Archive | May, 2014

All I need is chocolate

28 May

Whenever I’m feeling a little down, I want to eat chocolate. I think it’s become a basic tenet of my nature after the past 30 years of reinforcing that behavior.

For my mother’s birthday a week ago, I made her cupcakes. I was going to use pre-made chocolate icing, but when I was in the store looking at the packages and remembering how yucky they taste, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. So I made frosting for the first time ever and BOY was it delicious. Therefore I can never buy icing again. It was easier than I thought, but of course messy with powdered sugar and cocoa flying everywhere. But breathing in cocoa fumes is pretty wonderful, especially when I had spent the rest of the weekend breathing in grout dust. Yes, the pantry is super high class now that it has a tiled, and grouted, floor. I actually like going in there to do our laundry now.

So all this brings me to today. And my desire to make homemade brownies. What else am I going to do with the rest of the box of cocoa powder? I’ve been trying not to eat too many sweets ever since Lent ended and I overdosed on chocolate that first week. I think I now understand why heroin addicts die after they fall off the wagon. It’s just so good, why not eat another bite? But I can’t, unless I make brownies, since there are no store bought goodies in our house. The Blue Bell ice cream is all gone, but the ingredients for mind-stopping brownies are just waiting to be mixed together.

Sometimes, the only other thing that makes me as happy as chocolate is this kid:

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Here he is showing his cousin where his nose is. Totally adorable.

And then there are other times when Walt makes me want chocolate even more. Today is one of those days, and mama is going to show little boy how to make life even sweeter.

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This kid likes to have fun

17 May

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Left-handed sidewalk chalker.

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Working from home.

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Coloring.

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Building forts, then destroying them.

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Hiding in Daddy’s clothes.

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Over-watering Nini’s plants

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Legos!

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Gardening at Mimi’s

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“mama, my cat sat on my homework”

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Being silly.

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A brief moment of a lazy Saturday morning.

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Feeding Daddy blueberries.

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Bathtub mayhem!

The Metamorphosis of the Kitchen Table

14 May

Over the past few weeks the garage has been in a super transitional period. First we filled it up with the things we wanted out of the house for showings and items for a yard sale. With both these things postponed, David managed to clean and organize so that we could fit the cars back in there. I was thoroughly impressed.

Then, my kitchen table project happened. Cars were parked in the driveway again.

The table was a hand-me-down from Dave’s sister, bought very cheaply from an estate sale. It’s sturdy but not very pretty. I loved it. Walter likes to push back from the table, and it would be very hard to knock these chairs over backwards. I wanted a table we could make a mess on and I wouldn’t freak out about. I didn’t want to pay $1,000 for a well-made table either.

Enter our table:

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However, once we painted the kitchen, the table looked even worse style-wise. My mother had mentioned earlier that I should paint the chairs. So I looked up some blog posts of people who had painted furniture and thought to myself, “Why not?” It didn’t really turn out like theirs (maybe it was the paint I used), but it is so much better than before that I can hardly believe it.

DSC_0291Finished product. What a beaut.

Midway through the project I had a fantastic idea to get a glass top for the table. When  I found out our table was a standard 48″ and I could get one for $100 from Pier1, I was sold. There was a lady stocking paint at Lowe’s who told me that no paint was safe to eat off of, but I could use bar wax that would yellow the paint. This other guy said that paint has been safe to use for a while now. Either way, I’m glad I don’t have to worry eating cancerous paint anymore. And I think it really is the icing on the cake in terms of how it all looks.

Here’s how I did it:

Without sanding any of the furniture (but making sure all the dust and dirt was gone), I primed everything with Zinsser 1-2-3. It covers any surface and seals as it goes. I read one person who used a brush to paint it on. Do yourself a favor and use spray primer and spray paint for any surface that isn’t completely flat. It goes so quickly too. The first chair I did with a brush and it looks significantly worse than the rest of the table and took forever. The spray cans of primer were big and I was able to use one can per chair and one can for the legs of the table.

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For the table top I used a small foam roller and a regular can of primer. When it is applied it looks like it’s going to have a terrible texture to it, but it dries nicely. You just have to make sure to take care of any lines.

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I sprayed the primer inside the garage with the door open, wearing a ventilator. This worked well to keep pollen/dust off the table while it dried and the smell isn’t bad. However, I should have done Dexter’s kill room setup in there. Primer dust was all over the floor. Not really on anything else, surprisingly, but it was hard to clean up.

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The primer dried in half an hour, which made this project go very quickly. If it feels gritty after it’s done drying, take a piece of fine sandpaper to it, removing any dust before you continue. I used Valspar black satin spray paint for the chairs and table legs, about 1 1/2 cans for each. You have to spray paint outside. The fumes are unbearable even in an open garage with a mask on. On a drop cloth I flipped the chairs upside down to get at the legs easier, then placed them upright and finished. You can’t touch them for at least an hour. They ended up a little glossier than I had imagined they would be, but it still matches my Parisian beach theme going on in the house.

I did one chair a week earlier than the rest as a test subject. I don’t know why, but maybe because I brushed on the primer, the chair is even glossier than the rest. Also, I found out, if you don’t use poly to seal the chairs then they might never dry. I read somewhere that it can take 7-30 days to “cure”. I certainly don’t have that kind of time to wait around for paint to dry! Over a week after I painted that first chair, a dinner guest left a nice butt print on the seat. No paint came off, but it was still tacky and had lots of kitty paw prints all over it too.

Solution: about an hour or so after you spray paint the chair, you can brush on polyurethane with one of those cheap sponge brushes, and three hours later it is a finished product. You can sit on it with no problems. The key to poly is to prevent it from foaming as you apply it by not having too much or too little on the brush. Also beware of drips, because they will dry permanently that way. I only did one coat for everything (instead of sanding and doing a second coat). It seems to be fine so far but obviously I can’t attest for durability. There might be a second coat in my future.

I also used the foam roller to roll on the table top paint. I used Valspar black satin latex enamel (it’s right by the spray paint). It dries a little bit harder and quicker than the spray paint, so I didn’t poly it, but that’s because I knew I was going to use the glass table top. It took about two days of Walt’s nap time to do all this, minus extra time for pilot error.

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I can see the flaws, but David says that’s because I’m being too critical.

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With some additional cute new artwork, the kitchen looks like a million bucks.

Play Dates

5 May

I see lots of other moms on social media whose children have “best friends”. They’re always so good about getting together with other moms and taking cute pictures of their kids having fun. With cousins living out of town and most of my friends sans kids, it’s been hard to get Walter some friends.

But luckily several months ago, one of our church friends decided to become a stay at home mom, and I was thrilled — play dates aren’t just for kids, you know. Her daughter, M, is a week older than Walt. It’s so fun seeing them interact together. We used to go to story time at the library before it was canceled, and now we attend a Music Class every week. Maybe swim lessons during the summer too? We have also started doing other things like going to the zoo and just playing at home.

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Walt was more interested in the trees and the mulch than the exotic animals.

Whenever M sees Walt, she points at him and says “Wal Wal”.

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Classic. He has no idea what to do with a girl’s attention.

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Aw, see? BFFs. Lots of good times ahead.

The House, nearing completion.

4 May

We have been chin deep in house projects for the past two months. This is way past knee deep… though I do see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s just funny that after you make your already awesome house perfect you get to… move?

Since we haven’t had any pressure to put the house on the market, this is how things have been going:

When you tell a homeowner to replace the front door handle, the new handle will make the front door look old now too. They will probably want to re-stain the door.

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Worn out door.

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Fresh and wonderful door.

When they re-stain the door, they will notice that the wood rot around the house needs to be fixed as well before it goes on market. The handyman will notice that your gutter is too small, causing the problems, so he will recommend a new gutter. The gutter guys will recommend and your husband will agree that the fancy gutter guards will be worth the expense, so you’ll get those too.

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Helping us paint by keeping the drop cloth warm.

After many more projects outside (painting, washing, staining, planting, fixing, etc.), you will realize things that need to be fixed and updated inside. You want a new light fixture for the kitchen. This light fixture will be great, but then you’ll realize that you to need to repaint the kitchen to match the new light. With the fresh new look, you’ll realize how old and cheap the cabinet knobs look, so you’ll get new ones. When your kitchen looks as great as it does, you’ll want to paint the kitchen table as well (that one is mid-project. So far only one chair is currently black).

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Old kitchen.

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New kitchen.
Not the best picture. But during the day the kitchen looks almost gray to match the living room, then at night it’s this beachy blue color. Love it.

When your husband notes that the pantry could use some painting too, you say, well it’ll be difficult to paint around the pantry shelves. When your husband says he’s going to take those down, you tell him that he’s not going to put the old ones back up. He’s going to have to build shelves since you’ve always disliked the wire ones. And if you’re going to paint and put in custom shelves, you can’t leave the old linoleum. You’ll want to tile the pantry floor too.

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We picked the black one.

And this is why when you give a homeowner a cookie, he’ll want a glass of milk to go with it…