Thursday, June 22, 2017

Ten Things

Ten things this week could also be called "giant list of sold out things." Sorry. They're pretty, though!

While I was searching for that Make the World Suck Less Tee, (which I couldn't really find... blah) I browsed through the 55hi's website, and man, their cards are awesome! I especially love their shot glass card and the money cards.

I recently found an Etsy shop that sells teas based on characters. It's called Malfoy Tea Emporium, and I couldn't resist getting teas based off two of my favorite characters, Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, and Rhysand from the Court of Thornes and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas. They smell so yummy!

Ice cream rolled tacos are a colorful treat trend that I hope makes it to my area sometime in the future. For now, I'll just have to gaze at Sweet Cup's Instagram feed and dream.

There is something about this loft featured on Berenice Big that I can not tear my eyes away from. I think it's the neon light. Or maybe it's the black walls. Or that bird hiding in the corner. Whatever it is, I want to re-create it, pronto.

Speaking of rooms I'd never want to leave, can we talk about this sunroom re-do featured on A Beautiful Mess? Those pillows. The floors. That painting corner. The lighting! Sigh.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

DIY Scratch Off Map

I love the concept of scratch off maps because I love the checklist aspect. There's just something about being able to look at the map and realize that you've been to all those places that seems so inspiring to me. And if you look at my map, there are so many places left to go! I can't wait to scratch off different states with my family.


2 Identical Maps
Acrylic Paint
Paint Brush
Contact Paper
Graphite Pencil (2b works well)
Washi or Painter's Tape

Step One: Print your maps. 
I went online and found a free map of the United States then printed two copies. It's important that these maps are exactly the same so make sure to print two right away!

Step Two: Paint your map.
I chose to use watercolors to paint the map. I really wanted to create a rainbow effect, and I knew I would be able to see through the finished result. I had printed my maps on thin paper, which worked okay, but putting it on an actual watercolor paper would have has a much smoother finished product.

This is the step where you can get creative. I've seen really pretty versions of this that are gold underneath, and it would be super easy to modify this tutorial and substitute gold paint for the watercolors. You could also put in pictures, doodle on all the states, the possibilities are kind of limitless!

Step Three: Put on the contact paper.
Contact paper is a beast to use, but a little patience will go a long way. While you are waiting for the paint to dry, cut the paper to be a tad bit bigger than the actual map. Now slowly peel the contact paper off, and lay it on your table sticky side up. Carefully place the map so the colorful side is down,  sticking to the contact paper. Flip it over and use a straight edge (like a credit card) to smooth out all the creases and bubbles.

Step Four: Coloring time!
This step will see a bit tedious, but it is key if you want to be able to easily scratch off your map. Basically, anywhere you cover with wax will make it a hundred times easier to scratch off the paint. So try to color the whole map, staying in the lines as much as possible.

Step Five: Paint.
Now it's time to paint over everything you just did. This is kind of scary to do, I'm not going to lie, but the end result is worth it! Try to paint close to the edges, but make sure you can still see where the paper ends. You're going to need to be able to line it up with your second map. This step should take about two coats. If you paint isn't working with you, try to add a bit of water.

I used black paint because I like the idea of a bold contrast, but any color should work as long as you pick the right paint and paint enough layers that you can't see the map underneath.

Step Six: Make your second map into tracing paper.
This is a trick I've used since high school when I've wanted to transfer lines to a new sheet of paper. While your paint is drying, flip your second map upside down and use a graphite pencil to heavily color over where the lines are on the other side. As you can see by the picture, you want to make sure you have a thick line. You'll be transferring this graphite directly onto your scratch off map.

Step Seven: Line it up.
Once your painted map is completely dry (about an hour should do it) use washi tape or painter's tape to tape the map you made into tracing paper directly above the painted map. Make sure your corners match as exactly as you can make them line up. You can't actually see the map you're tracing onto, so this little attention to detail is super important

Step Eight: Transfer.
Now it's time to trace those lines! Use a pen or pencil to directly trace around the lines of your map. If you did step six right, the graphite on the underside of the map should transfer, and you should be able to pull the map you are tracing up a bit and see lines beneath it. When you pull the map up, try to leave on as much tape as possible so your papers don't shift. Leave the tape on until you've transferred every single line. If you pull it up and find that you've missed a spot, you can use a pencil to draw the missing line.

Step Nine: Trim and frame. 
Measure out the size of the map you want (I printed my map one 8.5x11 paper, but wanted an 8x10 map), and trim it. scratch off the places you've been to and put it in a frame! I had to put mine behind glass because, as you can see, it's a little wrinkly. 

That's it! You're all done! Now it's time to get travelin so you can scratch off more of that map!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Cake and an Announcment

If you've read this blog long enough you'll know that I've got a huge crush on Katherine Sabbath's cakes. I've always wanted to try my hand at making one, so I decided the other day that life had given me a good enough reason to bake some sort of creative monstrosity. So here's my newest addition to the long line of weird looking baking I've featured on this blog.

The flavor of this cake was actually totally inspired by my go to Cold Stone ice cream order. The inside is two layers of vanilla cake with a layer of Butterfingers in the middle, and the outside is chocolate icing dyed black. The bark is made of white chocolate, with a recipe that I borrowed from Katherine Sabbath's own web page. (Be sure to check it out, it will have you drooling and running to the store to buy white chocolate). As is the tradition with this blog, and my baking in general, it looks a bit odd, but it tastes pretty good.

So I know that it's not strange for the inside of my cakes to be blue. I would dye all my food blue if I could get away with it. BUT this time there's a reason. This time I've dyed the inside of my cake blue specifically to tell the blog world that... It's a BOY!!

Sweet, huh? I can't get over that adorable profile. I've been pregnant for about 5 months now, and things have been going really well so far. I've been lucky enough to not have to deal with morning sickness, and as far as cravings go I have just wanted to eat a lot of cottage cheese, bacon, and fruit. And raspberry lemonade. Oh, and there was a week when I ate a lot of Starbursts.

We are currently working on a remodel of the upstairs so we can fit everyone into our tiny house. So far, as it usually goes with any sort of large scale house project, we've run into more problems than solutions. But we've got four months to work everything out, whether we like it or not! I'm confident that we'll get everything done, and this boy will have the cutest little nursery. 

My husband and I are nervous but excited for our little monster to be born. I can't wait for all the awesome new memories our family will make. Do you have any advice for the upcoming months?

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Why My Table Usually Has A Centerpiece

Short answer: it's not because we are just so fancy.

We were watching an episode of Star Trek the other day where Geordi was trying to convince Data he needed to train his cat. I, being the owner of two head-strong felines myself, chuckled and shook my head. Anyone who lives with a cat will tell you - you might as well try to train a dragon.

My two cats are a great example of perfect cat-i-ness. While absolutely wonderful a lot of the time, they still have those moments where I wonder if maybe they were put on this planet just to drive me insane. Our Russian Blue Stormadeddon (as in Dark Lord of All) is normally so docile and sleepy. Exception being during that magical cat time when their inner clock tells them it's time to MOVE. That's when he runs exactly two high speed laps around our house, or plays a high energy game of floor is lava. The other cat, Odin, is our real problem though. I'd say Stormy is calm 90% of the time. Odin, on the other hand, is not. White, deaf, and with more than a few anxiety issues, when this cat gets riled up he can sound like something straight out of a nightmare, and not even know why we are all glaring at him (Stormy included).

When I say you can't train a cat I might have exaggerated a bit. You can, sort of, train a cat. For example, you can spray it with water every time it gets on the counter, and eventually they'll stop getting on the counter... when you're around. The problem with cats is that they're smart. They figure out sneaky ways to get what they want. But I want to be able to drink without fearing for my drink's life. And to have glass things displayed, and to own nice furniture, and to have a tablecloth stay on the table instead of being jerked off when then cats decide the NEED to run across any available long stretch of clean surface.

So how do I deal with the whole "we can't have nice things" thing? Centerpieces. AKA: finding ways to work with my cats.  So I know my cats are going to tear across the table. It's in their hunting genes, I guess. My solution is to put up a heavy centerpiece and when I come home I just tug the anchored tablecloth back into place. Bonus for added cuteness. All that I want is to display pretty breakable things? Arrange them int a way that makes the surface crowded and unappealing to cats. Furniture looks like you rub on it with a cheese grater? Artistically drape a blanket across it.

I'm not saying this is by any means a perfect system, and often I still want to pull my hair out and lock them into one room for all off eternity. But learning the tricks to make living with these beasts totally worth it. Especially when we are all sitting on the couch and they curl up beside you, tuck their heads underneath their paws, and purr softly.

Yeah. Worth it.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

DIY Faux Fur Covered Stool

This DIY was born out of the need to not pay over $30 for a stool, and the knowledge that I had seen a mid-century modern stool at a ton of thrift stores. I've been looking for a soft accent piece to put into my art/guest room, and every time I made a mood board this stool by A Beautiful Mess kept popping up. I don't really have the time or skills to make a full stool, but make a slip cover for a stool? That's something I can do.

Also I just like the furriness. 

A stool, fur (I used this from Ikea), scissors,
straight pins, thread, measuring tape,
a permanent marker, and sticky pads for the feet.

One: Turn your stool over and trace the outer edge. I had to go around quite a few times to get a good solid line, but with how thick my fur was, I wasn't really worried about the marker bleeding through.

Two: Measure the circumference and length of your stool (or the length you would like your stool to look). 

Three: Time to do some math! In order to fit the circumference of the stool onto my fur, I had to split it in half. I also added an inch to the bottom and sides, to make room for bunches in the fabric and seams. So a long 44" by 6.5" strip became two pieces, both 23" by 7.5".

Four: Measure and draw your sides out. I used the tape measure to measure out dots then connected them to make a straight line.

Five: Time to cut! I found it was easiest if  I cut as close the fabric (beneath the fur) as I could.

Six: Onto pinning. I had to pin together my two pieces first, sew that seam, then pin the long piece to the top.  Before you do anything, though, flip your fabric over and make sure when it's all sewn the fur will all lay the same direction.  While pinning, smooth the fur back away from the edge to make it easier to get the pins in.

Seven:  I hand sewed this whole thing. I doubled up my thread, used an upholstery needle, and settled in to watch some TV. I'm sure that you could use a sewing machine, but I just didn't want to deal with that. Hand sewing gave me more control, and I could problem solve some parts as I went. Note: my hand stitching consists of whatever stitches I think will keep the project together. It is not pretty. It is functional.

Eight: Flip your cover right side out and pull it onto your stool, and that's it!

I was really happy with the outcome of this project, and I think it's great that I can take off this cover and replace it with something else if I feel the urge. You might need to attach a bit of ribbon or elastic to the bottom to keep it on, but I don't see this stool getting a lot of abuse so I just left it as is. The fit is snug enough that I'm not too worried about it shifting. Also, if you can't find a good stool at a thrift shop, I tried the same cover on a stool from Ikea and thought it turned pretty cute too.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Inspire me... Tina St. Claire (tfail)

I wrote about how much I love Tina's work in this post about 4 years ago. Heartbreakingly, Tina passed away in March of last year. She was a multi-faceted artist with many different skills and ideas under her belt, even at such a young age, and I think we still have so much more we can learn from this talented individual. That's why I'm asking her to inspire me again.
Tina's fiance has started an IndieGoGo campaign for a documentary about Tina's life and work. This is an amazing opportunity to not only preserve the work of such a unique artist, but also to ensure that her voice will live on and maybe even thrive in the years ahead. I'm including a link and asking that if you have any interest in the beautiful work of this extremely talented women that you take the time to look at the donation tiers and see if there is any rewards you would be interested in.

Links for Tina St. Claire:

Monday, March 6, 2017

Sketchy Outfits thirty-three, thirty-four, and thirty-five

Outfit 1:
Striped Shirt // Long Green Vest // Jeans // Striped Shoes

Outfit 2:
Black Biker Jacket // Lace Dress // Wet Look Black Leggings // Black Boots

Outfit 3:
Plaid Vest // Black Thermal // Jeans // Black Boots

Monday, February 13, 2017

An Unfortunate Valentine's Day Party

The thing with Valentine's parties and young adults is that more often than not they're single, and the whole thing actually just bums them out. Add that to the overall cringe-y nature of Valentine's Day on a whole, and you've almost created the most anti-teenager holiday ever. I mean, they don't even get out of school for it! What a waste of a perfectly good holiday.

We decided to embrace the overall terribleness of Valentine's Day this year, and threw an "Unfortunate Valentine's Day Party."

To get the party started with a "bang" (or more of a foamy overflow) we played with chemicals and candy hearts. Our initial goal was to see which one would dissolve the fastest.

When that turned out to be a slow and boring process (we should say "watching a candy heart dissolve" instead of "watching paint dry") we decided to mix stuff up and see which had the best reactions. A bit off topic, but always worth it.

When we were satisfied with our experiments we turned our attention to the cringe-iest of all of the cringe-y Valentine's traditions: the Valentine's card. We told them this was their chance to use their best/worst pick up lines, and as much feathers, pom poms, glue and stickers as they could. The one that made us groan the most would be the winner. They all kind of came out looking like something a mom would hang on her fridge, which makes it all the more awesome. We weren't going for professional work here, we were going for speed and tackiness. It was great to see them try to outdo each other, and  I learned a few new pick up lines to try out on my husband.

After we'd had enough of the cheesiness it was game time! We made up this small game that I've lovingly refered to as "CrackShip" in my head. You basically draw two cards from the deck then defend why you think they'd make a good couple. For example: Dracula and Bella Swan would work because she totally had a thing for old vampires. Ironman and Mary Poppins could work because he kinda needs someone to mother him. To keep it library themed I used all book characters (don't forget comic books). I'd also encourage the kids to use humor as part of their arguments. A few laughs go a long way!
If you are re-creating this game, go into with the mind set of the craziest couples that could be made. I personally thought Amelia Bedilia and Captain Underpants would have made a great pair!

Another game we had on standby but didn't have time to use was Celebrity: Couple Edition. We picked out a few famous book couples (Romeo/Juliet, Clary/Jace, Agustus/Hazel, etc.) and wrote them on separate pieces of paper. You pick a couple, tape it to the backs of two participants, and then they have to as yes/no questions to figure out who they are and find their partners. The kids have always loved celebrity, so I'm sure this game would have been a hit, too, if we had had the time!

For snacks we poured red punch into a glass that had food coloring in the bottom, which usually turned the drink into some gross brown color. Perfectly unfortunate, we thought. We also had heart cookies, but told the participants to break them before they ate them. I'm pretty sure they worked out some of their own broken heart aggression on those cookies... but a broken cookie is still good!

All in all, our Valentines Party turned out to be a success. It was nice to give the kids a chance to make fun of something that usually is taken so seriously.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Inspire me... Zim & Zou

Sometimes I look at art and say "wow, that is truly amazing." Then there are the times when I look at art and think "wow, they reached inside my brain and pulled out my dreams and have made the impossible a reality." The work of Zim & Zou does just that.

The bold fun colors coupled with an insane attention to precise and geometrical detail leaves me with the feeling that a robot that just really loves raves is the real face behind these collections. There's something satisfying in straight lines and perfect rectangles, but their more organic-inspired work is just as entrancing. Whether working in paper or fabric, this team's construction is flawless. I can't imagine the number of hours that goes into each single piece, let alone a whole collection. Each detail is another layer of paper, built up to create the textures and patterns that are so enticing. I could spend hours staring at these pieces and still miss some details.

If you'd like to see more of Zim & Zou's work:
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