Julies Blog

Oil vs painting wooden outdoor furniture

by Julie Finch-Scally

After four years of constantly living in the elements our outdoor furniture was starting to look very tired.  We have made a point of coating the table and chairs with special outdoor furniture oil every Spring and Autumn, but for some reason or other we missed out last Spring.  The question was, do we repaint it with the usual oil or go for something new like decking paint?

Actually we chose decking paint.  Why? Maybe because the wood had shrunk to such an extent that we didn’t feel the oil coating would be enough, and maybe because the decking paint would be more protective.  Now we have used the decking we cannot go back to the oil anyway. 

It wasn’t the best of weekends to be painting outside: much too hot, but we started early in the morning before breakfast and were finished by nine.

I said the furniture was tired, but it was a bit more than that.  Splinters were starting to strip off the arms and the edges of the table, so all had to be rubbed down with sandpaper.  This made the surfaces smoother, and once wiped over were ready for painting.

Of course the sandpapering caused a light dust on the tiles where we were going to paint, so the whole area had to be swept and dust removed before we could put down the plastic sheet to protect the tiles.  Thankfully our large sheet of garden plastic fitted the allocated space and the table and four chairs were placed in such a position that hubby and I could paint a chair each and leave the box containing the tin of paint between us.

We were very diligent.  Not only did we paint the tops and undersides of the chair slats but the edges as well.  This was not easy as the gap was only wide enough for the paint brush to slide down between.  By maneuvering from both above and under the slats the sides of the slats were coated.  If this hadn’t have been done the paint job would not have looked finished and the wooden slats would not have had the protection they required.

There was a second coat painted early the following morning and by lunch time that day everything was dry.  The results were better than we expected.  The furniture looks fresh and rejuvenated, and the surfaces smooth and hard. 

The choice of using decking paint in our eyes was a good one.  The oil coating we had previously used had been the right choice while the furniture was new, but after four years more protection was needed and that is exactly what the decking paint has done.  


When was the last time you cleaned your toaster?

by Julie Finch-Scally

Several years ago I had a customer who made, as part of the cleaning regime of her property, the cleaner to always empty out the tray at the bottom of the toaster to remove all the crumbs, and wipe down the outside. Every time I clean out my toaster I think of this customer.

Some cleaners automatically clean out the toaster crumbs, most don’t. Not something they think necessary. Of course too many crumbs at the bottom can cause a fire, but that very rarely happens so cleaning toasters is not high on the cleaning agenda.

But the outside of a toaster, I have noticed, most cleaners will wipe over. That is possibly because the finger prints on the high gloss metal are noticeable and therefore if not given a wipe over regularly stand out when the rest of the kitchen has been cleaned.

If you have toast on a daily basis, then the tray should be emptied once a week, otherwise at least every two weeks. For those people who only have toast on a weekend, the crumb tray needs to be emptied once a month. And for those who didn’t realise there was a tray at the bottom, you will find it at the bottom long side usually to the left of the plunger arm. The tray easily slides out so not only can the crumbs be removed but also so it can be wiped over with a damp cloth. Make sure you dry the tray before replacing it back in position.

If you look down into the workings of the machine you will notice larger crumbs on the bottom. These need to be shaken out. Turn off the power and then you can safely turn the toaster up side down and give it a shake. Best to do it over the sink so the crumbs can be washed away.

As to wiping over the outside, I find it best to spray some glass cleanser on a micro-fibre cloth and rub all over the outside, including the metal at the top and the slide plunger until all the finger marks and any dirty areas are removed. Do not do this while the toaster is attached to the electricity.

Once the toaster is clean, the power should be turned on again: though many people prefer to only turn on the power as they are about to make toast. I also find it helpful to place the toaster in a plastic tray that is just a fraction larger than the machine itself. The tray helps to catch the crumbs that fall off some slices of bread as you place them in the machine. Of course a tray needs to be cleaned as often as the toaster, but you can wash the tray in hot soapy water.

Toasters are fantastic implements and makes toasting bread so much easier, but like everything else in a kitchen they do need regular cleaning.

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