Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Project 365 - Week 15

Project 365 - One photo a day for a year. Kind of like a photographic journal of my entire year!

Day 99 - Look at those beautiful blue skies! The temps have been warmer too, and soon there will be leaves on the trees.

Day 100 - Baby Paige day! Grandpa Brian is being funny again. Our little peanut gets cuter every time I see her.

Day 101 -Working on some Halloween in the studio today!

Day 102 - Brian replacing the bricks that he had to remove for the new gas and electric meters to be installed. It look so nice again!

Day 103 - Life is peeking through! So pretty and green.

Day 104 - We woke up to snow! This is after a couple of days in the 70's. Gotta love Chicago weather.

Day 105 - There is the pool, waiting for summer.

For more of my Project 365 - Click HERE

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Travel Tip - Peace of Mind While Traveling

I know for a fact that a lot of my readers have pets. And by visiting their blogs, I can tell that they really, really, love them! So if I ask any of you what you stress out over the most when away from home, I'll bet you all say that you worry about your pets. Obviously you can't leave your dogs home alone for more than several hours, but cats are pretty independent and can take care of themselves for a couple days before someone needs check them, freshen their food and water, and clean the litter box.

When we went to Florida in March, we were gone for eight days. I'm very lucky because I have wonderful neighbors to keep an eye on the house, and a good friend who lives close by and comes in to check on Punkie. Even with that, I'm still a nervous wreck. I always keep Punkie in my studio and remove anything that could hurt her, or she could get tangled up in, but I still worry about her. 

I spent under $100 and bought a surveillance camera for the room I kept her in. I was able to view a live feed any time I wanted from my cellphone or a computer. I also had it set up to take a snapshot every 10 minutes, then I created a filter in my email for the camera to send the pictures to so it wouldn't clog my inbox. I didn't really look at those but I thought they would come in handy if I needed to look back. It was just nice know that she was all safe and sound. If I did feel she was in distress, I would have called my neighbor, pet sitter, or son and they could have taken her to the vet until I returned home.

This particular one didn't need any actual installation. I just plugged it in, put it on a high shelf and secured it with a little painters tape in case she bumped into the cord, which was also secured with painters tape.  

I feel like I was able to enjoy my trip so much more because I could check on her anytime I wanted. Plus, I could monitor to make sure she was eating and drinking. My daughter sets up a couple of them when they are out of town. 

If you do get one, I'd suggest one that has night vision and that will connect to your wireless router. No computer needs to be hooked to it, and since it works with your router, you can put it in any room in the house. Mine had a really long electrical cord so I could put it nice and high to see the whole room. Another nice thing about the one that I bought is that it reset itself if we had a power outage.

Definitely something to think about!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Project 365 - Week 14

Project 365 - One photo a day for a year. Kind of like a photographic journal of my entire year!

Day 92 - A visit to the accountant for my first ever filing of quarterly taxes. This is a "yay" and a "not a yay."

Day 93 - Punkie helping out in the studio again. Everything I create must have the Punkie stamp of approval.

Day 94 - The decoupage tutorial for the blog. After all that, I ended up moving this one to the office and bringing the bigger one into the studio.

Day 95 - Our once a month dinner date with sis and her husband. This time we enjoyed our Frozen Long Island Iced Teas. Yummy!

Day 96 - It took me two days to reorganize all my files. I went through each one, and I filled up a garbage bag with non personal stuff and three baskets from the shredder.

Day 97 - I picked up a few beach rocks on our most recent excursion to the Lake. They are all washed and ready to be painted. Do you think I have enough?

Day 98 - Punkie loves her new spot by the window!

For more of my Project 365 - Click HERE

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Tutorial - Mod Podge File Cabinet (Mistakes & All)

I bought these filing drawers on sale for 40% off at Michaels. They are just what I need to keep my files in perfect order, but they were so boring! I've always wanted to try my hand at decoupage, so now is as good of a time as any. I even made a couple mistakes which I am more than willing to share with you in case you are (or plan to be) a decoupage first timer as well. I don't want you to waste time on the mistakes I made, or skip the steps I should not have skipped. Now that I've given this a try, I am definitely going to do it again! OK, here goes...


Mod Podge (this is the brand I used)
Liquid varnish (optional, but it gives a more durable finish)
Foam brushes (size depending on the size of your project)
Toothpicks (to keep your holes, if any, gunk free)
Disposable containers for liquids (preferably with lids)

**I used a rolling pin for smoothing out my fabric on my drawer fronts. I would not recommend using a rolling pin on any product other than Mod Podge. Mod Podge is non-toxic and water soluble. Your rolling pin will be washed clean with soap and water, and you don't have to worry about toxins soaking into the pin.

**If you are covering something where the drawer will go inside the cabinet (actually similar to mine, although I didn't encounter a major problem) you might have better luck using scrabooking paper or wrapping paper and cut it to the exact measurements of the drawer front. With the layers of Mod Podge, Varnish, and fabrics, you could be adding too much bulk for the drawers to close properly. In hindsight, I should have used the paper, but since I used a very lightweight fabric, I didn't have a problem I couldn't fix later. Will explain this toward the end.

You can also use the "crazy quilt" look where you cover just the front of the drawer with odd shapes and decoupage them on randomly until the whole front is covered.

1.  Remove any hardware, handles, or knobs if you are able to. If you are unable to remove them, you will have to work around them, but in most cases you will be able to remove them. 

2.  Measure the area you are going to be covering.

Sher's Mistake #1 - I did not measure where my holes were for my handle. This made finding them a bit of a challenge when I wanted to put them back on. So if your hardware has four holes like mine, measure at least one of the holes.

3.  Rough up your surface slightly with some sandpaper. To be completely honest with you, I have no idea what kind or grade I used. I went to my husband's workshop and grabbed a sheet. I do suppose you wouldn't want anything too rough or too fine. Find a happy medium. Clean away any dust with a damp cloth, followed by a dry cloth.

4.  Cut your ironed fabric about one inch or two bigger all the way around your project. You will trim away any excess later.

Sher's Mistake #2 - At my first try, I cut my fabric the exact size of the drawer front. Do not do this with fabric! Since fabric has a bias, it tends to stretch and you will not get nice straight edges when it becomes wet. Bummer, because I loved my first fabric choice so much. Fortunately, since the Mod Podge was still wet, I was able to wash it off and start over.

5.  Pour some of your Mod Podge into a disposable container. Using your foam brush, apply a generous amount on your surface, including the sides (unless you are using paper, then don't do the sides). You need to work quickly because this stuff dries quickly. I used a toothpick to keep the holes (my screw holes for the drawer pull) from accumulating the Mod Podge.

Place your fabric on top of the prepared surface. While you are doing this, place the lid over your container so it doesn't dry up. Smooth out your fabric on the top, and the sides. I found that a rolling pin helped for this part. Let this dry completely (15 to 20 minutes) before the next application of Mod Podge.

6.  Now that your project is dry, you can trim away any excess fabric that is hanging over the edges. I also trimmed away the corners so that they would lay flat. You also want to make sure that the area where you folded the fabric around the edges, is glued down very well so you don't add bulk. Too much bulk will not allow you to open or close your drawer freely if your drawer is designed like mine. 

7.  Now you can add a layer of Mod Podge on the fabric top and sides. You might even have to slip a little more Mod Podge under the edges at the sides so the fabric sticks well. Make sure you don't have any blobs or excess Mod Podge along the sides of the drawer front. Allow to dry 15 to 20 minutes if you plan to add another coat. 

I let mine dry for a few hours because instead of adding another coat of Mod Podge. I wanted a more durable finish so I used a varnish sealer over the Mod Podge. I found that only one coat was needed for the varnish. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for the varnish you are using, if you choose to use varnish.

8.  I let my drawers dry overnight, then in the morning I reattached my drawer pulls.

Since my drawers slide into the outer cabinet, I did have to do some extra fabric trimming with an exacto knife. There was also a couple spots where I had to secure a little better with a little more Mod Podge (under the fabric edges) at the sides of the drawer front. It did take a little effort to make sure my drawer slides in and out easily. You may or may not have this issue, depending on your drawer front, or if it is even a drawer you are covering. Like I mentioned before, I probably should have used paper and only covered the front, but all in all, I'm still glad I did it! I love the look and it was well worth the effort.

Now, to tackle the re-organization of all my files!  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Project 365 - Week 13

Project 365 - One photo a day for a year. Kind of like a photographic journal of my entire year!

Day 85 - My new cellphone case arrived today. I also bought myself a camera bag that fits a few extra things. I'm ready for hiking!

Day 86 - What's my favorite day of all? Baby Paige day! The days I see her are the best.

Day 87 - After our Friday night dinner at Noodles & Company we went to Michaels. I didn't buy a basket, but I'll show you what I bought after I assemble it. Hint: it's for storage.

Day 88 - It doesn't match my grey and tan bathroom, but it says "Spring" so it's staying!

Day 89 - Took a walk on the beach with Brian. The weather was beautiful. You can see there is still some ice left.

Day 90 - Saw this crocus on our morning walk today. That tells me spring is here. 

Day 91 - Spent some time with the little princess today. It appears as if Baby Paige is a Blackhawks fan!

UPDATE! Remember back in Week 3 I took a photo of my black squirrel? Well, he's still here but in the past few weeks I've noticed that he lost most of his tail. He either got it caught in something, or someone tried to get him. But it hasn't slowed the little guy down one bit! He still runs and plays like he did before. He just looks real funny!

For more of my Project 365 - Click HERE

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Instagram, Spring, and a Walk on the Beach


What a day! The sun is shining, the temperatures have finally gotten close to 60, and it's Sunday. It was so nice to get out today and walk. We enjoyed our walk so much that we decided to head to the beach and take another one. While we were there we collected some rocks to paint on. I've been scoping out all fun painted rocks on Pinterest and I'm ready to paint some just for the fun of it! I'll share pics when I'm done.

Also, I want you all to know that we have joined Instagram! Now that I have a new cellphone, I thought it would be a fun thing to do since this one has a decent camera and enough storage for my pictures. I honestly don't know what I was thinking when I bought the one I had before. 

Anyway, I was able to find some of my blogging friends there, but I'm sure there are more of you that I don't have. If you follow me, I'll be sure to follow you back! You can find me HERE.

If you don't have Instagram, the picture above is what I just posted. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Roasted Vegetables

roasted veggies, healthy eating, dinner, recipe

I recently got a recipe with roasted chicken, green beans, and potatoes. As good as it looked, I wasn't fond of the idea of canned green beans. I always like fresh, and if I can't get fresh, then frozen. The recipe also included a whole stick of butter. Yikes! That's a lot of butter! So from that dish I was inspired to create this recipe. So simple, and healthy.

Roasted Vegetables
1 pound of fresh green beans, ends trimmed
1/2 pound of sliced carrots (used the pre-cut, bagged)
1 large onion, cut into large chunks
1 large potato, cut into small cubes or slices
Handful of fresh mushrooms
1/2 packet of Zesty Italian salad dressing mix
2 - 3 Tbsp butter, melted
~~~~You can drizzle olive oil on top if you prefer 

The above are my favorites, you can also add zucchini, squash, red peppers, green peppers, asparagus, anything you want!

1. Preheat oven to 350. 

2. Steam or cook green beans and carrots in a tiny bit of water for about 10 minutes, just so soften slightly.

3. While the above is cooking/steaming, spay a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Place the onion, mushrooms, and potatoes inside.

4. Drain the excess water from carrots and green beans, add to the other vegetables. Sprinkle the half packet of dressing mix on the vegetables. Drizzle the butter. 

5. Get your hands nice and messy by mixing it all up. 

6. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes at 350, then remove foil, turn oven up to 400 and cook another 15 to 20 minutes. 

If you want to make a whole meal of it, you can throw in a few chicken breasts or other meat. I've made this with chicken also and it very good!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Project 365 - Week 12

Project 365 - One photo a day for a year. Kind of like a photographic journal of my entire year!

Day 78 - My son bought me the owl pillow, and my daughter bought me the love pillow. They live 2000 miles apart but the colors on the pillows match each other so well, you'd swear they shopped together!

Day 79 - I got nothing here. I have no idea whatever possessed me to take this picture. The little man made from nuts and other tools, just drew me in.

Day 80 - I first saw this clock in a shop in Chicago for $30. All they had left was the display and they wouldn't sell it to me. About six months later I saw this one in KMart for $12. Same exact clock!

Day 81 - Outback Steakhouse for my birthday dinner. The salmon was so super delicious.

Day 82 - The first of my birthday cards. They all match!

Day 83 - The DVDs containing the photos and videos of the big, family event in Florida this month are ready for their trip to the post office.

Day 84 -Today I have discovered PicsArt. If you like to use your smartphone camera, this app has so many cool things you can do with your photos.

For more of my Project 365 - Click HERE

Monday, March 24, 2014

Original Backgrounds for Your Devices

Whenever I get a new laptop, tablet, or smartphone, the first thing I do is put on my own personal background. Today I'm sharing with you some really fun ideas to jazz up your own computerized device in ways you may not have thought of.

In the image above you will see background samples for my cellphone, laptop, and my seven inch tablet. Sometimes I like to put family pictures on them, but sometimes I just like to put something fun and colorful. The top two photos on the left are photos that I took of my two favorite mugs, and the upper right is a greeting card that I got for my birthday this year. Those are on my cellphone. The three ovals in the center are simply a bowl of Christmas candy, a grouping of my mug rugs, and a bowl of potpourri. The rectangles at the bottom are a photo of my table runner (before I quilted it) and a the other one is a calendar page.

I simply crop the image so that it fills the whole screen. There is a place in the tablet and the cellphone to do that. You just simply download the image to your phone/tablet, open it up in your photo gallery, then choose set as "wallpaper" or "background." For the computer backgrounds, I take them into PhotoShop. 

Here is a tip, if your background is too busy where it competes with your icons, photograph something a little simpler in design such as a texture or light colors and save the bright and vivid ones for your lock screens (if you have one on your device).

Better yet, how do you like the background that I have my sample on? This is my favorite trick of all! I simply went into PhotoShop and opened up a photograph of beach sand. Then I added a layer on top of that in green. I put the transparency of the green layer at 70%. That was just enough so that the texture of the beach sand could peek through creating this great effect! This works great for so many photos you already have such as clouds, closeup of flowers or leaves, grass, water, sunsets, almost anything! Take pictures of your tile, carpet, wood doors, anything that you think would look great as a texture under another color. This would give you a stylish background that would be perfect and simple enough to not compete with your icons!

Just get creative! It's so much fun!!!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sewing Tip - Organization Is The Key To Success!

sewing, storage solutions, organization

It may sound like a silly and simple little tip, but what a difference it can make when you organize your your space. If you know where everything is, you'll be able to complete your projects in a timely manner. My studio has a lot of open shelving so I can see almost everything at a glance.
There was a time however, for several years, that I didn't have a space of my own. But I was pretty well organized and could find everything easily. I used big baskets, plastic totes and tubs (hidden in a closet or cabinet), and decorative boxes. When everything was put away, no one knew it was also my workspace. What was my secret? Plastic zipper bags. I had them in all sizes from tiny ones to store floss and beads, to extra large bags to store fabric paints, trims, and tools. The medium sized bags were great for stuff such as velcro, smaller trim packets, and elastic. I always knew which box or basket everything was in. I still use this storage solution for my beads, embroidery floss, and other smaller items and notions.

If you want to store your supplies in plain sight, glass jars are the ticket! I have three giant ones that are probably for cookies. I store my zippers in one, floss in one, and beads in the other. I also have some smaller ones that I store other colorful items in such as buttons and 3-dimensional paints. Quart sized mason jars are perfect for buttons and beads. When you store colorful things in the clear jars, it adds a lot of personality to your room.

For more storage solutions, pop over to my Sewing Studio for more ideas.
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