DIY kitchen cabinet resurfacing

cabinet resurfacing


Notice I didn’t call this easy or lazy DIY? Because there was definitely some sweat put into this!

However, this project was actually easier than I thought. My dad owns a few apartment buildings and he “hired me” aka, pitied me, as I am a teacher and had NOTHING to do this summer (and no source of income)…  to paint and prepare one of his small one-bedroom apartments for a new tenant. I relished the opportunity to get off my butt and quit stalking Pinterest/ Buzzfeed/ sloth videos/ typing “How can you…” into Google just to see the weird shit people wonder about..

I painted the whole apartment first and my dad was so impressed that he asked me to re-do the cabinets. Mind you, I really had no idea what I was doing. This surely wasn’t the professional way to do it but it worked and looked great.

There were these dated, dirty oak cabinets c.1986 that needed to be sanded and re-painted so instead of renting a sprayer or anything like that, I did it the old fashioned way – clean, sand, paint then seal!

Notes: This will work on real wood cabinetry (not laminate)

This whole thing took me about 15 hours over 4 days.

Cost: believe it or not technically this didn’t cost me a dime! We had the Paint  ($16), foam roller ($3), brushes, power drill, drop cloths, and sander already. The lacquer was $14 but to be honest I actually didn’t even use it. It’s recommended to seal the cabinets with it however so I included it in my directions.


power drill to remove then re-install screws and hardware
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser sponges to really get the oils and crap off the surfaces
rags to wipe cabinets down
drop cloths to lay the cabinets down on. You also can use sawhorses but I didn’t have these available.
microfiber/foam paint roller (I think mine was 4″)
hand-held power sander with 120 or so grit sandpaper
cabinet/ countertop paint- definitely something with GLOSS. I used a semi-gloss trim paint.
clear lacquer to seal everything in
new handles and knobs if you really want to update your look


cabinets before

1. Remove the cabinets carefully- don’t strip the screws! You’ll be screwed!
2. Clean the surfaces really well- I used a Mr. Clean Sponge aka THE BEST GODDAMN CLEANING TOOL IN THE WORLD

3. Sand ALL surfaces you will paint with a 120 sander – I used a handheld rotary one.
Note: you don’t have to strip the wood of all that old stain. You essentially just rough up the wood (as it was nice oak underneath)
4. “Cut in” the edges and corners with a paintbrush. This is important: push hard to really cover the surfaces with paint.

remove those puppies

remove those puppies

5. I painted one coat with a wide paintbrush in order to “fill” the grainy gaps and make sure the white was really pushed into the wood:

many coats with the roller!

many coats with the roller!

cabinets during

6. Use a small 4″ roller to roll the paint on! You will probably need to do a bunch of coats (I did 3 but it dried very quickly in between so it didn’t take long)
7. Let dry 24 hours at least
8. Because cabinets see a lot of wear and tear, you need to seal them up with lacquer. Follow instructions on the lacquer for best results.
9. Re-attach the cabinets after they are COMPLETELY dry.
10. Install new fixtures (handles and knobs)

and voila! New cabinets!



Our Garden Fail

Where did we go wrong? Look at our garden, 3 weeks later! Dismal!


I feel like something’s missing….


Bean stalks minus the beans?


These tomato seedlings given to me by a neighbor literally haven’t changed or grown at all in 3+ weeks.


Anndddddd nothing. Wahhh.

Here’s where we went wrong perhaps: We used 8 bags of Miracle Gro and no compost or native soil to speak of. The garden gets about 10 hours of full sun a day, maybe I wasn’t watering it enough? Underneath the soil is pretty sandy also. I’m also thinking we planted too late in the season- the end of May even in NY seems late. God knows the snow had pretty much just melted at that point though!

My uncle suggested more compost, watering more and using seedlings instead of tiny seeds. Considering I didn’t even know what a seedling was (“You mean, a seed? Well yeah, duh, I planted them…”), maybe I will try to do that next year. Damn, I was really hoping for some cukes and tomatoes! Guess I’ll have to go steal Uncle’s!

LazyDIY: Upcycled Painted Storage Box

Who doesn’t have a random storage box sittin’ around that needs a little re-fresh?!


Time: about 45 minutes:


  1. storage bin
  2. a cool stencil (I got this one on
  3. flat stamp-brush
  4. acrylic paint
  5. spray adhesive
  6. Optional: spray acrylic gloss sealer

I feel like I don’t need to write the instructions for this one… but I will:

Paint your box one flat color- might take 2-3 coats.

Spray one side of the stencil with a tiny bit of spray adhesive so you can stamp-paint it easier.

Hold the stencil down and paint! I suppose a regular paintbrush would work but a flat stamp-brush is so much more precise.

Optional: when it’s all dry, spray a coat of a gloss acrylic sealer to give it a glossy finish.

e voila!











Tri me: The big day

The morning of the race, I woke up bright eyed and bushy-tailed at 5 a.m. (I always wake up SUPER AWAKE, ENERGETIC and READY TO GO. It’s so annoying). I had butterflies in my stomach; the kind I haven’t felt since my competitive diving days.

I had my Blood Orange Greek yogurt and cottage cheese as I do every single morning (nothing new on race day!) and waited for pestered my husband  C to wake up. The race started at 8 a.m.; official referee meeting at 7:20, swim warm-up was at 7:15 (which I had no intentions of doing, thankyouverymuch, it was way too cold for that and I didn’t want to stand around in a wet suit). I hadn’t picked up my race-day packet yet because I was lollygagging on the lake the day before. I don’t really know what I was thinking leaving my house at 6:20 for a 20 minute drive to the race area itself and fit all that in but it was ill-conceived; I got all rushed and flustered and yelled at  urged C to move faster:

“Let’s go!! Where’s my coffee mug?”

“Where’s my headband? Did I pack two?”

“How do you know the bike wheel won’t fall off after you take it apart to fit in the car?!”

“Should I pee again?”

“OMG, what if I have to poop?! What if I poop my pants?”

“Let’s go! Get my coffee mug! Did I pack two headbands?”

“Do you think the line to the Port-o-Potty will be long? What if I have the bubble guts?”

Oh, he wanted to kill me.

We finally arrive at 6:50. It was looking to be a perfect day; not too hot but not chilly, sunny; just a perfect day. After more panicking about getting my packet on time, I was body-marked and chipped. Newbie moment #1: I had to peek at other racers to see how they attached their bike numbers AND how they attached the ankle foam chip thing. Tee hee.








Pretty much everyone had wetsuits and racing bikes. I was, however, unique in that I was chugging the rest of my coffee (caffeine really gives me a good jolt!) from an Uncommon Grounds mug while everyone was sipping water and sucking on gel packs.



Gear set for transition

The Swim (500 yards in the Champlain Canal system)

The canal water was not nearly as cold as I thought it was going to be. Huge relief!  The race was well-organized and small so there was absolutely no panicked entries into the water; no flailing about or kicking feet down my throat. We tread water for about a minute then started off. I felt good and prepared. Remember, this was my first open water swim- ever. At one point however I did think I was going to drown because my heart was racing so fast from so much excitement/ exertion / effort to escape the pee I had left behind at the start line (turns out I didn’t poop my pants, but did pee my wetsuit. Oops!) I didn’t even choke down too much PCB-laden water!

swim tri


My dad, C, and sister snuck down to the start to see me off

At least I don’t look awkward putting my shirt on…

tri swimThe Bike (12 miles)

I had an AWESOME transition location, I think because in my true cheap-ass well-thought out fashion I had signed up super early (and gotten a discount). Super quick transition.

Soon after I got  riding, I swear I actually heard people pitying my bike. Not in a mean way, just a WTF are you riding? Nice try on that thing but you couldn’t have borrowed someone’s road bike for the day?!

There was a steep hill to start, around mile 2, but my legs recovered. Newbie moment #2: I kept thinking there were cars coming up beside me to pass..,turns out they were just fancy road bikes. Going really fast. I think 20 or 30 people passed me. Oh well. I turned on my Garmin GPS that I had attached to the bike which ended up being really helpful in gauging my speed (4:00 pace for what it’s worth)

 The Run

P1020959 P1020962

I was feelin’ good! Nice quick transition. No rushing. Heavy legs at the start. I was very thrown off by not being able to listen to my music. I could hear my feet slapping the ground and my panting! Soon though I rounded a corner and I saw my mom and her boyfriend there cheering me on.  I had no clue they were going to be there. I was so proud and happy and surprised that it energized me and got me through the next three miles of flat ground throughout Schuylerville.

 The finish!

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Swim 500 yards T1 Bike 12 miles T2 Run 3.1 miles


09:05 1:47107th place 44:53165th 0:36 :24:5964th


110th place

….and then I basically did this the rest of the day:

post triathlon


Getting ready to Tri

Here it was, the week before the sprint triathlon. I tapered my workouts to the following; a bike preview on Monday of the course, running 5 miles on Wednesday, skipped all strength training, and did a slow and slightly painful 4.75m on Friday.  I was feeling way more excited than nervous but I was VERY concerned about the water temp of the canal (Hudson River); it was gong to be around 70 degrees which can shock your system. I was pretty convinced someone was going to kick me and I’d panic and swallow a ton of PCB filled canal water. (Spoiler: I didn’t)

The bike preview that Monday was a great idea; it was a low-stress way to get oriented with the roads and calm my nerves. Unlike most people, I was most nervous about the biking portion of the race. I had a Diamondback hybrid meant for casual Sunday spins, not triathlons. Spoiler: using that bike was a mistake. Not a disastrous one per se, but definitely a mistake.

We arrived at the Hudson Crossing Park bike transition area and there were about 12 other bikers there preparing. I ran into a nice lady I happened to have taken a Spanish course in college with and we took off to familiarize ourselves with the course. It was… hilly. And laborious. To say the least. I become more worried about my bike. EVERYONE (except one 15-year-old girl who told me she literally hadn’t swam since last year’s triathlon and was using a mountain bike) had nice road bikes. My bike’s thick tires and heavy frame was ill-fiting for a triathlon and I knew this was something I knew going into it. I made a joke about it. No one laughed.

not a triathlon bike.

not a triathlon bike.

Bike course

Bike course


Then Saturday, the day before the race, we went up to Lake George on my dad’s boat for the first time this season. Lake George is one of my most favorite places in the world to be. The water was a brisk 63 so I made a point of lowering myself in dramatically and vocally lamenting to anyone who would listen over how cold I would be the following morning in the canal.

For our late lunch at the lake, I really took advantage of the idea of “carb loading”. French fries, chicken wings, pretzels with cheddar sauce, soft-serve ice cream; I said no to nothing! I got home and got all my gear ready:

took me about 3 days to compile everything I needed

took me about 3 weeks of intense Coach YouTube research to compile my gear

- towel for drying off my feet

- chamois for drying off my body

- Pearl Izumi triathlon suit (LOVED this – no chafing, good support, right level of padding)

- sports bra (when a tri-sut just won’t hold the ladies down)

- sweats and warm-up shirt

- socks filled with Gold Bond powder

- Gold Bond powder to fill my sneakers (this worked out great)

- tight headband (could never, ever workout without it!)

- Bag Balm for lube (so what if it’s for cow udders)

- Garmin GPS watch to use on my bike to track my pace

- regular watch to time the whole race and splits as Garmin can’t go underwater

- iPod for warm-up motivation tunes (I was reminded many times the day of NO MUSIC ALLOWED DURING THE RACE)

- ibuprofen

- goggles full of spit :)

-swim cap to wear under my race-official one for warmth and in case it ripped (I didn’t end up doing this)


I went to bed early (it was still sort of light out!) and dreamt of drowning in the Hudson River.

More to come!

We plant a garden

I’ve wanted a garden for years. I actually bought seeds 3+ years ago in the hopes I would get my act together and start a real garden. (Do seeds “expire”? Are they dormant? Is that the right word? Just asking that I feel stupid.) We bought some landscaping timber on sale and got 8 bags of Miracle Gro and assembled the whole thing in about 2 hours! My uncle — who is also my neighbor– has an amazingly expansive garden from which I steal many, many cherry tomatoes over the course of the summer; he didn’t have encouraging words about planting seeds May 31. Well, it’s worth a shot! I don’t have any before shots of the area unfortunately but let me tell you; the side of the house refused to grow grass so it looked like crap. It also gets a ton of afternoon sun so I though it’d be a good place for some veggies.

We’ll check in later hopefully with some seedlings!

diy garden


We planted:

  • squash
  • cucumbers
  • cherry tomatoes lovingly (pitying-ly?) donated by my neighbor Miranda
  • snap peas. Or beans? I forgot

Please note how attractive I am when I garden:

diy garden


LazyDIY: Upcycled Fabric Wall Art


upcycled wall art

My total: $6.50

Have I told you my mother is the world’s biggest fan of garage sales? Through the years I have been gifted many a secondhand item. Sometimes she gets a little overzealous at these sales; she’s known to be pretty competitive and to snatch something because she “saw that dealer eyeing and just had to get it”; for example, a 50′s mod circular chair, a random leftover chunk of pink marble countertop (?!), a belly-dancing skirt laden with coins. After a particularly successful run at the local sales, she will dump some finds on our front porch (even after pleading with her not to), but truth be told she has a ruthless eye for great finds at yard sales. She often drops and drives kindly finds me old photo frames that “I can do something with”.  Here is an example.

Note: this project was inspired by my friends J and R as they decorated their new apartment. Thanks, girls!

[[For another upcycled fabric project, check this out]]



SUPPLIES FOR Upcycled Fabric Wall Art:

  1. an old frame, preferably one with a mat/matte and cardboard backing (no need to remove old art)
  2. spray adhesive (I use this a lot for DIY projects, a great investment)
  3. a fabric bolt just big enough to cover the old artwork, ironed

That’s it! So easy.


How to make Upcycled Fabric Wall Art in under a half an hour:

$10 a yard with coupon  from the local fabric store; "HGTV" line

$10 a yard with coupon from a fabric store; “HGTV” line

$3 at a garage sale

$3 at a garage sale

Frames with mats are best

Frames with mats are best














Rip off any paper covering the back

Remove old art

Remove old art













 Iron, coat lightly with spray adhesive til tacky, press down fabric onto backing, and done!

upcycled wall art

This took about 25 minutes total

Multiple frames at the same height can look nice

Multiple frames at the same height can look nice