Friday, December 20, 2013

Mama was a Rolling... Oat. A Collection of Oatmeal Mixes

What do you mean, where have I been?  I went back to university to become a nurse.

Social life, remodeling life... anything besides basic cleaning, making sure kids are fed, clean, and clothed has taken a remote back seat to reading, reading, reading, clinical, endless exams, and oh... reading.  I read more now than when I was in law school, and I read so much there that I devised a system for reading while in the shower.

I wish I were kidding about that.

Anyway... I'm on winter break and that means I get to chill out and relax prepare for next semester like a manic squirrel that has 3 weeks to prepare for hibernation.  I've been cleaning, putting away the summer clothes (don't judge!), and cooking like a mad woman because I know that I simply will not have time to do much more than reheat dinner from Monday through Friday (and that one weekend where I have a clinical rotation).  I just need to be able to wake up in that dazed fog that only people who get to sleep for 4 hours a night understand, and microwave some oatmeal for my kids' breakfast.

that's a lot of oatmeal

Instead of frantically stocking up on instant oatmeal packets when they happen to be on sale 4 for $10, I ran out one day because I hadn't had time to go grocery shopping.  I had a lowly canister of rolled oats, some dried apple bits, spices, and sugar in the pantry, so I whipped up my own apple oatmeal mix that morning.  It was SO much better than those overly sweet mushy packets of oatmeal.  I decided then and there to make my own oatmeal mixes, and the kids sometimes ask for oatmeal for dinner.  The stuff is fantastic, and with a couple of "special ingredients" (namely, PB2, freeze dried fruits, and powdered milk)*.  I tend to have those "special ingredients" in my pantry, but feel free to use dehydrated fruits or regular peanut butter and liquid milk if that's what you have on hand.  I need something I can just dump into a bowl and nuke, because it is generally 4:30 a.m. when the kids have breakfast on clinical days, and pre-caffeinated me is NOT awake at 4:30 a.m.

Things you'll need before you start your oatmeal mix-making frenzy:

  • Containers:  You can use gallon sized storage bags, glass jars, plastic cereal containers, empty coffee cans, whatever.  As long as it can be sealed and shaken without spilling your oaty contents all over the counter, you're good.
  • A ginormous bowl:  The chocolate peanut butter oatmeal recipe has 9 cups of oats in it, and that's before you start adding the other ingredients.  You need a big bowl to contain that sort of chaos.
  • A sifter:  This is pretty much necessary only for the chocolate peanut butter oatmeal, because no one wants to bite into a bitter nugget of unsweetened cocoa (as an aside, doing so will definitely wake you up).
If you're going to make all of the mixes at once, you'll need 2 of the large canisters of old-fashioned rolled oats, which weigh a little over 2 pounds each.  They retail in my area for $3 each, which is roughly the price of one 12-packet box of flavored oatmeal.

Pantry items:  granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, Chinese Five Spice, ground cloves, ground ginger, ground allspice, ground nutmeg (or a bottle of apple pie spices to replace the last 4 mentioned), raisins, dried/freeze dried fruit slices or dices (apples, berries), cocoa powder, powdered milk, PB2 powdered peanut butter (or regular peanut butter)

make your pantry work for you

All of these recipes require simple, but thorough, mixing.  Since the ingredients do settle to the bottom of the container, it will be necessary to shake the container before you scoop the oatmeal into bowls to be cooked.  I usually flip it upside down, give it a shake, and everything gets redistributed well.   
The cooking instructions for each recipe is also the same:  1/3 cup of oatmeal mix to 1/2 cup of water, stir and microwave in a microwave-safe bowl for 4 minutes.  Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes, stir, and enjoy.  When this comes out of the micro, it is HOT.  Use oven mitts if your bowls get hot, and don't eat it until it has had a chance to cool to a safe temperature.  Common sense, but in a rush, I've done it and burned the heck out of my mouth.  


2 cups freeze dried apple dices, or crushed freeze dried apple slices, or chopped dehydrated apples
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp Chinese Five Spice (this gives it a lovely star anise kick... optional if you can't find it)
OR if using apple pie spice, 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp apple pie spice in addition to the 2 Tbsp cinnamon
5 cups rolled oats
1 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark... I use whatever I have on hand)

Measure 1/3 cup of oatmeal mix to 1/2 cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl, microwave for 4 minutes (900 watt).  Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes, stir, and enjoy.  When this comes out of the micro, it is HOT.  Use oven mitts if your bowls get hot, and don't eat it until it has had a chance to cool to a safe temperature.



5 cups rolled oats
1 cup raisins
2 Tbsp cinnamon
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

Measure 1/3 cup of oatmeal mix to 1/2 cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl, microwave for 4 minutes (900 watt).  Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes, stir, and enjoy.  When this comes out of the micro, it is HOT.  Use oven mitts if your bowls get hot, and don't eat it until it has had a chance to cool to a safe temperature.


6 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup powdered milk
1-1/2 cups freeze dried berries or a blend of freeze dried and dehydrated berries (freeze dried berries taste closer to actual berries than the dehydrated sort, which are more like raisins).  I use 2-3 packets of a freeze-dried mixed berry blend

Measure 1/3 cup of oatmeal mix to 1/2 cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl, microwave for 4 minutes (900 watt).  Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes, stir, and enjoy.  When this comes out of the micro, it is HOT.  Use oven mitts if your bowls get hot, and don't eat it until it has had a chance to cool to a safe temperature.


9 cups rolled oats
1 cup powdered milk
2 cups PB2 (a 6.8 oz container is about 2 cups)
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup cocoa powder, sifted (dutched or regular)

Measure 1/3 cup of oatmeal mix to 1/2 cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl, microwave for 4 minutes (900 watt).  Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes, stir, and enjoy.  When this comes out of the micro, it is HOT.  Use oven mitts if your bowls get hot, and don't eat it until it has had a chance to cool to a safe temperature.


*contains affiliates

Monday, May 27, 2013

Here and There

The desk/console is taking more time than originally planned.  Sadly, the veneer appliques on the lower drawers crumbled when I attempted to gently remove them, so they're gone.  I'm considering other appliques, but the design on the top panel is in nearly perfect condition, and finding a similarly-styled match is not an easy chore.  Apparently, the trend in wood applique is very baroque, full of acanthus leaves, flourishes, and flowers.  I don't think it'd work with the lines of the desk, so, it might just be plain Jane.

I pulled out all of the tiny finishing nails from the bottom drawers, and right now, they look like this:

Below the veneer, there were a lot of gouges in the wood, some were old, and some were caused by yours truly.  I filled them in with wood filler, and I'm still in the process of sanding them down.  It should be finished by the end of this week, so a reveal will definitely be in order.  I'm still debating on spray painting the aged brass pulls that the desk came with, or swapping them out for glass knobs.  Once the desk is painted, I'll have to see what I like best.

Right now, several projects are on deck.  The front porch looks like a warehouse!  I picked up a standing jewelry armoire at a tag sale for $10.  It is broken where the leg connects to the base, but it is an easy fix.  It will, of course be painted, and my oldest kidlet will have a place for her growing accessory collection. 

I also picked up a twin bed frame from the same tag sale (also $10), which will eventually be used in the front porch.  

I need to get a support replaced and a new screw for one of the center legs.

Lastly, is a lovely little table that was one of the last gifts I received from my dad before he died.  We saw it at the antique mall, and he gave it to me for my birthday.  It needs to be sanded down, because the top surface was stripped at some point, and then my daughter spilled Kool-Aid on it.  The full profile is in the above photo, behind the bed frame.  

styling courtesy of Liz, the 12-year-old kidlet

I haven't decided where the table is going to go.  It is likely I'll use it on the front porch, since I usually work out there when the weather is nice.  

For the next few weeks, though, my project schedule is full.  Unless, of course, I find something fabulous curbside.  I definitely can't resist a free rehab project!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Curbside Score!

Since I usually hit the local thrift store (and grocery store) on Friday, I made a list and set off to pick up some jalapenos and cilantro for tomorrow night's steak taco dinner.  I also got some more tomatillos so I could make some green salsa with avocado.  Both are definite favorites in my house, and I simply cannot wait to see the look on my kids' faces when they find out the menu.  There will also be tres leches cake for dessert, because I'm hoping to entice my friend Cynthia over to join us, as a thank you for yesterday's handychick adventures, which I'll write about next week.

So, there I was, scooting down the road to go to the grocery store, and I spied a child's desk on the curb.  I had no place to park and hitting the brakes was out of the question due to the line of cars behind me.  There was a sign on it, but the wind had flipped it over.  I decided to wait until I was on my way back from shopping to check out the desk.

Happily, it was still there, and I pulled up on the curb and put on my flashers, since that side of the street is a no parking zone.  I flipped the sign to read, FREE!  It was free, and more importantly, it was MINE.  I popped the back door up, tossed it in the car, and off I went.

There is some serious damage to the veneer on the desk, but since it is mostly lifted off, and since I'm planning to paint it, I'm just going to finish removing it from the desk surface.

The side of the desk could likely handle some wood filler and sanding.  Overall, it's a gorgeous little piece, and I can't wait to get it finished up!

I took the pictures on my front porch, which is also slated for a major overhaul this summer.  Ignore the chipping paint and missing caulking around the windows.  It'll all be prettied up soon, too.  All I need to find now is a child's desk chair, if I choose to have the kids actually use it as a desk.  I'm thinking it might be a good size for a hall table.  We'll have to see.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Let's Get it Started in Here! Peas are in the Houuuuuse!

As much as I'd like to host the Black Eyed Peas at Chez Pleasant, it's just not going to happen.  It has been a crazy couple of weeks!  I've been working on seed starting, but boy, have we been through some stuff these past few weeks!  Emily started it off with a crazy stomach virus that eventually worked its way through the rest of us, and between doing copious amounts of laundry and making sure kids were not dehydrated, everything else was at a standstill.  I think we all have times like this, so you'll forgive me for not posting, right?  Right.  Okay, let's move on, because like Fergie Ferg says, big girls don't cry.

This past week, I've managed to get the tomato and pepper seeds planted and they're finally sprouting.  I'm growing 8 different varieties of tomato and 9 pepper varieties... 7 of which are spicy.  I do like a hot pepper.  Okay, I love them.  Since peppers crave heat for germination, they're on a toasty heating mat in the dining room.  I'm going to have to move them under the lights, though, to prevent them from getting leggy and unmanageable.  We can't have floppy seedlings.  

I love the names of tomatoes.  I'm planting
"Crimson Sprinter", "Matt's Wild Cherry"

Peppers... and Robb Stark (Winter is Coming!)

I learned a hard lesson in plant starting.  Remember those 125 strawberry plants that I ordered?  I planted them in the Topsy-Turvy Strawberry Planters.  They were doing great and just taking off like I would have a million strawberries in June.   Then I brought a basil plant home that I picked up from the grocery store.  You know, the ones that they put right next to the tomatoes that smell so good and you think, "Mmm basil.  I'm going to make marinara tonight!"  Only you bring it home, and make marinara that night, and a pizza margherita the next night, and that basil plant still has some tiny leaves on it so you think, I'll just stick this under the grow lights so that it can grow and while your head fills with dreams of bruschetta....

You get a fungus gnat infestation.  

See those black dots?

Said fungus gnats moved into my delightfully moist strawberry planters and wreaked havoc.  When I saw the first little cloud of black gnats fly up when I watered the planter, it was far too late.  I've lost about 80% of my plants, and have managed to control the rest from spreading elsewhere by hanging sticky traps next to my seed trays and fig tree.  

In the garden, I've discovered that the weed barrier I first purchased disintegrated as soon as weeds began to grow under it.  I've been holding off on purchasing mulch, as I've been trying to find a mulch that isn't dyed red or black or dyed at all.  You'd be amazed at how difficult this is to do in my area.  Locally, along the side of the highway, crews have been clearing brush and small trees from the sides of the roads so that drivers can see deer that jet across the road.  There are plenty of wood chips there, and I might just call and ask if I can haul some of it away.  If not, I swear I'm going to resort to cedar shavings that is used for hamster bedding.  Anyway, one corner of it flew up during a windy rain storm and when I attempted to put it down again, it just disintegrated in my fingers.  I'm not happy about that.  I got some heavy duty weed barrier at Big Box Store and I intend to weed the underlying layer of vegetation that has sprouted and replace it with the new and improved barrier.  I'm testing it under my potato towers, first, since it has a money-back guarantee to block weeds, I don't want to put it all down if there's a chance it'll peter out in a couple of weeks.

Outside, I've planted beets, peas, kale, lettuce, and red onions--all crops that can stand a little bit of cold.  I started my All Red, All Blue, and Rose Finn Apple potatoes using a tower method.  This is a great way to grow a lot of potatoes in a little bit of space.  I built mine with plastic chicken fencing which I cut horizontally, affixed in rounds with zip ties, and filled with a combination of hay and compost.  
Front to back:  1: kale & lettuce, 2: Spanish onions,
3: beets, and in the 4th box, peas... which are NOT in the house.
On the very right, looking like piles of hay, are the potato towers
Here's a better look at a potato tower:

The side yard, and now the front yard, are plagued with the weed of all weeds-- Bishop's Weed, the variegated form is known as Snow on the Mountain.  Both are illegal to plant in some states due to its ability to invade and choke out nearly everything in its path.  The moment the snow melted, there it was, an inch high.  Of course, I dug out what I could, but two weeks later, it's nearly a foot high.  

No, I haven't weeded the walkway yet.  This used to be a perennial flower garden, until the weed spread from the neighbor's house.
The weed spreads via an extensive runner root system, the tiniest bit of which can sprout another plant.  You cannot just pull it out, as it has bits that shred, spawning-- you guessed it-- more plants.  It's like kudzu, the vine that took over Florida, but shorter.  For years I have mulched, put down weed barrier, newspaper, applied vinegar, and done everything in my organic bag of weed-fighting tricks to keep it from taking over, to no avail.  It doesn't look terrible, but I'd like to be able to have flowers in the side yard.  My friend Kim said the only way to get rid of it is to move out (she has it too).  In fact, it is all over our town.  My goal this season is to try to contain it to where it is, and work with it where it stands.  It does get some lovely Queen Anne-type flowers, so I think I can work with it as long as it doesn't penetrate the garden beds.  Okay, well, it's already in the garlic bed, but once that garlic is harvested, there will be some digging and weed barrier action going on.

Garlic, kale, and weeds
I have plenty on my to-do list for this summer, and I'll be working on that and of course, keeping you all updated.  More to come, and I promise not to get buried under so much work that posting becomes impossible. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Two Weeks and All is Well!

strawberry lemonade!
It has been 14 entire days since I've written last, due to throwing myself into work and having very little time to do much of anything besides make sure the kids are clean and fed.  We had a couple of nice days--and by nice, I mean over 50 degrees!  I managed to get soil into the raised beds and get some seeds planted outside.

The peas are in the hoop bed, red and golden beets are in another bed, an entire bed of red onion sets have been planted, and a couple of different kinds of kale have just sprouted.  By the time our last frost date rolls around, the peas, kale, and beets should be ready to harvest, and the beds will be home to peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, and carrots.  Amazingly, our Red Russian kale from last year started taking off the moment the snow melted.  I picked off the browned outside leaves and it is starting to grow new ones!  The garlic I planted last fall has kicked into gear as well, and I'm starting to feel the excitement of impending summer.  I have a schedule of when to plant each set of seeds, based on the number of days it takes them to mature.  Right now, in the house, I have celery and shallots started, but nothing else will go in until this weekend.

seed starts
This past weekend was Evie's birthday, which also coincided with the opening of Pennsylvania's fishing season, so we went fishing for her birthday!  We've been having a ton of rain, though, so the creek was muddy, fast, and the water level was really high.  Everyone was having a rough time getting the trout to bite.  One gentleman overheard that it was Evie's birthday and gave her his only catch of the day, which was super sweet of him to do.

The birthday girl and her birthday trout
On the homemade front, I've been baking apple turnovers with some of the apple pie filling that I froze last fall.  Tonight I baked some bread, and for the past few weeks have been making a huge batch of steel-cut oats in the slow cooker.  This week, I've been working on going "shopping" in my chest freezer so that we can use up the things that we froze from last year in order to make room for this year's harvest.

I managed to burn my hand last week by hitting the exposed top of my hand against one of the hot oven racks.  I put the last of my homemade "owie salve" on it, so ended up making another batch.  It is easy to make and really works well on minor cuts, scrapes, scratches, and burns.  It also smells really good!  I base my recipe on Mrs. Happy Homemaker's Homemade Natural Neosporin as well as on ingredients that my ex-husband's late grandmother used in her "Horton's" salve.

Herbs infuse the oils making it a dark green
I've been up with a sick kidlet for the past few days, but it looks like the tide has turned and she's on the mend, finally.  I'm going to head to bed early (for me) and hope tomorrow brings us a healthy sort of day.  Friday, I'm headed to the creek to hopefully catch some trout, and Saturday, the girls and I are meeting up with my friend Cynthia to go foraging for leeks and morels.  Of course, I'll take the camera this time.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

PVC Hoop Greenhouse for Raised Garden Beds

In typical Pennsylvania fashion, we had a brief break in the icy, snowy weather to be reminded what spring is supposed to be like.  I took complete advantage of this by installing a couple of the raised beds I have been working on for a while.  Since our average last frost date is May 28th (and first frost is in mid-September), I want to have a way to lengthen our growing season, even if it is just by a few weeks.  Building a greenhouse right now is out of the question, but it also doesn't really help when your plants are already in the ground.  I decided to make a hoop-style greenhouse with some really low-cost supplies that you can pick up at any Home Depot or Lowes.

A couple of months ago, a local company in my town was offering free pallets.  I jumped on the chance to score some free lumber for raised beds, and I'm really happy I did.  In the pallet "yard" we found some wooden boxes that were used to package glass and mirrors.  In essence, they  were nearly complete as raised beds, but without bottoms.  Since I am installing the garden on a concrete pad, it is somewhat important that the beds have a bottom so that the soil doesn't wash away during watering and rain.  

This is what they looked like when I first got them:

All I really had to do was to pry off a couple of boards from one of the pallets that didn't have sides, and nail them to the boxes that did.  It sounds a lot easier than it was, since some of these boards had dozens of 3-inch staples that were just horrid to remove, snip, or bend.  

The concrete pad looked like this on Saturday:

That area in the middle that looks like it has gravel
is quick-setting concrete that I applied a couple of weeks ago.
I raked up the sticks in the foreground and applied a good dose of white vinegar to the cracks where the weeds have already started greening up.  Once they're covered with landscape fabric and mulch, they should no longer be a problem.

I underestimated the amount of landscaping fabric I'd need by about half.  I purchased a roll of 3 x 100-foot fabric, since the pad isn't that big.  It covered a little over half of the pad, and I had enough to put into one bed to hold the soil in.  Purchasing more landscape fabric is on my to-do list this week.

Once I had the fabric down, I had to move the garden beds to the concrete pad.  This was definitely the part I was not looking forward to, since I was going to have to do it by myself.  Luckily, I have my workhorse of a garden cart (the Tricam FR110-2 Farm & Ranch 400-Pound Capacity Steel Utility Cart).  The sides drop down so that I can haul something on a flat platform, and the cart can haul up to 400 pounds of material!  The only downside to having the cart's sides down is that the turning radius is slightly reduced, since the sides rest against the wheels.  Getting the boxes onto the cart was no picnic, as they weigh at least 70 pounds. I lifted each one onto one side, pushed the cart beside it, and let it fall.  I had to maneuver the ends so that the weight was equally distributed, but then pulling it the rest of the way to the concrete pad was a piece of cake.  Getting the box off of the cart and onto the fabric, evenly, without ripping the landscape fabric was a feat, but I managed to get that done as well.

To install the hoops, I picked up three 1/2 inch diameter, 12-foot lengths of PVC tubing from Lowes for less than $2 each.  I would not go shorter than the 12-foot length, as it may be too difficult to hold into place while nailing.  I also bought a package of 2-hole pipe straps (about $3) that would fit the diameter of the PVC.  I used some nails that I had on hand.  

While I did this project by myself, and it is entirely doable by yourself, I would highly recommend having another person handy to help with the bending and installation of the PVC pipe so that it does not snap back at you and cause injury.  Wear safety glasses.  If you are doing it by yourself, as I did, please be careful!  

Measure the length of the raised bed and mark the center on both of the long sides.  Then mark 2 inches from each end.  This is where you will install the PVC pipe.  

In order to avoid injuring myself, I nailed one side of the bed with the pipe straps, leaving about 1/4 inch between the nail head and the wood.  In other words, do not nail this side all the way in.  On the other side, I nailed only ONE side of the pipe strap, again, leaving about a quarter-inch of wiggle room.  This allowed me to slide the pipe easily into one side of the bed, bend the pipe, press it against the mark while maneuvering the strap over the "loose" end, and nail it into place.  Then I went back to the other side and finished nailing the straps into place.  In order to keep the pipe from flying up and decapitating me hitting me in the head, after the pipe was bent, since I was bent over facing away from the bed, I held it in place with my hind end and leg.  I'm sure I looked ridiculous, but it allowed me to free up my hand to hold the nail in place while I tapped the strap in.

Installed strap

This is the finished bed, without the plastic covering, since there was nothing planted in there yet.  Filling the bed took 10 quarts of organic garden soil.  Since rain was predicted for the next day, I decided to put in an early spring crop of peas on Sunday morning and would allow the rain to water them in.  Before planting them, however, I soaked them overnight in water to rehydrate and give them a head start in sprouting.  Once they do sprout, I'll cover the bed with a plastic painting drop cloth and use PVC clamps to keep it in place.

I covered these up with soil and gave them a nutrient-filled watering with some of Elderberry Farm's Alpaca Compost Tea.  

I make a concentrated quart, and dilute it with water until it makes a gallon.

The label for this stuff is hilarious!

Bootleggin Walt is the name of one of the alpacas
Since I don't have any finished compost for soil amendment, I can use all the help I can get as far as nutrients, microorganisms, and beneficial bacteria right now.  The "tea brew" is about 8 months old and won't burn any of the plants.  It can also be used over and over until it finally has to be replenished.  We had great results with it in the last few months of summer last year.

After all that work was done, I kicked off my boots and put my feet up, watching the kids play outside for the first time in a very long time.

It doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Designer Inspired Frames

I adore Emily Henderson.  I love her comfy, liveable take on midcentury-modern-meets-LA-beachy decorating style.  While it worked quite well for me when I lived in sunny Florida, it is hard to incorporate that into the chilly wilderness of Pennsylvania--especially when there is a foot of snow on the ground!

That said, I just can't give up on the little treasures that Em has in store for me in the pages of HGTV magazine.  Okay, I totally talk about the divine Ms. H like we have brunch every Sunday at some airy cafe in La-La land.  I think she just has that approachable, friend-sort of quality... so I'm running with it.

In my current HGTV issue, Em did a whole house redec for a lovely couple and their little boy.  I love the chalkboard wall, but that would never work on the 145-year-old plaster walls that I have.  I also adore the roughed-up turquoise dresser which lends itself to the vintage+beachy thing that Emily does so well.  But, the things that I love the most from this photo are the frames!  Boring old white frames given a little bit of glitz and a whole lot of interest.  I love how it doesn't overshadow the artwork, or compete with it... it just highlights it while doing a spanking good job at being pretty.

And I like pretty.

If you're wondering which "current issue" I'm referring to, since I tend to get my subscriptions later than everyone else, it is the April 2013 issue and the front cover looks like this:

If you've been paying attention to the bedroom redecorating, you have seen these:

If you're wondering what the bottom print says, here's a more legible version:

The little boy says, "Hi Bear!"
The big bear says, "Hello."
The baby bear says, "Papa, I want to eat that little boy."

Okay, I like a little twist in addition to pretty.

So, one might think that you can just whip together these frames with some acrylic craft paint and some painters tape.  You can!  Well, almost.  I ran into some issues with this project, which is why I'm sharing it.  So, let's move on to the labor-intensive (ha!) part of this whole shebang.

I used the 2 oz tubes of craft paint found at nearly every big box store nationwide.  I used the Patio Paint version for the white, because I thought it would stand up to casual bumps and dings better than the regular.  I don't know where I got that idea, but I went with it.  You'll also need painters tape.  Width doesn't matter, but you want the sort for delicate surfaces since you do not want to pull your freshly-painted white base coat off of the frame.  I used FrogTape brand tape for delicate surfaces (it is yellow).  A butter knife or a ruler with a thin metal edge also comes in handy for when the tape is removed.  I used a 1/2 inch all purpose acrylic paintbrush (the sort you would use for a painting, not a wall).  Lastly, a sheet of fine grit sandpaper is needed if your frames are coated with any sort of laminate.

The first frame I painted is the one with the bear print.  It went off without a hitch and I completely forgot to take photos of the process.  The wood on the frame was not stained, and as far as wood goes, it was unfinished and a bit rough to the touch.  In other words, it was in perfect pre-paint condition.  That frame sucked up the paint like no one's business.

If you are using an unfinished wood frame, simply apply the tape to the frame (straight across, or adjacent edges... whatever floats your boat).  If your frames are laminated or have a shiny coating of any sort, you're going to need to do some extra work.
I tried to tackle the Ikea Ribba frames as they were.  The surface was smooth, but didn't feel lacquered at all.  I'm pretty sure the designers at Ikea developed some sort of anti-paint coating for these, because I wanted to toss it across the room when this happened:

It simply repelled the paint after about 30 seconds

I must have been tired that night, because I didn't sand that frame down first.  I dove into my stash of sandpaper and sanded away only the part that I was going to paint.

These took 4 coats of paint to get the paint opaque enough so the white base would not show up under the brush strokes.  

first coat

third coat

I didn't take a photo of the final coat before framing the prints, so I'll just have to work on the description of pulling the tape off without peeling the paint off with it.

Put your flat edge (in my case, it was a ruler with a thin metal edge) against the seam where the paint and tape meet on the inside lip of the frame.  Slowly pull the tape off of JUST that side, move the metal edge to the top part of the frame, hold it down, then slowly peel the tape.  Repeat with the bottom side of the frame.  You should have a mostly clean edge.  I had tiny imperfections where the tape pulled away unevenly, but unless you're really looking for it, it isn't noticeable now that the prints are hung.

Here's a cost breakdown:
  • Ikea Ribba frames:  $1.99 each
  • Craft Paint:  about $2.00 each
  • Painter's Tape:  Already had some, but paid about $6.00 at Home Depot
  • Sandpaper:  Already had some, but paid about $2.00 at Home Depot
For around $20, you can whip up some pretty frames for your photos and artwork.

I think Em would be proud!

Monday, March 25, 2013


It has been a crazy amount of work, but the bedroom is finally done (well, except for the window treatment).  Before we get to the details of the "new" bedroom, let's go back and remember the hideousness that was the "old" bedroom.  Just a note that when I took these pics, the room was a mess because I was prepping walls and moving things out so we could rip out the carpet, which looked like this:

That's genuine 1980s mauve

Paint swatches and all.  Ugh.

View of the closet, pink walls,
tiny bookcase, tv, and gratuitous paint swatches
It was so pink in there

Of course, I have to include a photo of the china cabinet, since it hasn't had a proper debut since it was painted:

Doesn't it look so sad?

Since we're walking down memory lane, here's the night table that was distressed for the Winter Pinterest Challenge:

Out with the old, and in with the NEW!!!  This is the view when you first come through the door:

Pinterest Challenge night table

Lily supervised the photo shoot

Closet detail and laundry basket
Why yes, there is a sparkly gold chevron print in the closet.
 Tiny birds are everywhere...
this one is on the TV
... and in the china sweater cabinet
New home for the TV
designer-inspired frames
It is so odd to have a window in the closet.
an unexpected pretty hinge
Had to have this pillow
The ceiling color surprised us by appearing to be a grayish white against the dark paint
The ceiling paint looks closer to the actual color
in this picture
The floors need to be refinished, but still a vast improvement from the carpet

I'm sure you want details, and I'm only too happy to provide them:

  • Wall Paint:  Glidden Dark French Chocolate (flat)
  • Ceiling Paint: Glidden Amethyst Haze (flat)
  • China Cabinet & Night Stand Paint:  Behr Belgian Cream (flat)
  • Small night table:  Ikea Lack table
  • Quilt:  TJMaxx
  • Basket:  TJ Maxx
  • Pug Art Print:  TJ Maxx
  • Small White Frames:  Ikea Ribba
  • Bird Prints:  Ikea Kort
  • Bonjour Bear Print:  Sebastien Millon
  • Table Lamp & Rectangular Shade:  Target Threshold 
  • Gold Glitter Paint:  Martha Stewart at Home Depot
  • Chevron Stencil*:  Cutting Edge Stencils
  • Tiny White Birds*: 
  • Gold Glittery Bird:  Michael's
  • Burlap Paris 1868 Pillow:  Ebay shop FrenchPresents
  • Gold Beaded Pillow:  Crate & Barrel (sold out)
  • Cream Fuzzy Pillow:  Walmart
*contains affiliates

As far as the "how-to" bits go, I'll provide those details in upcoming posts.

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