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1  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / Spring Fever - Painting from vintage photos on: May 06, 2015 08:12:46 AM
FINALLY! Some time for painting!  We're moved into the new house.  Although I don't really have an area that's appropriate for painting and there are TONS of things that need to get done around here (the house is "done", but not DONE) I still figured out a way to get some painting done.  I should have some more projects to post soon as well.

The idea for this one came from some of the vintage vacation photographs I collect.  I was SO ready for spring and liked the idea of some vintage ladies in big winter coats on a late winter day and their "bikini-clad" friend who is ready for warmer weather.

The painting is 8" x 10" and is oil on cradled hardbord.

I call it:  "Spring Fever"

and detail:
2  COOKING / Dessert / Lemon Blueberry Cake w/Buttercream Frosting - my first cake! on: March 22, 2015 09:24:55 AM
This will be my first post in this area of the forum because I am truly a hopeless cooking failure.  I've been "banned" from cooking for many years.  HOWEVER, I have always wanted to make pretty cakes and have discovered that baking might go alright for me since there is a little less "artistry" in the combining of ingredients.  If I follow the directions exactly as written it usually seems to work out alright.

I saw a recipe that looked absolutely fantastic and so I decided to attempt to bake and decorate a cake for the first time in my 45 years on this planet.  It was surprisingly good!  The frosting was a bit thin to really do any sort of decorating, but I attempted it anyway….it just meant that what I could do was limited.  The cake itself was so moist! I thought that I might have over mixed it because it wasn't quite as fluffy as some cakes, but it sounds like that may be typical for this recipe.  It wasn't extremely dense, but a little denser than expected.  I made a second one to be sure the density wasn't from my mistake and that one turned out right about the same.

My husband HATES cake, but he ate more than his share of this one!  The second cake went with him to work and they loved it.

The first attempt using the full recipe produced a 9" 3-layer cake:

I didn't know you should use a serrated knife to cut a cake so the slice looks a little "gnawed", but this is the only slice photo I have:

My second attempt I cut the recipe in half and made a 6" 3-layer cake:

The recipe can be found here.  I'd make this recipe again in a second!!
3  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Completed Projects / The GIANT project on: September 10, 2014 06:42:27 PM
SO MUCH STUFF DONE! (and so much still left to do)

All four of these rooms kind of wound up being one entire project.  Because the new floor was the same floor in all four rooms they kind of had to all be done at once so…..this is my GIANT project.  It's so nice to not have nearly the entire first floor ripped apart right now!

First, is the super-tiny "office". I don't have any before photos except for this one that we took before we moved into the place:

Added a light in the ceiling and a switch (the only light available before was a plug-in lamp, new trim, new floor & repaired wiring. This is also one of the rooms that was affected by the ice dam. So there is a new ceiling and the entire wall on the left was replaced. We moved all the stuff that was in there to storage, so right now it's being used as a "cat room" to house the litter box & cat food. I have a throw rug on the floor to protect the new floor until we move:

Next is the living room and again, I don't have any photos of it except the pre-move in photo. What we HAD done to this room previously was paint it in a muted orange, remove the carpet (it was glued down) and sand down the floors. However, the floors are white pine and don't wear well so this time we decided to just replace them. Before:

And after replacing the front door, putting in a new beam (the old beam was only 3 2" x 6" boards nailed together that were sagging because they'd removed a load-bearing wall….we had to put in a new LVL beam), new floor, new trim, new light and new paint. This room was also damaged by the ice dam so the ceiling and wall closest to the door was replaced. The stairwell got new paint, new stair rail and new stair treads.  The angled "ledge" that runs up the stairwell used to be a flat ledge, but we had to cut it out because we couldn't fit a queen-size bed up the stairs with that ledge there.  Again, our stuff was put in storage to be moved to the new house so there isn't much in here now. I figure I'll let the buyer get drapes. After:

The dining room had nothing done to it until now. This is a pre-move-in photo so it pretty much looked like this, but without that furniture:

Removed the wallpaper border, new paint, new trim, new floor, new exterior door, widened the door to the kitchen (we can open the fridge ALL the way now), new light and some new wiring. Sadly, the yellow looks kind of lemony in the photos, but it's a real pale buttery yellow (looks almost cream in most lighting). The table is just a temporary thing we used to have at the cabin (it folds down to almost nothing and the chairs store inside of it) so it's not exactly stylish, but it's at least something:

This is the main floor bedroom before we moved in:

This is what it looked like for a short while when I had my studio in there.  We'd removed the wallpaper border, painted the room and painted the floor in a pattern because we couldn't afford to replace the floor and it was in bad visual shape):

And this is what it looks like now after new floor, new paint, new trim & new shades. The closet needed a LOT of work because it was made from some kind of thin board that was falling apart. It had to be gutted and drywalled:

There is only one more area to do on the main floor now, but I need to get some things done upstairs first. There isn't a whole lot I'll be doing up there except in the "walk-in closet", but there's plenty to do in that closet.
4  FIBER ARTS / Dyeing: Completed Projects / Whale Scarf - Batik on Silk with Embroidery & Buttons on: September 01, 2014 07:53:07 AM
My swap partner finally received so I can post!  Crafted for the Under the Sea Swap for Alittlemusthave.

Batiked silk scarf with simple embroidery and buttons.  Alittlemusthave had a whale on her swap list and so I decided to do a batik of the largest animal alongside the smallest (microscopic and single-celled animals).  The batik was done in 7 steps, preserving white, light teal, light cornflower blue, another bath of cornflower blue to create a darker blue, magenta, another bath of cornflower blue to create a dark purple and a bath of burgundy. 

Unfortunately, my sink was too small for batiking (can hardly wait to get to the new house so I actually have proper facilities!!) so the whites got a bit dirty because the wax pulled off in a few areas, but for the most part, it turned out just about how I was expecting.  I also didn't get one of the corners heat sealed quite enough before sending it off to the cleaners for the final wax removal so it faded a bit, but it's not too terribly bad.

Then, I embroidered……a lot.  I kept the embroidery simple (running stitches, chain stitches, satin stitches and a few random stitches) but it still took FOREVER!  In addition, I added a few buttons.

My camera had some sort of filter added to most of the photos so the color is off.  I corrected it somewhat, but this first photo is the closest to the original color (the only one left on the camera that I was able to remove the filter before uploading).  Enjoy!

The entire scarf (sure wish I'd measured it before I sent it…..can't remember the exact size, but it's about 4' long):

The whale had so much detail in the batik that I didn't add much in the way of embroidery….I tried to keep it simple so it wouldn't get overwhelming:

and details (this area didn't get much damage to the white):

These areas got a little bleed-through of the magenta:

This bottom section probably got the most bleed-through, however, you can kind of see the variety of stitches I used:

5  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Completed Projects / Kitchen Overhaul on: April 20, 2014 08:34:29 PM
Welcome to my NEW KITCHEN!  

My budget was less than $1500 for this room AND the laundry/pantry (there's also a thread from when I finished that room).  That meant that I had to do a LOT of stuff….myself.

This is what I started with….a VERY small room (9'x12') with FOUR doorways that enter the room.  This is looking from the dining room into the kitchen.  Straight ahead is a double bifold door (6' wide) that goes to the laundry room/pantry.  When our refrigerator died we bought a new one and got it home only to discover that it was 1" too wide to fit.  So, we put it next to the counter….in front of one of the pantry bifold doors.

Wallpaper gone, pantry doorway reduced to 30", cabinet from over the stove moved to the new wall allowing for some pan storage, new light, new floor, dishwasher moved with proper end panel installed and a new countertop installed (this one is PROPERLY installed) for MUCH more counter space:

Here are the other two doors, the door on the left goes to the bathroom, the door on the right goes to the basement.  If you'll notice….there is NO counter space.  That's why we had a roll-cart (for extra storage and counter space).  We had to move the cart to the front of the basement door in order to go into the laundry/pantry and then move it over again if we wanted to go into the basement.   I HATED that cart:

New light switches, new doors and LOTS of repairs to the walls to make the room look crisp and clean.

Cabinets were refinished (yes, these are the SAME cabinets!) using General Finishes Java Gel stain and new handles were added.  This is the same stain I used in my bathroom, but because the slate-look of the floor in this room was such a cool gray that the brown of the Java Gel was going to be too warm.  I added color dyes to make the color a little more blue-black and I think it was a good choice.  There is a new cabinet installed over the stove to accommodate a new over-the-range microwave….the counter to the right of the stove is now opened up for other uses!!  GFI outlets were also added throughout the room.

BEFORE:  We used the oversize refrigerator situation as an excuse to install a dishwasher.  We installed a temporary counter over it and some utility shelving for some additional storage….even with that addition there still wasn't much counter space.

SO very temporarily set up. You can also see here I had to deal with tons of wallpaper (all very difficult to remove) and pink paint.  The linoleum was a disaster….it wouldn't come clean and was torn in spots.

I moved the sink cabinet over 1" to the left to accommodate the refrigerator.  I also widened the doorway between the kitchen and dining room by about 15" so that the refrigerator doors can open all the way.  With the old fridge we couldn't access the drawers on the right because the door wouldn't open enough.  The light above the sink was purchased at a garage sale (best $3 I've ever spent!):

This was quite the project and I had to do it all on a pretty tight budget. 1/3 of the budget was had to cover just the flooring!  Still, I think it turned out nice…..now, onto the next room…...
6  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Deck Renovations on: April 03, 2014 07:21:06 AM
When we moved here there were "nice painted decks" but little did we know…..they were painted to cover the fact that they were built using untreated wood.  So, as you can imagine, they didn't last long.  

We're in the process of fixing up this place so we can sell it and of course new decks were necessary.  There was nothing salvageable on the old decks (not even the foundations since…..there weren't any!!).  I designed the new decks and we built them both ourselves:

Entrance deck - before and after.  I don't really like the stair railing on the finished deck, but I'm not about to redo it:

I don't have a photo of the front deck before because it was ripped out over a year ago (it was in worse shape than the other deck), but here is the beginning.  Deck Day #1 - foundation holes dug and cemented:

Husband's nap with the barn cat:

Beginning of Deck Day #2 - posts in and everything square (I think this is always the hardest part):

End of Deck Day #2 - Trusses in:

End of Deck Day #3 - floor and railings in:

SHORT Deck Day #4 (I had to work until noon) - the stairs always seem to take forever to build:

DONE!  I hate when cats and such can get under the decks and I can't stand the look of lattice so that is why there is a "solid" underside.  I like the stair rail on this deck much better than the main entry deck.  

If we were going to stay in this house we would have wrapped the front deck around the side of the house to connect with the side deck, but whoever moves here can do that themselves if they'd like.
7  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Completed Projects / Laundry Room/Pantry Renovation on: April 03, 2014 06:51:58 AM
We're still in the process of getting this hose fixed up to sell.  A few weeks ago I finished the laundry room/pantry! I sure wish I had before photos because it was pretty awful.

Wallpaper border down (the VERY LAST OF THE WALLPAPER to take down in the house…..and it was a TOUGH job) and fresh paint up. The paint looks green in some light, blue in some light and gray and some light. Normally I don't like blues, but this works for me. New light (SO MUCH BRIGHTER!), light switch and outlets. The icky carpet and old, old, OLD linoleum was removed and new Pergo slate-look floor added (I wouldn't have considered Pergo if we were staying here, but I'm sure it'll hold up as long as we'll need it to sell). The washer and dryer were scrubbed to within an inch of their lives……cleaned right down to the nitty gritty and they look nearly new now!

The doorway to this room WAS a 6' doorway that was absolutely overkill and we really needed the wall space so the doorway was reduced to 30" (plenty enough room for anything going into that room) and a new bifold door added. The door and door trim are painted the same as the wall color because I want the door to visually blend into the wall on the kitchen side. There are four doorways that go into the kitchen and I think painting them all off white breaks up the kitchen too much.

The shelves were reconfigured and one long shelf added. Before, we had the cat's litter box below the shelving, but I no longer want cats in there so now there's PLENTY of room for my husband's never-ending supply of toilet paper and paper towels. We no longer have to go downstairs to get them. SO MUCH STORAGE SPACE! I scrubbed and spray-painted the heat grate (it was so beat up), but once I saw this photo I realized the white is too white and so it is now a dark, charcoal gray.

The floor and the wall color are the same as what I will be using on the kitchen.

It's nice having space in there to fold clothes (rather than trying to find a place that doesn't have animal hair in another section of the house) and it's SO MUCH EASIER to keep clean!

(the cover for the ironing board was in the wash)

I'm getting close to finishing the kitchen and I'll post photos when that is done.  It's surprising how long this stuff takes to finish!
8  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / Live Painting Demo - Deer, Swallows, Apples, String and…..a Halo on: March 12, 2014 06:40:48 AM

I recently did a live painting demo for a fundraiser.  I've participated in this event each year for the past three years.  This year I think I'm more pleased with the results than in the past.  

The painting is an acrylic base with oil over-painting (so I could develop solid color without having to deal with extended drying times) and was painted on 18" x 36" cradled Ampersand Hardbord.  The time I had available to paint was very limited as the auction ended at hour 8. The painting took me an additional hour to finish during the event.

"Acknowledging Tradition: Anticipation of the Empty Nest"

The final painting:

and a photo taken at the event by photographer Dianne Carroll Burdick during my painting process:
9  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Completed Projects / Bathroom "Overhaul" on: January 27, 2014 03:55:40 PM
Bathroom renovations done and all done by…….myself. If we weren't planning on putting the house on the market in the spring this isn't what I would have done with the bathroom, but I was after "more bang for my buck" renovations and so the results I have are what they are.

Although in these after photos it appears that the room is darker (the before photo is at the end of this post), the room is actually MUCH brighter than it used to be. The wallpaper border is gone (took 3 days to get it down and get all the glue removed), new towel racks (the wooden ones that were there were gross), new door (this one doesn't drag on the floor because it's properly installed), new door lock (the old one only opened if you turned the door knob in a certain direction and caused many guests distress when they got "stuck" in the bathroom…..not a problem now), new toilet (that was an ordeal), all new grout (the old grout was broken and patchy looking and the original dark color just looked dirty) and a new shower curtain (that was the EASY job)…….:

Refinished cabinets with General Finishes Java Gel Stain (See * NOTES at the end of the post).  I wasn't sure if I'd be able to pull it off, but it looks good…..it does NOT look streaky in person.  New cabinet hardware, new faucet (also a new faucet in the tub - no photos of it), new medicine cabinet (not my first or even my second choice, but it was what was in the budget), new light/circulation vent and new outlets/switches (one old switch fell apart when I took the face plate off the wall….I'm surprised there wasn't a fire before now!). I kept the sink because other than needing some scrubbing and sealing there wasn't really anything wrong with it:

I thought I'd need to replace the cabinet above the toilet, but it turned out pretty good once I refinished it (the stain isn't this red….in person it looks like a black/brown). When I removed the wallpaper there was some wall repairs I needed to do. They weren't bad, but I noticed other areas were too rough to paint without a LOT of work so despite my HATRED of wallpaper I decided to go ahead and wallpaper that wall in a paintable paper. It's not covering anything structurally wrong as all of that was fixed, but it saved me a LOT of time. This was a bad place to attempt a first wallpaper job because there were LOTS of things to wallpaper around:

Most of the paintable wallpaper patterns were awful. They were either boxy looking stamped tin designs or 80's looking swirls. I finally found one that I thought would fit the decor and I think it looks alright:

If we were staying the entire room would likely have been gutted. There are still minor "issues" with this bathroom, but it's visually pleasing, safe, easier to clean and not leaking.

Unfortunately, I only have one before photo and it doesn't show the awfulness that the dark green "country" wallpaper was on the left wall. It also doesn't show the awful (and not very useful) medicine cabinet with the saggy shelves. However, it does give you an idea of what I started with:

I have carpenters coming tomorrow to finish up some work on the kitchen. They're installing 2 doors, making a narrower pantry doorway (it's currently a 6' double bifold door…..a waste of wallspace in a 9' x 12' kitchen that already has 3 other doors going into that space), widening another door (so I can put the refrigerator there and the door can open all the way) and drywalling a closet. These are all things I'm perfectly capable of doing, but I'm running out of time (and energy). They've been able to accomplish this FAR faster than I could and while they're working I can work on other things. So, when they're done I get to get started on the kitchen (I've already removed the kitchen wallpaper thats shown around the doorway in the "before" bathroom photo so that's a BIG start).

* General Finishes Java Gel Stain - This is pretty amazing stuff. I'd never heard of it until recently, but the comments I'd read about it online were all good. I was skeptical because I'm always skeptical about internet "quick fixes", but a friend tried it and the results were exactly what I was reading online. Do a search for it….there are LOTS of tutorials and before/after photos of it. I liked it so much I'll be doing the same thing with the kitchen cabinets.

The bonus with this stuff is that you don't have to strip down your original cabinets…..only clean them REALLY well and do a light sanding with 120 grit paper to rough up the surface (I made the mistake of using what I had and my sandpaper was too fine….caused some issues I had to resolve later, but it was still manageable), apply the stain and put on a clear coat. If I didn't want a more solid look I could have wiped on one coat (even that first coat made the cabinets look SO much better!). The second coat always looks like crap according to everyone and I honestly thought I'd made a bad decision after putting the 2nd coat on, but the 3rd coat fixes it all. You can still see the grain under the finish so it doesn't look painted.

I put the stain on using a rag (a sock works too) and nitrile gloves). If I'd sanded it properly it would have taken only 3 coats, but I had some repairs to make so a few areas needed a 4th coat. The clear coat I used was Minwax quick dry wipe on polyurethane in satin…..SUPER easy to put on! The amount of staining time was minimal….it was the waiting between coats that stretched it all out, but even then it took about a week.

The tall cabinet and the cabinet over the toilet are cheap, fake wood cabinets. I figured I'd try to refinish them and if it didn't work then I'd consider replacing them, but they look REALLY good once I refinished them. They don't look like high-end cabinets, but they don't look cheap and crappy anymore.
10  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / Drawing of a Repeatable Pet Pattern! on: December 07, 2013 02:07:17 PM
I've been absent a lot here....trying to play catch-up with all the projects that piled up while I was finishing up grad school.  However, I just had to share my latest LOVE!  I just recently started making custom repeatable patterns of family pets.  I thought I would make these as something that can be used for fabric, wrapping paper or even wallpaper.  

Here was my first attempt....from some awful photos that I had to piece together I order to even figure out what the markings were on these pets.  There are some areas of the pattern I believe could use a LOT of improvement, but I thought it worked out well.  This was drawn by hand (ink on paper) then scanned and color added.

This is the second color palette.  However, I like best (a lot of people prefer the other).  The cool thing is that once I get them into Photoshop I can quickly revise the pattern palette:

And the first color version:

Some of the items I made using the pattern (printed on heavy paper & fabric).....I think I could REALLY like doing these!

And closer shots of the individual items.....

The box (paper spray-glued onto colored Canson paper & cut using an altered box template found online):

The card/ID wallet (pattern printed onto printable fabric sheets.  Template idea from a similar wallet I was given, but I made alterations in the design:

The bag (pattern printed onto printable fabric sheets.  Matching scrap fabric & rawhide laces pulled from my stash used.  I didn't have a template for this......I just made it so the sketchbook would fit in it):

And the sketchbook (again, pattern printed onto printable fabric sheets.  A purchased sketchbook was deconstructed and re-covered):

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