Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

I wish I was mushy & gushy & lovey & husband does too, but I'm not.  I used to be but I'm jaded so it's not a big deal to me.  Though I do have 4 men in my life that are the best Valentine's I could ask for.  All 4 have stolen my heart a 1,000 times over & I am grateful that I will never have to spend February 14th alone.  I took 2 of those special men out today for a wonderful treat.  We hit up an Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor!!! 

 Klavon's in The Strip District, Pittsburgh PA.  

 I'm a chocolate malt girl, though I would like to go back for a BIG sundae with my husband because I could never eat it all.
 "Penny Candy" counter.  Nothing costs a penny anymore but the candy was the kind of things you would get at the penny candy store.  I bought candy of my favorites!
 Old fashioned booths.......
 Jack looking out of the door into the city, he enjoyed watching all the trucks go by.

  I think the pictures say it all.....though the last picture kinda creeps me out.  Because what you don't see is that the ice cream man's sprinkles are going on ice cream below that the children are holding, it's a huge mural on the side of the building & the thought of someone spitting sprinkles onto my ice cream was kinda gross.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

How to paint your brick fireplace....and totally freak out your husband.

My husband used to travel quite a bit with his old job.   The best trips he took were the trips to Germany, they were a week long & allowed me to do a little "home project."   I would usually paint a room or make some curtains but the traveling ceased when he went to a new company.  So when Dad went on his first business trip in a long time this past week I decided to take on a project.  Painting a brick fireplace! 

Here's the deal, you either love painted brick or you don't.  You can love raw brick & painted brick but nobody ever seems to be on the fence about painted brick, the majority of people I meet don't like it.  I love it! My husband....not so much, so I waited for him to go away & got to work.

I did a lot of research on this subject.  Searched the internet for hours, talked to the guy at Lowe's until I was blue in the face & he was sick of me, I even took a picture of the fireplace & uploaded it into Photoshop CS5 & did a little "what it would look like" preview for my eyes.  I was ready!

You will need:
rubber gloves
mild dish soap
vacuum cleaner
1 gallon of an OIL-based primer paint in white
1 gallon of ACRYLIC flat paint in color of your choice
3" paintbrush
2" or 3" thick nap paint roller
painter's tape
drop-cloths or plastic
old rags
Vacuum the brick off really well, get rid of cobwebs & loose grout, this is important & you may want to go over the brick a couple times.

Fill up your bucket with some hot water, add a few drops of the dish soap & swish it around.  There is no need to have the rag or brick soaking wet when you are doing this., brick is porous & you must give it time to dry before painting it.  A damp cloth will get the dust, dirt & cobwebs off & that is good enough.  I did these 2 steps before I wen to bed & finished the next day, but I suggest you give the brick at least 2 hours to dry.
After the brick is dry..guess what....vacuum again :-)

Now we tape off what we need to do it well.  I am a taper I love paint tape, my husband on the other hand thinks it's a waste of time.  You would think the person who tapes off is the "Type A" personality but in this case, I tape because I am a slob & know full well that I color outside the lines whereas my husband is a "Type A" crazy person who colors inside the lines.
Most fireplaces have some "black soot" areas on the brick, usually above the hearth opening.  This is the reason for the oil-based paint.  My fire place is not bad but know that you may need to put several coats of the primer on this area  of "soot spots"  You may need 2 coats of primer on the entire fireplace since the brick is porous, so be prepared & let it dry throughly before you do the final color coat. Paying special attention to "soot spots."

Get out that thick, nappy roller....coat it really well & get to work.  I wasn't sure what the reasoning was behind the 3" nap roller but I get it now.  Having it that thick leaves a nice texture on your brick, it makes it look "naturally painted" - if that makes sense.  I liked this roller because is reminded me of sheep fur....which reminded me of yarn....which made me want to go knot....but I controlled the urge & painted on.

I made a big mistake!  I  ignored one huge "rule of thumb" in the painting world.  WORK FROM THE TOP DOWN!  NOT FROM THE BOTTOM UP :-)  
This made it a little harder for me to work on the top part & I had to wait for the paint to dry a little on the bottom before I continued on.

Let's talk brushes.....a lot of instructions on the internet said to use cheap brushes because they will get ruined when painting brick & that's true  but what they don't tell you is that cheap brushes fall apart & you will get brush hairs in your paint job.  Spend the extra 5 bucks, trust me!

After you roll the entire fireplace, get the brush out & dig into the grout....this is time consuming & boring but the finished product is well worth it.  I found that angling the brush & dabbing worked great.  Also, coat that thick with paint, it goes faster.
There she is all primed & ready for a coat of paint - I chose the color "Dove White" FLAT at Lowe's.
Not gloss or semi-gloss, you'll regret that.
 It is a Velspar Acrylic paint & about $20 a can.   When I first put the paint on I didn't notice a huge difference in the color of the primer & the color of the paint but as it dried I realized the primer had a "bluish" tint to it.
IMPORTANT TIP:  after applying the paint in he grout with the brush you will end up with "brushstrokes" on your brick, go back over the brick with the roller to make them disappear while the paint  & the roller are still sticky.  You won't want those "brushstrokes" on  he brick.

I love it, though I have to admit when that first brushstroke of primer went on I took a step back, gasped & had a moment of "Dear God, what have I done"  You have to be 100% sure that this is what you want to do.  I thought about this for months before the final decision was made.  It was well worth it when I my older kids came home & said "Wow, it's so much brighter in here" and for the first time in their school life sat down at the kitchen table & did homework together ;-)

Was my husband happy?  No, not really, he freaked a bit, we had a spat but I think it's growing on him.  He's over I told him, I spend 80% of my time in the kitchen.....I'm the only one that has to like it.

Final Cost: $80 for paint & supplies + $60 for some new decorations for the mantle from Marshall's

Thursday, January 13, 2011

When mother nature sends you snow, make SNOW ICE CREAM!

Things can get pretty cold in the Northeastern parts of the United States, at least once a winter we get hit by a pretty big snow storm & the world comes to an end.  Everyone over 50 starts running for the store to grab their bread & milk.  Me?  I just grab the milk.  Because when the snow hits & the kiddos get cabin fever this is one of the BEST things to do.

Google "snow ice cream" & you will come up with hundreds of different ways to make it.  They are all tasty & they will all work.  Just make sure you have all your ingredients, toppings & utensils ready to go because this melts pretty quick.

 HOW TO MAKE:  Take a HUGE bowl of clean snow, about 16 cups.  Stir in 1 cup of milk & 1 cup of  half-n-half. (you can use 2 cups of milk if you wish)  Add 1 tsp. of vanilla extract & a half cup of sugar.
Most recipes call for a whole cup of sugar but I find that half cup of sugar works just fine & my toddlers really DO NOT need that extra sugar high :-)

Let the lil' ones go at it, stir! stir! stir!  Let them get messy!
You can clean them & the table off later.  Take some time to enjoy their excitement in stirring up some snow & milk, it's the little things that make memories.  If you are standing their with a rag in your hand trying to wipe up every drop that falls out of the bowl you need to go get therapy for OCD, just sayin'

We used some leftover sprinkles from Christmas cookies, Starbucks carmel topping & chocolate syrup.  Jack preferred to just use the sprinkles, he is a one-topping kinda man.
Now get outside, grab your spoons & have your family make a really cool treat after dinner tonight!