Monday, May 26, 2014

The great kitchen cabinet renovation of 2014

Well, great is what I have now, but it took a lot of time and work to get to the point of things looking  great. I started my kitchen renovation in early February 2014. The dead of winter around here. This means almost everything was done inside in my cramped basement. I did my sanding in my garage and painting in my basement on sawhorses and 2X4's so I could avoid getting all the dust on my newly  primed or painted cabinet doors.

So lets get back to the beginning of the story. Back in December of 2013, I asked my husband the question every husband dreads. "Can we do a major renovation on the kitchen?" His response was an emphatic "No".  Not until the kids move out could we afford to do a major reno. I had a feeling that would be his response but I decided to try a new approach. "Can I do a mini makeover and paint the kitchen cabinets?" to which he replied "Yes". That was all I needed to hear to get on the computer and start my research. I did research, more research and more research. It can really make your head spin when you start digging into all the info out there regarding painting your cabinets. So I researched a little more, made a pinterest board with info and sites I found helpful and finally made some decisions about how I would tackle this task.

 First off, If someone tells you it will only take a couple weeks, they are lying. I originally thought this task would take me a few weeks but found out really quickly you really need to do everything right so that your finished products holds up to the test of time. So my timeline stretched and stretched and stretched and took me about 3 months to complete. One reason my timeline was extended was that I found when my nice white cabinet boxes were finished, the rest of my kitchen looked horrible. Including my counter top, back splash, sink and faucet. Even my paint color no longer worked, and I still need to complete that part of the reno.


 I have taken up cooking over the past few years and really enjoy making most foods from scratch. Which means I spend many hours a day in my kitchen. However I was getting very depressed looking around at the dark and dreary room. My cabinets were installed when my home was built in 1973. They are a knotty pine flat paneled door style with old brass hardware. They were probably totally in style when my home was built but nowadays they are very dated. So this is what I was working with.
My 70's knotty pine cabinets 
So the first step in painting your cabinets is to take all the doors and hardware off your cabinet boxes. That meant taking off all the hinges, knobs and handles. This was probably the easiest part of the prep and then things start getting tougher. The next step before you paint is to make sure your cabinets are free from grease and dirt otherwise your paint won't stick. In order to clean them I mixed up a solution of TSP(tri-sodium-phosphate) and water in a metal bucket and with long chemical resistant gloves and safety glasses on I clean each cabinet box and then rinsed with a bucket of plain water to get rid of any residue. Since I would not be doing my doors all at once, I only did the boxes for now.
After removing doors and a good cleaning of TSP
Once they were clean a dried over night, I then used wood filler to fill in any and all the dings, holes and cracks. Some holes were from the old hardware I would be replacing and some cracks were from the knots in the pine. I wanted a smooth door before I put any finish on it so after filling all the defects I then started sanding everything down to a smooth finish. Then I used tack clothes to clean up all the dust and was ready for primer. Before I could prime I also needed to fill the seam along the top of my top cabinets and the sides of all the edge cabinets with caulking. I made the error of picking up clear caulk and quickly found that my caulk disappeared. So back to the store I went for the white caulk, which would be painted over. I wanted to be able to see what I was painting and have a little room for error if I did not have great coverage at the top.
Holes and cracks filled and sanded
 After everything was filled and sanded it was onto primer. I debated long and hard over what to do. Oil or latex. After all of my research I went with an oil based primer by Zinsser called Odorless. If It was odorless I would hate to smell the regular oil based primer. I kept the kitchen well ventilated and my heat turned up while I used it, and still ended up with a headache. I do not regret it at all though. It went on nicely and had good coverage. I used sponge rollers to put most of it on and a brush for edging and tough spots. I found that after the first coat, I had missed a few dings here and there, so I let it dry over night and did a little more wood filler here and there. I also sanded and tack clothed everything again before adding the second coat of primer. I should say that I wore a mask for just about every step of this reno. Between the dust and vapors of all the sanding and painting, I was trying to keep my chemical exposure limited.
After first coat of primer

After second coat of primer



As you can see after the second coat of primer. The cabinet boxes are starting to look better. So now it was time for one more sanding and tack cloth. Then onto painting. I went to my local Sherwin Williams to ask what they suggested for cabinets and was told that the best option was their Pro Classic Interior Acrylic Latex Enamel. It has a hard finish which will hold up to everyday life.  I will be honest that this decision was a hard one to make, but I get all my paints at SW and decided to go for it. I just kept it in the stock color, which is a bright white. I ended up putting 3 coats on to get the best coverage. I had read somewhere in my research that you should never do more then two coats of anything when you are painting so I actually waited a couple days after putting two coats on before I added the third. I again used a brush for tough spots and the foam roller for the flat areas.
Cabinet boxes painted 


Now I was onto the doors but due to my limited space in the basement i could only do 4-6 doors/drawers at a time and I had 14 doors and 2 drawers to get through. I did all the same steps I did on the boxes but also added some trim to the from of each door to give it some needed dimension.  I started by cleaning and filling all the doors and then sanding to a smooth finish.  I do many things around the house but I do not do saws. Therefore my husband cut all the trim for me with a miter saw. I got a small trim from Lowe's and we decided we would place the trim in 2 and 1/2 inches in on each door. This way the handles would not be affected when the time came to install them. We cut each 4 pieces for each door and I added the trim with wood glue first. Making sure that each piece fit correctly before using a brad gun to attach them permanently. Then I added wood filler again and sanded again. to make sure I had no gaps between trim pieces. After that was all done I was onto priming and painting again. I primed around the trim with a brush and used the foam roller to roll out everything else. I did the same with the paint and again waited a few days before adding the third coat. I always started with the back of the doors and then worked on the front so that my fronts would always look good when finished. I also put waxed paper and changed it frequently across my 2x4s so nothing would stick. I let each side of the doors cure for a good 7 days before flipping them over. I know it seems crazy but I had no problem with dings or smudged by doing it this way.
Trim being glued onto door faces
Trim after being attached with brads to face

It actually ran out of room for my finished doors to cure and found a great tip for that online. I added cup hooks to the bottom of my bottom doors and hung them up in my laundry room with coat hangers to cure while I worked on the others. Since they were the bottom doors the holes will never be seen. If you decided to hang your top doors you would want to attach the cup hooks to the top of the door, which is not visible. 
My lower doors hanging in my laundry room to cure
While the doors were curing it was time to take down my old back splash. I used a mini crowbar and hammer and wore gloves and eye protection to remove the old tile.  It was a white square tile and I really wanted a subway tile. We had some damage to the wall which our tiler came to repair before the installation of the new back splash.
Took out tile with mini orange crowbar and hammer

 I found an inexpensive sheet of subway tile at Lowe's and liked the way it all worked together. I also liked the octagon tile but no one else liked it so the subway tile won.
Laminate counter top with door and two tile choices

So now that a few months had passed and everything was cured enough to install. It was now time to put on the new hardware. I agonized over this job for days. I wanted to make sure I put the doors up right. Little did I know that this job would be harder than even I thought. My husband and I decided to try to put up the smallest doors over our refrigerator first, it was the most inconspicuous place and If we made any errors it would be the best place to do so. Well, just as I thought it did not go as planned. We were using inset hinges. We started by attaching them to the doors and that went great, then the trouble started. We were attaching the doors to the boxes by pre drilling holes and then using the screws but as we screwed them in the doors inched closer to the center and then would not open as the fit was too tight. We decided that after I repaired all the holes, primed and painted them again, that we had no idea how to do it and would ask our counter top installer and tiler to do the cabinet doors for us.  When he came on the first day we asked him about the doors and he said he would be glad to help. I like to learn how to do things myself and asked if I could help do the install the second day and together we did the job. He cut small pieces of cardboard which we used to open the hinges so that they sat flat on the cabinet boxes, we then pre drilled holes in the boxes, screwed in the screw partially (removing the cardboard at this point) before finally screwing in the rest of the way. It worked like a charm.  I added the hardware and was a little teary eyed when it was all done. It was such an arduous task but so worth it in the end. I love how bright and cheery it ended up and so far so good with the paint. Nothing is sticking or chipping. Now for a few new appliances and a new paint job and all will be done.

Kitchen at night

Kitchen in the daytime
If you have any questions about my process please leave me a message. Good Luck to anyone taking on this task themselves. It is hard work but so worth it in the end!


Maura



Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tee is for ...

My son loves to trick scooter. He has been at it for a year, minus the 5 months for recovering from a broken foot (which he did scootering). Even after breaking his foot in 4 places, He is back at it and even more obsessed. So much so that he just returned from a 3 day scooter camp in Rye NH. He had so many bumps, bruises and burns from falling. It is a wonder he even wants to continue, but he does.

I love that he gets exercise and has found something that he loves, but I hate all the injuries. So I try to be supportive in anyway I can. I take him to the skate park once a week, If my husband can not take him. I also take care of wounds and ailments he may get. I decided today to support him in another way. A boy at school recently told my son that scootering is not a real sport, and my son was crushed. He came home and told me about it, and I decided that I would try to support his scootering in a new way. I decided to make a few scooter themed items for him. So today I got on my silhouette bought a cute scooter pattern and designed a snarky little Tee for my son.  It is just my way of reinforcing the fact that I am behind him all the way and that I support him.

So I bought a $3 tee from Michael's, washed and dried it. No fabric softener. Then ironed on the silhouette iron on transfer I designed. I centered it on the Tee and ironed it on according to the directions. I think it turned out pretty cute.



Maura 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Gluten free at Walt Disney World - January 2014

Just got back from my trip to Walt Disney World. We try to go every two years.  This is my first trip being gluten free and all went well. I researched a lot before I went and found safe places to eat and new foods to try.

 On a daily basis my family and I actually eat Primal. Which means quality meats, vegis, fruits, nuts, seeds, full fat dairy and a bit of dark chocolate. It's like Paleo but with dairy. I do not eat grains or added sugar. I decided before this trip that I would be sticking to gluten free  but not Primal/Paleo as I tend to get pretty sick now when I consume even a little gluten. So lets be clear I was gluten free but not grain or sugar free as this was a vacation and I splurged quite a bit!

We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge for 9 days in January and did bring gluten free snacks like mary's gone crackers, dark chocolate, larabars, kind bars, home made trail mix, and  Choffy with us. I pack a bag with food items and use it for souvenirs on the way home.  I also ordered fruit, carrots, yogurt, cheese sticks, milk, half and half, water and seltzer for our room from Garden Grocer, which we have used in the past. They delivered the food to the hotel lobby on the date of our arrival and the perishables were refrigerated until we picked them up.  It is great to have snacks items to carry in the parks and options for breakfast in our room. Water is also very expensive in the parks (about 2.50 a bottle) and we figured that even with the delivery charge and tip we saved quite a bit just by ordering a case of water and bringing a bottle for each of us to the park each day. I actually wish we had ordered two cases because we ran out by day 5.

To keep things as organized as possible I am going to start by showing the meals we ate at our hotel first. We had 3 restaurants to choose from but the online reviews for gluten free at Artist's Point were not good so I opted not to eat there. This left Whispering Canyon Cafe which is a sit down option and Roaring Forks which is the quick service option.

We only ate at Whispering Canyon once and of course I forgot to take pics, but the Chef came to the table, and asked what I was thinking of for dinner and I told him the Build Your own Platter.  I was brought out a big slice of gluten free corn bread by the chef, while the rest of the family got the regular basket of corn bread to share. I was told that the meats were all fine except the fish which had some kind of breading, and the sides were fine except the baked beans which had some form of gluten in them.  So that is what my husband and I  ordered. It was delicious. Again, the chef brought out our platter and the kids got their individual meals separately.  I especially liked the sausage and the ribs included  and we got seconds of those.

We ate at Roaring Forks quite a bit. I was actually a bit bored with the limited menu by the end of the trip, but it was fun to have things I do not eat on a regular basis anymore. The managers were always so nice to help me with a gluten free order. They never made it seem like a big deal. I would usually ask someone working at the checkout or on the floor to get the manager for me for my gluten allergy and then order with the manager.

Here are some pics of some of the meals I had at Roaring Forks
Grilled Chicken sandwich on gluten free bun with a side of cucumber salad. 
This was a gluten free pizza that the manager made fresh for me. It was not too busy so she had time to take a fresh dough in back and make it herself. It was actually very good.  I also had a garden salad from the fridge with Kens Ranch which was gluten free and a milk.



Grilled chicken ceasar salad with no croutons, made in a clean bowl by manager!  Very tasty and filling.


Gluten free pepperoni pizza on our last day. It was very busy and I think this was an Amy's boxed pizza. Definitely not the same pizza I had earlier in the week.

On our last day at the Wilderness Lodge we were chosen to be the flag family. We did this on our first stay here in 2008 with Ranger Stan who has since passed away and this time we were lucky enough to go up to the top of the Lodge with Ranger Don. He was so nice to us, talked to us about the Disney property surrounding the Lodge and put up the Flags on the roof top of the building. It really is an enjoyable and informative morning and you can ask at check in if it is an option for your family.  We were then given a certificate to take home and allowed to get breakfast on the Concierge level in the Wilderness Club. My kids loved it there they had all sorts of gluten filled goodies and hot cocoa while I stuck with a bowl of fresh cut fruit and a milk. They had oatmeal too but I was concerned about all the add ins and what could be accidentally added to the big bowl of oats.



Concierge floor fruit salad and milk

To finish up with the gluten free items at our hotel, I brought my insulated Choffy press from home. Yup I packed it in my suitcase along with a rubbermaid container of Choffy to make in our room in the morning. That thing is like a tank. No dents or breaks. It traveled well and got lots of use every morning. I just brought it down to roaring forks and asked if I could fill it with hot water each morning. No Problem!

We went to Port Orleans-French Quarter as I had heard that they had gluten free beignets and I really wanted to try them. Boy am I glad we went. The Chef there was Chef Raphael and he was amazing. He helped me with my order and made suggestions. He was so pleased to hear that people had been blogging about his gluten free options and he told me about his extensive breakfast and dinner options too! Talk about customer service! I was really in the mood for some protein that day so I decided on a bacon cheese burger with a gluten free bun, a salad with ranch dressing(gluten free) and a side of bean salad( gluten free) which was also very tasty and flavorful. The best part of this trip was the beignets though! They were so good we considered going back another day, but could not find the time.
Almost forgot to get a picture of my bacon cheese burger with gluten free bun, side salad with Ken's ranch dressing, and a dish of bean salad. 

These beignets were amazing. The four of us shared and each had 1 and 1/2. Yes my kids and husband all loved these gluten free beignets. Chef Raphael said that some people like the GF better then the regular ones!


At Hollywood Studios we only had a couple of quick service items. We had a giant Turkey leg from Toluca Legs turkey Co on Sunset Boulevard. They are so big that the four of us shared one as a light lunch with some snacks we had brought from home. The second meal we had was also on Sunset Boulevard at Rosie's All American. I got a hamburger with lettuce, tomatoes and pickles (cheese was not gluten free here) on a gluten free bun and french fries that were cooked in a separate frier to avoid cross contamination. The manager here was fantastic also. He came out to help me place my order and told me not to take my food from anyone but him. He put my meal together in the back away from all the others being prepared and came out with my meal separate from the rest.
My husband about to bite into the giant turkey leg!
Again I almost forgot to take a picture before I finished. This was the hamburger on GF bun and  GF french fries from Rosie's All American.

Animal Kingdom is really GF friendly. They actually have an allergy friendly booth in the park. They gave me a pamphlet with gluten free options at three restaurants. We also picked up a couple snacks there. They had a variety of Rice chips and we went with the honey dijon which were very tasty but you need a good teeth brushing soon after to get rid of the mustard breath. We also got a bag of caramel popcorn. My kids had been wanting some since we arrived but the regular version in the parks has wheat in it. So when we saw this blue bag we jumped at it. It was very good. We also got 4 pk of mini BabyCakes muffins-I will tell you about Baby Cakes NYC in a bit.



We chose to eat at the Flame Tree BBQ as I had read that I could get a gluten free meal there. They had me go to the cashier to order, she then had me wait at the counter for a person who worked with people with food allergies. She showed me the allergen book and helped me choose a meal and sent me back to cashier (who was just behind me- so I did not have to wait again)and I ordered my meal and my families regular meals all at once.  I ended up getting the chicken and ribs platter with coleslaw and pineapple spears. Their beans have gluten so that was not an option but the pineapple was fresh and delicious and a nice substitute. I was again told only to take my food from the woman who helped me choose my meal.  I forgot to take a picture of this meal until it was to late. Sorry!




So here is my favorite meal of the week. We went to the Kona Kafe for my daughters BDay dinner. She wanted Sushi and I knew she could get it after 5 and I could get a gluten free option here too. As per usual we were seated and after our waitress arrived she said the chef would be right out. Chef Brett came to the table and asked what I was in the mood for. I told him I had read about the wings, and he said he could bring me GF Ohana wings, I also got the Kona salad with out the blue cheese as it must have had gluten in it and I told Chef Brett I liked shrimp. He suggested a twist on the pan asian noodles using rice noodles and GF tamari. I have not had a noodle in almost 2 years so I was not sure what to expect. This was amazing. The flavors were so good. The shrimp was cooked perfectly, there were so many vegis, which I was craving and it was light on the rice noodles, but enough to be very satisfying. I can not explain how much I enjoyed this whole meal.
Ohana wing- coriander and other spices made for a very tasty wing!
Kona Salad without Blue cheese. Again another great part of the meal. The dressing was light but flavorful and I loved the nuts and fruit pairing too.

My favorite part of my meal. The GF pan asian noodles made with shrimp, vegis, rice noodles, GF tamrai and other great herbs and spices. This was AMAZING!


I only ate one meal at Epcot an that was at La Cantina de San Angel. I was a little nervous ordering here. You go through the regular line and It does not seem like a big deal if you have and allergy, but the cashier knew right away what I could get that was gluten free. No Chips here for those of us who eat gluten free. I ended up getting the Tacos de Pollo with a side of rice. The tortillas were made of corn. I actually enjoyed this meal quite a bit, the chicken had a good flavor but I was nervous I might get sick as I did not feel enough precaution was taken. However I ended up being fine! I wish I had thought to ask for salsa and sour cream when I checked out because I did not feel comfortable using the salsa bar. To many things to worry about there.

Tacos de Pollo from La Cantina De San Angel in Epcot 


At the Magic Kingdom I had another surprisingly great meal at Be Our Guest. We received an email a few days before our trip which invited us to try a new service using our magic bands and fast pass+. Basically you get the email and preorder your meal through the link in the email. They even had allergy filters to use. My husband and I both had the gluten free version of the braised pork with vegis and mashed potatoes. It was delicious! The pork was cooked just right and very flavorful. I loved the vegis too. It is easy enough to find a salad at disney but I find the other vegi options are a little lacking. I also ordered a gluten free lemon raspberry cream puff which was also very good. A little on the sweet side for my taste but for the average joe it would probably be great.
Braise Pork with mashed potatoes and vegis at Be Our Guest.
GF raspberry lemon cream puff at be our guest. Sorry this pic is upside down! 


One of My favorite and most anticipated stops on this trip was Baby Cakes NYC in downtown Disney. It did not disappoint. The kids and I went twice to visit this shop which is "hidden" in the building where Pollo Campero and Fresh Apeel are. However there is no sign on the building for Baby Cakes.
I had read online that they had donuts, cookies, loaf breads and cupcakes that were all gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free, vegan. I only make gluten free baked goods at home so my kids knew what to expect. The baked goods here are not overly sweet and a little more dense then traditional baked goods but they were all fantastic. The first trip we got a coconut frosted donut, a cinnamon sugar donut and a chocolate frosted donut and we each had a favorite. I loved the coconut frosted best. We also tried the banana chip slice and pumpkin chip slice which we all enjoyed also. The donuts were just a bit sweeter so I think those were the kids favorite. On our second visit we again had the chocolate frosted donut, the cinnamon sugar donut and the new favorite was the cookie topped donut.  It was a GF cookie crumbled on top of a donut using a glaze as the glue to keep it on. Again so good. We also brought a few GF chocolate chip cookies back as a treat for other days. As I said earlier we tried the GF mini cupcakes at the Animal Kingdom allergy booth and the kids enjoyed those also but the donuts were for sure the favorite. 
Baby Cakes NYC at Downtown Disney

Our first trip, the white donut is the coconut frosted which was my favorite. The back left is the chocolate frosted and the back right is the cinnamon sugar donut. We also got the two slices of banana chip and pumpkin chip in the front left, and they were all great!
Another Shot of Baby Cakes NYC goodies


Another highly anticipated treat on our list is the famous Dole Whip. We had this on our last trip and If you like pineapple you will love this. Dole whip is gluten and Dairy free. The line at Aloha Isle in Magic Kingdom was long, and my husband did not think we should wait, but my daughter and I really wanted to. My husband originally said he did not want one until we got to the window and he changed his mind. I was glad he did because I was not going to share with him. These are almost like a pineapple sherbet, and they melt fast, so you need to find a seat close by and eat it before it topples over. 
Dole Whip from Aloha Isle in Magic Kingdom

One of the last gluten free treats on my list for Disney was a Mickey Premium B
ar. It is a vanilla  ice cream bar covered in chocolate. They are rich and delicious but a little messy. We actually had these a few times on our trip and loved them every time. They can be found in all the parks and hotels but be sure you get the ice cream bar and not the ice-cream sandwich which does have gluten in it! The wrappers look similar.
Mickey Premium Bar





Mickey bar out of wrapper.

Well that is all the pics I took this trip. I hope this helps anyone going to Walt Disney World in the near future with a gluten allergy. We really enjoyed our time and found that Disney is super accommodating to those of us with allergies. Just be sure to add your allergy info to every reservation you make online or in person. It makes it so much faster and easier. If you have any questions about any of the meals feel free to message me!

MAURA



Thursday, December 5, 2013

Personalized

I try to make at least one homemade gift for friends and family each year and this year that gift is personalized bookmarks. I got an early bday present this year and I am putting it to good use. My Silhouette is quite the beauty. She knows how to do just about everything with paper, vinyl and fabric. I am sure there is more she can do but I can only try do so much!

So the Silhouette comes with a bunch of free shapes to start with and one was a bookmark. So I cut out bookmarks from many different patterned papers, used adhesive to stick them back to back and cut out names from white card stock. I then had them laminated at a local postal center added some ribbon at the top and for a few dollars I made quite a few bookmarks.

One of the things I have been wanting to make for a while, is a sign to go above my bed. I have a very tall head board and it has been hard to find something to put above it. I thought making something custom size was the perfect idea.  I knew I wanted it to say Goodnight, Love you, See you in the morning as that is what my kids, my husband and I say each night when we kiss them goodnight. So I started by having my brother cut a large plank of pine to a 4 foot length as I knew that would be appropriate for above my bed. I then put on a coat of pink paint which I custom mixed by using some acrylic folk art paint and some pure white Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. 

I then cut some contact paper on my silhouette, used transfer paper to transfer the letters to my board and then put on a top coat of Annie Sloan Pure White mixed with Florence.
When that was dry, I used an exacto knife to remove the contact paper letters and then did a coat of clear wax. It still looked to bright to me so I then added a coat of dark wax, and buffed till shiny. It turned out great but still looked brand new. I then sanded around the edges and roughed it up a bit.
My husband hung it on my bedroom wall tonight, and here is the final project in place! I am so happy with how it turned out and I look forward to making more with my Silhouette. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

I am in love with Chalk Paint!

I had an idea. Many months ago I decided my lowly kitchen needed a little more storage, and so I decided to look for a sideboard to use as a beverage center in my kitchen. I searched for a few months on craigslist, but everything was either too expensive or too far away. I was then invited to join a local yard sale group on Facebook. Low and behold I found a piece I liked, at a price I liked and it was in my town. I went over to check it out with my husband, liked the quality of the piece and picked it up for $100.
So I really liked the bones of the piece, but that was about it. It had a few scratches on the top and door, some hardware was off, and the doors stuck. I decided to make it my own. I searched pinterest for coffee bar ideas as I have so many items I use for my Choffy business and I needed a place to store it all.  This includes my french presses, choffy, my husbands coffee, all my coffee mugs, my kids lunch boxes, straws, sweeteners and tea bags. I saw a few pieces I was drawn to and decided to go with the stained top and painted body. Only problem is that I do not care for cherry finish so I knew I had to start by stripping, sanding and staining the top a darker color. This was probably the most time consuming part of the project.
sanded top
I sanded and then put on my stain (I used an ebony stain), the first time I put it on I left it on too thick so the next day I had sticky spots.
first try with stained top
 I thought I was going to have to strip and sand it all again but found(through online research) that I could just add more stain and wipe it off better a second time and the sticky spots were gone. I let it dry a few more hours and started with the first of 5 coats of semi gloss poly. I let the poly dry 2 hours in between each coat.
top with 5 coats of poly
So now it was time for the body. I had thought long and hard about what I would use for paint and choosing the color was probably the hardest decision of the project. I finally decided on Annie Sloan Chalk paint. I loved all the projects I had seen online and knew from reading that I should go to a stockist to really take a look at the colors in person. I went to my local shop Counting Sheep Antiques in Berlin Ma.  I looked at the books and many pieces throughout the store but was still not sure what color I wanted. Luckily the owner Sally was there to guide me. I mentioned that I liked Aubusson Blue and she said that she had a door upstairs which she had just painted that color. She took me to see it and  I knew that was the color for me. We went back downstairs and Sally helped me pick out all the supplies I would need to start using my Chalk Paint. I bought a quart of Aubusson Blue, a can of clear wax, and a can of dark wax. I bought two wax brushes, one for each kind of wax. I also bought an Annie Sloan Paint brush. When all was said and done I spent about $200 on the supplies, but the brushes and wax will be used many times more and I only used about 1/4 of the paint on this project so I can use it for many more things.

It took me one day to paint the sideboard. I did 2 coats of Aubusson Blue and then 1 coat of clear wax and  1 coat of dark wax. I made sure to wipe off all the excess wax with a lint free cloth after applying it with the brush.  I also spray painted my antique brass hardware with an oiled bronze spray paint. I did not want to have to find new hardware and the spray paint was a quick and easy fix.
Painting in progress, you can see my mugs and french presses in the lower cabinets.
In the end I LOVE the final piece. The Annie Sloan Chalk Paint really is gorgeous. The wax brings out a depth in the paint. I would do this again in a second. I am actually now thinking of doing my dingy old kitchen cabinets over now also. They are 70's dark would cabinets and anything would make them look better, but I think that Chalk Paint may actually make them look great! I will keep you posted on this!

The final product! Annie Sloan Aubusson Blue!
 My husband loves it just as much as I do. He actually walks by multiple times a day saying, "I can't believe how nice this turned out, It looks so professional." It is also very functional, which is my favorite part! If you have any questions about using Chalk paint let me know. I am not a professional by any means but I can tell you what worked for me. Have a great day!

Maura

Friday, August 16, 2013

Finished Whole30!


Well my whole30 is over. I learned a few things.

1. I eat way to much dairy.
2. I eat way to much dark chocolate.
3. fruit is like candy when you are not eating dark chocolate.
4. I want dairy back- but in smaller amounts
5. Choffy can sub for dark chocolate

I am pretty happy with myself right now. I have been eating a primal diet for almost a year and a half now, so the switch to Whole30 was not super extreme, but it was harder then expected. Little things caught me by surprise like no ketchup on a burger and no butter on my sweet potato. I lost 8.5 lbs which surely shows I eat too much dairy and chocolate.
From here on out dairy will be a treat every few days and dark chocolate will be a once a week thing except for my daily Choffy. I do not really crave either one at all anymore but I feel like eating out would be very hard if I skipped dairy, you find it in pretty much everything even salads.

I feel like my goal of revving up my metabolism worked and I wonder how I can transition back to dairy without a major stomach upheaval.  I do not have a plan to purposely eat dairy today but I want to be prepared when the time comes to have a very small amount to start, so my stomach can adjust.

I am due to get bloodwork done, and may stick with the plan for a few more days to see what kind of difference Whole30 has made on my numbers? Anyhow. To anyone thinking of doing whole30 I highly recommend it. If nothing else you will feel good about making the effort and using your will power. Any questions just ask. Have a great weekend!
Maura

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I am half way through my whole30!

The past two weeks I have been doing my version of whole 30. I have already been grain free and almost all sugar free for well over a year. I decided to cut the last of the sugar...dark chocolate, any paleofied baked goods, and the dairy from my diet for a month. The first few days were really hard, I felt pretty bad and was not eating enough. I guess I use dairy as a crutch. I filled in gaps between meals with a cheese stick and have quite a bit of cheese on burgers, salads, eggs etc. However after the first few days I  found a few new meal options and started feeling like myself again.
This is an example of my lunch. Applegate farms ham with whole grain mustard, guacamole, cucumbers,carrots, and some macadamia nuts.

I made it to day 15 and I am feeling great. My kids feel bad for me, but I do not feel bad at all. I feel great as a matter of fact. I feel like I have lost a few pounds and I have been sleeping like a baby at night. I also have a lot of energy. At this point I am still having cravings for dairy and the chocolate, but everytime I want chocolate I make myself a cup of Choffy with some coconut milk (full fat from a can) in it. It fills me up a bit, gives me a little energy boost and gets rid of the chocolate cravings.  
Choffy with coconut milk
With two weeks left I still feel as though I will go back to dairy but not to the extent I was having it before. As for dark chocolate, I am not sure yet. I am thinking I may try some 90% dark which has less sugar then the 85% I was eating. I think it will taste very sweet to me now that I have been without it for so long.
If you read my post on going primal, then you know my total cholesterol dropped by 87 pts. I am planning on getting my numbers run again after I complete my whole 30 to see how it affects them. It is time for my yearly thyroid check and physical anyhow.  So far I feel like this has been a success. I have 15 more days to learn. I am already so proud to have made it halfway. It does take some will power and it makes me feel like I am accomplishing something great.
Have any of you done Whole 30? What did you think. Did you make it 30 days?

Hope everyone has a great day!
Maura