Tuesday, December 30, 2014

DIY Ornament storage

I woke up this morning with the distinct thought 'I'm going to be moving this summer!' (What ever that means). 

Being on break, I have a little more time to get things sorted and then put away, rather than trying to do it after work and driving my family crazy, and since it's Christmas and it's out and has to be put away, I thought well, why not get started putting Christmas things together? Because the last time I moved, everything went to my apartment piecemeal as I discovered I needed/wanted it, and was a giant mess to pack back up again. Not. This. Time. This time I will be prepared. 

So I did a Google search. Looked under images; DIY. And turned up several DIY storage solutions. Some included cutting cardboard strips and making cells [frankly I haven't the patience...] one involved dowel rods that slip in and out of hiles drilled into the ends of a storage tote [I still don't have a drill or bits...] and several involved using plastic cups. 

Because we didn't throw a holiday party and have plastic cups laying around. Right? In truth, actually, we didn't, and we didn't get high ticket came-in-a-giant-cardboard-box items either. SO. I went to the store this morning and came back with 

  • qty 2 sleeves of heavy duty plastic cups [16oz, ~$3 each]
  • qty 2 flippy top bins [~$7 ea] in Christmas colors. Which weren't on sale. Yet.
  • qty 2 foam core boards, 20x30 inches, by 3/16[?]  [~$2 ea] in white. because it was cheaper than black, or buying a cardboard display trifold or box.
Things we had at home that I wish I would have known we had but I bought anyway were:
  • qty 1 high temp hot glue gun, fun size [~$6]
  • qty 2 glue sticks for  the fun size glue gun [~$1 per package]
Things that I already had at the house that were super helpful:
  • rotary cutter and mat
  • utility knife
  • gosgrain ribbon, ~1/2" wide, cut into [qty 4] 9" strips
  • some 9oz red cups that were smaller and slimmer than the 16oz, and filled in gaps nicely [waste not]

Things that, had I been thinking, might have been a good idea to scrounge for, at home or the store:
  • those 6oz crystal clear plastic cups you drink punch out of at parties. They're the perfect size for most bulbs

Bought a tub with straight sides, no fru fru indentations for hand holds all the way down the sides. This would have saved myself a ton of trouble trimming to fit. I was also thinking jeez, how big a box do I want to be wrangling next Christmas? A ginormous one? Or several smaller one. Small wins.

On another note, I ended up running out of clear cups. So rather than glue the remnants of 9oz red cups to the top board of the second box, I just left it empty, and filled cups in along the two long sides of the rectangle. I have small stuff I keep in egg cartons; they should fit in there nicely. Also, there is just enough clearance above the two tiers of trays that I should be able to pad the top with seasonal linens; the tree skirt I keep meaning to make, the stockings, those sorts of things.

There was a lot of trial and error cutting, getting the first piece of foam core to fit into the bottom of the first bin. A lot. So for the second go round, since both bins are the same size, I traced the two bottoms, upper and lower tiers, onto the other piece of foam core and cut away. I also discovered it was better to put the base into the bin, put glue on the bottom of a cup and press it down than try to glue outside of the box - I had a much better idea of where to put the cups to get as many onto the board as possible. [hence the tinier red cups, to fill wasted space].

This would have been the part where I stood back and admired my handiwork.

Then I realised I had a bit of a problem. [This is after all the cups have been glued down to the boards, and are sitting in the boxes] My brain said: these boards will be full of ornaments, and therefor heavier than they are now. Trying to pick the boards up from the bottom of the box by the cups might result in cups tearing off. Fix it now.

This is where the pieces of ribbon came in. Like cupboard handles or a dresser knob, they're there to help lift the tray out of the bottom so that the cups don't rip off while you're struggling a full tray out of the box. Two really healthy globs of hot glue on either long end and some gentle pressure. Those puppys aren't going anywhere. 

Now I find myself asking, was that really cheaper than buying the special box? Eh, probably not, but I know now what I will be saving through the year to sort and fix my mother's ornament boxes up. 

Some of the really tiny ornaments we store in old, labled egg cartons [in a box that holds other things], and no doubt will continue to do so. But for now, when it comes time for me to fly the coop, I will know exactly where to find Christmas. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Awesome in a stand

A friend just dropped this off at my parent's house for me... At first, I want sure what it was, and then she opened it up...

And my jaw hit the floor. Her mom saw something like it years ago and her dad built it. They created a fabric panel for both sides, which does cut down on the weight of the case, but I'm guessing it's at least 40 years old, just dating the fabric. 

Closed, it's 36 1/2 inches tall, 16 1/2 inches long and 6 inches deep, with 3  interior shelves on each side, for a total of 6. It's a basic box construction, except that instead of being flush with the ground, the bottom sits up about 3 inches, giving the case feet. 

Today, I ripped the fabric off the back, pulled out all the tacks and fabric, and began priming it. The fabric is dryrotted and smells a little musty, so it's time for a change. There was no sanding, just priming. In the basement. With a window cracked (I know, super intelligent...)

The lighting down in the basement is terrible... 
It's been painted a pale blue, the bottom shelf raspberry. The bottom pocket is a little off, but not enought for me to want to rip the tacks out and readjust it. 
The fabric on the back is upholstery grade, the interior is a twill and a light weight canvas. 
Of course, I got it all set up on the vanity where I sew and the machine decided to quit working. But it's ready to go, and it's been a fabulous place to store the fabric for and finished Christmas presents I was sewing. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

June July and August

And that's three more for the road. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pony paradise.

Beware of little girls and my little pony.
Of course, I was one of those little girls, once upon a time... Oh, who am I kidding?

 Dire consequences have been threatened if ponies are gifted to children of my acquaintance, consequences for the ponies anyway. But really. I wouldn't do that. The ponies don't deserve that. As of late, much fun has been had in lining up the ponies for a 'Miss Equestria' competition. Similar fun was had making custom ponies from Fauxnies found at the thrift store. 

For example, this little blue Fauxnie was turned into a Percy Jackson. He's a little runty compared to the other ponies, and the girls are quick to point out that his hooves don't look like the other boy ponies.

This was my first ever attempt at creating a custom pony, though I have a lot of first generation '80's ponies picked up at garage sales in my youth that could be considered bait, or prime candidates for makeover. We got acrylic paint from the craft show, and I got some translucent polymer clay, and baked the clay on the pony as other customizers have suggested (which worked out pretty well) and then painted over the clay prosthetics with several slightly thinned layers of acrylic.

And by bake, I mean guy went into the oven at what ever the bake temp on the packet recommended for the length of time recommended, while I hovered at the oven door, watching for singed blue hair.  And those hooves aren't going anywhere. :D

Monday, July 21, 2014

Bicycle! Bicycle! I want to ride my bicycle!

I have a bicycle. It. And it fits in my car. Words cannot describe how excited I am about this. It fits in my car! It's in my car. It is a six speed Dahon Boardwalk.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Stoplights of Pittsburgh

Downtown. Forbes and [Something]
Near Children's Hospital in Garfield/Bloomfield

Pittsburgh Arsenal School, 40th and Butler
62nd Street Bridge and Butler
Ellsworth Ave, East Liberty
UPMC Building, Downtown, Chatham Square

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S between December 15th, 2013[ish] and February 2014. I can't believe we had rain this winter. It's possible that was from the fall...

Thursday, June 5, 2014


Example A: String Theory or wibley-wobley timey wimey stuff

 Current project. Just Improvising.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Cucumber soup

So yes, those are deseeded cucumbers. A friend made this soup that I found so amazing - and apparently, has a slightly aquired taste - that I had to make some for me. Because the temperatures are skyrocketing and I wanted something cold.

Technically I think it should be called a gazpacho

This makes a lot. And by a lot I mean at least a half a gallon.

Basic ingredients*:
3 cups yogurt 
2 cups chicken stock 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
3 medium cucumbers
   Peeled, deseeded and cubed
(Basic garden-variety cucumbers, not the fancy pants English cucumbers that you don't have to peel or seed. But timesaver, though, if you can get them)
1 cup sour cream
4 scallions plus tops, minced (omit if garnishing with mint)
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Garnish (optional):

Combine yogurt, chicken stock and sour cream; mix until well blended. Add salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic, scallions, cucumbers. Blend well. 

Garnish as you please. 

* I used non-fat Greek yogurt because it's thicker than the other kind, and nonfat because well, that's what I grabbed. I also used low fat sour cream and a reduced sodium chicken broth that was also fat-free. But not the same brand featured in picture because, well that container was already in trash.

Monday, April 7, 2014

String theory

At the quilt show last  year I bought this bag of scraps that included stings of skinny strips that had been sewn together. My initial impression was to make a wall hanging. Except that, inevitably, I ended up saving my own skinny strips... because a string quilt would be great. Add it to the bucket list.

I have a friend who has made it her goal to be able to pack her life in her station wagen. At the time of that conversation, I knew I had a lot of stuff in my place. I knew there was no way I could pack my life into my new car. To that end, I've been trying not to buy extraneous things, and weed through my life - if something comes, something must go. As for new fabric, I'm trying not to buy any, to use what I have laying around to finish a project [she says as she comes home from this years quilt show with about 8 yards of assorted shirting material...] I did not come home with 8 new spools of ribbon... I'm quite proud of this.

 But seriously. Quilts travel better than fabric. I did buy the grey, to tie it all together; everything else is pulled out of storage or left over from previous projects. This does, however, mean that I am in desperate need of thread. Spools of thread are small though.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

3RQG show 2014

'In the Drink' 22x31 Beth Conlin, PGh, Pa

'Cats having Fun' 70x70, S. Schmeltz, Pgh, Pa

'Cat in the Hat' 60.5x63 S. Schmeltz, Pgh, Pa

"Twinkle, twinkle' 38x51 Lauren Jonkman, Pgh, Pa

'The Little Dipper'  54x 54 Deborah Swoyer, Eighty Four, Pa

'Broken Dishes' 100x110 Kathleen Kucerovy, Pgh, Pa


'Ring of Stars' Sharon Hanson, McKeesport, PA

'Emerald Spring' 84x84 Rita Palic, Monaca, PA

'Earth and twig' 41x43 Gerri Bobnar, Jeannette, PA

'Periodic table' 95x65 Beth Conlin

Friday, March 21, 2014

Doll hospital.

All the nekkid baby dolls have found their way to the nursery. Also know as doll Gitmo. Children are unkind to the dolls here... Unless there's a new sibling coming, at which time the child in question is very careful about how to hold a doll, and said child will usually be found rummaging in the diapers because 'baby needs change'. (This lasts about a month)

Otherwise... These dolls never stood a chance. From the 'bad' doll who had an arm almost ripped off to every baby held upside down while someone tried to snip off their fake eyelashes with the safety scissors they managed to squirrel away from the supply cabinet. No chance. At all. 

After working there for about a month and a half, I got very tired of nekkid dolls. So one by one they disappear from the nursery for a bath, surgery if necessary, and a fitting. 
The dress pattern for the two dolls [left] is from Ravelry; it's the Kaia Baby Dolly pattern by Rachel Evans.
The sweater didn't turn out the way the pattern and accompanying picture suggested it would... this could have been me missing some stitches somewhere. It's called Ribbed Baby Jacket by Debbie Bliss. Both patterns are free ravelry downloads.