Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Idea Thief: Blah Lamp Turned Amazing

Hi There!

I know that I just did an Idea Thief, but I saw this idea, and I can't help but share it. Using just pop bottles, duct tape and metallic paint, this regular lamp went from boring to amazing.

Visit Matsutake for the tutorial.


Picture from Matsutake





Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Idea Thief: Framing a Flat Panel TV

Hi There,

This is a neat project for those who think that big flat panel television is a bit of an eyesore. I know on those decorating shows they always hide the TV. However in our house, we watch TV in our living room, so it doesn't make sense to have the TV tucked into a corner. This is a way to make it more of a decoration rather than a piece of electronics sticking out.

Visit Rona for the Tutorial!


Picture from Rona





Monday, August 29, 2011

Parenting

I've always been a pretty logical person. It's hard for me to believe things without facts in front of me. This is one of the reasons I have always struggled with concepts that aren't concrete like love and faith. Of course, I always knew I loved my family, and I always found a belief in God to be logical (I mean, even if there was a big bang, where did those elements come from?)

When I was pregnant, I felt a bit of disconnect. Sure, I knew there was a baby growing in my stomach. Sure, I saw her on the ultrasound (every week due to my complications). I couldn't help but think "Geez, I'm going to be a terrible mother. I don't feel like a mother right now, and it's hard to believe that there's an actual baby in my stomach." It doesn't help that you feel like an alien is going to pop out of your stomach at anytime, and they do look so alien like on those early ultrasounds. I never really swooned over babies. I mean I held them, and I thought they were cute and I knew I wanted a family, but I didn't know what to think of being a parent. I was hoping that I wouldn't have the same experience with my child as I did with my wedding (I got really excited with the planning and was kinda let down by the event and the choices I made. I was so worried about saying my vows wrong I didn't cry...but I cry at every other person's wedding)

So, when I went in to be induced, I was scared of a) the pain and b) the actual responsibility of taking care of a child and c) I wouldn't appreciate how special the moment is. The closer you get to your due date you start to realize how much you don't know about being a parent. What is a too high temp? What color should their bowel movements be? Are they gaining enough weight? What does that cry mean? How in the heck do you breastfeed? I'm an information-a-holic. I am one of those people that must read all the information I can. I think I ended up reading five or six books before giving birth. (I think the only book you need is one that says "Every single child is different. You must learn to adapt") The minute I saw my daughter, my husband and I cried. In fact, I pretty much cry every single time I think about it. Part of that is the fact that since my daughter's birth, I cry at every single little thing.
However, since the minute she was born, I haven't questioned my love for her. While I have loved many things with a passion, nothing compares to the love I feel for my daughter.

Even when I was super depressed I couldn't breastfeed or when she wouldn't sleep after being up for 12 hours screaming or when she decided to rub feces all over me and the carpet...and the dogs...and the crib...and bath tub.... I still loved her. Kids are messy crazy creatures. I used to be a neat freak. I remember having arguments with my brother and eventually my husband about doing the dishes. I used to dust. Imagine that. Now, I think of all the places I can hid the dirty dishes when people come over. I figure that dressers are for those without children. I have a permanent unfolder on staff in my house. Why are landlords so concerned with my three dogs? My daughter has done more destruction in 15 months than my dogs have done in 5 years. (Seriously.)

I had this picture of what my life would be with a child. Play dates, art projects, walks, and lunches with friends. Thank goodness my daycare provider has it together and can take care of the play date and art portion of my fantasy. When I was staying at home, my days were filled with keeping my sanity and my house just above the legal standards for liveable. My husband would come home, and I'd be booking it to the grocery store or to the post office. Anything to get me out of the house for 20 minutes. My husband couldn't understand this until he stayed home with our daughter for two days. When he stated he was running to the store, an activity he loathes, just to get out of the house, I couldn't help but laugh.
But now we're both in the same position. Our house is a bit cleaner since we're never home. We can share the responsibility of taking care of our daughter in the evenings, and now we don't have to worry about finding a sitter if one of us has a meeting in the evening. Even though my life now more closely reflects my fantasy family life, I crave my disorganized daughter centered stay-at-home mom job.

I will admit when people would say they were a stay-at-home mom or said they wanted to be, I would maybe judge them a bit. I would think that maybe they weren't motivated or something. Then I got the luxury to be one. And that's all I want in my life. A career seems empty without the ability to share it with my little human. I'd rather see my daughter learn to wave or say "mommy" than get a promotion or a raise any day. Maybe this crazy thing called parenthood makes you a little less materialistic and a little more appreciative of the less "logical" things.

All I know is that parenthood used to be something I wanted to do, and now it's the only thing I want to do. Maybe that's old fashioned in a world that practically requires a family to have two incomes. But in the end, I'm not going to measure my life by my work, no matter how well it goes. I will reflect on my family, and the memories we have made together.

I'm lucky that I've had a great example in both my family and my in-laws. My grandfather, who passed away this last spring, was a great example of this. I didn't know until I read his obituary that he had invented a computer system that is still in use today in most ambulances. I knew him as someone that was so proud of me that the only time I ever saw him tear up was when I graduated high school, college and law school. The man that was so excited when I told him I was pregnant that he couldn't stop talking to my stomach. The great grandfather, that while he was just a few days from passing away, was more concerned about my daughter knowing/remembering who he was than his pain or the great unknown looming in front of him.

Life is about love. I have my daughter to thank for teaching me that love and faith aren't abstract concepts. They live in little moments that happen everyday. I hope everyone can experience that sometime in their life.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

DIY Sunday: Children's Art Gallery

Hello There!

I'm really excited to show you this project! I've had it planned for a while. I often see in magazines and on blogs parents making an art wall for their children by using a matte and replacing the pictures periodically. I always thought it was kinda pain to take the frame down, remove the back and change the art. So I decided to create an art wall with just open frames and picture wire. I'm pretty excited by the way it turned out.

Children's Art Gallery



Supplies:

Old frames sans glass and backing (found most of mine at a thrift store for $13.00, however if you slowly collect them, I could see this being much cheaper if not free)
Spray Paint ($3.00)
Picture Wire ($2.00)
Staple Gun (had around the house already)
Binder Clips (or clothes pins $2.00)


My collection of random frames I found.

Total Cost: $20.00

Directions

Step One: Clean & Spray

Take all your frames and remove the glass and backs. Wipe down with a wet wash cloth. Spray paint with your chosen paint color. FYI: Places like Ace will do custom tint spray paint with any color they could do with regular latex paint. I used Rustoleum in white. It's a spray paint that has both a primer and a gloss enamel finish.


Frames in the middle of spray painting



Step Two: Staple & String

Decide where you want the wire to be. I put mine towards the top, about one-two inches from the top. Take your picture wire and staple one end to the back of the frame. Make sure you leave two inches or so sticking out from the staple. Tie the picture wire around the staple. Pulling tight, staple the wire to the other side of the frame. Cut the wire with a few inches sticking out, pull tight and knot. Repeat on all your frames.




Staple with little tail of wire sticking out.


Wire with knot

Step Three: Hang Your Gallery

There are several ways to decide where to put your frames. I've seen several tutorials using kraft paper. You cut the paper the same size as the frame and tape the paper on the wall. That way you can see how everything looks on the wall and reposition if needed. I never have done this because a) that's a lot of kraft paper and b) that's a lot of cutting. Time and money I don't want to spend.

I am not a measuring person as you may know. I hate to measure fabric or spend the time to center things. I prefer to just wing it. However with my gallery upstairs, I thought I would be all exact and measure things out. I placed frames on the ground so it looked pretty and measured where everything would go. It was a disaster! I ended up moving almost every frame. The stupid gallery took me like eight hours!

So, this time, I decided to use a method I saw in Pinterest. You would put a bit of toothpaste on the hanger and put it on the wall. A bit of toothpaste would remain where you should put the nail/screw. I used some diaper cream I had nearby. It worked GREAT. I will never hang a picture frame another way.

So, I placed my gallery on the floor. I used the floor tiles as my guide for how wide I could go (I knew the place I had chosen was three tiles across so I arranged my gallery on the floor within three tiles wide.) I took a picture of my creation. Then I used the picture on my camera as a guide and did the toothpaste guide idea from above.

It was so fast. The entire gallery took me maybe 10 minutes. I've never been able to hang a bunch of frames that fast.


Empty wall ready for frames


Gob of diaper cream ready for hanging.


The wall after putting the frame up to it. Ready for a nail.


My arrangement on the floor.


Gallery on the wall.


Finished Wall!






One frame was a causality of my dogs chewing.

You're finished! Now you just need to clip your budding artist's creations to the wire! I used binder clips to match the wire, but something like clothespins would work too.



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Great Bat Saga

Image from HowStuffWorks

My husband is a man’s man. He likes sports, hunting, guns and his new cowboy boots. However, he turns into a 13 year old girl when it comes to spiders. I’ve been the household spider killer since we got married. While I certainly am not going to have a spider as a pet in the near future, I don’t have a problem killing them, especially if I have a vacuum with a really long hose or a nice flat shoe.

Bats Make Me Batty! (Okay..that’s a terrible pun)

I don’t particularly like most creepy crawly things. As a child, I was fearless and would “hunt” snakes with my brother. We even tried to sell them out of our wagon on the corner of the street. (Surprisingly no one bought our prisoners) So, while I don’t like snakes or mice or spiders, I can deal with them when need be.

I met my match in college though. After bringing my brother home from his first college party as the responsible older sister, we were unlocking our front door on our enclosed porch. All of a sudden, a bat swooped down on us. My brother, being ever so loving and a bit tipsy, pushed the door open, fell inside the kitchen and promptly locked the door behind him. All the while screaming “BAT!” During this encounter, I was trying to figure out what was going on and why I was now locked out of my house. Since my brother couldn’t do his manly duty of pest removal, I asked a couple of drunken neighbors to come and take care of the little beast. In my neighbor’s infinite wisdom, he donned a golf glove, picked the bat up, and threw him outside. I didn’t point out to him that a golf glove with its several holes wasn’t doing a lick of good. They were, after all, providing a much needed public service. I thanked them with my brother’s beer.

My second encounter with a bat didn’t go much better. I was newly married, and my husband was out of town. I made a late night run to the grocery store. As I was coming in the front door, I had the same encounter with a bat swooping down on me. I panicked. My 26 year old self now realizes there is little to no threat of a bat outside your house in your enclosed porch. What was that bat going to do? However, my 22 year old self thought this was a life or death situation. So what do you do in a life or death situation? Well you call the cops, right? So, I call the non-emergency line and ask them to send an officer at their convenience. Maybe I thought maybe this was an animal control issue. And bless their hearts, they didn’t laugh and actually offered to help.

While I waited for the officer, I decided to Google ways to remove bats. There was an informative article about air currents and basically says, open a door and window and see if they will fly out. (Duh) So, I decide to try this “innovative” suggestion. Of course it works, and I have to explain to the officer why there is no longer a bat to rescue me from.

A Rude Awakening
So, I have a brief history with bats. I know that I don’t deal well in the situation. I’m not completely stupid (although I’m sure you think so after I called the police over what is basically a flying mouse). I know that they’re probably bats in my old house’s attic. After all, bats are like little contortionists. They can squeeze through super tiny holes. I don’t care if there are there so long as they aren’t in the actual house.

Three days ago I was about to go to bed. I usually read a bit with the nightstand light on before sleeping. As usual Adam is asleep before his head even hits the pillow. I see our westie jumping up at something. She loves to chase moths, and she’s a bit nutty, so I didn’t think much of it. Then I thought to myself, wow, that’s a really big moth. As the “moth” flew towards me, it was clear this was not a moth. I threw the covers over myself and shook my husband awake. I mean, after all, this isn’t a spider and he’s a manly man.

My husband reacted by yelling, “what?!?!?!?” (in a voice that suggested that I just told him a serial killer was in the room) Then, he accused me of lying and creating some elaborate ruse. I can’t blame him for thinking this. I am so nervous by the entire thing that I can’t stop giggling. How absurd is this situation?!?

Finally, I point out to him that the two dogs were clearly going nutty at this point. The westie had taken to jumping on the bed and diving off trying to get enough air to catch the bat. Our german shorthair was now in on the game and also jumping on the bed. Every time one would jump on top of me, I would flinch since I knew the bat had just flown over my head.

So, I ask him what we’re going to do. I expect that in his manly man class they explained pest control including bats that were dive bombing you in your bed. He suggests we just stay under the covers. At one point one of the dogs touches him and he’s sure the bat has landed on him. Hmmm. I suggest he gets up and deals with it because a) he’s a man and b) he has the rabies vaccine (a prerequisite of veterinary school). I am normally all about gender equality, but a bat is where I draw the line.

We go back and forth about what we should do (all the while under the covers and the dogs are on a mad hunt for the bat.) I explain that we have a couple of different options. We could open the window in our bedroom and take out the screen. However, we would have to lock the dogs up in the other room to prevent them from chasing the bat out of the second story window. We could try to capture it in a laundry basket or something of that nature. Or he could go to the basement and get his racquetball racquet and beat the thing senseless.

Guess which option my husband picked. Racquet it is.

He decides to cowboy up and get out from under the covers to assess the situation. At this point the crazy dogs have lost the bat. Great. Now we don’t know where the thing is. We go on a search. Turning lights on and peeking around corners like we’re about to come upon a vampire. I find the thing hiding in the corner of the bathroom ceiling. My husband keeps saying he just doesn’t want to deal with this. At this point, it’s apparent that the beating plan needs a back-up. So I sequester the dogs to another room, take the screen out of a window and explain to my husband that he should hit it towards the window. Since I’m not the one with rabies vaccine, I choose to hide in the other room with the dogs.

Before I close the door, I see my husband gingerly walking towards the bathroom with a racquet in one hand and a towel in the other. I have absolutely no idea what the towel is for, but I thought it best to keep my mouth shut.

As I sit down in our guest room, I hear this: “Bang” “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” “Bang Bang Bang” “Smack” “AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” “WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAA” (Lila now awake and crying)

With the noises I just heard, I thought it was certain that a) the bat was still on the loose, b) the bat had eaten my husband’s arm, and c) something was broken.

As I slowly peek my head out of the room, I see my husband leaning over my bathroom supplies. You know. Toothbrush, hair brush and make-up. Uh. He did kill the bat but not before beating it against the mirror and it landing on top of all my stuff. So, as I rock our daughter back to sleep, Adam does a clean-up effort.

Surprise Attack

We got little sleep that night, but we had a good laugh about the entire thing. My husband wasn’t afraid to admit that he reacted like a little girl, and I admit I probably should have been a bit more helpful and maybe stopped laughing for a few minutes.

Last night we were both asleep when I am slowly pulled from sleep. I hear our shorthair chasing something. My husband must have woken up before me, because I hear him say, “G** d*** it, I think there is another bat in here.” In my sleepy state, I thought (and maybe said out loud), “I don’t think he’s jumping up. It’s probably just a mouse or something.” It’s a sad day when a mouse becomes the better alternative. As I slowly wake up and my eyes adjust, I move the covers down and peek. And sure enough, there is another bat flying around. I then exclaim, “What the h***?!?!? Why do we have to deal with this again? What are we going to do?” We sit under the covers for a few minutes cursing our bad luck. I tell my husband that his racket is still by the bathroom. He starts talking himself up some courage to dart from his side of the bed (away from the door) to the bathroom. You know how guys do that? Where they keep saying the plan out loud hoping it makes them want to do it more?

He jumps up, starts yelling and turns on the light. I hear him start yelling, “Whoa!” to our shorthair, who normally is whoa trained….but not so much when it comes to flying bats swooping at him. Can you blame the poor guy? Then Adam yells, “There are two!” I groan. Really? So I ask him if I can get up to hide in the guest room. He kinda laughs and says, “No, they are right above your head.” So, he decides he’s going to hit them with his racquet while they are 8 inches from my head. I’m just envisioning him just knocking one down right on top of me. I’m cringing thinking of it. I know I would definitely lose it then. He smacks one and I hear it going over me and against the wall. He struggles but finally hits the other one. On top of my clean dress clothes. Of course. As I sit up, he says, “Oh, this one isn’t dead” and smacks it dead. On top of my clean dress clothes. Thankfully, this time our daughter slept through the entire ordeal.

We went on a quick search to find where they could possibly be coming in. We think it’s the craft room where there are these odd shelves in the alcove. We’re going to plastic them today, and hopefully we’re bat free here out. But, if we do have another bat attack, I know my husband will be there for me. He might scream like a sally, but he has defended me from three bats thus far. Just don’t tell PETA.








Monday, August 22, 2011

Idea Thief: Two skirts: One pattern

Hello There,

I don't often blog about specific sewing patterns...mostly because I'm the worst at patterns. I don't know how, but it seems like something always goes awry. Either I cut something out of the wrong pattern or it's the wrong size....no matter what it just doesn't work. Kinda like my mom's brownies.

This dress pattern seems very do-able. Not only is it pretty simple, you can make one for yourself and/or one of your daughter or niece or whatever.

Visit Sewing in No Man's Land for the Tutorial!


Photo from Sewing in No Man's Land






Sunday, August 21, 2011

DIY Sunday: Rusty Yard Decorations

Hello There,

If you've read on my blog before, you know I usually do a DIY Wednesday. However, since I've started my job, I try to stay off the computer during the week to optimize the time I spend with my daughter. So, I am going to move this feature to Sunday since that's the day I do most of my projects.



This project was done a while ago, but I realized I never blogged on it. Remember when I went garage sale-ing a month or so ago? I got a pile of rusty kitchen utencils for a buck. My husband couldn't understand how I was going to use all this rusty stuff.

I decided to use it in our yard as a decoration. I love junk used in the garden. My mother in law is the expert in this. She has so many cool things she has upcycled to her garden. I will someday photograph it to share.

So, when dealing with rust, you need to remember two things:

One: Wear gloves. It dawned on me as I was working with it, I can't get a tetanus shot since I'm allergic. The last thing I need is to poke myself and not be able to take precautions. So I may as well wear gloves and minimize the risk.

Two: To make rusty things look "pretty," you will want to spray a coat of polyurethane on them. They look shiny and more dimensional with the coat. I sprayed after I was done with everything, but you could do it whenever.

Rusty Yard Ornament



Supplies

Rusty Kitchen Items ($1.00)
Old Wire Basket (free)
Polyurathane (Had sitting around the house...about $2.00 worth)
Wire (Had sitting around the house...about $2.00 worth)
Buttons (Got a huge bag at a yard sale for $0.50)
Drill

Total Cost: $4.50



Step One: Drill Baby Drill

So, I had two rusty cupcake tins, a cheese grater, a strainer and a pastry tin. I decided to use a drill to create two hole in each (if it didn't already have holes like the cheese grater)

Drilling was very easy since the rust makes the metal weak. I did two holes since I knew I was going to be using buttons.

Step Two: Add Buttons



Using some stiff wire I had from bead work, I threaded each button on to the various rusty items and twisted to secure.

I did random fun color buttons, but you could also do a pattern. I was thinking an American flag would be fun for the cheese grater.

And you're done. It's an easy project that doesn't take much money just a bit of creativity. It takes a little time to do each of the buttons but I did it while watching a movie and had no problem. Think about the possibilities! You could do a flower that would creep up around the items. You could forgo the wire basket and hang items from a tree or along a fence.

Enjoy!







Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mac v. PC

When my computer died a quick painful death at the beginning of the summer, I decided to explore the Mac v. PC debate. You'd think I would have been asking about politics or something, because people were passionate about their decision. I was actually told, "You're too smart for a Mac" Ha ha. While I'm flattered at that compliment, I did eventually decide that while more expensive, a Mac would be a better fit for me than a PC. I do like to edit photography and the graphics on a Mac are just better. The main complaint I had about my PC was it's propensity to get malware and viruses. Macs certainly do better at this as well. And I liked the idea of my computer being a work horse and lasting a while.

So after my husband worked hard all summer and I got a new job, the day came to buy my new computer. Let me tell you, the Apple store definitely makes you feel like you're special. I was a fan of their associates helping me with my decision and setting up my new Mac.

The transition is going well although I'm having to learn many new things. I played around with the tracepad last night to figure out what settings would work the best for me. It's nice to have the freedom to do that. The scrolling on the new Macs is also amazing. I also have been trying to figure out my old PC shortcuts and how they translate to Mac. And of course I've been moving files and programs to my Mac.

While I'm only a few days into my purchase, I definitely like my decision. I hopefully will be able to blog more now that I have my own laptop.

Now it's time for me to do some spray painting! Happy Saturday!




Sunday, August 7, 2011

Idea Thief: Busy Wallet

For those parents out there, you'll appreciate this easy project.

It's called the "Busy Wallet." You get an old wallet (one you already have, one from a thrift store or a cheap one on clearance) and fill it with all sorts of things to be discovered by your impatient bored child. You can put things like old photos, old cards, stickers, pins, coins, scrapbook paper with different textures and colors etc. You just have to be careful of your child's age and pick appropriate things.

This wallet would be great to have on hand when your child gets a bit fussy at a restaurant or while you're driving or even on an airplane. I've heard of people wrapping toys to add to the amusement. The busy wallet is bit more portable, but both would be great for something like a long trip or airplane ride.

Visit The Acts of Grace for the tutorial!



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