Updating My Kitchen Ceiling

September 20, 2014

One of the major projects I had to complete before I could put my SoCal house on the market was the kitchen ceiling.

Sometime in mid-to-late 2012 I decided that I wanted a tin ceiling in the kitchen.  I thought it would look fabulous and it would complete the visual separation of the three areas in the great room (kitchen, dining area and family room). The floors were different (carpet in the family room, large area rug in dining area and linoleum in kitchen) and the same for the walls (rust in the family room and olive green in the dining area and kitchen).

Unfortunately, on-line research told me that installing a true tin ceiling was more work than I was willing to tackle, and having grown up in a do-it-yourself household, I wasn’t willing to pay someone else to do it.  Home Depot and Lowes had tiles that you could adhere to an existing ceiling and then paint, but most of the reviews for these were negative because the tiles were on the fragile side.  Since I would have to be cutting these to fit around recessed lighting, a vent and cabinets, I ruled out this option as well.

Undeterred, I let this project stew in my brain for a few weeks until the solution made itself known.

I would PAINT the ceiling with metallic paint then stencil the tile pattern on top!!  :-)

Since I had cabinets along two walls but open space along the other two sides where the kitchen ended, I needed to mark off where the “tile” ceiling would end.  That in itself was a tedious task given that I was working solo and measure across 12’…on the ceiling not the floor or wall.  It took some time but I was successful, blue tape marking the outer edges in perfectly straight lines.  Well, perfectly straight as long as the cabinets were straight!

At Home Depot I read the instructions on the can of Rustoleum paint and discovered that I needed to prime the surface too, so along with silver paint and paint brushes & rollers, a can of white primer landed in my cart.

And then I went home and painted.

After a few days I decided I didn’t like the plain silver even though it would have stencilled tiles on top.  Tin isn’t just one color, especially after it ages.  Back to Home Depot I went to purchase a painting sponge and cans of gold, light grey and copper Rustoleum paint.  And gloves so I wouldn’t have to deal with removing paint from my hands.

speckling supplies

That weekend I sprayed the gold paint into a paint tray and sponged accents on the ceiling.  It looked okay to me so I repeated with the other two colors.

speckled ceiling

And then the project stalled.  I was terrified that it wasn’t going to work out right even though I had every step carefully mapped out in my head.  The frustrating part was that the ceiling really did visually define the kitchen area as you can see from this picture, so if anything, I should have had MORE confidence that it would work out.  :-(

ceiling with lights from entry

I finally screwed up the courage a few months later to get this moving again so off to Home Depot I went to purchase chalk line supplies.  I carefully made a mark every 15″ along all four edges then snapped chalk lines…I love when I get to try something new!

chalk lines

The next step was painting the chalk lines black using a very fine paint brush.  I was doing this freehand, and honest to goodness, I had to keep reminding myself to breath!  The lines weren’t great, blobby in some areas, but I figured I’d touch them up if they were still noticeable after I added the stencils.  Basically, after the hours it took to do this I was ready to be done.

ceiling with grids
All that was left was to add the stenciling!

Fear set in again and the project stalled.  I’m not sure why because it was easy from here on in.  The chalk lines were (more or less) the exact measurement of the outer edge of the stencil, so all I had to do was spray the tacky stuff on the back of the stencil, pop it inside a square and rat-a-tat-tat the paint onto the ceiling.

Yet I was nearly paralyzed with fear that it wasn’t going to work out.

Then CHA came and went and it was time to interview realtors so the ceiling either had to be completed or covered up.

I purchased a can of dark grey Rustoleum paint and 2 cans of tacky stencil spray then went to work bright and early one Saturday morning.  By the end of the weekend I was thrilled!  The empty squares plus the partial tiles along both cabinet walls were all that remained to be completed before I could pull of the remaining blue painter’s tape.

area left to finish

I tried doing some stenciling at night during the week but the reflective nature of the Rustoleum paint created a lot of problems so I had to set aside finishing this up until the following weekend.

Meanwhile…out in the garage…the two stencils I was using (both the same) were able to thoroughly dry in preparation for their final use.

stencils drying

When the weekend arrived I went right to work after my morning coffee Saturday and was able to complete everything but one row of partial tiles.  Sunday morning I tackled those and removed the blue tape.  When I stepped back and looked at the ceiling I was thrilled with the results!  The kind of thrilled that had me doing a victory dance while giggling!!!

completed ceiling

The only bad part of this project?  I procrastinated so long that I didn’t get to enjoy the results for a longer period of time.


The Big Secret Revealed

September 18, 2014

Each of the past three years, when autumn rolled around and preparations for the CHA Trade Show got into full swing, I promised myself that that would be my last show.

And every year I broke that promise.

Until last year.

In August 2013 I realized that the 2014 CHA show would be my last one.  This New England girl was finally going to be able to leave Southern California and move HOME…back to the land of mosquitoes, humidity, rain, snow, sleet, freezing temperatures, autumn leaves, frost…you name it, I was going to be living it again.

And I couldn’t wait!!

There were two key points that were driving this journey.  First, I didn’t know exactly when I would be able to move, that would depend on the value of my home and when it was at a point where I could pay off the mortgage, pay for my cross-country move AND with any luck, leave a few bucks in my pocket.  And second, I would not resign my position until my house was sold, so it was imperative to me that no one at work (or in the industry) knew about my pending move before my boss did.  To achieve this, I only told a very small handful of people what was going on until I announced it to the world on Facebook six hours after I gave my boss my notice.

How confident was I that 2014 would be the year?

In September I started bringing home boxes from work that had been broken down and put in the recycle pile – they were sturdy boxes in which cones of yarn had been shipped to us from overseas.  On Fridays I was always the last person to leave the office, so I would drive around to the side of the building, put some boxes in the back of my car and bring them home.  At first I stored them in the guest room closet, but by late October I was starting to pack my house.  I wanted to pack my house myself, just as I had done when I moved to California.  Yes, this saved me nearly $1500, but more importantly, I was at that point where I needed to physically do something towards the move, not just mentally plan or dream.

In my “spare” non-work, non-CHA preps, non-packing time I tackled a few house projects that either needed to be completed or need to be done from start to finish.

During this time I was also very aware that at any point in 2014 I would be leaving Southern California, so I needed to make sure that I visited anything I wanted to visit.  Fortunately, that list was short.

One thing that made this whole move easy was that I would “land” at my Dad’s house in Massachusetts, my childhood home, which when all this planning began, had been empty for a year (Dad was moved to a nursing home in August 2013).  This completely eliminated the need to find a place to move to, and to time the availability of that place to when the move would happen.  On the employment end of things, I was flying without a parachute, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.  I had some ideas on what I would do, but more importantly, I had confidence that everything would fall into place.

When would this journey become reality?  In August I didn’t know, and I wouldn’t know until late January when I invited realtors to my home to let me know it’s value, but the planning began immediately.

Now that I’ve shared the secret, it’s time for me to start sharing the journey with you in upcoming posts.


I’ve been doing some pretty interesting stuff since I’ve been back in MA, and I have several cool things scheduled in the next couple weeks, so there will be some non-journey posts popping up amongst the journey ones.  For anyone who wants to be able to isolate the journey posts so they can follow along easier, I added a new category in the column on the right called CA to MA Move.  If you click on that category name, all posts about the move will show up there without any of the cool MA stuff in between.

OK…that’s it for now…be back soon!

A Belated 1 Year Anniversary Gift…

September 17, 2014

…from me to you.

It’s been just over a year since my last post and I have a LOT to tell you!  Not only was the annual CHA Trade Show quickly approaching and demanding every second I could spare, but I was also very busy with a major event in my life…one that I spent months working on AND that I had to keep secret.  There was no way I could blog and keep my fingers quiet.

It’s been 5 months since I’ve been able to talk about this secret event but I’ve just been so incredibly busy that I needed to wait until things settled down.

They have, finally, which brings me to my gift to you…

I’m baaaaack so stay tuned for all the details and of course, just plain Ordinary But Interesting things….  :-)

The Letter M

August 28, 2013

A bit of variety for my M post in Basically Benita’s Alphabet Photo Challenge.

First up, a Morning Glory Mess

morning glory mess

After two hours of untangling and rerouting all the vines Saturday morning, I had just plain Morning Glories  :-)

morning glory done

On my way to work this morning, this song, Make Believe It’s Your First Time by the Carpenters, had me singing along at the top of my lungs…with the windows closed  ;-)

Make Believe 1st time

The sign for the Mobil station at an intersection near the office…

Mobil sign

The Chocolate Chip Muffin I had for breakfast…


A piece of latch hook canvas, also called Mesh


Some interesting Mailboxes I’ve seen along my route to work…

mailbox brick west

mailbox wheel west

mailbox shadows 2

I saved the best for last — My Mommy!!!  I Miss her…


The Letter L

August 21, 2013

So many words start with the letter L…or at least that’s what I thought until I tried to plot out my photography for Basically Benita’s Alphabet Photo Challenge.  I was very surprised at how much I struggled, procrastinated trouble I had with the challenge this week.  Of course, next week the L images will be screaming at me…good thing I already know what I’m doing for M!  :-)

Onwards and upwards…time for Show and Tell!

First, the Lint Trap in my dryer…

lint trap

I never would have thought of that except I was in my Laundry Room to take this picture of the way I painted the Long Wall.

laundry room

Here’s a Locker Hook Kitty wall hanging that I designed and hooked…

locker hook kitty

Here’s a view of Lake Elsinore from high above in the Santa Ana Mountains…

Lake Elsinore

Here’s a peek at a Lizard hanging out in the seam in the block wall behind my house…he was a bit shy but still photogenic…

lower lizard

To add some color to this post, here’s a roll of Lifesavers


For some architectural appeal, the Lights at the Transit Center in the town next to mine…

lamps at trans ctr

For that ahhh moment, here’s Little Bit, A.K.A. Kitty Skittles!

Little Bit

I hope you’re not hungry because this piece of Lasagna might be considered a terrible tease if you are!


Finally, this is me being completely Lazy after my 8+ hour cookfest!

lazy after cookfest

Chez Judy Is Restocked!

August 19, 2013

Freezer Fritz was empty…

fritz empty

The container and lid drawers were overflowing (I had a stack of containers on the counter too!)…

container drawer before

lid drawer before

To rectify the situation and to once again add variety to the menu at Chez Judy, I spent just over 8 hours cooking 11 different meals.  It wasn’t the most relaxing way to spend my Saturday, but it was highly productive!

Why all the meals?   About 23 years ago I started cooking full size meals and freezing them in individual portions so I could bring them to work for lunch.  Many of my co-workers went to fast food restaurants and brought their purchases back to the office to enjoy.  I had just purchased my first home and was truly house-poor.  In order to resist the urge to participate in their awesome smelling lunches, I scrapped the idea of sandwiches and started to bring the home cooked meals so that my taste buds could enjoy something healthy and tasty.  The system worked great so I still use it.

I love opening my freezer in the morning and deciding what I’d like to bring to work for lunch…kind of like a restaurant with all the choices…hence “Chez Judy”!

The key to cooking 11 meals in one day is organization.  I set all the non-perishable ingredients on my counter, grouped by meal with the recipe on top of each pile.  (All those dark bottles are flavored olive oils…not ingredients for the cook-fest.)

counter of ingredients

I’d been accumulating the meats for three weeks so they thawed in the fridge for the 2 days prior to the cook-fest.  The fresh veggies were on shelves and in drawers, and the rest of the perishables helped fill the shelves.


I hauled out my large skillet, my large pot, a medium pot, the crock pot, my basket of spices and got to work.

First up was filling my crock pot with potatoes, carrots, sauerkraut and kielbasa.  I was going to use the crock pot a second time so I needed to get that going right away.

Next up was lasagna because I needed to cook the noodles and the meat mixture.


Once that was in the oven I filled the big pot with pea soup…

pea soup

…and used the large skillet to make Manwich sauce (the easiest thing I made all day!).  I love to sprinkle this with shredded cheese and enjoy it over a bed of lettuce, spinach and kale.


I reused the skillet and made American Goulash…

american goulash

…and while that was simmering for 20 minutes I peeled, diced and boiled 3 potatoes for the Shepherd’s Pie.  I had just a few minutes to wait before I could reuse the skillet to fry the hamburg for the pie.

About this time the pea soup was done so after putting it in containers, I washed out the pot and filled it with my Mom’s spaghetti sauce.

I cut up two chicken breasts then sautéed them in the skillet.  I added the chicken to a bunch of cut up fresh veggies and made a chicken pot pie, doubling the Bisquick recipe.

chicken pot pie

While that was in the oven I cut up a couple more chicken breasts and lots of fresh veggies and made an awesome chicken stir fry!

chicken stir fry

About this time my feet were screaming mad at me, my back was aching and my energy was sinking…fast.  I looked at the counter and when I saw I only had two meals left to make I buckled down and plowed through.

The crock pot was emptied and refilled with beef stew, and the large pot was reused to make Joan Lunden’s Mean Bean Chili.

The final tally of individual meals in Freezer Fritz is 82!!!!!  Manwich sauce – 8, lasagna – 9, pea soup – 10, American Goulash – 4, shepherd’s pie – 5, chicken stir fry – 5, chicken casserole – 9, chili – 7, beef stew – 6, kielbasa, sauerkraut & veggies – 7 and spaghetti sauce – 12.

Freezer Fritz is now about 3/4 full…

fritz full

And the container and lid drawers are each about 1/4 full…

container drawer after

lid drawer after

Next cook-fest will be Thanksgiving weekend when I cook a turkey just so I can make meals with leftovers…including soup!

The Blocking Room

August 15, 2013

I’m an avid knitter with a semi-short attention span when it comes to projects.  I always have several in the works so I can bounce between them when I get frustrated or bored.  Right now I’ve got four projects in the works – the Asymmetric Sweater I posted about here, a pair of sox, a Sockhead (slouchy) hat and a scarf.

The benefit of having many projects in the works is that I get a great sense of accomplishment when I finish several projects within days of each other.  :-)

The negative though is all the sudden I have multiple projects that need the final touch – the blocking to the correct size/shape.  :-(

I’m a knitter who loves to knit, tolerates assembly and procrastinates in major way when it comes to blocking.  I’m not sure why because it’s really not that hard to do, and when it’s done the results are spectacular.

A couple of months ago I finished an Altostratus sweater using a custom-dyed red yarn from BC Yarnings.  About a month ago I finished a Wingspan Shawl using Deborah Norville Serenity Sock yarn color Surf.  Last week I finished all but the back neck collar on my Sojourner Cardigan from Webs using Valley Superwash DK yarn, color Red.

I finally set aside a couple of hours to block all three using my front bedroom carpet for pinning purposes.  Of course once they were all pinned to the carpet there was no way I was going to let my kitties in the room so I shut the door.  This totally confused Skittles as the only time the door is closed is when company using that room as a bedroom.

closed door

Here are the three blocked and drying projects…

sweaters and shawl

The Sojourner Cardigan is at the top left, the Wingspan Shawl is top right and Altostratus is lower right.

Once they’re dry then all I have to do is wait for cooler temperatures so I can wear them.  Layering in 100 degree weather is as appealing as blocking.  :-(

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