Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hannah's Birthday

We celebrated a very special birthday recently.

Our little princess is getting bigger every day and it's so much fun to watch... and photograph. I was kicking myself for not setting aside time for a project, but I realized that these photos are my creative project.

Kids are hard to photograph, especially when they know you so well. They don't stop moving to pose or say cheese, they just live and move and play. For example, they might put 2 party hats on their head, come over to show you, stand still for 1 second and then walk away. They've taught me to react quickly.

I'm constantly changing settings on the camera and moving myself when I shoot these kiddos. Sometimes I ask them to look at the camera. 80% of the time, they won't. They've gotten too used to me asking for that.

Most of the time, I try to capture what is happening and what they are doing without them noticing me. Like this shot of Esther and Hannah playing.

And this shot of Hannah hugging her new dress.

Each time I go through the day's photos, I learn something about how I shoot and what I like to shoot. It's such a fun experience.

If you haven't tried photography, I highly suggest it. It's much easier to pick up than you might think and it's incredibly rewarding.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

DIY Clock

For my 30th birthday (yikes!) my BFF, Kristin, got me a DIY clock kit from Bri + Co.  It was so perfect. She gave it to me right when I started up the blog again. It's amazing how your friends can know you so well. Right when I'm looking for creative projects, she gives me a clock kit.

It took me quite a few weeks to figure out what I wanted to do with it. After some pinterest searching and a few failed mock ups, I finally found my inspiration -

[please pin from original source]
(1) This wall at the office designed by Emily Henderson. She also used stripes similar to this on the floor of the Oh Joy studio. They look amazing and I'm obsessed with them. If I was in anyway a risk taker in my home, I would have a wall like this.

(2) This fabric from Joann Fabrics stopped me in my tracks - along with every other fabric by Nate Berkus. I was surprised that I could love upholstery fabrics so much, but when I saw the designer it all made sense.

If I ever become a millionaire, I'm going to have Nate Berkus design my entire house. The man is a genius. I stalk his stuff at Target. Seriously stalk it. I want all of it.

Ok, back to the clock.

Illustrator has become a favorite tool for my DIY projects. Being able to see the outcome of a project before starting is really helpful. I was able to size my stripes, layout them out and see the outcome before cutting any vinyl for the stencil.

Painters tape comes in 1" or 1/4", but of course I wanted my stripes to be 3/8". Because I'm a middle child and we don't make anything easy (just ask my family).

So instead of cutting painters tape by hand and most likely having crooked lines, I cut strips out of black vinyl using my silhouette Cameo. One direction at a time, I placed all the strips onto the clock face and just eyeballed the width of each stripe. The control freak in me was blown away by my lack of measuring. Thankfully it turned out pretty good and no mistakes are staring me in the face.

 I was really impressed that the paint didn't bleed under the vinyl. I'm a big fan of clean, crisp lines.

The outcome was exactly what I wanted and so perfect. 

You might be wondering why there are no numbers. Let's be honest, who needs a clock anymore? With my phone always by my side and a computer in the room, I'm never looking at the clock. So I skipped the functional and went straight to beautiful.

It was such a fun project and I really enjoyed the challenge of figuring out the pattern. 

Thanks again for the kit, Kristin! 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Handmade Cards with Watercolors

This spot in my house is one of my favorites. It's basically the only place that I actually keep clean and clutter free. It probably looks cluttered, but everything here has a purpose and gets used often. I have another work space in my craft room, but I always end up sitting at my desk.

This desk has been through a lot and it's held up really well. It's a little warped, so if you put a pencil down it will definitely roll away, but it's a great workspace. It's big and bright and white. This space always gets my creativity going.

Countless hours were spent on Pinterest this week, but zero good ideas were had. I was stumped. How did I ever keep this blog going 5 days a week? Finally, I gave up on Pinterest, went into my craft room, put on some T. Swift and started brainstorming.

ps. How good is her 1989 album? I finally gave in and bought it. I'm loving it. Don't judge me.

Inspiration finally struck - hand lettered cards using watercolors. Have you watched this short video about Jake Weidmann, Master Penman? This man is incredibly talented. Listening to him talk about penmanship had me wanting to write lots of letters.

Everything was ready to go. Supplies, check. Water, check. Online tutorial, check. Then I remembered one important detail - oh right, I can't hand letter.

But color is inspiring, so I didn't give up.

You've probably noticed a trend around here lately - cross stitch. The color and texture of cross stitch keeps me coming back for more. This week, there's a slight twist. Cue plot-twist music.

While I may not have the skill to create hand lettered art, I certainly can make a bunch of little x's. A quick pinterest search led me to a lot of great options for cross stitch letters - some detailed and some very simple.

I'm always drawn to detail, so that's where I started. It's not perfect, but I think that makes it a little sweeter. I love when you can see the hand-made touch. There's something lovely about imperfection.

I also tried smaller, less detailed designs. I used watercolor paper for these cards and cut them down to 5x7". Watercolor paper really is beautiful (even the cheap stuff that I used). The texture and weight of the paper is so nice.

The only measuring I did before painting was to find the middle of the card. I put a very small and light pencil mark where the center X should be. Then it was just a matter of following the pattern.

The envelopes were made using this card maker that I got on super sale at Michael's. I don't typically make my own envelopes, but I wanted envelopes for this post and these were free and fast.

I tried lining the edges with washi tape, but it ended up looking messy. Plus, it seemed a little too busy, but then maybe I just like plain brown envelopes.

I also made some smaller cards since I already had envelopes for those. The possibilities are endless and you don't have to be an artist to do this. You could even use a kids set of watercolors.

When I was doing my pre-project research I saw this post about letting the color cakes soak in hot water before using them. It made such a difference! The colors were richer and deeper, which made this project just that much more fun.

A few months ago, I saw a quote from Kid President that said "Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody." That really struck a chord with me. I plan to send out all of the cards that I made and hopefully I'll make a few people feel like a somebody.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Cross Stitch Boxes & Download

Three day weekends are my favorite thing. It's just enough of a break from the grind to leave me feeling refreshed and ready to go. And it's plenty of time to fit in a project or two!

Most of the weekend was spent doing laundry (and binge watching Manhattan on Hulu - oh my gosh so good!), but I did take some time to work on these little cross stitch boxes.

Psst - I made you a printable incase you want to make them, too (see bottom of post).

The simplicity of cross stitch makes it one of my favorite things to do. Not to mention the amount of colors to choose from. My mom has been letting me babysit her thread collection. By the time she wants it back there might not be any thread left!

I was up late Sunday night designing and finishing these because (of course) creativity struck at 9:30pm and I couldn't go to bed until they were done, which ended up happening at 1:30am.

You know you're an adult when you can't drink caffeine anytime after lunch.

I found a box design online, popped it into Illustrator and went to work. Once I got all of the graphics lined up, I created a silhouette file for each box (see bottom of post for downloads).

My Silhouette machine did all of the work. It cut the box design and all of those tiny circles. If you don't have Silhouette machine, you can use a needle to punch the holes.

Each circle is 0.064 inches in diameter. That's a tiny circle to cut. My Silhouette machine has done it before, so I knew it would be able to handle the job.

When the stitching was complete, I folded and assembled the boxes.

After I made the boxes I thought, now what am I doing to do with these? I often make things without an end game in mind. An idea eventually pops up. Plus, you can never have too many boxes!

I'm going to be honest and say that I ate 65% of those hershey kisses when I was done taking photos. And they were delicious.

Here's a better look at each box -

This last design turned out to be my favorite. This is my current favorite color combination (hence the blog graphics). It feels like fall to me - a fresh and vibrant fall. Or maybe I'm just really ready for fall. Or maybe I can't stand humid days. Or maybe I'm ready for all the bees to be gone. All bees gone. All. Of. Them.

It's most definitely all of the above (and especially the bee part).


Download links:
Cross stitch boxes PDF
Silhouette machine file - Nordic
Silhouette machine file - Heart
Silhouette machine file - I Like You

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Porch

In May of 2014, my house got hit by a car. Thankfully, no one was hurt. I was in my bedroom when it happened. It's amazing how fast you can put on pants when you realize something just hit your house.

It wasn't a very useful porch. Charlie is the kind of dog that would bolt at the first opportunity to pick a fight with the biggest dog on the block. Leashes are a pain, the porch was slanted and just not a fun place to be - so it didn't get much any use. Then boom - insurance money.  I took the opportunity to make some upgrades.

Now we have this glorious porch and we use it as often as we can. My family and friends came over to help me overhaul the yard. We ripped out bushes, mysterious plants and the old garden dividers that looked like headstones. 

This is a photo from the day we did the overhaul. Frank even took down a very dead and unhappy pine tree. Now my yard is no longer an embarrassment.

Last week was glorious in PA. We had a little taste of fall around here and it did not go to waste. We spent as much time as we could on the porch. Notice that the little princess has to have a rug. It didn't take me long to catch the hint that she does not like sitting on the wood.

This pup is a strange bird. If the dog peeing in my yard is smaller than her - they pass without a problem. But if the dog is even the slightest bit bigger than Charlie, she becomes Gandalf the Grey and they shall not pass.

We're working on it, though. I keep treats at the ready to distract her. I'm starting to see improvements and that makes me proud of this little wizard.

The next step is to replace that little porch light with something less jarring for night time. I'm hoping to get something with a dimmer and a fan. I like sitting out there at night, but I don't like the feeling of being in the spotlight. There's this pressure to put on a show for the neighborhood. Despite the hours of tap dancing Charlotte and I did on her bed in our Sunday shoes, nothing really stuck.

Charlie did not like that I left her on the porch to snap this photo and she made sure I knew that.

A few days ago, I was feeling very discouraged and frustrated with this home. I've started referring to this house as "my lemon". I can't seem to catch a break. Everything that has gone wrong can be fixed as most everything can, but I cannot fix any of it. The feeling of being dependent on others while being an independent, adult woman is not a fun feeling.

This porch has been a ray of hope for me. Getting to this porch was a big ordeal that took a lot of work and stress and calls to my insurance company. The result was worth the work and stress and phone time. The beautiful weather was perfectly timed and enjoying this porch is good for my soul. I'm thankful God has control.

This is the view from my seat on the porch and it's pretty spectacular.