Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Blooming Cactus


Does anybody feel this should at least be rated PG-13?

More Wordless Wednesday

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How to Make a Chalkboard Fridge

Slideshow of pictures at the end of the post.

When we moved into our house the stove the previous owners left was rusted with hole in the side of it and there was no dishwasher at all.  We bought a new stove and dishwasher but the fridge was clean and in good working order so we decided to keep it until it broke.  We figured we might get another year of service from it.  Here we are nearly 7 years later and the big white monster is still going strong.  Since it sits immediately next to the stove, the fact that it doesn't match the stainless steel is the first thing you notice when you enter the kitchen.  I think it drives my mother-in-law crazy. She keeps threatening to buy us a one.

As I was planning my minor kitchen update I found this great idea to turn the fridge into a chalkboard on one of my favorite websites the kitchn.  Since I used a fairly different (and easier!) process for my fridge, I thought I'd explain how I did it here, in case any of you want to try it.

Our chalkboard fridge is extremely practical because it gives us a place to write notes and it makes the fridge match the other appliances a little better.  My mother-in-law approves!

Procedure

  1. Determine the type of material your fridge is made from.  Mine, like most, is some type of metal but the front is covered with a layer of vinyl that is kind of textured.  
  2. Go to your local paint store and ask a professional how you should treat the front of the fridge to prepare it for chalkboard paint.  I would recommend going to an independent paint store over a big box store.  I've found the advice I get there a lot more reliable.  Although the instructions I found at the kitchn recommended I sand off the front of the fridge, my paint store guy sais that would be extremely messy and could take a very long time to finish.  He recommended a primer that can be applied right over the vinyl front of the fridge.  
  3. Purchase chalkboard paint and primer.  I bought plain black because I wanted the fridge to match my other appliances but you can also get school house green and apparently some big box stores carry up to 14 colors.  Even pink!
  4. Remove all handles from fridge. Note: I did not replace my handles after my fridge was finished because, well, the handles are white and I think that would look stupid. The fridge looks much better with no handles at all and we have not found it difficult to open the fridge using the corners.
  5. Cover the floor around the fridge and any other surfaces vulnerable to paint splatter.
  6. Apply primer front of fridge per the instructions on the primer can or per your paint professional's recommendations.  I believe I used 2 coats of primer.  I did not treat the sides or top of the fridge at all and I'm happy with the way it turned out.   
  7. Paint front of fridge using chalkboard paint (mixed well) per the instructions on the paint can or per your professional's recommendations.  I painted 3 coats allowing each to completely dry in between.
  8. Allow chalkboard paint to set for a minimum of 3 days prior to writing on it.  I followed the instructions on my paint can which recommended 3 days but my paint scratched off in one area the first time I wrote on it.  I really feel it is better to allow the paint to set for up to 2 weeks to prevent damage because patching was no fun.  By the time you finish you will have multiple layers of primer and paint and it takes longer than you'd think to completely dry and set.
  9. Season the chalkboard fridge by covering the entire surface with chalk then erasing it.  Turn a long piece of chalk on its long side to speed up the process.  This step is especially important if your fridge is textured like mine.  It allows chalk particles to fill the crevices of the surfaces.  If you skip this part, the first thing you write will not be able to be completely erased.    
  10. Write, draw, have fun!  A chalkboard fridge is a great place to planting dates, grocery lists, recipes, menus and track your vegetable harvest.


A note about chalk dust and chalkboard markers.  I read a lot about the potential of chalkboard dust in the kitchen but it has not been a problem for me at all.  I was so worried about it that I considered using chalkboard markers instead of real chalk until I learned that these markers are not really meant to be used on actual chalkboard paint.  I spoke to the company and the suggested just using the chalkboard markers to write directly on my white fridge.  The reason they won't work on actual chalkboard paint is that a cleaner like windex is required to wipe these marks off and these cleaners cannot be used with proper chalkboard paint.

If anybody has done this I'd love to hear how your project went. And if you decide to give it a try, please stop back by to let us know how it went.   

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Troy-Bilt's Saturday6 - Count Me In!


If you've read my blog for very long you know I'm a big fan of Troy-Bilt products.  They're easy to assemble and operate and I always get the sense that Troy-Bilt is really thinking of me, the home gardener, when they build them.  Admittedly, I'm probably biased because a big part of their marketing and outreach is to regular ole garden bloggers like me. I don't write professionally so I have no connections with big fancy magazines or huge groups of important people sitting around waiting to hear what I have to say.  I'm just a gardener.  But, over the years Troy-Bilt has sponsored garden blogger meet ups, sent their products for us to review and given us the opportunity to host product giveaways, something that helps grow our blogs and gives our readers the chance to own one of these great pieces of equipment.  That has always meant a lot to me and yes, it has fostered a sense of personal loyalty to Troy-Bilt products.

This year Troy-Bilt is taking their garden blogger outreach to a new level.  They've selected six bloggers to work with through the summer with the goal of providing you with regular gardening information. We'll be passing on our favorite gardening tips via blog posts, videos *gasp* and articles in Troy-Bilt's newsletter, The Dirt.  My favorite part of this partnership is that we'll have the opportunity to visit the Troy-Bilt facility in Cleveland Ohio to learn more about the history of the company.  They've been around a long time and I'm excited to find out how they got started, what those early years were like and how they decide what product to develop next.  More zero emissions equipment, please!  And you might see one of us at your local Lowe's this summer providing gardening tips while the Troy-Bilt folks are there teaching customers about their products.  In summary, fun will be had by all!

Be sure the check out the other six bloggers who will be participating.  I thought I knew most everybody in this community so I was excitedly surprised to see four of the six bloggers are new to me. I've already started getting to know a couple of the others and they seem like really cool people.  Check out all their blogs, sign up for the Troy-Bilt newsletter if you haven't already and stay tuned here for news about product giveaways over the next couple of months.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

About My Skinny Garden, Part 3


When I started this blog, I never dreamed I'd stick with it this long.  Honestly, I thought I was just creating a way to show friends and family that I had a garden.  That I was being out in the dirt, on purpose.  Without proof, they'd never believe me.  I'm not a girlie-girl, but I'm notorious for being afraid of worms, bees, birds, snakes and small animals one might encounter in a garden like raccoons, squirrels and rabbits.  Yes, even cute little rabbits.  It's a fear that any an all wildlife are planning to attack me.  I am the type of person who is liable to abandon the car in the middle of the expressway because of a wasp.  It is an irrational and completely unfounded fear.  Through gardening, I've learned the value of all these critters and bugs and I know it is critical I be able to coexist with them.  There is something about being in the dirt that puts it all in perspective.  It has brought me a deep understanding of environmental issues and how my personal decisions affect the whole world on some level.  And these things have had a clear effect on what and how I write on this blog.

Now that I've had a few years to psychoanalyze myself, my garden, my blog, I realize I was at a point in my life where I needed to create something to love and nurture.  That it was probably a natural response to being in a long term loving and healthy relationship with my husband.  For most folks that would mean having a baby.  For me it turned out to be a garden.  When I started that first vegetable garden the negative thoughts would sit in my head weighing me down, bringing all the self-loathing to the surface. I would probably neglect the garden.  Not take care of it properly.  Forget to or just be too lazy to water it.  It would be like the skinny kid whose mom people were always asking "don't you ever feed that child?"

And then there's writing.  I didn't know it was important when I started this blog but now there are times when I think the only reason I continue to garden is because it is a vehicle for writing.  I have this conversation with one friend over and over.  She has a garden blog, too.  After a garden writer social event she'll say "I am not sure if I am really a blogger or if I am just a gardener."  And I reply "I am not sure if I am a gardener or just a writer." I am still trying to figure it out.

In many ways the name of my blog is a reflection of my own self doubt.  When I started that garden and this blog, I did not feel like I could or would provide the basic things a garden needs to live.  I have become more confident over time and to my own surprise, I have had many successes but I still have an awful lot of failures.  And there is still that period in the spring when I'm standing over my newly planted garden, the tiny tomatoes and peppers I have grown from seed now looking frail and overpowered by the black dirt around them.  It's palpable, the sense of peace and gratification at war with the voice in my head that is still saying you are not smart enough. You are a quitter.  This garden will never been as good as other people's gardens.  Your writing will never be good enough.  

For now, I'm trying to persevere.

Read Part 1 here
Read Part 2 here