February 25, 2014

Sharpies on Ceramics, Part II: GOOD NEWS!

Last year, I blogged about my experience using Sharpies to decorate mugs and other ceramics. I used a series of Sharpie and other brand permanent markers and none of them worked well enough for me to spend any amount of time and effort on something useful for me or as a gift. I had previous experience with some other products designed for ceramics, and wanted to see what else was available. I’ve got some excellent results to report!

Continue reading

November 29, 2015

How to Make a Festive Paper-Cut Ornament

Doesn’t this look gorgeous? I’d like to try this. Maybe soon.

October 31, 2015

Cleaning Spilled Laundry Detergent

It’s been a very busy last few weeks, as my Mom passed away quite suddenly and I’m trying to find her will in and amongst her vast files (I think she has every check and financial statement dating back to her marriage to Dad 60 years ago). Needless to say, it’s been a hard, emotional few weeks.

My daughter was visiting us from across the state, because her husband had two job interviews that day. Being a Wednesday, the guys left to do their work or interview thing, while she and I decide what we’ll do to take my mind off my Mom’s passing and the mountain of work to settle her estate (both financially and dealing with her many possessions). I tossed in a load of laundry, and we turned on the TV. Continue reading

October 7, 2015

Sharpies on Ceramics, Part IV

2015-10-06 17.39.28I’ve had a lot of interest on the first three parts of my series on Sharpies on Ceramics.The original project that makes the Pinterest rounds says that all one needs to do is to draw on a ceramic or glass piece with Sharpies, bake at 350F for 30 minutes, let cool, and voilà, you have a dishwasher-safe item destined to become an heirloom. Well, my experiment that I documented in  Part I pretty much says that regular Sharpies won’t work, and Part II notes that while oil-based and metallic Sharpies will work for some lighter-duty applications, there are several products out there that will work much better than Sharpies. Part III builds on Part II by running the test piece through the dishwasher 10 times.

I’ve received comments (on the blog page, by email, and in person) that regular Sharpies really will work. I’m just not doing it right because I just didn’t trace over it twice. Or that I need to seal it. That’s fine, but that’s not what the original directions said. I tried the trace over it twice thing in Part II, and while it does work better, it still isn’t good enough to last through several handwashings, let alone go through the dishwasher.

This time, I’m testing sealing it. It’s supposed to solve everything.

Continue reading

September 29, 2014

Influencing Others

Social media has changed life.

I’m watching an interview of Karen Gillan and John Cho, stars of the new ABC series, Selfie, premiering tomorrow night. It’s a modern day My Fair Lady, in that Henry (John Cho) tries to get Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan) to be a more refined, un-plugged lady. Karen Gillan says she can relate to her character, in that she can spend hours on Facebook looking at pictures of people she doesn’t even know! John Cho says he can relate to his character, in that he’s not all that into spending hours online.

Me? I’m somewhere in between. I absolutely enjoy seeing pictures and updates on the lives of my friends from various points in my life. I love that I can keep in touch with my high school and college friends, friends from various cities I’ve lived in, neighbors, extended family, and other people I might only know online as a friend of a friend. I like seeing their babies grow up. I love grand-baby pictures. I love seeing their hobbies, favorite restaurants, silly pet antics, the fun vacations, and glimpses into their life, whether the glimpses are life’s milestones or mundane daily activities.

Continue reading

July 25, 2014

Getting Rid of Wallpaper Paste

In this post, I talked about getting rid of the wallpaper in my bathroom. After the celebration of getting the last of the wallpaper was off the walls came the stark realization that there was still plenty of wallpaper paste still stuck to the walls.

I2014-07-25 13.53.35 contemplated leaving it as a rustic look, perhaps it looks like a designer faux plaster finish. Alas, it really doesn’t. It just looks messy.

Painting over wallpaper paste is not recommended. It’ll give a lumpy texture and the paint will likely peel. It needs to come off! But how? Continue reading

July 25, 2014

Getting Rid of Wallpaper

2014-02-11 17.14.46eWelcome to my bathroom. Isn’t it lovely? Well, it was in the 90s, anyway. Time for the wallpaper to go!

Note the lovely vaulted ceiling. It’s 12′ tall. I’m all of 5’3″. With the aid of a 6′ ladder, I was able to get most of it taken down in an afternoon. With another afternoon with my taller husband, we got it all down. There are plenty of sites out there to tell you how to do that, so I won’t detail the whole issue here (besides, I have no cool pictures). But I do have a few tips! All you need is a gallon of vinegar, a garden sprayer, water, a ladder, and patience. Lots of patience. One caveat: not all wallpaper is like this. If a top layer doesn’t come off, it may not be this easy to pull off. Continue reading

March 26, 2014

Sharpies on Ceramics, Part III — Success!

The Pinterest fad of using Sharpies on ceramic mugs got me wondering if it would work. And sadly, it didn’t. So I decided to try some products that were actually made for glass and ceramics. All of them were found locally in those national chain craft stores. I included an oil-based Sharpie, and a Silver Sharpie.

The good news is that the products designed for glass and ceramics actually hold up pretty well through my washing, scrubbing, and steel wool tests. You can read about that here. All I had left to do was a dishwasher test, which would take a while.

A quick summary: the stuff designed to work on ceramics and go through the dishwasher actually works pretty well! I left the test tile in my dishwasher for two weeks, running it through about 10 times. It’s a brand new dishwasher, an LG, that has a 2 hour run cycle. I used 1 Great Value dishwasher pack per cycle (why Great Value? It got great reviews in a consumer magazine — and it works great and is really inexpensive!). Some cycles were normal, some heavy, and some “quick” (meaning only about an hour and a half instead of two hours).

Here’s the before and after (click on them to enlarge them):

2014-02-24 20.44.22

Before the dishwasher.

After 10 passes through the dishwasher.

After 10 passes through the dishwasher.

I wish I had better pictures. But, I think it’s apparent that the Rainbow markers washed off after the first wash. To be completely fair, the markers clearly stated they weren’t dishwasher safe, therefore, they performed exactly as they said they would.   Other than that, it’s pretty clear that the other media will do good to great in the dishwasher.

Looking at each one individually, here are my comments:

The PenTouch Metallicpen stayed on quite well. It did shift colors a bit, becoming duller and less metallic. However, for a fun project that doesn’t need to last forever, it performs quite well. Other than the color shift, the paint is in great condition. The dull/less metallic color isn’t a bad thing…I’ve had other drinkware that has gold-tone printing fade like this. It’s not a bad thing, just a bit worn.

The Oil Based Sharpie and the Silver Sharpie both performed fairly well. There seemed to be some wear on the writing, particularly where it had been abraded by the steel wool. That tells me that it should hold for a fun project until the paint gets a bit damaged from normal wear and tear, then it might wear quickly.

The Porcelaine paints were outstanding. There seems to be absolutely no change. It looks like they’ll hold for a long, long time. I would use these on a project I’d like to keep for a long, long time.

The Folk Art paints and the Americana Gloss Enamel paint performed great. The gold showed a slight color-shift, much like the PenTouch Metallic (and I think that’s a function of the pigments used to make gold metallic paints/inks). The other colors may be slightly faded, but not enough for me to recommend against them. In fact, based on this test, I was quite pleasantly surprised at how well a $2 bottle of paint performed. I’d use these on long-term projects. I’ve purchased plastic, glass, and ceramic drinkware that has faded more over the same 10 washings.

Remember that in that blank space was a Regular Sharpie that didn’t make it through all the tests. The Rainbow Markers did a great job as a craft marker — something that I’d use for projects that aren’t expected to have a long life.

In my opinion, the Porcelaine products are the best. The Folk Art and Americana Gloss Enamel paints are also quite nice. The PenTouch Metallic makes a lovely line, but does color-shift after repeated washings — not in a bad way, but it does shift. And the Oil Based Sharpie and Silver Sharpie makes up nicely, but won’t wear quite as well as the others. They are in marker forms, while the Folk Art and Americana paints require a paint brush. The Porcelaine paints are available in markers, though I haven’t tried them.

All in all, these are some wonderful, readily available, inexpensive media to create your own dishwasher-safe decorations on glass and ceramic surfaces.

Note: None of these products should be used on surfaces that will come in contact with food or one’s mouth. Avoid decorating the top rim of mugs and glasses, avoid the interior areas of bowls and plates, and keep the decorating to the handles of cooking, serving, and eating utensils. Please be safe!

[There is a Part IV to this series that tests sealing glass and ceramic Sharpies with Mod Podge.]

March 17, 2014

Salmon in Grapefruit Marinade

OK, so I’m probably the last person that should be dreaming up recipes, particularly for fish, which I’m just not that fond of.

But here’s the deal: I’ve still got three grapefruits from the CSA box. And I’m not particularly fond of grapefruit, either. Although, there were two other recipes that were delicious: Grapefruit Grilled Chicken and a wonderful Zucchini Grapefruit Loaf with a Citrus-Lavender Glaze. I recommend both of those if you find yourself with grapefruit that you don’t know what to do with. In fact, I might even buy a grapefruit for those. However, those two recipes used three grapefruit between them, leaving the remaining three to sit on the counter and dare me to find something to do with them.

My family has been wanting fish for a while and I’ve been procrastinating about making it, since there are so many other yummy things than fish. So, even though it’s St. Patrick’s Day, and I’d love nothing more than corned beef and beer, it doesn’t use much of the produce I have. So, we’ll have some healthy fish. I’ll eat the salmon remembering that it’s good for my heart and my waistline. And maybe this marinade will be tasty.

I found a number of marinades, but something just wasn’t right about all of them (loosely translated, that means I’m missing an ingredient or three and I’m too lazy to go out and track them down). So, here’s my mashup from a number of recipes:

  • Juice and pulp from one grapefruit
  • 1/3 cup bottled lime juice
  • 1/2 cup frozen pesto base*
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 1 tsp thyme

*Last summer I harvested three huge basil plants and made a freezeable pesto base of basil, garlic, olive oil, and either almonds or walnuts instead of pine nuts. To use it, all I have to do is thaw it and Parmesan cheese. It made a lot of pesto. A LOT. I’ve been using it for all kinds of things. This sounded like a perfect replacement for basil and olive oil. I’m sure the walnuts and garlic will be a welcome flavoring, too. I hope.

The marinade is fairly green…does that count for St. Patrick’s Day?

It makes quite a bit of marinade, a little less than 2 cups. I did 4 salmon filets and I likely could have done many more. I cooked the filets by poaching them in equal parts of water and marinade.

The good news is that this was a lovely, citrusy flavor. It doesn’t taste like bitter grapefruit! Nor lime, either. The basil adds another dimension to the citrus flavor, which results in a flavor that is kind of a combination of all citrus fruits. I’m pleasantly surprised and quite pleased! I even liked the salmon. And the resulting salmon is not green, but has nice speckles of basil and herbs on it.

And I forgot to take a picture. It looked nice on the plate with a colorful medley of red peppers, orange carrots, yellow squash, green broccoli, earthy mushrooms, and red onion.

November 3, 2013


This fall, you can’t turn around in a grocery store without running into some sort of seasonal pumpkin-flavored product. Admittedly, we are enjoying our fair share of pumpkin products, like Trader Joe’s pumpkin ravioli, numerous pumpkin pancake mixes, Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Granola cereal, Pumpkin Spice M&M’s, Pepperidge Farms’ Pumpkin Swirl bread, Thomas’ pumpkin spice bagels spread with a thick layer of Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter…those are just some of our favorites. But what interests me most is what to do with those pie pumpkins in the farmer’s market/CSA box that is of a more savory nature than sweet.

Creamy Chicken and Pumpkin Pasta

Creamy Chicken and Pumpkin Pasta

Tonight’s version of a pumpkin dinner is a derivative of the Creamy Chicken & Pumpkin Pasta from taste.com.au. Since I can’t just make a recipe as-written, I always adapt it. Sometimes it’s adapted for speed, sometimes to lighten it, sometimes because I don’t have a particular ingredient, and sometimes just because I’m contrary. This time it’s because I’m reducing the fat. I’ve “found” a new (to me) way of cooking chicken breast so it tastes great and has a lovely moist, tender texture, yet uses no added fat. Continue reading


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