Exploring Chalk Paint and Milk Paint- Part II

I started exploring Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint and Old Fashioned Milk Paint a week or so ago. It’s been fun, rewarding and sometimes downright aggravating. I’m still working on my original projects that you can see here – they all are almost done, but then I keep adding new projects like the mirror pictured above which you just can’t mess up or painting this credenza that Ashley and I found at Goodwill last weekend for $30.00…

Before: Solid wood base and hideous laminate top. Yes. Chalk paint covers up laminate without priming or sanding.

It isn’t done yet – I need to add a coat of Annie Sloan’s dark wax, but here’s the drawers as I started…

and an almost finished sneak preview…

You also may have seen the container pots I painted for my Herb Garden:

Here’s what you need to know about painting OUTDOOR items with Chalk Paint:

  1. No need to prime, but make sure the surface is clean
  2. Paint 1 coat. Let it dry an hour or so and add another coat if necessary. I didn’t need two coats and in small areas I left a bit of the terracotta exposed for a worn look.
  3. Let dry an hour, than if desired grab a piece of sand paper and distress edges or areas to expose original color below paint.
  4. Let sit for 24 hours before using.

I hope you can handle it. It’s so simple stupid… this Chalk Paint is a dream to use.

You really can’t screw it up and even if like me, you hate have little patience for painting or lack the time or desire often required for the traditional ways of re-finishing a piece of furniture, don’t despair… you may, like me, change your mind once you’ve discovered Chalk Paint.

So that was a quick update. I definitely will share specifics on both products soon along with some simple tutorials, but in the meantime I will say this: I adore, love, am addicted to Chalk Paint. Milk Paint… not so much.  I am keeping an open mind to Milk Paint, but am sold hook, line and sinker on Chalk Paint. It’s done deal where that’s concerned.

Stay tuned and have a great day! xo Amy

P.S. And by the way, I am not being paid or compensated in any way for this post.

Fifty Reasons I’m Happy Today

Fifty seems to be a popular number lately. I’m fifty… that doesn’t really make me happy, but it doesn’t make me sad either. I’ve just finished reading Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed… yes, I did love those books, but they’re not the reason I’m happy today. This has to do with something I have been battling since I had the last of my three kids over twenty years  ago… my weight.

I have tried practically every diet out there. I’ve lost weight. Gained weight. Gained more. It’s a vicious, evil thing, but I think I’m finally starting to win the battle. I still want to lose more, but as of today I have lost 50 lbs and because of that, here are the reasons why I’m happy today…

  1. Three years ago I was Pre-Diabetic. Today I am not.
  2. Three years ago I was anemic, today I am not (If you are anemic, I highly recommend Flora Vital).
  3. Three years ago my good cholesterol was low. Today it is normal.
  4. I don’t get out of breath when I walk.
  5. I bought a large instead of an extra-large when shopping the other day.
  6. I can wear my wedding rings again.
  7. I don’t have to add extenders to any of my necklaces.
  8. I am starting to prefer tighter clothes.
  9. I have 10x more energy.
  10. I bought a bathing suit that I actually like. I wore it this weekend. My husband said I looked sexy, although I’m pretty sure he had ulterior motives, haha! For the first time in many years I was not ashamed to be in a swim suit.
  11. I see the light at the end of the tunnel.
  12. I ate out  and ordered a gyro. For the first time, I realized I would have rather had a soup and salad.
  13. Several times over the past few months I’ve gained 4 lbs or so, but I didn’t freak out… I just promptly re- lost it each time. This gives me hope.
  14. I am finding healthy recipes are really quite good.
  15. I discovered the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and now crave carrot and green juices – I am thankful for both
  16. My feet aren’t stiff when I wake up. I can walk all day long and they still don’t hurt.
  17. My knee doesn’t hurt. I used to wear a brace. Today I don’t even think about it.
  18. My back doesn’t hurt. Well, today it does, but that’s only because over the weekend I lifted a heavy piece of furniture, so that’s my fault! Normally, it doesn’t hurt like it used to.
  19. I am now buying a size nine shoe instead of a 9 1/2. Mostly because…
  20. My feet don’t swell. Nor do my fingers, ankles, etc. I contribute this to the fact that I don’t drink anything carbonated anymore. No soda and it’s rare that I ever have a beer.
  21. My kids are proud of me. Not that they didn’t love me fat, but they like me healthy.
  22. As my face thins out, I am not getting more wrinkles. That really was a concern, haha! I know, I’m vain.
  23. My husband and anyone I travel with loves this more than me, but I don’t snore anymore… or so they tell me.
  24. When I travel, I have to pull the seat belt tight… by more than several inches. There was a time I worried about getting it buckled.
  25. I don’t have the desire to read any self-help books anymore. I’m ready to live what I’ve read.
  26. I am feeling creative again.
  27. I rarely feel like I need an afternoon nap.
  28. When standing up and looking down, I can see my toes.
  29. I no longer look like I’m pregnant.
  30. I realized the other week that I was crossing my legs while sitting. It dawned on me that I hadn’t done that in years.
  31. I eat almost all fresh vegetables (versus from a can or frozen)  and find that not only are they easy to prepare, but I really do like them.
  32. I can sleep at night without an arm going numb.
  33. I find I like to go out…I am feeling more social.
  34. Dressing fashionably seems possible again.
  35. I am comfortable.
  36. I am more confident.
  37. I am less of an apple shape.
  38. My BMI dropped significantly.
  39. I have more balance. I can easily stand without holding on to anything and put my pants on one leg at a time.
  40. I don’t dread getting on the scale, in fact I semi-look forward to it.
  41. If I eat big one day or even over one weekend, it’s okay. I get back on track the next day.
  42. I don’t feel I’m on a diet, but that I have adapted a new way of eating. Translation: This just might last.
  43. There’s an extra giddy-up in my step that I didn’t know I missing until I got it back.
  44. I don’t even think about looking at plus sizes when shopping.
  45. I think I actually might someday soon get back into my original Calvin Kleins from back in the day. Fingers crossed!
  46. When I go to the market, I find I’m now shopping the perimeter of the store and rarely go down the aisles. That translates into: I’m eating fresh food as opposed to processed foods.
  47. I wore jeans for the first time in over 15 years.
  48. Although I have always sweated a lot, ugh… I sweat much less than I did 50 lbs. ago.
  49. I can wear 3″ heels again.
  50. I find I am much more heat tolerant.
  51. I am not taking any supplements (the benefit of which is now being debated) because I am getting all my nutrition from the food that I eat

Ooops. That’s fifty-one reasons. I could come up with forty-nine more, but I won’t do that to you…

So there you are. I am not at the end of my journey to getting slim and healthy, but I wanted to share this mile stone with you because it has been such a struggle for me over the years.  If you have the same struggle I want you to know that there is hope. You can do it. It starts with baby steps and it’s more about choosing to embrace a life style change than about starting a diet. For me, it was cutting out sugar, white flour and processed foods. It was adding juicing (fruit and vegetable juices), nuts, beans and vegetable soup. For you, “it” may be Weight Watchers or Counting Calories. Whatever “it” is, I will tell you… there are fifty reasons to say yes to “it”. Every single one is a life changer.

This is really about designing you so you can live it to the fullest. We don’t get any do-overs in life, but we it’s never too late to make changes! Change may seem impossible at times, yet truly it is not. If I can do it, so can you! xo Amy

Easy Banana Avocado “Ice Cream” with Almonds and Chia Seeds

This morning I saw a post by Sarah over at Thrifty Decor Chic with a recipe for Banana Avocado Ice Cream. Really? She swore it was really delicious so, being the trusting person that I am,  I thought I’d try it for myself. Someone commented over on her post that in their country (Australia), they use avocados for sweets such as puddings, frozen treats, etc..  After tasting it, I totally get that! This afternoon I made a double batch and changed it up a bit by adding Chia Seeds and unsalted almonds.

This is sooooo easy! All you need is 5-7  ingredients, ice, a blender and a bit of patience while it freezes. Here’s how to make it…

Banana Avocado Ice Cream with Almonds and Chia Seeds

  • 2 ripe avocado’s (pit removed and scooped out of shell)
  • 2 banana’s (preferably frozen, but not necessary)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup almond vanilla milk, silk  or milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup of ice
  • 2 Tbsp Chia Seeds (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of unsalted almonds (optional)

Dump all ingredients into blender and chop/blend until smooth. Taste. Say yum. Then pour into a glass container with lid and freeze.

It really is that good. I’m thinking this will make at least 8 servings. I plugged the ingredients into free Livestrong’s Calorie Counter and it comes out to only 185 calories. It really is delicious! I may try making it with Stevia next time which would make it at less than 120 calories per serving. Below are some photo’s I took as I made it… enjoy

You might already have most or all of this in hand…

You can almost always find a bag of frozen bananas in my freezer. They are perfect for times like this and to make banana smoothies as well…

Once you’ve blended all the ingredients (sorry, I forgot to take a photo of that) pour into a glass dish and freeze for several hours. It took about 4 hours for mine to get pretty solid…

Once frozen grab a melon scoop to dish it out mini balls and serve in a china bowl to make it special. This bowl was my grandmothers – I love to find a reason to use it…

Happy Memorial Day! Be safe, have fun! xo Amy

Weekend Project: A Handy Little Tool to Clean out your Drains

Warning: This is gross. Disgusting really, but something that must be shared. Because you are my friend, I ask that if you are eating, to either finish up before you continue or put your food aside. Food and this post won’t mix well.

I have to admit I’ve really never looked down my drains before. Truth be told, if the shower drain gets clogged I call my husband, but when I was in Florida a few weeks ago Gigi’s drain was slow and she pulled out this handy little tool

It’s called the Zip-It Drain Cleaner. For a whopping $5.13 you can have it shipped to your door. I did and this is where I got mine – Amazon. Today, I found while searching for it on-line that CVS sells it for $3.99 or you could order it on-line from Sears for a whopping $2.24 and pick it up in the store to get free shipping.

If the words fast, inexpensive and instantly rewarding appeal to you, I suggest you try it.

I really didn’t think I had a drain problem, they were draining pretty well, but when my new tool came in the mail I had to try it immediately and look what I found in the first sink I tackled…

Yep. Disgusting. I warned you. The flip side is it feels really good to know that is no longer in my sink. I have 6 bathroom sinks and it took me a total of 30 minutes start to finish to clean them out. Not a bad investment of time!

But wait! On closer look, what is this?

Yep. A long-lost earring from long ago. I have no idea who’s it is and I didn’t bother to clean it up – it was gross and broken, but that was unexpected, haha! This thing works, I’m telling you!

I carried a zip lock bag and paper towels to dispose of the goop along with Clorox spray cleaner and a scrub brush  to clean the bottom of the stopper which was pretty yuk, too. A bottle cleaner would have been nice to clean the top of the drain too, but I didn’t have one on hand and looking back, rubber gloves would be pretty nifty too. When done, I simply cleaned the tool with some Clorox. I see on-line they sell them in bulk, but I don’t see why you need more than one. It’s  still in perfectly good shape after using it.

Now go have some fun this weekend! xo Amy

P.S. I was not paid to write about the Zip-It… I just really liked it 🙂

Light. Delicious. Healthy… Tomatoes Layered with Feta and Basil

This is so delicious, I really think you will want to try this tonight  soon. Ashley stopped by the other night after work for dinner and I tried out a new recipe I’ve been wanting to sample. It was really, really good. I served it with parmesan encrusted tilapia and boiled klondike potatoes. Afterwards, we may or may not have had a very small bowl of haagen dazs salted caramel truffle ice cream for dessert. I really could eat it all by itself for lunch or a snack. Not the ice cream, the tomato… well okay the ice cream too, but that’s not the point.

You can find the original recipe here, but as usual, I made a few tweaks. Here’s my version…

TOMATOES LAYERED WITH FETA AND BASIL

  • 3 tomatoes from the vine
  • 1/4 cup virgin olive oil
  • 1/2  medium shallot
  • 1/2 tsp of ground sea salt
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 1 Tbsp of balsamic dressing or a Tbsp of Ginger dressing with a dash of white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp (or less) of fresh chopped basil or a teaspoon of ground basil
  • 4-5 oz crumbled feta
  • Tbsp milk

1. Cut off bottom of tomato and discard. Slice remainder of tomato including top into 4 equal slices and spread slices in a shallow dish with sides.

2. Place olive oil, shallot and basil into a blender and puree until shallot is in small pieces.

3. In small bowl mix the ground sea salt, sugar and balsamic or dressing/vinegar. Stir in the mixture from the blender.

4. Spread sauce over tomatoes to coat.

5. In another bowl with fork, mash together the feta and milk. Use hands to form balls and divide into 9 equal parts.

6. On plate lay a larger tomato slice, top with a flattened cheese ball, brush with sauce. Repeat process with two middle layers of tomato and then add the top.

7. Do this for next 2 tomatoes and then brush the tops of each with remaining sauce.

Serve immediately for best presentation. It still tastes yummy 24 hours later, but it will be a bit runny. Amy xo

Here’s some photo’s to help…

I used fresh parsley leaves. You don’t have to pre-chop it before going into blender, but I wasn’t sure how much chopped equaled a Tablespoon, so I did pre-chop it. I used a generous amount of basil, but make sure to add it according to your taste buds! It’s always better to start with less…

I confess, I had to google what a shallot was the first time I cooked with one. This is what they look like if you don’t know…

You could also buy them fresh – they look like giant chives. I couldn’t find the fresh ones.

Here is more about a shallot…

This is the dressing I used… truth-be-told,  I tried it because I ran out of balsamic. It was really good… I loved the slight ginger taste…

Never be afraid to improvise. If I can do it, you can too. It’s empowering to start experimenting when cooking. Big deal, so it doesn’t work out…you don’t know until you try! xo

This is what the mashed feta looks like…

And here are the little feta balls…

And finally, here’s what it looks like as you’re layering…

I hope you try this, it’s yum. xo

A Mini Herb Garden – An Easy Container Project

This is about creating my first herb garden. Well, it’s really just a herb container, but it’s my first experiment with herbs and I think it’s pretty cute. Last year I bought my first tomato plant and this year I’m adding some herbs in containers. I know it’s not much, but it works for me. It was super easy and I’m pretty smitten with the end result.

Last week at Ikea I found these oversized terra-cotta pots with saucers for $5.99 – gotta love that deal! I didn’t have room in my cart or I would have grabbed more. So dumb. I’m going to have to go back this week  but I’m thinking they are probably gone…

The other night I started my adventure with chalk paint  and the more I painted, the more I looked for things to paint and I saw those pots…

I am IN LOVE with chalk paint, but that is another story. Here’s tip number one for chalk paint: Do NOT use a cheap brush. See that bristle in the photo above? ughhhh. Any how, painting the posts took no time…

I even threw in an old candle holder that I had in my garage. I’m planning on turning that into a bird feeder – but that’s for another day!

While the paint dried I decided to make some markers for the organic potted herbs I found at Walmart for $2.98 ea. I’m starting with parsley, mint and oregano…

I already had everything I needed. A black sharpie, three wine corks…

and three wooden skewers for making shish kabobs. The point on the end of the skewers is perfect for pushing it into the cork…

Write the name of the plant on the cork, insert the skewer into one end and voila!…

Cute, yes? I suggest you practice writing first. The printed the first two, but wasn’t happy with them – I found I liked them in cursive better!

I was planning on putting two coats of paint on the pots, but found that one was perfectly fine – I like seeing the original color of the pot peeping through. It took less than an hour for the paint to dry and then I pulled out some stencils I had from years ago…

I just needed a brush, paint and a plastic plate , all of which I had too.  I prefer using a plastic plate because it’s non-absorbent…

It took less than a half an hour – I love the imperfection….

 A quick note of advice: If stenciling on a rim, remember to leave room for letters like g, y, j, etc… I did not. A lesson learned. The second pot was going to say vegetables. After I stenciled the v I thought about the “g” and said “oh crap”… or something like that 🙂  Do you know how hard it is to think of a cute saying that doesn’t involve one of those letters? For now the second one says alive, delish & fresh. Next time I pull out the chalk paint it’s going to be a do-over. I think it’ll say live, love eat. Or maybe tomatoes. I don’t know… any suggestions?

Anyway… I really do love the end result…

Now I’m going to have to go find some new recipes so I can try out my fresh herbs…

Happy Monday! Amy xo

Halved Avocado Topped with Goodies and Raspberry Vinaigrette

I threw this together in less than 10 minutes last weekend and really like it so I thought I’d share! Be creative and change up the cheese, dried fruit, add olives etc… I don’t think you can mess this up!

HALVED AVOCADO TOPPED WITH GOODIES AND RASPBERRY VINAIGRETTE

  • Halved ripe avocado’s
  • Cherry tomatoes halved lengthwise
  • Crumbled blue cheese
  • Dried cranberries
  • Crumbled walnuts
  • Salt and pepper
  • Raspberry or any other vinaigrette
  • Optional: Herbs De Provence or other seasonings
Note: Amounts will be determined by many you are making.
  1. Cut Avocado’s in half and remove pit.
  2. Place on individual serving plates or together on large platter.
  3. Sprinkle each halved avocado with tomatoes, blue cheese, cranberries, walnuts.
  4. Salt/pepper to taste and top with any other spices or herbs you’d like to add.
  5. Drizzle with Raspberry Vinaigrette and serve

Enjoy! Amy xo