Projects

  • March 22, 2017

    Bullet Journal

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    I am willing to bet that you’ve already heard about bullet journaling – it seems to be all the craze right now.  I wanted to try it out before giving my assessment and thoughts on the idea, so I’ve been using my journal since the new year and am ready to share my experiences with you.

    First, though, for those of you who are not yet familiar with the system, here is a video from the original creator to help explain the idea/process:

    Ok, got it?  Pretty simple, right?  And fairly ingenious, really.

    First, my journal is a simple Moleskine, dotted, in the extra large (7.5×10) size.  My favorite thing about this journal is the dots.  While setting it up, I had considered a lined journal, but opted for the dots which afford wonderful guidance as I draw and create graphs and date boxes.  I think a lined journal could work, but you’ll have more obvious horizontal lines in your open spaces and you’ll struggle more getting the vertical lines at proper right angles.

    As I use it, I am finding that it’s a bit large to carry around and use away from home.  I like that I have room for my little drawing and such, but might give a smaller size a try next year.  I also am finding that this journal’s pages are quite thin and ink shows through so that  I can really only use one side of the page.  I have heard that the Leuchtturm brand has a bit thicker paper.

    Now, for the set up: I kept to the, sort of, standard way they recommend to start.  I have key, yearly calendar, and index pages:

    Key

    Index

    Year

    Pages to track goals, books, movies, and travel:

    Resolutions

    Books

    And then I start my months and calendars.  Each month starts with a page that includes a habit tracker, a month calendar, and space for goals that I have that month.  I also include a picture or quote here to liven the page  up a bit:

    Month

    After the initial month page, I have a page to write daily gratitudes.  These pages go along with the theme of the first page or with a holiday/feeling that I associate with the month (so, for February, it was hearts and for March, it was thistles and tea).

    Thankful

    Finally, after the gratitude page, I have each week for the month drawn out.  These pages include space for each day, a menu for the week, and a space for notes or a to-do list (this is where I use the transfer system with the >, <, X, etc symbols as suggested in the video and my Key page.

    Week

    Overall, I really like this system.  It has helped me to hold myself accountable and to remember things like sending birthday cards and scheduling appointments.  The set up time is a bit long and the book is less convenient than having an app in my phone, but I find the time setting it up and physically writing or drawing in the book is sort of meditative and does help my brain to slow down a bit.  I’ve also discovered that I am in love with washi tape and I really love experimenting with different hand lettering styles and art!

  • March 16, 2016

    Easter Eggs

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    Dying eggs is my most favorite Easter tradition and reminds me of quality time I had with my mom and a good friend of ours while I was growing up.  I don’t remember how my mom’s friend got involved, probably because her boys had outgrown the tradition, but she became an integral part of our celebration.  It has now been years since I last dyed an Easter Egg, but it’s such a beautiful tradition, so I decided to learn a little more about the history behind it all and try my had at naturally coloring some eggs!

    My research has shown me that, like Christmas, many Easter traditions were borrowed from pagan celebrations and repurposed into something new.  Eggs symbolize fertility and rebirth, so early Christians adopted them as a symbol for Christ’s resurrection.

    Understanding the coloring part of the tradition is a little less obvious as there are many different theories as to how it all got started.  Some believe eggs were decorated simply to beautify them in celebration of Lent coming to an end – eggs were not allowed during Lent.  Other’s believe Mary had eggs at the crucifixion and Jesus’ blood dripped on them – coloring them red – and so we color eggs red in remembrance of his sacrifice.  Other legends claim that Mary had the eggs with her and they miraculously turned red when she saw the risen Christ or, alternatively, when she told someone he had risen and he replied that Christ had no more risen than her eggs were red, so they turned red.

    Whatever the historical reason, I enjoy the tradition because it reminds me of home, of simple joys, and of familial closeness.

    Now, on the “show” part of this little show and tell!  *grin*  Because we try to eat cleanly and don’t buy dyes or foods containing dyes, we were determined to try and color some eggs naturally this year!  I didn’t have the time or desire to test lots of different recipes – frankly, I don’t even really like hard boiled eggs all that much – so we’re going to try good old Martha Stewarts recipes out and see what happens!  *grin*

    We decided to try to achieve pale yellow, light blue and chartreuse for our eggs.  There are a lot of other colors that require different ingredients and techniques listed on the website, so I would encourage you to check it out!

    Following the instructions given, we simplified them a bit and came up with the following:

    Pale Yellow: Bring 1 quart water, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, and 3 tablespoons turmeric to a boil.  Once it has boiled, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain dye into a bowl and place already hard boiled eggs into solution and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

    Turmeric

     

    Light Blue: Bring 1 quart water, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, and 4 cups chopped cabbage to a boil (add more water and vinegar in their correct proportions if needed to cover the cabbage).  Once it has boiled, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain dye into a bowl and place already hard boiled eggs into solution and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

    Cabbage

     

    Chartreuse: Use the dyes already used for pale yellow and light blue.  Soak eggs in the turmeric dye for 30 minutes and remove.  Then, place in the cabbage dye briefly – about 5 minutes.

    Coloring-Eggs

     

    Eggs

    Pro Tip: When removing the eggs from the color, pat them dry with a paper towel – don’t rub!  If you rub too much, the color will come off!

    Expect a bit of variation with your eggs.  I don’t know what makes the color stick or not stick, but some defiantly turned out better than others and they were all done the same.

    Cabbage, turmeric, eggs, and vinegar all stink, so try to plan your egg dying time for when you can have an open window!  Otherwise your house will stink and everyone will wonder what kind of mess you’re making for dinner!

    I hope ya’ll give this little project a try!  I was very pleasantly surprised by the vibrancy of the colors and how easy it all actually was.  Way more interesting and fun (as an adult at least… though, you could totally turn this into a mini science lesson for your kids) than the little kits you can buy!

    Easter-Eggs

  • May 6, 2015

    Essential Oil Bath Bombs

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    My friend Joanna over at youtube.com gave me this fantastic recipe for bath bombs using essential oils and I am so excited to share it with you!  These bath bombs have made my skin so soft and I really love how easy they are to do!  With Mother’s Day coming up, why not whip up a batch and share some rest and relaxation with your Mama?  *grin*

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 cup baking soda
    • 1/4 cup citric acid
    • 1/4 cup starch (corn, tapioca, or arrowroot)
    • 1 tablespoon epsom salts
    • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
    • 3 tsp water
    • 10 drops of essential oils
    • Small candy molds

     

    Instructions:

    1. In a large glass, ceramic, or metal bowl, combine the first 4 ingredients.
    2. With a fork, work in the coconut oil, leaving some chunks of the oil.
    3. In a separate, smaller bowl, combine water and essential oils .  Add the mixture to the dry ingredients a little at a time – stir quickly as the mixture might start to foam a little.
    4. Once all ingredients are combined, press it firmly into each mold and allow to dry overnight.  Store in an air-tight container, preferably made of glass.

     

    Pro-tips:

    Make sure you press it in the mold really good and tight, this will help the bath bombs stay together better and for longer amount of time.

    Use whatever oils you prefer – I liked the calmer fragrances  like lavender  because I tend to take baths to relax, but if you want to toss one in your shower in the morning, go for something uplifting like wild orange.  Or, if you’re struggling with a cold or allergies, try eucalyptus to open up your nose during a hot bath.

    These bath bombs won’t hold their shape forever, so don’t make too many in one go unless you take a lot of baths.  *grin*

     

    Bath-Bomb

  • March 11, 2015

    DIY Chalkboard Steins

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    Happy St. Patrick’s Day, ya’ll!  I have been dying to try some chalkboard paint projects, so with the upcoming holiday, it seemed like a perfect time to give it a shot!  Not to promote stereotypes or generalizations, but Ireland is pretty darn famous for its beer production and pub culture, so I gathered up some plain glass steins and got to work!  This was a fun (although somewhat frustrating) project that yielded beautiful results.  I hope you enjoy and try this yourself – if you do, I’d also love to see your results and tips!  In the meantime, have a happy and safe celebration of St. Patrick!

     

    For this project, you will need:

    • Glass Steins
    • Vinyl Stencils
    • Chalkboard Paint (I used pebelo porcelain)
    • Paintbrush

    Supplies

     

    Directions:

    Place your stencils on the glasses as straight as possible.  To do this, you will peel the vinyl off its backing, stick it to the glass, and then peel off the paper backing that is still attached.

    Peel-Backing-Off

    I found that laying the stencil down and then placing the stein on top gave me more control and kept the stencils straighter… but do whatever feels best to you, there’s no wrong or right with this!

    Stencils

    Paint the steins with chalkboard paint and let dry.  The pebelo paint that I used requires 24 hours to dry, but I ended up needing a few coats of the paint to feel like it really covered the glass, so I painted, let dry for 12 hours, painted, let dry, so on and so on until it looked good to me.

    Paint

    Carefully peel off your stencils and clean up an sticky residue left on the glass.  Be extra, super careful when taking the stencils off!  I had a couple steins where the paint wanted to peel up with the stencil and would have created a terrible problem.

    Peel-off-the-Stencil

    Place the steins upright in the oven on a cookie sheet.  Turn on the oven and heat to 300 degrees F.  Bake for 30 minutes to cure the paint.  When done, remove from oven and let cool.  I only baked 3 at a time because I worried that the heat wouldn’t distribute as well with 6 glasses inside.  I also worried I’d be clumsy and knock half of them over inside the oven.  This method took a little longer, but prevented all kinds of problems for me.

    Bake

    Once totally cooled, you can use your steins!  I hate the way regular chalk feels on my hands, so I found the wonderful Super Chalk chalk-marker-pens which have beautiful color and don’t feel gross.  It also stays on better than regular chalk would and clean off well with water, so that is definitely a plus.

    Drink-Up!

    The last (and most exciting) step is to fill ‘er up and enjoy a cold beverage!

    Fill-'er-up!

  • February 25, 2015

    Essential Oils Carpet Odor Killer

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    My husband and I have two pets, a corgi and a cat.  We love them to pieces, but they both shed like mad and stink up the house if we’re not careful.  So, I vacuum once a week and use this odor killer as often as needed to keep the carpet clean and smelling fresh.  I imagine this same mixture could easily be used on furniture as well, if needed.

     

    Supplies2

    Ingredients:

    • Baking Soda
    • Essential Oil – You can use whatever oils you like depending on what you hope to accomplish with them.  For instance, Lavender is a nice smell in a bedroom to help you relax and sleep.  On Guard and Cinnamon will kill germs and yuckies that thrive in your carpet.  Lemon leaves a lovely, uplifting scent that feels really clean.

    Directions:

    • To make the odor killing mixture, combine a small box of baking soda with 5-10 drops of essential oil.  Mix thoroughly before beginning the cleaning process.
    • Run your vacuum over the carpet you want to neutralize.
    • Sprinkle the baking soda mixture over the whole carpet.
    • If your carpet is really stinky or has long fibers, work it in as much as you can.
    • Let it sit for a while – an hour or more if you can.
    • Vacuum it all back up and enjoy your fresher smelling house.

     

    Carpet-Cleaner

    Pro Tip:

    Ensure the oils you use are safe for your kids and pets before using!  Some animals, like birds, are extra sensitive to some oils and great care needs to be taken to ensure they aren’t hurt by your cleaning product.

    I keep my odor killing mixture readymade in an old glass jar.  Be sure to only use glass or metal containers when using essential oils – never ever plastic!

  • January 21, 2015

    Pet Bed DIY

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    For a while now, our cat has been sleeping on an old (ugly) bean bag chair that was carelessly left in our basement just long enough for him to get attached.  It’s hideous, but he didn’t have anywhere else (nice) to sleep, so the bean bag chair had to stay.  In a effort to take back my basement, I decided to make our kitty a new bed from a re-purposed t-shirt and some extra fleece fabric I had laying around.

    This is actually the second pillow/cover combination I have made – my dog has a bigger one made of old jeans.  I really like that I can pull the pillow insert out from the cover and wash the cover rather than trying to wash a giant pillow in my machine.  Not only is it easier on my machine, but it also gets washed a lot more frequently because it is so much easier!  Stinky pet beds are not something I am a big fan of.

    Supplies

    Items you will need:

    • Fabric for the cover
    • Old t-shirt or other fabric for the pillow insert
    • Pillow stuffing
    • Sewing machine, thread, pins, scissors, etc.

     

    Instructions:

    TShirt-Pillow

    To make the pillow insert, cut an old t-shirt right under the arms so it’s a square/rectangle.  I used one of my husband’s medium sized shirts and the dimensions came out to 19×12 inches.  You can also use new fabric and other sizes to accommodate what supplies you have available as well as your pet’s specific needs.

    Sew-Up-The-Sides

    Next, turn the shirt piece inside-out and sew up the sides, leaving a hole at the end big enough to turn it rightside-out.

    Stuff-Pillow

    Turn the pillow insert rightside-out and stuff it with the pillow stuffing.  Then, you will sew up the hole.  Normally, I would do a blind stitch here by hand so you wouldn’t see where the hole had been, but this is a pet bed and the insert will not be seen, so I took the lazy gal’s way out and used my machine to close it up.

    Measure

    To make the cover for your insert, lay the outer fabric out and place your pillow insert on top so you can get an idea of what size to cut it to.  For my 19×12 insert, I used 15×53 of the cover fabric.

    Hem

    Once your cover fabric is cut, hem both ends by folding in one inch and then rolling that again and sewing it down (after hemming, my cover measured 15×49).

    Right-Side-Out

    Now, fold over (inside out) 15 inches on one side and 13 inches up on the other side so they overlap each other.  Sew up both sides, leaving the open pocket.

    Turn right-side out and stuff the pillow inside the cover through the open pocket and you’re done!

    Happy-Kitty

    Give the pillow to your pet and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done and a comfy pet.

     

    Pro-Tip: If you’re making this pillow for your cat and he isn’t terribly impressed by it at first, hide some catnip inside the cover.  This will encourage him to at least give it a try.  *grin*

  • November 12, 2014

    DIY: Pennant Banner

    Pennant-Banner

    Have you ever noticed how difficult it can be to make time for thing s you really enjoy or things you really want to do.  Often these things are time consuming, expensive, or difficult.  People in general have a tendency to let our passions fall by the wayside as we focus on making it through the daily grind.  We work, we clean, we fulfill our obligations in the world and then we start it all over again tomorrow.

    I am learning more and more that this is how I tend to live my life.  It’s a big part of my upbringing – to work hard and to find pride in that work; to be strong and smart and never give up.  These aren’t bad things.  In fact, I’m pretty proud of who I am and what I do.  I am, however, learning to slow it down sometimes and make room for things that genuinely make me happy.  A friend of mine recently told me that too often people live to work but should really be working to live.  What’s the point of the daily grind if we never do anything we love?

    One of those things I love, but rarely make time for, is sewing.  I have always enjoyed crafting and creating and sewing can fill that need quite nicely.  So, for today, I have devised a very simple, but very fun sewing project tutorial for a double sided pennant banner.  I hope you enjoy taking the time to make one as much as I did!

     

    Supplies

    You will need:

    Fabric (I used pieces from two different charm packs)

    Bias Tape

    Thread

    Sewing Machine (or a lot of free time to hand sew)

    Pinking Shears

    Fabric Pencil

    Choose-Fabric

    Step One: Choose your fabric.  You will need one 5×5 square of fabric for each side.  The fabric collections (and side of the banner) are autumn and Christmas themed.  Lay the sides together, back to back.

     

    Trace-Pattern

    Step Two: Create a pattern.  I used the cardboard piece that came with my charm packs to create a triangle.  Trace the pattern on one side of each set of fabric squares with your fabric pencil.  I did all of my pattern tracing on the autumn themed side to keep it simple.

     

    Sewn-Together

    Step Three: Sew the two sides together along your lines.

     

    Cut

    Step Four: Cut outside the lines you’ve sewn with the pinking shears.  This creates a decorative edge while also preventing the fabric from unraveling.

    Repeat steps two through four until you have enough pennant triangles for your banner.  I used the full 3 yards of bias tape for my banner and made fourteen triangles, but you can make yours as long or as short as you care to.  Just make sure to measure first so you know how many pennant triangles you need to make.

     

    Pin-the-Bias-Tape

    Step Five: Once you’ve made all your pennant triangles, pin them in to the bias tape.  To ensure your banner is evenly spaced, simply fold the bias tape directly in half and place and equal number of pennant triangles on each side.  Easy!

    Now that you have everything pinned in place, sew along the edge to pull it all together.  I decided to sew two parallel lines along the bias tape to help with stability.

     

    Fall-Side

    Step Six: Hang up your pennant banner and admire your handiwork!  And when the season changes, just flip the banner around!

    Christmas-Side

     

     

  • June 18, 2014

    DIY: All Purpose Cleaner

    Last week I wrote about clean eating, so today I want to start a little discussion about clean cleaning.

    If you use store bought cleaners in your home, you are familiar with how sparkly and shiny they can make your home.  You are also familiar with the strong smells, headaches, expense, and danger associated with those chemicals.  I have never been able to clean my bathroom without both the fan running and the window open.  My kitchen is more open, so I have less trouble there, but then I wonder about the safety of eating food that touches my counters since I just wiped them down with chemical cleaners that tell me right on the label you shouldn’t ingest them.

    I’m thinking this might be a problem.

    So… I started doing some research.  It seems like there are a million and one ways to naturally clean your home.  Everyone has a different opinion and preference, but there are definitely some common ingredients that we can all agree on.  After taking it all in and talking with some good friends, I’ve come up with an all purpose cleaner that I feel good about using on my countertops.

    For this “recipe” you will need a glass spray bottle.  I include Essential Oils in my cleaner and these oils may have the ability to break down plastics and become toxic.

    Ingredients:

    • Water
    • Vinegar
    • Lemon Oil
    • Melaleuca (Tea Tree) Oil
    • On Guard Oil Blend

    Instructions:

    Fill your glass spray bottle half way with vinegar and the rest of the way with water.  Add 2-3 drops of each oil.  Shake well and get cleaning!

     

    I use vinegar as part of the base for my cleaner because vinegar is acetic (in fact, there is a more acetic cleaning grade vinegar on the market if you care to get that instead of the regular vinegar).  The acid in vinegar polishes metals, dissolves soap scum, kills mildew and mold, and removes some stains.  These properties make it very attractive for cleaning bathrooms and kitchens.

    Water is used to help cut the other ingredients.  It doesn’t necessarily help the cleaning process, but it does help the overall smell and usability of the cleaner.

    I love lemon to clean with for a few reasons:  1. It smells great!  Lemon is a natural mood lifter.  2. It is antiseptic, anti-fungal, and antiviral oil.  Lemon will kill tons of common household germs and gunk.  3. It works wonders on removing sticky stuff!

    Melaleuca oil is an even stronger antiseptic.  It will also kill bacteria, fungus, viruses, and other infectious germs.  Melaleuca has been used throughout history as a medical tool to help heal wounds and cuts… I use it whenever I get a blemish.

    On Guard is a special blend of oils that doTERRA makes and markets as a germ killing, health giving miracle mix.  And it is.  With orange, clove, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus, and rosemary, this blend of oils is magical.  This is shown to kill bacteria, mold, and viruses.  It also stimulates your immune system, protecting you from the very things you’re cleaning up!

    The first time I used this combination to clean my home, I noticed that I felt better when the cleaning was done.  My mood was good and my home smelled really nice.  I love the feeling of clean without the smell of fake pine and citrus.  Totally makes sense why chemical cleaners are lemon scented, though, right?

    As with anything you do, please be cautious when trying new oils and mixtures.  Essential oils are highly concentrated and may cause negative reactions if left on your skin or ingested.  For the most part, you’ll probably be fine, but do a little tester first to be sure.  And if you know you are sensitive to, say, cinnamon, maybe find something with similar properties to replace it.  The same caution goes for your pets.  This mixture should be diluted enough for most pets, but again, be mindful of how it may effect them.  I recommend checking out this website if you have questions about pet safety.

    And there you have it!  A simple, green, healthy way to save money and keep your home clean and germ free!

    *grin*

  • May 10, 2014

    Planting Day

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    Oh man, I am running a little late this week.  What day is it?  Saturday?

    *sigh*

    What can I say, I’ve been busy this week crying my eyes out over The Fault in Our Stars.

    So there.

    Seriously, though, if you haven’t read it yet, stop everything you’re doing and read it.  Maybe buy a new box of tissues first.

    But, real quick before you do that, let me tell you about the other thing I am SO excited about this week!  Today was planting day!  Last weekend, my hubby and I went out to the local gardens to buy some veggie plants so we can get our garden going.

    Usually, we try to get things planted as soon as we get them, but the weather has not been ideal for planting.  So, today when we woke up to sunshine and blue skies, we jumped at the opportunity to get some tomatoes in the ground!

    We’ve been planting tomatoes in our raised garden bed for 3 summers now and have always had pretty good success.  Last year, we tried a black heirloom tomato in a planter, but failed miserably.  So, this year, we decided to forget the fancy tomatoes and branch out and try for some eggplant.  I am so excited!!!  We are also trying out jalapenos this year, so watch for some salsa recipes this summer!

    Pepper

    I’m also happy to report that our strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are coming back stronger than last summer.  And, the plum and pear trees are starting to look promising too.  Hopefully we’ll get some good fruit this time around!

    Strawberries

    Blueberries  Raspberries

    I find so much joy each spring when we start everything new and fresh.  We got rained out towards the end, but our garden is planted and it’s going to be amazing!  It’s a great feeling to bring something to life and make your own food.  I know it probably sounds a little hokey, but gardening is something my husband and I really love, and take pride in.  Also, I just really love to eat.

    Now, if I can just find a tree that will make chocolate bars and ice cream….

  • March 12, 2014

    Basement Project

    Supplies

    Recently I mentioned a project that displaced me from my office area and wreaked havoc on my life for most of February.  I also mentioned that I’d share that project with you.

    So, without further ado, here’s my shiny new basement!

    We went from this:

     

    Before

     

    Ugly-Walls

     

    To this:

     

    Base-Coat

     

    Fireplace

     

    To this:

     

    Full-Wall

     

    Finished-Wall

     

    The accent wall is my very favorite part of the whole room.  I had never stenciled anything before, so I was pretty fearful that it would be a disaster… but I think it turned out pretty amazing.  I had the help of a great friend which made the process bearable and so much easier.

    If you would like to achieve a similar style and aren’t sure where to start, let me advise.
    First, you need the following things:

    • Stencils (two of the same if you can swing it financially)
    • Paint
    • A little roller with a foam pad (not the regular furry pads)
    • Tape
    • A level
    • Your best friend (or at the very least, someone who you don’t mind getting a little up close and personal with)

      Paint-Can

    The first thing you’ll do is pick a spot on the wall to be your starting point.  It doesn’t really matter where, but it is best not to start at a corner or at the ceiling or floor.  You see, most houses aren’t actually square and most walls are really crooked.  By picking a point in the middle of the wall as your starting point, you will create the illusion that your wall isn’t wonky.

    Once you have your spot picked out, go ahead and use that level to make sure your stencil is straight.  Then you can tape it to the wall and start painting!

    When you load the paint roller up with paint, try not to get too much paint soaked in.  We found that loading the roller and then rolling the excess off on paper bags helped immensely.  The rollers worked best when they were a little tacky, not soaked with paint.  If you can, I would actually recommend doing a trial run on another wall you haven’t painted yet or a piece of cardboard.

    Once you have your first stencil down, it’s easy to move along by just matching up the correct points on your stencil.  Smooth sailing until you hit a wall or window.  Then, you need your best friend to bend and hold the stencil up for you against the wall so you can push your roller in and cover wall to wall.  I suppose you can do this yourself if you needed to… but it was so much better with someone else to help and hold things in place!

    So, you just keep after it as best you can and after a while, voila!  There is a beautiful, stenciled wall!

     

    Up-Close

     

    Pro Tips:

    More complicated patterns show mistakes less readily than simple lines.

    Choosing colors that are similar also show mistakes less readily than two contrasting colors.  However, choosing colors that are similar also makes it really hard to see when you’re actually doing the painting.

    Make sure you have really good lighting, it will help SO MUCH.

    Using two stencils helped the process move much quicker than just one would have.  As you paint, some will seep under the stencil and end up on the other side… by having two stencils, we were able to let one dry while we worked with the other.