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Saturday, November 27, 2021

SPA SIGN

 As a Christmas present for my daughter and her fiance', I created a "spa sign".  They had recently purchased a hot tub and wanted a place indoors to hang their towels.  She wanted a sign that would hang above the hooks themselves.  So,  I took the idea and ran with it.  

I did share some of my "design concept" with them to ensure I was on the right track, but after I got that approval, the color scheme and additional artwork were a surprise.  I ran several fonts by them, as well as several "names".  They chose the Martin Resort & Spa.

 There were several steps to accomplish the finished product, so I literally had to write down all the steps to make sure it turned out as I had planned.  

The picture to the right is how it all began.  The printout has the four prototypes on it.  I then started sketching the design on the printout and then listed the steps I needed to take.  

I also had some kraft paper that I cut into the finished size of the board and then started placing bits and pieces of the design, (that I printed from my Silhouette machine) to ensure the size of the wording was the right proportions.  

I failed miserably at taking pictures along the way, but here are the steps I (my husband is the expert sander and spray painter, so he just took my directions and painted as I needed) took:

1. Sand and prep the board
2.  Paint the back and sides of the board tan
3.  Print and cut all of the vinyl lettering from the Silhouette machine 
4.  Paint the board Espresso
5. Transfer the "Martin Resort & Spa" to the board
6.  Place the "soak", "relax" , and "unwind" onto the board leaving room to decoupage the palm leaves
7.  Paint the board tan
8.  Remove the "Martin Resort & Spa" lettering
9.  Tape off the top 2/3 of the board and paint the bottom 1/3 white
10.  Remove the vinyl lettering to reveal the tan (soak, relax, and unwind)
11.  Print the palm tree clip art and cut around most of the palm leaves
12.  Secure the palm tree cut outs to the board with Mod Podge (back side only) 
13.  Add additional colors of green paint to the palm leaves to enhance 
14.  Add a piece of gold washi tape over the dividing line of tan and white paint
15.  Mod Podge the entire board (matte) 

I just gifted it to them over the Thanksgiving holiday, and they loved it!  They had just purchased the hooks and will be able to get it up in the designated area and start using it now versus having to wait until Christmas.  As it turns out, the palm leaf theme is something they've already started incorporating in the hot tub area, so my final design fits in perfectly.  How's that for some telepathy?


Thursday, November 11, 2021

GOLD LEAF

While I've seen a number of really cool projects using gold leaf, I've never actually used it myself.  However, since I'm lending my creative hand to some upcoming family wedding projects, gold foil was now in my line of sight!  Yay!  I love trying/learning new things.

This is a very intimate family wedding coming up early next year, with a beautiful meal to follow, so place cards were definitely on the project list.  

The first part of the project was working in my Silhouette program.  I played around with card sizes, and fonts until I landed on something I thought might work. Then I sent them to my printer.  Obviously, the beauty of the machine is it will do the cutting for me; including the perforation line.  Sweet!

Name cards (or escort cards) are generally about the size of a business card, but I chose to make mine a little bigger.....I just thought they were too pretty to be that little.  

I realize now, that I probably should have taken a few more pictures along the way, but it truly was hard to stop to do that once I got started.  I did a lot of reading on what medium to use to adhere the foil and there were lots of opinions, but bottom line since you just need something that is going to dry clear, I chose what I always have on hand and that's ModPodge.  It worked like a charm!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
I found I needed to work fairly quickly.  First I "painted" a glue line where I wanted the foil to go.  I chose to do one line at a time.  So, paint the bottom line, place the foil down, then set it aside and do the same thing on the next card, and so on.  After I had finished 3-4, I went back to my first card and brushed the excess foil away and then "painted" the top glue line and pressed the foil in place.  

The foil sheets are super thin, which makes them a little tricky to work with.  It took me a good 4-5 of the thirteen I was creating to truly start to get the hang of it.   You can see in the picture below a bit of how I was staging the cards during that process. 

I wanted them to be a little abstract, with no two being exactly alike which actually was really easy to do.  Frankly, I'm not certain I could have made them all the same if I wanted to.....the foil kind of has a mind of its own. 

I really do love how they turned out!  I put them on a black backdrop since the linens will be black with china that is white with a gold rim and gold flatware.  Lots of candles and beautiful flowers.....it's going to be lovely!                                

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

THE OUTER BANKS

 I'm choosing to share my recent Mother/Daughter trip to the Outer Banks, in the event that my experiences and recommendations may be able to help someone who may be considering this for a vacation.

First, as with most of us who had to re-schedule our 2020 vacation plans, this was not the first, and actually not the second choice.....but given the ongoing issues due to the pandemic, the original Europe trip just didn't seem very feasible.    

When I looked at destinations in the U.S., North Carolina was on my list, actually both Carolinas were.  But, once I started to put together an 8 day trip, it was just too much to try to take them both in.  Then, as I continued to do further research on North Carolina, I realized it's huge and has lots to offer all across the state.....so, I decided to focus on just one area.  The OBX weather in October would still be in the 60's/70's and there was history, plenty to see and some outdoor activities too.

                    
I chose to rent a vacation condo in Kill Devil Hills, which is pretty much in the middle.  I felt that would allow for some easy day trips to see all the other cities from the Northern tip to the Southern tip and it did just that.  It was a great location!    We literally saw all the towns from Currituck to Hatteras and everywhere in between.  It was so much fun.  

Something to be prepared for is there is no real easy way to get there.  From Denver I could fly into Raleigh/Durham and drive 3+ hours, or I could fly into Virginia and have a 2+ hour drive.  I chose Raleigh even though it was more time driving through rural North Carolina.    The flight options were more favorable in/out of that airport.               
                                 
                                                                              Some "must do's" in my opinion is a four wheel drive tour in Corolla to see the wild horses.   It was so much fun driving on the beach and we were able to see about 20 of the horses.    Another one, is a kayak trip.....there are lots, so just pick one that sounds interesting.  You've got to take in a sunset or two....they're absolutely free and spectactular.  One of our favorite spots for viewing was Jockey's Ridge.    Manteo has a ton of history.  The lost colony, among other things, so check it out!  The Wright Brothers Museum in Kitty Hawk has to be a stop.  It's very well done and loaded with a great series of displays both inside and outside.      
                                                                                                                                          I always look up regional foods when we travel, so we enjoyed lots of seafood (obviously)....but, also "apple uglies", Duck donuts, and some fun cocktails.     Be prepared for many things to be closed on Sundays and you'll never have a good hair day in the OBX, so I gave up on that about the third day.  

It really was a special trip.  There's a whole other NC trip that's now on my list.  That includes Asheville and the Blue Ridge Parkway and mountain area.  But first.......I am so hoping that our Europe trip can happen in 2022!

Monday, September 6, 2021

PATIO STENCIL

 I've been thinking about this patio project for several years now.  I finally decided to tackle it this year.  I had finished another landscaping project earlier in the summer and it just seemed like the right timing.  After all, if I finished the patio then I could sit outside and admire the view of all that landscaping work I had done!

It's different than I had originally envisioned, but it's growing on me.  The colors were a bit of a disappointment.  Our house is two shades of green, so I was hoping for a sage green and tan.  Neither came out like the "brochure", or the paint smear they put on the top of the can after tinting it.....but, it's not horrendous.

It took many days due to the number of steps, and also the weather.  It was super hot, so every day we tackled a step starting early in the morning.  We also had a couple days when rain was possible, so we skipped over those,which obviously meant delays.   The first step was a good power wash!  The second step, filling the expansion joints.  This wasn't a requirement, but I did like the idea of it since I find myself sweeping and/or hosing leaves, bugs  and other things out of those seams regularly.  
                                                                                                             
      
Next up......the primer coat. This is a recommended step by Behr (which is rated as the top brand for Porch & Patio paint). We used this when we painted our basement floor, so my husband was familiar with how it goes down; watery and milky. Once that step was completed and fully dry per the can instructions, the base coat went down.  
         
That was the tan color....my husband described the dried color as a chocolate milkshake, which is a pretty good description.     Now it was my turn......the stencil queen. I have done about 5-6 stencil projects that I can recall. But, I have never done stenciling on concrete.  I didn't really give it much thought.  I did read some other blogs, but everyone had varying techniques....so I just decided to go for it!

Looking at the picture to the right, you can see differences between the three stencils.  In the first one, I used a firm foam roller.  I've used this tool for many projects.  You can see I have some bleed over, so I thought maybe I didn't "offload" enough paint, or was using too much pressure.  So I used the same roller, adjusting my technique, but still had issues.    In the third one, I decided to switch to a 3/8" roller for rough surfaces.  Voila!  

My other decision, however was the pattern.....I was planning to use this interlocking motif, but once I got these three placed and adjoining, I decided it was going to be way too busy for our little patio. So, I opted to turn the stencil 90 degrees, and randomly place diamond versions all over. Again, the paint color is more of a seafoam green, versus the sage color I had hoped for which in honesty is another reason I didn't want to go overboard.  

The stenciling took me probably six hours over the course of two days. The first day, I literally painted myself into a corner. The second day, I was able to "fill in" where I wanted to add some additional coverage.  It was tempting to do more to fill in the gaps, but I finally talked myself out of it.  

We're slowly getting the furniture back into place after a good cleaning and in some cases a fresh layer of spray paint.  Everything is coming together nicely.  As it turns out, that seafoam green is one of the colors in my chair cushions at the table, so the colors are actually coming together nicely.  

All in all, I'm enjoying the new look.  In case you're wondering we did not put a sealer on it.  We did lots of research.  Behr said it wasn't necessary.  My husband read some reviews from people who had used it and they weren't too pleased with the outcome.  It goes on watery and milky like the primer and if you're not careful it leaves streaks.  Based upon those two things I opted to got without.

Hopefully, we've got several weeks left this season that will allow me to sit outside and enjoy all our hard work.  The morning are definitely cooler, but the temp is still soaring by the afternoon.  Bring on the Fall!!!

Saturday, July 31, 2021

RAVIOLI BAKE

I'm so happy I stumbled across this recipe.  Not only is it Italian goodness in every mouthful, but it is super easy to put together.
Everyone knows how time consuming building a lasagna can be (well worth it), what I would say if you have a taste for lasagna and you don't want to go through all the bother, this is a nice alternative.  You actually build it similarly to a lasagna, but you use frozen ravioli.  You heard me right.  Frozen!

In my picture you see two types, meat and cheese.  Choose whatever you like.  I just liked the idea of both flavors, so I built mine three layers high and started with cheese, put a meat layer in the middle and ended with a cheese layer.  So good!!

INGREDIENTS:

1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1 package (or two if you want to add both) of frozen ravioli
½ lb. shredded mozzarella (I used a pre-packaged mozz/provolone mix)
grated parmesan


DIRECTIONS:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Add a skim layer of sauce to the bottom of the baking dish.  I chose a 6x9 inch baking dish since I was making this for just two of us.  Begin placing the frozen ravioli into the pan.  Top the ravioli with sauce, shredded cheese, and a sprinkling of some grated parmesan.  

Continue layering to build up your dish.  I stopped at three layers for mine and made sure I added some extra mozzarella to the top.   Tent with aluminum foil and bake for approximately 45-55 minutes.  Check at the 40 minute mark and remove foil, so the top gets slightly brown.

Let sit for approximately 10 minutes before dishing it up.

Enjoy!


recipe: c/o www.bettycrocker.com

Monday, July 19, 2021

HAM, SWISS, SPINACH QUICHE

It had been quite some time since I'd made a quiche, so I opted for my ham and swiss option, but also threw in some spinach for good measure.  It turned out super yummy, and really fluffy since I used the remaining half and half that I had in the fridge.  

I opted for a pre-made frozen pie shell and was able to have this bad boy ready to eat in about an hour.

INGREDIENTS:

1 frozen deep dish pie shell
4 eggs
1 cup half and half  (whole milk works well)       
*1 cup cubed cooked ham 
1 ½ cups grated swiss cheese
3/4 cup shredded fresh spinach leaves
pepper
salt
dried minced onions
garlic
dried parsley

* I purchased a small ham steak and cubed it myself.  I've tried to use the pre-cubed, but the ham is always pretty wet and I found it made the crust soggy.  


DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and half and half.  Add the seasonings and whisk until they're fully incorporated.  I didn't measure what I used, but I would say it was probably about 1 tsp. of onions and parsley and 1/2 tsp. of pepper, salt and garlic....add more or less, per your liking. 

Place the empty pie shell on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet.  Place about 1/3 of the shredded spinach into the bottom of the pie shell, layer in about 1/3 of the ham and top with 1/3 of the cheese.  Continue until all the ingredients have been added.  Pour the egg mixture over the top.  

Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes, until lightly browned.  

Removed from the oven and let sit about 15 minutes before attempting to slice.

Enjoy!

Thursday, July 8, 2021

SHEET PAN SHRIMP AND SAUSAGE DINNER

 I've come across a number of sheet pan recipes, and finally decided to try one.  I looked at a number that involved shrimp and chicken sausage and took bits and pieces from several recipes to create my own version. 

This one turned out so well, I'm excited to experiment with other combinations!  And.....you can't beat the fact that there's absolutely no clean up.  

There's a bit of prep at the beginning cutting up the items, and because I was using a number of different items that would take longer to cook than others, realize that the cooking process to this recipe works in stages.  Total cook time is 50-60 minutes. 

INGREDIENTS:

5 small yukon gold potatoes
1 bag fresh cauliflower/broccoli (found in the produce section)
1 pkg. chicken with apple sausage
1 lb. large shrimp

Optional Sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. honey
couple squirts of lemon juice 


DIRECTIONS:

1.  Cut all items (with the exception of the shrimp) into bite size pieces
2.  Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
3.  Using a large plastic bag, place the potatoes in the bag, add some canola oil, kosher salt, dried rosemary and pepper.  Seal and shake to coat the potatoes.  
4.  Spray the section of the sheet pan that the potatoes will be placed on.  Cook for 20 minutes
5.  In the meantime, coat the broccoli and cauliflower with the same flavor combination (or add other ingredients that suit you).  Add to the sheet pan (I did not spray any other portion of the pan during the rest of the baking) and cook for an additional 20 minutes.
6.  Using a separate bag, add the shrimp with a little canola oil and some Old Bay Seasoning and pepper to your liking (I probably put in 2 tsp. of Old Bay and 1 tsp. of pepper).  
7.  Add both the sausage and shrimp to the pan and cook for approximately 10-15 minutes, watching the shrimp to ensure they are adequately cooked. 

I have to say, the cooking times were just to my liking.  The potatoes were crusty on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside.  The veggies had just a little char, and the sausage and shrimp were done, but still moist and tender.

I chose to make a dipping sauce as listed above, which I thought blended well with everything, including the veggies.  My husband chose to drizzle the sauce over his entire plate.  You choose....or go naked....whatever, floats your boat.  

Enjoy!