Crab Stuffed Mushroom Caps

This is an easy one!  Delicious and filling, you won’t need anything more than a salad to accompany these tasty guys.

What you’ll need:

Portabella mushroom caps

1 package of cream cheese

1 package of chunky imitation crab meat

Finely shredded cheddar cheese



What to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Remove stems from your caps and set on a cookie sheet lined with tin foil.  Chop your crab meat.  I like using one of those “slap choppers” for this.  They work great.  Mix the meat in with the cream cheese.  Add onion and garlic to taste.  A small hand-held mixer works best.  Melt butter in the microwave.  Pour melted butter in each mushroom cap then fill with your crab mixture.  Top with cheese and bake until the cheese is bubbly and just starting to brown.  That’s it!  You’re done and clean up is a snap!


Painting – Supplies – More of What’s in my Bag

Now that we’ve got the basics covered, let’s move into the stuff you’ll be handling all the time while working on your next project.  First, you need a hammer and paint can opener.  You can get an opener for free when you purchase your paint.  Don’t forget to ask for a paint stick too while you’re there.  For trimming, I keep a big plastic cup in my bag.  It’s a lot easier to handle than those large, heavy paint cans.  I prefer solid plastic over the disposable cups because they are easier to clean and not easily crushed.

Now, let’s talk about application.  I can’t stress enough that your paint brush can really make or break the quality of the job you do.  I never hesitate to spend good money on a brush.  The better the brush, the more smooth your strokes will be and the flatter the paint will lay without having those annoying brush marks.

paint brush


I use the Do It Best Select line of brushes.  They are made by Shur Line and are a 100% polyester bristolene filament brush with a comfortable wood handle.  These brushes really clean up well, too. I’ve been using the same one for several years now and believe me, it’s seen a LOT of paint!

scrub brushWant to know a great tip for cleaning your brush after painting?  Throw in a stiff bristled scrub brush!  When cleaning your brush, lay it flat in the sink and use this to scrub down on your bristles.  Take care to always scrub down so that you don’t kink your brush.  This will take the dried on stuck on little pieces of paint that you can’t ever seem to get off by hand.  The best part is that it’s super easy and saves a ton of time.


When it comes to rolling paint on walls, I also splurge a little bit.  I prefer using this fancy critter.roller frame  It’s a supreme paint roller frame that is constructed to meet the demands of everyday use and provide professional quality performance.  It features the Hold Tite fan cage that holds roller covers 50% tighter than wire cage frames yet allows easy installation and removal of roller covers. Also features the Sure Grip handle for added comfort and reducing fatigue.  It’s a little more time-consuming to clean, but it’s certainly built to last.  After using this roller frame, I won’t ever go back to the inexpensive wire type.  It’s worth the few extra dollars.  If you’re painting a door, or something that requires a super smooth finish, try a small, foam roller cover instead of a nap one.  The quality of your roller cover can sure make a difference in how flat your paint lays.  Cheaper covers tend to “lift” the paint, creating an unwanted texture.

You will also need to get yourself a paint tray.  I prefer to use the disposable plastic liners so that when I’m done, clean up is easy.  Just make sure that your tray is designed to work with the size of roller that you plan to use.

Time to begin!  First, lay out that canvas drop cloth you bought and start using that paper masking tape along the base boards and window and door casing.  Next, start taking off the switch and outlet plate covers in the room.  Most plate screws are a slotted head.  For that, I use a slotted rotary screwdriver like this one.  rotary screwdriver

It takes the work out of your wrist because the shank rotates in the handle.  You probably better throw i a simple Phillips screwdriver as well.  You never know when you might need to use it.  Often times I need it to take down towel bars and mirrors in bathrooms as well as curtain rods.  The room looks so much better when you paint behind the fixtures, not around them.

Before you paint, be sure that your surface is clean.  I keep a 3″ cheapo brush in my bag to use for cleaning up cobwebs and dust.  The last thing you want is a lumpy finish from dirt being trapped in your paint.  You will also need to use spackle to fill in nail holes. spackle  This quick drying product comes in a little plastic tub and is easily applied with your finger.  Just be sure to wipe off the extra so that the surface is nice and smooth and the repair won’t stand out.

Time to get started!  Be sure to mix your paint with the paint stick before pouring.  Also, if you’re doing a large area, don’t dry out one can before switching to the other.  Make sure that you mix the gallons.  I like to start with the trim first and then roll into it.  On a wall, I usually do about a 4-6 foot section at a time, pealing back the paper masking tape as soon as I’m done.  Failing to do so may cause the paint to come up with the tape.  Remember, paint is made up of a lot of glue, so it will bond to the tape.

Once you’re finished, pour the extra paint in your tray back into the can and start cleaning your brush.  The wetter the brush, the easier it will be to clean it.  Don’t forget to clean off the roller frame as well.

If you’ve chosen a very dark, saturated color, the paint may take several hours to set and become its true color.  Dark reds often start out looking pink but settle in with time.

Be sure the paint is dry before putting back your plate covers, curtain rods and pictures.  If the paint isn’t dry, the items may leave marks or indentations in the paint.

I hope that my tips for painting help you to actually enjoy the task.  I love the instant gratification that painting gives me.  Going from one color to a fresh, new color is pretty exciting.  Please feel free to offer your suggestions or ask any questions.


Painting – Supplies – What’s in my bag?


When it comes to painting, I truly believe that if you’ve got the right products, your project will be done faster and better than if you just “get by with what you have”  Pictured here is my main arsonal of supplies.  By keeping them bagged up in these convenient recyclable bags, they’re ready to go, saving me tons of preparation time.  The only thing missing here is my stepladder and halogen light, both of which are also an easy grab just before I’m ready to start.

Preparation is probably for me, the most boring, tedious part of the job.  I have a few tips here that have made my life easier and hopefully will help you, too!


Item #770094 at Tri-County Lumber costs $25.99 and is a great investment in your supply arsenal.

Item #770094 at Tri-County Lumber costs $25.99 and is a great investment in your supply arsenal.

First off, get yourself a good drop cloth.  I don’t like using plastic when painting because the droplets don’t dry as fast, making it easy to track paint around the house with your shoes.  I use an 8az. 9’x12′ canvas drop cloth that I bought of course at Tri-County Lumber.  Don’t laugh, but there’s a total of four of those canvases stuffed into that large, pink bag!  They really are great though.  Having more than one makes it easy when you have to turn a corner so that you can just lay them out and keep moving, rather than having to adjust your cloth for every new wall  you start.  They also work awesome if you’re repainting your ceiling so that you can keep your eyes up on the task at hand without worrying if you’re getting close to the edge of your drop cloth.


Another item that I always keep in tow that might surprise you is baby wipes.

Baby Wipes

These little guys are great for cleaning up any spatters or “oopses” that happen.  They’re already moist, saving you the time of running to the sink, and they’re disposable!  So grab yourself a package of baby wipes and throw them into your bag!  I’ve got to credit my sister Lita for this one.  She’s got a toddler at home and used the baby wipes when working on a project in her home and shared the idea with me.

I’m not really one to use normal painter’s tape like Frog Tape or the Scotch Blue Painter’s Tape.  I’ve had better luck with a nifty little product that you may not know about.  It’s called Paper Masking Tape.

Easy Mask Painter's Tape

It is an out-performing masking tape that will give better masking results. Unlike regular masking, paper mask does not allow seepage and bleed-through. The uncoated portion acts like a drop cloth to catch extra spills and splatter. The specially formulated adhesive won´t leave a sticky residue even after being exposed to direct sunlight. The features and benefits on the trilingual package clearly illustrate why Easy Mask is a superior paint masking product. It provides clean, razor-sharp edges on baseboards, ceilings, windows, walls, woodwork, graphics, trim, and cabinets.  If you’re working on a wall that has base trim and casing, this stuff is rigid enough, yet thin enough to slide in right behind that trim, allowing you to have a crisp trim without getting it on the wood.  I have also tucked it in behind the window frame of entry doors.  The trick is, to peel it off as soon as you’re done with a section.  If the paint dries on it, it acts like a glue and when you pull it off, it will pull the paint off too.  This product has saved me so much preparation time.

More to come on what’s in my bags, stay tuned!




Paint and Primer in One – When do we need it?

Paint companies in the last couple of years have released new formulas of paint that they label as “Paint and Primer in One” (PPIO), but when do we really need to use it? The cost of the PPIO is higher than traditional latex paints and most of them are a different type of paint altogether. Take for instance our Valspar Integrity Interior Paint. Up until now, this was labeled as a traditional latex (Vinyl Acetate Ethylene Copolymer) paint. Recently however, without even changing the formula, it is now dubbed as a PPIO. Our “best paint” – Medallion PPIO is an acrylic (Acrylic Resin) latex. If you’re familiar with acrylic at all, you know that it is highly stain resistant and very durable.
So when should I use the “best” paint?
The Medallion PPIO is great for projects where you will be painting over an existing color. Tests show that the Medallion PPIO has a better coverage over hard to cover colors. The formula dries quickly as well. You can re-coat within 2-4 hours.
When working with a new construction surface, my opinion is that you should first use a standard primer and then topcoat with the Integrity (traditional) latex paint. Primer is much less expensive than top coat paint and can even be tinted to match the color of the wall. This primer will then fill those pores up, giving your top coat much better coverage at less cost than if you used only the Medallion PPIO.
As you now know, I do a TON of painting. I’ve had experience with both the Medallion acrylic latex and the Integrity traditional latex paints. I can’t really say that I like one better than another. I still do use the Integrity on interior projects, but also use the Medallion under certain circumstances such as painting the outside of our house and our fiberglass entry door. When painting a product other than drywall, like a door or siding, be sure to read the manufactures specifications for paint. I’m finding more and more are requiring that you use the acrylic paints in order to keep your warranty valid. At least now, we have easy access to both types of paint, so the only decision other than color to make is, “Which one should I use?”
Whenever in doubt, feel free to ask me at the store. I’d love to help!

Painting – What Color Should I Use?

Valspar Color Cards

One of the most commonly asked questions that I get at work is, “What color do you think would look good with this ____________ ?”  Well, here’s a tip to help you choose.

After you’ve decided what color family you’re wanting to have, go to the store and find some color chip samples.  Our store has hundreds of them to choose from and they’re all free for the taking.  I usually take three or four different ones home, each with a different “background shade” so that I can decide which is best.  Remember, colors will look much different at your house than they will under the fluorescent lights of the store.

When you get home, find yourself some scissors and painter’s tape.  If the color chip has several different colors, cut out the ones you’re most interested in.  If you’re lucky and the color you’re interested in is on one big card, you can use that.  Use the painter’s tape and put a small piece on each of the color chips.  Put chips up on the wall – eye level – spacing them so that they’re not one on top of another.  Be sure to do this in a place where the lighting is good.

Now the easy part!  For the next few days while you’re walking in or out of the room, take a glance at the wall, chances are, one of the colors will continuously draw your eye.  This will most likely be the color that works.  Just to be sure, move that color to a different wall where the lighting might be different.  That way you can make sure that the color doesn’t take on a different tone.

Wasn’t that easy?


Painting – Let’s Get Started!

Some of you may know already that I LOVE to paint.  Whether it’s on a wall, canvas or the outside of my house, it’s always fun for me.  I’ve done many different types of projects over the years and each one seems to get easier because I’ve learned a few tricks here and there.  Well, now I think it’s time to share those with you!  Here are just a few of the projects that I’ve completed.  A little color goes a long way!


Bacon Wrapped Asparagus on the Grill

What you’ll need:
1 pound of asparagus

1/2lb slab bacon
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

What to do:

Snap asparagus stalks, rinse and pat dry. Lay flat and use brush all sides and ends with EVOO. Sprinkle with pepper. Count out spears and divide by four. Wrap each bundle with three strips of bacon, holding it in place with a toothpick. Grill on hot for about 12-15 minutes, turning over the bundle halfway. Cook until the bacon is done to your taste. ENJOY!

Boneless Chicken Thighs with Garlic Butter and Mushrooms

What you’ll need:
6 – Boneless Chicken Thighs
1/2 Cup Melted Salted Butter
Garlic to Taste
Parsley for Color
Paprika to Sprinkle
1 – Container of Baby Portobello Mushrooms, Cleaned and Sliced
6 – Sun Dried Tomatoes – Re-hydrated

What to do:
Thaw out chicken thighs.
Start oven on High Broil setting with oven rack in the middle.

Spray glass oven baking pan.  Place in chicken thighs.  Combine melted butter with garlic, parsley and pepper. Place sliced mushrooms over chicken then pour butter mixture over the mushrooms and chicken.  Sprinkle with Paprika.  Place one sun dried tomato half on each thigh.  Put in oven, uncovered until juices run clear on chicken breasts.  I also stirred in the mushrooms and tomatoes about 2/3’s the way through to keep them moist.  This assures that they are cooked thoroughly. (About 40 minutes)

Beer Burgers

What you’ll need:

2lbs of 80% ground beef
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoon of parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of minced onion, browned in 2 teaspoons of butter
1 tablespoon of worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup beer
1 egg
Lawry’s or any steak seasoning

Combine all ingredients in bowl.  Smash together with bare hands.  Form into a ball and place in fridge for 30 minutes.
Make hamburger pattes and wrap in bacon using a toothpick to hold on.  Sprinkle with Lawry’s or steak seasoning of your choice
Grill to your flavor

I topped mine with sauteed mushrooms and swiss cheese… They were AWESOME!