Great Painting Tips – Hiding your Sample Colors & CRISP Paint Lines

These are a couple of GREAT paint tips from my mom. She is super effective, and is always up to some big project. Her current project (one of them) is trying to find new paint colors for their house. Here are a couple of things to pass on from her – the first is a tip for how to hide paint samples on your wall so you can still see them when you want, but they can “disappear” when you need them to; the second is a tip on how to get crisp paint lines. These are both things I need to learn and take to heart.

How to Hide Your Paint Samples (and still get them on the wall directly):

I think this tip is very clever, and is definitely a subtle solution when you are trying to figure out colors for your room…..

She just took the pictures down in her living room and painted the sample colors UNDERNEATH where the pictures hang. Ha! This allows her to check out the color in several different places in the room, but still lets her cover up her handiwork as needed and everything looks normal.

I love that. It is much better than what I tend to do, which is this:

My way is not so subtle. But it usually comes at a time when I am desperate enough to change the colors that I need a reason to force myself to do it. I’ll have to try the “sample hiding” way next time so it will give me some time to think about things. :)

Another trick that she has done before is to paint the sample on a piece of poster board so she can move it around the room to check the color in different lighting, but I personally like the “hidden, yet permanent” sample idea even better – you can still check different areas out, but have the paint be directly on the wall with the texture and everything.


Now, on to the CRISP lines:

Step 1: Use blue tape to get a clean line. Make sure that you press it down well.

Step 2 (this is the extra step that makes it all work): Take the color that is underneath (for example, if you are painting a wall and your ceiling is under the blue tape to keep it protected from the new color – you will want to use the CEILING color) and cut in using that color.

The idea behind doing this is that this will create a seal on the tape with the color that is already underneath it. If any paint leaks through the tape, it is the color you WANT to leak through – one that matches – instead of the new color. She did not use globs of paint here, just enough to seal the tape off. Let this paint dry.

Step 3: Cut in with your new color as you would normally do, and then paint the rest of your wall.

Step 4: Take the tape off as soon as you are done painting and be amazed – CLEAN LINE!! Wahoo! Make sure you take the tape off right when you are done painting. This will keep your new paint color from chipping off like it could if the paint dries before you peel the tape off.

Look at those clean lines – awesome!

Great job Mom! And thank you for the tips. :)

Easy Manicotti

This recipe is easy, delicious and another family winner dinner. It is always nice to have an easy weeknight dinner, and this qualifies. I found it in the Kraft Magazine a few years ago, back when they used to send them out for free. Those were good days. You can still find the recipe online here – along with their other recipes. This recipe introduced me to the joys of pesto – yummmmmm.


12 cooked manicotti shells, rinsed in cold water

2 cups spaghetti sauce, divided

1-3/4 c. Ricotta cheese

1-1/2 c. shredded Mozzarella cheese

1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg, beaten

1/4 c. pesto

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If you haven’t done it yet, cook your manicotti shells according to the directions on the box. Rinse in cold water. Set aside.

Step 2: Line the bottom of a 13×9 baking pan with foil. Spread 3/4 c. spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the pan.

Step 3: Mix cheeses, egg and pesto in a bowl. Move your mixture into a resealable bag. Clip one of the corners of the bag off. Our favorite pesto is Classico’s Traditional Basil Pesto. I’m sure any pesto would be great, though.

Step 4: Fill your manicotti shells by squeezing some of the cheese mixture into EACH side of the manicotti shells. Place the shells in a baking dish and cover with the remaining spaghetti sauce. Cover. If some of your shells have split open in the cooking process, just lay them in your dish, squeeze some of the cheese mixture into the shell, fold it closed, and pretend like everything is okay. :)

Step 5: Bake for 40 min. or until heated through.

There ya go! Sorry for the ugly picture….I think we had some ravenous children so I took one quickly and served them up. At any rate, this is very tasty, and actually, kind of fun to do. I normally end up with 8-9 filled manicotti shells – I think I am a little extra generous with my cheese filling. If you want more filled shells at the end, just watch how much you fill – you won’t want to stuff them completely.

Enjoy!! :)

Clean that Microwave….Painlessly

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend. I had a bit of a bout with a fever and the chills, but am doing much better now. It’s the last week of school here too – so the upcoming summer months should be exciting. On to today’s project: cleaning the microwave. Without much effort at all. A good thing for a Monday morning.

Our sad microwave takes a beating. We are not the most vigilant people at remembering to consistently cover our leftovers when we microwave them, and so we get splatters. And then some more. And then a couple more. Does it bother me? Yes, a bit. BUT, it is very easy to clean.

Here is all that you need:

Yep. Lemon juice and a cup. And a sponge to wipe things down when you are done.

Step 1: Take a look at your dirty, sad microwave. It is telling you to clean it.

Step 2: Take out your lemon juice, and fill a microwave safe container (I use a mug) about a third of the way full. I usually will put some water in there too just because I want to.

Step 3: Put your microwave safe container into your microwave and turn it on high for 2 minutes, or until you see your lemon juice boiling. Turn it off and LEAVE IT ALONE. Do not open the microwave. Do not be tempted to wipe anything off yet because it won’t work. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. Just leave it alone for at LEAST 5 minutes and let your lemon juice steam do its job. I like to set the sponge in front of the microwave so I remember that the lemon juice is in there, and then I leave it alone for a good 10, 20, 30 minutes. This time I left it for about 30 minutes.

Step 4: Open your microwave, and wipe the walls down. Everything should come off easily. You will probably need to rinse your sponge a time or two in this process, or more depending on how dirty your microwave is. You’ll also want to pull out your microwave plate (if you have one) and give it a scrub.

That is IT! Clean microwave.

Here is the inside of the microwave door, right after I opened it. This is after the lemon juice steam had been hanging out in the microwave, but before I wiped it off:

Here is what it looked like after 3 swipes of the sponge:

Yup. Clean. {Cue chorus.}

Here is the rest of the microwave before:

And after:

Easy, easy. It’s nice when you can start something and have the hard part done for you while you get other things done.

Enjoy! :)

The Piano Guys

If you haven’t heard these guys – I promise that listening to them will make your weekend. If you have heard them play, go and enjoy them again. They are so, so good.

John Schmidt (piano) and Steven Sharp Nelson (cello) have teamed up to create The Piano Guys. They take popular songs and put an amazing classical twist on them, or will take classical songs and put an amazing modern twist on them.

I am a little bit obsessed with them right now. To the point that I have had to limit my “Piano Guys” intake. But I still wanted to share their awesomeness with all of you.


These are a few of our family’s favorites:

A Thousand Years (Christina Perri) – this is their newest one and is beautiful


Peponi (from Coldplay’s “Paradise”) – my 2-year old says this one is her “favite” (favorite) – mine too.


Happy Together (we have watched this probably 20 times – it still hasn’t gotten old):


Bourne Vivaldi – they are on a TRAIN for part of it


You can go to their You Tube channel and watch/listen to all of their videos by clicking here.

John and Steve, thank you so much! Your music is incredible.

Cookie Dough Brownies. Yum.

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