My sweet husband, by his own admission, is similarly stricken. Based on our fixer-upper fitness, we should at most own a condo in the city.
Instead, we own a two-story, 100-year-old farmhouse with three outbuildings and an historic barn on 10 acres in the country. I know.
We love the house, but there is always some project that's trying to beat us down. The most recent beat-down came from my younger daughter's bedroom floor.
Our house has several wood floors that were painted when we bought the place and are not worth refinishing. Before my younger daughter, Anna, was born, we didn't know if she was going to be a he or a she, so we did the room up in blue, raspberry, and, on the floor, dark green. You'd have to have been there, but it made some sense at the time.
Once my 11-year-old figured out she was living in a pseudo-gender-neutral room, she complained, and together we picked out a fabulous midnight blue to replace the army green on her floor.
I slapped two coats of the new on top of the old and called it good.
Except it wasn't.
Because the old green was oil-based and the new blue was water-based.
Take-Away Tip #1: You've heard the saying "oil and water don't mix"? Truth, mamas. Take it from me, and don't try to put them together on your daughter's bedroom floor and think you're somehow going to be the exception to an immutable law of physics or chemistry or some other subject I don't understand.
The blue paint almost immediately started peeling off like a giant pore-tightening mask.
If Anna stood barefoot in one spot too long, she came away with a blue-paint slipper. She was not a happy middle-schooler. (I mean, I know "happy" and "middle-schooler" are often mutually exclusive terms, but her ill-tempered floor pushed my girl right over the edge into tween angst.)
I tried sanding and recoating, to no avail.
I went back to the home-improvement megastore where I'd bought the blue paint and confessed my stupidity. The paint-counter expert told me I should have initially applied a "bonding primer," which would basically convince the old green oil-based paint and new blue water-based paint that they could and should get along.
I bought a quart of the primer and started scraping off peeling blue paint in preparation for a do-over. Because I was not and am not going to do this again. Am. Not.
I scraped. And sanded. And scaped. And sanded. In due haste, I reached "I don't care" status and decided to just start throwing down primer...two coats, taking me up to four and counting.
Then I started painting. For the record, I despise painting. It's too messy. The only thing fiercer than my hatred of painting is my love for my daughter.
Midway through, I had a eureka moment, thank goodness. I'd been dipping my paintbrush directly into the quart can, which was a drippy hassle because I was using the biggest brush I could employ TO GET THE THING DONE ALREADY, and it barely fit. Bristles kept getting bent. The whole thing was a mess. (See "too messy," above.)
I decided I needed to pour the paint into something else for easier access. Absent a single one of the Cool Whip tubs that normally self-reproduce in my cupboard but which, inexplicably, had vanished when I needed one, I pulled a hinged Styrofoam food tray off the shelf.
And (Take-Away Tip #2): genius. I poured paint neatly into the larger well, which left smaller spots free for my wipe rag and bits of floor debris I fished out of the paint. The host can sat safely in the open tray lid, and when I needed to put down my brush, it rested securely with the handle protected from slipping back into the paint (see "too messy," above). The whole tray went right into the trash when I was done. Really, this could change my life. I'm sure DIY-divas have been employing this trick for decades, but it was possibly my DIY-challenged self's finest hour.
Two coats of blue brought the project total to six layers. The new paint seems to be staying put in spite of a summer so humid we could be growing rice in the living room carpet.
And hallelujah, the room is done. No more peeling. No more paint socks for Anna. A room that's all her.
As for the Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut-Butter Bars and what they have to do with any of this? This is a bit of a stretch, but here it goes:
- Out of love for my daughter, I put a total of 6 coats of paint or something like it down on her floor.
- And have you heard of those bar cookies called "Seven Layers of Love"? (They're sometimes called "Seven Layer Magic Bars.") Well, these are not them. But they are layered. And you might love them.
- Do layer peanut-butter crumb cookie mixture with chocolate-fudge goodness.
- Don't layer oil-based and water-based paint without a bonding primer go-between.
|I promise these bar cookies are so much better in real life|
than they are in this photo. (See "Blog Backstory," list at end, #9.)
1 (~ 15 oz.) yellow cake mix, gluten-free if you want your finished product to be so
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk (fat-free, low-fat, or regular...just make sure you aren't accidentally using a can of evaporated milk!)
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Coat a 9x13 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
3. In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, melted butter, peanut butter, and eggs. It'll be a stiff dough...use some muscle (or an electric hand-mixer).
4. Press about two-thirds of this batter into the bottom of your prepared pan. Bake for 5-7 minutes, just until barely starting to set in the center.
5. While this is happening, pour the chocolate chips into a large microwave-safe bowl and dump the sweetened condensed milk over them. You don't have to stir at this point. Microwave on high for 45 seconds. Now stir well. If the chocolate is not melted after you beat vigorously for a few seconds, heat for about 10 more seconds, and give it another try. Once your milk and chocolate have become one deliciously fudgy mess, stir in the vanilla.
6. When the peanut-butter base has finished its pre-bake, remove it from the oven, and pour your chocolate fudge loveliness evenly over the entire surface. It's easier to distribute by pouring rather than spreading, so take your time and disperse the chocolate mixture as equitably as possible over the base. Don't neglect the corners and edges. Use a knife (or an offset spatula, a.k.a., My Very Favorite Kitchen Utensil) if you need to coax the chocolate mixture a little.
7. Use your fingers to scatter small bits of the remaining peanut butter dough evenly over the surface of the chocolate.
8. Bake for another 10-20 minutes, just until the cookie dough is barely set in the center and the chocolate mixture is starting to crack. Under is better than over here, doneness-wise. If you err on the short side, you can call these "gooey" and "melty." Whereas if you err on the long side, you'll have to just go with "hard" and "dentally damaging."
9. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Store airtight. You can refrigerate these if you want to, but serve them warm or at room temperature. Or almost-hot right out of the pan five minutes after you yank them from the oven.