Monday, January 30, 2012

Nail Pen.

This is an absolutely revolutionary piece of mani/pedi fabulousness that I'm upset I didn't try and find sooner. And this was a totally random find - I wasn't paid or anything to try it out. I was just stalking the nail polish aisle, per usual.

The Nail Art Pen. By Sally Hansen. With a little flower on the cap. I'm in love.

I started with two coats of Re-fresh Mint by China Glaze.

I then shook up the pen and dabbed it on a notepad to get it started. All per the directions on the box. And I drew some lines on my left hand.

I loved it. And then I went to bed. I was in San Fran when I did this, so I was without roommate, and therefore unable to do my right hand. Great planning, I know. But the real lesson here is that when following the directions on the box, you should follow them the whole way through. The box told me to apply a top coat after the drawing pen. I didn't do that.

And this is what the morning result was:

I don't know what happened, but there must be some purple in the sheets. Woopsie. So I re-applied and then put on a top coat.

And I love it. Now I'm looking for a black pen to add to the collection, and I'll otherwise be drawing all over every nail I have. And probably other people's nails too. So there's your fair warning :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bracelet Fancy.

It very well may be the sleep deprivation during busy season: part 2, but my social interactions are going downhill fast. I do not know how to respond to compliments.

Case and point:
Coworker: 'I love your bracelet!'
Me: 'Thanks! I was feeling bracelet fancy!'

Weird looks ensued. I cannot interact like a normal person, and this has to be my 1284903815 realization of that.

Anyway. You want to be bracelet fancy, huh? [And now you can start humming to the tune of 'you fancy, huh, oh you fancy, huh' throughout this project.] All it takes is some ribbed (I got the ribbed ribbon stuff in navy blue), matching thread, and beads.

Start by taking a length of thread (and I always bear on the side of caution, so my three-foot length was obviously too long). I left a 6-inch tail on the ribbon (better to be safe than sorry!) and then pulled the thread through the middle of the ribbon, like so:

These pictures are a little rough because my thread and ribbon were so well matched, but I think that picture shows the step. That, and my sister's cat attacking the ribbon as I pulled it from the spool. This project is rough when you're cat-sitting.

Then, poke the needle up back through the ribbon, next to the knot. So you're back on the same side of the ribbon that you just knotted. String on a bead and have the excess thread after the knot poke up there as well, for hiding purposes.

Then, sew back through the ribbon. When you pull tight, the ribbon will fold around half of the bead. Here's a picture to describe it when the thread is loose:

Continue with this pattern, alternating sides of the ribbon. It's like bead accordion (oh, fancy, huh).

Keep going until you've got it around the length of your wrist. To finish this baby off, I knotted the thread on the opposite side of the ribbon than the last bead and then poked the excess back through the ribbon and into the bead to hide it. That might not make total sense, but I just poked around the hide the final knot. Then I made another 6-inch tail and cut the ribbon.

Those two tails allow for a bow instead of a clasp. Fancy, huh.

But really, I wasn't lying when I said this project was hard with cats. Here's my nephew, always the great helper, trying to escape with my string of beads. Silly boy.

Back to it. Pretty, right? And so fancy, huh. Oh you fancy, huh.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Okie dokie artichokie.

I had no idea what to call this post for the longest time, then my sister texted me. We weren't talking about my crafts at all, but she replied with 'Okie dokie artichokie.' We're all that corny. Anyway, the text still had no relevance to me (except that something was all a-okay, though I really don't remember what that was now). Then I was making one of these crafties and my roommate came in and said, 'What're you doing? Making artichokes?'

And that's exactly what my first rendition looked like. Though I still love it.

This is one of those easy crafts that seemed like a great decorating idea, but now that I've done it, it feels rather pointless.

Oh well, it's not pointless if it makes me even the littlest bit happy, right? Right.

This blog has the easiest to follow tutorial. All you need is some fabric (I used maybe a quarter-yard for a 3.25-inch and 2.5-inch ball), small pins (I used applique pins), a styrofoam ball, some scissors, and something interesting to watch. It's not hard at all, it's just not a very quick process.

For now they're just hanging out on my dresser, reminding me to eat more veggies.

In other news, my attempt at air-dry porcelain is a fail. I followed these instructions, but after a week of the porcelain hanging out in its container while I cross my fingers for it to work, I still have this shape after forming a ball then walking away for 10 minutes:

Anyone got any solutions for this? I'm at a total loss, but I hate having this dough stuff and nothing to do with it. For the recipe, I used the glycerin from the Wilton cake aisle at Michael's, maybe that was the wrong stuff? But the only other option was a waxy form in the soaps. Hm. I'm at a total loss here. I'm just going to smile at my artichokes some more instead. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Swirly Nails.

It's all over Pinterest: marbled nails. I pinned it, but then I just left it there. It wasn't until last week when I was talking to my friend and getting some polish from the free ZOYA deal (SO excited to get my polish!) that I remembered I had pinned nail arty-things and that I should actually attempt them. So I roped in my sister.

My friend warned me that the result for her wasn't great, but we had to try it too.

We started with a little pot of room-temperature water. I then dropped in an ample amount of CoverGirl Continuous Color in Satin Mauve (that's the orangey-red). I let that spread for a bit before dropping in some N.Y.C. Nail Glossies in 239 (the purple). I used a toothpick to swirl up the colors. 

I already missed a step. Before any of the above, I painted a coat of light pink on my sister's nails. It was so light that it was clear, so it was basically pointless, but whatever.

I then dipped my sister's nails into the paint water until the entire nail was submerged. It comes out all gloppy and a big-ol-mess, so make sure you've got towels/newspaper/anything that you don't care to be ruined with a bit of drippy gloppy nail polish.

So then it's a lot of clean-up with the nail-polish remover, cotton balls, toothpicks, and anything and everything you can use to get some sort of nail back out of there. I started with a remover-soaked cotton ball on the fingers and any large areas, then used a tooth pick to pull up some of the extra goop on the nail and do the best smooth-out I could, then wrapped some cotton around the point of a toothpick to do the finer work around the cuticles.

The verdict? Ehhhhh. This project was real mess and very time consuming. I don't know if I'm patient enough to do it again, and I definitely wouldn't do it on my own nails. I would have paint on my face and everywhere else if that was the case. It's pretty gloopy in some places, but where it's awesome, it's awesome. I love the stripes in this shot:

I had to do it because everyone makes it look so easy, but that was not the case for this girl. Any tips and tricks for an easier process? That would probably make this much more fun. Until then, I'm avoiding this messy process and will just put my swirls in on top.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Circle Pillow Knockoff.

I thought the next pillow I made was a knock-off of something once at Target. As I type this though, I cannot find this pillow in my head anywhere. So maybe I dreamed it - because sometimes that happens and I have a very hard time remembering if it's real and happened such a long time ago that I don't know all the details, or if it's just a dream.

Regardless, I had leftover felt circles from my felt ruffle pillow. 18 circles to be exact. So I played around with some arrangements, but couldn't get over the simplicity of this:

All of the circles are an inch apart. I really like the symmetry. And after all of my other pillows, a little simplicity was needed in the mix. So I pinned down those babies and sewed 8 straight lines through the middles each way to get to this:

It looks like there's a horizontal line down the center of that picture, but I didn't sew a line there, so it must just be some general light trickery. Disregard these shenanigans. To make these circle circle dot dots into a pillow, I measured an inch from all the edge circles and pinned on the back piece of fabric, right sides together. I then sewed around the square, leaving an opening to turn it right-side out and stuff it.

Isn't she puuuurty, sitting there with her new friends? And the button pillow got a new place in the house (and a new pillow to cover, thus why he's filled out a little, but looks so much better)!

Here's a shot from the other side of the plants into our reading/sitting nook. And a new pillow arrangement, just to keep everyone on their toes.

And I know the pillows are really holding your attention, but check out the wonky aloe in the center. That guy's going all weirdy, dipping and shooting out new guy all over the place - i love it!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Re-upholstering: the trial and error method.

My sad little ottoman was begging for an upgrade. He was a few years old and his fabric was showing it. Even worse, his foot-resting skills were lacking. Most days, your tired heels would hit a sharp corner instead of a nice foamy pillow-cloud. Sadkins, indeed. Apparently I'm all about the comma, also.

After pulling out the staples and stripping this baby down, it was apparent what was causing this skill decline:

The foam was not going to sit on these strips and have the ability to sink through again. I grabbed some scrap plywood and Dad cut it to size. I then ripped out the bands and, with my dad's assistance, used the fancy new air-powered staple gun to attached the plywood to the top. Using the Dremel tool and a bit of sandpaper, I did some baby routering along the edges and the corners to keep the future fabric from ripping on the edges.

It was looking pretty rough, so I had to keep reminding myself that I wouldn't be seeing this skeleton forever. I used spray adhesive and coated the top before laying down a hunk of foam. I cut it to size beforehand, but then did this very rough trim job.

Oh, I was so confident in my makeover abilities. And then I got my sad little stool down to this stage. All confidence was gone. So I abandoned him for a few days out of fear.

I mustered up some more courage a few days later and put batting on the top and a piece of fleecey-like polyester fabric around the entire frame.

For the top piece of fabric over the batting, I pulled down the fabric at the corners to create a rounded edge before shooting in the staples.

And then I avoided this guy for a few more days because the fabric was even scarier. It took a bit, but I measured a piece of fabric, centered it on the top, and stapled four staples, one on the middle of each side. After pulling out those staples because I didn't pull the fabric even and tight, I re-stapled the four. Then, checking that it was still centered, I continued around  the fabric, pulling tight and stapling.

Next, I dug up some cording leftover from the stool my aunt reupholstered. I measured around the edge, just above the staples I shot in to secure the top piece, and sewed a cover for this cording using the zipper foot on the sewing machine. The zipper foot allows you to sew real close to the cord. At both ends, I folded in the fabric to create a smooth and fray-free edge. I also stopped sewing about 1/4-inch from the edge. This will come into play at the meeting of the cording. The trick is to get as close to the cording as possible for a tight strip of fabric.

To attach this, I again used the staple gun. I had cut the cording fabric-cover all the same width (it helps that the fabric has a lined pattern to follow) so I lined the bottom of the fabric up with the bottom of the wood frame that supported the top. It's hard to see, but it was all done by feel and trial and error. I pulled out a lot of staples after getting down a side and realizing that I was sloping. You want to staple as close to the thread line as possible. At the end, I folded the fold of one end over the other and dabbed the area with fray-check just in case. 

After the cording was on to my liking (and no, I didn't try to match the pattern - that would've forced me over the edge), I got to the sides. I had bought two yards of fabric for this ottoman, knowing that it was too much, but it was a sale and I wanted to be safe, not sorry. Lucky for me, I had enough length to roll my ottoman on its side and encase the sides. My old ottoman had four pieces sewn together in a box form. Knowing that this would require pattern matching and likely a much larger headache than I wanted, I chose to let the fabric fold around three sides and just to sew the fourth to create the box/circle/round of fabric. I matched up the pattern and sewed a straight stitch down the side. Then, I turn the box/circle fabric inside out and started stapling it under the cording.

Again, the stripes/pattern of the fabric helped. I lined up the bottom of this blue line on the cording before stapling underneath. It was a the same drill: four staples, one per side, then pulling tight and stapling.

After this, I pulled the fabric down, and right-side out, over the sides. It wrapped around the bottom for some more of the same: pull tight and staple. Make sure the pattern's straight and staple some more.

Finally, this guy was ready to be flipped over.

 And there was seal clapping all around. Well, I was the only one seal clapping and doing some sort of weird jig. I did get a 'very nice' our of Mum though. Now I need to get some fabric-saver Woolite or something and this baby will be good to help out tired-from-wearing-heels-too-long footsies and the like. I think he's excited too. Looking all fancy-like, I don't know how he couldn't be. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Most Spoiled Dad.

Here's some (potentially embarrassing) facts about my dad:
  • He's 50.
  • He's an engineer.
  • I've been picking out his clothes for maybe six years.
Okay, so only the last point was the embarrassing piece. Dad's not ashamed though. My sisters and I blame my mum - she's not very subtle with her displeasure when my dad comes home in a poorly matched shirt and pant. Poor Dad. However, that hasn't been a problem for a while because he only has the chance to go rogue on weekends - he can't mess up jeans and a sweater, so it's only the occasional day trip where he tries something slightly off that yields that response.

But now comes the big obstacle: my dad's hopping the pond for up to two years on a job rotation. I can't get to England every two months or so for a quick weekend visit and clothes layout. My dad suggested that I do Garanimals, but there was no way I could sew a lion, and then the multitude of other animals, into all of his clothes. My friend suggested I make outfits and take a picture of each and then put them on a calendar. Working on that string, my sister set to taking pictures. She found in the process that the number of Dad's clothes were ridiculous. The outfits were endless. We were going to be outfitting for a while. So being the Type A that she is, she redirected our mission and starting taking pictures of all his ties. Simultaneously, she typed up a description of each tie because of the poor photo quality and print job (which we did on regular paper). We then cut out the ties and descriptions and glued them to notecards.

Dad was going to have a flipbook.

We decided to letter his pants and number his shirts. I started making letters on the sewing machine, but to make them small enough to attach to a tag was asking way more of my skills. We tried some back-stitching on some cross-stitch fabric then. This was one too many steps. We skipped to straight stitching letters on the pant tags and numbers on the bottom of the buttons of the shirts.

Then we got to outfit optioning. We listed the combinations and variations on the notecards, so it was like an outfit battleship. Shirt 5 with Pant K and blue-green tie. Ship sunk. Win!

My sister, again in typical Type A fashion, made Dad do a trial run. So far, so good. We'll have to see what happens when we stop over for a visit across the pond though to be sure.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I Believe that's Olive.

If you say that with an accent, it's much funnier.

My sister and I made a march of the penguins for my mum's holiday cheer party. We made up the recipe as we went (thus why one of the earlier penguins has platform shoe-feet), but there's a great tutorial here.

We used medium-sized olives. For the belly, we made a slice on one side and stuffed cream cheese in the middle. We used a damp towel to wipe off the excess.

And those peppermint nails? They took me way too long, and Stephie already chipped one. womp womp. I just typed 'womp womple' there. I think I should try and make that a saying instead of 'womp womp.'

Moving on. So we've got an olive cut lengthwise and stuffed with cream cheese. An olive lays perpendicular on top of that and a toothpick gets shoved down like a backbone. We then cut a circle for the feet and took out a triangle hunk so he'd have some sort of definition. The nose/beak on the horizontal olive was the trickiest, but we found that you should start big then trim down and put the beak in the scrunchy side of the olive. Otherwise, it's a triangle carrot beak in a hollow hole. And that make the penguin look vacant and weird and sort of evil like.

That's a lot of words for a little appetizer that no one really ate because it was too cute and no one likes olives. But it was an easy way to decorate the food table and people really enjoyed it. So now that it's after the holidays, you can just write that in the book for next year. Or keep it in mind for your Pittsburgh Penguin parties :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Yankee Candle Coasting.

I'm a candle fiend. I'm not brand loyal, but I have a lot of Yankee Candles because of their awesome sales and coupons. My mum has this same problem, only hers is much more serious and involves an entire shelf of candles. She's building her own store in the game closet.

Along with that store comes a bunch of dead candles. You know, when the wick won't light but there's still wax. Mum saves all of those. She hasn't been sure why, but I used an empty container for a sweater vase, so her stockpile paid off for me. For a while though, she's had the lids to the tumbler jars hanging around. She uses them for coasters occasionally, but they're not pretty enough to keep out all the time.

Enter maps. I picked up an outdated road atlas at Macy's for $3 before Christmas and with Mum's musings of what she wanted, I picked up on the fact that she wanted maps of the cities where her girls went to college. 

I first made a paper template out of flimsy notebook paper. I found this is easiest because you can sort of see through the paper when you're centering it on a map to decide what to include in the cut. 

Then I did some fine trimmings to make the map fit in the candle lid. I guess I should mention that I first ripped out the plastic seal of the Yankee lid. It was held it with what looked like double-stick tape, so I just pulled and pried it out.

I then covered my map circles with contact paper. And did some more fine trimming around the edges. 

I wasn't sure how mod-podge would work on metal, and I wasn't really sure if the Yankee lid was even metal, so I used spray adhesive on the bottom of the lid. 

And donezo! A set of maps of our colleges for Mum and a set of current locations of loved ones for Dad.

The lip of the lid edge keeps the cup all contained. That's a really bad try at describing this. The fold? Regardless, party on the inside.

And yes, it's summer all year long here. Or it's summer here to start the year? Happy New Year!

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