Author Archives: Ramon.KGS

How to Prepare to Paint a House

Remove areas of flaking paint using a scraper or filling knife (putty knife),and then either touch in the bare area with more paint or fill it flush with the surrounding paint film by using fine filler (spackle). Sand this smooth when it has hardened then use a clean cloth moistened with white spirit (paint thinner) to remove dust from recessed moldings and other awkward comets.

If knots are showing through on painted woodwork, sand back to bare wood and apply knotting (shellac) to the knot, then prime and undercoat to bring the new paint film level with the surrounding paintwork and sand between coats. Resinous knots may produce stains which can only be prevented by drying out the knots with a blowtorch.

Stripping Paint

Every time a surface is re-painted, a little more thickness is added to the paint layer. This does not matter much on wall or ceiling surfaces, but on woodwork (and, to a lesser extent, on metalwork) this build-up of successive layers of paint can eventually lead to the clogging of derail on moldings.

More importantly, moving parts such as doors and windows start to bind and catch against their frames. If this happens, it is time to strip back to bare wood and build up a new paint system. There are two methods of removing paint from wood and metal surfaces. The first is using heat, traditionally from a blowtorch but nowadays more often from an electric heat gun. The second is to use a chemical paint remover, which contains either dimethylene chloride or caustic soda. Heat works well on wood (although it can scorch the surface), but is less successful on metal because the material conducts heat away as it is applied. Chemicals work well on all surfaces, but need handling with care; always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter.

USING A HEAT GUN

  1. Spray the air stream from the heat gun over the surface to soften the paint film. Scrape it off with a flat scraper as it bubbles up, and sit the hot scrapings in an old metal container
  2. Use a shave hook (triangular scraper) instead of a flat scraper to remove the paint from moldings. Take care not to scorch the wood if you intend to varnish it afterwards.
  3. Remove any remnant of paint using wire wool soaked in white spirit and paint working along the grain. Use a hand vacuum cleaner to remove any remaining loose particles paint.
  4. Sand the wood to remove any raised fibers, and then wipe it over with a cloth moistened with white spirit. Seal the resin in any exposed knots by brushing on liquid knotting (similar) and leave to dry.
  5. Apply a coat of wood primer or other recommended primer/undercoat to the stripped wood surface. This will provide optimum adhesion for the subsequent top coats, ensuring a really great finish.

FILLING DEFECTS IN WOOD

  1. Fill splits and dents in wood using filler (spackle) on surfaces that are already painted, and tinted wood stopper (patched) on new or stripped wood that you intend to finish with a coat of varnish.
  2. Use the corner of a filling knife (putty knife), or a finger, to work the filler into recesses and other awkward to reach places. Smooth the excess filler before it dries and hardens.
  3. When the filler or wood stopper has hardened completely, use a piece of fine grade sandpaper wrapped around a sanding block to sand down the repair until it is flush with the rest of the wood.

USING LIQUID REMOVER

  1. Wear rubber gloves and old clothing. Decant the liquid into a polythene (polyethylene) container or an old can, then brush it on to the surface to be stripped. Leave it until the paint bubbles.
  2. Use a flat scraper or shave hook (triangular scraper) as appropriate to remove die softened paint. Deposit the scrapings safely in an old container.
  3. Neutralize the stripper by washing down the surface with water or white spirit (paint thinner), as recommended by the manufacturer and leave it to dry.

USING PASTE REMOVER

  1. Paste remover is especially good for removing paint from intricate moldings because it dries very slowly. Apply the paste liberally to the surface
  2. Give the paste plenty of time to work, removing paint from intricate moldings especially on thick paint layers, then scrape because it dries very slowly. Apply the paste it off. Wash down the surface with plenty of liberally to the surface.

HOME-MADE PASTE REMOVER

Add caustic soda to water until no more will dissolve. Thicken to a paste with oatmeal and use as for proprietary paste remover. Be particularly careful when using this corrosive solution. If it splashes on the skin, rinse at once with plenty of cold water.

Installing Crown Molding

There are 3 types of decorative cornice commonly used in today’s homes. The first type is roving, a relative of sheet plasterboard (gypsum hoard), which consists of a concave hollow-hacked plaster core sheathed in a strong paper envelope. It is fixed in place with adhesive. The second is molded cornice; this is made either from traditional fibrous plaster or from modern foamed plastics to imitate the ornate decorative cornices often found in older buildings, and comes in a range of profiles. Plaster types must generally be secured in place with screws because of their weight, but plastic types can simply be stuck in position with adhesive. The third type is a machined wooden trim with a similar profile to plasterboard cornice, and is either nailed direct to the wall framing or to a nailing strip or barren (furring strip) in the angle of the wall and ceiling.

Apart from its decorative appearance in framing the ceiling, a cornice can also help to conceal unsightly cracks. These often open up around the ceiling perimeter as the ceiling expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity, or as the building settles.

FITTING A CORNICE (CROWN MOLDING)

  1. Hold a length of cornice squarely in the wall/ceiling angle and draw 2 guidelines on the wall and ceiling surfaces. Cut any mitred edges.
  2. Remove any old wall coverings from between the guidelines by dry scraping them. Cross hatch painted or bare plaster to key the surface.
  3. Either mix up powder adhesive or use already mixed type. Using a flat scraper ‘butter’ the adhesive on to both edges of the rear of the cornice.
  4. Press the length into place between the guidelines, supporting it if necessary with partly driven masonry nails. Remove the nails (if used) once the adhesive has set.
  5. Fit the adjacent corner piece next. Here, the next section also incorporates an external mitre; measure and cut this carefully before fitting the length.
  6. Complete the external comer with a further length of cornice, hurting the cut ends closely together and ensuring that the length fits between the lines.
  7. Fill any slight gaps at external and internal angles with a little cellulose filler(spackle), applied with a filling knife (putty knife) to leave a crisp, clean joint, sand the filler smooth once it has hardened.
  8. Before the adhesive hardens, use a damp sponge to remove any excess from wall and ceiling surfaces and also to smooth over the filled joints.

CUTTING A CORNICE (CROWN MOLDING)

  1. Make up a large mitre block big enough to hold the cornice, and use this and a tenon saw to make accurate 45° cuts for internal and external corners.
  2. Some cornice manufacturers supply a paper template that enables cutting lines to be marked accurately for internal and external corners.
  3. When using cut pieces to complete a wall, mark off the length required directly, square a line across the cornice with a pencil and cut it to length.

Preparing Garden Soil

The key to any successful gardening is good soil preparation. Inadequate attention to preparation at the outset is difficult to remedy once the plant has put down its roots and become established.

First of all, it is extremely important to clear the soil of perennial weeds. If only one piece of many of these remains, it will soon re-grow and, if the roots become entwined in those of the climber, could become impossible to eradicate. Once the planting area is completely cleared, however, it is not such a difficult task to remove weed seedlings and keep the bed and the plants clear from then on.

Digging is important, too, as it breaks up the soil, allowing moisture and air to enter, both being vital to the well-being of the plant. The process also allows the gardener to keep an eye out for any soil pests. Dig the soil some time before you intend to plant thebe; digging in autumn and planting in early spring, after checking for any emerging weeds, is ideal.

As you dig the soil, incorporate well-rotted organic material. Not only does it provide food for the plants but it also helps to improve the structure of the soil. The fibrous material helps to breakdown the soil to a crumbly consistency, which allows free drainage of excess water and, at the same time, acts as a reservoir to hold sufficient water for the plants without water-logging them.

The final breaking down of the soil with a rake is more for aesthetic appeal than usefulness; the planting area will look more attractive if it has a smooth finish than if it is left rough.

If possible, prepare an area of at least1-1.2 m/3-4 ft in diameter, so that the roots can spread out into good soil as they grow.

Soil conditioners

Most gardens have patches where, for whatever reason, there is less moisture than elsewhere. If you improve the soil and select plants that are able to thrive in dry conditions, however, this need not be a problem.

Chipped or composted bark has little nutritional value, but makes a good mulch when spread on the surface, by reducing water evaporation and discouraging weeds. It will break down in time. Farmyard manure is rich in nutrients but often contains weed seed; it is a good conditioner. Garden compost (soil mix) is also very good as a conditioner and has good nutrient value. Leaf mould, made from composted leaves, also has good nutritional value and is an excellent conditioner and mulch. Peat is not very suitable as it breaks down too quickly and has little nutritional value.

Tending The Soil

1. Using a chemical spray is the only way to be sure of completely eradicating perennial weeds. Use a non-persistent herbicide, which breaks down when it comes into contact with the soil. It is vital always to follow the instructions on the pack exactly, not only for the obvious safety reasons but also to ensure you use the correct dose to kill all the weeds in the area first time.

2. If the turf to be removed does not include perennial weeds, or the soil is friable enough for the weed’s roots to be removed by hand, it is safer to remove the turf by slicing it off with a spade. Stack the turf in a heap, grass-side down, and use them as compost (soil mix)when they have broken down.

3. Dig over the soil ‘and, as you dig, remove any weed roots and large stones. Double dig, if the subsoil needs to be broken up. Add as much well-rotted organic material as you can to the soil before it is planted, in order to improve its condition.

4. Add the compost (Soil mix) or manure to the soil as you dig, or spread it over the top after all weed roots have been removed, and fork it in.

5. If you dig in the autumn, leave the soil for the winter weather to break down; at any other time, break the soil down by hand into a reasonably fine tilth. Use a rake or hoe to break down the larger lumps of soil, until the bed has an even appearance

Wax and Foreign Objects

The skin lining the outer part of the ear canal contains special glands that normally produce wax. This gradually accumulates on the walls. It’s there to trap foreign bodies from travelling to the drum at the far end and possibly causing damage. It is one of nature’s in-built safety devices.

But in some people, including children, the glands may overproduce and form an excessive amount of wax. This may gradually fill the deeper part of the canal, and finally seal the canal. It usually occurs gradually, often over a period of many weeks, months or even years. But often the last little bit will occur during a shower, when some water or soapsuds causes the final bit to seal. Then there is deafness. All of a sudden the patient notices a lack of hearing in the affected ear.

The doctor will check with the auriscope, and decide if this is the cause of the trouble. The child may have been brought along by an anxious parent fearing permanent deafness. Generally the doctor will remove the wax by syringing the canal with a warm, salty water solution. If it appears to be firmly impacted, this may be preceded by instilling special drops for three to four days beforehand. The parent can usually do this. It breaks up the wax and makes the syringing so much quicker and less uncomfortable for the child. We’ve already talked about the foolishness of children poking foreign objects into their ears. They can readily set up infections that may be serious.

If the parent can obviously see it partly protruding, he or she may be able to retrieve it with the use of a glide-on paperclip, or maybe a pair of blunt forceps from the family first aid kit. Care must be taken not to force it more deeply inside. But anything more than these simple first aid efforts are best left to the doctor, who has a device called an ear curette. This small object is like a long, thin silver probe, with a tiny metal ring at the far end. With this the doctor can often gently ease the foreign object out under direct vision. On some occasions the syringe may also be used. Generally speaking, a good result occurs.

Children who are prone to wax blocking the ear should have the canals checked by the doctor every six to twelve months. Often, especially in dusty sport, sweat, dirt, dust and debris can easily collect in the canals and add to the wax to create a major blockage. After syringing, the canal may be sore for a few days from the efforts of treatment, but this usually settles down.

Sesame Seed Bread

MAKES 1 LOAF

107g11/2 tsp active dry yeast

300ml/1/2 pint/11/4 cups lukewarm water

200g/7 oz1 13/4cups plain (all-purpose) flour

200g/7oz/1-3/4 cups whole-wheat flour

10m1/2 tsp salt

70g/21/2 oz/5 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Milk, for glazing

30ml/2 tbsp sesame seeds, for sprinkling

1 Combine the yeast and 75 m1/5 tbsp of the water and then leave to dissolve. Mix the flours and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast and water.

4 Grease a 23cm/9 in cake tin (pan). Punch down the dough and knead in the sesame seeds. Divide the dough into 16 halls and place in the tin. Cover with cling film (plastic wrap)and leave in a warm place until risen above the rim of the tin.

5 Preheat a 220°C/425°F/Gas 7 oven. Brush the loaf with milk and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake for 15minutes. Lower the heat to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5 and bake until the bottom sounds hollow when rapped, about 30minutes more.

Cool on a wire rack.

Steroid Abuse


Competitive athletes and body builders, of both sexes may be tempted to boost their phys.11prowess by using anabolic steroids. These compounds are chemically distinct from the corticosteroids (for example, prednisone) prescribed by physicians to treat allergic reactions, asthma, and many other conditions, While some forms of anabolic steroids are available treat specific medical problems, prescribing them athletic or bodybuilding purposes is illegal. Anabolic steroids are readily available too, through underground sources. Abusers of these may “stack” them (take more than one type at once and utilize “pyramiding” (increasing the dose, sometimes  to massive levels, over time). Their effects include rapid muscle growth, increased strength, and endurance in longer and more vigorous workouts. In the long run, there are numerous drawbacks for both men and women.

Male users may develop acne, reduction in size roll and function of the testicles, impotence, purplish skin, and male-pattern baldness. Women may develop a permanently low-pitched voice, thinning hair around the temples, enlargement of the clitoris, striae, and increased facial hair. Adolescent users may retard their growth or end it prematurely, resulting in  a shorter stature than they would have otherwise attained. All users risk liver disease, elevated blood pressure, and heart disease. In addition, aggressive behavior, imparted judgment, abuse of alcohol and other drugs, and in some cases significant psychiatric disturbances including losing touch with reality may be associated with the use of anabolic steroids.

School programs are now more actively address the issues surrounding steroid abuse. Adolescent stems abuse should be taken as seriously as any other illicit drug problem. A medical evaluation and ongoing counseling should be carried out to address dependency withdrawal symptoms, and the underlying causes of drug-seeking behavior.

How to Make a Table Cloth

Both square and round tablecloths are quick to make. For practical uses choose a washable fabric, either plain or patterned, in a shade which matches or co-ordinates with the general color scheme of the room as well as any favorite tableware.

Cotton and synthetic blends are easy to sew, require practically no ironing and so make a good choice for everyday table cloths in the kitchen or dining room.

Plain, heavy cotton and linen look better for more formal occasions, but they require more hard work to keep them looking good over the years. Always treat stains on table linen immediately and launder as soon afterward as possible. Choose a pretty printed fabric to make a covering for a rectangular kitchen table.

HOW TO MAKE SQUARE TABLE CLOTH

1. Measure the sides of the table top, adding twice the required drop from the edge of the table and 25 mm/1 in all around for hem allowances. Cut out the fabric. Turn and press a 12 mm or 1/2 inch hem around the sides.

2. Unfold both hems and carefully cut across each corner diagonally, as shown, within 6 mm or 1/4 inch of the corner point at the inner fold.

3. Pin the diagonal edges together, with the right sides facing, and stitch a narrow seam 6 mm or 1/4 inch from the raw edge. Stitch from the inner corner point and make the seam 12 mm or1/2 inch long. Press and turn the corners out to the right side

4. Refold the double hem. The diagonal seams at each corner make a neat miter. Stitch around the edge of the table cloth, close to the inner fold. Press the hem.

Cover a round occasional table with a floor-length plain under cloth, and then top it with a small square cloth made of co-ordinating fabric.

HOW TO MAKE ROUND TABLE CLOTH

I. Measure the diameter of the table top and add twice the depth of the drop plus 25 mm or 1 inch for hem allowances. Make a pattern from dressmaker’s pattern paper using a pencil tied to a piece of string measuring half your final measurement. Hold one end of the string and draw a quarter circle on the paper. Cut out.

2. Fold the fabric into four and pin on the quarter circle pattern, aligning the folded edges of the fabric with the straight edges of the paper. Cut out using sharp scissors.

3. Stitch around the outside of the fabric 12 mm or 1/2 inch from the raw edge. This line of stitching marks the hem. Press the edge over on the wrong side of the fabric along the line, without stretching the fabric.

4. Carefully turn under the raw edge to make a double hem, and then pin and tack (baste) the hem in place. Stitch around the edge of the table cloth close to the inner fold of the hem. Press the hem well.

JOINING FABRIC

When joining fabric to make either a square or round table cloth, avoid making a seam down the centre as this can look rather unsightly. Instead, cut out two pieces of fabric to the correct width and use one as the central panel. Cut the second piece in half lengthways and join to either side of the panel, matching the pattern if necessary. Use an ordinary flat seam and neaten the raw edges.

Plant Decoration

Herbaceous borders bring wonderful colour in summer but die down to next to nothing in the winter, so it is good to provide an evergreen structure of plants to get you through all the seasons. These can also contribute to the ‘architecture’ of the garden, creating levels, screens, and even sculpture. You can plan to have taller shrubs at the back of the borders, slowly graduating toward the front, or you can make more structured steps. You can arrange rows of small, lightly screening plants across the garden to create a living screen, and you can use specimen trees or neatly trimmed topiary as living sculpture.

The colour scheme can he planned against this basic structure. The decorative garden room is at its prettiest with plenty of colour. The structural shrubs and trees also can be chosen to make certain there is some colour all the year round — fruit trees for blossom in spring; shrub roses for summer colour and late-flowering clematis and wonderful berries, such as those of the pyracantha, in autumn, and of holly in winter. This display can he complemented by autumn-flowering bulbs such as colchicum, schizostylis, and cyclamen.

But the most variety of colours can be added with pots and containers. There is always a choice of seasonal colour at garden centres. By planting up in movable pots, you can easily put the colour where you want it and replant with new seasonal colour as the old blooms die.

Colour creates much more impact if it is kept to a theme — of blues and pinks, perhaps, or oranges and yellows. This theme can be strengthened with the use of paint and stain on nearby fences, garden buildings, furniture, or even the pots themselves.

Adding decorative colour

In a decorative garden, colour is very important. Not only can the paint you choose suggest mood and ambience, just as it does indoors, it can emphasize the colour scheme of the planting.

The surfaces you paint may be the house walls, walls of outside buildings, or the garden walls. Maybe you have a hopscotch of fencing and trellis work, all of slightly different woods and ages, that has resulted in a visual muddle. Paint them all in the same decorative finish, and you will have a much more coherent look. Or you may have newly erected trellis work that has a year or more to wait for a verdant covering of creepers. Paint it, and you will have a reasonable finish while you wait.

Colour can also be used to highlight areas. You may pinpoint an area destined for a particular colour scheme or you may wish to highlight the planting. Burnt-orange fencing would provide a stunning background for marigolds, while yellow picket would highlight the nodding heads of pansies. Painted fences and surfaces also lend colour throughout the year. They are particularly valuable in winter when many plants have died down.

Ideas with paint

Whether you want to paint your garden wall or a house wall that makes up part of the garden, there is plenty of inspiration to be had. Experiment not only with colour but with technique.

As well as straight colour, you can create depth by layering the colour. Try to add effects such as marble, stone, slate, or moss or by stenciling to a wall. The trick is to consider the scale of the garden.

These effects will have to be seen from much further away than they would be if used inside the house. Even a 10 m/30 ft garden is much larger than the average room, so everything has to be exaggerated a little.

An enchanting little pond, complete with fountain and cherub, adds colour and interest to a shady corner of the garden.

Although you may spend less time in the front garden, colourful plants growing by the door will create a welcoming impression.

Paint Practicalities

Any outdoor paint job has to be able to withstand a lot of beating from the weather, such as frosts, strong winds, torrential rain and the summer sun.

For this reason, it is best to use exterior-quality products. They are less likely to peel and flake, their colours are less likely to fade and they are specifically designed to protect the surface they are covering.

Alternatively, when decorating items such as pots and containers, which are not crucial to the garden structure, you can achieve a reasonably hard-wearing finish using a wider variety of paints over a primer, finished with a varnish.

Whatever you plan to paint or stain, it is important to use primers and varnishes that are compatible with each other, otherwise they may react adversely. Remember too that, if you have the patience and time, several thin layers of paint always produce a more enduring and better-looking finish than one thick one

Window Treatment Ideas

When planning a window treatment, think of the scheme as an integral part of the whole room. Consider the proportions of the window with respect to the rest of the room, the contents and the dominant colours. Successful window dressing should be part of the ensemble rather than influenced by the whim of fashion.

If you are starting from scratch, with bare walls and no furniture, then you almost have free range. For some, total freedom can be daunting, so if you have an existing carpet or soft furnishing fabric, take this as a starting point when making your fabric colour choice. The best way to choose colour is to do it on site, with the windows and the rest of your belongings around you. Look through glossy magazines, hooks about art, travel, style, food, gardens — anything where you see combinations of colours that appeal to you. This should he fun and not a chore, so feel free to draw inspiration from whatever appeals to you. It’s easy to become bewildered by choice when looking through fabrics in a store, so allow yourself time to consider the other options available.

Bear in mind, however, that your personal preference is the most important of all, so go with your instincts. There are so many reasons why we like or dislike a colour, so even if purple is the most fashionable colour of the moment but you find it depressing, avoid it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and one person’s boring beige is another’s delicious oatmeal. If you like the natural look, consider earthy reds, Oranges and browns that have been dyed with natural pigments. They are warm and restful and look good with ethnic trimmings and accessories.

Practically speaking, you should consider two main elements when deciding on which treatment to use —the weight of the fabric and the state of the wall. A heavy fabric needs the security of strong brackets supporting the pole. You will need brackets at both ends and possibly in the middle as well. It should stay level, not bow in the middle. Check the walls before you invest in the coveted iron pole. Old plaster does not always conceal sound masonry, and it will need to be rock solid. Check both sides of the windows.

If the fabric is light, it may need no more than a wooden dowel and two cup hooks. Sew a channel along the top of the curtain (drape), and feed the fabric on to the dowel to cover it. Then paint the small exposed ends. With this method, the hooks screw into the wooden window frame, so no drilling is needed. Curtain clips are another option for lightweight fabrics. You can adjust their spacing at will to change the way they drape and, with ring attachments, draw the curtains.

The very simplest no-sew way to drape a window is to use a pair of sheets over a pole. Simply throw them over and pull the back and front to the same length. The two sheets should meet in the middle of the pole and be

A selection of materials suitable for hanging, attaching and decorating curtains. Most materials are easily bought and are not difficult to use. It is worth going to a good fabric or furnishing store to ensure the widest selection of materials, such as rings, hooks, brackets, cord and wire pulled back to each side of the window. The idea can be adjusted to fit most windows. Any extra fabric could be arranged on the floor below for a touch of opulence. Fabrics like suit lining, mattress ticking and calico are ideal for draping this way. Allow about three times the drop of your window, and start in the middle at the top. Arrange folds and swags, pleating as you staple. Be creative, and don’t feel as if you have to copy any ‘correct’ way of draping the fabric. There are no set rules, just ideas and inspiration.

Watery Eyes

Watery Eye

Small babies often appear to have a perpetually watery eye. Sometimes they have an obstruction to the tear duct. This is a narrow canal leading from the inner corner of the eye (via a little hole at the surface that is often clearly visible) to the nasal passageway. Fluid is manufactured by the tear gland (the lachrymal gland) located above the eye and toward its outer margin. The idea is to supply plenty of fluid to keep the surface of the eye moist, and remove any debris or foreign material that may collect on the surface and cause damage.

Watery Eye Causes

Occasionally a filament of bone or membrane may block the canal. Baby commonly is born this way. It means tears cannot escape by the normal route, so they simply build up and flow over the lower margin of the eyelid, giving the appearance of an eternally moist eye, or that baby is crying, which is not really happening in most cases.

Watery Eye Treatment

Generally therapy is advisable. The blockage tends to cause an infection, and pus may well up into the inner corner of the eye, or infect the entire surface of the eye. Eye drops from the doctor may check this and occasionally the entire thing rights itself. But more likely it will be necessary for baby to have a small general anaesthetic, and for the eye specialist to “probe” the canal. The canal is then washed out, and the entire obstruction relieved and usually a permanent cure is quickly effected. Occasionally a second probing may be needed, but this is usually not required. Eye drops are used for a few days following the small operation. Presto! The eye is better, and no longer does baby have perpetual tears!

This condition is also known as “dacrocystitis.” Probing is usually not carried out until between the age of six to twelve months. But of course each patient is assessed individually