DIY: Cleaning our grout

April 30, 2015

Dean and I recently undertook a huge grout cleaning project.  We have tile in about 40% of our downstairs level.  It’s a LOT of tile.  And it looked dirty.  Brown poo colored dirty.  I’d used a couple of products in ‘test’ areas over the past year and hadn’t found anything to really clean our grout.  It was especially bad in the kitchen – no shock since that is the most trafficked area of our home and a TON of messy things spill on the floor in there.  It had been dark since we bought the house and it just always made the house look dirty, even when it was freshly mopped.

I’d looked for ideas online and came across blog posts on Young House Love and Chris Loves Julia that showed them using a grout ‘paint’ product to clean their grout.  I checked our big box hardware store and they had it in stock. I believe the brand we used was Grout Renew in Biscuit color.  A lot of the colors were dark and I wanted something lighter but not white.

So far, we’ve had it for about a month and we’re loving how it looks.  It’s made such a difference in the downstairs and how much brighter the room looks. Plus it blends with the white Amtico flooring even better.

Here are some shots of the before and after:

1/ You can see how dirty it was before – this is a close up of the tile and grout.
2/ Here you can see what the original color of the grout was when the house was first built.  It was a light gray-beige tone.  You could still see the light color in the closets and close to the walls where there wasn’t much traffic.
3/ An official before picture – the wide angle
4/ After the first couple ‘shifts’ of application – what a difference!

floor grout1

5/ Here are aerial shots looking into our foyer and then into the ‘nook’ area.  This area wasn’t as bad as the kitchen, but you can definitely see a difference in the before and after.
6/ The nook completely finished.


And here are pictures of the process. I have to give a shout out to my husband for coming up with this technique. If we were still using my technique, we’d still be working on this.  My process was to paint a thin strip, take a craft brush and paint a couple lines carefully working to stay in the lines. Then immediately wiping the wet edges with paper towels.

Dean taught me that if you just brush quickly and really fill it in and let it dry, then you can come back later with a scruffy pad and scrape off the edges. This way worked MUCH faster.  We did 3x the amount of surface his way than mine.

Below you can see the thin bead of paint – a little goes a long way with this stuff an a lot of my beads had breaks in them and I had excess paint that I scraped into other areas.  You can also see how we painted outside the lines to let it dry. Then after letting it dry for a while – maybe an hour or so – we’d come back with the green scrub pad and scrape it up.  If it was really stuck for drying too long, we’d slightly wet the pad and it would help.


Tricks for doing it this way:  Have a bunch of green pads.  Work in sections – we worked one way top to bottom and then after about an hour, let the second person start doing the scrub off while the second person continues with the painting.  Go back when you have good natural light and double check for areas you might have missed some wipe off.  Sometimes when its still wet or you wet your pad, you’ll scrape up the paint – go back and just do a very careful touch up in those areas wiping the excess immediately while it’s still wet.

It took us about 10 hours for us to do this.  Sometimes we were working separately – one doing bath duty while the other worked. But for 70%, I’d say we both worked together.  So definitely time consuming.  Of course, we had a huge chunk of s.f. to cover so we weren’t just doing one little bathroom. We did a foyer, hallway, half bath, nook into the garage and kitchen with eat-in area.

Afterwards, we bought a separate grout sealer and did a quick pass on everything. Because this was clear and had a built in brush tip, it went on very quickly.  (Even though the product has a built-in sealer, we wanted the extra layer of protection. My knees can’t handle 10 more hours of grout painting anytime soon!)

Overall, we love the results and it is still looking brand new after a few moppings!


He shut the door.

April 29, 2015

This morning when you left for school, you shut the door to your room.  If you’ve done this before, I haven’t noticed.  But in that instant while I stood in a darkened hallway, I was reminded of how quick this journey is going.  Soon enough you’ll be hiding away in your room doing “guy things”.  A reminder that at some point my little ‘open book’ who shares every detail of his day, will start holding some things close to his vest.

It felt cold in that hallway with your door closed.  I felt uninvited.

It’s a reminder that I need to keep holding you close as you grow.  I don’t want to see the gap widen in our relationship. I want an open door policy – both physically and metaphorically.


Kids Say: Brooks on Roads

April 28, 2015

Brooks:  I don’t want to get in my seat (his carseat). I want to sit in the middle.

Mom:  No baby, you have to sit in your seat with a buckle.  (Yes, I’m a bad parent and sometimes let my kids ride out of their carseat when we go to the neighborhood pool.) We’re not driving in the neighborhood, we’re going on the main road.

Brooks:  I want to go on nice roads.

Mom: No, not MEAN roads, MAIN roads – with lots of cars on them.

Love hearing how his mind works.


Recipe: Caprese Quinoa with Fried Ham

April 24, 2015

Caprese is such a spring/summer dish for me.  Especially when you have fresh tomatoes and basil in your garden.  We just planted our garden in the past week, so no tomatoes yet but we do have fresh cilantro and basil.

We had some leftover ham from Easter and decided that would be a great pairing to a light quinoa salad.

Recipe: Caprese Quinoa

Chicken broth (or water and bullion cubes)
Grape tomatoes
Olive Garden Italian salad dressing

I didn’t add measurements because I only measured the quinoa and chicken broth (according to package directions).  After it cooked, I stirred in grape tomatoes, some crumbled feta and chopped basil.  Then I added some Olive Garden salad dressing to finish it off.

When the quinoa was cooking, I took some leftover ham slices and pan fried them up. (I didn’t use any oil or anything, just cooked them right in the skilled until it got a little crispy on both sides.)

Served the ham on top of the quinoa and it was a great cold salad/hot meat spring dish.

Caprese QUinoa Ham


The almost kindergarten-er

April 23, 2015

Today is a milestone for our firstborn.  Tonight we have Kindergarten Open House for our boy.  Our firstborn.

When he was first born, I held him in my arms in the hospital and dreamed of all the milestones we would accomplish together.  First steps, riding with no training wheels, first day of kindergarten, swimming a length of the pool, first kiss, prom, a wedding, grandbabies… so much to pack into a lifetime.  Tonight we’ll hear about all the big things to come for his first year of ‘real’ school.  The things he’ll learn. The teachers he’ll look up to.  The activities he’ll be part of.

And I have no doubt I’ll be sitting with the other parents – tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat – as another milestone is checked off the list.

fall leaves L


This boy is loved.

April 22, 2015

He is so loved.

By his dad.


By his grammy.


By his gigi.


They all love their special Brooksie-time.


The adventures of Mason Blean.

April 20, 2015

My kids love storytelling.  They love when we read books, when mom and dad make up stories, and when they get to make up their own stories.  It is hard to make up original stories.  I know I’ve mentioned the challenge I have with coming up with good story material for my kids.  I guess my husband is the same way.

He’s recently started sharing the adventures of Mason Blean with our kids. They go something like this…  (names/details changed to protect the innocent – or because mommy can’t remember them.)

“When Mason was in his 12’s Little League season, he had to face the Sykesville Rippers.  He went up to bat against Joe Pozer and Joe was throwing some heat. Joe was one of the best pitchers in the league.  He tried to hit Mason on the inside of the plate, but Mason took that low inside pitch and knocked it over the right field wall. It was a base clearing home run… and that was just the second inning.”

In the fifth inning Joe was still pitching.  He knew Mason had no trouble with that inside heat so he mixed it up with some sliders, hoping to catch Mason off guard.  But Mason took that pitch and knocked it over the left field fence.  Another home run!!”

And I’ll give you one guess as to who the real Mason Blean is (hmm… does that rhyme with “Jason Dean”)?

Dean (aka Mason) is a good daddy!


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