The couple of months before Christmas I wrack my brain trying to think of something really great to create for the family. A few years back we decided to make giving a homemade gift the tradition (I write about it HERE). At some point in the brainstorming, a light bulb goes on and I know just what I want to do. This year: Vintage WIndow Frame Chalkboards – fun, useful, practical, and just plain VINTAGE COOL. Here is how I made them:
I went to a salvage yard and picked out the frames. I learned a few things that may help you. First, pick frames that don’t have 7 layers of lead paint on them (hmmmm…why didn’t I think of this??). Pick ones that have just a little bit of paint, or are unfinished. They will be much easier to sand and prep. Second, realize that the smaller the window frame panels, the harder it will be to sand and paint. And three, pick a time of year where paint removal will work outside. I finally figured out the stripper wasn’t working on the paint because it was too darn cold after I had spent HOURS freezing my buns off trying to get it to work! The whole operation got moved to the bonus room, which was interesting. Footballs were whizzing past my head as I scraped and sanded.
I used a paint stripper to start loosening the old paint on the frame. I scraped what I could off, then sanded the rest. An electric sander is the best way to go. It took a few times, but like I said, you will be smarter than me and not get frames that had been painted 10 times!
I taped the sides of the frame with painter’s tape, then began painting the window panes with chalkboard paint. HINT: USE A PRIMER BEFORE YOU BEGIN USING THE CHALKBOARD PAINT. The paint had a tough time sticking to the glass. If I would have used a primer, it would have been a piece of cake, and it would have taken less coats.
These projects are family affairs. This part my kids could do a lot of the work, as long as they stayed within the tape lines.
Here is the work area. We ended up painting 4 coats, so we would paint and let dry overnight before repeating.
My sister excitedly called me in January and told me that she had just flipped through a Pottery Barn catalog, and they were selling a window frame chalkboard that looked just like the one we had given her — only for a $250 price tag! Gotta love that……
I once thought that once- a-month cooking meant one thing: casseroles! I am not a casserole kind of girl, and I thought that’s what cooking groups made. Not so! Our version of “cooking group” makes incredible marinades, delicious, healthy sauces, and even gluten-free dishes! The time spent cooking together not only serves our families, but it builds our friendships, and saves us money to boot….lots of money! You just wouldn’t believe how economical it is to cook this way! There are several ways to organize this kind of a group, but let me walk you through how we do ours:
1. Pick a group of 4-6 people who you enjoy being with and who like to cook — or who at least want to learn to cook!
2. Designate a “buyer” for the month. In our group of 6, we shop in teams of 2. In my sister’s group of 4, they plan and buy individually. The buyer(s) picks 10-12 recipes, then buys all of the ingredients for all of the families. In our group, we times each ingredient in each recipe by 6. The math takes some concentration, so I highly recommend you leave the kids at home, unless they are walking calculators! Usually the people planning also host the group that month at their house.
TIP: Costco will shop for you with a very detailed list if the order is over $500. This has been really helpful for me!
3. Pick a place in your house where you can organize all of the ingredients. For me, I use our dining room. I tape each recipe to the wall or to a chair, then I place the ingredients that go with that meal underneath the recipe. Common ingredients like olive oil, onions, salt, garlic, vinegar, etc. go on the middle table for all to use.
4. Each cook comes prepared with an apron, a cooler, a knife, cutting board, and mixing bowl (if needed). My sister’s group cooks during the day while the kids are in school. My group starts cooking at 6pm. We line up our coolers on the front porch or in the garage.
5. Each cook takes a recipe from the wall or chair, and goes to work! The meals are either bagged in ziplocks or placed in aluminum pans. We label them with a Sharpe pen then place a meal in each cooler.
6. We pay the person who bought all of the groceries, then we go home with our coolers, 12 meals, and a sheet that lists each meal and the directions for cooking. I like to post this on my freezer where I store my meals so it doesn’t get misplaced.
That’s it! I HIGHLY encourage you to give this kind of cooking a try! We have to cook for our families anyway, why not make it fast, economical, and fun to do!