Thursday, September 27, 2012

Paper-punch nails.

It's been a minute since I've done a post on nails, but that's not for lack of painting. It is for lack of creative painting.

But I'm back!

And I still don't clean the cuticles before showing you the final picture.

So to start, this is actually called the half-moon manicure. I think. I don't really understand that though, and I did it using paper-hole-punch-reinforcer things, so that's how I'll refer to it.

To start, I painted my nails in two coats of Zoya's Kristen (that's the lighter color). I did this on Sunday. That detail's important.

On Tuesday, and only because I didn't have time on Monday, I put ten (I had to think and double count the number of my fingers - sad) paper-reinforcer things on my nails.

You see, I don't have the patience to do this in one night, and my nails don't have the magic instant drying ability to cooperate with me. I had tried this once before, thought I had given the nails ample drying time, only to end up with a goopy sticky mess. Separating the days ensures they're dry.

I tried to center the top of the circle over the center of my nail, but it's not totally perfect. Partially because I was doing this without my glasses and partially because I wasn't too concerned. I would suggest really creasing the sticker into the sides of your nails. It'll want to pop up.

Then I coated my nails with a coat of Zoya's Caitlin. I let that dry, with circles still one, for about five minutes. Then I removed the circles, hit it with a top coat, and marveled.

Yes, there's some imperfect circles, and yes, it's more of a halfway line on my pinkies, but I love it. It's super easy but look so fancy. And I wanted a bit of fun before jumping into the dark solids of fall.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Favorite Fall Treats.

The temperatures are finally dropping, pumpkin spice lattes are back, and it's almost cool enough in muggy DC for boots. Boots and sweaters and fall coats. I love it all.

One of my favorite things has to be pumpkin cookies, though, and the weather doesn't have to cooperate for them. Just the date. I had to specify because I made these while it was a quintessential 85 degrees on September 22. What gives, DC?

My friend's mum used to make these in high school. I had one bite of my own creation and was taken back to Friday nights with our close group of ten, tennis practice, Homecoming dances, and football games.

Iced Pumpkin Cookies
Makes a little over 6 dozen

  • 5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 1 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree 
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of milk
  • 6 teaspoons of light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add in the eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla. Mix until creamy. Add in the dry ingredients slowly. Stir until combined. Drop by the tablespoon onto a cookie tray and flatten the top slightly. I found my fingers worked best for this.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. The cookies should be just brown on the bottom. Be careful not to overbake. Remove from oven and let cool completely on wire racks.

For the icing, combine the powdered sugar, brown sugar, melted butter, and vanilla in a bowl. Add in the milk by the tablespoons until the icing is thin enough to drizzle on the cookies. 

Set cookies on wax paper and drizzle with icing when completely cooled. And enjoy :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Necklace Board Update.

Months ago, maybe even a year ago, I made this necklace board:

It was so useful, decorative, and one of my first real DIY home projects. I was so, so proud of it.

Over the last few months, the novelty and pride started to wear off and I could see that something wasn't totally right about it. It was too loud.

So I removed the necklaces, took some 120-grit sandpaper, and scuffed it up. I tried it out for a week, but that wasn't what it needed. It needed a makeover, not just an eyebrow wax.

Plus, the scuffs weren't toning anything down.

I removed the knobs and the frame and took it out for a new paint job. I started with the same grey as before. I don't have its specific name handy, but it's a light grey. After three light coats, the zigzags base were covered. Then I sprayed two light coats of white. It didn't cover the grey totally, but got most of the way there. The frame got its own coats of ORB. I let everything dry overnight. The frame's facelift was done then, but not the backing.

Again, I took the sandpaper to rough it up. I was aiming for aged wood, a la a beach house with driftwood. I tried to find a visualization of that idea in my head, but pinterest isn't helping me out here. 

When I had the effect I wanted, I added the knobs back, popped it in the frame, and put him back.

Isn't that much more calming? A little chic? Best of all, the necklaces are allowed to act as the decoration and aren't vying for attention against the background.

Now I'm proud because I can admit when something isn't totally right for a space and needs to evolve. My old motto was always "out with the old," so much so that others fear I'll just get rid of their stuff in my donation binges. Note that I would never do that after my mother did that to me in high school. I spent months looking for these linen capris, tearing apart the laundry room, my sisters' closets, my parents' closets, my friend's houses, only to be told six months later that Mum had donated them. The whole family was in on it, pretending they didn't know what happened, so I couldn't run to Goodwill and buy them back. Granted, they weren't the most flattering, but it's the principle of the matter.

Whew, so that's out. I would say that this public shame is payback, but I know better than to think that this will even phase Mum. She'll just say, "They needed to go."

The necklace board, however, did not need to go. He just needed some TLC.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Stove white, stove bright.

My roommate and I rent, which means our stove has seen a lot of food, a lot of people, and probably a lot of abuse over its I-can't-even-imagine how long life. For the most part, it gets the job done though, so we can't really complain. Plus, it's taught me that I will never voluntarily have a white stove.

It's white and it's gas. It shows everything, even vapor from boiling water. I didn't even know it was possible for boiling water to have a little residue.

The pictures I tried to take didn't pick up the true situation well. The burners are surrounded in an oily, spotty, grime that I've tried to muscle out to no avail. I've tried Clorox wipes, scrubbing with those hard plastic sponges, regular sponges, a bit if soft scrub, windex, and anything else I came across that I thought might do the trick.

Not surprisingly, pinterest had the answer, probably all along. I found a site, and have since seemed to lose it -worst reference ever, that demonstrated the power of mixing baking soda and water. I combined them in a 3:1 ratio, so it was roughly a 1/4 cup of baking soda and 4 teaspoons of water to make a paste. You can play around with the combinations (I've seen people do a 1:1 ratio, but I wanted a thick paste for the tough stains). I then spread it around the burners. Sidenote: when just looking for my baking soda and water combo, I came across a pin with baking soda and peroxide that sounds magical. I might need to make sauce or something soon to try this out.

I let the paste sit on the burners for about a half hour. It was a rough balance between thinking that the longer it sat there, the better it would work, and wanting to see if it worked.

Finally, I used a rag and wiped it up. IT WAS MAGIC.

These are the same burners. Speckled above, with more non-picture-justice grease, and full justice white and clean now. There was absolutely no scrubbing. I was floored.

Then my burners wouldn't light the next day. I nearly gassed myself before giving up, letting everything cool, and investigating. I had wiped up all the baking soda, but I didn't mind the cracks and crevices, i.e. the opening where the flame kicks out. The baking soda liked those though, hid out there, and hardened. I picked it out with a toothpick, no biggie, but I could've done without the gas. So learn from me, and don't die. Happy cleaning!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Color me RAD.

This is long overdue. Weeks overdue. My sister is no longer in the U.S. overdue. But our last weekend together was RAD.

Color runs have been sweeping the nation, and this was no different. We chose the Color Me RAD race solely because the dates worked for us. We geared up in our white, toted Vero's boyfriend along as our paparazzi, and pushed ourselves through a 5K with little-to-no-training.

Did I mention we had to get up at 6:30 am on a Saturday to drive to the farther-than-originally-planned location? We were still waking up when we got there.

The organizers quickly got things started by tossing color on us, playing rave music at 8 am, and all-around making sure we were awake. And then we were off! And we're proud to say that we ran the entire way. Except for the hills. But honestly, who throws a shoe runs up hills?

And in the end, we were colorful.

It's funny that I got the majority of the blue/green spectrum and Vero hit the yellow/reds. We ran the same path. We hit the colors at the same time. We were doused in color cornstartch, sprayed with yellow and green, and

And for your comparison purposes, here we are at the beginning and end. Total 180. I couldn't get the blue out of my armpit for three days. Vero had problems with her knee pits.

We did our best to preserve our colors, but sadly they've faded a bit, even after the vinegar bath the website suggested. Oh well, guess we'll have to do it again!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fancy food.

Or rather, faking fancy food. Rather, rather, fancy food only in name, because once you see it, you won't mistake it for it's fancy counterpart.

What is it? Texas caviar. Hold the fish eggs.

And it's delicious. So good it needed to be italicized, because I start the sentence in my normal voice and end in a deeper voice. It's a personal moment between me and the food. It's not unlike the "uh!" from this song. Totally obsessed with that song right now.

My cousin made this for us to munch on before dinner when I was out visiting in Arizona, and I was instantly hooked. I could not stop eating, and then I put it on my tacos, too.

Texas Caviar:

  • 2 cans black-eye peas, rinsed
  • 1 bag of frozen corn (about 15 ounces)
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 bottle light Italian dressing

Mix everything in a bowl and serve with tortilla chips. This is a dip, so keep that in mind when chopping everything. This recipe also makes a lot. I was eating it for weeks, so adjust accordingly. And enjoy :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Back that thang up.

It's no surprise that's I'm a fan of cross-stitching (as seen here, here, and here). The jury's still out on whether I'm 60 years old. That's an even better pun because I got called for jury duty this week.

When my friend shared with me a page of 'demurely cross-stitched rap lyrics,' I about died. It was hilarious. And it should go without saying that 'demure' in the same line as 'rap lyrics' is an oxymoron. So if rap's not your thing, these probably won't float your boat. But I find most rap to be ridiculous and hilarious, and putting it in a cross-stitch, or back-stitch, rather, which is the writing stitch in a cross-stitch pattern, mixing the classic and the hip-hop, makes me cackle. I need you to get the back-stitch reference so my Juvenile lyric as a title isn't so far-fetched. I'm known for stretching a joke, and my confidence is even worse on the internet. Throw me a bone. 

I knew my sisters would like them just as much. I was so confident because one sister wrote on the link my friend posted and explicitly said which lyric she wanted.

 First up, I took a line from R. Kelly for my youngest sister. Fun fact: she could rap all of this song when it came out. In 2003. And she was 13. It was inappropriate then, and just makes me feel old now that's she's 21 and pushing 22. 

She was rapping about being drunk at 13. And being a "cool mom" wasn't my mum's main priority, so there wasn't alcohol. I use "cool mom" in the sense of Mean Girls. I feel this post is going borderline all over the place, but I love my mum.

My second project took a like from Jay-Z.

Not to keep bringing Mum into this, but Mum didn't get this one. Vero loved it and got a laugh out of it though, so that's what matters. I guess unless you know Jay, reading this line as if you'd read it out of a book, it's weird. That's always been our thing though.

These are some of my favorite crafts - the ones with no real purpose other than to make you laugh at the ridiculous of cross-stitched rap lyrics. Life's too serious, anyway. What else have ya got?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Let there be light!

This update didn't require much on my behalf, but has made a huge difference in my room.

What's that? A lamp?!

After a year of living with only a bedside light in my room, I finally settled on something more substantial. Now my room lights up at the flick of the switch, rather than me fumbling in the darkness to the light. Now I don't have to move my bed, pull out the cord and carry the light to my desk if I want to work there. Now 90% of my room is in light rather than in shadow. I don't know why it took so long, other than my particularness about floor lamps.

The price wasn't easy to swallow either. I had to stare at this guy for a good few weeks, imagine him, debate his flexibility in other locations, weigh the cost-benefit of carrying my side table lamp, and consider the possibility of developing some eye problem from lack of light before biting the bullet.

 And he was mine.

This pretty boy hails from Target. These pictures don't do him justice. My issues include: a window that get the morning light (see above for the blown-out curtains and general blue tint to the room), a lamp that does his lamp job and casts light when he's turned on (which means his shade doesn't photograph well, and it's so pretty that it needed to be seen), and a job that requires me to work during most of the days and weekend commitments that have had me traveling or otherwise away from my lamp in the afternoon. As I have yet to see my lamp at precisely high noon and tea time, and I suspect that's when he would look perfect. It appears I have suddenly begun to think of my lamp as a proper English gentlemen that has tea when I am away at noon.

So this quick update maybe have led me to develop some weird neurosis imaginary friend, but at least it's not cataracts .

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