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Author: Shannon (page 1 of 2)

5 Things To Keep In Mind When You Are Painting Loose

Trying to paint loose might seem like an easy task but it is not. As effortless as it looks, the process requires you to have a good vision for it and a good thought process to ensure that the results are satisfactory. When you paint freely, you also have to ensure that the quality of the painting does not go down( If you are looking to order some good quality paintings, you can refer here ) and the painting also looks as relaxed as the style.

You have to use the right approach while painting loose so that it does not end up looking too loose and the colours don’t look shallow since you will be using watercolours for it. In this article, we share with you some tips on how to use the right style while painting loose and achieve the desired results with it:

  1. Establish A Solid Foundation First

The outline of the elements in the painting is extremely important when you are painting loose. You could even practise on rough sheets before you start on the canvas. The closer to accurate outline you draw for the painting, the better it will get for you to give details to the elements, no matter how complex it is. The pencil marks on the outline should not be dark and thick in a watercolour painting or else they will be visible in the painting and won’t be a good sight to look at.

  1. Holistic Approach

Once you have drawn the outline in the painting, envision the painting as a whole. Don’t particularly imagine the background or the focal points in the painting, but approach the artwork as a whole. It is alright if you even want to keep the background clean and white but the elements in the foreground should merge well with the white background and look as natural as possible. A rule of thumb here is that in a loose painting, keep the edges as soft as possible.

  1. Brushstrokes Have Their Effect

This applies to all kinds of painting, including a loose painting – the brushstrokes should not look messy and muddled up. It is not only important to know how to mix colours and focus on how the painting looks but also equally important is to know how to apply the brush strokes in the painting. The strokes should be well placed and look deliberate. This will give the dominance of colours in the painting and help you in balancing the value and temperature of the colours on the canvas. This will only come to you if you take practising seriously and with experience, you will learn the techniques of applying brushstrokes well.

  1. Thicker Paint In The Beginning

When you start painting on the surface, start with using thick paint. Once that is done you could add water to the surface and loosen out the painting by allowing the paint to spread out. Make sure you check the palette once a while because if the puddle of paint on the palette is looking ugly and messy, chances are that it will have the same results on the canvas. So learn to mix the colours well to ensure that the colours look vivid on canvas.

  1. You Don’t Have To Finish The Painting

In the case of loose painting, you don’t need to finish the painting accurately. You could even choose to leave some parts of the painting without any touch ups or unfinished. If a certain part of the painting seems too shallow or has faded, let it be. As an artist, you only have to determine which areas are the focal points of the painting and focus on doing it right to weave the right story of the painting.

Painting loose is a technique that requires more effort than a normal painting. The process is not as easy as it looks on the canvas. You will develop this style of painting with a lot of practice. Let us know your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below. Happy Painting!

Put a Cloche On It!

Remember back in May when I went to visit Michael at his B&B? Well during one of our late night, sangria-soaked nights on the porch, we found one particular idea awfully hysterical (you know how it goes). The idea was to Put a Cloche On It! We must have been discussing things like blogger and design trends and the ubiquitous Put a Bird On It and when we realized our mutual love for cloches and Put a Cloche On It was born. Cute stack of vintage books? Make it cuter and put a cloche on it! A trio of fancy candles? It’ll be fancier under a cloche! You get the idea. Everything looks better under a cloche.

Now, if you’re wondering what a cloche is, and I know some of you are, it’s a glass dome or bell jar. You can find them everywhere from antique stores to HomeGoods to the shelf of your thrift store, disguised as a cheese plate dome. They’re everywhere. So if you’re not in on the cloche game, there really is nothing stopping you. You want cute things to look cuter, right? Of course, you do.

So here’s what we’re doing…or at least what I remember from our drunken conversations. Let’s make Put a Cloche on It a thing. Or #PACOI if you’re in on the Instagram or Twitter game. Go round up a cloche, pop it on something cute and show us all how much cuter your life now is. Michael and I are gonna have a link up on Tuesday 12/18 so make sure you get it done this weekend and come back to show everyone.

Now let me show you what I Put a Cloche on…

The milk and cookies set I DIY’d last week looks even better under a cloche and is now safe from toddler grabby hands! You guys know my penchant for all things cute wrapping related, so the thought of hiding my ribbons and such away sort of disappointed me. So I rounded them up and covered them with a cloche. It looks cute plus they’re protected from both toddler hands and sneaky cats.

Now if you didn’t believe me when I said that everything, absolutely everything, looks better under a cloche, then I present to you….

Bills under a cloche. They won’t go away but they’ll look fantastic while they wait to be paid.

Annnnnd matchbox cars under a cloche. I mean, they’re already taking over my house, I might as well enjoy them, right?

Okay, so you got it? Next week, bring your pretty things under a cloche, bring your funny things under a cloche, bring anything under a cloche. And tag the shit out of it #PACOI. It’ll be fun, I promise.

Dare to Give Handmade…Sharpie Mugs!

This week’s Dare to DIY challenge is to Give Handmade. I’ve made my stance on handmade gifts pretty clear over the years…I moooostly don’t do them. Except for a sundae in a box and some caramels. Wait, why are all my homemade gifts food related??? But anyway, this gift was born out of pure selfishness. I wanted it for myself and when it turned out kinda cute, I decided to gift one to my friend and her little fam. You can personalize that shizz too!

I wanted a cuter plate for Santa’s cookies and a cuter cup for the milk. I actually told myself to do this last year. So I’m proud of myself for my follow-through. Anywho, I decided to do the ubiquitous sharpie on a mug/plate thing. You’ve had to see this all over Pinterest. However, once a DIY project goes viral, with it comes to all sort of complaints about things not working and OHMYGODHOWWILLIWASHIT??? People need to 1) calm the eff down and 2) follow directions.

btw have you noticed that a chalkboard wall is pretty much the perfect background for everything?

Target has perfect little plates and espresso mugs for $1.99 each, which was the perfect price for messing up. I actually checked the Dollar Tree first but they didn’t have anything nearly as cute. You also need a Sharpie fine point, oil-based paint marker. I picked it up at Michaels and it was right on the Sharpie endcap.

First, I preheated my oven to 350 degrees.  Then I sketched out on paper what I wanted it to look like. Then I just decided to go for it and free-hand write it on the plate. Luckily I didn’t hate it. But honestly, I was sort of scared the whole 20 seconds it took me to do it.

Then I put the plate and mug into the oven, right on the rack and baked it for 30 minutes. Once the timer went off, I turned the oven off but left the plate and mug in there for a few hours, until the oven & the staff were fully cooled.

Took it out, had a little photo shoot, ate the cookies and plopped both pieces in the dishwasher. Normally I’d just handwash it because this is a one-night-a-year thing and it’s not getting that dirty. But since the internet crazies have to know all methods of washing, it made it through a normal dishwashing almost unscathed. Some of the paint came off but not enough for me to even care or fill it in. How about you just handwash them carefully? Good? Good.

Go check out the rest of the handmade gifts and feel bad about your self! 😉


In going with my ( admittedly slightly depressing) but totes comfy and cozy Scandi Christmas, I give you an idea that I’m pretty sure I came up with on my own, Ombre Felt Scalloped Trees. Like, I didn’t see it anywhere and copy it. I’m not saying this exact project hasn’t been done before because, really, who are we kidding, these type of things are everywhere, but I had an original idea! This is cause for celebration!

Supplies Needed:

Tree Shaped Cardboard Cones from your craft store
Various colors of Felt
Hot Glue

This is an imperfect sort of tree and I embrace uneven scallops and gaps. Just turn that portion to face the wall, right? Felt is my fabric of choice this winter so prepare to be bombarded by that wooly goodness. All up in your face wooly goodness.


As bloggers, we all get writer’s block from time to time, right? It’s usually when I haven’t done anything “blog-worthy” in awhile, I get the blog blahs and it leads to no pictures and no good content. My craft table lies untouched, my camera collects dust, my cookbooks stay put on their shelves. When I’m not feeling the inspiration, you know what would be helpful? A website aimed at bloggers, filled to the brim with ideas for our choosing. How about a website offering to send us products to try?

Well, guess what? ConAgra, the giant company that is home to some of your favorite brands, has launched a website that will do all that and more. The website is called The Dish and it gives bloggers easy access to recipes, cooking advice, kitchen tips, and exclusive content. Its focus is for food bloggers as well as us mom/décor/recipe/crafty type bloggers that don’t fit into any one category.

Since we all love free stuff, I’m pretty sure you’ll be my favorite part, the First Look, First Taste section of the site. Once you sign up, using your blog’s URL, you’ll be able to browse the current promotions and request samples to be sent to your home. In the past, they’ve offered RO*TEL (which I’ve never had but as a Mexican food lover, I know I should!), PAM Cooking Spray and new varieties of Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn. No obligation, no nothing! Just free product sent to you as a blogger with hopes that you’ll enjoy it and let all your readers know about it. You can’t beat it!

You’ll also find other sections on The Dish like Seasonal Spotlight, which right now inspires you to write about all things summer like grilling, going on picnics and growing your own garden herbs. All of the articles are written by a panel of experts for The Dish, including professional marketers, editors, bloggers and even a supermarket guru! Plus, celebrity chef George Duran, who you’ve surely seen all over Food Network and TLC, lends his expertise in the kitchen with video demonstrations using the products you’re reading about. You can even contact any of The Dish team members in the Ask Our Team section at any time to get answers to your burning questions.

Finally, what would a website like this be without all of the recipes? The Recipes Resource section gathers all of the highly-rated recipes from their Ready-Set-Eat website in one place, giving you all of the access without all of the searching. This is ideal for me because every month when I’m trying to compile the next month’s menu plan, I don’t want to link up the same recipes my readers have already seen floating around the internet. I want fresh, new menu ideas that are easy to make and are easy on my budget.

So next time you’re having a slow week blog-wise, log on to The Dish and start browsing all of the inspiring content. Next thing you know, you’ll have a new recipe to make and share with all of your readers. Who knows, you might write the next viral blog post!

One lucky reader will receive a $50 Visa gift card! To be entered for a chance to win, just let me know which section of The Dish seems the most useful.


No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. b) Tweet about this promotion with hashtag #sweepstakes and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise, a new winner will be selected.The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstake runs from 8/22/2012-9/8/2012. Be sure to visit ConAgra Foods’ brand page on where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!

Paper Bag Flower Tutorial

So ever since my Mother’s Day brunch guest post on Michael’s blog, these paper flowers have become quite the hot commodity. Everyone wanted to know how to make them. So I finally got my shizz together and had John take pics of me making one. Hurray bags!
Now you’re probably thinking, wait a minute Shan, these don’t look nice and full like the ones pictured. Well, you’re right. This is the base. feel free to go around, repeating the process with a second bag, adding more petals or a bigger, twisted middle. It’s hard to mess up. Just keeping adding layers until you’re happy
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments.
Have a great weekend kiddies!


So like I mentioned last week, John whisked me away this past weekend to celebrate Mother’s days past and future. Up until this weekend, I had no idea where we’d end up. Honestly, I didn’t care where we went either. I was promised to sleep in, relaxing, napping, you know, generally non-toddler-toting activities. My mom came to spend the weekend with Gabe and off we went…

Luckily my husband knows me better than anyone…and brought me here. Here being about 4 hours away from us, in central Pennsylvania, at Old Charm Bed & Breakfast. What was that? Sounds familiar? Well, it should because it’s where Michael lives!!!

Yep, my buddy Michael, who was up until this weekend, just my online blog bff. But, now we’re totes real life bffs too. Isn’t he adorable? More on him later…

So anyway, John did good…really good. He somehow managed to combine romantic getaway with blog buddy meet-up. And guys, if you follow Michael anywhere on the internet (and I bet you do), you’ll know that his bed and breakfast is oozing charm. It’s literally spilling out of every corner. I spazzed out big time for about an hour, walking around, taking in every corner of his house that is so amazingly decorated. And ya know what? Pictures just don’t do it justice. I knew it looked good online, but man, in person that place is so freaking happy. It just makes you happy being there.

He put us up in this charmer, complete with a little balcony and it’s own sitting room. And the best part (ok maybe not best part but the really good part)? Each guest room has its own bathroom. I had never stayed in a B&B before, mostly because people are weird and you don’t always get your own loo. Here, people are awesome and you get your own loo. Amazingness.

So once I stopped squealing and most likely making Michael uncomfortable, we decided to head out into St. Marys and see what she had to offer. I had been out in this general area of the state before so I knew how these little towns worked. No Targets aka Slightly Depressing. Well, St Marys isn’t that way. Sure, they’ve got no Target.

But they do have a nice Walmart (srsly, it’s been remodeled) and when we stopped in, there were girls in zebra print prom dresses snapping pictures of each other while their limo waited outside by the fresh bait machine. I literally had my camera primed and ready to catch their photo but even I have some semblance of shame. Just a sliver though. So you’ll just have to believe me.

We grabbed some dinner and delightfully strong margaritas at a local joint and headed back to Michael’s. Now, don’t go expecting that he does this with everybody, but he made promises of sangria on the porch for us when we got home. And it totally happened. We stayed up late, drinking sangria through stripey straws on the cutest covered porch ever. Once again, with most of my blog friends, we jumped right into the chit chat without any “we’re basically strangers” awkwardness. Sangria helps with that.

The next morning, we slept in as only parents of young kids can do…until 8am. But we wouldn’t have been able to sleep much longer because the smells drifting upstairs were enough to make you cry. You just knew without even seeing it that there were pastries baking and bacon sizzling.

Here’s the part where I direct you to Michael’s blog to go look at the breakfasts he makes. I was too overwhelmed with the masterpiece that was sitting in front of me (not John, although he’s a looker with his bed head) but the carrot cake waffles with cream cheese icing. What the what? Yeah, add some apple turnovers, scrambled eggs, some sausage, why not? I wasn’t planning on buttoning my pants today.

So yeah, if you follow Michael, you see the rooms in his house quite a bit, but after much consideration, I think this dining room is my fave. And lucky me, I got a sneak peek at his new arrangement…the one that’s going to be in a magazine. So keep it on the dl, would ya?

So here’s the best part. No, no, Michael’s the best part. Have I made that clear? Next best part, Michael’s gift shop. I literally wandered this shop for about an hour every day I was there. Then I made a huge pile of stuff to buy. Then added more. This place is just inspiration overload. Amazing vignettes everywhere you look. Gorgeous little things you have to have. I told Michael to just pack up the whole green and yellow section. Including the cloches. Every single cloche. Put a cloche on it.

His ability to style not only his home but this shop is just awe inspiring. He’s just so effing talented, I can’t stand it. I pumped him for all the design advice I could before he gets completely famous on us and charges for that kind of thing…which I’m pretty sure will be happening any second.  Oh and speaking of famous, while we were there, guess who hit and surpassed one million Pinterest followers?

This guy. Isn’t that crazy? And why does he look like a model when I literally snuck around the corner and yelled “Smile!”. Famousness is coming, I know it.

So anyway, after another night of hysterics and sangria on the porch, we woke to another amazing breakfast. This time, it was eggs in a hole, potatoes, brown sugared bacon (I can now die happy) and his famous Nutella rolls. Yeah, he knows what he’s doing. Afterwards, we headed out to do some antiquing. For a small town, there’s a good selection of stuff! I scored some blue mason jars from a dude that had hundreds. I may be sending Michael back for more. They’re hard to come by around these parts.

All in all, the weather was gorgeous, the company was stupendous and the weekend was one of the best. High fives to John for making it happen.

Oh and the last pictures I took as we left Old Charm…isn’t this place just too much?

Many many drunken hugs and thank yous to Michael, who made our stay just incredible. Besides us leaving our plates on the table when we were done eating (I didn’t really want to), I felt like we were staying with friends. And I can’t wait to do it again. Anybody coming with me?

Nobody Bakes a Cake as Tasty as a Tastykake

Ok, so I’m sure this sort of thing is frowned upon in the blog world but meh to that. I’m going to post the contents of a guest post that I did over a year ago at Domestic Adventure. Why would I do such a thing? Well, it’s a banging recipe and I want to not only have it readily available on my own blog, but I want to remind you to make it. It’s a little gem called a Peanut Butter Tandy Kake aka KandyKake (no one knows why it’s changed).

See, the Tastykake Baking Co. was (until recently, they were bought by a GA company) a Philadelphia company that makes the most delicious treats around.  If you grew up here, you grew up with Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets, Cherry Pies or Cream Filled Coffee Cakes in your lunchbox. And even as an adult, they’re popular snacks for any time of day.

They are famous around these parts because they’re simply darn good.  One of their most popular snacks is the Peanut Butter Kandy Kake.  A dense white cake, topped with peanut butter and covered in chocolate…it can do no wrong.  So when a former co-worker shared her recipe with me years ago for duplicating the famous snack, I was sold.  And now you can get a little taste of Philly…without all the greasy cheesesteak guilt.


  • 4 eggs,
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons melted butter
  • 1 bag milk chocolate chips
  • 1 small jar of creamy peanut butter


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter & flour a 11 x 13 dish.  In a small saucepan, bring milk and butter to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, hand-mix together the eggs, flour, sugar, baking powder, vanilla, and salt until combined.
  3. Pour the milk & butter mix into the large bowl and stir until smooth.
  4. Pour cake mix into the floured dish and bake for 25 – 27 minutes.   Test it with a toothpick to make sure the cake is done.  If the toothpick comes out clean, immediately spread the peanut butter onto the cake.  Spread until smooth then place cake into the refrigerator until peanut butter is hard.
  5. Melt chocolate using a double boiler or by microwave and spread on top of hardened peanut butter.  Once smooth, place the cake back into the refrigerator until the chocolate is hard.
  6. Remove cake 30 to 40 minutes before serving to let topping thaw a bit.  If you try to cut it while it’s cold and hard, the chocolate will crack. Still delicious, just not as pretty.  So once it is thawed, cut into pieces. Or take it into the corner with a fork and go to town.

Always Crafty Workshop Recap!

Oh man, where do I start? The beginning? Ok, I’ll start there. A group of awesome ladies came to my house for the Always Crafty Workshop. Some I knew, some I met for the first time. All fantastic. Let me just say that I’ve got so much respect for you guys that come to these blog meet-ups, not knowing a soul. That takes some guts and I appreciate it a TON. I really do.

So anyway, this little crew gathered to get up close and personal with the hot glue guns. In my humble opinion, it turned out awesome. Everything from the decor to the set-up to the crafts to the lemonade bar to the trip to terrain at the end of it. All awesome.

L to R Adrienne (of Oreo Truffle fame), Michelle, Mary, Moi, Gabe, BethanyLaurenLizzie Beth, and Kate. Missing: Katie (sorry pup, we remembered to take this after you left!), Karen (who had to bail) and Nellie (who’s busy growing a babe. And living across the country).Ok, let’s get to the billion pictures. First up, the lemonade bar. It featured lemonade (duh) plus Iced Tea to make Arnold Palmers. And vodka to make Naughty Arnold Palmers. I threw in some mint to make it minty, some mason jars for glasses, a wonky handpainted burlap sign and of course, the adorable straws and drink stirrers from Miss Prissy Paige.

Each room of my main floor was set up with a different craft so things didn’t get too crowded. I made sure to set out examples and instructions for each craft. But I also walked around giving really helpful tips.

It’s kind of obvious that I was going with a yellow, gray and burlap theme so when lunch showed up in these adorable matching boxes, I was thaaaaa-rilled!

One of my favorite things to set up, with major help of Bethany of course, was the Welcome center! I had found this stainless steel monstrosity in my neighbor’s trash last year and in no time at all, had John hauling it home. The hanging baskets made it perfect to hold the swag bags and shopping bags to take all the goods home.


Styling by Bethany, Boots by Gabe and Flowers sent by Nellie for the occasion.

One of my favorite things about having Bethany around beforehand is that she is a crafty enabler. If I’m thinking something in my head but dismiss it for being “overboard” or “too much”, she’s there to push me over the awesome edge. For months, I had planned and planned for this day, making lists and drawing diagrams of how things were going to be set up. And I was good with those plans. Then Bethany showed up and those plans just got amped. Things like lemon chair swags happened. I think the word you’re looking for is…delightful.

Doily chandeliers also happen.


As do giant paper flowers made from Trader Joes bags. See, I knew not ever remembering my reusable bags would come in handy. Sue me, hippies.

Every room was filled with bright yellow forsythia, courtesy of my backyard.

Oh, and the best color coordinating Always Crafty accessory?

Miss Nora. Showing up looking like she knew our color scheme! So thank you, Nora, you really added that certain something we were lacking. And thank you, Bethany, for helping me make this thing look amazing.

So that’s it. What do you guys think? I can totally see another one of these things happening again in the fall. New season, new theme, new color scheme. You in?

Oh, and the winner of the terrain gift card pack has been announced here!

Always Crafty Workshop: Mason Jar Sewing Kit Tutorial

So I’m assuming you guys are playing along at home, right? Crafting these babies up the day after I post them? No? Well, you could at least pin them to be done never.

Let’s get to this Mason Jar Sewing Kit. I picked this craft for the Always Crafty Workshop out of the process of elimination. When you’re planning a craft day, you realize projects that include painting, baking, 24 hours anything, just won’t work. All crafts have to be ready to go home within a few hours. So this adorable little thing made the cut. I think it would make a good gift too, for the right person. The right person is not me. Don’t give me one of these. It’s cute but sooooorta pointless. And I hate clutter.

Now that I’ve convinced you to make this “decorative” sewing kit, let’s get your supplies: mason jar with painted lid, batting, a scrap of fabric around 8″ x 8″ and a glue gun. Cute vintage sewing notions are a plus.

Take your inner lid and place it on the back of your fabric. Draw a circle about an 1-1/2″ from the edge.

Cut that circle out.

Stuff the fabric through the outer lid.

Add some batting and push through, carefully shaping your little pouf.

Snap the inner lid into place, covering the batting. Glue around the edge of the inner lid and press the excess fabric into place.

Fill your jar with fun little things.

Screw your lid on! Keep in mind that it won’t screw completely on because of the bulk of the fabric but it should go on close enough to stay shut should it get knocked over.

Just don’t knock it over ok?

Check out the best craft we made this week: Fabric Flower Garlands

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