Thursday, September 29, 2011

Harry Potter.

I went to Harry Potter World. 
It was *magic.*
Seriously - still humming the theme song and having daydreams.

This is one of the entrances into the park Hogsmeade. It was 92 degrees in Orlando Hogsmeade, but doesn't that snow and sky just take you there - in the middle of winter? Wrapped up in your cloak and looking for some hot butterbeer (though I would recommend the frozen butterbeer, personally). 

 Honeydukes is on the left, and I went nuts in there, getting chocolate frogs, peppermint toads, Honeydukes chocolate bars, and a cauldron cake. So, so, so, so, so good.

And, of course, Hogwarts was amazing. The ride within - the Forbidden Journey - was AMAZING. Maybe it was because I didn't know what to expect, and so I won't tell you details because I expect you to visit, but I was screaming in actual fear, crying, and laughing, and flying. Amazing. 

The detail on the way to the ride was insane. You pass through the dungeons and the Potions classroom, through the greenhouse and past the mandrakes, down a hall past the House points counter and the phoenix at the entrance to Dumbledore's office, and then into Dumbledore's office:

Crazy detail, right? You have a chat with Albus, then go into the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, where you meet Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and have a chat about how you're going to fly down to the Quidditch pitch. then you pass through the Gryffindor common room (after telling the Fat Lady the right password, of course), and meet Hermione in the Room of Requirement and you're flying!

I realize I'm sounding a little looney. 

So I'll stop gushing about the castle. We also saw Hagrid's cabin (and heard Fang inside)!

We swung by the Owl Post and sent letters to each other via the spectacular service.

Lunch at the Three Broomsticks was phenomenal - best french fries ever.

Fear of Sirius was high - but we weren't afraid because a) we're pals and b) we had our wands.

Mmkay, mmkay, backing off the looney bin again. 

Everyone in was real in character, and it was amazing. Amazing, amazing, amazing.

'da da da da da daaaaaaa da, da dadada da daaaa' - you recognize that as Hedwig's Theme, too?!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall Time = Cookie Time.

I used to think that I loved summer best, but I think I really love fall best. I love boots. I love fun colored tights. I love coats.

And, most importantly, I love fall treats. Pumpkin spice lattes. Apple pies. Apples. Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin cookie. Oatmeal no-bakes. Oatmeal apple raisin cookies. Pumpkin bread. And on football Sundays, taco dip. And this year, mum sent me another item to add to my list - canned peaches.

But first, to get my sisters in the spirit -

Fall-themed and woodland creature sugar cookies!

Moose moose moose. I altered his shaped a bit - I didn't trust his spindly legs would make it through the baking.

That's not to say that there weren't some casualties.

Om nom nom.

Sugar cookies - the package stuff. I didn't have the time or patience.

Icing - from here. Verdict - not my favorite. When I eat icing, I want to have a taste and then be overwhelmed with the feeling that I can't stop eating it. I could put this down way too easily. That's a fail in my book. Plus, the stove-top aspect of the icing was too much (but this is all in retrospect and knowing that I don't love it). It's good, it's just not great.

Sprinkles and black gel - from Ross. I love that place.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Just saying 'coffee' makes me think of a song my dad used to sing to us: 'C-O-F-F-E-E, Coffee is not for me!' I don't remember the context, because he drank coffee daily, but now the words are quick to pop into my head.

Anyway. I tried my hand at making a coffee cozy, and this is my tutorial, with very few pictures, about that.

I started with a Starbucks cozy. I split it open and traced out a pattern for myself on a piece of paper, leaving some room for the seam (about 1/2-inch, though my sketch was rough).

I then cut two pieces of fabric and a piece of fusible batting out of this.

I set the batting aside, and pinned the two pieces of fabric with the right side of the fabric together (the right side = the side that will be facing outward in the end). I sewed around this, leaving a small gap to flip the fabric back out.

Then, following the instructions on the fusible batting, I ironed the batting onto the bad side of one piece of fabric. After this, I flipped the fabric inside out, so the right side was now on the outside.

For extra reinforcement, and because I didn't feel like doing a hidden stitch on such a small opening, I did a zigzag stitch around the outside.

The last piece was to attach the elastic loop, for which I used a hairtie, and the button. I worked around a mug to find my placement, and pinned on the button and elastic. I sewed the elastic with a few zigzag stitches back and forth. I snipped the extra ends of the elastic, then dabbed a few drops of Fray Guard on the ends. Lastly, I sewed on the button.

And there they were:

It literally took maybe 20 minutes for each. Super easy, and it feels much better than using one from the coffee store every time.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Necklace Board.

My sister made me a beautiful jewelry tree, and I love it. But I've gotten to the point that I have too many necklaces, and not enough necks. Ha. Really, I just don't have enough time in the morning to untangle the knots they tie themselves into on either side and pick one that matches.

So I turned to pinterest for some ideas on a separate necklace holder.

I was liking this idea of the frame around the holder (and I've since lost the link).

I was bouncing this idea as well, but didn't like the idea of a towel rail installation in my transient status of renting (from here).

Rather, I loved an eclectic mix of knobs (again, lost the link).

So I started my hybrid.

I bought a frame from Marshall's for $10, and popped out the glass and matting. I bought a piece of 1/4" birch, and my dad cut it into a 10X20 inch piece to fit the frame. It should be said that my dad had the board cut when I came home for a visit, without me reminding him - awesome! Thanks, Dad! Moving on - I then painted the birch with two coats of white. I let that dry, then used some painter's tape and taped out some haphazard lines. Then I spray painted two coats of yellow on the wood.

I let that dry, taped some more lines, then spray painted some grey on top of that.

And after some drying time and tape peeling, I had this:

Lovely! But still not done.

I flipped the board over, and played around with the knobs and some necklaces for placement. I sketched out my x's for drilling, and got to it.

Lastly, I flipped the board over and started screwing in the knobs. My dad was super helpful in cutting the screws to the smaller length required by the thin board.

And voila!

I got the knobs from everywhere and anywhere: two Home Depots, one Lowes, one Busy Beaver, and my dad's shed.

And with all the necklaces - Ta Da!

And it'd working! I've worn three different necklaces on three different days to work last week.

And I apologize for the spotty pictures in the tutorial. I was working on this project the same day that I was helping my dad dig four 30-inch holes for posts for our deck roof project. And we used this beast for that job:

This two-man agar gave me bruises and soreness in muscles I didn't know existed. Well, this, and the digging bar and sledgehammer combination we used to break up the rock in some of the holes. The 90 degree heat and humidity didn't help either. Yoi.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Tropical Storm Lee didn't want Natural Disaster Week to end without his participation.

This is the parking garage across the street - full of water. 

And this is the street outside my plan.


So my roomie and I walked past the cops and firemen to the top of the bridge.

This was the view to the right - water up and over the cars.

And this is the  view from the bridge. This is usually a very busy road.

Yup, that's a blow-up boat, rescuing people trapped in their SUV.

I'm all okay here, and so is the Vibe-ster. Fingers crossed for no more water overnight!

And if it's not raining tomorrow, I'll upload a picture of this in the daytime, when it's dry.

As promised, here's some perspective shots:

This is the area behind the hotel, where the boat was getting people from the car - and that's the top of said car. The background has a nice trash heap of debris, too.

Whew. Glad it all cleaned up in a day!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Reupholstering, or passing off the job.

I've had this stool probably since I was 13.

It's held me while I've done homework and make-up for high school dances, talked on the phone past my allotted time, and then served the same purpose for my sister during her high school years, while I was at college.

And it's seen better days.

The white fabric was keeping its whiteness from a distance, but it was very pill-y up close, and you could see traces of face powder, outlines of water stains from trying to hand clean it, and just better days. An upholstering was long overdue. The small deterrent was that I had no idea how to approach this stool.

But I got some courage one evening, and started pulling out the kagillion staples.

There were staples to hold in staples. This thing was insane. And the legs were held in with these funky hexagon screws. My steam ran out fast.

And then Hurricane Irene came to visit the DC area to wrap up 'Natural Disaster Week.' I was planning on hunkering down and wading it out (get it?! flooding? hahaha), but my mum would not stop calling the day before it was to hit, and she was worried, and my aunt and 8-month+ pregnant cousin were leaving the area for my parent's house, so I headed home, and grabbed my stool. It's not that my stool was my most prized possession that I needed in the event of a flood, but my aunt is an awesome seamstress/decorator/designer/crafter, and I wanted her opinion and help on tackling this. I knew she wouldn't have much else to distract her, so I would be able to corner her. And she's hard to corner - she's had my mum's chair and a half and ottoman for over a year, ready to reupholster, but it's fallen to the wayside of my aunt's multitude of other projects and weddings that she decorates. So this was my golden opportunity.

So my aunt helped me pick out some thread, upholstery needles, cording, and other materials. We finished taking out the staples, and used the white fabric as a pattern for my new fabric. And then she took over. Honestly. I have no pictures of the process. I ran out to drop something off for my mum, and came back and she had the top. She had me cut strips for the cording, and then that was done. 

Wam bam.

I love the fabric. It was at JoAnn's, and with a lovely discount from their ever-present coupons. It's called Button Blooms, from the Waverly Modern Essentials Fabric line. The blues and greens compliment my bedspread wonderfully.

I really lucked out with the legs. They were a good strong wood, and nice, so I was able to stain them and then cover them with two coats of varnish. I didn't like the idea of fabric-wrapped legs (and how hard would that be?!), so I'm thanking my lucky stars. 

And while taking these pictures in my parent's dining room, my sister's cat beast decided the stool was getting a little too much attention.

Really. This boy is such a baby.

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