Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Sanding, Painting and Refurbishing

Hi there!

So it's winter here in New Mexico. 

In case we forgot.

Obviously, that means I must refurbish furniture.
Nothing says fun like sanding and painting in cold weather in an unheated garage...

Actually, it did sound like fun. So that's what I did.

We bought a filing cabinet from friends who were moving. Here's the only before picture I have.

Glorious, isn't it?

Then I took my handy dandy sander to it. (80 grit first, folks)

Have I mentioned that a cordless sander with a pointed end is AMAZING? 
No? Just trust me.
Your life will be changed.

Buzz it up, rough it up, let the pieces fly (with eye and mouth protection, I'm not crazy).

And voila!

The white spots are light shining through the window. I did NOT sand it down that far.

Also had to repair a gouge that was there before. Love me some Wood Putty!

Finished sanding for the day. 

After that, I decided to take a break and let that Putty dry a little. Lucky for me, we live in a VERY dry state. It took an hour.

Then you sand it down a little and wipe it down with a wet wipe.

Then I applied this puppy. The best primer.

Amazing coverage and great product.

You let that sucker dry. I went back in and did another coat. Also letting it dry.
And by this time my hand and fingers were shaking involuntarily. So...

I wasn't driving anywhere. It was a treat. And it was Belgian. 
Best of all, it reminded me of France and the bar I went to with my American friends now living in Exeter. Well worth it, I say.

Okay, so the paint wasn't quite to my liking that evening. Still a little tacky.
I let it dry overnight. It happens. You just roll with the punches.

But primer looks good. A little spotty, but that's why you paint.

Here I am about to make a HUGE mistake.

Wrong sander. Too much power.

It kind of stripped the primer off in one two inch by half inch swatch. Very not cool.
Switched back to the other sander.

Lesson 1: stick with one sander for a project. Even if the power is going down...you will find you still have enough juice left to finish it.

Anyway, I used 220 grit to get rid of the semi-rough bits. Wiped it down again and we were back in business.

Oh, here are my paint selections.

I went with a satin finish. I wanted to do an eggshell, but it didn't come in my colors. Flat, Matte, Satin, or semi-gloss.

Satin seemed the best of the choices. Not super shiny but still wipeable should sticky fingers find the paint irresistible.

Rolled on a coat of Polar Bear with a foam roller and touched it up under the ledge and at the corners with a tiny roller.
Looked pretty, but had to let it dry before I could continue. Gave it another hour with the window open.
Lucky for me that day was a balmy 36 degrees outside with sunshine...

Yeah...took a little longer. Gave it two hours.

Came back in, perfect. No tacky feeling.
Rolled on a second coat.
Then Mr. K said I had to get out of the garage (and away from the fumes) and we went someplace.
I don't remember.
He was right about fumes.

But there was a beautiful sunset that night. I do remember that.

Came back two days later and decided to conquer my fears of adding color and get to it.
Had some help with the Mochi pup.

My helper

Just kidding.
She came in to check on me and then high-tailed it (literally) out of the garage.

She hates paint fumes, even with the window open.

Since this was going to be a filing cabinet in Mr. K's office, I let him decide how he wanted it painted. He asked for a celtic knot. So I found some Tolkien-esque knots and let him choose.

Then I found some cool drawer pulls at Home Depot that had a little of the knot in them.

Brushed nickel. All metal. Strong and functional with a bit of style. He loved them.

Here's a closer look.

Well it was time to get to the painting.

I made my knot on tracing paper. (not the best idea, but you work with what you have)
I started painting with the baby roller on the cutouts and lo and behold, the paper started curling.

Bad news.

Stripped that off and free-handed the rest of the green, all the while trying to think of how to do it better.

Yes, you see what I ended up deciding to do. I traced the parts onto the cabinet. Then I'd paint over it.

Believe it or not, it worked.

And that, my friends is the end result.

But it's not assembled, you say.

You're absolutely right.
Mr. K and I moved the whole thing back to the office. Went to put in the drawers. And the left side tracks are slightly lower than the right. Mr. K said he'd fix that and then we could put it back together without damaging the work I did.

And so...it sits. Waiting it's adjustment. (that almost sounds like a punishment...)

The fun part is, Mr. K loves it. And it's a fun way to update an older looking piece of furniture.

$15 for the cabinet.
$30 for the paint.
$5 for new sand paper.
$8 for the handles.
$35 for the cordless sander (which I have been wanting for a while and now have for more projects so I consider it a worthy investment, and therefore I'm not really going to count this).

Total: $58 for a cabinet that he loves and will last a good while.
Or we could have bought a different one and then not have enjoyed the look as much.

Anyway, I'll take a picture when it's up and all assembled.

Until next time,

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

It's A Tuesday...But It Feels Like A Monday

Hi everyone,

With yesterday being a day off for Mr. K. We didn't do much...

Except assemble a side table which required a trip to a hardware store (long story...we'll just say that pre-drilled bolt holes aren't always the best and sometimes a little ingenuity, a call to your dad, and a friend with good jerry-rigging skills are necessary).

Oh but I put a vinyl sticker onto my laptop! I now won't confuse Mr. K's work computer with my own. Bad idea when he works on secret stuff.

The computer is named Bogie. We thought Casablanca appropriate.

And I did grocery shopping which involved meeting a friend and chatting for an hour and a half over coffee...then proceeding to do the shopping.
Followed by a trip to drop off some reinforcements to another friend with a sick little girl.

But my biggest acheivement was finishing revising the rest of my novel. I managed to sew up the loose threads in my plot and so it's completed.

My goal is to submit to agents by the end of this week. It gives me a few days to work on my query letter and synopsis. Both of which strike fear into my heart.
I know. I know.

All writers should be able to summarize their novel into a logline. And yes, you'd be absolutely right.
What no one says is that it's very nearly the hardest thing to do, especially when you have lots of twists and turns in your work.

But do it we must, and therefore, so must I.

So, to get into the writing spirit I've decided to put up some pictures of my puppy playing in the snow. I can refer to this again later when I've come to the conclusion that synopses and I don't ever get along on the first go.

This is my puppy.

She used to look like this:

But she loves snow.

Have I mentioned she likes snowballs?

Watching, ever watching.

She also likes little tennis balls that squeak.
And every now and again she jumps just so, that her ears flop like they used to when she was much younger. It's hard being 1 year old.

But my favorite is when she's the shifty-eyed dog.

It's almost as if she's saying, "Yes, go ahead. Trust me."

Saucy smiles for all.

At anyrate, she's our dufus and we wouldn't want her any other way.

Now back to work.

Until next time,

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Hi everyone!

Let me just start out saying that sledding is the best pastime ever.


No, I don't care if you're sore and tired the next day...
Okay, maybe I do because I feel your pain.

But it's still fun!
Here, I'll show you:

We went sledding with the C family. They have good sleds (very important) and a tube.

And they also know THE spot for sledding.

M and S on the hill! Go guys go!

Mr. C doing his best streamlined sledding.

Mr. K showing me his great balancing skills.

He also did the streamlined sledding technique.

The backwards tubing technique...I don't recommend it.

You end up leaning A LOT.

It looks like he's on nothing, but he's got the slimline sled. Very cool, Mr. C.

But what is this? S is ready to take the MONSTER HILL!

She caught major air time, which you can't really see. Those lines are hills. And the main hill was steep.

Attack of the Bearded Viking!

He took the seated approach to the hills. Still caught air though.

And an attempt at a group shot while sipping hot chocolate.

Take 1!

Hmmm...a little blurry.
Take 2!

Better but the only one looking is the small one.

Oh well back to sledding.
Turned just in time to catch Mr. K whizzing by.

The tube on the big hill was our favorite.
Must do it again soon.

Until next time!

Friday, January 08, 2016

Galette des Rois Recipe

Hi everyone! 
Today I'll be giving you the best recipe for Galette des Rois (Three Kings' Cake).
You can serve this from January 6th up until February. 
Celebrate Epiphany to the max, I say!

Here we go:


For the Crust:
2 sheets of puff pastry, thawed
1 egg yolk, beaten
2Tbsp sugar

For the Filling:
125g (1/2 cup + 1Tbsp) butter, softened
125g (a little less than 2/3 cup) sugar
125g (1 cup) ground almonds or almond meal
2 eggs, at room temperature
5ml (1tsp) almond extract or rum extract (I used almond)

1 fève (small porcelain piece) or whole almond


In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar. Then add the eggs one at a time. Mix in the almond meal. Then lastly, add the extract. Mix together well and set aside.

With your puff pastry sheets, cut a large round out of one and a slightly smaller round from the other. To the larger round, add the filling and spread it out, leaving about a 2 inch border from the edge. 

Place your fève or whole almond on the filling and near the edge.

Place the other smaller puff pastry round on top and press the pastry gently against the filling so as to get rid of any air bubbles and also making sure you have a border. Fold the lower edge over the smaller crust and crimp together like you would a double crust pie. Poke a hole in the middle of top pastry to allow steam to escape. 

Use a knife to score a design onto the pastry being careful not to poke through the pastry. Brush with beaten egg yolk, covering the edges too.
Refrigerate 30 minutes.

In an oven preheated to 200C (395F- not adjusted for high altitude- if in the mountains add ten degrees) bake for about 20-25 mins (about 25-30 mins for high altitude).
It should be a rich golden color when it's done. Think a little darker than you normally do for cakes.
Mine ended up a little underdone and had to go back in. 
(Note: If you take it out and the puff pastry falls or in my case if you cut into it and the center is oozing...it's underdone.)

Almost time to assemble!

Our fèves from France. We used the 40s lady this year.

Ooops. Didn't seal the edges well enough and had too much filling!
That's what happens when you only use one puff pastry sheet and try to get two rounds ovals out of it.

Oops. Looks ugly right now but it sure smells heavenly.

If that happens to you, just trim the excess off.
No one'll be the wiser.
And the fève will still be in the galette.

Then, once you have your galette cooled to room temperature, serve it up!

Traditions vary. Some have the youngest member of the family go under the table and say which piece of galette should go to whom. Some just cut the galette and set it out on plates and let you choose. Some do it where the one who cuts gets whatever piece the other says.

However you choose to do it, the fun part is when you find the fève/almond. You are crowned king/queen for the day and keep the fève and everyone else in your family must obey your wishes (within reason) for the rest of the day.

Happy eating!

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