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Mirror, Mirror

21 Mar

Remember me telling you I had to take the vanity out of our bedroom to make a spot for Baby’s bassinet?  Well, because the vanity was 50+ years old and in baaaaad shape (think: badly peeling veneer that would require professional help to make it look nice again), we ended up donating it.  We couldn’t, however, find it in our bones to part with the vanity mirror:

The mirror measures 36×38 inches, and since the part that actually attached it to the back of the vanity busted about ten years ago, we didn’t feel bad separating the two.  Space being at a premium here in the high rise, there was really only one place to put this awesome guy… right smack in the middle of the living room.

Hey! Someone put a vanity mirror in the living room!

The good news: we can now see the planes at Reagan National taking off from a whole new angle.

The bad news: it looked like we took the mirror out of our bedroom and put it in the middle of the living room.  <sigh>

The interesting news: my moM came for a visit to help me get the nursery set up and suggested…

Tiles!

I’ll admit I was skeptical, especially when we priced out said tiles and estimated the cost of upgrading the mirror to be around $50.  THEN we found these tiles in shades of blues, whites, and creams.  They weren’t tagged, so we asked a lovely man named Raaj how much they were.  He took one look at us – my giant belly and I, my moM, and my godMother, and said, “For you?  One penny!”

SCHWHAT?!?!  Turns out we’d inadvertently chosen a discontinued style of which there were only four slates left.  Turns out Raaj actually walked us to the check-out, then handed the cashier a nickel out of his own pocket, saying, “Who says a nickel doesn’t go far today?” Turns out Raaj is the nicest Home Depot Guy in the universe!  Hooray, Raaj!

Thanks, Raaj!

After we thanked Raaj about a zillion times he wished us luck and we were on our way.  Wherever you are, Raaj, you have excellent karma!  =)

So, for the price of some gas and a few swollen limbs (which calmed themselves down after a few large glasses of water and some rest), we were in business!

The original plan was to glue each tile to the mirror individually to avoid grout, BUT…all those teeny glass tiles are actually connected to each other via a mesh backing, so instead of having to place and attach each tile individually, I just cut the mesh to the size “frame” I wanted, which ended up being 3×3.

The up side of this strategy:  it only took a few minutes to arrange and attach the tiles (versus what I predicted to be HOURS had I glued each tile individually)

The down side of this strategy: My next choice was to either live with visible mesh backing or invest in some grout, which I doubted Raaj was going to donate to the cause.

Simple White Grout.

Turns out grouting tile is fast, easy, and super fun. I had a bit of trouble with the edges, which I’m still tweaking, but after watching a few You Tube videos I was a grouting champ! The most difficult part was the timing – I had to be careful to wait long enough for the grout to set between the tiles, but not so long that the grout would set ON TOP of the tiles.  It made me nervous to see all those pretty tiles covered in drying grout, but as you can see they cleaned up nicely with just some hot water & a rag.

Here’s what the finished project looks like:

Would you look at that?!  Instead of a bedroom mirror, Husband and I now have a living room mirror!  I wish we had a fire place mantle to rest it on, but until then it looks pretty good to me.  The best part is that the tiles not only match the living room, but they also match our bedroom colors, so if I ever decide to put it back in the bedroom it’ll still work!  Yay!  There’s a small, nagging voice in the back of my mind telling me I’ve traded my bedroom mirror for a swimming pool mirror, but I think that’ll pass once I get used to looking at it.  All in all I’m happy with how it turned out, and I’d do it again!

Total investment: $15 for the grout, a few days of a giant mess on the dining room table, and some cranky cats who got banished to the back room during the grouting process.  Worth it?  Definitely!  (Plus, when a girl’s fingers are so swollen she can’t crochet she’s got to do SOMETHING, right?)

And one more time, THANK YOU, RAAJ, WHEREVER YOU ARE!

My Poor, Poor Fingers!

18 Mar

If you ask my doctor I’ll be 35 weeks pregnant next week.  If you ask my sister’s doctor (who counts differently), I’ll be 36 weeks pregnant next week.  Either way, my belly is swollen, my shoes don’t fit, and my poor little fingers haven’t been able to tolerate more than ten or so minutes worth of hookery lately.  Boo.

I miss you, yarn!

Solution?  Some non-yarny crafts!  I know, I know – they’re not nearly as awesome (or as dragony) as I’d like, but until my fingers stop looking like hot dogs it’s the best I can do.

So.  Check this out:  An old, ugly cork board I inherited from my brother when he went away to college (in 1998), a pillow case that didn’t fit any of the pillows in my house, and various & sundry craft supplies!

ok, so there's a little bit of yarn.  *grin*

The only logical thing to do was to use my crafting superpowers to somehow turn this pile of crap…err… craft supplies… into a useful item: one of those quilted picture board thingies that all the frou-frou Cornflake Girls like to make.

Step Two: slit the seams of the old pillow case, cover the batting & pull it tight around the edges, then hot glue gun it to the back of the cork board. Try not to hot glue your fingers to the cork board (also difficult).

Step Three: do some measuring & string some -gasp- yarn evenly to create a quilty pattern. I'd tell you my measurements, but unless my cork board is the exact same size as yours it really won't help. Just make sure it's even.

I’m pretty sure the frou-frou crafty Cornflake Girls would have used some sort of fabulous ribbon for the stringing, but, well.  I never was a Cornflake Girl, so… black hemp yarn it is!  If you look closely you’ll also see that I actually drove tiny nails the entire way through the cork board to mark each cross-over.  I could do that because it was soft cork, and I recommend it if you use a pillow case with any sort of straight line pattern (like mine).  I *did* drive the nails the entire way through the cork, and here’s why:

Because Nina! Yay!

Uhh, I mean… because of the buttons.

Step Four: Sew a button over each cross-over on the board, making sure your yarn (or thread) goes the entire way through the cork board and contains both sides of the yarn you've already strung. In other words, don't just sew the button to the top of the pillow case or it won't work.

If you do the sewing right you’re going to either need a thimble or some serious finger first-aid.  I recommend the thimble.  Finished product:

It's my boy!

I sacrificed my vanity to make room for a bassinet in Husband & I’s bedroom, so the trade-off is this new creation… a cool place to display the pictures and whatnots that used to be attached to the sides of my vanity mirror!  Hooray!

Two quick notes:

1: I couldn’t just toss the pillow case because my moM made it for me.  When I went away to college she made me a t-shirt quilt with all the shirts I’d acquired from various musicals, plays, and other high school events.  The back of the quilt is made of the two fabrics you see in the picture – a dark blue with glitter and the little rain squares.  FUN!  I used the pillow & quilt the whole way through college, and still use the quilt to snuggle up in when I’m feeling sick.  The pillow part of the pillow wore out, but I couldn’t just throw the case away now, could I?

2: You’re going to love what I did to the vanity mirror… stay tuned for a new post soon!

I’m Clean!

7 Mar

…AND I’m writing a post that has nothing to do with dragons!  Aren’t you proud of me?  *grin*

 

Husband and I decided to learn how to make our own soap.  It seemed like an integral part of our Zombiepocalypse plan, plus Husband got a really cool how-to book for Christmas we were just itching to try out.

Step One: Put on the apron, pour a scotch, and read the instructions.

 

We’re not talking about craft-store soap-making, either (ie: it was a bit more complicated than buying a brick of soap, melting it in the microwave, and then pouring it into tiny molds).  We made what’s called Cold Process Soap, which you too can make with a few simple household ingredients!

Coconut Oil, Safflower Oil, Canola Oil, & Olive Oil

We also needed some Lye (which we found quite easily in the plumbing section of our local hardware store), some turmeric, these little guys:

and some basic kitchen & safety gear.

glass containers, a kitchen scale, immersion blender, measuring cups & spatulas, OH MY!

 

Basic Safety Gear: goggles, face mask, gloves, long sleeves, &, of course, scotch.

 

Because there’s a tiny person in my belly I got to do all of the not-fun stuff and none of the fun stuff (ie: I had to wear all my safety gear, but wasn’t allowed near the lye during the chemical reactions.  Boo).  I actually got relegated to the kitchen & had to utilize the zoom feature on my camera to its fullest extent.

Measure ALL THE THINGS!

Essentially, Husband got to measure & mix the different oils & lye while I stood in the kitchen looking up possibly lethal chemical reactions on my iPad (Husband even made us open every window in the house just to be sure I wouldn’t actually inhale anything noxious… isn’t he sweet?).

A slight panic ensued when we forgot to check that the immersion blender was made of stainless steel instead of aluminum. Thankfully, the blender was steel & we didn't accidentally release any toxic chemicals.

 

The lye-and-oil reaction takes a full 24 hours to complete, so the most annoying part of the process was that I couldn’t touch any of the tools we used (or clean anything up, eesh!) until the next day.

Almost ready for the molds!

 

In the mold! (We added some turmeric to give the soap a more yellow color).

 

The next step involved letting the soap cure for a few days, then popping it out of the mold & stacking it to “age” for about a month.  When you’re waiting for your first ever batch of handmade, homemade, zombie-friendly Lemongrass & Turmeric soap, a month feels like FOREVER.

The good news: We put these bad boys on top of a bookshelf right by the front door, so we were greeted with the delicious scent of Lemongrass every time we came home!

 

After the eternal month of waitingness ended, I took out my trusty vegetable peeler & prettified these little bars of soap.  I had a cup of shavings left over that I was *supposed* to put in a crock pot, melt down, and remold.  I instead tried to microwave them a-la the easy craft store soap-making technique.  I ended up with a cup full of fail.  Lesson learned!  If it was okay to microwave, the instructions would have told me to microwave!

Oops.

 

The end result:  A pretty little batch of these guys, which we shared with family and friends:

Perfect!

 

(We saved 3 bars for ourselves, and MAN are they awesome – lovely lather, deliciously hydrating, and they smell AH-MAZING!  I can’t wait to make the next batch!)

 

Here’s the book we used:

https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=opi5rx2XRc0C

And here’s some cool info about Cold Process Soap:

http://www.soap-making-resource.com/cold-process-soap-making.html