Andrea's blog

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Custom Notecards with Child's Artwork (Art by Ayla)

How to Turn Your Child's Artwork into Professionally Printed Notecards and Greeting Cards

I surprised Ayla today with a really fun package in the mail. I turned a couple of her "Best Of" first grade artwork projects into custom notecards at Zazzle! She was totally pumped when she saw them! 

"Oh wow!!  This is so cool!"

Children's Artwork Printed on Notecards and Greeting Cards

In order to turn her large pieces of artwork into small printed greeting cards, I photographed them with a high quality camera (and a tripod) in natural light.  Our front porch in the afternoon is a perfect place to do that.  I used painter's tape to tack them to the brick wall, hanging them as straight as I could, and placing the camera on a tripod directly across from them (to minimize any distorting). I ended up with pictures like this:

Then, I cropped the images to include only the artwork (it helped that they were pre-matted pieces), and auto-adjusted the contrast and colors in Photoshop, until I had two high quality images, like this:

Sailboat Pastel Artwork - Ayla Steed

Cameleon Watercolor Artwork - by Ayla Steed

Finally, I just uploaded them to Zazzle and created Ayla's very own personalized notecards with her own original artwork on it.  What a cool way to show off her work! She'll love sending these to her friends and family (they even come with their own envelopes).

Custom Notecards by Zazzle with Children's Artwork

The cards turned out fantastic! The slick printed top looks really professional, and I love that I could customize the inside (I made the inside flap a solid coordinating color) add a little note on the back:

Custom Greeting Cards by Zazzle

I'm definitely a fan.  We'll totally be doing this again.  

What do you do with your kids' artwork each year???

 

 

3

These are a few of my favorite things...

I blog a lot about things the kids do and like and record so many details about our family, but sometimes I forget to include some of the little quirky things that *I* like and do that are a small, but significant part of my day.  So, since I don't do much scrapbooking anymore, here's a "blog post" version of an "all about me" layout...

A.Steed's.Life - Favorite Things - February 2013

In no particular order...here are some (mostly little) things that make me happy these days and have become my "everyday" luxuries:


 

Oatmeal:

I have always been a bowl (or two) of cereal in the morning kind of girl, but lately, I've been feeling much fuller when I eat a bowl of oatmeal with a little bit of unsweetened applesauce, raisins, cinnamon, and a few crushed pecans. 

I think it makes me feel "healthy"....


 

White Cheddar Cheese ItsWhite Cheddar Cheese Its:

...but don't be fooled.  I can also put down a full box of White Cheddar Cheese Its in a day.  I'm not *that* healthy.  I used to LOVE the "Get Your Own Box" campaign that Cheese Its did a while back. It was VERY fitting for me. Very.

 


 

ZCUT Power Cardio Series:

I bought this set of workout DVDs because I love Zuzka's workouts.  They're short (usually only 10-20 minutes), SUPER hard, and you don't need any extra equipment.  This is her first DVD series, but she also offers a free real-time workout of the week on Thursdays, and it's been perfect for my at-home workouts. 

Zuzka Light ZCUT Power Cardio Series Workout DVD

Sorry for the insane amount of Zuzka cleavage... :/


 

Mary Kay Roll Up Travel Bag:

Mary Kay Roll Up Travel BagMy old bathroom bag finally gave up after daily use for several years. One of the zippers broke, so I had to go searching for a new one that would be just as useful, since I use it every day. It hangs on the back of my bathroom door, and I roll it up and take it with me to the gym too.  I couldn't find the exact bag I used to have -- apparently, it's not made anymore -- so...

This Mary Kay Roll Up Travel Bag is the ONLY bag I could find that was big enough for all my stuff, hangs on a hook, has 4 clear pockets, and *bonus* rolls up neatly into a cute little cube with a handle! 

Mary Kay Roll Up Travel Bag

Thank you very much Mary Kay!


 

I.O. Metro Bree Sectional (in Bela Pewter):

We LOOOOOOVE our new couch.  It's cozy, comfy, and looks so pretty, and best of all, we ALL fit on it.  It took us a while to find it, then about 8 weeks for it to arrive.  But that didn't stop me from going into I.O. Metro often to visit it while we waited for ours to arrive.  The kids even brought library books to try it out.

I'm sure that's not weird...right?

We (and the store employees too I'm sure...) are happy to be able to sit on our own now, in our own living room.

Bree Corner Sectional - IO Metro


 

Lily Bloom Bag:

My old Lily Bloom bag was so worn out I finally had to let it go a few months ago. (I'm sensing a theme here..evidently I like bags with pockets and I use them till they fall apart - I think I get that from my mom).  Anyhow, I've been on the lookout for a new one ever since.  TJ Maxx had a bunch in stock one week when I went in, so I picked up this fun bag.

Lily Bloom Handbag

Since I wear so many solid colors, I love a bright print purse!


 

Heated Rice Bags:

For Christmas, my sister-in-law Rachel made all the Steed girls these cute little heated rice bags.  Just heat 'em up in the microwave for a few minutes, and they feel wonderful on your sore shoulders, hips, hands, back, legs, etc. (I'm telling you, those ZCUT workouts make you *very* sore!)

Homemade Heated Rice Bags


 

A Twisty Tail Hair Do:

Lately, my hair has gotten very long (which i like), but it's also been giving me the heebie jeebies about mid-day.  I think it's something about the mess of curls hanging over my shoulders.  Why does my hair always fall forward like giant cocker spaniel ears instead of laying nicely down my back? 

Anyhow, my favorite solution for no-nonsense hair days is this twisty-tail hair do.  It's fast, it's easy, and it doesn't look like a messy bun or ponytail.  It actually makes it appear as if I care a little bit about how it looks.  I'll have to post some better photos of it soon, with a tutorial. 


 

So there you go...just a few, mostly frivolous, and unneccessary things that make my days a little brighter.  I'm no Oprah, so unfortunately, you can't expect a door prize of each of my favorite things just for reading this, but maybe you'll find someting new that makes you happy too. :)

38

Living Room - Before & After

Perhaps the catlyst for this whole painting endeavor was the living room.  I painted it the WRONG color gray first, so it was a totally mismatched mess compared to the rest of the house. 

Then,  after watching the 2012 Summer Olympics without even enough places to sit for our small little family of four, we decided it was time to add some seats to the room.  We settled on a big gray sectional that would be delivered in 8 weeks.  So, we had to get going on the painting in order to make space for our new seating arrangement. 

Here's where we started:

BEFORE (view from entryway):

...and where we sit now...

AFTER (view from entryway):

After we painted all the walls and ceiling the same SW Worldly Gray 7043 from my office and the entryway, we started filling it back up with furniture (and our brand new couch - which is the Bree Corner Sectional from I.O.Metro, in Bela Pewter)

We hauled off the green rug, moved the green curtains, couch and loveseat to the den, and started working with a new color scheme of mostly gray, teal and gold.

I bought the coordinating (but not matching) pillows from World Market, Kohls, and Target. 

Here's a view from the other corner of the room, looking toward the front door.  The big round coffee table is borrowed from Paxton's room for now (he had his fire station on it).  I think it's a little too big for the room though, so we'll probably replace it with a rectangular coffee table eventually.  But, since we haven't been out to shop for that yet, this one is sufficing for now (even if it does look like a kids' play table).  It's a good height though, and *bonus* - it doesn't matter if it gets rings on it from drinks!

Now, our Dot Calm painting (see it back there in the corner?) seems to fit in a little better with the gold and turquoise shades in the painting and the gray and gold accents around the room.

For the floor, I lucked out one day at Target and found this 5' x 7' rug on clearance with the perfect colors - for only $45!  I couldn't pass that up. 

BEFORE (view from my office):

AFTER (view from my office):

We moved the Expedit bookshelves all to the back wall to make one long set of shelves.  Even though I loved the L-shaped corner bookshelf look, it was too many "L-Shapes" for the room when you added in the sectional.  I'm still hoping to replace that silver lamp behind the couch with something more interesting one of these days.

I had all sorts of curtain shopping drama that I'll spare you, but I finally was able to find (and buy, and successfully hang) these long-length Imperial Blue/Taupe Striped Grommet curtains from World Market.  They seem to be perfectly subtle, while not being a solid color.  It was worth the drama. 

Here's a view from that back corner, looking into my office.

We still need to find a new piece of furniture to put our television on, and then we'll find some artwork or a big mirror to hang on that big blank wall.  But, even with the boring view, this is DEFINITELY the best (and coziest) seat of the house! 

I highly recommend a sectional...it's awesome.  Even in a small living room.  We've enjoyed many Saturday and Sunday afternoons watching shows and football all together on the big couch.  It's a major upgrade from fighting over the three available seats we used to have...

Tour Our Home - A.Steed's.Life

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The Den (Playroom) - Before & After

The "den" or the "playroom" or "downstairs" is kind of a giant holding room for leftover furniture, decorations and lots and lots of toys.  Not quite a living-room, not quite a basement, maybe we should call it a rec room? 

Whatever it is, it's needed some help along the way - and we're not there yet.  But, in our painting marathon of October 2012, we did manage to step it up a small notch. Here's what we did:

Exhibit A: BEFORE (looking down)

Believe it or not, this is after MANY improvements and variations.  Note the lovely cat food containers (on the mantle) that make *great* storage containers. Just keeping it real. We don't apologize for recycling. 

And yes, we have a television in our fireplace. We live in Alabama.  We don't need heat.

Exhibit B: AFTER (looking down)

When we did our big painting marathon, we continued the SW Anonymous 7046 color from the kitchen down the big wall where the mantle is, and used the lighter SW Worldly Gray 7043 color (used also in the entryway and my office) on the other three walls and ceiling. 

Exhibit C: BEFORE (looking up)

We moved our loveseat and chair from the living room down to the playroom and removed or relocated a few of the bigger toys.  The easel was disassembled and turned into a flat chalkboard and dry erase board.  The pink chair was moved back to Ayla's bedroom.  The tool bench moved up to Paxton's bedroom, the basketball hoop to the garage, and that great big "craft" desk (that was ALWAYS a disaster of papers and markers) was donated to Goodwill.

Exhibit D: AFTER (looking up)

We moved the treadmill and deep freezer over to the less-visible space next to the stairs, which has seemed to work really well (both for convenience and asthetics). 

Notice anything else missing?  We removed the railing and the carpet on the stairs, which significantly opened up the room.  Safe? Probably not to code, but it's working for us, so for now, that's how it stays.  Painting the top metal railing the same wall-color as the kitchen helped it disappear, as did painting the door that goes to the garage.

I moved a few of my 12" x 12" frames to the space over the mantle, and with the help of some white spray paint, they pop really well on the dark gray wall.  While I was spray painting, I brightened up the wood "Family" sign and several smaller frames to bring some color to the otherwise dark and gray wall of stone:

We didn't ban Ayla from doing crafts entirely, but we significanly down-sized her desk space in the hopes that it would downsize the mess.  All her papers and coloring books and art supplies are stored in this cabinet, and she works at the little table next to it.   This setup has worked *pretty* well so far.  But still, the floor is often covered in papers and markers.  You just can't hold an artist back. :)

The room still needs some artwork on the walls, a coffee table, and hopefully wall-to-wall carpet before too long (when we'll probably say goodbye to the area rug).  But for now, it's been a step in the right direction  -- more living space, less "junk" space.

Tour Our Home - A.Steed's.Life

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Admiring the Finished Product

I spent yesterday morning photographing some finished samples (posters, printables and wrapped canvases) made with the SignsByAndrea Family Rules Art Builder

It's pretty cool to see the finished product of design-it-yourself artwork!

Custom Family Rules Art - Canvas, Posters, Prints - SignsByAndrea.com

Custom Poster Print - Signs By Andrea

Playroom Rules Wrapped Canvas - Signs By Andrea

In This House Family Rules Wrapped Canvas - Signs By Andrea

 
Have you tried it yet?

 

 

0

Reunited with Edison

Ben published an article today for Heartlight.org, called "Reunited."  He tells the goose-bump giving story of how our family was reunited two years later with Edison, the sweet little boy whose house he visited in Ecuador.  Read it.

Compassion International is an amazing program -- and it's working!  We can see it in the round little face of this boy who was so ill when Ben first met him, but through the work of the Child Survivor Program, and now the Child Sponsorship program, his is thriving and doing well!

Sponsor a Child Through Compassion International

It's Valentine's Day.  What better day is there to dedicate your love to someone who needs it?  Consider sponsoring a child through Compassion International. 

 

10

Places We've Lived Scrap Wood Frame

While Ben was out of town for a few days and the kids were both sick and watching movies, I started itching to do a small project.  I settled on this scrap wood framed print of our personalized "Places We've Lived" subway art.  (It's easy to make your own! Just use the Subway style and add your "locations" with my Custom Family Rules Builder).

Places We've Lived Scrap Wood Frame

It was pretty easy to do, and only took about 10 minutes - truly.

I had already ordered the 8" x 10" poster print through my Zazzle store a while back (though you can also get an instant personalized downloadable version for only $9, and print it at home on cardstock or photo paper).  It features all the important places in our lives together -- which started almost 18 years ago!

Places We've Lived DIY Printable

I had recenly collected a bunch of 4" scrap wood that had some really cool color and grain, so I rough-cut a few boards down to size - three 18" boards for the back, and two 12" boards for the front. They aren't perfect, but that's kind of the point. :)

How to Attach Scrap Wood Frame

I used some brass screws that we had at our workbench in the garage  to attach the front two vertical boards to the three back horizontal boards, and then used more brass screws and washers to wedge a page protector (trimmed down to 8" x 10") onto the front of the board. An 8" x 10" piece of plastic would work well too, but I didn't have any on-hand, and the page protector covers both the front and the back of the print, which seemed like a good idea.

Since the wood was pretty soft, I didn't have to pre-drill, but if it had been harder wood, I'd recommend pre-drilling.

That's it. Then I just propped it up in the corner of our bookshelf and admired it.  (Then I probably had to go clean up some vomit...the kids were sick, remember?)

Easy Scrap Wood Frame

I've been looking to find something substantial in size to put at the top corner of my living room bookshelves that wasn't a vase or a photograph (I have plenty of those!). So, this "Places We've Lived" print and some natural wood seemed like a good choice, since I've started using a golden yellow as one of the accent colors in our livingroom, that I've been slowly working on redecorating.

Decorating Bookshelves

Now if I could just find a coffee table that we both like...

 

0

Little Tricks for Little Fingers

When you're little and it's hard for you to write your letters and you get *so frustrated* when they just don't come out right (especially when you have to write a "P" on a whole class worth of Valentine cards), crafty little tricks can come in handy. 

I saw this genious idea on Pinterest the other day, and knew it would be a good way for Paxton to be involved in his Valentines, without making it too hard (and frustrating) for him. 

Just combine small wood alphabet stamps together to spell out the word (in our case it was "Paxton") and put a rubberband around them.  That keeps them together and turns the word into a single stamp.

Rubberband and Wood Alpha Stamps Tip
{source: The Frugal Crafter}

Easy enough for an *almost* four year old...Now that's easy!

Rubberband and Wood Alpha Stamps Trick

Rubberband and Wood Alpha Stamps Trick

2

Compassion International - Colombia

Last week Ben went on a trip with Compassion International to Colombia with a group of Compassion supporters to check out the work they are doing with the kids in Colombia. 

Today, he published an article on Heartlight.org - Compassion in Colombia - that tells a little bit about his experiences, as well as the inspiring story of Jailer - his translator on the trip, who has been a product of Compassion's efforts in Colombia.

Two years ago, Ben went on a similar trip to Ecuador that inspired our family to sponsor a little girl Ayla's age.  Her name is Mercedes.  Then, when Paxton was old enough to have an Ecuadorian buddy, we also began sponsoring a litte boy his age - Edison Ivan.  Through their letters and photos they've become a part of our family, and we pray that through our support and the help of Compassion International and the church in their country that they have success stories as inspiring as Jailer's!

*Most of these fantastic photos are credited to Dan Pritchett - one of the people who accompanied Ben on this trip to Colombia.  His album of photos brings the trip to life!

Other trip companions took great photos too - MeLissa Houdmann has several folders on her Facebook page in a day-by-day account of the trip.

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Entryway Before & After

Entry Before & After

We repainted several rooms in our house WAY back in October, but things got kinda crazy in November and December around here, so the "redecorating" had to take a back seat.  We're still lacking several things, but since it doesn't look like things will be "FINISHED" for a while...so I thought I'd post a few photo updates of the other rooms we painted.

I've already shared the Kitchen and Dining Room and my office before and afters.  Now, let's look at the entryway.

Here it was BEFORE:

Entry Way Before

What you can't see in this picture is how dirty those walls are, and how many giant holes there are up there on the wall (next to the B & A).

We painted the walls and ceiling the same color as my office (Sherwin Williams Worldly Gray 7043), repaired all the walls, and cleaned all the baseboards.  Amazing what a little elbow grease can fix!

When we started putting everything back, I decided to take down the plate holders with frames in them and retire 'em.  They've been around a long long time. :)  Instead, we put back our monogram, family tree canvas, and brought in the secretary desk that I'd had refinished not too long ago.

AFTER:

Entry After

Here's a view from the stairway, looking toward the front door. 

BEFORE:

Entry Before

and AFTER:

Entry After

The framed print by the door is the original building permit for our house.  We found it in the garage after we moved here, and thought it was pretty neat looking.  The entryway just seems like the right place for it to stay!

I'm still shopping for the right rug for this space, but haven't come across the right thing quite yet...

The two buckets next to the desk aren't exactly a "decorating" choice, but they have been VERY functional - so they're staying! These are the kids' junk buckets.  Anytime we find something of theirs laying in the living room, kitchen, stairway, or my office, it goes in the bucket.  At the end of the day, they carry their buckets upstairs and put everything away before bedtime. 

We've been doing this a few weeks now and it's worked PERFECTLY.  The kids are glad they don't have to put their stuff away immediately.  We're happy there's not junk all over the "adult" areas of the house (especially the kitchen island), and they've been happy to put it all away when it's time to do it. 

Speaking of functional spaces...the entryway is also our school bag and homework central area.  We kept the little board with coat hooks just like it was before.  Four hooks - two for coats and two for backpacks - for two little kids. :)

Entry After

When the kids get home from school everyday, they unload their lunch bags and backpacks and hang them and their coats up here. 

Entry After

Then, I sort all the papers that come home at this desk, and Ayla does her homework at it - we just open the desk up and scoot the chair over for her).  This has helped keep papers and books and "stuff" from cluttering up the kitchen island or my desk and then Ayla has a dedicated space to do her homework.

Entry After

The top dresser drawer of the desk holds folders for each kid, with all the schoolwork we are saving throughout the year.  We also keep the little photo albums that hold all our postcards from Noni, as well as any coupons or flyers that we need to hold onto in the top drawers of the desk.

So that's it. Entry way is mostly done. :)   And it's turned into a functional space, instead of just being a walkway.  Yay.

Tour Our Home - A.Steed's.Life

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