in which i paint my cabinets and say “good enough”

in which i paint my cabinets and say “good enough”

when a famous* DIYer comes to visit you, you need to do some DIY, amirite?

i initially asked liz to come visit me to help with something on my roof and go for a run int he woods. then she she stuck the bug in my head to paint my cabinets, even sending me a link to an easy, no-sanding recipe for success. at first i was hesitant – so much work. but the allure of having a helper (nate is no help. he’s more hindrance in home projects) was too much.

so i read the info about how to do this, then made a commitment by taking off my cabinet doors. first, a couple before pics.

my kitchen was classic mid-90s maple. when i moved in, the hardware was gold, if that gives you an idea of how awesomely stuck in the 90s my house was. the hardware change out helped, but the maple is so overwhelming. so, like i said, i took off the doors and committed to a change.

tips for door removal:

  • use some painters tape to number the doors and cabinets. i numbered my lower doors, lettered the upper doors, and roman numeraled the drawers.
  • put the hardware for each section in a baggie and place it in the cabinet/drawer.
  • don’t make a big deal out of not getting the doors exactly even when putting them back on – i’m not a professional cabinet hanger, and neither are you. i doubt anyone will notice.

(not the little red apple thing next to the sink – canning season means fruitfly overload, and they were super annoying.)

then i stopped menards to pick the items needed for my painting project:

  • fancy cabinet paint (i bought $50/gallon dutchboy semi-gloss cabinet paint)
  • primer
  • deglosser
  • paint sprayer
  • a $13 edging paintbrush

i thought i needed two gallons of paint and ended up spending $300. oy. expensive project. good thing menards had their rebate going on.

so, liz showed up and we got to work on saturday. the prep work is the WORST. anyone who’s painted anything knows it’s the worst.

  1. cleaning. before liz showed up, i started spraying all my cabinet doors with 409 to degrease them, then wiped them off. liz cleaned off all the indoor surfaces with dishsoap and a non-abrasive scrubby.
  2. deglossing. the source i used as a basis for this project said this should take the place of sanding. except, the directions were pretty sparse, and the couple videos i watched about deglossing just wiped down the surface. i’m not sure if it actually worked or not, but we deglossed all the surfaces.
  3. sanding. as a precaution, we lightly sanded all the doors. we figured these were going to be the high-touch pieces and needed a little more help with the paint sticking. we just stuck with deglossing the indoor surfaces.
  4. between each step, all the doors needed to be wiped off.
  5. threw some dropcloth down on the garage floor and elevated all the doors on dixie cups (this was a good tip).

at this point, i was already exhausted and over painting my cabinets and wanted to give up. but you can’t just put sanded doors back on the cabinets and call it good. so it was time to paint.

it’s at this point i realized a grave mistake i had made. when perusing the paint sprayers, i picked the one that said it was good for small projects.

(a wagner control spray)

this is not a small project.

it took me 2 hours to spray primer on one side of all the doors. UGH.

that was enough of that. liz was still priming the indoors, but i told her to quit because it was break time. meaning, time for a 4-mile run in the woods. not much of a break, but at least it wasn’t painting related. we got back from the run, then headed into st. cloud where we went to menards and got the big-girl sprayer.

this wagner boasted 8X faster than a paintbrush. that sad first one didn’t even say it was faster than a paintbrush. i actually think it was slower than a paintbrush.

after scarfing down some 5 guys, i headed out to try out my new 8X SPRAYER and ho boy did it ever deliver. i did the first coat of cabinet paint in TWENTY MINUTES.

so, notes on paint sprayers:

  • don’t skimp
  • wear a mask when spraying
  • wear your earmuffs you wear for mowing the lawn or snowblowing. your ears will be grateful

after my coat was done, i went in to help liz finish up the first coat of paint on the inside surfaces. i have to admit, i am a horrible painter, and liz can attest to that. i get paint where it shouldn’t be, i am no good at edging, and i splatter everywhere. but we got through it. man, cabinet contents are messy. at least mine are.

then, mercifully, we called it quits at about 11. i had a beer and passed out.

the next morning, we did the second coat indoors, because i knew the backs of the doors would be a piece of cake with my awesome sprayer. we finished up in about 2 hours. after liz left, i primed and painted the backs.

tonight, i hung all the doors back on the cabinets, which took me about 2 hours to do. like i said, i’m not a professional cabinet installer, so the doors are slightly uneven and at this point i don’t even care, because


i polyurethaned the sides of the cabinets next to the stove and above the sink where my liquor cabinet lives. use water-based! i made the mistake of using oil-based for my side buffet and it turned yellow.

so, what else needs to be done?

  • a couple touchups on the doors where i banged them while trying to get them back on. life needs a control-Z
  • i need to spraypaint my stove hood. at least it’s not 80s almond color and sort of blends in, but i’ll need to change it sometime. while i’m at it, i’m going to look into wiring my under-cabinet lights with it. (for some reason, electrical projects are much easier for me to handle than big paint projects.)
  • i’m going to paint my walls a less vibrant color. i’m thinking a grey-blue or grey-green. i’m hoping to get that done in the next month.
  • and MAN my FLOOR is AWFUL. (that spot is a burn mark from the previous owner.) i might leave that to a professional and do my entire kitchen and weird dining/office area.

i also ended up using just one gallon of primer and paint and was able to return them, along with a couple other things, and saved myself $100 on paint, which is what i had spent on my fancy sprayer, but oh well. at least i saved a crapton of time. i’m going to try to sell the weeny sprayer to some unsuspecting craigslist killer.

let’s take another look, just because.


*she COULD be famous if she’d blog abut her DIY escapades.

weekend of work

weekend of work

day 3 of no facebook, and so far i’m ok with this. i was a little out of sorts not being able to check it out after RGB died, just to commiserate about her death with others and the obvious move the GOP senators made even after setting precedent in 2016 with replacing her.

i can’t think about that now – it’s just so much to take in.

so instead, this weekend liz came to visit me and we painted my kitchen cupboards. i’m still waiting for the backs of the doors to dry, but after they’re hung and up, i’ll do a post about that process. even with the doors off (which makes my kitchen look so incredibly messy), it’s brighter than it was. i think what it will really do is highlight how awful my floor looks. that’s the next thing, i guess. but painting the cabinets took the entire weekend, and now i’m beat.

we also went for a run in the st. john’s woods, which was nice. i haven’t been out there all summer, but i’m going to make an effort to get out there in the next few weeks while the weather’s still nice, the sun is still up, and the leaves look good. that’s always a fun time.

quitting facebook

quitting facebook

after years of waffling over it and a week of seething after watching “the social dilemma” on netflix, today i clicked on the “deactivate” button on facebook and *poof*.

my account is still out there if i want to reactivate, but i think all my comments on others’ posts have disappeared into the ether. it’s easy to reactivate – i just have to reenter my password. after confirming three times for deactivation, one password entry to reactivate seems wrong.

i am already feeling weird withdrawal symptoms, but it’s not like i’ve completely wiped social from my life; i still have a twitter account, an instagram, and of my course my awesome blog here. it’s funny because i remember when i first signed up for facebook (in early 2005 – a somewhat early adopter), i had been blogging already for a while, was trying to maintain a messageboard, and had a pretty comprehensive website. my thoughts were: why do i need another thing?

who knew that other thing would develop into a worldwide thought control experiment.

anyway. to all of you still using FB, good luck in these next few weeks. it’s going to be interesting times. i’ll see you on twitter? instagram? here at my blog? maybe back on FB afterward? we’ll see how this goes.

on a side note: the tag for this post is dual meaning 🙂


a discouraging plastic update

a discouraging plastic update

npr came out with a report the other day about how plastic recycling is basically a lie. i mean, we sort of knew that already, right? but now we learn that the plastic conglomerates knew this in the EIGHTIES when they launched a very large ad campaign to promote plastic recycling because the business was in the tank. it was meant for just bottles, but soon the recycling symbol showed up on all plastic, even when it WASN’T RECYCLABLE. plus, plastic recycling is not like aluminum or metal or glass, where it is infinitely recyclable into the same product; it degrades each time.

Thanks, NPR!

add into that that recycling plastic costs more than making new plastic products, and it’s no wonder that the business model is pushing for more new plastic. that doesn’t break down. and sticks around forever. in a convenience-based society where we like everything as easy as possible. until we’re living in a society that’s basically a trash dump. then what?

i think the biggest thing we need to push for is to put pressure on the manufacturers to create packaging that is not reliant on plastic. in the npr aritcle, then mention that there’s a brand new, shiny plastic-making plant being built. instead of that, why not build a shiny plastic recycling center? or get together a think-tank to figure out how to solve our plastic crisis? maybe it’s hemp-based or bamboo based, both of which are quick growing and take little water to produce compared to trees. a petroelum-based system of commerce is just not working out well, as we’re seeing and living.

the unfortunate thing about this is the petro billionaires have the best lobbyists and the most money to spend on legislation. and they get a lot of their money from government subsidies (see: corporate welfare, hardly a capitalistic system). (meanwhile the average american would go bankrupt from a hospital stay, but that’s a topic for a different blog.)

so what can we do? put pressure on the companies that you know are plastic heavy, and these are the big companies, so many people would need to do this. we know what happens when the public sentiment shifts a certain way, as we’ve seen with organic, more natural food stuffs. if the public can start to push for less plastic, then the big guys will adjust to get their dollars.

slowly, i’m moving toward less plastic packaging in my life. here are the things that i’ve permanently changed from plastic bottles/packaging to either making myself or cardboard packaging:

  • dishwasher soap (dropps)
  • laundry soap (homemade)
  • shampoo and conditioner (bar soap)
  • body wash (bar soap)
  • toilet paper (all paper – no plastic)
  • deodorant (bar based with a simple paper packaging around it, from ethique)

in the next round of necessities purchasing, i plan on changing out my facial soap (to shea butter charcoal bar soap) and checking out what my options are for mascara (besame). i’m having trouble with moisturizer for my face, especially since i want some anti-wrinkle stuff. i have to do some research for the next round.

there’s still a lot of plastic in my life, especially when it comes to groceries. i’m not perfect when it comes to plastic; i like my convenience just as much as the next person. but i think it’s good to work at it. i’d rather have a nice planet to live on than a single-serving package of grapes.

a winding down

a winding down

holy cow, i have been a canning machine! and let me tell you – buying an electric food mill was THE BEST purchase of the last few years. i just canned 14 pints of apple butter yesterday, and if not for that sucker, i’d still be grinding the apples through my manual mill.

i’ve made four batches of pickles so far – maybe 30 pints or so. i may have one more batch out in the garden yet, but it’s been cold this week so i’m not sure if the growth is over or not.

i did a little bit of tomato sauce, but that is such a low result for a lot of work. i don’t necessarily like making sauce because of that.

and my apple tree is INSANE this year. i picked a bushel basket of apples the other day, and i’d bet there are at least 2-3 more. i made some apple crisp, ate some, and made the 14 pints of butter, and i only went through about 2/3 of the basket.

so, if you’ve got any ideas for how to use apples, let me know! i don’t know if i need to make any more apple butter. i don’t eat a ton to begin with, and canning lids are hard to come buy these days.

in somewhat related gardening news, i have 4 peony plants out in my garage, along with 30-ish tulip bulbs. i’m hoping this weekend to remove some of the landscaping rock around my front door and replace it with some spring flowers, maybe a couple other shrubby things, and mulch. the rocks have got to go. (i think i’m going to throw them in my pond.)

on an unrelated note, i’m annoyed that it’s dark by 8 p.m. what is this. seriously. stupid axial tilt.

what i’ve learned about a christian nation

what i’ve learned about a christian nation

here’s what i’ve learned about “christian* values” in america over the last four years, in the time that we’ve made america great again.

  1. it’s definitely ok for police to be judge, jury, and executioner for criminals. especially if they’re black. even if they’re asleep in their bed in their own home and have no criminal record.
  2. putting families seeking asylum in cages and separating children from their parents is ok. especially if they’re brown and from south of the american border.
  3. freedom of religion is ok, but only if it’s different varieties of christianity or the jewish religion. the other religions are just fake and people who don’t believe in jesus or god are going to hell so who cares what they think. hmmm. maybe we should just make being christian ok. catholicism is borderline, and we’ll pretend to be ok with judaism because there’s something going on with israel. and the end times are coming. so.
  4. displays of machismo and strength and pride for your country are great, even expected. we are americans, after all. but christian first. jesus definitely was good with pride and all that.
  5. poor people brought it on themselves, the lazy bums. i mean, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is what america’s all about, amirite? looking out for number one – i got mine!
  6. health care isn’t a right! are you kidding? no one should be able live a healthy life if it doesn’t come naturally. and if you’re chronically sick, you definitely deserve it and should be able to just work to pay for your own insurance. also, why should anyone who’s healthy have to pay for health insurance? don’t need to go to the doctor, don’t need health insurance.
  7. no one should read the actual news or do any research on current events OR the constitution and bill of rights. just pay attention to what your facebook friend’s grandma’s neighbor is posting because she’s got the same political sign as you in her yard. the media are liars and definitely not watchdogs of the government.
  8. human rights are definitely political. the gays and transgenders chose that lifestyle. women should know their place (the home). black people can leave any time. differently abled people can just stay indoors. poor people should just find a job or two. shouldn’t expect to live if you’re a criminal.
  9. use the earth for all it’s worth. they’re trying to colonize mars so we can start sucking the life out of another planet! who cares if the oceans are full of plastic, the air is smoggy, drinking water will become scarce, the weather’s getting more calamitous, species are disappearing. as long as my life is convenient, that’s all that matters.
  10. mental health is for sissies. except if you’re a white male shooter. then it’s ok to cut him some slack.
  11. socialism is the work of the devil, even though it seems to be working well for a large chunk of europe. capitalism is where it’s at. because anyone can be jeff bezos and an almost 200 billionaire, if he works hard enough. that’s why it’s ok that he continues to pay few taxes and amass huge amounts of dollars during a pandemic and economic crisis. no one should have to give up their money to pay for others’ welfare checks and food stamps if they’ve earned it. because greed is cool and taking care of others is not.

in all seriousness, if this is what republicans are ok with when they tout a christian nation, i will take a hard pass.

these are not christian values as i learned and know them (thanks, mom!). but this is what i think when i hear about how america should be a christian nation. this is what i think when i pass DT signs on my neighbors’ lawns. this is what i think when i see my FB friends talk about how the murdering cops should be exonerated because they killed criminals. this is what i think of when i’m behind big, noisy trucks with DT stickers plastered all over them. and this is what i think when i see an american flag, ESPECIALLY when it’s juxtaposed with a rebel flag (WHY is that ok to fly BOTH – you love your country AND the portion that seceded and made war against it??). i hate that republicans have co-opted the american flag. the flag should be representative of the entire country, not just a very vocal, macho, i-hate-anything-that’s-different, republican portion. while i don’t believe we should all idolize the flag like they do, i do believe that anyone should be able to fly it with a level of pride in being american. it’s at a point where i feel like republican christians idolize the flag more than they worship their god.

because if america’s so great, it shouldn’t even need a flag. and it’s probably time for R christians to take a hard look at the gospel.

*i’ve probably made a few of my readers angry with me. I REALIZE – not all christians are like this. BUT WE KNOW. you know. yes. and you’d be hard, hard pressed to find an atheist who votes republican (although i’d bet a few of them vote marijuana party!).

EDIT: i just wrote this on an FB friend’s post about police shooting criminals

this is also a good example of where someone other than the police may have been a good option to send instead, like social services, or mental health services. using the right responders for the right situations is key, i think, to helping people become better citizens and breaking down systems that hold certain populations down, all by giving them resources to help them succeed rather than spiral further into a life of crime and addiction. lift people up! compassion is always a good answer.

hmm…technical problems?

hmm…technical problems?

i’m not sure that backdating my blog posts alerts my email subscribers to a new post. i wish i knew more about how my email subscribers worked! anyway, i thought it might be helpful to put all my bwca posts in one spot in case you all missed them. i’m just linking to the posts, but maybe it will help? i don’t know.

if you’re an email subscriber, let me know if you actually got an alert about my individual bwca posts!

Click for Day 1 – Tuesday

  • 5 portages
  • 1/2 mile: longest portage
  • marshland
  • camp on lake agnes
  • 4.5/5 hours of moving nonstop
  • 2 lakes
  • start at 9:30
  • end at 3:00
  • lunch @ a warm-water sandy beach
  • breakfast at bannon cafe
  • supper: loaded baked potatoes
  • KT extreme tape is useless
  • yoga tonight
  • shoulders angry
  • photos tonight

Click for Day 2 – Wednesday

  • 2 portages
  • 3 lakes
  • 1 rapids (!)
  • petroglyphs
  • wind
  • 4-star campsite
  • sad breakfast
  • very little sleep
  • off the water by 1 p.m.
  • naptime!

Click for Day 3 – Thursday

  • 1 lake
  • 0 portages
  • no breaking camp
  • washed my shorts and tank
  • much hammock time
  • 1 book

Click for Day 4 – Friday

  • 2 lakes
  • 1 portage
  • (muddy portage)
  • 1 ginormous campsite – 3.5 stars
  • no moose
  • a few loons
  • lone cignet

Click for Day 5 – Saturday

  • 2 lakes
  • 2 rivers
  • 5 portages
  • 1 big meal
  • 1 beer
  • 1 shower-less campsite 🙁
review: Coop Homegoods camp pillow

review: Coop Homegoods camp pillow

If there’s one thing I purchased for camping that I 100% would recommend to everyone it’s the little camp pillow by Coop Homegoods.

An actual real pillow, but small and portable. Just like our full-sized pillows, the Travel and Camping Pillow features adjustable support in the form of medium firm density fill. Stay supported and aligned, whether you’re sleeping on the ground, in a car, or a hotel bed. No need to wake up with a stiff neck.

It’s filled with shredded memory foam so you can remove some if you like a flatter sleep, but I left it as is and it was perfect. I’m a side and occasional back sleeper, and when I sleep on my side, I like to squish up the pillow edges to create a little loft. The pillow was firm enough yet squishy enough to give my head (and really, neck is more important here) a good night’s sleep. Especially tough when you’re asleep on the ground in a tent!

I also used this in my hammock, which was really nice because it was smaller than a normal pillow and easier to maneuver in a hammock where you sink in. The pillow is 19″x14″, which was actually more than enough for what I needed for camping. It comes in a compressible bag, which was #1 on my list of necessities for finding a camp pillow, and it compresses down pretty well to 10″x6″. It bounced back easily when I pulled it out of the bag.

The pillow costs $29.99, but I’d say it’s worth it if you want to have a comfortable camping experience. When I ordered, I also decided to kick in an extra $15 for the pillowcase, which I should have read up a little more on before doing so – it’s 100% nylon. I was lured in by its bright red facade – ha! Anyway, I tried one night on the red pillowcase, and it was slippery, noisy, and sticky. I took it off after one night and just used the pillowcase that came with the pillow from then on out. (Don’t be fooled by the pillowcase that comes with the pillow itself – it’s perfectly fine and actually is the outer case – if you unzip, there is a second one there.)

Customer service from Coop was good though. I told them about the pillowcase and they sent a return label and I dropped it off at UPS. Coop has a 100-day trial period, and I was well within that timeline.

Bravo, Coop, on making a camping pillow that was well worth my $30.

Here’s a link to the pillow!


bwca: day 5

bwca: day 5


  • 2 lakes
  • 2 rivers
  • 5 portages
  • 1 big meal
  • 1 beer
  • 1 shower-less campsite 🙁

i figured out the secret to my sleep pad and had a great-for-camping night’s sleep. we broke camp fairly quickly and set out shortly after 9 a.m. it was a little gloomy, which was ok because it mean no sun – no heat – an and easy, sweat-free paddle. it was a long slog because we camped at the far end of lake agnes, but it was about 5 hours to the trailhead.

mr. beaver was hard at work while were out. not only did we slide up/push through 4-5 dam, but we actually had to get out and pull our canoe over one of them. busy beavers!

i might like canoeing the rivers more than the lakes. the trees are tall and surround you like you imagine they should. maybe hugging the shorelines of the lakes would make me feel differently. the tall pines and aspen are really beautiful.

i wouldn’t have minded paddling longer yesterday for a shorter day today, but that’s ok. steady as the beating drum! unless the portage is short, i really don’t notice the difference between all the distances. it’s all just one foot in front of the other with 40 lbs on your back.

after we got out, it was another hour-ish to ely, where i dropped off the canoe and remembered there was  pandemic happening and forgot my mask when i went to the gas station. we went to a brewery for a post-trip meal, and it was delish. i had a patty melt, fries, and beer and i could’ve died in food heaven.

then it was time to part ways. i had a campsite at judge cr magney and the weather’s not forecast horribly, so i decided to head northeast. looking back, i probably should’ve just gone home.

i stopped in grand marais to hopefully get some pie, but no luck. i stopped at a holiday station for a cookie and a muffin and some tea instead. tomorrow i’ll stop at the rustic inn for a slice.

i realized as i was driving in that the park might not have the showers open. and i was right. —sigh —

so i washed my hair under my water jug and heated water to wash my face and for tea. so here i am in front of a fire with a wet head. i’m excited for my cot and my pillow.

it’s very weird going form almost complete silence in the evenings to a low chatter among people in a campground and the occasional passing car on the highway just down the road. in the BWCA, a jet would pass over occasionally (MSP to…?? toronto to seattle?) it was such a weird, out of place sound. and now i wouldn’t notice.

i just looked up at the sky and saw a lone star among the trees. if the sky continues to clear, more will pop. a commonality among the north.

bwca: day 4

bwca: day 4


  • 2 lakes
  • 1 portage
  • (muddy portage)
  • 1 ginormous campsite – 3.5 stars
  • no moose
  • a few loons
  • lone cignet

i filled my pad a little too full and tossed and turned all night. like i said – i will throw money at whoever makes a decent sleep mat.

this morning was early – pancakes and coffee made it a little acceptable. we headed out in a split team and made good time across lac lacroix.

we headed back a different way through a little side river full of boulders – it was picturesque: just around the river bend! once through the boulder maze, it was time to figure out where the portage was in the muddy marsh. after about 10-15 mins we found it and had to maneuver quite a bit to get the packs and canoes on shore. the portage was a bit of a hike – maybe 1/3 mile – but it was relatively flat and deposited us on lake agnes, skippping a portage entirely. our campsite was almost immediately around the corner from the portage. it reminds me of camping in the hills – tall pines and needles on the ground, wind rusting and howling through the trees, the smell of pines. i’ve been walking around with no shoes on and the bottoms of my feet are just full of sap.

these early camp stops are nice – you do 4-ish hours of non-stop movement, then put up camps, then rest. i’m famished almost all the time. being outside all the time is nice, but it is tiring when you’re constantly packing and unpacking. i do like just one point of “home” when camping. taking down tents is such a drag.

last night was another stargazing night. we were looking at the eastern sky and saw the milky way arc across the whole sky. i took a bunch of different pics of locations of the sky in hopes of doing a composite pic. here’s hoping.

now i’m debating taking a swim. it’s early in the day, and i could use a rinse off, but it’s a lot of work changing in and out of a suit. oh, first world problems. wah wah.

i had to wash off my tattoo using dishsoap. 3 days of grim and sunscreen is doing it no favors and it’s still healing. ugh i hope it’ll be ok. i’ve warn sunscreen sparingly except for the tattoo, and no burn but a pleasant looking tan.

i’m bummed that charlie has a tbi. i think he would’ve enjoyed this. too much work for him right now though.

went for a swim!

the weather is warmer than expected. therefore, i packed poorly. but it’s close to 80º right now and the air is warm. the heat is warming the pine needs and the smell is intoxicating. the walk to the vault toilet is like going on a hike through the pines of the black hills – camping at sheridan or custer.

i must be wanting to go to the Hills!

there is a sheer drop off one side of the peninsula we have, but it’s at water lever. like jumping into the deep end of the pool. it’s a good way to cool off. this would be a good site for a larger group. though good for us too!

i was out filtering water this evening and a loon paddled right up, waving his weird foot at me. he hung out for maybe 20 mins, long enough for lori to grab my camera so i could get a few of his pics. he ruffled his feathers, stretched, and gave a lone loon call (after a preliminary meep). finally he decided to swim off. no diving or taking off. he just paddled away, leaving a wide wake.

then i decided to do some fightmaster yog on the granite slab leading to the lake – my fave sequence to bird of paradise. it ended up being hot yoga because it was so warm. it was tough on my knees, but it worked out well.

tomorrow i have to check the weather for the north shore before i head over there. if it’s going to be gross, i’m heading home tomorrow.

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