Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Cupboards Get A New Face

Oh the you have become a pain in my side. What's up next, well resurfacing all the wood in the kitchen of course! And in our house, there is a lot of wood! Cupboards, crown molding, baseboards and the floor.

We chose to resurface the cupboards instead of refinish them. Resurfacing means to sand the existing finish and apply a new coat of stain. Refinishing means to sands down to the original wood with a heavy sand paper. The purpose of refinishing is to remove all deep nicks, scrapes, scratches, stains, etc. Our cupboards were in pretty good condition, so we chose to go the easy route of resurfacing. We will have to refinish the floor when we get to that part.

We started with the cupboards first. It was the easiest thing to get out of the way. To start with this HUGE task, remove all the cupboard doors from the cupboards. Find a place where you can lay them all out horizontally.
This project becomes quite the mess, especially when you kick up so all the dust and there are cupboards scattered all over the place.
Next, assemble your supplies and tools. For tools you will need a couple sponge brushes, a sander, lots of sandpaper, stain, and polyurethane, and your hands.

For the stain color, we wanted to match the golden oak color of our cupboards that we had before. It is not our most favorite color of stain, but we have it everywhere in our house so we chose to embrace it. To achieve this color, my husband has perfected a mixture of 2 parts of Golden Oak stain to 1 part Date Walnut stain. The result is a very similar color to the original, but with more of a darker red hue to it.

We REALLY like this 3M Sandblaster sandpaper. It is more expensive then your average sandpaper, but it last so much longer. It is totally worth the extra cents you pay for it. Get it in the 220 fine grit. Again, we use the 220 fine grit because we are just resurfacing the cupboards. We just need to remove the top polyurethane coat.
Here is where the fun begins! Actually it can be fun at first, but after a while it gets boring. We were luck to have our awesome friend Justin come over help out with the project. I think it was his first time resurfacing, but he picked it up like a pro. Now he has some mad resurfacing skillz. With his help we were able to finish most of the cupboards in six hours. Thanks for your help Justin!

To begin sanding, sand the wood in the direction the grain is running. (That means, the way the lines run in the wood.) Just sand so that the gloss sheen is not visible. Do not try to sand down to where the wood is it's natural color. If you do that you will be wasting a lot of time and you risk that you color becoming uneven. After sanding with the sandpaper, you can choose to sand with a steal wool. It is really up to you. If the wood feels rough to the touch, I would use the steal wool to smooth it out.
After all the sanding is finished, dust all the wood. We use a rag with some bamboo oil on it. You do not want to use water on a rag, it will raise the grain of the wood and make it a little rough to the touch.

The next step, is by far the most fun part: Painting on the stain. GLOVE UP! I mean it, this stuff will stain your hands for days! And if the thought of brown fingers aren't very appetizing, I suggest buying a box of latex gloves. For staining, we like to use the sponge brushes that you can pick up pretty cheap at any hardware store. I think my Mom prefers to use rags though. Whatever one you prefer. The brushes keep our hands a little cleaner, so I think that is why we have always used them.

Apply the stain with even pressure to one side of the cupboard. Don't attempt to do both sides at once, it will just not work. If you see drips, wipe them up right away. Try to keep the color consistent on the entire cupboard. Once finished, let it dry for 24 hours. Do not let anything touch it or you might mess up the consistency of the stain. The next day, flip the cupboards and stain the other side.
After all the staining has been applied and you have waited 24 hours, it is time to apply a polyurethane coat to the cupboards. This gives the wood that nice glossy, new look. Really any polyurethane will work, but ask a local hardware person what they recommend.

And here is the result.
Notice the glossy look of the cupboards. The color is slightly richer and just looks more vibrant. Now all we have left is to get our counter tops installed, back splash installed, and the floor refinished! We are getting so close!!!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Favorite S/S 2010 Trends

Last Sunday was the first REAL spring day we've had! I pulled out some strappy brown sandals, cuffed my skinny jeans into capris, and set off with Mr. Man to get a new propane tank for the grill. I'm definitely a spring and summer girl and when you live in South Dakota you learn to appreciate each and every day that entails beautiful weather.

Of course with all of this sunshine and warmth I'm just ITCHING to dig out my summer clothes. Here are my favorite trends for spring and summer 2010 that I can't wait to mix in with my warm weather staples:

1. Florals
The florals trend continues into this year and I am not complaining! I love the mix of colors and the femininity of the trend. This year the floral patterns are a little larger in scale so if you're worried about being too loud then try wearing a floral that is fitted and has structure (i.e. you won't like the maxi dresses with the large floral patterns). Here's an example of how I'd wear it:

2. Chambray
This light denim/linen fabric is big again. Although I wouldn't suggest wearing it head to toe there are definitely some chic ways to pull it off. I haven't found a chambray dress yet that tickles my fancy but it's another way to wear the trend. Here's how I would do it:

3. Lucite Accessories
Here's a trend that was around a few years ago and back then I didn't particularly care for it. It wasn't actually until this lady at my old job walked in wearing a beautiful lucite necklace one day. It sparkled and wasn't over the top; like everything else she wears it was just classy. The updated trend is now seen on accessories like high heels and clutches; I'll keep it simple with a necklace, ring, or bracelet. Here's how I'd wear it at the office:

4. Stripes/Nautical
Ahhhhh the Nautical look. I'm not sure why but when some people see this trend and run in the other direction. I on the other hand am absolutely drawn to it. There's something about the classic look; it's crisp and clean. I also gravitate towards anything with stripes; so timeless! Now that being said, it is important to incorporate this trend properly and not look like an actual sailor. Here's an easy way to mix it up when wearing stripes this summer:

5. Light Colored Leather
This is a trend I was a little unsure about. When I think of light leather I think of Paulette from Legally Blonde 2 suggesting that Elle wear a classy wedding dress, what she describes as, "white leather." *shudders* While we can all agree the a white leather wedding dress is probably the tackiest thing possible, there are plenty of flattering ways to wear light colored leather this summer. I recently purchased a light brown "leather" jacket from Forever 21. The lighter colors keeps it from look dark and drab during the summer. Most of all it's something DIFFERENT for me to try. I get a little bored with the same outfits so this trendy piece is all-too refreshing (esp. when punching it up with a bright clutch or purse). Here's an example of how I like to wear it:

I can't wait for summer to really arrive! Bring on the sunshine & cute outfits...


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Easy, Quick, Cheap Hamburger Soup

This meal is a good hearty meal for these cool spring nights. It's a cheap meal to make and actually pretty healthy!

1 lb ground beef
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/8 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 (2 ounce) package onion soup mix
6 cups boiling water
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup celery, sliced (I use the inner stalks and save the nicer pieces f)
1/4 cup celery leaves
1 cup sliced carrot
1/3 cup dried split peas
1 cup elbow macaroni
grated parmesan cheese

1. In a large saucepan, brown meat, drain excess fat.
2. Add salt, pepper, oregano, basil, seasoned salt, and onion soup mix.
3. Stir in boiling water, tomato sauce, and soy sauce.
4. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, prepare celery, celery leaves, and carrots; Then add to simmering mixture with split peas and continue to cook for 30 minutes.
6. Add macaroni and simmer for 30 minutes longer, adding more water if necessary and stirring occasionally.
7. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese over individual servings.

The Skinny: Serves 6 @ 280 calories

Also, you can freeze this soup and use later. To reheat: remove from freezer and thaw. Place soup in saucepan and heat, stirring, until hot.


Spring into Action!

It’s that time again, spring time! And that means planting your garden!

My husband and I love home grown produce in the summer, and it’s a great way to get all your veggies in and save some money. I didn't have to purchase any cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, potatoes or garlic last year and I think we ended up saving quite a bit of money.

We moved into our house last year and our first REALLY big landscaping project was creating a garden. We have a downward slanting yard, so my husband came up with the idea of a 4 tiered, raised garden. A raised garden is also easier on your back, you don't have to bend down as far when pulling weeds :)

We purchased edger blocks from Menards and went to work. We pulled up the grass and laid out our brick. My husband curved and shaped the bricks as needed by using an angle grinder. He will hands down tell you that an angle grinder is the BEST tool for cutting the bricks.
After about a week’s time we had our garden built!

The picture below is from last year's garden, but you get the idea of the end result.
This last week my husband, with the help of my nephew, planted all new vegetables and we are very excited for the season to start. Tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, squash, onions, garlic, peas and radishes, we love them all! Hopefully this season will me much warmer than last year, and we will have some good turnout.

If you don't have a garden at your house I suggest adding one. If you are new to a garden, just start out with a couple plants. Tomatoes practically take care of themselves and are very easy to grow. We don't use pesticides on our garden, just to save money and allowing us to eat from the garden right off the plants. We lost all of our lettuce last year to rabbits and some bug ate our yellow squash, but you live and you learn and we can honestly say there is nothing better than the fresh veggies from the garden. They take on such a flavor that you can't usually purchase at the grocery store.

The next outdoor landscaping project...the front landscaping by the power boxes. This area is overgrown with plants that just don't work under the shade of the large tree. The juniper bush is half dead and the rocks are full of leaves. We haven't decided what plants to replace the area with, so if anyone reading this has some suggestions please feel free to let me know at


Friday, April 2, 2010

Mmm Mmm Tuna Burgers!

One of my favorite meals growing up was my mom's Tuna Burgers! They are delicious but best of all extremely easy to make. We've made them quite a few Friday's this Lenten Season!

The picture below isn't actually a picture of my tuna burgers but it's the closest thing I could find (and I'm just too lazy to take a picture right now). Don't be deceived by the name; they aren't actually "burgers" and are served "open faced." Also, there's nothing red added to mine (like the picture).

Tuna Burgers
1 Egg
2 Cans of Tuna
1 Can of Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/4 Cup finely chopped onions
1/2 a package of crackers
Hamburger Buns

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the first 4 ingredients. Crush up the crackers and add to the mixture. Set hamburger buns open on a cookie sheet. Spoon mixture evenly on each bun. Cook in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Nathan likes his with cheese so towards the end I just throw on a slice of American cheese for his tuna burgers. Enjoy!


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