Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pinterest Challange: A Little Bathroom Fancy

I know I just completed a Pinterest inspired project for Valentine's Day but, ladies and germs, it's time for ...

That's right, John, Sherry, Katie and the crew are bringing it back.

And guess what? This challenge brings you a bonus!  Not one but TWO Pinterest inspired projects.  I've been up to a lot of cleaning and organizing lately and one of the spots that needed the most TLC was the bathroom. Makeup brushes, tooth brushes, contact lenses are all such boring clutter-y things - so I organized them and jazzed them up.

Here are my two inspiration pins...

I love the coffee bean brush holder and I just so happen to have a few clear acrylic boxes similar to the one in the picture.  I picked them up really cheaply once upon a time when all of the World Market's were closing in Cincinnati (I really love the acrylic boxes I got when they closed but it was so bittersweet! I want World Market back).

First I tackled the brushes.

 This project hardly needs an explanation.  I grabbed my acrylic box and the cheapest coffee beans I could find from Kroger. (I used about 1.5 bags)

I didn't want to fill the whole thing so i cut a piece of cardboard and covered the edges that would show with pretty paper.

Then I added the coffee beans.  I put my brushes in the beans and used the back to store some of the makeup I don't use very often.

I really love this!  There is a light scent of coffee when I'm putting on my makeup which I think will go away after a while - but I like it so I think I'll just have to stir up the beans every once in a while to release the scent.  Here it is nestled between two other boxes containing perfume(which I RARELY wear) and makeup (You can see a stray bean has migrated into the front of the makeup box. BAD BEAN!).

My next stop was the medicine cabinet. BORING!

My cabinet definitely needed jazzing up and while the pin above was the inspiration it didn't have any actual instructions.  Now I've seen this idea around and people often use decorative contact paper, wrapping paper or shelf liner.  I didn't have any of that around that was the right size/would look good for this project so my next idea to get a look I would like was to decoupage a piece of teal/aqua tissue paper, I thought it would give it a nice watery look.  But decoupage is pretty permanent, I think it is water soluble but it would be messy if I needed to take it down and if I painted over it it would likely show lumps or weirdness. So I though maybe I should just paint it.  Being a renter, painting isn't really recommended but it's a small space and if I really needed to repaint it before we move (which likely won't be soon - this neighborhood is AWESOME!) it could be done really easily.  But I don't know, paint seemed kinda boring and I didn't have a color I like on hand.  So while there is a hardware store about a block from here I didn't want to leave the house - that requires proper attire and I was having jammie time (yes at 4:00 pm).  So I remembered an idea I saw on Apartment Therapy a while back using fabric and starch.Yes! I have lots of fabric here, remember?   But their tutorial used purchased laundry starch which I didn't want since I would have a lot leftover that I would probably never use. You know from my DIY Laundry Detergent post that I'm pretty particular about what goes into my laundry.  And after searching the web and finding this tutorial from Decorella I realized I could make my own starch using just cornstarch and water - and I had cornstarch leftover from this project.  WIN!   So starched fabric it was, and it went something like this.

I used Decorella's starch recipe but just made a quarter of the recipe.  I just ploped my cornstarch in the boiling water - it likely would have been better to "sift" it in as my starch turned out quite lumpy.

 Then I just used the foam brush pictured above and just really blobbed it in the back of the medicine cabinet (after I removed all the stuff and shelves of course). I just flopped up big globs and spread it around - a lot fell to the bottom of the cabinet but that was easy to clean up with a wet rag when I was done.  After I had the back coated in starch I pressed up the fabric and it stuck on its own.  The lumpy starch left lumps behind the fabric so I used a plastic shoppers card to scrape out the lumps using a similar method to what you would use when scraping the bubbles from behind a window cling (Just like I did here!). Once I got everything smooth I left it to dry for a few hours.  In the picture below the fabric looks discolored or wrinkled in some places but I assure you it is smooth.  The weirdness was just caused by some of the spots where the glue was wetter and seeped into the fabric.  Once dry it looked totally smooth.

The last step was to trim the edges and  put the shelf back up.  I was was aware that whatever cutting instrument I used would have to be sharp to cut through the fabric without causing too much drag.  While the fabric is up there it is not adhered strongly enough to  withstand much pulling.  First I tried using an x-acto with a fresh blade and that just didn't do it so I went for the big guns using my Olfa rotary cutter and a quilting ruler and they worked awesome.

  Then I put up the shelves and enjoyed!

Here's a close up of my fabric - blue, green and white dots. (The blue in the previous pictures is how the color reads in real life.  I just couldn't get a close up to read that color.)

 Now I just need to figure out what to do with the inside of this door!

 So you've made it to the end of my post and still don't have enough?  Well lucky for you Jamie from Really Really Blog is participating int he Pinterest Challenge too!  And while I won't see her project until the posts go up I think* it is going to be something really really awesome!

*I may have "encouraged" Jamie to take on this particular project for my own benefit!

Still need more?  Check out my other Pinterest projects here, here, here and here.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Saturday, February 23, 2013

She's Here!

My new baby girl, Elna, arrived this afternoon at 1:15pm.  She weighed approximately 24 pounds.

elna excellence 740

Now this quilt top I've been working on since sometime in the mid 2000's is on its way to completion!

Jacob's Ladder Quilt

It looks pretty small in the picture but for reference the blue cutting mat at the top of the picture is 37 inches long.The design is the Jacob's Ladder pattern from the Big Book of Best-Loved Quilt Patterns.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Raphael: A Stuffed Turtle

This is what is created when you ask a three year old boy to design a sewing project, it is modified by his five year old sister and sewn by a well meaning aunt from the few fabric scraps left in her parents basement.

stuffed raphel ninja turtle

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Solsitce/Yule/Christmas Season Recap

I wrote this blog somewhere around the end of December but never published it.  So please,  relax, let your self float back to late December 2012 and enjoy this belated blog post.
So the festive holiday season is now officially over and we only have one little holiday left before winter sets in. So I thought I'd recap a little of what has happened the last few weeks so that you can read it while lounging next to the warm fire.
1. Gifts
            Mark and I decided not to get gifts for each other because really – it’s just easier to buy stuff for yourself.  So on Black Friday there was a lot of online shopping happening but we were splurging on our selves and might I say we got ourselves some really cool stuff.
I got these sweet boots.

Mark got himself one of these

And a few other jeep parts that I don’t know what they are or what they do - only that a transmission jack and hours spent in a cold garage were needed to put them on.

The only people I really had to buy gifts for were my nieces and nephew.  The two older ones got sweet LED headlamps, which I thought of after they were so popular on our camping trip –and the younger one?  Well, she got baby stuff – she’ll have to wait a year or two before she can get a headlamp.

2. Holiday Crafting
I made a hostess gift for Jamie and Mark who host the annual Pants Party and Friendly Holiday Christmas Dinner

(Tutorial HERE)
Then there was creating a fleece no-sew blanket.  This beautiful fleece was gifted to me from Becca many moons ago and I just used them as blankets the way they were.  I decided it was time to finally use them as intended and tied them up!
(Thanks Becs!  It’s very warm.)

There was the Christmas Unicorn who came to live with us from the thrift store.  He got a new coat of paint and some sparkling green glitter (the Martha Stewart kind I was pining for a while back).

The unicorn was very happy because upon completion he went to live in the…

3. Solstice Forest
            Years ago instead of buying one fake Christmas tree in an after Christmas sale I bought a set of three little ones.  Then I got another little pink tree from Becca and so since I already had 4 trees I figured I would just keep going, add more trees and make it a forest.  A Solstice Forest.  Where all creatures great and small can celebrate the return of the sun at Winter Solstice.

 4. Cat Wrapping and Cat Napping
Underneath these trees I needed to stash some of our (few) wrapped gifts.  Leroy helped wrap and then both of the cats were so worn out that they napped.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bzz Campaign: Nescafe Memento

It's that time again!

I'm swimming in BzzKits over here.  Today I'm only going to talk about one of them (the others will come in another post soon!).

Last week was a long week at work including a full days work yesterday (Saturday).  Yesterday was cold and I was tired and I just wanted to snuggle on the couch when I got home with something warm.  So imagine my delight when I got home to find a BzzKit containing these three samples waiting for me.

Nescafe Membeto Carmel Latte, Cappuccino, Mocha

Last night for dessert I had a Carmel Latte and Mark had a Mocha, and as I type this now - I'm drinking a Cappuccino.  So far I like all three flavors.  They are sweet and delicious but without being SUPER sweet like some other mixes I've tried.  I love that they are in individual packets because I like to keep them in my drawer at work to prevent 2:30 pm visits to my local coffee shop.

Oh, and if you haven't signed up for BzzAgent yet, click HEREDo it.

*I'm a BzzAgent participating in a word-of-mouth campaign and gave me the free samples and/or coupons for the items talked about in my post.  Wanna know more about BzzAgent? Check here.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Great White Space

We’ve lived in our apartment for about a year now and pretty much since then I’ve just ignored the big open space behind the couch. 

IKEA Karlstad sofa with blank wall behind it

 It’s just so big and open that whatever ends up on the wall will be a really obvious part of the room and until I had a solid direction as to where Mark and I’s combined design aesthetic would take us I didn’t want to commit.  Then at IKEA a few weeks back we saw the PREMIÄR ...

PREMIÄR Ikea wall map art

Now Mark and I love maps as much as the next guy (and then rest of the internet too!).  Maps make pretty nice art because they never really get dated and are pretty generic and non offensive.  It was big and cheap which gave it bonus points but the colors just didn’t meet my needs.  I mean the colors actually match exactly the colors we have in the room already but that was it - it added nothing more.  No “umph” and honestly, I like “umph”.  But the IKEA trip wasn’t a total loss, I was inspired by all of the fabric panels they use to adorn the walls.  

IKEA fabric didn’t meet my needs so I searched my local fabric stores and came up with this at JoAnn’s.  

 It is KAS Oslo Bluebird and at 60% plus an additional 15% off it was a pretty good deal for about  1 1/3 yards.  So I headed home and stretched it over a 32x50 frame made of stretcher bars from Plaza Artist Materials, my local art supply store (Hobby Lobby and Michael’s will usually carry these as well but they usually only go up to about 40 inches in size.  And sometimes – size does matter.

I love the fabric and I was so excited as I was stapling it to the stretchers, but then I put it on the wall and well, it was OK.

Again, I love the fabric and its cute little birds but in the space it just feels kinda dead and heavy.  Boo.  But I figured I would live with it and maybe it would grow on me but after a week or two it’s just not working for me. Similar to the map I think I just need more color.  

No worries though, I do have another plan in mind and while I’m not ready to reveal it.  I’ll just let you know that it is inspired by this.

Yes, that.  My new living room art is actually inspired by one of the worst most offensive tattoos out there.  Bet ya can’t wait to see it now!
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Romance is in the Window

I know what you are thinking; this post is about the impending holiday known as Valentine’s Day.  I mean yeah, it’s February and this post is going to have some crafty heart decorations but it’s really just about romance which is nice since its cold (or at least cold-ish) outside and cute decorations because even single people can love cute decorations. I just don’t like Valentine’s Day where people are forced to buy overpriced flowers and candy and diamonds and such just because a certain day of the year rolls around.  It’s silliness.

Anyway, last Sunday I was totally sidelined with a crazy bad headache caused by an incredible knot in the suboccipitals on the left side of my neck (oh, and a bit of a hangover from the 3 drinks I had over a span of about 4 hours the night before).  This had me going back and forth between the couch and the bed as I tried to sleep and not move too much.  I was chatting with Jamie from ReallyReally Blog, who was lamenting her lack of seasonal decorations since her Mark had just taken down their Christmas lights and porch pumpkin at the same time.  This and the romantic comedies I had been Netflixing all day (One for the Money, Beauty and the Briefcase, No Strings Attached and Decoy Bride) made me realize that my place could use a little jazzing up.
So to Pinterest I went!   I searched my “Winter” board (I don’t have boards for specific holidays I just have a board for each season and place holiday pins on the board for the season in which they occur) and found this pin from Martha Stewart.

So I busted out the crayons.
Crayons, orange and red

Once I had my little hearts made I used red thread, scotch tape and a food skewer (just the kind you can buy at Kroger).  I taped the thread to the hearts and then used little dabs of glue to hold the thread to the skewer.

Then I just placed the skewer behind the lock on the window and voila!

Want another window décor idea? Go here.
Want more Pinterest projects? Go here.
Special Note: You guys know Mark likes to skate.  I decided to accompany him to Ollie’s Skatepark in Florence and this has afforded me lots of time to catch up on my blog, so you can know that this post as well as a few you’ll see in the coming days and weeks were all created on site at Ollies.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Unicorn Helps

A special guest came over last weekend and helped me hang our new coat racks*.

A man in a unicorn mask helps hang IKEA Tjusig coat racks above a Hemnes shoe cabinet

*Those are IKEA Tjusig coat racks and a Hemnes shoe cabinet.  Love them both!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Ellen Meet Elna

Elna eXcellence 740 to be specific.

Way back before Thanksgiving I decided it was time to upgrade from the $99 Brother machine that I had been using since collage (when I couldn't get to my mom's house to use her White that she had bought in the 70's) so I did what I do for lots of my shopping these days - I turned to Amazon. I found a machine that I liked at what I thought was a price that would provide a quality machine.  I was wrong.  I bought the Singer Quantum Stylist and after only about 5 uses - none of them doing anything crazy, it broke.  Singer wanted me to pay to send it in for repairs.  I was really disappointed because I thought I had purchased a machine that would last a very long time (my mom's machine from the 70's is still going strong) but I learned that even though it is possible I got a "lemon" that even with a perfect machine it couldn't be expected to last as all the insides were plastic - and for those of you who sew you know that sometimes sewing can be a violent, high powered event - sometimes I think I should wear safety goggles.

Anyway, then I realized that there is a whole other level of machines that you can't buy from Amazon or a big box craft store.  These machines are sometimes made by the same manufacturers but have all metal parts, involve some technology that is used in football helmets and come with warranties on parts and lots of free lessons and support to make sure you know everything your machine can do.  However these machines have a much bigger price tag.  As in 4 digits, some go up to 5 and the first number usually isn't a 1.  So A LOT of money.   Though I do think that a lot of the value comes from the store that has expert sewers on staff and monthly gatherings where people can share. I had been contemplating quilting classes - but I don't think I would need them with the added support.

But I've used sewing machines enough over the years to know what I want, at least somewhat and to know what doesn't interest me.  When I went to my local dealer they started with a very basic 3 digit price tag machine but suggested that I might want a better one and I actually did - so we moved to a better model - the Elna 720 I believe which was ok - I wanted more decorative stitches and that machine didn't have a free arm - I really wanted a free arm. (A free arm is where you can remove some of the bottom of the machine to make the part where the sewing happens really skinny so you can slide a sleeve or pants leg around it to sew on it.)  So we moved on to the next machine - the Elna 740 and it had everything I wanted and more - but it was out of the price range I wanted.  This brought me to the realization that to buy what I actually wanted I would have to spend more than I wanted.  Spending at the top of my original budget would have gotten me a machine that didn't excite me and would have made me feel like it was a waste because I don't think I would have used it very often or really been able/encouraged to do things I was unable to do before.

I went to a few other shops and all the machines they showed me that were only a few hundred dollars lower in price were exponentially lower in quality.  I used the same samples and tried them on different machines and the Elna 740 really kicked the but of a similarly priced Viking Sapphire. KICKED IT.  So whatever, I did it.  I was excited but nervous. Nervous. Nervous.

You see, I'm terrible at spending money - seriously. I don't like to spend it.  You guys know from here that I love the thrift store and one time I even made myself put back a $3.99 item because it was too expensive. Any time I buy anything on the internet I check about a gazillion different websites looking for the best price/shipping/coupon combo which can take hours upon hours. Then, even when I am pretty confident that I have found the best combo I leave that tab open in my browser for days, weeks, even months.  Often I will accidentally close that tab and then never end up buying whatever it is I was looking at because I feel like I have to start all over again.  This is a very factual account of what really happens.  Sometimes I don't buy what I want to eat at the grocery store because it is expensive and then I don't want to eat the food I have because it is not what I want then it is wasteful and I am hungry.  I sort of have a problem like that.

Then occasionally I get in a mood where I feel like what good is money if I don't spend it, right?   As long as I don't go into debt and maintain some savings I'm allowed to have a little fun right?  So generally when I'm in the mood I just have to spend the money because if I don't I will tightwad all up again in a moment.

So this afternoon I spent money.  And I am excited, and I am nervous, and as you can see I just wrote an entire blog post justifying to myself and for some reason, everyone else, how I spend my money.

Also,  umm I think I'm going to start a jeans repair business.  How many darned pairs of jeans will it take to make Ellen feel better? Let's ask Mr. Owl.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Thrift Shop: Sparkles and Unicorns

I've been wanting to do a thrift shop post for a while so Young House Love's Unofficial Macklemore Thrift Shop Challenge  gave me the nudge I needed.

I went to my favorite thrift Store.  (Thanks Shelly for changing my life by bringing me there the first time)
I had $20 in my pocket.

I saw lots of awesome things I might need.

This sweet cockatoo lamp for $4.99 that I think just might look great spray painted white.

A $9.99 Karaoke machine for creating our own awesome renditions of Macklemore's Thrift Shop.

Some awesome shelf paper for when I need to redo my shelves. I don't know how much it costs but I'm sure it's not much.

Awwwww Yeah.  A wax ring and or toilet flange thing.  Who needs Home Depot?  Only $2.99
What do you expect to see on the shelf below the toilet flange?  A rain stick.  All the soothing sounds of the rainforest for only $4.99

An electric wooden birthday tower. Priced at $4.99 I think I made a mistake not buying this.

A ceramic animal.  It's not white but put out the $.99 it costs and get yo'self some white spray paint.

THIS sweater.  This sweater was awesome.  It was not my size and while I thought maybe I could sew it up to make it work I was deterred by the super high $6.99 price tag.  It had bows - PURPLE bows knitted into it.

This swell $.99 blazer was a hot early 90's mix of patterns.

Mardi Gras?  Who's ready for Mardi Gras?  $4.99 is all it takes.

 Don't worry, my thrift shop is just as good as Macklemore's.
Someone else has been walking in them.
Some house slippers.
Bonus heated massage house slippers/slipper.
Fringe John Wayne would be jealous of.

Leather with fringe.  Maybe this is more his style.
Dressed in all pink.*
So what made it back to the crib with me? 
I can't pass up a good jacket.  And the sparkles were a good addition to one of my thrift shop collections.

I didn't make it anywhere near the $20 mark.  The jackets were only $.99 and $4.99, but BONUS it was Monday and Monday is customer appreciation day and everything was 25% off! (On federal holidays everything is 50% off - OMG)
It was a big day spending $4.77.

Oh, what was that?  You want to know more about my thrift shop collections? (All of these items have come from Valley Thrift)


The man in the back in the Angry Birds pants did not come from a thrift shop.  He came from here.
Thrift store unicorns, statue and brass bookends
More unicorn fun here.
 Wanna buy your own stuff?  They've got plenty. Go for it!
Just in case you think I bought all the best stuff.  Here is lots of stuff just waiting to be sorted and priced for tomorrow.
See you at the Valley!

Valley Thrift Store
9840 Reading Rd
Cincinnati, OH 45241

*The picture was taken from this angle because while the pink suit was incredibly cute it was also incredibly small and not only could I not zip the pants zipper but it was so nearly stretched to its max I was afraid I was going to bust the seam - so the strategic angle and untucked shirt are hiding my undies.

Like this?  Like my Facebook Page too! 
Don't forget to check out all of the other Thrift Shop Challenge posts over at Young House Love!