Friday, December 30, 2022

What I'm Reading This Week #52

Happy final Friday of 2022!  Good riddance you rat bastard.  


I mean, thank you for the lessons and hoping for a friggin' quiet year for once.  


I beg of you.

I hope you are recovered from Christmas and ready to kick out the old year and welcome the new one.  Obviously, we are!

Now let's kick into:

5 Natural Ways to Reduce Inflammation and Start Feeling Your Best  (I think we all feel inflamed one way or another this month!)

The 8 Best Mobility Exercises for When Your Body Feels Too Tight to Function  (Me like every day of the week!)

The 5 Best Night Guards, According to Dentists  (I may need to upgrade mine or like, you know, wear it.)

Your Next Doctor's Appointment May Include an Anxiety Screening. Here's Why — and What to Expect   (Yep, ours did and I made it clear with dementia in the family, don't even suggest any meds from the drug companies they were in cahoots with.  I said cahoots.)

21 Healthy Soup Recipes Perfect For Warming You Up This Cozy Season  (Some yummy options!  I'm sure many of us are over elaborate cooking right now!)

7 Common Types of Food Bacteria, and How to Avoid Getting Sick  (Don't forget it can't sit out all day.)

How Long Does a Water Heater Last? - When to Replace It  (Oh I don't know, maybe when it sounds like someone shooting buckshot underwater every time it's reheating and someone uses water?  "No flushing required" my ass.)

Why January Is the Deadliest Month of the Year  (Be careful out there y'all!)

6 Feng Shui Tips To Set You Up For Success In The New Year  (After the chaos time to clear da cluttah!)

16 Spiked Hot Chocolate Recipes to Drink Over the Holidays  (Perhaps ring in the new year with something different than champagne!)

We are cozying in for a quiet NYE and will probably watch this 80's Dick Clark Rockin' Eve which I can confirm is quite fun.  We did that before one year and it was nice to pretend we weren't in the times we are now.  😆  This holiday season was definitely not the greatest for me- I was exhausted but I'm ready to just chill this weekend and take in the last of it.

Any plans for New Years Eve or keeping it laid back?

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Wednesday, December 28, 2022

How We Created an English Countryside Stone Wall in Our Bedroom

As I've mentioned before, this picture was the inspiration for the master bedroom remodel.  I loved the way the stone looked and it's always the first thing I swoon over in pics of England and Europe.  There has been many a time I wanted to grab a leather glove and old timey slap people who have drywalled over such history and character when someone like me who would maime for such luck can't find anything remotely like it.  If there's one thing I know, I'm not down with re-inventing the wheel and putting up cement board to put real stone up.  I don't need the real thing, I just need a reasonable facsimile.  When I saw Cottage on Main Street used the lightweight panels from Barron Designs, I knew that was the solution for me getting to cuddle into my dream Cotswolds style bedroom every night.  You can bet your sweet bippy I ordered those babies sooner than later since they could take 6-8 weeks to get in.  Of course, it figures they were feeling quite productive and got them churned out in two weeks when we were nowhere near ready for them so in the basement they stayed for about two months.  

When we took them out and were figuring out our pattern, I will tell you that the sample wasn't like the final product.  I ordered three samples- two in the Dakota blend color I was pretty sure I wanted and one in limestone.  Then I think two Hampton style and one of Carlton maybe?  I chose the Hampton Dakota blend but when put next to the panels we were sent, they were almost a full inch thinner.  It wasn't too big of an issue but I'd made some design choices around that sample that now needed adjusted which didn't make me happy so know that going in if you ever use them.  I ordered the Dakota touch up paint kit and three tubes of Stone colored grout.  The grout was pretty expensive so I had my own ideas on how I could make that stretch.

The biggest thing to know is that your walls are likely not square so that means finding level and snapping a chalk line or marking it somehow.  Our situation was a little different because any instructions assume you are starting from the floor up from level there and we weren't.  We needed a half wall so after trimming off the 'fingers' for a straight line to start on in the upper corner, we needed to mark the level line on the wall and go from that.  I don't know if that's the right way to do it but that's how we did it and it worked well for our needs.

First we found and marked the studs which on this wall were 24" apart.  

(Vertical tape is for studs/horizontal is where stud finder indicated wiring)

The panels are light and when we put them up on the walls, checked to make sure they were level, lined them with construction adhesive:

...and made sure that at least two pre-marked studs were hit when screwing them in.  

We rotated the patterns so they weren't side by side or on top of each other.  The second row was going to be a little more tricky because they'd need to be cut about a foot down but ultimately, they were still easy to hang.

I will tell you that I am not one of those people who can unsee shading and contouring on products.  This color scheme has some dark blue and maybe a maroon color kind of lightly sprayed on some stones and I did not care for it because they really jumped out at me.  So I did some alterations of my own.  I got some of the joint compound and watered it down quite a bit in a bowl.

Then I took a small sponge and wrung it almost all the way out and blotted all over the stones to lighten them.  It kind of gave a lime wash look.

I didn't care for that alone so it was time to grab a lint free rag, my dark wax and my wax brush and see if I could age them a little.  

I lightly dabbed the end of the brush into the wax, brushed it off onto one end of the rag and used the barely there wax to lightly graze against any texture on the top of the stone.

I took the other end of the rag and buffed the wax so it rubbed in and gave me the look I was going for.

It was actually kind of satisfying and meditative given everything else especially for me to get the nice mix of gray and brownish stone color I wanted and looked real, so we were quite happy with it.

I wanted a little bit of an over grout look to the stones so I decided to backfill the pre-made grout lines.

*I'm gonna stop right here and not go through the bazillion trials and errors I went through to get what finally worked on this friggin' grout idea.  Just know that, as usual, it was a process that had me almost chiseling everything out and starting over or taking a flame thrower to it more than once and calling it shou sugi ban to keep up with the latest trend.  This process also included using "grout" that came from the company which is textured caulk.  While it's a nice touch, the lightest color of "stone" dries to a beige-y pink cast and was not light enough and that was not going to work for me.  I cannot count how many times I wanted to paint the whole thing white and move on.  I saw someone did that and I recoiled in horror and thought "WHY would you cover that up!?"  I get it now.  I don't know if they had the same problems I did until I found my solution but I have had so many moments of utter defeat in this room I understand wanting to accept your fate and move on.  Sadly, I'm stubborn and like a dog with a bone.  Now, I'll skip to what I SHOULD'VE done and we'll pretend the thing in the grout bag is what I'm going to tell you because I was so over it at this point I didn't take pics with the product by the end but it doesn't change the process.*

I got some lightweight spackle, chucked it in a grout bag and then it was time to frost dat beeotch.

I essentially filled the entire crack and smoothed it over the edges of the stone because what I had before made me cry because the valleys between the stones looked horrible to me and I was going for a European old stone wall look where over grouting is king.  This stuff was truly my savior and it doesn't crack or shrink which is the big problem I had with the joint compound I originally used not once but twice.   I wish I had found it sooner because it would've saved me a lot of frustration, a little cost and time which is why I'm telling you so you can learn from my mistakes should you make the decision to do something this nuts and if you do, you do so at your own risk if you follow any of this.  The only thing is this is WHITE white.  So if that isn't the color you want (I didn't) you can paint it.  I already had Benjamin Moore's Tapestry Beige on hand from the walls and that toned it down perfectly to give the more faded grout color I wanted.

(Spackle on top, beige paint on bottom)

It took me a few weeks to finish it because I had to move over to the board and batten project so we could move stuff around the room for the rest of this wall.  Once the stone portion had been filled, grouted and painted, it was time to move on to the wood portion.  It did not consist of slapping up wood.  I did a lot of research and ordered a lot of samples of those peel and stick thin wood products out there.  The colors were never right and certainly the price was more than I wanted to pay.  For the amount of square footage we needed plus waste, it was going to be around $750 and I just couldn't especially since we overspent on the budget on all of the Retique It products for the board and batten.    We looked at reclaimed barn wood which was even more expensive or if it wasn't, it was short squatty pieces in weird ass colors that weren't uniform and I didn't want that appearance.  I wanted the appearance of old barn wood without paying old barn wood price.   You dig?

I looked at a lot of tutorials, some helpful, many not for what I wanted so I got a few pieces of equipment I knew we'd need to get that look.

Square Head Nails (for impressions)
Water Based Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner
Water Based Dark Walnut Stain
Water based polyurethane
Lint Free rags

Extras I shouldn't have needed but did because- me.
Retique It Black Walnut Stain (it was the wrong color they sent me and thank God I hung onto it)
Clear Furniture Wax

I was terrified of this part because of the scale of it.  I didn't want the perfect corners that were on the select pine boards we had so that meant we either had to use the hand planer we bought or the chisel set.  Well, the planer would've been easier but very uniform.  I wanted this wood to look like we pulled it from salvage without paying the price they charge for it.  The chisel added time but gave the look I wanted.  Of course I did it the hard way the first 6 boards by using the chisel with a mallet to help it along but when I noticed how sharp they were, I knew I didn't need to use it which was a relief especially since I'd accidentally clocked my wrist with the mallet two days in a row.  I probably used the most tips from this video to age the wood.  

I used the awl to mimic beetle holes, chisel for mimicking axe chops because giving me an axe at this point in the project would've been unwise and also used it to hand whittle the edges of the boards, some square head old timey nails I bought for indentations (which came out okay but nothing spectacular) and the Dremel tool to make splits.

I used 800 grit sandpaper to take off any splintery parts on the distressing but not taking it back too far that it lost the character from the tool.  I knew the poly or wax would seal it and it's not like these would be underfoot, just on the wall.

I used the dark walnut water based stain I already had on hand.  I couldn't do an oil based stain because I couldn't tolerate the amount of stink.  Every woodworking site I checked with talked about the importance of using pre-stain wood conditioner and I know how crappy and blotchy wood can look, especially pine, without it.  I put some on and gave it 25 minutes to soak in and then I was ready to stain.  I loved the way it looked.   I did about 8 boards and thought I was good to go so I polyed those after one coat.  

Then as time went on it looked like an orange hue.  I was NOT happy as I loathe orange pine.  This isn't a 70's cabin look I was going for. I took a board to the bedroom and it was confirmed, orange. I grabbed the dark wax I had on hand to darken it and it seemed to be doing the trick.  Then the more that soaked in, all it really did was turn it a deeper orange.  I could tell the Mr was not happy because he thought based on my initial reaction we were in the home stretch.  A little research showed that apparently staining pine brings out the orange in it.  Of course it does.  I did as much research as I could to find solutions to try on parts I knew would get cut off.  I found an article about how to de-orange wood using white chalk paint dry brushing (which I had) and dark wax.  Nope.  I tried some of the Barnwood stain I got from Retique It initially and it didn't really do anything.  Finally, I grabbed some black walnut from Retique It that was sent in error and for some reason I kept it.  Welp,  that is what toned down the orange color.  So back at it and stained it all, let it dry then waxed them because polying was no longer an option due to weather as it was raining and then a nose dive temp wise.  It really only added a day and a half to the timeline but at this point I was so used to everything going wrong that it was par for the course.

After letting the wax harden for a day so it was able to at least be handled (2 weeks to cure), we got to it.

The wall was prepped beforehand which consisted of painting it dark brown, attaching furring strips into studs across the wall so that when the wood was screwed in the weight would be evenly distributed across studs.  We also knew we were getting brackets that came down for a full wall shelf that we wanted on studs so we used construction adhesive to put vertical 4 inch furring strips for the lag screws to go into.

On a walk, the Mr casually mentioned about putting foam soundproofing panels between the furring strips to block out the heinous witch that has lived next to us for over 20 years.  I jumped all over that because it was going to fit and any bit to block out her existence was fine with me.

The biggest math problem that needed solved was how to cut the first and last boards so you don't end up with a tiny little 1-2" piece at the end that'll look like poop just like we had to figure out with the flooring before we started.  The Mr found this thread that spelled things out perfectly for him.  We both agreed we would have him cut the first board to start but wait until we got to the end to more accurately cut the board because we know our house is far from square.  Because these boards would also act as the baseboard for that wall, the Mr had to measure each board for the top of the furring strip to keep it even.  Most of them were 59 1/2" but there were some that were different by a fraction up or down. 

I would jam the 12" panels behind the wood as it was put up by using composite shims to shimmy them into place.  It worked better if I waited to open them out of the vacuum sealed pack right before I needed them so they would expand in place.  Otherwise much more coercing was needed which wasn't bad but still.  We used construction adhesive on the furring strips and a cordless finishing nailer which holds more weight to nail into the furring strips for each board.  

It sounds easy but it took about five hours to get a 12' wall done.  As usual, the biggest pucker butt moment (for me at least) was when it came to the outlet.  We had a phone jack outlet that we were covering over so thankfully we didn't have to worry about cutting two spots there.  (We put some foam board at the front of the cavity, used an outlet insulator on the blank cover plate and screwed it in.)  Knowing our track record with the measure technique, we used the technique we used for the board and batten wall of globbing up some putty squares on the corner of the outlet, putting paint on the ends and leaned the board with proper gaps in place hoping it transferred to the back of the board.  By the grace of God, it did and the Mr was able to cut inside of those spots and they worked.  That enabled him to make marks on the other board and cut about 1/4" out.  Of course that last board he had to rip was a pain in the butt for him as the top was 1/2" longer than the bottom so it was a matter of finding the right angle by including the gap so it wasn't tight against the wall.  Thankfully he got it and we were so happy with the wood part being done.  

If only that was it.  

Now it was time to make the shelf that would go completely across the length of the wall.  Technically they make 12' boards but we couldn't fit that in our SUV and a quick search showed a joining technique we could use that would work.  Here's what we needed for the final part of the accent wall.

Two 1x6x8's
Two 1x2x8's (for a lip on the front so any pics wouldn't slide off and crack us in our sleep)
Fourteen 3" lag bolts (remembering we have the wood, furring strips, 1/4" and 1/2" drywall to go through to get to actual studs)
Wood glue
Brackets with a lip

I stained and waxed the boards but man, because of the weather and having limited space to play with those boards ended up twisting and bowing like a beeotch.  I knew that was going to happen so when I ordered the brackets, I asked them to drill a hole in the bracket that would hold the wood so we could screw into the shelf knowing the way pine is just a wiener.  We forgot to take pics of the joining process but just look up dowel jig on You Tube and you can find videos on it.  Here's what the shelf looked like during the drying process after the Mr joined them with dowels.

We obviously didn't have a 12' long clamp but we did think to use the flooring ratchet strap we used when the Mr laid the flooring.  Then we put a 10 lb weight on the joint overnight to help it dry as straight as possible.  We put the shelf portion in place and as predicted one end was up in the air and wasn't sitting straight despite sitting in place overnight, it was time to screw through the brackets to force it into submission.

Then it was time to install the lip to cover up the side of the shelf.  It was cut so it lined up with a bracket so half of it would be covered. We were going to dowel join them but the smaller portion on the right got kind of jammed into place and forcing it out would mean likely ruining the stain on the front and that would've caused me to turn it into kindling.  So the Mr brad nailed it into place then we put some wood glue on the front of the shelf and end butting up with the other lip, pushed it to level and nailed it into place.

Oh My Lord!!!  We were finally done with that part which took months because of logistics but very satisfying in the end when we were able to take a step back and survey the fruits of our labor.

It was perfect to be able to put up a Christmas village I had my eye on for a year and gives such a cozy vibe.

I cannot thank the Mr enough for putting up with the never ending project or as my bestie referred to it, "The Wall."  It was such a long time coming it warranted capitalization. 😆  

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Monday, December 26, 2022

How We Made a Mini Hearth for Our Electric Fireplace

Y'all.  I don't know at what point during the planning phases of this remodel I was like "I want an electric fireplace in the bedroom" but there it was and wouldn't leave mah brain.  I think it was once I realized we were able to get rid of our big ass Crate and Barrel dresser and that would open up the wall in front of the bed and I thought "ooh, it'd be nice to have a small fireplace there!"  I looked several places and finally settled on the Chateau Fireplace from Wayfair in white.  (This is the one we got but they also have one in Espresso.  It's been over a month in use and we friggin' LOVE it!)

It was 41" long which was the perfect size and seemed to get the best reviews.  Honestly, I wanted it more for ambience and didn't plan on using the heat option much, if at all because I am a hot sleeper after an hour and don't want it stifling in there.  As I sat on Mt. Midoriyama (aka my mountainous bedframe which allowed me to put all of the contents of my closet under the bed), I thought "uh, I don't know that I'll be able to see the fireplace from the summit."  That lead me to some very scientific calculations to see how high I'd need the fireplace to sit to see the firebox.

That's right.  I based my measurements of what a platform would need to be based on a janky setup and where I could see the top of the bottle from sitting up in bed.  Follow me for other DIY tips and tricks.  

So I did my calculations based on the height of the base according to some answered questions on the site and determined that if we built a little base out of 2x8's then it should be the perfect height.  We had leftover stone panels from the accent wall that I could put on the front and sides and it would turn it into a true mini hearth!  I was excited about this and the Mr probably broke out into a flop sweat.  

Here's what I used to build it.

Two 2x8x8  (Remembering that that they're really 1 1/2"x 7 1/2" 😒)
Two sheets of plywood (or one big one- we don't have that kind of car room.)
Leftover stone panels
Leftover cove molding
Leftover Retique It Wood n' Stain (dark walnut)

This is the template I gave the Mr:

Diagram is looking down on it.  Click to enlarge

Here's what it looked like in reality:

This was before securing everything to see how it looked.  I couldn't help myself as I'd had this idea all along that I scrapped about putting a hole in the middle with firewood in it.  Look, I know it's not a real fireplace but there is something about having firewood as decoration that I love.  (I've got a bundle of birch logs in a crate in front of our gas fireplace and it works.)  I could either have him screw this together as is and put the stone across the front or I could go for it, get the firewood I wanted and would always whine about if I didn't do it.  Hole in the middle it is.

He cut the long piece so it would only cover the two middle supports on the front and leave the firewood hole. 

He cut plywood to cover the top and bottom and that would get us back to the 8" height but first it needed to be sealed.  Plywood has formaldehyde which I have extreme reactions to so I can't have it outgassing at any level in the house.  (The great eye soak of 2015 after having cheap laminate installed still makes me cringe.)  So primed them with Bin Primer on the top, bottom and sides.  

*This is where I had a brain fart & apparently didn't take more pictures of the building process.*

Then I worked on the rest of it by using the Retique It Wood n' Stain on the primed top.  Of course after one coat it was the exact color I wanted for the board and batten but I'll try not to think about that.  I painted the cove molding the same color but a little darker.  Then it was time to work on the stone panels the Mr cut.  I did the same aging technique I did on the accent wall with the watered down joint compound blotted on the surface and when it dried I lightly rubbed dark wax.  I used the stone touch up paint I bought from the company when I ordered the panels to paint the sides of the cut pieces so when they showed it wasn't super obvious.  Then I grabbed the lightweight spackle, chucked it in a gallon bag and cut the corner and piped it in just like I did on the stone wall.

I pushed it in and tried to smooth it with my finger which is next to impossible.  So after about 30 minutes when it started to slightly crust over, I dipped my finger in water and smoothed it which I WISH I had done with the wall because the texture really bothers me but it works.  But you can see the difference with smoothing and not smoothing.  I had to let it dry overnight before I could paint the grout Benjamin Moore Tapestry Beige to match the wall.   Then it was time to assemble it.  We got some construction glue and put the sides on and then the front panels and let the glue set.

Then we glued on the top and bottom and let those dry.  Next we put the cove molding on the front bottom of the hole for a finishing touch.  Finally it was time to put the firewood that had been cut to fit inside to see how it looked.

We were both really happy with how it turned out and it perfectly complimented the fireplace.

It's awesome that my janky little bottle trick allowed me to have the view I hoped for when sitting in bed!

I know you can't see the hearth from bed but that wasn't the goal.  We just wanted something snazzy to give us the view we were after.

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Sunday, December 25, 2022

Merry Christmas!


Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and thankful for you sticking around with us over the years!  

Whatever you do, whomever you're're thought of and wished a holiday full of your favorite things.

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Friday, December 23, 2022

What I'm Reading This Week #51

Holy crap balls, it's here!  Christmas weekend is upon us and I hope you're ready for it whether that means being with family and friends, keeping it simple and celebrating as a couple or staying in your PJ's all day with a stocking full of goodies binge watching whatever to your heart's content!  (Or a mix of all of the above.)  

No time to shilly shally, let's binge:

Physical therapist shares 4 common habits that are weakening your pelvic floor  (Didn't think of any of this!  Good stuff to know.)

12 Habits of Genuine People  (Good, I tick most of the boxes!  LOL)

7 Things Doctors Do Every Day Before Breakfast for More Energy (Dude, if I do the last one, I'm going back to bed after!)

Upside Down Hair Washing May Add Volume and Clean Deeper  (Might have to give it a try because I always feel like the area on the bottom by my ears never feels clean enough to me.  Oh and try not to pass out.)

We all use phones on the toilet. Just don't sit more than 10 minutes.  (I beg to differ there are three types of people and some of us don't lie about it!)

Ctrl+Shift+T: The Keyboard Shortcut Not Enough People Know About  (Uh...mind blown.  I'm probably the last person to know about this.)

The Best Christmas Towns in America You Should Visit at Least Once  (Wow, we've been to a few of these- many more than once.)

Savage Tweets Perfectly Nail Every Hallmark Christmas Movie Ever Made  (Have we reached saturation point with these damn movies??  I always wonder if they'll end up together.  😏)

Joe Pesci Reflects on Making 'Home Alone 2' as Movie Turns 30  (Sorry about your head but that's my favorite scene.)

Today is our "I love you" anniversary.  31 years of...all of it.  Good times, bad times, challenging times, triumphant times.  Yes, it might be weird to some to celebrate a dating/I love you anniversary but I think it's just a little more special.  Wedding anniversaries are easy (well, for most) but remembering where it all started and how our holidays changed forever from that moment on is something to celebrate.  

We want to wish you and your loved ones a happy, healthy, peaceful holiday weekend.  Remember to take time to breathe and take it all in.  It goes by so fast.  By Sunday afternoon/evening, the anticipation will be over and in the books.  These coming days are the most magical so enjoy the magic whether you're making it for others or yourself.

Merry Christmas!

How are you spending this weekend?

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Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Our Attempt at Stained Wood Board and Batten Part Deux

It's time for the triumphant conclusion!  If you haven't read part one, click here.  I'll wait.

*Muzak version of Girl from Ipanema hold music*

Where were we?  Oh yeah, moment of truth.  So I used the foam brush and started my 3 minute timer as the instructions on the stain said.  This was the Varathane Stain which was water based, fast drying and thick.  I noticed it looked like it was drying quicker than anticipated so I wiped it off a minute earlier.  I wasn't going for super dark so I was hoping for just one coat.  I got my stain rags and began wiping away.  My heart fluttered as I revealed the cove molding in its glory.  This was going to be gorgeous! 

As I continued to wipe away the stain on all sides, my flutters turned to palpitations as a big blotch of stain completely removed from the wood batten and the center panel, well, looked like this:

Fair warning.  As if you couldn't tell from the previous post, there's gonna be language.  If this offends you, don't let the door smack you on the ass as you head to a real DIY blog.  I'm telling you the TRUTH and giving you the potential ugliness of DIY and what you could encounter if you're born under a bad star like we seem to be.  I've got no time to polish a turd so you can say "it looks easy!  Let's do it!"  If anything, I'm cracking those rose colored glasses so you can slap on a pair of readers for the up close of DIY dumpster fires.  If this all sounds like fun to you, then hop in ya lunatic but you do it at your own risk.  I warned you.  Also, I'm old and therefore I like gifs because they make me giggle.  There will be many.  As you were.

"Okay.  Don't panic.  You took a risk using a water based stain, you can seal it and go over it with the last of the liquid wood you have."  I went on to the gel stain which was the top recommendation from them over their own stain.  (I didn't use their stain because I wasn't crazy about any of the colors.)  I grabbed the next foam brush, used it in the gel stain and put it across one piece of wood and one middle panel in a spot that was going to be covered by the fireplace in case the shit show progressed.  

And progress it did.

Two! Two f**ked up squares!  Ah...ah...ah!!


I text the Mr in the other room.  "Sh*t show."

He comes in, is perplexed but also trying to say the right thing so as not to send me down the mental toilet swirl that has been the previous few days months.  He agrees it looks like crap and it's clear the Eucaboard, despite FOUR LAYERS of liquid wood, does not play well with others.  It's not like it's glued to the wall with super sonic construction adhesive or anything.  😒  I emailed the Retique It peeps and in the meantime, did a furious internet search of which I read in several places that you need to shellac the stain to start over.  Okay fine.  The Mr and I walked at the park that night and he dropped me off to start dinner while he got shellac.  Then a few hours later I entered a search "what does shellac do?" and it came back with never use it around a heat source even when dry.  


I told the Mr and I could tell he wanted to temper his response with the extreme frustration he was now feeling at wasting yet more money on this project but not sending me into a crying jag.  Too late.  I spent 4 hours looking at varying brown paint colors which I didn't want to use while talking to myself out loud but also wanted it to look like wood.  Well, brown paint ain't gonna make it look like wood.  It's too one dimensional and if you try the many paint techniques that tell you that you can, it looks like pure dung to my eye.  I was told to poly it because shellac could cause adhesion issues so take note if you ever use it.  They were very helpful but at this point it was two days from vacation and no packing or anything remotely close to preparing for it had been done.  We had to call it.  So I made it my goal to get it back to square one and I polyed and did the two layers of light liquid wood and two layers of dark liquid wood.  

I looked at more paint colors than I knew existed but also knew that was essentially futile because that nice "off white" chalk paint that was my first purchase for this God forsaken devil project was white.  Just plain ol' white despite the website talking about how creamy it was but not actual cream.


I looked on Retique It's website and saw they had a product called Wood n Stain.  I really did NOT want paint.  I wanted wood look.  I was confident I was going to get it and it was obvious that wasn't happening the traditional stain route.  This stuff was liquid wood, stain and topcoat all in one.  You don't wipe it off.  I cannot tell you how many times we went back and forth as to whether we should invest more money in that stuff.  As I was bawling asking the Mr what HE would do and he said he would get the little 8 ounce one and try it first on some scrap I have painted to see if it would work or not before investing in a $170 GALLON of the stuff.  That sounded reasonable.  

There was more back and forth the next day.  A lot of sobbing.  I'm sure a lot of the Mr thinking "she offered twice not to go on the vacation so I could celebrate my birthday in peace, it would be rude to turn her down now."  A lot of me looking at customer pics of projects using the stuff and recoiling in horror at what other people consider "looks so real" and a patchy hot mess on varying surfaces.  In the end, I decided to give the product a try and hopefully being away for a little over a week would give me the recharge I (we) needed to put dis bitch to bed when we got back.  So I sealed the stain with poly added my layers of liquid wood (that I was now out of) and got it looking like it did prior to my dreams being smacked with a leather glove across the face.


I ordered the smallest jar of Wood and Stain in Dark Walnut.  It was not the color I would have preferred but I didn't like any of the other ones.  They don't really have 'medium' tone browns.  I'd already tried Barnwood which looked medium toned to me on the website but it wasn't on my project.  I told myself I was doing one square for a test and if I didn't like it, I was going to poly over it again, paint and call myself beat.  I didn't have the mental or actual time to swirl this toilet anymore.  

I was fresh off of vacation mode so I didn't think to grab the camera for the layering portions.  I put on one layer which is what I was hoping to get away with because I didn't want anything too dark.  It was apparent that isn't how that works on a large project.  It dries VERY fast and if you're not going in the direction you want the final product to go, the edges will have already dried in that pattern.  Or even if you paint a small section, if it even touches a section that has started to set, it will be uneven where you picked up, like so:

(The kicker?  The one coat color is the color I wanted but there's literally no way to get it on a project this large.)

On a small project like an end table or nightstand, I might've been able to get away with it but not for a wall of this stuff.  (Edit:  This theory was confirmed with a smaller project.)  I waited and applied the second coat about an hour or so later.  Obviously, it made it darker and filled in some of the wonky patterns made by the first pass but it was quite clear this was going to be a three coater for it to be close to what *I* expect it to look like.  (I emphasize I because there were plenty of pics in the Amazon reviews where people who were thrilled with their results made me recoil in horror and I knew I couldn't live with splotchy, streaky or heavy brush strokes.  If you're from the school that stained wood is supposed to look uneven then 1-2 coats will do ya.)  

With each coat, it all got darker (I needed four total for it to not look streaky) and I basically ended up with a $200 gallon of coffee brown paint that I could've gotten for $40.  This is not necessarily the fault of the company.  There are tons of reviews of people who like seeing brush strokes or use the grain tool to get the real wood look.  Like there would've been people who looked at the above pic (aside from the darker square) and called that a success.  

I am, unfortunately,  not one of those people. 

Okay, so time to break out some dark wax and see if it can give it a little depth.

I lightly dabbed into the wax onto my brush then put it on every square inch going first in circular patterns then up and down and left to right.  

Once it was done, it did give a little richness to things after I took off the excess wax with a lint free rag.

I waited 24 hours and went back with a clean lint free towel and tried to buff it to a sheen I liked.  Then the cosmos struck again.  

Flecks and edging of the wood n' stain started coming off down to the core.  Well, knowing I had MDF down the wall for cove molding meant that wasn't going to happen or I'd have to repaint.  I thought this meant it was a sign from the universe that the idea to have to put Rub n Buff on the edges of the cove molding with a Q tip was not just an idea but now necessary.  I did not take pics in case this part went in the toilet and let's just say:


I called the Mr in to tell me what he thought and he stood there in silence then crossed his arms.  (aka- "how do I say something without her blowtorching this wall?")  He didn't love it and I asked if my original idea of mixing Rub n Buff in with the dark wax and putting it on the cove molding sounded better or just paint it.  He said yes and to do one square and see how it looked.

So I took a wee scoop of dark wax and Rub n Buff and slapped them on the back of whatever was handy (used sandpaper backing) and mixed them together.

I took a little bit on my finger and ran it across the cove molding on all sides.  I called the Mr back in before I did any more and he said he really liked it and to proceed.  So I did.

(That was before evening it out a little but you get the idea.)

Then I declared myself done because I wasn't ever touching that effing wall ever again unless it was to demo it.

Lest you think we went full on disco in there, it doesn't look remotely that shiny in person on the molding.  It catches just enough light to give it the depth needed but not as reflective as shown above under the glaring ceiling fan light.  

Then it was time to throw on the outlet covers and get crackin' on the rest of the room which instead of being ready for early September, was ready for Christmas.  

Is it what I was originally going for and the color I wanted?


But I had to work with what I had and what I was mentally able to tackle.  I do not have the patience or 'go with the flowedness' that is required to work with a stain like product.  Lots of reviews of people who love the stuff and swear by it and I would trust them more than I trust my experience.  It's growing on me but it will always stick in my craw that I couldn't seem to get the color I wanted once I put all of my eggs in one product's basket.  I think if you want really dark wood (gray or lighter 90's looking wood) then you're good to go with Retique It and I would use the Wood n' Stain product just to save your sanity and not have to do so many steps.  (Again this was my first time using it so I blame inexperience, not the product.)

If I had it to do over, I would probably poly then prime the Eucaboard with Bin 123 Primer and use the Chestnut Gel Stain I wanted but wasn't compatible with the liquid wood.   In the end, it does look similar to the inspiration place I used- Haddon Hall.

At this point, that's all I can ask for and to not shoot a fiery arrow at it whilst facing it laying in bed remembering what it took to get me to "not even close, bud."  But as with DIY projects past, I know there will come a time that I won't hiss at it as I walk by.  Knowing one year, like birth, it's a 'pain you forget.'  

I'm still waiting.

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