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  1. Thursday, January 30

    How to Paint Old Wood Paneling

    Today I have a great tip for easily painting old wood paneling. Yes, it’s easy! Well, as easy as painting a wall can be, which isn’t always necessarily easy, but you get the drift. It’s easier than you think to transform those ugly brown 1960s wood panels!

    how to paint old wood paneling from @janemaynard

    Every day I thank my lucky stars we found the house that we did. It was older, like we wanted, but updated, like we also wanted. And it’s almost impossible to find a normal-priced house in San Diego these days, so we really are lucky we snagged this home! Also, there is very little work that needs to be done on the house, which has alleviated a lot of stress. Honestly, I’m just not made for doing lots of renovations. I know some people love it, but I’m not one of those people!

    The very first thing we did when we got keys to the house and before we moved in was take out the popcorn ceilings and pull out the kitchen cabinet that separated the dining area from the kitchen. I am SO glad we did both of those things! 

    kitchen before shot from @janemaynardKitchen before cabinet removal and the new dishwasher

    kitchen after cabinet removed from @janemaynardKitchen after – removing the cabinet opened up the whole room and made the counter feel so much bigger.

    There were two other things we also thought we would do before moving in – painting or removing the 1960s wood paneling in the living room and putting in hardwood floors in the dining room and hallway. Well, time and money arrived at the meeting and changed all our plans, as they so often do. The battle with my white carpet continues. Right now I’ve got it enough under control that we can go on a little longer before doing the floor thing. But over the holiday break I got the painting bug and decided to attack the living room wall.

    living room before shot, completely with 1960s wood paneling from @janemaynard

    Here is what the living room looked like when we moved in, complete with wood paneling, dated brown shelves and pleated drapes. To be clear, this is the kind of wood paneling that is a thin layer tacked to the wall, not actual solid wood walls. You know what I’m talking about. Anyway, we took the drapes down upon moving in, but left the shelves and wall alone. Honestly, I kind of got used to it. The wall and shelves were neutral in color so it wasn’t a big deal. But the fact of the matter is that it dated the room and made it feel darker. 

    living room before shot, completely with 1960s wood paneling from @janemaynard

    A friend of ours is a professional painter and I asked him about painting the paneling. For some reason I thought it would be hard to do and wondered if it was even possible. Don said, “No, it’s easy. And, no, you don’t have to prep the surface at all.” He then told me what to do, which I will share with you in a moment.

    Picking the Colors
    After much hemming and hawing, we decided to leave the brick unpainted and I put together a color scheme that would work with the red-orange of the brick as well as our furniture. I decided to go with a green wall. Red and green are complimentary colors and I figured if I got the right shade of green it wouldn’t at all feel Christmasy but instead warm and inviting. I went with a darker, muted green and it worked beautifully. For the shelves I decided to go with white so that it would tie in with the baseboards. I found as close a match to the white of the baseboards as I could and it worked out well.

    So, did Don’s trick for painting the paneling work? YES!

    how to paint old wood paneling from @janemaynard

     

    How to paint old wood paneling:

    • Buy good-quality paint. Don recommends Behr.
    • Use interior paint and primer in one. I chose flat enamel for my finish to contrast with the semi-gloss paint I was using on the white shelves. I really like how the flat enamel looks on the wood paneling and it “clings” well to the wall. Depending on your needs, I’m sure something more glossy would look good as well, although I haven’t tried it. (I would definitely not use flat or hi-gloss finishes. The flat would feel awful, whereas the flat enamel has a good feel to it. And I hi-gloss would be too glossy for a wall.)
    • Tape off the edges and paint the wall! For the darker paint I had to do 2 coats. If you use a lighter color you may need to do more. 
    • Don swore to me I didn’t need to sand or anything, so we didn’t. Margaret in comment #1 below did share a good tip, as she’s been through the process before. She recommends doing a light sanding and then wiping down with tack cloth before painting, just to really ensure the integrity of the paint job. In all honesty, a light sanding is not too time consuming, so if you feel up for it, I would maybe do that, too. My paneling was NOT super shiny, so that may be why Don said I didn’t need to do it, so if your wood paneling has more of a sheen, give it a quick sanding and wipe down with that yucky tack cloth. 

    That’s it! The old 1960s wood paneled surface took to the paint perfectly. It has a nice feel and the paint is on there good. 

    Don told me to use the same paint and technique for the shelves, which I did. The shelves had a different finish than the wood paneling and, I think if you took a knife or a key or something to the surface you might be able to scrape the paint off. It would take a little elbow grease, but the paint isn’t as “secure” as it is on the wood paneling. That said, it still worked great and I would do it the same way again.

    how to paint old wood paneling from @janemaynard

    Side note: If I had painted the shelves and wall the same color my life would have been a LOT easier. If you ever decide to do a two-tone paint job like this, just know it will cause you great aggravation! But I think in the end the hard work paid off. I’m really glad the shelves are white and I like the contrast. Just make sure to use the orange painter’s tape that is made for newly painted surfaces.

    how to paint old wood paneling from @janemaynard

    The living room is coming along! Here is what we’ve done so far and what is still to come!

    • The curtain panels and curtain rod are from Cost Plus World Market
    • The painting is also from Cost Plus. I love it because it ties in all of the colors together perfectly.
    • I ordered a new corner media cabinet yesterday from Crate and Barrel and am so excited for it to arrive in a week or so! (You can barely see it, but our current media cabinet is from almost 15 years ago and isn’t made for a corner, so I can’t wait to get it out of there! It’s in the bottom right of the picture above.)
    • We found a great local furniture store called Nativa last weekend and I’m going to be getting two arm chairs from there, to go on either side of the window, opposite of the couch. One chair will be a dark, muted blue and the other is a really fun print that also incorporates the green-blue-reddishorange thing we’ve got going on.
    • I almost forgot! I finally color coordinated the books on our shelves (most of them, at least) and LOVE IT. My OCD side had a hard time mixing up different genres of books, but the artistic side of me is really glad I ignored the OCD side.

    I need to give a shout out to my interior design friend Emily, who gets constant texts and phone calls from me making sure that the decisions we’re making aren’t crazytown. So far she’s been on board with everything! Except that she wants me to paint the whole room green. I’m still suffering from PTSD from this paint job, so we’ve gotta give that suggestion some time to percolate.


  2. Wednesday, January 29

    How to Keep Leftover Guacamole Green

    Today’s Kitchen Tip ROCKS. Brace. Yourselves. After today you will know how to keep leftover guacamole green.

    how to keep leftover guacamole green from @janemaynard

    So, it’s a running joke with a lot of our friends that everything they do around me is so they can get on the blog. One of my new friends here in our new town is just such a friend and she’s getting on the blog after a very short friendship. She wins.

    Katie (the friend) had Cate over for dinner the other night and when I picked Cate up they were eating leftover guacamole that was as green as the day it was born. Katie said, “I have a great tip for keeping guacamole green.” And I was like, “It doesn’t involve lemon juice or avocado pits, does it?” And Katie was like, “No way.” And I was like, “Good, because OXYGEN is the reason guacamole turns green.” And Katie was like, “Exactly. The trick is water.”

    THIS TRICK IS GENIUS. I don’t know how I haven’t heard of this tip before. Okay, so here’s what you do: put your leftover guacamole in a storage dish and then put about half an inch of water on top of the guacamole. That’s right, just carefully pour it right on top of the guac. This completely blocks any contact with oxygen and the guacamole stays completely and totally green. Also put a lid or plastic wrap over the dish to prevent spilling in the fridge. When you’re ready to eat the leftovers, just pour off the water! It’s like magic except that it totally makes sense.

    how to keep leftover guacamole green from @janemaynard

    I’ve always stored my guacamole with plastic wrap directly on the guacamole and then a lid on the container, and it sort of helped, but not completely. I still got a light brown layer. Then I used water instead of plastic wrap – green as far as the eye can see.

    The guacamole you see pictured in this post is two days old. TWO DAYS. 

    how to keep leftover guacamole green from @janemaynard

    And, I know, brown guacamole and avocados aren’t bad and taste (supposedly) just as good. But who likes brown guacamole? Nobody, that’s who.

    Please note, the overuse of capitalized words and the word “like” in this post should be a clear indicator as to how excited I am about this tip. 

    (If you’re looking for a guacamole recipe, click here.)

    I saw Katie today and she said she found the idea originally on The Kitchn, of course, because they’re full of great ideas over there! If you’d like to check out their post, click here. It will also prove we’re not crazy. 😉


  3. Tuesday, January 28

    Kitchen Sink Quesadillas

    This post is years overdue. I throw “Kitchen Sink Quesadillas” up on my menu fairly regularly and I’ve always just linked to a page with the recipe typed straight out of a Real Simple magazine, with no notes or pictures. Since it’s such a reliable go-to meal around here, I figured it deserved a bit of attention!

    go-to meal: kitchen sink quesadillas from @janemaynard

    I got the recipe from Real Simple long before I started this blog. In fact, it was one of my first attempts at vegetarian cooking. I’ll never forget the first time I made kitchen sink quesadillas. As Nate and I finished eating, he looked at me and said, “I didn’t even realize there wasn’t any meat.” We were both surprised how delicious and filling our dinner was!

    go-to meal: kitchen sink quesadillas from @janemaynard

    Our family has come along way since then – nowadays about half of our dinners are vegetarian. I really think this recipe all those years ago helped me realize that eating less meat is no big deal!

    go-to meal: kitchen sink quesadillas from @janemaynard

    Anyway, vegetarian or not, this is a great go-to meal and a nice step up from the basic quesadilla with very little extra work. They are simple and fast to prepare and there is also an option to cook the quesadillas all at one time, which can be especially helpful when cooking for a family.

    Kitchen Sink Quesadillas
     
    Adapted from Real Simple
    Author:
    Recipe type: Main Dish
    Ingredients
    • Quesadilla ingredients:
    • 1 can black beans, drained
    • 1 can corn kernels, drained
    • ¾ cup salsa, drained (you don’t have to drain the salsa, but it makes for a much less messy quesadilla, so if you don’t mind the step it’s good to do)
    • Small flour tortillas (twice as many as the number of quesadillas you want to make
    • Shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack
    • Optional side salad ingredients:
    • 1 tablespoon minced red onion
    • ⅓ cup fresh cilantro leaves
    • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
    • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
    • Juice of 1 to 2 limes
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
    Instructions
    1. If cooking the quesadillas in the oven, heat oven to 400° F. In a medium bowl, combine the beans, corn, and salsa.
    2. Place 4 tortillas on a parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with cheese. Lightly spread the bean-corn-salsa mixture over the cheese, then top with more cheese. Place flour tortillas on top. Bake until cheese is melted, about 5-7 minutes. You can also cook the quesadillas on the stovetop one at a time if you prefer.
    3. If you would like to whip up the side salad, while the quesadillas are in the oven, combine the onion, cilantro, salt, pepper, lime juice, oil and sugar. Mix well. Toss with the chopped lettuce. (I hardly ever make the salad!)
    4. Cut quesadillas into wedges and serve with the salad. Also good with salsa, sour cream and guacamole!

     


  4. Sunday, January 26

    Week 366 Menu

    Hi all! Is it really time to plan another menu already?

    weekly dinner menu from @janemaynard with free printable menu with shopping list

    Just a couple repeats from last week because we had lots of leftovers to feast on throughout the week. I always love that!

    MONDAY:
    – Kitchen Sink Quesadillas
    Guacamole and chips

    TUESDAY:
    – Sweet Korean BBQ Beef Tacos

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Chicken Stir Fry
    – Dumplings

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    – Hot dogs
    – Fruit, carrot sticks, chips

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out

    SUNDAY:
    Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken Sandwiches
    – Salad

    Click here for the free printable of this week’s menu plus the shopping list!

    You know the drill – time to share your menu for the week! Plain or fancy, all are welcome! 


  5. Thursday, January 23

    A Pot of Beans {How to Cook Dried Beans}

    Over the years I have been lucky enough to have several close friends who are Mexican and they have all introduced me to various wonderful foods. Those friends are all also really good at cooking beans. And, for whatever reason, no matter how many times they have told me how to cook beans and assured me that it’s easy, I had a mental block. Every time I would go to cook a bag of dried beans, I would freeze. Seriously, total mental block. I just could never remember exactly how to do it and felt dumb always asking “one more time” how to cook beans!

    how to cook dried beans from @janemaynard (it's easy peasy!)

    Well, I have finally broken down my bean barriers. One of my neighbors is Mexican and I finally just sucked up my pride and asked her (multiple times) how to cook dried beans. And then I actually did it. I cooked beans! And, surprise surprise, they were easy to make and mighty delicious!

    how to cook dried beans from @janemaynard (it's easy peasy!)

    For real, it’s easy. You’ll need to be home for a few hours to check on them occasionally while they cook, but that is seriously the hardest part of the recipe. I like to cook a big pot of beans at one time and then freeze the leftovers into 2-cup containers. The beans are easy to defrost and I love having them on hand. And they really do taste better than canned beans.

    How to Cook Dried Beans
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • Bag of dried beans (Black, pinto, peruan, whatever variety you like! Peruan is the variety you see in these photos.)
    • Water
    • Big pot
    • ¼ of an onion
    • Salt
    Instructions
    1. Ari (my neighbor) will sometimes soak the beans overnight, but it's not necessary. If you forget, no worries!
    2. Place the beans in a big pot (I use my french oven). Add water to cover the beans (if you soaked the beans prior, drain that water and add new water to the pot). Place ¼ of an onion (large pieces is fine) in the pot along with some salt (maybe about a teaspoon or so). Bring to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat, then cook over medium-low to medium heat for 2-3 hours (longer if you didn't soak the beans before hand). Stir the beans occasionally throughout the entire cooking process. You may need to add more water at some point if the water is running low but the beans are still not cooked through. The beans are done when they are soft and yummy!
    3. Remove the onion and add more salt if needed. If you want them to be more like refried beans, just mash them up a bit!


  6. Tuesday, January 21

    Streak-Free Window Cleaning

    Today’s post has absolutely nothing to do with food. Wait, I can bring it back to food. I know I can. Give me a second…okay, I’ve got it! Today’s “Kitchen” Tip is just what you need to get your kitchen window shiny clean so you can be a happy cook and make amazing FOOD.

    the secret to streak-free window cleaning from @janemaynard

    When Nate and I were first married we were washing our trusty old pick-up truck at his grandparents’ house. It was time to clean the windows when Grammy (of Grammy’s Orange Chicken fame) handed me a stack of newspaper when I asked for paper towels. I was like “Wha? Wha?” and she was like “Yup! Yup!” Okay, those may not be direct quotes, but you get the drift.

    So, yeah, it’s true! For streak-free window cleaning use newspaper (a.k.a. newsprint) instead of paper towels or cloth towels. It works soooo much better. It sounds crazy until you give it a try. I have a ton of plain newsprint from when we moved so I’ve been using that, but you can use regular old newspaper with the print on it. It doesn’t matter. Your hands might be dirty by the end, but your windows will be sparkly clean!

    Let’s do a comparison, shall we? Here is my front room window after cleaning it with paper towels but before the newspaper treatment.

    the secret to streak-free window cleaning from @janemaynard {before shot}

    Seriously, that’s a “clean” window. Well, I thought it was clean until the morning light came shining through the next day. I immediately grabbed some newsprint and glass cleaner and got to work. Here is the “after” shot:

    the secret to streak-free window cleaning from @janemaynard {after shot}

    There is no way I could have gotten it that clear with paper towels. I tried!

    Here’s the view through my super clean window – crisp and clear!

    the secret to streak-free window cleaning from @janemaynard

    I’ve used newsprint to clean mirrors and windows – I especially like using it for the inside of the windshield in my car. (I’m sort of a clean windshield nut.)

    So, next time you need to clean some windows, grab the glass cleaner and a bunch of newspaper. And send happy thank you vibes to Grammy McCarthy!


  7. Sunday, January 19

    Week 365 Menu

    We’re having a few friends over today to watch football (Go Pats!) and I made a banana cake with cream cheese frosting. We can’t wait to dig into this cake!!!!

    banana cake | weekly menu from @janemaynard + free printable menu and shopping list

    Confession: I did not make one thing on my menu last week. I think that might be a record. It was an unusually busy week and I never made it to the store, but this week should be better! I’ll only do a few repeats from last week. Maybe that menu was jinxed!

    weekly meal plan from @janemaynard + free printable menu and shopping list

    MONDAY:
    Cream of mushroom soup
    – Crusty bread

    TUESDAY:
    Island Pork with Sticky Coconut Rice
    – Salad or veggie

    WEDNESDAY:
    Kitchen Sink Quesadillas
    Guacamole and chips

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    – Homemade pizza night (crust recipeno-cook sauce recipe)
    – Flavors: plain cheese, honey goat cheese with caramelized onions

    SATURDAY:
    – Takeout

    SUNDAY:
    Sweet Korean BBQ Beef Tacos

    Click here for the free printable of this week’s menu plus the shopping list!

    You know the drill – please share your own menu for the week! As always, thank you for sharing ideas with one another, it’s the best!


  8. Thursday, January 16

    My Iceberg Lettuce Substitute

    This is one of those posts where half of you will say, “Uh, duh, Jane!” and the other half of you will say, “Duh! Why haven’t I thought of this before?” For those of you in category 1, just move on and have a lovely, iceberg lettuce-free day. For those of you in category 2, I’m glad I’m not alone. Okay, so, let’s move on with the issue at hand, shall we?

    simple iceberg lettuce substitute from @janemaynard

    Iceberg lettuce. I pretty much hate it. I loved it as a kid and, with every year I walk on this earth, I like the stuff less and less. I think it tastes like water and it isn’t as nutrient rich as other lettuces and greens, so what’s the point? It’s only positive attribute is the texture. Sometimes you just need the extra crunch that iceberg lettuce can provide.

    Well, yesterday, I was making myself a turkey sandwich on a roll leftover from our dinner of sausage subs. The roll reminded me of this place (Nielsen’s Frozen Custard in Utah) that makes a simple turkey sandwich that sometimes just hits the spot. I wanted to replicate the sandwich but needed iceberg lettuce, which I did not have because, well, I never buy it unless I have to. I did, however, have a head of romaine lettuce.

    simple iceberg lettuce substitute from @janemaynard

    So, I grabbed my knife and sliced the romaine nice and skinny, just like I would have with iceberg. Sure, it’s not quite as crunchy as iceberg, but it has a good balance of leafy and crunchy to fit the bill. It worked like a charm on my sandwich. It would also be perfect on tacos and other foods where you often find iceberg lettuce lurking.

    There you have it. Romaine is now my iceberg lettuce substitute. It’s healthier and tastes better. And it’s got a good bite. Life is good. Adios, iceberg. It’s been nice known’ ya.


  9. Wednesday, January 15

    Salted Caramel Corn Perfection

    You GUYS. I found a truly perfect recipe for salted caramel corn. It’s just, well, perfect. Each piece of popcorn is coated just right, the texture is light and crispy, the flavor is amazing. The best part? The popcorn is wicked easy to make.

    perfect salted caramel cornI found the recipe on my friend Brenda’s food blog A Farmgirl’s Dabbles. It’s her mom’s recipe for microwave caramel popcorn. I love Brenda and her mom forever for sharing it with us. Seriously, I don’t even know how many times I’ve made it in the last two weeks. Good thing I’m not on a diet for new year’s!

    perfect salted caramel corn

    Because Brenda’s recipe makes a TON of popcorn, I figured out how to adjust everything down for a half batch. I wrote a post on Babble with step-by-step photos and instructions, but the recipe is also listed below.

    Whether you make a little or a lot, you need to make this stuff. You’re welcome.

    Salted Caramel Corn Perfection
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    I got this recipe from my friend Brenda on A Farmgirl's Dabbles. It's her mom's recipe. I've halved it and written the directions in my own words, but you can click here for the original recipe.
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Ingredients
    • ~ 2 qts popcorn (1/2 cup un-popped)
    • ½ cup packed brown sugar
    • ¼ cup butter
    • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
    • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt + more for sprinkling
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
    • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
    Instructions
    1. Pop ½ cup uncooked popcorn and place in a large brown paper bag. Pop your popcorn however you want, starting with ½ cup kernels, which will yield about 2 quarts.
    2. Place brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and kosher salt in a microwave-safe bowl, preferably with a spout. Cook in microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove, stir to incorporate, then microwave for 1 more minute on high. Caramel should be boiling.
    3. Add baking soda and vanilla to caramel. Mix well then pour over the popcorn in the back, stirring to evenly spread caramel throughout the popcorn. (It does not need to be mixed perfectly.)
    4. Roll down the top of the brown paper bag and place in the microwave. Cook on high for 1 minute. Remove from microwave, keeping bag closed, and shake a LOT in every direction. Return bag to the microwave and cook on high for 1 minute. (Note: Since the bag is so big, it will not rotate while cooking. When I cook it for the first minute, I make sure the fold in the bag faces the back of the microwave. Then, for the second minute of cooking, I make sure the fold faces the opposite directly, to help distribute the cooking evenly.) Remove from microwave. Shake the bag a whole lot more.
    5. Pour popcorn out onto a rimmed cookie sheet. I like to line the tray with a large piece of parchment paper to help with clean up. This size batch will fill one tray completely. Sprinkle the popcorn evenly with a bit more kosher salt, then break up the popcorn with your hands to mix it up.
    6. Eat!

     


  10. Two Sweet Treats

    In December I had the chance to write a few pieces for the ABC Family 25 Days of Christmas website. And then, once Christmas was over, the posts were gone! Two of the posts had some mighty fine recipes, so I just added them to the Babble website so they can still be accessible.

    polar express hot chocolate from @janemaynard

    The first, hot cocoa as thick and rich as melted chocolate bars. You know, like in The Polar Express. The dreamy, wonderful hot cocoa we all imagined as kids!

    lemon cream cheese sandwich cookies from @janemaynard

    The second is a super simple cookie recipe that is SO GOOD. You definitely want to add this one to your recipe box – Lemon Cream Cheese Cookie Sandwiches!

    Double yum!