…It’s Time

July 09, 2012   //  Posted in: DIY, Kitchen   //  By: Emily   //  9 responses

Oh, right. I’ve been putting this off for a long time. It’s been almost two months, to be exact, which feels more like 3 years to me, since I usually hop right on projects like this one. You see, after I sampled staining my kitchen cabinets, I got cold feet. All of you who commented on that post gave me great encouragement, great reason to keep on trucking along with this plan to refinish my oak kitchen cabinets and transform them into a lush, rich espresso brown, and even still, I froze in my tracks, concerned that after doing the test subject, the whole job would be a disaster.

I wasn’t quiet about my concerns at home though, and after Pete and I talked about it, we decided that even if the staining does go as poorly as I’m cautiously bracing myself for, we can still paint the cabinets and live with them painted instead of plain oak. Win if the stain works out, win if we have to paint them. A little extra work in between, but you know, it won’t kill us.

And that’s what brought me to getting my butt in gear late last week. I took a few quick shots of the (still messy) kitchen before I started dismantling it so you could be reminded of its oakiness in all its glory, and also so you could see how nicely it actually hid all of the junk we really have crammed in an unorderly way into those kitchen cabinets.

Kitchen: In all its oak-y glory.

The island is blocking line of sight to a few more doors. The island of misfit empty soda cans. We had friends over for the fourth of July holiday last week. And right now we have enough cans and bottles to fund a week’s worth of groceries.

Kitchen: In all its oak-y glory.

And so I got at it.

Beginning to remove cabinets along the left wall of the kitchen.

It was easy enough to disassemble everything. I took off every last piece of hardware and kept it in a single plastic container. Almost all of it is identical; knobs, hinges, screws. The few pieces that were different (like the screws that attached the drawer fronts to the drawer sliding mechanism) I wrapped with masking tape and labeled appropriately.

All hardware stored in one simple place.

Taking the doors off in a way that they’d remain organized took a little extra effort; since both sides of the doors would be heavily sanded, I took precise measurements of each doors dimension, and noted what side it hinged on so I could tell where it would need to be replaced. Each door and drawerfront would match back to its respective A, B, C, D, etc that I outlined in my project bible.

Keeping tabs on what doors go where.

I started with 12 doors. 12 very managable doors that consume the wall on the left side of the kitchen. Until I see how all of those look sanded, stained, and rehung, I’m not going to bother with the other 13 doors/drawers/lazy susan until I know that this is going to go well.

With my selected 12 in the driveway, I prepared the same TSP-PF high-power cleaning formula that I had already explored during my trial run, complete with rubber gloves and a dog helper, and scrubbed the cabinet doors clean. The TSP doesn’t eliminate the need for sanding, but it does clean up the inevitable oils, grease, and gunk that gathers on the cabinets while you cook.

Getting some TSP-PF prepared with a helper.

A sponge was a fine cleaning tool for most of the job, but I also brought out a green scrubbie to get down on some visibly grungy spots.

Scrubbing, Scrubbing. These cabinets doors that hung around the stove were diiirrrrty.

And if I learned anything from my trial run, it’s that the average door will require at least one hour of sanding. And that means a whole lot of perma-hand convusions. And it means that I will be developing some strong arm muscles. So that I could work consistently, I bought a whole new pack of varying grit sandpaper for Pete’s multitool. And a new mini-sander, a detail attachment with cute little detail sandpapers. A $30 investment total, but  a necessary step.

Getting down to it with some new sandpaper for the multitool.

It’s going to take a long while, because even after sanding, each surface will require several coats of stain, but I’ll be back with progress periodically. Stay tuned for more (and cross your fingers, please).

Editor’s Update: In reality, the technique used to refinish my oak cabinets went much smoother than this test run. Check out the finished cabinets right here.

Looking for the Gel Stain that I used to stain the kitchen cabinets? I could not find it in stores, and my best resource was General Finishes via Amazon. Learn more about the product and purchase it for yourself right here

I Print Pictures

July 06, 2012   //  Posted in: Being Thrifty, Organized   //  By: Emily   //  4 responses

Official Merrypad memo: This is not a sponsored post. It’s me trying to save you a load of money by switching to… Snapfish.

I know it’s getting to be a little bit of a lost tradition with the adoption of digital cameras, ginormous memory cards, and technology that makes it easy enough to wirelessly upload your photos directly to Facebook, Flickr, Insta-everything, but I still make an effort to get photos printed a few times a year. I don’t do it for album-building purposes, not for scrapbooking projects,  just solely to have real, physical photographs in my possession. I like thumbing through photos. I like having photos around for other people to look at. I like not having to rely on iPhoto to browse my collection (I don’t know about you, but for me it’s stop-you-in-your-productive-tracks s-l-o-w, even on my new kick ass computer). And I like being able to stick a printed photo in the mail for Grandma to frame on her own mantle. She likes that too, I understand.

I have a few rules as I go about this ritual of printing photos, though. Or else I’d be spending hundreds of dollars a year on this hobby:

Only print pictures that are worthy of framing, or help capture a specific super-super important memory, like when you convinced your then brand new boyfriend to help build your deck. And when you threw him a party on it. The week before our garage sale last month, I discovered and emptied four photo binders from high school/early college (which sold for 25-cents each). What I had been saving in those binders was basically trash: 15 good photos capturing fun memories and happy people, and 385 downright blurry images, unbearably pixelated snapshots (from my first 2MP camera that still cost $325), and duplicates (because before digital, you not only shot the same photo 2-3 times to make sure everyone was actually smiling or the dog was looking at the camera, but you also always developed your film in sets, so you inevitably ended up with one good photo, it’s unnecessary dupe, and 4 other similar but not right photos. And in a digital age, please remember that there’s no law saying you need to plug your memory stick into the kiosk at Target and hit “print all”. Nor, for that matter, do you have to upload each of the 25 almost identical photos to Facebook that took of your kid in the left outfield of his first little league game. With the time stamp on.

Tip 1: Only print photos worthy of being printed.

Limit the production of photos of your garden, objects, and your dog. I know, I know, I take about 8,000,000 photos of Cody every month. But I only print a few. The best ones, where his eyes aren’t goofy, crossed, closed, red-eye, or looking rabid. You know what I threw away from those albums I mentioned earlier? Hundreds of super blurry dog-running and dog-sticking-face-in-camera-lens photos of the pups I had growing up. And you know this, I take thousands of photos of my own home every month; I don’t print all those. In fact, I print very few of them, maybe only .0001% of the photos posted on merrypad actually make it to print, and they’re usually just the cute ones of Pete. Similarly, I love looking at flowers as much as the next girl, but I only print photos of flora when it’s something I want to frame. And even then, it’s usually a one-off print job to get exactly the size I want, whether it be an 8×10, or something poster-sized.

I only print pictures when they’re 1-cent each. That’s right, screw the 10-cent/per print “low” pricing wherever you get yours printed and wait until you see an offer for penny prints. I use Snapfish exclusively for my photo printing needs (and have for over 10-years now); they seem to have this offer quarterly (or more often, or less often) where you can order 99-prints for 99-cents, or sometimes 200 for $2.00. And sometimes with free shipping. I’m writing about this because they have PENNY PRINTS going on RIGHT NOW (through Wednesday 7/11), so use offer code FIREWORKS at checkout you’ll get 99 prints for 99-cents. And you can use that code on unlimited orders. Whoop-whoop, photo time!

Penny Prints time! Use code FIREWORKS at checkout on!

Actually, if you let me refer you to open a new account I’ll get some more free prints too, so leave me a comment and I’ll invite you today.

Final note: I still label every photo I have printed with the date, location details, as well as the people that are in the photograph. It might take a little extra time (hours, sometimes), but it’s totally worth it down the road when you can’t remember what year you went to Mexico. Which was only just last August.

Pretty please, remember to label your prints.

Have a great second holiday weekend, lucky Americans! Back on Monday with a project that I’ve been putting off like it’s my job.

DIY Network: Shells Galore Meets Home Decor

July 05, 2012   //  Posted in: Beach, Decor, DIY, HGTV + DIY Network Projects   //  By: Emily   //  2 responses

I assembled some pieces of custom home decor this week while in a feverish mood to accent the home with some subtle beachy accents. As opposed to traditional frames, these new hanging pieces of art are displayed in customized shadow boxes: An easy and fun alternative for a multitude of projects.

You can read about the whole project right here on DIY Network. Go see it for yourself (and then make your own summery-beachy-decor for your own home)!

Custom shadow box art using craft paper and seashells

P.S. If you missed it earlier in the week, I also wrote about my beloved shiplap headboard. You can read about that process over here.