Thursday, March 14, 2013

How to Smudge-Proof your Pantry Labels (and Other Printed Goods)

(This is SO totally random and freaky. As I set out to write this post and link it to my pantry post, I came to the realization that it has been exactly ONE YEAR since my pantry was featured on iHeart Organizing (and ultimately introduced most if not all of you readers to me, in someway or another whether via Pinterest or just the increased exposure from that post). I guess it's fitting that this post ties in with my pantry!).

Since that post and feature on my pantry, I have been trying to figure out a way to smudge proof my labels. There have been some fantastic suggestions and ideas I've put to use. Packing tape? Works pretty darn well, but then your labels look glossy, and well, like they've got packing tape on them. Laminate them? Been there, done that. It works, but again, I'm not a huge fan of the finished look, and it's very time consuming (well, my "cheater" version anyway). Mod podge? Haven't tried it, but I'm worried the ink would smudge and that it would dry funny. My best advice until now for people overly concerned with protecting their labels has been to print them out on weatherproof mailing labels. That said, full page weatherproof labels aren't cheap, AND you need to use a laser printer, which generally means you have to go to the print shop to print your labels (unless you're super cool and have a laser printer at home).

Determined to find a solution, I was excited to happen upon this Krylon Low Odour Clear Matte Finish spray (ps- no affiliation with Krylon here). The can said it would be good for protecting paper crafts and photographs. Score! I brought the $6.99 can home and went to town on a batch of new labels I'll be rolling out soon in the shop. I found the trick, like is the case with regular ol' spray paint, is thin, even coats. When I applied too much, I could see a bit of the black ink bleeding through, but if you do a nice thin coat, the ink will not bleed at all.

You can spray indoors, so I just used an empty shoe box, and although the odour isn't great, it isn't that bad either. I sprayed the labels BEFORE cutting the labels which prevents them from curling up. After drying overnight, I cut the labels out and put them in some book pages to further help them set flat.

The bonus to the finish? It actually DEEPENED the colour of my labels, which was a welcome side effect. Ink jet printers can't generally print in as vibrant of colours as laser, but this spray finish looks like it was printed on a laser. 

 Not to mention, it passed the smudge test. I wet my thumb under the tap and rubbed it on two labels, one protected with the spray, one not. As you can see in the photos below, the latter started to bleed almost immediately. Now, I wouldn't suggest running these labels under water or putting them in the dishwasher or anything, but they will certainly help protect against everyday sticky kitchen fingers and splatter from baking and cooking.

Above is the protected label after the wet thumb test. A couple spots of water did get through, however I think a third coat would have eliminated this entirely. Next time I'm definitely doing 3 coats!

This is the unprotected label after the wet thumb test. You can see the ink has run, not to mention the label is a much fainter colour. I definitely prefer the vibrancy of the protected labels.

What do you think?

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Two-Toned Kitchen

TGIF friends!

As you may have read here, here, here and here, I have a deep and passionate longing for a white kitchen. After much back and forth and constant debate, I've almost pulled the trigger. I've got a couple quotes with two great companies, and have a few variations in mind, all resulting in a two tone kitchen. What are your thoughts on the look?

Obviously the more white I do, the more money I spend, but what do you think of my very sloppy, make shift renderings?

What you can't see is opposite the fridge on the east wall will be a brand spanking new pantry (it will be in the spot where my current wine rack is). I feel like in order to balance the tall white pantry, I most certainly have to do the panelled fridge in white, but hubby thinks differently. What are your thoughts, friends?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

How to Make a Faux- Marble Table Top with No Cuts, Thinset or Grout

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words... and other times a picture doesn't tell the whole story.

Let's take this photo for example.

I bet you by looking at it, you would never guess that the top looks like.... that.

The horror! It's pretty bad, I know. This Danish modern sideboard was a $40 craigslist find, and was refinished long before I discovered blogs and paint tutorials. We literally thought all we had to do was sand and paint. So that is what we did. In retrospect, it really needed a good layer or two of Killz primer, because this baby bled like a red sock in white laundry.

I literally applied TEN coats of paint in an effort to make it white, and not blotchy orangey white, and the result has been an ever tacky surface that dings and dents like nobodies business. I try covering it with loads of accessories, but that just makes it look cluttered. A few days ago, I just had enough, and decided to do something about it.

You know how most projects take way longer than anticipated and cost way more than budgeted for? Well, this was not one of those projects. In fact, it was the opposite. Because I was determined to not have to make any cuts in the tile, my search was narrowed to finding tile only 12 by 18 ". Since the table is 5 feet long, and 17.5 inches deep, five tiles would give me perfect coverage with a slight overhang.

I went in looking for marble. Obviously. Who doesn't like marble? But... Home Depot only had 12 by 12 bianca marble tiles and that just wouldn't do. Plus, I found the patterns very inconsistent and some very grey and veiny, and the purpose of this tile job was for it to blend as much as possible and look like a solid piece, and not look blatantly tiled. I think that the marble tiles they had were the rejects of the quarry, and that all the nice pretty white marble went to go live as a massive slab on someone's island.

So after a few minutes of pouting I let go of my marbled top idea... and then I saw it.

From afar, it looked like perfect white marble with just the right amount of grey veining. Mostly white and incredibly consistent. In a 12 by 18. As I made my way over to view this godsend, it hit me. This wasn't marble. Not even close. It's porcelain tile. It's porcelain tile that looks like marble. Shucks!  I almost walked away, and then I shrugged. Hey, it's better than what I've got now, right? It's the perfect size. It's super cheap. Ya. Why not? Let's just go for it.

And so I did. Determined not to use thinset or grout, I devised a plan. I used a tile setting mat and since there would only be 4 seams to fill, I would caulk it instead.

After cutting the sticky mat to size, I carefully spaced and lined up my table top. I wish there was a tutorial, but it was so stinkin' easy it's not even worth it. Peel and stick the mats, place tiles on top spaced evenly, caulk the grout lines. Caulk a couple more times to fully fill the space. Voila!

I would be lying if I said it was the dreamiest of projects I've ever done. I like the result. I like it boatloads more than before. And for a $50 makeover, I'm happy as pie! But one day.... one day... I will cover that baby with a big ol slab. That said, it certainly isn't bad for an interim solution!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Fondue for One

I have a major soft spot for chocolate. I'd venture to say that, in some way or another, I eat it every day. That would be a very dangerous habit, however I don't eat chocolate chocolate. What I do consume is cocoa powder, and lots of it. It's loaded with anti-oxidants and minerals, and is considered a superfood in every sense of the word. I usually mix cocoa powder in with smoothies and oatmeal, but from time to time (ok, every couple days), a girl just needs a treat!

I made this "chocolate dip" a few nights ago and I've been addicted to it ever since. It is so darn delicious, and so much healthier for you than most chocolate fondues or dips. Bonus, eat it with a frozen banana and it hardens like a fudgey magic shell! The best part about this is no stove top heating required, and you can literally whip it up in a few minutes.

Dairy Free Chocolate Dip (Single Serving)

1 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp organic unsweetened cocoa powder (or for more tastiness and slightly less health beenfits, use dutch processed)
1- 2 tbsp erythritol or xylitol (if those sound like alien objects to you, sub honey or agave)
pinch salt

Mix oil, almond butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add cocoa powder, sweetener and salt, and stir until creamy. If you find it too thick, you may add additional oil or almond butter (I'd say try a non-dairy milk, however I have yet to as I like my dip thick).

Add in some banana pieces and enjoy your personal fondue for one! Sure, this isn't low cal, but at least it's full of good stuff for you and not refined crap, right?

* Please excuse my lack of photography. My DSLR is at the hospital and on the mend!