Project: Building a Wooden Catan Board


Almost a year ago, my husband and I started brainstorming and mapping out a way to make a wooden version of one of our favorite games, The Settlers of Catan. About 9 months ago, we finished our board and it’s our go-to game anytime we have a game night. We love playing the game, and we love playing it even more with our wooden set.  Building the original set was a lesson in math, marriage, woodworking, and painting small details.  Fast forward to middle of November, and I got a comment on my instagram from a friend from college that wanted to buy a wooden set of their own for a Christmas present.   After talking it over with Ben, we decided it would be a fun project to take on again, and decided to secretly make another set for a friend of ours for her Christmas present.  We  quickly learned that making TWO board is vastly different from making just one. Making the second and third sets were  lessons in math, marriage, woodworking, painting small details, and letting go of our absolute perfectionism.

Overall, I’m THRILLED with how all three of the boards turned out. It was a creative outlet for the two of us, and it’s so much fun to make something that is fun and practical.

Catan 1

To make the boards, we used: 

  • 4′ x 6′  sheet of plywood (3/4″ thick)  (was enough for two sets, with some wood left over)
  • 1 qt of Minwax Clear Tint (we had them color it it to “Island Waters”)  1 quart of this made it through 3+ Catan boards
  • A circular saw to cut the pieces and sandpaper to “clean it up.”
  • Assorted acrylic paints & paintbrushes ( I like the Folk Art and Plaid brands of paints!)
  • Minwax Polyurethane to seal the pieces after they have been painted
  • The game of Settlers of Catan for the pieces, cards, etc, to be able to play the game!

Catan 1


To create the game we: 

  • Traced the board pieces onto the plywood
  • Cut the pieces.
  • Hand sanded the edges.
  • Stained the wooden pieces blue.
  • Painted the tops of the pieces to match the playing board (this is what took the longest!)
  • Sealed the tops with Minwax Polyurethane.


To make the ports, we cut a 1/2 wide dowel rod, stained them with leftover brown stain we had around the house, painted the appropriate “trades” on top, and sealed them with the poly again.  I love how they turned out!

Have you ever made a homemade game set?  How did it turn out? 

Design | Pumpkin Glow

I’ve been having a blast designing all sorts of fun projects since I went full time freelance in July, and  I want to make much more of an effort to share what I’ve been designing!

Alexandra Rae Design | Pumpkin Glow

Kingwood Center is one of my very favorite places in my town, and this annual event they have is such a fun time. I was thrilled when they contacted me to come up with a new design for the posters for this year.  They were some of the best kind of clients to work with– they knew what they wanted and had a vision, but were willing to have fun with it and play around.  This job also taught me the beauty of using secret Pinterest boards to collaborate with clients– so much fun and so helpful!

I’m excited to head over to Kingwood this weekend for the Pumpkin Glow– I know it’s going to be a blast!

Do you have any design projects you would like help with? I would love to help you out–
contact me
for rates and details!

What have you been working on lately? 


From the Design Files | Lemon and Raspberry eBooks

At the beginning of the summer, I launched my eBook design services, and Amy of Lemon and Raspberry was one of the first to take advantage of the services.

So far, I’ve redesigned her free SHIFT eBook and her latest Summer Lovin’ eBook.



Both are fantastic resources that I loved reading through as I typeset the text.  I’m excited to look back through Summer Lovin‘ as I decide how I want to document all of my summer happenings. Amy consistently puts out fantastic content, and these eBooks are no exception.


If you follow me on twitter, you’re probably sick of hearing about how excited I am for BUILD– the self-paced blogging e-course from Amy of Lemon and Raspberry.  I just can’t help it– anything Amy touches is gold, and I know she’s put her heart and soul into this course.  Advice and information from Amy is priceless— and so valuable at the same time. Amy is my go to expert with anything blogging related, and so I’m so excited about this course that is full of her wisdom.

Plus, if you sign up for her email list, you get 9 months of FREE blogging advice from Amy.  And she gives TONS of great advice and tips.  *Bonus* if you sign up before Thursday, July 4th, you get a subscriber discount when the class goes on sale. But I think even the free blogging emails are worth signing up with your email!

For a feel for the GREAT advice that Amy  gives, check out the video below where she answers 3 common blogger questions… including a question from me!


What’s YOUR biggest blogging hurdle? Are you taking the leap to make your blog better and signing up for Amy’s course? 

What's in my camera bag?


1)Lomography Canon SLR Adaptor ; 2) Opteka Reflectors; 3) Canon EF-S 18-135mm lens; 4) Canon EOS 60D; 5) Canon EF-S 18-55mm lens  6)Wireless Remote; 7) Vista Explorer Tripod; 8) Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens; 9) Same bag, similar color: Vera Bradley;  Fisheye Lens (not pictured)

I always love seeing what “gear” other camera nerds carry around in their camera bags.  I almost always have some sort of camera in my hand– whether it’s my Canon or even “just” my iPhone 5. I love the saying “The best camera is the one that is with you.”

What’s in your camera bag? 


A little bit of this, a little bit of that.

IMG_0598I cannot believe how fast May just… flew by.  I’m looking at the calendar with dispbeief– how is next week June?  I’m not going to lie,  I’m LOVING the warmer weather, but I’m hating being stuck inside in my cubicle all day! Lucky for me, Ben ordered 8 cubic yards of mulch last weekend, so we’ve been spending lots of time outside after work spreading out the mulch!

While I’m recovering from our long evenings working outside, I’m loving exploring links, articles, books… here’s what I’ve been enjoying lately:

  • One of my favorite things to do is to read lists and collections of links of what others are finding interesting around the web.  One of my favorite weekly collections is Kam’s Essential Reading.  
  • Amy is retiring 2 eBooks at the end of this week… along with her hour  by  hour coaching.  The eBooks are on sale and Amy’s coaching is the best thing since sliced bread… trust me,  I know. I spent a whole day being coached by Amy last month!
  • Speaking of Amy being awesome, she just recently announced her new BUILD eCourse and emails.  To say I’m excited would be the biggest understatement ever.  You should sign up for the emails for her great advice for building your blog.. and hey, they’re free!
  • I’ve read this series before, but I’m loving re-reading the O’Malley series– intense mysteries AND uplifting? Exactly what I need.  (Start with The Negotiator  and I promise you’ll be hooked.)
  • I’m also loving the Free Kindle Books on Amazon… free books are always fun for discovering new authors! I’m also anxiously awaiting the newest  Sarah Dessen novel,The Moon and More, that releases next week!
  • With summertime comes reminders of camp– which were 8 of the best summers of my life. Hello Giggles has some really fun camp articles… but my apologies if you get lost on the site for hours!
  • I’ve been pinning like crazy lately… home decor, scrapbooking, recipes.. everything. I’d love to see what you’re pinning as well– leave your boards link in the comments?
  • I’m so excited about two FREE summer workshops coming up– Summer Stories from Jennifer Wilson and Find Your Voice from RuKristin. 

What have YOU been enjoying lately?   I’d love it if you left a fun link you’ve been enjoying in the comments!

*some links throughout this post are affiliate links, but I would never recommend anything that I don’t love and use myself. Using these links never costs you anything extra, but helps keep Alexandra Rae Design running and the “lights on.” Thanks for supporting Alexandra Rae Design!* 

The Bond Between Us

I mentioned before that I was taking a class from Stephanie Howell at Big Picture Classes called “The Ties That Bind” and I just have to tell you… I love this class. It’s self paced, which is nice, because I can whip through all of the inspiration and notes quickly and see the “big picture” of the class all at once.. and then I can go back and rewatch videos and presentations at a slower pace. Stephanie’s class is definetly one that insists on at least a few times of going back and “digesting” all of the information, simply because it’s such GOOD information. It’s thought provoking and inspiring all at the same time.


I basically, totally, completely, scraplifted this layout from the class– I was so inspired by the thought of the statement “The Bond Between Us” that I had to document one of the most important “bonds” in my life– the bond between my husband and I.

What classes or inspiration do you constantly return to?

Products used on this layout:  

Inspired | Layouts


bond_detail_1In the little, small amounts of free time I’ve had lately, I’ve been enjoying  a couple of eBook and self-paced classes from Big Picture Classes… Fashionably Fast by May Flaum and The Ties That Bind taught by Stephanie Howell. Both completely wonderful. Both completely inspiring in completely different ways.  May’s eBook is full of great tips and inspiring layouts and sketches, and Stephanie’s class just makes me sob and want to record every story about every family member and friend. Amazing.

What have you been creating lately? 

Exciting News | 30 Days of Lists

Screen Shot 2013-01-20 at 10.14.47 PMIf you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you know that I’m obsessed with the amazing daily listing challenge that is 30 Days of Lists (or #30Lists). I’ve participated (even if I haven’t finished all of my lists!) every challenge since they started, in March 2011. . . So I’m thrilled to announce that I’m now one of the four 30 Lists Ambassadors!


Screen Shot 2013-01-20 at 9.48.29 PM

I’m thrilled to be helping promote the awesomeness that is #30Lists this time around– so you can be sure that I will be sharing plenty of my lists and projects here!

The next round of #30Lists starts in March, but you can actually get the past 3 sessions of 30 Days of Lists in self-paced form— catch up on what you missed and get geared up for this March!

Have you participated in #30Lists before? Will you be particpating this year? Not sure what #30Lists is? Check it out here. 


One Little Word | Focus


At the beginning of the last year, I chose the word FOCUS to be my “one little word” to guide me through the year, a la Ali Edwards. But last year, I failed at putting FOCUS at the center of my life.  I got too busy to FOCUS on what I should have. So I’m choosing it again. A do over, if you will.

In an effort to put FOCUS into my life and pay attention to my one little word this year, I’m taking the One Little Word year long class from Ali Edwards at Big Picture Classes. I’m hoping having a project to work on with my one little word, a community to cheer me on, and “monthly check ins” with Ali will help keep me on track.

So why did I choose “FOCUS” as my word? The short and simple answer is because FOCUS has been a very hard thing for me–my whole life, but especially this last year. I tend to be all over the place– starting a ton of projects, but never finishing them; getting  distracted by how busy my life is to be healthy; getting so distracted by future plans to FOCUS on the now… So I’ve decided to FOCUS on a few things this year to make my life a little bit better.

So what will I be FOCUSING on this year? 

  • Organizing my life (lessening distractions)
  • My health
  • My career— not necessarily the job I’m in now, but focusing on where I want my career to go and the steps it will take to get there
  • My family 
  • Me. 

Did you chose a word to guide you this year? What is it?