Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Martha Stewart Decoupage

Thank you Martha Stewart Decoupage for sponsoring this post. You can find these Martha Stewart Craft supplies at a Michaels near you!  

I received this awesome box of Martha Stewart Decoupage supplies for a project of my choice.  I was probably the most excited about the two colors of wood stain.  I knew exactly what I'd make:  a wooden growth chart.  I've had a wooden growth chart in mind for my son's room, but I wanted to try out the pink wood stain first.
Supplies:  Martha Stewart Wood Stain, Martha Stewart Decoupage & Brushes, Martha Stewart Decoupage Paper Cut-Outs, 6' 1x6 piece of wood, soft cloth.
Whoa, the pink was a little brighter than expected.  This shade would not go with my daughter's room decor.
No worries...this piece of wood has two sides, so I applied the dark wood stain on the back of the wood and over the pink.  Hmmmm, not bad...
After patiently punching out all of the decoupage cut-outs, I cut the larger doilies in half and spaced the smaller doilies every 1 foot.
I really, really, really love the decoupage product.  I used the matte finish and it applied like satin.  The brush is also really amazing- soft bristles and spreads the product nice and evenly.  Apply a coat of decoupage to the front and back of the cut-out and smooth over the surface making sure to remove any air bubbles in the cut-out.
 I was impressed with the speed and ease of applying the cut-out doilies.
The large half circle doilies were placed on the opposite side of the board every foot starting at 6" (so the center of the doilie marked 6", 1'5", 2'5", 3'5", 4'5", 5'5").
The foam applicator I used for the dark wood stain was dry brushed over the top of the doilies for a slight antiquing.
Next, I hand painted numbers 1-5; marking off the 1' increments and then sanding them down and applying more dark wood stain for an aged look.  The entire board received another coat of matte decoupage.  Start-to-finish, this project took me 2 hours to complete.
I LOVE this new growth chart.  It doesn't go with my daughter's bedroom or my son's bedroom...but it does go with my bedroom.
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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of The Blueprint Social Media and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.  For more project ideas using Martha Stewart Decoupage, click the thumbnails below!

Monday, August 19, 2013

23andMe DNA testing kit

What if knowing was as easy as sending away for a $99 at home DNA test?  No doctor's appointments, no waiting rooms and you even have a choice to unlock certain results or keep them a mystery.
My twin sister was diagnosed with Celiac Disease 7 years ago.  After genetic testing at the doctor's office, she recommended that all immediate family members be tested as well.  I think the $500-$600 price tag and the fact that I certainly did not want a test telling me whether or not I had to avoid gluten for the rest of my life kept it on the back burner for...well, the past 7 years.
When I heard about 23andme's home DNA testing kit, I immediately singed up.  $99 for over 240 testing results (including Celiac Disease) was a no-brainer!  The test also includes ancestry results.
The kit arrived in the mail with easy instructions.  I registered the kit online and then spit in the tube to the fill line, closed the lid, and boxed it in the same packaging with the postage paid label.  It couldn't have been easier.

While waiting several weeks for the testing results, you can go back to your profile and provide more background information with easy survey questions.  23andme kept me well-informed on the status of the shipping, receiving and analysis of the test from start to finish.

There is even a 23andme app you can download to access your results.  I've probably overshared my testing results with family and close friends- highly recommending that they, too, find out their genetic risks, carrier status, traits & drug responses.  I firmly believe that we can make changes in lifestyle and eating habits armed with knowledge of our genetic risk factors to lessen our risk.

Certainly with some diseases such as Celiac, you either have it or don't.  Now I know.  I didn't even think of learning about some of the more serious diseases that showed up in the results.  Now I know those, too.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Monday, July 29, 2013

My Kia, My Summer

When I moved to the mountains 8 years ago, my luxury sedan with 215,000 miles wasn't going to get us up and around mountain passes to the surround hiking and mountain biking trails.  With two small children and a small budget, I bought my first ever new car; (click to continue reading) a Kia Sorento.  I drove it home from the dealership in a terrible snow storm.  I was impressed with the power going up the passes.  Other cars were slowing as my Sorento powered up to the high elevations.
My Sorento easily hauled our bikes to trail heads.
 My bike rack is very pink to match my very pink mountain bike!
Getting to mud runs...
And trail runs...
Even a 100+ mile relay trail run through the Colorado Rockies.  We rented a Kia mini-van for the event.  The gummy bears were our mascot.
They melted long before our 24hr+ relay team melted.
Our passenger/team mates' pillow being tied to the top.
No paint was harmed in the decorating of the SAG vehicle.
Our driver was rather obnoxious.
 Good thing, because we were stuck in the van with him all day until running our three 3-10 mile segments of the relay.  Fun memories made in that Kia van that day!
Tunnel of Love marked the end of my relay.
I hopped back in my Kia, loaded my road bike and headed to Boulder for a 62 mile charity bike ride. Wish I had the same amount of power as the Kia.
Around here, you hear a lot of people say they came to Colorado for the winters and stayed for the summers.  That's sort of how my Kia ended up for me: bought it for the winter and it got me to and from all of the summer activities I love.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Friday, July 26, 2013


When I lived in big cities, I used to enjoy going to a big box book store and pursuing book titles and thumbing through magazines.  Sometimes I'd even leave with a book I knew I needed in my collection.  I'd kill time with no kid responsibilities- like getting dinner on the table or running around to the next activity.

While reading and thumbing through magazines was a relaxing escape back then, those are the things that went by the wayside with the daily to-do list.  When I got my iPad a couple of years ago, I began downloading books and started reading again.  At times, I prefer turning the pages of an actual book, but the convenience of grabbing the lit up iPad at bedtime and not needing to turn on a lamp has me downloading more books.

I can't remember the last magazine subscription I've owned.  I've come to rely on shared posts on FB for interesting articles from a variety of sources.  Now there's Next-Issue; a magazine subscription app offering more than 90 magazine titles for an unlimited viewing plan of only $9.99/mo.  The premium plan is just $14.99 for titles such as The New Yorker.  You can even try it out for a FREE 30 day trial period.

Here's what I like about Next-Issue:

You can download a full magazine for viewing when you are away from a wi-fi connection.  I downloaded several issues of Yoga Journal, Eating Well, Fitness & Architectural Digest.

I especially like having the cooking magazines at my finger scrolling tips.  I can easily go back and reference a recipe.  Here is a screen shot of the Architectural Digest Issues & how the pages load

Another favorite about Next Issue is that they offer plenty of back issues & automatic downloads for the newest issues.

Ready to try it for 30 days?  Start your FREE TRIAL!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Buying a home - Start New Buy Fresh

I wasn't expecting to buy my own home for several more years down the road.  As a single mother, I figured I'd be a renter well into my 40s.  I was fine with renting.  I didn't have to worry about any repairs or lawncare.  I also didn't have a lawn in the condo I had been renting for 4 years.  I longed for something other than low end cabinetry and white appliances.  Although we were living in a newer condo, you can only do so much to spruce up a rental property.  My aunt is a realtor and suggested that I talk to a mortgage broker to see if I could pre-qualify for a loan.  I did, and I did.  I thought it was a bit absurd that anyone would loan me that amount of money for anything.  This was after the real estate crash and tight gripped loans.
I've now been in my home for 4 years.  I have beautiful custom cabinetry, granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances.  Sure, those things can be a bit superficial, but I love cooking in my large and open kitchen vs. the tiny condo corner kitchen.  I have enough counter space to set groceries on the counter and wash and prep with the kids doing homework at the counter.
new house
Before, I was tightly confined to a 2' space and we could barely fit all three people in the kitchen.  Now, my master bath is larger than my former kitchen.  The leather loveseat from the condo living room fits comfortably in my bedroom.  There is ample space to spread dozens of baking goods from oven to cooling racks to decorating space.
condo living
Probably the best feature of my house is the location/views.  This is what I see from my bed (yes, often a kid, but beyond the kid is snowcovered peaks, winding creek, protected wetlands, natural pond, soccer fields, and a park.  The kids' school is a few blocks away and a movie theater and restaurants are just down the street.
As a renter, I wouldn't have been able to turn the bedroom closet into an office:
Or handpaint the shower curtain design on the kids' bathroom wall:
I'm getting ready to hang wall-covering in my son's room and paint the front door a new color.  Aside from being able to personalize my home to suit our likes and personalities, it was important to me to buy new construction so I wouldn't have to worry about repairs or replacing appliances or roofs.

How about you?  Are you a home owner?  Still renting because you're not sure if you can qualify for a loan? You won't know until you apply.  For a great resource on buying a new home, check out BHI's Start Fresh Buy New website.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hand Painted Stool with FolkArt ® Handmade Charlotte™ Stencils

Handmade Charlotte stencils & Folk Art have come together to offer these darling Handmade Charlotte stencils.  There are several selections- from all-over patterned stencils to Celestial themed & even Party themed stencils.  I received the Party stencil pack along with jar of Plaid Chalkboard paint and every-color-of-the-rainbow Folk Art Acrylic Paints.
I was asked to paint a piece of furniture for this project, so I had already selected a plain wooden stool that I acquired when a neighbor moved and left it in their garage.    It has served as a base to elevate my humidifier in my bedroom.
This is the stencil pack:
At first I wasn't sure how I'd paint a furniture piece with a party theme, but soon enough, the ideas started rolling and I was super excited.  To start:   1.  Sand the entire stool.  2.  vacuum the stool to clear the dust.  3.  wipe the stool with a wet rag to remove any lingering dust.  4.  apply base coat of white semi-gloss paint.
The stool dried for approximately an hour before applying a second coat of white to the legs:
Then I applied two coats of teal paint to just the top of the stool:
Allow to dry an hour or so.
I wanted to create a chalkboard bunting across the top of the stool seat.  First, I placed the punched-out stencil pieces on the top for a visual and to figure out the spacing.  You might want to lightly trace the stencil so you can see where to line it up on the surface because the stencil is made of cardstock and is not see-through- making the lining up a little bit of a challenge.  Using the sponge brushes provided by Plaid, I worked from the outside and allowed enough time to dry between flags so I wouldn't smear the paint.  I ended up cutting the stencil apart and only used each flag once.  If you use the same one over and over, you have to be careful to let the paint dry completely on the stencil or you will smear the paint when you place the stencil back down.  I have not worked with chalkboard paint so I'm not sure of the consistency, but it seemed rather thin and as I dabbed with the brush, the paint bubbled.  It wasn't a big deal for me in this project because I have no intention of using chalk on the stool- it was more of a background color.
I had several projects going on this particular day, so I didn't mind walking away and allowing proper dry time between coats and stencils.  At first, I wanted to paint cupcakes in the center of the bunting, but the cupcake stencil was just a shy too big.  The ice cream cone stencil lined up perfectly.  I started with the tan cones and then added the ice cream colors.  Rather than leaving space between the cone and the ice cream (like the stencil, as shown), I placed the ice cream right on top of the cone and then did some shading so the cones wouldn't be just a flat stencil.
I was reminded how much I love to paint with this project.  My son even said, "I knew you could paint, but I had no idea you could do it that well, Mom!"  It has been a while.
After painting cherries on top and allowing to dry overnight,  I lightly sanded the top the following morning for a subtle distressed look.
I can't believe I had that plain ugly stool for so long before thinking to paint it.
No way is this stool going back under the humidifier!  My daughter and I used it for a cute photo shoot last weekend and now it is in her bedroom.  I still have several stencils left to use for other projects.  I'd rather have the stencils made out of plastic to wipe down after use, but the price point makes the cardstock work just fine.  
Thank you so much Plaid & Handmade Charlotte Stencils for the product and inspiration to bring this stool to life!   Follow Plaid on Facebook Plaid on Twitter Follow Plaid on Pinterest.