Holy Cow, It's a Deck!

Done!  Deck is done!

Mike is tinkle in his pants happy too!  I mean, he didn't actually tinkle in his pants.  I don't think.  I hope not....ew.

Check. It. Out!  Holy cow!  Deck!!!
Woooo hooo!  Can hardly believe it!

Mike's been loooonging for this deck for...gosh, I think before even we moved in, two years, heh.  Poor guy.  But the wait is no more.  He's giddily chattering on about how he's moving out of the house and moving onto the deck.

He loves it.  (Take out the character on the right, whatever's in the middle, insert deck into the image and bam, that's my man, all a-flutter.)

And yes, we pansied out and hired someone to build it for us.  Like I mentioned, it would have taken us forever and a day, and then a few more days, had we done it ourselves plus one or more of us may not be alive after.  But yes, still lame for an avid DIY'er, I know.

The guy did a great job.  I tried to make a simple enough design but provide maximum effect.  He took his time building it and did things the right way which is OOOhhh-Soooo-Refreshing.  Ahem, flipper.

So all right!  Photo essay time!

Here we are at the end of day one.  The ledger was on, two posts were in-ground, and the cable kits were strung.

In looking at the cable kits, I realized he'd have to pre-drill holes and start the cables next to the garage before concrete-ing the posts into the ground, otherwise we'd be SOL.  We went with the cable design for it's visual minimalism; a zillion widdle spindles would have closed off the yard and driven me nutso.

Here's the kit we got.  Here* are a few available on Amazon.

Menards really pissed me off though as the kits were special order, we ordered two too many, and upon return they smack you with an utterly ridiculous 25% restocking fee because they were special order.  Pissed.  25%.  Stupid.  Grrr....ok.  Moving on.

More day one above there.

Lots o' progress at the end of day two.  Or maybe it was mid-day two, I'm getting the days confused now.  The frame went up and several more posts went in.

Ever the inspector this one.

So at the end of day, ah crap, ok, two or three here's where we were at.  At this point Mike was packing his bags in preparation for his move to the deck.  All the joist hangars were up and joists in place, along with two more posts for the stair.

See how tidy the guy was?  Love that.  He cleaned up after himself in a major way each day.  It's a sign of a builder who cares about what they do.

Here we are at the end of day four or five or so.  Planking nearly almost in.  Stair!  Ok, so this was a morning photo, ya caught me.

Mike wanted the boards at 45's of which I was skeptical.  In that it had the potential to be visually busy or visually orderless.  But he was right, it's a good look.  Yes, I said he was right.  Yes, he will call me within ten minutes of reading this and gloat for publicly saying he was right.

It did result in extra work, added expense, and extra wood waste, but it does look good.

Finn is learning to use the stair.  He was bypassing it, going for the leaping hop-on, hop-off.  He still hops up over the stair.
Another coupla' days later and bam, we have deck!  He put in a nice wide rail top so we can set things on it.  He also faced the front in 1x to mask the bolt heads and give it a tidier look.

I'm a detail-noticer so I picked up on all the little things he did...

All the posts are surrounded cleanly with the decking.  It hurts my math brain just looking at that -- I'd be rocking in the corner crying for weeks trying to get that right if I had done it myself.

He cut a wee hole to surround the conduit supplying power to the garage.  And didn't make a mess of it.  Nice.

The stair is nice and sturdy and the cables string through to the end.  He had a clever way of attaching the stringers to the framing:  they're four step stringers and he nailed through the face into the stringer edge underneath.  Clever, yah?

I do need to pour a bit more concrete around the posts so water and mud won't pool there, so that grade level murk doesn't saddle up the wood, wicking moisture into it.

Mike had a brilliant idea of getting a piece of narrower diameter sonotube, trim pieces, surround the post base, and pour.  My man, he's a keeper.  :)  So hopefully I can get to a few today.

Before the stair went in, the guy clipped the corners of the rail which at the time I was like, cool, great idea.  I think we both forgot about the stair rail butting up against it.  But that's ok.

I'll see what I can do to make this area snag-free.  And I'll give the rail a wee sanding, ah!, with my nifty new sander!  There are a few splintery pieces sticking up here and there, the rail is a bit rough, so just a smooth-over.

I picked up two small solar lights to attach, hm, well, somewhere in this vicinity to light the steps.

The guy said wait a year to stain though I see online recommendations for anywhere from a month to a year.  We'll see how it goes, keep an eye on it.

Time to address the path now.  I'm thinking rectangles of concrete, like a stepping stone path kind of thing. Similar to this idea, or this idea, or definitely like this one, ya know, a real clean modern looking pathway raised higher so we're not drowning when it rains, we can shovel the snow.

My dad the Structural Engineer and Concrete Guru Master says I can pour right over the existing path which will make Mike extremely happy -- he won't have to destroy this path first.

Mike originally planned to store things underneath the deck though I'm not entirely sure what or why.  Everything will get grossly dirty and wet and gross.  I think planting lots of pretty things in front of it would be much nicer.  Not gonna lie, I perused the sale plants at Menards already.  Didn't buy anything though.  The lilacs went back in the ground right away as you can see above.

Right, so my brain is all a-swirl with plantings and planter boxes and a shade sail and furniture and cushions and and and and....I know, right?!  The yard finally feels like it's coming together, feels much much nicer, much more ours.  It's got a way to go yet but between the patio and the deck, we're really gettin' there.

One of my favorite deck features?  No longer having to take a ginormous fifteen inch step in and out of the garage.  Yessssss.  See that second photo above for reference.

My one and only wish though?  That Hailey could be here to enjoy it as she would love the daylights out of this deck.  She loved decks.  Running up and down, basking in the sun, hangin' with her mom and dad, watching the world go by.  Sigh.....


Now that the deck is done though, I will admit, I am curious (and mildly concerned) about what Mike's next big target project will be.  When he gets involved, obviously he goes big.  Hopefully it'll be the master bathroom.  Hmm, we'll have to wait and see, huh?

Ok, time to mix some concrete, folks.  Catch ya next time!

*The cable rail assembly kit link is an Amazon affiliate link.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab for more info.


How to Not Cheat Your Husband.

Or:  let's build a bags (aka cornhole) game set.

One of two, rarin' to go on Block Party Day!
When Mike and I first met, we played many a game of bags.  Even though I had a.) never heard of it prior, and b.) therefore had never played prior.  Though I am not sporting/competitive, I tended to beat Mike with great regularity, oddly.  He was cool about it and married me anyway.

We'd even play the bags part on the Silver Strike arcade game. That I sucked at.  (The bowling part?  Yeah, AWwwesome at!)

And what else weird, those darn games brought out a latent minor competitive streak I did not know I had.  Heh.  

Flash forward all these years of non-bag playing when we're hangin' around, not even sure what we doing when Mike says, "ah, ya know what'd be great to have at the block party? Bags."

"Huh," I say, feeling the bubble up of competition, "yeah, that'd be fun so we're not awkwardly staring at our neighbors all day."

"Ok, so when you build the set, give it a Cubs/Sox theme."

And bam, he sneakily volunteers me into the task.  Seems to have been the running theme of the block party.

As an aside, it actually is amazing that Mike the Cubs fan married me the Sox fan.  He jokes (I think it's joking) had he known before he fell hook line and sinker for me that I was a Sox fan, he woulda dumped me.  Heh, the rivalry man, it's harsh.

Anywhoooo, despite my lengthy list o' to-do's that week, I squeaked it in somehow, just barely.

It's not solidly regulation but it is very near spot on.

When I started assembling the set, I had several moments of panic because I know my dearest husband all to well:

"Hey, you probably cut the hole too small."  Or..."you weighted the bags differently, didn't you?!"  Or..."surely you didn't make that the right height."  Or..."I'm sure you did something sneaky."  All phrases or variations thereof I'd hear if I were kicking his a**.

As such, I had to be super careful building this entire set.  And I must say, either it was the fear of snarky comments or maybe I'm getting better at this whole carpentry shebang, but darn if I'm getting better at this carpentry thing!  A wee back pat, if I may, at one of my finest carpentry jobs yet, *blush.*  Roar!

My main supplies totaled in the neighborhood of thirty, thirty five bucks:

  • two pieces 2'x4' plywood, 1/2" thick
  • two pieces 1 x 4 x 8'  (sides)
  • one piece 2 x 4 x 8' (legs)
  • four 5/16" x 31/2" carriage bolts
  • four 5/16" wing nuts
  • four 5/16" washers
  • half pint of water based semi-gloss polyurethane*
  • two 64 oz. bags o' pinto beans

Stuff I had around:

Of course there are a bazillion and fifty tutorials out there on the interwebs for you to peruse.  I scanned a few for guidance of course, and I'll provide those links as I go.  The DIY Network one was one I followed the most.  I think.

Hey look, it's wood!
Anyway, I purchased pre-cut pieces of plywood as a.) time was at a minimum, b.) ain't no table/circular saw in this house, c.) it's already cut.  Sure it was a little pricier but hey, this was one moment when throwing money at a project made way more sense.

I cut the 1x4 into two pieces of four feet, two pieces of 22.5".  Measure twice, cut once, right?!  Sliced and diced with my oooh-so-fabulous miter saw that I love ooooh-so-much.

Apologies for the lack of photos...I was in a huge rush as the block party was the very next day.  So, check the tutorials if you need more visuals.

Next, butt a short piece into a long piece, pilot drill some holes, add a dab or two of Gorilla glue, and attach together with the drywall screws.  Continue around.

I advise the glue if you go the 1x route for sure, makes it sturdier.  Especially since these take a pounding with the bags.

You end up with a spiffy frame like so.

Lay the plywood on top of your fancy pants frame, line it up, get out that countersink bit and pre-drill a bunch o' holes through the plywood into the frame.

Yes, I broke four drill bits doing this.  Yes, I ended up using a masonry bit.  Heh.
Now, indeed, a countersink is vital here as the finished surface has to be smooth as a baby's butt.  They're cheap enough.  The bit, not the butt.  Oy, ok, moving on....

Flip the ply up, squirt out a thin thin bead of glue onto the frame, lay the ply back down, attach with the drywall screws.

Bam!  Cool!  Yes, I did clap at this juncture.

Ok, next is the all important hole.

Measure in 12" from the sides (aka center) and then 9" down from the top.  Mark it.  Dig up your dusty compass last used in grade school and draw a sweet 6" diameter circle.  Or, use something that's going to give you a perfect 6" circle.

Pilot through a nice healthy start and begin cutting out the circle with a jigsaw.

I discovered on this project that this saw is a piece of poop unfortunately.  The flat side there just will not stay still.  Keeps tilting.  Couldn't find a lock to keep it flat.  Sad.  My previous saw, a Bosch 1582vs, the saw of my dreams, was stolen out of our garage many a year ago.  Sigh.  I miss it.  Yes, to this day.  It was that good.

Anywhoooo.....go slow cutting the hole as the radius is tight enough that it's easy to go awry.  Slow and steady wins the race here.

Next:  putty the screw holes.  Have your assistant check your work.

Once that's all done, it's time for the legs.  Now.  Here's the part that took the longest and was the biggest struggle for me.  I checked lots of sites like This Old House, this guy's, and this guy's Instructable, but in the end nothing seemed to work quite right for unknown reasons, I was wasting wood and time.  I opted to forge my own path through a combination of ideas.

Goal:  have the legs fold up into itself for storage.
Bad:  no real photos to share.  Sorry.  Hang with me here, hopefully you'll follow.

I tried the "cut the 2x on 30 degree angles" plan from the Instructable and it didn't work for me.  :(  Maybe I missed a step in my speed reading.

So what I did was set the thing up on my workbench to the regulation height of 12" to the surface (the hole side is raised), clamp a piece of ±14" of 2x into the corner, drilled my 5/16" hole in the center of the 2x, marked the angle on the leg to trim for height (see all those tutorials on that -- use the edge of your table as your angle finding/marking guide with the leg overhanging), trimmed the leg.

What I ended up doing, and I'm sure it's totally wrong, is I measured a half inch up from the edge of the 5/16" hole towards the short end of the leg, used one a' those red plastic cups, traced a half circle line then trimmed the 2x top to have a curve, hoping the legs would then fold up all nice and neat.

It worked on one but not the other.  I had drilled the holes on one a different way first, probably why.  Hope I'm not confusing the daylights out of you with the shortage of photos.  Again, the linked tutorials have plenty of helpful pictures.  Unlike me.

I made each leg individually so as to not screw the whole thing up.  Remember:  do not to cheat my sweetheart -- see above... ("hey these legs are messed up!  Figures!" he'd say)

Whew.  So that took longer than I anticipated.

After the legs were done I took a deep breath.  Time to paint.

Give the whole face of the ply and the circle cut out a good sanding, ease the ply edges.  I finally got to use the sander from the big pallet wood floor contest win!  Sweet!  And it was freakin' awesome too.

Sander!!  Yay!!!
I did a super simple triangle effect with painters tape.  Painted one side white, the other in black or the light blue.  Pulled the tape and there was a nice neat and tidy line of unpainted ply for added schmancy, looks-like-I-spent-a-long-time look.

Mike thinks this is such a cool look.  I think he's right.
Seal with semi-gloss water based polyurethane, two coats.  Although.  Later.  Playing.  We discover the semi-gloss is well, pretty slickery, so semi-gloss, satin...it's up to you.

Next up are the bags themselves.  I dug through my collection of random fabric and opted for moderately heavy weight houndstooth patterned stuff for the Sox and the same outdoor chair fabric I used for Hailey's paw print for the Cubs.  Heavy strong fabric is key since these take a monstrous beating.

If you go without a fold, cut the squares at 7".  If you use a fold like I did, the one side across from the fold is at 6.5".  Leaving a half inch edge to get perfect 6" square bags, stitch these puppies up, flip 'em inside out, and fill them evenly so they all weigh the same (no cheating!  I totally think Mike checked each bag to make sure too, heh.).  I used those same red plastic cups and measured out about ±16 oz. of beans per bag, not sure, but the cups were all filled evenly.

Stitch 'em up tight and it's game time.  Woo hoo!

Mike was so pleased.  He loves them.  He was so excited.  Awwww!  Right?!  They were such a hit at the party too.  Kids were all over them.  Literally even, like walking and crawling all over them.  One bag had a minor blow out but a neighbor took the time to, heh, staple the bag shut.  Beans everywhere.  Very funny.

Anyway, now Mike has his own bag set and he's happy as a clam.

But check this out....

Look at that construction!  I know I know, but for me this is incredibly impressive.

Oh!  Right!  Who won?, you ask.  Well, we played teams a couple times and I had to carry my teammate, despite being rusty.  Ahem.  (Love ya babe!)

*The water based polyurethane, Gorilla glue, Durham's Wood Putty, and countersink bits are Amazon affiliate links.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab for more info.


Randomness Day: Finds, Deck, Coolness, Etcetera, and a Doggie.

Nutty times around here, nutty times!  Lots going on and other than the deck, nothing major.  I don't think.  My brain is a-whirl with the week ahead.

Obligatory "before" shot.  Patio still lookin' good!  I love that patio.
Yes, the deck started today!!  Mike's deck....ah he's so giddy, it's cute.

Heh, also cute?  Finn examining the yard from the second floor window.
Last week I was heading over to my second home Menards from a different direction and stopped over at that newer Salvation Army, see if I could find some interesting frames.

See, I'm not much of a thrifter type.  I was when I did props as that made great financial and historical sense but for some reason I've never been able to be a thrifter or garage saler otherwise, not entirely sure why.  I guess for me personally, other people's used stuff occasionally gives me the heebeejeebees sometimes?  No offense.

Thrifting and garage sales can turn up incredible treasures though, which is why do I stop every once in a bit.  Treasure hunting.

Well, this stopover turned up quite the unexpected treasure:  original aluminum Tiki brand torches from the early 1960's, unused, untouched.  Two for five bucks.  Huge fat wicks at 3/4" diameter!  Like an idiot, I stood in the aisle hemming and hawing but eventually it duh dawned on me that if I passed on these, I'd be sorry every day for the rest of my life.

My favorite color too!  Yes, the twine broke on one of the DIY planter pouches that I never replanted.  Sad.
Researcher that I am, I found a few similar on Etsy when I got home, one single original ad online but that's it.

What a treasure!  What a steal!  Mike and I debated several times whether we should keep them or resell them.  Using and enjoying the daylights out of 'em won.

Lit, for the first time ever, in over 50 years!  Crazy, right?!
I also snatched up a table lamp that matches the light fixture in the hall bedroom exactly.  I wasn't sure if I wanted it and I'm still not -- do I want matchy matchy or do I want something different but I figured at six bucks I shouldn't walk away.  If anything it can go in Mike's office, or maybe on the actual record cabinet.  That's dangerous with a spazzy gi-gundo dog though.

It's missing a harp and a shade, but pffft, no biggie, easily remedied.  Gives me a chance to get all creative like or somethin'.  Oh, found zero worthwhile frames by the way.

On the cabinet there.  Yes, that murky paint test is the same color as the basement if you can believe it.  Light, or lack thereof, makes a world of difference!
Ooh!  Oh!  My prizes from the Instructables contest (repeat link) arrived!

T-shirt with their adorable robot logo, sander, and two stickers!
Oh I am so excited -- I can't believe I was a winner!  Mike was teasing me all day, sending me photos of the shipping box, repeatedly yanking my chain that he was going to accidentally forget to bring it home....I shipped it to his place of employment as we've been having issues with packages being stolen off our front porch by jerky people.

Awwww, but SOOOooo thrilled and I can't thank you guys enough for voting for our pallet wood pantry floor!  The prizes are a nice perk but the joy of being selected is what truly warmed my heart.  Thank you thank you thank you!

Mike asked me the next evening, "so?  What did you sand with your new sander today?"  I am terribly embarrassed to report it's been a week and I haven't sanded a single thing yet.  I know, lame.  I will soon.

Maybe I'll use it to sand the wood patch in the kitchen as dun dun dun....I did it!  I picked up that Rustoleum Kitchen Transformations kit in black.  Black!!  I'm so excited.  Looks like it's going to be a slew of methodical slow steps, making me all edgy impatient but, gotta follow the directions and take it easy to get it right.

Found some cool, sharp, unusual cabinet door pulls on the interwebs and at Menards, so I'll run those ideas by Mike.  Of course, because not a damn single thing is easy peasy simple in this darn house, the normal spot to screw in a door pull is rounded on the cabinets.  Sheesh.

Rounded.  Sigh.
Hardware options are minimal at best as a result, as finding one that sits correctly with no gaps will be a challenge which is why the Menards one might work best.  And I'm not sure if I like the tab pull kind, such as maybe these or these. You get the idea there.  They feel office-y to me.

Anywhooo I was heading out last Friday to meet the deck builder guy to purchase the materials when I gave Mike one last chance on the black cabinet paint.  He shrugged his shoulders, looked at me funny, chuckled and said, "That's fine, I'm not worried -- you're going to change your mind in six months anyway."

Well.  A character, that one, I tell ya.

Of course, after waiting and waiting for the kit to go on sale it finally does *after* I purchased it.  That's ok, Menards will refund me the difference.  Heh, figures!

But yes, Mike hired a guy to build the deck, coming clean, truth be told.  While I'm sure we could have accomplished the task ourselves, it would have taken us forever and a day especially since we don't have all the appropriate correct tools to get the job done right.  Plus we don't want to kill each other, heh.

Closer up "before" shot.
Over in the Who's Honoring Me Now department, Deirdre Sullivan at about.com mentioned my 99 cent shelf!  That was beyond super cool to come upon, so nice of her, and I am hugely, incredibly flattered to be included!  There are some other spiffy ideas there worth checking out too.  Way neat, right?!

Oh and Finny boy's paint by numbers-ish portrait is done now:

Very colorful, heh, just like him!  He looked up at it on the wall the other day, literally did a double take then looked at me.  It was totally hilarious.  "Mommy, who's that?  Is that me?!  Cool, thanks!"

Hailey's is in progress at the moment which is mmm ya know tough.  I've nearly cried a few times but I'm trying to tunnel vision solely on filling in the colors, wee small areas at a time.  Narrow focus, narrow.

Buuuuut, so, it's going to be an uber super duper busy week around these parts; I'm not sure how much of anything house related I'll be getting done.

My brother and his family come to town on Wednesday, so we'll be seeing them.  Errands up the wazoo -- Saturday is our block party which Pete the Sweeper decided I would um, be the head of- in charge of- coordinator for.  Yeah no, he didn't ask, he told.

His plans for it shifted so Mike and I are now shopping for and prepping all the food.  Heh.  Ah well, so it is.  We think the plans will be good.   Mike's making Frito Pies, which quite possibly may be an Indiana food group I think, I'm not positive though (he's from Indiana, I'm allowed).  He makes his own chili so it'll be way yummy.

Sooo, I may not see you guys until next week, we shall see.  Sad face, right?  I know.  I'll be back asap, promise!


Let's Make...Paint by Numbers-ish Dog Portraits!

Hey hey, the pet project I kept alluding to!  Nice!!

Ack!!  Sweet!!!
Oh man, super cute too, yeah?

For eons I've pined for a painting of Hailey but either a.) didn't get around to it, b.) couldn't find the right inspiration direction to go with, or c.) didn't have wads of cash to have it done by someone.

Until!...I found this blog one day recently somehow on accident not even looking for painting ideas:  The Ambitious Procrastinator.  She's got a fun thing going over there but sadly it appears her writings are on hiatus.

Anywhoooo, her cat painting idea was exactly what I was looking for which got me all excited to celebrate Samson, Hailey, and Finn adorably on canvas.

First up, Sam as Mike was right speedy with his photo choice.  I started by scanning the image because *gasp,* it was an image developed from film!  Gasp!  Ha!

Aw, lookie how sweet Sam was as a puppy!
It took some time to edit the photo, adjusting exposure, color, dust, scratches, blah blah everything, erasing the background, blurring it a smidge.  This I did in PhotoShop (don't panic....keep reading).  The blur made future steps work better.

Hey look, computer screen, cool.
Next up was the "posterize" step to get to the paint-by-numbers look.  I made three different versions and sent them to Mike for approval.

Bottom left is what Mike chose, bottom right is the adjusted image pre-posterize.
After Mike decided, I created an 18"x24" file in Illustrator, my final painting size, (again, don't panic, keep reading), placed Sam's posterized image in then enlarged him to fit the page.

Once I got him all set, I printed out a handful of letter size sheets, trimmed, taped and he was all set to go!

Now, I built my own canvases as I had 1x2 laying around seeking a use as well as scraps of canvas.

Smartly this time I took the time to do the math heh so it'd definitely be a measure twice cut once scenario.

Once all my pieces were cut, it was frame assembly time which consisted of pre-drilling holes, 1 5/8" screws, and glue.

Originally I made a cross piece which was smart but not in that the relief of it would show through the canvas.  Not pretty, so I removed it.

Originally too I tried using one of the drop cloths from my DIY dyed art projects but the fabric was too weird and nubbly after I applied the gesso so poof, off that came, on went actual canvas.

But right, I used gesso* to tighten up the canvas on the frames but no need to make a special purchase; use regular house paint thinned with water a smidge or acrylic paint or even starch if you'd like.  Or!  Save yourself a chunk of steps and purchase a canvas of your choice!

After a base coat of white acrylic paint, it was time to transfer Sam's image.

This step I used powdered charcoal* but if you don't have that, you can rub a pencil all across the back.

Tape the image to the canvas where you want it then using a sharp pencil, trace between the colors.

Yikes, I know, it looks horribly confusing but hold onto the printed image and keep it nearby as reference.  If you work in small areas at a time, it's not as confusing.

So you're all set to paint!  I bought a handful of matching acrylic paints over at Joann Fabrics.*  Now, I'll advise against the really cheap stuff as it's thin and opacity isn't always stellar, but they will work.  No need to get the super expensive stuff though either.  If you can without spilling, open the bottles or give them a good shake & listen to see if they meet your standards first.

All it is now is to fill in the colors.  At one point it will look terrible, you'll doubt your painting skills, you'll think what a waste, but keep going as I promise it will all of a sudden come together outta nowhere and be fabulous.

Yay Samson!  Lookin' sharp!

Awww, what a face, huh?!  Helps that the subject matter was a charmer to begin with.

Big Finn boy is currently in progress and last up will be Hailey.  Of course the hardest one.  Mike asked me the other day, "how are you going to be able to paint her while teary?"  Good question.  I hadn't thought that far in advance.  I kinda skipped ahead to finished product hanging on the wall in my head.

We shall see.

And yes, I will absolutely be sharing photos of the Finn and Hailey paintings in the future.

But, lest you think I forgot:

If you don't have the schmancy software, no problem!  You can still do this using these tools (fyi, not all of these were tested by me so if you run into an issue with one, please let me know so I can find a suitable replacement):

Fotor is a handy, basic photo editing app I use on my Mac.  Not only is it a free app on all platforms including mobile, it appears to have online editing as well.  I didn't check that part out.  With Fotor you can adjust the saved image size, making it whatever size your canvas is.  This app doesn't do the posterize step.  For that try....

...this tutorial.  Or there's this simple one step online option that doesn't have an obvious save button so you'd have to right click and save or drag the image onto the desktop.  Or there's this one too.  I gave the last two a brief whirl and they do a decent job.  If you have a better option or find something way cooler, do let me know!

Lastly, Rasterbator, the site with the strangely awkward name, will take your file and split it into several printable pages quickly, easily, and for free.  Just upload your image, select a few options, and it will create a pdf file for you to print and assemble.  I did test this one out for you just to make sure.  For my 18x24 image upload, a few clicky clicks, I ended up with a downloaded multiple page pdf to print myself.  How sweet is that?!

This whole thing is indeed a multi-step process, sure, but it's totally worth it.  I mean, did you see how cute Samson turned out?

Welp, looks like this week isn't deck week after all.  Wah wah.  Next week.  Starting Monday.  I hope!  Fingers crossed anyway.

*The gesso and powdered charcoal links are Amazon affiliate links and the Joann Fabrics crafts link is also an affiliate link.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab for more info.