Friday, June 28, 2013


In my last post, I released the list of songs that I'm currently obsessed with, which I had turned into a mix CD. I have the disc on constant repeat in my car with the volume cranked. The choices are 1. Loud, with the windows rolled up or 2. LOUDER, with the windows rolled down. YEAH!

So, yesterday, I was in my apartment, trying to complete a to-do list that was a mile long. I had cooking and cleaning projects, along with some work work to do. The mix CD was in the car, my I-Pod isn't updated, so I turned on the radio for what was actually the first time in days. And what do I hear?

That's right, Troublemaker by Olly Murs. Why didn't I download this song over the weekend? I haven't a clue! Was it on my list of songs to download? You betcha. There were other songs I considered adding to the collection, though I ultimately cut them from the list because of budgetary concerns. This song is a troublemaker! I've now corrected the problem, so all I have to do is quickly burn the CD once more.

In other news, I have some neat things I'm looking forward to sharing here on the blog, but I've been running short on time lately. I'm hoping that I'll have the chance to get caught up some day, but in the meantime, hopefully you enjoy this!

After Christmas, I had some Christmas-themed marshmallow Peeps left over. I'd bought them for a party, where they were not a particularly big hit. In my rushed clean-up, I shoved them into a ziploc bag and shoved the bag into the liquor cabinet. A while ago, I ran across them when I randomly opened the liquor cabinet. What does a person do with Christmas-themed Peeps in June?
Ummm... duh! Make S'mores in the microwave. I decided that, in honor of these little leftover guys, they should be called Snow-Mores.

YUM! This Snow-More features 2 snowmen microwaved Peeps on top of dark chocolate chips sandwiched between Swedish ginger cookies also left over from Christmas. Get ready for something special next time Christmas rolls around! Snow-Mores for everyone!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mixtape #5

I haven't done one of these posts in a looooong time... because that's how long I've been listening to the same music over and over and over again! Yesterday, I sat down in front of my laptop, opened up Google Play and spent all my money. Okay, not all of it, but I feel like I downloaded just a ton of new stuff. And since most of the stuff I wanted is pretty popular, a lot of it was $1.29 instead of the 99 cents I thought was standard. I checked in over at Amazon MP3 to see if their prices were different, and they weren't. Amazon has been my standby for a long time, but I thought I would check out Google Play. I had the inkling that, maybe if I downloaded the music from Play, it would be available for streaming on my phone (using the Google Play Music App). Turns out I was right! The other night, after responsibly pulling over to get the technology working, I listened to my freshly downloaded stuff while driving home by streaming it over my phone. I got to enjoy it while cruising along the freeway before I'd even had the chance to make up my mix. Awesome!

Still, though, there's something to be said for a totally cool mix CD. And I have one, so here it is. Feel free to click on the song name to watch a YouTube video!

1. Gangnam Style by Psy
2. Can't Hold Us by Macklemore
3. No Te Detengas by Wisin y Yandel
4. I Can Only Imagine by David Guetta
5. Don't Stop the Party by Pitbull
6. Pegate Mas by Dyland y Lenny
7. I Love It by Icona Pop
8. Come and Get It by Selena Gomez
9. Hasta que Salga el Sol by Don Omar
10. Numb by Usher
11. Bon Bon by Pitbull
12. Ridin' Solo by Jason Derulo
13. Brokenhearted by Karmin
14. Smiley Faces by Gnarls Barkley
15. Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke
16. Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough by Michael Jackson
17. Call It What You Want by Foster the People
18. Put the Gun Down by ZZ Ward
19. Here I Go Again by Audra Mae

Is this music of your taste? Let's be real: almost certainly, it isn't. At my house, I don't actually call this CD Mixtape #5. I call it "Don't Stop." I picked that name in homage to two of the songs - Don't Stop the Party and Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough by Michael Jackson. Maybe I was thinking to myself, "Don't stop buying songs in Spanish." Let's be real: I don't speak Spanish. I haven't made any effort to learn, and while I enjoy the tunes in Spanish, I have no idea what they're about. And then, only once the name was solid in my mind, did I discover that "no te detengas" means "don't stop" in English. I kid you not! So, that's my motto. Whatever you're doing, keep doing it. Don't stop - no te detengas! Go make a mixtape!

Monday, June 24, 2013

House Lust

Almost every day, I walk past a bench in the garage of my apartment building. It's a wrought iron bench, with the name of the apartment building stenciled on it in enormous spray painted letters. It's in the garage, right by the elevator, at a place where there's a bend in the driveway. One glance at this bench will tell you that it's been hit by a car - at least once. The bench isn't much good for sitting, but that's okay. I've never seen anyone sit there. Several times a week, though, residents put things out they no longer have a use for. I don't often find things on the Free Bench that are particularly interesting, but every once in a while, I snatch up a gem. This time, it was this book:

Those of you who know me in real life know that buying a house is definitely on my list of life goals. I'm living in an apartment where I'm really quite happy - nice neighborhood, good management company, quiet neighbors. But, I think I'd be happier in a different neighborhood - closer to where I work - and I'm saving up to make it possible to get a mortgage. So, when I spotted the title on this one, I was definitely intrigued. I looked at the copyright and noted that it was in 2008. I almost left the book behind once I noticed that, because I think our world was really different then, especially when it comes to residential real estate. But, then I reminded myself that beggars can't be choosers. What did I have to lose by taking it upstairs and giving it a try? If I hated it, I could always bring it back to the free bench.

I didn't hate it at all! I thought that this book was going to be primarily aimed at people who are hoping to buy their first home. However, I think the audience is much broader than that. Sure, people who are looking to buy a new home would be entertained, but so would anyone thinking about improving a home, buying a second home or timeshare, or becoming a real estate investor or agent. The style of this book actually reminds me a little of Michael Lewis (who wrote The Big Short and Moneyball), who travels and interviews interesting people to weave together a collection of anecdotes to make a bigger point. That point, of course, is that there are lots and lots of people in our country who have "house lust." That would include even people who browse the real estate listings for fun. (Wait - some people DON'T do that?) This book was published after the trouble in the housing boom had become apparent, so the author does consider the possibility that "owning real estate" is going to look different in the future than it did in the past. This book certainly gave me some things to think about as I consider the possibility of buying a place of my own. It's not a "how to buy a house" guide, but instead presented examples of things that went right and others that went wrong. I know I'm making the right choice to hold of buying for now... and I'll probably want to read this book again before changing my mind!

I so enjoyed reading this book that, before I was even done with it, I was thinking of writing this post for you. Then, I thought it might be too much to try to write a post whose point was so ambivalent. And then I watched this!

I didn't just watch the trailer, I watched the whole movie: The Queen of Versailles. This movie is basically a documentary illustrating the themes of the book House Lust. I watched it on Netflix streaming and I would highly recommend it. David Siegal owns a company called Westgate Resorts, which made him very wealthy through sales of timeshares. He and his wife (#3, I think), Jackie, had begun construction on their dream home shortly before the economic difficulties in 2008 set in. This "dream home" was a 90,000 square foot residence in Miami that was explicitly modeled on Versailles. This movie tells the story of how they became so wealthy and how that wealth was jeopardized by the financial crisis. Hint: it's all about real estate. The movie was super interesting and I'd definitely encourage you to watch it, if only to see how the very wealthy live, or to spy on what may be the largest private residence in America, or to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the time share industry. If you have House Lust - which I do, and I bet you do too - then you should watch it!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tiny Blue

I'm sure you're tired by now of reading about my jewelry-making exploits... but there are more!

During my recent wandering at the Bead Monkey, I spotted this little doodad. I love this photo - because I got to make this flower several times larger than it is in real life. Even though I wasn't looking for a charm to make another necklace (you all know I can't resist a simple charm-and-chain combo), I couldn't pass it up at less than $2! 

This is particularly true since it was all set for hardware. All I had to do was add a jump ring and slide it onto a chain. It took supplies of another dollar or two, combined with 5 minutes of my time... 

And then I had this! Light blue and gold - what a fun combination for summer! 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lady Almina

Quite some time ago, I read a list someone had written of books that were about or related to Downton Abbey. I enjoy the TV show a ton, and I really like to read, so a book about Downton Abbey seemed like a great match for me! I promptly uploaded the names of most of these volumes into Goodreads and put them on my "Want to Read" shelf. (As an aside: I previously would have simply requested the book from the library right away, which was an okay solution. I never forgot about books I wanted to read, but there was stress when my requested books came in and I didn't really have time to read them.) And as soon as the books were on the Goodreads shelf, I basically forgot about them.

Fast forward to a shopping adventure a couple of weeks ago that included a stop at Half Price Books. What do I happen upon but one of the books from the list, which has a name that wouldn't let me forget that I wanted to read it and why: Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey.

I snapped this book up in a heartbeat and put it on the top of the stack at home. I started it just as soon as I could and tore through it. I really enjoyed this book and, if you're a fan of Downton Abbey, I'd highly recommend it!

This book focuses on the life of the real person who inspired Cora, the Countess of Grantham, in the TV show. Like Cora, the real Almina was an heiress whose money helped make the estate solvent at a time of financial turmoil. Though her family was quite wealthy, she was a bit of an "outsider" for many different reasons, so there was a bit of ongoing tension between the world where she had been raised and the world she occupied as the lady-in-charge at the castle. I found the story of her childhood and her passage into the noble family to be the most interesting part of the book. It reminded me of the intrigue that accompanied the discovery that Cousin Matthew was going to be the heir of Downton Abbey and the challenges encountered on both sides as he became integrated into his new surroundings.

The body of the book is really about World War I and Almina's decision to open a hospital which spent quite a bit of time operating out of Highclere Castle - the place she lived and where Downton Abbey is actually filmed. I was really intrigued by the discussion of how it was to make a private home into a hospital, a subject that is discussed in much more detail in the book than in the TV show. However, there was a LOT of detail regarding the war that I ultimately just didn't find that interesting. The author, who is currently the Countess of Carnarvon and who lives at Highclere Castle herself, goes into a lot of detail about this person and that person dying in such-and-such a battle. I struggled to keep track of these soldiers. While they were certainly known to Lady Almina, they weren't known to me.

After the war ended, the book then goes into great detail about what is actually, apparently, the family's greatest legacy: the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen in Egypt! I'm not very knowledgeable regarding Egyptian history, or archaeology, so I did not see this one coming. I guess it makes sense that the very wealthy were the ones who purchased the rights and financed the work of doing the excavations. This book doesn't go into a ton of detail about it, but it is an interesting way to wrap up the story. While reading this book, I certainly saw a different face to the family at Downton that I've come to know and love. Most significantly, I began to realize just how closely their fiction mimics fact. If you enjoy Downton Abbey, read this!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Feast!

Several weeks ago, I got this bee in my bonnet about hosting a craft night. I've been invited to craft nights before - often hosted by one of the girls in my book club - and I decided it was time I tried my hand at doing it myself. I considered inviting that whole gang, but ultimately, I felt that a smaller group of people would make more sense. Since I have four good girlfriends in my closest circle of friends, I invited them to join the fun. We had an awesome time, crafting, relaxing and EATING! While the eating wasn't really the point of the evening, it is the point of this post. 

In the days leading up to craft night, I got to thinking about the menu. I knew that if I called it a potluck, everyone would bring something and we'd end up with a pleasant hodge podge. Nevertheless, I really enjoy it when I'm invited to a party and I don't have to bring anything except myself. I decided I wanted to make the entire menu. As I started brainstorming menu ideas, I realized that this would be my first Paleo-esque foray into cooking appetizers. Challenge accepted! 

After some google research and some brainstorming, I came up with the menu. 

I decided to serve guacamole and hummus, neither of which were homemade. I also served them with white corn tortilla chips (also store bought). I also bought some salsa to accompany the chips. This was my big Paleo fail - but don't judge me yet! 

I made these Paleo Cookie Dough bars, which contain almond and coconut flour, as well as coconut oil and maple syrup along with chocolate chips and spices. The blogger, Stephanie, raved about them and I didn't quite believe her... until I made them and tasted them. Oh my goodness - so yummy! These were definitely the biggest hit of the evening. 

I also made Fudge Babies using a variation on the recipe. I added some coconut oil to make it stick more easily, and some chocolate chips to amp the flavor. It worked out really well! They were definitely easier to roll this time than last. 

My laptop spent a bunch of time in the kitchen during my prep work. On the screen, you can see the recipe for coconut cream pie larabar balls. They were also quite a hit - my Dad particularly enjoyed the leftovers. I did all of my "baking" the night before craft night and it was cool but a TON of work...

And I made a gigantic mess. It sure was good, though, on Friday that all of the baking was done. 

That gave me time to make the deviled eggs...

... and these easy beef paleo meatballs...

... along with salad and cut up veggies to dip in the hummus...

and, of course, the fruit salad! 

So, this is the full spread. We ate and drank and made merry! I was very pleased with how things went. I'd sort of underestimated how much work it was going to be to prepare everything. I certainly considered trying to make some of the dishes more Paleo - the hummus, the filling in the deviled eggs, the sauce for the meatballs. But, ultimately, I didn't think I had the time, energy, or inclination to make that leap. As much as I've critiqued my failure to be "perfectly" Paleo, I was really satisfied with how things went. I made a real effort to cook better food and, though it was tiring, it worked great! 

Friday, June 14, 2013


A couple of weeks ago, I had a string of pretty terrible luck. It was basically an 18 hour period, when a few things turned up busted. 

On Monday morning, as I was getting ready to go to work, I bumped the carafe for my coffee maker against the side of the sink as I filled it up. 

My sweet little coffeemaker isn't much good without a carafe. I did some internet research to see about buying the right sized carafe, but unfortunately they don't make it anymore. I suppose that makes sense, since I bought this machine in 2002. 10 years from a $15.00 coffeemaker... I guess I can't complain! 

Another $16.00 at Target got me this shiny, new, bigger coffeemaker. I only make a tiny, tiny amount in it each day, but so far I'm pretty excited about it! I'm considering buying an extra carafe just to keep in storage, because I'm sure that broken-carafe day will come. 

While the loss of my coffeemaker was a disappointment, it actually wasn't the worst news...

My sweet little phone went face down onto the pavement in the Kowalski's parking lot when I stopped there briefly on my way home on Sunday evening - just the day before the coffeemaker deal. ACK! Until this happened, I had never seen a phone so violently scarred by a fall. 

The rather incredible news was that the phone still worked! 
Here's the proof! 

Even though the phone did work, though, I decided it needed to be replaced. The screen wasn't smooth to the touch anymore, and it was very difficult to read small type. I received this phone as a Christmas gift in December of 2011, so I've had it for about a year and a half. I knew that there had been some interesting new developments during that time. Galaxy S 4 anyone? I-Phone on T-mobile? 

I was intrigued and definitely spent some time researching and reflecting. Ultimately, though, I decided that the best option was to order a new one of exactly the same phone. I got it from Amazon, and here I am very excitedly getting it ready to go! 

So, here it is, all set up and ready for action! I got a case with a bit of a raised bevel on the front. Hopefully that means that, the next time I drop it face-first onto the pavement, the screen won't get as badly damaged. I changed the background to a photo I took (Minnehaha Creek!), set my daily alarm, and away I go. Even though things got badly smashed, I've gotten my life put back together! 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Tree

A few months ago, I went to lunch with my coworkers and we wound up at this fancy drugstore near our office. You've heard about adventures like this before - say, back when I bought myself a slap watch. Although I didn't have a budget, and although I really didn't have a need, I bought myself a necklace. It was a dark silver color and had a cut-out tree on it - definitely not fine jewelry! For $13, I left the shop a happy woman. I thought I was going to like it, and as time passed, I realized I had underestimated just how much I would like it. I wore it with work clothes and casual clothes, basically everywhere I went. I wore it so much I never even took a photo of it! But, thanks to the wonders of the internet, I found a link to a similar one on Amazon, if you want to see. Just imagine it in a darker color.

So, one night, I wore the tree necklace out to a social function and when I got home, I realized I didn't have it any more. I spent a couple of days double-checking my pockets, looking at the floor of my car in case it had fallen off while I was driving, but all to no avail. The tree necklace was gone.

After that, I started thinking about how to replace it. I went back to the fancy drugstore, but the tree necklaces were gone. I also did some internet research, but I hesitated. The necklaces I found for sale online were more expensive than the one I'd bought in person, and were going to be subject to shipping charges. Woof.

Then, I found myself in the jewelry making aisle at Michaels. I know I was looking for something else, though I can't remember what, when I found these.
I scooped up this card, which was not even $5, even though there was really only one charm of interest to me.
This one.

I took this little set home and got to work, combining the charm with chain, which I cut to size, adding the appropriate hardware to make it into a necklace.
I put it together quickly and was very satisfied with the result: a neat project that I'd made myself with a total materials cost of well under $10. Nice!

Over Memorial Day weekend, I happened to be out shopping at Patina, a boutique that sells gifts, stationery and jewelry. I was looking at the jewelry, curious to see if they might have a tree necklace of their own. That's when I spotted these!
I was soooooooooo tempted. I mean, come on, right? These are exactly like the charm on the necklace I had. Same style and everything. I ended up buying a housewarming present to give to a friend while I was shopping at Patina, so I decided it was imprudent to buy these as well.

Something else strange happened while I was at Patina, though. I ran into the nurse practitioner who works with my neurosurgeon! (I've had some pretty serious health issues that resulted in my having brain surgery back in December - you can read any details you want by clicking on the health label). It was so funny to see her outside the hospital. We chatted briefly and introduced each other to our shopping buddies and all was well. As we were about to part ways, the NP said to me, "We'll see you in a couple of weeks." That was the plan: after my diagnostic in early April and a good meeting with the surgeon in mid-April, I had decided that I was ready for my second round of brain surgery. I responded with, "He's not going on vacation during my surgery, is he?"

He was. The NP didn't know at that particular moment; she called me back a few days later and told me that they'd confirmed he wasn't going to be available. When the surgery had been scheduled several weeks before, she'd suggested that there was a "small chance" that the surgeon would be gone. I don't know why that date was offered to me even with that "small chance," because of course, now it has turned into a certainty. I had tried to be cautious about even announcing the date, but when they didn't call me to cancel, I just figured that he'd decided not to go on vacation. Since my first surgery in the fall was cancelled, I had some ideas about how to manage the stress, but it didn't work very well. After a few days of coordinating the three doctors on the team, we've picked a new date in early July. I think it is going to work out fine. But, as you can probably imagine, I basically lost it when my surgery was cancelled.

Answer? Shopping.
I still wasn't that excited about the tree earrings I'd seen at Patina. They were beautiful, but I don't like the wear such big earrings at work because I spend so much time on the phone. Then I had an epiphany! I figured that, if I could find the right supplies, I could actually turn the charm from the earrings into a charm for a necklace. Yay! The next weekend, I actually walked to a different Patina shop that's much closer to my apartment, and scored the earrings.

Then began the mad dash to find the right kind of hardware and chain to match this bright, matte, almost white-ish silver color. It took me quite a bit of searching, but I did find it eventually. I got the hardware above at Michaels. (Seriously. I think they know me there.)

And I got the chain at the Bead Monkey - an independent bead shop located at 50th and France in Edina. I've shopped there before, though this experience was a little bit different. I walked all over the store and looked at tons of interesting things. (I bought a few - stay tuned for more jewelry posts!) They had a display of chain, and I didn't see anything that was the perfect shade of bright, matte silver. I was just about to pay for the other things I'd found when I happened upon a display of sterling silver chains. This was one of them! I'd never worked with chain like this before - where there aren't links to hook the hardware on to. I spoke with the girl working at the time, who sold me the appropriate hardware and told me how to use it. She was completely right and it worked like a charm. I'm totally impressed! I also bought enough chain and hardware so that I could make a second necklace. After all, I have a second charm already and now I have a back up in case I lose the original!

Here I have my two finished tree necklaces - in metals for every mood!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Put it all together...

Well, I had this big idea that I was going to do a post for Monday of this week, but it just didn't happen. A weekend that was expected to be crazily filled with plans turned into one big evening (which I'll post more about... sometime), followed by a couple days of stomach-bug and related recovery. ICK! Luckily, I'm doing much better and haven't even had to miss any work... but the blog hit the low end of the priority list this week.

I do have one exciting thing to show you. Over the last several weeks, I've done some posts about new art for my apartment. Today's the big reveal! Here's where the new art is hanging! 

Okay, so here's essentially the "before" shot. If you want to know more about the project involving the clipboards and flashcards, click here. That will give you an idea of the before the before, if that makes any sense. Let's just say its been a bit of an odyssey. 

 And here's the first "after"! If Marv Minnie isn't part of your regularly scheduled program, you can click here if you want to learn more about the painted panel with the number 27 on it.

And if you want to see more of the little birdie (on the sandy brown background), whose caption is, "Live Happy," then click here!

And here is the after after... well, except for the blaze orange dusting mitt taking a rest in the chair. But yes, other than that, this is the finished product. You've already seen the gallery wall in my living room, so I'm looking for a name for this goofy little collection. Hopefully inspiration on that will strike soon!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Dream Come True

Although I might not have written much about it here on the blog, I have an abiding love for Adirondack chairs. It's a classic symbol of summer, and of having nothing to do but hang out. Seriously! Who can do work, or eat a meal, or even supervise a kid playing while sitting in one? Nobody. It's a dream of mine to have my own wooden Adirondack chair - and it just came true!

It's red!

Doesn't it look like the perfect place to sit down and read a book? It seems like a GREAT place to spend the weekend!

There's just one problem...
Yeah... those pictures above were a little bit of a trick. I included the mechanical pencil so you could get a sense of the scale. I scored this teensy little chair for $6 at Patina recently. I love it, and I guess it means the dream has come true - though maybe it's better to think of it as a sign that the dream remains unfulfilled but alive!

Along with the flowers, birds, angel, stones, and the lantern - the tiny chair is part of the collection!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Paint Chip Panel

Last year, one of the ways I celebrated Memorial Day weekend was by visiting Crafts Direct, a big craft shop near St. Cloud, Minnesota. I picked up some things that I shared with you back then, but I picked up some other supplies that are still warming the shelves in my study, just waiting for the right inspiration to strike! This year, in honor of having hoarded these materials for an entire year already, I decided it was time to use one!

I bought this 6 inch square wooden canvas. I'm really into the grain of the wood - I think its simple, but very beautiful. 

The back side isn't anything special, but I thought it would give you guys a bit of a sense of the shape. The "canvas" is at least an inch deep! 

I spent a long time wondering what I might like to make out of this panel. I began seeing the "paint chip" effect - otherwise known as ombre - everywhere. A dark color on the bottom, with lighter shades in graded order all the way to the top. I spent a while thinking that I would do something to incorporate this effect into my design, but I had no idea what color I wanted to showcase in its full range. 

Ultimately, the decision about what color to use was actually spur-of-the-moment. Despite my life long devotion to red, and to teal-turquoise-robin's egg and everything in between, I'm actually really into classic blue right now. (You can read more of my thoughts about that regarding my thermostat frame project here.) When I saw that Michaels had their craft paints on sale for $1 each, I decided it was the right time to make a decision and commit. 

These are the shades of blue I selected. The color, Dark Blue, second from the right is actually the same color I had used on the thermostat frame project, so I already had it on hand. You might be wondering why, for an ombre project, I decided to buy four different bottles of paint. Theoretically, one could buy the darkest color and simply add white to reach desired lighter shades. I'll get to that in a minute. But, for now, just know that the decision to go with blue was sealed by the fact that I was very happy with the thermostat frame and that I already had some of that paint on hand.

While I was wandering around Michaels like a doofus, I decided I also wanted to commit to the design that I would combine with the ombre effect. It had never been my plan to just use the colors. 

I had the idea that I might use stickers to mark off a quote that would show up in the bare wood once the ombre was painted on and the stickers were removed. I didn't have anything specific in mind, but while I was wandering the sticker aisle, I found these numeral stickers which were on mega-clearance. I selected 27, which is my birthday and the number of the county where I live, and the closest thing I have to a lucky number. I also picked up a package of letter stickers and spent some more time considering the possibility of using a quote. I didn't have anything in particular in mind, and I was a little nervous that the stickers wouldn't form a strong enough seal with the wood to keep the paint out, so I decided to stick with the 27.

Once the numbers were on the panel, it was time to get out the masking tape. 
I had the idea that, since I had a 6x6 panel, and four colors, that it was going to be really easy to mark off 1.5 inch sections and get rolling. When I measured the panel, I discovered it wasn't quite 6x6 and each stripe needed to be more like an inch and three eights. Grrrr! 

With these first two strips of tape applied, I got right to it! 
It was my plan to use masking tape that made me realize I couldn't just buy one dark bottle of paint and achieve the effect by adding drops of white. Each color would need the chance to dry before the next color up could be painted because the masking tape was covering part of the strip. That's not a huge deal, but I was very worried that I wouldn't be able to make the colors consistently lighter since I'd have to start over each time. That might be the right approach for someone looking for a "dip dye" effect, where the colors blend into one another. I wanted crisp lines and the masking tape made that happen. 

After the navy dried, it was time to pull the tape and get ready for dark blue. 
Notice anything different? Yeah, when I pulled up the tape that defined the top of the navy, it pulled off some of the sticker underneath it. (Aside: if you're considering making something like this, you MUST put the sticker closest to the wood and put the tape over it. Otherwise, in order to pull up the masking tape, you'll wind up pulling off the design.) The same thing happened at the top when I pulled up the tape that defined the bottom of the lightest blue. I got creative with more tape, though, and effectively covered the missing pieces. Though it's not much to look at, it worked! 

Okay, the painting is done. This photo was taken just seconds before the Moment of Truth...

Ta da! It turned out almost exactly as I'd planned. You can see a little bit of trouble at some of the edges, especially on the two. That was too bad, though I guess I can pretend I was going for that
"slightly distressed" look. I'm very, very happy with how the color gradations turned out. The lines are crisp (score!) and the colors are a really nice combo. I guess I should have done a larger piece!

Stay tuned: Next week, I'll be sharing photos of where this piece is currently hanging!