Monday, January 18, 2016

The One Step - Amy Howard At Home Paint

As a designer I often find myself in discussions with clients about their old furniture.  They don't want to just give it away and they don't want to throw it out, so what can they do?  The one way around this situation is to give an item a new life and a new look with the paintbrush.  Amy Howard At Home One Step paint is designed for this type of application.  It is easy to apply and has a built in primer so there is no need to apply a primer to the wood first, however, you do need to clean or degrease the furniture before applying the first coat, so that the paint can adhere to the surface. There may be a tendency to forgo this step but please don't.  The Amy Howard At Home product line has an array of  rich and heirloom like colors, waxes, gold and silver leaf option, sealers and also a lacquer spray paint option, so you may need to do some research before you start your project.  It is up to you whether you want to apply a sealer.  I applied a sealer to every item I painted.  It hardens the surface, makes it easier to clean and can add a bit or a lot of shine depending on which sealer you choose.

When I'm learning  how to work with a new product, I work on  a small item that I can afford to mess up.  In order to learn more about this paint I worked on a small piece of molding with lots of design details.  When you have an ornate item to paint, you can apply a wax or a glaze to the item to add depth and enhance the detail.  On a flat item there is no reason to add wax or a glaze because there is nothing you want to stand out or highlight.  For this piece of molding I chose to use their  Good Man is Hard To Find paint and after it dried I applied a liming wax to  enhance the details.
My first project was a small coffee table that was on its way to Goodwill.  Perfect. This was just what I was looking for.  After degreasing the table I waited several hours so that the table would be dry  for the first application of paint.    First I dismantled the table because the ornate hardware would be hard to paint around.  My first decision with this project was whether to paint the hardware or not to.  It was an easy decision not to because painting the hardware makes it blend into the wood but this hardware was just too distinctive and added a richness to the look of the table that would be foolish to destroy. The paint used for this table was Cartouche Green.

My last project using this paint line was a kitchen that was in dire need of an update.  A some point in the future when the client's budget will allow for knocking out walls and  resurfacing the floor, this kitchen will undergo a major remodel, but for now, it's  Amy Howard's Ballet White and sealer to the rescue.  The best way to do a kitchen is to remove all the cabinet doors and drawer fronts and take off the hardware from each  one.  After degreasing the old cabinets, you will probably need to do more than one coat of paint depending of course on what color you choose and how well it hides the old color.  I ended up doing three coats to this kitchen's doors and drawer fronts.  The wall and base boxes only took two coats.  It took me about 2 weeks working about 8 hours a day,  And it looked great when it was done.  The white paint gave a fresh, updated look to the small kitchen.

I often work with clients who prefer to do much of the work themselves.  I work with them offering the best product line that I know that will serve their needs.  Since I have done this kitchen, I have advised two clients on the how-to of painting their kitchens.  This is a monumental task so you do need to get advise before you embark on the journey.  There are professional painters that will do this if you prefer someone else take up the brush.  


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Traveling Grandmom

Recently,  I shared a few tips with the design community on how to run a business and be a traveling Grandmom at the same time.  It's tricky,  but many of us are doing it with little fanfare. Here's a link to that article:

If you are a grandparent then you know that grandparenting is allot of fun in many ways. You get to crawl in and out of tunnels, play on the interactive smart tables at the museum, hangout at the playground and look for shells along the beach - to name a few things. What I enjoy the most, however, is watching the kids figure out how to solve something, either a puzzle or a conflict.  It's definitely fun and a pleasure to take care of your grandkids, and it is also allot of work.

From the various conversations I've had with other grandparents at airports and hotels, there's no doubt in my mind that our generation is more involved with the rearing of grandchildren than the previous generation.  As I listened to other grandparents and as we shared our stories I began to see patterns and formulate themes from emerging topics that soon blended into a larger image, something along the lines of Grandparents on the Move.  It's definitely a movement under foot.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Urban Cultivator

When  the kids were young I spent hours in my vegetable garden after work and on the weekends, planting , harvesting then canning.  It would have been great to have a unit like the Urban Cultivator inside to handle the herbs and lettuces all year round.  Instead of buying a whole bunch of kale and throwing out half of it, with this unit you can just take out exactly the amount needed. Very nice.

The Urban Cultivator is an indoor garden appliance that can grow herbs, an assortment  of vegetables, and microgreens.  You have two styles to choose from: a stand alone unit or a built-in unit that fits in the same size area that a dishwasher would fit into.  The unit is plumbed into the water line in much the same way as the dishwasher is, so you don't need to worry about watering the plants.  It fits rather seamlessly into a kitchen design and you have a choice of glass color - clear, half or dark tone and frost. 

Four bins come with the residential unit.  After planting your seeds you then select the correct program.  Lighting and watering is automatic after that.  You will still need to know what plants require more water than others, so you can properly pair the plants up, much like you would in an outdoor garden.

For anyone with a business or a chef/cook that just needs more than the residential unit,  there is a much larger commercial unit.

Stand Alone Unit with butcher block top.

 Happy Gardening.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cooking with Chef Lourdes Castro at KBIS 2015

Mini S'More Cupcakes

Throughout the tradeshow there is a variety of  culinary events providing great food and a moment to rest your feet.  This is Chef Castro whom you may recognize if you saw her on NBC's Today show or  The Talk which is CBS.  She is also the author of 3 cookbooks: Simply Mexican, Eat,Drink,Think in Spanish and Latin Grilling. Loudes' recipes have appeared in the Food & Wine Magazine as well as in the New York times and other papers/magazines. 

At this event she was making Smoked Paprika Crusted Shrimp Skewers and some Mini S'More Cupcakes.  Both were delicious.   See below for the cupcake recipe.

Mini S'More Cupcakes

Makes one double layer cake or 72 mini cupcakes.

1 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 c flour
1 Tbl baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 c vegetable oil
1 1/2 c buttermilk
3 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 1/2 c hot water

4 egg whites
1 c sugar
pinch of salt

12 large Graham crackers finely crushed

Conventional Oven:  Preheat oven to 350 deg.  Grease pans (cake or cupcake ones).

Prepare the cake batter -  Place all cake ingredients in a large bowl, beat on medium speed 2 or 3 min. until batter is smooth and shiny. Pour batter into the pans and bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cool for 15 minutes.

Prepare the meringue -  Place egg whites, sugar and salt in a work bowl and set it over a pot of simmering water. Stir the egg white mixture until the sugar is dissolved and egg whites are warm to the touch, about 4 minutes.  the mixture should be a bit frothy and milky in color.  Remove the bowl and whisk on high speed until egg whites are stiff and glossy about 5 minutes

Assemble and frost - Lightly dab a small amount of water on the top of cakes or cupcakes using pastry brush or crumbled towel.  Sprinkle the graham crackers over the tops. With cupcakes place a dollop of the meringue on top.  then use a kitchen torch to burn the meringue.  For a layer cake you can place some meringue on the top of the bottom layer then put the 2nd layer on top.  Finish by dolloping more of the meringue over the top of the cake. 

They were so good at the show.