Friday, February 25, 2011

Such a tease

So, uh, remember when I said February was fabric time?Yeah, it has been, but it's really turned into little projects month.

The burlap project is taking a bit more time than I had hoped. I had to work out some problems with it. I've been documenting the process and will do an entire tutorial as soon as it's done. But for now, a little somethin'-somethin' to peak your interest:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ode to a Trash Can

Our new addition: a trash can.
Have you recently shopped for a trash can? It's ridiculous. I don't have a "before," but as it happens with a receptacle into which trash is thrown, it got kind of gross and then the lid cracked. It was exactly like the new one except it was beige.
Why beige? Because it was cheap and the right size. I really didn't want a beige one again though. At the time, it fit in a closet/pantry so it wasn't seen, but in this house it has to sit out. We went to four stores. Four! Ridiculous!

First store had the exact same thing we had before, or round ones or black. I did not want black and I did not want round. Most trash is not round and the lids are smaller. The next store had even fewer choices and everything was more expensive than the first store. The third store was just a whim. I knew the prices wouldn't be great, but I thought the selection would be better. Wrong. One cheap one that was metallic beige. Seriously. No thank you. Or stainless steel. Now, I don't have stainless appliances. I don't want my trash can to look fancier than my appliances. But I looked at the price -- $70. What? That can't be right. Oh, yes, it was. Why would I spend that much money on a place to stick garbage?! But somebody must be buying them.
Finally, when I wasn't even looking I saw our trash can. Same thing as before which was working for us and in white. Why white? Well, we have bottle and can deposits to deal with, so that "recycling" can is already white and why not have some continuity. 
If you don't have deposits, I'll just tell you it's a pain! It's such a waste of effort since we already have a good regular recycling program. You cannot crush or in anyway make it more convenient for yourself because the machine has to read the barcode. You have to go someplace that takes them and then feed them into the machine one at a time. You get a receipt and then go stand in line to get your money back. Then, because you are already at a grocery or box store, you use the refunded money to go buy more beer
 and start the cycle again. It's how we roll.
After that all that shopping for something ridiculously simple, I felt like echoing Clark Griswold, "Hallelujah! Holy $#%! Where's the Tylenol?" But at least it's done.  

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


What are your thoughts about Giveaways on blogs? Are they cool? Annoying? Do you enter them or avoid them?

I've been solicited to offer one and I'm not completely sure whether or not I'm interested in getting involved with all of that.
So, please comment away...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Another Kid's Room: Munchkin Uno

 Raise your hand if you live in a house that looks like the glossy magazine spreads. Anyone? I know a couple people. My house doesn't look that way. It never will, I say as I look across the living room floor at the K'nex that still haven't been picked up. Could you imagine even seeing K'nex in Martha Stewart's house?
Not my house. Visit Martha's site for more.

If something doesn't match, I expect Martha must banish it. A blog I like only allowed a rocking horse in their daughter's room because it matched the decor. This just cracks me up. I wonder how long that will last. Toys have an annoying habit of coming in all sorts of colors, shapes, and noises.
Still not mine. I love Genevieve Gorder, but this room was crazy work considering in a couple years the kid won't want that letter wall paper on the bookcases.

So, as I mentioned before, I long ago abandoned the dream theme kids rooms. I purposely go with a anything-goes-hodgepodge. Then nothing sticks out looking all funny like the crazy uncle of the room.

Munchkin Uno wanted to feel the love of a blog posting on his room, so I said, "Clean it up then." And he did.

He wanted blue walls and the house already had a blue room, so voila! This kiddo is my creative one. He long ago inspired me to just start putting his mountains of paintings and other art work all over his walls. 

Now that he is a little older he has wanted to put things of interest up, like a Star Wars poster. But I think it's his choice. I will say that lamp is a crazy uncle though. He needed one and it was on hand. I keep meaning to replace that, but he doesn't really care. 
 So, although he loves blue and wanted blue bedding, I tossed in some red to break it up.

I also purposely picked all different colors of boxes to fit in the Closet Maid cubbies. This is good for two reasons: 1. each type of toy has its own color for easier clean up time. For example, K'nex go in the red one. 2. They get a bit battered, so when I need to replace one, I don't have to worry about find the exact same color because they do change these things. 

Sorry, I should have zeroed in on the cubbies. I only realized that I didn't until I started posting and he's in bed. It would be quite rude to go and flip on his light for picture now.

Sorry, bad picture. Still taking them with my cell phone right now. The red curtains are actually covering his mirrored closet doors. He did not like the way the light reflected at night; it scared him. The fastest cheapest solution was to put curtains over them. It adds a fun splash of color too. His little table has been great though. He has had it for over 3 years and still has use for it. 

His toy box and dresser are hand-me-downs. We talk occasionally about changing the colors, but it's never a priority. Over time his room has become an even bigger hodgepodge. I imagine as he makes more of his own choices (that and he cannot keep it clean!) it will  look less and less like something Martha would condone. But I'm good with that. No invites for magazine spreads coming my way. How about you? ;)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Parties on my mind

So, I've been thinking about Boy number One's upcoming birthday party. It's not until May, but we both love going all out for birthdays. Last year, silly me, I thought about half his class would accept the invite. But, no, everyone came. So, I realize that I need to think this through early this year. We are have a Star Wars theme. But last year it was a Science Party. What follows is the post I put on my other "family updates" type blog.

There are science party ideas out there, but they focus on images of chemistry or biology. Being married to a physicist, I, of course, scoffed at this. But really what is a common physics image? So for Boy One's invites I focused on the number 6 (since that's how old he was turning). I simply made a postcard featuring the number six in orange and using a "tech" font and a simpler font wrote: BoyOne is turning six, he's having a science party, and you're invited. Then I included the details of when and where. I used blue text. On the boarder I wrote in green: It's an Experimentation Celebration! I printed them on an inkjet printer on glossy photo paper (4 to a sheet), cut them apart and passed them out at school. But you could actually send them through US Post as a postcard, just fill out the addresses and stamp on the back side.

We did the baking soda and vinegar "volcanoes" as the kids arrived. We also did "Milky Fireworks" which is just whole milk with drops of food coloring on a plate. If you take a Q-tip dipped in dish soap and touch it to the center of the food coloring it bursts out like a firework. Once the kids had arrived, we gathered them together and Matt did some science demos. Things with fire, and shooting, you know, stuff we wouldn't want the kids to actually do themselves yet.

The next part of the party was set up in centers that they rotate between in small groups. One station was "Toothpick Towers." They were given toothpicks, cheese balls, gummi bears, and mini marshmallows and had to experiment with what worked best to build the tallest, most stable tower that they could build. The second station was all about balance, specifically "Throw Your Weight Around" which was about how we adjust our bodies to move without realizing it. They stood with one side pressed against a wall and had to try to pick up the outside leg. And go try it; you won't be able to because to pick up your leg you have to be able to shift your weight. They also did "Balancing Sticks" where they had to predict which was easier to balance, a short stick or a long one. Then they had to test it out to discover the long stick gives more time to make adjustments.

Then they went to "Super Slime" and made slime using the borax-glue recipe. This slime was then bagged up and put into their goody bags so they could take it home. Next was "Float My Boat" where they had a 6 in. square piece of aluminum foil that they had to form into a boat and predict how many pennies their boat could hold before sinking. After making predictions, they tried out their boats by adding pennies and counting up until it sank. They got to take home their boats in their goody bags too.

The last station was "Potato Launchers." With this station they had a lever that was marked in increments. They chose which number to place the fulcrum under. Placed a potato on one end and stomped on the other to see how far the potato would fly. As they took turns they were able to discover that when the fulcrum was farther from the potato, the potato flew farther. This was a big hit, but you have to be careful with it because it can get out of control easier. If you do this with kids, make sure you have a strong adult leader to keep everyone safe.

After that we had cake and other food. There are different science cake ideas. Cakes shaped like beakers, volcanoes, bugs. But again with the lean towards physics, so we opted to shape Gabe's cake into a number six. He wanted an ice cream cake anyway. So, I drew my six on a piece of sturdy cardboard, cut it out with an Xacto knife and covered it with foil. Then I molded foil walls, several inches high all around the number form. I used tape on the outside to keep them in place. I bought one of the big tubs of vanilla ice cream and left it out until it softened. Meanwhile I crushed a box of Graham crackers and mixed it with melted butter. I pressed this into the form to make the crust. Then I drizzled it with hot fudge. I didn't completely coat the crust.Then I crushed 8 mini Butterfingers. When the ice cream was soft, I used a large bowl and mixed in the Butterfinger. This was spread evenly on the fudge-drizzled crust. At this point, I had to put the cake into the freezer (and adjusted the freezer to coldest setting) for several hours. When the cake was solid, I pulled off the sides, situated the six on a larger platter and frosted it with thawed Cool Whip (Cool Whip is happy to be frozen and thawed, so it's a good frosting choice for ice cream cakes), and sprinkled with more Butterfinger. Then I popped it back into the freezer until the party. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone took a picture, so you'll have to use your imagination.

In the goody bags along with the slime and boats they made, they each got a Science booklet that detailed the experiments and why things worked the way they did. I included a list of science websites for kids on the back page. Then I included a pencil and a packet of Pop Rocks (because that is a "sciencey" sort of candy).

All in all we had a good time. Those who came had a good time. We were told by one parent that we had set the bar for birthday parties. But, you know what? It only takes a little planning to throw a creative party.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I'm pretty good with colors. I can usually be certain of a color just by the paint chip. But since, at least for now, I'm keeping the tile in my bathroom, I decided to buy one of those testers. Glidden has these cute little bottles that are kind of like nail polish bottles of paints. It's easy peasy, you just find the one you want and for a little less than $2, you're out of there, no waiting at the counter. 
I have beige tiles from the late 40s early 50s. I'm not sure really. These tiles look suspicously like tiles that are always labeled vintage 50s, but I know the house was built in the late 40s so my guess is that these tiles have always been there. And for the most part, they are in good condition.
I'd like to take it out, but I don't have the time, energy, or money to deal with that mess. So, working with beige it is. I thought about blue, but everybody and their brother and second cousin twice removed has a blue bathroom. I like to be different. (No offense if you have a blue bathroom because it usually looks good. I just don't want one. Okay? Friends again?) I decided to go with gray, but would gray work with the tile, I wondered? I kind of wanted a dark gray. Enter, the Glidden tester in Seal Gray...

...and FAIL! It doesn't work at all! Boo.
So, now I have dark gray (Deathstar Gray, people, not Seal, Deathstar) in my bathroom. Now I'm really motivated to fix it. I'm going back for a light gray with blue undertones. Wish me luck. It wasn't on the agenda, but apparently this week, I'll be painting a bathroom. ;)  

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kid's room: Munchkin Dos

Do you ever moon over decked out kids' rooms in magazines or on design shows? Sometimes I do, and I did dream of the perfect nursery when I was pregnant with my first munchkin. But I have gone a different direction in real life.

Here's my problem with the perfect kid's room: sure, it's a room where you can let your imagination run wild and nobody thinks your theme room is awkward. I get that. But I think most of the time those rooms are more for the adult who created it than the kid.
I believe a kid's room should reflect the child who lives in it, and not some idealized version of the child.  This picture is idealized though. That's the cleanest you'll ever find it, and not that often!

When I was picking paint, munchkin didn't know his colors and seemed to have no preference so I went with "Macaroni and Cheese" and I can't remember what brand; it was from Lowe's though. It was his favorite food. :) I just wanted something bright and cheery. The closet doors were an awful dark brown wood. (And I like dark brown wood, but these were bad.) So, what goes better with mac and cheese, than peas? The doors will need replaced anyway so why not have some fun now.

He's in a toddler bed, but he's ready to move up. You can see his bedding has blues (and red that you can't see from this picture) which doesn't really tie into the orange and green, but do I care? No. Because he likes it. The sheets have airplanes. I love the closet maid cubbies.

And when his blanket is on the bed, we have every color of the rainbow. (His blanket can usually be found wherever he is.)

One thing I decided I wanted was an alphabet. He wasn't speaking much, and I just wanted to encourage him to be interested in language. So I splurged on an artistic set from Charley Harper Studios. It wasn't a huge splurge, $14.95 for super cute artwork. They are actually flash cards.

I did not want to just make a straight line, so I put them in order, but they go up and down, some touch, some don't. Munchkin can be heard singing his ABCs when he's supposed to be asleep. :) Oh, I hot glued them to the wall. They are thick so not much held them. I've glued things before and not even damaged the paint, but I'm willing to fix it when the time comes if necessary. Chances are when he's done having the letters, he'll also have an opinion about the color of his walls and I'll be painting anyway.

What I think should be the most decoration in a child's room is their own artwork, especially when they are young. They have such pride in their creativity. Will it look polished and pulled together? Nope. But it's so much better!

Super cool decked out rooms are special, but if your kid's room really reflects your kid, it will put a smile on your face every time you enter (unless they didn't pick up after you asked three times, but I digress). Plus, in some ways this will last longer because I didn't zero in on only one interest. His room features cars, Curious George, Batman, trains, planes, tools, dragons, etc. Nothing sticks out like a sore thumb because anything goes.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Before and After: Artspace

Okay, the first project, Mission: art space and organization, is complete-ish. Basically, it's close enough. Do you have projects in your life that still need tweaking, but you've had enough, it's close enough so you are moving on? Sometimes it feels like my whole life needs a good tweaking, but it's close enough. ;)

So, to recap, Dilemma: no space for art supplies or in which to create.
Enter, two bookcases that their former occupants (books) outgrew.

So, this picture is just at the beginning of trying to organize the mess. Mateo helped position and secure the bookcases and I began to go through my two big Rubbermaid-type totes that I had crammed most of my art supplies into.

Enjoy this shot of the mess:

I also have lots of canvases, portfolios, large sketchbooks, old drawings and things of that nature that needed a home. They have not been lovingly cared for all these years. They've been shoved under beds, jammed in closets, and enough was enough. They may not be Picassos, but they deserved better treatment.

Solution: large table with storage underneath.

We used a bi-fold closet door that we found on the street. Mateo cut it in half width-wise, and the halves became the top and bottom of the piece. He built a frame out of 2 x 2's and used luan (a thin plywood type product, other accepted spelling luon) to make the sides. We had to have our table raised to clear the vent. 

Mateo placed duct work inside and remember to leave an opening in the front so we still have heat in that part of the room. Yay!

I painted it a creamy yellow because I happened to have some left (free is always good!) and I had intended to paint the top, but I changed my mind and will stain it. To cover the crease made by the doors, Matt is adding a piece of luan. It's thin, so it won't add any more height and it has a nice wood grain so it will look good stained. Bonus: the darker stain color will hide more marks and spills than the paint. We will seal it of course. 

We never added the vertical dividers in the bottom. Read this post to know more about that. And this post too. But, it works anyway. It still gives all those large paper and canvas items a place to live. 

The height is great. I can stand and work (it's a little higher than standard counter height) which I do a lot or I can use a high bar stool. The organization on the shelves could use some perfecting (i.e., cool boxes and containers) but it is so much better than Rubbermaid crates! Now I can see what I have so I don't go wasting money on more of something I already had. Awesome.

You may not have a bunch of art supplies, but this type of space could be useful to those who like to scrapbook, build models, or even sew. (I have my sewing machine down in the bottom, ready to set up in a flash.)

Thus endeth the before and after of my complete-ish first blog project. Up for February: fabric time!

Linking up to:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Short delay

I apologize for lack of promised pictures. The art space is complete-ish and I have taken pictures and still plan to do a whole before and after, but life got in the way. Isn't life annoying to do so?

Camera woes continue. Dropping a camera on a ceramic tile floor does NOT do wonders for it. I started using my cell phone for a camera, and it does a decent job. But I have to do mild contortions to get the pictures off the phone as I do not now, nor plan to soon, have a data plan. The amount I'd want to use it makes it a waste of money. Maybe someday. Maybe someday.

Side note: having a whole mini computer in my pocket would probably make me less attentive to my actual life, so even if I someday want to spend the money. I may not. Because then I might need an intervention and that would be bad.
A few other family things have come up as well. So, to make a long story not quite short enough, you'll just have to wait a bit longer. I know you are on the edge of your seats. :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

So Close!

My brand-spankin' new art table is almost done. I painted most of it today. I have two issues with projects.
1. I am impatient.
This means that the vertical dividers are not in place. Mateo couldn't find his guide and I said just get the rest of it done. We can fix the storage part later. This means he will likely make those dividers fit in an entirely different way than the original plan so that he does not have to undo what is already done. But I like to keep moving along!
2. I change my mind a lot.
The top work surface is not in place. It could be in place tonight, but I decided that I want to stain it instead of paint it. So, it will be in place but probably not completely done before the weekend. Oh, well. I was really close to having this first project done in a month's time.
Matt has an issue too. It's called not listening to me in the first place! :) I thought the front would need to be trimmed out to make it look nicer. He was all, pa-sha (spelling? Anyone?). Okay, he may not have said it exactly like that; that might have been weird. Now, he thinks it needs to be trimmed out. So, I'll probably have to paint the front again. But do I care? Nope. Because I'm going to have my very own huge arts and crafts table. :)

Full before and after pictures this week!