Kitchen Revamp – Cabinet Painting

The day we moved in

The day we moved in

When we first saw this house the kitchen was a major selling point – it is huge, tons of counter and cabinet space, great layout and open to the rest of the living area. I could see myself cooking and entertaining here with ease…

Finished product

Finished product

Of course in my mind, I was seeing a much more beautiful version – but the bones and layout were perfect!

Before we started tiling

Before we started tiling – only the wall color, island lights and faucets had been updated

I would never have put so much knotty pine in my dream kitchen, the faucets and lighting were not my style, the paint was dreary,  the gold, stainless and wooden outlet covers were awful, the granite was jet black, the flooring was damaged, there was a fake red brick area for the ovens, the backsplash was a dark, busy slate with a weird pewter insert of vegetables above the sink that Just. Had. To. Go.

slate everywhere

slate everywhere

The overall impression was dark and heavy, despite all the light in the room – it had no contrast everything was tonally the same. However with all the things in the house that needed fixing, we only handled the most pressing.

IMG_5100

Old ugly faucet &  hard water stains on backsplash

We replaced the faucets and the island lighting as soon as we moved in and I switched out a few of the worst outlet covers since that was an easy fix – goodbye gold! We also tackled the damaged flooring, which I already wrote about here.

New island lights

New island lights

But that was it for a couple years. We lived with it –  it seemed like such a daunting task. Was I really going to pull out all these perfectly good cabinets? Seemed wasteful – I would be replacing them with identical cabinets in a different finish – the layout was already perfect…. Should I rip out all the granite and put in something lighter? That is an awful  lot of granite and do I really want to spend that much when I don’t love the cabinets… The backsplash would be easy – but until I decided what to do about the granite and the cabinets, I shouldn’t touch it. I wanted to rip out the fake red brick and replace with tile – but I was concerned about pulling out the ovens and getting all the edges to line up again since it butted right up to the ceiling molding and the pantry door…. I had a bad case of analysis paralysis!

IMG_3623

Brick staining in progress

Then my husband suggested painting the brick – at first I was “no, no, no” – I hate painted brick almost as much as the red brick! But then I thought what if we faux finished each individual brick to look a little more like a travertine subway tile…. My husband’s business is transforming concrete pool decks, driveways and patios, making them look like natural stone or tile so this wasn’t such a huge stretch.  I thought what the hell, lets try it and see if it makes the brick something I can live with. I gave him some color reference and a couple pictures of what I wanted and over a couple days, while I was at work, he made it beautiful!

Finished brick

Finished brick

I had been considering painting the cabinets for a while but again was put off by the effort and the fact that our kitchen would de dismantled for a long time so I thought I would hold off and pay someone else to do it  – but then we had to replace a couple air conditioning units this year and that pushed the project out a little further into the future. Eric encouraged me to just do it ourselves.

Test Area Before

Test Area Before

I had researched a couple different paints that simulated oil based cabinet paints hardwearing properties but were actually water based, so much easier clean up and faster drying times. Sherwin Williams was one of them  – more expensive but highly rated for this sort of job. Then Eric came across another one from Porter Paints called Breakthrough that is supposed to be extremely durable but in addition to that you don’t need to prime and it dries in 15 minutes between coats!!!

My glam designer fabric

My glam designer fabric

I picked out the three colors I wanted – from my fancy designer fabric that I mentioned before. A off white/linen for the cabinets called Garlic Clove, a soft, light green for the mile of bead board that backed the cabinets facing the living area called White Clover and a mid grey blue for the center island called Aqua Smoke. These are similar to the colors that I have used on the walls and they were reminiscent of some of my favorite painted kitchen inspiration pics from Houzz.

Point of no return

Point of no return

When I came home from work that night, Eric had picked up the paint already (he is such an enabler LOL) So of course I had to try it out and make sure the color was ok. He popped off a cabinet door and I painted the inside.

I looked up  “You realize this is the point of no return, right?”

“Let’s do it!”

And so began the next two weeks of long days, late nights and general kitchen destruction.

Garlic clove - not white

Garlic clove – not white

Basically the process was this:-

Test area in progress - stuff still in drawers

Test area in progress – stuff still in drawers

Pop off cabinet doors and drawer fronts, remove the hardware. We were lucky ours have hidden hinges so they didn’t need to be removed – we just took off the knobs. You can leave all your stuff in the cupboards Yay! Again, lucky for us the inside of most of our cabinets was already white so we only had to paint the doors and the outside facing edge of the boxes, toe kick etc. We only had one glass fronted cabinet that we had to paint the inside. Depending on how anal you want to be you could paint the insides of all of them but I don’t advise it – it is already a lot of work – why make it harder on yourself?

LABEL EACH DOOR – you need to know which one goes where when you are done. Trust me you will not remember. We used masking tape with numbers written them – one on the  door hinge, one on the inside of the corresponding cupboard or drawer

Clean the cabinets with something that removes gease and dirt we used TSP
DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! If you have any food splashes or grease it will show up though the painted surface and believe me you do have dirty cabinets.

Then sand very lightly and wipe down one last time before painting. I painted the back of the cabinets first – laying out a long production line along the counters. You could do it in the garage or basement or even outside  – but here in Florida it is stupid hot right now and the paint would never dry properly in that humidity.

Production line with a few stubborn knobs

Production line with a few stubborn knobs

Three coats on the backs, waiting 15 minutes between coats  – if you time it right you can just paint continuously – by the time you finish the last cabinet door, the first one has already dried for 15 minutes. Then leave them for 30 minutes before flipping the over and putting three coats on the front and sides.

If you have ever painted doors before, you will already know that the brush is good for getting in the ridges around the panels but a foam roller is your best friend – the finish is much better –  no brushstrokes and streaks left behind. Multiple thin coats are better than heavier coats – you need to avoid drips at the best of times, but with paint that dries in 15 minutes you cannot have drips.

Final tile choice on right

Final tile choice on right

We started on the one area that had no backsplash but we knew that we needed to tackle the tile before going too far – don’t want to scratch up newly painted cabinets during demo. So after we finished the uppers and lowers on the test area and stood back to admire the overall effect, it was time to go tile shopping 🙂

I picked a sort of subway mosaic with some natural travertine stones, classic subway and lightly crackled, palest hint of green ceramic. I didn’t want something that would feel too dated and that ruled out a lot of the mosaic glass tile that has been so prevalent for so long – I think that look is past it’s prime now, but I also wanted something a little more contemporary than plain subway. I was really happy with this pick from Lowes – just the right modern, yet classic look I was aiming for, wasn’t terribly expensive and looked good with the stained brick and new cabinet color.

IMG_3530

Bead board hell – but love that color!

Over the course of the week, I had painted the bead board behind the bar height cabinets and was pretty happy with the color choice, the room was looking lighter and brighter by the day. Bead board is a bitch to paint – no getting around it. What worked best for me was to use a brush to get into each little crevice then go over the whole thing with the roller. However those little crevices hold the paint and once gravity takes effect, you get little drips pooling along the baseboard so you have to go back and touch that up as you go. Mind-numbing – just crank up the tunes and zone out!

Goodbye Holly Hobby outlet covers!!!

Goodbye Holly Hobby outlet covers!!! Hello crisp white ones

We spent the whole weekend on the backsplash – it turned it to be more work than we anticipated. Normally you can just chisel off the tile and then retile – however they had tiled directly onto drywall, not cement board and removing the tile took the wall down with it. Sigh…

Its' going down - I'm yelling timber....

Its’ going down – I’m yelling timber….

Friday night we demod the one long wall behind the sink, right down to the studs. Goodbye pewter plate and goodbye sanity! Then Sat morning we tackled the other counters, put up new cement board and tiled like a couple maniacs. It was an long and exhausting weekend but what a huge difference it made? Suddenly the whole kitchen was transformed

Good bye ugly pewter monstrosity

Good bye ugly pewter monstrosity

My sweet husband grouted all that tile on Monday, when I was working. During the week my guys prepped doors and cabinets and I came home and painted in the evenings. They also installed recycle cans and my awesome rev-a-shelf for my mixer. No more empty bottles and cans sitting on the counter top and I no longer have to break my back lifting that heavy mixer out when I need it LOL

Hidden recycling bins

Hidden recycling bins

Rev-a-shelf

Rev-a-shelf

Rev-a-shelf activate!

Rev-a-shelf activate!

Destruction everywhere

Destruction everywhere

Demo in progess

Demo in progress

ready for cement board

ready for cement board

By end of Sat we had finished all the cabinets – it took exactly two cans of Garlic Clove paint. I had decided to keep the old hardware, we just switched out any worn ones from the heavily used kitchen with unworn knobs from the laundry room and guest baths. Now with new light cabinets the dark oil rubbed bronze hardware and black granite looked crisp and awesome – like they were meant to be 🙂

Sunny helping with the cement board

Sunny helping with the cement board

Tile begins

Tile begins

IMG_3571

Tiling finished – look how nicely it goes with stained brick

tiling done

more tiling done

IMG_3574

Production line starting up again

tiling done

tile and paint done

more cabinets

yet more cabinets

Sunday, I caulked the backsplash and painted the last of the bead board that butted up to the tile, White Clover . Then we tackled the island – the bad news is it had lots of open alcoves and shelving that had to be painted both inside and out – the good news was the darker paint only took two coats to cover! I love, love the color – Aqua Smoke

IMG_3608

First coat on island – time to cover the yucky green

IMG_3618

Island done

IMG_3617

Island complete – this is a truer representation of the color

IMG_3611

Island cabinet production line

Yes it was a marathon effort over two weeks but I now have a brand new kitchen. I am shocked each morning when I get up and see it again. That black granite looks perfect now. The kitchen is light and bright, classic yet contemporary and wonder of wonders cost less than $800. Six hundred of that went on the tile, the rest was four cans of pricy, but so worth it, paint and a couple panels of cement board.

Painting your kitchen cabinets is definitely doable as a DIY project. I am so glad we took the plunge.

All Done!!

All Done!!

Complete

Complete

Advertisements

Exercise room in the making

Hey  - come break a sweat you lazy bum! The damn elliptical is talking to me now - I am out of rational excuses

Hey – come break a sweat you lazy bum! The damn elliptical is talking to me now – I am out of rational excuses

When we first saw the house there was a odd little room off of the master bedroom that we couldn’t even get into – the previous owners had used it for storage and we could barely open the door – the shades were all drawn and it was full of boxes.

Once we moved in, we weren’t sure what to do with it either –  it is all windows on two sides and overlooked the pool – I thought maybe a place to put my drawing desk? However in the meantime we ended up putting the dog crates in there and, with great effort and straining backs, our barely used elliptical.

Privacy film going up - no more sweaty faced encounters with the pool guy - that really doesn't sound the way I meant it LOL

Privacy film going up – no more sweaty faced encounters with the pool guy – that really doesn’t sound the way I meant it LOL

Fast forward a year and the room was still a mess – all the shades were drawn so no one could see into the messy storage room it was fast becoming – it looked uninviting both inside and out.

Finally I was tired of keeping the shades drawn and decided to get more of the bamboo privacy film I used in the master bedroom – at least from the outside it would look better.

Now the outside looks inviting instead of all the shades being drawn all the time

Now the outside looks inviting instead of all the shades being drawn all the time

Of course once I did that, it needed a coat of paint to brighten it up and although the dog crates remain in the corner since we need a place for them anyway, the whole room became a little more inviting – perhaps inviting enough to go in and use the elliptical occasionally?

Of course, with the privacy film you don’t have to worry about the pool guy or your houseguests coming to sit outside with morning coffee, only to come face to face with your most unattractive, red faced, sweaty self – another excuse to skip exercise bites the dust…

Boob light that dreams of being a chandelier LOL

Boob light that dreams of being a chandelier LOL

A trip to Costco and an impromptu purchase of a small, smart flat screen TV later – we have a light and bright, no longer an eyesore room, with the ability to watch some distracting shows to make the elliptical less of a chore. There is a little odd corner hallway that leads to it with a boob light (I always call them that – the most boring light fixtures ever but they are everywhere) I added a fun chandelier decal as a fake shadow for that sad little boob light who dreams of being something more fabulous LOL.

I am fast running out of excuses – Maybe we we’ll become the kind of people who exercise now… Or maybe we will hang clothes on it to dry LOL

Only time will tell 🙂

Master Bath Makeover

Finished at last

Finished at last

This project has evolved slowly in many small stages – I had originally considered doing a major overhaul since there were a lot of things not quite to my taste but instead we decided to just dress up what we had – the cost and mess were too much to contemplate and besides its not like what we had was actually broken.

Missing mirrors, silver and gold faucets and old light fixtures - Yuck!

Missing mirrors, silver and gold faucets and old light fixtures – Yuck!

When we first moved in the previous owners had taken the mirrors with them…. so the very first thing we did was go out and pick up a couple from Home Depot with nice silver frames – it is surprisingly difficult to brush your teeth without a mirror LOL!

After that, I bought a couple small teardrop chandeliers to hang over the tub – give it a bit more presence. Of course that meant that we needed to convert the existing recessed cans first. Eric risked life and limb installing them for me while the teen and I assembled the chandeliers (trickier than you would think and likely the reason for the excellent price)

chandeliers and medallions that replaced the old recessed cans

Chandeliers and medallions that replaced the old recessed cans

Once they were up they still needed a little something – so I started looking for ceiling medallions that snapped around already installed fixtures. Eric would have had a nervous breakdown if I asked him to take them down again!

towel rings and new towels

Towel rings and new towels

Oddly enough, there was nowhere to hang hand towels, so I picked up a couple of oil rubbed bronze ones (knowing my future plan to replace the chrome and gold faucets – yuck) some new towels and a mat to go in front of the shower so that the crappy floor tiles were less likely to kill us. For some reason every tiled surface in this house is the same ceramic tile that is completely lethal when wet – a great choice for bathrooms – sigh….

when we first moved in

When we first moved in – note the massive chip in the tub

For quite some time, that was it – too many other projects on the priority list.  One thing that had bothered me from the start, was that there was only one light fixture to the side of each mirror above the sink – clearly designed by a man – How am I expected to apply make up properly when one side of my face is in shadow???

I had my eye on some cute lights from Possini in silver with a glass dome surrounding some hanging chandelier drops – they matched the fan I put up in the the master bedroom – but they were too expensive. I needed four of them and at $200 a pop that was too spendy for my tastes. I kept an eye on a few websites and saw the prices drop on sale but still held off – then one glorious day there was a flash sale on and they were listed at $99 each so I snapped them up – Yay for being a smart shopper 🙂

They languished in the boxes for months – eventually Eric put up one of each but we never got around to running the additional wiring for the other too – half my face remained in darkness…

brassy hinges to match - Yuck!

Brassy hinges – Yuck!

We badly needed exhaust fans in all the showers in the house so we splurged on a handyman to come and do all three at once – this would ensure the mildew problem the house had when we first moved in would not reappear….not a glamorous project, but very necessary.

Blechh - old shower door handle

Blechh – old shower door handle

I would love to replace the ugly shower door at some point but since I know that was further down the road, I decided to just gussy up the existing one. However, the splotchy old bronze handle and hinges were just nasty, so I dragged out my trusty oil rubbed bronze Rustoleum spray paint and it gave it a whole new look that has survived really well over the past 6 months of heavy use. I also spray painted the toilet roll holder while I was at it.

spray painted handle

Spray painted handle

spray painted hinges

Spray painted hinges

Little by little it was starting to look  a little more presentable. I picked out some stacked stone tile for the wall behind the tub and paint and a stencil for the walls – but I kept putting that off – wanting the new lights to go up first….

Old sink faucets

Old sink faucets

New oil rubbed bronze  - much better

New oil rubbed bronze – much better

sad old shower head

Sad old shower head

New rain head shower and lever

Glam new rain head shower and lever

In the meantime, I ordered replacement faucets for the sinks and the shower – lovely oil rubbed bronze thanks to Amazon. They turned out to be easy to replace since I went with the same brand as the old facets and we could leave the existing valves in place. This made a huge difference and the bathroom started to really look good. A month later we replaced the tub faucet and drain – some internet research showed us how to do it. (The key was a smart dumbbell and some brute strength)

old Tub faucet - already updated the overflow and drain

Old tub faucet – already updated the overflow and drain

New faucet - Yum!

New faucet – Yum!

That just left the shower drain which I have been unable to find an exact replacement for so out came the Rustoleum again – hopefully it will hold up to daily wear and tear until I can find the real deal.

I had plans to tile the wall behind the tub and when Eric got himself a new Dremel, I decided to try it out on the tile needing to be removed.

Demo on wall done

Demo on wall done

Demo time

Demo time

halfway mark - weekend 1

Halfway mark – weekend 1

Final wall tile done

Final wall tile done – weekend 2

It did a great job but then I needed to go out and buy the spendy stacked stone tile I liked so much to cover it up LOL – that project ended up taking a couple weekends to complete – but I love how it looks – much more elegant! Hard to see in the picture but it is multiple sizes and depths of varied natural stone and marble along with a couple smoky glass tiles.

My closet floor was bare concrete – I guess there had been some issue with the previous owner – don’t know if there was a leak or what – but when we moved in I just pulled up the old carpet strips so I didn’t step on them and left it to make sure there was no water problem. A year and a half later with no sign of a leak I ordered some carpet tiles from Home Depot to stick down to make it look a little more finished and comfortable. They were really easy to install and it was a quick fix.

bare concrete in closet

Before – bare concrete in closet

easy stick down carpet tiles from Home Depot

easy stick down carpet tiles from Home Depot

carpet tiles down

carpet tiles down

Next up was the tile rug inset on the floor – I wanted to remove some of the old tile and replace with natural stone which is much less slippy but without having to replace all the old tile – I had done a similar thing at our old house in WA and it worked out great. However this was tile laid on concrete slab – much harder to remove than we had hoped.

floor before - death trap tile

floor before – death trap tile

After Eric “Dremelled” around the old grout lines, we removed a section 3 x 5 tiles wide and replaced it with the new tile. Demo was of course the hardest part – you need to not damage the tiles you want to leave behind and chip up all the old mastic before laying the new stuff – this is an extremely dusty process so be prepared for the clean up if you try it…

Tile is up - now to chip away all the old mastic

Tile is up – now to chip away all the old mastic

Old tile up and ready to go

Old tile up and ready to go

Those 15 tiles took all day to remove and there was much frustration and unhappiness all around – it was brutally hard work and the mess was beyond belief. There is a reason professionals charge twice as much to remove old tile than to lay new tile… sigh.  Basically get yourself a chisel with hand guard (trust me hammering your own knuckles makes the whole thing even more miserable), a hammer and all the elbow grease and muscle you can muster.

Damage prevention - my pretty lights wrapped in a fowl and a plastic bag

Damage prevention – my pretty lights wrapped in a towel and a plastic bag

Ceramic tile is sharp and shards of it were flying around the room – safety glasses are a must and make sure you protect any light fixtures or breakables while you work.

The all important chalk line

The all important chalk line

The next day I measure and laid the tile and Eric did all the tile cutting for me – between the two of us it took most of the day.  Just crank up the tunes and get to work. When you retrofit an existing floor it is best to start with the outside edges and work in since there is no room for error on sizing.

Edging down

Edging down

Snap a chalk line so you match the grout lines around the outside where the original tile is – once you are  working on the inside you can go with a different grout size if you prefer – but it will look weird if you mess up the perimeter.

Edging and contrast tiles laid

Edging and contrast tiles laid

Tile down - grout to follow

Tile down – grout to follow

After letting it dry, we sealed and grouted and finally it was done and what a difference it makes the deep chocolate marble accent tiles match some of the darker marble in the tile wall and with the oil rubbed bronze fixtures I loved how it pulled everything together – makes me almost forget the old ugly ceramic tile surrounding it LOL

Paint finished - goodbye sludge green

Paint finished – goodbye sludge green

At last it was time to paint the walls – I had to wait till all the messy stuff was done and I was so glad to be covering up the old green paint. I used Behr’s “woodsmoke” my favorite grey beige. It is a great neutral that works well with both warm and cool colors.

Late night stencilling

Late night stencilling

The final touch was using a trellis stencil on the wall behind the sink and in the toilet area. I wanted a high end wallpaper look but this felt safer in a high humidity location like a bathroom.

Stenciling finished

Stenciling finished

All in all total time elapsed 20 months  – actual hours spent working on it –  more like a month. Taking it on a bite sized chunk at a time made it more manageable both from a cost and time perspective – better than waiting like a deer in the headlights for the right time to start – that would never have come.

Finished product - looks like wallpaper - tiled wall in mirror

Finished product – looks like wallpaper – tiled wall in mirror

So if you are overwhelmed by the thought of a big project – just start with one small step – it will get you there in the end 🙂 (Still no extra lights by the mirror – maybe next weekend LOL)

 

 

There’s a snake in my coop!

Theres a snake in my coop!

Theres a snake in my coop!

I have mentioned before that I am a city girl living in the country these days and I have mostly gotten used to the random wildlife encounters – giant spiders the size of my hand, weird bugs, gopher tortoises digging holes and the occasional snake in the yard…. But I have to confess I was surprised and proud of my recent reaction when nature got a little closer than expected…

Eric the snake wrangler

Eric the snake wrangler

I went out late one afternoon to collect the ladies eggs from the coop and when I opened the second nest box a giant snake was looking me right in the eyeball! Did I scream? Did I run? Did I faint dead away of shock? Nope, remarkably, I did not!

hiding in the coop after I chased him away from the eggs

Hiding in the coop after I chased him away from the eggs

I dropped the lid, yelped and took an involuntary step backwards – then promptly opened it back up again so I could take a picture LOL. (You got to identify these things so you know what to do…)

Scarlet King snake - thankfully not a coral snake

Scarlet King snake – thankfully not a Coral snake

When we first moved in, we saw what we thought was a Coral snake on the front step and scared to get too close we took a picture and looked it up – fortunately it was just a Scarlet King snake – harmless but it looks a lot like the deadly Coral snake on first glance. They both have red, yellow and black stripes but the order is what is important.

Red next to black, friend of Jack
Red next to yellow, kill a fellow.

Words to live by people….

Gopher Tortoise on the pool deck

Gopher Tortoise on the pool deck

Eric did see a Coral months later, mostly however we see Black Racers which are likewise harmless – this one was new to me so I wasn’t sure what to expect. When I opened the box and took the picture he was clearly trying to move away – I think more frightened of me than I was of it – just barely LOL.

Golden Silk Orb Weaver Spider - beautiful but huge!

Golden Silk Orb Weaver Spider – beautiful but huge!

I chased him off before he ate any of our eggs and sent the picture to Eric who was on his way home. When he arrived a few minutes later he got the grabber and went to investigate.  (I may have been able to chase him but I draw the line at actually trying to pick him up – we all have our limits and thats what husbands are for LOL)

Sand hill cranes - my fav Florida bird

Sand Hill Cranes – my fav Florida bird

At first, we thought he was gone, but I saw him up on the top rafter – Eric managed to get him out and was astonished that it was at least four and half feet long – I don’t think he believed me when I told him how big it was LOL

possibly a mole king snake... not sure LOL

Possibly a mole king snake… not sure about this one LOL

After a little research we discovered that is was a yellow rat snake (some people call it the chicken snake since it likes eggs and will eat chicks if available) Fortunately all our ladies are likely too big to be in any danger from a snake and he can eat as many rats as he can find – even thought Catness, our badass barn cat, doesn’t leave much room for that LOL

Deer in the pasture

Deer in the pasture

Haven’t seen him since – Much prefer the deer and Sand Hill Crane sightings LOL

Black racer staring in the window at me...

Black Racer staring in the window at me…

Black racer on the pool deck

Black Racer on the pool deck

 

Checkpoint Chicken

New to raising backyard chickens, we had underestimated the inconvenience of having them share space with our dogs. Turns out they poop an incredible amount and two of our dogs decided rolling in chicken poop was absolutley the most fun a dog could have!  At least until they tried to come near us and the screaming, holding our noses and dumping them in the bath commenced – then it wasn’t quite so much fun – not for them or us. Still the horror of frequent baths did not deter them from running back out next chance they got – rinse and repeat…

Posts are in - laying out the baseplates - the taller posts are for the gate

Posts are in – laying out the baseplates – the taller posts are for the gate

Added to that challenge, we also were letting the dogs out in the morning first, then the chickens and waiting till they went home to roost to let the dogs back out – as the days got longer this was more and more impractical and who has time for a juggling act like that?

Alright chicken this is the last time you cross the border without showing me some papers

Alright chicken this is the last time you cross the border without showing me some papers

So I devised a cunning plan to save my sanity – divide the back yard in half – East and West separated by a fence and gate – Checkpoint Chicken!

Last weekend, Eric and I did the obligatory Home Depot run for supplies and I drew up one of my famous scribbled plans on paper for what I wanted to build – you know the ones my husband hates because it is not a blueprint with measurements, front and side elevations and a supply list….

I however had a crystal clear plan in my head – I wanted a wood and wire fence so we could grow climbing plants on it – nothing could be simpler, right?

Coming together - all the wire panels are up

Coming together – all the wire panels are up

Actually day one went well even though Eric wanted to do a simple straight line fence and I wanted an angle so the gate opened up into the rest of the yard – I had a vision people! Straight lines are boring! LOL Florida’s sandy soil took it easy on us and we only had to move one post a little to avoid some massive tree roots.

capping off each panel with a 1 x 4 notching around the posts - looking good!

capping off each panel with a 1 x 4 notching around the posts – looking good!

The next day started out great we got the baseplates in and leveled them, close to the ground so no chickens or dogs could squirm under. We had a little issue deciding on the best way to frame in the panels so we could attach our field fencing without it looking ugly but we figured it out and the panels went up pretty easily and neither of us tried to kill the other – at least not with any real effort…

Fence done - now for the gate

Fence done – now for the gate

We did some nice detail on the top, capping each panel off and notching it around the posts – this was beginning to look like we knew what we were doing…

Gatsby and Charlie patrolling the perimeter before the permanent gate went up

Gatsby and Charlie patrolling the perimeter before the permanent gate went up

Then we got to the gate – the original plan was for lots of vertical 1 x 2 pieces on a 2 x 4 frame however it quickly became clear that it was going to be too heavy – the 1 x 2’s were completely warped and our nail gun was acting up. It was late in the day, we were hot and cranky and had just reached our limit so I tacked a piece of field fencing over the gate opening for the time being and went back to the drawing board.

building the gate frame

building the gate frame

I decided a lighter frame of 1x 4’s with the same field fencing would be a better solution – so back to Home Depot we went the following weekend to pick up new supplies. We found solar post caps for only $4, which I was convinced was a mistake since the plain wood ones were $8!!!! Whatever –  no one stopped us for shoplifting as we walked out the door with our $4 deals. We also picked up a guide to help us drill angled holes in our thinner wood frame. The right tools can prevent and frustration and family dispute – trust me!

Gate & solar caps installed

Gate & solar caps installed

The frame came together pretty quickly and we stapled the same field fencing on to match the rest of the fence. Add some hinges and a latch and we were off to the races – Checkpoint Chicken is now fully operational – show me your papers!

Close up of solar caps from hell

Close up of solar caps from hell

Next up was trimming down the fence posts and adding the solar caps which should have been an easy task except we found out why they were only $4  – they were too tight to fit on the posts without Herculean effort!!! We had to sand the suckers down and my poor husband used brute force and muscle to get them on – most people probably returned them but Eric is nothing if not determined LOL Once on, a couple screws hold them in place (my job) and they give off a nice glow in the evenings.

Part two will be building the trellis over the gate – but that will have to wait for another post LOL

All in all, I am delighted with how it turned out and my life is much easier with separation of dog and chicken – they can both be out at the same time and our dogs no longer smell like chicken poop 3 times a week. A blood pressure lowering solution all around 🙂

Guest bathrooms in need of a little love

Mirrors and Dandelions - really hard to get a good photo in a small space

Mirrors and Dandelions – really hard to get a good photo in a small space

We haven’t done much of anything to the bathrooms in the house yet – there has been so much else to do that we just ignored them for the most part.  Despite the fact that I will need to to a bigger overhaul – replacing counters, sink and faucets at some point I decided that a minor update would do for now and freshen it up for my first real houseguest (other than family) My best friend was coming to visit with her young son and I wanted it to be nice. So armed with the magic of paint, I went to town.

Like most of my projects it started out with a simple thing, that led to more simple things and then some not so simple things LOL

Sludge green walls and fake marble counter - but at leaf the towel ring looks good!

Sludge green walls and fake marble counter – but at least the towel ring looks good!

I started off by spray painting the towel rings and toilet roll holders with that oil rubbed bronze Rustoleum I mentioned before – they were functional but chrome and gold – eeww! In 15 minutes they looked much better and I will probably replace them down the line anyway when get around to ditching that awful fake marble sink and counter combo – blech!.

New prettier paint

New prettier paint

I painted the whole bathroom a nice shade of blue, that I had used elsewhere in the house – eradicating the sludge green from yet one more room – YAY!  It looked much better but wow the walls were kinda bare – I needed art.

I hit TJ Maxx one day and picked up a nice modern dandelion print and a set of three mirrors (of course I bought some other stuff too – but that is another project). I hung the three mirrors on one wall and the print in the toilet area.  Much better, but still not quite there…

The wall behind the door and the wall facing the toilet were blank and boring, but I didn’t want to do more prints and definitely no more mirrors – some views you just don’t need….

Single dandelion facing the toilet

Single dandelion facing the toilet

I found a nice dandelion decal on Amazon that I thought would look good with my print and ordered it in white to contrast with the blue walls. It came in a bunch of separate pieces so you could put it up whatever way you chose – I split it up and put one on the wall facing the toilet and two behind the door in the main bathroom. Then I placed all the individual seeds flying up and across the wall and around the corner. I am really happy with it and the bathroom is now ready for my friend to arrive – of course now I want to switch out the awful light fixtures too LOL

The print that inspired it

The print that inspired it

At the same time my teen was looking to make some extra money so he was tasked with painting his bathroom – he spray painted the toilet roll holder and painted the walls a nice green that we had leftover  (learning a valuable life lesson about how taking your time to do it right prevents tedious clean up and redo at the end LOL)

Then the light fixture looked so dingy and discolored that we decided to replace it – cue trip to Home Depot for a new one only to discover that the old one was not wired in the middle – there must have been a stud in the way??? Who knows but it was not going to work unless we wanted to do more major electrical rework – not in the cards!

Two dandelions behind the door

Two dandelions behind the door

So out came the trusty Rustoleum again and my teen spray painted the fixture while I canabalized the glass shades from another bathroom to replace the dingy chipped ones on his. This domino effect led to us replacing the canabalized light fixture with the one we had orignally bought for the teens bathroom. See what I mean about a simple project becoming more and more complex and the day goes on?

Of course the bathroom that got an unexpected new light fixture is going to have to be painted now too….and so it goes on….

Update – I replaced those tired light fixtures after all just before my guests arrived 🙂

Glam new light fixtures

Glam new light fixtures

Getting creative with the egg recipes

Eggstravaganza - every day....

Eggstravaganza – every day….

Since our chickens are now in full laying mode we get on average of 9 to 12 fresh eggs a day and although I give away many to friends and neighbors I am determined to make the most of the delicious product of our hen’s labor LOL

If you have never eaten truly fresh eggs you don’t know what you are missing – the taste is so much better than what you get in the store. Even if they say cage free or farm fresh that is generally not what you think it is – the chickens’ living conditions are still not much better than the poor battery hens. Pastured is the correct term, apparently, for what we all probably have in our heads when we think of farm fresh.

Our chickens roam around all day eating bugs and weeds and scratching in the yard to their hearts content. They are more like pampered feather pets since my husband like to give them sunflower seeds and sprout lentils for them LOL

Happy hens lay the best eggs – the taste is richer and firmer than any store bought egg and I won’t waste a single one

Fortunately we are an egg loving family but lets face it there are only so many scrambled or fried egg breakfasts you can fit in to a week so here are some of my favorite recipes that use plenty of eggs.

Of course we do all the basics like omelets and hard boiled eggs chopped up in salads etc but I also make a mean fritatta LOL

Fritatta

Fritatta - Yum

Fritatta – Yum

Years ago in Boise Idaho I had an awesome fritatta with spaghetti noodles that I had to reverse engineer. It varies depending on whats in the fridge but here are the basics.

  • Cook up some thick cut diced pancetta or regular bacon in a large cast iron pan
  • Add in your favorite veggies – I usually saute up some mushrooms, onions and spinach
  • Boil a handful of angel hair pasta and toss into the pan
  • Season to taste
  • In a mixing bowl crack at least 6 – 8 eggs
  • Add about a cup of heavy cream (or milk if you really must)
  • Add a couple cups of your favorite shredded cheese and whisk
  • Pour your egg mixture into the pan and mix thoroughly
  • Transfer the whole pan to the oven set to 350 and cook for about 35 – 40 minutes
  • Slice into wedges and serve from the skillet

Breakfast Pizza

Breakfast Pizza - only 4 eggs on this one - I usually do 6 these days

Breakfast Pizza – only 4 eggs on this one – I usually do 6 these days – Thanks Alicia!

This was inspired by a friend on Facebook and turned out to be a family fav. It is quick and so very easy.

  • Spread out pizza dough on a large baking pan sprayed with PAM (I totally cheat and use the Pillsbury store bought stuff in a tube)
  • Brush with olive oil and sprinkle a little garlic and parsley salt on it
  • Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Layer with finely cut red onion, thin slices of pancetta, sauteed mushrooms and uncooked spinach (Don’t go too thick with the toppings or the dough wont cook properly)
  • Crack 4 – 6 eggs on top and sprinkle with some seasoning to taste – I use a Johnny’s seasoning salt, which is unfortunately hard to get here in Florida – I just have a stockpile)
  • Pop in the oven at 400 and keep an eye on it – it should be ready in 15 – 20 minutes however ovens vary and I just jiggle it to make sure the eggs are set but not to hard
  • Slice with a pizza cutter and serve

Quiche

Yum Quiche - before my fancy fluted pans

Yum Quiche – before my fancy fluted pans

I love quiche and have been making it for years – again it is one of those recipes that you can switch up to your heart’s content but this is my favorite version and will yield a couple decent sized quiches depending on your dish sizes. I have a couple of 9 in cake pans but recently switched to some great fluted pans with removable bottoms that way I can pop it right out and the fluted pastry edge looks perfect – easier to cut too. If you make too much or don’t want crust you can just cook it in the baking pan for a crust-less quiche – still delicious and cooks up a little faster – presentation is not quite as nice however…

  • In a large pan cut up and cook about  1lb of your fav bacon till crispy
  • Using a slotted spoon remove the bacon and let drain on some paper towels – DO NOT waste all that bacon grease
  • Toss some minced garlic and one large or two small finely sliced white onions into the pan (you may need to add more butter depending on how much bacon grease you have left)
  • Saute for a good three or four minutes till soft and golden
  • Toss in a container of sliced mushrooms and keep sauteeing – season to taste
  • Toss in a couple handfuls of baby spinach near the end and cook till it softens – set aside
  • After pressing your pastry into your pans (see below for that recipe)
  • Crack 7 or 8 eggs in a large mixing bowl and add one and a half cups of heavy cream
  • Add two cups of your favorite shredded cheese and season to taste – I usually add garlic, parsley, black pepper and Johnny’s seasoning salt
  • Whisk thoroughly and then pour in all your other ingredients
  • Divide the mixture between your two pans and pop in the oven at 400 for approx 35 – 55 minutes – the reason the range is so wide it will depend on how deep your quiche pans are…I basically check in after 30 minutes and you want the top to be getting lightly golden and the center to be just about set – a little jiggle is good – you don’t want the egg mix to be rock hard – but it does need to be firm enough to slice.
  • Let cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving

Homemade Pastry
I learned to make pastry from my grandmother and she didn’t use recipes – it was all by eye – basically twice as much flour as butter, a pinch of salt, dash of vinegar and a couple spoonfuls of water as needed… Chill for an hour and use…. I recognize that most people are not comfortable with recipes that are quite that free form LOL so Pioneer Woman has one that is as close to my grandmothers as I can find, but with actual measurements and directions 🙂 She also turned me on to the fluted quiche pans.

Deviled Eggs

Love the sign - love the eggs

Love the sign – love the eggs – this was a small batch we usually make way more…

We love deviled eggs in this house – as proven by the cool hand lettered sign I got for my husband for Christmas and now hangs proudly in the kitchen. There are million recipes out there and I know everyone has their favorites but I am not a fan of the sweet pickle that many people put in theirs, so I make mine with Parmesan cheese instead and they are usually a big hit

  • Boil a dozen eggs – make sure they are at least a week to ten days old – very fresh eggs do not peel well – the membrane is too tight and you end up peeling little chunks of the white off and they look cratered –  like the surface of the moon – delicious but not so pretty. If you are using store bought eggs this is not a problem you will face – I just have to plan in advance and set some aside to “age” LOL
  • Peel and slice in half – remove yolks and place in a mixing bowl – get yourself a deviled egg plate – makes things so much easier…
  • Add mayo and seasoning to taste – I prefer garlic salt, black pepper and a couple heaping tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Use a food processor if you have one – I use a little hand held one that makes sure the mixture has no lumps
  • Place in a piping bag and fill the egg halves (I use a Ziplock bag with the corner cut off  because piping bags are too annoying to clean – this way I toss the bag and only have to clean the tip)
  • Sprinkle with paprika and add garnish of bacon crumbles, chives or caviar, depends on your tastes

Homemade Pasta

Rolling the pasta

Rolling the pasta

I got a Kitchenaid mixer finally about two years ago and treated myself to the pasta set to go with it. It is a little tricky to do, but lots of fun and you definitely feel like a fancy chef when you make your own homemade pasta. Last time I made too much and so have frozen some in Ziplock bags.

Making spahgetti

Making spahgetti

I am told it keeps really well in the freezer but I have yet to boil up any of the frozen batches yet so can’t confirm that. Also there is a special Italian pasta flour very fine called 00 that I plan to try soon – supposed to make the best pasta

Pasta ready to cook or freeze...

Pasta ready to cook or freeze…

  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 cups of semolina flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Sift all the dry ingredients together then make a well in the middle
  • Add eggs and olive oil and whisk together
  • My mixer makes it easy to knead the dough but if you do it by hand it takes about 12 minutes and some muscle
  • Wrap in plastic and allow to rest for about 30 minutes
  • Either roll out by hand using lots of flour or use a handy dandy pasta roller to get it to the desired thickness – remember I said lots of flour or it will stick to itself
  • My pasta cutter does fettuccine and spaghetti shapes so I just feed it through the blades and make little floury piles of pasta – some I froze, the rest I cooked
  • Boil your pasta for a few minutes in salted water with a splash of olive oil (to prevent sticking) Toss in your favorite pasta sauce and serve

IMG_8491I like Alfredo sauces so I make my own with heavy whipping cream, Parmesan cheese, chicken, mushrooms, peas and pancetta  – Yum!

Strawberry Cake

worlds best strawberry cake - thanks Wendy!

World’s best strawberry cake – thanks Wendy!

I got this recipe from my blogging friend Wendy – I loved the look of it an filed it away for future use – took me a year to get around to it but now I make it all the time – it is soooo good and I am not actually much of a cake fan – usually too sweet for me. But this is light and fresh and tastes like summer on a plate. Not to mention how impressed everyone is at the sight of it. I made the first time over a year ago for my teenager’s birthday and everyone loved it – plus it uses 8 eggs LOL
Check out Wendy’s recipe and instructions she is so much more detailed than I would ever be and her photos are amazing 🙂 (BTW save the left over egg whites from this recipe to make the meringue below)

Pavlova

Mmmmm - Pavlova

Mmmmm – Pavlova

This was one of my favorite desserts growing up – I love meringue! But you just don’t see it in the US very often. So given my abundance of eggs I thought I would try it. Everyone loved it and I was impresssed  that my first time effort at meringue went so well

Goes fast LOL

Goes fast LOL

Here’s the recipe I used, only I used strawberries, blackberries and raspberries – since that is my fav version. Also I put a a couple tabsp of sugar and a tspn of vanilla in the whipped cream…

French toast
My teen has a sweet tooth so loves french toast – this has been a great way to use up eggs and have the family clean their plates. I have not picture of this – it goes fast…

  • Crack 6 eggs in a bowl
  • Add a dash of vanilla essence
  • Add a cup of heavy cream (or milk if you must)
  • Add a couple tablespoons of cinnamon
  • Add about a quarter cup of maple sugar if you have it (brown sugar if you don’t)  and whisk
  • Dip your bread of choice and toss onto a medium hot skillet
  • Flip and serve with maple syrup and or other favorite fixings

Crepes

Crepes

Crepes

This was a new one for me – I had never made them myself before and they could have been a little thinner to be honest but they were a big hit – I served mine with a ricotta cheese filling, sliced fresh strawberries and a dusting of powdered sugar. They didn’t use that many eggs unfortunately, but I owed my guys a sweet, rather than savory weekend breakfast LOL

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp. orange zest or 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 pint strawberries sliced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 4 Tbsp granulated sugar, or to taste
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 4 to 6 tsp. unsalted butter
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
  • tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp of cinnamon
  • In a blender, combine the milk, egg, flour, salt, oil and zest and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for a couple hours.
  • In a large bowl, combine the strawberries, lemon juice and 2 Tbsp of the granulated sugar, or to taste. In another bowl, combine the ricotta and the remaining 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • In a small pan over medium heat, melt 1 tsp. of the butter to coat the pan evenly. Pour in little of the batter and spread with a spatula. Cook until the crepe is golden underneath, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip the crepe over and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cover with aluminum foil. Repeat to make 4 to 6 crepes.
  • Cover half of each crepe with the ricotta mixture and fold in half. Place 2 crepes on each plate. Top with the berries and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately.

Dutch Apple Pancake

Dutch Apple Pancake - start to deflate as soon as you take it out

Dutch Apple Pancake – starts to deflate as soon as you take it out of the oven

Another experiment – I had never made before and it looked so cool but my guys were honestly not that impressed. It is a good recipe and looks amazing as it expands up over the sides of the skillet – but I think they would have preferred more sugar LOL
here is the recipe I used

Creme Brulee

Creme Brûlée in my fancy water bath dish

Creme Brûlée in my fancy water bath dish – need to caramelize sugar more

This is hands down my favorite dessert of all time – I love it! I had to replace my creme brulee torch this year since the old one was appropriated by my guys a long time ago to light fireworks, create mini flamethrowers, you name it – they got up to it! So I bought a new little set form Amazon that has the water bath and ramekins etc. My men have been informed that they are not to touch it- not even look in it’s general direction or there will be hell to pay – Lets see how long it lasts…
This is the recipe that I like to use – although I just put vanilla essence in not the actual bean – I am lazy…

Key Lime Pie

Teen's first Key Lime Pie - it was delicious

Teen’s first Key Lime Pie – it was delicious

Honestly, both my guys normally like to make this one for us – Yay – Make the men cook pie! We are now growing our own key limes and hopefully there will be enough soon for a pie 🙂 You can also put some meringue on top (as pictured above) if you like – uses a few egg whites too 🙂
Here’s a good recipe

Ceasar salad dressing
One of my favorite salads of all time – I could eat it anytime – Toss some grilled chicken or shrimp on it and you are good to go
Here is a great recipe

I am open to other suggestions if you have them – what are some of your favorite egg heavy recipes?