Thursday, January 31, 2008

Now and Then

Things kids have today that I didn't:
Permission to call adults by their first names
Booster seats (car seats, for that matter)
Bicycle helmets
Routine Influenza Vaccine
Risky internet sites
Terror drills at school
Chicken Pox Shots
College savings accounts
Mainstream rap
American Girl dolls
5 food groups
Parents who have to explain why their teen idols are pregnant
An understanding of salary, and who makes what; an awareness of cost/price
The greenhouse effect
Razor scooters
Things I had that kids today don't:
oral Polio vaccine
chicken pox
unscheduled time after school
commodore 64
smallpox vaccine (well, not me, but right before me)
prescription dimetapp
Schoolhouse rock on Saturday morning
no-name sneakers
Jordache jeans
eight track player
cassette player/boom box
abilitiy to record music off the radio
Creature double feature on Saturday afternoons
Spanning the generations:
Mr. Potato Head
Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine
Stranger Danger
Children's music albums
Fear of the elementary school principal
Snow days
School bus seat hierarchy
Trick or treating
Ear infections
Strawberry shortcake and friends
Barbie et al.
Chuck Taylors
Mickey Mouse
Summer vacation
Kickball games
Just a quick off-the-cuff list, no deep hidden meanings, just me stretching my memory. Feel free to add some of your own!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Nothing but work for the past few days, so no new creations and no exciting stories. All windows intact. I've been entertaining myself by reading some blogsites I stumbled upon, postsecret and
Still catching up with my camera, these are some of the bracelets I made as Christmas presents: "cousins bracelets" for all of the girls, made up of all of the cousins' birthstones, including turqoise, fresh water pearls, and Swarovski crystals for the rest (I couldn't afford diamonds...) with little silver toggles. The girls seemed to like them; they are pretty sparkly, after all. I made some bracelets for adults, with fresh water pearls and garnets, and fresh water pearls and pink Swarovski crystals. I like the results.

I find that making beaded jewelry is therapeutic, definitely calming. I always lose track of time when I work with beads. I think a lot of crafts are like that, probably why crafting is so popular.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Mantel Accomplished.

The mantel is finished, the mantel is finished!

This surprises me: usually my painting jobs take at least twice as long as I plan for. Or longer. Generally it depends on whether or not I lose interest and stop in the middle of the painting to start some other more interesting thing. (Generally not painting.)

I like it. I'm a little surprised at how different it actually looks; after all, there was only a small amount of the maroon paint, really. It's a little...bland? Cold? There isn't much contrast there. So now I have to go buy some accessories for the mantel. Such a pity, to have to go shopping.

But I'm happy with it, and even more importantly, I'm done with it. So on to the next project, and I can't decide if I will start sewing drapes or repaint the kitchen table and chairs. Both seem like they will take a long time, and the kitchen table thing seems like it will negatively impact our lives--plus, it's too cold to strip/sand outside, and I'm not feeling that amenable to cleaning up after making that kind of a mess. We'll see.

And here is some broken glass. Not just any broken glass; this is car rear window broken glass. Not actually a big deal to me, but for some reason it was a major crisis for some of the younger members of the family. Yesterday, stopped and waiting to turn onto the highway from the gas station, car loaded with the whole family, there was a very loud POP! and, looking in the rear view mirror, I saw a very different looking rear window; glitter, with a ragged hole in the middle. So out I pop, to see what piece of ice must have fallen through the window, but nothing had fallen, and luckily for me, there was also no sniper (pardon my paranoia, I blame it on my upbringing,) so off I drove to home, with one shrieking child claiming emotional distress. Lots of drama. Typical, I suppose, for the ages involved. And today it was replaced, just like that, insurance not a problem. It seemed so unusual to not have to jump through hoops to get the car fixed! Very nice.

And here is some more glass. Just for fun. Playing around with the camera. Kind of looks like something organic. No drama here!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The "New" Cushions

These are the cushions I've mentioned in the past. I finished them up last month but only now am getting them photographed and on-line. And that's because I just figured out how to put photos on-line. How ridiculous.

I rescued two chairs and a couch from the attic of my parents' shed. They got the furniture in the late 1960's or early 1970's, and I remember them being used in their sunporch and later on an (honest-to-goodness) back porch. The original cushions were relatively shredded when I finally found them, so I couldn't save them; the pattern was really cool: a seventies flowers pattern in timely yellows, oranges and greens. I tried to mimic the colors in my new fabric, without getting too dated or retro.

I bleached and scrubbed everything, attempted to replace some rusted clamps (although I really need a tool and dye maker to replicate the originals; haven't gotten around to that yet,) and removed an awful lot of random tape products (masking, duck, packing...) that were holding various pieces together and acting as anti-mar devices on the "feet". I used the various furniture pieces as templates to cut the foam for the cushions, and then used the cut foam as a template for the fabric. For the seat, 3 inch foam, for the back, 1 inch foam. The fabric is a fade-resistant canvas that was really easy to work with (this coming from a non-seamstress, take it as you will...) and now they're done, after a bunch of starts and stops for various other projects, work deadlines, school deadlines, etc.

The chairs are great, but the couch is fantastic for a nap in the sunshine. I'm really pleased with how everything turned out. And now with a new rug, a table and chairs and some wall sconces, the room is pretty inviting. All that's left are the window treatments. My downfall, of course. We lived in the last house for eight years and finally had the downstairs windows covered the year before we moved. So I'm pretty sure it'll be a while before anything graces the windows here. I've got those living room drapes to do first, anyway.

Today is a painting day, the fireplace mantel. It's a lovely creamy white with an icky maroon color painted onto the front and inner aspects of the mantel. I'm repainting the whole thing with Benjamin Moore Atrium White in the pearl finish. I wonder how long this will take. I'm sure to complain about it soon!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Birthday Cake

Trac tor Cake!

Here's the birthday cake I'd been working on. I ran out of steam (and time) so I didn't really get to finish up the details as I should have; there are some ragged edges, etc., but I got my point across and the birthday boy loved it!
I used chocolate cake for the base, and then made 3 loaves of vanilla pound cake to stack and shape into the actual tractor. The back wheels are bagels, which were a little heavy and were therefore a bit difficult to keep attached to the tractor, and the front wheels are mini-donuts. I used a buttercream recipe to seal the cakes, do the writing, and act as an adhesive, and a marshmallow fondant that is really easy to use. I got both recipes from here. The smokestack is a straw wrapped in fondant. The whole cake held up very well, and was perfect for the John Deere themed party. It took me about 6 hours, which are hours with kids asking to help and to look. So not too bad overall. If I did it again, I'd wrap my cardboard with tinfoil, maybe use big donuts for the back wheels, as they are lighter than the bagels, and use a candle instead of a straw for the smokestack. (My husband's idea.) The next cakes won't be needed until April, so I have some time to far, Disney princesses have been requested. Maybe a castle will work.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Happy New Year...

Well, at least it's still the first month of the new year. Not that it actually seems new anymore. My January has been packed full: of social events (don't get interested, we're talking about kid's birthday parties, brunches, family visits...) work overload, work crises, getting to know new family members, trying to get back into the swing of our regular routine, and of course it's the dead of winter, so there is not enough sun and alot more general crankiness then, say, midsummer at the beach. (I wonder if people in warmer parts of the world are happier, or if it all averages out?) So all this busy-ness has made the new year seem, well, old.
Work generally has been outrageously busy, which is to be expected, as the workload is definitely seasonal, but this year, there is alot of unhappiness and disagreement among my colleagues. (Pertaining to work decisions.) Initially, it was easily dealable, but lately, as there continues to be no end in site to the bickering and lack of compromise, I, usually pretty mellow on the work colleague spectrum, am becoming FED UP! That's probably my unconscious reason for blogging today--I really need to vent. I don't even need to go into details--I need to complain about the lack of respect I am receiving; I need to complain about a lack of politeness among colleagues and among bosses and workers, a lack of kindness among colleagues; and an inability to separate personal feelings from business professionalism. I need to complain about back stabbing even though it's such a cliche; about inability to let go of grudges based on real or imagined insults; and how about dishonesty, while we're at it, although that complaint doesn't necessarily have to do with what's happening at MY job.
Whew...only a few weeks into the new year and the need to vent...not a very good sign. But now I feel better.
This year I am going to really try to use my creativity and maybe improve my artistic abilities. It's definitely therapeutic. I'd love to take some sort of art course, learn the basics of watercolor or sketching or something...but I just don't have the time right now--adding something would take away time I need at home. So I've been encouraged by reading some crafting blogs (thank you tweetness, Posie gets Cozy, Shim and sons) to start crafting on my own. I've mentioned the sun porch pillows, which are actually completed, and with my new digital camera, I'll hopefully soon learn how to upload photos and be able to show them off. I made a really cute tractor cake (pat pat on my back) for a little kid birthday party and took some pictures, too. My next project? Well, I've got quite a list, some more creative than others: paint two bedrooms (definitely will try to be task supervisor for those), bathroom needs painting, so does the ceiling in there; but NOT MORE WHITE! I just bought some awesome chocolate brown dupioni silk. We moved in last year and are definitely really slow about making decisions about updates, etc, so I am finally planning to work on some drapes. I've got nice cream dupioni silk drapes, but they're from the old house, and are about 18 inches too short. So I'm planning to add some of the brown (Maybe 4 inches) to the top, and about 15 inches on the bottom. I'm not much of a seamstress, I took sewing in 6th and 7th grade, and that's it. So we'll see.
I'll take any advice available, on any of the above issues, by the way!

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