Friday, March 30, 2012

Birthday Spoils.

I don't like to make a big deal about my birthday. As my roommate will tell you, when I've described most of my birthdays, it ends in tears. That's being a little dramatic on her part, but I've had a few rough birthday. I've had pneumonia, my hermit crabs have died (this was 10+ years ago), important people have missed my birthday, and I've gotten gifts that I was sure defined that people didn't really know me (the last of which is probably a little dramatic on my part). But it's hurt, so I've learned to not make a big deal out of my birthday. I don't plan birthday dinners, I don't plan nights out, I don't plan anything because I'm afraid I'll feel more alone. In fact, this year, I'm making myself totally unavailable.

For some reason, this month has started with quite the celebration without any of my doing. I started the month with this present from my sister:


And for the nerdy nerd in me, I'm in heaven. I prance around throwing out reference with my tea mug, much to everyone's delight chagrin. 

Then my roommate continued with an impromptu surprise party after I came home from the Hunger Games (HOW GOOD WAS THAT?!). She had my favorites set out: dippy bread (bread with olive oil and herbs dip), cheese, and wine. It was fabulous and I was way spoiled.


I feel so loved by my family and friends. I don't know if I've ever felt better about my expectation being so wrong. And the celebrations continue :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Centennial Cherries.

It's the Cherry Blossom Centennial this year. As a local, it's a double-edged sword. I love giving directions and feeling all important when I can point someone to the mall or to the nearest food, but the traffic is horrendous. But above all that, the trees are gorgeous, the weather is warm, and it's invigorating. It's exciting.

And it called for some nail art. 
 

On her nails: Essie's Coat Azure (two coats) and a little cherry blossom with Essie's French Affair. Both of those colors are from Essie's Spring 2011 collection, which is fabulous. I'm also in love with Sand Tropez and Topless & Barefoot in that collection. They're really great nudes. 

I did my roomie's toes with cherry blossoms and polka dots, but we didn't get a picture. They look good though, in case you were worried. We can never do her nails because she chews them down to the point of bleeding pain. This is a public call out: take your fingers out of your mouth. I can picture her slowly lowering her hand, haha. Anyway, we did two coats of Zoya's Kristen with the same French Affair from Essie as the cherry blossoms and little dots. This was done the same way I did the nails - with a toothpick and a little amount of polish. It was meticulous and took longer than a minute, but the result is worth it for the centennial! Another aside since you can't see it: Zoya's Kristen color is a like a periwinkle, so her nails are super spring-y.

Oh, this post is all over the place. No use salvaging. So if you've never seen the cherry blossoms and this was to be your year, get here soon. Like be here yesterday soon. They bloomed early this year because of the super mild winter, and they're in full full bloom. If you wait until the end of the centennial celebration later in April, I'm afraid you could miss them in all their glory. If you need any motivation, I was told that the trees here are unlike any in the world. Like this is the only place you can see them. I heard it from a friend, so it's unsubstantiated, but it makes sense. I'll save you from my version of the story - check out the real deal here. And Happy Cherry Blossom Centennial! And Happy Spring!

Monday, March 26, 2012

She sells seashells a tad father from the sea shore.

Remember how I made my friend a t-shirt blanket of her UNC shirts? I think I should throw in that I went to Ohio State - just so we're clear. We're good enough friends that our colleges don't come between us - except in March Madness.

Anyway. None of that is the point. I just remembered that I never threw out my allegiance. 

Still not the point. Look what she got me as a thank you!


I'd been lusting over this admittedly totally pointless shell, and thanks to pinterest, and her sitting next to me at work, she knew all about it. And she was forced to look at it and debate the merits of shells.

It turns out that this beautiful piece is an awesome addition to the coffee table in our reading nook. It broke up all the leafiness that was going on in there, and it became the perfect house for my fabric artichokes. I had some additional styrofoam balls from that project and covered two in twine for some different texture and color.


I'm so excited about this.  Can decorating really make people this happy? It can't be just me, right?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Men's Tie Upcycle.

I loved this the minute I saw it. As head curator of Dad's closet, I had just the materials, too.

I followed the tutorial from here and didn't take pictures because it wouldn't have really been helpful. I am going to detail my steps though because I had to read the source page more than once to understand. It may have been that I was doing this while watching reruns of Harry Potter.

What you'll need:
  • A tie
  • A seam ripper
  • Needle and thread to match the tie
  • Wooden beads - I used 25mm Craftwood beads, but this will depend on your look

1. Deconstruct the tie, carefully pulling out the stitches and the tags. You can throw out the innards. Iron the tie flat.
2. Cut the tie into a long rectangle. Mine was 60-inches long and roughly 2.75-inches wide, because that's how wide my tie was at its skinniest point.
3. Sew the tie into a tube, right-side of the material in, leaving one end open. Be careful with this because the silky material easily pops stitches. I had to go back over a few places and redo the seam.
4. Turn the tube right-side out. I went 10-inches down from the closed end of the tube and tied a knot. I dropped in a bead, tied a knot, and continued for 10 beads, which was also when I had matching slack on each side. I used 25mm Craftwood beads from JoAnns, from the woodworking/painting section. They're just what I found. I haven't worn it yet, but I tried it on with a t-shirt and that number of beads worked for me. I'm not opposed to ripping it open and making readjustments if need be, either. Update: I have worn it and I've gotten multiple compliments! One friend asked if it was from JCrew and was shocked that she could do this herself at a quarter of their price, if not less.
5. Sew the open end of the tube closed.


I love that it's a personal fashion piece. I would love to flip through Grandpa's closet and see if he has any cool ties to part with that I can repurpose.

What do you think? Any ugly ties turned pretty in this patten? I'd love to see your creation!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Polish Grabs from Zoya's Spring Deal.

This is a really pointless post and really just about how I love nail polish. And deals.

So ZOYA had another deal to kick off the spring: buy three get three. So I did that and then split an order with the roomie. And I do feel slightly ashamed that I thought I needed nine nail polishes. Then I rationalized it out. If I paint my nails once a week, that's 52 weeks, and that requires a lot of polish. Granted, I paint my nails more like 30 weeks of the year, and sometimes that means it's lingering the next week and is chipping and disgusting, so maybe I should revise that to 20 weeks, and my toenails stay the same color for about two months. But I'm trying. This is the year of saying 'yes' (because nothing is ever as bad as it seems) and keeping my nails nice and colorful.


So this is my bad paint job! I was so happy to see all my pretty polishes that I was just throwing paint on. This is one coat of everything, so it would be better with more coats and less seal-clapping.

Top picture: Thumb: Lo, Pointer and across: Audrina, Pippa, Caitlin, Snow White
Bottom Picture: Thumb: LC, Pinkie and across: Sam, Mitzi, Skylar, Jules.

LC reads more red in real life. It definitely have some coral undertones, but it doesn't look as orangey as it looks here. Sam is my roomie's but I love it and it's now on my list for the next deal. It's my namesake, after all, and a good fall shade.


My friend sent me her nails as well. Because this if what we do.

Thumb: Malia, Pointer and across: Chloe fleck, Pippa, Phoebe, Ali.

She said Ali is more pink than it shows - like almost hot pink. I'm loving Malia and Phoebe in there. Both Phoebe and Mitzi are matte colors. Super super bright and matte. I love it. I wasn't sold on the Chloe fleck online but she has it over a light pink she had on and I love it. She said it reads super nice.

Did anyone else get in on this? I would love to see how the colors look because I spend hours on the site leafing through and debating slight variations of the same shade. It's nice to see a picture and be like 'Yes, that does look good. Add to cart.' That's how Caitlin got in my cart this time.

And my desire to nail-art-it-up is refreshed. Maybe something in the spirit of the Cherry Blossom Centennial? Well, we'll have to wait until I get through some meetings this week and can go all out on my little mobile canvases.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Crayon Crafting.

You've seen it a million times on Pinterest: the melted crayons. Roomie and I hadn't tried it yet and she thought it was fine time we marked it off. We skipped off to JoAnn's and got some new sharp, shiny crayons and 20x20 canvases. 

Cat started by glueing her crayons in a modified sort of rainbow (because she wanted the blacks and browns) with a thin strip of hot glue flush with the top of the canvas. 


Then we took it outside and directed the blow dryer at it. We started with it lying down flat.


But we found that the crayons melted better when the canvas was propped up. Keep the area covered with a drop cloth - the crayons do splatter!


The beautiful finished product!


Stephie (and her boy) also made one. She did a patten centered around her favorite color: yellow. She also kept the Crayola label facing out, while Cat chose to put the color name out.


I love how the same project turned out different for both of them. I love them.

And then there's me. I had to try something a little different. I chopped up some crayons and laid them on my canvas.


At first, I tried the blow dryer. Crayons everywhere. I wanted some sort of bubble wrap effect. So I laid down bubble wrap and used the blow dryer on on top. Crayons weren't melting, bubble wrap was ripping, crayons were still blowing.

So plan B: I laid wax paper down (and a piece of fabric on top) and ironed, hoping to keep the individual pieces.


Instead my canvas was a bit of a blob and my wax paper had the pretty pieces.


So I had to abandon and regroup. Still not sure how I'm going to make this work, but it's going to work - if only through sheer determination. I hear a heat gun might work better and not blow the crayon bits around. Anyone have any tips and tricks? Do share! I love the cut outs and crayons melting over them too. Any plans to revamp my start of a mess?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

That 600-pound elephant in the room.

I don't know if that's really how the saying goes. Anywho.

It's Pinterest Challenge Time!! And this could not have come at a better time. I've been feeling uninspired. Worse, I've been feeling overwhelmed by Pinterest. The travesty! The challenge, whipped up by Katie of Bower Power, came at just the right time to knock me back into DIY gear.

So here's what you do. You take something you've been inspired by (that's the Pinterest part) and you actually do it (that's the challenge part - we all know how good we are at trolling Pinterest and just pinning). Hosting this winter edition of the challenge are Sherry of Young House Love, Katie of Bower Power, Erin of The Great Indoors, and Cassie of Hi Sugarplum. Stop by their sites to check out their projects (and the links to many other inspirations!) and swing by my past Pinterest challenges here and here (along with the many other projects with the 'Pinterest' tag).

But let's get on with it, shall we? I saw this on Pinterest:



Adorable. And originally from here.

And I saw this:


Texture-iffic. Originally from here.

I know I'm having a bit of a pillow phase lately all the time, and I don't really know how to make it stop. So get excited! Or start commenting on my obsession, like my sister, and eventually I'll get real self-conscious and stop. Or just hoard pillows in secret.

I really like elephants. I volunteered at the Pittsburgh Zoo the summer before 8th grade, studying and working with the elephants. Dork alert. But I loved it, and I loved that elephant pillow. I couldn't pass it up. Then I saw that the site had the template, so it was decided. I had to make the elephant pillow. But the question arose - how does one have an elephant pillow like that without kids and without looking creepy? Subtly and texture, I decided.

I had a bunch of strips of grey fabric from a failed shower curtain project. It wasn't the smartest idea to cut all the fabric into strips without first deciding that it wouldn't be used, but thankfully I was able to reuse here. I started by cutting fabric into shorter sections that would work in a horizontal pattern for the elephant, and stitched those together. An incognito elephant.



I then ironed down the seams so it would lay flat. This pillow required a lot of ironing on my beach towel. I then flipped that back over, traced and cut out my elephant.

Cutie! I thought a vertical background would be good. I started by cutting strips of the same length. I ironed them flat and stitched them together. The width of the strips is all about four inches.



For the back, I wanted something basic. This is where the blue and white pillow came in. I wanted to do horizontal strips, but with a piece at the seams that layered over the other. It's hard to describe, and I'm not doing a very good job, I realize. I started by cutting some additional strips. I already had six four-inch-wide strips, then cut an additional three strips. Of these three strips, I first cut them in half, so I had six two-inch wide strips. I then ironed the thinner strips in half. Then I layered them in between where the four-inch strips would be sewn. I think the picture helps image this.


Before sewing that, I layered a four-inch-wide strip on top, right side down. All said and done, the back then looked this this:



With the back done, it was time for the elephant! Like I said above, I first sewed the four-inch wide strips together for a vertical line. Nothing fancy. To figure out the elephant placement, I folded the piece in half diagonally, and then in half again and marked the center with a dot. I did the same with the elephant as best I could and pinned him down. I used the second-smallest zig-zag stitch on my machine to outline the elephant twice, because I never trust once. And going around twice helps to cover up my mistakes on the first round.


 I then sewed a zipper on the bottom and sewed around the remaining edges, and called it done fabulous. 


 Again, apologies for the horrible lighting of my apartment. I should probably get some more lamps one day. The grey is more true-to-life in the left picture.

He looks so happy hanging out on the couch. And I smile every time I look over at my couch that's becoming more and more animal friendly.



PS - that's the tie pillow I did a little while ago next to the elephant. For that tutorial, see here.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Stevie Sleepy Bag.

This infinite abyss is my bag.

There are many perils in there, waiting to snatch the naivety of my sweet, innocent iPhone, Stevie. Yes, he has a name. As a new iPhone owner, I treat him like the precious baby he is. And so I had to keep him safe from the keys, the mace, the lipgloss, the almonds (?) and anything else that might end up there.


So to start. I folded a piece of fabric in half with the printed side on the inside (so it's inside-out). I pinned down a hem at the top. Using my phone as a guide, I placed pins down each side, leaving a teensy bit of wiggle room. Remember, it's always easier to sew in a little tighter than to rip out a seam to make it bigger.

Then I sewed a straight seam down each side.


I popped in Stevie (see him shining through?) to test my seams. I'm holding the case by the excess and he's not slipping out. Success!


Then I sewed down the hem piece at the top with a zig-zag stitch. I trimmed the excess and flipped it right-side out.


And that's it! A sleepy bag for Stevie to protect his screen while he swims in my bag. Now I don't have to worry about my keys getting his glass.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Chai Applesauce Cookies.

My poor roomie's in a bad place. I'm not awesome at comforting. I try really hard, really hard. It usually results in baking. Because I believe that deliciousness cures all problems. Well, until you feel like an ooph. Then you work out and the endorphines get you back in the game. And then you're back at it. Endorphines make you happy.

Tangent.

Chai Applesauce!

I got the recipe from Pinterest, duh. Originally, it came from here. But I'm going to list it out here because I thought the recipe was unclear and I did some things a bit my way.
 
Cookies:

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup applesauce (and I just happened to have some homemade!)

Frosting:

3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
dash of ground cloves
1/3 cup unsalted butter
4 tablespoons milk (I used skim)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mix the dry ingredients.
3. Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time.
4. Add the dry ingredients and applesauce, alternating until well mixed.



5. Drop the batter in blobs onto a cookie sheet. It's a thick, gooey batter. I used a cooking stone and a regular pan, the latter of which gets greased.



6. Bake at 325 for 10-12 minutes, or until just brown on the bottoms. My roomie and I are also of the group that undercooked and gooey is better :)



Frosting:

1. Measure the powdered sugar and spices into a bowl and set aside.
2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. I did it over low heat. Watch the butter until it starts to bubble. The recipe said to wait until the butter slide on the bottom turned a medium brown, but I was too chicken to wait that long. My butter was bubbling and simmering and veryyy light brown.
3. Once you get your butter where you want it, pour it in with the dry ingredients. Blend together.
4. Add in milk as you stir to desired thickness.

The frosting is pretty thick, but I didn't find it totally unmanageable.

And enjoy! These cookies are RICH. but so so fabulous. And we like to think they're a bit healthy :)



Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tailoring Trials.

I've been acting like a grown-up a lot lately. I got my first apply-for-by-myself credit card last week and after three years of procrastination, took my work pants in for some tailoring. My mum has told me since I started shopping for work clothes that I need to learn how to tailor. I have the strangest body shape and quite possibly the largest rib cage. I'm 5'4" and my ribs measure 40-inches around. Seriously people, it's weird.

So as a result, most of my clothes are a little too big because i think that's safer than going too small to work. And I'm too lazy to do much about it.

After getting my pant done though, a fire was light.

First up, a dress. It was always a little big, but I could pull the bow a little tighter to cinch it at the waist. That helped, but made it more obvious that the dress was too big. I flipped it inside-out, pinned it from the bottom of the arm hole to the bottom hem, and sewed about an inch in from the original seam.


Bad lighting. Sorry. Nighttime photos happen when you have a job. But I'm not wearing a box anymore! Just a wonky bow that could use some work.

Next up: This tank I found for $10 at Burlington that could've housed two more arms out of those huge holes.

But that print wanted to come home with me so bad. I don't like to disappoint.


So I pinned that baby down, keeping the original seam at the exact fold.

At first I sewed a straight line an inch in from the edge. That's the line on the right-most side. Then Mum got fancy on me and showed me how to sew at a bit of a curve so the waist was tighter and the bottom more flowy.


I would show you an after shot, but I'm such a disease right now that I'm just wallowing in bed when I'm not forced to be up and working. Boo hiss.

But I'm not ending on a negative note. No no no. To tailoring! Because the worst thing that could happen is that you rip out your stitch and have your original garment. And that's not the worst :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Charging Caddy.

I've seen variations of this on Pinterest, but thought it would be an over-accessory. It would be an item specialized for one gadget that would be fine otherwise charging on the desk.


Then from this picture, taken from Pinterest, I didn't understand how it would work. What fabric is strong enough to stand up like that? The link from Pinterest is to a blog in a language I can't read, so that wasn't a help. So I forgot about it.

Then my sister emailed me this picture:


She found a plastic version made out of a lotion bottle. It made much more sense to me, though still wasn't for me. Then the lightbulb: Dad. He needs this. He loves charging his cell phone in the kitchen, specifically in the outlet right next to the sink and the sometimes leaky faucet. The office is on the same floor, with ample counter space and water-free charging outlets. It's a matter of contention. As the daughters in this situation though, my sisters and I keep the peace by helping to adjust behaviors after it's obvious the desired correction isn't happening.

That makes it sound much more serious. It's really not that serious.

Regardless, we are now a well-lotioned family and have heads of great-smelling hair.


I started by taking off the lid and carefully cutting off the top piece (the spout and connection to the lid), and cutting a U-shape on the front panel.


Then I grabbed the plug, held it to the back on the outside, and traced a rough outline in Sharpie on the inside. 


Wondering why the plug's so big? It's a Belkin Conserve Outlet. It's awesome. I'm not paid or perked to say this, I just love it. I bought one for everyone in the family. You plug it into the outlet and then your charger into it. On the side, there's an option for 1/2-hour, 3-hour, and 6-hours of power. You select that amount of time then push the button on top to turn it on. After the time's up, the outlet shuts off and won't take take the power. I found it's perfect for charging my phone overnight, and I think it might help the phone battery because it won't be sitting there, draining power, after it's already fully charged. 

Small aside. Where were we? Outline. Okay. Then I got an exacto knife and even more carefully than the scissor cutting, I cut out the back panel.

Then I did some resizing. The back needed to be a bit wider and the U-cut had to be a bit deeper. I kept making adjustments until my phone fit in with the chunky charger.


Huzzah! Added bonus - it fits about the counter lip. Now the phone can charge without fear of water, if it must be in the kitchen. I might snazz it up, but I think that would be more random doodles. Thinking of it.

PS - March is National Craft Month!! Happy crafting!

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