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 30 Days of Thanks

Day 11 – Backyard

Today I am thankful for the wonderful backyard Tom and I have. While it may take at least a full day to do a leaf clean-up 🍂🍁, we are blessed to have ample room for sheds, a vegetable garden and fire pit, all while leaving half the yard still wide open to practice softball, play corn hole or do whatever we like. The property is large enough that we can ride our ATV or dirt bikes around it (not to mention the ATV pulls tarps of leaves so we don’t have too 😊).

Posted in Dear Mom

the house that built me

Dear Mom,

It’s only been a few months but I find myself wanting to call or text you nearly daily about simple things — like the sunrise on the way to work or how often we see cardinals. There was the one time I walked out of the front door at your house and saw a cardinal perched in the pine tree in front of my old bedroom, it was as if the bird was just watching Tom and I as we moved all of the items we were donating our front to be picked up. Was that you? Were you trying to tell me you were pleased that we were donating so much and threw so little out?

Then there was the time I wanted to tell you who is buying your house. You always loved to here about reconnecting with people and finding out about people from our childhood. Well here’s a good one, mom, one of my high school classmates is buying your house with her husband. You would have loved to know that.

And with that, I said goodbye to your house today; the house you raised me in. My childhood memories are rooted in that white ranch. I’ve been here often this year, more times since Thanksgiving than I have probably been here since I moved out almost four years ago. You always made sure to have time for me when I came to town to go to the dentist or to get an oil change, but I left today not only knowing that 70 Flat Rock is no longer somewhere I can go home to, but not even knowing when I may be back in this town.

I know this hasn’t been my home for a while but it will always be the home I think of when remembering my childhood. It felt like I had to say farewell to the final piece of you today. I promise I’ll still visit you and think of you often, just because I won’t be going home again doesn’t mean I’ll be thinking of you any less.

Love,
Lauren

Posted in vacation

Day 11 – San Fran to Home

Today we woke up at 8am and got ready before heading down for some breakfast. Then we came back up to finish packing everything up and left the hotel at 10:50am to head to the airport. We were checked in and sitting at the gate at 11:30am for our 2:35pm flight. I got a bunch of reading done and walked around the airport. The flight back wasn’t bad and I got the window seat.

When we got to JFK at 11:15pm, we got our luggage which seemed to take forever. Then we loaded up Mom’s car ad headed to Joan’s to drop her and Kevin off. Then Mom & Dad took me home. Now I’m off to bed as I have work at 10am in Westport.

Pictures will be up soon…I hope!

Posted in study abroad

last week of classes

Last week was the end of classes. I had my last class on Wednesday at noon and then I had a history exam at 6pm. I finished it within an hour but think I did fine. That night I stayed in at the apartment hanging out with the roommates.

Thursday I slept in til almost two in the afternoon…sad thing is, I was the first one at the apartment to get up. It was our farewell dinner at Blackrock that night. It was really nice, but made me sad to think that we are almost done with being here. Afterwards, we all came back to Merrion Square and then went out. We couldn’t get in anywhere as a big group, so I went to Porterhouse in Temple bar with two Notre Dame kids that I met that night.

Friday I slept in again, but this time only til noon. Then I went to Seamus and Marion’s for the weekend to hang out with Laura, Louise and Alison. On Sunday, they brought me to Margaret’s, which is where I am right now.

So this week is our week off. And I have tonsillitis. Yes – tonsillitis. Way to go me! At least I am with my cousins so I can sleep all day and relax and not deal with everything else. I’ve just been chillin here and studying. Yesterday I went out to the west coast to see my family out there for one last time before I go home.

Speaking of which, I changed my flight…I’ll be home on Dec. 21st. So now, I’ll be back in the ridge prior to Christmas. And then I have my shoulder surgery on the 28th….

Anyways – I miss you all!
Only two more weeks. xoxo