30 April 2013

Washi Tape Shelf Edging

Here’s a simple something worth a lookyloo.

Washi Tape. It’s my thing.

It’s like...Hey, I’m Washi Tape. High strung Japanese teenagers use me to make school supplies look cool. Now you can use me to seal your envelopes and the utility company will think you are all cutting edge like that. Yeah, I’m Washi Tape. And I’m rad...

I use washi tape on all sorts of stuff around the house. Last weekend I decided to use it on the edges of some temporary utility shelves in my living room. Eventually I would like to replace the set-up with a breakfront cabinet, but in the meantime, washi tape does a good job of elevating the shelves to something more substantial than some rando melamine planks left in basement.

29 April 2013

As You Wish, Monopoly

Good news: Someone created a Monopoly board based on the movie The Princess Bride. And you know how I feel about The Princess Bride. And I have an Inigo Montoya on black velvet painting to prove it.

Bad news: It is not for sale. It was made by a fan. It's like fan fiction but it's a board game and it's awesome.

Apparently the folks at Parker Brothers have yet to sync up with the licensing folks for the movie and the rest of us are left to sit in wonder when the day will come when we can bounce-tap our tiny six-fingered glove through the Fire Swamp and the Cliffs of Insanity. It's like Parker Brothers and that guy in the top hat with the monocle are purposely trying to be mean to us.

Those greedy shits.

I'm tempted to go rogue and put this in distribution myself. Or maybe it's better to stay on the straight and narrow -- perhaps take up a petition and start a campaign. Hrmm.....

26 April 2013

Bramble Patch: April 2013

Follow me on Instagram.

Some of my favorite distractions from the month of April.

Anyone getting their Cinco DeMayo on? This quick take on the old donkey pinata has me feeling like a solid gold Frida Kahlo. I need this sucker hanging over my claw foot bathtub year round.

Thirteen mega-handy photography tips for DSLR cameras (warning: kept me busy all afternoon). 

Back in 1988, before she ran an global empire, Big Martha was doing Saturday afternoon infomercials complete with synthesized trumpet sounds. Even then, Homegirl still knew how to make chickens look elegunt.

This is offensive and gives sororities a bad name. It's also hilarious and makes me think I found my life coach. (Follow up: and then this happened).

Reading: Paper to Petal. Man, and here I thought I knew paper flowers...

Have you ever noticed how people who consume energy drinks seem like the people with the least amount of shit going on? For real. I want to tell these people to calm down and drink a blueberry mojito. Or a cucumber caipiranha. Or a whiskey lemonade served in a mason jar. Or whatever, like I care, just drink anything but some mini-shampoo bottle of blue juice with Hulk Hogan on the label.

Gator earrings, you magnificent bastards you.

I am so bad (SO BAD) at watering flowers. My containers never make it past July. This trick might give me the confidence to branch out a little more this summer.

No more blisters! How to break in shoes in less than two minutes.

A simple lampshade lined with gold sequins. I'm so going to DIY the crap out of this one.

6 words: sloth spoons cat to Jason Mraz.

Speaking of musicians, I just read that George Jones has passed. I'm not always a fan of what you might call "white hat country music", but I have always been partial to George as he wrote the theme song to my childhood tap dancing debut, White Lightening. Tonight, I hope he and Tammy Wynette are smoochin once more.

Rest in peace, Old Possum.

25 April 2013

So, I was talking with a friend last week about chipper stuff—mortality, death, and whatnot.

We were discussing how the scariest moment in anyone’s life is the minute one recognizes a parent as a person. Not Mom or Dad. Just regular everyday people.

What if you met one of your parents in the grocery store like a regular stranger— would you like them? Would you respect them? Would you want to know them better? If you had grown up together as peers, would you have been friends with your Mom? Had a crush on your dad?

Try to wrap your head around it for minute—it’s not easy. It’s probably uncomfortable. It is for me.

It’s weird when you remove familiarity and force yourself to see people for what they are and not what they have become. If you ask any person to name three people they admire most, there is a decent chance one of their parents is going to be on that list. And yet, those same people might not even take the time to be friends with that same person if they were not related. 

They say familiarity breeds contempt. I don't think that's always true. 

Look at this picture:

I mean, HOLY CRAP is that a handsome man or what?

Get past the fact that he looks like the fifth member of Mumford and Sons and see him for something more. That face. That smoldering gaze.  Now get ready for a downer…

24 April 2013

Big Pinky: Ticket Stub Art

Google the term “World’s Fugliest Painting” and you will get 51,700 results.

Then last weekend at Goodwill, I hit #51,701.

It was beige. It was flowered. It was HUGE. It was $7.00. 

Ladies and Gents, do you know how much a 4’x5’  canvas at an art store costs?  A Helluvah lot more than $7.00, that’s for sure. And this one came framed in that odd bronzy colored metal that makes one think of old people’s homes from the 1980’s. HOW COULD I NOT BUY IT?

I bought it.

I decided to paint over it hang it over my kitchen sink. You just don’t see a lot of art hanging above the kitchen sink now do you? I decided I would be the first. Then I decided that not even I had the balls to subject my splatter painting skills to my battlefield-on-the-beaches-of-Normandy-style dish washing skills, and thus began my afternoon journey with what is known as Mod Podge: Nectar of the Spangled.

Sure, I could have decoupaged anything with Mod Podge, but I decided to use ticket stubs because 1. They were in my drawer already in this was one of those projects that was done on the NOW NOW NOW 2. They were pink. I miss my pink kitchen. Did I tell you I painted my kitchen white? It was about a month ago....

22 April 2013

Portrait of a Lady

My friend Kelly sent me a link to something called ReplaceFace – a Tumblr feed of military portraits, only the faces of the original Russian generals have been replaced with the heads of celebrities like Sylvester Stallone, Will Smith, and Jack Nicholson. Kelly, knowing my fondness for photoshopped weird things, thought I might want to contact the artist and ask why he/she hasn’t done Neil Diamond yet.

So true Kelly, so true.

My reaction...

One: WHOA.

Two: This is impressive photoshoping. I can spot a ‘shop job a mile away, and this is effing impressive.

Three: Why is my cat not in this?

So I got bored last night watching Game of Thrones (y’all did you see that crap with the hand on the string? – SNARF MUCH?) and started plotting this out. Lolabelle, dainty as she is, is too thick-necked to fit in one of those Russian military collars so I made her queen instead. Clearly, it suits her.

It's a little creepy that there is a human hand, but you know, I'm okay with that.  It's a hallmark of her humanity. (Yeah, that's it.)

Now I’m going to have it printed on canvas and hung in my portrait gallery, then I’m thinking I’ll order a ReplaceFace image for a pillow front; Bob Dylan or Bill Murray? Tough call…

19 April 2013

People are always giving me crap about hoarding random things but then, when I convert those "things" into useful stuff and they're all WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME?

So, listen, I'm telling y'all now: save your produce bags. The plastic mesh ones that are used to bind up lemons and oranges and onions.

Clip the edges, pinch it into a bunch, and bind it with a zip tie. No zip ties around the house? Use one of those little wire twist ties from the produce section and peel off the paper. Presto!

These babies are THE BEST thing for scrubbing pots -- more aggressive than any sponge but less abrasive than brushes or steel wool. I like to keep one specifically for the floor too -- they are great at scraping off any stuck-on bits. Nifty huh?

18 April 2013

 Yay! Today I am guest posting a fun and easy tutorial on paper cup lanterns over at Elizabeth Banks.

Actually, thing is, I’m a day late on this. My post went up yesterday. Today if you go to www.elizabethbanks.com you will see another post, a post I would much rather you read than my thing about paper cups. It’s an essay in response to Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.  I think 50% of the women I know have read that book in the last 90 days and I suspect the other half will follow suit. And I am glad of this because, well, this book is worth reading. However, I read Sandberg’s book and wanted to write a response because, frankly, I wasn’t the biggest fan (which is why I was glad to read Elizabeth's response).

Don’t get me wrong – there are parts of the book that made me want to grab some pom-poms and cheer along (wearing cargo pants and a sensible team shirt, obviously)….but there were other parts that made me think WTF is this woman talking about? Logistically -- who is watching her kids right NOW? Does she not know what it’s like to live off an hourly job? Why is she worried about leadership when millions are just struggling to make ends meet?

Bottom line, there are people who work to live and people who live to work. For folks who fall into the former category, this an excellent self-help book.

Look, I give here credit for writing it though. There is a part of me that doesn't want to criticize the book because it's perpetuating a cycle of women knocking down the work of other women, which is the last thing we need right now. What do we need? We need to talk about what it takes to move ahead and bridge the gender gap. This book opens the discussion. People are crediting her with 'bringing feminism back to the mainstream.'

“Back to the… what? Where exactly did they think feminism went? Because it's been husslin' my ass along for 30 years straight.”
     – Excerpt from my review.

Okay, I’ll save my thoughts for another time. In the meantime, read EB’s response, or pick up the book and read it yourself. This is the sort of thing that makes me want to start a book club – so I can talk and listen with all y’all about stuff that drives me nuts. Lean In is a good book but is missing perspective, which isn’t something I can fault Sandberg for – she is only one person with one history to draw from. As am I. As are you. But I like to hear your perspective on stuff too. All stuff.  Because I, or should I say we, are better for it.


17 April 2013

So, as you may have seen in my earlier post Easter Bonnets Part Un, a few weeks ago, I was fixin up some fascinator style hats the Saturday before Easter (yes, last minute is my middle name). Anyway, so I am sitting there feeling very self-congratulatory about how cute those little hats looked when WHOMP I get an email from Michelle showing off Easter Bonnets made from using leftover coffee filter flowers she made using my tutorial.

Well crap. How was I going to not make some great big kahuna hats like Michelle?

Facinators be darned, it needed to happen!

Before you read anything else, click over to check out Michelle's hats.

I just love it when this happens -- one person puts something out there, then another person takes it in a another direction, then the first person grooves on it all over and again and tosses it back out. If Michelle and were musicians, I think this would make us a jam band.

If you saw last week's tutorial, this is just a variation on that. Instead of fringing and stapling one color of coffee filter to make chrysanthemum-like flowers, this uses layers of multiple shapes and colors to make peony-like flowers. Once you get an assembly line going, it's easy to crank out a dozen of these suckers in no time flat.

16 April 2013

The Faceless Stuff

When I was a kid my mother used to tell me that it was silly to be afraid of anything with a face. It’s the faceless stuff you have to worry about. As a kid, that notion was a comfort -- as adult, it’s a frightening prospect. Indeed, it is the things that come without a face that frighten us most. And for good reason...

I had a tutorial scheduled for today but in light of what is going on in Boston right now I think I’ll give it a rest. In the meantime, if anyone needs a quick fix to restore your faith in humanity, I suggest you check out the archives of my second blog I Believe in Strangers, which was created specifically in hopes of providing some comfort on days like today. And, even though it’s been on hiatus in recent weeks, you can troll the archives anytime you need to remember what is good and right and full of light. For me, when I feel most afraid of the faceless stuff, I take great comfort from my faith in faceless strangers. If given the time and opportunity we are all magnificent creatures.   


...and more advice from my mother.

15 April 2013

Cuckoo Craze

I am going to Switzerland in September.

To say I am excited about this trip is like saying the Pope is Catholic. It's an understatement.

I can hardly wait. There is a village on the western edge of the Bernese Alps where I claimed home for several years growing up, but haven't been back since 1997. Part of me wants to keep those memories in cerebral snow globe, unbesmirched by the footprints of time. Another part of me wants to go and live inside those memories when things were so different. So simple. And then there is a third part of me that wants to go eat chocolate croissants and watch a cow parade. Third part wins!

Back then everything seemed so familiar that I hardly ever took the time to take photos or tuck away touristy items to remind me of my time there. Nowadays, here at home, if I see a souvenir handkerchief with edelweiss in a thrift store (mystery stains and all) I snatch it up with Gollum-like "MY PRECIOUS" enthusiasm. Nostalgia is a powerful force.

Come September, on my list of must-get souvenirs is a cuckoo clock. I always wanted one, even before I lived there. Problem is that real Black Forest cuckoos, the fancy ones, are handmade by life-long specialists and cost about as much as a car. I don't want a fancy one. Even just a little plastic one would be okay. Now I started looking online and am finding all these cool ones available here and now.

Hmm....I might need to get in on some cuckoo action early.

    Sources: ONE | TWO | THREE | FOUR | FIVE | SIX | SEVEN | EIGHT

PS: Love a good eccentric clock as much as I do? Check out these crochet babies!

12 April 2013

Napkin Folding 101

I have a thing for folded napkins. Don’t ask me why or where it comes from, it just makes me feel good. My house could be in a state of filth unfit to grow penicillin with laundry piled to the ceiling and dishes in the sink...barely enough room on the table to eat a bowl of raisin bran…but, if the raisin bran comes with a cloth napkin folded up like a bishop's hat, I feel just fine about the situation.  

I first learned to fold napkins as part of an etiquette class I attended in middle school. It used to be called Miss Patty’s Charm School but then someone said charm schools were anti-feminist so she changed it to Miss Patty’s Lady Lessons. I’m telling you, there just ain’t no stopping progress.

Later in life, my ability to fold napkins in the shape of the Sydney Opera House was one of the key deciding factors in getting me hired as a hostess in a fancy restaurant, which later blossomed into a serving position, which later turned into a weekend gig helping out with catering jobs in private homes. In all three of those situations, not one person ever commented on my ability to pour wine or dish pasta, but golly, I can’t tell you how impressed people got when they found out I could fold napkins. They would get all excited and gather around to watch me do it, making special requests and ask me “What is that amazing thing?! Where’d you learn how to do that?!”

Then I'd think to myself, Gosh, this is what it feels like to be David Cassidy.

I have been thinking about doing a napkin folding post for some time but it’s one of those things that never quite comes across in still pictures. Then I saw this gal, Maria, and her video above. She covers a variety of the basics and does it with such grace and gentleness. Another Miss Patty's alumna, to be sure!

11 April 2013

Magnolia Time

I watch for the arrival of magnolias every year. It's sort of my thing. I gauge the end of winter not by thermometers or groundhogs, but by the blossoming of branches. When the Magnolias arrive, spring is official here. Huzzah!

Lookin' good, ladies!

09 April 2013

Dolly Parton Portrait

I'm a sucker for art. Rad, indie, quirky, original art. I think there might be over 100 pieces hanging up in my house (another 100 in the basement), but, without a doubt, the first thing everyone comments on is my four part print set of the Golden Girls.  Those ladies steal the show!

Rachel Wallis, the artists behind the set recently released a print of another one of my all-time favorite people:  Dolly Parton.

When Rachel emailed me about this, I was pretty shocked because I have a Google alert set up to tell me anytime the words “Dolly Parton Painting” graces the internet. This piece is even better than a painting, it’s a lino cut print poster. At $15 a pop, this is the type of original art I love best – the kind that leaves me with leftover money to buy lipstick and ample hair extensions.

As Dolly says, “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.”

Another one of my favorite Dolly quotes, the one that I think of all the time when I’m trying to get through something tough:

08 April 2013

Every once in a while I get an email from someone asking for advice about writing.

Some of these emails come from fellow bloggers, some are students looking to strengthen their voices, some are just curious about how to improve their skills. And that's the thing right there—improvement.

And while it is flattering to think anyone would want my advice on the matter, I think what they really want to know is how to make their words more conversational. That's what I do best: conversational writing. People tell me that they can hear my voice when they read my words— a wonderful compliment which is only surpassed by one that I'm about to share via humblebrag here: “I follow dozens of blogs every day and I skim them for pictures. I read yours top to bottom. Even if I don’t like the project, I always enjoy the words.”

Am I bragging? I’m bragging. Sorry. We’ll get to the un-bragging part in a sec, but let me start out by saying that if you are reading this and expecting tips on how to improve your grammar or the basic structural concepts of strong writing, this post is the last place you will find it. I'll list some other sources along those lines at the bottom—feel free to skip ahead.

Also, I warn you, this is easily one of the longest posts I have ever written. The audience is specific. Very specific. I will not be offended if you skip or skim what comes below, but if this topic is something you genuinely want to explore, read on. Imma let lose. You feel free to chime in come comment time at the bottom.

05 April 2013

Turtle Smoochin

Y’all know I have a wicked sparkle tooth.

I saw these faboo odds and bobs at Target and had to get them; an enamel bracelet made from two kissing giraffes and a pair of yellow turtle earrings.

Did you know turtles can breath through their butt?

It’s true. 

Would I pay $7.99 to wear rhinestone butt breathers on my ears?

You bettcha!

Happy Weekend :)

04 April 2013

I need a new headboard.

Actually, that’s misleading – I don’t have a current headboard.

So it's not really new.

I have never shown y’all a photo of my current bedroom because I have never really decorated it properly. It is lacking in headboard. It just doesn’t seem complete without it.

For many years I had a king sized bed and it had some big fancy modern thing...then life exploded and I downsized to a tiny apartment. For a while I slept on an old mattress on the floor that was salvaged from one of our guest bedrooms…. then I bought the cheapest double bed I could buy (big mistake - it started shredding after 4 months)…until finally, I eventually upgraded to the basic full size set I have now.  And I love it. The mattress is high density foam, which is something I cannot recommend enough to people with chronic back issues. I used to have mornings where I would crawl out of bed and hobble to the shower. I couldn’t even stand up without 5 minutes of hot water to help me straighten out. Since buying this mattress, I have only had one morning like that, and that was because I was sleeping in a hotel.  Once you get used to sleeping on a truly great mattress, it’s hard to go back (no pun intended).

If you are seriously looking, this place sells at a bargain price. Shipping is free.  I have now turned five other friends/family members into customers, all of whom agree with me, it was the best money they ever spent.

Was I talking about sequins? Oh shit. Okay, sorry, I got distracted. So I need a headboard. I keep thinking I’ll see one at an antique fair or thrift store that I can dress up, but in over a year of looking, I have yet to find something suitable.

Problem is that I’m picky. Very picky.

I do not want wood. I do not want metal. A big brass Bedknobs and Broomsticks bed would be awesome but they don't come around too often!

I want it to be soft, preferably fabric. I thought about making a custom piece by stapling fabric to plywood, but I want the fabric to be removable for cleaning (in addition to back problems I also have vicious allergies). Then I thought I might hang a Middle Eastern rug up, but I fear it would be scruffy and Lola would try to use it as vertical a scratching post. Then I thought I would use a quilt, but I’m having a hard time finding a quilt large enough that I can afford that doesn’t scream out for a country goose jamboree.

Like I said, I am picky.

All image sourced from My Marrakech
So now I’m thinking Morocco. A Moroccan wedding blanket to be specific.  They are so soft and cuddly, but also yet so sparkly. There is an Earthen Liberace-esque charm to them that I just love. Downside: they are not cheap. I mean, for something handmade that will be treasured for a long time, I suppose a few hundred bucks is a drop-dead bargain, but for me, for something that I don’t really need, it’s a lot.  Plus there’s shipping and blah blah blah.

Anyway. I’m thinking I might be able to DIY something according to my taste. It’s just white wool and silver sequins, right? How hard could it be?

Stay tuned….

03 April 2013

So I’m at home last Saturday morning minding my own business when what do you know, a Judy Garland movie comes on the color TV: Irving Berlin’s Easter Parade. Honestly, who is going to do laundry and vacuum when Judy Garland is there all fresh faced and stomping her little heart out with Fred Astaire to When That Midnight Choo Choo Leaves For Alabam. Ain't nobody got time fo that.

Let's be honest, Judy Garland always takes priority, but Judy Garland in hats is like the ultimate trump card. You can’t turn away.

What’s that? Your college basketball team is two points away from winning the elite 8? You’re going to click over to ESPN to see the end of the game? NOT WHEN JUDY IS ON YOU’RE NOT.

Judy’s headgear in this movie was so awesome, so chic, so frilly, I was inspired to make some last minute Easter bonnets. Seven to be precise. Do I need an Easter bonnet, much less seven Easter bonnets? No.

This is the power of Judy and Irving Berlin. This!

Modeling provided by my beautiful friend, Kiki Bird.
I decided to split this up into 2 parts: This week, Fascinators. Next week, full out Easter bonnets. Get ready people!

01 April 2013

The Fried Pickle Pilgrimage

Last month I went to Mississippi to hang out with family and get warm for the first time in months. I was there most recently in October but this was the first time I have been down that way in late winter in several years. I nearly forgot how nice it is. The weeks bookending Mardi Gras are just about perfect; 70degree temps, long days, daffodils and azaleas a plenty. No dogwoods yet, but the Japanese Magnolias were in full bloom. Gorgeous as can be.  The Natchez Pilgrimage runs from early March to early April , and I suspect that is because they know it is when Mississippi looks her best.

Oddly enough, the timing of this trip had more to do with Jackson’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade (which I highly recommend; which is actually called Hal & Mal’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade; which is the Hal & Mal behind the world’s best fried pickle and comeback sauce platter; but I digress)…we ended up driving Great Aunt Rhubarb’s Impala over hill, dale, city and town…from the magnificence spires of St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, to the humble pig above Fatty’s Crackin House…it was an awesome adventure.

I took my camera, my smart phone, and half-adozen photo apps. I took A LOT of photos. Half of them food, which I will not post here for fear of making you hungry (bragging on buttered hashbrowns and chocolate alligators isn't lady like). These are just a few of my other favorites...
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