Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ocean Zen Gardens!

If you steal some sand from the beach and pour that sand in a pretty containers with a few shells, you will have an awesome (and cheap inexpensive) souvenir.  So much better than t-shirts and salt water taffy.  Okay, maybe not better than the taffy. 
Shells were purchased.  One goes to Ocean City, Maryland for the great beaches, but not for finding great shells.
The shells with the long points are perfect for "grooming" the sand.  This bowl is for Keegan and Pep.
This one is for Kiefer and Jordan

I baked the sand at 250 degrees and sifted it to get nice smooth finished product.  Baking dried it to the point that it didn't hold a design well at first, but just being out solved that problem in a couple of days.

Shells with shell design--must be Jordan's handiwork.

Since Kyle is in Minnesota for a year of post-graduate work and Melissa's still in Mongolia with the Peace Corp, this one will stay with me until they settle down.  Did I mention that they got engaged this summer?  Now if we could just get them on the same continent...    Soon! 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Back to the Summer Projects List: #3 Empty Nest Bedroom to Office

The empty nest has some good points.  A few years ago a deserted bedroom became my yoga and meditation room, and now the newest empty bedroom is my office.

At this particular point in the process, however,
Under the plastic is the old desk that is about to get a make-over.
I would have been visiting my drug dealer if I had one.  FIVE coats of paint.  I thought I had bought Pratt and Lambert paint which I wanted to try.  Somehow I ended up with Benjamin Moore. I've never used it before and never will again.  Three coats of paint is the most I've ever done with any other paint.  The third coat is, more often than not, just to be sure I haven't missed anything.  In the end, though, I won the paint battle!  I have an office.

  It also has a nice sitting area for hand sewing or reading.
The desk is a crappy old desk left behind by the youngest child that got a paint job (NOT Benjamin Moore) and new hardware.

I put a piece of glass on the desk with black and white photos of the kids taken by my sister back when they were sweet and loving and listened to me without rolling their eyes. 

Kiefer says Keegan looks as though she's trying out for Nirvana.

Brian put in the new ceiling fan and light.  I don't care what the people at HGTV say, ceiling fans are not ugly!

I've already started project 4--the laundry room.  I'm at the wallpaper removal stage. In additional to the usual problems with wallpaper removal, this room turns out to have two layers of wallpaper.  It could be worse I guess.  I've heard that some people actually paint over wallpaper.  I cannot even begin to imagine how nasty it would be to get painted wallpaper off.   As it is, I sometimes dream of hunting down the former owners to verbally pummel them for some of their half-assed home improvements.

Twelve room down--five to go!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What is Art?

While wandering around Washington, D. C. last week, we came upon a sculpture garden.  I can't remember which of the major institutions owned it.  Smithsonian maybe??  In any case it was a lovely respite of green amidst all the buildings and roads.  I loved some of the pieces such as this full-sized tree made of some kind of silver metal.  It's about the only kind of tree I want--no shedding leaves, won't grow too big.
 I also LOVED this one called "Thinker on a Rock." 
Some pieces I just wanted to rename.  The artist called this one "Four-Sided Pyramid." 
 I'd like to call it "I Probably Should Have Been An Architect."

Before looking to see what the artist titled this one, I chose to call it "I Thought They Said These Were Stacking Chairs."

The artist entitled it "Chair Transformation Number 20B.

The artist called this next one Stele II.

I saw it more as "The Emperor Has No Clothes" in honor on another time when people agreed they saw something great when there was nothing there.

This one is quaint and whimsical to me.

 I called it "No One Understands Me" and I hadn't even been to the museum that had old typewriters and heard all the little kids says, "But what is it?" to their parents.  I am so freakin' old that the typewriters I learned on are displayed in a museum. Who remembers these erasers with the brush to clear away all the eraser crumbs?  Yes, for all you people under retirement age, it is an eraser.  The artist quite appropriately titled this one "Typewriter Eraser."

Advice for those going to D.C.  Go in the winter during the week if you prefer a less crowded visit.  There were so many people, so many families, so many children's groups this time of year.  The museums do handle everything really well.  There were no long waits.  I'm just not a big crowd person.   If you do go this time of year, go earlier in the day.  The number of people on the streets and in the museums grows larger and larger throughout the day. Also, consider staying outside the city at a place near a Metro station. We stayed in Silver Spring, MD just a few blocks from a station.  The Metro is easy to use, brightly lit, runs on time, and is very clean.  The people in the area were polite and helpful.  We had three full days for seeing the sights and probably didn't even see half of what is there. It's back on our list as a day trip whenever we take a driving trip south.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Missouri Star Quilt Company

I love this company and no, I'm not being paid to say so.  MSQC has top quality fabric (and loads of it) at great prices.  I most love their daily deal offers which bring the pricing up to the spectacular level.  Such great buys on such great fabrics! I'm swooning just thinking about it.  This post is the result of having just read my daily deal email.  I had to quickly send it to Deleteland, though, cuz my sewing supplies budget got eaten up by some of their other great sales this month. 
Some of the recent goodies ordered with more on the way as noted in the shipment email shared below.

More good news about this company:  $5 flat shipping or free if the order reaches $100.   High shipping charges are one of my biggest pet peeves, especially when they go up and up the more you order. 
Then there are the MSQC YouTube videos with inspiration and tutorials. You have to check them out and be sure to subscribe so that you'll get notices for the new ones as they come out.  

To all this you can add a sense of humor. This is snippet from an email I received to let me know my order had shipped. I'll let you read the rest when you get your own email.  Someone in Hamilton, Missouri has a great sense of humor!

"Thanks for your order at the Missouri Star Quilt Company! We just want to let you know that your quilting supplies have been meticulously gathered, placed on a red velvet pillow, and delicately escorted by 25 of our finest employees to our shipping department. Our master shipper has dutifully performed his craft, lovingly packing your order in the finest materials known to man." 

Okay!  Check out their website  or YouTube videos if you are looking for fabulous fabrics or inspiration.

Update:  Look what just arrived in today's mail!  I should have noted in my post that speedy shipping is another perk when dealing with this company.

I'm gonna be doing some strip quilts. I HAD to order this stuff!

This roll of Metallica Strips is so much lovelier in person.  The "metallic" part isn't popping with my camera (or is it skill level?).

This is my second bundle of white strips.  I have great plans!  Now I just need to get to work on said plans.

I'm seeing one of those cross kinda quilts using these and the white strips for each block.

These were free!  I am a sucker for bling and cutesy.  These happen to be useful, too, which makes them a especially nice.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Adding Paint to Hand Embroidery

Design (mine is slightly modified) is from Green Bean Baby's Etsy shop
 I've never added anything to hand embroidery aside from the thread, but I'm branching out!  The finished sample on Etsy had some color added, and my piece looked all wrong with just the lines of red thread for the hair.  The others from Green Bean looked fine to me without additional color, but this one needed more.
Off I went, down the crafting rabbit hole, to find a way to save the already half-embroidered piece.  The short and sweet is that I wasted too much time and money before contacting one of my artsy bloggers, Tiny Rotten Peanuts, for ideas on fabric paint.  She suggested a few things including Jacquard Textile paint which I ended up using.  Jacquard's True Red and colorless extender were the final choices to get the red here.   

I wanted the extender to make the color less opaque.  That didn't happen, but the extender did make the paints bleed less.  That was really important since I had already embroidered the hair outline. 

Once the painting was finished, I realized that the red thread practically disappeared in the paint.  Black would have worked better around the painted area.  Rather than pick all the red thread out, I weaved Christmas Red Fuzzy Stuff thread which is literally fuzzy thread with gold metallic pieces in it.  You can see it in this photo.

Love the end result. Being that she looks like a bit of a hussy, I gave her gold bead earrings along with a bead on the bodice.  

Lessons learned:
  • Never use water with the paint because it will bleed (unless you want that effect).
  • Sharpies don't hold their color in the wash.  In fact, of all the products I tried, Sharpies were the worst for bleeding and failing in the washing and drying tests.
  • Mix more than you think you will need and find a tiny container to save some extra in case you miss a spot--not that I have any experience with that.  That giant carrot top was a design choice--really.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Birdbath 2015

I'm liking this one.  It's origins are sad, however, because it came about as a result of my "Hogwarts" birdbath's demise.  Well, just part of it, the bowl part, didn't survive winter storage. (I'm blaming Brian for carelessly rummaging through the shed, but he's denying it.) I found this replacement bowl piece at my favorite gaudy glass pieces place, Marshall's.

It's not worthy of being on the grounds of Hogwarts as was the original in my not-so-humble opinion.  Just look at it!  It was practically "growing" out of the ground. 
Which one do birds prefer? Neither, Their first choice is the puddle on top of my pool cover.  They only use the fancy ones when I drain the top of the pool. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Summer Project #2: Replacing the Plastic Hose Reels and Hoses

I scoured Pinterest to find replacement ideas for our rickety plastic hose reels. We decided to install the wood posts in the photos below. Okay, I decided and Brian the did the actual work.  I do anything that has to do with actual gardening.  He does anything that requires a trip to the hardware store.  It's all in the details!

As for the hose, I finally decided to try one of the lightweight hoses after reading a positive review about them on the Hypertufa Gardener blog. You can see mine in the second photo.  The Hypertufa Gardener acknowledged that they don't last more than a season or two but said she was willing to continue buying them because they are so much easier to use.  She was right about it being sooo much easier than a rubber hose!  I need a hundred foot hose in both spots to reach all the grass and flower beds which makes for some really heavy rubber hoses to have to take down and roll back up.  This new hose is practically a pleasure to use.  I'd still rather Mother Nature watered for me, but if I HAVE to do it, I'd rather be using this new hose.  The other hose will be replaced soon.

If you want to make the hose post, here's what you will need:

  •  An eight-foot treated wood post.  OR you could use untreated wood and replace it a lot if you want.  Brian sank the posts four feet down which made them sturdy enough to eliminate the need for any cement at the base.
  • Something to hold the hose.  After reading many posts (What is it with all these pun opportunities lately?) about post hose holders, I found that you need to be careful about what piece you choose for the hose hanger.  If the edges are too sharp, they create breaks in the hose over time.  We picked up the metal ones you see in the photos at Target, but they are available on Amazon as well. 
  • A top piece if you want to kick up the fancy factor.  There are all kinds of wood finial to be had at wood stores. I chose the ones with a bit of copper on top because I have a thing for copper. I would love a copper roof, but this is about as much copper as I can afford. 
  • A post hole digger.  Borrow one if you have to.  It will make the job so much easier. 

Onto the next project.