Painting! The Den

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Painting the Den: (9) Waiting on the walls to cure to hang artwork

I keep telling myself I'll take better pictures, but whatever. This is close enough. The Den is painted. That means. ONLY ONE MORE DOWNSTAIRS ROOM TO PAINT. the kitchen, oh, the ever daunting kitchen. Maybe soon. Anyways, we painted the den a nice, dark color and included the ceiling in that mix to make a room that feels like it's hugging you. Consider this post as inspiration, but with waaaay cruddier furniture, because I can think of better things to spend $2k on than a sofa (like, maybe redoing aforementioned kitchen on a budget...)

Painting the Den: (10) Waiting on closet shelves to cure 30 days before using them to store board games

So, some more blurry photos of the den where it was too soon to put the games on the shelves (30 day wait!), and the wall still drying from a canvas mishap.

Painting the Den: Before
Painting the Den: (8) Surround sound speakers installed and cables hidden

No close-ups of the peeling/cracking paint on the walls, but I have some from the closets. Fun times. no wallpaper to remove, either, huzzah! Just tons of peels and chips!

Painting the Den: (2) Priming the walls and ceiling with tinted primer
Painting the Den: (3) Painting the edges

The walls were cleaned with TSP, primed with dark tinted Zinsser Bullseye, and then cut-in by hand, as per usual. The paint is Benjamin Moore Gothic Green, done in eggshell finish. Ceiling is the same, but in a flat finish. And the trim is also Gothic Green, but in semi-gloss. I cheated and painted the trim once or twice in eggshell, and then did the final coat with a small pint of the semi-gloss. Saved myself $20, ha! You can't tell and it's difficult to photograph due to backlighting, but the inner window grids are painted Hale Navy from Benjamin Moore, just for a bit of contrast.

Painting the Den: Before (Closet paint peeling) Painting the Den: Two-toned closets are done (could probably use a 3rd coat of paint, but this is good enough)
Painting the Den: After a preliminary scraping of the closet walls, a coat Peel Stop to prevent further peeling prior to painting
Painting the Den: Two-toned closets are done (could probably use a 3rd coat of paint, but this is good enough)

The closets, what a disaster. At least with a bit of Peel Stop they clean up alright. I generally follow my typical painting process, but for the closets I scraped the surfaces and added on some Peel Stop prior to priming, and then did the usual. The bottom is Aberdeen Green in Benjamin Regal Select in Pearl finish leftover from the downstairs bathroom, and I did the upper part in some semi-gloss white (no color mix) out of the pail. Aberdeen green is the lightest shade on the card for Gothic Green, which happens to be one of the colors in the tile floors of the downstairs bathroom. It's like I purposefully coordinated it all or something...

Painting the Den: (7) Hidden cable management that comes out from the basement

Jim worked some magic with all the cables, as this is our media room. We installed surround sound with some paintable cable covers to camoflague the wires, and everything was run under the floor and up into the wall behind the entertaintment center, like above. No more speaker cables over the door! We're so fancy now. And we only had to drill one hole in the floor. Good times.

Painting the Den: Rustoleum Clean Metal Primer goes on all the chipped baseboard radiators

The radiators were, as always, a total chipping mess. Some scraping, scrubbing with a wire brush, and then a coat of Clean Metal Primer and off we went...Looking snazzy.

Philip's Smart Light Switch Bamboo shades

Some Cordless Flatstick Semi-Sheer Roman Shades in 'Cocoa' make this room really dark, even though they're semi-sheer. The windows are south-facing, and the east-facing window is partially obscured by a giant evergreen bush. So, it's really quite impossible to get good photos of this room. But that was sort of the goal - a dark & cozy theater room!

The final touch? We added in a hub-free Philips Smart Light Switch so that we could use a switch next to the doorway to turn on the light we wanted to! This house always has the worst (read: easiest for electrician to install) light switches, and so it's not our only Philips smart light switch/bulb. In the case of the den, we also covered the original "real" light switch with the TV, so that really wasn't an option anymore.

Success: Chocolate Pudding

Wednesday, April 7, 2021


Chocolate Pudding from Scratch

J mentioned wanting a chocolate pudding cup one night...and the next day I ended up making SmittenKitchen's Best Chocolate Pudding. The ingredients are basic and you probably have them all on hand already. Just milk, sugar, cornstarch, chocolate...Ready to make chocolate pudding at the drop of a hat! I'm not sure why mine came out considerably lighter in color than SmittenKitchen's. Perhaps it was swapping 2c heavy cream + 1c 2% milk for the 3c whole milk? That little swap definitely made some rich, mousse-like pudding. Maybe next time I'll actually do a mousse instead.

Chocolate Pudding from Scratch

I used semi-sweet cholate mini-morsels, and did a little more than 1/3c sugar as suggested in the recipe notes. Very tasty, particularly if you like semi-sweet morsels...

And this below, is normally how I serve it...but there's not much about pudding from this angle, lol:

Chocolate Pudding from Scratch

New Best Breakfast

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Dutch Baby with Maple Syrup, Blueberry Maple Jam, and Bacon
Once I figured out that the Dutch Baby really needs to be made in a cast iron skillet, there's been nothing but Dutch Baby blue skies. And now, with the addition of homemade blueberry maple jam and some local maple syrup. Um. The best.

Rehabbing the Front "Fence Garden"

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Updated Fence is Complete

The frontyard has a little landscaping bed along the property line. The split rail fence was rotting when we moved in, so we removed it...but it took another two years until we ripped out the wooden edging and replaced it all.

Pulling out the old fence + rail

There wasn't really much going on in the garden at move-in. Threee daylilies evenly spaced across the front, and tons of dandelions. Our first autumn, I planted some All in One Daffodil Mix for some daffodil variety whcih has been really lovely in early spring.

First year of daffodils in the fence garden

The following spring, I decided to toss in some cosmos and wildflower seed to fill out the bed while I figured out what I wanted to do with it.

Sensation Mix Cosmos in the fence garden Mixed wildflowers in the fence garden
Poppies w daffodils in background in fence garden

I also ended up with a friend's spare yellow dinnerplate dahlias. Shallowly buried them in the Fence Garden and ended up with a couple real stunners:

Yellow dinnerplate dahlia in the fence garden

And then COVID-19 happened, and that left me with ample time to fill out the gardens. With the backyard garden done, I turned my focus to the fence garden, and decided it'd make an interesting experiment in cut flower gardens.

Visual Plan for the Fence Garden

The side facing our property will be a sunset-colored version of the backyard open garden which is currently all purples and whites. The other side of the split-rail fence will be the cut flowers. More dahlia: Labyrinth and old rose mix. Peony duchess apricot asters and queen lime zinnias. We shall see.

Birds Eye Plan for the Fence Garden

The perennial side has already started a bit. A red fireball monarda (bee balm) was planted, and then moved into its final spot in the autumn before pruning. This red Charmaine Clematis, which was the inspiration for the color palette (along with the yellow dahlias) was installed...although the vines died off completely late summer, and two new shoots eventually appeared. Who knows if it'll return come spring. In the autumn the rose marvel meadow sage, hot raspberry butterfly bush, a few handful of bags of allium schubertii, nutans alliums (on serious sale), and 4 bearded irises (mango entree, cheetah cheese, and frimousse) were all planted. A double dream daylily replaced the center daylily that was underperforming, and the giant daylily was split in half. I've had a heckuva time starting echinacea from seeds, so I am waiting on 5 mixed color echinacea roots to be planted in the spring to hopefully fill out the later summer garden. Any spaces left in the front will be filled in with a sprinkling of breadseed poppies.

Charmaine Clematis in the fence garden Mango Entree Bearded Iris planted in the fence garden

So the perennial side of the Fence Garden is mostly taken care of, that just leaves the cut flower garden which must all be grown from seed and spring-planted tubers (i.e., dahlias). I'm super looking forward to seeing what thrives in the spring and getting a tremendous pop of color in the front yard all season long!

Fence garden in bloom, year 2 Fireball Monarda, mixed wildflowers, and daylily in the fence garden

Success: Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

After the slight disappointment of the pina colada cake, a month or so later I had another reason to bake a cake...and so we went withthe much more tried and true SmittenKitchen Pineapple Upside Down Cake. I made it in a 10=inch cast iron pan, and even fished some preserved bourbon cherries out and sliced them for the pineapple centers. Worked out much better, much tastier.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

It's been almost 10 years since I last made a pineapple upside down cake for J, it looks like I've shown much improvement...

Pineapple Upside Down Cake
2021
Pineapple Upside Cake
2011

Success-ish: Pina Colada Cake

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Pina Colada Cake

J's favorite cocktail is a pina colada, so for his birthday I made SmittenKitchen's Pina Colada Cake. It's okay, but a little uninspiring. Pineapple Upside Down Cake is much tastier.

Pina Colada Cake

I also made Pina Coladas to go with the cake...this might have been a bit much on the pineapple! The pina coladas from frozen fresh pinapple were very good, but possibly too frozen? They cmae out more as a slushy than a drink!

Pina Colada

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