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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer Do

I got a new "do" today.  Yep after sporting a style with side flippy   things for several years

I grew it into a "bob" recently.

Bur, while my new hairdo was "okay", I jusr never really loved it on me.   So I went to the Beauty Shop (that's what we call it around here) with the goal of returning to those "side flippy things".    Wouldn't you know it though?  My hair was just not really long enough in the back yet.

SOOO, I came home with something completely different!!

SHORT!   And for now, I kinda' like it!
Saturday, June 23, 2012

More Craftiness for the Wall

***Spoiler Alert for Valine:    If you don't want to see what I made for you, don't read any further!!

While I was deep into the crafty mood yesterday, I decided to make a canvas for Valine, too.  I know that she has been wanting a piece of art that is "Subway style", so I found a quote I liked and went to work.    First I cut out the lettering from vinyl with my Cricut, using Cricut Craft Room (a new free program for Cricut owners that allows you to use your computer to arrange and manipulate images for cutting).   Previously, this could only be done using the Design Studio, which was costly, but Cricut Classroom is free and works really well.    

After applying the vinyl to the canvas, I painted the entire thing and peeled off the letters after it was dry.

Using a diluted bit of brown acrylic paint, I wiped it over the entire piece, using a vertical stroke.

Once that was dry, I gave it a coat of Mod Podge to protect the surface.  )Don't worry, this time I made sure to use the Matte version).

I think it turned out pretty great!! Hope she likes it, too.

Beautiful Things---Revisited

A couple of weeks ago, I made a canvas that just didn't turn out the way I wanted it to.  I liked it a lot before I added a top coat of Glossy Mod Podge.   Unfortunately, that coat made things too glossy (I wonder why?!- duh).  It wasn't terrible, but it lost the natural texture that I had been going for.

So this afternoon, I purchased a new canvas--a little bigger than the last one--and started over.   I painted a base-coat of white paint and then dry-brushed on yellow, blue and red.

Next I glued on some lace, ric-rack and tulle.

Then, I painted the whole canvas with white paint---letting some of the colors show through.
Once it was dry, I glued on the letters.  This time I made the letters a little bit larger to fill the canvas better.

The layers of paint, left a nice crackle effect this time which I really love.  Lots of great texture and the neutral colors I was going for.  To finish it off, I glued grosgrain ribbon around the edges.

While the first version wasn't terrible, I am much happier with this one.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Heart Tugs

Recently one of my friends at church adopted a sweet little girl from China.  While they have other children, they felt called to adopt a child from China and waited for 5 very long years before receiving word that Anna Mei was waiting on their arrival.  It has been such an exciting time---our church family and their other friends closely followed the blog they created detailing their 3-week trip to pick up their beautiful new daughter.  Anna Mei is every bit a bright, energetic toddler and is adjusting well to her new surroundings.  Her two big sisters are equally thrilled to finally get to hold her and help her and love her.

Another young couple at church also began their adoption journey several years ago and have now learned that they will be traveling to China in early fall!!   How lucky these children are to have loving families to accept them into their families and offer them a forever home. 

However, did you know that there are over half a million children living in government-run orphanages and millions more scattered among communities across China.  International and Chinese domestic adoption enables only a small percentage of these children to find a loving home each year. Most of them will have no choice but to stay at orphanages or wander the streets, never knowing the love of a family---especially those with special needs.

And that brings me to this:   Love Without Boundaries, an group that offers medical, educational and therapeutic and foster care for orphans living in China, with the assistance of donations.
I recently learned of this wonderful organization from one of my favorite bloggers, Ashley Ann.  She and her family are in the midst of an international adoption as well, and while waiting, she launched a campaign to raise funds to purchase a much-needed incubator for the orphanage where her daughter lives.   Not only did she raise enough money for the incubator, but also raised enough to assist with the care and surgeries needed for 17 children in China!!! 

Of course, I've read about similar projects before, but for some reason---maybe because I've actually met and held Anna Mei--this time it really tugged on my heart----and little Caleb, in particular caught my eye and heart.

So, I clicked the button.

I know I can't save the world, or fix all the problems of needy children here or abroad, but perhaps I can help make the life of one little guy a little bit brighter and help his chances of finding his forever family.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Clean Color

Throughout Karen Russell's photography class that I just completed (Snapshots of a Good Life), she often referred to the "Clean Color" process of editing photos.   During the course, I really tried to concentrate on getting better shots straight out of the camera and waited until the class was over to really take a good look at Erin Cobb's technique.  When it went on sale last weekend, I decided to take the plunge and purchase it.   Jana and I spent my last evening in Spartanburg poring over the video until WAY too late in the night.

Since I've gotten home, I have started playing with it a bit more, trying to refine the process to fit my style (not sure if I really have a "style" yet, but that's the only word that fit there).  Here's a great example of the difference this process can make.   I took some pictures that were pretty good without editing, but this was not one of them.  While I loved Jana's smile and the background, the colors, white balance and exposure were really off in this one.  In fact, it made her usually clear, fair complexion look quite blotchy.   I think the pictures speak for themselves---see what you think!

The before picture:

The picture edited with my old method--- slightly better, but still not right:

AFTER using Erin Cobb's Clean Color process:

Here are the BEFORE and AFTER side-by-side:

Monday, June 18, 2012


Demo-----as in demolition, not demonstration!!   This is what my front porch looked like when I got home from work this afternoon.


After finally determining the source of a leak on my front porch, I discovered that it had been going on for quite some time and in fact had rotted out some of the decking on my front porch.  Enter, Jonathan and David!   They got to work this morning tearing things out and replacing rotten boards until a short rain shower forced them to head home.

I'm hoping that they can get things finished tomorrow.  After that, I have some serious work to do to get the ironwork back in shape---not to mention the metal bench that has rusted terribly while sitting under that leak.

Last summer, I lost many of my outdoor plants to the drought we experienced.  This summer seems to be off to a better start.  We've had a good bit of rain so far.   While I was in South Carolina, I worried about my herbs not getting watered, but apparently we had several rather large storms.  And there have been more since I've been home.  In fact, it seems that I might have a different problem to worry about this summer.

Yep, that's my favorite basil plant and here's the pretty little pepper plant that I've been so proud of.

They obviously don't like quite so much water at once.
There is some good news  though---I spotted my first tomato!!   Hopefully there will be more to follow.

So much for learning to make pesto!
Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Birthday!!

Happy Birthday, Jana!!!    It was Father's Day the day she was born, just as it is today.   Hard to believe that I have a 28 year old daughter!   That surely must mean that I was a child when I had her?!?!

I had absolutely no idea what to do with a tiny newborn, but becoming a mother was definitely the best thing that has ever happened to me.

While I was in Spartanburg, we celebrated Jana and Rob's birthday one night (Rob's birthday is this week).   Jana and I cooked the meal--mostly Jana, actually since I just made the salsa.

It was really yummy!!

After dinner, they opened a few gifts.

Rob is a bit camera-shy, 

but, I was so glad to be able to celebrate with them.

Jana and Rob, I hope this year is the very best one ever!!

Wall Art for Me!

After helping Jana with the Let's Eat art for her kitchen, I cam home inspired to finally complete a project for myself--one I'd bought the supplies for several weeks ago.   For summer, I replaced my regular mantel directions with things that I thought would give a lighter feel.  I purchased the old window at Round Top with my mantel in mind.  Unfortunately, it lose a pane of glass sometime between there and here, but I prefer to think that it adds character.

My idea for the canvas was to also do something in shades of white with the words of one of my favorite songs on it.   I began by painting the whole canvas white and then brushed on some blue and red randomly on the canvas.  (I don't have any photos of those steps, however)   I then layered pale yellow and off-white paint laving areas where the darker colors showed through.   I used Mod-Podge to atatch bits of rick-rack, tulle and even a bit of gauze before adding a splotchy layer of white paint.

Using my Cricut, I cut out the words to "Beautiful Things" by Gungor out of a photocopied piece of vintage sheet music.   Without thinking, I first used masking tape to line the letters up with even spacing---that's what I've always done with vinyl lettering.  Of course, these were made of paper instead of vinyl, so of course they stuck to the tape, tearing off parts of the music.   I decided that I kind of liked the way that looked however.   I painted a coat of Mod-Podge over the entire canvas and let it dry.

I'm not sure I love the shiny finish the Mod-Podge left---I think I like the rougher look from "before" better, so I might try it again someday.  But, for now, it's hanging in my living room and I'm enjoying the message it brings.

P. S.    At first, I was going to use the "out of dust" part, but then thought that it might become a reference to my inept housekeeping skills.  :-)

And, just in case you want to listen to the song:
Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Let's Eat, Y'all

With my time with Jana coming to a close very soon (I leave this afternoon), I wanted to share my favorite project from this week.   She wanted a large wooden sign to hang on one wall of her kitchen.  Several years ago, Jana purchased some large ceramic "utensils" to hang in the kitchen.   In fact, I broke one of them accidentally and went crazy trying to find a new one for her, but eventually they were re-stocked and all was well.   We decided to incorporate those into the design and set about trying to figure out the best way to do the project.

There was a trip to Home Depot to purchase beadboard paneling.  The piece we found was white and was 32" x 48"---slightly larger than what we needed, so we had them cut it down to 42" long.  Since this paneling was so thin, I knew we needed something to stabilize it and also to fasten hangers on, so we picked up some small flat stips.   Jana used her muscles to cut them down to size. 

Back at home, We stapled the furring strip to the back of the beadboard near the top and bottom.   The,  I dry-brushed some brown acrylic paint onto the white finish and rubbed off enough with a paper towel to give the whole thing a distressed, slightly weathered look.  I even chiseled a few nicks  here and there to make it look a little more authentic.  

Meanwhile, Jana printed out the lettering in the font and size she liked.   

We traced around the lettering with a pencil and then set to work painting.   She chose to paint the "let's eat" with a light yellow green that matched her pillows and curtains while I used a slightly darker green for the "y'all".  

I used a small piece of sandpaper to distress the lettering a little bit and then we added hangers for the utensils.   Here's the final product----I just love it!!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Other Amusements

Warning, this is a picture-heavy post.

Lest you think that Jana and I are "all work and no play", here is some of the other stuff we've been doing:

Saturday, Rob, Jana and I explored the park-like campus of the main Milliken headquarters.  (Rob is an engineer for Milliken at the Blacksburg plant)

We fed the fish, and I proceeded to take a crazy amount of photos of the fish eating---only this was the best of the bunch---the rest just show water splashing in succession.  (If you look closely, you can actually see some of the fish in this shot).

I'm thinking that this guys must be ready to go home.

Note to Self::  When you give your camera to your fun-loving son-in-law, these are the kinds of things that are recorded for history.  (Jana and I chasing the geese)

The campus is really beautiful though, and we spent a couple of hours wandering and taking pictures.

These are my favorite pictures of the day:

There might have been some yummy yogurt to cool off after our walk around the park.

Sunday morning, we had breakfast at Papa's Breakfast Nook.     I believe we discovered the Spartanburg equivalent to Strawn's!!  We've had some great food----and I've GOT to stop eating this way!!

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