+ 8,000 miles

Hello, friends!

Crickets.

Um, hello? Anybody? Dad?

In case someone does check in here, let me explain where I’ve been. Way back in October (when I last blogged), I was making progress on a few house projects–updating the master bedroom, getting ready to change the nursery to a big girl room, and finishing the front porch. (Ok, I was thinking about the porch, but mostly just allowing it to consume me with guilt. That’s almost like working on it, right?)

Then–poof!–all my motivation to work on projects and update the house disappeared. For good reason.

We decided to move…here:

Arrow on map

Zoom in, shall we?

Picture of Taipei skyline by orange tuesday

Photo by orange tuesday

That’s Taipei, folks. We’re moving to Taiwan! Hubby has a two-year contract starting this fall, so we’re packing up the girls and leaving 110 in June. Gah! We are keeping the house–we’ll be renting it out–but I don’t know that we’ll ever live in it again. I’m a little heart sick about that part, but this is a move by choice that we are very excited about.

Oh boy, there’s so much I’d like to share with you about our move. Like, say, deciding what to include in our 4,000 pound shipping allowance. And getting this house in rental condition–that should be interesting(ish). Then of course there will be the apartment search in Taipei. House Hunters International, anyone? I know, I know, you’re wondering about the big questions: Will I be able to find contact paper and Mod Podge in Taipei? Time will tell, friends. But getting crafty and decorating a rental with unknown supplies is sure to be fun.

Can’t make any promises about post frequency, but I can tell you I’m excited to get back to blogging and that I’ll have lots to share in the future. Want to join me on an international adventure?

And now for an abrupt transition to something completely unrelated…

Have you seen the Ryan Gosling “hey girl” meme in which smoldering pictures of him are overlaid with hilariously unlikely declarations of support to his girl? (Get acquainted here.) Well, I couldn’t resist this invitation to give Hubby the “hey girl” treatment.

hey girl 2

And because he understands the importance of this whole thing…

hey girl 3

OK folks, I’m hoping to be back here soon. But now I’m off to weigh the couch. How much is 4,000 pounds anyway?

Easy DIY neon & copper necklace

Happy Halloween, folks! Turns out I unintentionally took October off from my otherwise  rigorous blogging schedule. Oops. But what better reason to get back on track than October’s Random Acts of Craftiness Challenge? None, I say.

As a reminder, challenge participants attempt to make something original from an assigned type of material. No looking online for ideas to copy or tweak. It’s like the opposite of a make-something-you’ve-seen-on-Pinterest challenge.

This month’s material: ODDS & ENDS from the HARDWARE STORE

Why yes, that does include a gazillion interesting little bits which can surely be combined or manipulated in umpteen million ways to achieve mind-blowing crafty awesomeness. But no pressure.

The possibilities were overwhelming at first; I cycled through ideas hot and heavy. There was the magazine rack made with pvc pipe and chain. Then there was the candle holder wrapped in embroidered window screen. There were a handful of chandelier plans and loads of possible decorative tchotchke thingamajiggers.

I quickly nixed the ideas that seemed fun to create but not so awesome to have in my home. (Kind of like cross-stitch for me. I love the act of doing it, but I’ve never met a cross-stitch pattern I’d like to see in my home. Not even the new hipster ironic ones.) So it had to be something I’d actually like to have. Since life circumstances found me with not much time for a cool but complicated project, it also had to be simple.

And if nothing else, I nailed it on the simplicity front. This project requires only two supplies and about two minutes of your time. Bonus, it incorporates two color trends I’m loving right now.

Ta da:

Easy DIY neon & copper necklace

Like I said, simple (although surprisingly tough to photograph). You don’t need a tutorial…

Hanging DIY neon & copper necklace

…you just need to know where to find this stuff.

Supply #1: Masonry twine

Neon yellow masonry twine

I found mine in the chain/rope/string section of Home Depot’s hardware aisle for about $4.00. (I bought it a while back for this project.) It’s also available in neon pink and orange.

Supply #2: Crimp sleeves

Copper crimp sleevesI have no idea what these are actually for, but they can be found in the electrical supply section. These cost $5.50. Other sizes and quantities were also available.

For about $10, you’ll get enough supplies to make a bunch of necklaces like this. Or bracelets. Or anklets, if that’s your thing (in which case I assume you live in a beach community). I made my necklace large enough to slip over my head, so I just tied a knot in the back and sealed the ends with a lighter. If you want a smaller necklace or a bracelet (or anklet) that you’ll need to open and close, you can pick up copper or rose gold jewelry clasps for a couple dollars at Michael’s.

I actually did just that since my original plan required a clasp. I toyed with a bunch of necklace designs–two strands of different lengths; more beads; beads flipped in opposite directions–before ultimately deciding to keep it simple. (Have I mentioned that?) The only bit of flair I added was to braid three strands of masonry twine together to bulk it up some. A single strand just seemed, well, too simple.

I feel like I have to show the necklace actually being worn, so here’s the best bathroom self-portrait I could manage.

Wearing DIY neon & copper necklaceCringe. Pardon the off center beads; that’s not an intentional styling trick.

OK, now I’m hopping over here to check out the work of my fellow random crafters. Join me? Come on, let’s go get our minds blown.

Trivial towels: A random act of craftiness

Do you know what today is? It’s project reveal day for the first round of the Random Acts of Craftiness Challenge, wherein blogging and non-blogging crafty types make cool stuff out of random stuff without consulting the interwebs for inspiration. (Learn more here.)

This month’s crafting challenge: GAME PIECES.

Within about three minutes of hearing this I mentally designed a letter sorter made of dominoes. It would be awesome–gold paint, touches of neon–really stunning. It would be the letter sorter to end all letter sorters. Your letter sorter would weep in its presence. (And then how would you manage all those letters?) But then I got actual dominoes in my hands and realized immediately that my idea was a total bust. Flop-o-rama.

Letter sorter fail

Not to worry, Plan B started looking promising. I would make the geometric necklace to end all geometric necklaces!

You know those little pie pieces from Trivial Pursuit? Aren’t those just begging to be strung up and worn like this?

Trivial necklace mock-up

Except how would I drill through the little plastic pieces for stringing purposes without crushing them? And was I just going to leave a Trivial Pursuit game out there in the world without its pie pieces? Well that didn’t seem right. I wouldn’t let myself buy a set of pieces on eBay either; you know, as punishment for my foolish domino purchase. (I was so confident in Plan A’s potential to rock the letter sorting world that I invested $5 without prototyping first. Rookie mistake.)

No, I couldn’t leave a game out there all sad and incomplete. So I shifted course again, and I am happy to assure you that no game pieces were harmed in the making of this project.

Friends, may I humbly present…

Easy DIY stamped tea towels using game pieces

I planned to make one or two, but I got on a roll and made five. Some better than others. I think this one with the little triangle is my favorite. It might become a pillow. TBD.

Orange triangle stamped tea towel

And I did manage to bring in neon. Couldn’t help myself. I rolled my eyes at the neon trend at first, but then I made some branches and now…

Neon geometric stamped tea towel

…can’t seem to get enough.

Black & neon stamped tea towel - DIY

And I’ve got to throw in some metallic for good measure. This was the last one I made. By that time my quality control was, um, not so controlled. Let’s call the irregularities handmade charm, mkay?

Gold geometric stamped tea towel - DIY

 

These towels were so simple to make. I’m sure you can guess the basics — dip, stamp, repeat — so I won’t bore you with a full tutorial. But I will fill in a few details.

Fabric painting supplies

MATERIALS:

* Trivial Pursuit game pieces
* Tea towels (I used these and one flour sack because I had them on hand)
* Acrylic craft paint
* Fabric medium for craft paint (like this)
* Muffin tin (or something else in which to mix paint and dip pieces)
* Rags or paper towels to tamp off extra paint
* Small paintbrush (optional, to use if you want to fill in any of the triangles)

The key to this project is using fabric medium with your paint. Doing so ensures that the paint will remain flexible and will be washable. You mix one part medium to two parts paint and stamp away. Then you let your creation air dry for 24 hours before heat setting the paint with an iron. That’s it.

This was my first time using fabric medium, but I think I’m hooked. Now I have a million ideas for pillows and t-shirts and who knows what else that I want to paint. (Am I last to this party?) Our girls already made some hand painted tea towels for their Nana, and me thinks Christmas may be a little painterrific around here.

OK folks, now I’m off to check out all the game piece brilliance that will surely be on display over here. You should, too. Go ahead. And let me say a quick thanks to Erin, Kelly, and Michelle for organizing the Random Acts of Craftiness. Can’t wait to find out next month’s challenge!

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PS — Special thanks to Apartment Therapy for featuring our painted house reveal last week!

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Linking up with Hi Sugarplum’s In About An Hour party because seriously, this project is quick! Also linking up with Serenity Now, Craftberry Bush, and Beneath My Heart.

Our Bagster experience

Have you heard of Bagster? It’s like a cross between this…

Dumpster filled with home renovation debris

…and this.

Blue ikea shopping bag filled with laundry

It’s a really small dumpster. It’s a really big bag. It’s a Bagster!

Bagster product photo

We used one for our front porch demo, and it was perfect for our needs. So today I’m sharing why we used Bagster, the basics of how it works, and a few insider tips in case you’re looking for a mini dumpster solution. (Btw, this is not a sponsored post. I wish! Just kidding…kind of…But this post is definitely not paid or perked.)

Why Bagster worked for us:

As far as renovations go, we had a small amount of debris. Just the porch floor, railings, and two posts. Definitely not enough to warrant a big dumpster. Besides, we have to get a city permit and pay a per-day parking fee to have a dumpster on the street in front of our house, which gets pricey and means the pressure is on to work quickly. No thanks. You may have noticed we don’t work all that quickly.

Alternatively, hauling stuff to the dump on our own would allow us to work at a leisurely pace. But we knew we’d have more than one pick-up truck load of debris to haul away. Not super convenient since (a) the dump is kind of far away, and (b) we don’t have a truck. My dad graciously hauls stuff to the dump for us with his truck sometimes, but we didn’t want to burden him, especially since his truck is busy with other stuff this time of year. Of course we could have rented a truck (e.g., by the hour from Home Depot), but that would also add up and was a hassle we just didn’t feel like dealing with.

So Bagster was the perfect middle of the road solution for us.

Bagster in original package

As you can see, the basics of how it works are: buy, fill, gone.

1. BUY

* First things first, check here to see if Waste Management offers Bagster pick-up service in your area.

* You purchase the Bagster itself at a retail location, then pay separately to have it picked up. We bought ours at Home Depot for $29. Find a retailer near you here, or you can purchase through Amazon.

Bagster for sale at Home Depot

* Collection fees vary by location. We paid $150. Not pennies, I know. But it was a good value for us. You can look up the collection fee in your area online.

2. FILL

Actually, wait, before we get to what can/can’t go in the bag, we need to talk about Bagster placement. It’s crucial.

Think about the end game when placing your Bagster. A big truck with a crane arm is going to come lift this thing up…

Waste Management truck

…so you have to make sure the truck has unfettered access. That means at least five feet clearance all around your Bagster from any structures like fences or mailboxes; no wires, branches, etc. overhead that could interfere with pick up; and no further than 16′ feet from the street or driveway. But don’t plan on driveway pick-up if it’s a tight squeeze to get in (e.g., from an alley). It’s a big truck, y’all; it can’t make tight turns. And you have to sign a damage waiver if you want the truck to pull onto your driveway, so consider that carefully.

* Once you’ve found the right location, lay the Bagster out flat, unfold it, and have a couple of toddlers step inside to open the sides.

Toddlers in empty bagster

You can substitute an adult here if no children are available, but I don’t recommend it.

* Then fill ‘er up with up to 3300 lbs of non-toxic, non-hazardous waste. Different restrictions apply for things like yard debris and appliances in different locations. Check out the specifics for your area online.

Bagster filled with home renovation debris

* You can fill all the way up to the top. They just have to be able to get the orange straps to meet at the top during pick-up. (But if it’s too full and seems unsafe, they might not take it and may charge you a fee.)

Hooking up Bagster for collection

3. GONE

* When you’re ready to bid adieu to your junk, you call to request a pick-up. That’s when you pay the collection fee. Your Bagster will be picked up within three business days of your call. That’s as specific as it gets, folks: a three day window.

That was kind of a big deal for us, and we seriously lucked out with our pick-up time. See, there is public street parking in front of our house. It’s always full. We can’t ensure open access to our curb (without getting the city involved) EXCEPT for the three hour window in a week that parking is restricted on our side of the street for street sweeping. And sweet mother of all things holy, that’s actually when our truck arrived! Bullet dodged.

* The pick-up routes for a given day are set by 6am. If you give your email address when you call to request collection, they’ll email you on the morning of your pick-up. Hubby didn’t know that and didn’t want to give his email address, so we were getting up at 6am to call and find out if we were on the day’s route. (But again, we were really sweating our pick-up time.)

* You don’t need to be home for pick-up. Here’s what you’ll miss if you’re not there.

Bagster removal

The whole removal process is very efficient. I don’t think it even took ten minutes. (So much nicer than multiple dump runs!)

* Your driver may or may not have a co-pilot.

Co-pilot

So that’s it–our Bagster experience. A bit pricey, but definitely worth a premium since it met our needs so well. Bonus: now we have something to blame our dead grass on.

Anybody else tried Bagster? Or a good old fashioned dumpster? Anybody else find a million and one uses for those blue Ikea bags?

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Linking up with Dining, Design, & Diapers; Serenity Now; and It’s Overflowing
; and Too Much Time on My Hands.

Cheap chunky canvases

I like my canvases chunky, like my peanut butter. At least when it comes to medium to large(ish) scale art.

For something that’s only, say, 11 x 18″, half an inch is thick enough for me.

Side of DIY navy, orange, and gold pair of paintings[More on those paintings here.]

But once you get up to 18 x 24″ or so, a nice inch-thick canvas just feels so much more proportional to me.

DIY animal nursery art, faux chunky canvasses
Mmm, chunky. But when I made that art for our nursery I realized that the thicker canvases are pricey! At a Michael’s near me…

Price tag for inch thick canvas
$30? Ouch! And I wanted three for the nursery. Even if I managed to buy all three canvases with a 40% off coupon, that would still run me $54. I’m too cheap for that. Fortunately, my mom had a brilliant idea for faking it.

Check this out.

Price tag for pair of thin canvases

A two pack of these thinner 18 x 24″ canvases is half the price of one thicker canvas. Sure, there must differences in quality besides just the thickness. (Smoothness maybe?) But let me tell you, this amateur is perfectly happy with the quality of the cheapest canvases Michael’s carries.

In light of the two-pack discovery, Mom suggested I just sandwich a couple of the thin canvases together and cover the seam. So that’s just what I did.

Faux thick canvas

And I love the results! You wouldn’t guess from the front that these aren’t the real deal.

DIY nursery animal art on faux thick canvases

Here’s how you can do the same thing. And/or something slightly different. You choose.

 SUPPLIES

* 2 x half-inch thick canvases of matching dimensions
* Liquid nails (or your preferred adhesive)
* Flat head push pins, or a classier alternative like brass upholstery tacks
* Inch-wide ribbon such as grosgrain (I used about 3.5 yards for each 18×24″ canvas)
* Scissors
* [Optional] screwdriver & four 3/4″ wood screws (a drill probably would be good too)

PROCESS

(1) Create artwork on one canvas. Be sure to carry your color around the outside edge of your canvas. Allow artwork to fully cure.

Here’s where this tutorial becomes a choose your own adventure.

 

+++ For a method that preserves your second canvas for later use and includes a ribbon picture hanging loop (as shown above), move to step #2.

+++ For a method that scraps the second canvas but allows for hidden hanging hardware, skip to step #5.

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(2) Lay unpainted canvas face down on your work surface (aka: floor, if you’re anything like me). Run a generous bead of liquid nails (or your preferred adhesive) all the way around the wood frame. Don’t get too close to the edge–keep about a half inch back–so you don’t end up with blobs of glue squirting through your seam.

(3) Lay painted canvas on top of the unpainted one so the wrong/back sides are touching. Make sure they are lined up as perfectly as possible. (I found some minor shape irregularities in my canvases that didn’t allow perfect alignment–again, these are the cheapies–but I don’t notice it in the final product at all.) You may need to scooch your canvas around a bit, so make sure you use an adhesive that allows for this.

Once you are satisfied with the alignment, press firmly around the whole perimeter to ensure adhesion. Obviously you want to take care not to damage your artwork.

(4) Now it’s time to hide that seam. You’re going to wrap ribbon around your canvases in this pattern:

Ribbon wrap pattern for faux thick canvas with hanging loop

Start by pinning end of your ribbon to the left side of the canvas, about 1/2″ down from the top corner. Place one pushpin in each canvas so you have two side-by-side. Then pull ribbon around top corner and pin in place again. So now there are a total of four tacks at the corner. Like this, except at the top (which I failed to take even a marginally decent picture of).

Pinned corner of faux thick canvas

Continue ribbon all the way around your canvas, pinning at each corner, until you get back to the top left corner. Remove your first two pins, lay second layer of ribbon, replace pins. Now carry your ribbon across the top again and pin the end of your ribbon just below the top right corner, leaving ample slack to serve as a hanger. I just eyeballed it with the first of my canvases to find a hanger length that looked good. For your reference, that ended up being about 1 and 1/3 times the canvass width.

Size for ribbon hanging loop
[Not the cutest hooks, I know, but I do love them.]

Now skip to step #10

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[Disclaimer: I'm making some guesses about this method since I didn't actually do it.]

(5) Lay painted canvas face down on your work surface, taking care to protect your masterpiece. Run a bead of liquid nails (or your preferred adhesive) all the way around the wood frame. Don’t overdo it–you don’t want glue squirting through your seam.

(6) Lay the other canvas face down on top of the painted canvas (so you’ll be looking at the wood frame in the back of the canvas). Make sure your canvases are lined up as perfectly as possible and firmly press down around the whole frame. You could probably skip the glue in light of step #7, but my gut tells me it’s still a good idea.

(7) Now add a 3/4″ screw to each of the four corners, screwing through the back of the back canvas into the frame of the front canvas. If you have a drill, it wouldn’t hurt to drill pilot holes for some anti-splitting insurance. But obviously be careful not to drill all the way through your artwork.

(8) Follow step 5 above, except don’t add the extra length across the top. Also, since your ribbon won’t be supporting any weight, you could skip the pins and just glue the ribbon on for a simpler look if you prefer. Or you could go the other way with it and carry the pins all the way around for a nailhead trim look. Just sayin, you’re in charge.

(9) Add hanging hardware to wood frame of the canvas in back.

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(10) You’re done! Now hang that chunky art and stand back to admire it.

Pretty simple, eh? And remember, if you used the ribbon hanger method, you’ve got another blank canvas back there so you can change things up if you get tired of your current project.

Blank faux thick canvas with ribbon hanger

Our nursery art will be retired soon (hello, big girl room!), so I’ve got three chunky canvases to play with. Good times.

Finally, ahem, I have a confession to make. I’ve actually converted to smooth peanut butter over the past year for the sake of one child who is crazy for it. Let it never be said that this mother doesn’t sacrifice.

So, do you go for chunky art? Or peanut butter?

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Linking up with Design, Dining, & Diapers ; Tatertots & Jello; Too Mych Time on My Hands; It’s Overflowing; and Home Stories A to Z.