Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It Is Well With My Soul

I've missed writing here. I desperately want to write.

I had a plan for what I was going to write first. This wasn't it.  Yet this feels right.

So much has changed since I was regularly writing last.  Much of it wonderful...a little of it bad.

"The Fort" is now a regular part of my life - although one that will likely take a bit of a hiatus when the weather turns cold.  As I was walking tonight...thinking...clearing my head of all the stuff that gets shoved in there during the day and making room for all of the creativity, I kept coming back to the words from the hymn - It Is Well With My Soul.  In all honesty, while I was walking, that was all I could remember.  I had to look up the lyrics when I got home.

The title though has come to be how I've been thinking of my word for this year - Authentic.  To be authentic is to do things that are well with my soul.  It doesn't need a "faith" context when I think of it that way - it's a statement that for me seems easy to agree with - regardless of religion.  I happen to be fine with it in a Christian context.  If I'm acting in a way that is authentic I'm acting in a way that my soul can live with - it is well with my soul.

And, so I plan to return to this space.  Because this is a space where I am me and I can be well with my soul.  You won't find only posts of pictures - and weird ideas as tonight's may seem to you...I even have a little blog calendar and everything.  We'll see how it goes.  But, it's good to be back here - and I certainly hope it lasts.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

On beginning

I'm starting a new project - it's call #The100DaysProject.  You can read more about it here.

My friend Beth turned me onto it. Thanks Beth!

As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted my project to involve quotes.  I pretty quickly settled on using a title I used for a Postcard Swap a while back - #100DaysOfWordsOfInspiration.  You can check it out in my Instagram Feed.

All that was settled in my mind about three weeks ago.  As I thought about how to begin I started to look up quotes.  I can lose myself for hours reading quotes, cruising quote boards on Pinterest, and reading a good book looking for little nuggets of wisdom.  I quickly realized that where I would need inspiration in the messy middle of this project was on the art and display of the quote - not on finding the quotes.  So, I actually started writing down a list of all the different creative ways that I could showcase a quote.  That's the part I'll struggle with later on - when the newness wears off and the project loses its excitement for me.  Any effort of 100 days - any effort at all that's more than a simple little task can turn tedious quickly.

Starting with the hard part is a tactic I'm using a lot lately - get the most important things - the hardest things - the things I'm dreading the most done first.  I write that now, realizing today that's not even remotely what happened.  I ended up working on something I personally find quite easy today - not on the thing I planned to do which is the hard stuff.

As the quote says..."Keeping together is progress..."  I am a continuous work in progress.

Do you have a quote you'd like me to showcase during this project?  If so - leave it in the comments.  Feel free to leave more than one.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Weekend


I had a wonderful, albeit busy, Easter weekend - although busy (maybe even crazy) pretty accurately describes the last month.  I've been missing in action from the blog far too much and have such an intense need to write at the present time - hopefully this is the first in a string of posts, but I make no promises.

I arrived at mom and dad's house on Friday evening with a lot on my mind - but the thing that mattered most right off the bat was seeing this sweet girl.  The entire saga with her foot has been a seven month long journey that I hope for both of our sakes is coming to a close now - and that entire journey really needs its own post.  The short version is she's doing really well right now and might even get her stitches out tomorrow!  My parents have had her for two weeks (while I've been traveling) and my dad has done multiple vet trips for me to our vet in Richmond - thank you so much dad!

I sent dad a text on Friday afternoon that I'd want to get in a walk that evening if it wasn't raining - about 2 miles - and he should come with me or just suggest a route.  We had dinner with mom as soon as I arrived on Friday and then headed out with Sammy, dad's dog, for that walk - which ended up being about 2.5 miles.  Mom and dad's place is technically in the city, but within that 2.5 mile walk we were standing at the edge of a field enjoying a pretty glorious sunset.

Saturday was for errands.  Mom and I hit the grocery and then met up with Dad for lunch at Frisch's - for the express purpose of picking up a Red's baseball schedule - bring on opening day!  We all ran a few more errands and then dad and I got in another walk.  I made dinner and Susie stopped in for a visit.  Over the course of the afternoon I think there was a nap and then there was some prep for Easter lunch - dad grilled meat, while Susie, mom and I prepped some other stuff.  I can honestly say of all the family dinners we've done this one was, from my perspective, about the simplest I've done in a while which was good considering how busy these last few weeks have been.  Family is always there to fill in all the needed pieces!

Mom, Dad, and I started off this morning at their church.  The choir sounded wonderful and the bells were nice.  It's also always nice seeing my former church family - but I desperately missed my church in Indy.

After church, it was time for family time.  We had 19 people in for lunch - a pretty normal-sized family dinner for us - that often also includes friends and families of in-laws as today's lunch did. Without a doubt, the star of the show was Lucas, although Miss Lauren was a close second.  Lots of favorite memories from today...so I'm just going to capture a few...


Mom asked to hold Lauren almost as soon as Amanda and Steve came in.  As soon as Amanda put Lauren in her hands, there were at least five different cameras shooting pictures - we're all making a huge effort to get pics of mom and the kids together now.

Even with 18 people there we were missing quite a few folks including Lucas's cousin "auntie" Ashley - so we shot a quick video for her.  His ad lib in the last second - priceless!  Grabbed a few other videos and lots of pictures to share with family who couldn't be there today which helped connect us all together.


Lucas LOVED picking up Easter eggs - and even got pretty good at taking them and their contents (after opening them and dumping their contents into the grass) - back to Aunt Susie and placing them in the basket - which she was holding for him.  He told us what color each one was, and opened each and told us what was in them.  They included, in Lucas speak, monies (quarters and dollar bills), me-mes (M&Ms), gummies (self explanatory), and McQueen socks (Lightning McQueen socks).


And the entire family had fun watching him. Everyone got in on calling out colors, reminding him to pick up the contents of the egg and put it in his basket, and even helping him hold all his loot when he didn't want to return it to his basket.  Good thing he's only 2 or he might realize he didn't quite get all the M&Ms or gummies back as some of those got eaten as refreshments while we watched him.


Instagram Photo April 05, 2015 at 02:48PM

His Nana got him some McQueen bubbles so Great Aunt Susie blew bubbles for him while he and great grandpa ("Grandpa Frank" in Lucas speak) chased them around the yard.  Other people got in on the chasing too - but they were the main players. [Note: That second photo - the one with Lucas looking up at the bubbles - my fave - and I shot it with my cell phone no less!)


You could tell it was a long, cold winter inside as this little man wanted NOTHING to do with going inside- and it was hard to blame him on such a gorgeous day.  We talked him into getting a drink under promise that I'd take him back outside.  We both got drinks and then headed back out.  Great Grandpa joined us shortly.  We took a brief break to go inside to find out where the yellow ball was (the photo that led off this post) but then back out and were probably out for about an hour in total.  I need to talk for a minute on the incredible increase in his vocabulary.  It's been six weeks since I saw him (entirely too long) and about a week since he and I video chatted (thank you Nana!).  I could tell in the video chat that both his vocabulary and his pronunciation had improved - today really showcased that.  I had no trouble understanding at least 80% and likely 90% of what he said - a number I'd say was around 60% just six weeks ago.  His naming of objects and his descriptions of both objects and events are much more detailed.  He's also naming people more specifically and more directly than ever before - I'm now solidly Aunt Nicki and Grandpa Frank is clear and perfectly understandable. He's also mimicking EVERYTHING...so we all have to now be very careful what we say.

Donna and Amanda also thought to set up a four generations shot which I was glad someone thought to do - thanks for sharing your pic Donna!  Note to everyone in the family who reads this...we're due for another full family photo at our next gathering so come prepared!


I was personally a little disappointed in the pictures I got today.  I need to continue to work on shooting action shots - lots of blur, weird eye and hand positions, bad shadows, etc.  I need to just shoot more regularly (note to self).  The shot above though was another favorite - thanks to Steve for tossing Lucas up in the air several more times so I could get the shot as I didn't have the camera on the first time he did it!  But, with such a fun little boy and sweet beautiful little girl to serve as the stars of our show - there are still plenty of wonderful pictures - and even more amazing memories to go around.

Happy Easter to everyone!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Miss Lauren Olivia

I am three weeks late in getting this post up.  How in the world is this beautiful little angel already three weeks old?  Please meet my beautiful and amazing great niece - Lauren Olivia Stout.  She was born February 16 and she is absolutely perfect.

On Saturday I went over and spent a couple of hours with Lauren and her mommy (Daddy and Lucas were out having some fun times together).  This is my third visit with Miss Lauren - and every one has been precious.  I sat and held her while she slept and Amanda and I visited.  She fussed a little bit a couple of times but not too much.  She just barely fits into the afghan I made her as she's really starting to grow now.  She did open her eyes for a few minutes at the end of the visit - I can already tell she's taking all of her world in and trying to figure it out.

Lucas is doing great as a big brother.  I can't wait to see him in a few months when she's alert and looking around and learning how to laugh - he's going to love making her laugh because he loves making all of us laugh.

And watching Amanda and Steve be new parents again is another joy.  Those two just make my heart so happy.

Miss Lauren - you are so loved and I'm so glad you're in our lives.  

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Merry Christmas!


I'm sitting here at the computer today working through a software upgrade for work.  If you've never done a major software upgrade it's a lot of sitting and waiting and then spending five minutes testing something until you find the next thing that didn't work like it was supposed to and you then wait until that's fixed and start the cycle all over again.  Boring drudgery is what we call that.  Luckily, I'm not the poor person who has to fix all the stuff that's not quite working as anticipated so I'm getting to clean my desk, now I'm working on cleaning up my office area and I got my Christmas pictures processed! So, I'm sharing them with all of you.


Let's start with the story of these first two pictures - which won't be nearly as funny as it was to me in real life.  Dinner was over so we all headed to the living room for Lucas to unwrap his gifts and everyone else to get their gift cards (we're not much of a present family unless you are under about the age of six.)  He opened his gifts - which I'll show you in a second and then his Nana and I wanted to get a picture of him in front of the tree.  We told him to stand by the tree and he backed his little tush right up and just posed bigger than life...big cheesy cheese and all.  The first photo was from the first time he did it - at which point I laughed so hard because this boy is just so cute - that I wasn't sure when I looked at the picture if I actually got a good shot so we had him do it again - which he did.  I tried not to shake too hard while I laughed and snapped and ended up getting a good shot from each round!  I love that he enjoys making us laugh.


This is the other photo I'm most excited about - I've been trying to get a good picture of Lucas with his Great Grandma for - well nearly two years now.  Mom doesn't love having her picture taken and since Great Grandma is typically sitting still and Lucas is usually moving, getting the two in the same frame can be a challenge.  But, luckily, I went in the living room and grabbed a spot in the corner right after dinner.  As everyone came in mom took Lucas's hand to walk over to the Christmas tree and show him the Snoopy motorcycle toy that was in the tree for him.  I clicked off about 10 frames and got three good shots.  I'll keep trying for some great ones but happy to have at least a few with them in the same frame!


Lucas got snatched up by Auntie Ashley and snuggled for about 10 seconds before he was back off and running again.  Love the big smiles on all their faces. Ash and Matt got him a set of bib overalls which I can't wait to see him in.  

Lucas did great opening everything - from gift bags to presents.  I got him the toys to go with his train mat.  Great Grandma and Great Grandpa hit the kid pleasing jackpot though because they got him a tractor which definitely got the most love and attention.




Lucas has definitely mastered present unwrapping.  He had no hesitation with it at all.  He even helped me open my gift - a Lynn and Friends CD featuring Mrs. J! (Thanks for grabbing the shot Donna!)

As all the present unwrapping was winding up and everyone else went back to the kitchen to clean up dinner, Lucas and I grabbed a few more minutes to get some shots of him just being a silly almost two year old.  



Our whole Christmas Day was a wonderful day of family and friends so even though I didn't catch pictures of more than these few minutes, the whole day was joyful and a great opportunity to just relax and spend time together. I certainly hope you also had a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

FitBit Charge HR - 24 Hour Review

Hi everybody!  I got my new FitBit Charge HR yesterday morning and couldn't wait to get it out of the box and see how it looked and how it worked.  I thought I'd share my first impressions with you.

So, those of you that know me, know that I'm a gadget girl.  These last few months I've also been working super hard at healthy eating and getting plenty of exercise. One of the things I've realized I wanted was a heart rate monitor.  I've had a Fitbit Flex ever since they came out after killing not one, but two Fitbit One's with water/moisture damage.  I actually liked the One a little better than the Flex since the One recorded stairs climbed and in my opinion did a little better job tracking sleep.  That said, my Flex has been a durable power horse and using it has helped me hit my goal of 10,000 steps many days for the past couple of months.  However, when Fitbit announced they were adding a line of wearables that included Heart Rate monitoring I knew that would be my Christmas present to myself.

Officially, the Charge HR isn't available yet but I get on email on Sunday inviting me to order one early and get it really quickly.  Of course - I took them up on the offer and after a little weather induced delay for FedEx, the Charge HR arrived yesterday morning.  It came packaged as you see above and the "bit" itself is on a little plastic stand.

The first difference I noticed after taking it out of the box was the change in the format on the wristband.  The flex has two little plastic prongs that you push into holes on the band.  I always thought that looked a little stupid, but it was comfortable and the band didn't flop around.  The Charge HR has a much more traditional watch band style.  I have some more thoughts on the band and on sizing I'll share below.

Also in the box is the charging cable and the USB wireless sync gizmo (yes - that's the technical term) that you put in your computer to let it sync.

The charging cable is actually one of the things I am most excited about.  If the Charge is like my Flex, it will need to charge for a couple of hours once a week.  The way the Flex (my current fits in the charger has never been tight in any way and a couple of times I've put it on the charger before going to bed and come out the next morning to a dead Fitbit (womp, womp).  The Charge HR has a click in charger that actually locks tightly into the back of the Fitbit so - way to go Fitbit on fixing that design issue!

The charging cable plugs into that area with the two little dots close together on the back of the wristband.

Just like this. (I know - riveting product review - right!)

And you can see a little read out on the front showing you that it's charging!  Honestly - this is the very best part for me because charging my Flex has become far more stressful than recharging the battery on a device should be - hence my excitement.

If you have a Fitbit account already you have to set up this Fitbit with your account - or if you don't have a Fitbit yet you create your account.  It's simple and easy, but there was a note in the Fitbit Charge HR setup that I wish I would have known about before I ordered - and that's where you're supposed to wear the Fitbit - which is actually about a finger width back from your wrist bone (see the photo below for the diagram that comes up on the screen during setup).

My wrist is right at 6" at the wrist bone - which is in the sweet spot that is covered by both the small size band and the large size band.  If I'd known about where it was supposed to be worn (which is a little wider on me), I might have opted for the larger band.  That said, I've got more weight to lose so hopefully this will just get more comfortable and it's not uncomfortable to wear now - there just isn't much slack in it.

Okay, so we unpacked it, gave it a little go juice, set it up with our Fitbit account - now we get to use it.  I shot a quick little video to show you how it works - it's my first ever video product review.  I'll put some text below to tell you what the different features are in case you can't listen to the video at work and - of course - I'll give a little more detail about some of them.

There is just one little button on the side that you use to activate and toggle through the different views.  In order, they are:
  • Clock
  • Steps walked
  • Heart rate
  • Distance traveled
  • Calories burned
  • Stairs climbed
The Heart Rate takes about a half second to register each time that you activate it.  Once during my workout this morning (I'll talk about workout mode below) it actually didn't show my heart rate so I'll have to see if that trend continues.

The Fitbit family has always tracked sleep, although it's not one of those things I tend to stress about tracking too much.  That said, I wondered how this one would track that since I didn't know how to "activate" sleep mode - and it appears - you don't have to.  I woke up this morning to an IFTTT alert on my phone that it had logged three and a half hours of sleep! (Darn you NCIS:LA for keeping me up so late - but you were an excellent episode!)

Sleep also gets recorded in the app (or on the web site) just like normal.  This was my sleep graph from last night.

One last note on sleep - while I was sitting here writing this - my Fitbit was just laying on my desk (from post video filming) and it logged that time as sleep - so there are some bugs in that feature.  I'm guessing it's going to look like I take a nap every day about this time since I'll remove the Fitbit to shower.  So...perhaps more work to do there for their designers and engineers.

Personally, I'm so excited to have stairs climbed back again!  Seriously - I'm shooting for 20 flights today!  I heard today (at Jazzercise this morning since that's the only place I've been so early today) that you burn 15 calories every time you walk up a flight of stairs. Hi - my name is Kara - I will climb stairs for chocolate!  I didn't realize just how much I missed having that feature until I got it back.

Let's talk about workout mode for a few minutes which is also quite awesome - and made me actually notice all the info hidden about exercise in the app.  I used it this morning in my Jazzercise class.  To activate workout mode on the Charge HR, just hold in the little button for three seconds until a little clock appears.  When you finish your workout just hold it in again for three seconds until the little finish line flag appears.  During the workout you only have to click once to get elapsed time and a second time to get Heart Rate.  I got really comfortable just double clicking the little button this morning to go right to heart rate.

At the end of the workout  I checked the Exercise area of the app.  Here's what you get.

The first screen is the calendar screen showing all your workouts.  You can see I've been recording my classes using the default Jazzercise in MyFitnessPal but today's workout recorded automatically from the Charge HR! (And never mind what happened to my workouts during Thanksgiving week - ugh!  I did work out last Friday though so I'll have to figure out why that's not appearing.

Notice the five little dots under the calendar - that means there are more screens so a quick swipe to the left gives you workout duration by day.

The next swipe over gives you distance by day - obviously doing Jazzercise I wasn't logging this and don't know that this one is particularly useful for me.  

This is a good place to point out the little stop watch icon in the upper right corner.  I'll be honest - I had never clicked over to the Exercise graphs before today so I don't know if this has always been there and I just didn't realize it or if the app has updated recently since they've come out with these new devices.  Anyway, in the exercise graphs there is another "hidden" feature of the app.  Tapping the stopwatch icon takes you into a route tracker!  Here's a quick screen grab of that. Notice that you can choose between run, walk, or hike.  There are also audio cues.  I've used RunKeeper before when I'm doing a 5K but may have to try this one out the next time to see how it works.

Going back to our exercise screens - because we've got two more (!!!) - and they saved the best for last (okay - really for fourth because this one is the one I'm most excited about).  This one shows you exercise by Heart Rate Zone and total minutes in each zone by day.  I've not dug into all the best rates for this and what's good and what's great, etc - but I know this is super useful and I'm excited to see this.  I also apparently need to push myself a little harder and get my heart rate into that peak zone a bit.

The last screen is calories burned by day.  I'll be interested to see what this pattern looks like after a consistent month of classes because I know the days I think I work harder in class (and the instructors that push you harder) but it will be interesting to see if that's really true.

So, there you have it - the Fitbit Charge HR!  There are also use and care tips that you get a link to when you do the set up. I did switch it to my other arm to sleep last night and will probably keep doing that.  It is quite an investment so do make sure you read these and take good care of your device if you choose to buy one.

There is one other feature which I didn't demo or grab a picture of but I have tested it once and it does work - and in fact all three of the new Fitbits - the Charge, the Charge HR (the one I got) and the Surge have this feature - and that's caller ID if you sync it with your phone.  I wasn't sure I cared about this feature but my phone is always on either vibrate or silent and if it's in my bag when I'm shopping or running errands this may come in handy as the wristband vibrates and displays the name of the caller.  I'll put this one in the heated seats category.  I didn't think I needed it until I got it - now that I have it I'll probably never be able to go back. Darn you Fitbit!

The Charge HR's aren't available to everyone yet but you can sign up on Fitbit's web site to get notified when they are available.  They have the Charge available now as well as the Flex, One, and Zip.  If you want Heart Rate monitoring though - wait for the Charge HR.

One last note - I'm doing Cathy Zielske's awesome class Move More, Eat Well Jumpstart over at Big Picture Classes again in January. This is my fourth time through one of Cathy's Move More, Eat Well classes and I can honestly tell you that for me - that has been the secret sauce to finally getting my act together with health and fitness (well that and accountability partners).  I have a post planned for later this month to talk about my progress, but I am amazed at how deflated people are when they ask me what I'm doing to get fit and I say moving more and eating well - that is the magic bullet - there isn't a pill or something else that will do it - and I think that depresses people.  Anyway...that's for another post...back to Cathy's class.  The class mixes a bit of scrapbooking with a huge dose of inspiration and encouragement from Cathy - and honestly - I've never completed the album projects but I always get more out of this class than any other I've taken at BPC so I highly recommend it.  There is an awesome private Facebook group as well that's already providing loads of encouragement to get through the holidays without giving up all these good habits.  

Do you use a Fitness tracker?  Which one?  Share in the comments what you think about these cool little gadgets - is it overkill or access to good data that helps you get even healthier?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Stenciled Mugs!

Today I'm honored to be doing a Guest Post over on Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's Blog.  Julie is featuring different artists and crafters and how they use stencils in all sorts of different ways.  This was my contribution! I've been a fan of Julie's for several years now and her work has inspired several posts here on my blog like this one about my color wheel, these two (#1 and #2) about rubber stamping and several posts about my time in her 30 Days In Your Journal class. If you're a regular reader of my blog (Hi Dad!) please check out Julie's site.  If you're a regular reader of Julie's site - welcome.  Pop back on 12/12 when I'll have an exciting winter project announcement!

Hi everyone.  I’m Kara Monroe.  I’m so excited to be here – thanks to Julie for allowing me and all of the other guest bloggers to be here – I’ve loved reading about and seeing all the amazing ways folks use their stencils and all the gorgeous art that’s being created.  I have a super simple crafty art project to share with you that if you’ve been on Pinterest (who isn’t these days?) you’ve probably seen – and I’m adding a stencil-y twist.  We’re going to stencil mugs!

I love projects that are quick and that allow you to customize something to perfectly meet your needs. These make a great gift and can also be used as decoration/home d├ęcor.  For Christmas, you might drop in a Starbucks gift card or add a jar of hot chocolate mix in a small basket. 

So, the first thing you need to do is gather supplies.  The great thing about this project is that the cheaper the mug you use – the better!  After you draw/stencil on the mug you’re going to bake the mug.  The glaze on the mug “melts” during that process and the ink or paint from your pen melds with it.  So, head to the dollar store or Wal-Mart and find their open stock ceramic mugs and grab a couple – or 10! You could also do this on bowls, plates, etc. but Sharpies are NOT food safe so keep that in mind – don’t decorate an area that will later hold food or liquid. 

In addition to your mug (or other vessel), you’re going to need the stencils or masks that you want to use, some rubbing alcohol (I used little prep wipes), some masking tape to hold the stencil in place, and your Sharpie paint pens – oil based ones, the water based tend to wash right off in my experience.  While it’s not required, I also think it’s easiest to also have regular sharpies in the same colors as your paint pens – I’ll explain why in a minute. I also keep a piece of scrap paper nearby so I can get my paint pen flowing smoothly before I touch my mug.

Figure out where and how you want to place your design.  If you’re designing a mug for a lefty and you’re a righty – don’t forget that they may want the handle on the opposite side that you do – and vice versa! Clean the area you plan to decorate with the rubbing alcohol and let it dry. 

Next, you want to tape your stencil in position on the mug.  I usually find this to be the step that can be the most challenging – especially if you’re using a mug that has a rounded surface.  Use masking tape to adhere the mug to the surface.  Take the extra time to get the stencil positioned exactly where you want it and make sure it’s as straight or as crooked as you want!  I used Julie’s Mini Flower Quarter stencil for this one.    

The hard part’s over – and now it’s time for fun – and my first tip.  Don’t trace your design with the paint marker.  Trace around the design with a regular Sharpie in the same color as the paint marker(s) you’re going to use.  If you try to trace the stencil with the paint pen the paint will just bleed everywhere.  After you’ve traced the design you can remove the tape and the stencil.  Your mug should now have clear lines you can color in. 

And now – color! This is where your creativity can really take flight.  For this mug I really just wanted sparkle so the more silver the better.  If you want to vary the thickness of lines you can use regular sharpies to give you thinner lines and then the paint markers to fill in larger sections – that would give you a lot of different design options – and the regular sharpies will hold right along with the paint pen – I just find they don’t hold up to a dishwasher as well.  I’ve also done a couple where I filled areas with dots, hashes, and other pattern so you don’t have to use all solid color.  This is the part where you get to get creative.  Just be sure to get your paint pen flowing well on your scrap paper before you start to draw on your mug.

You can also add lettering if you want.  I chose just to add the simple word Joy to this mug for the holiday season.  You could add different colors, add other little doodles or drawings of your own – anything you want.  Be a minimalist or go crazy – it’s up to you!  Just don’t forget to sign your work (I tend to sign on the bottom.)

Let the paint dry – I tend to let it dry overnight but you certainly don’t have to wait that long – 20 minutes is probably more than enough. Put your mug or mugs on a baking sheet and place in a cold oven.  Turn the oven on to 425 degrees.  Once the oven reaches 425 you need to let the mugs bake for about 30 minutes.  Watch them and if they start to brown on you, turn off the oven immediately.  Otherwise, you can let them back for up to 40 minutes but 30 works for me.  I turn the oven off at 30 minutes and then let them cool for several hours (or overnight – which is what I usually do).  Ovens vary a lot and if you read all the different versions of this project on Pinterest you’ll find loads of different instructions for baking so if my instructions don’t work for you it may be that you need to adjust and use a lower temperature for a longer time.

An additional tip – if you make a mistake, both regular Sharpies and the Sharpie paint markers will wipe off with rubbing alcohol if you get to them quickly.  That’s one of the reasons I like those little prep pads – I can work in a smaller space with those.  A Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol would also be great if you wanted to get super detailed.  You can see below that the mistake inside the S is cleaned up.

What a great way to celebrate the weekend than drinking out of a mug commemorating it!

Ceramic Mug
Your favorite Balzer stencil
Sharpies in desired colors
Sharpie Paint Markers in desired colors
Masking Tape
Rubbing Alcohol
Scrap Paper

I hope this inspired you to do some of those cool projects that you’ve seen – whether on Pinterest or something else.  It’s great to see the inspiration but it’s even better to act on it.  My friends regularly send me pins to make for them because I don’t just Pin – I do!


My name is Kara Monroe.  I started my blog – I Wanna Be Me When I Grow Up – to share all about how I explore and enjoy life.  I love sharing about what I’m cooking, crafting, and photographing online.  I’ve been crafting since I was a little girl – sitting in my grandma’s sewing room making things with pins and beads or left over fabric scraps.  That early start fed over into a love of crochet and cross stitch.  I added in scrapbooking and photography somewhere in the middle and continue to cultivate a lifelong passion for cooking that I got from my mom.  In the last few years I’ve started trying my hand at more artistic things like drawing and painting.  I regularly share on Instagram and my Blog.  When I’m not working or crafting I’m hanging with family and friends or writing about technology or traveling to far off places!  I’d love to connect with you.
Online Links:
Blog: http://iwannabemewhenigrowup.blogspot.com
Instagram: http://instagram.com/kicki22

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