Posted in review

Paint & Sip: Shamrock Pints with Painted by the Shore

When you live in New England and it reaches 70 in February, you know it’s going to snow in March! And when the forecast for the morning is for about a foot of snow, the best way to ignore winter is coming back is to get out and try another class!! This time I broke away from wooden projects to try a Paint & Sip class with Painted by the Shore. This was not your typical paint and sip class where you’re in an art studio painting a canvas, we were back in the Mason Jar to paint pint glasses 🎨 +🍻!

With St. Patrick’s Day on the horizon, we were painting shamrocks on pint glasses (which we will clearly use year round at our house). Kristina from Painted by the Shore had the tables set up when we arrived; each of us got a table, 2 pint glasses, 2 paint brushes (an 8 flat and 3 small pointy), Kristina’s business card and a card with directions on what to do with our glasses when we got home and a clover wine glass tag. As we were arriving and sitting down, we each got a plate with Martha Stewart acrylic glass paint (dark green, bright green and a shimmery gold). There were also water cups scattered around and we each got a raffle slip to win the glasses Kristina painted during the class.

Once we were all settled, it was time to begin. We started with the only easy step – putting four dots on the glass, each about 3″ up from the bottom at 12, 3, 6, and 9 around the glass. Then we put more dots between those, one in the middle above and one in the middle below, making diamonds with dots at the corners using the bright green. Then we took our flat brush, dipped it in both greens (one corner in each) and made a shamrock over each dot, using the dot as the middle – a shamrock isn’t that hard, it’s just 3 hearts and a stem, but we only did the leaves this time. After we had our shamrocks on each glass, we added gold dots around the shamrocks, but not where a stem would be. I decided to break out and add bright green dots too! Then we took the small brush and went over the shamrocks to touch them up and make them not transparent. We also added stems at this time. Then we had the option to add some gold on top of one or two, of all, shamrocks. Some people had one four leaf clover on the glass and did that one with the gold. The shamrocks could be large, or small like I did. Really, you didn’t even have to do shamrocks if you really didn’t want to…

We did have some homework after class, we had to bake the glasses to set the paint (but Kristina sent us home with the directions on our cards so we wouldn’t forget!) At the end of class, Court had the store open for us to shop, which I did (yes, I know I shopped three days ago too)! Kristina does more than just pint glasses, she’s got a paint and sip class at the Mason Jar often – something I’ll be sure to be back for, and I recommend that everyone else try too!

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Posted in review

DIY String Art by Crafty Creations

2017 was a rough year. 2016 wasn’t all that better. I am determined to make 2018 a good year. My resolution for this year was to be better. Be a better me, Be better to the people in my life. Eat better. Do better at trying to be healthy. I want to spend 2018 getting ready for the rest of my life – get my MBA, get into a good habit with making healthy food, organize the house and learn new things. With that, specifically with the last part, I have signed up for a number of classes to try new things (remember when I tried calligraphy last year and now I use it all the time) – the first was the {Creative Pallet} class with 2nd Chance Restoration, and tonight was #2, a DIY String Art Class with Crafty Creations held at one of my favorite local stores, The Mason Jar.

I need to mention that I’m super glad that I follow @themasonjarmonroe on Instagram since they sent out their email for the class registration, and then they quickly posted on social media that the class was almost sold out, so I hit their website up to register (which was pretty easy). After registration was complete, we were asked to fill out a Google Doc to decide what we wanted to make based on the choices available – we picked a brown or grey board, a letter or the state of Connecticut, and then what word we wanted below the string art. I picked a brown board to make Connecticut with the name Connecticut underneath. Courtney (the owner of The Mason Jar) opened up the shop a little early tonight to allow us to shop, which of course I did! While we were shopping/browsing the store, Josey from Crafty Creations CT was setting up and boy did she set up quick. Josey and her sister set up each spot with a hammer, nails, scissors, tape, marker, pliers and tweezers. Once we all sat down, Josey gave each of us our board (which she already cut, sanded and stained for us), print outs of the shapes we would be making and a vinyl sticker for the word on the sign we were making.

Once everyone was there and we had our materials, we began by placing our letter or state on the board. I decided to put the state of CT above the name Connecticut on the board, so I positioned my cutout of Connecticut where I wanted it and I secured it in place with a couple pieces of scotch tape. Then starting by nailing our 1″ nails into the corners of the state, each nail went into the board about 1/4″, we needed to be sure that we didn’t go through the back of the board and that each nail was in far enough so that adding the string wouldn’t make them fall out (if the nail wasn’t straight, that was OK because we could use the pliers to straighten them out). Then we continued to add nails around the rest of the border, about 1/2″ apart from each other. After the border was done, we untaped the paper and then pulled the paper off the board – if there were any pieces of the paper stuck around the bottom of the nail, we used a tweezer to remove it. Then we added a heart inside the state, approximately where Monroe is located – we followed all the same steps, tape it down, add nails, then pull the paper off.

After we had all the nails on the board and the paper was removed, we picked a color string to use. Since Tom and I have the same favorite color, I picked green. Starting in a corner, we took the end of the string and tied a double knot around the nail, leaving a bit of excess hanging off. Then taking the string, we were able to go from nail to nail, looping the string around a nail and going across the board in no particular order. The only rules about the string were to make sure you stayed inside the shape (sounds obvious, but you needed to be sure that anything like that little notch at the top of the state stayed a notch) and with the heart, we didn’t go inside it since we would do that in a different color. Once we were content with the string coverage inside the shape, you made your way back to the nail you started with and then went from nail to nail making a border going around each nail in order, then once we got all the way around on the outside, we doubled back making the border outline on the inside of the same nails. When we again reached the first nail we started with, we tied the string to the end that was already hanging off from when we started. Then we put a small dot of super glue on the nail next to the one we started on and pulled the string there, holding it in place until it was secure. Once that was done, we were able to cut off the excess string (but be very careful you only are cutting excess string, not the string on your shape). Then we repeated the same within the heart – I did my heart in white to allow it to stand out against the green.

With the string art portion of the project complete, we applied the vinyl sticker to the bottom of the board. In my case I had picked the name of the state, some people did the zip code and people doing a letter did their name. But it could really be anything, or nothing. The final step was to nail a bracket on the back so that we would be able to hook it on a nail and hang it on the wall. And with that, we were done! Josey was a great teacher and was super helpful through out the whole class – and Court was a fantastic host who supported us all throughout the evening. I highly recommend that if you’re local, you try out a string art class with Josey or stop into The Mason Jar to say hi to Court, check out all her awesome merch and try a class there!

Posted in review

{Creative Pallet} Rustic Home Decor by 2nd Chance Restoration

When I moved to Monroe, one of the first things I did was try to get involved in the Youth Commission – it was something I did in Ridgefield and I wanted to bring my experience to help my new community, and to meet some people in my new town with similar interests to mine. One of the first people I met here was Kelly Plunkett, the then Chair of the Youth Commission. In addition to being an active mom and on the Youth Commission, Kelly was involved in what seems like everything in town, plus had a full time job, and had a side business – 2nd Chance Restoration – where she redid furniture kitchen cabinets and furniture. Since then, Kelly left the Youth Commission and her full time job to focus full-time on her own business. Recently Kelly branched out and instead of just upgrading your kitchen or furniture, she started classes for the other DIY folks in the community. Thursday night was the 1st class for her {Creative Pallet} class, with a rustic home decor theme.

As soon as sign-ups we’re up, I registered (super easy registration process, btw) and then on Thursday night I headed over to Kelly’s classroom and workshop for class. Kelly had what I thought was an overly ambitious plan for class – we made a scrabble letter monogram, a tea light candle holder and a rustic barn door type tray. While I wondered how we would accomplish all of this in 2 1/2 hours, Kelly had a plan. We started with the easiest project first, the Scrabble letter. Kelly had already cut all the wood to size before we came, so we had to sand the 6 sides and break the edges to start. Then using carbon paper, we traced our letter (I did G for my last name) and the corresponding number (how many Scrabble points the letter is worth) onto the wood. Using a Sharpie oil based paint marker, we colored in our letter and number and then started in on our tea light candle holder, sanding the sides, breaking the edges and adding a small nail/tack to the top four corners. Kelly also used a paddle bit to drill in a hole in the center of whichever side we deemed the top to hold a tea light.

Once everyone was done, or at least almost done, with their first two projects, we began on project three! Kelly had two 14″ board and four 21″ boards for each of us – that meant there was a lot of sanding!! We all sanded our boards and then assembled our tray upside down, using a power drill to screw in nails into the end of each 21″ board to attach it to the 14″ board that ran perpendicular to it. Once our boards were attached, we had a tray! But before we could move onto staining anything, we had to drill holes for our drawer pulls which would serve as the tray’s handles. With all the sanding and drilling complete, we moved into the other room to stain our pieces. I went with a medium brown stain for the scrabble letter and candle holder and a grey stain for the tray. Staining the letter and tea light brought those two projects to completion (just needed to put the candle in the candle holder). The tray needed drawer pulls added to each end and furniture pads added to the bottom corners of the tray and viola, our trays were complete!

Kelly’s plan for the {Creative Pallet} classes is to have different projects each month, learning new mediums and tools. It is something I plan to go to again and would definitely recommend to anyone in the area!

Posted in review

Long Trail Brewery

Only seven months late, but its finally time to take this out of drafts and finish it up!

What better way for a whiskey drinking, beer loving girl to celebrate being a quarter century old than to hit up a brewery? Since I was in Vermont, I headed to Long Trail Brewery for the perfect celebration. (Well perhaps had I been in Dublin I could have hit up Jameson and Guinness, that could have topped it…) Accompanied by my boyfriend, his friend and his sister (one of my best friends), we headed off to the Brewery for lunch and a tour before heading home to CT as the weekend drew to a close. We first decided to eat, so we headed to the outdoor seating area for some grub. When given the choice of drinks for lunch, we all chose the sampler as it seemed to make the most sense (plus it was only $6 for 24 oz. of beer).

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We began with the Blackberry Wheat, which became my favorite of them all with it’s light and unique taste. It was followed by the Harvest, took me as a bit bitter, perhaps because I loved the one before it so much, but it was also too dark. Third up was the Long Trail Ale, which was just a generic ale. Nothing special, but not bad. The second half began with the Pale Ale and ended with the Traditional IPA, neither of which stuck my fancy. And taking up the spot between those two was the Double Bag. I like the name better than the taste, but it was a nice heavier beer.

While not all the beers were stellar, the tasting sampler was great and definitely the way to go if you’re not familiar with the Long Trail beers. The beer sampler was also better than the tour, which isn’t so much of a tour as it is a sort walk down the hall reading posters. My favorite part of the brewery was the deep well in the middle of the outdoor seating area that is one of the sources of the fresh water that they use in the brewing process. I would suggest if your in the area to take a break to sit down to try the sampler and have a bite to eat.

Posted in review

A Book Review — The Millennium Series

I’ve been totally MIA for far too long — I’m sorry. I’d like to say it’s not going to happen again, but I know better than that and it will. Life gets crazy and the blog gets put on hold… but now back to my ramblings on life.

I recently finished reading the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson on my nook. I read all three back to back, as if they were one book. After seeing person after person reading these books, on the train, in the park, at the library, at work, pretty much everywhere, I decided that maybe it was time for me to give in and read them. I got hooked on Harry Potter and theTwilight series and had hoped that I would get hooked on this one too. The three books were overall good, but now I see why I saw so many people reading them — they are generally easy to read. Coming from someone who likes to read Bret Easton Ellis, author of American Psycho, Less Than Zero, Lunar Park and many others, I found Larsson’s style of writing easier than I expected.

Not only was the style of writing and simplistic vocabulary a bit of a drawback, but it took me a good 100 pages to get into The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. When I started reading the trilogy, I was bored, it was almost painful for me to find the motivation to continue reading. When I mentioned that to a coworker who had also begun reading the books, she told me that she had been forewarned that the beginning was dry. Since I had purchased all three books from the get-go, I decided to push on and keep reading. By page 150, I was hooked and kept reading. When I finished the book, I picked up The Girl Who Played With Fire the very next morning. I assumed that this would pick up right where the last left off, and I would be just as hooked as I was by the end of book 1. Unfortunately, Larsson’s beginning was a bit dry for my taste, but again I kept reading. Fortunately it didn’t take me 100 pages to get hooked on book 2.

By the time I finished and was ready to pick up The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest, I was worried I would be let down with the beginning again. Fortunately, this one picked up exactly where it’s predecessor left off. I was hooked and it was painful to tear my nook out of my hands in the morning when I got to work — I needed to know what happened next.

Overall, I’d give the trilogy a thumbs up, but it wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea. Larsson’s style may not have been up my alley, but his books were able to entertain me and at least at the end he left me wanting more.

Posted in review

A Movie Review — Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I

OMG! As Ron Weasley (my love) would say, “bloody brilliant!” 3,822 pages of reading and 902 minutes of movie watching later, I find myself standing on a line with hundreds of people ranging in age from 12-60. I spent the last three weeks re-reading every Harry Potter up to the break in this movie (when Harry buries Dobby). Daily for the past week I have fallen asleep only after watching the next installment in the Harry Potter series. I am 24-years-old and I am still in love with the same books that caught my attention 12 years ago. I am not ashamed of the fact I am still obsessed with these books and movies — Harry Potter has now spanned half of my life.

As in many cases, I believe the book is better than the movie — so far this still holds true for all seven Harry Potter movies to date. These books imparticular contain such minuet details yet leave things open to your imagination. I remember reading the first few books and how everything played out in my mind — this was obviously not how the movies played out as well. My problem with Harry Potter movies has always been that it’s not just minuet details being left out, but large details (i.e. Harry never received a life long ban from Quidditch in his 5th year from Dolores Umbridge or failing to tell Harry that the “Chosen One” could have just as easily been Neville Longbottom in the same movie — the latter detail then needed to be worked into the following movie as it is too important of a detail to overlook).

I know I am a terrible person to sit next to during the movie. Due to my obsession and tradition of rereading and rewatching the entire series up to the point of the current movie or book being released, I nit pick everything in the movies when it does not play out exactly as J.K. Rowling wrote. Examples from last night (note, I’m about to spoil the movie — so if you want to see it, STOP reading NOW):

  • The movie is supposed to begin with Snape’s arrival at Malfoy Mannor, not Rufus Scrimegour addressing the news — not to mention, Snape is to arrive late with Yaxley, not alone.
  • We do not see Hermione leave her parents (we do not know this happens until chapter 6 — it is not meant to be scene two).
  • Where was the Dursleys’ protection from the Order? What happened to that cup of tea Dudley left for Harry? Why didn’t we ever see Dudley show that he actually LIKED Harry?!?
  • George is supposed to loose his ear in the removal of Harry for Pivet Drive — why did we still see it when he made it to the Burrow? He can’t be holey if he doesn’t have a hole…
  • Hedwig does not die the way she did in the movie
  • We never see or hear about Ron’s ghoul with spattergroit or the fact that he’s hiding the fact he is traveling with Harry
  • They DO celebrate Harry’s birthday in the book, he has a snitch cake, Scrimegour crashes the party to deliver the things from Dumbldore’s will (he also does not give as much information to our fantastic trio when he gives them their bequests), he gets a watch from the Weasley’s and that is why Ginny kisses him (not because he was zipping up her dress for the wedding and Ron sees them, not George)
  • Krum was supposed to be at the wedding — he delivers some important info to Barny Weasley (oh wait, there is NO Barny Weasley in the movie…)
  • When Ron returns, he brings news of the Taboo on Voldemort’s name and the pirate radio station the Lee Jordan has, but neither of those exist in the movie.
  • At NO point in the book did I ever get the impression that Harry and Hermione would come close to kissing, and yet, the entire movie theater was yelling “nooooooooooooo!” during the movie’s version of how Harry and Hermione kept their spirits up one night (granted they still didn’t kiss then, but it was far too close for comfort)

That’s not all missing from the movie (I could go on for pages if you want every little detail that is different), but the one thing that seemed to disappear from the entire movie is a bit integral (it is part of the title) — I want to know why David Yates thought you could have a movie entitled Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and leave out the invisibility cloak from every minute of it?!?!?!

As a movie itself, if this were to stand apart from the book completely, it is great. This is perhaps my favorite movie so far, as a movie (perhaps because they were smart enough to know better than to try and squeeze 759 pages into only one move). The problem with Harry Potter fiends like me is we can’t give an objective review of the movie — I will never be able to sit through the movie on the first time without pointing out what’s missing. But just as I have reread the entire series more times than I can count, I have seem the movies probably even more times.

But now 146 minutes later, I find myself 278 pages away from the end of a tale which has enthralled me for half my life. I know what lies in these last pages, but just as I am sure to be at the movie theater for the 12 midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II 237 days from now, I will go now and reread these last few hundred pages to finish the tale which will likely captivate me for the rest of my life.