Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Safe and Sound

One mystery has been solved. No, I didn't find my drawing pens and pencils which I discovered missing a few days ago. I have a feeling I might have put them someplace "safe" before my sister and her family came to visit so that my 4 year old nephew wouldn't be tempted by them.

I may doodle only a couple of times each month but when I do I simply MUST have my drawing pens and pencils. They are an extension of my very essence during that time. If they don't turn up soon I will have to replace them which will be inconvenient and expensive and will pretty much guarantee that I find the original set shortly after replacing them. It will be the airline tickets all over again.

About 15 years ago Jayson and I bought plane tickets to Florida to visit his family and do the Disney World thing. This was back before e-tickets. You could buy plane tickets online but they sent you an actual ticket that you hold in your hand. We bought our tickets several months in advance so we could get a good price. Once they were delivered, I put them in a safe place since we wouldn't need them for quite a while.

About a month before we were due to leave, Jayson asked if I still had the tickets safe and sound. I was sure that I did but I couldn't remember exactly where that safe and sound place was. He and I literally tore up our little house searching for those tickets. This was early in our marriage when Taylor was only about 4 years old and plane tickets were a huge expense for us. We couldn't find them. And believe me, we looked everywhere.

I was extremely upset and felt awful for losing those expensive tickets. My sweet husband wasn't very happy about it but he never yelled at me or blamed me in any way. At least not out loud. After an unfruitful search we decided we would have to go ahead and replace the tickets. We could have waited a while to see if they turned up but we were afraid we might not be able to get the same flight if we waited too long. I think it cost us $75 per ticket to replace all 3 but we coughed it up and did it.

When the new tickets arrived I put them in the top desk drawer and told Jayson where I put them so we wouldn't have to repeat the lost ticket nightmare.

A few days before we were due to leave, Jayson and I were lying in bed talking about the trip and he said something like, "You know where the tickets are, right?" The giant hands of panic gripped my throat as I tried to remember where I put the tickets. I was pretty sure I put them in the desk drawer but I hadn't actually seen them in several weeks.

I bolted out of bed with Jayson on my heels and threw open the desk drawer. The force with which I opened it caused the contents to shift to the back of the drawer then slammed up against the drawer front. I picked up the envelope and with a sigh of relief handed it to Jayson so I could take a breath and regain my composure.

I will never forget Jayson's next words: "Uh honey? These are the original tickets."

Yes, I had just found the tickets we paid to replace and now we couldn't find the replacements. We knew we couldn't use the original tickets because they were voided when we replaced them so not finding the replacement tickets was not an option. Jayson stuck his hand inside the desk drawer and reached up toward the bottom of the desk top. He pulled out another envelope with our replacement tickets inside.

The ticket envelopes were getting snagged on a piece of wood that was attached to the underside of the desk top. So technically it wasn't my fault that I kept losing them. The poorly designed desk was hiding them from me. Totally not my fault.

I would like to say that I never lost anything important after that but that would be a lie. Fortunately I usually manage to find the temporarily misplaced item before too much damage is done. For example, our sweet dog Snappy died just before Christmas. We had her remains cremated and the doggie funeral place gave them back to us in a lovely urn.

About 5 years ago our other dog Pongo died while we were living in Louisiana. We had him cremated as well but there was no doggie funeral place so we got his remains back Cajun style: in a gallon size ziploc baggie wrapped in a paper sack. I was traumatized by having to see his remains which really didn't look any different than what you'd find in the bottom of your fireplace except that they were unusually heavy. Dense, maybe. Anyway I knew I needed to get an urn for him but the whole idea of having to transfer him from his baggie to an urn just turned me inside out so I never really seriously looked for one.

When Snappy died and I saw her nice urn I made a decision to start seriously looking for an urn for Pongo's remains. But...I couldn't remember exactly where those remains were. I knew they made the move from Louisiana to Texas with us because the movers asked what was in the paper sack while they were packing. I explained to them that it was our dog and I assured them that was the only dead body they would come across. Most likely.

Experience taught met that Pongo's temporarily misplaced remains would eventually turn up so I didn't worry about it. I even found a lovely old copper coffee canister to use as his urn. It sat in a closet for several weeks until I found his remains one afternoon while digging through some stuff I had stored in Harry Potter's room (the room under the stairs). Of course then I remembered putting him there several months before. Safe and sound.

Fortunately the canister was large enough so that I didn't have to actually take Pongo's ashes out of the baggie. I just put the whole ziploc bag, still sealed and taped shut, into the canister. He was a perfect fit.

So...FYI, the ashes of one 60 pound dog will fit into a container roughly the size of a coffee canister. Just in case you ever need to know that.

None of what I just said has anything to do with the mystery that was just solved. Over the past year I have pretty much doubled in size like a nice yeasty bread dough. I am also unusually tired and lack more energy than I usually lack. Being narcoleptic I am sleepy 24/7 but tired is not the same as sleepy. At least not in my world. I live in a constant state of sleepy but I'm not always tired, or at least I didn't used to be. Lately I seem to have zero energy and everything I eat goes straight to my already ample caboose. My eating habits haven't changed and I still exercise the same amount I always have which is not at all. I thought these things were probably just more benefits of the perimenopause hell I'm in.

Turns out, my thyroid is out of whack again. I usually have it checked at least once a year but moving during this last year got me all off schedule. My new doctor said my thyroid levels have dropped significantly over the past year and I need to get back on a thyroid replacement. I've taken thyroid pills off and on for about 15 years but I haven't needed them in 6 or 7 years. My last doctor said my "thyroid is trying to go out," as if it was an old air conditioning unit. Sometimes it works fine, sometimes it needs help. It's been a while since it's given me any trouble so it never even occurred to me that it might be the cause of my weight gain, lack of energy and even my perpetual state of hotflashiness. This would have been good to know 30 pounds ago.

So I'm adding one more pill to may daily regiment which includes 8 others. I feel like this is entirely too much medication for someone as youthful as me but bad things happen when I try to eliminate one of them. So here I am a tired, middle aged, forgetful, yeasty-assed, pill popping narcoleptic whose body organs function like a 1973 Pinto. Don't you wish you were me?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Art Car Dreams

A couple of weeks ago I scored a huge box of lace and trim from eBay. In that box was this lovely pompom trim:

The color in the picture is funky, it's actually turquoise. What in the heck am I going to do with THAT? And I have yards and yards and yards of it. As I was contemplating how I might possibly use such a hideous thing, I realized I was staring out my front window, looking at the car that's been parked at the curb exactly half way between our house and our neighbor's house for the past two weeks.

HHmmm. I thought this trim might actually look nice on an art car. I found myself wishing someone had a spare El Camino they would be willing to let me have my way with. I would cover the interior with various patterns of faux fur then trim it out with these classy turquoise pompoms. Of course the look wouldn't be complete without pink fuzzy dice hanging from the rear view mirror. How fun would that be?

I wondered why the car had been parked there so long. No one has touched it as far as I know. I just assumed it belonged to the neighbor but what if he just assumed it belonged to us? Could it be abandoned? That thought hadn't occurred to me before because this is not the kind of neighborhood where one would expect to find an abandoned Bonneville. Not that it's an upscale neighborhood or anything, it's just suburbanly boring.

I did what anyone would do if they happened upon an abandoned car. I looked in the windows to check for dead bodies and I sniffed around the trunk for any signs of decomposition. I used to watch Forensic Files all the time so I know stuff.

I deemed it a corpse-free Bonneville then glanced over at the neighbor's house to see if he was home so I could ask him if the car belonged to him. Alas, he was still at work.

I started to imagine what would happen if the car was abandoned. I'm sure I could have it towed away but what if the owner left it here because he didn't want it anymore? I can't imagine anyone abandoning a car that still runs but I have to assume it still runs because it didn't get here by itself, right? I wondered if the owner would just sign it over to me.

I could have my very own art car. Finally! And I could probably work on it right there at the curb. It's been there a couple of weeks already so it obviously doesn't bother my neighbor and I've barely paid any attention to it until today. I could invite my friends over (just as soon as I make some) to help with the transformation and we could all ride in it in the next art car parade. I can just picture it.

The car would be amazing. Not kitschy or tacky like most art cars, but classy and edgy with just a touch of whimsy. Something along the lines of Magnolia Pearl's vintage Airstream they pull behind their vintage Rolls Royce. I don't have an Airstream or a Rolls Royce but I might have a Bonneville, dang it, and I can glue nice stuff on it too.

I could cut the top off to make it a convertible. I don't know how to do that but I'm sure I could Google it. I would use all the materials that are so popular right now: lots of muslin, old books, dictionary pages, rhinestone brooches out the wazoo, vintage lace (got that covered), jute, and some baker's twine for good measure. It will look like Etsy threw up on my car and it will be fabulous.

I'm gonna be so pissed if that's my neighbor's car.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Stuff I do to avoid doing what really needs to be done.

Well it's been another busy week here at Casa del Verde. Wait, what? It's only Thursday? Good grief, I've wasted a week's worth of time in only 4 days. I'm even more awesome than I thought!

Let's do pictures again so I won't get too wordy.

A couple of weeks ago this was my system for storing lace and trim. I outgrew this system with one eBay purchase.
This is my new lace storage system. I wanted something that would organize *and* display my trims so this works for now. I do tend to change things up quite often.
I've ordered a center support for the curtain rod and I need to collect a few more vintage brooches so I'll have one on each hanger.
Been eyeballing these dead cow skins at IKEA for about a year. The other day I noticed their stash was looking sort of picked over so I decided I'd better grab one before they're gone. Naturally, the one I wanted was on the bottom of the pile that I could not lift on my own. I enlisted the help of a couple of muscular gay guys who were doing some Sunday afternoon shopping.
I put the dead cow skin in my reading nook and I absolutely love it.
Remember this shelf I bought at a thrift store when we first moved here? It's nice and heavy but it was missing the glass shelves that were supposed to be used with it. I suppose I could have had some glass cut to fit but that would have cost more than I paid for the whole thing. Plus, that's just boring.
It's taken me almost a year but I've finally collected enough trays to fill the slots. I would love to have all vintage silver plated trays but was unable to find any that fit within my tight tolerance. The trays had to measure between 15-3/4" and 16" in diameter. Not a fraction more, not a fraction less. And they had to cost under $10 each. It wasn't easy to find trays I half way liked that fit within my specific requirements.
I loaded the shelves with little knick knacks, travel souvenirs and collectibles that I've gathered over the years. What I really need is a curio cabinet but I haven't found just the right one yet. When I do I will once again repurpose these shelves.
While doing some spring cleaning I came across our deceased dog, Pongo, whose remains have been misplaced for several months. When our dog Snappy died at Christmas we had her cremated and she came back to us in that lovely urn on the right. I never had an urn for Pongo. He's been living in a ziploc baggie all this time, bless his heart. Shortly after snappy died I found a container that would make a perfect urn for Pongo but I couldn't remember where I put him. I recently found him safe and sound in Harry Potter's room (the room under the stairs) where I had put him. That's him in the copper coffee canister on the left.
Going back to IKEA tonight to see if they still have this adorable linen cabinet that I desperately need. I didn't get it while I was there over the weekend because I was by myself and there was no way I could have gotten it into the car on my own. It's a discontinued item so it's half price and perfect for what I need. I'm just praying it will still be there tonight when Jayson gets off work. I don't know whose pasty leg that is reflected in the glass. It's certainly not mine, that's for sure.
Also at IKEA I picked up a couple of pairs of really cheap sheers for the family room windows. I miscalculated so I'll grab another package tonight. They're $4.98 for a 2 pack so I might grab extras just in case.
Since I was in a window treatment mode, I changed up the one in our bedroom. I took down the glove valance that nobody but me liked and replaced it with a decorative rod and a long piece of fabric that I got at a thrift store a while back.
I used a pair of gloves and a vintage rhinestone brooch for the tie backs.
The rest of the gloves are now hanging over the window in the back door. I need to pick up a double rod so I can hang a curtain then use the gloves as a valance over it. I like them, dang it, I don't care if no one else does.
This jar began it's life with spaghetti sauce in it but after painting the inside it's now a lovely vase. Taylor's room has a beachy theme so it will go well in there. I made the flowers out of coffee filters that I dyed pink with avocado skins.
I'm making some dictionary page flowers but don't have any immediate plans for what to do with them yet.
These are coffee filter hibiscus flowers that I'm still tweaking.
Hung these little shelves that I had sitting around so my buttons would have a place to live.

We're having house guests next weekend so I'm not going to start any big projects until after they've gone. One thing I need to do is clean out my garage. I know, I keep talking about it and not doing it. I also have a storage cabinet in my art room that is just sitting there empty. That is not acceptable. I need to put it to good use but it's too ugly in its present condition so I'm thinking about painting it or maybe covering it with dictionary pages or fabric or something. That has to be done outside so I just need about 4 days in a row with no rain. Is that too much to ask? Apparently so.

Friday, April 13, 2012

My Week in Pictures

I've had a full busy week this week. Not busy as in I've worked 12 hours a day or saved a life or served the underprivileged or anything like that. But busy as in I fixed one thing then broke two more. I know, it's exhausting being me. I don't know how I do it either.

Here's a pictorial review of my week:

I covered the tops of my button jars with scrapbook paper that matches the color of the buttons inside. Because I wanted to, that's why.
I started decorating some of the old bottles I picked up at Trader's Village. I bought them for next to nothing from a couple of gangsta looking black guys who had a store full of frilly white girl antiques. They were practically giving the stuff away so naturally I assumed it was stolen. I was okay with that and bought all I could carry.

Broke the lid to my apple shaped jar that holds all my ribbon scraps. Then broke a chunk out of Grandma Mable's sugar bowl. My box full of broken stuff to use in a mosaic some day is really filling up.

Bought a box of vintage lace on eBay. Didn't really know why I bought it until later in the week.

Once again thought about the DIY version of this Marjorie Skouras chandelier.

Read through the tutorial online, gathered some supplies, then abandoned them. I decided I need more beads before I can even get started.

Finally repaired and hung this most awesome old mirror I bought at an antique store months ago. The bottom swirlie is broken off and a small piece of the top swirlie is missing.

I sanded the broken part at the bottom to round it off and make it (hopefully) look like it's that way on purpose. Then I matched the finish as best I could. This was difficult because the mirror has gold leafing with a natural patina on it. All I had was craft paint.

Sanded the broken piece at the top and once again matched the finish as best I could. I think it blends well...from a distance.

Took a look at my stash of cards, letters, pictures, home videos, and other memorabilia that needs to be sorted and organized. Somehow. It was too daunting so I pulled out my wedding album so I could scan a few pictures.

This is what I found when I opened the box. The cover of the album was sticky, gooey and practically oozing off.

After further investigation I learned that all of the albums like this from the 80s are destined for the same fate since the (now bankrupt) company that made them used a PVC based material for the cover which breaks down over time. I feel sure it probably gave me cancer too.

I completely removed the oozing cancerous cover, sanded off all traces of it and the glue that held it, then fashioned a new and less toxic cover for my 24 year old wedding pictures.

I used a piece of the leftover fabric that I used to cover my dining room chairs. When I get ready to embellish it I will need that big box of lace I got off eBay earlier in the week. See? Sometimes Karma likes me.

I also did some spring cleaning in the family room but I'm not going to show you what I found under my couch. Let's just say it took me 2 days to recover.

Today I made a shopping list (mostly for Amazon) as a result of my other efforts this week:

1. A lamp kit - Because I want my Marjorie Skouras knock-off chandelier to actually work. Not just sit there and do nothing like the one in the DIY tutorial.

2. A blu-ray player - Because I got rid of the dead surround sound system we had that included a dead DVD player.

3. Discsox sleeves - Because this is the storage system I've decided to use for all of our DVDs, CDs and video games. However I am only buying the sleeves and not the stupid trays that they fit in because the trays are pricey and ugly.  I'm pretty sure I can find something cheap and cute that will hold the sleeves just as well.

4. A car console - Because Jayson has somehow managed to completely tear apart the one that's in his car. Hinges broke, the lid came off and there's foam stuffing coming out of the arm rest. This is what happens if you're like us and drive your cars for 10+ years or until they fall apart around you.

5. Yes! Paste - Because I used up nearly a whole jar when I covered my wedding album. And besides, there was a little mold on the side of the jar so I'm pretty sure it had exceeded its nonexistent freshness date. I just removed the mold and used the rest, just like you would if it was a hunk of good cheese.

Tonight Jayson is taking me to see Blue Like Jazz. I can hardly wait! Most Christian movies are so incredibly cheesy and poorly made that I'm embarrassed for them. There are maybe one or two exceptions but for the most part I find them just this side of awful. Of course the message is always good but I get seriously embarrassed for them in their delivery of that message and I would never consider taking a non-Christian friend to see them. I'm hoping Blue Like Jazz will be different. When Steve Taylor, the director, called me he assured me this would be a different kind of Christian movie and would be something my non-Christian friends could enjoy without feeling like they're being persuaded to join Amway.

Did you see how I did that? Did you see how I so casually brought up the fact that a movie director called me? I'm just THAT cool.

Okay, not really. I made a small donation to save the movie when it was in danger of being scrapped due to a lack of funding. I did that because I absolutely loved the book and I hoped the message in the book would reach even more people if it was on the big screen. Steve Taylor, Don Miller and I think Marshall Allman made a vow to call and personally thank each of the 4000+ backers who saved the movie. I was one of them. They made good on their vow.

They have also vowed to personally call each person who sees the movie then posts a review online and tweets about it. That's right. I will be posting a review and waiting patiently for my phone call so that I can tell all my Facebook friends that Donald Miller is my BFF. I'm pretty sure he'll back me up since there may come a day when he'll need another 25 bucks from me.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Silk Tie Dyed Eggs Part Deux

Last year was my first attempt at dying eggs with scraps of silk. You can read about it here. I was really happy with the results even though I used the silk ties I had on hand (which were the ones in my husband's closet) and they weren't very colorful.

Since then I've been collecting brightly colored silk ties and scarves when I can find them for under $1 at the thrift stores.

I've also been thinking about the technique and wondering if there were any ways to improve on it. I wondered if it was really necessary to wrap your silk wrapped egg in a scrap of white fabric before boiling it. This is done to help hold the silk tightly against the egg since the pattern will only transfer when there is snug, direct contact with the egg surface. It is also done to prevent the darker dyes from bleeding onto the lighter eggs. 

I split my eggs into 2 batches this year so I could do some testing on the first batch.  I won't go into detailed instructions since you can read those on my post from last year or on Martha Stewart's website. It's really quite simple and gives you stunning results. And I like that you cook and color your eggs all at the same time. And yes, your eggs will be completely edible.

One thing I learned last year is the importance of making sure the right side of the silk touches the egg as much as possible. Because of the shape of the egg you won't get complete contact all the way around but you can get close. And those undyed "wrinkle" spots are what gives the egg character. If the pattern transferred exactly then it would look like the egg had been decoupaged and if you want an egg to look decoupaged, why not just decoupage it right?

I thought a good way to hold the silk snug against the egg might to be put it inside a panty ho. Just one is a panty ho. Two would be a pair of panty hose. That's how it works at my house. Since I am anti-pantyhose I had to run to the store to grab a box of cheap knee high hose. I think mine came with 10 pairs which is 20 hose and each can be cut in half so that was enough to do all 3 dozen of my eggs.

I wrapped my egg in silk then slipped it inside the panty ho (Can you tell I enjoy saying that?) then made a tight knot right up against the egg. You'll want to twist the ho as if you were tying off a balloon. Make sense?

The picture shows my panty hoed egg lying on the scrap of fabric that I used for last year's eggs. Since this was my experimental batch I did not use the fabric. I just placed my eggs in a pot, added water and vinegar then cooked them till they were done the way I like them.

While your eggs are simmering you can tear some colorful pages out of a magazine, cut them into skinny strips and curl them like curling ribbon. This makes a nice Easter "grass" to line your basket or bowl or whatever you use to display or store your eggs. We do eat our eggs so I always try to use a container that is fridge friendly. This year I just reused the cartons so I could stack them back in the fridge. 

When my eggs were done the water had turned dark blue from the dyes which made me think I should have used the white fabric like Martha told me to. But when I unwrapped my eggs they were perfect! I couldn't see that the dark dye from the water had deposited on any of the other eggs. And the panty hose did a great job of holding the silk snug against the egg. Take THAT Martha!

The picture below shows both batches of my eggs. My first batch is at the bottom and the second batch is at the top.

Another experiment I tried this year was to see if you can really reuse the same scraps of silk more than once. I was skeptical but I took the silk that had just come off the first batch of eggs and used it to wrap my second batch. In the process I learned a few things:

1. Wet silk stinks, don't sniff it.
2. When the silk is wet it is difficult to tell which side is the right side. Either I guess right every time or either side will work.
3. It is easier to wrap an egg in wet silk than dry silk. The wet silk clings to the egg.
4. There was very little difference between my first batch of eggs and the second generation eggs where I reused the silk. In fact, I think I could get another batch or two out of those same scraps.

So there you have it. And now I have another year to collect more pretty silk or to obsess over a different dying technique. In the mean time, enjoy these close-ups:

First generation egg on the left, second generation egg from the same piece of silk on the right.

My favorite egg.

My second favorite egg.

Not sure what happened here but still kinda cool looking.

He Is Risen.