Three Oops Moments

We’ve had a few moments lately where I’ve thought to myself, “self, this is not ideal.” And you know we like sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly around here, so here are three things that fall into the latter two categories.

First we have this page I saw in Domino magazine with a mixture of black and white frames, which inspired me to add some black frames to the grouping over our TV in the living room (initially I was leaning towards a few black mats and some darker art).

So I thought I’d be clever and use black electrical tape on the front of a few of our frames to “get the look” without breaking out any paint (or committing to anything permanent, in case I hated the result).


About a half-hour later I had some really fun black-fronted frames (I like the contrast of the white on the side) and even cut the tape into eight 3-inch strips to make the corner detail on that frame in the top right.


They definitely helped to tie into the dark TV and in general I was pretty proud of myself for a while there.


And then a few days later I noticed it. The tape was puckering up and peeling and generally just looked terrible. Maybe washi tape is cool for projects like these, but electrcial tape…? No dice. It seems that it shrinks up over time and literally pulls itself right off the corners and eventually falls on the floor in a jumbled mess. It only took a few days for some of the frames to completely detach. But that wasn’t the worst part. Some of the glossier frames were unscathed, but the chalkier white matte frames ended up with black smudges on them from the tape. Boo! I tried some Goo Gone on a few of them and it didn’t seem to work, so I’m thinking I’ll break out the Magic Eraser and see if that does. If not, I’ll be re-painting these bad boys to get them back from their smudged and dirty looking state.

So let that be a lesson to you. Washi tape or black paint or even contact paper might have worked, but electrical tape = no bueno. Onto the next oops moment! Remember when we posted about how we have transplanted this maple tree in our last three homes? It’s an offshoot from a gorgeous maple at John’s childhood home and was a gift from his parents to us in our first house that we’ve moved with us each time. When we wrote that post, all was well in Mapleville, and it was looking like this…

But maybe it just took the deer a few weeks to decide that they wanted to have it for brunch? We never quite caught them in the act, but over the following weeks we noticed it was looking less full and a little nibbled, especially down below. Noooo! We didn’t want to lose this tree baby of ours, so we ran out to Home Depot and grabbed some black netting to throw over it. We’ve seen neighbors deter deer in the same way (we chatted a few of them up about what didn’t work for them as well, which was everything from human hair and Irish Spring soap to deer sprays and – cringe – animal urine). So since the black netting was neighborhood approved, we went straight for that.

And I’m happy to report that this oops has a happy ending, because the deer don’t seem interested in the maple anymore, and you can only see the netting if you’re literally about an inch away from the tree (it’s on in the shot below, but it’s nearly impossible to see). So… so far, so good.

The cool thing is that there are a ton of healthy bigger maples in our neighborhood that the deer don’t bother at all (they only nibble low branches that they can reach) so we’re holding out hope that in a few years our tree will be all “haha, you can’t reach me!” to those deer, and we can free it from its netted prison.

For our third act, we have the biggest “bad” in this group. Especially since I’m a paranoid prego person. LEAD! I don’t know if it was mommy intuition or what, but something in my head kept saying “check the doors in the dining room for lead, since those metal frames around each pane look suspect”). It was probably because there was a black powdery dust in the cabinets when I wiped them down back when we moved in (which in my head said “wait, if that’s coming off the metal frames, I should test those because it’s clearly not staying contained). We don’t hang out in there much at all (maybe once a month) and Clara doesn’t play there and we don’t store anything in those cabinets yet, but I still wouldn’t put something dangerous in two corners of a room and say “heck, we don’t hang out in there much so it’s fine.” So I guess that realization is what drove me to break out a lead test kit.

I love these things. They’re cheap from Home Depot and you just snap them and shake them and then rub the tip on any surface that you want to test for lead. I, being the super-freaked-out-by-potentially-dangerous-things person that I am, never touched the metal grates around the glass during testing (I didn’t want to actually get any potential lead dust on my hands or anything) so I just let the stick touch them for me as I rubbed them gently for a quick test. Within about ten seconds…

…they came up positive. Ahhh! If the test stick stays white or turns slightly yellow, it’s negative, but if it’s pink or red (or in this case, neon red) you got some serious lead on ya hands.

It was this strange feeling of “gotta wash my hands even thought I didn’t touch it!” and “I KNEW it! For some reason I just knew it!” – so the doors have since been removed by John and placed in the corner of the garage that Clara and Burger can’t even access if they wanted to (they’re blocked in by a bunch of other buckets). Update: As for what we’ll do with the doors, we’re hoping to find an antiques vendor who knows how to handle lead to see if they’re interested instead of sending them straight to the hazardous waste area of our recycling center (I hope someone who knows how to safely seal them or rebuild them will rescue them).

Another update: When it comes to lead paint (both of our previous houses had it) the recommendation is usually just to paint over it with fresh paint to seal it in, but in this case we worried that black dust in the cabinets was lead dust, so we didn’t want it falling all over our cabinets and the floor to be breathed in by anyone since the two main ways to get lead poisoning are 1) by ingesting it or 2) by inhaling lead dust. We also realized if we ever wanted to store serving dishes and platters in those cabinets, they could end up with lead dust on them if the doors stayed, which sounds like a bad time.

John also wiped down all the shelves and the floor and the walls around the doors with TSP, just to be safe (you can read more about lead safety/testing/protocols, etc here).

Thankfully we’ve seen pretty corner built-ins without doors (like these over on A Beautiful Mess) so we still hope to make those cabinets over someday, and in the meantime, it’s nice to know there’s not any lead lurking in the corners of the dining room anymore. Any oops moments going on at your house? Are you breaking out the black netting or some magic erasers to remedy them? Do they tend to happen in threes to you too?


As a little Friday bonus, here are four fun projects, chats, or questions going on over on the Forums. We also announced this week’s giveaway winners, so you can click here (and scroll down to the Rafflecopter box) to see if it’s you.

by fabvintage by CharlestonCrafted by crabandfishblog by lizaanne


  1. says

    I was going to suggest the washi tape but you beat me to it. ;) I think you were onto something with the look though.

    People will totally snag those regardless of the lead. Especially an upcycle antique store that might deal with that quite a bit.

    Have a great weekend guys!

  2. Nancy says

    Dang. Leaded glass is beautiful but guess its called “leaded” for a reason. Speaking of which I’m also told to be wary of leaded crystal. As in your fancy liquor in the beautiful canister will be contaminated. Old dishes are suspect too I think.

    • Emily says

      This is true. All our of wedding crystal is real, lead crystal. Safe for occasional drinking (especially after a 24 hour soak in a vinegar solution when newly purchased), but not for any prolonged storing of liquor. The acid leaches the lead out of the glass and into what you drink– actually one of the causes of gout among royal/noble families back in the day. So, my husband’s collection of vintage decanters are display-only…. he has other, non-leaded glass decanters for actual use.

    • Lindsey d. says

      Well, this comment led me down a rabbit hole. And ended with a decision to stop using my vintage dishes immediately and make them decorative only. :(

    • Emily says

      I’ve been told to avoid original fiestaware in dark blue/purple colors for that reason. Apparently the glaze is lots of lead.

    • Emily says

      I didn’t mean to scare anyone off! We still use- and love- our crystal! Just not all day, every day. And, its not like you’re sniffing the finish off you dishes :) Just something to be aware of!

      At the risk of making things worse, it’s also true of original Fiestaware… but it’s actually uranium in the glaze. Everybody say “whaaaaaaat”. Old Fiesta only! The new stuff is totally fine.

    • says

      I’ve done a lot of pottery (i.e. with a throwing wheel) and my teaches told me that any glaze that’s red, blue or purple probably has lead in it to achieve those colors – and they warned us to wash like crazy after we used them. So, all of my high school and college cobalt blue pottery is decorative only.

      I love handmade pottery but, just to be careful, I try to avoid using it with food for this reason.

  3. andrea says

    Poo on the tape messing with the frames! But I do think it looks awesome. Washi tape might be too matte if you decide you like the look enough to make it more permanent -I think the gloss/sheen is what makes it so high end looking.

  4. Peggy Mckee says

    I’m confused. Which part of the cabinet door has lead? The glass? The paint? Your lead test stick is on the dividers between the panes and seems to be on the inside of the door.

    If the lead is in the metal dividers, what kind of metal is it? What I’m wondering is whether other metals besides lead give a positive test result.

    • says

      Yes, the metal edging pieces (not the glass itself) had lead. I believe it’s called leaded glass, but I’m not sure (even though the lead is in the border pieces of metal and not the glass). I think a lot of stained glass has lead as well in those border pieces around it, so hanging it out of reach is probably best for kids. Anyone have more info for Peggy?


    • Emily R says

      leaded glass is called that because the individual pains of glass (which may or may not have lead in them) are held together with strips of lead. Lead is safe to touch. People who make stained glass windows touch it everyday. You just don’t want to ingest it. And I imagine folks who touch it all the time everyday use gloves. Adults have to consume LARGE amounts of lead to get lead poisoning. Children are who you really need to be concerned about. A lot of things can have trace amounts of lead in them, even your food.

  5. says

    Ah, yes. That tried and true oops moment – par for the course I think if you’re a DIY’er ;) By the way – LOVE the black and white frame idea, you should totally paint them to get the same look.

    Also, a question on the lead paint. How do you guys know that it’s just limited to the built-in? Are you going to test the rest of the trim, etc? Just curious, since this is something I get rather paranoid about too!

    • says

      Our house was actually built after lead paint was phased out, so we did a test on some of the trim just to be sure during inspection but it came back clear. I think another reason the built-ins were suspect to me is because they appear to be antiques, so I wanted to test those old doors to be sure they weren’t harbroring anything since they’re older than the house. I did check the wood/paint on them and it was clean, so I was glad it was just those doors.


    • Erin says

      A friend of mine and her husband live in an old house–their 1-year old tested high for lead and it was determined that lead dust was in the air ducts from renovation that they had done. I had also previously thought that lead needed to be ingested to be harmful but now I know that inhaling it has consequences, too.

  6. Emily R says

    I feel a little in the dark regarding the lead. My understanding was always that you had to ingest it for it to harm you (unless of course you work with it in some sort of industrial setting and it is an occupational hazard because it is in the air/water/soil). Unless Clara and Burger start licking the mullions I’d imagine they’d be fine. It’s not like they are chipping or flaking so they aren’t becoming air borne. Are you just being hyper-cautious?

    • says

      Our understanding is that lead should be sealed in and shouldn’t be able to be touched/rubbed upon by anyone since that can release inhale-able lead dust particles in certain instances. So even if you have lead paint, I believe the protocol is to paint over it with fresh new non-lead paint to seal it in. We hear one of the more annoying ways to get lead poisoning is actually through the aerated lead dust coming off of something (so it’s not just kids eating paint chips that they worry about). We added a link to today’s post with lots of lead info for ya if that helps!


    • Kaija says

      I agree with Emily R. I’ve done some leaded glass work and what our instructor told was that it’s completely safe as long as you don’t inhale fumes, touch it with open cuts in your hands (obvious hazard when working with glass!) or eat it. She works with lead every day and and has a blood test yearly, and has never seen any elevated levels.

      But… knowing the effects of lead exposure, I wouldn’t blame anyone for being extrasuperduper careful and taking all precautions, esp. when the little ones are in question!

      Good luck!

    • says

      Just a little FYI.

      My brother while home shopping fell in love with a condo. Before putting in an offer he was presented with a legal document regarding the age of the condo and it containing lead. So, basically long story short he had to sign it stating that if he were to get sick he can’t legally come after them. As he was well aware of the lead. It also had a section about renovations, if you wished to do so, how to go about it properly because of the lead.

      It can be serious if not looked after right, or handled properly.

      Having young children and pets in the house, there are no guarantees that they won’t be licking the glass doors. My boys use to lick the mirrored closet doors, same with my cousins kids…weird I know, but hey that’s what we do when we are young….lol. That’s the time to get away with that weird stuff, could you imagine an adult doing it? We’d be considered a whack job, kids it’s cute. Then dogs, well they lick everything around the house if it’s left laying around or maybe that couch just looks good enough to taste.


    • Emily R says

      I also had to sign that same waiver when I bought my condo in Boston. It’s just something that is standard here. If you are an adult, and you have lead paint in the house it is fine. Like I said, it’s really kids you have to worry about. And you have to get the lead IN YOUR BODY. An adult can safely remove and dispose of lead paint. Or keep it. If it’s in good condition and not chipping, and you can keep yourself from gnawing on your trim, you’ll be fine. Everyone seems to be getting lead crazy. Yes, it is dangerous if you eat it, breathe a lot in. But let’s not all go off the deep end.

  7. Lucia says

    I’ve kept the deer away by sprinkling human hair cuttings (after cutting my husband’s hair) around plants. So, after you cut John’s hair, sprinkle what you sweep up around the maple tree and see if it helps.

    • says

      When we lived in WA, people swore by adding hair clippings to their gardens to keep the deer away. Local salons would give out hair clippings by the garbage bag!

    • Krissy says

      My mom uses a homemade spray… You take a windex-size spray bottle, put 6 or 8 (I can’t remember, I think 8) beat eggs in, and fill the rest with water, then spray on the plant. The only problem is you have to reapply after rain. It works for her and they have TONS of deer around.

    • tracy says

      i’ve tried everything to keep the deer away here in connecticut and nothing works (except fencing and netting). my advice to you is to be real careful about what you plant in your yard come spring. talk to somone at a local nursery (not home depot etc) and they will be able to tell you what plants the deer most likely won’t eat. the deer ate my holly bushes last winter. can you say ouch! it’s a real bummer to spend all the money and time on plants and have the deer eat them. by the way i read every day and have never commented. just want to say i love your new house and can’t wait to see everything you are doing!

  8. Sarah says

    We’ve discovered the best thing ever for all of our “oops moments”. Turtle Wax Multi-purpose Label and Sticker Remover! It can pretty much tackle anything. We’ve taken sticker and tape residue off and it even works on paint! I spilled a good sized dollop of bright teal paint on our concrete patio that was really noticeable. After a few sprays of this stuff and rubbing it down with a brush and some water, you can’t even tell. It’s the best stuff ever. It can be found here: Good luck! And I actually like your corner hutch door free! Can’t wait to see how you make them over! :)

  9. Alli says

    Better safe than sorry! And very glad your tree story turned out ok, I love Maple trees!

    My brother and his wife were in Europe and went to the Waterford Crystal factory and bought a couple snowflake ornaments since it’s a family tradition of ours to pick up a christmas ornament to commemorate a trip. They had it packed away in their packs and didn’t think much of it until they got stopped going through airport security when their bags were scanned. The ornaments were leaded crystal and the security folks thought they were carrying ninja style throwing stars, ha! Thankfully my brother and sister in law got a good laugh and story out of it :)

    • Stephanie says

      That happened to us too! My in-laws gave us these leaded crystal knife rests (or something like it). On the way back home, it gave the TSA a lot of confusion. What are we seeing on the monitors? What is that? Oh these 40 year old knife rests!

    • says

      Such a cute little octopus! She loved it! There’s a pic on Facebook/instagram. It was awesome to see her glowing down the street! And neighbors said the rhythm of her walking looked just like a jellyfish bouncing down the street from afar! Haha!


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