Welcome to The Painted Squirrel!

Magic is believing in yourself. If you can do that, you can do anything! - Johann Wolfgang Van Goethe

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Let Them Eat Watermelon Cake!

Today is my son's birthday.  He's not a real "cake" fan so for his special day today I decided to try something new.  I saw some watermelon "cakes" on Pinterest, where they cut the watermelon into a cake shape and then decorated it with whipped cream and fruit.   Sounds easy, right?  Well, it was.  Although there are a few things I'll do differently next time, this one is pretty rough, but I'm happy with the way it turned out for a first run!
Time was a little short today, but next time I'll load up a few more "roses" and flowers!
You start with a seedless watermelon.  I used one of the smaller round ones, but I imagine you could use a larger one as well.  I cut a cylinder out of the center to form the "cake".
OK, I've been taking the photography class and one thing I need to note is to wear my glasses when taking photos!! I thought this was as clear as a bell! :)

Yep, thought this was clear as well...

I just eyeballed the cake, but for you type A's, you can certainly use a cut out circle on top as a guide and a level if you want it perfect!
Next I started making the flowers.  I tried to make the watermelon rose smaller by only using a portion of the watermelon instead of the whole thing.  Guess what?  It worked!  I did the same thing with a cantaloupe although I did have to cut it a little more shallow because the cantaloupe is hollow in the middle.

I made a few other flowers using the cantaloupe and some strawberries, then used the rind of the watermelon for some leaves.

Time to assemble!

OK, definitely I will use proper whipping cream next time and not the pre-made type.  I need it to be thick to hold up on a watery base like a watermelon.  I also recommend assembling right before serving and using a few toothpicks to keep the heavier flowers in place on top (I used them for the three roses).  Other than that, it has potential and more importantly, my son loves it!  I also made him a cherry pie which is his favorite pie evah!
Can you smell it??
 I can't tell you how good my house smells right now!  We're off to dinner so we can hurry home and dig in! :)  Happy Birthday Bobby!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Back Deck Furniture and Decorating!

Ah, my little back deck!  When we first moved into our house there was nothing leading out into the back yard.  Not even steps! There was a make shift gate nailed across the back door so no one would accidentally open it, walk outside and fall the three feet to the ground! The house had just been built recently and the couple that lived here had a newborn baby to take care of.  Back yard living was likely not on their to do list!  Better for us because we could do exactly what we wanted!   We immediately had a screened porch put in, which we love.  Last summer though my hubby and son's built a small deck leading off of the porch to make a nice transition from the screened porch to the yard.  It has sat bare ever since...

 Fast forward to a few weeks ago when my sister and I helped our dear friend Kimmy hold a yard sale.  Kim's neighbor joined in as well.  As usual, we had waaayyyy too much fun together!
Me "helping" the yard sale effort by wearing Kim's son's bathrobe and slippers..
Like most multi-family yard sales, half of the time you wind up selling to each other!  Kim's neighbor, Lisa, graciously sold me this World Market porch set for $20!  It was in pretty good condition but had been outside for a while.  I brought it home to see if I could make it work on my little back deck.

A good cleaning and a LOT of spray paint...and I mean A LOT OF SPRAY PAINT!!
And it turned out like this!!
Now for the fun part - decorating the porch!  I took some of my plants from the garden and put together a few window boxes and voila!  A lovely sitting area to enjoy the outside.

Being such an amazing gardener (not), I found these pansies growing under another bush in the front yard.  I had thrown them under there last year after they had bloomed because I thought they were dead - I had no idea they would come back!
I had started some herbs from seed for the first time a few months ago and shock surprise!  They grew! There's the basil, lemon herb, lavender (hasn't made it past the top of the pot yet) and parsley...I'm feeling very Martha!
I just love our new deck and we've been sitting out there every night, talking to each other.  Anything that can bring my family together is wonderful in my eyes!  Worth all the carpal tunnel from spray painting so much!  I hope you are enjoying your spring and are finding some excuses to get outside and relax with your friends and family!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Watermelon Rose!

Since the watermelons are starting to make an appearance again, I thought I would share my video of how to make an easy watermelon rose!  Enjoy!

Just click on "Watermelon Rose" below to see the video!

Watermelon Rose

Happy Mothers Day!!

A little Mother's Day drawing for you today...Happy Mothers Day to all who are or have a Mother!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Revamped Hutch!

I just finished a big project for designer Karen Dunlap of KMD Designs ( and wanted to share it with you.

Here is the before photo that Karen first sent to me.  A lovely hutch made by Ethan Allen, the scroll work and the finish were not going to work with their new design plan but fortunately Karen is great at re-imagining furniture with a new paint job and hardware (her customer's love it too because they save so much money!)  I love the opportunity to make her vision happen!
The first thing that had to go was the scroll work at the top.  My friend Mike, who is a handyman, offered to change it out to a plain board.  I wish I had watched him do it to see what the process was, but he said it was pretty straightforward and had the piece back to me within a few hours.

Here is the before and after of the scroll work:

It made a big difference!  Great job Mike!

The beaded board back panel of the hutch, the crown molding and the top of the base were all to remain natural wood, just the white parts were to be painted.  Karen asked me to paint it with Benjamin Moore's CSP 85 - Tweed Coat (a soft gray) and then distress it.  Unfortunately, the CSP series of paint is not meant for furniture, but it was simple enough to have the folks at Benjamin Moore color match it in their Advance paint.  I chose Benjamin Moore's #1484 - Ashwood Moss as an undercoat, which is a darker gray that would show through the distressing.

Next step, taping off and priming and painting the base coat of Ashwood Moss.
I used newspaper to completely protect the back board from oopsies and then taped very carefully.  Even doing that though I had to touch up after painting. 

Doors with the first of two coats of the Ashwood Moss.  Getting the paint down into the groove in the middle of the door panels was a definite challenge!
The top coat went on very easily.  I hand brushed the entire project to keep true to the "old, distressed" look.  To me, seeing brush strokes just adds to the aged look.  After the top coat dried, it was time to distress the piece.  The best way for me to do that is to think about where someone would be touching the piece and sand that area - around the doors, under the knobs and even sometimes in the middle of the piece.  You aren't looking for symmetry as much as you are looking for balance in your placement of the distressed areas.  I step back a lot and take a look at the piece as a whole to make sure the balance is there.
Before - Close up of the drawers.  When the knots of the wood are showing through, I always put a few extra swipes of primer over them.  Knots tend to "bleed" through if they aren't sealed completely.

After - The top coat is sanded to show the darker gray underneath and even a bit of the primer.

Isn't the hardware GORGEOUS!! 

After - the customer loves it!  As a final touch, I oiled all of the natural wood and it just sparkled!
I am still taking the photography class so hopefully my shots will be improving soon.  I was rushing today to get the hardware on and touch ups done before the movers arrived to pick it up!  They actually arrived while I was taking these photos, but hopefully you can see how pretty it looks.

Thank you all for your patience as I sporadically post these days.  I have several things going on that I will share as I can - all good things! :)  Have a great week!  I leave you with a few more of my favorite photos from my photography class this week!
My cherry blossoms from the tree in my front yard.

This is a small farm near my home.  The lady who lived here collected Irises from all over the world I guess.  She recently passed away and now they are deciding what to do with the property - I hope they make a park out of it!

Self portrait from my dock at the lake.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Photography Class - The First Step...

I mentioned last week that I've started a photography class.  I hadn't received my camera by the first class last Wednesday, for which I'm grateful because after the class I cancelled my order and purchased a Canon T3i.  My amazing nephew, Charlie, helped me decide what to get - my criteria was to have a "speedy button" for action shots and to take great shots of my crafts and projects.  I think I've chosen wisely, although I really have no idea yet what I'm doing.  There are several other ladies in class with the same camera, so we will work it all out in good company!

For the first week, we were asked to do several assignments.  The first was to take photos of a fence with the F-stop on different settings to see the difference in focus (I'll save those for the end of this post since they're not very exciting because they are, well, a fence. :))

She then gave us our "Challenge" for the week, which was to ask a question through the lens.  Really?  A question through the lens?  I have been so immersed in learning the camera that I didn't have the time to really ponder such a deep question, and so I decided to kick it old school and ask the age old question...

Yes, that is a real chicken silhouetted in the background.  I grabbed the egg from home and went over to the local kids working farm in our town.
Our next task was to take photos of the things that compelled us to take the class in the first place.  That would be my crafts, but since I was at the farm, I decided to just keep taking shots of the animals.  They were adorable!

I loved this guy!  There was already a very large rooster in the hen house and this poor guy just ran back and forth trying to get to the girls on the other side of the fence!  If I got close, he would chase me away.   He was so funny and I felt a little sorry for him!

Hey Ladieeeeeees!  How YOU doin'??

Yes, the Momma gave one of her many little babies a kiss!
This little guy kept getting stuck in the flap going outside.  He never gave up though!
These were the slightly older babies, still sleeping! - Teenagers!!  Sheesh!!

Momma number two - all of her babies are sporting what appears to be little white socks!

So tweet!!
This was just an old tree on the property.  I hope as I learn how to do this, I will be able to bring the colors and textures out better.  This was beautiful.

And now for the fence and some paint chips from Benjamin Moore to practice with the F-stop...feel free to skip to the end!

Class number two is tomorrow morning!  I'm excited to see how to improve on what I did this week and hopefully to learn something new for next week!  I'm a little sporadic with my posts lately and I'm sorry about that.  I'm still trying to keep up with a lot of new projects coming in and I'm so excited to share them with you in the weeks to come!  Have a happy SPRING!!