31 October 2012

I hate wasting paint. I'm trying to get better about letting go of unnecessary things, but paint feels like such a luxury. Wasting it, even a drop of the cheap stuff, makes me nervous. To counter this problem,  I pair my leftover paint with my leftover shopping bags and presto-chango I am ready for gift wrapping at any time!

Okay, I lied. That part about leftover shopping bags is only half-true. Sometimes I buy packages of plain white bags at my local dollar store for this express purpose. But I still save gobs of money in the long run, so, I'm okay with that.

I would also like you to note that I use leftover egg cartons as paint pallets. If you are sensing a theme here (and hearing the theme song to Hoarders), you are not alone.

I happened to have some Hanukkah stickers in easy reach so I used them, but you could certainly use whatever you like. In the top image, on the big bag, I used those office label dot things. Use whatever you have around or your kiddos are willing to forgo. When I was a kid I didn't share my sticker collection with anyone. ANYONE I TELL YOU.

Sweet Valley High, I have such a thing for patterned tissue paper. It makes everything look better. Simple patterns like dots and stripes are my favorite, especially with an abstract bag like this. I'm considering buying a carton of leopard print tissue to get me through the holidays. This place has the best stuff. 

Not into painted bags? Use envelopes. They are just as fun.


The Reluctant Princess Leia

Yesterday was weird.

It was as though everyone I knew could only talk about the same two subjects; hurricanes and Star Wars.  

Did you see that picture of the guy scuba diving in the subway? It will be weeks before my brother can get to work.
What was George Lucas thinking? He sold the Star Wars franchise just so Disney could RUIN IT?
When will those poor people get their power back? No heat? And the tap water is contaminated?
You realize, its only a matter of time until those mousy fuckers turn Leia into a Disney Princess.
Some folks even speculated that the Disney PR people waited to announce the news until a crisis came along to overshadow the outrage. If that were true, it would appear that those PR people do not know Star Wars fans.

This is an odd subject for me. I have numerous friends who are die-hard Star Wars fans. We seem to flock together for no particular reason or common bond.  I'm not sure why, but I do the same thing with Librarians. And people born in early September. We attract each other. It's weird.

What's also weird is that, for all my Star Wars exposure, I have never even seen a Star Wars movie. Not one. My mother made me a Princess Leia costume because she liked the movie so much, although she thought I was too young to see it. That did not stop her from going back to the theater to see it two more times by herself. For "costume analysis" purposes, of course.

It was white muslin and the gold tassel belt was a curtain sash. I had no idea what I was supposed to be wearing, but I knew it was cute and that was good enough for me.

Happy Halloween, you guys.


PS: Anyone need a last minute festive touch for candy distribution? I made this last year -- tape some rubber gloves to a tray or box lid, then line with tissue paper and candy. Just do it. You are fun like this and you know it.

Can I just tell you something? I bought those purple candies thinking I would be all cool and hand out Reeses Peanut Butter goodies because those were my favorite as a kid. Problem is they are my favorite as an adult. They never make it to the kids on the 31st.

What sort of candy are you handing out? Good & Plenty? Tootsie Rolls? Snickers?

Or are you that house that hands out raisins? It's OK if you are. I won't judge. At least not while you are looking.

30 October 2012

But I’m praying just the same

I was going to post something about Halloween costumes today but that feels awfully irrelevant right now. As I sit here watching the news, gawking at the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, it occurs to me that there are other things to worry about than dressing up like Sexy Big Bird

Color me humbled.

So many of you who read this blog are located right in the path of danger. If you are one of them, please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you right now and I hope you will tell me, and all of us, what we can do to help.

Then again, if you just survived a hurricane, you probably have Helluva lot better things to do than read a craft blog.

But I’m praying just the same.

29 October 2012

Dear Turd Burglar

Dear Turd Burglar,

Look at you.
More important, look at what you have become.

You have elevated yourself to the rank of persons who steal craft goods.

Not cash. Not guns. Not electronics. No TB, you went for the win and used your dark talents to snag a decorative autumnal wreath. I know what you were thinking; Wait 'til the fellas down at the pawn shop get a load of this!

That must have felt good.

Well TB, do you know how I feel?

Well, I'll tell you.  Flattered. I am flattered that you took a shine to my creation.

You know, I was rather fond of that wreath too. Not to brag or anything, but it was made two years ago using an old garland and a hoola hoop. In fact, I posted directions right here. You should feel free to check them out and make your own.

Perhaps, when you are done making your own, you could un-burgal my wreath and put it back where you found it: hanging on my door.


Aunt Peaches  

Matters of Bidness

Well looky here, Aunt Peaches got a facelift. 

Is it weird to talk about yourself in the third person?

Yeah. Probably.

Okay. Well, the bandages are off, the stripes are gone, and a new blog look is here to stay!

Yes, I'll say it again: the stripes are gone. Don't be sad. I'll miss them too but it is time to move on. The stripes were distracting from my photographical mojo and I'm in the mood for something clean. Something fresh. Something glittery. 

I'll be making gradual updates over the course of the next week, so if you see something funky, bear with me. I'm working on it.

As long as we are talking about updates in technology, I want to take a minute to address a couple of not-so-fun matters of bidness. Please skim over the three points below and see if any apply to you.

26 October 2012

Bramble Patch: October 2012

Here are some of my favorite distractions from over the last month.

Who is up for an adventure? Sixteen cities you are not supposed to visit. 

One of the best tutorials I have seen in a long time: Old box + $10 in plexi glass + masking tape = a whole new way to DIY a shadow box frame. And the prize-winning ribbon is pretty darn nifty!

Katy Perry used to really annoy me. First with the music, then with ruining the Smurfs movie, then with the shacking up with John Mayer...now she's singing with kids with autism and making me ugly cry on the subway while watching this video on my phone. Smurf you, Katy. 

For everyone who reads this blog but never comments: Listen, it's OK.

Turn the holes in your jeans into little monsters. Cute!

I'm dreaming of this rainbow dry mop.

Take 90 seconds to identify who you side with. I was shocked at my results.

Benedict Cumberbatch dancing. Benedict Cumberbatch art.  Did I mention I like Benedict Cumberbatch?

In case you need a reminder, remember that exhaustion is not a status symbol.

Brush up your resume, the Queen is hiring an elf. No really.

20 Vintage costumes that will put you to shame (the eyeballs are amazing).

Speaking of costumes, Little Frida cracks me up!

My favorite Non-Halloween book to read at Halloween time. It's also a great Jim Henson movie.

Do you have a "don't buy" word? For those of us with "eclectic" style, who can find something fabulous to lust after everywhere we go, this post is a must read. It's written in reference to home decor but the principal applies to every corner of consumption -- from personal style to nutrition, to child rearing and relationships. Everyone needs a don't buy word. I have several.  

In case you missed it, 13 Halloween Movies (most of which you probably never heard of) that you need to see!


...In other news, I am hanging out with Barbra Streisand tonight. In person. Just us. Yes, okay, there might be ten thousand other people there too, but we -- Barbra and I -- will be together. She had been retired from performing live so this day is nearly twenty years in the making. I fully expect her to pull me up on stage so I can entertain her with my Judy Garland impression. Everyone is going to love it.

You hear me?  Love. It.

Happy Weekend. Happy Days are here again!

25 October 2012

The Angry Meatball

As much as I love making costumes, it has come to my attention that I have a special knack for making Halloween gear that children do not want to wear. To put it bluntly: children hate my costumes.

It doesn’t matter how comfortable I try to make the outfit or how close I stick to their initial request (direct quote: "I want to be a Tyrannosaurus rex in a Mets jersey eating A PIZZA!”)…the kid would rather wear a hair shirt than whatever creation I stayed up half the night to make them. 

Sad face :(

I used to take it personally but now I’m over it. Now I just try to restrict my costume making to adults and everyone is happier that way. The only exceptions are my niece and nephew, Abigail and Luke, and even then it’s rough. Abigail initially hated her flamingo costume. Hated it.

Luke, on the other hand, is barely one month old. He is in the “loaf of bread” stage in infancy where you can dress them up however you want. He cries, sleeps, eats and poops. That’s his job. I figure, if he cries, that’s 25% of his workload right there. Who cares if the crying is costume related or not -- he is just doing his part. The best part is that he actually looks really cute when he cries. Look…

Doesn’t he look like an angry little meatball?  

So cute.

I just love that.
In fact, I loved it so much so much that I made it the crux of his costume: spaghetti and meatballs. It’s made from a 100% cotton mop head I bought at Home Depot and some simple brown pom-poms. I just used fabric glue to attach them to a pre-existing shirt. Simple. If they lived in the same state, I would probably take the time to do a proper fitting and sew accordingly, but as is, I just wanted to make something simple and flexible, something comfortable for him to wear, something no other babies would be wearing, something that would hide baby vomit, and something that would not require so much time that I'd feel bad if he only wore it for ten minutes....actually, now that I write that all down,  that sure seems like a lot to ask of a costume. Gosh, way to deliver, Spaghetti!

I sort of wish I had made this in my size too. I wouldn’t mind a spaghetti ball gown. 

I shouldn't talk about these things....the week is young.

24 October 2012

10 Minute Marker Caddy

I was using permanent markers to work on a project over the weekend (more on that later). Over the course of the afternoon I got so fed up with hunting for markers in various drawers and old coffee cups (you know the ones), that I halted the project for ten minutes to create a marker caddy.

I know, sounds nerdy. Marker Caddy. But it's actually pretty handy.

To make it, I just took an empty shoe box and some toilet paper tubes cut to the same height as the box, then stuck them into the box together standing up. No glue, no nothing. They stay up fine on their own and I like that they can move a little to accommodate the pens, pencils and markers that will be coming in and out over the years to come.

Well gosh, don't I feel handy.

22 October 2012

Sequins Never Hurt Anybody

At the risk of sounding like a total scrooge, I am going to declare something controversial: I'm giving up on pumpkin carving.

*Wave of festive horror goes here.*

I know. Don't be ticked. It's not that I don't appreciate a beautifully carved pumpkin, it's just that I would rather leave it to the professionals. Sort of like electrical installation or septic tank cleaning. Sure I could handle it, but it wouldn't turn out well. And I might do some harm in the process. I mean, why risk it? 

Plus, pumpkin carving smells bad and I always end up bleeding. Why do I keep on going back to the well, year after year?

If eating cereal smelled bad and made you bleed, you would give up cereal, no?

If listening to Freebird smelled bad and made you bleed, I'm thinking you would give it up, along with Lynyrd Skynyrd in general. Am I right?

Of course right.

I'm sticking a carrot in the nose and calling it a day. Leave the fancy crap to the professionals and I'll stick to my sequins.

Sequins never hurt anybody.

19 October 2012

Cat Lady Friday

It's Friday.

Sometimes I hate Fridays because I spend the day dreading what will come tomorrow, Saturday, when I have to take Lola to the vet.

Yes, I realize no cats really enjoy going to the vet but with Lola it is a particularly terrible undertaking. Even though it has been years since she lived on the streets, her fight or flight instincts remain as sharp as ever. True to badass self, Lola is a fighter. I mean biting, scratching, lunging, peeing (click here to see another kitty doing an impersonation of Lola)…ungodly smells release from her butt and murderous howling noises come from her mouth. The kinds of sounds that could make felons jump. No, I mean that literally.

When she first came to me I would take Lola to get her nails trimmed at a grooming salon that specifically hired people transitioning out of incarceration –big, burly, gang-banger dudes with neck tattoos– and Lola scared the crap out of them too. One time they had to debate amongst themselves as to who would let her out of the carrier. It took so long that she started doing what they call “alligator death rolls” inside the box. All of the sudden they claimed that there was “no licensed technician” on location that day to cut cat nails.

Oh, Lola.

One vet flat out refused to treat her because she said that she did not feel safe. 

18 October 2012

Anti-Establishment Christmas

I had to wear a coat today.

A real coat. This means I am in the middle of a raging case of PCS.

What is PCS? Good question.

PCS stands for Peri-Christmas Spirit. It's sort of like Peri-Menopause but without the hormonal rage and unwanted hair. PCS comes with an unrequited longing for whiskey sours, evergreen branches, and buttery things that taste like hot sparkles.

I think PCS is my body's way of fighting off my internal dread of winter. It's trying to find something good to look forward to, like the holidays. Christmas is still months away but I find myself seeking it out in weird places. Like Pinterest. I'm on a plaid and gold pin binge right now. Not plaid and gold Christmas ornaments, just plaid and gold anything that reminds me of a Christmas ornament. And yes, there is a difference.

This mens shirt (Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy from a couple years ago) pretty much sums up what my PCS is feeling right now: loud and spiky. Studded. Sparkling. Brady Bunch seventies style Scotch red plaid. But better.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. An anti-establishment Christmas. 

Just in case you can't read the text:

"Our Post-Grad Slacks have soul. And they come in a mighty medley of plaids, stripes, checks and solids. Press-Free. Talon Zipper. From $10.00. Slightly higher in the waist. For retailers, write h.i.s, 16 E. 34 Street, N.Y. 10016"

That's right folks. Send them a letter to find out where to get your very own mighty medley of anti-establishment plaid pants. Because, you know, the little drummer boy needs a new pair of power slacks. Slightly higher in the waist, of course.

17 October 2012

A couple weeks ago I asked folks on facebook "What is the one item you can never pass up at the thrift store?"

Some people said shoes or purses or linens. Others said gloves or blankets or crockery. 

Me? I like the office supplies. 

Yes, office supplies. There is usually a whole isle of them in every thrift store and hardly anybody goes there. Most stuff costs a dollar (or less) and I always come away with something nifty. My favorite thing: paper sorters. All styles and varieties. Chances are, if there is a paper sorter in the store and it's not covered in schmutz, it's coming home with me. Don't care where or how -- I will find a ways to use it, goshdarnit.

Since I am still not in my crafty swinging stride just yet, I thought I would whirl around the house this morning and show you guys a few of my paper sorters in action. This isn't all of them, just the photogenic ones. Come by in person to rifle through my cupboards and you'll find a bunch more. It's like a family. Maybe a cult. A thrifty cult I can't say no to.

PS: That thing about the freezer shelves is especially handy for storing winter soups flat (see here).

Okay. Now I have fessed up and told you what I can't resist. Now it's your turn; what is the one thing you can never pass up at the thrift store?

16 October 2012

Note: for today’s dramatic performance, the role of Common Field Mouse with be played by Rubber Cat Toy

If you live in an old house like I do, you probably live in fear of this time of year: mouse time. The weather gets cold and the critters start looking for warm places to set up their winter nest. Like, your house.

Look, I know some people think that a house with a mouse is the hallmark of bad housekeeping, but that is simply not the case. Everyone deals with mice at some point in their lifetime. I know I have. And I don’t care how clean you keep your house, when mice want in— they get in.

Now, let's just be clear: the best protection against mice is a good cat. Period. But, sadly, not everybody can keep a cat. Sometimes an alternative measure is required. My friend Matt had an issue with mice last fall and nearly borrowed Lola for the weekend to take care of the problem. However, as a peaceful person, Matt feared that Lola + Mice = “Game of Thrones style carnage” which, frankly, would be an understatement.

Wanting to avoid blood on the ceiling and whatnot, Matt googled around and found some great solutions for finding ways to get rid of those mice without hurting them, or touching them ('cuz let's be honest -- that's the gross part -- touching them). When he told me about this method I wish someone had told me about it years ago. Then, in the last two weeks, I have had occasion to share it with at least five people. Apparently I'm not doing a good job of describing it because they always end up looking confused and I always end up saying “I should just illustrate this in a blog post.”

Welp. Here we are!

15 October 2012

Dollar Store Skeleton Wreath

Watch out, Halloween is going glitzy!

I made this nifty skeleton wreath just before I left for Mississippi. I'm sort of amazed nobody stole it off the front door seeing as it looks like a million bucks. A boney, cannibalistic, golden ringlet of a million bucks.

Note, generally speaking, I try to restrict my posts to projects that I thought of myself, or at least stuff that has a significantly special twist. This isn't one of them. This is one of those projects I saw on Pinterest and five minutes later I was out the door to hunt for supplies. And that is the good news: you can get all the supplies in one place. I bought 5 plastic skeletons, one wreath base and a bag of hot glue sticks at the Dollar Tree. Grand total $7. If I hadn't already owned gold spray paint and a glue gun, I probably could have bought them there too. It took ten minutes to assemble, two minutes to paint, a night to dry...and boom you're in business.

Now get on over to Tried & True to see how this gorgeous creepy thing is made.


Wildflowers growing in the fields behind Miss Frances' house

Sorry for the radio silence last week.

If you follow me on facebook, you might already know that I left for Mississippi last Monday following the passing of my Uncle, “Big John.”  

I wish so much that you would have had a chance to know him for yourself. His quirks. His stories. His intelligence. His special knack for making statements that could "offend the sensibilities of almost everyone in the room while simultaneously disarming them with humor and intellect."

As my cousin Todd pointed out, in all our years of knowing him, none of us could recall ever hearing him say an unkind word about anybody. It’s an inspiring legacy that will live on far longer than his 63 years. He leaves behind a wife—my beautiful Aunt Pat, a mother – Miss Frances, two talented sisters, an an army of in-laws, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends, colleagues, and former students…each with their own personal story to tell.   

I’m hoping once I get back in the swing of things that I can sit down and tell you more about Big John. The world seems a little bit smaller without him in it.

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