Thursday, April 28, 2016

How We Painted Our Cabinets {and Totally Transformed Our Kitchen}

About 9 months ago I took the plunge and painted our kitchen cabinets. I feel like this is the DIY project that most people are afraid to tackle because, hello! It is the kitchen. So much time is spent in the kitchen and it really is the focal point of the home – if it’s done sloppy, wrong or doesn’t turn out as expected it would be a huge headache and a lot of money to fix.

However, this is probably the best DIY project our family has done. Not only did it make a HUGE impact on our home and main living space but it was extremely cost effective at only $150.
Once upon a time, our kitchen looked like this:

Now it looks like this:

It was pretty yellow before. Maple was everywhere. Maple cabinets, maple floors. I walked in this room and it felt like it was constantly glowing (even after I painted the walls a beautiful shade of “perfect greige”).

Anyhoo, I knew I wanted a white kitchen. I feel like white cabinets appear decade after decade. They are timeless and classic and clean. I’ve got a thing for white cabinetry. I researched about 89 different ways to repaint our cabinets and talked to quite of few people that have done it themselves. After a year of preparing (read: convincing my husband it would work), I got to work. It took me 3 days total because I worked mostly by myself and also allowed for extra time between coats to dry.
First, let me tell you about our cabinets. The doors and faces of the cabinets are real wood and the sides and shelves are particle board.
Adding Bead Board to the Sides
I wasn’t sure how the fake veneer on top of the particle board would take the paint, so we opted to purchase sheets of white bead board from Home Depot. These sheets can be purchased for about $12 a piece. We needed three.
Darren cut the pieces to fit around the island (all the three sides) and the sides of the upper and lower cabinets. He used liquid nails and finishing nails with a nail gun to attach these pieces. Then use white, paintable caulk along the seams and edges. Also, use sand-able spackle to fill in the nail holes. Once that is dry, sand it smooth and it is ready for paint.

That step is done. I am so glad we added the bead board. It definitely gives the cabinets a more custom look and I’m pretty sure that’s why friends ask if I replaced our cabinets.

Cleaning the Cabinets

In order make sure the paint sticks the surface of the cabinets, use a heavy duty all purpose cleaner to clean the surface of all the cabinets. I used TSP (Trisodium Phosphate), followed the instructions on the back and scrubbed all the grime and grease off the cabinets. I ended up cleaning them twice to be sure they were really clean and I used a steak knife to scrape the nooks and crannies on the cabinet doors. Our cabinets were surprisingly filthy.

Prime the Cabinets

Remove all cabinets, drawers, and hardware. There are a couple ways to prime cabinets. The first is to tape off your entire kitchen and use a paint sprayer for the whole kitchen. I opted not to do this to avoid the mess and fumes in my house and instead used a 4” foam roller. The foam roller gives the primer (and paint) a smooth look and finish.

I rolled the primer on the faces of the cabinets, the cabinet doors, and the cabinet drawers. I used Kilz Latex primer and did two coats.
**Note: before I primed the cabinet doors, I used a hand sander to scuff them up a bit. This is the only sanding I did for the whole project. It wasn’t completely necessary because the TSP Cleaner took off quite a bit of the finish.
I used Behr Pure White paint in semi-gloss (semi-gloss is what you want because it far more scrubbable than lower quality finishes). Using the same foam roller, I painted the cabinets, bead board sides, and faces of the cabinets with two coats of paint.
For the cabinet doors, I borrowed a paint sprayer from my neighbor – much like this one. These things are AMAZING by the way. Once I got it loaded, it took me probably 15 minutes to spray all the fronts of the cabinets. I then waited an hour and did a second coat.
I allowed them to dry overnight, then sprayed the reverse side twice the next day.
Finish Work
Once the doors are dry, we used the same hardware to attach them to the frames of the cabinetry. I also reused the silver knobs we had. I did choose to replace the drawer handles, so I had filled (with wood filler) and sanded the holes BEFORE priming. Once the painting was done, Darren drilled new holes and we added the new hardware.
And voila! Brand “New” Kitchen. The total cost (not including the butcher block island top we installed prior to painting) was less than $150.

Here are a few questions/comments I get about my kitchen:
Isn’t that hard to keep clean?/Have fun cleaning the white kitchen!
This one is funny to me. Having a white kitchen doesn’t make it appear more dirty. The cabinets aren’t made of fabric, people. In fact, I feel like my kitchen looks much more clean. It’s also easier to clean because when spaghetti sauce or coffee goes flying, I can see where it is right away and wipe it up before it gets dry and crusty. Though I don’t always see it and have scrubbed off some dry apple sauce after it’s been there a while (probably weeks). Since we used a semi-gloss paint, scrubbing is not an issue.
Doesn’t it chip or peel?
Not really. Granted, they’ve only been painted for 9 months but I do have two young children who love to run into the cabinets with chairs, stools, and toys. And, you know, they spill things a lot. The only chips I’ve gotten are very minor and it’s been from accidentally stabbing the drawers with knives or forks when I’m putting things away (not from my kids). There was also a spot where the paint wore off a bit next to the knob on two of our frequently used cabinets. This was an easy touch up with foam roller. I’ve had zero issues with peeling.
Does it look professional?
There are some imperfections...if you look closely. The paint sprayers can cause a lot of dripping if you don’t watch your cabinets. After I sprayed them, I used the foam roller to roll the edges and avoid drips. The paint sprayer and catching the drips have definitely helped give our cabinets a quality look. We were also very fortunate that the surface of our cabinets is very smooth and not super grainy. You can hardly tell they were old cabinets because the finish looks very smooth.
Shouldn’t you use polyurethane or a top coat?
Some people do. And if you choose to do so, that’s fine. The reason I chose not to use a polyurethane or lacquer on top of the paint is because 1) it can yellow over time, the exact color I was trying to rid my kitchen of before, and 2) chips and wear and tear are going to happen over time no matter what. You can’t paint touch-ups on top of polyurethane so keeping your cabinets looking freshly painted would be a challenge.
And that's about it. We love our kitchen. Questions? Comment below.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Twenty. Six.

Weeks along: 26
Baby Size: 14 inches
Symptoms: Heartburn, BH contractions, a lot of sciatic nerve pain
Cravings: cereal, burgers, fruit, everything. I just want food all the time.
Movement: She's responding to voices a lot now...especially Maci's and Isaiah's. :)
Currently Reading: The Hypnotist's Love Story by Liane Moriarty
Exercise: Jogging less, walking more but I'm still able to do kickboxing so that's good.

Doctor Appointment Update:
Weight gain - 22 lbs. Fan. Tastic.
Belly measurement - 26 weeks.
Baby heartbeat - 150 bpm.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Favorite Things & 25 Weeks

Weeks along: 25
Baby Size: 13.5 inches
Symptoms: Heartburn, sleeping REALLY well, hungry ALL. THE. TIME., lots of BH contractions
Cravings: (my sweet tooth arrived) Poptarts, Peanut Butter Protein Balls, Burgers, Sweet Potatoes, sweet tea, coconut water.
Movement: Love her baby kicks! How her movements change week to week remind me daily of how much she's growing. I can sort of distinguish body parts now. Just yesterday my MIL was able to feel her booty followed by a kick. Pretty special.
News this week: I passed the glucose test with flying colors but I am slightly anemic (first time for me) so I'm now on an iron supplement.
Here are some of my Favorite Things this week:
SWEET TEA. With the beautiful weather that has arrived I've been loving me some sweet tea. How many days does it take a pregnant lady to drink 2 gallons of it? Answer: 3. It's that good!
6 regular tea bags (decaf) in a large pitcher with 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup sugar
Add 1 tea pot of boiling water
Stir and let it steep for 30 minutes
Remove tea bags
Fill the pitcher to the top with cold water
Add ice and enjoy :)
Chicken and Avocado on toast or crackers. I love avocados this pregnancy. I also love chicken salad. I like to pre-cook chicken breasts in the crock pot and freeze them to use later for lunches, etc. It is one of my favorite time savers (details here).
1 shredded chicken breast and one avocado
Shred and mash together
Add pepper, a squirt of mustard, and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.
Eat plain or with crackers or on toast. Enjoy! :)

PEANUT BUTTER PROTEIN BALLS. Like I said, the sweet tooth has arrived and these are great little energy bites that aren't terrible for you and help satisfy my sweet cravings. Recipe here.

It Gets Easier

The first time Isaiah ever had a stomach bug he was almost two. Maci was 3 months old and Darren worked swing shift - which quite honestly felt like he was barely home. Isaiah threw up all over the car on the way home from my parents' house, all over the car and car seat. We got home, changed, and he threw up all over the couch and floor.

Stay asleep, Maci, stay asleep is what I remember thinking while I scrubbed the car, floors, couch and literally cut off the car seat cover to throw it in the wash (Who in the name designs these car seats??? Certainly not mothers. A car seat pad/cover should be removable. Hello.) Then he threw up again, Maci woke up to nurse, and I cried. And I called my mom because that's what you do when you don't know what to do. I remember feeling alone, exhausted, and thinking maybe I'm not cut out to take care of babies. I am not qualified. I can't do it.

I was dreadfully surprised by the hardness of it and of the inadequacy and helplessness I felt.

Then something "crazy" happened. (And by crazy I mean not at all that crazy.) The days passed and he got well. And he's had plenty of stomach bugs since (I still hate them, by the way). What I've realized is this: it gets easier. There's nothing I hate more than when my babies are hurting or sick, no matter how young or old they are. However, the actual "dealing with it" part gets easier. Isaiah now knows when he's going to throw up and when he needs a bowl. He knows he needs plain toast and small sips of Gatorade. He knows he has to lay down and relax.

I wish I could go back to my new mom self and tell me I'd get better at handling puke; that I'd keep my anxiety in check, that I'd learn to let God simply be near in the midst of sickness; that I am capable and qualified to care for my kids. That I'm doing okay. Because it does get easier.

The first time Maci started wheezing, she was 5 months old. She hadn't even been alive half a year and she was struggling to breathe. I remember sitting in the doctor's office giving her a nebulizer treatment and thinking, Why did she have to inherit this from me? Babies should be able to breathe! The days (and months) that followed, I spent many days literally holding her in a headlock while she cried and screamed because she hated her nebulizer. It wasn't until she was over one that I could distract her with videos while giving her a treatment (right around the time she was officially diagnosed with asthma).

I felt like I was doing something wrong even though I knew so badly she needed to breathe and needed her medicine.

Then another "crazy" thing happened. It got easier. So much easier, that she now will ask for a treatment if she needs it (or her inhaler). She knows how to put the device together. She holds it properly while doing the treatment and she can usually even tell me when it's done. Together we got better. It got easier.

As I'm entering a second week of sickness for my babies, as I'm catching throw up in bowls, snuggling sick tummies, listening to wheezing, and looking at weird viral rashes on my sweet girl's pretty skin, I'm reminded of how far I've come. It's still hard. I still ache when they hurt. I still Google basically everything. I still hate watching my kids sick. But I'm better because of the grace of God. I worry less because I pray more. I'm more confident because I have sweet little voices telling me I'm doing a good job.

Just this morning Isaiah told me I'm precious and beautiful...and that I should be a doctor because I'm really good at taking care of sick people. As I type these words, Maci leaned over her throw up bowl to kiss my shoulder.

As mamas we do hard things. It's not fun or glamorous but it's a part of motherhood. We get better and it gets easier. Hallelujah.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Humble Encourager

"Going from 2 to the 3 was the absolute hardest," say so many mamas to the mama pregnant with her third baby with a plastered smile on her face. And it makes sense - you go from man-to-man defense to zone-defense. You run out of hands that can grab on to kids. The parents are officially outnumbered. I get it. It's a fair warning. I don't mind people telling me this because I think it's probably true.

I don't think people purposely say it to instill fear or anxiety but sometimes I think people (myself included) can get so hung up on the hard, worn-out and exhausting parts that we forget to glorify the good stuff and give credit to God. Last week I was reading Titus. It is a tiny book squished in the middle of the New Testament. Chapter 2 is about teaching and it breaks it down into groups: older and younger men, and older and younger women. Verses 2:7-8 says:

"In your teaching show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us."

In other words: watch your mouth. Be nice. Be encouraging. The devotional attached to this went on to say this:

How special is that? God gives us each other for a reason. He gives us older moms and younger moms. He gives us active moms and crafty moms. He gives us women who have children and women who don't. He gives us working moms and SAHMoms. He gives us married and single moms/women. He gives us each other so we can teach one another and learn. So we can observe and apply. So we can love and encourage.

Just when I was feeling like most moms only had the hard stuff to say about going from 2 to 3 kids, God gave me several moms that lifted me up. Some more seasoned than me, others pretty much in line with my journey in motherhood.

A mother with four, said 2 to 3 isn't that bad but it's an adjustment just like any other baby because it's a new person. You will do great.

She also said, your kids now wipe their bums and understand directions. When you went from 1 to 2, you basically had to babies. Don't worry.

Another, much more seasoned mama, said it will be hard in waves. Like your mornings getting Isaiah off to school will feel hectic but then you will get your groove going for the day. You will be fine.

Years ago, when my sister went form 2 to 3 (ages 0, 1, & 3) and I was still struggling with going from 0 to 1, I stared at her through my zombie eyes and asked how she did it? She told me, I don't know, you just get better. Your kids get older and you get better so it works.

I'm so thankful for my encouragers. Do I think it's okay to vent and be honest and real? Absolutely. But let's not forget to top our venting off with encouragement. With love. With humility. With hope. With support. We're a village of mamas. God gave us each other for a reason.

 Also, I am 24 weeks (plus a few days) now and errrybody knows I'm pregnant. So strangers keep asking me for help. It makes me laugh. I'm so pregnant right now.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

14 Meals for less than $100

I didn't want to do very many meals this round. Mostly because I still have a few left from my last round and I wanted to get it all done in less than an hour. My goal was 10. But apparently, I don't know how to do only 10 meals at a time though. So for this round I did only 14 and it cost me less than $100 including tax.

Menu |
Pulled Pork on Pretzel Rolls (2)
Pork Carnitas (2)
White Chicken Enchiladas
Sausage Bake
Dirty Rice
Chicken Pad Thai
Simple Spaghetti Meatballs
Italian Turkey Meatloaf
Caribbean Jerk Chicken on Pub Rolls
Mango Salsa Chicken
Lemon Pepper Chicken
Orange Chicken

Shopping List |

2 5 lb. pork loins
2 bags frozen chicken breasts
1 smoked sausage link (I buy Hillshire)
3 lbs. ground turkey
1 bag meatballs (26 count)
1 bag popcorn chicken

Frozen Goods:
2 bags frozen broccoli florets

Canned Goods:
1 can cream of chicken
1 can green chilis
1 bottle fish sauce
1 bottle rice vinegar
2 jars marinara
1 bottle orange sauce

Dried Goods:
3 cups of brown rice
1 package rice noodles
1 package spaghetti noodles

8 oz, sour cream
Small bag Mozzarella (shredded)

1 zucchini
1 large carrot (from the bulk section)
1 bunch green onion
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper

2 Memphis BBQ Pit seasoning packets
2 Taco seasoning packets
Bread crumbs
1 bottle Caribbean Jerk marinade
1 bottle lemon pepper marinade
Garlic Powder
Italian Herb Seasoning
Brown Sugar
Salt & Pepper

2 bags pretzel rolls
3 packages of tortillas
1 package pub buns

2 eggs
1 tub mango peach salsa

When you get ready to prep, you will need to cook 2 cups brown rice and 1 lb. ground turkey. Label all bags. Things that will be frozen without prep: smoked sausage link, 2 bags broccoli florets, bag of popcorn chicken, pub buns, tortillas, and pretzel rolls. Things that will just be stored in the pantry: rice noodles, spaghetti noodles, and orange sauce.

Recipes |

Pulled Pork on Pretzel Rolls
2.5 lb. pork loin
1 packet Memphis BBQ Pit seasoning
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
(Add 1 cup water when cooking)

Low 8 hours. Serve on Pretzel Rolls.

Pork Carnitas

2.5 lb. pork loin
1 packet taco seasoning
(Add 1 cup water when cooking)

8 hours on low. Shred and serve on tortillas with taco fixings.

White Chicken Enchiladas
1 can cream of chicken
8 oz. sour cream
3 chicken breasts
1 can chopped green chilis
2 tsp cumin

8 hours on low. Shred. Fill and roll tortillas, add cheese, top with extra sauce and cheese. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Sausage Bake
Freeze smoke sausage with a bag of broccoli florets.
(make two)

To prepare: thaw sausage, add cubed red potatoes, sweet potatoes, frozen broccoli and whatever other veggies you'd like. Drizzle with olive oil, rubbed sage, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Toss. Bake at 415 degrees for 45 minutes.

Dirty Rice
2 cups cooked rice
1 lb. cooked ground turkey
1 Tbsp. Montreal Steak Seasoning
Drizzle with EVOO
Thaw and warm to serve.

Chicken Pad Thai
Bag 1:
2 chicken breasts sliced thinly
1 large carrot sliced thinly
1 zucchini sliced thinly (season with garlic powder, salt, & pepper)
1 bunch green onion chopped

 Bag 2: {the sauce}
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
(this is doubled from my original recipe...I like extra sauce)

 Store rice noodles in pantry. To prepare: soak rice noodles in hot water. Thaw sauce and chicken and veggies. In a small pot, warm sauce. In a large wok or skillet, add 3 Tbsp. olive oil and sauté chicken and veggies until cooked through. Scramble an egg. Drain and add noodles. Toss. Add sauce. Toss. Add a squeeze of lime and top with chopped peanuts.

Simple Spaghetti Meatballs
1 jar prepared marinara
1 bag meatballs
(make two)

8 hours on low. Serve with spaghetti noodles.

Italian Turkey Meatloaf

2 lbs. ground turkey
1/2 green pepper, chopped

1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs
1/2 Tbsp. Italian Herbs Seasoning (Oregano, Basil, Parsley)
2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 tsp salt and pepper
Hand mix until everything is evenly mixed and place in bag.
Thaw and cook for 1 hour at 350.

Caribbean Jerk Chicken on Pub Rolls
4 frozen chicken breasts
1 bottle Caribbean jerk marinade

Thaw and grill. Serve on buns (we like ours with Sweet Baby Rays).

Mango Salsa Chicken
3 chicken breasts
1 tub mango peach salsa chicken
8 hours on low. Shred and serve with tortillas.

Lemon Pepper Chicken
4 chicken breasts
1 bottle Lemon pepper marinade
Thaw and grill.
Orange Chicken
Freeze 1 bag popcorn chicken and broccoli florets. Store Sauce and rice in pantry.
Prepare chicken according to package, steam broccoli and cook rice. When chicken is done, toss in warmed orange chicken sauce. Serve with broccoli over rice.

And done.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Salad Love

I have been so hungry lately. And I don't know about you but my eyes and appetite are always so much bigger than my squished stomach when I'm pregnant. Salads tend to be some of my very favorite things to eat because they aren't heavy and don't make me feel sick afterward. I thought I'd share a few of my favorites. Each of these can easily turn into a hardy dinner too. (Just throw on some grilled chicken or steak with a side of garlic bread. Because bread.)

Sweet Bacon Salad
I love this salad. A family friend made it at a lake house get-together and I had to know what the secret ingredient was- COCONUT! I don't even like coconut and I make this all the time now. Delicious and easy.
1-2 heads of romaine lettuce finely chopped or shredded
1 package of cooked and crumbled bacon
Sprinkle in some parmesan cheese
Sprinkle in some shredded coconut
Drizzle Italian dressing
Sun-dried Tomato Salad with Balsamic
I concoct this every time I go to MOD Pizza. It is my favorite (I have a lot of those). Then I started buying the ingredients and just making it at home. Even better!
Mixed Greens
Sundried Tomatoes
Black Olives
Chopped Cucumber
Artichoke Hearts
Balsamic Dressing

Quinoa Salad
Confession. I've had some digestive issues with quinoa since being pregnant. BLAH! I'm not new to hormonal food allergies but definitely disappointed about this one. I just have to put less quinoa with this one. You can also mix the quinoa and veggies up and save a large batch to eat throughout the week (just throw it on top of some mixed greens).
Spinach or mixed greens
Cooked Quinoa
Black Beans
Chopped Red Peppers
Chopped Carrots
Chopped Cucumbers
Cherry Tomatoes
[Really, any veggies you love]
Sundried Tomato Dressing

Sunday, April 3, 2016


Weeks along: 23
Baby size: Large Mango or 11 inches
Cravings: Meat & Salad with a side of chocolate (thanks, Easter Bunny!)
Other Symptoms: Colostrum leakage. For real. I guess this girl will be well fed since I'm already working on my first batch. ;) Lots of BH contractions - especially when I do cardio workouts. Nerve pain every once in a while and my hips are starting to ache (girlfriend is riding so low, I can't even). Hungry. I gag really bad when I brush my teeth (I can't look at myself in the mirror or I'll throw up).
What I'm (surprised) I'm not feeling: Tired. Really, I was so exhausted with Isaiah and Maci and I'm actually feeling well-rested most days (though some days I just wake up a total grouch). Anxiety. I can thank the good Lord for this one - I'm definitely in a much better place spiritually than I was with my other two pregnancies. With Isaiah I had so much fear of the unknown. With Maci I had anxiety about loving my kids equally. This time around, I know God gives us enough love for all of our kids. He gives us enough grace to parent them. When we feel like we've run out, He will fill us back up. There is not a day that goes by that I'm not thankful for unconditional love and never-ending grace.
Darren and I got to sneak away for a date last night - Shenanigan's on the waterfront at sunset on a GORGEOUS April night in the Northwest. You can't beat sunshine in Washington. You just can't. We were talking about life before kids and how it is so hard to remember what it felt like to not know Isaiah and Maci. Life as parents has gone so quickly but life without knowing them doesn't seem real. I truly believe God hand-picks our kids for us - they teach us so much about life and God's love for His children. Now we just have to wait and see who He's picked next. Will she be a wild card? Sassier than her sister? An intellectual like her brother? Goofy like her mama? Have a heart of gold like her daddy? Time will tell.

Date night for these old folks. (And yo, let's be real and check out my belly button. I have the deepest belly button and when I'm pregnant it just gets bigger instead of popping out. I told Darren that's why I don't get stretch marks: I store extra skin in the black pit that is my belly button.)

We topped Spring Break off with "camping" as Maci calls it. Or a fire pit with s'mores. ;)

We were so lucky to have such beautiful sunshine during our break - we hit up the zoo, parks, turned our backyard into a water park, and started work on our tan lines. C'mon, summer!

Appointment update from last week:
Heartbeat - 140 bpm
Mama's up 15 lbs.
Doc gave me my glucose drink to do next week (not excited or ready)
Hospital registration sent in (say whaaat???)