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How to Paint a Craigslist Dresser in 4 Easy Steps

I finally had it one day with our cluttered hallway. It was full of plastic bins, boxes of diapers, items destined for Goodwill, and all sorts of odds and ends stacked precariously. We knew that some day in the future we would make built-in cabinets, but for now it was screaming for some TLC. So I began looking on Craigslist for some possibilities.

Tip: Use a Craigslist mobile app – so helpful when you’re not at a computer.

Step 1: Choose your dresser
Using the app, I found several that suited my needs both aesthetically and size-wise. I was looking for something kid-friendly and streamlined, no knobs or funky carvings. Just basic. One in particular was priced just right at $20, and solid oak to boot! No particle board for me, thanks. Ironically, there were two of the same model of dresser for sale (see above photo). The other was selling for $195 (and in much better condition)!

Step 2: Clean & Sand
After bringing the dresser home and taking out all the drawers, we noticed some mouse droppings in a few of them. Alarming, but not a deal-breaker. I looked on the CDC website how to properly clean and disinfect the dresser, including making a homemade bleach solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. It sucked, but I wasn’t going to take any chances. Then came the sanding. I was expecting to do the work myself, since my husband wasn’t crazy about my plan, but he kindly offered to do the remaining work for me. He used a palm sander and gave it a good once-over. I recommend using a mask and eye protection. A benefit of this dresser’s flat, no frills style is that there aren’t any details that require special sanding.

Step 3: Prime
We have a huge 5 gallon container of primer left over from when we did our home addition last year. Some people skip this step, and that might be okay on rarely used pieces, but this will be a working dresser. If you don’t want to see chips in the paint the first time you use it, or anytime soon, then you need to prime. Tape off any areas you don’t want to paint, or when a crisp line is desired. Use a roller for ease of coverage, but have a paintbrush handy to swipe corners and other details. We decided to not paint the inner drawers, but I plan to use drawer liners. Once the primer is dry, give it a once over by hand with fine sandpaper (and maybe a sanding block).

Step 4: Paint
Because we were looking for a small budget solution, we decided to use the leftover paint from our bathroom – a medium gray semi-gloss with a bit of blue called “Still Creek”. Make sure to roll it on smooth and constantly check for drips. You can see from the photo that David had a little helper. I thought this might leave streaks on the drawer fronts, but it doesn’t as long as you roll over it while it is still wet. Chloe loved “helping” daddy.

Now that the painting is done, don’t rush to use the dresser until the paint is fully cured. The longer you wait, the harder the finish will be – up to two weeks. Otherwise you risk smudges and marks. I asked at Home Depot about a top coat, but he assured us that one wasn’t needed as long as we waited for it to fully cure.

Ta da! Here’s our dresser sitting in its new hallway spot. Soon it will have a framed wall display to go above it, but that project is still in the works. I hope to be able to share it soon. Until then, good luck and happy painting!


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Chocolate Covered Oreos + Label and Packaging Idea

For other procrastinators like myself, I thought I’d share this quick and tasty treat I made earlier this week. A search for “chocolate covered oreos” provided several good recipes and instructions (1, 2, 3), but basically I just melted a package of chocolate chips in the microwave. The cool thing about these cookies is that you don’t actually have to bake in order to have pretty handmade treats to give friends and neighbors. For packaging and display, I found tall glass canning jars at our local New Seasons, covered the lids with fabric and attached a label, which you can download here. For more packaging inspiration, marthastewart.com has a nice slideshow on 13 beautiful ways to package cookies, my favorites being the cookie gift sleeve, and the cellophane-wrapped cookies.

Download your own free “Fudge Dipped Oreos, Made with Love” Labels here.


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Easy Italian Dessert Recipe – Zabaglione

zabaglione

Tonight we made zabaglione, a frothy, creamy, custard-like Italian dessert. I wish I had gotten a better photo, but there was barely a spoonful left by the time I got around to it. All it takes are two, maybe three ingredients, a little preparation and presto! a fast and delicious dessert in no time. Perfect for those last minute emergencies, like surprise company, when you’re low on supplies, or whenever your sweet tooth gets the best of you. This recipe is based on one from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan.

Ingredients:

4 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Marsala (Optional)

Directions:

Whip the yolks and sugar together with a whisk or an electric mixer (my preference) over a double boiler. I just put a smaller pot into a bigger pot filled with gently simmering water. I added maybe a teaspoon or two of Marsala, but the directions from the cookbook said you can add up to 1/2 cup. The Marsala can be omitted when serving to children. Continue to beat the mixture, about 10 minutes, until it swells and forms soft, almost elastic mounds. Pour into dessert cups and serve warm. Makes two servings.

Our Italian friend, Alex, says that he doesn’t cook his version of zabaglione, that he simply beats the yolks and sugar until it becomes soft, foamy and thick. He also doesn’t add Marsala because he doesn’t like the taste. We ate our desserts warm, spooned out of ceramic cups, but it would also be perfect poured over fresh fruit or simple cakes.


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Easy & Elegant with Puff Pastry

potato medley puff pastry

I made a super fast and yummy vegetarian lunch today using just two packaged products from the freezer – Trader Joe’s Potato Medley and a sheet of puff pastry. I am a big fan of puff pastry. It simply makes everything seemingly more fancy and “gourmet.”

This is all I used:

potato medley puff pastry

Here’s how: First pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and set out a sheet of puff pastry to defrost for 10 minutes (follow the directions for specific brands). Cut the sheet into quarters and then cut another square shape in the center of each quarter, about 1 inch from the edges, which allows the sides to rise up better while baking. Once cut, transfer the pastry to a baking sheet covered with parchment.

Meanwhile, heat the potato medley in a skillet, about 6-8 minutes, and then spoon the “filling” into the center of the pastry squares. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Once the pastry looks golden, remove it from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. This keeps the pastry crispy. As a finishing touch, drizzle a little olive oil, top with feta, and add sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Voila! My husband loved it.

Variations: Basically, anything can be used to top puff pastry. Fruit, mixed vegetables, pizza toppings… anything that tastes good and bakes well. My favorite summer mix is to use fresh cherry tomatoes from the garden, cut in half, combined with sliced black olives and a little dill or italian seasoning. This I drizzle with olive oil before baking and then with feta or crumbled goat cheese and a splash of balsamic vinegar. The reddish orange and black makes a dramatic presentation and the flavors really complement each other.

Another variation I’ve tried is topping the pastry with cut apple slices fried in butter and cinnamon. Normally I would have added brown sugar to the mix, too, but it was a birthday treat for a co-worker who was diabetic. Delicious and sugar-free!

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