Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cookie Exchange

I am getting ready to attend my first Cookie Exchange, so I want to know what kind of cookies you would take to a cookie exchange. I will post one recipe that I know I will use, but I am looking for another one to take as well. Please add your favorite cookie recipe in the comments and we can have our own online cookie exchange. This will be a great way for all of us to get some new ideas.
You will need to provide your email address to post a comment, but your email will not be posted. The name you enter will.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon When You Take the North "Poll"

Melissa & Doug want you to tell them which of their educational toys you think is the best! Just click on the image below to place your vote in the North "Poll!" You'll Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon** to use at just for voting!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Rust-Oleum Countertop and Cabinet Transformations

When we bought our 1988 home a few years ago, it was clear that no updating had ever been done on the kitchen. The laminate countertops had pieces missing and the cabinets had very little finish left. The cabinets were light wood and the counter top were a yellow-brown color with mock wood grain. This was a high contrast from the deep red paint on the walls.

We chose the Rust-Oleum products because they claimed a professional looking product for an affordable price. We chose Onyx for the counters and Cabernet for the cabinets. We did the counters first so we wouldn't mess up the finished cabinets. 
First you sand down the counters and wash until no dust is left. Then you paint them , spray with a wetting agent and cover with chips from a chip spreader. After it sets, you sand down the chips to a semi smooth finish, wash until no dust remains and then paint with a clear top coat. 
The kit comes with almost everything you need and wonderful instructions. I am very happy with the results as they are a thousand times better than what we started with. 
There are a few cons. The paint is not as thick as the video demonstration would have you believe and we had some trouble getting it to stick in some places. When we sanded down the chips, you could see counter top in spots where the paint didn't dry right. Some of the places added to the granite look, but I chose to cut other places out and I redid them with better results, however; there are two spots by the sink that look awful! Luckily, one is hidden under the dish drying rack. Another spot dried a little shinier than the rest. No one else seems to notice the spots until I point them out. Also, it was extremely messy and we are still finding the chips in drawers and cabinets. 

The cabinets also turned out great. I love them! The kit and instructions are great and it was easy to complete if you follow the instructions. First you use the inclosed deglosser to basically wash away the top coat. You then rinse the deglosser off and then begin the base coat. The base looks like a cross between a stain and paint. You put on two base coats following the grain of the wood. It is very important that you follow the grain exactly or your brush strokes will show when it dries. Also, make sure you don't stop in mid board and then come back to it or you can see the starting and stopping points. Thankfully, I learned this on the first coat and was able to hide my mistakes. The only part of the instructions I would skip is placing the doors on screws. This pulled the paint off of mine even though they had been dry for a couple days. 
Next you put on the decorative glaze and gently wipe it away. We read a lot of reviews that said "there wasn't enough glaze." I had more than enough. I made sure I didn't try to put it on thick like paint. I just lightly brushed it on and didn't press hard when wiping away. Make sure you pay attention to how you pressed when you got your desired results so you can make sure you do it exactly the same on each door and cabinet.  
After the glaze is dry, you put on a protective top coat. I was expecting this to be like a clear glaze, but it was more like runny glue. And it does run. The same rules apply when it comes to following the grain of the wood, but it's harder to do. The top coat runs and pools in places and you need to smooth them out right away or it won't dry clear. When you coat the doors, be very careful to wipe any drips that work their way around to the other side of the door. Since you have to do the back of the doors first, this will mean the drip will show on the front side of the door. Not good. 
Overall, I love the results. My kitchen looks so much better and everyone notices it right away. This is a great way to get a "new" kitchen without having to replace the actual cabinets or counter tops. Cheaper and less waste. 

On a side note, the painters tape pulled the paint off the wall, so now we have to paint on top of redoing the floors. The floors are so ugly!

Washing Cloth Diapers- All Free and Clear vs. Tide Free and Gentle

I have been using cloth diapers for over a year now. Before beginning, I did a lot of research on the types of detergent you had to use on them. Of course on most blogs and store sites, I saw a lot of info on Charlie's Soap and some other cloth diaper detergents that were costly and had a lot of reports of bad diaper rashes and needs for additional items to soak the diapers in or strip them. It was overwhelming trying to find something that worked and was affordable. I eventually saw a site that had lists of everyday detergent that were safe to use. They didn't say how well they worked, just whether or not it was "ok" to use it.
I found the detergent we currently use on all of our laundry, All Free and Clear, with a check under "yes." I decided to start there. I used it for 7 months with great results. I didn't have any trouble with odor and he didn't get any diaper rashes. I never had to strip the diapers for buildup or sunbleach them.
When Tide came out with a Free and Gentle version I decided to try it. It helped that it was on sale and I had a coupon. I instantly regretted it. The diapers began to stink like ammonia when he would pee and never really felt clean. I switched back to All and it fixed the problem in a couple washes.
I recommend All Free and Clear to everyone who is using, or thinking about using, cloth diapers. I am sure there are other good detergents out there, but this one is priced great and definitely gets the job done. The fact that you can use it on all of your laundry with great results is another huge plus.