Oh, Were We Going To Talk About Cleaning Paintbrushes?

I was perusing through some of my old posts today (can’t believe I started this blog in January and now here it is, July) and realized I promised we’d talk paintbrush cleaning after we shared some tips we found helpful when completing our living room painting makeover extravaganza. Oops.

Things got a little crazy if you remember at the end of March and through April and May. I left my awful job and we decided to go to Asia and stuff…you know, the usual. In fact, I’m BEYOND embarrassed to admit this, but I haven’t even finished painting the trim! Yikes. I still need to paint the trim around doors and windows and in all honesty, the doors themselves could use a coat of paint too. Soon, soon.

Anyway, here are a few tips on how to properly care for your brushes. After all, good ones aren’t exactly cheap, but if you care for them properly, they will last you project after project.

Keep It Moist: There is a very good possibility that you’ll begin painting and have to stop to attend to something else before you’ve completely finished the project. Don’t let paint dry on your brush…seriously. Wrap the brush tightly in plastic or a plastic bag and it should stay wet for a few days. Cool huh? Either way, dry paint on your brush is a pain to remove so why let it get to that point in the first place.

Rinse: Use fresh water to rinse your brushes. Try not to turn the brush upside down to allow water to shoot up the bristles towards the handle and don’t bend the bristles. This can damage brushes. Boo. If needed, you can use a little dish detergent to get things loosened up.

Brush, your Brush: Remember that wire brush I mentioned in our Painting Tips post? A fabulous associate at Sherwin Williams recommended one of these beauties to me. It was an “if you could only have one more random painting tool, have one of these” sort of tip. It really works wonders for raking paint buildup from around the bristles. Just a few gentle passes with the wire brush and our paint brushes were virtually paint free.

Let It All Hang Out: After gently squeezing water from the bristles (I just take my index and middle fingers and gently squeeze the water out) we hung our brushes from hooks over our utility sink to dry. This keeps the bristles and form of the brush like new.

Wrap It Up: PLEASE tell me you didn’t throw away the cardboard wrapper that your paint brush came packaged in?! If you have, no biggie, but next time hang on to those wrappers! Once your paint brushes are nice and dry, place the cardboard around them once again and store flat or hanging from a hook.

Voila, like-new paint brushes each and every time.

Just as an aside, I feel a little silly typing up a “how to clean your paint brushes” tutorial. Especially because, if you ask me, none of the above actually seems like rocket science. However, if you search the internet for “how to clean paintbrushes” there is an endless series of permutations on how the procedure should be performed. Seriously, could it be that hard? Anyway, we just felt like sharing what worked for us and how much it’s NOT a chore to accomplish.

How to Prune Oregano | eHow.com

How to Prune Oregano | eHow.com.

Haven’t found myself using much fresh oregano but I plan on attempting to dry the leaves and store them to add seasoning to pasta sauces, etc.

How to Prune Cilantro | eHow.com

How to Prune Cilantro | eHow.com.

A few highlights from this handy post:

1. Apparently cilantro begins to do poorly in hot temperatures. Being that we are approaching summer in Florida, I’ll harvest what I can to use and hope for the best.

2. You can harvest coriander seeds by allowing the plant to flower and go to seed. Cool!

Pruning Basil – YouTube

My herbs (basil, cilantro, and oregano) are getting a little unruly. A cursory search of YouTube resulted in some great tutorials on how to take care of my plants.

Pruning Basil – YouTube.

Painting Tips

I’m baaack! Hi all, sorry we’ve been MIA. Last week kicked off the first leg of some traveling we’ll be doing (we’re headed out again in about 10 days) so things may be a little sporadic around the blog for a bit. Anyway, I had started this post a few weeks ago while we were elbows deep in painting the living room and thought it was about time I share.

Here are a few tips that have made our lives easier when it comes to painting.

Paint the ceiling first.

If for no other reason than this is the most back-breaking part, so get it over with. We lay down drop cloths to cover the room and protect any furniture. Paint will inevitably splatter down at you so don’t skip this step. We’re pretty careful people but you can never be careful enough. Also, word to the wise, if you wear glasses like me, try to wear an older pair when painting or suck it up and use protective goggles because you WILL get paint on your glasses.

Now you can move on to painting the walls.

Painting the walls as step two works nicely. Don’t bother taping off trim. Honestly, just focus on having a relatively steady hand, especially up near the ceiling, when cutting in. And if you have trim like crown molding and  base boards you’ll probably be painting that anyway so any deviant paint will get covered when you go to do that anyway. I like to cut in using a 2 1/2″ angled brush. We like the XL line by Purdy. Also, get yourself a quality roller with a nice nap as well. We also like Purdy rollers with a 3/8 to 1/2 inch nap. We like to cut in and paint smaller sections to keep the “wet edge” for a seamless finish. For example, we cut in approximately 4’x4′ then roll it out, then move on to another section.

Paint your trim as the final step.

So, for those of you that are able to paint trim without taping off with painters tape, hat’s off to you. You are my hero and I both admire and hate you at the same time. Seriously people, what’s the secret here. I tried it this way and let’s just say, epic fail. I was better at staying in the lines in second grade. So for those of you like me, get some good painters tape and tape off your trim.

The trick here is to continue to paint the trim as if you were trying to paint without the tape. As in, don’t glob paint over the tape. Also, REMOVE THE TAPE AS SOON AS YOU ARE DONE. We’ve learned the hard way ripping tape off after paint has dried and let’s just say, it peels chunks of paint away as well. Boo.

What brush to use? We have two favorites. Both are 2″ short-handled angled brushes. The first one is called the Premium XL Tight Spots 2″ Angle Short Handle Brush.

The second (and probably my favorite) is the Purdy XL Cub 2″ Angle Brush.

I found both of these brushes at my local Sherwin Williams paint store.

At the end of the day, I’m not much into all the painting gadgetry available. However, there are a few additional little gems that have made our lives easier. Here are our discoveries.

Wire Brush

Perfect for cleaning your brushes. More on that in a future post.

ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape with Edge Lock

Gave me nice clean and crisp lines for trim painting. Virtually no seepage around the edge of the tape.

Handy Paint Pail

Easy to hold and seriously prevents hand fatigue, especially when you need to hold a smaller amount of paint for cutting in purposes. Also comes with handy disposable liners and a magnetic brush holder.

SHUR-LINE Paint Can Lid

I LOVE THIS THING. Made pouring paint into the tray So. Much. Easier. Seriously. It made that step much easier to manage and clean-up was very easy.

Again, stay tuned for a future post on how we clean our brushes. We’ll compile some of the tips and tricks that have worked best for us so we protect our investment because a good brush isn’t exactly cheap!

(PS: In case you were curious, I feel it necessary to mention that we were not in any way paid or otherwise compensated for mentioning the products in this post. We just love them and wanted to share.)


Apparently, I garden now. As in rip out dead bushes and push the remains in a wheelbarrow to the curb, garden.

For months, we’ve been neglecting some dead shrubs in the yard. In our defense, I wasn’t entirely sure that they’d bitten the dust. Recall, I don’t claim to know anything about gardening. But my Dad (parents are visiting us this week) took one look at them and said, “uh, you’re going to take those out right?” He demonstrated one snap of a dried branch and educated me that this, in fact, means ding dong the witch is dead. Guess we need to start digging.

So, I received a crash course in landscape management and I may as well share.

First, the right tools (we already had some of these in the garage and for some we just made a quick trip to our local Lowe’s garden center):

1. Shears – good for trimming stems of plants and small shrubs.

2. Loppers – good for cutting larger branches and roots.

3. Spade – good all around shovel, and with the straight end, good for edging and cutting through roots.

4. Long Handled Shovel – enough said, good for digging and the longer handle saves your back.

5. Gloves – protect your pretty fingers in case you have hand modeling aspirations. (Oh, and to avoid the stinging nettles in my yard, OUCH).

6. Pruning Saw – cutting through brush and larger branches, roots, etc.

7. Bow Rake – a good all around rake for collecting leaves and other garden debris. Also good for breaking up hard soil.

(all the images are from the Lowe’s website)

Now, my father is no garden expert but as I’ve mentioned in the past, it is something he enjoys and has dabbled in for years. According to his sage advice, these are the tools he reaches for most often and come in handy the most. I’ll take it.

Armed with our tools, we got to work on ripping out some of these dead shrubs. I am ever grateful for their free labor.






I’m truly amazed at what a little clean-up work can do. Removing these dead plantings transformed the yard, all without spending a dime to replant anything new!


Well folks, the day recently arrived where we were actually, in all seriousness, for real this time, PAINTING!

Here’s a quick run through on some of the steps we took and a little picture progression from out of the gate through to the finish line.

Prepping the walls and priming:

After we completed our wall texture repair (read all about it here, and here) we prepped the walls for priming and painting by first washing the walls with a solution of water and Trisodium Phosphate (TSP). Actually, I should clarify that we use a phosphate free TSP (there are several kinds available at your local hardware chain). We’re trying to do our part to be environmentally friendly and not dump phosphates into the water supply. Anyway, this cleaning solution is fantastic for cutting grease, dust, mold and mildew, etc, that builds up on your walls and helps give you a great foundation to put all that expensive paint on.

We then applied primer. We like Kilz 2 latex primer. Which begs…to use primer, not to use primer…that is the question. We acknowledge there are loads of opinions on this but we stand in the “prime the walls” camp. For us, this has historically provided the best result. Just as an aside, I do not use primer before repainting the trim.

Below, walls are primed!



First, awhile back we’d gone ahead and painted the ceiling. As above, we cleansed the ceiling with the TSP substitute solution and then just repainted it with your basic white ceiling flat. We like Behr Premium Plus Flat Interior Ceiling Paint available at Home Depot.

Anyhow, recall we chose Moonshine by Benjamin Moore (feel free to refresh your memory here). We had this color mixed in a Benjamin Moore base called Regal Select Waterborne Interior Paint in Eggshell.

I realized after the fact that this product is considered a paint and primer in one. However, a few years back we used a paint/primer product that we were so-not-pleased with. Oh well, we had already primed. BUT, this product was such a pleasure to work with I may go rogue and skip the priming step when we move onto painting the kitchen/den area with this same color and product. It provided great coverage and the application was so smooth.

As for trim, we chose to use the Benjamin Moore Ben line of latex paint.

This was a little cheaper than the paint we used for the walls. I figured since the trim wasn’t as gigantic in surface area as the walls, I’d go ahead and save a little green. You see, the Regal Select set us back $49.99/gallon and Ben was only $36.99/gallon. Given that we needed SO MUCH PAINT for the walls, saving some cash was definitely the way to go. By the way, we opted for the color Decorators White for the trim in a semi-gloss finish. It looks so crisp against Moonshine and really pops resulting in a serene, modern, yet classic look.

At this time, we have the crown molding and baseboards painted. Now, we only have to finish painting the trim around the doors and some doors themselves. Our bedroom door, the laundry room door, the coat closet door, and some pocket doors leading to the kitchen are visible when closed and definitely need a coat of paint to finish the look. We’ll plan on using Decorators White on those as well.

Here are some after shots (and another sneak peek at the very beginnings of tackling the decor in here…mind you, there’s a looong way to go on that).

Quarters…not just a college drinking game

So, Andrew has NO idea where he heard this tip. And several permutations of the cursory google search yield no results on why this is a good tip. But we think it’s a good tip, so here you go.

Use the edge of a quarter (or any coin for that matter) to make markings on walls when measuring, identifying nail holes needing filling, etc. We discovered that a coin marks very faintly yet well enough to see and you can quickly rub it off with your finger without too many smudges. This is perfect for someone like me who is less than stellar at getting measurements right the first time and needs to remark when hanging pictures, etc.

Action shot:

Below, a visual of the faint marking made by the quarter identifying a nail hole to fill: