31 May 2011

In Defense of Dandelions



Around here, the end of May marks the end of dandelion season. I suppose most people think of them as loathsome *weeds, but between you and me, I think there is something to be said for dandelions.

They are splendid.

What other cheerful yellow flower can flourish in the crack in the sidewalk? Or spread their seed to every continent on the planet? Not to mention centuries of use as food and medicine....

We don’t give dandelions enough credit.

And the best part? Their name! The term dandelion  comes from the French dents de lion or teeth of the lion, referring to the jagged leaves (take a look, they really do look like lion’s teeth.) Also, dandelion leaves are widely known for their medicinal use is as a diuretic, hence their other French name, pis-en-lit, which roughly translates to wet the bed.

Leave it to the French to make bed wetting sound jaunty and chic.


*While most people I know think of them as weeds, apparently, there are parts of Canada where dandelions are looked upon far more kindly than here in the US. Click here to read more info. Good stuff!

28 May 2011

Happy Weekend



It's Memorial Day weekend here in the states. Huzzah!

The "official" start to summer. Double Huzzah!

I can't think of a better way to kick off the season than a sunny baseball game and great big puffy pretzel, salted so thoroughly it tastes like pool water.

Ah, yes, the simple joys of summer.

Happy Weekend :)

26 May 2011



While researching my little Fun with Adhesive series, I came across a lot of tape related projects that made it into my filing cabinet of ideas. Thought I would share a few of my favorites....

o-o-o-o

You like my little gift bag? It’s made from an old envelope and some masking tape. Cute huh? Get the scoop from How About Orange.

Make custom dress form out of duct tape and an old Tshirt.

As if you needed an intensive, Duck Brand offers college scholarships to students who make prom dresses out of duct tape.  I’m routing for Jesse and Hunter!

Check out this easy and festive party bunting.

Camilla made the coolest vases out of gaffers tape AND animal print candlesticks. Whoa!

Who needs a heart shaped duct tape ring? Everyone.

Love these vases. If I hadn't seen this, I would have never know it was a bunch of washi tape gone wild! 

I think I linked up to this a while back, but I don’t care. Tiny silver cuckoo clock pendants deserve to be shared :)

25 May 2011



I do not have a green thumb.

All summer, I spend ridiculous amounts of time and money on plants for the little garden plot behind my apartment, only to see them whither away in the sun, or be ravaged by colossal city rabbits.

Not bunnies—city rabbits—big as cats with meaty legs the size of ham hocks. All winter they feast on hot garbage and mate with possums, spawning ferocious hybrid marsupial-rodents in the spring. Then the spawn go and consume my little garden as though it were Old Time Country Buffet with a sign on the door that read GIANT MARSUPIAL-RODENT SPAWN EAT FREE.

I hate those little shits.

Despite my failures, my inner farmer will not be tamed. The battle continues every spring with a new crop of tomatoes, herbs, and the fantasy of a September BBQ of feasting on home grown summer bounty. Not to be outdone, my plants must be marked in style, with cute little markers. Now, do I really *need* to mark the plants? No. 
Does it make me feel accomplished, even when the leaves have been eaten to stubs? Totally.



Traditional Copper garden markers range widely. The fancy shop down the street sells beautiful hand pressed picks for $2.50 each, but I have seen alternatives in seed catalogs selling at 50 for $12.00. Not bad, but you can easily make several hundred on your own, for about $5.00 using plastic knives and aluminum duct tape.

23 May 2011

I know. Are these the cutest shoes EVER?

I know. I can’t handle it. And guess how much they cost?

$2.95

I know!

To think, all these years, I could have been wearing super cute spangled shoes. Geezers. For shame on moi.



Materials
  • Beaten Up Old Party Shoes (Free) Pick something with clean lines that have a fabric or leather exterior (the adhesive doesn’t seem to stick to plastic/vinyl very well). And don’t go and buy new shoes –use old ones that you have worn in a bit. It’s important that the shoe has already been molded to your foot, otherwise the shoe shape will alter as you wear it, stretching/tearing the adhesive bond, allowing your cute beads to fall off. No bueno. Old shoes por favor!
  • Busted Up Old Costume Jewelry (Free) Rummage that shoebox —you know, the one you keep next to the panty hose—and see what funky treasures you can find. The uglier the better. And break up an old beaded necklace or two. I really wanted to find my old *BEST FRIENDS* broken heart necklace set and wear one half on each shoe. Then I realized I only had one half of the set, and the other half belonged to a girl I haven’t spoken to since 1989, who once tried to give me a home perm using a bottle of windex and the contents of her parent's fork drawer. So, I’m thinking, yeah, she can keep the other half of that necklace and I'll stick with beads.
  • Silicone Adhesive ($2.95) You will find it at the hardware store, usually in the plumbing section. Sometimes it’s called tile adhesive or bathroom sealant, just make sure it’s made of clear silicone and comes in a simple tube that doesn’t require a special gizmo to operate. You might see clear silicone in your home already—lining the seam between your bathtub the wall, or your countertop and backsplash. It’s cheap, waterproof, and reliable. It’s roughly the consistency of toothpaste and dries to the touch in a about an hour. You are going to love it.
Start by putting the big stuff on first using the traditional pin/earring backs/etc. Now try on the shoes and make sure they comfortable. Sometimes big brooches can alter flexibility, so rearrange as necessary. You are going to want to wear these all the time, so make sure you are comfortable.


Now we're cookin! Squirt a blob of silicone directly under the larger jewels and immediately around each bauble. Lay a row of beads in the row of silicone, alternativing sizes and colors. Start from the middle with larger items, working outward with smaller pieces as you go. Now stop. Let it dry for an hour. Take a load off and watch something on Bravo.

Note: Silicone is not messy if you squirt directly from the tube. Don't bother with brushes and gloves, just be nimble with your hands and have your beads ready to go.

Another Note: Live a little and don't be all conservative and make your shoes perfectly symmetrical looking. Seriously, when are you going to get a chance to buy non-symmetrical shoes in a store? So boring. So have fun with these and arrange your beads and baubles differently on each shoe. Look for balance — not symmetry.


Now go back with more silicone and fill in the gaps. IMPORTANT: Do not go all the way to the edge. The beads will scrape the ground as you walk, fall off. The exposed silicone will get ragged and ugly and you will hate it. Hate. It. So don’t do it! Leave the outer perimeter exposed and use a line of something cheap and flat along the edge, like seed beads or sequins. No one will notice the edge. So chill.

Let them dry overnight undisturbed. Don't go messing with them as they dry or the silicone will not bond properly. Leave them be!


BOOM. There it is.


Send me pictures if you make some on your own. I want to see what you made!

19 May 2011

Cultural Osmosis



Last Saturday morning, without even thinking, I grabbed a bunch of paper bags, cut some spirals, and went to town wrapping a waffle iron as a bridal shower gift that afternoon (read: I was in a rush and had given up on trying to make a waffle iron look cute). No idea what I was doing, I just had a mission and 'brown spirals' on the brain. Twenty minutes later a parcel emerged looking swell, and yet, slightly familiar.

Fast forward to this morning, as was uploading my photos to Flickr while reading the news, the picture above flashed up in contrast with Princess Beatrice’s celebrated (and hated) Flying Spaghetti Monster Hat

AND LOOK Y’ALL, THEY COULD BE SISTERS. But this sister is a waffle iron. Who knew?

Isn’t it crazy how these ideas seep into our subconscious and come out in the funniest places? I had no clue I was wrapping that waffle iron Flying Spaghetti Monster style. Guess there is no getting away from cultural osmosis. 


  

18 May 2011

I was going to write a post about duct tape, but then I turned on this movie.

The post went out the window.

I generally don't blog about books or movies or music or TV, mostly because I don't consider myself enough of an authority to make a recommendation, however, y'all, this is different. 

Dear Zachary is one of the most compelling, twisted and heartfelt movies I have ever seen.  It's an intense and brutal account of one man's life, death and the family of friends who miss him dearly. It is also a tale of horror, tragedy, loss, rage and evil.

But most of all, it's about love.

This is not an objective fact-finding sort of documentary. It is a story. And it disturbs me to know that this is a real story with real people.

It also disturbs me to know that Dear Zachary has been out for years and I only heard about it last weekend. I wish someone had told me about it sooner....so, here we go, I'm paying it forward and telling everyone I know: check out Dear Zachary.

It will haunt you.


   

17 May 2011

I wish I was the type of person who threw candlelit dinner parties every week. Alas, that ain’t going to happen any time soon. The closest I will get is a frozen pizza with a friend on the couch, watching The Real Housewives on Bravo (**ZOMG you guys, did you see the New Jersey premier last night? And her CRAZYTOWN fingernails?!?!?!?!?!?!**)

...ahem, so, about those elegant dinner parties...

On the rare occasions I do have people over for a sit down meal, I think it’s nice to fancy up with place cards and fingerbowls and oodles of candles....the whole nine yards. As a sidecar to yesterday’s post on resist “plaid painting” with rubber cement, I thought I would share some fun and funky place card luminaries. If you didn’t know, I’m crazy about luminaries. And wouldn’t it be fun to sit down to a seat with your name all lit up and glowing?

Tip: Don’t try to control the rubber cement too much. The more precise you try to make it, the sloppier it will appear. Just embrace the sloppy from the beginning. You're writing with snot. Give your self some credit.

Tip: Get friends with short names. Good luck trying to print Manahethites on there.



PS: Rubber cement not your thing? Try some melted wax luminaries.


16 May 2011



My friend Kiki called last weekend and I was all "I can’t talk now. I’m blowdrying toxic snot for the blog."

So she said "Huh....why is your snot toxic? And why do you need to share it with people? No one wants to read about your toxic snot. It’s not that kind of blog.” 

And then I told her it wasn’t mine, “It comes in a can, Kiki. Duh.”
And therein lies the beauty of rubber cement: not only does it smell horrendous and look like something that fell out of a toddler’s nose, rubber cement is ‘mildly toxic’ and if you try hard enough, it will induce the sort of headache that will make you rude to your friends on the phone.

Given the above description, you might be surprised to hear that I adore rubber cement. I use it constantly.  If I had year-round access to open windows, I would probably ditch white glue altogether in favor of rubber cement. Listen; it dries in minutes, is acid free, comes with its own brush, doesn’t wrinkle paper, it unsticks like that fancy “re-positionable tape” at a fraction of the price, and best of all, you can swipe away excess with a rubber cement eraser. Neat and clean every time. What is not to like?

Oh yeah, the toxic snot thing.

Well, let’s work on that....

Back in January, Justin sent me an email about doing a post about adhesives.  I thought that sounded like a great idea, and yet, here we are, five months later, and I have yet to create a proper post. So, let’s not do just one post; let’s do several.

So, over the next week or two I’m going to post a short series of Fun with Adhesive projects based on using adhesives in new and different ways. Rubber cement, white glue, hot glue, various tapes and epoxies.

That’s right ya’ll: I said epoxies.

Sound’s exotic doesn’t it? Epoxy. Like the character name of some tall, beautiful, racially-ambiguous nightclub owner on a daytime soap opera.

Here is another soap opera name that means something else: Zephyr

And another: Angina.

One time I had a mailman whose middle name, and honest folks—he showed me his license, was Cyclone. Is that the most badass name you ever heard? 

Bet he never got beat up as a kid. I mean, who is stupid enough to beat on a kid whose mom is crazy enough to give her son a badass name like Cyclone?

Smart moms think ahead.

If any expectant ladies reading this want to give their kids middle names like Combatant and Verucca, feel free to steal my idea. Little Ebola will thank you one day.

Enough with the names, lets get started with the cement!

Materials:
  • Thick paper. I highly suggest watercolor paper, but anything sturdy will work.
  • Rubber cement. Duh.
  • Rubber cement eraser.
  • Any sort of water based paint. I’m using diluted gouache here, you use whatever you have on hand. The old markers-and-a-spray-bottle trick works well too.

Start out by smearing the cement on your paper. You can follow sketch lines too, but I like it random. A thin layer will dry in 20 seconds or less. A thick layer will take a few minutes. Speed it along with a hairdryer.

Once dry, smear on the paint. Notice how the paint beads up on the rubber cement paths --it’s blocking the paint from penetrating the paper. Watercolor painters sometimes use this same technique with masking fluid, but I think rubber cement works just as well. 

Pick up the excess cement and expose the under layer by rubbing the eraser in large swirling motions.  Avoid rubbing too hard in one spot or you will tear up the fibers. If you don’t have a rubber cement eraser, you can also rub with your fingers or wrap a thick and rubbery-rubber band around your thumb (like the kind that comes wrapped around a a pile of mail, or a newspaper –not the kind that you use in your hair). But dude, the eraser is like 50cents and works best, so really, save yourself the effort and get a proper rubber cement eraser.

This is what's left after you remove the cement. Nifty huh?

You could leave it as is, but let’s take it up a notch and repeat the process.

Lay on some more cement and let it dry.

Paint on a second color in a deeper shade than the first, let it dry, and boom!

You have plaid!

Sorta.

It's not squares and grids plaid, it's blobs and clouds plaid.  I should mention, I call this “plaid painting” because that’s what Mrs. Bellafonte told me it was called back in that day, but you can call it whatever you want. Check out Flamingo Scraps to see a more traditional sort of plaid –nifty stuff. You can see how easy it would be to layer grids over and over, making new shapes and lines and grids....someone smart would probably try to squeeze a math lesson in there, but I urge you to resist. Resist the math! 


Variation: want to keep some white lines? Before you start with any cement, use white glue to draw on your paper. Make sure it dries thoroughly!

Variation: Add some black lines or draw something fun on top. This is a cropped abstract of a larger piece. You can’t tell, it’s supposed to be a woman. From here it sort of looks like a walrus.

Hey Walrus!

Or use patterned paper. Like a map. Or wrapping paper. Warning: it will eventually tear with multiple eraser rubbings, but you should try it. Totally worth it. 

Have fun :)




13 May 2011

33 Purple Ladies



I'm usually too lazy to walk to work, but in late Spring, in the heart of blossom time I make the effort.

This morning I noticed an unusually high number of blossoming trees in shades of violet, plum and pomegranate. It would be one thing to see two, or three, or four purple blossoming trees...but 33?

And why purple? Why not orange? Or yellow?

I think Mother Nature might be a Purple Ladyyou know, one of those eccentric types who loves big hair and purple dresses. They wear lots of perfume and keep an impressive assortment of "guest soap" in the bathroom. Purple Ladies are my favorite. I aspire to be one some day.

Until then, while the blossoms are here, I thought I would share some of my favorite purple ladies from my morning walk. Aren't camera phones nifty?



09 May 2011

This is the new face of lawn ornamentation: a Toyota sized chicken wire topiary fish covered in recycled bottle caps.

I know. Isn’t it amazing?

My friend Leah photographed it in her old neighborhood, Takoma Park, MD just outside Washington DC. She posted it on facebook nearly two years ago and I haven’t forgotten about it since. Yes, that means I have been saving up bottle caps for nearly TWO YEARS.

People, I am serious. I need me a bottle cap fish.

Small problem: I don’t have a lawn to put it on.  I need something more stable, upright with a smaller footprint. Ideas?


Look, it lights up at night --that means it's functional too!


Many thanks to Leah for sharing these photos and haunting my recyclables bin. Many thanks to the Artist-Slash-Leah’s-Old-Neighbor, who I do not know by name, but if you know them, please send them my compliments. People who make good stuff out of crap stuff are the best!

06 May 2011

The Amazing Parade



I always love letterpress, but these cards had me laughing at my desk for half an hour. Via Style Swoon. 

Do Y'all know Jonathan Fong? He is ridiculously talented AND looks wicked cute in rabbit ears. His paint chip napkin rings and Andy Warhol kitchen cabinets are worth some serious peeping.

For anyone who has always wanted a Madeline Weintrab zig zag rug, here it is at a fraction of the price.

One of my favorite writers, Colin Nissan, takes on the voice of Neil Diamond, another one of my favorites.

Painted silverware? Why didn't I think of this ages ago?! Via Dollar Store Crafts.

Jaime and I went to high school together. We used to hang out by the train station, draw tattoos and smoke badass clove cigarettes. Now she is a fancy pants attorney type in British Columbia and has a swell new blog focusing on "an environmentally conscious, wallet-friendly look at the world." Oh, how times have changed! Check out her recipe for hot chocolate sugar scrub. Delicious.

Anthropologie just launched their bridal offshoot BHLDN, selling every manner of gorgeousness. Suddenly my paper flowers look very humble next to these. Oh Poo :(

Crafterminds has all kinds of great articles and resources. One of my favorites: "8 Reasons To Comment on My Blog"

I refuse to pay $35 for a blah and boring rubber Iphone case. I'm getting Lola's picture on mine. This would make a great gift, no? Doesn't everyone want a Lola phone?

Anyone have special plans for the Kentucky Derby?  Did anyone go to the Mom Prom last weekend? Maybe your doing your own little Mom Prom this Sunday? Good for you! Happy Mothers Day :)

04 May 2011

I know I’m doing a Friday flower project on Wednesday.

I’m so ahead of the curve!

Or behind it.

Depends how you look at it.

I think it’s already Thursday in Australia.

That must count for something, right? 

So, Sarah emailed me for an easy, kindergartener-friendly Mother’s Day gift project. And since I’m looking to keep things short and sweet this week, not to mention my new found staple-thy-cupcakes kick, I thought some easy cupcake flowers might be just the thing.

03 May 2011

Happy Birthday Lola!



Go shorty. It's your birthday.
Three years ago today, Lola came home with me after years living at the Tree House Humane Society, a wonderful place for which I am eternally grateful. It breaks my heart to think of all the time she spent in a shelter, waiting for me to come and take her home. It makes her arrival that much sweeter and worthy of celebration!

Because her arrival date falls in close proximity to Cinco de Mayo, and to honor her spicy Latina heritage, Lola's birthday is traditionally celebrated by wearing sombreros and eating Mexican food. I officially invite you to join in the festivities today and raise a burrito in her honor :)

Feliz CompleaƱos Lola !




02 May 2011

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!



Thank you to everyone who signed up for one of my Boxes O' Fun. Between the comments, facebook and twitter, over 300 people signed up! Dang, I have to try spring cleaning more often!

Selected at random, the winners are....

AND GET THIS! One lovely reader, JJ, was kind enough to offer up three more boxes from her own personal stash. I can hardly tell you how this makes me smile :)
  • Mary Bennett (comments)
  • Jenni (comments, 4.26.11 5:15 pm)
  • Courtney C. (comments, 4.26.11 3:35 pm)
Jenni and Courtney, I am not able to track back to your email, so please contact me so I can put you in touch with JJ (emailauntpeaches@gmail.com). To everyone else who won, check your email, I'll contact you today.

In the off chance I don't hear from someone by May 8, I'll choose an alternate at random.

Thank you to everyone who entered!
 
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