Q-Tip Touchups!

Here’s a shortcut you can try next time you’ve got to touch up a few nail holes or wall dings in your home.  Rather than get out a brush or a small roller and a tray, pick up a Q-Tip.  Yes.  I really mean one of these things:

Here’s the scoop:  a Q-Tip is perfect for small touch up areas.  You wouldn’t certainly want to do any large areas with it–that’s what rollers and brushes are for–but if you’d love a quick, painless method to touch up small nail holes, this is it.  You just use it and toss it.  No clean up, no mess.  The small size of the touch up spot means it will easily blend in to the existing wall and, even if you’ve got a slightly larger area to cover, you can turn the Q-Tip on its side and use it as a micro-mini-roller.  It takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you do, you’ll find out how easy this is for those quick touch ups!

The Inevitable Forgetting of Important Things

and_baseball_web_030816My family and I just wrapped up another Little League season and among all the wonderful things that baseball season brings into our lives, there’s one thing that I could do without:  the Inevitable Forgetting of Important Things.

There are a number of Capital Letters in that phrase, so let me explain:  Whenever there was a baseball game on a week night, our evening would devolve into chaos quite quickly.  I’d arrive home from work five minutes after the time we should have left.  To get back on schedule, I’d typically eat dinner without chewing it while I changed my clothes and brushed my teeth. This was a multi-tasking miracle in regards to the number of tasks accomplished at once.  However, because of the diverse nature of the tasks, it was also messy and somewhat disgusting.  Still, it’s what was necessary to get to the game on time.  So I did it.

Once that strange combination of eating/teeth brushing/clothes changing was done, I’d run out to the van, hop into the driver’s seat, turn the key and then, for the first time in the entire evening, I’d pause. Turning around, I’d stare each of the kids in the eye, hold their attention for a second or two, let the import of the moment sink into their little heads, and then I’d ask:  “Do you have everything?”

It was a simple question.  A question meant to jog their little memories.  A question meant to make them ask the question in their own heads:  “Do I really, truly have everything I might need for tonight’s athletic event?”

Instead, every time I asked the question, they’d respond immediately, with absolutely zero thought (and with some exasperation):  “yes, dad”.

Well, I’ve got five children and the oldest two are 13, so this isn’t my first rodeo, so to speak.  And so I would never let them off that easily:  “You have everything?  Really?  How about your glove?  Your hat?  Your bat bag?  Your bat?  Your cleats?”  I’d rattle off every single piece of baseball gear I could think of as they answered with an immediate “yes” to each item.

Finally, after what felt like a 30 minute deposition, I’d turn around in my seat, ease the van out of the driveway, and begin the journey to the baseball field.  And every single time, after I was far enough away from home to make going back frustrating, I’d hear it start:  the scuffling of their little fingers as they clawed through their bat bags looking for something.

I’d hope against hope every time I heard this that they were looking for a Mento.  But no.  After about 30 seconds of frantic scuffling, someone would nervously clear his throat as happened several nights ago:

“Uh, Dad?”

“Yes…” (through gritted teeth).

“Ummm.  Funny thing . . . you know when you asked if we had everything and then listed off all the things?”

“Yes.”

“Well, you know what you forgot to list off?”

“No.  What did I forget to list off?” (through gritted teeth again).

“Well . . . and this really is hilarious . . . you never asked me if I was wearing my cup.”  At this point the kid usually breaks into nervous laughter and falls silent. No one else typically laughs at this point because they know trouble when they see it.

I try to keep my cool and clinging to a very unreasonable hope, I ask:  “Are you wearing your cup?”

“Ummm.  Not technically.  I actually forgot it.  We’ll have to go back and get it.  But don’t worry.  I’m pretty sure I know where it might be…”

Every time.  Every game. Oh, sometimes they’d forget gloves.  Sometimes, it was their bat.  Maybe their hat, their sunglasses, their Gatorade . . . it doesn’t matter.  Whatever it was they forgot, it was always something we’d have to go flying back to the house to retrieve.

And it drove me nuts, stressed me out, and got almost every single game night off to a rocky and uncomfortable start.  All because we weren’t organized.  All because we were starting something without having all the right equipment.

Well, the same thing often happens when we’re working on paint projects. We start the work and after we dip our expensive brush into a new gallon of oil-based paint, we realize we forgot to pick up paint thinner.  Or we pour our paint into a tray and realize that the roller cover we had isn’t the right one for the project. Or–and this just happened to me a week or so ago–we run downstairs to grab that paint brush we’ve got in the basement only to find that we didn’t clean it out well enough the last time.  Now it’s unusable and we’re standing there with our paint can open and no brush to apply it with.

checklist_1

When we forget to amass the right tools for our paint projects, we find the stress level rises quickly.  Our schedules are thrown into chaos, and all too often (if you’re like me) we try to make things work using the tools we have, not necessarily the right ones.  And usually, the results are frustrating and disappointing.

The good news about all of this is there’s a fix.  At least for the paint project part of it (I don’t know how to fix the baseball stuff!).  Anyway, the way to make sure you’ve got all the right tools for your next paint job is as simple as using a basic “Project Checklist”.

We’ve got one that you can download by clicking this link.  It’s a simple tool that will help you mentally go through your project ahead of time.  The list will recommend certain items and most of the time, you’ll discover one or two things you would never have thought to gather ahead of time.

Tackling a paint project can be a very rewarding and fulfilling experience.  It can even be somewhat of a stress reliever–almost therapeutic in a way.  Just make sure you’ve got all the items necessary before you start and you’ll discover how smoothly a project can go!

12 Screwdrivers for $1: What Could Go Wrong?

dollars-426023_1920I’m cheap.  I’ve probably written that before, but that doesn’t matter.  I’m so cheap, it’s legitimate to write it again.  But that cheapness has it’s limits.

Several months ago, I learned a tough lesson in the world of Cheapness.  I was working on a project in my kitchen and I needed a small screwdriver to unscrew and remove about 12 tiny screws.  After scrounging in my basement work room and coming up empty, I decided I needed to travel to the tool store.

Reluctantly I did.  My little wad of crinkled dollar bills was in my pocket and I planned to run in, grab the screwdriver and get back home to finish the project so I could go outside and play and have fun with the kids.

However, something happened:  on my way to the tool store, I drove past a dollar store, and my wife announced that we needed to stop there so she could pick up some this or that.  So we stopped.  And as she made a beeline for the different items she needed, I wandered.

And do you know what happened?  I wandered into the tool section.  (I hesitate to call it a “department” because we were, after all, in a dollar store).  Anyway, we wandered into the tool section and I found, sitting on the shelf in a bright, shiny plastic package, a set of 12 screwdrivers.  The price tag?   Exactly 1 U.S. Dollar.  Plus tax.

Well, if you’re me, that 12-pack-for-just-1-dollar-deal is just too good to refuse.  So I snatched it up, dropped it on the counter and promptly paid my $1.06.  All the way home, I bragged up my find to my wife.  Oh, I knew the tools weren’t the best, but all I needed to do was remove 12 screws.  And I had 12 screwdrivers.  It’s impossible that I could fail, right?

Riding on cloud nine, I pulled into the driveway and marched into the house ready to tackle my project.  And of course, you already know what happened.  The first screwdriver broke on the third twist–the shaft separated from the handle.  No problem.  I had 11 more.  And I’d planned on this.   No Sweat.

But then the second and third screwdriver broke before I’d removed that first screw.  And I started to get nervous.  I mean really?  Could I possibly break every single screwdriver in a 12 pack before I’d unscrewed 12 screws?  Could such a think happen?  Surely, no!

Sadly, yes.  They all broke.  I still had 6 or so screws to go when I threw the last screwdriver into the garbage.  Frustrated, I drove to the tool store, dropped $6, came back home, and about 2 hours after I’d started, I finally had everything done.

A project that should have taken 10 minutes max ended up taking a couple of hours (when you add in all the driving and waiting in line and so on).

In the end, it taught me a good lesson:  there’s a time and a place for cheapness.  But there’s also a time and place for purchasing quality materials.  Dropping the extra money right up front is sometimes the best money-and-time-saving decision you can make.  It was that way with those screwdrivers and it’s also that way with paint.

See, so often people think paint is paint.  Good paint isn’t any different from cheap paint.  At least that’s the thinking.  And when people who think there’s no real difference in quality see that quality paint is about $8 more per gallon, well, their decision is basically made for them.  They buy the cheapest paint they can find and then work their way through the project.  In the end, they get the walls covered, but they usually put the brushes and rollers away heaving a sigh of relief that the terrible, horrible job is finally done and they walk away assuming that painting is a pain.

However, it’s not the painting that’s the pain.  It’s the paint.  When you use a cheap paint product, you may not realize there’s a difference between it and a quality product, but that doesn’t change the fact that there is.  High quality materials roll onto your walls easier, with less work.  They don’t drip and spatter all over the place.  They cover and hide much better.  They go farther.  They wash up and hold up better and they don’t need to be touched up as often.

A good paint versus a cheap paint can often take at least 1 less coat and will usually still be looking great on your walls when the cheaper paint is begging for a repaint.

And that’s the point to think about:  buying the better paint right in the beginning is, by far, the better value.  Sure, it may (in an average living room that takes 2 gallons of paint) cost about $16 total dollars more than the cheap paint, but think of the benefits:  the paint will apply easier, cover better, hide more, drip less and last longer.  You’ll apply fewer coats, spend less time, and won’t need to deal with drips and spills.

$16 more on an average room will save you at least an hour or two of work and will provide you with a better product that will wash up, resist wear and need less touch-ups than a cheaper paint.

With the screwdrivers, I assumed there was no way to make a bad screwdriver.  I thought a screwdriver was a screwdriver–why pay $5 for 1 when I could get 12 for $1?  I learned the hard way that all screwdrivers aren’t created equal.  The same is true with paint.  Good paint will make a difference.  Sure, it will cost more up front, but the value in the long run will be worth it.  Try it.  Just once.  Pick up a high quality paint (RepcoLite, of course) for your next project and see what a difference it makes!

3M Delicate Surface Tape

3m_tapeEvery now and again, a new product enters the home decorating field and changes the way everything is done.  Today I want to very briefly highlight one such product:  3M’s Delicate Surface Masking Tape.

Now hold on, don’t click away just yet.  I know the very words “masking tape” don’t necessarily instill a feeling of raw, unchecked excitement even in the hardiest home decorating gurus, but this tape is different.  It’s worth a quick read.  Trust me.  You’ll thank me later.

See, 3M’s Delicate Surface tape will give you razor sharp, crisp lines when you paint.  Oh, it can be used on all sorts of delicate surfaces including wallpaper and recently painted walls, but for me, the biggest, most important aspect of the tape is the sharp lines it leaves behind.

After all, I hate taping a room off.  I cannot stress this enough.  I hate it.  It’s time consuming.  It’s no fun (I just want to put paint on, not spend this time taping).  And then, usually, after all that work of taping, I roll my paint on, pull the tape off and discover that there are many areas where the paint leaked under the tape.  My lines aren’t crisp.  It’s depressing.

But that’s where this particular tape changes the game entirely.  The lines are absolutely razor sharp.  They’re perfect.  You can go through all the work of taping your room (which still isn’t fun–even with this tape), but the end results make it all worthwhile–no paint leaking under the tape, no wallpaper or wall paint peeling off when you remove the tape.  Nothing but sharp lines and perfect walls.

Now, of course, the tape is more expensive than regular masking tape–probably a couple bucks a roll more.  But think about it this way:  you’re going to spend all that time masking a room with good tape or with cheap tape.  You’re going to do all that work painting that room.  You’re going to spend all that time pulling the tape off when you’re done.  Isn’t it worth it to do all of that and end up with perfect results?  Isn’t that worth an extra $2?

OK, that’s enough said.  Instead of reading, do a little viewing.  Here’s a video that will give you crystal clear proof that this tape’s worth the money!  Check it out:

Paint Colors, Light Bulbs and John Boomsma

boomsma2The other day, I received a call from the Manager at our Jenison RepcoLite, John Boomsma (see inset).  He had just run into a crazy situation in the store and figured I could make use of the information on our blog.

John explained that he had received a phone call earlier in the week from a customer who was extremely frustrated.  She was at a loss–didn’t know what to do.  See, she had just painted two rooms in her home.  As most people do when getting ready to paint, she had agonized for a few days or weeks over colors.

Finally, after much effort and after asking her family 100 times which color they liked the most (and then opting for the color she liked the best despite what they said), she painted both rooms.

And that’s when things got weird.

In room 1, she loved the color.  It was perfect.  It blended with the fabrics, the carpet, the trim and so on.  It was exactly the look she had wanted.

However, she was shocked to discover that she hated room 2.  The color looked terrible with the fabrics, the carpet, the trim, and so on.

The weird thing?  The color was the same in both rooms.  So was the fabric.  And the carpet.  And the trim.  Identical rooms painted with the exact same color out of the exact same gallon and room 1 looked beautiful and room 2 looked terrible.

So she called RepcoLite in Jenison where she bought the paint, wanting to know what was going on.

Now, I’ll admit that while John was telling me this story, I was a little intrigued.  These things are sometimes like mysteries and it can be fun and rewarding to puzzle them out and find a solution.  However, I have to be honest:  I wasn’t sure, from what I was hearing, what the problem could possibly be.

I assumed maybe a paint color problem.  Maybe the roller she used had paint in it from another job.  Maybe the previous color on the wall was showing through, making the color in room 2 look different.

I had a number of different theories, but then John said “you know what the problem was?  You know what went wrong?”

I waited.  He waited.  (Turns out he wanted me to say “no, I don’t know what the problem was” before he’d continue.)  So I admitted ignorance (which made him happy), and he explained, in a single, compound word:  “lightbulbs!”

He went on to explain that the customer had an incandescent lightbulb in room 1–the room she loved.  In room 2, the lightbulb was one of those fluorescent, energy-saving bulbs.  The tone of the light coming from each of those bulbs was enough to visually alter the color on her walls.

The fix?  Simple:  change bulbs.

The customer tried the fix and was back in the store a day or so later to report that everything turned out well.  Instead of repainting a room–going through all that work and spending that extra money–all she had to do was change a lightbulb.

So the point of the story, if it’s not obvious, is this:  lighting matters!  Check out your colors in your room, in your lighting before you buy and before you paint.  And likewise, before you give up on a color that you thought you liked but find that you really hate when you see it on your wall, give some thought to the lighting in your room.  Could a simple changing of a lightbulb make all the difference?  It’s at least worth a try!