Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Slow Cooker Paint Removal

One of my readers (how cool is it to say that I have readers - at least I think it is cool but I am dorky like that) asked about my reference to crock pot paint removal in my post about my old doorknobs.  I think I read about this in This Old House magazine but it was a few years ago.  Anyways, not wanting to keep a fantastic tip to myself here is the nitty gritty.

Say you have a piece of hardware that someone long ago decided to be lazy and paint over instead of doing the right thing and taking it off to paint.  And then the next person that came along was like heck it's already got paint on it why bother taking it off now.  And so on until 50 years later you have what was once a lovely piece of hardware is now a crusted over icky looking thing.

Now this is not a piece from my house.  I found this picture on the web but it does look like a lot of the hardware that is in my house that I worked on.

First you get your crock pot out.  I should warn you that you will never ever never want to use this particular crock pot for food again.  At least I did not want to chance it.  Even though you are not using any chemicals, I'm sure some of the paint I took off had lead and I just don't mess around with that.  So I suggest either doing this with a garage sale crock pot or use your current one if you need an excuse to go get the new fancy stainless steel digital kind.

Fill up your slow cooker with water.  You want enough to cover your pieces with a couple of inches of water.  Also you want to do just one layer of hardware.  Don't stack it up in there because you don't want paint from a piece on top sticking to a piece on the bottom.  Add a few drops of dish soap.  Yep, regular old dish soap. I used Dawn because that is my go-to, forever-and-always, nothing-else-will-do dish soap, but I am not sure that it matters what kind.   Turn your crock pot on low and let it sit.

Check it after a few hours.  On some pieces I found the paint just peeled off into the water.  On other pieces once it was softened I used a toothbrush and a toothpick to help clean out the tiny crevices.  Sometimes I cleaned it off a little then put it back in to soak for a little while longer.  It is not a precise science.  It does, however, clean off your hardware without chemicals and with relatively little effort.

Here are some pictures of some of our hardware that I cleaned using my slow cooker.

Doorknobs and other smooth pieces are super easy and the paint seemed to just float right off of them.  The knobs below had a lot of crevices and it took me a little more time and effort to get those cleaned off.  Eventually I just decided they were good enough, and I didn't drive myself crazy over the last little tiny bits of paint.

You can see in this picture that the knobs have 2 different kinds of screws.  That is because it is super difficult to get painted screws to turn.  In order to get the knobs off the cabinets, in some cases, I had to use a hammer and a screw driver to chip away the paint.   The screws would end up all stripped so I had to use replacements when attaching them back onto the cabinets.

If you attempt this send me some pictures.  I'd love to see what everyone else is up to with their old houses.

~ Gold Shoe Girl ~

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Low Dresser Redo

I found this little dresser on Craigslist for $35 and thought it would be perfect for so many things - TV stand, end of the bed, coffee table, etc.  Of course, it needed to be painted but that's the easy part.  Here it is in my kitchen just waiting to be beautified.

The guy I bought it from had been keeping it in a dusty old garage so it was very dirty.  I cleaned it with just some soap and water and removed all the hardware.  Then I gave a few spots some gorilla glue and started priming.  I could tell that someone had previously painted and then stripped it so I didn't need to sand it which is bonus right now because here in Western NY we still have snow on the ground.  So after 1 coat of primer, 3 coats of paint and some polycrylic here's what you get...

Here is a closeup of the hardware.  I was very lucky that these had not been painted.  All I did was clean and polish.  Although I have to say that was the worst part - there were a lot of nooks and crannies to get clean.

Now after Christmas my husband decided to put a new TV in this corner of the living room.  He need a table for it so he "borrowed" my console that used to be on the opposite side of the room under the windows.  I never liked the TV on this table so I decided to switch it out today with the new low dresser.  Thankfully you cannot see the dust in this picture.

This is the TV on the new dresser.  I think it is a million times better.  I like the white against the yellow wall a lot more.

Now I want to move those tin tiles (from Pottery Barn in case you were wondering) but my husband is going to freak out.  They were not easy to hang up and required making semi-large holes in the wall.  My husband is one of those people that hate holes in the wall.  Once something is hung up around here it doesn't ever move again ever.  I may have to do some bribing to get them moved - wish me luck.

~ Gold Shoe Girl ~

My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Delightfully Distinctive Doorknobs

Today I thought I would share some old house character with everyone.  I see a lot of posts about making your new house seem old so I thought you might like to see something that people always comment on when they come to our old house...the doorknobs.

This doorknob and the one above are on the same door.  Yep, one side is painted and the other side is the natural wood.  Just part of the character of our house.  While I think the glass knobs are fabulous don't forget to notice the keyholes.  They are pretty cool too.

Okay, so this next one is not really a doorknob but it is on the door.  The large circular item right below the window is an antique doorbell.  The person on the outside lifts a lever up and down and it manually rings the bell on the inside of the house.  Is that cool or what?  And I know the doors need to be painted.  They are one of my many next projects.

I believe this doorknob is porcelain.  Again, check out the great keyhole.

Here's a shot from the side showing the backplate.

This is a copper doorknob and backplate on an 8 paneled glass door on the second floor.  When we moved in this doorknob was covered in paint.  I did the ol' crockpot and dishsoap treatment and was able to get all the paint off.  It looks really neat now.

This knob is really a cupboard latch.  It too had been painted over and a few hours in the crockpot and a little work with a toothbrush totally cleaned it up.  We have 5 of these on our pantry cupboards.

I am not sure what kind of material made this last one.  It appears to be some kind of wood.   The funny thing about the doorknobs is that this one is other side of a porcelain one.  We have a few doors where the knob on the front does not match the knob on the back.  I guess all part of the character of an old house.

Hope you enjoyed.  

~ Gold Shoe Girl ~

p.s. I know you all want to go ahead and give me crap about the title - I know it's a little much but I'm trying to be creative:)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Knickknack Shelf ala Miss Mustard Seed

This is my first attempt at refinishing a piece in Miss Mustard Seed style.  I found her blog a few months ago and I really admire her work.  I have repainted and stripped furniture before, but I had never done distressing or glazing so I wanted to give it a try.

Here is the before...

I got this little knickknack shelf off of Craigslist for $25.  It needed a little bit of repair, in fact, I ended up tearing the whole thing apart and gluing all of the spindles with gorilla glue (best stuff ever).

Here are the after pictures...

First I repainted it with an antique white that we had laying around from when we painted the trim on the outside of the house.  I did 2 coats of that to hide the bright white that was originally on the piece.  Then I covered it with a sample pot of Glidden from Home Depot.  I like those little sample sizes because you don't have to wait for them to mix them, they are cheap, and they work great for little projects.  One little sample pot would not have been enough except that I knew I was going to distress and glaze so I wasn't concerned that I didn't get complete coverage everywhere.

After the blue dried, I distressed it with some sandpaper.  I didn't go too crazy.  Just a little bit on the spindles and the front edges.  Then I glazed it using some dark walnut stain.  The stain totally changed the tone of the blue.  It now looks much more blue-green.

I placed it in our office/playroom to take these pictures as this room gets a lot of natural light.  I will be moving it upstairs later.  We have a little nook at the end of the hallway upstairs that needs dressing up, but it is fairly dark in that spot so I knew I wouldn't get any good pictures up there to show you.  The hallway is painted in a shell white so the blue-green of the shelf will really stand out nicely.

Can you tell I have been playing around in Picasa?

I think it looks good in the pictures and from a distance, but up close I am not sure that I like the glazing.  It kind of makes it look a little dirty and sloppy, of course, it could just be my technique.  I think the distressing is nice although my husband does not get the distressing and glazing thing at all (why I ask his opinion I don't know since I am just going to do what I want anyways).  He doesn't understand messing up a perfectly good paint job.  He thinks then it just looks like it needs to be painted again.  For now it is going to stay this way as I think I may come to appreciate it more over time.

What do you guys think?  Glaze or no glaze?

I linked up to the party. 

Furniture Feature Fridays


~ Gold Shoe Girl ~

p.s.  I forgot to tell you that the original feet on the bottom were rotten so I had to remove them and throw them out.  I had intended to hit the home depot to get replacements but I didn't get around to it.  When I went to take pictures today, it looked weird just putting the bottom shelf directly on the floor.  So I stuck some cans of tuna under the bottom.  Yep, tuna.  And they are the perfect height so I think I may just gorilla glue them there for now because you can't really see them, and I am all about the easy breezy solution:)  

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Recommended Reading - Cutting For Stone

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese is by far the best book I have read in over a year.  The book has been in the press and has had many, many positive reviews on other sites so I will try not to go overboard with this post.   If you want some in depth reviews you can check out or

I will tell you that this story was one that you will remember for a long time and you will want to reread it to make sure you didn't miss anything.   I really appreciate something that is well written and you can tell that the author really spent time crafting his sentences and building his characters.  If you read a lot of popular fiction you will immediately feel the difference that the author's well-styled prose makes when you read this.  It gives the story depth and power and richness that other books just don't have.  It makes you appreciate novels that are well thought out and well done.

I also enjoy literature that pushes social conventions.  I love to be provoked, and I love when a book makes me want to have a conversation with my friends or family about themes that the author has developed.  This book gave me lots of conversations.

Without going into too much detail, Cutting For Stone is about social taboos and what happens when they are broken, how people handle incredibly unique life circumstances and overcome, but, at least for me, it was mostly about love - love that both breaks your heart and saves your soul (I know really cliche but so be it).  It dealt with so many intertwined and complex themes; are you your brother's keeper, the bonds between children and biological parents versus adoptive parents, can you overcome extreme loss, do you choose your life's work or does it choose you, can you control your own destiny, and cultural norms that are hurtful.

It reminded me of The Cider House Rules by John Irving, which is another one of my all time favorites.  Both books deal with boys who have unfortunate births and are drawn into medicine in their new families.  Interestingly, had John Irving do a review (positive) for Cutting For Stone.

I know a book is phenomenal when I don't feel the need for a sequel.  When the story was just so complete that I am perfectly satisfied at the end.  When anything more would just cheapen or lessen the impact of the story.  I find it is often that way with movies too.  How much more meaningful or treasured would Rocky be if they just left it alone and never made a Rocky 2 and 3 and 4 oh and 5 and don't forget the classic Rocky 6 - you get my drift.  Anyways, that is how I feel about this book, that when I was done reading I was completely perfectly charmed by it.  It is such a compelling book, I hope you take the time to read Cutting for Stone.

Have you read any really great books this year?  What is it about great novels that makes them great for you?

~ Gold Shoe Girl ~

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

House Paint Risk

The Nester is having National Take a Risk Day over at her blog.  I love the concept and her recent posts on not being afraid to do something new really hit home.

A couple of years ago we took a big risk when we painted our house.  It was a dirty flaking white when we bought it, and we knew we were going to have to paint it fairly soon.  When it came time to pick paint colors I was very nervous.  I have a habit of picking a color that is much darker than I thought it would be - which isn't so bad when it is just a room but a whole house is different.  This had to last for at least 10 years.  There's no do overs when it comes to the expense of painting a house.

So here's the before...

Now, this was taken just before we bought the house hence the cat on top of the roof and the odd little bench up there too (apparently the former owner was a little eccentric and liked to read out there with his many cats).  The house was plain white with a faded lime-ish green front door.

Here's the after...

We wanted to give our old house some added character so while we looked at some lighter blues we thought the darker blue shade gave the house more presence.  The trim was done in an antique white and then the doors were done in red.

I love love the doors.  I love the house color.  We have gotten a lot of compliments from the neighbors, and there have also been a small number people who are not sure about it.  I think that is more about their comfort level with color than how it actually looks.  All in all we are happy with our choices, and we're glad we didn't play it safe with plain old white.

Check out the other risk takers at The Nester's blog today.

~ Gold Shoe Girl ~

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Printer's Drawer with Seashells

I saw this idea in a furniture catalog years ago and I loved the idea of having a unique way to display seashells.  I always love picking them up from the beach and usually they just ended up in a jar somewhere.  This idea let me show off the best ones and every time I see it I think of the beach.  It is currently hanging in our hallway, but it would look good in a beach-themed bathroom or above a headboard or as part of a collection of beach objects.

It is made from an old printer's drawer that I purchased at an antique mall.  I paid $15 for the drawer which is in decent shape although it is missing the original handle.  Most antique stores have a few of these, and I've seen them at garage sales too.  Most people use these to display little miniature pieces.

I had collected some of the seashells from our travels to Cape Cod and others I bought from ebay.  There are a number of sellers who specialize in seashells, and you can get some really beautiful and colorful ones fairly inexpensively.  Before you order you will want to measure the size of the compartments in your drawer to get an idea of what size shells and how many you will need.

After I gathered all my shells together, I placed them in the compartments without glue to find an arrangement I liked.  This took the most time of all.  Then all I did was use regular craft glue to adhere the shells to the drawer.  The only tricky part is finding a spot on the shell that will touch enough of the back of the drawer to stick.

You could do all kinds of arrangements with different shells by using all of one color or all of the same kind, etc.  I think it would also look good if you painted or dry brushed the drawer to give it more of a beachy feel.  

It turned out exactly how I imagined it and people seem really impressed when they see it although I have heard some "ocd" and "too much time on her hands" comments being whispered in that hallway:)

Here are some closeups...

~ Gold Shoe Girl ~

I linked up to Savvy Southern Style's Wow Us Wednesdays.  I love her blog.  Check it out.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Beautiful Spring Garland

I am not a scrapbooker but I have always loved all those pretty papers that you see at the craft store.  I was determined to find a way to use some of them instead of my usual buying them and have them sit in a drawer or let my kids destroy   make beautiful creations with them.

I had noticed a lot of people making paper garlands during the Valentine's season so I thought I could use some of my paper to make a spring garland.

I love it.  You'll have to forgive the photos.  I have to learn how to get better pictures.

I was so excited to hang it up and share it with you that I haven't really finished my mantle yet.  It's a little sparse.  When I finish that I'll do another post.

For those that are interested the paper is called The Linen Closet Stack by DCWV.  It was originally $19.99 at Hobby Lobby, but I used my 40% off coupon so it was about $12.  I also found it on Amazon for $16 DCWV PS-005-00081 12 by 12 Linen Premium Stack GLTR.  Then I went to Martha's site and used some templates from her various Easter projects for my egg, flower, and bunny shapes.

I won't lie.  It took me most of an afternoon and evening to get all the shapes traced, cut out, and strung together and I have a feeling the blister on my thumb will be there for a few days, but I think it was worth it.


~ Gold Shoe Girl ~

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Wall Art using

This is a fabulous project.  I was able to make 6 framed pieces for less than $25!!  Plus the subject has special meaning for our family.  Using I was able to find some old advertisements that were done by our great, great grandparents and some from our town.

The one above is from the Cherry Blossoms Bottling Works.  Don't you just love that name.  Their slogan says "A Blooming Good Drink".  I love it.

Here's the rest of the set...

The first one is a milk bottle company from town - love the old milk bottle.  The second is a gumball company - our town used to have a gum ball company that my mother (she lived here as a kid and my husband and I moved to the area about 7 years ago) remembers walking by and the workers sometimes giving kids the rejected gum balls.  The 3rd one is the cherry blossoms again.

Here are the other 3.  The first one has an ad from my family - my great grandfather was a general contractor in the 1920's.  The second picture is of an awning company and the last one is from my husband's great great grandfather who made granite, wood and slate mantles in the Syracuse, NY area at the turn of the century.

Here's the HOW TO part:
1.  Log on to  They give a free 2-week trial for those that are interested.  Go to the Search tab.  Then depending on what type of images you are looking for you can either search by a person's name or by a type of record.  In my case I had already built a tree and found these city directories for a few of the cities where my relatives had lived.  These city directories are books where each city/town listed their citizens before phone books.  They usually have a section giving data about the city during that year, pictures of prominent citizens, and a street by street listing of each home and who lived in the town along with advertising by the local companies.

The search engine actually will drive you to anything that matches the name that you are searching for so without much effort I was able to find some old ads that my great, great grandfather had put in one of these directories.  Once I had found that original ad, I looked for more and was able to find one from my husband's great, great grandfather in a different city.  Since these were so cool I knew I wanted to be able to display them somehow, but I could only find 2 that were specific to our families.  I then decided to use some for the town we live in now.  In all I was able to find 2 ads specific to our families and 4 from our current town.

2.  Once you find an image that you like all you do is click on the print button.

3.  That will bring up a box that gives you a couple of choices...

Click on the Customized print button.

4.  This will bring up ancestry's My Canvas tool.  This allows you to resize, change the background, and clean up the image.  This was really a user friendly tool.  I am not a designer or particularly computer savvy but I was able to adjust my images in just minutes.

5.  Once you are satisfied with your image you can click print.  I printed my images onto card stock so they would be a little more substantial.  Walmart sells a basic cardstock package for less than $5 that has 5 different colors; white, off-white, vanilla, paper-bag, and brown.  I ended up choosing the paper bag color because it gave a nice aged feeling and it stood out best from the white mats.

The frames were a steal.  I got them at Michaels on clearance for $3 each including the mats.  They were originally a light oak color.  I painted them black using craft paint.  I had a happy mistake that even though I had done a light sanding the paint was not sticking in some spots.  It ended up giving the frames an unintended but lovely distressed look.

I spent the most time trying to pick the images I wanted.  Once you start looking at these old books it can be very easy to lose track of the time.  I love that we have a piece of personal history on our walls.  Plus visitors love seeing the old ads from our town.

Here are some more views... has lots of other collections such as old maps, photos, censuses, wills, etc that could all make for interesting art for your family not to mention the obvious family tree print.   Use the free 2 week trial and check it out.

Gold Shoe Girl

I decided to link up to a party - we'll see what happens.


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