Thursday, February 23, 2017

Currently I'm . . .

Cooking some very standard comfort dinners for the most part because our Blue Apron delivery comes in tomorrow, and those meals will be much less ordinary.

Creating by testing out some chalk paint on tin cans, cutting out tin from old containers, playing in my art journal - basically, getting my hands messy any way I can.

Eating a healthy-ish breakfast of plain greek yogurt, berries, honey, and homemade granola.

Enjoying the pop of color in the azaleas outside my window (though they are withering some).

Feeling a little stopped up from the result of allergies because the azaleas have decided to bloom.

Hoping to get to the bead store today to finish my shopping for the Bead Peeps Swap N Hop.

Listing these Flower and Rusty Key earrings in the CraftyHope Etsy shop.

Looking forward to seeing my oldest niece march with her high school marching band in the Crewe of Columbus Mardi Gras parade tomorrow night.

Loving the progress on my kitchen.

Needing to put some effort into exercising.

Reading Alice I have Been. I JUST started it so I don't have much to say about it yet.

Sewing nothing at the moment, but I’m ready to get started on some projects like curtains and placemats for the living and dining rooms.

Wanting to check off all the tasks on my bullet journal today (but I know that’s probably wishful thinking).

I guess it’s time to be done so I can get to it. So, what are you up to?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Renovations Part 4 - Floors

The renovations have absolutely consumed me as of late. But, all the work has paid off, and I have another update for you. The floors are FINISHED!!

If you'll recall, this is what we were dealing with a few weeks ago.


No flooring in the dining room, kitchen, or hallway.

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you've likely seen glimpses of the progress.
I have to admit that Pat laid all of the tile himself. He said it was a one-person job and just wouldn't let me help. He opened three boxes of tiles at a time and "shuffled" them to try to keep from having a pattern of the tiles on the floor. We wanted it as random as possible to achieve a wood floor look, despite the tiles being porcelain. He mixed and spread the multi-set, set the tiles, and used 1/8 inch spacers between them. He did buy and start with some leveling spacers, but found them cumbersome and time-consuming. So, after the first day, he stopped using them.

The tiles were laid by thirds to keep them offset and not lined up. Again, this was done to achieve more of the wood-floor look. For the most part, he laid the whole tiles first then worked on the edges and cut areas. It took longer than expected and was fairly back-breaking work as he was on his hands and knees for the most part.

Once all the tiles were laid, multi-set dried, and spacers removed; I did the grout work. Pat helped by mixing the grout and fetching me buckets of fresh water. The grout was spread along the tile lines and pressed into the holes well. I worked in about 3 foot by 3 foot sections. Once the grout was spread, I used a large sponge to wipe away the excess. It took me three days to do the whole area. I finished almost a week ago and there's still grout under my nails and my hands are still sore. But, it was SO WORTH IT!

Once the grout was done, I used an old t-shirt to buff the area. The floor can't be mopped for something like ten days while it cures. But, I've swept it several times!

We went with a dark brown grout in hopes that it would blend with the tiles. So far, I think it looks fabulous.

Also note that we (Pat) removed the base boards to install the tile. This helps hide the seams of the tiles.

Here's a few final looks at the progress.



And for a final glimpse of just how awesome this whole renovation is going. . .

Amazing, right!?

There's still a bit to do: paint & install baseboards, put in transition plates (including on the step in the living room), build an island and corner cabinets in the kitchen, and replace the countertops and backsplash, build a bookcase in the dining room. You know. . .not much more. But, we're so close we're absolutely basking in it. Once the transition plates go down, we can actually take a breather.

I should have another update VERY soon because the baseboards went in yesterday. I just have to take some pictures.

Oh, and if you're interested in seeing the whole progression up to this point, here's Renovations Part 1, Renovations Part 2, and Renovations Part 3.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Easy Lunch: Pizza Quesadilla

I have to admit it, lunches around here can be a bit boring.  I tend to offer the same, sad choices: sandwiches (ham or PB&J), tuna salad with noodles, leftovers, bean burritos, or something picked up from elsewhere. Every once in a while, I'll shake things up a bit with a fried rice or soup with grilled cheese. Seriously, THOSE are our exciting lunch options. So when I suggested pizza quesadillas, it was a perfect veer from the usual. And, it was SO EASY!
Easy Lunch Pizza Quesadillas

I simply started by melting a bit of butter in a small pan on medium heat.

Once the butter was nice and hot, a flour tortilla was place in the pan.

I topped the tortilla with a sprinkling of shredded mozzarella cheese.

Next came the rest of the toppings: pepperoni and onions. If I had had some mushrooms or tomatoes or fresh basil, I would have added those too. You do you though. Throw on some bell peppers or olives or whatever makes your pizza-loving heart happy. But, work fast!

Add another sprinkle of mozzarella.

Top with another flour tortilla.

Once the bottom tortilla starts to brown, flip it over to brown the other side.

Slice the quesadilla and serve with marinara sauce for dipping. 

As you can see, I added some sliced apples to round out the lunch. So easy and so good!! Oh, and quick tip - I use a pizza roller to cut our quesadillas (whether they're pizza-themed or not). It's so much easier than using a knife to do it.

Here are the complete instructions:

Pizza Quesadilla

Ingredients: (for 1 quesadilla)
1 tsp. butter
2 small flour tortillas
1/4 C shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 C marinara sauce
Toppings of your choice: pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, garlic, olives, bell peppers, sausage, bacon, chicken, other cheeses, really the choices are endless.

Directions:
1. Heat butter in a small pan on medium heat until melted.
2. Place one tortilla in the pan, top with half the cheese. 
3. Add pizza toppings then the rest of the cheese.
4. Place other tortilla over the top of the first.
5. When bottom tortilla toasts to your liking, flip the quesadilla.
6. Toast until the other side is browned as well.
7. Move pizza quesadilla to your plate, slice it, and serve with marinara sauce on the side.

Now, I've shared a lunch option that's a little different. Please let me know what you do to shake lunch up. I'm in desperate need of some variety! 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Introduction for Bead Peeps Swap n Hop

I'm participating in the Bead Peeps Swap n Hop this year. While this is the third year of the challenge, It's my first time participating. Basically, you are paired up with another jewelry artist and the two of you swap a focal, beads, and a clasp. One of those elements need to be artist-made, and you have to send at least two of those three elements. From there, you make jewelry from the pieces received! Fun stuff!!
Bead Peeps is a Facebook group administered by Linda Anderson. We were supposed to get an intro post up before she made the partner assignments. However, I was so busy with the ball (Mardi Gras) and family obligations that I completely missed that somehow. Despite missing the deadline, I still want to make this post for future reference. I'm tossing in some examples of my jewelry designs throughout this post to give examples of my work. Here we go!


A scrapbooking keyhole is the focal with a small Gaea flower connector. Vintaj wire was used to wrap glass pearls and glass beads to make the chain.


The arc on these is from some old earrings I took apart. The beads are a combination of glass, stone, and metal beads that worked well together.

I've been making jewelry for over 15 years. In that time, I've experimented and played with many techniques: decoupage, polymer clay, precious metal clay, metal etching, resin, etc. I started with stringing, but really love to use wire in my work. Though, stringing and knotting do come into play occasionally.
The color palette for this was a little out of my comfort zone, but I do love it. It incorporates a vintage button and vintage glass beads, freshwater pearls, stone beads, and seed beads into a really cute bracelet.

This was made for ZnetShows' Creative Spark publication and includes their cultured sea glass and tiny Chinese crystals. I really like the layering of this necklace.

Beads are indeed a staple in my work, but my favorite is designing with the unusual. This includes recycling old jewelry from thrift and antique stores, using hardware, upcycling items found on the street, etc. However, I'm not completely consistent with those methods. It just depends on the materials. In addition, I enjoy altering materials (both typical and the unusual) to suit my needs.
The dangly parts of this necklace are almost all found objects! A scrapbook brad and a wired resin piece I made are also included. I wear this necklace often.

Playing with wire, I came up with these earrings. I love how the Czech glass beads slide side to side on their bar.

For years I've had a hard time defining my style. I now feel as though my focus is beginning to narrow. Most of the pieces I make and like tend to have a romantic and boho feel to them. However, a bit of tribal does get thrown in from time to time.
These feel both romantic and tribal to me. The softness of the Lucite flower and pink beads are contrasted with the dark wood and shiny metal.

All of the charms in this bracelet came from old jewelry. Most of them are post earrings I wasn't sure how else to use. I incorporated a variety of jump rings in order to give it a slightly less fancy feel.

I often use glass and stone beads and antiqued metals. Though, that's not consistently the case - I will use a shiny gold or silver tone depending on how I'm inspired. And, I don't always use beads - buttons are a real favorite of mine and seem to worm their way into my pieces.
I made the stacked button focal before the necklace came together. The collar style of necklace is just so cute. I think it pairs well with the buttons.

I found the Webb Co. tag in an antique store and knew it would be a great addition to a long necklace. To add to the found object feel, the mother of pearl buttons were included in the chain.

I veer toward anything rustic, old, vintage-y. I love most colors, but do have a hard time incorporating anything too bright into my jewelry. Blues, greens, and neutrals tend to be my go-tos.
That's a guitar volume knob as the focal to this necklace. I kept a simple palette with an array of beads to accent the knob. 

I bought the altered copper charms from Bandana Girl and simply added some coordinating beads.

I'd like to say that I'm inspired by nature, but in reality I think it's the materials themselves that spark my imagination and creativity.
I had these holey bone beads for ages before I felt inspired to cage them in with some darkened annealed wire.

This is one of the most recent listing in my etsy shop. Again, I used a scrapbooking keyhole in antiqued brass. The green beads and bead caps are from ZnetShows.com. It all seemed to just fall together perfectly.

That about sums me up. There's probably something I've left out of this. Please don't hesitate to ask in the comments.

Oh, and let me introduce my partner - Kari Asbury. She's using her Instagram to post about this swap, but she also has a blog on her KariAsbury.com website that she uses from time to time as well. Go check out her stuff. It looks like we have similar styles!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Renovations Part 3

Click to see Renovations Part 1 and Renovations Part 2.

It seems as though the renovations will never end at our house. While living in chaos is indeed driving me a little crazy, each project has me more and more excited about how far we've come in this process.

Before I begin to share all the photos (and there are plenty), I ask that you refrain from judging the mess too harshly. As I said, we're living in chaos with furniture and supplies pushed out everywhere. It's killing me. Moving on. . .

Our latest project was painting. And, we painted EVERYTHING! Since we'll be getting new floors, it seemed logical to paint before we put down the flooring. We started at the top - ceilings. This had to be done because the kitchen ceiling (I asked you to make note of it in the last renovation post) was a shade I can only describe as peachy brown. Eek!

Because there were patches in the dining room and the hallway's ceiling was painted in the same beige shade as the walls, Pat painted all three.

It definitely helped!

Next up was the trim - ceiling molding, accents, and doorways.
I quickly learned that gravity is no friend of painting upside down. While this was a tedious task, I'm glad to have it done in those areas at least.

From there, it was time to focus on the walls. While the white in the dining room was fine, we really wanted it to blend with the living room a little more to make a more cohesive space.

The beige in the hallway was just a little too dark.

And, of course. . .there was the kitchen.
So much brown!!

The dining room received the same light gray that we did in the living room.

The hallway was painted a refreshing white.

The same white was used in the kitchen.
Already starting to look better!

From there, we had to tackle those dark brown cabinets. I started by removing all the doors.

As the doors were removed, I used painter's tape and a marker to label each door so we would know which one belonged where. I also separated the upper and lower doors into different piles.
The hinges, knobs, and catches were removed from each door. I placed those pieces in separate baggies that were labeled with corresponding numbers to the labels on the doors. From there, I cleaned each door.

Then, the painting began.

It took FOUR COATS of paint with primer to cover that brown.
And, I had to do each side!

The hardware for the doors was a combination of copper knobs and brass hinges. I knew the mis-match would drive me crazy. 

While these were removed, I took the opportunity to spray paint them a consistent color. I went with a matte black. (They're shiny in the picture because I had just sprayed them.)
We'll eventually get or make something we like even more. This was an inexpensive fix for now. 

We painted the bottom cabinets a separate color that seemed to take forever to dry. Stupid humidity! I failed to get a picture of these as we were anxious to get them done.

Once all the painting was done, we replaced the hinges and catches on the doors, rehung the doors, and screwed on the knobs. 

It's like a breath of fresh air!




And for one final comparison. . .
HUGE difference!

Obviously, the next step is flooring. We've also removed the floor molding in order to install the floors. Those will be painted before we re-install them. That makes it a ton easier in the long run. I can't wait to get through this next step. There will still be a ton more to do, but once the floors get down, I can at least organize some and feel less like we're living in shambles. 

What do you think? Better right?

I'm linking this post up at Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life