Andrea's blog


In Her Shoes - Guest Post at Crayon Freckles

I'm guest-posting over at Crayon Freckles today in an "In Her Shoes" feature...go check it out!

Hi! I'm Andrea Steed.  Nice to meet you! :)  I blog over at my personal blog and my personalized painted signs and posters web site

I like to think of myself as an artist, a writer, an organizer, a planner...and oh yeah, a mom.

I have two great-looking kids who are *just* leaving the toddler stage and sprinting into their childhood.
Whew.  Those first few years of diapers, feeding, and crying were rough!  But we're getting our footing now and turning into a typical little family busy with school, play, work and rest.

I'm a northerner-moved south and married to my high school sweetheart. We both work from home - Signs by Andrea (me) and Infinite Publishing (him) - and do the best we can to mix and mesh our home and work lives amongst the mess of toys and tears that come with being a family with young kids.
What is the most challenging part of being the type of mom you are?
I daily have to remind myself that sometimes kids need to cry, whining comes with the territory, and I can always practice having more patience.  In short, my biggest challenge is to remember that it's my job to TEACH my kids how to respond and react to the world around them, and I can't just expect them to know how (that's when the whining and crying usually comes into play).
What's the most rewarding?

Watching them develop their own unique personalities has been pretty stinkin' remarkable.

My son loves guitars, music and singing. We don't know where that obsession came from (neither of us play instruments, unless you count an .mp3 player), but if he's a rock-n-roll icon one day, I'll have the home videos to prove he started at age 2.

And my daughter?  Don't even think about surprising her, unless it's with something she's already familiar with.  She needs to tip-toe *very* slowly into new situations and experiences, and if she's been prepped ahead of time (like going to the dentist - which she thinks is awesome), she'll own it.
Their unique personalities are 100% them -- not me, not their dad, not their grandparents.  Just them.  That's pretty cool.
In you opinion, what's the most important value(s) parents can instill in their children?

I place a high value on encouraging my kids to have independence and confidence.  Even if the first few steps are tough or scary, I want them  to know that if they try something, they might suprise themselves and realize they CAN do it after all.  Whether that's un-packing and hanging their backpacks up at the end of the school day or riding the swings at the school carnival, I want them to believe they're capable.

I want them to feel confident that they don't need their hand held all the time, that it's okay to make mistakes, and that we're proud of them for trying new things and taking on more responsibilities.
If your children could describe you in 3 words, which ones would they pick?

Perhaps I don't want to know! :) Maybe I'm safe since their vocabularies are limited at this age.  I think they'd probably tell you that I like to make signs, take pictures, and drink coffee. They'd be right.

Oh, and as for my shoes?  Work at home or not, it's not unlike me to wear my heels at the workbench while sawing wood.  After all, my husband's home all day too! Those fuzzy slippers just won't do. :)

10 Years of Scrapjazz

After 10 years of article writing, coordinating and publishing, it's finally time for me to step down as the editor and publisher at Scrapjazz and pass the job on to someone new.  My new business Signs by Andrea has taken off and is demanding more and more of my time these days. After a lot of thought and consideration, it's a smart choice for my business and family.

When Ben and I launched Scrapjazz on April 1st, 2002, I never would have dreamed of where it would take us, the people we'd cross paths with and the experiences we'd get to have.  It's definitely a notable milestone in my life to pass the torch.  Let's take a little walk down memory lane, shall we?

December 2001 - We purchased for a mere $250 to turn it into our crazy idea of Scrapjazz - the scrapbooking megasite.  It took months of planning and building, but we were young with no cable TV!

April 1, 2002 - We launched to the public.  That was also my birthday and I've had to share my day for the past 10 years!  We probably should have re-thought that launch date since it often meant I had a lot of work to do on my birthday like changing out all kinds of sponsors, releasing new layout galleries and publishing new articles on the 1st of every month for years.  But I digress...

October 2002 - We released our first product - the Scrap Tutor CD tutorials (which are now available for free online!).  Holy jazz that was a lot of work.  Just think! These days anyone can upload a video tutorial to YouTube!  We were so ahead of our time. :)

Let's just say it was a huge relief when we were able to mail back all the contibutors' layouts.  We were SO stressed that our basement would flood or the house would burn or something terrible would happen & ruin them all before we could send them back to the artists.

2004 - And then we released a second Scrap Tutor CD...I forget when.  We were working so hard those days it's all a blur!

May 2004 - I quit my part-time job to work on Scrapjazz full time. Ben was already developing and working for SJ full time and it needed me there too.

September 2004 - Apparently, I wasn't enough.  We hired a copy editor to double-check our work and edit all of our writers articles.  Thank you Karina!   Your work has been invaluable!

Over the Years - In addition to meeting all kinds of scrapbooking industry greats like Heidi Swapp, Cathy Zielske, Lisa Bearnson, Michelle Gerbrandt, Stacy Julian, and product designers from hundreds of scrapbooking companies, I was blessed to meet several of my "team" in person at scrapbooking events, conferences and chance meetings. 

That was my favorite.  All these girls have been such great friends to me over the years and I've loved watching several of them become huge icons in the industry!

April 2006 - And this was like the BEST. WEEKEND. EVER.  Thanks to Monique and the Scrap Etc. girls!

June 2006 - We struck a deal we couldn't refuse.  Our very good friends at were interested in buying Scrapjazz.  We loved them. They loved us.  And we had a baby on the way.  Literally.  I was having contractions during my my last conference call to to transfer my duties to and Ayla was born the next morning.

But that wasn't my last hurrah with Scrapjazz! :) While Ben moved on to other topics and ventures, I continued to be on the Blue Crew (design team) until January 2011 and manage the SJ Contributors, publishing articles and working with all the writers...until now.

March 2012 - I'm stepping down.  Passing the torch.  Moving forward.  It's a big milestone.  Huge really.  Scrapjazz has been a part of my life for 10 years.  And I've loved it. But it's time for me to focus on my next adventure.

I am so thankful to all who have played a part in my Scrapjazz world!  Blue Crew members, SJ Contributors, product manufacturers, teachers, designers, and Scrapjazz members.

You have all been such a joy to work with and get to know over the years and together you have made such amazing contributions to the scrapbooking industry by sharing your talents, ideas and projects. Thank you so much for making my job easy and fun to do! I look forward to watching the life of Scrapjazz and the scrapbooking industry continue to grow and evolve.


Burlap + Blue: A Shop Review

Since it's what I do and love, I think it's important to do my best to support other mom-based businesses with a handmade twist.  So when offered the opportunity to review this adorable little etsy shop called Burlap + Blue, I jumped at the chance.

Burlap + Blue specializes in cake stands, dessert pedestals and home decor with a vintage-inspired feel.  And Linda, the shop owner has a great eye for vintage and shabby-chic, as you can see from her blog.  She even has some great DIY tutorials:

Shabby Flower Pillow Tutorial Burlap & Ruffles Ottoman Tutorial Wood and Felt Buntings Tutorial
Shabby Flower Pillow Burlap + Ruffles Ottoman Wood + Felt Buntings

This particular black and white damask dessert pedestal in her shop caught my eye right away. 

Burlap + Blue Dessert Pedestal

It's made from combining a gorgeous patterned ceramic plate and a painted metal candlestick.

Burlap + Blue Etsy Shop Review

Together, they create this beautiful, delicate stand that says "I'm special."

Burlap + Blue Handmade Shop

I envision it proudly supporting a gorgeously decorated scrumptious cupcake for a special birthday, tiny little cheese cubes at a party buffet, or a perfectly wrapped little present with a pretty bow.  But for today, a few oatmeal cookies will have to do. :)  Don't worry, they're yummy too!

Dessert Stand - Burlap + Blue

Check out some of the other great hand-crafted products that Linda has in her Burlap + Blue Etsy Shop

Burlap + Blue Etsy Shop Sample Products

How cute are those customized coasters? And the clock?  Love it!

I'll bet you'll find a special piece in her store that speaks to you. If you do..use coupon code signsbyandrea for 15% off - expires 3/22/12. 

You're welcome. Happy shopping!



Painting Indecisions

I've been getting antsy.  When we moved into this house almost 5 years ago, we had no interest in painting.  After all, we had *just* spent 2 years repainting and updating every surface of our old house, plus we had a 1 year old kid to take care of.  So, we've had the flat brown paint on every wall in this house ever since we moved in.  Now it's full of scratches, dents, holes and marks - most of which we've made, I'll admit.

There's one exception - Ayla's bedroom, which I did paint (twice) because inevitably, I always choose the wrong color first (whoops! and ahh, better).

But I tell you what, if Pinterest doesn't make you want to repaint every room (and thing) in your house, you must not be pinning enough!

So, I made myself a little "Living Room" pinboard and tried to be very systematic and realistic about the color schemes I could use, while trying not to buy much more than paint and maybe recovering a couple of pillows.  While I may change out lamps, the rug & curtains at some point, I wanted to start with something that works with what I've already got. Which is this: white bookshelves, navy furniture, and green rug & curtains.


First, I picked out a bunch of light gray swatches, because even though *I* love the idea of turquois-y walls, I was pretty sure Ben wouldn't...and those red floors might not do so well anyhow with such a bright and dominant color.  We agreed on a swatch that seemed to contrast enough with the white trim, but wasn't too dark or tinted any strange color. 

Then I came up with this:


Working with the navy couch, white bookshelves & trim, green curtains and reddish floors, I added gray walls (using the color from my swatch) and some turquoise accents to make this color scheme.

Then I played around with some of the actual elements in the room, including two large paintings we have and put this idea board together (no, that's not my child in the photo...just someone who has the same Expedit shelves & a navy couch - convenient, eh?!):

Then I painted.  It only took a day. Then I put everything back into place so we could decide if we like it or not:


Why do the walls look baby blue? I don't know.  Because things on your computer screen never turn out quite the same in real life.  Actually, even in this photo they look more gray than they seem to look in real life.  *sigh*

MY VIEW: (from my office chair)

I do REALLY love the Expedit shelves put together on a corner like this.  Like a little mini-library that fills this side of the room quite well.

My general feelings so far about this new paint color:

  • I like it better than the brown with the red floors.
  • I'm not sure about the green. I might want a large gray fluffy rug instead and maybe some charcoal gray curtains.
  • I'd like to replace the lampshade with a circular drum shade.
  • I need a cool piece of furniture to put our TV on - painted white, or dark gray, I think.
  • I need some turquoise accents!
  • Should I have gone with a darker shade that looks less blue?
  • I think the color should extend into my office, the entryway and upstairs hallway.  But I don't think this particular color would work in the kitchen/playroom area of the house.
  • I like how it looks with our "Dot Calm" painting:

I'm open to suggestions and feedback!  What do you think?


Secretary Desk Refinished

Brezina Refinishing Review - Birmingham, AL

My grandparents bought a beautiful set of maple furniture for my mom and aunt when they were young.  A dresser & mirror, two secretary desks, a lingerie chest and a set of bunk beds.  If there were night stands, I'm not aware of it! 

Anyhow, my mom inherited the bunk beds, dresser and one of the secretary desks when she moved out on her own (or sometime in her young adult life), which means that for most of my life, *I* used them as my bedroom furniture. 

They'd been beat up, scratched, stained, dented, and even had a LOT of stickers put all over them.  But still, they remained sturdy pieces of furniture.  We had the dresser refinished as a wedding present when Ben and I got married 11 years ago, and it now resides in Ayla's room.  As does one of the twin beds, which has since been painted with white laquer paint.

But the secretary desk that I love so dearly has unfortunately sat in our garage taking up space and collecting dust for 11 years until we were ready to spend the money to have it refinished.  We waited and waited and discussed it and stewed over it every time we cleaned out the garage.  Finally, this year, I decided it was time to either fix it up and use it somewhere in the house or let it go. 

Well, I couldn't let it go.

I knew it would look so great in our kitchen and help keep all the mail and papers at bay that seem to collect on the island.  But...I'd only like it *IF* it was painted, not stained.  With all the red wood floors in our kitchen, the wood finish just didn't look quite right.  But imagine it all painted THAT would be sharp!

Originally I was going to try and paint it myself.  That illusion lasted about 10 minutes when I told Ben about my big revelation and he said "you're not doing this yourself."  He was right. This desk has an insane amount of nooks and crannies and I'm not known for my detailed precision when it comes to stuff like this.  Oh, and I've never done any refinishing before so I have zero experience.

So off to the professionals I went.  Brezina Refinishing was recommended to me by a local friend, so I called for an estimate, was not completely shocked by the price, and decided to just go for it. 

Brezina Refinishing (Tony Lee)
4915 5th Ave S
BirminghamAL 35222
(205) 599-6770

(Be sure to tell Tony that Andrea Steed sent you!)

I asked Tony for a black satin finish with slight distressing.  I was VERY pleased!

Wanna see????

Brezina Refinishing - Birmingham AL - Review

He did just the perfect amount of distressing around the edges so that the original wood peeks through.  Plus, check out that shiny brass hardware all spiffed up!

Brezina Refinishing Review - Birmingham, AL

Brezina Refinishing Review - Birmingham, AL

Brezina Refinishing Review - Birmingham, AL

Brezina Refinishing Review - Birmingham, AL

Brezina Refinishing Review - Birmingham, AL

Brezina Refinishing Review - Birmingham AL

He finished every piece of it, inside & out, front and back (since the back is open to our playroom downstairs).  It even got three new knobs for the inside drawers (since I was so resourcefully using a paper clip - yikes.

Brezina Refinishing Review - Birmingham, AL

Even the inside shelves have some neat distressing marks that almost make it look like it's *actually* worn down that way.

Brezina Refinishing Review - Birmingham, AL

And the chair looks just as good! Check it out:

Brezina Refinishing Review - Birmingham, AL

Brezina Refinishing Review - Birmingham, AL

Brezina Refinishing Review - Birmingham, AL it.  Working with Tony at Brezina Refinishing was a joy.  I would absolutely recommend him for any wood refinishing work.  I even got to see some samples of cool furniture he's restored and re-vamped in his workshop and home.  He does fantastic work.  Plus, I caught him during a slow season, so he was able to have my desk delivered to me only a week and a half after I brought it to him.  Unbelievable!

I'm so glad to finally have this desk out of the garage and into the house!  Yay!

Brezina Refinishing Review - Birmingham, AL

Next on the bedroom furniture refinishing list -- turning that other twin headboard and footboard into a bench for the entryway.  Something along these lines...maybe in a color this time though!  I think I'll probably let Brezina Furniture tackle that project too. :)


Baby's First Year Album Tutorial

I've made a few of these baby's first year albums for family and friends, and thought I'd post a quick little tutorial for how to make them.  They make great baby shower gifts or even a good way to get an easy album for your own kids made before the baby is born!  Plus, it's easy to fill in and keep up with!

Start with a 3-ring binder album. I like the We R Memory Keepers Faux Leather albums with a bookplate spine.  This one is navy, though it looks black in the photo.

Next, pick a patterned paper collection to use throughout the book.  For this album, I used the Basic Grey Oliver Collection.  The collection pack comes with some alphabet stickers and themed stickers as well.

Create a front page.  I like to leave a photo mat for a 5 x 7 photo.  I like to think it'll be filled in with a newborn photo.

Each month of the year gets a calendar journaling page.  I just made a template in Microsoft Word, added the correct numbers for the month, and then printed it on gray cardstock.

Once all the pages are printed, to make it a little more handmade I add a stamped month & year and a few strips of patterned paper.  These pages are housed in regular 8.5" x 11" page protectors.

Next, for each month, I make double-sided journaling tags, and fill in the spaces of a 2-up photo sleeves page protector.  Each tag gets a journaling stamp & some patterned paper details.  Later, the tags can be filled in with journaling information about the photos that are added from that month.

The last page for each month is a printed "milestones" page to record important details like height, weight, eating and sleeping habits, etc.  This page is also printed on gray cardstock with patterned paper details.  I made the template for it in Microsoft Word. For this particular album, I used my Silhouette to cut the numbers for each month as well.

All that's left is a "one" page at the end of the book.  Again, I left a photo mat for a 5 x 7 photo to be added later.

It's a pretty easy-to-make, assembly-line style album and can be completed in a couple of days. Since it's handmade and can be personalized to match the decor for any nursery or with the baby's name, etc., it makes a special gift.

Here are some other versions of the album that I've made before:

Twin Books:

Gender-Neutral Baby Album:



New at A.Steed's.Life

You may notice a few changes around here this week! A.Steed's.Life got a little facelift!  Apparently my uncontrollable urge to rearrange all the rooms in my house at the beginning of the year extends to my virtual spaces as well! :) 

While I work on getting everything back into place and spruced up, please be sure to let me know if you run into any problems accessing posts, logging in, or commenting, etc.!  Thanks for visiting!


Last Day of the Signs By Andrea Sale!

Today (December 16th) is the last day to take advantage of my "Buy More, Save More" sale on my painted wood signs at 

- 10% off one sign, 20% off two signs, and 30% off three or more signs!

It's also the last couple of days to order a sign and have it shipped in time for Christmas!  

So don't wait any longer!  Order now!

At midnight tonight, all my signs are going back to full price and I will be shipping out the last of the holiday season orders by  Tuesday, December 20th.  Then I'm taking a painting break until after Christmas to be with my family.

It's been a great (and busy!) season.  Thank you so much to everyone who has ordered already! I hope you've been pleased with your hand-crafted signs.  You've helped make 2011 a successful year for me and my family!

Happy Holidays to you all!


Through the Years Album - Paxton

A few months ago I finally caught up on a few of my annual scrapbooks.  Specifically - the pages for Paxton's year-by-year album to match Ayla's

I love these books.  They only require that I make one two-page spread a year, but show a great collage of photos of the kids from each month of the year as well as highlight some of the milestones and big events.  Simple, and do-able. 

His album is an 8" x 8" book by American Crafts.

Also...a good reminder of how miserably hard his first year was...

and how sweet and fun he became about 1/2 way through his second year...

And while I was at it, I finished up Ayla's next two pages too:

Felt good to do a little bit of scrapbooking. :)


New Website & HUGE Signs by Andrea Sale!

Wow! I've got all kinds of news!  A new website, changes on A.Steed's.Life., and a BIG, HUGE, ONCE-A-YEAR SALE.

Over the past several weeks, my own personal webmaster (aka Ben) has been hard at work helping me put together a brand new web site for Signs by Andrea.  My sign business and Zazzle poster sales have grown so much over the past year, it was time to give them both the attention they deserve.  To do this, I'm separating my blog into two separate websites: 

I think you'll find the new website is easy to navigate and offers a much more pleasant shopping experience.  Now you can personalize and add any of my signs to your shopping cart instantly, pay online, and track the status of your orders.  It's fabulous.  I'm beyond excited. :)

And this new website couldn't have come at a better time (nothing like a deadline to get us going)....  Beginning today, I'm offering my HUGEST sign sale of the year.  It's time to start getting your shopping underway and get ahead of the holiday rush.  This is the one sale you want don't want to miss.  It doesn't get any better than this:


So come on over now and check out the newly launched and tell me what you think!


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