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Summer 2019 has been a bit busier than I care to admit.  However, along the way there have been many lessons learned and new areas discovered in this great land we call America and it all started with... the 3 day kitchen remodel.

Yes, it's true.  My husband and I own a rental unit that became available and when we went to prepare the rental unit for our new tenants; we noticed that the original paint job on the kitchen cabinets had not stood the test of time with our previous tenants.  Not their fault at all - it was mine. 


Enter Lesson #1:    If you use Chalk Paint - Use the Wax and not the Lacquer. 

I love Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. It truly is very convenient, forgiving and easy to use.  However, the first time I used the chalk paint to paint my kitchen cabinets - I used Annie Sloan Clear Lacquer to seal them.  I didn't realize it was a water-based lacquer (even though it clearly states it on the can) and therefore it absorbed every grease stain from the previous two tenants. I was horrified!  So, after we came to the realization that the cabinets would have to be painted; we were at the paint store bright and early for hefty amount of advice and touch of reassurance.  Thank God everything we needed was in stock and with a fully belly from breakfast - the clock was ticking and we were working.  

Now it's worth noting that these kitchen cabinets aren't stock cabinets from a local hardware store.  These cabinets are custom cabinets with hard wood shelves and naturally - I painted everything. The front and back of the door.  The top of the shelves were painted. The bottom of the shelves were painted.  The inside of the drawers. The outside of the drawers - all painted.  We were in for long days and long nights - but in the end; it was the right thing to do.

Lesson #2 - Use Zep Degreaser.

This product is phenomenal and it thoroughly cleaned the kitchen cabinets in order to prepare them properly for the new paint job. I would highly recommend them for this type of project and we utilized Zep Hardwood Floor Cleaner as well in order to prepare the Hardwood Floors for the new tenant. The Hardwood Floor Cleaner removed old wax and cloudiness and allowed the wood to really show. 

Lesson #3 - Don't use the Annie Sloan brush to apply the wax.

I know... I know.... I didn't follow the directions the first time - why should you listen to me now.  Well, all I have to say is try Annie's way and then try mine and see which you prefer.  If you've used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and Wax - you know that the wax can be somewhat difficult to control and time consuming. I found a better and cheaper way... and all you need is Annie Sloan wax and disposable latex gloves.

Take a small clump of wax (no more than a Tablespoon) and place it in the palm of your hands.  Rub your hands together quickly and allow the wax to melt in your hands.  While your hands are covered with melted wax rub your hands over the chalk painted area working in the melted wax into the chalk.  You can then buff the area or allow it to cure and reapply.  You will notice the chalk painted area slightly darken when the wax is applied. This is normal and perfectly fine. By applying the wax this way, it cut our work time in half.  What was taking me an hour to complete was now only 30 minutes and in some cases only 20 minutes.  The results were amazing and we finished on time with some to spare.

Midsummer Nights with Hot Summer Days

There are many things that I love about summer - but heat is not one of them.  So, in order to escape the heat of summer, my family and I travelled north to an Airbnb cottage in Maine and by doing so - fell in love with the location, the food and of course the state.

Maine is everything that we imagined it would be. Quaint, homey, charming, nautical with friendly people and great food in every town we visited.   Being military, we've been blessed with the ability to travel; however, Maine has always seemed to be just out of our reach - even though we lived in New York most of our lives.  That all changed this year.   Finally, we were blessed with a small window of opportunity that was nestled between multiple obligations and we seized the day!  Off to Maine with a follow on to Newport, R.I.


Lesson #4 - You don't have to be on the coast to enjoy Maine.

Growing up in west Texas, my summer days were spent at the pool.  Swimming for fun, swimming competitively, swimming parties, swimming lessons..... swimming, swimming, swimming.  Everyday - all day.  When my family moved to Long Island, New York - the biggest culture shock was swimming in Long Island Sound.  Rocky beaches, seaweed, marine life - blech!  Oh did I mention Jaws came out just 5 years prior to us moving?  Yeah... I'm not going anywhere that I can't see the bottom!  

Slowly, but surely I began to appreciate the coastal life.  Walking down main street to the dock, beach parties, fishing off a pier, a little bit of sailing and of course - sunsets.  Before I realized it, this daughter of Texas had deserted the desert and found a soul for the sea.  The years that followed offered minimal opportunity to journey back to the coast; but this year changed all of that and we found an adorable cottage on Lake Damricscotta.

Maine, obviously has a beautiful coast line; or should I say a beautiful and expensive coastline.  However, the Lesson that I learned is to not overlook it's inland towns and lakes for the sake of an ocean view.  Maine is breathtaking - regardless of where you are.  Find a little inland cottage on the water and then go daytripping to the coast or to the mountains.  We fell in love with the twin towns Newcastle and Damriscotta. Beautiful, quaint, charming - everything you would expect from a town in Maine.

Lesson #5 - Don't count on it not being hot.... or cold in Maine.

As I stated - I hate the heat.  Unfortunately, it followed us to Maine and then Newport, R.I.  and neither of the Airbnb cottages had Air Conditioning.  The lack of A/C in Maine was fine and it dropped to the low 70's and high 60's every night.  However, we had to have fans running at all times to circulate the air.  In Newport however, it was brutal. A heat advisory followed us to the shore and it was barely tolerable.  The town was not only scorching hot - it was also horribly crowded.  I should have known to not travel anywhere Newport in the month of July.  But October.... now there is a time to visit this historic seaside town.

Lesson #6 - Don't skip the ferry.

Ferry rides across Long Island Sound might be a little pricey - but worth it.  We absolutely love taking the ferry from Groton, CT to Orient Point, NY.  the drive from the east end of Long Island through Setauket, Port Jefferson, Northport (my home town), Cold Spring Harbor to Great Neck near the United States Merchant Marine Academy is one of the most beautiful drives one could ever take.  Seaside harbors, quaint villages, historical trails and lovely company truly make for a wonderful summers day.

Lesson #7 - Summer is a phenomenal time for planning the 2nd half of the year.

I realize that the last thing you want to do is think about the rest of the year, school and Winter,  however, it's easier and better than you think.  First I begin with Perfect Martini made with my favorite gin, Bar Hill, and topped with 3 Bleu Cheese stuffed olives!  Now all I need is stenopad, calendar and computer and away I go.  Now is the time when I decide themes for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as the timeline for executing those plans.  I also begin planning any fall planting now.  Since I'm in the Southeast, Fall is the time for planting and preparing.  

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