Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Win a Home Goods gift card!

Home Goods (HappySighAsIWishIHadSomeValidExcuseToBuyMuranoGlassPieces) and BlogHer have teamed up with 8 bloggers to give away 8 $100 Home Goods gift cards!

Take the HomeGoods StyleScope Quiz, then visit the 8 blogs that are sponsoring the giveaways.

Here are my results, which are kind of accurate:

Hilary, you are a Global Casual

Your home is warm and inviting, and expresses your curiosity and zest for life. You have wide-ranging interests, and an appreciation for many different cultures and ways of life. You bring a sense of the far-flung world into your home through its décor through unique or artisan-made treasures. Objects in your home tend to reflect your personality, your passions, your values, and your eclectic interests. This gives your home a sense of intrigue and comfort.

You value creativity. You are stylish and fun loving, and can be an inspiration to others. You have a natural sense of drama, and you know you have to be willing to take risks—whether with colors, finishes, furniture choices, or ideas—for your home to stand out. Your home can be happy and lively and the place all of your friends want to be.

Oh, how I wish I had more time/money/freedom to decorate my house...but it's just not a priority for me. Through some of the blogs I've been following, I am learning to make the things around me look beautiful and thereby make me happier, but right now it isn't more important than my family and my business. Of course, I love it when I can do a project with my family. That's really fun!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday ~ Fancy-Schmancy Art

We love Saxton Freymann's carved food illustrations and thought his mini wall calendar would be perfect art to hang in the kitchen.

We finally found these cheap frames from IKEA to fit the square calendar pages (only a little trimming was required). The great part is that there are mini wall calendars available for just about every subject imaginable, from kittens to Impressionist art. What an easy and inexpensive way to get great art into your home! For larger prints, just scoop up a regular-sized calendar — they can even be secondhand!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday ~ Conquer the Dish Monster

We finally did it. After I don't know how long since I was inspired by a story in a magazine, we finally pared-down our dishes.

We don't have a dishwasher [cue violin music]. Our entire four-person family has had some sort of a cold/infection/nastiness for the last 9 days (rendering us unable to stand long enough to do them), so our dishes were absolutely disgraceful. Like, to the point where the bottom ones had stuff growing in them. Ew. Unfortunately, this is not the first time it's gotten to that point. For those of you with dishwashers, perhaps your problem is getting your kids *coughHUSBANDcough* to put their dirty dishes in there instead of dumping them in the sink.

Anyway, fortunately, my husband recovered first (yay!) and spent over an hour tackling the leaning tower of filth on Monday while I wasted away on the couch. After getting most of the dishes clean, we decided to pare them down. We didn't want to get rid of all of our matched dishes, and some things held sentimental value, but it seemed absolutely ridiculous for two adults and a toddler to dirty so many dishes. We were also sick of all the melamine "kid" tableware that couldn't tolerate hot food or microwaving (all our other dishes are stoneware).

We divided the dishes into three categories — usable, guest, and other — and divided our kitchen dish cabinets the same way, from the bottom up.

For the "usable" dishes, we pulled out two dinner plates, two small plates, two large bowls (for soup or salad), two cereal bowls (for cereal), and two tiny bowls (for ice cream), plus a small stoneware plate, small bowl, and tiny bowl for our toddler. So each of us has one set of dishes — all we could possibly need for a meal. These all went on the lowest (most reachable) of the three shelves in the upper kitchen cabinet. The same goes for cups and mugs; each adult got one tall glass, one juice glass, and one mug. Our toddler got two sippy cups and a mug. These items are all we're allowed to use for ourselves, period. If we forget to wash our bowls after using them, we have to wash them before we can use bowls again — even if we're in a hurry or don't feel like it or something. No getting one off a different shelf "just this once" or anything. Aside from the fact that this will get us in the habit of doing the dishes regularly, it's also great to know that we'll never have huge mounds of dishes again!

The rest of the matching glasses, plates, and bowls went on the next shelf up, the "guest" shelf. On the rare occasion that we have company over, our guests will be "allowed" to use the other items that match what we already use regularly. In the case of mugs (who doesn't accumulate those?), we only put two on the guest shelf. For guest "sippys," we kept all the restaurant kids' cups with plastic lids and straws. I shudder when I think of someone else's kid chewing on the spout of one of our sippys.

The bowls that none of us like to use got put in the "other" category, as did the cups that my husband hates to wash because his hand doesn't fit all the way inside. :) The "kidware" and the sippys that we hate went there, too, all up on the highest shelf in the cabinet. The theory is, if we can go weeks or months without using those things (or in the case of the hated sippys, if our son never asks for them), it's probably safe to get rid of them. The items we rarely use (sports bottles, travel mugs) went up there too, but that's because we don't need to have them readily-accessible.

It isn't really pretty and neat to look at, since the upper shelves are more crammed than the "usable" shelf, but it's so AWESOME in the functionality department. It's so easy to see three or four dirty dishes sitting there from lunch and just wash them, as opposed to seeing three or four dirty dishes sitting there and then thinking, "Whew! I'm glad I don't have to do dishes yet — we've still got four of those plates left to use for dinner!" and letting them pile up to unmanageable levels. Plus, bonus: when we do get rid of some of the "other" stuff, we'll have more storage space!

In the original magazine story that inspired this change, the large family packed up their other dishes and had each family member personalize a bowl, a plate, and a mug (maybe it was at a paint-your-own-stoneware place?). If your bowl was dirty, it stayed dirty until you washed it (or bribed a sibling to wash it). If you wanted your bowl for soup and for ice cream at the same meal, you washed it between uses. That eliminated the "not me" monster in addition to the mounds of dirty dishes. There was no getting around it if it was your bowl left in the sink!

Friday, September 18, 2009

More Library Craft Pics and More Etc.

Here are those pics I promised of the Scrabble tile pendants we made at the library. My cutouts are from "Mod Floral Pink" scrapbook paper by Vera Bradley. Once I realized that the bails would be glued on (and thus, render the pendants non-reversible), I used blank tiles for my second and third pendants. 'Cause I'm anal like that.

What a horrid photo. You can tell I'm not my husband.

You can see where I tried to add more Aleene's Paper Glaze after I realized it hadn't reached the bottom. I didn't bother with a close-up of the third tile, which became a disaster after I leaned over it carefully, checking for bubbles to pop, and dropped the straight pin flat in the middle of the semi-congealed Paper Glaze. Yeah, you can't fix something like that. At least when I wear it as a pendant, no one will be close enough to notice. (Or as I tell my clients, "If someone is that close, they don't care what it looks like.")

Here's the one "lettered" tile I used. Did you happen to notice my Lego-decimated manicure? Yes, I thought you might've.

We were laying down for Caspian's nap today (he's been asking me to cuddle with him for naps and right after he wakes up), and he started stroking my face with the back of his hand and fingers. This isn't so odd, since he often caresses my arm or whatever he can reach when he's falling asleep. My sweet boy. So anyway, he was stroking my face when he decided to stick his fingers up my nose. My sweet boy. After I asked him not to do that (and he giggled — stinker), he started to settle down, his eyes got half-lidded, and he started running the back of his hand and fingers across my mouth, over and over. I tensed, waiting for those fingers to jam up my nose again, when he whispered, "I love you." My sweet boy.

My achy miserableness of the past few days is "just another mono flare-up", says my doctor. Sigh. When I went in on Wednesday, he even said, "I hope it is strep, just so we can do something about it"...but no. Rest and fluids is all I can do. Fluids are no problem (120+ oz of water yesterday, for example), but the rest? Ah, rest. I remember you. From college, right? Want to know something interesting about mono? My doctor says that 90% of people get mono for about 6 weeks and then never get it again for the rest of their lives. The other 10% gets what's called "chronic mono". I've had it for approximately 6 months now. Woo-hoo. Well, I may be miserable and tired, but at least I'm not contagious to my clients. You can bet I'll answer "Great!" to anyone who asks how I am (as MK said, "If you don't think you're great, nobody else will either").

Speaking of mono, guess what I did today? Used a neti pot! Well, not really. I used a peri bottle (which I brought home from the hospital) as a neti pot. Hey, it worked great! I used 3/8tsp. table salt and dissolved it in a little hot water, then added lukewarm water to make 8oz. Apparently, it only stings if you use too little salt and it's not the same salinity as your nasal passages. Effective, but weird. I didn't like it when it ran into my mouth, but it sure was nice to breathe through both nostrils for the first time in three days. If you don't have $15 for an official neti pot and you don't have a leftover peri bottle, you can try a turkey baster or a sport squirt water bottle or a teapot. Just don't use rock salt.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Library Craft, Etc.

Even though we're already using cloth diapers and wipes, we're looking for more ways to save money (and inadvertently go green in the process — bonus). I started using a crystal deodorant yesterday, and we're going to stop using disposable paper towels and napkins in favor of more dishtowels and cloth napkins (16 for $2.97 at Salvation Army). I really, really want to try soap nuts, too.

If you have a baby, you need to get Magic Stick, period. Go. Buy it. Wow. No, I'm serious — go.

I found this site recently, which has a LOT of printables (including coloring books). Yay!

As promised, here are the library crafts we made on Saturday. The pop can pull-tab bracelets are made just like these, only with fabric strips (folded like binding tape) instead of leather. One lady there made it long enough for a belt, and another did a headband with a flower! I think I might try spray painting the tabs and using ribbon instead of fabric, next time. My mom made hers like the ones on that site, with all the tabs "facing" the same direction; I did one-up-one-down instead, and it made a scalloped edge (cool). We sewed snaps on as closures and covered the snap top with a button. Trés chic, non?

The other craft was cutting out (Vera Bradley) scrapbook paper pieces, ModPodging them onto Scrabble tiles, and supergluing silver Aanraku bails on the back to make pendants. We also topped them with Aleene's Paper Glaze, to give them a snazzy "glass" finish. The bails covered up part of the back, so I used blank tiles for mine. I must get Paper Glaze! Wow. No pics yet, because the glaze is still milky-translucent.

Please PLEASE check out my Beauty Blog for details on a ONE-DAY ONLY sale for Tuesday, 9/15!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

More Tie Dye (and Other Updates)

I got to go back and hang out with Deb Thursday for some more tie-dye-and-talk time. Yay!

Who says rainbows can't be for boys?

This is a flower. The two leaves were an afterthought, which is why they're so small.

This was an experiment. I hand-gathered the snaky line, just to see if it was possible, then decided to make it an art piece. It's titled Infiltration, and it's a war between warm and cool colors. A few "agents" from each side have infiltrated the other side. Oooh, artsy.

This was also an experiment. It involved a snowflake fold, chopsticks, and binder clips. I'm particularly proud of the gradient.

After Charlie checked out his previously-dyed blood shirt, he realized that they had given him the wrong size. So he dyed his other blood shirt just like it (only he decided to make the starburst originate from a different point on the back of the shirt, just to see if he could).

I also made a second attempt at a butterfly, and reeeeeeally love this one! I spread it out when I dyed the background so it wouldn't be symmetrical. I even got a little black "tail" at the bottom of each wing (and I loooove the b&w "bits" around each wing, too).

A month after his first (and only) potty poo, Caspian did it again tonight! Shocking. Awesome and shocking. He's working on his speech as well — saying "L" instead of "Y" (like "love" instead of "yuv"). It's so cute: he really over-enunciates it, to show that he's trying. :) He is crazy intelligent. Vocabulary, logic, observations...everything. What an amazing kid.

We had a great family play date down at the park by the creek a week or two ago. Caspian and Charlie explored and threw pebbles in the creek, while Perrin and I played on a blanket. The city was there mowing and trimming, but it didn't affect us. We did leave when they started spraying, though. :P The funny thing about this picture is that it represents how little personal space Perrin will probably grow up to have! He gets kissed and smooshed all the time.

A few days ago, Caspian said he didn't want lunch, then he said he wanted a hand for lunch. Yes, a hand. So I asked him, "If I got you a hand for lunch, would you eat it?" He looked really surprised, but said yes...so I cut one out of a tortilla! He thought it was awesome. He kept saying, "Just three fingers left!...Just two fingers left!"

Perrin is so alert and intelligent and HAPPY and teething — oh my, the drool. He has also established his own bedtime every night. Around 8:30 or 9, he nurses (whether he needs to eat or not) just to go to sleep — then he sleeps all night! He's Mr. Wants-to-Sit-Up, too, but when he's tired, he just relaxes into you.

I finally got to do my nails during naptime on Thursday, and they were gorgeous...until we had family play time that night. Yes, I sacrificed my manicure to the Lego gods — I am officially a Mom of Boys™. We did make a pretty rockin' split-level house, though, by connecting our three
green boards with flat blocks. There's a couch (with "drink"), three arm chairs, a coffee table, two stand lamps, and a bed. Caspian added the fence in front "to keep the dog in" but ended up parking his cars there instead. Considering our severely limited Lego inventory, I think it looks darn awesome!

Caspian came up with this "man on stilts" all by himself.

Final crafting news for the night: I finally got to go one of our local library's monthly craft days! Even better, my mom went with me! It was awesome. We made pop tabs into bracelets and turned Scrabble tiles into pendants. I'll post pics later. There are enough pics in this post already!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

How to Tie Dye Stuff

(Thanks to the incomparable Deb for teaching us about tie dye "way back when" and for providing supplies...and her house! LOL)
  1. Get anything white you can find in your house and launder it.
  2. Now that you've done some laundry, you'll feel less guilty about using your entire afternoon for some crafting. (ha ha ha, so witty)
  3. Decide which white things would look better in color (anything with that inexplicable yellow stain whites get is a great candidate) and tie them up. Use rubber bands, chopsticks, needle and dental floss, knot the fabric, twist, fold, etc. — use your imagination! Swirls and gathers are more easily accomplished when the cloth is wet, so it'll cling to the work surface as you go. This is a safe time to wear your sleeping baby, if you so desire.

  4. Give your toddler a sword so he doesn't get dye on him later. (We actually planned to let him dye, but Legos and playing outside trumped his desire to participate. He just chose colors instead.)

  5. Soak anything but silk in a soda ash bath for at least 20 minutes (plastic tubs with lids work great). Soak silk in white vinegar for 30 minutes (gallon ziplocks work fine, just turn over periodically). This will help the dye to adhere better.
  6. Lay out "crap towels" and don "crap clothes" and latex gloves — preferably using a new glove set for each piece.
  7. Working one piece at a time, squeeze out excess liquid (soda ash or vinegar) and dye! Squirt bottles (not spray) are easy to control and allows for some really neat design options. We were told that dye spread more easily in silk and that blue didn't stick, but we didn't find either one to be true. (It's "safe" to wear your baby on this step only if you have long arms and a docile baby.)

  8. For anything but silk, wrap the dyed piece completely in plastic wrap and put in a gallon ziplock (you can put multiple pieces in one bag). For silk, put each piece in its own gallon ziplock, squeeze the air out, and seal it.
  9. If the towel is saturated through, toss it in the "used" pile and get a new one; otherwise, fold it inside out until you find a clean spread to use for the next piece. Toss towels in the dryer to set dye so you can use the towel again for another piece.

  10. Repeat steps 6-8 until you've run out of white things to dye. For anything but silk, seal up the gallon ziplocks and leave them alone for up to a day — the longer, the better. For silk, put the sealed ziplocks in the microwave on high for 45 seconds. Wait until any bubbling subsides then do another 45 seconds. Wait again, then do 30 seconds. Leave the bags in the microwave until they cool off — they will be boiling hot! After the silk has cooled, remove the pieces and follow the steps below.

  11. Since it's the next day (or later in the day, for silk), put "crap clothes" on again.
  12. Remove one dyed piece from the ziplock and discard the plastic wrap.

  13. Rinse the piece under cold running water (in a tub or deep sink) as you squeeze. Start with the lightest color up highest, so the darker dye doesn't run into the light areas. Squeeze and rinse constantly until water runs somewhat clear.

  14. Remove or cut off rubber bands and continue rinse&squeeze-ing until water runs clear. Open piece as you go to allow clean water to get into all the folds and crannies. Squeeze excess water out.

  15. Lay out each piece on a clean "crap towel" as you finish it. If space is at a premium, you can layer a new "crap towel" on top of the pieces laying on the first towel, then top it with more pieces.
  16. When you're finished (or you've done a lot), put pieces in washing machine on the hottest water the fabric can stand. Wash with detergent as usual, with extra rinses thrown in wherever possible.
  17. Peek during the final rinse's swishy part. If there's a lot of dye still coming out, run it all through again (no soap necessary this time).
  18. Toss dryables in the dryer; hang dry non-dryables.

Be prepared — the first (few?) time(s) you wear your pieces, dye will rub off on you (which is kind of cute when it's a diaper on a baby's newly-blue bum). DO NOT pair these pieces with your favorite khaki pants or white tank top until they've been washed severalseveralseveral times.

silk pillowcases

Charlie's old hankies made new

Charlie's blood donation shirt, made-over

heart cape/wall-hanging (attach cape closure at top or sew it into a rod pocket)

butterfly cape/wall-hanging (gathered the butterfly with dental floss) (I'm thinking about doing something to create a body and antennae...)

forest play cloth (doubles as alien planet play cloth) with space for a winding road

dark/night and day/light play cloths

Caspian's shirt

Perrin's and Caspian's polos (a tie dye polo says, "I like be formal, but I'm here to party") (the missing dye on the collar really irks me)

Perrin's shortalls

secret project hint #1

secret project hint #2

secret project hint #3

Okay, I'm going to start an Etsy store, and I was thinking about selling my cape/wall-hangings, among other tie dye items and sundry things. What do you all think?? Here are two more (the original ideas) that I made specifically as capes, for Caspian and a friend (for Christmas). They are deliberately Batman-colored.

Click the picture set below for a larger view of Caspian's cape test. It passed the color test (in picture 4, unbidden, he cried, "I'm Batman!") and the fun test (he refused to take it off all afternoon). It is modeled with briefs, in true Superhero tradition (no tights, sorry).

My goal now is to figure out what kind of closure to use...

All images, concepts, and designs are ©KatrinkaJane 2009