Steps So White

It seems so long ago that I decided a lick of paint would be an easy, frugal way to do some home improvements chez nous. Above: one of the optimism-fueled "before" pictures I posted in those heady days... way back on July 1. I also posted 3 other "befores" of the inside of our add-on porch, sort of implying that I was going to accomplish a lot of porch-related titivation this month.

The truth is, after giving the project my best these past 3+ weeks, I have new, hard-won respect for those bloggers who make these things seem so easy (yeah I'm looking at you, Young House Love). With a full-time job and two fabulous little people to hang out with until dark, there's not much time left for fixing things up. Here's how far I actually got this month:

I scraped the steps. I'm not posting photos of the back steps here, but they do exist, so I'm talking 2 sets of steps while photographing one. Next, I power-washed the steps with the hose. When dry, I gave everything a buzz with my cute little refurb sander. Notice how all the gunk clinging to the risers in the "before" picture is now gone. The steps felt smoother underfoot, too, after being scraped and washed and sanded.

Next, I taped everything off and put down newspaper, since I figured paint-splattered concrete would be kind of a trashy look. Speaking of trashy, see that purple-handled paintbrush? It was one of a set of 3 from the dollar store. That means it cost 33 cents! (Trust me, I am simultaneously gleeful at the savings and outraged at the obvious misuse of some global resource(s).) The paint was glaring white porch paint (not its official name) from the local hardware store Brown & Roberts.

After the first coat of paint, I set up a clever shield (with some help) using tape, scrap plastic and lawn chairs. To keep the wet paint safe from any critters in the area.

Here it is finished after 2 coats of paint and just a bit of rain (that's why there's... a puddle marring the perfect white glow on each tread).

It's, like, so white! I was thinking of going with this color for the entire porch floor, but I'm glad now that I did the steps first. This white is fine there and it'll get dirty and I don't mind. But it seems too glaring for my cool play-porch visions. Wait, let's see that before and after side-by-side, shall we?

I must admit that other porch improvements are not going to happen by the end of July at this rate. But I still have big plans! Will grey and yellow be involved? Or apple blossom white and lime green? Only time and indecisiveness can tell!

Cowboy caviar

Perfect watermelon day

I guess if I write on January 4th that it's my birthday, one could do the math and figure out that July 4th is my HALF birthday. So I'm X-and-a-half today.

This cowboy caviar is blowing my mind. Someone brought it to work for a potluck and I HAD to have the recipe. See below.

Tostitos scoops are perfect for eating cowboy caviar. And they are multigrain no less.

Cowboy Caviar
  • 1 15 oz can black-eyed peas, drained
  • 1 11 oz can white shoe-peg corn, drained
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1⁄2 c diced fresh tomato
  • 1⁄4 c chopped garlic chives or regular chives
  • 1⁄2 c chopped cilantro
  • 1⁄4 c olive oil
  • 1⁄4 c red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic: pressed

Combine black-eyed peas, corn, avocado, tomatoes, chives and cilantro. Whisk together oil, vinegar and garlic separately to make dressing. Pour dressing over all. Refrigerate (stirring once in a while) for at least 4 hours, preferably 1 day.

Have a great fourth! Do you have a go-to dip or snack you like to have on this day?

A lick of paint

July is gonna be busy. Two birthdays, plus an August party to plan for the one person who actually cares about having a party. A wedding anniversary. A beach vacation. A mini-reunion.

And, I'm giving myself a challenge. It's going to be my "paint therapy" project. We don't have much spare cash for the kinds of decorating projects and renovations we dream up (enlarged kitchen, finished basement with wet bar and guest room and snug, living room decor based on Versailles paneling, that kind of thing). But after reading some design/DIY blogs, I have a theory that a lot can be done with a fresh coat of paint. Not too expensive. Not too difficult. And a whole new look. I'm right, right? Wait, am I not the first person to come up with this idea?

This is what I want to do: paint our porch. I have set myself a goal finish date of Sunday, July 31. I came up with a to-do list and assigned dates to each item on the list. All I have to do is keep up with my own timeline and this'll happen!

Here are my BEFORE pictures to get things started.

The street-side steps to our porch. Also the cat's "troll hole" is the break in the lattice to the right of the steps. This is where he skulks off to if you look at him funny.

The porch is actually considered "empty" to prepare for my project, but stuff kind of collects there somehow. This is the door shown above from the other side.

Side wall of the porch.

The back door of the porch. That's our handy 3-step recycling system--black bag for plastic and cans, blue bag for redeemables, white bag for paper.

I also went around the house and put everything related to painting into one box, so I'll know where it is.
[Why do we have 4 pairs of safety goggles? No idea.]

This will be my go-to kit for the next month. Plus I'm sure I'll be adding to it after some exciting hardware store consultations and paint chip decisions in the weeks to come.