Monday, November 25, 2013

Dare to DIY: Grateful Sign

I came across this challenge to DIY for the holidays and since I don't have a lot of holiday decor, I decided to give it a shot. The theme of the first one is make something epitomizing 'gratefulness'. After much searching online for inspiration and coming up relatively empty-handed, I came up with something of my own. A fusion of these two pins (here and here) and a little something of my own.

The idea of a wood plaque was intriguing to me, but I've done a simple piece of wood before. I wanted it to be more Thanksgiving-y, so instead of a plank, I would use a cutting board. And since I'd be using a cutting board, I didn't want to permanently mar it with paint or stain so I'd have the option to use it again. Other than that, I didn't have much of a plan.

Want to get inspired? Just wander a craft store for a while and you'll be bound to come up with something. After half an hour at Michael's, I came out with some sticker letters made of cork and some twine, each $2.99. 

And in true uninspired fashion, I just began winding the twine around different parts of the cutting board. In order to not glue it, a simple box knot held a loop around the handle and I ended up with this.

To hang it, I looped it around the hole to create something to hold it, again without using any glue. Nothing fancy. Kind of looks like some sort of weird, cheap Muppet, right?

I really like these little cork letters from Michael's. They almost look like wood. And it's a nice little bonus that the words "GIVE THANKS" only use each letter once so you only need to use one sheet of letters. A bit of measuring went into their placement, but most of it was eyeballed.

Helpful little tip: don't try to make this around cats.

Here's the finished product. For something so cheap and easy, it's classy, simple, and subtle.If you break down the cost, including the cutting board, you can make this for under $20. Excluding the cutting board and using a coupon at a craft's store (which I didn't do), you could make this for under $5.

And completely reversible if you find you need more cutting boards while making your Thanksgiving feast.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Where's Waldo?

I should have posted this weeks ago, but I was too caught up in my own Halloween costume to fully appreciate Dan's.

The Saturday before Halloween, the night we had planned to go out and paint the town red in costume, Dan still didn't have one. He had put absolutely zero thought into it.

However, when we were at Target looking for parts of my costume, Dan came across a Waldo Halloween costume. It was just a stripped shirt with a graphic of glasses hanging from a fake pocket. Merely $10. He got so excited by the idea of being Waldo. We went straight to the women's hat section and found him one with a poof on top and he went home and painted stripes on it.

So, that night, we went down to 4th Ave, which can best be described as the restaurant and bar row favored by hippies and recent college graduates. Do you know what is a big hit with drunk people? Finding Waldo. So many people shouted "I found Waldo!" while we walked from restaurant to restaurant. We were even eating dessert, seated by the window, and people were taking pictures with Dan in the background through the glass.

The most fun night was Halloween, though. I had the idea that Dan needed to photobomb all the pictures of the teams at trivia that night. He coordinated with the Quizmaster and the two of them had so much fun sliding Dan into the background of all the pictures. He even Waldoed another Waldo.

Image Source
I don't know if I've ever seen Dan have that much fun. He's declared that it will be his Halloween costume every year from here on out. I can't wait to see how much better he gets at photobombing each year.

Monday, November 11, 2013

From Suits to Stadiums

This weekend. This weekend was a whirlwind.

It all started Friday night. I dressed myself up in my best 'trophy wife' little dress, a face full of make up, and attempted to tame my hair. We then drove over an hour through rush hour traffic to the middle of nowhere to one of the nicest hotels I've ever seen. I spent the next several hours making small talk with my husband's coworkers and their wives as my husband accepted an award. Two years in a row. Quite proud of that big lug.

Too bad this is the best picture of us that night:

And Saturday was just crazy. Since Dan's birthday is coming up, Saturday was the day we were going to celebrate. I had an elaborate plan. I always do. As simple as things usually seem, I think and plan for months. And, of course, a couple weeks beforehand, things started to fall apart. By Friday, they had basically completely dissolved and I was not a happy camper.

Fortunately, by Saturday morning, I got over it and we had a nice day. A long slow trip to Target, sandwiches from Subway eaten on the back patio, cozy afternoon naps, a sickeningly huge dinner at Old Pueblo Grill, and finishing up the night here.

In some uncomfortable seats at the South goal of the University of Arizona Stadium for the Homecoming football game. Don't worry. I took this picture about 45 minutes before game time. By kickoff, the stadium was crammed with fans. Shame we couldn't pull out a victory, but still an enjoyable game.

Finished the weekend off with helping my sister hang some shelves in her new apartment, shopping at the mall, and trying to buy a bathroom door from Home Depot. Another weekend in which I'll need a completely separate weekend to recover.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Project House Update: Master Bathroom Inspiration

In typical fashion for our household, we've gotten swept up in starting another potential giant project as a result of something small from a different, much easier project. I hinted to this a bit on Monday in my post about our new curtains, so let me start from the beginning.

When we hung the curtains, we had to remove the trim surrounding the sliding glass doors to move the vertical blinds downward so there would actually be room to mount the curtain rod. With the trim removed, Dan realized there was no insulation around the door, just some pieces of poorly placed wood, allowing for some sizable gaps for air and insects to move in and out. Since the doors are terribly energy inefficient to begin with, this seemed to be the straw that broke camel Dan's back.

So, on his off-Friday last week, Dan went to Home Depot and bought some insulating foam. Once the can is open, you need to use it all, so he began pulling the trim off of the other sliding glass doors to insulate them as well. Our master bathroom has a sliding glass door which is covered with some hideous vertical blinds (what a novel concept for this house).

Apparently, once he removed the exterior trim, he learned two things. 1) This door was as poorly insulated as the other one. 2) The door is pretty simply framed so it should be remarkably easy to replace it.

Per usual, things quickly snowballed and we've got a new project. There's some tax credit for upgrading to more energy efficient windows, which means we need to purchase a new glass door by the end of the year. And since we're upgrading to a new, pretty door, I don't want to hide it behind vertical blinds, so those have to go. And since the door is partially covered by Dan's vanity, we should pull that out so it's not in the way. And since it'll be out, we should replace it, and mine, too. And since the vanities will be out, we should rip out the carpet (CARPET IN THE BATHROOM! THE THIRD HOUSE I'VE LIVED IN WITH CARPET IN THE BATHROOM!) and put down tile.

And that's where we're at now. We're trying to find a door we both agree on (Dan likes sliding, I like French) and tile and vanities. We have been able to agree on the overall look we want though, so it will flow with our bedroom and my dream closet. Light, stone tiled floor, dark wood footed vanities with light countertops, and framed mirrors. Something like this, but with two separate vanities since there's a door between our individual sinks.

Image Source
The floor has been the most debated issue at this point. Dan is 100% convinced that he wants stone tiles and I am 100% convinced I want something with some visual interest. We may have reached a compromise with this idea: white marble tiles in a octagonal pattern.

The numbers haven't been crunched yet, so this may be completely out of our budget, but the idea of it makes my heart flutter.

So, the overall look will hopefully be something like this:

Master Bathroom Mood Board

This, of course, will be only Stage One of the bathroom re-do. There's a lot of dry wall work and lighting and painting and all that sort of stuff, but the sliding door or the floor or vanities aren't dependent on it, so for now, we're ignoring it so there's not too much on our plates.

What do you think?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Project House Update: Dressing the Window

Almost exactly a year ago, I started the great quest for curtains for our master bedroom. With the only window being the sliding glass door, keeping the light in check has its difficulties. We are, until technology comes up with something better, stuck with vertical blinds as our singular option. However, they can be hidden pretty well with side curtains, like we did here

I debated making my own curtains, but the fabrics I found either didn't excite me or were way out of my budget. For our bedroom, I didn't want to use the sheets trick that we did in the guest room. I wanted something high quality, professional, and with a bit of quirk. After months of searching, I found some I liked on Joss and Main. They came and went since I didn't think they would appeal to Dan, but fortunately, they bring collections fairly regularly. {Sidenote: if you are looking for curtains for covering a sliding glass door, Joss and Main is a great resource because most of their curtains go up to 108 inches.}

We ordered them in August and after weeks and weeks of being back ordered and postponed, we finally got them in October.

The pattern is an Ikat polka dot. I had a really hard time finding something that was fun, but not too girly. Luckily, Dan really liked this navy dots, too.

While we were on the ball by replacing the old blinds with some clean new white ones, we weren't smart enough when we painted the room to shift the blinds down. So, first the blinds came down.

Then, Dan popped all the trim off to move the brackets lower.

The original plan was to notch the back of the trim to hide the newly lowered bracket and hang it back up. However, once the trim was down, Dan noticed that the door had no insulation around it. This has caused so pretty big ripples through our house that I'll talk about in a future post, but for now, all you need to know is that we are leaving the trim down for the time being. Since we don't know how long it will be down, we debated painting the wall behind where the trim had been, but we're not that classy. You really can't noticed the strip of a different color unless you look for it.

We bought a curtain rod from Home Depot, hung it and the curtains up, and marveled at our finally accessorized window.

They still need to be hemmed about ten inches shorter, but for now, I safety-pinned them to the correct length and it seems to work well enough. You really can't see the blinds anymore. We've almost finished furnishing this room now. Yay!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Mara Jade Halloween Costume: Finished!

I've been talking about my Halloween costume for months now and it's finally time for the big reveal. It's my favorite Halloween costume I've ever had. I plan on wearing it for every Halloween, costume party, and nerd convention until the end of time. IT COMPLETES ME. If it weren't so skin-tight, I would wear it everywhere, all the time.

Mara Jade!

Isn't it amazing?!?! I'm so proud of myself for actually making it all work. I wore it out for the first time over the weekend for some costumed restaurant crawling on 4th Avenue and it was fortunate that I did. It was like a beta version and I was able to adapt and fix all the little bugs I found.

Let's break it down now:

- Cowl: it's just an extra large women's t-shirt from Target with the sleeves and neckline cut-off, like this tutorial. I didn't even bother to hem mine. Cost: $8 [You could do this for much cheaper if you watched the sales better than I did.]

- Make up: since she's a Jedi, I figure she probably doesn't spend that much time on her make up, so I kept it very natural and neutral. Except for the eyes. Because of the cowl, I wanted them to stand out under it, so I did a pretty heavy smoky eye look. Counting it all up: seven different kinds and shades of eye shadow. Cost: free since I already had it all.

- Shoulder Harness: see here. Cost: $10 ($5 each for leather straps, free printed buckle, existing spray paint and sealer).

- Jumpsuit: you can buy it here. I was really afraid that this body suit was going to be too form fitting and unflattering, but the material is so forgiving. It's definitely not a high quality fabric, but it's stretchy enough that every bump and lump isn't highlighted. It's a little low-cut, but the cowl covers it up. Cost: $30.

- Lightsaber: Anakin's lightsaber. I got into a very heated debate with a friend of mine that said I had the wrong color. While Mara's empire lightsaber was red and her Jedi one was purple, Luke gave her his father's old lightsaber before she was a Jedi and it was blue. I bought it used off of Amazon and it's one of my favorite things ever. Too bad it scares the bejesus out of cats. If you ever wondered if cats have bejesus' wonder no more and Sam no longer has one. It may be because the first time Dan turned the lightsaber on, he first turned of all the lights and chased the cats around with it. This is as close as Sam will now get to it. We put it on things we don't want him to get into, like the counters. Cost: $44.

- Hip holster: I was originally just going to make a belt with a holster on it, but I had enough scrap from the shoulder harness that I decided to make the leg attachment as well, like this one. Superglue held some of the pieces together pretty well, but failed at other points, so Dan used a special leather glue he had after it started to fall apart from Saturday's wear. Also, if you make the leg part adjustable and made it fairly tight, it would probably stay in place pretty well, but since mine was loose, it kept sliding and shifting and catching on things. I added two pieces of twine to hold the front and back of it up better. Kind of cheap looking, but I like to call it industrial. Since I couldn't find a blaster small enough to wear it on my wrist like Mara does, I bought Boba Fett's blaster and attached it to the holster. [Sidenote: if you're reading this on November 1st, the pictures don't have the final holster design. I will add another picture today with it.] Cost: $18 ($5 for the leather strap, $5 for the leather piece I used to holster the gun, $8 for the gun from Target)

- Shin armor: it's just sporting equipment. I went to my local used sporting goods store and tried on a bunch of different shin guards. Apparently, a lot of sports require some sort of shin protection. The ones I originally wanted were much heavier duty, but they would have required a coat of spray paint since they were green. These ones were smaller, but since they were already black and silver, I just used some electrical tape to cover the brand names and called it good. Cost: $14.

- Boots: I love these boots. I did so much research into the boots I wanted and I was so glad DSW actually had them in stock. They were fairly expensive, given my usual cheap shoe budget, but I can wear them all the time and they are incredibly comfortable. Cost: $65.

Total Cost: $189
Non-reusable cost: $72 (assuming I will reuse the lightsaber, the blaster, and the boots.)

Not too bad, especially since it is my new favorite thing ever. There are lots of little things you could add to it still, like the cape or the sand goggles, but for now, I'm incredibly happy with it.

Now, who does a girl have to know to get these pictures to J.J. Abrams so he can put me in the new Star Wars movie?