Renovating a Staircase

The finished staircase

I finally tackled what I thought was going to be a daunting project. But in reality, it was not hard at all, just a little time consuming. Honestly it was more about the proper steps in the  prep work, and when it finally came time to paint, that was the easy part! And the fun part. You CAN do this too, just a few tools and you TOO can tackle this project and have a beautiful staircase.

The staircase after I began removing the carpeting.

Our stairs were in pretty bad shape. BUT the good news was they were solid pine underneath all that nasty carpet. I originally thought I would paint the molding up the sides (there was an awful stain left from the previous owners) and replace the treads with new ones, but that wasn’t something I could do alone, and I don’t have a handy woodworker I know. 

The stairs were solid pine underneath the carpeting.

The first thing I did was remove the carpet and padding. I used four tools for this. A pair of pliers, a box cutter or carpet cutter a scraper and a hammer. I started with cutting the carpeting in sections so it was easier to roll up and remove. Luckily my staircase is right when you walk into the front door, so I was able to just toss it outside for the trash. Once the carpet is removed, the padding pretty much was easy to lift off the stairs and remove. 

Next, I needed to remove all the staples and the carpet strips. This was messy I won’t lie, and this is the part that can discourage someone. But, honestly, taking one step at a time helps. I was able to remove all the carpet and the staples and nails in one day for 12 stairs. Once the carpet is gone, then the tack strips, staples need to be removed. The easiest way to do this is with a pair of pliers for the staples. The tack strips are a little harder, but with a good scraper you can get underneath it and use your hammer to pull it up. 

I vacuumed the dust and made sure they were free of any missed staples or nails.

The next thing I did was get out the vacuum and clean up all the dust and leftover padding scraps. I wiped down all the stairs and checked for any staples I might have missed. Once the steps were clean of any dust and staples, I was ready to start preparing the stairs for paint.  

The painted molding and the banisters.

I used BIN https://www.rustoleum.com/product-catalog/consumer-brands/zinsser/primer-sealers/b-i-n-shellac-base-primer primer for the first coat. I primed the side moulding, where there was ugly stain from the previous owner. Next I used a wood filler for some of the large scratches and to fill the nail holes and the staple holes. I sanded the filler and then was ready to finally paint.

I patched the holes and large scratches with wood putty.

I applied two coats of the BIN primer on the moulding and stairs. I let that dry for a day, then painted the rails with the primer as well. After everything was dry, I applied two coats of https://fusionmineralpaint.com Fusion Mineral Paint (Ash) to the banisters. Two coats of Fusion Mineral Paint (White Picket Fence) https://fusionmineralpaint.com to the posts and the back of the stairs (risers). When that was dry, I applied Fusion Mineral Paint Tuff Coat to protect it from scuffs. I was finally ready for the treads.

I applied two coats of primer to the stairs and molding.

I painted every other one first! Then went back to paint the other’s after they were dry. I applied Fusion Mineral Paint Finishing Oil https://fusionmineralpaint.com to the treads and banisters to give them extra protection from wear. I am absolutely amazed at how well they turned out.

I painted every other one first so they dried an I didn’t accidentally step on wet paint!

I would recommend this process to anyone wanting to refurbish their stairs. The Fusion Mineral Paint products are so easy to use, have great coverage and hold up well on this staircase. I can’t be more pleased with how they turned out. 

Finished staircase!

For extra texture on the staircase, we added some molding along the walls and painted it the same color of the walls. You can find the wall paint color at Lowes, https://www.lowes.com the color is Alibaster.

I hope you enjoyed reading about renovating a staircase, and if you have any questions, please feel free to email me, I’d be happy to walk you through the process!

Homemade Pizza Sauce

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Nothing better than homemade pizza!
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These Hunt’s pouches are so easy to use!

Two of my favorite things in the world are pizza and sauce! I have been working on getting a pizza sauce just right for sometime. Not to sweet, not too spicy but full of flavor. Week nights get pretty hectic for us with two swimmers in the family, plus school work, so I am constantly looking for easy recipes that work great during the week.

Paste is the answer! Yep, I think the concentrated tomato flavor is what helps make the sauce so good! I was so happy to find the individual packets of Hunts tomato paste. These really make it simple to whip up a perfect pizza sauce. They come prepackaged in 2 TBSP pouches. There’s 6 pouches to a box so they are a really easy pantry necessity.

Pizza sauce has a few ingredients. Olive oil, tomato paste, tomato sauce, spices, sugar and garlic. I think another key to making the sauce taste so good was the garlic. I use fresh garlic, and I used a microplane to grate it into the pan.

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Homemade Pizza Sauce

2 TBSP olive oil

1 clove garlic

2 TBSP tomato paste

7 oz tomato sauce (no salt added)

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp italian seasoning (McCormic Perfect Pinch Italian)

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

DIRECTIONS

In a small pot heat the olive oil and add the garlic. Cook garlic about 1 minute. (don’t let the garlic burn) Add the paste and sauce, and stir well. Add the remaining spices, sugar and salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer about 20 minutes. Use on pizza dough,  or as a dipping sauce with garlic bread. Recipe can be doubled. Adjust the salt and pepper as desired. You can add 1 tsp of crushed red pepper to the olive oil if you like it spicier.

Blueberry Puff-Pies

What the heck are Puff-Pies? Actually, that’s a made up name for a hand pie made  with puff pastry!  Dough, butter, dough, butter, dough, butter…you get the picture…layers and layers of deliciousness! Add a filling of sweet blueberries…and its like a party in your mouth!

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These are the easiest thing to make! I heated up half of the blueberries first. I used two pints of blueberries, and heated up half of them with 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 tsp of corn starch, and 1 TBSP of lemon juice and the zest of one lemon. Then I folded in the other half of blueberries and let them all cool.

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The result is some pretty fantastic filling, with some liquid that is even more delicious! Once they are cooled, get the dough ready.

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Use 3 sheets of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry. Cut into 6 rectangles. (use a pizza cutter, its easier to cut the pastry with).

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Fill each square with a heaping pile of blueberries and some of the liquid.

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Fold it over, and crimp the edges with a fork. I used some warm water to moisten the edges a little so they would stick. Then make some slits in the top to let steam escape.

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Bake at 400 for 15-18 minutes. (mine took 17 in my oven!)

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To store them, use parchment paper in-between each pie.

See the recipe below. Enjoy with coffee, or tea, or just by itself…

Blueberry Puff-Pies

2 pints of fresh blueberries, rinsed.

1/2 cup of sugar – divided

2tsp cornstarch

juice of 1 lemon

zest of one lemon

1/2 tsp almond extract

3 sheets of Peppridge Farm puff pastry (2 packages)

Course Sugar (optional)

Glaze (optional)

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 tsp milk

DIRECTIONS:

Rinse the blueberries, and place half of them in a pot with 1/4 cup of sugar, lemon juice and zest. Heat for about 5 minutes until the blueberries become soft and start to open up. Fold in the other half of the blueberries, add the other 1/4 of sugar and the other tsp of cornstarch. Add the almond extract and let cool for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, thaw the puff pastry, and roll out to form a large rectangle. Cut into 6 rectangles. Fill each individual pie with a heaping 2 TBSP of blueberries. Moisten the edges with water, and crimp all of them with a fork. Cut three slits in the top. Sprinkle course sugar on top. Bake at 400 for 15-18 minutes. Drizzle the glaze over the top. Cool completely. Store between sheets of parchment paper.

Homemade Macaroni & Cheese

This mac & cheese recipe just happens to use ingredients left over in my fridge. The left over 1/4th of a package of cream cheese or 1/4th of the container of heavy cream from a previous meal you slaved over. Those two ingredients alone will make anything taste good!

I love Mac & Cheese! Lets face it who doesn’t love melted gooey cheese with pasta….its the ultimate comfort food. My kids prefer the boxed kind.you know the one, the blue and orange box that comes with the packet of powdered cheese that you have to add milk and butter to make it even resemble melted cheese. Then it kind of looks orange. Gross.

And believe it or not my kids actually ate this and said it was good. Bonus!

Start with boiling the pasta. I used Barilla Cellentani. Thought it looked more interesting than the usual elbow macaroni.

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Then in a separate pot, or dutch oven, melt the butter, and add the flour. Let it cook about 2 minutes till it starts to begin to boil. Add the milk and heavy cream. Add the dry mustard, salt and pepper.

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Then add the cheeses. Use a whisk to get the cheeses smooth.  Finally add the pasta.

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Now, if your like me you have to stop there….and taste it! Its pretty good just like that. Thats what my kids prefer! Serve immediately,  but if you want to get fancy, put it in a 9×13 baking dish and sprinkle the top with some plain bread crumbs and bake it for about 20-30 minutes. Enjoy!

Homemade Macaroni & Cheese

1/2  pound of pasta (cellentani or elbow macaroni)

4 TBSP unsalted butter

3 TBSP all purpose flour

12oz milk (I used 2%)

1/2 cup heavy cream

1tsp dry mustard

salt & pepper to taste

2oz  cream cheese (I used low-fat)

8oz mild cheddar cheese

Plain bread crumbs (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Start by boiling the pasta according to package directions. Then in a separate heavy bottom pot  or dutch oven melt the butter  then the flour. Let it cook about 2 minutes till it just is about to boil. Add the milk and heavy cream. Add the dry mustard, salt and pepper. Mix well.  Then add the cheeses. Use a whisk to incorporate the cheeses to get the sauce smooth.  Finally add the pasta and mix well. Serve immediately.

You can eat it like that, or put in a baking pan and top with plain bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.