Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Most Magical Experience - Part 2

A few weeks ago, I wrote about part of one of the most magical experiences in my entire "lifetime" (because that's been such a long.) I visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter with my boyfriend for our first year anniversary.  It was a fantastic and magical experience; the rest of Orlando Studios and Islands of Adventure was alright too.

Last time, I wrote about Diagon Alley.  This time, Hogsmeade. I wasn't afraid to say it last post, and I'll say it again. I almost cried multiple times because I was so excited to be in a place that replicated some of my most fondest memories of all time.

Train Station, Platform 9 3/4, and the Train Ride: 

Cried, tears of pure joy.  It's was very, very perfect. They had a section of the station where when standing at one point, it looked like people were actually "running" through the wall to get the Platform 9 3/4 (and it really looked as if they disappeared, it was pretty awesome.)  The train itself was great! 

The train ride, which goes both ways, has a video that plays through the "window."  A different video for each ride (one for the way to Hogwarts and the way back.) Some very fantastic footage! It also has the three (Harry, Hermione, and Ron) walk past your window. I was sad, however, because I'm guessing Emma Watson didn't have time to come record her voice. The voice actor they used sounded nothing like Emma. :( But still, overall it was fantastic. 

Off the Train, to Hogsmeade: 

Still crying, by the way. It was so wonderful.  As soon as I could see the castle over the top of Hogsmeade village, I cried.  The snow cover roof tops, the cobblestone streets, Hogs Head, the stores, the butterbeer: everything was perfect. It was so well laid out and so well thought out.  Walking through Hogwats castle was such a great experience. I wanted cry again, but there were too many people around that time. hah. Walking through Hogwarts castle is actually a ride at the end. I don't really remember much of the ride (because it's been 2 months now,) but I know the castle was very in line with what was show in the movies. Some of the most iconic relics of the books/movies were in the castle.

Hogsmeade was also the portion that actually had roller-coasters. As these parks are "theme parks" and not "amusement parks," many of the rides were 3D type rides. We didn't enjoy that, but the Harry Potter ones I went on anyways because... I mean... it's Harry Potter.  The Flight of the Hippogriff roller-coaster, however, was great.

Breakfast at The Three Broomsticks

As I mentioned in my last post, our vacation package came with 2 meals per person; one at the Leaky Cauldron and another at The Three Broomsticks.

Both restaurants were fantastic, but this one was more of a order and serve, "fast food" kind of restaurant. You order and have your food before you leave to get to a table. I like the idea of the Leaky Cauldron better, but the food is the same at both restaurants.  Both my boyfriend and I ordered something different than we had previously to test out the menu more. Both meals were fantastic. I had  more fruit than my stomach could handle and it was very fresh.

Florida in late October was fantastic weather wise, so little birdies were flying in and out of the restaurant. It was actually quite funny.

If you want to see more pictures, please visit my Facebook page. It was a great experience and I took hundreds of pictures. I just did not want to overload my load times by putting them all here. :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Paint by "Numbers" - DIY Cornhole Boards!

Yet another wonderful Christmas present that I crafted (or well.. partially crafted!)

This is more of a partial craft rather than a DIY.  The expense to buy the wood, power tools and nails/etc. was equal or more than purchasing a pre-crafted set from: Cornhole Express.  The individual here made the quickly and very sturdy!  If you're in North Carolina and you want a good set of Cornhole boards (purchase or for rent) you can get them here!

So I purchased and I painted! I took a general look at these guys here: Cornhole How To to help with a basis of what I would need and how I would need to do it!

What you'll need (without making them yourself):

  1. Set of pre-fabricated wooden cornhole boards
  2. Wood filler and Sand paper (medium) (only if your maker did not do this for you)
  3. Paint brushes and paint rollers (there is a great set at Home Depot for around $10) 
  4. Pint of Wood Primer; I used grey because the nice man at the store told me it is the easiest to cover over
  5. Paint! I actually used Gilden paint samples (5 different ones: scarlet (x2), grey, black and white) and it was enough. Which is great! They are very cheap (about $4 a piece for a sample rather than a pint/quart)
  6. Painter's Tape is a must 
  7. Ruler 
  8. Something to hold your boards off the ground; I used plastic cups
  9. A general idea of how you want your painted boards to finish
  10. Logo/decal to put on your boards, if you'd like one
  11. 1 pint polyurethane

Fill any wood holes and sand down. Prime your board and let it dry! I did this the weekend before I painted because I had to paint them at my mom's house (my apartment just didn't make the bill.)

Now start the painting! I laid down the general basis for the grey first, as the nice man said it was the easiest to cover.

Let that dry fully. Put the painter's tape down and throw another layer of paint on top of the last layer! 

Then through the white on top of the same tape.

I had to only pull the side layers of tape off because I had an extra layer of paint to add. The black was difficult but I managed (but did not take a picture of the extra layer of tape I had to lay down.)

The final paint results were great! I was super happy. My mom really helped me get everything straight. You cannot have crooked cornhole board paint! That just throws the whole game off. 

 Make sure you put your decal on before the polyurethane.  Put a good coating of polyurethane over the top, let dry then add another coat.

My boyfriend loved them as a present (at least he said he did!) And very simple to paint. I'm sure the crafting of the actual board sets was a bit difficult, but Cornhole Express is here to help that in North Carolina (and a few other states, I believe.) 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

DIY Image on Canvas - With a Twist!

Now that Christmas is finally over, I can share all of the DIY projects that I crafted as presents! I finished most of these in September (I think) so I've been waiting a long time to be able to release these posts!

I want to start with the DIY Image on Canvas(es) that I did. I made quite a few of these because they are SO easy. And I mean EASY! 

What you'll need: 

  1. Canvas (of any size) 
  2. The Image you want
  3. Mod Podge
  4. Foam Brush 
  5. Newspaper (or another form of paper to put underneath the craft) 
  1. String of battery operated craft lights
  2. Batteries 
  3. Staple Gun and staples

Easy, peezy lemon squeezy project!  Once you've gathered all of your materials, lay out your bottom layer of paper. Since Mod Podge dries very quickly, you really need not worry about your canvas sticking to the paper. But it is always a good idea to keep on the lookout for that.

I started with a 6 inch x 6 inch canvas. I got an extremely good deal on a pack of 4 at Michael's during one of their sales. It was buy one get 2 free. So I ended up getting 16 6 x 6 canvases, most of which are gone now!

 Either print your picture or take one (from whatever source you'd like, unless for resale, copyright laws and all) that is on a piece of printer paper (I found this was the easiest.)  I simply filled in some edges in Photoshop and used the picture below, printed on 8 x 10 paper from my at home printer!  The photo was taken by Richard Byers.

Lather up both the canvas and your image with Mod Podge and gently lay the image in the area where you want it to be on the canvas. Since I wanted mine to wrap around the sides, I widened the image a bit (7 x 7) to fit around the corners.

Quickly and firmly press the image down onto the canvas. From there, I flipped over to ensure it would dry together properly. This only took about 2 minutes.

Trim the edges of your image, if necessary. If you do not have an image that runs off the page our you simply put a cut out in the middle/corner, skip over the next little blurb. 

If your image wraps off the canvas: Then flip and cut the corners of your image up until you meet the canvas, just as in the below image. Lather both the side of the canvas and the back of the image/paper. Fold the two together and move to the next side. Do the same for each side. this will make your sides fold onto the side next to it, creating a nice, snug grasp.

After that is done, you'll take your Mod Podge and run a thin but generous layer across both the top of the image and the sides of your canvas to ensure the image looks "glossy" and stays in place.

Do NOT get discouraged at the image starts to look like wet paper like the third image below (because it is wet paper.) When the Mod Podge fully dries (which can take from an hour to overnight, depending on how much you lather on), it will pull tight again! I was pretty upset the first round of images, but the next morning everything was tight and the image looked great!

 Here are some of the other images I did. If you've seen/read my Window Mirror DIY tutorial, then you've already seen the blue stripes. I needed something linear to go in my work office!  The others were just a nice add on to the top of my desk at work, as well.


For some reason I did not take  images of the canvas of my family and I after it was complete. :( I added a string of battery powered craft lights to the back of them which illuminates a pretty good distance! 

All you have to do is staple them to the back so that they do not light the middle of the canvas. Point them facing out.

Here is an image of the back of another craft project that I did with canvases (just painting, nothing too difficult) with the string of lights attached to the back. I pointed these ones in so they would light up the white section of the canvas, but it is the same general premise! Instead of making them point inward toward the canvas, just staple them around the outer edges to illuminate outward! 

 I made quite a few of these for Christmas. They are easy, simply and quite inexpensive but have a great deal of meaning because you can easily personalize them!

Friday, January 2, 2015

It's Time to Give Up

Totally. Give. Up.

Bad food that is.. Not anything serious! You thought this was going to be something serious.  It never fails, that over the Fall and Winter seasons I gain quite a few pounds. I typically add about 10 - 15 lbs over a very short time frame. Just enough weight to hate my image. It's not because I have a negative view on how the female body should look, it's because I'm not comfortable in my own skin once I hit over 130lbs. Now, 130 is not a bad weight, at all. But when it's mostly fat, and I'm at 25% body fat, it is for my height and sanity.  

SO, it IS serious. Very serious to me. It's time to get serious about health and well being! I cannot allow myself to put on 15lbs every Winter because then I just struggle with the shedding of the weight again in the Spring. I've been eating better already, so I'm not viewing this as a resolution. I don't think a "resolution" holds weight when I promise myself to do them. I've only been able to accomplish one in my "lifetime."

This December is going to be very important. I'll be graduating from East Carolina with my MBA and I don't want to put on the pounds before walking across the stage to be hooded! 

SO. For the next 12 months, I will be giving up a food, food group, or food ingredient that has negative effects on my personal health.

1 per two months, they may repeat, but they will be completely removed from my diet (with supplements for the nutrients that they provide, if any.) If I feel extremely better after one month, I may stick them out for the rest of the year, because why not? I'm writing this to have the community hold me accountable along with myself.  I am already a vegetarian, so there are not many "terrible" things that I can remove; but I will be removing some of the fatty foods that I eat.

Also, I am vowing to not have Taco Bell for the entire year. I have a miserable obsession with TB and their wonderful $1 menu; but when you eat it twice a day or 5 times a week, it's just.... extremely bad for you. Even though I love it... It's time to let it go. :(

So my proposed schedule is below: 

January - February: Soda
March - April: Wheat based products
May - June: Cheese
July - August: Chubby's*
September - October: Guasaca*
November - December: Sweets (any dessert foods, not foods that have a natural amount of sugar)

* For those who are not in North Carolina, Chubby's and Guasaca are two Mexican food restaurants that are fantastically delicious, but can pack the lbs on very quickly.

I will also be joining the NC State gym,  because I get an employee "discount!"

So let's see how this goes. I really hope it goes fantastically.