Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fireplace Makeover Phase I and Free Paint for Phase II

Earlier this month I went to change out the arrangement in my fireplace and decided I couldn't stand it one.second.longer. 

It was filthy when I moved in and the cleaner we used totally remove most of the paint on the metal side panels. The doors and rust and the bottom grate had striped paint and rust from where Boy Cat pee'd on it. The faux brick back and floor were cracked and stained. The handles were ugly. While pulling out the fall/winter arrangement a bunch more soot fell down out of the chimney. Just all around yuck. 

I ran right out and got some high heat primer and tapped off the doors and the wall with newspapers and a plastic tarp. I vacuumed out the soot and I sanded down the rusty spots and removed the grates to paint outside.

After getting everything nice and primed, I realized I wasn't going to be able to find the high heat paint in anything but black in local stores, so I ordered the Stove Bright Charcoal from a vendor on Amazon.


Not the cheapest way to get paint, but I had some credits from my Amazon credit card and I really didn't want the flat black. It's a subtle difference and the color is darker then the cap, which I expected from reading some of the reviews. The lighting is making the finished job look a little spotty, but in real life the coverage is nice and even.

I had one small scare when I removed the newspaper from the glass and realized I hadn't taped off the inside of the small side panels. Ooops. But it removed easily with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and a little elbow grease.

I still need to paint the hearth, which is Phase II of this project. I've been eyeing up herringbone and chevron patterned marble mosaics on Pinterest

From Here
From Here
but I did not want to deal with all of the cutting that would be involved in this small project, so I decided to try and faux paint it like this example

From Here
and this is where the free paint comes in. I was able to cash in on Valspar's March free paint sample offer and got an adorable little kit with a sample of Man Cave (a nice, dark charcoal color), a mini paint tray and roller with two covers, a $5 off coupon, a flyer with some of their new color collections and some sample chips of colors they suggest will coordinate with Man Cave - the two tans they suggest are actually very close to my wall color, so I think I'm on the right track.

I'll use my trim color or other miscellaneous white I have around as the base and do the marbling with the Man Cave and another lighter gray and I think hand paint in the grout lines maybe using a mix of the two grays for a medium tone or maybe going lighter. Stay tuned.

I'm linking this to Thrifty Decor Chick's Spring Spray Paint Party. Stop over and see all the great paint projects!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

One Girl, Twelve Cats

In addition to my furry twosome, I find myself part-time caretaker (I split feeding duties with someone else) to a dozen or so feral cats who have taken up residence at my work, which is in a public park. Last year I had our resident five and two traveling males neutered using the principles of TNR (trap, neuter, release) advocated by such feral cat groups as Alley Cat Allies and Alley Cat Rescue. This was done to stem a developing problem before it got out of hand, and low and behold, this year five new refugees arrived out of nowhere – truth be told, I’m happy I can help them. They were emaciated and clearly not just dumped here so I don’t know were they came from or why the moved on from whatever colony they’d been living in. They are somewhat approachable, we can even pet one.

So, with the help of Forgotten Cats, I was once again in the trapping business, and as I mentioned, it is not my first, or even my second time to the rodeo – you can read how I got involved in this in my post onbuilding shelters. The clinic is great to work with: they bring you the traps and show you how to use them if you don’t know, when you have a cat for them they pick it up, and they return the cats when they’re recovered from surgery. For $35 they do all the transport, the surgery and recovery, rabies and FVRCP vaccines, flea treatment and worming using a mostly volunteer staff and the services of three or four vets who also volunteer their time. They’re awesome. This round actually went so fast I couldn't even get pictures (I'm using ones from a few years ago). The cats were in the traps as fast as I put them out, but that is a rarity. It's also helpful if you establish a feeding routine and have some sense of the numbers and appearances of the cats you're after so you know when you have them all - if you don't get them all, you won't break the cycle and you'll just keep having more cats to feed and kittens to home, but you will make a difference in the lives of the cats you do catch, so do the best you can with it.

The first time I did the trapping, at my old apartment complex, it terrified me. It is really easy and very rewarding. There are a few tips, both for your own safety and for the safety of the cats I like to keep in mind:

If  you’re trapping in a public place:

  • Try to keep the traps out of view of the public or stick around to monitor them; you don’t want to leave a defenseless animal trapped and vulnerable to any weirdo who comes along.
  • Pin a note to the traps explaining what you’re doing and provide your cell phone # so if someone is concerned, has questions, or is afraid you’re out to harm or eliminate the cats they can contact you and don’t just release the cats thinking they’re “saving” them. My note says “The XXX Park Cats are on their way to the Clinic for neutering and shots. They will be returned unharmed and healthier.” and then my name and cell #. I enclose it in a zip lock bag and pin it to the trap cover.

For the safety of the cats:

  • If you’re trapping in the cold or damp weather (November in Pennsylvania anyone?) try to keep the traps sheltered from the wind and insulated if possible, and check back often. We have bales of hay in front of our visitor’s center and that is where we were feeding so it was easy to situate a few of them between the bales. I’ve also used loose flakes of hay underneath a trap in other areas. If it is hot and sunny, try to keep them in the shade.
  • Only use paper plates for the food, hard bowls, cat food tins, etc. could hurt the cat if he thrashes around trying to escape. Keep the trap covered as this will keep them calmer.
  • Make sure you have a warm, dry, safe place to keep the cats until you can get them to the clinic or the clinic can come get them. On occasion if I got one later at night, the transport person couldn’t pick up until morning so I laid a heavy duty trash bag and a towel inside by my desk and kept them in overnight. Yes, I know they live outside and it is sometimes cold, but I think it is different being trapped in a trap vs. being able to run around at will. Also, again, you never know who might be nosing around in the middle of the night or what they might do. Keeping them in overnight sometimes meant getting up early to go put them back out before going to my other job (depending on what day of the week it was) so they could be picked up first thing in the morning. My first foray into this where I used a different clinic and had to do the transport (and recovery period) myself, they stayed, in their traps, in my bathroom, sometimes one trap in the tub and one in the small floor area. Feral cats don’t smell good – put their safety and relative comfort first anyway. If you keep them in a garage layer the cement floor up with old towels or blankets for warmth and use something heavier than a sheet to cover the trap. 
  • Layer thick newspaper on the bottom of the trap so there is something to absorb any pee and to protect their feet from the wire of the trap bottom. Use a sheet over the trip plate to help disguise it and put the food as far back in the trap as it will go.
  • If the trap has a “back door” make sure it is latched right so the cat can’t escape. Whoever loans you the traps should be able to show you how to set them and how to secure this back panel and open it in case you get wildlife.

For your own safety:

  • My biggest fear in doing this is trapping wild animals by mistake. I’ve gotten raccoons and possums, never a skunk. The traps we get from Forgotten Cats have back panels that are easy to whip off while you run the other direction. If you can borrow this type they are much better, otherwise you’re stuck having to hold open the snap-down front door of the trap while the animals makes his way out. Possums aren’t that bright and it sometimes takes them awhile to figure out they can go, and raccoons are not always afraid of you. I have a big, long-handled garden fork I use to pry open the door, standing behind the trap while doing so – sometimes a gentle kick to the back of the trap with your foot will get the animal moving out of the trap and away from you. Wear leather work gloves and heavy shoes. I got around the raccoon problem the first time out by setting my traps early in the morning rather than after sundown (this was when trapping where I lived – it was easy to get up at 4 am, put the traps out and then go check them at dawn). Cats are active in the wee hours too – I knew it was time to get up and set the traps when my guys started prowling around looking for breakfast.
  • I never caught a skunk, but was advised to keep a plastic shower curtain on hand to use as protection while releasing the skunk.
  • If you’re checking traps at night in a public place try to take someone with you. If you can’t do this use common sense and stay alert. When trapping at my work, we have a very long driveway so it is easy to see someone coming from a distance or of course to know if anyone is already there in the parking lot (it’s pretty unlikely anyone would walk in, although maybe ax murderers don’t have cars and would). On the one occasion there were people in the lot (we can sometimes be a bit of a “lover’s lane”) I just kept a friend on the phone with me - “if I scream, call the police” – but it was fine. Also remember to bring a flash light.

If you have to do the aftercare, keep the cats inside or if it's not too cold in a garage or a sheltered porch. Keep the trap covered and warm towels under the trap if they're on a cold surface. Provide food and water in paper plates and bowels and do the best you can to slide the wet newspaper out of the trap and a new layer of them in - the cats should move to the back of the trap as you carefully open just enough to get your hand in. I only ever kept the males in over night, and the females I tried to keep for at least 2 days, three if they weren't trying to tear their way out. Forgotten Cats does the aftercare for us, and they kept them about 4 days after the surgeries.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...