Make it ahead thanksgiving menu

Easy, not-too-complex, delicious

Looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with our wonderful family and friends. Grateful for all of the make-ahead options that lighten the load. Thank you to the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garden, for giving me the idea for a make-it-ahead Thanksgiving! I hope you enjoy this menu as much as we do!


Chex Mix with Brazil Nuts

So decadent and autumnal. You can make it ahead – maybe on Tuesday or even Monday.

Spicy Roasted Cashews

I’m including these roasted nuts, low on the glycemic index, for folks who are watching their gluten and sugars intake (me!) Make on Monday or Tuesday.

Wine, Beer, Cocktails of your choosing. Schedule a pickup of any special drinks you want to serve for Monday, when you could also grab any groceries you still need.


Pomegranate and Pear Green Salad

Best assembled Thanksgiving Day, but make the dressing Monday or Tuesday. Allow about 30 minutes to take the pomegranate apart.

Turkey & Side Dishes

Make-Ahead Roast Turkey and Make-Ahead Roast Turkey Gravy with Onions and Sage

Start prepping your raw turkey per Ina’s instructions on Monday or Tuesday, and then roast it and make the gravy on Thursday. You can do this as early or late as you like on Thursday. For example, you could roast it in the morning, carve it, have it ready to go and heat up in the oven right before serving, or you could time it to roast it and make the gravy so that’s the last thing you’re doing before sitting down to dinner.

Nonni’s Sausage Stuffing

Ok, this is the only one I don’t have a link to, and the only one I would make completely the day of. I love my great-grandmother Nanni’s stuffing recipe so much and I’ve never found one I like better. And stuffing is my favorite part of Thanksgiving. I hope you try it and love it too!

1 pound pork sausage meat

4 ribs celery

2 onions

1 1/2 pounds bread

2 eggs

1/2 – 1 tsp poultry seasoning

1 tsp salt

Toast bread slices. Cut into small cubes after toasting. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup water. Add eggs. Fry pork sausage until crumbly. And finely chopped celery and onion and sauce until limp. Mix with bread by hand until well blended. Bake 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven until surface is crisp and lightly browned. The stuffing is properly cooked when it reaches 165 degrees.

Caramelized Butternut Squash

You can peel and cube up the squash and stash it in the fridge on Tuesday or Wednesday, and then toss it with the other ingredients and roast on Thursday.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Cut off the ends, pull away yellow leaves, cut in half, and stash in the fridge on Tuesday or Wednesday, then pull out on Thursday to roast.

Make Ahead Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

You can assemble these Tuesday or Wednesday and then pop in the oven to bake on Thursday.

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

Make this on Monday – or up to 5 days before Thanksgiving.


Pumpkin Pie

All-Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough

Makes enough dough for two pumpkin pies. I’ll be making my dough on Monday and stashing in the fridge til Wednesday afternoon when I’ll make my pies.

Pumpkin Pie Recipe

If you’re using fresh pumpkin puree, you can chop up, cook, and puree your pumpkin on Monday or Tuesday and stash in the fridge til Wednesday. I find that making my pies the day before Thanksgiving massively reduces my stress level.

For dessert, I’ll also be serving decaf espresso from my mocha pot, along with cream and sugar. I’ll whip up some heavy whipping cream to serve with the pumpkin pie, too, and maybe bring out some port wine and bourbon, too.

I am so hungry!

I hope you enjoy this menu as much as I do!

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

what is Sherwin-Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel?

dark green trim

What is emerald urethane?

I’m going to be giving you my review of Sherwin-Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel. This is one of those cool new paints that purports to behave like an oil paint, being sturdy and just having a certain luster, but have the ease of cleanup of a water-based paint. The general term is alkyd.

If you’d rather read, I’ve written it all out for you, just below the video here. Thank you for watching or reading.

A waterborne alkyd paint is supposed to behave like an oil based paint. According to Golden Boys Painting, alkyd are the modern day descendants of oil paints. All of the big brands of paint carry alkyd paint now.

I think they use the word enamel to indicate how this product looks when finished – it dries to a hard, glassy look. It’s quite lustrous. True enamels actually are molten glass, and that’s where they get their hard sheen – think a piece of kiln fired pottery – but enamel paint – think car paint and nail polish. If you’d like more information, this article has a great history of enamel paints.

I’m not entirely sure if scientifically this emerald urethane trim enamel is any kind of true enamel, but it does dry to a harder and more lustrous finish than any other trim paint I’ve used.

What sheens does emerald urethane trim enamel come in?

I have this in a satin which is the lowest sheen that you can get and it is tinted to a color match with Benjamin Moore’s Cotton Balls.

Emerald Urethane is available in emerald urethane gloss, emerald urethane semi gloss, and emerald urethane satin.

Can the Sherwin-Williams Emerald Urethane be brushed on?

I’m going to show you how it goes on. It handles a little bit differently, I think, from your typical latex, but all in all I think it’s an excellent choice for trim.

I’ve just got a regular old nylon polyester trim brush and I’ve mixed the paint just with the stir stick and I’m going to paint straight out of the can.

Do you need to use a primer with Sherwin-Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel?

I had primed these baseboards a couple years ago and I’m not going to re-prime. I just primed them and left them and never got around to painting the trim so that’s what I’m going to work on today.

I’m hoping that I will only need one coat of paint on these baseboards since they’ve already been primed. Maybe one and a half.

I talked to the guys at the Sherwin-Williams store and they told me that I shouldn’t need to prime before painting with this product, unless the color is changing drastically.

Here of course I’m painting white over white. In another room I painted a very dark green over white, and I needed two coats for full coverage, but no primer.

This is the Sherwin-Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel freshly coated onto this baseboard. This is one coat right there and it’s looking pretty good. This is a really nice, thick, tough trim paint.

The Sherwin-Williams Emerald Urethane Enamel after its four hours of drying time. Just this little section that I did. It is over one coat of primer. I think the coverage is pretty good. I think I’ll touch up in just a few spots but I won’t do an entire second coat.

White trim

Disadvantages of Emerald Urethane

It’s a little bit expensive. I think usually everything at Sherwin Williams Paint is 25 percent off, like, permanently. With that discount it’s like $75 for a gallon, so it’s a little bit more expensive.

It’s very similar to latex but it – I find it a a teeny bit, um, more drippy, a teeny bit more smelly, and it takes a teeny bit longer to dry than your typical latex.

I’m embarrassed to show this, but it – it is – it’s like a paint that drips slowly. So you don’t think you have any drips, and then you look back and you do. So see here on my corners, this is a mess, and I’m gonna have to go back and fix all of this. But other than that, you can see it is, it’s a real nice paint.

The one thing about it is, I do think it is a bit more challenging. Here you go, here’s a mistake I made. It’s a bit more challenging than your typical latex, because it’s quite thick, and I found that if I didn’t really watch what I was doing, I would get these drips.

Like I would paint this, and it would look fine, but then since the paint is so thick there was more on the brush than I realized and I’d look back, like after I’d moved on, like to over here, and I’d be like, oh my gosh I’m getting a drip, how is that possible. Just be mindful it’s quite thick, and a little goes a very, very, long way.

Benefits of Sherwin-Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel

This is the Sherwin-Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel in satin in the color Rookwood Shutter Green, which is a lot darker. It took two coats to do the trim in this room.

Here’s what it looks like up close. It does have this great sort of hardness to it. It’s is a gorgeous looking trim. A wonderful, low satin sheen. It’s soft and smooth to the touch. It just looks tough and it has held up beautifully. It’s a durable finish.

dark green trim

I do think that oil paints are the best for durability and beauty, but they’re hard to handle, stinky and a total headache to clean up. They also take forever to dry and to cure, and if you’ve got a small child in your house, waiting that long for paint to dry might be impossible.

Sherwin-Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel dries in four hours, cures fully in 30 days, and cleans up with water. All in all, I think Sherwin-Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel is a wonderful paint and a strong alternative to oil-based paints.

A great wall paint to go with this trim paint is Farmhouse Finishes Milk Paint. For more paint inspiration, check out my posts on Annie Sloan chalk paint.

How do you paint walls with milk paint?

blue milk paint on plaster wall

You might have heard of milk paint for furniture, but milk paint for walls or plaster? You can definitely use it. If you’d like a soft, velvety, unusual look on your walls, consider milk paint.

In this video I’ll show you how to paint walls with milk paint. If you’d rather read, I’ve written it all out just below the video. Thanks so much for watching or reading.

What Is Milk Paint?

Milk paint is one of the, if not the oldest way of making paint known to man. Casein is a milk protein and that’s what’s in there that makes the paint bind to things. Lime makes it strong. It actually gets harder as it ages. And then pigments give it beautiful colors.

The first paintings ever, on those cave walls, were painted with milk paint. When they opened King Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt, all of the paintings were done in milk paint, and the colors were still vibrant.

You can find this and more fascinating details about milk paint at the Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company’s website.

In recent years it’s gotten prominent with a lot of DIY bloggers as a way to paint and distress furniture to make it look antique. But it has a lot it has other applications, as well.

Why Use Milk Paint?

When we were thinking about what to do with this room, I was really intrigued as to how it might work on the walls, because underneath all of this gnarly old wallpaper, the walls were old lime plaster, and they had never been painted. I had read that – and I know, from using milk paint, that it sinks into raw wood. It – it behaves like a stain.

And I had read somewhere, too, that because it’s got limestone in it, over time it gets harder. It’s almost like stone. So instead of just sitting on top of whatever you’ve painted, it like really becomes part of the wall.

An added benefit is that the paint is breathable – since there’s no synthetic barrier of plastic, any moisture that gets into the wall can evaporate through the milk paint instead of getting stuck behind synthetic paint and causing mold.

I thought that sounded really cool, and also our house is quite old, and so it is conceivable that they might have used milk paint in here somewhere and it would be in that way historically accurate.

Do You Need a Special Kind of Milk Paint?

What I did was, I researched different kinds of milk paint, and I found that the Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company actually makes a special finish. They call it their Farmhouse Finishes. It’s actually specially formulated for walls, which means that you don’t have to worry about it flaking off the way that traditional milk paint can. It doesn’t always adhere that great to everything.

They’ve done something with this farmhouse finishes so you don’t have to add the extra bond that you would add to traditional milk paint to make sure it stuck to everything, if you didn’t want the chippy look.

Does Milk Paint Need to Be Sealed?

The Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company recommends sealing milk paint on the walls if they’re in a kitchen or bathroom, or somewhere where they will be touched a lot.

If you want to, the company sells something called Safe Bond Acriglaze, a clear coat that you can paint over your milk painted walls. It will make them easier to wash and less likely to get dirty. You could also seal the walls with hemp oil.

The Farmhouse Finishes line is already formulated so you don’t have to do that. I went ahead and I ordered two gallons of this stuff. It comes in a powder form, and it costs $65.75 for a gallon of the farmhouse finishes paint. It comes in in a box. It comes in a powdered form. A gallon covers 288 square feet, according to the box. A quart covers 72 square feet.

What Are the Advantages of Milk Paint?

Another great reason to use milk paint, and this Farmhouse Finishes formula, according to the spec sheets on their website it’s the same as regular milk paint. It’s biodegradable; it’s totally VOC and HAP free, so it has no odor.

When you put it on, it it kind of smells a little bit milky, but then once it’s dry, there’s no smell at all. The milky smell is really kind of cool, just a very natural smell.

If you’re concerned about painting while you’re pregnant, or you just don’t want to breathe in icky paint fumes, this is a great option.

Another advantage is that, as long as you haven’t mixed your milk paint powder, you can store it indefinitely without worrying it will go bad. Once you have mixed it, however, you need to use it within a few days because since it doesn’t have any preservatives in it it will get stinky.

Is Milk Paint Environmentally Friendly?

Milk paint is biodegrabable and is made of only basic ingredients easily found in nature.

What makes milk paint a nontoxic alternative?

I don’t think you should eat it, but milk paint doesn’t have any solvents or preservatives like other paints do. That’s why it’s VOC and HAP free, and nontoxic.

What is the Difference Between Milk Paint and Regular Paint?

Milk paint comes in a powder form and needs to be mixed with an equal part of water.

When I got the two gallons of milk paint powder, I emptied them into this clean plastic container just in case the dye lots were slightly different. I mixed all of the dry pigment together.

The Old-Fashioned Milk Paint Company has a lot of colors. These are all available in their regular milk paint, or also in their Farmhouse Finishes, if you’re interested in the walls. I am going to use this color Federal Blue on my walls. I think the Providence color and the Summer Cottage color are also really beautiful.

Farmhouse Finishes Color Card

The company was founded in the 1970s by Charles Thibeau. He wanted to recreate the formula of the type of paint people would have used in colonial times. He was inspired by the colors he saw at Colonial Williamsburg and a couple other of those old historic villages on the East Coast.

These are all colors that are pulled from actual historic villages, and they’re colors that people would have been using back in the day.

How Do You Mix Milk Paint?

If you’re considering using milk paint on any walls in your home, I hope this video helps you make a decision about whether it would be a the right fit for you. Let’s get started.

Measuring cup here. Four and a half cups, 36 ounces is what it holds. I’m gonna scoop that out and I’m gonna take it and I’m gonna put it in this bucket. And then I’m gonna go fill this up with water.

I’ve got my pigment in the bucket. It’s a color called Federal Blue. And here is my equal parts of water. I’m just – I’m going to pour that in. I’m going to stir it around with a paint stir stick.

With milk paint you can tend to get these little clumps. It – it’s hard to get out every single little clump, kind of like pancake batter. Sometimes you get these, like, you know, you see how those dry clumps are.

It’s going – it would take forever to to sit here and do that with the stir stick. I have this old immersion blender. So I’m going to use – I’m going to turn this into my paint mixer just because it’s lightweight and that way I don’t have to get out the drill bit and all the rest of that.

I have mixed up this blue Farmhouse Finishes Milk Paint Federal Blue in a ratio of one part water to one part paint. I used this beat up old immersion blender, and now I’m gonna get started painting the wall.

How Do You Apply Milk Paint?

This paint is really watery and splatters a lot, as you see. I’ve already got it all over my face and hands. I am actually a very neat painter with latex. It’s got a thin consistency and handles totally differently from regular paint.

It’s tricky to keep it off the baseboards so I have been keeping a damp cloth or baby wipes handy so I can wipe it off right away. I don’t want to tape my baseboards because I hate taping. I think that taping gives you a false sense of security, because paint can always get, like, underneath the tape. Then you take the tape off and you have these nasty surprises. So I’d rather just see what I’m doing.

You know, I just cut in just like I would with regular paint, but I start up here because it does tend to drip down. See, and right there I’ve got a splash already. But I just wiped it up with my rag and then I just keep on.

Okay, and then once I’ve cut in, I’ll take this block brush, and you definitely want to – I’ve just – I’ve been pressing it against the sides of the bucket to get as much water off as I can. I hold it like this, and I just go every which way, and you can see it covers really quickly and it’s actually quite a bit of fun.

To edge in with the milk paint I just used a regular angled trim brush. But then I did not want to roll the paint, because it is so watery and splotchy. So what I did was, I bought this bristle brush from amazon. I can’t remember offhand exactly the brand. It is I think called a block brush, and it’s about six inches wide and maybe an inch and a half thick.

And I just used this to cover the walls, and it’s actually great fun and it goes really quickly. You can see how drippy the paint is, but you can catch your drips better and easier than with a roller and you just go in every which direction and you can see it goes really quickly. Honestly I think it goes just as fast, if not faster than a roller would.

I’m going to show you my technique with this brush just up close. And then let me show you, since I wasn’t paying very much attention – I wasn’t being as careful because I was trying to film it, look what happened. This is definitely a drawback to this paint. It’s much easier to control for that happening, or not happening, with latex, but I’ve just been wiping it off and I do – I am going to paint the trim last.

Usually I paint it first, but because of how messy this paint is, I decided to do the walls first. And then again here, um, as you’re painting, just be very mindful that you’re gonna have drips and be mindful to catch them before they start dripping down.

How Many Coats of Milk Paint Will You Need?

This is what the walls are looking like after one coat of milk paint. Obviously they need another coat, but the coverage is pretty good.

And then over here this wall with the two lights on it, and you can see, compare the – contrast. This wall is done. It has two coats already. You can see there’s variegation in the color. Slubs and marks up close. And it’s just sunk into the wall like a stain.

And then here’s by contrast one coat over there. One coat on the chimney breast and two coats on the wall over there to its left.

Here is what the room looks like with two coats of Farmhouse Finishes from Old-Fashioned Milk Paint

Federal Blue. This is two coats all the way around.

milk paint on plaster
blue milk paint on plaster wall

Is It A Good Idea To Use Milk Paint On Walls?

The milk paint finish has got a lot of texture both from being brushed on, and the fact that the plaster underneath is rough. It’s gone on like I hoped it would. It’s, like, really sunk into the plaster instead of just sitting on top the way a latex would. I had been thinking of perhaps sealing it with hemp oil to bring out the richness and luster of the blue, but I think, actually, I’m happy with it as is.

As I said in a previous video, these plaster walls are rough; they needed a lot of repair, and we did not make them perfectly smooth, but I think that the sort of natural and raw quality of the paint enhances the rough walls and it works, it works. I like it; I’m pleased with it. There’s a little spot here where I’m gonna have to sand because there’s some drip marks. But, you know, that happens even with latex paint at times.

I do like the fact that it’s a little mottled looking. I did put on two coats and it’s not uniform; there’s a mottled appearance to it. It’s streaky, chalky, and in places looks like two different colors. The painted wall has a matte finish that is far and away more interesting and old fashioned looking than flat latex paint.

If you’re interested in this kind of natural look for your walls, I would say, go for it. If you have previously painted walls, milk paint in this Farmhouse Finishes formulation should work just fine, with no concerns about peeling. In fact, Farmhouse Finishes is especially formulated for these types of surfaces.

If you want the paint to behave even more like a latex paint, you can add Extra Bond, the bonding agent Old Fashioned Milk Paint sells. According to their website, it makes the paint more flexible and less prone to cracking.

If you have a porous surface, like a bare plaster wall or newly applied joint compound, the paint will work very, very well and really sink into the surface. In fact, traditional milk paint would also work very well. I chose the Farmhouse Finishes just to be extra cautious. I didn’t want any peeling or cracking on the walls.

Once you’re finished painting, Old Fashioned Milk Paint recommends sealing the paint with their Safecoat Acriglaze to protect against stains, dirt, and marks. This topcoat also increases washability. I haven’t done this, and I’m not sure I will. If I had painted a kitchen or bathroom, I definitely would, but I’m not sure if it will be necessary in my boys room.

It’s a little harder to handle than just a latex paint, and you have to mix it up and you definitely want to mix it up with something like a paint mixer on a drill or a little immersion blender, because it does tend to clump and you don’t want that. But i it’s not that much harder to use. I say that if you like the look, or you have your heart set on a particular color, then go for it. I like it very much as a wall paint, and I would use it again.

Other Natural, Breathable Paints

If you want to keep looking at other kinds of natural paint, breathable stains and paints, carries lime wash in powdered form. From what I understand it handles very similarly to milk paint. The one difference is because of the nature of lime, the colors are all very pale pastels or earth tones, so if you have your heart set on a bright color, limewash won’t work.

Pure and Original offers a fresco lime paint in a traditional paint bucket, ready mixed, that you apply over their special primer. It works on any surface.

JH Wall Paints is a newer paint company out of California that also does a lime paint in a gallon bucket. The picture on their website are stunning. I think they even say you can get a Venetian plaster look with their paint. Again, the colors are all pretty pale, but the velvety texture and slubs and variations are like what you can get with milk paint.

I think if you’re’ looking at price, buying the milk paint in powder form or the lime wash in powder form is going to be a lot cheaper than buying gallons of ready mixed lime paint.

These paints offer a unique look you won’t see elsewhere. They’ve go the added benefits of being historic, low or no VOCs, and breathable. A fun, interesting alternative to standard latex paints.

How to repair cracked plaster walls for charm and patina

red wall

Clemence Taillez via Unsplash

In this video I show you how to repair cracked plaster walls for charm and patina. With a few tools like a putty knife, drywall (joint) compound, a five in one tool, water, and a sponge, you can make your old, cracked plaster walls a work of art.

You can have fun repairing cracks in your old plaster. Especially if you see the imperfections as charm and patina.

Interestingly textured plaster walls are timelessly classic and old worldy feeling. I’m not talking about icky popcorn or orange peel textures! Think Provence and Morocco, instead…

If you prefer to read, I’ve written it all out for you just below the video. Thanks for watching or reading.

Prep Work Before Repairing Cracked Plaster

I have finished removing all the wallpaper in this room and I have cleaned the walls with a Dirtex and hot water solution.

Repair Cracks in Plaster Walls

And now I am left with all of the cracks in the plaster walls. In spots, I’ve got crumbling plaster, too.

This room has quite a a few up high, and down low, and they all have to be filled in before we can get to painting. It’s a lot of cracks, but it’s really going to go pretty fast. Patching plaster is actually kind of fun, especially after washing walls. Which is … not fun.

Tools You Will Need

First up, you need a putty knife. Anything like this. This is a great size if you have bigger cracks. You can use something bigger, but this size is pretty much a universal. It’ll do pretty much everything you want. Even something like that back there.

You’re gonna want a tub of some water and a couple of these nice soft sponges. You’ll also need a dry, clean paintbrush. And then the last thing is the good old five and one tool.

Widen the Cracks in the Plaster

Let’s say, for example, you have a couple of cracks like this, and they’re pretty wide. So before you try to fill this in, you actually want to sort of make it wider ,so you kind of like, perfect the crack so that you can fill in more. I’m going to take my tool and I’m going to just widen the plaster crack a little bit with the pointy edge.

And I’m going to do that so that when I put in my joint compound, it sinks deep into the crack, and then I can smooth it over like that. Instead of the crack being really tight and trying to smooth over, it like let’s say I did this one, and I just tried to smooth over.

I’ll give you an example. I tried to smooth that over. The joint compound is not going to be able to get in there, and it’s just going to kind of be on the surface, and very chunky, and the crack might even sort of push it out as the wall moves more.

We have cracks because the walls are moving, so it’s going to happen again. So the way to to to mitigate that is to actually make your crack bigger before you start, so I’ve done that. It’s quite the crack.

Once you have widened your crack, just take your brush and brush away any loose plaster mess so that you can put your new plaster on nice and neat.

Smooth Joint Compound Into Cracks

And then I am simply using joint compound. Just load up your putty knife. This putty knife has a little bit of give to it. It flexes a little bit and that is much easier to work with than, for example, the five in one tool, which is quite rigid. As much as I love this tool, it’s not the best for applying plaster. These little putty knives are better, just because of that slight give. It gives you flexibility. It’s just like frosting a cake. You just you want a flexible spatula. It’s the same concept.

I’m just going to take my joint compound and I’m going to smooth it into my crack just as if I were frosting a birthday cake. Then once it’s filled, scrape off the excess back into my bucket. Then I’m going to take my clean knife, and I’m going to come over here and I’m going to smooth out the excess, just like I was smoothing out the top of a cup of flour before I dumped it in a bowl.

Just take that off of the trim, if a little bit gets it down on your baseboard, that is no biggie. You can wipe it away before it dries, and even if you find some after it dries it’ll come right off with water.

Wash Over Joint Compound with Water

Now it’s time for my sponge.

I’m just going to take that and I’m going to smooth out the rough spots, there. You can see it got all the way into the crack, but then there’s roughness because the skim coat broke off, and we’re left with the – I don’t know what that’s called, that, that layer of rough plaster with sand in it. That’s showing through, and we don’t want that. I don’t want that to show, so I’m going to cover that up too.

Now that I’ve got that deep crack filled in, I’m going to smooth it out. A very light touch with the sponge. You can see it’s covered somewhat so, scraping off the excess and then smoothing it with my slightly damp sponge, ever so slightly damp, the lightest of motions over.

The Charm & Patina of Old Plaster Walls

The great thing about smoothing out all of your patchwork with a sponge is that it really minimizes the need to sand it later. You could sand it if you wanted to. You could also not. It depends what you want your wall to look like. Some people want their walls to look perfect and some people see the slubs and variations as a feature.

I fall into that category, so I’m covering up these cracks to enhance the strength of the wall, for structural reasons, but I am not concerned that it looks bumpy because I think that’s part of the charm of an old plaster wall.

I like it when it looks like you were trying to make it nice and neat and you were patching some cracks, but I don’t like this sort of, like, oh I’m going to do this sculptural wall. I don’t care for that. If you want to do that kind of thing, go for it.

But someday I’ll show you my hallway where they did that. I think it gets old really fast. I think the old – I like the look of, this has been repaired, and we’re not hiding that fact, but we’re not trying to fancy it up, either.

That’s my goal with these walls. They’ve been patched; they’re old; they’re venerable; they’ve got cracks that have been repaired; we’re not hiding that by re-skimming, or anything like that, but, um, we’re also not trying to make it fancy, or into something that it’s not, or changing the texture over much. I’ve scraped off enough with the knife.

Now I’m going to take my slightly damp sponge and I’m just going to barely touch it to the wall down there. I’m going to press a little because I got some on the woodwork, which I don’t want.

I’m going to go back and just kind of go vertically down without any pressure at all, just letting it drag along by gravity’s force alone and that you can see these weren’t – they are in the plaster that’s not a mark that was left by my putty knife. This crack is covered.

The plaster is nice and deep in there. It is not going to come out, or get squeezed out as it moves. That is the character of the wall right there.

Why I Think Uneven, Patched Plaster Walls Have Charm and Patina

I wanted to go in a little more detail about what I mean about the character of the wall without overly texturizing but also not hiding the fact that you had to do repairs, either.

I thought I’d show you this other wall with these larger cracks, and show you what our philosophy is. You can see over here these cracks start way up at the ceiling and they continue down. Diagonal cracks. We’ve started to work on them right here at our eye level and there’s just, there’s some deep cracks. They look like that. We have covered them and filled them with plaster and we are not going to put tape on them or re-skim coat or anything.

I also dislike using mesh tape, fiberglass mesh. I don’t think it works well with these old plaster walls. It doesn’t look right, and the repair doesn’t last, either. And you can always see the mesh pattern. I don’t use old lime plaster, either. It’s just joint compound. We have just done the repair. We’ve simply done the repair, and we are going to let that texture stay.

We might sand lightly some of those lumps and bumps there, but the overall texture, we are going to let that stay, and we are going to paint that.

We think of that kind of texture as the patina and the beauty of the old plaster walls. Here’s some dings and things, as well, that we might not even fill in.

If you can let yourself look at these kind of imperfections as a feature, and not a problem, or where you need to re-skim coat and just have this perfect wall, you will enjoy working on your old plaster walls a whole lot more. Plaster repair can be a fun, creative process.

More Ways to Repair Cracked Plaster Walls

To be perfectly frank, my method described here will probably raise a few eyebrows with purists. I did not use lime plaster. Only modern materials.

If you’d like more information about repairing old plaster walls, Victorian Project has an extensively detailed post all about it. They go into the differences between lime plaster and gypsum, and using lime plaster for repairs.

Stacy from Blake Hill House has a great post about how to replace, as well as repair, plaster using plaster patch and joint compound. She also takes you through the decision making process of why you’d use modern materials, when you’d use historically accurate materials, and why it’s probably ok to do both, and learn as you go.

If you’d like to know about some all natural, breathable paints that look great on rough plaster walls, check out my post, Milk Paint On Walls.

Thank you so much.

What to do with a wallpapered ceiling

When Should You Paint Over Wallpaper?

One of the hardest things about renovating an old house is dealing with all of the mistakes other people have made stuff that’s already up there. Wallpaper can be a particular headache. The Victorians seemed to wallpaper everything – even the ceiling! What to do with a wallpapered ceiling? The old, out of date wallpaper on your ugly ceiling is faded, peeling, and dingy. But if you remove it, you risk the ceiling coming down with it. What to do?

Should you just paint over it? Isn’t that … cheating?!

But maybe you’ve got wallpaper you can’t remove. Or you’ve got some wallpaper some other idiot perfectly nice previous owner already painted over and now it’s flaking and peeling all over and the whole thing is just a giant mess.

What Type of Primer do You Need to Use For Painting Over Wallpaper?

Zinsser Gardz Problem Surface Sealer may be the answer to your problem. In this video I’ll show you how to use it, and give you my two cents on whether it’s a good idea for the problem surface in your life. If you’d rather read about it instead, I’ve written it all out for you just below the video. Thank you for watching and reading!

How to Paint Over a Wallpapered Ceiling

Hi, this is Kathleen from I’m my boys’ room today. Today I want to show you how I use Zinsser Gardz Problem Surface Sealer on a wallpapered ceiling to seal it all up and prevent plaster problems that might come from trying to scrape the wallpaper off the ceiling.

First of all, if you have any spots where the ceiling wallpaper is peeling off, simply cut off the parts hanging down with a pair of scissors. The problem is, just painting a latex ceiling paint over the paper is not going to work. I know this from experience. It will start peeling almost immediately. The paint can’t adhere to the adhesive or wallpaper paste that’s holding up the paper, apparently. Also, the water in the water based paint soaks the wallpaper and makes it want to come off. After all, that’s how we remove wallpaper in the first place – soaking it with water!

Zinsser Gardz Problem Surface Sealer has several applications: damaged drywall, new drywall, my particular need is this one, wallpaper adhesive residue. What it does is it seals in that adhesive so that then you can go over it with any paint.

I put it in a tray with a paint roller and I just roll it right on the ceiling. It’s – it’s kind of like a thin watery substance, so you don’t want to load your brush up too much because it does drip. I’m gonna go up my ladder and show you at ceiling level how it works so you can see. It goes on and it looks just like water.

As long as you don’t overload the roller too much you won’t have too much drippage.

I’ve now covered the entire ceiling in the Zinsser Gardz Problem Surface Sealer. This room is about 400 square feet and it took one and a half gallons of the product to seal up the ceiling.

This is my ceiling. It’s covered in traditional wallpaper that is blank. It used to be a white ceiling, but it’s faded to a depressing, dingy, brown-gray. I’ve got it half painted with the Zinsser product. It -it’s a plain wallpaper that’s just white. When I put the Zinsser on, as you can see, it starts to look, um, I think it looks like vellum. Like – like an old – old leather.

What Kind of Paint Do You Use To Paint Over Wallpaper?

Now we’re going to paint the ceiling with just regular ceiling paint and it should work great. I’m using Pro Max 400 which is Sherwin-Williams ceiling paint. I had them tint it with a color match to Cotton Balls which is a Benjamin Moore color.

All right, so I’m gonna just take my roller and get to work here on the ceiling.

Okay I have finished the ceiling. I ended up having to put on about four coats because I really should have put a primer stain blocker on first, but I kind of forgot. This white paint didn’t have as much hide as the last one I did, which was an ivory tinted ceiling paint. It had a lot more hide it and I – I just had that in my memory. But anyway, four coats over the Zinsser Gardz Problem Surface Sealer.

It’s looking pretty good. So let me get up on the ladder and show you up close in case you’re, you know, wondering is this product gonna work for you. Is it gonna seal up your problem and then give you the look you want. I’m happy with the look it gave me. Of course it’s entirely up to you, but let’s get up on the ladder and I’ll show you.

Here is my ceiling up close. You can see, obviously you still see the wallpaper seams. That’s something that I am willing to live with, or my husband is, anyway, for the sake of not disturbing all of that old plaster underneath all of that old wallpaper. There it is over there in the corners. It’s a little wet right there still, which is why it looks a slightly different color. I just did a few last minute touch ups.

I’ll just pan around and you can see. All right, and then I’ll get down and show you from the doorway. This is the effect from standing on the ground.

The overall effect. There it is walking. And now I’m laying down flat on the ground, so you can imagine, you know, if this is your bedroom, and here’s your ceiling. I don’t think that if you didn’t already know that you would guess that there is some gnarly nasty old wallpaper underneath there.

What Is the Best Primer For Painting Over Wallpaper?

Zinsser Gardz Problem Surface Sealer in my opinion is kind of like, don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good kind of solution. Is it the perfect solution? No, left to my own devices I probably would have gone and stripped the paper off that ceiling, come what may, but then I’m not the family plasterer, and the family plasterer said that that was a can of worms he just didn’t want to open because if chunks of plaster fall off the ceiling, well, it’s just really hard to put back. So we went ahead and did it, and I think that it is a good solution, and workable for our family. So if you have some kind of problem surface, I highly recommend this product. It is a little bit like magic.

Two Other Ways To Paint Over Wallpaper

To paint over old wallpaper, you could also use an oil-based primer-sealer and then an oil-based paint over that, according to this article at But then you’re stuck using smelly, difficult oil-based paint. This article at Architectural Digest says you can use an alkyd primer over wallpaper, and then any type of paint over that alkyd primer.

If you’re more interested in taking wallpaper off, check out my posts, How to Strip Wallpaper with Three Simple Tools and How Hard Is It To Steam Off Wallpaper?

should you clean your walls before painting?how?

clean walls before painting

You should clean your walls before you paint or repaint them.

Why not just paint over all the dirt and gunk?

Any wall is going to be at least dirty and dusty. It might have grease or wax on it, too. The paint finish might be glossy or too smooth. You have to wash your walls before you paint or repaint them so that you can be confident that your new paint will go on and stay on.

In this video I show you my techniques for getting squeaky clean walls. If you like reading better, I’ve written it all out just below the video. Thanks for watching and reading!

Hey, this is Kathleen from and today I wanted to show you how to wash a wall before you paint it. So let’s go.

What is the purpose of cleaning walls before painting them?

You need to clean walls before you paint them. You do it so that your new coat of paint will be sure to stick to the wall. Dust and dirt left behind on the wall will make it hard for the paint to adhere. The paint could start peeling right after you paint your wall. Or at the least, you might get some yucky looking textures on your wall.

How can you effectively clean walls before painting them?

I’m gonna show you the supplies I use to wash walls to prep them for painting.

The first thing is to make a cleaning solution one gallon of hot water with two tablespoons of Dirtex. Dirtex is a cheap, powerful cleaner that cuts dirt and grease and does not require rinsing.

Wipe or scrub? You’ll be doing some of both. I recommend having rags with some texture. A microfiber cloth is perfect. Some kind of wash rag like this is good. I like it because it has this nubby texture. This is actually a mop head that I have, but it’s also good for the same reason. I like the nubby texture. It helps get things off the walls. A sponge would also be excellent.

For more stubborn spots, some kind of plastic bristled brush. This one’s kind of nice, because you get a lot of control because of the long handle. This one you can get really intense because the bristles are so tight. This kind can also work well. My favorite scrubber bar none though, is this coarse steel wool sponge for getting really stubborn sticky spots off the walls.

You’ll also want to have a five-in-one tool or a putty knife handy to lift off those little bits of paper.

What is the easiest way to wash walls?

Here is the way I wash the walls.

You always want to start from the bottom. I’m right down here on the baseboards, which I’ll also wipe down, and then I get up here to the wall, hey little helper, and I’m gonna go up, up the wall and that way

if I have any drips I can always catch them as I go up and then as I work my way up.

See these drips? I can just catch them as I go. Okay, so you always want to work from the bottom to the top, and then if you have a situation like I do where you had taken off wallpaper, you are going to inevitably find little bits that got left behind. Little bits of glue and paper, or both.

What I do is, I just take my five in one tool. You could also use a putty knife, and as I’m going along with my wet cloth, when I notice those little pieces, as I’m going along with my wet cloth, when i notice those little pieces, I just lift them off with my tool. The steel wool, sometimes I have found there’ll be a sticky patch where it’s just, for whatever reason the paste adhered really well. If you had wallpaper – and I lose patience just scraping at it – I have found that scrubbing it with this kind of steel wool, so let me show you in this corner, for example, I can see I have a little patch where there’s just more than I’d like.

Those are my favorite tools and methods. I’ve had success with them now in several different rooms in my house and the paint has adhered and looked great after I’m done, so all the work does – it does turn out to be worth it.

Dirtex or TSP are great choices for washing walls – check out my post and video comparing the two, Dirtex vs. TSP. If you’re wondering if you should just paint over your wallpaper, you want to know about Zinsser Gardz Problem Sealer. I’ve reviewed it here in my post and video, Should You Paint Over Wallpaper? And if you’re wondering if you should invest in a wallpaper steamer or just use hot soapy water and scrape it off by hand, I’ve got a post and video on each method to help you decide: How to Strip Wallpaper with Three Simple Tools, How Hard Is It To Steam Off Wallpaper?

Thanks so much!


dirtex vs. tsp

I pit Dirtex vs. TSP and see which one did better at cleaning. I also go into why you might choose Dirtex in one situation and TSP in another.

Dirtex versus TSP

If you’re wondering just how to get your walls perfectly prepped for painting, this video should answer your questions. If you prefer to read, I’ve written it all out for you below the video. Thank you for watching and reading.

What is the difference between Dirtex and TSP?

So what’s the difference, Dirtex vs. TSP? Let’s get started.

Hey this is Kathleen from and today I am washing my walls to prep them for painting after I’ve taken off all the wallpaper. I thought that I would test two products. I’ve used both. I’ve used both TSP and I’ve used Dirtex to clean walls and other things in prep for painting.

Why would you need to use TSP on walls?

Okay, after you’ve got all the wallpaper off of your walls you have to go back over and wash the walls to prep them for paint, or new paper, either way. You’re going to have some residual glue from the wallpaper and you might have little teeny scraps of the paper that you kind of missed when you went over with your steamer or with the hot water and method.

Either way you’re going to have to go back over the wall, sadly. You need to do it with a nice, heavy-duty cleaner. Which one? And why is one – is one better than the other? TSP or Dirtex? I’ve used both and I sort of have a casual opinion about each one, but I thought that I would test them out and see, like is one really better than the other?

They’re made by the same company. Dirtex is actually a TSP substitute. It’s easier to get Dirtex or Dirtex-like products at your local hardware store or Walmart that you just walk into. if you just walk into those stores you can’t even get TSP on the shelf, at least not where I live. You have to order it. I had to order this from Amazon. So if you don’t plan ahead you know you’re going to be with a TSP substitute, anyway. But let’s see which one’s best.

Is there a difference in how they clean?

Well to be perfectly frank, I think TSP cleans better. But, however, huge however, you have to rinse after you wash with TSP. I have done an entire room, big old room – washed the walls with TSP, and then gone back over and rinsed, and do they get like, clean and ready to take paint like you would not believe? Yes, they do. Did I hate doing that rinse and like, kick myself for using TSP instead of Dirtex? Yes, I did. To be honest, in this room, um, I already know that I am going to use Dirtex come what may.

I – I’m curious to see which performs better, and I’m going to do that test because I think that it’s interesting and informative, and it might help somebody out there out who’s wondering the same thing as me. They both look the same. Dirtex is, um, is kind of orange, and TSP is white. Why, I do not know. On the back of the TSP box it’s a – it’s called, “heavy duty cleaning walls and woodwork” and on the back of the Dirtex box it’s, “painted or varnished surfaces, ceilings floors.”

What are the risks associated with trisodium phosphate?

TSP can be irritating if inhaled. It can cause skin burns.

Runoff from phosphate cleaners causes those huge algae blooms in creeks and ponds, so you don’t want to release TSP into the environment. This data sheet from Fisher Scientific has all of the details.

Also, TSP can damage wood. I left some TSP solution on a floor too long once and it sort of bleached it.

What are the risks associated with Dirtex?

Dirtex can also be irritating if inhaled. Prolonged exposure can burn the skin. There’s no environmental precautions listed on this safety sheet from Savogran company, the manufacturer.

Dirtex can also leave marks on your wood floors, if you’re not careful, but in my experience it’s not as bad as the marks from TSP.

Should I use TSP powder or liquid?

I have only used it in powder form. It’s very easy to mix and is cheaper to buy in powder. You can control the strength of your solution if you mix it yourself. I guess liquid TSP would be more convenient as you wouldn’t have the hassles of measuring and mixing.

How to Make Dirtex Solution

Okay, I put this tape here and I’m going to wash this side with Dirtex, this side with TSP. I’m measuring out the Dirtex. I’ve got one tablespoon. I’m going to dump it in my bucket, and two. I’ve got this in the bottom of the bucket. I’m going to run over to the bathroom and fill this up with hot water to the gallon mark on the bucket, and I’ll be right back.

How to Make TSP Solution

TSP is much finer than the Dirtex. The Dirtex is very coarse, almost like kosher salt, and this is more like table salt, and it’s white. So TSP, I’m gonna do three tablespoons, one and three.

All right, we’re gonna just go run and fill up these buckets. This is the Dirtex mixed with one gallon of water. It’s yellow. And here’s the TSP mixed with one gallon of water, three tablespoons TSP. It’s just – it’s white. You can’t really even see it once it’s dissolved in the water. I’m going to scrub one side of my wall with Dirtex and the other with TSP and then we’ll do a comparison.

So, are the trisodium phosphate substitutes on the market as good as the real thing?

Here’s the Dirtex side of the wall. It’s dry now, and it feels – it feels good. It’s a little sticky here. I think that’s where there’s still wallpaper glue that didn’t quite come off. Okay, but on most spots it feels dry and like it’s ready to take paint or plaster – you know, joint compound.

Here is the TSP side and it feels about the same, dry, ready for paint. There’s some sticky spots I can feel with my fingers where I need to scrub more at the wallpaper paste that’s stubbornly sticking to the wall.

TSP is made by the same company that makes Dirtex, Savogran out in Massachusetts, Norwood, Massachusetts. The difference in the descriptions on the packaging, overall, TSP sounds like a more heavy duty cleaner that can do more and cut through more dirt than Dirtex.

For example, the first line on the back says, “formulated for heavy-duty cleaning, removes greasy, sooty, dirt and prepares painted surfaces for repainting.” I think if I were trying to degrease kitchen cabinets before painting, I would choose TSP. If I was trying to clean soot stains, greasy dirt, greasy grime, I’d choose TSP.

And then the first line on the back of the Dirtex box says, “a general purpose quick dissolving powder cleaner for use on every washable surface in home, office, shop. Recommended for cleaning walls, floors, and woodwork and for preparing painted surfaces for refinishing.” So it just ,you know, even the way to describe it, it’s like this is a great strong cleaner for stuff that gets dirty, and this is like, “greasy,” you know, something that’s a little more intense, even, and then of course the other big thing for me, the huge one, is TSP. You have to rinse it after, according to the directions. I mean, I guess you could skip it, but the directions say to rinse, and I’d be afraid not to. And then Dirtex specifically says, “leaves surface clean without rinsing,” which is like, awesome if you’re feeling crunched for time, which is all of us, right?

Both TSP and Dirtex are Heavy Duty Cleaners

My walls, they both did a good job cleaning. I’m happy with both of them as a a way to prep the wall for painting. If I could skip washing walls altogether, of course, I would. But when you’ve got, when you’ve taken wallpaper off, it’s really important to go back. There’s always little bits of paper and there’s always like, this glue residue, even with the steamer there’s glue residue, quite a bit, in fact.

TSP Neutralizes Lead Paint Dust

The other thing, which I will get into in another video, I would like to share with you all my experiences with lead paint. if you have an old house you are probably sooner or later going to have some kind of experience with lead paint. We’ve had quite a few in our house, and we’ve had to do a lot of remediation. If you are in some kind of situation where you’re getting a lot of lead paint dust in your house, and you can’t immediately fix the root cause, TSP is great for dissolving lead dust. It actually – whatever it is in the lead that’s harmful to us humans, it binds with it and neutralizes it. It is a great thing if you need to be wiping down your windowsills and floors because you’ve got lead dust in your house. This is what you want.

Dirtex Does Not Neutralize Lead Paint Dust

The Dirtex does not make any mention of being able to neutralize lead paint dust, like here it says, “effectively controls lead paint dust.” This says, “effectively controls,” but I’ve read other places that that’s what it does. It just neutralizes it. So that’s great, and then the Dirtex does not mention lead dust at all, so if you are worried about lead dust, and you’re washing paint work, I would go with the TSP for sure.

Dirtex is Better Because You Don’t have to Rinse

Otherwise, like this, I’m just doing these bare walls; they don’t have paint on them; there’s miles of them, it feels like. I’m gonna go with the Dirtex. You don’t have to rinse it. It’s a very strong effective cleaner. It’s cheap and it’s good. TSP and Dirtex.

I hope that this helped you make a decision if you’re wondering about TSP versus Dirtex.

TL;DR, Dirtex vs TSP

The TL;DR is, Dirtex you don’t have to rinse it. It’s very powerful. TSP is a little more powerful. You do have to rinse it and be a little more careful with it. It’ll leave marks on your floors, that kind of thing, more readily than Dirtex. I say that from personal experience. Also, if you have a lead paint dust issue you definitely want to use the TSP.

More on Prepping Walls for Painting

If you’re getting rid of old nasty wallpaper, check out my posts and videos on How Hard Is It To Steam Off Wallpaper? and How to Strip Wallpaper with Three Simple Tools.

Make Old Furniture Look New

wood dresser

Use a solution of three parts oil to one part white vinegar to give the old finish a mini facial. It can make old furniture look new.

Sometimes you can’t paint a piece of furniture, because it’s too pretty, or someone you love likes that old brown dresser just the way it is.

You don’t have time or space to refinish it, and you’re tired of staring at that beat up old piece.

Make Old Furniture Look New … Without Paint

Painted Furniture is great, but too much of it in the same room looks, well, bad. Balancing out your painted pieces with good old fashioned brown furniture is the key to evolved, old world style French/Swedish/English Country style interior. It’s fun to play around and find just the right mix of different paint colors, finishes, and old brown pieces with great patina.

Speaking of patina, wood furniture can be charming, antique furniture, or it can just be old wood furniture.

I think it was Annie Sloan who said that the French would paint any wooden furniture, unless it were very special, indeed. That is pretty much my philosophy.

If something is just old wood furniture, it’s better off being painted with a lovely, interesting finish. But if you’ve got something truly special, even if it’s just special to you, that’s a different story.

He Likes the Wood Look

Painted furniture can add so much charm and interest. But, you will run across that furniture piece that you just can’t paint, for whatever reasons.

In my case, my boys don’t want painted furniture in their bedroom, not really. They prefer the wood look.

Family Baggage Heirlooms

And then I also have a few things that have come down from grandparents. Nothing fancy, but I have a feeling if I were to paint them, I might make some people upset.

I have never stripped, sanded, and refinished a piece of furniture. I don’t have the time, and I’m scared of the chemicals.

All-Natural Refinishing to Make Old Furniture Look New

If you feel the same way, but you’re sick of staring at that old finish, try this all-natural furniture refinishing solution: three quarters cup oil (I used olive oil) and one quarter cup vinegar (I used distilled white vinegar).

I got this tip from Miss Mustard Seed in her book, Inspired You. It’s tucked in there, just like an offhand remark, but it’s really brilliant. It might not be full on furniture restoration, but it can be as exciting a change to your old piece as a fresh coat of paint and furniture makeover.

I recently gave this a try on a beat up old dresser from the 60s and set of nesting tables from the 40s.

They’re both good quality, solid wood. I was really pleased with the results for such a minimal effort. The wood on these old pieces now looks silky smooth and moisturized. They’re both a bit darker and a bit shiner. It really did make old furniture look new.

This little mini facial didn’t remove any stains or imperfections, but it did perk up my pieces and make them look cared for and shiny.

Here’s the video I made about treating furniture with this oil and vinegar solution. If you like reading better, I wrote it all out and added the pictures, just below the video.

He Doesn’t Want It Painted

Did you ever have a piece of furniture that you just didn’t want to paint?

Or, that your little boy or husband didn’t want you to paint?

That is my situation with this dresser. it’s an old pine dresser probably from the 60s. We’ve had it for many years and as you can see it’s very dirty. It’s got grease spots and watermarks, all kinds of stuff.

I have suggested painting it many times and my husband and my son always say, “no no no no I love that dresser!” Now it’s going to be my son’s dresser. So what to do?

Oil and Vinegar Facelift

Hi, this is Kathleen from Old World Farmhouse and today I am going to take a solution of oil and vinegar and try to clean up this dresser. I like to make old furniture look new, but I do not want to get into refinishing. I just don’t have time or patience for all of that mess.

I read in Miss Mustard Seed’s book, actually, that you could take a solution of oil and vinegar, if your wood furniture isn’t in too bad of shape, and just kind of rub that in to clean it up, instead of going through the whole mess of refinishing.

Old Pine Dresser Looks New

I thought I’d give that a try today on this old pine piece and see what happens. Okay so here I’ve got three quarters of a cup of olive oil and a quarter cup of white vinegar. I’ve just got this little blue microfiber cloth that I’m mixing into that. It feels very oily and it doesn’t smell that great. I’m just gonna – I’m just gonna get started and see.

I hope that this is a “good enough for mom” solution.

Here is the finished result after I wiped it down with one quarter cup vinegar and three quarter cup of olive oil. It’s definitely looking happier now. It didn’t take away these little weird marks that I have no idea where they came from. But of course, I wouldn’t have expected that. The wood looks less thirsty and miserable than it used to for sure, and you can see a little more of the grain coming out.

The sides look great.

By and large, I’m pretty pleased with how this turned out.

wood dresser

It didn’t take away the markings on the top. The water stains, so see like there’s a big ring stain it did not take it away.

But it definitely looks better than it used to, especially from the front.

Really Old Tables Look Silky Smooth

These wood nesting tables are really old. They’ve been passed down from my grandparents to my parents and now to me. As you can see, they’re very worn, they’ve got water stains and i was thinking of painting them, but somehow I just can’t bring myself to do it. I guess because they’ve been in the family and I don’t want to make anybody mad.

wood nesting tables
wood nesting tables

Also I have sentimental memories of seeing these in our house growing up. I’m going to try the same technique on these tables that I did with that dresser upstairs. I’m going to take my solution of a quarter cup of vinegar to three-quarter cup olive oil.

Here are my nesting tables after being rubbed down with a solution of vinegar and olive oil. They’re definitely looking a lot happier and less thirsty now.

brown nesting tables

This is how the tables look after 48 hours of drying. After I wiped them with the oil and vinegar solution. Wow the difference is remarkable. They’re darker and just less tired out looking and they’re like, smooth and silky to the touch.

brown nesting tables

Now I’m gonna go upstairs and see how my dresser is doing after being let alone for 48 hours. Let’s go. The pine dresser 48 hours later.

wood dresser

It’s no longer wet like it was. It’s still a little greasy to the touch but I think that it’s going to absorb in time because in other spots it’s perfectly dry now.

Let’s look at the top. Still pretty gnarly, but just soft and silky, less thirsty, and all in all I’m enjoying its worn and weathered look, instead of thinking that it just looked sad before. It’s like i gave it a little facial, a little maybe not even as much as a facial. I just bought it some nice moisturizer.

Thank you so much for watching this video. if you found it helpful could you help me out by giving me a thumbs up down below and please check out my blog at for resources on French, English, and Swedish country styles as well as old houses. Thanks again.

More Resources For Dirty Wood

If you’d like more resources on cleaning wood, check out my post, Can Mineral Spirits Clean Waxed Floors?. If you’d rather make over your wood furniture by painting it, check out my posts, Get The Swedish Country Look With Chalk Paint, and Khaki Green Paint Colors for French Country Style.

How to strip wallpaper with three simple tools

old wallpaper

It is totally possible to strip wallpaper with three simple tools.

We show you how to scrape off gross old wallpaper with hot soapy water, paint brush, wallpaper scorer (optional, just use the side of the 5-in-1 tool if you don’t have one) and a 5-in-1 tool.

We are using the instructions from Mr. Aubrey of “Aubrey’s Absolute Decorating.” His YouTube channel is full of some of the most useful and clear instructions I have ever seen on all manner of home improvement projects. I must have watched every wallpaper removal video on YouTube and his is the best.

Here is the link to his tutorial

Supply List

plastic dropcloth

wallpaper scorer

big cheap paintbrush

5 in 1 Tool

Plastic Bucket

Ajax, Dawn, or other liquid detergent

In this video, I’ll show you exactly how to strip wallpaper with three simple tools. If you’d rather read, I’ve written it all out just below the video.

How To Strip Wallpaper With Three Simple Tools

Hey what’s up YouTube this is Kathleen from the blog and YouTube channel and this is my son. We are going to be stripping the wallpaper off of his bedroom walls today. Very ugly, old, extremely old wallpaper. I’m gonna show you how to strip wallpaper with three simple tools.

I’ll link below. I – I have watched a ton of how to remove wallpaper videos and my favorite one is from Audrey’s ah Audrey’s Aubrey’s Absolute Decorating. He’s got really clear directions. They’re great. I have followed them for stripping this room. They are the best I’ve ever seen.

Wallpaper Scorer

I’m just going to show you how I’ve taken his directions and adapted them to our situation, so let’s get started! The first thing we’re going to need is a wallpaper scorer. You can get these at Lowe’s, Home Depot, hardware stores, whatever. They’re not expensive at all. I can’t remember how much this one was, but definitely under ten dollars.

I’m gonna show you how – well, Lars is gonna – Lars is gonna show you how. It’s really fun, it works all right. Okay so you just go over your walls in a circular motion. I think Mr. Aubrey said, you know, do about, I don’t know, two feet or so at a time. No more than that. The reason that you’re going over them like this is to create little cuts in the paper so that the water can get behind there and soften the wallpaper. There, buddy you’ve got your section scored.

Hot Soapy Water and Wide Paint Brush

You want to get a bucket of very hot water with a couple drops of – Mr. Aubrey calls it washing up liquid because he’s English, but you know I have Ajax in here, and a very wide paint brush.

This is a cheap, four inch wide, you know, plastic bristle or something. What you’re going to do is just kind of dip your brush in the water – oh and I should mention, to protect your floor, throw down a drop cloth. This is a plastic one.

You know some water is going to drip, and if you have an electric outlet or something, tape it over. In his video he actually goes and turns the power off before he does the wall because there’s like an electric socket right in the wall. I’m working on a wall that has no electric on it, but when i get over to where my electrics are I’m definitely going to turn the power off. You’ll see why in a minute.

You take your brush, and he recommends, you know, soaking the paper in kind of an arcing motion. So, not up and down, but like – like a little rainbow back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, and not a very wide section, you know two feet or so at a time, because otherwise it’ll dry before you get a chance to come over there with your scraper.

Then you wait two or three minutes, go do something else, come back and repeat on the same section again. Paint it with the water again. Mom what happens when you don’t wait? Well if you don’t wait, then you have more work. Like, if you want it, you’re like, I just don’t want to wait! You want to get in there with your scraper and start lifting the paper up, it’s going to be much harder because what the – what giving those three or minutes or so does is soften the paste. The water softens the paste, so let the water work for you. Let the water do the work. Um, okay then you wait another two or three minutes.

Then you do a third time. Coat your wall with water, always waiting two to three minutes in between.

Lift With 5-in-One Tool

Okay, so we have soaked our paper three times, waiting two to three minutes in between each soak with water, and now we are ready to lift it off. A good tool to use for that, show one Lars, this is from Lowe’s. It is a five in one tool. A very sturdy little thing that would be good. I have also been using this puppy from time to time if i can get good big pieces up with it.

Now Lars is going to demonstrate how to gently loosen the paper from the wall with the scraper without damaging the paper – not the paper, we don’t care about the paper; the plaster. We don’t want to damage the plaster underneath.

We do not want to have plaster problems if at all possible because plaster problems are a big big headache. All right, Lars, so get your little tool in there and show them how it’s done. Just slip it under the paper, and it will come off and then you can just take it off with your hands, like this. And voilà. And then what, just keep going, keep going, until you have gotten all you want for that day or that time done and if there’s this stuff you can just learn how to lift it with a tool. You can just go like if it’s small spots, just that’s what I do, yeah, show them with the paper. It’ll fall off, but this you can just push it, not too hard, not too gentle.

And then, and just keep doing that until you’re done. Okay, so that is where we are with our wallpaper stripping. It’s really part one, because according to Aubrey in his video, after you’ve got all the paper off, you have to go back and kind of take your scraper and scrape very gently the entire room to get the glue residue off. Otherwise, when you go to paint, the paint will stick to the glue and, you know, dry and look like a – an awful mess. He said lizard skin, I believe.

So we’ve got to go over it to get the paste off and then over again with water to wash. I’ll make separate videos for that when we get to that point. But for now, we are signing off, bye!

If you’re looking for more information about stripping wallpaper, check out my post, How Hard Is It To Steam Off Wallpaper?

Can Mineral Spirits Clean Waxed Floors?

shiny wood floor

Waxed hardwood floors can be hard to figure out how to clean. I’ve read that mineral spirits can clean waxed floors.

Low Odor Mineral Spirits is supposed to be a gentle cleaner that can lift grime that gets into the wax finish. So, Can mineral spirits clean waxed floors?

I test them out on some very old and very dirty waxed wood floors to see if it makes any aesthetic improvement. Results are modest but encouraging. Verdict: Yes, mineral spirits can clean waxed floors.

Why are wood floors waxed, ever?

Hardwood floors these days typically have some kind of polyurethane finish. Usually it’s water based, as well, these days. But back in the day, they used paste wax to protect the floors. You were supposed to wax them several times a year and occasionally strip off all of the old wax buildup and start again.

All of this sounds like an impossible amount of work to me, but we live in a house with a lot of old, waxed wood floors, and I’ve got to do something. I feel like it’s hard to find clear answers online.

Beautiful Patina and Character

When we first moved in I thought we’d strip all the hardwood flooring and polyurethane all of it.

But then I read a blog post Laurel Bern wrote about wood floors. She argues, convincingly, I think, that waxed floors have the most beautiful look, shine, and patina, if you can stand all the maintenance. In her view, acrylic polys kind of take all the life out the floor. She likes oil based polys, but they are getting harder to come by for environmental reasons, and they’re very stinky. She linked to an Apartment Therapy tutorial about waxing (not stripping, but just waxing) old wood floors that makes it seem very accessible. I’ve read and reread that post over the years, but done nothing about my floors. But they’re at a tipping point now, I think. Five years of heavy traffic and they need some loving. Heck, they needed loving when we moved in, but now they really do.

Mineral Spirits: Quick, Easy Solution to Clean Grimy Wax

I’m still intimidated by stripping and waxing our wood flooring, but I thought I’d take a baby step, which felt scary enough. I decided to wipe one of the floors down with low odor mineral spirits, otherwise known as paint thinner. First I went over the floors with a dust mop, then a damp mop. After that, I just mopped on the mineral spirits with a paper towel wrapped around a mop head.

I definitely have clean wood floors now. The mineral spirits took up a ton of dirt and brought up the wood grain of the floor.

Rewaxing Might Not Be A Big Deal

Just taking the step to clean them has made me more confident however. I think that pretty soon I’ll have gathered the courage to strip the old wax with wax stripper, which I think could be mineral spirits applied with more intensity. After that, rubbing on new paste wax actually sounds pretty easy. Any time I can do something with my own two hands and not a gadget, I tend to feel better.

It’s been hard to find tutorials online about the kind of job I need to do on our floors. The Apartment Therapy article is the best thing I’ve found. And Laurel Bern’s advice.

In the meantime, if you have dingy waxed floors, and very little time, mineral spirits can clean waxed floors. They will leave you with clean wood floors and you’ll be able to see more of the wood grain, even if they’re not super shiny yet.

Here’s the video I made about the process. It was a good first step, but while it cleaned, the mineral spirits did not shine. Please enjoy the video. If you prefer reading, it’s all written out right below the video.

Can You Clean Dirty Old Waxed Floors?

Hey this is Kathleen from Today I wanted to figure out what to do if you have waxed floors. We live in an old house and it has beautiful wood floors all over, all different kinds, and they are all waxed. So, how do you take care of them?

Don’t Use Those Quick Shine Products

When we first moved in I thought I could just get a product like this, quick and easy. Liquid Gold, yay and then you read the back and it says right here,

“do not use floor restore on unsealed, unfinished, waxed, or oiled floors.” Full disclosure, I have put that stuff on the floors and products like it in the past, but um, I don’t want to continue because I think it contributes to the dullness and gloppiness of them over time.

So I was looking for other solutions and I read several different places on a floors forum and also at that you could go over the floors with mineral spirits.

I am going – today I’m going to give that a try. I’m going to go over these floors with mineral spirits and see if it helps. As you can see, the floors are in good condition, but they are very scratched and they are very dull and we are in a phase in our life with everything else we have to do in the house – and I’m sure that you can relate – where if we could just get them to look shiny we just wouldn’t worry about them at all. You know, we’re just not in a place where we could refinish.

We just want them to look nice, or as nice as possible, and right now I don’t think they do. I think they look dull.

How Can You Tell If Your Floors Are Waxed?

You might be wondering, how do I even know what’s on my floors? How do I know if they’re waxed? Well, the easiest way to tell is to take a little bit of water and drop itonto your floor just a little bit.

And then wait. If your floors are wax, water after it dries will leave a milky white haze like this. This is the kind of white discoloration you’re going to see if you have wax on your floor.

There was an umbrella stand here that probably had a leaky bottom and you can see, if I get my camera to focus, that it’s this. There we go. It just puts this – it looks like you accidentally painted, but actually, it’s not. It’s just what happens, I guess, when the water interacts with the wax.

I have attached just a paper towel to this Swiffer head because i want to be able to throw these away afterwards. Mineral spirits is flammable and you can’t wash rags that have mineral spirits on them, so I just want to get rid of it.

What I’m going to do is take some mineral spirits out of here and I’m just going to…

On the paper towel, even on the floor a little bit. I’m just going to – I’m hoping that this can clear up the cloudiness of my floor.

So yeah, it’s cloudy and it’s supposed to be able to just clear away the grime that’s in the wax that’s sitting on top of the floor.

So, Did The Mineral Spirits Improve the Floor?

The floor is dry now, so let’s take a look at the results. It’s definitely cleaner. I can tell that there’s some kind of grayish haze that’s gone and it’s brought up some of the wood grain again that we couldn’t see before. I guess my expectations were a little unrealistic.

Mineral Spirits Clean, Don’t Shine

I was hoping it would give a glossy glossy sheen, but why, that doesn’t even make any sense. So I think as far as it went, cleaning the floor with mineral spirits was a great idea. If you’re watching this because you’re looking for solutions, i would say wiping down the floor with mineral spirits is very easy and it definitely lifts some grime. And i would totally recommend it, so go for it. Maybe your floors are in better shape than mine, and it’ll make an even bigger difference for you.

I hope this video was helpful to you if you’re looking for solutions to get your wood floors clean and shiny. If you liked it, could you please help me out by giving me a thumbs up there down below, and please check out my blog at for more resources on old houses, French English, and Swedish country styles. Thanks.

If you’re looking for more noninvasive ways to brighten up the wood around your house, you might like my post, Make Old Furniture Look New.