Saturday, December 29, 2012

Salvaging Watercolors The Easy Way

I had a few watercolors that had been pinned up because they were not what I had in mind and I had lost enthusiasm in trying to fix them.  I ran across one of Claudia Nice’s pen and ink books and practiced a few techniques on them trying to regain interest in finishing them.  It worked for one-at least I was happy enough with the results to finish the painting.
Watercolor, bird. loose painting, pen and ink 
 The other two looked interesting with her techniques, but it was not enough to push me to finish them.
butterfly, flower, watercolor, pen and ink
watercolor, pen and ink
I came across a video on YouTube from Cheap Joes.  He cut apart one of his paintings to make greeting cards.  He had made a view finder in the size he wanted and moved it around the painting to find areas he thought would make a nice picture.  I found it to be a brilliant idea and wanted to try it out on a few of mine.
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cut up watercolor
cut up watercolor
cut up watercolor
cut up watercolor
cut up watercolors
I’m really happy with the results and I think they make interesting cards.  The best part is I no longer have to see them pinned up on my wall for months on end waiting to be finished.  It always feels good to complete something even if it isn’t what you first intended!  
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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Quick Chalk Paint and Cameo Project

I have a cheap little cabinet that I store my makeup collection in.  It was starting to show it’s age.  I was never fond of the finish or hardware, but it was a good (cheap) find and it serves it’s purpose well for me.
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I’ve read that others have had good success covering laminate with chalk paint without primer, and since I was looking for a quick and painless DIY project I figured I’d give it a go on this piece.  So off to the big box store for some sample paint.  I chose to go with Glidden Duo which has a built in primer…just in case…in the color Natural Wicker.  A big spoonful of unsanded grout stirred in and I was off and painting.
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I also scored a 50% off sale at Hobby Lobby for some pretty little mother of pearl knobs!
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I did a quick cleaning with Krud Kutter and vinegar to clean off all the hand oil and makeup gunk.  I used two of the sample containers, but I probably could have gotten away with one.  I had ideas about labeling the drawers in French, but had to think that one through because I was pretty happy with it painted white with the new knobs.
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I went ahead and decided to go for it.  I had some issues with my Cameo cutting the vinyl cleanly and found this great tutorial on how to clean the blade housing here.  A little frustrating when the font you desire is far too delicate to cut cleanly or handle if you do get it to cut.  I think it was worth the time it took for me to finally get a result that I liked.  I used the free Black Jack font from DaFont.  I had ideas to decorate the sides, but again had some more issues with my Cameo cutting-I think it has more to do with user error than the machine itself.  I am overall happy with the final results.  I have not sealed the finish-I’m fine with any dings or age showing.  I will probably be ready for another change at that point.
chalk paint, silhouette cameo
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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I Have An Eye On Her Room!

My daughter is in her senior year of high school.  She joined the Navy this last summer and will be leaving for basic training after graduation.  I am proud of her decision and excited for her future.
As much as I hate to see her lea031ve home and the worries that go along with it I am determined to focus on the positive things in life.  If one of those things is her current bedroom emptied out and turned into a craft/art studio for me… then so be it.
We have four bedrooms on the second level of our home.  It feels like they have been in constant rotation since we have lived here.  The bonus room over the garage started off being our family room/craft area.  It became my son’s room when he left for college and my daughter put a claim on his bedroom.  My youngest son wanted her former bedroom and all the excess was put into his old bedroom (currently my craft space).  Then the bonus room became my husband’s office when he started working out of the house a year ago.  The only issue I have had is that her bedroom is over my bedroom and she has a habit of practicing on her drum pads for marching band in the wee hours of the morning.  Since my youngest son also has plans to join the marching band when he gets to high school next year I plan on evading any more noise pollution during sleeping hours.  I’m sure my youngest son thinks he will be taking over that room when she leaves and I’m sure he is just going to have to live with his current bedroom-it’s mama’s turn.
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I’m hoping to figure out what color I want to live with.  I don’t mind the green that my youngest son picked out when he was in elementary school, but I am ready for a change.  The room was painted a beautiful soft yellow that he hated and I begged him to keep.  I love the soft yellow of the fabric I have yet to finish on my old chair and I am leaning towards that color hue.
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I have a bank of shelves that help keep me organized, but at the same time make me feel boxed in.  I have dejunked myself as much as I am willing.  I’m hoping to build shelving to go under a workspace that can be covered up so it doesn’t overwhelm the space like my current setup.012
I will miss my view from this room!  I love catching site of the squirrels bouncing around the tree limbs.  I’m hoping our budget will allow me to have a bigger window to let in the natural light.  The view won’t be great, but I am hoping for good light to see.
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I have one calm area right now, and I’d like to be able to mimic it for the whole space.  I found the upper hutch left out for the garbage men.  It’s a mix of pine and particle board.  It was meant for a little girl’s bedroom set, but I modified it to meet my needs.  I had it on my desk (another rescued item), but I needed more spreading out room so I put it on an old kitchen island.  I will more than likely keep both pieces as is because I like how they turned out and it is a useful work area.
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I’ve been using the chip-it tool from Sherwin-Williams.  Any photograph from the web can be used to come up with a color palette-and you can have a starting point when you go in to look at paint colors.  It’s addictive and fun to use.
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I have my inspiration, and it will make planning a lot easier when I eventually get around to it.



Friday, October 12, 2012

SparkPeople vs Weight Watcher Online

Currently I am doing both programs.  I started with Weight Watchers-a program I happen to like.  I first started WW when they had implemented the flex point program.  I did lose weight, but it wasn’t enough to get past the tedium of figuring out points and logging them.  Fast forward to now.  I rejoined WW because of my cholesterol levels and my high resistance to taking drugs to reduce my numbers. They are now using what they call the points plus system.  Fruits and vegetables are “free”, and the points are based on carbs, fat, protein and fiber grams.  It’s a good system, and it has been working.
I noticed a high volume of complaints of people unhappy with the new system.  It wasn’t working for them, they were gaining weight, rumors that the plan would once again change in December.  I also noticed where SparkPeople was mentioned and checked them out.  I have to say that I was very impressed.  Their software will track calories, fat, protein, carbs, folate AND cholesterol! chol Their system automatically adjusted for the current recommendations, but you can manipulate the system if you are wanting to follow a high protein low carb diet-or whatever your program of choice is.
Both programs have a lot to offer, and I am not familiar with all of their features because I do not use all of them like mobile devices.
At this point I’m favoring sparkpeople.  It’s free.  The website is heavy with ads, but I haven’t had an issue with pages loading or lag time. I like the breakdown of what I’m putting into my body from them.  Their pie chart report resonates with me more than the typical graph chart offered by both sites. pie I spend less time food logging with sparkpeople than point logging.  I think the online log for sparkpeople surpasses that of ww.  There is a long lag time for the popup window for ww each time I log on.  With both sites I have learned that you need to double check what other members have put in the system as far as nutrition information.  I’m not a fan of either site’s recipe builders.  It is time consuming to get it right. I prefer sparkpeople’s food groupings over ww  meals.  I like not having to figure out points or remember them.  It’s far easier just to look up the nutrition information and know first hand the breakdown.  If you are looking for a way to track and journal nutrition and fitness I would highly suggest checking out sparkpeople before paying for the Weight Watcher’s program.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Revive Your Marriage Challenge

I am currently involved in a bible study over at Women Living Well. Today’s challenge is to list five things you admire about your husband and to share this with him and others.
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I admire my husband’s work ethic.  Through thick and thin times he has made it work and met our family’s needs.  He currently works out of our home and he is consistent about getting up and going to work everyday.
He is a good father.  He has more patience with them than I do.  He gives them the freedom to explore and make mistakes.  He expects them to do their best and be their best.  He cheers them on when they are succeeding, and cries with them when they are hurt.
426557_2659488727031_689007687_n1He puts others before himself in his professional life and personal.  He encourages those around him and gives credit where credit is due.  He shares what he has and what he knows without expectation of a return.  He goes the extra mile.  Whether it is his time or compassion he is there for others.
He is outgoing and personable.  He is genuinely interested in other people.
He is an avid sports fan and loyal to his teams that he has followed his whole life.  He knows the stats, past and present players.  The nuances of the game.  He is confident that the Cubs will one day win the World Series.  He is a child at Christmas when they show the Steelers on t.v.  He embraces Alabama football and the Daphne Trojans.
I am blessed to know him and have him in my life.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Finally!

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I finally finished the drum shade for my light fixture in the kitchen.  I came across several good tutorials, but if I had to do it over again I would definitely change things up.  The best thing I came across was to use a wooden embroidery hoop-brilliant!  All of the tutorials used poster board for lining-I don’t think it is necessary.  I think the best approach is to simply glue the hoop together-knock off the clamp used to tighten the hoop and attach the fabric.  The weight of the fabric and the bottom hoop will hold the shade in place.  I opted for plastic grid that is used for some types of embroidery.  I ended up cutting that out because I felt it was too much of a fire hazard and the shade ended up looking better as a result.  I am satisfied with the ending result-especially after looking at the prices of these things online.  Three eyehooks and some chain and my own drum shade for the fraction of the cost!
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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Watercolor-Learning How To Paint

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This last summer has been summer camp for me.  I took a few art classes here and there.  I was really trying to decide if it was time to get rid of some of my supplies that I have collected over the years.  I’m still not sure with some of it, but I did re-discover my love for watercolors.
I have a few random instructional videos and books that I have picked up over the years and put away due to my frustration with the whole process.
During a YouTube search for a better understanding of color theory I came across a video that was an aha moment for me.  More information and clarity in a few minutes than I have had in a lifetime.  I subscribed and soon figured out that there was a website attached that I visited. 
I was floored.  There were several free videos to try out.  Not 10 minute previews, but 2 hours of instruction.  I watched the first free one on how to paint Cosmo flowers.  I was hooked and really felt like I could give it a go and I did.  For the first time in my life I didn’t feel like a failure with painting.
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There is nothing off putting about the site.  The people there are warm and friendly-to the point of I actually felt comfortable enough to post a picture of my painting and get feedback.
It’s the nicest feeling in the world to be able to participate in an activity that I have always wanted to be a part of.  It certainly has taken my attention away from other things, but it has added more to my life that I can describe.
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I have had 10 lessons to date.  Above is my progression through the classes.  The last two are my own.  I never would have attempted them before-never had a clue.  I am really happy and eager to continue my lessons.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Absorbing and doing

I have been busy watching online art classes and doing a few projects around my home.  I haven’t had much of a schedule-it is so easy to slide into that when my kids are home during the summer break.  As a result things that I wanted to keep up on have been neglected including this blog. 
My son and his family are here visiting and before they got here I wanted to make sure I had my grandson’s rocking chair ready for him.  He’s only 9 months old and still too young for it, but it was one goal I wanted to finish. 
I found a great deal at a thrift store while I was in Tennessee.  The proportions for a child’s rocking chair are a little different than what I have normally seen.
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I have seen several blogs featuring chalk paint to refinish furniture.  It gives a soft pastel look that I normally would not want, but figured this rocking chair would be a good candidate to try this out on.  There are several DIY recipes out there and I ended up using a little water and unsanded grout for mine.  I also read about using Vaseline to give a more realistic look of distressing. 
I wiped down the chair with a little Krud Kutter and rinsed with vinegar.  The finish had a rough texture to it and I wasn’t concerned about the paint sticking.  My husband then gave it a good spray coat of some blue that we had on hand.
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I waited until it was completely dry-it may have been a little soft in some areas.  I then took a small amount of Vaseline and went around the areas that I thought would normally get the most wear and tear.  Since I was painting on the chalk paint with a brush I didn’t want to drag the Vaseline all over into areas I didn’t want it so my layer was very thin.
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I put on two coats of the chalk paint and let it dry.  The areas where the Vaseline are separate a bit like crackling.  I had intended to use a fine steel wool to remove the paint in those areas, but could not fine where we put it away.  I opted to use a fine grit sandpaper instead of making a run to the store for steel wool.  The painted Vaseline comes off very easily and leaves a smoother transition somewhat like a watercolor.  I took some areas a little further and removed down to the bare wood.  I’m pleased the result and it was easier and quicker with this method.
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I wanted the chair to have a matching cushion and graphic with my grandson’s name.  I had hoped to find a sweet nursery rhyme type fabric to give me some inspiration for the color and what to do for the font and graphic.  I just couldn’t find what I had in mind.  I found some nice fleece fabric and made some basic cushions with some tie quilting to hold it all together and give is some more definition.  I found a sweet silhouette of a pied piper with a squirrel following behind at the Graphics Fairy.  I uploaded to my Silhouette Cameo software and figured out my dimensions from there.  I could have used the negative and painted it on, but I decided the vinyl may pull the paint away especially since the paint had not cured for awhile.  So being in a hurry I decided just to put the positive part on with some black vinyl.  I was a little crooked in my placement-it will have to do for now.  It’s one of those things that bother me every time I look at it.  All in all I think it is a very sweet little rocking chair, and now I just need my grandson to hold still long enough so I can get a picture of him in it.
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*I think he likes it!

Friday, June 1, 2012

There’s No Place Like Tennessee

I love visiting my mom.  She lives in North East Tennessee.  I think it's one of the most beautiful places I have been.  She has an amazing garden and home.  I love seeing in person what she has been up to.
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Happy Clematis
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Mom's garden
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The Chester Inn
We always make it a point to go poke around the antique and junk stores in her area.  My husband always gives me a bigger budget than I think I will use and most of the time I hover right around the number he gives me.  We headed over to Jonesborough this time around in addition to our normal haunts.  Since it was Memorial Day we pretty much had the downtown to ourselves.  We didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked-one tired grandma and a cranky teenage boy cut it short.
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Fields of Rhododendrum bushes dripping with buds ready to bloom on Roan Mountain
I fed them some lunch and dragged them to Roan Mountain.  It’s one of those signs I had passed by for years on the way to my mom’s home.  My mom was telling me that the mountain was covered in Rhododendrons.  I had never heard of that so I was pretty excited to see it.  I got even more excited when we found out that they hold a Rhododendron Festival every June.  We were a few weeks early, but I thought since it had been a mild winter we might be able to see some blooms.
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Water wheel at the visitor's center

It is a beautiful drive up the mountain.  The traffic was heavy with cars, motorcycles and hikers.  My mom was pretty much exhausted by the time we made it to the top, but she persevered down the handsome paths to one of the overlooks.  A spectacular view, but the bushes were not in bloom.  It was still a treat to see what a nice job has been done to allow visitors access to this wonder.

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Walking path on the way to the parking lot