Friday, January 24, 2014

Simple Signs Update


I've been chalkboarding (no surprise there!)  The more I did the tracing procedure, the more I developed the ability to make a design freehand, sometimes using pictures for ideas.  This is the most recent (and largest) chalkboard I've done to date.  This one was done on a black canvas and then inserted into a frame.

This sign (with details that you choose) is available on Etsy.  Click here for link.

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Feeling inspired, I found a quote online and then made this one:

Original post:

If you want an even easier "chalkboard" wall hanging (see previous post), you can purchase an artist's canvas in any size you want.  Use the same techniques that I described and the end result is equally as attractive!  I'm having so much fun!!

All you need is a favorite design from the web (enlarge it to the size you need for your canvas), spray chalkboard paint and white acrylic paint.  Voila!!  

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Oh My Gosh! Simple Signs!

Yesterday my daughter and I spent the day shopping, well not really shopping but looky-looing, and we wandered into a store that had a lot of cute "blackboard" signs.  You know that I love the whole blackboard thing (maybe that goes back to my being the daughter of a teacher and then a teacher myself and loving chalk and erasers etc.!) but everything is so mass-produced that it loses some of its charm sometimes.  Anyway, she saw one that she really liked and took a picture.

Meanwhile, I've been struggling a bit with how to transfer designs and fonts from my computer to a chalkboard base.  I tried cutting a paper stencil.  Didn't work.  Bought plastic stencil material and an X-acto knife.  Nope.  So, when I thought about that cool chalkboard that my daughter saw and that I really wanted to make for her, I needed to find a way.  The last option (or so I thought) before I hit the "search" button on Bing was to use white carbon paper and trace the design.  I was a bit worried about the white lines showing up though.  On to Bing.... lo and behold there's a GREAT SOLUTION!!  Three EASY STEPS:  Print up a picture or a Word doc of what you want.  Rub chalk on the back side up and down and then across.  Put the paper on your board and trace over the design with a pencil.  That's it.  Seriously, that's it!!

So, get an old frame or a piece of wood.  Spray paint the surface with chalkboard paint and follow the directions here and you'll have a great decoration!  

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Heath Bar Cake/Cupcakes

Thanks to i am baker for this timely post!  I had volunteered to make a birthday cake for my boss, and wanted something special.  This recipe is AMAZING!  It does take awhile to make because of the many parts to it, but it is well worth the time and effort.  Please click here to find the recipe on  She changed up the recipe from one on My Baking Addiction (click here for link).  On i am baker, there is a little video that you can watch which really helps when putting it all together.

The chocolate cake recipe is divine - made with cocoa and coffee.  The buttercream recipe is perfectly sweet.  It contrasts nicely with the chocolate ganache (I've never made a ganache before - heck I never even KNEW what one was!).  Throw in some Heath Bar bits and it is more than wonderful!

This is my cake - not as perfect as the one on the blog but perfectly tasty!

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Here's a closeup of the top of the cake:

Just as a side note, I had covered the cake with Press'n'Seal when I transported it to work.  Good thing because the traffic on the freeway stopped abruptly and my creation tipped over.  When I got to work it was a little squished on one side but with all the frosting in the middle and the ganache holding everything together, it survived!

Tonight I wanted to share this great recipe with my husband, daughter and son-in-law, but a cake like this was way too much for us.  I tried to do a half recipe, but that didn't turn out well.  So I made cupcakes.  I used the "from scratch" recipe, even though it is sort of a flat cake when baked.  I didn't put pieces of Heath Bar on top, just crumbles.  They were equally delicious.

So, break out the mixer and pick up some supplies at the store and give this a try.  I guarantee it's worth the effort!!

Buttercream frosting on the chocolate cupcakes

A bit of ganache dripped on top and some Heath Bar crumbles to top it off

Sweet and bitter - now all we need is a cup of coffee!!

Paper Roses, an Armoire and a Piano

I'm in desperate need of a wreath.  Not just any wreath, but something noteworthy.  No pun intended, but really NOTE worthy.  You see, I have this blank wall above an armoire in my living room.  The armoire is really cool and attention grabbing  but the true focus of the room is the piano.  

(If you want to skip the story below and go right to the directions for making these cool flowers, click here.)

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Just as an aside, my home is not professionally decorated.  I don't have that particular talent, nor do I have the money to have someone who has those skills do it for me.  I also can't afford to go out and buy new furniture on a whim.  When we moved to this home over 12 years ago, we sold pretty much everything before moving, so I did purchase new things for this house.  But I also over-extended myself and paid dearly for that lack of judgement.  So, when we paint, or fix, or move things around, I pretty much use what I have and find a different way to use it or feature it in a room.  Necessity is the mother of invention maybe?

So... the armoire.  When I first began teaching back in 1979, I worked at an elementary school in Baldwin Park, CA.  I was 21.  During my five years at that school, I developed a friendship with one of the teachers there whose livelihood was collecting antiques.  He and his sister would frequently travel to England and purchase furniture, then ship it back to the US.  He would keep items in his home then eventually sell them.  One day he offered to sell me a few pieces for $500.  I was thrilled.  I had gotten married the year before, we had bought a fixer-upper and desperately needed furniture.  So, in return for my $500, we were given the armoire, an antique single bed, and a three drawered mirrored chest.  With the exception of the bed, we still have the pieces and I think of that friend often.

The armoire, until recently, was in our upstairs bedroom.  It has been a storage place for pillows, blankets, photo albums, coats, you name it.  But it was a shame that it was upstairs and just a collecting place for stuff.  So when we painted, much to my husband's chagrin, I asked that we move it downstairs.  Down a curvy staircase.  Piece by huge piece.  (It has three pieces:  a base, a top, and a HUGE boxy middle.)  I had to leave the room as he and a helpful neighbor carried that thing down the stairs.  They were successful in relocating it, but, alas, when I went to open the door, the lock had inadvertently closed and we had no key.  Insert big sigh here.  We visited antique stores and key shops to try to find a skeleton key that would work.  No luck.  We jiggled the lock.  We tipped the darn thing over.  We tried to get at it from the top and the bottom.  We eventually gave up.  And then, one day, on a fluke, my husband tried once more, jiggled it just the right way, and it unlocked.  So now we have a very much appreciated storage spot in the living room which also is a beautiful piece of furniture to look at that reminds me of a very cool colleague from when I was oh so young.

The piano... oh that beautiful baby grand.  I took lessons throughout my childhood up until I was in high school.  But, as with most teenagers, there came a day when having long fingernails trumped piano lessons.  We always had a piano in our house.  The first was an old upright that never was quite in tune, but it was very cool.  Then, one day, my father found a baby grand for $600 - it wasn't pristine, but it was a well-made instrument and could be tuned.  It was eventually passed down from my parents' house to ours and my daughter started playing when she was around 10 years old.  When we sold our house and were in transition for a year waiting for our new house to be ready, as a gift to our family, my husband had it restored.  It took an entire year.  We even got to visit it when it was in pieces in a warehouse!  It was delivered after we moved in and it has been front and center since. 

Oh, and the paper roses made out of sheet music?  The wreath that I want to make from them is a work in progress.  I figure I will need about 300 of them so, maybe in a few months, I'll be posting how I made that wreath.  But for now, it's one rose at a time.  One NOTEworthy rose at a time.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

LOVE IS... Chalkboards

Please check out my store on Etsy.  These cute little chalkboards would make great Valentine's gifts!

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If you would like to make one of these yourself, please check out other chalkboard posts on this blog.  For these particular boards, I re-purposed some oak frames.  I painted them white with flat white paint and then distressed them with sandpaper.  Glass was spray painted with chalkboard paint and hand lettered.  To make the stencil, I just printed up the text, cut it out and traced it on the chalkboard, then painted. A simple ribbon and a little flannel wrapped bundle of chalk finish it off perfectly!

I think the first thing I might write on this board is "Love is... chocolate chip cookies!!"