Thursday, January 23, 2014

medical spa vision board 2

Friday, December 27, 2013

Annual 'Nom Nom' recipe.....Caramel covered Bugles

I'm one of those people who does NOT appreciate the recipes that take up the second half of Decorating  magazines.  I like to eat, sure, but I really don't like to cook.If I wanted a cooking magazine, I'd have bought a cooking magazine! So I know this is a design/art/painting  blog...but I do from time to time share a recipe that is so good it just HAS to be shared. But I keep it to a minimum of ONE.PER.YEAR. You're welcome!

Here's this year's Nom Nom.   (This recipe is originally from "My Crowded Kitchen" blog, but I made a few changes.


Caramel Covered Bugles

1 bag Original Bugles
Pecan halves (you can use a lot or a little or leave them out all together, I've seen other recipes that call for a can of mixed nuts, it's up to you.)
1 cup butter, unsalted
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
You must have a candy thermometer to make this.

Spray Pam or other non stick cooking oil onto cookie sheet, then spread out the Bugles and nuts.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
In a heavy duty sauce pan, combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup,vanilla,cinnamon and salt. Place on medium heat, stirring until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Continue to boil (low boil) until candy thermometer reads 'firm ball'. (This takes about 10 minutes).
Remove from heat and add baking soda. Sprinkle it in, instead of dumping it in. The caramel sauce will foam up. Make sure to stir in the soda thoroughly.

Evenly pour mixture over Bugles and nuts. Gently toss with a spatula to cover the Bugles and nuts.

Bake at 250 for 45 minutes total, re-coating and turning the Bugles after every 15 minutes.

After 45 minutes, remove to parchment paper and let cool.  Try to spread out the Bugles as much as you can because as they cool, the caramel will harden and stick together. Try to make small clusters of 1, 2 or 3 Bugles but don't worry if you don't, you can just break the hunks apart after they cool.

This recipe is easily doubled, however I usually end up with more Caramel than I need.

Nom Nom! 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas.....a 'mini' house tour

Happy Holidays to my readers and people who pin my photos!
I have had an extra-ordinarily busy holiday season with new business...being in love and trying to squeeze in as much time with my sweetie....I FINALLY got some photos of this years' holiday decor in my home.  My little sister has started a blog you may want to check out...she is very very very crafty in a good way and will be posting directions to her numerous projects. If you like working with fabrics and stuff that has to be mathematically figured out, well you'll love her bloggie poo.   Anyway, she shamed me  I was inspired to  put the wine glass down and write!

I try to mix things up each year, even if I am using primarily the same stuff. This year however,  I painted a couch my neighbor gave me, which didn't match our decor AT ALL but was in decent shape. We really wanted a couch in the sunroom and so I figured I had nothing to lose by painting it. It was free, so why not? I painted it SW "Antique White" with Textile Medium added.   I placed it in front of the fireplace for 2 reasons: our fireplace doors are hideously ugly, and we can't have a fire until I have the chimney swept, and I"m kind of a cheap bastard so we aren't having a fire anytime soon.  Anyway...I tried to keep my holiday decor a little less crazy, I love the whiteness of the sunroom and I am a bit obsessed with that right now, and wanted to incorporate some simplicity to my holiday decor. (And by simplicity Imean 'tons of disco balls everywhere').

Painting a couch does make it a bit crispy, but it's really not that bad and honestly THIS IS A DOG COUCH, so I'm glad that I can just wipe it down with bleach.
I kept the mantle pretty simple this year and just used my pink glitter trees, some real everygreen garland, some disco ball garland and tiny twinkle lights. My sparkle reindeer and lots and lots of fake snow finish it off.

I go a little crazy with the faux's kind of everywhere. But it just vacuums up so I don't mind the mess. Hello there cute little birdie!

Also this year I painted the old walnut piano bench/coffee table with 2 colors of Van Gogh Chalk Paint. The basecoat is "Diva" and the overcoat is  "Van Gogh". I LOVE VanGogh chalk paint, it's so easy to work with and I love the beeswax topcoat. I heavily sanded back the "VanGogh" (which requires very little elbow grease) to reveal lots of the "Diva" Color.

                                                   completed VanGogh Chalk Paint finish

Each of my kids have a very beautiful handmade stocking....which I could not stand to look at this year. Haha! I'm not even kidding! I'm so over the whole 'red/green' Christmas thing...I didn't even bring them down from the attic. My favorite find are these 6 dollar white fuzzy stockings from Wal-Mart with pom pom edging. I hung them from silver hologram curling ribbon tacked just above the window frame.

I also decided to put all of my vintage Shiny Brites in a big galvanized tin bucket with a black and white striped bow.

Another Wal-Mart find ( I know, I am so ashamed....) are the softest Muppet blue blankets that I snagged for 15 bucks. Our sunroom is all cozi-fied now and we spend a great deal of time there.

I added this little table top tree to a newly painted end table. Remember how I told you my clients give me furniture all the time? Well this octogon table was given to me FOR FREE!! and it was really ugly, dark wood colored with peeling veneer before. Now it's all limey goodness. I used Van Gogh chalk paint on it too. I've had this tree for a long time and it's not particularly high I added a ton of ribbon to cover up the cheesey-ness.

Adjacent to the sunroom is the dining room (aka 'laundry folding situation').  I have blogged about my black and white striped dining table at least a dozen times, but I just love this Merry snowman Chimenea plopped in the middle of it!  As much as  I love shiny, silver, modern-y things....I dont' think EVERTHING should be any one way. I like this little bit of rustic in an otherwise not rustic room.

The faux mercury glass balls and stars hang down from my chandelier with more silver curling ribbon.
 Over in the corner is a little chair no one is allowed to sit on, and my vintage silver garland wreath! Love this little corner (have I mentioned my disco ball obsession?)

One easy inexpensive way to give your tree a big impact, is to wrap the presents underneath it in a very planned out, coordinated way. I used black and white cheveron, polka dots, houndstooth, green chevron and some hot pink French Bulldog paper.  Another trick of mine is to wrap presents for certain families or events in a specific paper to make finding them under the tree so much easier.  I loved the way the papers looked just leaning against the hutch, so I left  them there.

You might notice the stars hanging down from the top of the hutch as well as around the door opening to the main foyer, and one is my tree topper. They were 4 bucks a piece and I plan to reuse some of them for an upcoming big event in my life, but it's bad luck to discuss it. Wink, wink.

I bought them not knowing what I would do with them, and perhaps this isn't the 'perfect' situation, but it will do for now. 

Looking into the dining room from the hallway you can see my pine/cedar garland that I draped over the bifold doors.  I added some silver jingle bells and my collection of groovy stars. It's kind of funny, but everyone hits their head on that lowest star and to be honest, it's pretty painful.

For probably 15 years, I have had this tall skinny tree. I love it, it has some sentimental value for me now and every year I do something different with it. This year I added a boat load of silver tinsel and faux snow that I wish I could remember where  I acquired, because I'd love to get some more. I've never seen it before or's like itty bitty cotton balls that stick together. So sweet. I also recycled my pom pom yarn garland from last year ( yarn...from Hobby Lobby...which they don't carry anymore. The nerve!!!) 

This is the only place I have traditional red Christmas going's on the kitchen hutch, which as some gigantic red knobs.  The sparkle Peace sign I made last year and then secretly hoped I wouldn't sell it, which I didn't. I went through a Peace Sign phase and I have a big one on the outside of my house too, above the mailbox in a not very effective attempt to keep bad news (bills) away. 

One fun thing I did this year for my kids was to convert the top draw of our  hot pink kitchen buffet into a hot beverage station. 
(that wall isn't green anymore..TG) 

It was really bittersweet cleaning out the top drawer, which was previously the girls' craft supply station (which has now taken over the entire basement). They seem to love the variety of hot chocolate and Sleepy Time tea though, so I think I'm off the hook. 

This is my odd sofa table that lives in the main hallway. It's kind of a tray on legs. I filled it up with various colored balls and a snowman I've owned for years. I've got a thing for balls, which sounds all kinds of wrong.

I kept the rest of my foyer pretty much the same way I decorate it every year....but I changed my front door wreath to this simple strip-ey goodness.  

Here is my "Merry Christmas to me" present, which is hanging in the foyer.   I ordered this from etsy....and I think it sums up mine and Mike's view of life and how we found each other...where we've been and where we are going.  I was going to give it to him, but he told me it was a bit girlie for his house, so it became my present to me! 

I hope you had a great  2013 , but that 2014 is far far better!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Dreamy Sky Ceiling and Mediterranean Textured walls

As hard as I try to sell my clients on modern, colorful finishes....some 'Olde World' finishes are admittedly just as comfy as a pair of Ugg slippers on a snowy winter morning.  This week I installed 2 old favorites in a dining room. A dreamy sky ceiling with a ceiling medallion, and crumbled stone walls with carved "Delicato" Modellos.  Modellos are vinyl stencil or mask stickers that create a perfectly stenciled or carved look, depending on which type you get:  Positive or Negative 'weed'. 
The "Delicato" design is one I have used before...I love it, it fits into many design styles and is very pretty.  Here is a powder room I did a few years ago with the Delicato Modellos.

This particular client is very committed to a French/Mediterranean look. Her adjacent kitchen has beautiful terra cotta tiles with hand painted decos. They have also ordered a beautiful, drippin' with crystals  chandelier (not shown in the following photos), which has an oil rubbed bronze finish. Given some of the existing details in the home, and the fact that beneath the chair rail was some damage from a previous wallpaper removal, I sold my clients on a trowelled Aquastone finish.

The recipe is as follows.

First I planned out where my Delicato designs would be....and painted in those areas with Aquabond Bronze, and a few smaller areas where I will let chunks of the bronze show through.    I let the Aquabond dry overnight, and the next day applied the Modellos and trowelled untinted white Aquastone over the entire walls (leaving a few chunks of bronze showing through here and there). Whenever I am using a heavy texture over Modellos, I go ahead and pull out a small section of the sticker so that I can find them later.

Here the walls are shown with random areas of bronze paint, and the applied Modellos.

After I let the Aquastone dry overnight, I came back in with 3 glaze colors  : Aquacolor Earth Brown  (which is a khaki greenish/brown), Aquacolor Autumn Brown (which is a brownish orange) and Sherwin Williams 'Blonde'.  The resulting color works well with the Terra  Cotta tiles in the kitchen, and the new white washed floor in the dining room.

While I was working on the walls (which is a minor factor in this room), I was also working on the ceiling, which is the real WOW factor here.
I created a dreamy sky look by swirling and sponging on 3 shades of blue (SW Honest Blue, Denim and a mix of those 2 Navajo White) .I had my client prime the ceiling with a heavy duty primer, and then basecoat it for  in Sherwin Williams "Honest Blue".
  I began by creating dark shadowy clouds with the Denim blue mixed with 75 % Glaze. Next I swirled on a layer of Navajo White mixed with 75 % glaze over the entire ceiling.  The last 2 passes were just adding in individual clouds with different shades of the colors I was using, mixed together to create a lot of variation.  A sky ceiling is much more of a mural than a faux finish, it is a lot of standing back and looking and blending in areas that look funky.  For this installation, I created the lightest clouds in the center of the room, radiating out from the chandelier, because I would also be using a Modello stencil around the chandelier.

Here is the sky ceiling completed. 

 Because I work alone, sometimes I have to do REALLY CRAZY things to get a job done, like cutting a one time use ceiling medallion modello IN HALF so that I could apply it to the ceiling by myself.  Hey, whatever works,right?  My one and only complaint about Modellos is that they are white and therefore extremely hard to see through the backing paper. So I compensate for that too by drawing the design on so that I can see it to help me with placement.  I also measure out points on the design so that I can make sure my placement is correct. Even so, I ended up being slightly off on one side of the design, but I have to blame that on the fact that my client promised me numerous times that this chandelier would be taken down and it was not.'s barely visible and anyone who points it out is a jerk in my opinion. Haha. I tried at first to just cut an opening to wrap around the ceiling medallion, but I was having too much trouble with it staying up while I made adjustments, so I just cut it in half.

I should also note that before you apply a modello, the underlying finish should be really dry. I let mine dry for about 40 hours with a fan blowing on it for several of those hours. I was glad the client mentioned to me that they have had a lot of issues with ceiling paint pulling off with tape....glad we primed it and let it dry out so thoroughly.  I was STILL nervous about it though.

Here is the Modello design with the backing paper removed and I have begun painting in the design.  The client decided she didn't want the outter border, which I think I was the right decision.

Voila!  Here's the design after I applied a little gold foil here and there, and then removed the stencil sticker. I cannot wait to see the new chandelier!!!!


Friday, November 8, 2013

Sometimes I decorate...

Because I mostly work in empty houses, I LOVE it when I get to collaborate with another creative person on a project. This week I got to create a backdrop for Sarah Jane Photography's Holiday set. Sarah came up with the idea to use only neutrals and to paint the fireplace and tile white...while I designed and executed the wall finish and the mantle and fireplace displays. Such a fun project! I can't wait to see her portrait work in front of this set. She plans to add a crystal chandelier over the fireplace, and a linen upholstered armchair, which I cannot WAIT to see!!! I think these family portraits will be super classy!

Here are the details:

The background wall color is Sherwin Williams "Alpaca", which I am falling a little bit in love's a grayish lavendar that changes color as the day progresses. Love that!  The birch trees were painted with a pearl glaze and white paint.

One of my favorite cheapskate tricks for holiday decor is to buy the 5 dollar plastic pine garland and then completely cover it with spray on snow. I added a few  'expensive' floral picks of long pine needles covered in crystals  and pine cones.  I tucked in disco balls ( my signature thing!) and hung lots of crystal chandelier drops from the garland. A little burlap ribbon was all we needed to complete the look.  I found the burlap stockings at Hobby Lobby and scored them for 7 bucks a piece!

I really love the way the firebox turned out.  I used the ceramic logs that were in place and added some pillar candles, disco balls, 'diamond' vase filler, large plastic diamonds and fake snow.  I can't wait to do this in my own fireplace! The diamond vase filler and big fake diamonds were from the bridal aisle ( which mostly gives me "cliche' overload hives") at Hobby Lobby.

Just for fun...Here's the 'before'... (well, actually 'in progress', the before was a fireplace wall hiding behind a bunch of hanging backdrops)

Quite the transformation!!!!!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

This Girl is on Fire!

There are so many subjects on my list of 'things to paint someday', and I am THRILLED when i finally get to cross one off.

Last week, I finally painted a gigantic, vintage/retro looking fashionable LADY in a massage therapy spa.  I was sooo nervous about this mural, but I did some research (watched several 'how to paint human eyes videos on youtube!) and I am rather proud of myself for the outcome. She is realistic, her eyes match up and she has a retro flair that I'm pretty crazy about!
This photo stinks....but the room has NO OVERHEAD LIGHT. It's a massage treatment room, after all, so low lighting is key. I painted the whole thing is 'almost' darkness, so i would know how it would be viewed by clients.  There is a cherry blossom tree in the corner, which is heavily foiled and painted over with bright pink and white and is garish with the lights on....therefore I shall not show you a photo lest I ruin my reputation for being really good at color selection.   But in low lighting, it is gorgeous.  You can see some of the cherry blossoms creeping up into the girl's hair in the right hand corner.

Last year, I painted the reception area in this Spa. I trowelled  a Champagne Mist Lusterstone base, and then created a metallic foil mural of reeds and cranes over the top of it.
I wanted to keep the color scheme similar and use a lot of foils again for my 'lady mural'.

I was given an inspiration photo, which was a digital artwork of a woman's face with fire, and melted plastic superimposed over it (which sounds creepy, but it isn't.)   I had to 'clean up' and simplify the image to fit into my skill set  (wish I could paint totally realistic looking fire!!!!)  and I decided to use Gold Hologram foil in the fire areas of the painting.  The hologram foil changes colors as you move around the room, making it look like it is actually on fire. I used tons of red, purple, pink, gold, and hologram foil for both the Lady and the Cherry Blossom Tree murals.
One thing that occured, that I hadn't really planned on, was that our inspiration photo had no hair, no ears, a missing eyebrow...a lot of anatomical things were missing. The more detail I put into her face, the more obvious it became that she needed hair ( and at least one ear!). I experimented with a few methods of hair painting and I really like this simple suggestion of hair. I think the simply outlined ear and the faintest suggestion of a neck bring it all together and complete the painting. Without them, my eye went right to the places that were missing body parts.

I had a lot of fun painting this mural. It was a nice pace, in a quiet place, that was very relaxing and free of pressure. I felt free to experiment with some different techniques.   I need more jobs like that!

In a few weeks I will return and create another lady mural in the nail salon area of the Spa. I'm really excited to step out of my comfort zone again--it's so important to try new things as an artist!