Archive for the ‘Crafts & Celebrations’ Category

DIY Grilling Seasoning Mixes #grillmaster

Friday, May 30th, 2014

DIY Grilling Seasoning Mixes #grillmaster Father’s Day is just around the corner and when Kenmore asked me what I could create for a fun Father’s Day gift, I immediately knew that making some delicious grill seasoning mixes would be the perfect gift for this Father’s Day.  Today I wanted to share with you two easy DIY grilling seasoning mixes you can make and package up for your favorite dads!  DIY Grilling Seasoning Mixes #grillmaster DIY Grilling Seasoning Mixes #grillmaster We have created these beautiful printable grill seasoning jar labels for your Dad and you can snag all the recipes and details on how to create this fast gift on the Kenmore Blog today! I hope you love this fun food craft as much as I love sharing it with you!

Grab your FREE printable BBQ labels on our blog (just click that link to open). Head to the Kenmore Blog to grab our recipes for these delicious seasoning mixes!

 

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Brown Bag It! The Gift of a Meal (With a Free Printable!)

Monday, May 19th, 2014

free printable tag for meal gifting

“No act of kindness no matter how small is ever wasted.” ~Aesop

Sometimes the greatest gifts are the littlest of things. And random acts of kindness are beautiful and heart warming, not only as a recipient, but more so, when you give.

This post is inspired by a really great friend of mine whom I met at our kid’s kindergarten drop-off. I can definitely say that without her in my life these past 2 years, it would have been lacking tremendously. She is the kindest of souls.

Out of the blue, on a random day of the week, she made an extra meal for our family because she had enough ingredients. She popped by with dish and a little note that said “Bake at 350 for an hour. Enjoy!” I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Being a mom of 3, some days, I don’t even want to think about the next meal or dig through my pantry to see what I could possibly make! Of course, she didn’t think it was a big deal at all… but honestly, it made my week.

I returned the act of kindess last week when I popped by with a roast chicken meal from our grocery store. It wasn’t homemade, but it was a warm cooked meal that I know they certainly enjoyed. Even next day’s leftovers!

This back and forth got me thinking that I want to do this more often to unsuspecting mom friends who deserve a little mid-week break or pick me up. Hopefully this post will inspire you to do the same.

I’ve designed this fresh modern printable with a cute little poem to attach to your yums. Simply print a stack of them and have them handy when your eager kindness strikes. You can customize the printable with meal details, whether it’s homemade or store bought… and don’t dare forget dessert!

Download the Brown Bag It Meal Gifting tag here.

 

free printable bag tag for meal gifting

free printable tag for meal gifting
brownbagit-4

Download the Brown Bag It Meal Gifting tag here.

Oh, and we’d love to hear how you used these and the response you got!

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How to Make DIY Mojito Bath Salts

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014
How to Make Mojito Bath Salts

How to Make Mojito Bath Salts

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and I am so excited to share with you an easy DIY gift that any mother would love to receive. Today we are going to mix up an easy batch of Mojito Bath Salts that you can create with just a few items from your local grocer and craft store.

These Mojito bath salts incorporate everything we love in a delicious mojito drink, with lots of fresh lime and mint. To really increase the mint component in these, we are adding a little mint essential oil to the mix.

Head on over to the Kenmore Blog to grab your shopping list and instructions to make our DIY Mojito Bath Salts! And if you really want to WOW Mom (or at least if she is a mom like me), you can pair it with our recipe for The Perfect Mojito and a watercolor painting made with the Waterlogue app! That is a Happy Mother’s Day, indeed!

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How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece from MomAdvice.com

You may think, “Who am I reading? I thought she couldn’t take care of anything (even herself?)!  Well, surprise, SURPRISE, I am showing you an easy DIY succulent centerpiece today and wanted to share with you a few tips on caring for succulents. I think I got my confidence back this year after creating that terrarium for you all and now I think I am some kind of green-thumb-ish-person and I want to take you along on my journey. In all honesty, I worked many a summer in a greenhouse, but I had lost my love of plants when I started changing diapers, cleaning a house, and feeding a family. Maybe you felt the same way?   Today’s project was sponsored by Walmart and they asked me to showcase a fun creation you can make for your own backyard from their gardening department and I thought I would highlight a plant I am kind of crazy about right now…the succulent.

Painted Succulent Pictures

Have you seen a painted succulent before?  True green thumbs may cringe at the painted plants, but (as I illustrated above) I am a newbie to the houseplant world and I love anything that is painted. These succulents have been painted which I think can add a pop of color to your home or as an outdoor centerpiece for your outdoor table, as I am showing off today.

How to Care For Your Succulents

Succulents don’t need a lot to survive, but they do have some small requirements- a lot of light, thoughtful watering, and a little plant food every couple of weeks.

A  succulent is any plant with thick, fleshy (succulent) water storage organs. Succulents store water in their leaves, their stems or their roots. These plants have adapted to survive arid conditions throughout the world, from Africa to the deserts of North America.These plants can take many different leaf forms and plant shapes, including paddle leaves, tight rosettes, and bushy or trailing columns of teardrop leaves.

Light- 

The one requirement I worry about in my home is the lighting conditions because my house doesn’t get a ton of light in it. If you have a home with bright sunny windows, succulents are a perfect houseplant option.

Succulents prefer bright light, such as found on a south-facing window. Succulents will let you know if you are not putting them in an ideal location. Some species will scorch if suddenly exposed to direct sunlight. Their leaves will turn brown or white as the plant bleaches out and the soft tissues are destroyed. If the plant is not getting enough light, succulents will begin to stretch, with an elongated stem and widely spaced leaves. Many varieties of succulents will thrive outdoors in the summer and, depending upon your weather, this might be a better option.

Water-

Most people think that they don’t need to water their succulents very often, but in the Spring & Summer months, succulents actually need more water than they do in the Winter & Fall. Make sure to water your succulents often in the summer.  Allow the potting mix to dry between waterings, but do not underwater. During the winter, when the plants go dormant, cut watering back to once every other month. Really, the watering is probably the most tricky part about succulents!

Fertilize-

Make sure that you purchase some houseplant fertilizer while you are at the store. In the Spring & Summer months, fertilize your plant every two weeks.  Just make sure you stop fertilizing in the winter months.

How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece from MomAdvice.com

Now that we know all about succulents, let’s make a cute centerpiece for our outdoor table!

Supplies Needed

3-4 Succulents (painted or not)- these are priced at $6.88 each

Gold Spray Paint

White Spray Paint

Inexpensive Pizza Pan (this was just $.92)

Painters Tape

How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece from MomAdvice.com

Directions

1. Remove plant in plastic pot from the clay pot. Remove stickers. Hold your can 8 inches away from your surface and spray in a sweeping motion side to side with a slight overlap. It has always been my experience to go thin with the paint, allow it to dry, and then to add another layer for the best results and minimal drip. Allow the paint to dry for one hour.

2. Using your painters tape, tape off anywhere you would like to have some gold peeking through. You can do a paint dipped pot and do the bottoms, trim the top in gold, or create your own unique paint effect with geometric taping. Spray paint those parts gold and allow your pots to dry.

3. Finally, spray paint your pizza pan gold.

4. Once it is dry, pull everything together and display it on your outdoor table for a unique centerpiece.

How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece from MomAdvice.com

How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece from MomAdvice.com

How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece from MomAdvice.com

How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece from MomAdvice.com

Have any tips for succulent care or selection? Feel free to leave them here- I’d love to hear about your experience with these plants!

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How To Print Waterlogue Pictures

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

How To Print Waterlogue Pictures from MomAdvice.com.

I am so excited to share with you today’s tutorial on how to print Waterlogue images for easy and beautiful gifts for someone special in your life. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, the Waterlogue app is a great way to make beautiful watercolor prints for a favorite mama in your life.

Walmart challenged me to showcase a budget-friendly gift to give for Mother’s Day and I just knew that I had to show you how to do this so you can make beautiful images for a special lady in your life or as a gift to yourself. To get started, you will need to download the Waterlogue App ($1.99). The app is compatible with the iPhone, iPad, or iTouch. Once you have downloaded it, we can begin creating our art.

How To Print Waterlogue Pictures from MomAdvice.com.

How To Print Waterlogue Pictures from MomAdvice.com.

I took my kids in the backyard and had them pose for me. I wanted to get one of the back of them or a side angle. Although sometimes the app looks amazing with faces directly to the camera, I find that it can be a little tricky picking the right filter and I wanted to insure we had good success. I suggest trying a couple of different angles so you can play with the filters until you find the perfect one.

This is the picture that I took with my DSLR, but I did not make any edits to the image. I just wanted to make sure that it was nice and crisp for the app, but you can definitely just shoot with your iPhone too!

How To Print Waterlogue Pictures from MomAdvice.com.

To begin, tap on the camera to take a picture or import from your library. Since I took my photo with my DSLR, I emailed the photo to myself and then saved it to my phone to use for this. Next, you will want to select a filter. Each of the filters offers a different feel to your photos so have fun playing around with all the different options- there are twelve in all!

How To Print Waterlogue Pictures from MomAdvice.com.

As you scroll through the film strip at the bottom, you will have a couple of other options for making your picture. One is how dark or how light the brushstrokes are in your photo. Try out the different options before finalizing your picture.

How To Print Waterlogue Pictures from MomAdvice.com.

As you continue to scroll through the film strip, you will also see the option to select the size of the brushstrokes.  This is not the file size, this is just the size of the brushstrokes which can be a little confusing.

The final selection you can make on the film strip is if you would like a border or not on your image. I decided to leave the border off.

Click the HEART (above the filmstrip) to head to SETTINGS (you will need to scroll all the way to the other end of the options on the bottom row.  Click SETTINGS and then change your file size to LARGE.  From this menu you can SAVE TO PHOTOS or just click MAIL to email the file to yourself. 

How To Print Waterlogue Pictures from MomAdvice.com.

Once you have emailed the file to yourself you can open and print it just like a regular picture since it is in JPEG format.  Click the size of picture you want to print and simply print it on heavy-duty cardstock. You can find this over by the printer paper in the office supplies section of the store.

How To Print Waterlogue Pictures from MomAdvice.com.

Now that you have your picture,  you can place it in an inexpensive frame. I found these Better Homes & Gardens frames for a little less than $10 in the housewares. You will need to trim your image a bit, and you can use your removable mat to help figure out how to center and trim it. Place the picture inside and tie it with a little grosgrain ribbon for mom with an inexpensive bouquet of flowers.

How To Print Waterlogue Pictures from MomAdvice.com.

I hope you guys have the best time creating your own artwork and I hope this idea inspires you for an easy gift for someone special in your life!

For more great Mother’s Day gift ideas, check out these easy DIY Mother’s Day Gift Ideas!

Have you used the Waterlogue App before? What are you doing with this fun app?

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Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans from MomAdvice.com.

For years I have been wanting to make beans in the slow cooker, but was intimidated with the process. Beans in the slow cooker though are surprisingly easy and frugal to create in large batches for your family. Today I wanted to show you a foolproof and delicious recipe for Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans for all of your Cinco de Mayo fun, or as a frugal side dish for your next taco night. Today’s cooking tutorial is going to take you through the in’s and out’s of how to cook beans, how to freeze them, and then in the comments below you can share your views on bean preparation. Everyone has a theory, a trick, and a recipe. Let’s share what we know works best for us!

Bean Cooking 101

How to Cook Dried Beans

Why Should You Trouble Yourself With Dried Beans?

There is true convenience in grabbing a quick can of beans for your dishes out of your pantry. Although it is still a frugal staple, dried beans are oh-so-much cheaper and they have much more flavor than the canned variety. Dried beans typically cost two to three times less than canned beans and they have the added benefit of less sodium, more flavor, and can save you a lot of room in a small pantry. Did I mention that they can be made while you are sleeping in your slow cooker? Now that’s a beautiful thing.

When I posted that I was working on this on Instagram, many people commented on their techniques as well as their failures in cooking beans. I guess I am not the only one a little intimidated by the process. Now that I have made them though, I will be making this a regular habit because it saves me a lot of money and is a very filling protein for someone who is on a gluten-free diet and always hungry.

A Little Sorting Never Hurt Nobody

Once you purchase your beans, make sure you sort them out. Arrange dried beans on a sheet pan or clean kitchen towel and sort through them to pick out any shriveled or broken beans, stones or debris. This is not an all-day affair, just a quickly peek and move on to the next steps.

Rinse It, Rinse It Good

Always make sure you rinse your beans really well before beginning. Make sure you also rinse them well after our salt brine (below).

Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans from MomAdvice.com.

To Soak or Not to Soak

Sounds like a great Shakespeare line, doesn’t it? I know that many people skip the soaking process and opt to just throw them right into the slow cooker after a rinse.  I always consult the experts when it comes to cooking and according to Cook’s Illustrated, quick soaking can be effective, but their proven method of soaking beans in a brine, yields a bean that a girl can really be proud of.  Just as a brine on a bird can yield tasty results, beans can benefit from salt too. The salt soak prevents magnesium and calcium from binding to — and, subsequently hardening — the cell walls on your beans. When people  complain that they can never get the beans to soften, you can be assured that a brine can help with that, while maintaining the shape of your beans.

Cook’s Illustrated recommends, for 1 pound of dried beans (about 2 cups) dissolve 3 tablespoons of salt in 4 quarts of water. Add the rinsed beans and let them soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. (If you’re short on time, quick-soak the beans: Place the beans in a large heatproof bowl. Bring 2 quarts of water and 3 tablespoons of salt to a boil. Pour the water over the beans and let them soak for 1 hour before draining and rinsing.)

As far as salting goes for your beans for seasoning though, it is advised to wait until the end and salt once they are cooked and season to taste. You also want to be sure that you are rinsing that brine off before you get started with your recipe.

Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans from MomAdvice.com.  Cook Them Low & Slow

Since beans need to be cooked low and slow, the slow cooker is ideal for cooking your beans. Once you have rinsed these after the salt brine, add them to your slow cooker along with liquid and seasonings of choice and turn your slow cooker on Low and head to bed.  Skip the addition of anything acidic though because the acid can prevent those beans from breaking down and it’s all about getting these beans to break down.

I cooked mine in my Ninja Cooker and set it for six hours and it set’s itself to warm after that.  The beans should take roughly six to eight hours to cook and slow cookers can be the ideal tool for cooking them. According to The Kitchn, it’s adviseable to pick a slow cooker that fits best with the amount of beans you are cooking. They advise that for small batches of beans, a pound or less, to rely on a 3 1/2-quart or smaller slow cooker. If cooking 2 pounds or more, you can use your 7-quart slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans from MomAdvice.com. Freeze Those Beans

Once the beans are done, divide them up into two cup portions in freezer bags and put them in the freezer.  You can now enjoy the savings all month long and enjoy these beans as a side or accompaniment to any of your favorite Mexican dishes.

I hope this tutorial helps and I can’t wait to read your own tips for cooking beans in the comments below! These would be delicious paired with my favorite 10-minute fish tacos, our chicken enchiladas (made with homemade enchilada sauce), my roasted corn salsa, and a tall margarita or mojito…just in case you are looking for a few great dishes for Cinco de Mayo!

Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans from MomAdvice.com.

SAFETY NOTE: If you are cooking kidney beans, boil them for 10 minutes before cooking. This neutralizes a toxin called phytohemagglutinin that can cause acute digestive distress.

Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Be sure to read our Bean Cooking Tutorial before you begin! These beans make the perfect side dish for any meal!
Ingredients
  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, or 2 cups fresh chopped tomatoes (ADD AT THE END)
Instructions
  1. Follow the instructions for sorting, rinsing, brining, and then rinsing again as I have outlined above.
  2. Put the drained beans into your slow cooker, then add the chopped garlic, broth, cumin, and chili powder. Stir well to combine.
  3. Set on LOW for six to eight hours in your slow cooker (see above for recommended slow cooker sizes based on pounds).
  4. Once they are done, stir in diced tomatoes and season.
This post contains affiliate links.

What’s your favorite way to cook beans? Any tips, tricks, or techniques that work well for you?

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3 Rainbow Science Experiments for the Legends of Oz: Dorothy Returns Movie

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

*This post is sponsored by Clarius Entertainment. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

In honor of the upcoming animated film release, Legends of Oz: Dorothy Returns, I am sharing three fun rainbow experiments you can try with your kids. These rainbow experiments are not only fun, but also educational. Before we begin these rainbow crafts though, I have to share with you that I have two major obsessions that you might not know about.

The first is anything to do with Oz and the characters. If you don’t believe me, here is the only year I asked my kids to do my dream costumes… and the only year I ever got away with it.

Wizard of Oz Halloween Costumes

This was my dream Halloween year as a mom and my mother-in-law even helped make the costume for me. Basically, all perfect Halloween dreams come true.

I miss those days.

The other thing you should know is that I am an enormous fan of Lea Michele and anything and all things related to Glee. I run to a Glee playlist, I pretty much cry about every emotional thing on that show, I sleep in a Glee shirt (yes, I do!), and Lea is my favorite actress in it. When I heard that not only was a Legends of Oz movie coming out, but that Lea Michele was doing the voice of Dorothy for it, I was beside myself with excitement.

I will be first in line to buy my tickets. And I will probably pre-order my tickets at my theater. That’s how excited I truly am!

Legends of Oz: Dorothy Returns

In the animated film, Legends of Oz: Dorothy Returns, Dorothy is called back for another adventure in Oz.  After waking to post-tornado Kansas, Dorothy (Lea Michele) and Toto are whisked to Oz on a magical rainbow mover sent by their old friends the Scarecrow (Dan Aykroyd), the Lion (Jim Belushi) and the Tin Man (Kelsey Grammer). Time in Oz has passed much faster than back in Kansas, and Dorothy discovers that the Jester (Martin Short) – the devious brother of the Wicked Witch of the West – is taking Oz over one region at a time, holding their leaders captive and casting a pall of darkness over the beloved land. Even Glinda (Bernadette Peters) is unable to combat the Jester’s evil powers, making Dorothy their only hope.

When she arrives in Oz, Dorothy’s plan is to travel to the Emerald City to reunite with her old friends and join forces with them to stop the Jester. However, the yellow brick road isn’t quite as easy to follow this time around, especially with the Jester planting tricky detours to lead her astray, so she enlists the help of Wiser the owl (Oliver Platt), Marshal Mallow (Hugh Dancy), China Princess (Megan Hilty) and Tugg the tugboat (Patrick Stewart) to help find her way.

Since Dorothy is sent to Oz on a magical rainbow mover, we decided to try three rainbow experiments that you can do together in honor of the film!

 

Make a Liquid Rainbow

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

Supplies Needed

Olive Oil

Rubbing Alcohol

Dawn Blue Dish Detergent

Corn Syrup

Food Coloring (red & green)

Large Jar

 

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

Experiment

Let’s make a liquid rainbow in a jar.

1. To make our blue slowly pour 1 cup of blue dish soap down the side of your jar.  You want to make sure to do this slowly too so you don’t create any bubbles.

2. Next mix  1 cup of water with four drops of green food coloring. Mix well.  Tip your jar and slowly pour the water down the side of the jar.

3. Next pour one cup of oil carefully down the side of the jar to create your yellow.

4. Finally mix 1 cup of rubbing alcohol with four drops of red food coloring.  Tip your jar and slowly pour the alcohol down the side of the jar.

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

Results from our Liquid Rainbow

Out of all of our experiments that we performed, this was our favorite. Our yellow got a little bubbly, but everything else stayed true with separate colors. This is a great lesson for teaching your kids about density. The different liquids all have different densities. Density means how much “stuff” there is in something. Not the thing’s weight nor its size, but how many atoms it has in it.  In our liquid rainbow, the dish soap is the densest layer and sits at the bottom of the glass, then the water is next, then the oil (which happens to be thick and can’t mix with water), and then the alcohol is the lightest in density. We are impressed with this one!

Make a Milk Rainbow

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

Supplies Needed

1 cup of half & half or whole milk

Food coloring (in any rainbow of colors)

Dish soap

Experiment

Let’s make a milk rainbow!

1. Pour 1 cup of milk into the bowl

2. Add 3 drops of one color to the edge of the bowl. Repeat with two other colors, placed in the other edges of the bowl. Be careful not to mix or jiggle.

3. Squeeze a drop of dish soap in the center of the bowl.

4. Watch what happens to the colors when the soap is added.

Results from our Soap Rainbow

Does anyone sell real liquid food coloring anymore? We just had the gels so we found that the liquid fell to the bottom in our first experiment The second time around, the dish soap was already added so I made a little mixture of gel food coloring with the water and then we poured it into our bowl. It was amazing to see how the colors stayed separate with this dot of soap in the middle. We learned that the dish soap does not mix with the milk. The dish soap floats on top and spreads over the surface. As it spreads, it grabs the food color we dropped into it. Where the colors meet, they combine to form new colors. We also learned, don’t do this with just gel food coloring. It produces a muddy river when mixed.

Make Rainbow Roses

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

Supplies Needed

Roses

Knife & cutting board (this part is for the grown-ups!)

Food coloring (any color of the rainbow)

Water

Cups

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

Experiment

1. Trim  the ends of your roses under cool running water.

2. Have a grown-up cut the rose in half.

3. Fill glasses with water and lots of food coloring.

4. Stand roses up and take the two sections of the rose and place them in two different colors of water. Allow them to stand in this water for 24 hours.

Results From Our Rainbow Roses

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

Did you think it would look like this? These Rainbow Roses have been promised on Pinterest dozens of times when I am on there. No, our roses did not look like this at all. They, were just slightly tinted with color on the edges, and two of them died during the rainbow color attempt. It might be better to try this one with carnations or to not split the stems at all.

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

Nailed it!

Well, maybe not.

We still saw how the color traveled through the flower although it wasn’t as rainbow awesome as we had hoped.

Legends of Oz

We know we are guaranteed spectacular rainbows though when Legends of Oz: Dorothy Returns hits theaters, so we plan to catch a rainbow there with the whole gang! I am so excited to see it and can’t wait to hear what you think of the movie when it releases on May 9!

*This post is sponsored by Clarius Entertainment. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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DIY Watercolor + Digital Art and a free printable!

Monday, April 21st, 2014

From our diy/craft contributor, Sarah Milne.

DIY watercolor and digital art

I want to push my creativity this year by trying new things, and also dig back into a few hobbies I’ve loved in the past.  Growing up, I had a huge collection of coloring books, crayons, pencil crayons and markers.  When I wasn’t playing outside, I spent the majority of my time coloring and drawing.

Now, as a mom of 3, I’m known as the walking coloring book.  If they want a specific picture to color, I draw it for them with a sharpie.  It’s so fun sharing a small talent with my children, and having them thoroughly appreciate it.  I don’t draw nearly enough, and it’s something I’d love to do more of this year.

Painting is always a craft that frightened me.  When I threw caution to the wind last October and created this piece, I realized I need to let go a little more when it comes to art. Color outside the lines, think outside the box, and let my heart do more of the work rather than my steady hand.  I’ve lost a little of that since growing up, being a digital designer you become fixated on pixels and perfection.  Painting frees me and creating a perfectly imperfect pieces is so satisfying.

Using this amazing tutorial from Jones Design Company, I wanted to take a stab at watercolor and turn it into digital artwork. In doing so, I think I’ve developed a new hobby.  My girls and I sat by the table and painted together, it was quiet and so relaxing.

watercolor + digital art: step one: the sketch

I began my piece by sketching the drawing out one evening at my desk. The next afternoon, using a beautiful palette of colors from Michaels and a few small pointed brushes, I got right to it.  It kept having to remind myself… “add more water”  “less saturated color” “less is more”… 

DIY watercolor + digital art print

DIY watercolor + digital art print

Once it was complete, I scanned my watercolor at 600 dpi and cropped the elements in Photoshop piecing them together on a new art board.  Once I had the placement right, I added the perfect springtime quote using my text tool.  It did take quite a bit of playing and test prints to choose the right font.  I saved my final artwork as a PDF and JPEG.

DIY watercolor and digital artwork

DIY watercolor and digital artwork

DIY watercolor and digital design

DIY artwork using watercolor and digital design

And, there you have it, my very first watercolor + digital print and I’m sharing it with you, free!  Download and hang this print in a special place as a sweet reminder warmer temps are just around the corner!  Enjoy!

Download the Bring Your Own Sunshine Art Print in JPEG
Download the Bring Your Own Sunshine Art Print in PDF

 

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How to Stain a Picnic Table

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

Have you ever stained a picnic table before? This was our first year staining our table and I wanted to share with you some tips on how to stain a picnic table so you can enjoy it all summer long.  Thanks to a coat of stain, our table looks and feels just like new and I can’t wait to show you just how easy it is to do.

Walmart challenged to me to showcase an idea for a Spring project and I knew that this was one of those projects that I really needed to complete on my to-do list, particularly after such a brutal Indiana winter.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

Have you ever spotted something in a magazine and just knew you had to have it… yet, you could find it nowhere! Many years ago, I flipped through a magazine and spied a picnic table that Katie Brown owned that was in her backyard and I just knew I wanted a table like that. After inquiring on Facebook, we found a gentleman in town who makes picnic tables and after telling him what I envisioned, he built this beautiful table for us that comfortably sits eight to ten people.  When I look out my window, this makes me so happy and the meals shared at this table are what summer is all about.

To keep her looking good, we decided to freshen her up for another year of family meals.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

Supplies Needed:

Thompson’s WaterSeal Waterproofing Stain (we did our table in Nutmeg Brown in Semi-Transparent)

Drop Cloth

Knit Rags

Paint Tray

Foam & Paint Brush

Sandpaper

Heavy-Duty Cleaner

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

Directions

1. Before we begin, we need to prep our surface. Using a heavy-duty cleaner, spray and wipe down your table to remove any dirt and grime. Be sure that you clean the entire surface well and then wait 10-15 minutes, or until the table is completely dry, to begin staining. You never want to stain the table while it is wet so be sure that you are not trying to stain after a heavy rain.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

2. Since our piece was in good condition, it did not require any sanding. If your piece needs to be smoothed though, use a medium grit sandpaper sanding in the direction of the grain. This can be done with a small palm sander or can be done by hand. Once you are done with that, finish with a finer grit of sandpaper to smooth out any rough areas and give the table an even, smooth finish for the stain. Once it is sanded, make sure to use a tack cloth to remove any sanding.

3. Once your piece has been cleaned and prepped, it is time to begin applying stain.  With the Thompson’s Water Seal Waterproof Stain you do not want to thin this.  Make sure that you shake well and shake, stir or mix thoroughly before and occasionally during use. Before you begin staining, make sure you try a test run with a small trial patch in an inconspicuous place, like the underside of your bench or table, to make sure that the stain is the color you are going for.

Apply using an exterior paint pad, brush, roller, or even a rag to begin applying the stain to your table.  If you are doing the legs and underside of the table, lay down your drop cloth and invert your piece and do the bottom first. Allow the bottom to dry, it should take less than two hours to be fully dry, and then begin staining the top.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

5. Use your foam brush to get into the detail parts and legs of your table, using a rag to remove any drip marks on the ends.

6. Allow your table to dry for two hours.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

 

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

This table looks just like new again and it only cost me $30 in supplies. Since picnic tables do reside outside, they are exposed to all of the weather elements, which means you need to stain your table from time to time.  This stain typically will last two to three years, but possibly less time than that, depending on if your picnic table is in direct sunlight. The properties of  sunlight can dry out the stain and cause it to weather much faster.  It also has a lot to do with how much freezing and thawing happens, which in our area, seems to happen often! 

I’m so proud of my table and I hope it inspires you to freshen up your own picnic table for Spring.  Speaking of staining,  I am still SO proud of this stained table I created for our office. If you are looking for tips on indoor staining, be sure to visit that post!

Too intimidated by stain? Check out how I spray painted my side table and how we painted our kitchen table that is STILL going strong after all these years. And it never hurts to reupholster those chairs while you are at it!

Have you ever stained a picnic table or deck? What tips can you share on this?

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How to Style Your Bookshelves

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

How to Style Your Bookshelves from MomAdvice.com.

The art of styling bookshelves had never really been important to me until I started perusing pictures on Pinterest and saw the carefully curated collections and beauty in the organized book spines. Of course, I don’t have an unlimited budget where I can add decorative books in one carefully choreographed color or an unlimited budget for fantastic looking odds-and-ends to update my bookshelves. That is why I am excited to share with you some easy ideas for updating your bookshelves with Goodwill items and a few budget-friendly craft materials.

Head on over to the Goodwill Tips Blog to grab some budget-friendly styling ideas for your bookshelves!

 

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