Painting our Kitchen Cabinets

Yikes. Let's start by addressing the elephant on the blog: we haven't shared a post in over two months. We're sorry! We've been diving head first into home projects and work, and our calendars have never been so full during any previous winter. Thankfully, being so active has given us some great content to share with you. The first is something we're very excited about - a kitchen update without renovation. We wanted something a little more fresh and contemporary. This was pretty easy to accomplish with some new paint, swapping out hardware, and soon, changing the backsplash. We promise to share plenty of before and afters, and update you along the way.

Luckily, we have some gorgeous before photos thanks to M Lindsay Photography and the blog, Neighborhooding. We were lucky enough to be featured on the blog last July (you can see the post here). This was so exciting for us because as first-time home owners, we had put in a lot of work from February to June, when the photos were taken, and we were so excited to show it to our family and friends! Fast forward 8 more months and we have done even more projects, like the one detailed in this post! We've learned that there is always something to be improved, so our home is a constant work in progress. 

BEFORE: 

As you can probably see, there was absolutely nothing wrong with our cabinets before. I dreamed of a white and gray kitchen, and really wanted to change the granite to white quartz. We decided that it was completely unnecessary and would be quite expensive, considering our counter tops were beautiful already. So how else could we make the kitchen our own? The first thing we wanted to change was the black backsplash. It's too dark, and you can see the lines between each sheet of tiles. The plan we came up with is to do white subway tile. So once we decided that we'd keep the granite and add white subway tile, we came to a decision to paint the cabinets gray. 

I started doing research on how to do this, and I stumbled across this post on Pinterest: How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets without Sanding or Priming!  I was certainly intrigued. After reading this post and subsequently doing a lot more research, this post became my DIY bible. We bought the exact same paint, top coat & deglosser she recommended. The verdict? It worked great!  

For our kitchen, we needed: 

  • 2 quarts General Finishes Milk paint, in Driftwood (we found it on Amazon)
  • 1 quart General Finishes high performance top coat, in flat (we found it on Amazon)
  • 1 quart Zinsser Deglosser (we found it on Amazon)
  • 1 4 inch roller made for super smooth surfaces (we found at Home Depot)
  • 1 6 inch roller made for super smooth surfaces (we found at Home Depot)
  • A paint brush to get into grooves & corners

We followed the blog post's process exactly, which was, in short: 

  1. Take off cabinet doors & drawers
  2. Clean all surfaces thoroughly
  3. Use deglosser on surfaces with a rag (it's important to only do a few at a time, because you must paint within an hour of using the deglosser)
  4. Use 2 coats of Milk Paint - this stuff dries within an hour to two hours max
  5. Use 3 coats of Top Coat - this also dried quickly, but we gave it little more time in between coats

Then we re-hung the doors and drawers, and replaced the hardware. All in all, the process was very simple. With that said, here is the ugly truth:

  • Our kitchen and surrounding areas were a disaster for 2.5 weeks
  • We couldn't cook due to lack of clean/empty surfaces 
  • We were meticulous at the beginning, and got lazy by the end
  • We got on each other's nerves immensely 
  • We can see brush strokes on our cabinets, despite the post's saying she couldn't - we think this is due to her cabinets being grainy wood and ours being extremely smooth
  • They aren't perfect! If you look closely, you can tell they were not professionally painted

With all of that said, we are extremely happy with the results. The gray looks really nice with our granite, and the hardware ties it all together with the other warm colors (lots of wood, for example) throughout the condo. We know that the kitchen will look even better once our new backsplash is in! 

AFTER:

So what do you think? Would you paint your own kitchen cabinets? As frustrating as is was at times, we're so excited with how it turned out, and will probably repeat this process in our bathrooms down the road. It is so much less expensive that ripping and replacing cabinets, but really updated the look! 

 

Peanut Butter Emergency Cookies

Our last post got me thinking about another type of Emergency... only this one happens rather frequently in the Thor home. This Emergency happens on many a weeknight, right around 8:30 or 9:00 PM. The Emergency I'm speaking of is an insatiable sweets craving. We don't typically stock our pantry, fridge, or freezer with desserts. This is a good thing for our waist lines. This is a bad thing for the insatiable sweets craving Emergency. Luckily, we have just the trick. It comes together in a matter of minutes, and utilizes ingredients that you're bound to have on hand. 

Are you a health nut? This recipe is not for you. There is no flour, so the only dry ingredient is sugar. Lots of sugar. We are fully aware that these are an indulgent treat. But they are easy, delicious, and saved our sweets-craving lives last month while practicing Dry January. We have found that, unfortunately, our sweet tooth kicks into high gear when not indulging in a post-dinner glass of wine. I'm not ashamed to say that we made these cookies 4 separate times in January. They're that good.

We have made these with white sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, and a mixture of sugars. We've topped them with chocolate chips, sliced almonds, flaked coconut, and sea salt. The opportunities here are endless. Our favorite is with a light sprinkling of Maldon sea salt on top. So give them a try, and report back your favorites! But beware... it is impossible to eat just one or two.  

Peanut Butter Emergency Cookies

Time: Approx. 12 minutes

Yield: 16 cookies


 

Starting an Emergency Fund

How many of you have kept up with your New Year's Resolutions? I can happily say I have - though with some slight modifications. Instead of "Bring lunches to work at least 3x a week" I modified it to "Purchase no more than 2 lunches a week". I'm still accomplishing the same goal of saving money, but this allows me to take advantage of lunches brought in by vendors, etc.  I've kept up with my 3-4 WODs a week, utilize my planner regularly, and have found my focus at work again. Some of you may have set a goal that wasn't really attainable - and that's okay! It's natural to fail and forget it. It's much more productive, I think, to fail and be flexible... make some adjustments and try again! 

Whether you made resolutions for the New Year or not, we wanted to share one financial goal that we believe is extremely important: an Emergency Fund. Like any savings goal, the idea can seem daunting if you just look at the big picture (or in this case, number). But if you follow some of the tips we previously provided about how to tackle debt, you might surprise yourself how quickly you can build up a substantial Emergency Fund. 

After my student loans were paid off in full (HALLELUJAH!), our very first plan was setting up an Emergency Fund. What would we do if one of us lost our job? Or, as sales professionals, what if we both received no commission in a given month? We wanted to be prepared for the worst. You should too! There are different theories about how much one should have in case of emergency, but we chose to save at least three months’ living expenses. We arrived at this number by adding up these monthly expenses:

  • Rent/Mortgage

  • Utilities/Assessments

  • Groceries

  • Transportation Costs

  • Gas Money

  • Dog Expenses

… and multiplying by 3. Then we rounded up to a nice, whole number to give ourselves plenty of wiggle room, and arrived at the number $15,000. If that number scares you, remember that this is for two of us, plus our dogs, with extra to spare. You can adjust, and most importantly - save what makes you comfortable! Once you arrive at your number, remember this: the goal with an Emergency Fund is to never touch it, so once you have one saved, pretend it doesn’t exist. An easy way to do this is to put it in a separate bank entirely from the one you use for regular expenses. Some banks even have "rainy day savings" accounts that don't let you withdraw more than twice in a year. This type of account is an especially great idea for newbies to the savings game. If you're local to the Chicagoland area, we really love Baxter Credit Union (BCU). So what do you think? Is this daunting or doable? Do you have an Emergency Fund? 

... Now start saving!