, and Vicki as a testament that friendships can be formed at work. 

Sunday during the day they visited more friends, but that evening they took me to dinner at the Chart House. I hadn’t been there in years. Beautiful setting as our table was near a window with clear views of the Ohio River. Great food, more great conversation, and awesome key lime pie for dessert. I’d get that pie as a carry out it was that good.

Monday was the departure day. I was able to pack them turkey and ham sandwiches for the road. In route to home they had planned to stop at the cemetery where Vicki’s parents are buried to place flowers and do any needed clean up. Vicki sent me a text sharing they were back on the road after consuming their delicious sandwiches. Not that I want to monopolize their visits to Cincinnati, but I hope they will chose me over other friends when they make the trek next year. It was nice having them visit. My house was filling the purpose for which she was restored and now with the mask mandate lifted I hope more visitors will come.

This photo showed me it was time to address the graying wood of my pergola. Stay tuned for the first “maintenance” project for my restored home.

Cassandra’s Greenhouse

After completing Cassandra’s bench, the next project at her house was a greenhouse. Cassandra is converting her entire backyard, even the blacktop driveway into a urban garden oasis. She had planned to buy a greenhouse, but I pointed out that she could build one cheaper. My 4×8 Lean-to shed only cost approximately $500 in materials, a fourth of what she had planned to pay. She asked if I would help her and I said yes. Since I had successfully built my shed, by myself, I told her to check out the greenhouse plans at Plans Design, where I bought mine. Their greenhouses were similar to my lean-to, so I thought the learning curve would be eliminated.

She didn’t like their plans, but found one she did like.  It called for setting nine 4×4 post in the ground.  That seemed like an odd approach and I knew making nine holes, especially in the location of her yard that she wanted would be difficult, but once past that it seemed like a simple plan.  While weather did play a small part in slowing down progress this project took six weeks to complete, way to long.  I don’t know the final cost of all the material, but I’m sure it was over $1,000.  The plans did not call for a floor, we added one.  The plan didn’t have windows, we added one and another is planned.  This build tested my resolve, stamina, ingenuity, and patience.  

Now that the greenhouse is complete I really question the design choice of using 4×4 post for the structure. The person that designed it lives in Canada, so perhaps this is standard for sheds in that country. It called for pressure treated (PT) wood. Traditional wall framing with regular 2x4s would have cost far less and the project could have been completed much faster. I was ready to throw in the towel after digging the first hole because we hit so many tree roots. For that reason I’m not going to list where she bought the plans as I wouldn’t recommend them. Too much of the build was left for you to figure out; they were not complete or concise and now she has a structure that can never be moved even though its size made it moveable. The plastic sheeting was easy to work with and it does provide a visual airiness. If you have no concerns about security, I could see making my lean-to shed with traditional framing but covering it with this plastic; perhaps even a combination of wood and plastic siding.

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.

If you live in the Cincinnati area and are interested in any of the three products, I am stocking them. Get it direct from me to save tax and shipping. Email: jtkconsultantsllc@outlook.com. Mobile unit on backorder until Mary 17.

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.