So. Been in this house a little under two years. Just a small factoid you may need to reference in a minute or two after you read the following.
We were hit with a storm Saturday night and it took out the cable/internet. Apparently it must’ve done a lot of damage in Texas because I was actually stood up by the cable guy last night…. even though they have a 4 hour window to work with. And yes it sure did feel like being stood up since I got no notifications letting me know things were behind schedule or not on track and for the majority of the night (after my best friend Amanda left anyways) I was alone since Mike was on a business trip to Boston. [I can say this now without worry since by the time the post is published he’ll be back]
I called AT&T and after 598,763 menu options I was directed to an actual human being who then had to place me on hold upward of 18 minutes while she tried to contact Texas dispatch (like I said – storm must’ve been bad because they seem crazy busy). Turns out they would offer me a guaranteed two hour window today since the appointment last night was missed. Um… what? I mean, okay but… what in the world was the appointment yesterday that I came home for? Pretty sure I thought that was also guaranteed?? Anyways, tonight the cable guy came and was really nice but the poor guy had to replace the entire wire that was blown because the type of wire we were using is no longer even supported – which meant he had to drill a hole into the side of my brick house. Seriously?! Why can’t anything just be simple or work right when the husband goes out of town? lol
Once he got everything up and working he had some more bad news to deliver — some sort of leak at the far side of our yard, between property lines, damaged something-or-other and he had to run a large cable across my driveway and across the entire front yard. But not to worry – another crew will come in a week or two to bury the thing. le sigh. Concerned about the leak that the repair guy referred to as ‘a small river’ I texted my husband to let him know…
Yep. Potentially since we moved in … two years ago. I have no words!! SMH
By the way, right after this he exclaims that “Boston just hit a home run!” and I snarkily reply “You are lucky you are in Boston”. hmph.
I’ve learned lately that there are several things I’ve been noticing lately that he has already noticed first but decides not to mention to me because I will just get stressed out and upset over them. Maybe I need to take this as a sign that when I notice things wrong I need to be less dramatic but it’s kind of part of my personality and a RIVER in my yard (albeit is far to the side) seems cause for concern.
OH WELL I guess if I’ve been unknowingly living with it for almost two years I can handle another week or two while I figure out a path forward.
When I first started working for my current company I came to work completely animated and thirsting for knowledge and experience. I rotated through multiple roles and multiple programs which expanded upon everything I already knew and helped me offer more to each new assignment I tackled. I’m a bit of an over achiever and have never had a bad, nor even a ‘normal’, end of year review. In fact, I’ve gotten consistent exceeding and far exceeding performance rankings as well as the occasional achievement award. I’ve been nominated as a high potential employee and continue to earn respect amongst my peers for the work that I do. So why then am I talking about a need for change?
You see this current position is the absolute longest I’ve ever been in one role. I’ve been at my current assignment and program for over four years now when previous assignments have been capped off at 1 or 2 year periods of performance. Yes I’ve expanded the work I’ve done and taken on more and more responsibility – but I realized I’ve stopped learning. It’s still fairly early in my career, and I’ve always had the belief that this is the time to stretch yourself, to experience as much as possible and gain as much knowledge as you can. I’m too comfortable. [It’s funny typing that as I sit in my cubicle over lunch realizing that a walk break is more than overdue… and it currently feels the opposite of comfortable.]
Why has this position lasted so long compared to the others? Well, I believe that’s due to multiple things – major changes and reorganization at the company, changes in immediate functional supervision staffing, and a feeling of being needed by my current program. The need feels so strong I even worry about leaving now, and I know this will sound absurd to many and no I don’t have kids yet, but the only way I can think to explain it is like a mom stepping away and allowing her children to make mistakes on their own so they can learn and grow from it. I’ve realized in recent weeks part of my day to day frustrations were somehow created by myself – I threw myself so completely into the program they began to rely on me for things that shouldn’t have been my tasking in the first place. And while in my naïve mind this was temporary, until I could teach them and then they would take over things from there — why would they bother? Right now if anything gets messed up they know I’ll cover it, I’ll fix it, I’ll run it to ground… I’ve enabled them. Well, actually, dis–abled may be a better term. Hmph. All good intentions mind you – I just am the type of person who sees a need and jumps on the task and owns it.
I’ve done a lot of learning and growing and maturing with this program and will take these skills and lessons with me – but it’s time for the next adventure.
Have you ever come in to work, sat down at your desk, and within 105 ONE minute of reading through emails and to-do’s just felt completely over it? Story of my life lately. And then I realized, I don’t have to keep it this way. *ding ding ding* You control your own destiny!
Part of this realization came through a chance. One of the three’s C’s. Because of my participation in enterprise wide collaboration I’d had the opportunity to meet people from all different divisions within the organization and it was through one of these contacts that I was told about a new job opportunity. The job was in a similar field to my experience, but an entirely different business unit and a different product line. This could be the change I was looking for! But, I had a choice to make. (You see? The three C’s….)
The facts: If I took this new job it would be starting over in a way. I’d have to learn new processes and a whole new product. I’d be the new kid on the block whereas now I lead multiple meetings and am on decision making boards for sign-off and review. No one on the new team would really know much about me or my past accomplishments. I’d have to “earn my stripes” all over again. I was terrified just thinking about it!!
“But why are you so scared??” I thought to myself. “This is not the first time you’ve rotated through to a new assignment, what makes this one so much more terrifying?”
Turns out all my previous rotations were generated and steered somewhat through my functional management – they were pre-determined and I was ‘talked up’ with no need to even interview. THIS would be the first career move I truly made on my own. So, if I failed it would all be on me. Well that’s just ridiculous that the only reason I’m scared is fear of not “earning my stripes”. I’ve done it before and I am only more experienced at this point so why wouldn’t I believe in myself to do it again? Done. That’s it. Decision made. You can’t let the fear of failure stop you from living.
As my husband, Mike, pointed out – “What’s the worst thing that could happen? You don’t like the job and we look for another one? …you don’t really like your current job right now.” What a genius (don’t tell him I said that).
Still, I couldn’t get rid of the negative feelings – both of fear and of leaving people who need me. Then my sister came through with some pretty insightful quotes that were exactly what I needed to hear to know I was making the right decision.
Pretty powerful stuff, huh?
So that’s it – I took a leap of faith, interviewed (which maybe I’ll talk about in a different post if there’s any interest – the whole process is a LOT different these days!), got the job and telling my supervisor and managers even went better than I thought it would. They mostly understood my need for change and growth and wished me luck on my journey. So now the next few weeks will be filled with wrapping up tasks and passing on assignments to a backfill before I start the new position (date still up in the air).
After all the contemplation and review over the past month I thought others may be in a like position and looking for some words of wisdom so here’s a few other quotes and statements that have a similar truth to them:
I don’t typically venture out on Tuesday nights, especially since it seems to make Wednesdays simply crawl, but yesterday I made an exception to celebrate our good friend Katie’s birthday. Since Dallas Restaurant week started this month (they now stagger restaurants and there are three weeks of restaurant week with different venues participating each week) we scoured the listing for the restaurant with the BEST menu for week one. Ocean Prime’s menu offerings won HANDS DOWN for week one.
Katie worked late, and by the time we made it downtown I definitely had a hunger which was perfect since we extended the three course restaurant meal with an additional starter right off the bat!
Kris (Katie’s boyfriend and our good friend) ordered the Surf n Turf Starter – Scallops with braised short ribs over whipped potatoes. Splitting it four ways was the way to go, just starting with a few bites of an appetizer while we finalized our menu selections and drink order.
Their most famous cocktail is called bubbles and berries and is just as fun as the birthday girl herself!
Berries & Bubbles: Belvedere Cytrus Vodka, Marinated Blackberries, House Made Sour, Domaine Chandon Brut (a.k.a. bubbly)
It comes with its own presentation where the server makes the cocktail in front of you over dry ice.
To begin the restaurant week menu your selections this year were either a Lobster Bisque or a Wedge Salad. Three of us opted for the bisque (myself included since I’m a huge bisque fan and could’ve chosen the menu simply based on this selection!) and Kris ordered the wedge salad.
Honestly, they came out almost identical to the photos from the Ocean Prime website – although our bisques were in more reasonably sized cups instead of a bowl!
In the middle of the bisque is a sweet corn fritter that perfectly complimented the slightly peppery soup.
For the main entrees your selections this year were between a Teriyaki Salmon, Chilean Sea Bass, and the Filet Mignon.
We had three orders of the Sea Bass (because… why not??) and I ordered the filet mignon. I don’t often eat red meat, but when I do I prefer the fanciest cut in the entire house! What can I say, I’m a Southern girl and I’ve worked at a steakhouse myself back when I was in school. A tip for ordering the filet mignon if you’re like me and can’t handle meat very rare is to ask for the steak butterflied. Since a Filet Mignon is typically a thick cut of meat it’s hard to cook it any more than medium without drying it out. If you butterfly the steak they slice it in half, almost to the end, and open it up – like a butterfly. It makes the steak thinner so it cooks through faster and holds in all the juicy flavor! The Sea Bass entrée mirrored their photo online so I’ll picture that one as well:
Chilean Sea Bass served with Creamy Whipped Potatoes, Champagne Truffle Sauce
Filet Mignon <not pictured> served with Creamy Whipped Mashed Potatoes, Haricot Vert, Cabernet Jus (green beans sautéed and delicious dark sauce)
And after all that eating you think to yourself there is clearly no room left in me whatsoever and I’m going to need to ask for dessert to go! But after listening to the server describe their award winning layered carrot cake you knowyou are going to have to have at least one bite! The carrot cake for restaurant week comes out exactly like their standard carrot cake (pictured) except it’s only 5 layers instead of 10… but honestly, who can even fit that much into their mouth at one time??! (I know I know! That’s what she said… TWSS, SMH)
Ten Layer Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing and Pineapple Syrup
It can’t just be me! I can’t be the only one that sees the sun shining outside and thinks to herself “patio weather!!” Followed immediately by visions of ice cold margaritas and giant bowls of freshly mashed guacamole. Patio drinking and snacking just says summertime.
If you ask me, the secret to good, great, incredible guacamole is THE AVOCADO.
Mind blowing, right?! The main ingredient. And that’s how it should stay. Fresh, ripe avocado with hints of flavor, but not out done by it. Keep your guacamole simple with a few key additions and you’re ready to party!
One combination I’ve been loving lately are diced cherry tomatoes, a tsp. minced garlic, chopped cilantro, a squeeze of lime and a few dashes of salt.
It’s one of the simplest recipes to follow. The most difficult part may just be getting all the avocado good-ness (a word?? Yes) INTO the bowl. I have a few tips to share that have worked for me but feel free to comment with your own!!! It’ll be like a Secrets of the Avocado webbie party!
FIRST I take my avocado and cut it into two halves. Wait, scratch that… first I knock off the ugly black tip thingy… Which is also a good sign your avocado is ripe. It should be slightly squishy but not complete mush. Something I’ve discovered that everyone else may already know, but was news to me, is that once they’re perfectly ripe you can pop them in the fridge to keep for a few days 😊👍.
Okay, so knock off thingy, cut in half… Then de-seed it. There’s just one large pit in the avocado but I used to have SUCH a painful time removing it. Then one day I’m at a restaurant and the guy demonstrates the most brilliant way to remove the pit. You’re already holding your large knife you used to cut it in half, just kinda whack the knife into the pit diagonally, then twist! It comes right off on the knife.
Hopefully the animated gif here helps!
P.S. – if you want to make your own gifs too just check out the Party Party app by these wonderful ladies at A Beautiful Mess! I’ve been having way too much fun with it so expect more!
After you’ve got 4-5 Avocados sliced, scooped and into your bowl it’s time to add any extra ingredients to jazz it up! Honestly, a bit of salt and lime and pinch of minced garlic go a long way BUT I like to add some diced cherry tomatoes since they’re so good for you.
Just dice them up and throw them in the bowl… then the cilantro if you want to.
Yep, that’s a Costco sized container of minced garlic in the back ground and it might last me my WHOLE LIFE. But we shall see. It looks like it’s all tomatoes and cilantro in the photo but that’s just because we haven’t mixed it yet! I swear there are 5 whole avocados under that top layer!
Final step – MASH IT ALL UP!
Serve with chips and preferably a cold margarita. My all-time favorite dipping chips are these.
So what’s your favorite way to make Guacamole? Are you an avocado fan? I hated them as a kid and can’t get enough now!
I haven’t posted anything in a while. A lot has gone on in the last year – a new house, a wedding (yes, mine!), a promotion and I’ve fallen behind on the blog. So what’s causing me to post again? This DIY was too good not to share.
I’m being completely transparent with you here. This will be the facts and the experience exactly how it happened for me. Read it, take what applies, and hopefully if you are unhappy with your current countertops and are dying for a redo this blog will help you out.
I read dozens of blogs on countertop redos before choosing and completing my own (the benefit of waiting a year to finally bite the bullet and dive in to the renovation – by that time there was already a wealth of information online and several had lived with their countertops for long periods of time and could attest to the durability). After all the research here’s a quick overview of what the project is going to entail:
1. $100-$300 depending on the square feet of countertop you’re looking to cover, and depending on the amount of supplies you are going to need to buy (some of you may already have brushes, craft paint, and/or buckets).
2. A full weekend or split the project into a few hours per day for about a week 🙂
5. Your design paints/tools (we’ll get more into this later)
6. Your high gloss sealant of choice. We went with Envirotex Lite which is a water clear reactive polymer compound. It cures to a thick, glossy coating in about 8 hours at 70°F, and reaches full strength and toughness in about 48 hours. As the company states, it’s a durable, resilient material and requires no polishing to produce a high gloss. What’s even better is that it usually only takes one coat to achieve your finish!
7. PATIENCE. You have to let the beautiful shiny top coat cure for quite some time… I read all different advice on the appropriate time to let it cure. In my experience it was dry to touch in 24-48 hours, but I didn’t actually set anything back on the countertops for about a week to ensure it was hardened and leveled. After a week I even set my Kitchen Aid Mixer on the countertops (which is heavy) and had no problems.
Still with me?? Do you want to see this afterwards?!
Okay, then here’s the supplies I chose to achieve the gorgeous white granite look I was going for:
1. Sandpaper to rough up the existing countertop before applying the primer. Honestly, I didn’t use it too much just a light ‘roughing’ – so you may be able to skip it depending on the type of countertop you’re starting with, I think ours was some lame linoleum in cream/white.
2. Plastic Tarp. Buy it in bulk. Even if you’re an expert at painting and don’t get paint outside your project area you will need the tarps to catch the dripping Envirotex off the sides of the countertops — and the whole point is to let it drip over. That’s how it self levels and covers the edges.
3. Cheap work gloves – you don’t want the Envirotex Lite on your hands.
4. Metallic Leaf – optional, but I’d suggest it. Do research on the type of granite you’re shooting for – a lot of the high end granites have metallic flakes in them and some glitter.
5. Fine Glitter – see above. I went with a pearlescent sheen white glitter – please use a fine glitter and not a course chunky one which may make your countertops look more like a 2nd grade art project.
6. Foam brushes. I’d read on a few blogs that you can use these to spread the Envirotex or to paint your edges but they were so cheap I really stuck to options # and wouldn’t recommend them. Actually my favorite spreading tools ended up being the 99cent plastic spreader things in the paint section so scoop up a few of these if you see them!
7. Natural Sponges. Buy a bunch! These are what you’re going to use to create the granite patterns – look for different shapes and sizes.
8. Painters Tape. Keeps your edges clean and holds your plastic tarps in place.
9. Paint brushes and tray for the primer. Really use whatever type you like – I wanted a very smooth look so I got cabinet/door foam rollers in two sizes and used a Purdy small angle brush for edges and corners.
10. Plastic containers/pitchers. This is to mix your Envirotex Lite and then to pour over your counter tops. You’re going to need a couple so you can keep mixing while one person is pouring! Unless you’re working with a very small area… which we were not.
11. Craft Paints. Seriously — that’s what you use. Cheap, Acryllic craft paints from your local craft store like a Michaels or Hobby Lobby. Try to pick colors that match the example granite you’re going for! We used White, metallic silver, black, and a tan.
12. Some sort of primer ( all surface). I used a warm gray color, and honestly it’s smart to go a little dark on this first layer it’ll just spot through and add depth to your granite pattern.
13. Envirotex Lite. We bought 8 of the two bottle 2sq. ft. kits and used 6 for our kitchen, looking back at it I wished I’d used a little more up front but I was so nervous we’d run out! It covers pretty much exactly like the bottle and website say so just trust the Professional Tips.
14. A Partner (not pictured). The beginning and prep work you can tackle yourself but a friend really comes in handy for the Envirotex part at the end!
Okay, still with me? You’re going to start by prepping your work area. Clear everything off the countertops!! And snap a nice ‘Before’ photo – so you can do the comparison once you’re done and give yourself an amazing pat on the back. Or three. Here are our before shots:
THIS island is what drove me to try a DIY countertop. Besides that nasty little burn spot in the middle that I used to cover with a slate cutting board, any time people would set down their glasses it would stain the countertop. Even water. I mean, the water ring wouldn’t wipe right off – you’d literally need to break out lifesaver Mr. Eraser every. single. time. LAME!
And now, tape it off like you would any paint project… make sure you have plastic tarps EVERYWHERE. Like a Dexter kill room. I didn’t take any photos right after tarping, but here’s after tarping and the layer of primer:
We even decided to do the little coffee nook that had white tile just to see how it would take the treatment – so here’s a peak at that area primed and ready to go!
Alright… now comes the artistic part.
By now you should’ve already researched the type of granite you were looking for and know what you’re trying for. Take out your natural sponges, acrylic paint colors, and paper plates. I squirted out my paints on the paper plates and got going with my first coat!
For the first (major) coat I used a white and a metallic light silver. Honestly, the hubs picked the light silver and I was shocked. I’m usually the glitter fiend… and he was so right! The one metallic paint pick thrown in with the other acrylic paint on the sponge added depth. He nailed it.
Here’s what the first layer should look like as you go across the primer….
Can you already see the metallic paint glisten a little?
And this is going to be the difficult part for you. If you did the first coat right it’s going to look pretty good at this point, and your husband may even try to talk you out of the next step “don’t push your luck!!” but push your luck. The next few layers are what make it so realistic. I won’t lie to you, it’s going to look WORSE next before it gets better. That’s because the next step is to add your accent colors. It kinda ends up looking spotted, like a funky Dalmatian… I really don’t know else how to explain so… here’s kinda what mine started looking like:
OMG I know — but I warned you!!!! Just be patient…. you still have another layer to go!
Alright, then once it dries you continue with the FINAL LAYER of acrylic paint. We ended up spanning this work over several nights during the week. I’d get home from work, do a quick layer of acrylic, and we’d eat dinner etc. It dries pretty quickly so you could probably knock it all out in a few hours but I was doing my best not to rush the project. The final layer should be a majority of the color you want to be your main color of granite. I went back to the white and metallic light silver combo.
When applying your natural sponge some tips are 1) Make sure the sponge doesn’t get too lubricated with the paint because it will stop making a pattern!! You can always rinse it out and dry it with paper towels 2) Leave some of the DARK colors peaking through… in random sections. You’ll use these to create depth and interest in the granite! Note: while the last layer of paint is still a bit damp lightly tap your super fine glitter in certain areas so that it’ll stick.
I ended up using the ‘depth’ spots to decide where to apply my silver leaf. After the final layer of paint is dry, take some tweezers and apply flakes of the silver leaf down in various areas of the granite. There’s not really a right or wrong way to do this, go back to the photos you saved of your ‘wish list’ granite and see how the metallic flake shows through. I tried to focus on adding 1-2 small leafs of silver in the ‘deep’ areas of my pattern.
Once you finish laying out all the metallic leaf pieces to your liking you’re ready to go with the BEST step – the shiny sealant!
After reading about several options to seal your countertops I was sold on the Envirotex Lite even though its application sounded a little demanding because let’s just be honest – the results are unreal y’all. Make sure both you and your partner have read the tips on the website for how to apply and that you’ve read through a couple of blog tutorials and watched a YouTube video or two and you should be good to go! I really liked this tutorial where they even detail using a blow torch to knock out any air bubbles that may form during application. I did not use a blow torch myself, but we did invest it a little Crème Brule torch like this:
It did the trick perfectly and I wasn’t worried about burning/scalding anything.
I also liked the detail in this post and they used Envirotex Lite as well.
When you pour it on and spread it over the countertop you should see something like THIS:
Incredible, right?! That’s when we knew we had made the right choice! The hardest thing is not to touch the top while it’s drying. Well, actually, the hardest thing may be pacing around all the countertop edges in your kitchen after you pour and spread the Envirotex to ensure there are no hardening ‘droplets’ on the edges. Remember, you want the Envirotex to drip over the sides of the countertops because A: this is how it self-levels and B: you need the edges covered as well. The best tip I can give for the edges is to wait ~5min or more until the coating starts to feel tacky and slightly hardened, then go back over the edges with your plastic spreader tool. If you do this too early you’ll have to make a second and possibly third trip around the countertops to ensure you got all the drips, but I promise the end result is worth ALL this work.
Now, remember when I walked you through the major steps at the beginning of the post and we ended with having PATIENCE?? You have to let the beautiful shiny top coat cure for quite some time… Once again, I read all different advice on the appropriate time to let it cure. In my experience it was dry to touch in 24-48 hours, but I didn’t actually set anything back on the countertops for about a week to ensure it was hardened and leveled. After a week I even set my Kitchen Aid Mixer on the countertops (which is heavy) and had no problems.
I’ve seen plenty of faux granite makeover blogs with black/dark granite as well as some earthy tans but I hadn’t seen a white version yet so if you have any questions on how I got the color I was going for feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!!
Overall I’m even happier than I could’ve imagined with the result. When I first began this project, I had ideas of white granite to compliment my back cabinets similar to these pins:
And I ended up with this:
And a few close ups near the sink so you can check out the detail and edges…
We did decide to re-caulk along our back splash after the epoxy fully dried to give it a nice clean line. Now I just need to get up the guts to replace my backsplash one day!!
And if you were wondering how the treatment looks over plain white tile here’s some snap shots of the little coffee nook we did with the same technique:
Basically you can still see the lines of the tile but you cannot feel the ridges because the Envirotex Lite self levels over the indentions. It looks like granite subway tiles to me!
And just to remind you of the difference it made in the total transformation of our kitchen!
**Update: We’ve lived with these countertops for four months now and no sign of wear and tear! They wipe down great with a simple Clorox disinfecting wipe, way easier to maintain than the sucky laminate we had before.
**Update: 2 years later – see what they look like NOW here.
I’ve shared a lot in this post, but I want to hear from you!
So tell me…. after reading all this, would you try faux granite tops yourself?!
In your dream kitchen, what type of countertops would you pick if cost wasn’t an issue??
What’s the biggest remodel you’ve tackled in your house so far?