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. :)

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! :)

BEST Playdoh Ever. Really.

The other day as the kids were playing with Play-doh and I was weeding out the Play-doh that had dried out from the Play-doh that was still good to use, I sighed to myself and wished that I could find a recipe to make playdoh that would yield results like the good, soft, freshly-bought Play-doh from the store.

Then I got my lovely recipe holder from my 5-year old, and the recipe that his pre-K teacher had attached was one for Kool-Aid playdoh. She had very thoughtfully also put a packet of Kool-Aid on the recipe holder as well, so we were set to make some playdoh at home.

A lot of the recipes I have tried before either are really salty and leave your hands dry, or the playdoh ends up dry and flaky – no good. This one was a little different than the ones I had tried, and it was SPOT ON. Wahoo!


1 c. flour

1/4 c. salt

2 T. cream of tartar

1 envelope Kool-Aid

1 c. water

1 T. vegetable oil

Mix flour, salt, cream of tartar, Kool-Aid and water in a medium saucepan. Stir in the oil.

Mix over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until the mixture forms a ball in the center of the pan. This took me the full 5 minutes, and it takes stirring the whole time or it gets selectively clumpy – just a heads up there.

Remove from pan and knead until soft. I was afraid the dough would be hot, but it was just very warm and I could knead pretty much right away.

There you go! Awesomely perfect homemade playdoh. And the Kool-Aid packet makes very vibrant colors. I love preschool teachers – thank you very much!

Picture Hanging Tip – and DSLR tutorial links

This is a tip for hanging those annoying pictures with the two hooks – the ones where they have a hook on each side to keep things level and distribute the weight evenly. Those ones.

I have a couple of larger pictures like that, and hanging them was a large pain – I measured the distance between the hooks, penciled in two holes that distance apart and hoped they would be level, and then did trial and error until it looked right.

This lovely tip from Aimee @ It’s Overflowing came to me right on time – my mom had sent a picture for our boys that happened to have the two hooks, so I could try it out while I still remembered it.

Hooray for timely tips – this was VERY easy.

You take blue tape (or scotch tape – just something that won’t ruin the backing) and cut a piece that fits from the center of one hook to the center of the other, like so:

Then you take the blue tape of wonder, stick it on your wall at the spot that you would like your picture, and hammer some nails into place (I ended up cutting my tape a little short, so I hammered one of the nails slightly outside of the tape):

Voila! Level, easily hung picture.

The great thing about this is you can actually check the tape visually (or with a level, if you prefer) to see if it looks level. AND you have the nails perfectly spaced. I loved that.

Thank you Aimee!

By the way, Aimee has a bunch of VERY helpful tutorials on how to use a DSLR camera in manual instead of auto. Start at the link I posted, and work your way through. I learned a lot! :)

Cloud Dough (Homemade Moon Sand)

For those of you who have wanted to try Moon Sand, but maybe have wondered about the mess and have sat on the fence about it, this is a great way to try it out at home. I got this idea from Juggling with Kids.

Here is all you need:

4 cups of flour

1/2 cup of baby oil

That is IT, my friend. It makes a pretty good-sized batch, so you could even halve it if you don’t have a big container for your kids to play in.

Just mix them together in a large bowl, and you are good to go!

I was really impressed at how well this held up – when it was formed together, it stayed together really well, but it still held a good “powder” form when it was broken apart. My 5-year old actually wanted to make it all into balls at the very end when we went to store it in a gallon ziploc, and none of them broke on the way into the cabinet OR on the way out when he wanted to play again, until he was ready to break them apart.

Super fun! I will warn you, though, it can make a bit of a mess, so either have a sufficiently large container (mine was not deep enough t0 contain some of the overspill) OR just be ready to sweep up a bit at the end. To me, the idea of an “indoor dry sand” is totally worth having a bit of a mess at the end – my kids will play for a long time and love it, and that is awesome.


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