Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Product Review - Minwax Wood Finish Products

Today I will share with you the process I use to touch up my beat up baseboards. And I mean beat up. If you do this to your baseboards, they will turn out looking better than mine, because mine are really bad.

I like Minwax Wood Finish Stain Markers and Minwax Wood Putty. They are cheap, convenient, and available in a variety of colors at pretty much any hardware store. I also use a damp rag, paper towel, and cardboard paper (not thick corrugated cardboard). So this is what I do...

First it helps to wipe down the area with your damp rag, to clean off the grime and see what you are really working with.

Then get your stain marker and press the tip down hard on the cardboard paper, causing the tip to go up into the marker and become saturated with stain.

Try 'writing' on the paper with the marker, it should be like writing with a Sharpie. If it does not write well, you need to keep pressing down until you get a nice wet tip.

Then take your cardboard paper and slide it under the baseboard or molding you are working on, to protect the surrounding surfaces. Then you will use the stain marker to write on the parts of the wood where the stain is scratched or rubbed off...

You should test this out in an inconspicuous area first, to see how long your stain needs to rest on the wood to match your wood's stain color. In my case, I would do a few rubs or scratches, and then wipe the excess off, then do a few more, then wipe the excess off. The time you need to let it sit will depend on how closely you are able to match the stain pen to your wood color and whether it is lighter than your wood (let it sit longer) or darker than your wood (wipe off very quickly). I use a paper towel to wipe off the excess...

Then I like to fill in any large nail holes or other gouges with the Minwax Wood Putty.

Simply scoop out a small dab (pea sized) with your fingertip and rub it into the hole, adding more if needed. Scrape off excess with your finger. You might notice a foggy area surrounding the hole; take your damp rag and pass over it a couple times and it will come off.

That's all there is to it. Even though mine are beat up, they still look a lot better after being touched up. Here is some proof...

Tackle yours today!


The kids have been getting pretty silly around here...

She is in that fun stage where she is still all baby, but her little personality is really starting to develop...

She is such a happy girl, smiling and laughing like crazy. She has been a finicky nurser and since she is so small, I was concerned she might not be getting enough milk and took her into Lactation Services yesterday to check everything out. They shared some tricks with me to get my milk production up and get her eating more. We were there to show them how she throws a fit and refuses to eat sometimes, and of course, she ate perfectly fine on the first side , and when I switched her to the other side, she wouldn't eat because she was talking and cracking up. They always make liars out of us, don't they?

Later, Mark wanted Susanna to get in the sleeping bag with him...

She thinks he's kinda crazy! She might be right.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It's Here!

I needed some kind of wall art for Mark's big boy room. I looked for a canvas print of Aspen trunks, and wasn't able to find one I loved at a decent price. I set out to get one of my own pictures printed on canvas, and found it to start around $80 at the mainstream online print shops. Then I found Winkflash's canvas department. Their canvas prices were the best I could find, with their 16x20 starting at $51. At the time, they were running their Gallery Wraps at 40% off (sorry kids, sale is over). I got this beauty in the mail yesterday, and paid about $35 including shipping.

I'm really happy with it and continue working on Mark's big boy room, trying to bring you a big reveal!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mexican Cooking - Salsa, Guacamole & Carnitas!

This weekend I hostessed an afternoon and evening of authentic Mexican cooking, taught by my dear friend Sandy.

I am sure it was just the first of many; we are already bickering over what we each want learn next time! On the menu for Lesson One were pork carnitas, salsa (pico de gallo), guacamole, green sauce and red sauce.

Ty was handy to wrangle the kids; we had my two and Sandy's three girls.

Marilyn checked out the produce,

While Mark, Rachel and Carmen took advantage of the crayons and childrens' church bulletins I stole from church that day for that very purpose (I waited till after service to make sure there were extras)...

Then they tortured Baby Tiger...

Don't feel bad for him; he deserves it. He can frequently be seen jumping through the air with his arms spread like a real tiger, to attack Mark, just for sport.

They also enjoyed time outside, playing with a rooster that decided to adopt us that day (he's still here). The girls chased him, poking sticks at him, squealing with delight. Meanwhile, my little man was hiding on the other end of the pasture, petrified of the rooster. Typical little goofball!

As for the recipe, I will post the information here, but if you want the information in a more printer-friendly format, you can email me at and I will gladly email it to you. And I apologize for not doing it PW style and taking pictures as we went... I was taking notes so I would be able to share this recipe with y'all! Kristel snagged my camera and took the pics I'm sharing with you. Gracias, chica!

Authentic Mexican Carnitas
(Feeds 12)

Ingredient List:
any pork roast(s) w/ plenty of fat (about 8 lbs. total), with bone is fine; it will fall off anyway
roma tomatoes (16)
white onions (2)
jalepenos (11)
limes (4)
cilantra (2 bunches)
tomatillos (6)
garlic (1 small clove)
dried chiles de arbol (on Hispanic aisle)
avacados (4 large or 6 small)
six-inch tortillas (corn or flour)
cooking oil
chips (2 - 3 bags)

Prepare Pork:
Set roasts in pot(s) and just cover with water. Add about 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or to taste) to each pot (we had 2). Boil rapidly for 2-3 hours or longer is even better.

Cook Salsa Verde (Green Sauce) and Red Sauce Ingredients Together:
In a large saucepan, boil 6 tomatillos (peel off dry skins), 4 jalepenos (pop stems off), 2 romas, and 7 dried chiles de arbol until smooshy.

Prepare Pico de Gallo:
Chop and combine: 8 romas, 1 white onion (finely chopped), 1/4 to 1/2 bunch cilantra, 2-3 jalepenos, juice of 1 lime (see hint), and salt to taste. Hint: If you don't have a juicer, cut it in half and hold a half in your right hand. With your left hand, hold a spoon to the center of the lime. With your right hand, press the lime firmly against the spoon and spin repeatedly to juice the lime into the bowl.

Prepare Guacamole:
Chop and combine: 6 romas, 1/4 bunch cilantra, 1/2 white onion (finely chopped), 4 jalepenos, juice from 1/2 lime and salt to taste. Cut avacados in half and remove seed. Carefully use a sharp knife to slice avacado while in the shell, first lengthwise, then perpendicular. Scoop out with spoon. Mix with other ingredients (consistency will start to turn creamy).

Prepare Toppings:
Chop remaining cilantra and jalepeno and finely chop onion. Slice remaining limes into sixths.

Finish Pork:
Water should be evaporated and fat at bottom of pan will start to bubble. Start turning meat to get it browned on all sides. Once browned, drain fat and pull apart meat into bite sized pieces, and mound it on a platter, cover with foil to keep hot.

Finish Sauces:
For salsa verde: in a food processor or blender, puree 4 of the tomatillos, 4 jalepenos, 1 small clove fresh garlic and salt to taste.
For red sauce: puree 2 romas, 2 tomatillos, 7 dried chiles de arbol, a sliver of fresh onion and salt to taste.

Warm Tortillas:
Rub a tiny dab of cooking oil on one side of a tortilla, and top with another tortilla. Rub the two together, spinning to get a very thin coat of oil evenly spread around. Keep flipping and adding tortillas, making a stack of tortillas which all have oil on both sides. Get a foot long piece of foil ready. Fry the tortillas in a dry frying pan, for a minute or less on each side, just to warm (not crispy). Place each one, as it is done, on the foil and keep the foil folded over the top to keep the whole stack warm as you go.

Now you are ready to serve! The two most popular serving suggestions are layering your taco with pork, onion, cilantra, lime juice and green or red sauce, or simply pork, pico de gallo and guacamole.

Here is how our salsa and guacamole turned out (I admit, we chowed down before I stopped to take pics =)...

And here are the heavenly carnitas...

This is a great meal, including appetizers (salsa and guac), to make for a get-together!


Product Reviews - Paint Strip & Spray Paint

For some reason, with the new tile, the little kitchen stool turned blah and was bugging me...

It was getting worn and dingy and it blended too much with the cabinets, and now, the floor. I simultaneously realized my kitchen area needed more color anyway, and decided the stool would be the perfect way to inject a little color.

However, I am impatient and not into detail work like sanding and painting tons of little crevices and all sides of every leg and support. So, I opted to try a "liquid sander" I have heard about on the blogs, and spray paint it instead of brush-on. For the liquid sander, I chose this one...

This size spray bottle of Jasco Green Strip was about $12 at Fred Meyer. I am trying to go more "green" lately, even though I am a little overwhelmed by it. It's okay, baby steps, right Kristel? Though now that I read the material safety data sheet, it seems their "green" focus was more about being biodegradable and safe for the environment, than being safe to touch and breathe - it still warns to not overexpose yourself to the fumes and to wear gloves and eye protection. But I guess it has to be strong stuff to strip paint, right?

Anyway, I sprayed on the Green Strip, and will say a few things about this... It sprays on real nice; it is gel so it sticks on well and doesn't make a drippy mess. However, it sticks on in little droplets, so if I used it again, I would wipe it down to get it to stick more evenly, and it also gets chemical over spray on everything around, so I would recommend doing this outside, and away from areas frequented by you or your children. Here is how thick I sprayed it on...

It took the shiny finish off very well, but I let it sit a couple hours longer than the product instructions recommended, so it got a little dry and tacky, and didn't wash off with water in some areas quite like it would have if I'd handled it in time. Hey, I don't mess with nap schedules! So I sanded all the easy outer planes with the electric sander - it didn't take much and could have been done by hand. Or better yet, washed off on time to begin with.

Then I wiped it down with a microfiber dusting rag to clean off all dust and debris...

Then came the not-so-green spray paint job. I did two coats and one touch-up coat, in areas I missed...

I really liked this Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch 2x Coverage Satin spray paint from Home Depot. It did, in fact, cover very well, as stated on the label, and I would highly recommend it for furniture jobs.

The spray paint job did get some paint on the hard plastic floor protectors on the feet. I didn't want this to get scraped onto my new tile, so I took them off and added new ones. If you get paint on the feet of chairs or stools, you should replace the floor protectors, or add some if the paint is directly on the furniture, itself, to keep that paint from rubbing off on your floors.

The next morning, I walked into the garage where my stool had dried all night and thought, 'Wow, that turned out nice and shiny-smooth,' and as I reached for the shiny, smooth surface, husband says, "Don't touch it, it's wet!" and before I could finish saying "No, it's not, I painted it last night!" My hand was sticking and I left a nice hand print. Husband had taken it upon himself to clear coat it for me that morning, with a not-so-green polyurethane, and that's why it was so smooth and shiny - it was still wet! Not green, but man does it look good (now that he touched up my hand print, that is!).

So now I have a sweet, colorful, customized kitchen stool, a new green paint stripping product in my arsenal, and a new favorite spray paint. And thanks, Ty, for the clear coat, and for fixing the clear coat after I messed it up! =)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Explanation for Scarcity

I know, I have been more scarce than usual here on the blog, but we have been busy with a bunch of miscellaneous projects. For some reason, I feel like explaining the circumstances...

First, the tiling unearthed a plethora of random, un-enjoyable projects including but not limited to painting, precision trim work, cleaning and freshening in many areas. The trim has been the biggest deal for me. First I had to plan it all - I had to figure out just what pieces of trim we needed for each of the 3 projects I was planning for and for a few repairs to existing trim. Then we have to take the whole fam-dam-ily to the Home Depot. Then it takes me forever to deliberate over how to make the most of the length of each piece and how much we need total of each style of casing, molding and baseboard. Then Mark barfs all over himself and the floor, right there in the store. Then I am humbled by the Home Depot employee who comes to clean it up. And I mean crying-all-the-way-home-humbled. It's okay, I deserved it. I sent her a thank you and apology card. Then I realized I was so distracted I didn't buy nearly enough wood for all the projects. Then we had to take the whole fam-dam-ily back again to the "last time I barfed" store, as Mark calls it. Then my generous, patient husband had to stain all the wood for me. NOW I am working on cutting and installing. And each one of those steps takes me a couple days or more to wrap my mind around, pack up kids, get to stores between naps, and maybe actually have time to work on things. Anyway, I will bring you each project as I finish it.

Sounds exciting, right? NOT! So, you can see how I have been busy, and can imagine how I don't have much blog-worthy material to work with. But, since you sat through that sob-story, I do have these kid pics to tide y'all over while I prep a few posts...

Mark's drawing and penmanship has been improving...

That was a dirt bike...

And that was a boy, mommy and daddy...

And that was a wagon. Decent!

I tried to get some smile pics of Susanna yesterday...

Okay, I have to work on my skills - photographing infants is not easy. Turns out it is pretty tricky to bounce a baby on your knees, hold a camera, look through the viewfinder and coax a smile out of a 3-month-old. This is why you see all those pictures of the peaceful, sleeping newborns, and then skip on ahead to the 6-month-old sitting up photos! Kristel, I have to take pics of your little gal before she gets squirmy! =)

I also tried out a pic of the kids today that I had been brainstorming...

I gotta work on it. Mostly I want this lens so I can get better bokeh. And I think I will just have to wait till the little gal can sit up and is more into smiling. Finicky little things, aren't they?

Well, that's all, folks. More soon!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Random Nature Shots

Spring is starting to bloom! We have been out in the yard finally this last week, and I keep having to run back in the house and grab the camera.

I can't believe the Grape Hyacinths are already out!

And I am always taking shots of the blooms on our ornamental plum...

I have trouble getting something spectacular as far as composition goes, but the colors are still beautiful.

That was probably my last chance, though, because one day soon, our friend is coming to rip that tree out and this is going in...

He is not much to look at right now (no leaves yet), but that is the trunk of the baby Golden Honey Locust that will be moving in, as soon as the Ornamental Flowering Plum tree goes bye bye. Sorry Mom, the plum tree is ugly. Here is a pic I stole off the internet of what the Honey Locust will look like when mature...

They really have a nice canopy, and are great for making shade.

These little tiny pine cones made me smile.

They are all perfect! When you look at them head on they are like little delicate wooden flowers...

Then I saw these guys...

Little tiny baby ones! -as Mark would say. I had never seen baby pine cones before, they are so cute.

That is all she wrote tonight!

Monday, March 15, 2010

He's a Nice Worm

We found a caterpillar. Mark ran and got the cup we use for bugs. After a while, he got brave and decided to hold him in his hands...

"He's just right in here, mom..."

"He's a nice worm. He's not a mean worm; he's a nice worm."

"He likes me, mom, he says, 'Hi Mark, I'm your friend.' Oh! He's pokey, mom."

"Look, Mom, he has a face!"

"He wants to go in the grass and find a new house."


"He wants to go back in the cup mom."

"He misses me Mom."

"I want him in the cup again, Mom."

"Mom... - Oh, look Mom, a leaf!!!"