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My tiny garden of tomatoes

posted by: dcarch on 10.16.2009 at 09:27 pm in Cooking Forum

Some one asked me where do I grow my tomatoes.
I have a very small suburban garden. Also, I would not be a good neighbor if I have a forest of stakes and cages.
I came up with a system which allow me to grow very tall plants with an invisible support system.
Together with a few other unique methods, I have a very productive garden for its size.










clipped on: 10.17.2009 at 12:36 pm    last updated on: 10.17.2009 at 12:36 pm

RE: How to darken a Numerar wood countertop (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: hawklox on 06.12.2009 at 03:07 pm in Kitchens Forum

Here is an excerpt from the Waterlox website...

"Adding stain to your first coat of Waterlox Original finishes: You can also add stain to your first coat of Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish (up to a ratio of 4:1 Waterlox/stain. This method of staining eliminates a separate step and provides a smooth, even color change even on soft woods like pine which normally become blotchy. Simply brush on the mixture and let it dry-- wiping off is not required".

Waterlox Original Tung Oil Finishes produce a slight "patina" or amber coloration that brings out the character of woods. Try finishing a test area before staining You may find that Waterlox alone makes your wood look so beautiful that youll want to forgo staining altogether.

We normally suggest something like the original Minwax, Zar or Carver Tripp oil based stains.

Does this help?


clipped on: 06.13.2009 at 09:09 am    last updated on: 06.13.2009 at 09:09 am

RE: Please show us your garage! (Follow-Up #34)

posted by: oceanna on 05.12.2009 at 06:57 am in Home Decorating Forum

I don't have curtains in the garage, Iggy, but I want some. They say burglars look in your garage windows and if they like what they see, they break in. You're not alone in the messy garage department!

Red, you are absolutely the first and only person I've ever seen say she picked her wall color to hide smushed spiders. Hahahahahaha! You did a fabulous job on your garage, girl.

Lynn, can you make them less mismatched by painting them all the same color?

Here are some garage makeover pics I found...

I think this is one of those epoxy floors that are kind of tricky to do yourself, but can be a DIY...
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Love this lime green...
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Curtains to hide shelving mess, great idea!
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Love the checkerboard floors. But if they're hard to keep clean in the kitchen, how would they be in the garage?
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This red floor is concrete paint. Cheaper, but won't last as long as some of these other treatments.
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Who knew there were screen garage doors for people who work in their garages?
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Another expensive floor...
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Cheery color...
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Yes this kitchen really is in the garage...
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Pretty metal floor tiles...
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Creative colorful floor...
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Another snazzy floor...
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How to turn a one-car garage into a two car garage with an elevator lift...
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Interesting pad to park on...
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Wow floors sure make a difference, don't they?
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Garages sure look better if you do something good with the floor, don't they?

See any ideas you like?


clipped on: 05.13.2009 at 01:09 pm    last updated on: 05.13.2009 at 01:09 pm

RE: 100 year old trim- what would you do? (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: sombreuil_mongrel on 03.21.2006 at 11:07 pm in Woodworking Forum

Test for shellac on existing old finish: If denatured alcohol removes it, it was/is shellac.
_some_ polys very much resent being applied over even a trace of shellac. The poly will turn white in a few days after applying it. That's a very good reason not to use it. Shellac is the fastest drying varnish out there. You can apply three or four coats in a day. You can mix your own shellac fresh from flakes by dissolving it in alcohol (or better still Behkol, proprietary shellac solvent) as fresh shellac dries the fastest and hardest. For my old house woodwork I use two coats of "garnet" shellac ( a deep ruddy color) followed by several coats of blond or ultra blond. After the finish has cured, I apply paste wax (Johnson's, Minwax finishing wax, etc) with 4/0 steel wool, and buff with a woolen cloth. The patina thus achieved is rarely surpassed.(except by french polishing - and you can do that for the doors where it shows to best advantage) It's smooth a silk, easy to dust, reversible, none of which can be said for a poly varnish, which unavoidably dries with dust specks, etc. that really cannot be rubbed out.
Just my two cents, as a life-long historic preservationist, old-house carpenter, and finish dude.


clipped on: 01.25.2009 at 03:56 pm    last updated on: 01.25.2009 at 03:56 pm

RE:all the details and formulas for painting oak cabinets (Follow-Up #29)

posted by: nodirthere on 02.06.2008 at 05:37 pm in Kitchens Forum

Wow- Thank you all so much for all your wonderful compliments! I never did a forum before and have learned so much from all of you-hope I can give some knowledge back. Many have asked for details so here they are- I hope this will save someone else some time. In full disclosure,my painter did everything but the glazing and design work and leg work- he did a fabulous job achieving the result I wanted. I wanted a more French country feel and did not want to see the oak grain at all.(I felt that would look less elegant and more rustic)
This was the process on the cabinet doors (taken off)-product sprayed on unless otherwise noted:
1. coat of Insl-x STIX Primer
2. Spackled smooth coat of MH Ready patch by Zinsser (this was after an attempt w/a wood filler that proved to not fill the grain as much as I wanted- I wanted a piano finish, I'm sure there is something out there that would be easier, and there are lots of fillers we found, but they would not fill ALL the grain, so we went right to the MH.)
3. Sanded w/hand sander -start out bigger grit end end w/fine-(120)
4. Coat of Insl-x Stix Primer (this stuff really works)
5. 2-3 coats of Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo-
Custom color Formula:
Pastel base 314-1B-1
6. Hand glaze-Custom color Benjamin Moore Glaze
I used medium size sponge brushes and lots of paper towels-(use Viva -all the difference in the world!)- you could use cotton rags, but I found the viva was the easiest in keeping the rest of the cabinet clean by changing them out frequently.
There were so many coats of stuff that it made my corners less than 45 degrees and difficult to wipe the glaze on then wipe off leaving the glaze in the edge of cabinet trim. I had to create the line by painting it on w/pointy sponge tips and dragging it along the line. This is kind of hard to explain-think of when you are caulking and go back and smooth it out and the caulk stays in the corner of your line w/ a nice finish on the outside- same thing-I ran into problems when the corners got filled w/too much coatings and had to "create" the line- our else I would go back and wipe the whole line off.
Hope I'm explaining this ok-I did try brushes but found it easier to drag the glaze than brush it- I kept thinking there had to be a better way, but never did find one (it was about 45 min each cabinet). I only did the trim corners- I did not do the whole cabinet w/ a washed glaze effect- I have seen it but didn't think I wanted that much "aging" -and wasn't THAT confident in my abilities.
Other details- all trim work was hardwood not oak, since we were painting it anyway-saved lots of $ w/ that.
The "table legs" on the island are actually newall post for stairs sold at minards for $30, w/the ball cut off the top- hugely cheeper than buying an island leg!
The corner spindles are actually $12 wall corner guards from Minards and Home Depot. Wasn't sure about them and haven't glazed them yet because of that-now I'm just getting use to them. Filled in the difference between bead board and corner w/spackle-smoothed it out.
Beadboard just the big sheets-tried glazing it but just looked way too "stripey" and wanted to minimize the country look so left it alone.
Granite is Uba Tuba-ogee edge- I am so glad I did the slight archon the island and little scallop in- last minute idea and it really made a difference.
Base trim- hemmed and hawed getting rid of the toe kick-especially w/ cream cabs- but so glad I did -all for that furniture look.
Glass cabinets were the cabinets above the wall oven-cut out the inside- had my local glass cutter fit some glass to the frame- glass shelf for inside cabinet. Cut 1 foot off the depth of the floor cabinets and reattached to the wall- lost the drawers.
Tile backsplash is acid washed tumbled travertine. The embossed tiles under mw and repeated under the glass cabinets were from Home Depot and ceramic -very inexpensive $3. They even have light switch covers that match the travertine there.
Lighting above and below cabinets are those little round halogen lights from HD.
Ok- that's all the detail I can think of -someone asked how this came to be- I poured through 100's of magazines and websites for a long time- and saved pictures that I liked-also I visited the big stores and took all their cabinet catalogs I could- those really helped w/the wood bridge detail over the window and those details. In painting cabinets you can hide lots of mistakes and miscuts w/ putty and spackle-would do it all over again-
Hope this helps someone save 1 trip back to the hardware store! Thanks again for the kudos-nodirthere (in reference that I do not garden, not the cleanliness of my house- I can assure you my kitchen doesn't look like this today)-Gotta go shovel out -got 12" at least in n. Illinois today......


clipped on: 01.21.2009 at 11:13 am    last updated on: 01.21.2009 at 11:13 am

RE: Annie's Salsa and Habenero Gold and other awesome recipes (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: mustangs on 11.15.2008 at 09:09 pm in Cooking Forum


Habanero Gold Jelly from Annie

1/3 cup finely sliced dried apricots
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 cup finely diced sweet red pepper
1/4 cup finely diced habanero peppers, including seeds OR 1/4 cup diced, combined jalapeno and Scotch Bonnet peppers
3 cups granulated sugar
1 pouch Bernardin liquid pectin or Certo

Cut apricots into 1/8 inch slices. Measure into a large deep stainless steel saucepan with vinegar; let stand 4 hours. Individually, cut onion and seeded peppers into 1/8 inch slices; cut slices into 1/4 inch dice. Measure each ingredient; add to apricots. Stir in sugar.

Over high heat, bring to a full roiling boil. Stirring constantly, boil hard
1 minute. Remove from heat. Immediately stir in pectin, mixing well.

Pour jelly into hot jar, dividing solids equally among jars and filling each jar to within 1/4 inch of top rim. Wipe rims. Apply lids.

Process 10 minutes in BWB. Cool upright, until lids pop down, about 30 minutes. When lids are concave but the jelly is still hot, carefully grasp jar without disturbing lid and invert, twist, or rotate each jar to distribute solids throughout jelly. The jar can be inverted temporarily but do not allow it to stand upside-down for prolonged periods.

Repeat as necessary during the cooling/setting time, until solids remain suspended in the jelly.

8 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped and drained
2 cups chopped onion
1 cups chopped green pepper
3 seeded chopped jalapenos
6 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp pepper
1/8 cup canning salt
cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup vinegar-Use 1 cup if you use hot water bath
16 oz. tomato sauce
16 oz tomato paste

Mix all ingredients, bring to a boil, boil 10 minutes. Pour into hot jars, process at 10 lbs of pressure for 30 minutes for pints.
Makes 6 pints


clipped on: 01.08.2009 at 07:10 pm    last updated on: 01.08.2009 at 07:10 pm

a few bread baking tips and the pizza dough recipe

posted by: trailrunner on 12.27.2008 at 12:36 pm in Kitchens Forum

Several Kitchen Forum members have moved into the area of bread baking with their new kitchens. This has been a most exciting turn of events. Some have baked bread in the past and are returning to the joy of baking and others have never baked bread and are just stepping into the wonderful world of baking.

I am not an expert and am always exploring new ideas and trying new recipes and techniques. I have learned a lot from others and thought I would share a few things here. Some of these are brand new to me and since I have had such good luck with these tips I am passing them along .

1) Classes of bread: bread doughs have different hydration % depending on what kind of dough it is. There are stiff, standard and rustic doughs. Some doughs are leaner and some are richer. Breads are leavened in different ways....starters, yeast, baking powder etc.

2) Flour: all flour is NOT created equal. Every single brand of flour and type of flour has a different weight per cup. If it is sifted, it is fresh milled, whole wheat, get the picture. Get a very good digital scale. Weigh what you use and write it in the margins. I have started doing this and can tell a huge difference. I am slowly converting my recipes to weight. These are some broad ranges below. each brand of unbleached will vary ...even by a 1/4 c. When you get to know your bread recipe and feel of the dough you will be able to tell when enough is enough.

unbleached 16oz= 3 1/2 c
ww flour 16oz= 3 1/2 c
stone ground ww flour 16 oz= 3 3/4 c

3) yeast: another subject that has plenty of variations. There is instant, there is active dry, there is fresh and then wild that you grow yourself. Fresh does not keep well and most folks don't use it in home baking. I haven't seen it in a while in stores but you can get it . You will need to convert the recipe if you use fresh. I will address the other 2.

instant- .25 oz= 2 1/4 tsp
active dry - .25 oz= 2 1/2 tsp

You might not think that is a big difference but it is. The less yeast you use , up to a point , the better. The pakgs. you buy in the store are not a Tbsp of yeast. Too much yeast...even that extra small amount makes the bread drier. Longer slower rises are better than rushing the yeast.

Get a very good digital thermometer. Yeast likes 105 -115 degree water to start it in. I know you don't have to do your inst. yeast in separate water but I use active not inst so I always "proof" my yeast. I also always add a pinch of sugar. You can kill your yeast, you can also slow it to a crawl by having it too cool.

4) sweetening: sugar and honey are not the same. There is a difference in fructose, sucrose,glucose,dextrose etc. Bread rises because yeast feeds on sugar and creates carbon dioxide and alcohol ( ethanol) .The ethanol evaporates and the carbon dixoide leavens or rises the bread. Us ONLY the amount of yeast that you need to get the job done. Too much and the dough rises quickly but it exhausts the available sugar and creates and alcohol aftertaste. As the yeast starves it turns on itself and creates a by product that tastes like ammonia.

If you use honey , it is fructose and the yeast has to work harder to break it down. This is because granulated sugar ( this included brown sugar since it is granulated with molasses added) is very refined product and the yeast can use it more readily. Your bread will take longer to rise and may not rise as well if you sub all or part honey in a recipe. Also your liquid requirements will change. Just be aware of this.

5) salt: and here you thought salt was just salt...nope. Kosher salt is hollow and big. Iodized salt has iodine you won't get a goiter ( you can look it up if you don't know :) ) sea salt on and on. If a recipe says salt they mean regular Morton's table salt. Here is a quick chart to compare:

table salt - .25 oz= 1 tsp
Kosher salt- .25 oz- 1 3/4 tsp ( see what I mean ??)
sea salt - .25 oz = 1 1/2 tsp.

weigh your salt!

Now for a big tip . I have just started doing this next procedure. DH has been doing it for a couple years in his bread bakin....hmm...well what can I say. I am a slow starter...maybe because I am such a honey :)

When you are making your bread DO NOT add the salt at the beginning. Put it aside. So you don't forget it. You have to have salt. It helps regulate the rising but it also slows the initial yeast growth. So here is what you do. Put 1/2 your flour in the work bowl of the KA or in your mixing bowl. Add the fluids with the yeast . Stir it around till you have a wet shaggy mess. Cover it and leave it alone for the gluten to get started developing for 20 min. Come back and add the salt and the rest of the flour and carry on. It makes a huge difference. Some recipes call for this step but I now do it for all of my breads whether they call for it or not.

Here are a couple sources for great bread baking info.

Peter Reinhart- Bread Baker's Apprentice - this is a techinical book but has a ton of great pics and interesting info. You can get it used on Amazon. He also has a Blog so that is free.

The Fresh Loaf- this is an amazing Blog. Everyone contributes advice and pictures and answers questions. It is all FREE. It is a WONDERFUL resource. They are really true bakers. I hope to grow up and be like them someday.

Pizza Crust recipe- This is from a fantastic bread book that DH bought me years ago. Il Fornaio Baking Book, by Franco Galli. It is wonderful.

I made 8x this basic recipe. When you start reading books like Peter's , you discover that the bakers use formulas. The yeast and water etc are a % of the flour weight. Here are those scales again. So that said when you double or triple a recipe you still need to increase the other ingred. in proportion.

One 12" crust:

1c unbleached flour
2 tsp EVOO
3/4 tsp active dry yeast ( remember if you use instant to use less)
1/3 c + 1 Tbsp warm water ( 105)
1/2 tsp salt ( remember they are not all the same)

Put yeast in water with a tiny pinch of sugar . Leave 15 min. Put flour on countertop or if you are making a large batch as I did put it in the KA. Add the EVOO and mix it in. Add the yeast mix. and begin to stir it. Leave for 20 min. covered. Come back and add the salt and just enough more flour to make a very soft non sticky dough. This dough is heavenly and easy easy to knead. You do not want it too stiff at all. stop and start your hand kneading throughout the 20 min to let you and the dough rest. If using the machine you won't need 20 min and you don't need to stop. Let the dough rise in an oiled, covered bowl for 1 1/2 hrs. It really zooms up ! De gas the dough ( used to call it punching down now they are more gentle) and let it rise again 30 min. Shape into crusts by patting and pulling gently on a lightly floured board till it is 12". You can also roll out with a lightly floured rolling pin. Do not use too much flour or it will be tough. Use corn meal on your peel to keep from sticking for the transfer to the oven. I heated the stone for 45 min. at 500 degrees. make sure and poke a few holes in the crust with a fork as they sometimes bubble. I bake the crust for about 6 min then remove and cool . When you are ready to go on with the pizza party you get the stone hot again and then brush the crust with EVOO and place back on the stone to reheat and start the browning process...remove using the peel and top with all the goodies you want and return for about another 6-8 min. YUM !! If you are not making the crusts ahead then just brush with EVOO and poke a few times with a fork and bake them 6-8 min remove and top and then finish the baking. They will be so crisp and delicious.

OK that is enough for now. Have fun and let me know where I messed up ...I tried to proof ( no pun) read as I went. c


clipped on: 01.05.2009 at 09:21 pm    last updated on: 01.05.2009 at 09:21 pm

My Cabinet Touchup Process for Minor Nicks and Flaws

posted by: lmalm53 on 11.19.2008 at 04:34 am in Kitchens Forum

I was asked by nomorebluekitchen to write up something about my process for touching up my old cabinets and to include some before and after pictures. Let me preface this by saying emphatically that I am NOT a refinisher and really have just been using trial and error to find something that works on minor nicks and water damage on the cabinet finish. In fact I would still like to know if there isn't some kind of final finish or wax that I should be applying to help keep my touchups protected from future moisture. But at least the touchups I did almost 6 months ago still look like new.

Please be aware that I have used this process only on natural solid wood cabinets that have been stained, not painted. This may not work on laminate surfaces or composite woods. If anyone out there has more experience with this type of repair, please add your input also. This is the process I used.

First off, my 19 year old dark cherry cabinets were in need of a good cleaning. I have read some negative posts about using any kind of oil soap on cabinets, but I have had no problems using Murphy's Oil soap for cleaning up greasy spots. I just dilute a small amount of the soap in a pail of warm water and using a soft microfiber cloth I clean up the cabinets. If I have any tough dried on gunk, I gently clean it off using a piece of 0000 fine steel wool.

After drying with a soft cloth I then like to put a little Orange Glo furniture cleaner and polish on a clean white cloth and further clean and polish up the wood finish. At this point I carefully inspect for signs of wear, worn finish or nicks in the wood. You will be surprised how much you thought was damage turns out to have just been dirt or specks that easily clean off. Be sure to open up all the drawers and cabinet doors where there is often damage to the finish just inside the doors. I use my Minwax Stain Marker pen which matches my cabinet color perfectly. (I use 225 red mahogany)

Using the stain pen I just start filling in the damaged spots. Sort of like filling in the lines in a coloring book. :) I apply the stain generously, wipe up any excess with a paper towel and then let it sit for awhile. You could probably let it sit for a few hours or overnight, but I get impatient and tend to move from one cabinet to another with the cleanup and touchup process then work back to the first cabinet again to check the stain and see if I need to apply a little more.

Once I am satisfied that I have done my best touching up any damage, I then like to get another clean soft microfiber cloth to buff up the cabinet faces. Some of the stain will come off on your cloth, but in most cases the areas of damaged finish will have absorbed enough stain to improve the cosmetic look greatly. If you need to reapply some stain in especially large damaged areas, I would let the stain sit longer before you buff it out.

Now this is where I am probably missing a step, because it seems logically there should be some kind of finish coat or preservative put on the cabinets to keep them protected. But I have not added anything yet after buffing out the stain. Since most of my cabinet finish was in good shape I couldn't see the need to apply any all over sealer, but I guess a real refinisher would use something to seal the damaged areas. I am hoping my stain doesn't all come off the next time I deep clean the cabinets!

So...buyer beware!... but I was asked to explain how I do it so this is it. Here are some pics if it helps to see the types of damage that can be greatly improved without going to a lot of expense and trouble.

Here are the touchup supplies I use:



And here are some before and after pictures:

Small Cabinet Drawer Face Before Touchup

After Touchup

Cabinet Center Panel Before Touchup

After Touchup of Center Panel only

Whole Cabinet after Hardware Removed and Before Touchup

After Touchup and New Hardware installed

I will say that there are some types of damage that this process cannot repair. I have yet to figure out what I will do with my laundry room cabinet that has had so much water damage that the finish has turned a milky white in places. I suspect in that case I may need to strip the old finish down to the raw wood, restain and reseal completely. That will be a project I will tackle after I have done some more research!

But for now here is my updated kitchen. I saved a lot by keeping the 19 year old cabinets and by touching them up myself, instead of having them professionally refaced or refinished. Only time will tell how long my process holds up, but at this point I feel it was worth it! Most of my guests think the cabinets are brand new.

Hope this is helpful to someone. I am sure there are others who can improve on my methods, so please add your comments.


clipped on: 11.19.2008 at 08:59 am    last updated on: 11.19.2008 at 09:00 am

RE: A note of caution for anyone repainting their cabinets (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: david123 on 10.30.2008 at 02:04 pm in Kitchens Forum

I am not having such problems, except on the fake wood side panel areas (kinda like a wood grain wallpaper)- but we are putting end panels on most of those so it's not a problem.

I can link you to my blog to show what steps I do- but in a nutshell I

Do not use TSP (Heard it can cause problems)- I use arm and hammer degreaser or ivory dish soap and rinse rinse rinse. Then, I use Liquid Sand (by kleen strip, I believe- non toxic) and let that sit 15-20 minutes until dry.

Then I use 1 or 2 coats Sherwin Williams Bonding primer (latex based) or for a few items, Zinsser Stain Sealer Primer (it is excellent but I don't like oil cleanup). Then wait 8 hours, do a light sanding with 400 grit, and clean up every speck of dust with a damp cloth and vacuum. Then, 2 coats Sherwin Williams Pro Classic Satin, sanding inbetween the two coats with 240 grit after 8 hours.

Then, I do not touch them for 72 hours to let them cure. So far, not one ding or scratch- I cannot scratch off the finish at all with my fingernail. I am painting 7 year old oak cabinets, if that makes a difference.

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: My DIY kitchen blog


clipped on: 10.31.2008 at 03:54 pm    last updated on: 10.31.2008 at 03:54 pm

RE: backsplash & electric plugs (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: buehl on 06.30.2008 at 06:53 pm in Kitchens Forum

We are using a combination of Plugmold and Mocketts...all of which are on GFI circuits..all BS/Counter outlets in our kitchen are on one of two GFI circuits...which is code in my county.

The Plugmold is a strip of outlets mounted under our upper cabinets. The Mocketts (not yet installed) are pop-up outlets that will be sunk into the on each side of the sink....but more than 18" away from the water source (again, code).

Plugmold, Front View

Plubmold, Side View

Mocketts' Future Home

Doug Mockett & Co.

Plugmold Multioutlet Strips


clipped on: 06.30.2008 at 07:41 pm    last updated on: 06.30.2008 at 07:41 pm

RE: Grainlady - About Your Solar Ovens (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: grainlady on 06.23.2008 at 09:39 pm in Cooking Forum

They can easily be made and you'll find lots of how-tos if you search it. Everything from a simple pizza box to any number of other models and sizes. You'll also find lots of recipes on-line. I bought my solar ovens. I'm a gadget person (LOL)! Be sure to check prices, they vary greatly for the same types and models.

For anyone in the U.S. who watched the Ed Begley, Jr. show on HGTV "Living With Ed", he used one of the models I use - a Global Sun Oven. This one is tall enough inside to bake a loaf of bread. It has a self-leveling swinging shelf so you can pretty-well get cakes level.

The other is a hybrid - the Tulsi-Hybrid Solar Cooking Oven. This one has an electric back-up as a safety feature. If the temperature falls to an unsafe cooking temperature, it will use electricity (if it's plugged in and set to come on) to bring the temperature back up to a safe level. You can also use this model without the sun using electric power. So it's versatile. It's similar in size to a small hardcase suitcase. You'll find many people on the missionary field use these solar ovens because you can pack everything you need in them for easy transport.

I'd recommend the book, "Cooking with the Sun" by Beth Halacy and Dan Halacy, which includes building instructions as well as recipes.

-Nearly anything you can cook/bake in a conventional oven you can make in a Solar Oven. They can reach temperatures between 350-400F. Exceptions - avoid recipes like pies with a bottom crust - they tend to get soggy and pasta can be tricky.

-The oven needs to be preheated (approx. 30 minutes) before adding food.

-They work best between 9:00 a.m. and 4 p.m.

-Your traditional oven is bottom heated. The solar oven is heated from the top and the sides.

-Slow-Cooker recipes work well in a solar oven.

-You need to use dark, thin, cookware. Dark enamelware works great! Forget thick crockery or cast iron. You can also use glass canning jars. Just paint the outside of the jars black with heat-resistant paint designed to be used to repaint gas grills. You can heat water in the quart jars as well as cook in them.

-Foods that are easy to cook 1-2 hours:
eggs, rice, fruit, (above ground) vegetables, fish, chicken

-Medium cooking times 3-4 hours:
potatoes and other root vegetables, some beans, lentils, most meat, bread

-Hardest to cook, 5-8 hours:
large roast, soup and stew, most dried beans

-You need to move the oven to follow the sun, shifting the oven every 30-minutes to 1-hour. An oven thermometer is used to check the temperature. You can adjust the temperature several ways, including placing the oven off axis.

-I have a pair of Kevlar oven gloves ("OVE" Glove) that I use instead of hot pads for working in the solar ovens. With the gloves you have all your fingers and thumbs to use. Hot pads or mits can be cumbersome.

-Wear a visor and/or sunglasses when working with the solar oven to protect your eyes from glare.

-Release the built-up steam occasionally while cooking.

-You can cook eggs in their shell WITHOUT water in about 30 minutes.

-Solar ovens can be used to pasteurize water (on a sunny day - 4 litres water in approx. 4 hours.

-I have my ovens on a metal shop cart on wheels and move them from the garage to the patio and cook on the top of the cart. I use a heat resistant tray (or jellyroll sheet) for transporting hot foods from the oven to the house.

-You need to plan carefully. You need to cook while the sun is high and hot. If it's hazy, even if it's sunny and no clouds, you may not be able to reach high temperatures. When they burn the wheat fields around here I can't use the solar oven because of the haze in the atmosphere. Thankfully, that's only for a week or so.

There's probably lots more I'm not covering...


Here is a link that might be useful: Solar Oven Society


clipped on: 06.24.2008 at 12:08 pm    last updated on: 06.24.2008 at 12:08 pm

My circular potager - new this year **10 photos **

posted by: gottagarden on 01.01.2008 at 08:27 pm in Potager Gardens Forum

This year I created a new "potager" - veggies and flowers. I decided I wanted something a little different than tidy little rows, so I created a circular garden with a spiral path. The kids love running along the spiral paths. In the Fall of 2006 I spread 5 truckloads of horse manure, and in the spring I laid out the paths using hose. This is my first year, it will be better next year.

I also posted on the cottage garden forum, but thought it was probably better posted here, for those who never get over to that forum.

Laying out the paths in a spiral pattern

By the fall it had really filled in!

Here you can see some of my delicious vegetables - pumpkins, onions, lettuce, beans, cabbage, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, peppers, carrots, tomatoes, gourds, and dahlias for cutting flowers. And the hose has been replaced with stone paths.

Old ladders make strong, colorful, free plant supports - here for various small gourds.

Got carried away with the old ladders ;-)

Every veggie garden needs a scarecrow - this one wears my daughters old overalls and hides behind the pumpkin patch

Here you can see the squash trying to escape its boundaries

I'm a tomatoholic - I love all things saucy and we did a lot of canning in the fall.

My dahlias were busting out all over. I had several "mystery dahlias" that had lost their tags. Very late, on 4th of July weekend I planted them, and I was amazed how quickly they bloomed and had cutting flowers all through the fall.

Here's me and my kids enjoying the harvest. They just LOVED picking gourds and loading them into the wagon. We had several hundred and gave them away at school and anywhere we could find people to take them.

This year I will be experimenting with asparagus and new veggies. Your input would be appreciated if there are any special veggies I simply must try.

Hope you enjoyed it the show :-)


clipped on: 06.07.2008 at 03:06 pm    last updated on: 06.07.2008 at 03:07 pm

RE: Another Kitchen Magazine Back Issue Challange (Follow-Up #24)

posted by: vwhippiechick on 04.29.2008 at 09:56 pm in Kitchens Forum

The magazine is BH&G Special Interest Publications - Kitchen and Bath Ideas, July/Aug 07. I will try to give all the info I can and post the rest of the pics. It is a great kitchen. Enjoy!!

KD-Jean Radford
ID- Aimee Wertepny
Contractor-Scott Stack
Range-DF Wolf in chrome
Hood-Best by Broan
Hood Cover detailing/balcony woodwork-VonDreele-Freerksen Construction Co.
Refrigerator, refrig/freezer drawers- SubZero
Dishwasher-Incognito Miele
Wine cooler- Echelon Series in Stainless U-line Corp
Cabinets- quartersawn oak/Wood Harbor Doors and Cabinetry
Hardware- Eastlake in Antique Brass-Rejuvenation
Soapstone Counters - Mariana Reserve - Rock Tops, INc
Granite- Colombo Gold EuroMarble and Granite Inc
Island Butcherblock- John Boos &Co
Tile Backsplash- Wizard subway with crackle finish - The Fine Line
Arts and Crafts wall tile- Dard Hunter Series Motawi Tileworks
Perimeter sink- soapstone Prairie Plus, INc
Island sink- Elkay
Faucets, potfiller - Chicago Faucets
Pendants- antique brass finish Rejuvenation
Tin ceiling- Brian Greer Tin Ceiling
Paint - Historical Palette walls:Castleton Mist, ceiling: Windham Cream(BM)
Floor- tongue and groove maple
Pottery - Pigeon Forge Pottery





clipped on: 04.29.2008 at 10:36 pm    last updated on: 04.29.2008 at 10:37 pm

RE: cupboard latches instead of knobs? (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: rmkitchen on 04.11.2008 at 01:18 pm in Kitchens Forum

Have you looked at mini icebox latches (also used on ships)?

Right now I cannot find a single clear picture (online): these are the best I can do.

They're an ergonomic version of the turn latch (which my husband absolutely vetoed due to its arthritis-inducing design!) and which I'd planned on doing until we decided to do overlay instead. Our source is Lynette at The Knobbery in Chicago. (I live in Boulder, CO, so she's happy and so easy to work with from a distance.)

They're still expensive but gorgeous!


clipped on: 04.11.2008 at 05:35 pm    last updated on: 04.11.2008 at 05:35 pm

RE: Kitchen Saga Update Part 2 :-D (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: buehl on 03.17.2008 at 11:41 pm in Kitchens Forum

Here are the pictures I took & drawing I made for a previous pantry thread concerning building strong shelves (it has long since fallen off). (Please excuse the mess...I periodically have to go in and reorganize since others have a tendency to put things wherever there's room...even I've been guilty of it on occasion!)

Basement Pantry Drawing

Pantry straight-on shot:
Pantry--straight on shot

Pantry shelf closeup:
Pantry-shelf closeup


clipped on: 03.18.2008 at 07:40 am    last updated on: 03.18.2008 at 07:41 am

RE: Finished (for now) kitchen photos - modern victorian (Follow-Up #15)

posted by: mrslimestone on 02.24.2008 at 10:04 am in Kitchens Forum

Thanks so much everyone! You are all too nice.

I didn't see the HGTV Victorian kitchen. Anyone have a link?

Answers to the questions above:
- Buttercream is a pretty light color but its definitely not white. I love white cabinets too and considered going with a whiter shade but I wanted the warmth of cream.
- Recessed lights are 4 inches.
- Here is my dining room/kitchen area combined. Its looking pretty bare right now b/c I dont have chairs, window treatments, etc. I have a lot to do in here.
Dining + Kitchen


clipped on: 02.24.2008 at 12:02 pm    last updated on: 02.24.2008 at 12:02 pm

Finished (for now) kitchen photos - modern victorian

posted by: mrslimestone on 02.24.2008 at 12:46 am in Kitchens Forum

I posted my soapstone photos a few weeks ago but Im finally getting around to posting finished* photos. (*I'm not truly finished as I still have to get glass shelves made for the upper cabinets, get a window treatment and put in that missing lightbulb but lets call it finished for now)

Finished kitchen
Finished kitchen

Thanks everyone for tremendous resource this board has been! Its so helpful to have a panel of experts there 24/7 at the ready.

Here are all the specs
Cabinets: Plain & Fancy, Kent Door, Buttercream Color
Appliances: GE Cafe Microwave, Range & Dishwasher, GE Profile French Door Fridge
Countertop: Black Venata Soapstone from MTex
Backsplash: Vintage Subway tiles from repurposed from original bath elsewhere in my house
Pendant Lights: Hinkley Knickerbocker
Undercabinet/In Cabinet Lights: LED ewCove 12 in strips
Sink: Shaw Fireclay
Faucet: Rohl Country Bridge in Polished Nicel
Paint on wall: Woodland Snow by Benjamin Moore (flat)
Paint on trim: Bone White by Benjamin Moore (Semi)
Paint on Ceiling: China White (flat)


clipped on: 02.24.2008 at 12:01 pm    last updated on: 02.24.2008 at 12:01 pm

RE: Artisan Bread /// (Follow-Up #34)

posted by: msafirstein on 02.07.2008 at 06:46 pm in Cooking Forum

Oops I used a different recipe that was posted by Lucy.

Master Challah Dough (lucy)

(From Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois)

1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbl instant yeast
1 1/2 tbl kosher salt (1 1/2 tsp table salt)
4 lg eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, water, honey, melted butter, yeast and salt. Stir well with a wooden spoon. Add in the flour. Stir until you don't see any more dry bits of flour. Cover (not airtight) and stick it in the refrigerator overnight, or up to 4 days. The longer you let it sit in the refrigerator, the better tasting the dough will be.

If you want, you can let it rise for 2 hours on the counter, pinch off the dough that you need to make your Challah. However, with only a 2-hour rise, the bread isn't very flavorful. Still good, but definitely not as good as if you had let it sit 1-4 days in the refrigerator.

I am going to try the recipe Lee posted next and see how that works out.



clipped on: 02.09.2008 at 10:37 am    last updated on: 02.09.2008 at 10:37 am

RE: Artisan Bread (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: ohiomom on 02.06.2008 at 03:46 pm in Cooking Forum

The recipe is super easy (my kind of cooking/baking)

3 cups warm water
1 1/2 Tbsp. yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp. salt
6 1/2 cups flour

Pour the water in large container that has cover (I used my super-sized plastic mixing bowl with lid) ... mix in the yeast and salt ... I gave it a little whisk here, the video did not. Add flour all at once and stir well. Cover and let rise in warm place 2 hours, stick in fridge till needed.

Yep ... just that simple :)

I used 2 parts whole wheat, as I told Lucy I think we can play with this recipe.

I rolled out about 1/2 the dough, brushed with about 1/4 cup melted butter. Sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, sprinkled raisins and nuts over all. Rolled up and sliced about 1/2 inch thick (I am guessing here:) ... laid them out on greased cookie sheet and let rise about 45 minutes. Baked at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Sorry for all the "abouts", I have a tendency not to do exact measurements.



clipped on: 02.06.2008 at 05:43 pm    last updated on: 02.06.2008 at 05:43 pm

RE: Beans, beans... The musical fruit... (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: grainlady on 02.01.2008 at 11:53 am in Cooking Forum

Cooking Beans In a Thermos

Choose a quality thermos, such as a Stanley. Plastic, lunch box type thermos bottles are not adequate for the task.

To make 2 c. "cooked" beans, soak 2/3 c. dry beans in water for 6-8 hours (or overnight).

After the beans have soaked and you are ready to "cook" them, prepare your thermos by filling it with hot tap water and placing the lid on it to heat the thermos (this step is a MUST!). Set aside. Bring water to a boil. Drain the hot tap water from the thermos, add the soaked and drained beans. Add enough boiling water to fill the thermos. Secure the top. Shake gently once or twice, then lay the thermos on it's side (this step is a MUST!). Another gentle shake to make sure they are evenly distributed. Leave overnight (or all day - depending on when you start them). Check after 4-6 hours (depending on the type of bean you are using) to see if the beans are done. If not, drain the liquid and add boiling water again and allow to sit for another hour or two.

Another source says:
If cooking grains, use two parts water to one part grain - 2:1 water to grain ratio.

If cooking legumes, use three parts water to one-part beans, lentils, etc. - 3:1 ratio.

Take care not to add too much because the beans/grains expand and won't have enough room for proper cooking.



clipped on: 02.02.2008 at 06:31 pm    last updated on: 02.02.2008 at 06:31 pm

RE: Trying to make it this year (layout) (Follow-Up #55)

posted by: cotehele on 01.17.2008 at 08:33 pm in Kitchens Forum

lascatx: I am very flexible when it comes to layout. That is obvious with the variations in the kitchen plans. Priorities probably are not so obvious, but I do have them :) A little background may help.

Last year my husband said we could finally do some long overdue work on the house. He needs a garage; I need a kitchen. We agreed to include a sunroom. A friend (architect) drew up a conceptual plan for the kitchen, sunroom and garage. We settled on a kitchen plan, then went looking for the materials (cabinets, countertops, flooring, appliances) Well, in the end it was more than we could afford because of some major unexpected expenses. This try the budget is scaled back. No sunroom, keep the kitchen at the back of the house, expenses as low as possible and still accomplish the additions to house we need.

The house is on about a 4 foot crawl space with an unfinished basement in the middle. The new garage will be on the right side of the house. Access to the garage will be from the kitchen. In the plan, you can also see a stair to the basement that is between the garage and the house. We are taking out the current inside stair (where the big pantry is) because we dont need two basement stairs. Instead there is an entry that leads to the basement stairs, the garage, the kitchen and the outside.

My highest priority is to have a nice, functional kitchen. I dont need anything out of the ordinary:
prep space, clean up space (prep sink, clean up sink and if the tea/coffee bar is not convenient to one of these, a third sink)
storage for non-perishable food, non-refrigerated perishable food, and small appliance
baking hutch (Napanee Dutch Kitchenet it is spelled right- should stay as it is)
counter seating for 2-3 people (peeling veggies, eating a snack, working on laptop, reading)
a place to make tea, coffee, hot choc, smoothies (for commute, packed in lunch, at home 2-4x/day)
and storage for mugs, thermoses, sugars, teas, coffees, grinder, teapots, french press, strainerslots of stuff and reuse a dorm fridge/freezer for cold drinks if we can.

36 induction cook top (a range would be OK, but there isnt one yet) Dont care what kind of hood, but it needs to be on an outside wall.
2 ovens: one convection, one convection or conventional (can be stacked or under counter)
Microwave: countertop or shelf is fine. Built-in is too expensive to replace.
Refrigerator: will reuse Samsung Quatro Have no stand alone freezer
- Reuse FL W/D

Stained cabinets, laminate counters (change to stone later), flooring (not carpet!@#)

We eat daily meals at a small table upstairs. The dining room is used once a week for 3-4 people. Family dinners are two or three times a year. Convenient access to the stairs is important, but direct access to the dining room is not a priority. Id also like to see outside toward the garage side of the house (the right side) and along the back of the house. There are three windows on the back side now. They need to be replaced and can be moved and/or resized. I like the island I have now; it is not a must have, but it would be nice to have one. I dont have any special focal point in mind. Simplicity is more my style

The laundry should be relocated to vent the dryer on an outside wall. I need a place in the house to hang lots of wet clothes. I need a counter to fold clothes and a place to sort dirty laundry into baskets or hampers. Storage for clothes pins and hangers, iron and ironing board. I can iron in the kitchen. And of course laundry soap etc.

The metamorphosis of the kitchen designs, as you said, have been quite varied. I realized that using the full 26 for the kitchen is too much. So what to do with the extra space? We dont really need a dining area in the kitchen or another closet. Moving the bathroom under the stair seems to make sense because it needs to be gutted and redone. Bathroom is a euphemism. The space is 36 wide and 5 long with a sloping ceiling. The narrow plumbing pipes need to be replaced and the electrical redone as well as all new fixtures, flooring, walls. A second bathroom would be available for the first floor (two three bedrooms). It would be accessible from the bedroom, the storage/garage and the kitchen. A shower would be useful for rinsing off dogs as well as humans. Plumbing is there for the current washer. A second floor plumbing chase is right beside where the shower is located. And the new bathroom is over the unfinished basement, so easy access for HVAC, plumbing and electrical.

Lastly, the remodel could easily over-improve the house for the neighborhood and the town if we aren't cautious. It should be simple, functional and good quality. We plan to be here for 10 years to life.


clipped on: 02.02.2008 at 05:12 pm    last updated on: 02.02.2008 at 05:12 pm

RE: Curious about text in messages (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: buehl on 01.23.2008 at 05:33 pm in Kitchens Forum

LOL! It took me a while to figure it out as 13-yo son told me how.

You user HTML codes surrounded by angle brackets (< and >)

You put a "beginning" code where you want the format (Underline, etc.) to start and an "ending" code where you want it to end. The "ending code is the same as the beginning code except you precede it by a slash (/)

Some Codes are:

Bold: strong
Underline: u
Italic: i
Superscript: sup

The following are included in the "font" code:
Color: color = "name of the color, e.g., red, blue, etc.
Font: face = "name of the font e.g., arial"
Size: size = "how much smaller/bigger than normal e.g, -1, +2"

Some examples. Note: take out the space between the bracket and the code. I had to put them in so it would show up instead of using the code!

< strong>Bold< /strong> you...Bold
< u>Underline< /u> you...Underline
< i>Italic< /i> you...Italic
< font color = "blue">Blue< /font> you...Blue
< font face = "arial">Arial< /font> you...Arial
< font size = "+2">Larger< /font> you...Larger
< font color = "red" face = "arial">Arial in red< /font> you...Arial in red

I hope this isn't too "tech-y".....


clipped on: 01.23.2008 at 05:57 pm    last updated on: 01.23.2008 at 05:57 pm

RE: Bill V - Tile undermount sink help! (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: bill_vincent on 01.09.2008 at 07:25 pm in Kitchens Forum

Unfortunately they don't offer any quarter round pieces that I could use to trim out a sink with.

Well, have I gotta the gooda noosa fuhyou!! :-) Because you're using a thru- body color porcelain (which means it's unglazed and the body of the tile is the same color as the finish) you can bullnose the edge of it in exactly the same manner as marble or granite!!

Now, I've never worked with a swanstone sink. The only thing I've ever undermounted was a stainless sink, which only has a flange about 1/16" thick, and can be "sunk" into the countertop substrate and epoxied in place, and then tiled over. if your contractor can come up with a way to mount that sink so it's flush to the top of the finished substrate, then I can tile over it to it's edge.

For the sake of argument, I'll assume that the sink's in place and the countertop's ready for tile (I've posted a link to my backsplashes and countertops page below for instructions on how to make the counter's substrate strong enough). You want to get your exact tile layout and lay pieces in place where you want to make your cuts.


Once you've done that, you want to take the template that comes with the sink, and lay it over the tile, so you can trace it out. You'd do well to use either a "china marker" in a color that contrasts the color of your tile to make your marks. Not only will it show up nicely and mark the tile easily, but it won't wash off under the wet saw, later.


If you notice the red marks on the template in the picture above, that's from "sharpening" the china marker I was using. You want to make as accurate a mark as you can, because these marks will determine what the finished product will look like (If you look close, you'll see that the second pic was actually taken first, and in the first pic above, you can actually see the marks already drawn out). Once you've marked all the tiles, it's time to cut. Now, the straight cuts are easy. Anyone who knows how to turn a wet saw on and off and can follow a line can cut those. It's the radius cuts that take some patience and time. First thing you want to do is to is make as many straight cuts into the piece to remove the "meat" of the waste as possible. Start by going point to point, one side of the cut to the other. Then you can "V" cut into the middle of the radius. after that, you can cut "fingers" from the outside edge into the radius (cut strips 1/4" wide that can be knocked off by tapping them afterward). Once you've got as much of the waste cut out as you can, now it's time to move the saw tray out of the way, and grind the rest down to your lines, using the side of the saw blade's edge. One thing to keep in mind, and this is EXTREMELY important-- you want this cut to look EXACTLY the same from the back of the tile, as it does from the front. if it makes it any easier to understand what I'm saying, the radius of the blade is working against you. The reason for this is that it's actually the BACK of the tile that needs to show the cut to the line you drew, because that's what's going to show, once the piece is finished. The top edge is going to get "bullnosed" off. Once you've got all your pieces cut, now it comes time for the fun and interesting stuff. Normally, I'll tell people, when doing granite, to take their pieces to a stone shop, because the cost of the tools is so cost prohibitive. But with porcelain, you don't need granite pads. Marble pads which are MUCH cheaper, will work fine. All you need is any standard 4 1/2" single speed grinder (about 70.00), and a set of PVA Marble pads (about another 80.00). I'll post the web address where you can find them on line at the end here, because I don't know how to post "in text" links. Anyway, you want to take a couple of pieces of scrap and practice with them, because although you can't hurt the porcelain the way you can stone, it's still easy to screw up in several different ways if you don't get yourself used to using the tools and how it feels. Once you get started, you want to take the grinder with a dry diamond continious rim blade, and take a light pass just to knock the corner off the edge. Once you've done that, it's time to start going thru the pads. Start with the extra coarse to shape the bullnose. Don't try and finish the whole thing with that first pad. Just give it its rough shape, and then move up the line to the next pad. WIth each progressive pad, you should be able to see the bullnose edge begin to take shape. By the time you're into the medium pad (the 3rd pad in the set), you should be completely done shaping, and concentrating more on taking out the scratch marks from the previous pads, and once done with the medium pad you'll have a pretty good honed edge. Once they're done, it's just a matter of setting them in place.


here's the web page that has the PVA polishing pads:

Here is a link that might be useful: my website's backsplashes and countertops page


clipped on: 01.10.2008 at 12:28 pm    last updated on: 01.10.2008 at 12:28 pm

RE: Do you like your beadboard backsplash? (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: susulo on 01.09.2008 at 08:37 pm in Kitchens Forum

I love my beadboard backsplash! It's been about 9 months now, and so far we've had no issues with it. Ours is the t&g kind, not the panels. The BB is installed directly on top of drywall on the wall behind the sink and on on the adjacent wall, it is installed over plaster. It's been super easy to clean. I just spray it with cleaner if it gets real messy, but usually a damp sponge does the trick.

I too was concerned about my kitchen being too white, and I couldn't decide if I should do a color or not so I painted it white until I could decide what to do. But I found that I like it being all white and will leave it as is...for now any ways. If any one does have pics of white cabs with different colored backsplash, I'd love to see it to!

One tip I learned from my mother (and my contractor as well) is that if you are going to use the beadboard panels, be careful to select ones with the least amount of knots as they sometimes tend to pop out over time. My mom has the panel BB in her guest bathroom (which is rarely used) and she is finding that the knots are starting to pop out. It may occurr on the t&fg kind as well, but when we selected ours, I didn't really notice any knots.



clipped on: 01.10.2008 at 08:57 am    last updated on: 01.10.2008 at 08:57 am

RE: Cabinet Painting How-To (DIY) (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: rhome410 on 11.19.2007 at 05:17 pm in Kitchens Forum

Here are the painting instructions I saved in my clippings that were originally posted by Girlwithaspirin.

1) Clean with soap and water.
2) Lightly sand, only where needed. (I'm lazy, but the varnish had built up in some places.)
3) Prime with a thin coat of Zinsser Bullseye 123 Deep Base, tinted to match paint color. Let dry for a few hours.
4) Paint with a thin coat of Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo Alkyd. Do cabinet backs first! Don't paint bottom or top edges. Let dry overnight.
5) Paint fronts. Again, let dry overnight.
6) Hang cabinets. Carefully.
7) Paint bottom/top edges and do any touch-up.
8) Leave them open for as long as you can stand it. This stuff takes forever to cure.

I didn't do two full coats of paint like many people suggested. For one, the Satin Impervo covers amazingly. The dark color helped -- I imagine a light color would require more coats. But also, the thinner the paint, the more it looks like stain. If you glop it on, which I accidentally did in some places, it doesn't look as much like a pro job.


clipped on: 11.19.2007 at 07:35 pm    last updated on: 11.19.2007 at 07:35 pm

RE: Request for pics of painted oak cabinets. (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: celticmoon on 10.17.2007 at 11:17 pm in Kitchens Forum

I used General Finishes products (Espresso, Java gel and Clear gel top coat) and swear by them. I've told folks to email me for info, but apparently the Email system is faulty. I know I posted this recently but it was on a thread with a wide picture making an already long (OK obsesssive) post even harder to read. So I am repeating myself. All you sick of this info, just scroll by.

Background Story:

My cabinets are frameless, good condition and good layout. But the finish had gone orange and ugly, with the oak graining too busy for me. Cabinets are 18 years old, very poorly finished oak veneered slab doors. Plain with no crevices. They hadn't even take the doors off to finish them!!! No stain or finish was even on the hinge side edges, just dirty ol naked wood. Cheesy, huh?

I looked into changing out cabinets, but that was way too much money, since my layout was OK. And I am cheap, er, frugal. Painting didn't seem right because the doors were plain slabs. I considered new doors but that still meant a lot of money. For a few years I tried to figure a way to add molding toward a mission look, but the rounded door edges made that impossible. Then trolling in a kitchen emporium showroom this last year I noticed dark wood slab doors, kind like mine, but darker. That was the answer.

First I tried Minwax Polyshades. Dicey product. Hard to brush on neatly, then gummy, then seemed to leave a sticky tacky residue. I did a thread on the Woodworking site "Evil Polyshades to the Rescue" which elicited a lot of conflicting "expert" opinions and arguments that one must strip. I stripped the whole first floor of a Victorian once. No thanks. Jennifer-in-clyde (in the same boat)and I stumbled around to get to our method. Found the General Finishes products to work much better. Very easy to apply. Texture is like almost-done pudding, real silky. Just smear it on and wipe off the excess. Couldn't be easier. (see for more info including where to find products. Disclaimer: I have no relationship to them other than being a satisfied customer.)

Here is the play by play:

screwdrivers (for dismantling doors and hardware), box-o-disposable gloves from Walgreen's, old socks or rags, fine sandpaper, disposable small plastic bowls or plates, and plastic spoons or forks, mineral spirits, miracle cloth (optional), General Finishes Java gel stain (or another color) and General Finishes clear top coat (Both are poly based). Optional: General Finishes Expresso water based stain as another layer for maximum darkness.

You will need a place to work and leave wet doors to dry overnight - I set up 2 spaces, garage for sanding/cleaning and basement for staining/sealing. Plan on blocks of 20-30-minutes for sanding/cleaning bundles of say, 6 doors at a time. Then just 10 minute sessions to wipe on coats.

1)Remove the doors and all the hardware from one section of the kitchen. 4-6 doors is a good amount.

2) Clean the wood surface thoroughly. Then go over the wood lightly with sandpaper, just a very light skim sand to give the existing finish some tooth. No more than a minute a door. Rough up the surface is all. A miracle cloth is great for getting off the dust. Then wipe well with mineral spirits to clean well.

3) Open and stir the can o gel THOROUGHLY with your fork or spoon. Spoon some gel into your plastic bowl and reseal the can. This keeps you from contaminating the gels with crud or grit.

4) Put on the disposable gloves and slip an old sock onto one hand. Scoop some gel up and smear it on (It feels really nice and doesn't even smell too awful), then wipe down to remove the excess. I did the coats in the following order and let each dry well overnight:

-General Finishes Expresso water based stain (1 coat) I used this because I wanted really dark. You can probably skip this one to get to a deep rich brown

-General Finishes Java gel stain (couple coats) or whatever color you choose.

-General Finishes Clear urethane gel topcoat in satin (couple coats).

4) Reassemble the doors and drawer fronts and check the color evenness. Touch up with more gel stain where needed and let dry. Add a coat or two more of the clear gel for super durability.

5) Replace hardware.

I was brazen because the cabinets were so cheap and ugly I had nothing to lose. I went kinda thick and didn't wipe everything off perfectly. And I didn't sand between coats. You will think the Expresso coat fades as it dries but it redarkens later. I wanted a very deep dark color, like melted dark chocolate. It is not perfect in tone, there is unevenness in the coloration, but you have to really look to see it. The feel of the finish is really wonderful, smooth and satiny.

Raised the pass through upper run, recycled 2 glass cabinets doors from DR, resurfaced the Corian and got some smashing hardware. It came out pretty great and the finish has held up fine for over a year now. Link to pictures below.

Couple other tips: Go to the bathroom first and tie up your hair. Keep an apron or old workshirt handy for the gel coats' work. Keep a phone nearby either in a baggie or wrapped in a clean rag. Skip these steps at your peril. Oh, and stir the can very well each time and spoon some into a disposable bowl - keeps the can from getting contaminated. Lastly, the socks or rags you use for poly gels should be disposed of carefully as they are flammable and volatile. Rule is to have a bucket of water and dispose into that as you go - then get rid of it all at the end per local ordinances.

RE: Expresso vs. Java. Expresso is blacker, Java is more a red brown, like mahogany furniture. My cabinets had such a faded orange cast, that putting on an Expresso coat after sanding seemed to yield a bit darker end product. Java alone wiped on makes a nice, rich Sienna brown color, but I was wanting it to be much darker than the Java alone would get me to. The other difference is of course that Expresso is water based, so an easier cleanup. Being a gel, the Java can go on much thicker. And the last clear coats provide the nice satin finish - stopping at Java has nowhere near the smoothness and sheen. I found it helped to hang the doors, etc after one clear coat so I could check the color. If I missed a spot, I'd do a Java touchup wipe there. Let dry. Then clear coat wipe.

BTW, with the Expresso, each coat dissolved the one prior - weird. So a second coat didn't seem worth it to me. And even with the Java, if you rub too hard when it is wet you end up removing the color. Letting it dry well between coats is essential. You have to figure about 5 days at one coat a day. I used my kitchen all the way through - who needs doors?

Good luck to you. It is a pain in some ways, but in my case it was really worth it. The worst is definitely the prep. Once the surfaces are ready to coat, it is really short work to glove up, slide a sock on your hand and wipe on a coat.

DISCLAIMER: a couple people had this method work fine for them too, but Lauraa is struggling (see recent "gel stain" threads) and I'm not sure why it isn't working for her. So: as always, YMMV.

Here is a link that might be useful: before, during and after


clipped on: 11.19.2007 at 07:33 pm    last updated on: 11.19.2007 at 07:35 pm

RE: Crown Point cabinets (Follow-Up #17)

posted by: zelmar on 10.21.2007 at 01:29 pm in Kitchens Forum

Our house is 100 years old. We didn't have a contractor on site until after our cabinets arrived. We saved money where we could and our project was a combo DIY and professional contractor (friend.) I made sure the plans I emailed to the KD were complete so that she could see where any potential trouble spots for fit were. I believe it is standard practice to allow "wiggle room" for a fitted run of cabinets. This was done by having an extra wide vertical face plate (I wish I could remember terminology--style?) on one or two of the cabinets so that they could be shaved down to the exact measurements on site. I forget what the extra width added was, 1/4" or 1/2" maybe?. When I ordered the cabinets, there was a 4" difference in the floor to ceiling measurement at different spots of our kitchen. We knew that we would level the floor as much as possible before the cabinet install (with supports in the basement) but had no idea how successful it would be. Our cabinets went in wonderfully--I'm not sure if we needed the extra width on the cabinets or not but I felt a lot more at ease knowing that there was room for some adjustment. Our contractor scored the toe kicks so that the cabinets conformed to every bump and dimple of our wood floor. This is my first (and hopefully, only) kitchen remodel and I found the KD very easy to work with and she asked all the right questions to get us through easily. I never felt like I needed a finish carpenter to act as a go-between or consultant. I was glad we had a good cabinet person do the install with our uneven floors.

We used CP hardware because I was afraid it would be a long time for us to get around to figuring out placement and installing the hardware (since it would be part of the DIY.)

sarschlos remodeler, I like stainless steel sinks but that is a very personal decision. I think I am bothered less by spots in a sink than others are. A few nights ago, I was unloading our dw and propped a pyrex bowl on the strip in front of the sink. It fell into the sink and bounced happily (about a foot drop) and I was glad I had such a forgiving material. Our front vent panels do not tip out--I don't see why they couldn't be made to do that but you would probably see the sponges through the slots. I love the look of Kelly's white sink (your whole kitchen is beautiful, Kelly!) As far as stainless appliances--I don't think all stainless finishes are the same. Our fridge has a protective coating that keeps it looking every bit as good as my old white textured fridge looked. I'm horrible at housekeeping and don't find keeping the appliances looking decent at all hard.

tanders, I haven't gotten onto the FKB yet, because I'm waiting to finish the lighting--urgh. DH makes lighting fixtures and it's a case of the cobbler's children. Here is a layout to help you get oriented and some additional pictures.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket this end cabinet from eating area side: Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


clipped on: 10.22.2007 at 09:31 pm    last updated on: 10.23.2007 at 09:37 am

RE: my dream kitchen (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: igloochic on 10.23.2007 at 02:58 am in Kitchens Forum

I'm just going to cut and paste some instructions I've given on painting cabinets and trim many times. The information here applies to both a light colored cabinet or dark (your paint hue) but in this post I specifically discuss a color choice that someone wanted me to share with them. If you don't want brown cabinets, don't tint the primer (it is white normally). This is the perfect primer for any paint job!

I only use high quality nylon (Purdy) brushes. I prefer them for wood finishes. They cost more but they last forever! I did have the primer tinted, and tinted it's kind of light purple color LOL so it looks funny until you start putting more paint on. They hate tinting it, but make them do it anyhoo!
Don't let anyone talk you into anything different (they always try to with me and it's never worked out). This is exactly what I use:

Sherwin Williams PrepRite ProBlock Interior Exterior Seals and Bonds, Latex primer (it's the most expensive...but if you don't like sanding or using chemicals to prep, this is the stuff for you!). I've never had to sand or strip first using this on the worst shiny stuff.

Sherwin Williams Exterior All Surface Glass Enamel
Code IFC411X
Woodsy Brown 100% mix formula 2924 (color code)

Then use Acrylic Latex HIGH GLOSS Ultradeep base 6403-25932
Code A41T00204

Do not take a less glossy finish. This finish dries HARD and rich :) (There's a man joke in there somewhere but I'll avoid making it)

I use one coat primer and let it dry a day at least, then two coats (one day between at least) of paint with a good Purdy brush (which is important). With just one coat the grain still effects the paint, but with the two on top of the primer you get that nice smooth look :)

I'm a paint freak, so forgive me for saying this if you know. Don't use rollers for wood. I like a 1 1/2 inch and a 2 1/2 or 3" brush at the most. The smaller works well on the small areas so you don't drip or oversmear the sides of the project.

Now onto that paneling. I don't know if you're the person I talked to in the bathroom forum, so just in case, I'll add a note that I'm going to share a how to on VP that is NOT used in a bathroom (you must use Marmorino plaster in the bathroom or any wet area).

Real VP isn't that expensive (try artsparx on the web) unless you have to ship the crap to Alaska (that hurts!) so use the real stuff. You'll be happier with it. If you won't listen to me and do that...go ahead and hit Lowes or Home Despot and find some :oP But it won't be anywhere as nice (it will be nice but not AS nice!). Anyhoo, the cracks are easy :) Before you start doing the real plaster work, I'd prime the walls. I prefer a quartz primer for plaster, but if you're not in a bathroom it's not mandatory so use the primer I discuss above since it will adhear to any finish. I'd prime the walls a good week before you're going to plaster just to make sure it's going to stick (since you don't know what was used on the walls first).

Now that it's stuck (quick fast forward huh?) go ahead and run a line of plaster over those joints and fill them in with VP. Scrape away any excess left on the higher areas (just fill in the joints) and let that sit for a minimum of 48 hours. You want to make sure that it's 100% dry since that's a rather thick application for VP (normally it should be paper thin). After that, if it's dried (you'll see a consistent color verses some dark and light areas when it's dry) go ahead and start with your first layer. Remember! VP should look like crap when you're done with layer one!!!! If it looks good, you used too much and it will not dry properly. PAPER THIN! Then burnish off the high areas and do it again, then umm again :oP Then on top of those three layers of plaster at least, apply a commercial oil based wax (if this is in the kitchen) so that the wall is easily cleanable.

To know if you've burnished enough between layers and at the your hand over the finish. It should feel like butter or silk. No rough edges. If you leave a rough bump here and there it will damage the next layer so those between burnishings are very important. You can even sand down areas if you have to, but make sure you start with silk between each layer :)


clipped on: 10.23.2007 at 08:39 am    last updated on: 10.23.2007 at 09:34 am