Saturday, March 25, 2017

House Update

Here is an update on the kitchen cabinet staining project!
I am working on those last 2 upper doors, then will move onto the lower cabinets.

I thought I would share a couple of tips I have learned through the process in case anyone out there is looking to do the same.

We are using Minwax PolyShades which is the stain and polyurethane in one. It can go over poly surfaces, however only if going darker. If one was to go lighter, the cabinets would need to be stripped.
First I clean the door with mineral spirits. Then I sand it with 220 grit sandpaper which helps smooth out any areas needing it but also aids in better adhesion.

Between coats I am using 330 grit for a very light sanding to remove any dust, lint etc. 

Airborne particles are the enemy here since they do settle on wet stain. The only way to not have it be an issue would be to work in a sanitary room that has nothing in it and work naked...not going to happen.  So this is a constant battle.


Another great thing about this stain job is the inside of the doors really doesn't need to be done so we kept them as is. That way any future owner can see the wood grain. Since wood is forever, I am sure someone will decide to strip them years from now!

When staining the door, a bit will find its way on the back side.  However I found that simply running a paper towel underneath along the edges when a side is done will do the trick!

Being winter, I have been waiting 48 hours between coats just in case. The coats need to be fully cured before adding another. So a tip I learned online to save the messy work of cleaning the brush everyday - put it in the freezer!

So I wrap it well in foil, then in a freezer bag. This must be air tight! 

It does not freeze although there is some ice build up when opening it. I use that piece of foil to wipe it off so I don't need to worry about dust particles getting on the brush. Then I use a new piece of foil at the end of that session.

I give the brush a good cleaning though once a week to prevent too much build up.

In addressing the handles which we chose to keep and paint, they needed a scouring first. They were full of gunk! I realized that the buildup must have been the initial coats of paint and poly from years ago since it was way more than dirt.
Well mineral spirits were not cutting it for me! So then I started washing with with dish soap to dissolve any grease and dirt. Then found sanding with 220 grit paper was the way to go! This took all the nastiness off so I could reach the brass base.
To the painting station they go with a trusty can of Rustoleum. We also spray the hinges and screws that show. The handle gets 2 coats and the other components only 1 since they barely show up and do not get handled.

Once I am done staining, I will move onto that dated ceiling fan. Since it works great, it is worth trying to salvage. We can purchase a light kit for $40 that will change out that old glass piece and compliment our other light fixtures.

I will attempt to paint the metal components oil rubbed bronze and the paddles espresso to compliment the cabinets. I think it will work!

Thank you for stopping by! If you are attempting such a project and have any questions, please let me know. ~Val



Saturday, March 4, 2017

Write Words by Rosa Linda

I received this darling, frameable friendship card from Write Words by RosaLinda

This piece includes her original quote "Most friendships, like gardens, need time to flower and grow. But our special friendship has blossomed from the start".
We have been interacting on social media for years now and I have always found her sentimental work to be very beautiful. 

Perfect for when you want to say something to someone in a special way.

Here is a keepsake thank you card.
So touching is this encouragement card for a cancer survivor or someone with a serious illness.
For the fire fighter putting his/her life on the line each day.
 For the person who inspires you.
Another beautiful gift idea, a graduation poem.
If you are ever in need of a sending sentiments, stop by RosaLinda's shop.

Thank you for visiting. Have a wonderful week ahead! ~Val

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Progress with Kitchen Renovation

So we were all over the place with what we wanted to do with the kitchen cabinets. We settled on dark espresso stain. Basically the total opposite of my initial intentions of painting them white.

A main reason for this choice is the time involved. Going with a darker stain, there are products on the market now that simply go over the current finish. So no stripping required! I knew espresso would be very elegant and classy so it was a no-brainer when it came down to it.

Progress is slow. Since I am the one who is home, I get the honors of staining! This was the before of our pantry (or whatever it should be called) cabinet space.
I started with the casing.
Then worked on 1 door at a time. Since it is winter, it takes quite some time for a coat to become solid for the next coat so I juggled 2 doors at a time rotating each day. As you can see I am doing so right in the kitchen. The odor dissipates quickly so it was not an issue.
3 coats a door. The poly is included in the stain so that final step is not needed. When a door was ready, Jim would hang it when he got home from work.

We used the same hardware but cleaned them up and painted them oil rubbed bronze. I LOVE the dark on dark look of it! Our $10 light fixture really pops now too.

What a difference as you can see the old finish next to the new finish.
Woohoo! That part is done! As you can see, I have started priming the brick facade.

We decided to work with it since it is in mint condition. We could remove it, repair the wall and install a new back splash but that would be a waste of time and money. 

The brick will be a creamy color to match the upper part of our kitchen walls. This will have much more character than the products on the market today too. I also think the creamy is going to be stunning against the espresso cabinets.

So once the brick is done, then I will be moving onto the rest of the cabinets. My goal is to complete all that by April 1! 

Then it will be time to call the contractors and move forward with the floor and granite counters. So exciting and rewarding doing a chunk of the work ourselves! 

Thank you for stopping by! Have a great week. ~Val





Saturday, February 18, 2017

Eggplant Parmesan Modification

Eggplant parmesan is a beloved dish in our house. However we traditionally made it by slicing the eggplant very thin and frying each breaded piece which makes it not the healthiest dish!

Over time, Jim has become creative and ultimately came up with perfection. Less oil and red sauce is what he was going for since eggplant parmesan brings on acid reflux in me.
He removes the skin first, then slices the eggplant lengthwise in thick slices.  Then he dips the pieces in egg, then breadcrumbs for frying. 

After frying, each piece is laid out on a baking sheet and sprinkled with tomato sauce, cheese and fresh tomato. Then baked at 350F until cheese is beautifully browned. Then reduced balsamic is drizzled on top to taste.

What a difference! We find this to be much more delicious because you can really taste the eggplant. It is healthier and one piece is quite filling. My tummy is happier eating this versus the indulgent way we used to make it. A perfect meal with a side salad. Bonus, the leftovers heat up wonderfully in the microwave.

Thank you for stopping by! ~Val

Saturday, February 11, 2017

A Little Snow

I took these photos back in December after a little snow. One benefit to not cutting back plants in the Fall is that it makes for whimsical yard decor.






Happy Winter! I am really looking forward to Spring, flowers, etc. but until then will try to enjoy the few benefits of winter.

It had been a very easy winter up until this past week. Now winter is in full gear here! 

Thank you for stopping by! ~Val

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Coop Rotisserie

The Coop Rotisserie is a new eatery in downtown Amesbury, MA (where Main Street and Friend Street intersect).  This is the first time Jim and I have known owners opening a restaurant so it is a treat to check it out!
I know what you are thinking, Val is reviewing a chicken joint? 
Well it turns out there are many vegetarians in this area and this restaurant worked out a delicious menu to cater to those of us veggie types.

This is the cook Elvis and I. Being Latino, he has incorporated his spicy ethnicity into the menu.
We ate vegetarian of course but from what I have seen on Yelp and Facebook, patrons are loving the rotisserie chicken too.

This is the vegetarian version of the empanada. It is full of veggie goodness. The vibrant sauce it a roasted carrot chipotle. Yum! Also made with either chicken or beef picadillo.
A scrumptious black bean veggie burrito. Perfect for satisfying Latino craving. Also made with chicken or braised beef.
We tried this traditional vegetarian sandwich of portabello and roasted red pepper. It is loaded with greens and tomatoes along with tasty seasoning of pesto de albahacca. So much deliciousness.
Those are not french fries on the side, but yucca fries. They are perfect! Served with the roasted carrot chipotle, I was in love. 

Elvis was saying that these are ordered much more often than the french fries. Considering this, he is now thinking of adding other yucca items to the menu. Great idea! This is not something we see on menus often.

The restaurant is small and quaint.
Elvis makes it a point to come out from behind the open kitchen to talk with the patrons. That is the best way to learn about how to tweak a menu that the customers will love and keep coming back for! 

They have been very busy since they opened their doors a few months back and I know these guys will experience continued success.

Next time we will try the quesadillas, tacos, rellanas and salads and leave very satisfied again! 

If you live locally, I hope you will check out The Coop Rotisserie open Tuesday thru Saturday from 11:30am until 9:30pm.

Thank you for stopping by! ~Val 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Some Kitchen Details

One thing I have done in our kitchen is paint the ugly old wood panel walls. Now if these were floor to ceiling, we would have removed them.
Luckily they were installed in a wainscotting (aka beadboard) fashion with a strip of molding on top.

First I sanded it all. Then filled in any holes.
Then applied 2 coats of Kilz and 2 coats of paint. We are so happy with the results! 

If we chose to remove it, it could have created so much more work. There is probably old wallpaper behind it and who knows how messy the wall itself would be!

I should have taken a before photo of the old radiator there. It was a blah matte brown but now it is shiny silver making it an attractive original fixture.

All the outlets and switches will have these plates I came across when shopping. 
So far only 1 was done when we had the power off to install 2 of these $10 light fixtures to replace the hideous ones that were there.
The ones we were looking at were around $60 each so when we saw these, we snagged them. Yes they are really glass and metal! Total score. The glass is corrugated for a touch of elegance, yet still making for a casual kitchen fixture.

I really like the cabinet handles for some reason and want to keep the after the cabinets are refinished. So I searched for the right paint to rejuvenate them.
The original is on the left. It is hard to tell from the photo but the handles are very dirty from decades of use.

The middle one is Rustoleum's "Dark Bronze" with a hammered finish. It comes out like a dark pewter rather than bronze. It is a bit too shiny for my taste too.

So then I tried Rustoleum's "Oil Rubbed Bronze" that has a smooth finish on the last one. That is the paint we need! I tried 1 light coat on 2 of the hinges as well to make sure that will work. That was successful too. 

We are slow to start the cabinet doors. After playing with a couple of stains we have decided to go a completely different route and paint them an antiqued white. With that color, we will really be able to install any counter, backsplash and flooring. 

Thank you for stopping by! Enjoy your week ahead. ~Val






Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Nut Butter Snack

Someone gave Jim this 3 ingredient nut butter recipe so I gave it a try.
It is a hit!

All you need is:

1 cup of nut butter (I used almond butter), peanut would be amazing!
1/2 cup honey
3 cups of oats (the recipe called for quick oats but I only have regular and that worked just fine)

Soften the nut butter and honey if needed in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Then combine all ingredients. I found this could only be done the down and dirty way, with bare hands! 

Line a 9 inch x 9 inch pan with parchment paper and firmly press the mixture into it. If you don't have parchment, line with aluminum foil and spray lightly.
Then chill until firm. Then it is easy to cut into delicious pieces! Yummy! 

With the honey, they are very sweet, perfect for satisfying a craving.

Thank you for stopping by! Let me know if you try this healthy (but high calorie) snack. ~Val


Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Kitchen

We are starting to discuss our kitchen remodel. This is our dated little kitchen.
It is actually not little but that back corner is the only counter space in the entire kitchen! 

When we are ready we will have a designer come in to finalize our ideas. We need more counters which I also want to work as eat at space. 

Most likely there will either be a large eat at island in the center of the room or an L shaped eat at counter that would start near the fridge and run along side the stove.


The current configuration of the stove, dishwasher and fridge works well but we will have the bottom counters there rebuilt as well since they are yucky.

The upper counters are beautiful and solid wood. Not like the materials used today! The dark stain feels really dated and does not show off the wood's beauty.

So the cabinets below the sink are our experimental ones since we aren't keeping them. This little door was stripped bare. I can't believe how much lighter it is! 

Next we will try staining it. I want the cabinets to be light and bright while showing off their grain!
So the cabinets will be step one and we will address the rest at a later date. This may take us forever because it is slightly too cold in our basement for the stripper and stain so we are not sure what we will accomplish over the winter.

Cabinet space is plentiful. This cabinet below is floor to ceiling and holds all our cookware and more.
I forgot to take a before photo of it before removing the doors that match the rest of the cabinets. I have given it a fresh coat of paint inside. 

The right side was apparently a coat closet at one time. Jim had the brilliant idea of hanging our pots from the bar! I just need to put a free standing shelf unit in there to utilize the middle part of the space.


I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of our before kitchen. The remodeling will include just about everything. 
  • refinishing the cabinets 
  • having new cabinets built 
  • installing granite or the like counter tops 
  • new appliances 
  • tiling the floor
  • and the little stuff like the back splash, ceiling fan, etc.
The half bath is right next to that cabinet above which we plan on updating at the same time, but that is an easy fix in comparison!

Thank you for stopping by! ~Val



Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Year in Review

2016 is coming to an end. What a year it has been! 
Jim and I moved in to our first house together. She has been a bit of a fixer upper but nothing we weren't aware of at purchase. Yes, we got a great deal! Since this photo was taken she has gotten a new roof, new chimney, updated electrical, repaired foundation inside and out and a new fence. Not to mention the little things we have done without contractor help! Wow, that's a lot!

We have had fun exploring our new city's different restaurants.
 Its fantastic architecture of buildings re-built in 1882 after a devastating fire.
Downtown artwork depicting its history.

Its parks and reservations.

I got my first pixie cut when I decided to go natural and never color my hair again. This has made my life just a little bit easier!
The biggest thing that happened this year was Jim and I got married!  Ok, so I'm clearly a very private person! 

We both said we would never get married but from time to time this would come up in conversation that maybe we should go for it. So one night over wine we decided to do it. The next morning we went to City Hall to get the ball rolling. 3 weeks later it was a done deal!
We wanted to run off and do this in private but knew we would feel guilty about not telling the moms and dads. Since Jim's parents are in MA during the summer it seemed like perfect timing.
This was the size of our wedding above. I am next to Jim's parents and he is next to mine. It is obvious when you look at the moms because we each look like our mom. 

Combined, these sets of parents have over a century of experience in making a marriage work and last.

We were married in the backyard where I grew up. Wow my hair is getting grey!
The minister of my mom's church officiated the ceremony. She was really sweet. I was concerned since Jim and I aren't churchy (is that a word?), but that was not a problem. I have great respect for the churches that accept and appreciate everyone. I bought a classic Calvin Klein dress that I will get plenty of future wear out of. 

I wanted this whole thing to be as quick and stress free as it could be and it was!

No dull moments this year! I would say it is my best year yet. It is not easy saying that when I know it has been a difficult year for many across the globe. 

I hope you have enjoyed my year in review and that I didn't shock you too much with the husband and wife thing. 💕 2017 will likely be another year about the house. We wish to conquer the kitchen and half bath remodel this coming year so we will see!

Thank you to all my lovely readers. Wishing you an awesome, fulfilling 2017! ~Val