DIY Sarah

Craft, Decor, Art, Garden, and Dessert

The Roku

This week is all about the Den A/V system here on To start out, I want to show you a product I love that just works and does 90% of the heavy lifting in our A/V system.

We have 2 of these and they are AWESOME!  We started with an Apple TV but after switching from Netflix to Amazon Prime for our streaming source, we needed a data streaming device that would work with Amazon Prime.

The roku is $100 and basically turns your TV into a smart-tv. You connect either to ethernet or to your wifi network and the roku handles all the content streaming. We upgraded from the Roku 2 to the Roku 3 because the 2 didn’t have youtube and we watch a couple youtube channels regularly, namely Crash Course which airs 10-15 min history and science videos weekly. They are VERY well done, funny, cute, and interesting. We also like CGP Gray whose videos are well-researched factoid type videos that focus on european geography and geopolitics. Zefrank1 makes funny animal videos and just has a great brand of humor. My absolute favorite video by him and maybe of all time is this one.

I mentioned the Roku does Amazon Prime streaming but don’t worry, it also does Netflix and a host of other streaming applications including Crackle and Pandora. It’s great to be able to turn on the TV and stream pandora without waiting for a computer to load or setting up any speakers loud enough to hear. The TV has all of that and the Roku makes it possible.

My most favorite feature of the roku is the remote. It isn’t some outdated IR remote, it is bluetooth so it works no matter what direction you are pointing it. It even works under the covers if it is too cold to un-snuggle to change the channel. This is an actual problem I deal with so bluetooth – yes. Let me just take a moment to rant about IR remotes. Um, hello…it’s 2014…IR remotes have been around longer than I have. IR remotes have been around longer than TI-84 graphing calculators and lets talk about outdated hardware! If you need to send data from object A to object B there are about a million ways to do it that don’t require you to line up a narrow beam of light with a narrow sensor angle. Why, WHY!! do 99% of the DVD players I can buy on amazon right now use an IR remote. Ok, rant over but really, why?

So the point of all this is that a Roku is quite a bit cheaper than upgrading to a smart-tv, it streams amazon prime which the appleTV does not, and it has a bluetooth remote (the apple TV does as well). For $100 you can have it in 2 days and be streaming in no time. Awesome!


How to Polish Brass


Step one,

soak and scrub in a hot, soapy water solution.


Step Two

Then soak in a vinegar, salt, and water solution. The piece will come out kind of red-ish. I had to soak in 2 stages in order to get the whole lamp done.


Step Three

After the lamp came out all red looking, I took a cotton rag (old t-shirt or sock) and used this metal polish to restore the shine.


Here you can see one side is polished and the other isn’t. It shines up so nicely from the red color.


And ta-da, the once brown lamp is brass once again.

A few tips:

  • I used about a quart of vinegar for 2 gallons of water
  • Really hot (boiling) water worked much better/faster.  I think the hot water is key.
  • Check your polish to ensure it leaves a silicone residue to protect the finish.  Otherwise you will have to use a wax or silicone tarnish prevention sealer

Other Methods:

I tried several methods to remove the tarnish and the soaking in a salty vinegar solution really worked the best.
1) The ketchup method:


Things got sticky and ketchup is basically just vinegar and salt anyways.

2) Baking soda and lemon juice
It fizzes a lot so be careful. The baking soda gives a good amount of grit to scrub with without harming the brass but scrubbing is way more difficult than soaking. I used the post-fizz paste on a toothbrush to get into the groves which was useful on some other brass pieces with deep groves.

  1. 6/20/2013 | 5:24 pm Permalink

    Don’t mind the backdrop of our half finished kitchen, and ugly backdoor.

    • 6/21/2013 | 10:01 am Permalink

      yeah..also the ugly pictures because there isn’t enough light in the kitchen at night… We’ll get there 🙂

First Aid Kit

This post is slightly off topic from my usual house-decor-paint theme but it’s important none-the-less.  I looked far and wide for a first aid kit list that made sense but I couldn’t find anything like what I was looking for.  So, i decided to make my own list and kit.  I started by making a list of all the possible ailments that could befall us and what all we would need to take core of them. If you are ever involved in an accident and get injured, then make sure to hire these professional personal injury attorney services before you get any other help.

  • Bandaids
  • Butterfly bandages
  • Neosporin
  • Medical tape
  • Gauze
  • Wet wipes
  • Saline Cleaning solution
  • Bottled Water


  • Ace style bandage
  • Cold pack
  • Ibuprofen (advil/motrin)
  • Naproxen (Aleve)
  • Triangle bandages (splint type)


  • Benadryl cream
  • Benadryl pills (chewable for kids)

Bug bites

  • Calamine Lotion
  • Benadryl cream
  • Clear nail polish (stops the itch)
  • Small jar for capturing bug if possible
  • Matches (not a lighter…DAD!)

Food poisoning type issues

  • Pepto-bismol
  • Gatorade
  • Poison Control Numbers


  • Paper cup (for stabilizing the impaled object… I learned that in machine shop safety training in college.)
  • Gauze wrap
  • Rubber gloves
  • Acetaminophen
  • Excedrin
  • pseudophed

Heart problems

  • Aspirin (for the non-allergic)
  • CPR mask – although now I think you’re only supposed to do chest compressions and no breathing.. right?
  • AED –know where the nearest one is which in our case is probably the fire station.  It would be cool to have one but they require maintenance and cost more than $1000.  Most/all schools should have one and most/all office building type places are required to have one.  Look around and find out if there is one within running distance. If you have kids, make sure they know where it is since they may be the one running for it.
  • Scissors for removing clothing from chest

Hospital/Ambulance trip

  • Detailed list of medical stuff – prescriptions, allergies, etc for each person in the house
  • Waiting-room Entertainment – books, stuff for kids,
  • Contact info list

Something in Eye

  • Eye wash cup
  • Saline or eye-wash solution
Burn (sun or otherwise)
  • Burn Gel or Spray


  • Tweezer
  • Pocket knife

Poison Ivy

  • Baking Soda
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Trash bag (for removing clothing)
  • Oversized sleep-shirt (for covering up after removing all clothes..)
  • Toothbrush (for scrubbing oil out from under fingernails)

General Non-family member injury

  • Notebook
  • Pen
  • List of questions to ask in case of emergency

Now, this list doesn’t fully cover all the over the counter medicines I like to have on hand but it does cover the emergency stuff.

Once I had gathered all the stuff, I put it in this box
with the bottles and often used stuff (bandaids) in this box on the second shelf.

I cut my hand fairly badly at about midnight when we first started working on the house. None of the local pharmacies were open and it was a good thing than the First Aid kit in Stefan’s car had a butterfly bandage. Having a first aid kit is a good idea especially if you’re going to be a DIYer!

I hope this list gives you a starting point for creating your own custom First Aid kit.


P.S. If you have never been trained on AED use, I recommend taking a minute to look at a training video.  This one is appropriately boring but you’ll get the general idea.  The big thing to know is that you stick the pads on and then don’t touch the body until the machine tells you it is safe to do so.  Also, make sure the body is clear of water or other liquids.  You can imagine that a big electric shock in a puddle is no good.

Prepping the Shower for Tile – Part 2: Red Guard

Red Guard is a product from Home Depot that is a paint-on waterproofer.  It’s a little pricey but is pretty easy to use.


The first step is to paint all the seams to get a nice foundation.


To apply, use a cheap-o (but not so bad it will fall apart) brush and go to town.


It’s a goopy product and it comes out of the bucket hot pink but dries to a nice red color.

One recommendation we read online was to use fiberglass to reinforce the crack-prone areas. We cut a strip the appropriate length and worked it into the wet redguard along the back edge of the shower where we have some concerns about leaking since the shower pan and the wall don’t fit tightly.

We push it in with a scraper and redguard over it. Once it’s dry there will be a nice reinforced corner where there was once a trouble area.

Once the seams were dry, we’ll rolled on 2 coats of the redguard. Once the final coat had turned red, it is time to tile.


(what’s a blog post without a Vector photo-bomb. That ledge is one of his new favorite spots. I don’t pose him..he just loves the camera!)


  1. 8/3/2013 | 9:26 am Permalink

    can’t help but notice that kerdi shower pan doesn’t look right. did you watch the install video from schluter? they don’t use redguard they use kerdi to cover the pan. and the seams at the bottom edge of the pan. a 2″ overlap is required and to test you should do a water test on the shower pan.

    • 8/6/2013 | 3:07 pm Permalink

      Yep, we aren’t using the Kerdi system but just the kerdi pan. The pan gives us the correct slopes and a nice stable underlayment. Then we just painted the red-guard on top to seal everything up. It is extremely stable and water-tight but it is a bit of a home-brew method rather than using the complete Kerdi system. The red-guard with the Kerdi pan underneath has worked great for us.

    • 8/11/2013 | 11:41 am Permalink

      Yes, mixing waterproofing systems is not advisable – can lose warranties, etc. We chose the Schluter Off-Center preformed pan because it fit perfectly in our space. We originally looked at Lacticrete’s pre-formed pans, but they cost 3x as much as Schluter’s. We originally planned to use Lacticrete’s Hydro-Ban waterproofing product, but ran out of time to order it, and read how Red Guard is comparable (maybe slightly inferior), but is available at Home Depot.

  2. 2/9/2018 | 10:27 am Permalink

    Interested to see that you applied red guard directly to the Kerdi pan. Just called Custom Builder tech support and got an off the record opinion that your process works, with obvious warranty disclaimers. Have not called Kerdi but suppose that they would be less keen due to their vested interest in promoting their product. Thank you

  3. 2/22/2019 | 5:22 pm Permalink

    I see it has been a few years since you did this waterproofing and would be interested to know how it turned out!

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