dog silhouette art and an ode to my pups

I haven’t talked much about my dogs yet on this blog, which is surprising to me since I talk about them to basically everyone else in the universe.  I love them to bits and pieces, and we rarely go anywhere without them.  Thankfully the bay area is a very dog friendly place…in fact I heard somewhere that it is one of the most dog friendly areas in the country.  Dog parks, off leash beaches and dog friendly trails abound.

This is Strider, our five year old black lab.

He’s pretty much the handsomest, gentlest, most loving and awesomest dog in the known universe.

Maybe I’m a little biased in saying that, but so does everyone else who meets him.  I adopted him when he was four months old, and he’s been at my side ever since.

I joke with Devin that he fell in love with my dog before he fell in love with me.  (But it’s true.)

Who can blame him?

Last year we decided that Strider needed some company.  (Though if you ask him, Strider may or may not disagree with that fact.)

So that’s when we brought home Echo, our now one year old chocolate lab.  This was the day we brought her home.

I KNOW.  Those sad puppy eyes.  They slayed me.  And THIS…

…and THIS…

Don’t let these cute puppy photos fool you though.  She’s a wild child.  This girl is full of sass and personality and she pretty much drove us batshit crazy her first few months with us.  Just ask Strider.  He pretends sometimes like he can’t stand the sight of her, but secretly, I know he loves her.

She’s come to fit into our little family just perfectly, and I can’t imagine life without her.  She LOOOOVES her big brother and tries to be just like him.

I call her his “mini me.”

This is Echo now at over a year old.

Have you had enough of the dog pictures yet?  Because I have thousands more!  Just ask!  Haha…

Anyway, all of this preface is to say, our dogs are a big part of our lives.  I’ve been slowly gathering bits and pieces for the office redux, but have yet to settle on any art for the walls.  I decided that the dogs needed to be represented in the new office, so this past weekend I created some silhouettes of them.

Supplies

  • Canvas (I used 12″ x 12″)
  • Contact paper
  • Profile photo of subject
  • Acrylic paint (I used Americana Deep Midnight Blue and Titanium White)
  • Foam brush
  • Fine paint brush for touch ups
  • Scissors
  • Pen/pencil

The hardest part of this project was getting good profile shots of the dogs.  Correction…getting a good profile shot of Echo.  Strider was easy, like he always is.  “What ma?  You need a profile pic?  Okay how about this?”

Echo on the other hand gets spazzy the minute I grab the camera.  Which is why you may have noticed that in almost all of her photos, she’s asleep.  Ha.

I finally got it by yelling out “Echo look!  What’s that?!” and pointing out the front window.  She probably thought it was a visitor or a cat or something so she went all on the alert.

A little mean, I know…but I gave her a treat afterwards :).  (Also please divert your eyes away from the tangled mess of cables behind her.  We need to take some zip ties to them.)

The first thing I did was to paint my canvases with the background color.  This is the color that you want your silhouette to be.  I did one white and one in dark blue.  I found that squirting some paint directly onto the canvas and spreading it out with a foam brush worked fine for me.  (Hey, I never said I was a professional painter!)

While the canvases were drying, I resized the photos in Photoshop to fit my 12″ x 12″ canvases, printed them up, then carefully cut them out.

Next I turned the cutout face down onto the back of my contact paper and traced around it.

After cutting the silhouette out, I peeled the backing off and positioned it onto my canvas, pressing outward firmly to flatten out any bubbles.

Then I painted over the whole canvas with my top color starting from on top of the cutout and working my way out to the canvas.

I let the first coat dry, then put another coat on for good measure.

Next, I carefully peeled the contact paper off, pulling straight up from the canvas.

It looks pretty good, but the edges were a little rough, so I went in with a fine tipped brush to touch it up.

I repeated the same steps with Echo’s silhouette in opposing colors, and voila!

I think I may touch up around the edges of Strider’s canvas with more blue, but overall I’m happy with the result and I think they’ll add a nice touch to the new office :).

I’ll wrap up with one more gratuitous dog shot for good measure.

 

 

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DIY board and batten shutters

The repainting of our house exterior is almost done…just need to finish painting the garage and front doors and update the hardware for the front door, and I’ll be ready to share it!  Devin and I spent this past weekend making new board and batten shutters for the front window to replace our old, sad looking louvered ones.

It was a fairly simple project, though in hindsight there is one thing we would have changed which I’ll note later in this post.  I based the measurements off of our old shutters, though if you don’t have those to reference, ideally the height should be the same as the height of your window (including the frame) and the width of each shutter should be half the width of the window.

Our old shutters measured 21 1/4″ wide x 55 1/4″ tall, though we ended up going with shutters that were slightly narrower than the old ones.  I wanted each shutter to have five boards across, spaced out just enough to see the definition between the boards.  Knowing this, I calculated that we’d need five 1″ x 4″ x 10″ boards, each cut down to two 1″ x 4″ x 55 1/4″ (with excess) for a total of 10 vertical boards.  Then for the cross boards, we needed  one 1″ x 3″ x 8′ board cut down to four 1″ x 3″ x 24″ for a total of 4 cross boards with room to trim down once we had the final width decided (pending the spacing).

Supplies Purchased

  • Five 1″ x 4″ x 10′ redwood boards
  • One 1″ x 3″ x 8′ redwood board
  • 1 1/4″ wood screws
  • Wood glue
  • 2 1/2″ wood screws
  • Anchors
  • Exterior wood putty / spackle
  • Paint

Tools Used

  • Measuring tape/pencil
  • Putty knife
  • Caulking gun
  • Masonry bit
  • Drill
  • Impact driver
  • Miter Saw
  • Clamps

We had Home Depot cut the boards down for us since they do it for free, and we don’t have much room in the garage right now to set up a big workspace due to the renovation going on in there.  Plus, you should know by now about me and shortcuts :).

First we primed and painted all of the boards on all sides.  We decided to paint them all before assembly since it would be hard to paint the spaces between the boards once they were all screwed together.  We also purposely decided that we wanted to use the rough side of the boards for the front of the shutters to give them a slightly rustic look.

The paint color is Myth by Behr in exterior semi-gloss.  It’s the same color that we painted the front door, and I LOVE it to bits and pieces.

Originally we tried to use paint sticks to keep the spaces even between the boards, but these little cork things worked better.  I have no idea what they’re for, but Devin had them on hand.

So we laid out the boards five across with a spacer on both ends.

Then Devin clamped the boards together nice and snug.

For the cross boards, we decided to place them 8″ from the top and bottom, so Devin marked off where they needed to go, then cut the cross boards down to the correct width using his miter saw.

Next we put glue on the back of the first cross board, then while I held it in place Devin started screwing the cross board into the vertical boards, two screws for each board.

It wasn’t until after we were already halfway done with the first shutter that we realized we could’ve just screwed from the BACK of the vertical boards into the crossboard, thus eliminating the need to fill the screw holes.  Ah well…now I know…for the NEXT time we make shutters, whenever that is ha.

Once all of the shutters were assembled, we removed our spacers, then filled the screw holes with spackle and let it dry.  Once the spackle was dry, we painted over the spackled spots and touched up everywhere else.

Then it was time to hang them.  I won’t lie.  Hanging them wasn’t my favorite part…and it’s definitely a two person job (hence no photos of this phase).

First, Devin drilled pilot holes into the four corners of the shutter.  Then with me holding the shutter up in place, Devin stood on a ladder and used a masonry bit to drill through each pilot hole and predrill into the stucco.

Next, he tapped anchors into the four predrilled holes.  Then I held up the shutter again, lining up the pilot holes to the anchors while he screwed the shutter in place.

Good times people, good times.  HOWEVER.  The end result was well worth it.  We still have to fill the holes in the four corners, but they’re looking good.

I love the natural imperfections in the wood. (Please excuse the large plant with the flower stalk in the way.)

We both agree that they’re a vast improvement over the old shutters.

Stay tuned to see the rest of the exterior, hopefully later this week!

*UPDATE:  You can see the rest of the painted house exterior here. *

 

 

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DIY kindle touch slip case

About a month ago, I came across this tutorial for a Kindle Fire slip case on Pinterest.  I pinned it, even though I don’t own a Kindle, because I thought it was just so darn cute.  So a couple weeks ago, when Devin’s mom mentioned that she bought a Kindle Touch, I immediately decided to make her that case.

This was by far the most complex (even though it’s really not, but seemed so to my novice self) sewing project that I’ve attempted to date, so I was a little apprehensive, but all things considered it turned out pretty good if I say so myself :).

The original tutorial I linked to has the measurements for a Kindle Fire, but I amended mine to fit a Kindle Touch.  The Kindle Touch measures 6.8″ x 4.7″ x .4″.  My measurements below resulted in a case that was approximately 7.25″ x 5.25″ and Devin’s mom said that her Kindle Touch fit in it perfectly.

Supplies:

  • Two pieces of 8″ x 6″ fabric for outer panels (green dots)
  • Two pieces of 5.25″ x 6″ fabric for outer pockets (floral print)
  • Two pieces of 8″ x 6″ soft, non-scratchy fabric like flannel for the inner lining (yellow flannel)
  • One 4″ length of 1/8″ wide elastic for button loop
  • One button
  • Coordinating thread

(Note: All of my supplies were purchased from Jo-Ann Fabric.)

The first thing I did was fold the top edge of the pocket panel over 1/8″ to the wrong side, pressed, folded over once more, then pressed again.  Then I stitched the edge in place, and repeated this with the second pocket panel.  (Sorry, no photos of this step.)

Then I lined the pocket panel up on top of the outer panel right sides up, and sewed along the two sides of the pocket.

I decided to backstitch at the top of the pocket on each side to make sure it was secure.

Next, I decided which panel would be the back panel, then I folded the elastic into a loop and stitched the bottom edges to the top center of the back panel (since the loop will come over the top of the case to hook to the button on the front panel).  I backstitched a couple times over it to make sure it was secure.  Don’t worry if it’s not pretty, this part will not be visible in the finished product.

Once I was done with my loop, I placed my inner lining material on top of the outer panel, right sides facing in, making sure that the loop stayed tucked in.

I sewed just the top sides together, pulled the two sides apart flat, then I ironed the seam allowance over towards the lining side.

When I turned the panel over, it looked like this.

Then I did the same with the front panel (except for the loop part of course).

Next, I lined up the two long sides together, right sides in, pocket to pocket and lining to lining and pinned everything together.

Then I sewed around the outer edge, pulling out the pins as I went, starting about a third of the way out on the bottom edge of the lining, making my way around, and stopping about 3″ short of closing the seam.  You need to make sure you keep a big enough opening to be able to turn the whole thing inside out.

I then clipped the corners and carefully turned everything inside out, using a chopstick to poke out the corners all the way.

Then I folded the edges in of the remaining opening at the bottom of the lining and sewed it shut with my machine, but you can hand stitch this if you prefer.

Next I tucked the lining into the outer fabric, and pressed along the top edge to make everything nice and flat.

I opted to not stitch around the top of the slip case, since I liked how it looked without a top stitch and the lining seemed to stay in place pretty well.

Lastly, I sewed the button in place on the front panel, making sure it was in a spot where the elastic could slip over it. (Confession:  Up until this point, I had never sewn a button on.  I KNOW.  Thank goodness for YouTube video tutorials haha.)

I love the fun flannel that I picked for the lining.

Isn’t it so cute?

Here’s the back…

…and the front finished product!

 

 

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succulent and ranunculus bouquet

My absolute favorite flower in the world is the ranunculus.  If you’ve never seen or heard of them, you’re missing out.  We’re nearing the end of ranunculus season here in Northern California, but thankfully I’ve managed to snag some really beautiful ones in the last few weeks to enjoy in our home.

I mean, really…

I could stare at these flowers all day long.

Since I plan on incorporating ranunculus in my bridal bouquet, I wanted to do a practice run now while they’re still easy to find.  I’ll have to special order them come September for the wedding.  We’ll be using a lot of succulents in our gray and yellow wedding palette so to compliment that, I decided that my bouquet would include yellow and white ranunculus, succulents, yellow craspedia (aka “billy balls”) and seeded eucalyptus.  For my actual bouquet, I’ll use succulents that have more of a blue/gray color, but for the practice one I just used green hens and chicks that I had on hand.

There are tons of video tutorials online of how to make a bouquet so armed with that knowledge and my supplies, I was able to put together a pretty little bouquet in about half an hour.

Supplies:

  • flowers of your choice (# of stems depends on desired bouquet size)
  • succulents of your choice (# of plants depends on desired bouquet size)
  • floral tape
  • floral wire (I used 20 gauge and 24 gauge)
  • wire cutters
  • fabric/twine/ribbon for wrapping handle
  • floral pins

In order to include succulents in my bouquet, I needed to give them a long “stem.”  First I pulled off all of the roots and dead leaves from my succulents, trimmed the stump, rinsed them in water to clean off any excess dirt and then dried them thoroughly.

Then I inserted some 20 gauge floral wire, cut to around 10″ long, into the base of the succulent. (Note: the succulents I used had an unusually thick stump…stumps on most smaller succulents around this size are usually narrower and easier to work with.)

Next, to reinforce the new stem, I cut a 10″ piece of 24 gauge floral wire (thinner and more flexible), folded down the top third, then lay that next to the base of the succulent and along the wire stem.

Then I took the other part of the wire and wrapped it around the base of the succulent, making my way down the wire stem.

Finally, starting at the base of the succulent, I wrapped floral tape all the way around, making my way to the bottom of the stem. (Tip:  When you cut your length of floral tape, stretch it out a little with both hands.  This helps make it extra sticky so it’ll hold well when you wrap it.)

I repeated this with the other succulents.

Once I had my succulents ready, I started assembling my bouquet.

The key to a bouquet is to start with three blooms.

Then from this point on, I added three more blooms around the first three, and so on and so on.  Since I was mixing my flowers, it was a matter of eyeballing it as I went to decide which type of floral I wanted to add where.

If you’re making a bouquet using all of the same type of flower, it’s much easier since you just need to add flowers all the way around until it’s the size that you want.

Lastly, I added a few sprigs of the seeded eucalyptus around the outer edges of the bouquet.

Once I was satisfied (and out of flowers!) with my bouquet, I then wrapped the entire bunch together tightly with floral tape, starting at the top and working my way down the stems then cut the excess stem tips off the bottom.

Then I wrapped the handle with some scrap fabric I had laying around.  For my actual bouquet, I’ll be using burlap.

Finally I pinned the fabric in place with floral pins, inserting them pointing up towards the top of the bouquet.

I was pretty happy with the composition.

Though for my actual bouquet, I think I’ll use less yellow ranunculus and more white, since the craspedia already add a nice touch of yellow.

Also, I’ll make the bouquet a little bigger and incorporate a few more succulents.

This one would be a perfect size for my bridesmaids though :).

 
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“so good” tomato basil soup with italian sausage

While it’s warm and beautiful here in the bay area this week, early last week was pretty chilly with lows in the 40s.  It was perfect soup weather, and I took advantage of that by making one of the first recipes I ever pinned on Pinterest.  This tomato basil soup is SO easy to make and is super delicious.  I decided to spice things up by adding hot italian sausage, and I’m so glad that I did.  It added a nice little kick and depth to an already yummy dish.  I imagine that mild italian sausage would be great too if heat’s not your thing, but believe me…I don’t have a very high tolerance for spicy food and the bite in this was just right for me.  I also added more sugar because the natural acidity of the tomatoes needed a little more to balance it out.

We’ve had our painter friend staying with us while he works on our house so I doubled the recipe (Note: the recipe as listed below is NOT doubled).  It fed all three of us plus seconds plus leftovers, but in my opinion, the more the better.  As the guys dug in, the only sounds breaking the silence were slurps and sporadic mumblings of “mmm” and “so good.”  Needless to say, I’ll be making this again.

You absolutely positively need to serve this with your favorite grilled cheese…because let’s be honest, what’s tomato soup without grilled cheese?

Ingredients (recipe adapted from Jenny Steffens Hobick)

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. hot or mild italian sausage
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (14 oz.) can whole tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I used chicken)
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 3 TBSP fresh basil, julienned plus a little more for garnish

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or stock pot. Saute the garlic for a minute and add italian sausage.  Crumble sausage in pot and cook over medium heat until browned.

Add the crushed tomatoes, then add the whole tomatoes one by one, squeezing each one by hand to break it up.  Also add the juice from the whole tomatoes and stir well.

Next add the stock, salt, pepper and sugar and simmer for 10 minutes.

Reduce heat to low and stir in cream and basil.  Garnish with more basil, and serve with grilled cheese.

 

 

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