Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I made DIY Japanese fishing floats

As I've been decluttering, I've found it pretty easy to get rid of a lot of stuff. One thing I didn't want to give away, despite not being able to use it as we originally planned and having no other place to use it, was this brass light shade.

At some point in the last week I saw what looked like this exact shade used as a vase with a tall pillar candle in it. I have no idea where I saw it, and Google searches have not been helpful. But it got me thinking about what I could put in that if I used it as a vase. I'm not really a candle person, but I remembered this Mod Podge Japanese fishing float tutorial that I saw forever ago. I bought the ornaments for this probably two years ago, and they've been sitting around ever since. Time to do some crafting.

The first steps--fill the ornaments with matte Mod Podge, swirl it around, pour it into the next one, repeat--went great. I didn't have any toilet paper tubes, so I used some grody old cupcake pans I had around. I lined the cups with foil, or you could use foil cupcake liners. I wouldn't use paper liners.

The original post says to bake them at 180 degrees, but doesn't say anything about the length of the time you have to bake them, just until they're clear. I went in ten minute increments and eventually lost track of time, but after maybe two hours, I noticed that there was condensation on the inside of the ornaments. I didn't know if this would mess up the Mod Podge, so I took them out and let them cool for maybe two minutes so I could touch them. It didn't take long since the temperature was only 180. Anyway, the extra Mod Podge had pooled in the throats of the ornaments, and in most cases had gone up far enough that it was now on the outside and had baked to a skin that attached the ornaments to the foil. It was pretty easy to detach them, but messy. If you have to get help to separate them, be sure to be super clear that this is hot liquid glue so don't jack around when you're pulling the foil off and burn yourself. B didn't really understand what I was doing, if you can't tell.

Eventually they started clearing up, although the clear side was really streaky. Well, nothing to be done about that. They were clearing on one side (the back) so I rotated the pans so the other side would clear. Then when I went back to check, the fronts that were previously clear were cloudy again and the backs were clearing.

I started this project after I put Baby Girl down for a nap, so let's say 2 PM. The ornaments were still cloudy at 7 PM. I finally gave up and took them out of the oven at about 7:30, and they still looked like this.

I eventually figured out that the ornaments I used were bigger than the ones used in the original tutorial--mine are 4" across--so I have no idea how much time this would take normally. I assume that was the cause of all my issues with this step.

The next morning, despite my hopes that they would miraculously clear up overnight, they still looked the same. I decided to throw them back in the oven, but this time at 220 degrees. After 30 minutes, it seemed like a miracle! They were clear! But as soon as they came out of the oven they clouded up again. It wasn't so much that they clouded up--that's part of the point, after all--but they were streaky and spotty. After an hour I decided to just make the best of it. We'll pretend that it was the glassblower's first day.

The original post used two glasses of dye: blue and green plus some yellow. I had kelly green Rit powdered dye and navy blue liquid dye. I followed the same recipe she did--pinch of salt, teaspoon of dye, water--even though I probably should have used less liquid dye. Since my ornaments were larger, I needed three. I didn't realize I'd need three at first and ended up having to dump some bottled water into one, so I suppose it all ended up equal in the end. I was a little worried about how they would balance on the cupcake pans, since I had thrown the plastic packaging away by this point, but they did fine.

I let the dye sit for three-ish minutes. After I mixed the dye for the first time, the ornaments mostly came out blue, so I tried redying a few of them with green. It took the second coat of dye just fine and I got a color I liked much more. This is the final product.

Sorry for the blurry picture, but I wanted to show my favorite one. I didn't stir the green dye and it (and probably the salt; I used kosher) made this starburst pattern. It's on two, but it's much more pronounced on this one.

And, of course, there were a few places where the Mod Podge didn't cover right and therefore the dye didn't cover right. Oh well.

Here they are in the vase.

My favorite one on top.

I tried to turn the stems toward the back or just keep them hidden as much as possible. I think it worked out fairly well. Oh, and pro tip: clean your glass container before you carefully arrange your floats in it.

Just to be clear, I don't think the issues I had were the fault of the original tutorial. I didn't realize that the ornaments she used were so much smaller than the ones I had, and I think the key to a smooth finish is having the Mod Podge melt quickly and evenly so it doesn't split or whatever happened with mine. I like to follow directions, so I probably would have used the lower temperature and screwed it up anyway, although I might only have used one package of ornaments to find out if I was right rather than messing up both.

I would also say that you should let these drain really well to make sure there's really no excess Mod Podge in there. Not too long, though, because I assume you don't want the Mod Podge to dry too much before you get them in the oven. Probably no more than ten minutes. Again, this may have been a function of having them at too low a temperature, but the pooling Mod Podge caused condensation and also made a bit of a mess around the openings of the ornaments, so try and avoid that as much as possible.

My vase isn't quite full, so I might give this a shot with another four pack of ornaments, assuming I can find them at this time of year. Maybe I can get them right using a higher temperature from the beginning.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The state of the house

I can feel my winter funk starting to lift. I'm sure I've written on here before that winter is not my season, and my ideal way to spend it would be curled up on the couch with a blanket and my laptop, and not go outside from November to March. Sadly, I can't make that happen, mostly because there's no grocery delivery in my area. But I think I see a light at the end of the tunnel, or a warm temperature at the end of the season, and I'm starting to think about home projects again. First I felt like decluttering (which you probably won't be able to tell from these pictures), so that's what I've been doing for the past few days. So far I've done the dresser in the living room, most of the kitchen, Baby Girl's closet and dresser, Baby Girl's and Yaya's bookshelves, and the bookcases in our room. I also finally decided to get rid of the play kitchen I built forever ago that was not built well and really too big. Here's the Goodwill pile so far, minus the kitchen set. The Little Green Machine is just there to be returned to my mom.

I've never shared pictures of most of the rearranging we've done over the past few months, so I think it's about time for that. I'll also share where we're at with the new room switch we're doing. There is no end to the room switches.

I was going to do more cleaning up for these pictures, but I still haven't been cleared to do as much cleaning as I have been so my back hurts, and the idea of either bending over or crawling on the floor to pick all that stuff up doesn't sound good to me.

So first of all, the living room is now where our bedroom used to be.

Spot the dogs. This is actually the second or third layout I've had in here since we moved it. The room is long and narrow, but it's not big, so most of the advice on furnishing long and narrow rooms is a bit tricky to adapt. I like this so far. My main complaint with the last layout--couch against the wall where the toys are, chairs in the center of the room where the couch is now, desk against the back of the chairs--was that the children would take flying leaps onto the furniture and the desk and chairs would end up pushed against the back wall. Also the back of the desk is ugly. They still take flying leaps onto the couch, but it's heavier so it only gets pushed a foot out of place instead of six feet. Plus now we don't have to see the back of the desk.

Here's the back half of the room.

Only one dog in this picture. The upholstery on those blue chairs was almost perfect when we got them, but of course it's destroyed now. I don't know what to reupholster them in, so they're getting dropcloth slipcovers. They also need new foam in the seats; I need to hit a sale for that. Also, you can see the bench that was in the entryway over there. I want something much more low-profile for the entry--I have a shelf to hang--so that's homeless for now. I might put it next to the couch instead of that table that's there now since the table is too high.

It took a while, but I think I finally hit on a reasonably decent layout for the toy room/sewing room.

It's hard to discern because it's messy. Story of my life. Here's just the toy room side.

We also have the small toy storage chests in the entry of the storage area under the stairs.

My sewing room.

This has also had several arrangements, but this one works for now. This layout actually allows me enough room to get to my chair and sit in it, so that's a plus. I've actually done a fair bit of work in here; the white table was just a pile of junk before, but now there's actual work space. Well, there was actual work space before I put that dollhouse there. It was on top of the play fridge that we got rid of, so it's temporarily homeless. I have no idea what I'm going to do with it; it was $1 at the secondhand store and I couldn't resist.

The dresser is another thing I couldn't resist. My dad called me one day and said "Do you want this dresser in my garage? If you don't take it, it's going on the burn pile." I couldn't let that happen--it's got a few inches of missing veneer but otherwise it's in great shape--so for now it's sewing storage. I might fix it up and sell it at some point in the future, when I get a permanent sewing room and can therefore install permanent storage.

Here's our current bedroom.

Itty bitty living space. That TV stand makes it look messier than it is. It's not too bad, at least on my side. B is a slob.

The walls will eventually be finished, either later this year or next year, after we get the foundation plates (helical plates? I can't remember the technical name) installed. At that point it will really be too small to be a bedroom, so...we'll be moving everything back! Yeah, I know. I really like having the living room downstairs; I love having that extra space. However, like I said, that room will no longer be usable as a bedroom so we'll have to go somewhere else. There may be a small period of time where we switch our room and the sewing/toy room, but ultimately we'll be going back to the living room space. When we sell this house (2016 oh please oh please oh please), we want to market it as a four bedroom. In order to do that, we have to have another room with an attached closet, and while we could probably do that in the sewing/toy room (probably; I haven't really thought about it), it would be much easier to do it in the living room. In fact, we might do a huge walk-in closet the full width of the back basement. I don't have enough clothes to justify that, but it seems like it would be a selling point. I'll ask my real estate agent.

So then, of course, B's game room would go back downstairs instead of being in the original living room space. I don't foresee this as being an issue, because a big part of the reason they moved upstairs was because it was cold in there. If the walls and ceiling are finished, the basement will be much warmer. B doesn't actually know that my intention is to have him go back to the basement yet. Again, I don't think it will be an issue once the basement is finished, and mostly I don't care, except that when we go to sell the house I'm pretty sure we should have the living room staged as the living room. I could see the potential in having it as a different room even if it's set up as a game room, but according to HGTV most people can't see that potential. That'll probably be something we address in early 2016, so no need to worry about it now.

Anyway, I said earlier that we have another room switch going on right now, because I can never leave things alone. Mr. Man, when he gets upset, tries to destroy things, and he doesn't discriminate based on size. He's knocked over dressers before. As a result, his room is pretty much completely empty except for his mattress on the floor. He did have a twin bed, but now he has a queen mattress. My mom had an almost-new queen mattress that she didn't want, so Yaya had that for a while, but then we traded our old unused chest freezer for a loft bed (and two hamsters that promptly had babies), so Yaya no longer needed the queen mattress. I want to get Mr. Man a platform bed, something very low, but that's been hard to find. I don't want to build it, but that's the way it's looking.

Baby Girl's room has always been too small for her from the beginning. Her room is the smallest room in the house, and I don't know how you could fit anything in there with a regular-sized bed. The vent is directly in the center of the room under the window, and will probably be covered up by any size of bed except crib/toddler. When she switches to a twin bed, she won't be able to have that and her dresser in there; there won't be room to walk. So it makes a lot more sense to have the kid with no furniture in the smallest room. Of course, when we go to sell the house we probably won't be able to have a queen mattress in the smallest room, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Mr. Man's room gets the best light, and I thought I wanted it to be yellow for Baby Girl. I thought I wanted a very definite yellow, with brown/orange undertones so it wasn't lemony. I painted these samples on the wall, with a sample of her dresser color. From left to right, the colors are Behr Pale Honey, Benjamin Moore Peach Cloud, and Behr Amber Moon.

I have now learned that I do not want a strong yellow. I'm not sure what I do want, but it'll probably be cream. I'm going to dig out the leftover kitchen paint and, if it's still good, put a sample of that up and see how it goes. I'll write more on that later, when I've actually made progress.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Happy third birthday, Baby Girl!

That time has come again: Baby Girl is three today. I can't believe she's this old; this is the year that the big changes start happening. Next month I can go to pre-K screening for her (to start in August). I knew that was coming this year, but having it actually here is different.

We're still having firsts, of course. She recently had her first dentist appointment, which I know is about two years late, but she's been on a waiting list at the boys' dentist since she was six months old. I believed them for a while when I'd call to check and be told "oh, another six months." But then one of the two dentists retired (he was an orthodontist; he did my braces when I was 17 and he was almost retirement age then) and I was tired of waiting, so off we went. She was not super thrilled.

A first she has yet to have: first haircut. I've been trying to talk B into it, but he wants her hair to grow out. It's more than halfway down her back, but it's so fine that I think shorter would look better. I've tried to explain to him that you can't just let hair grow forever, you have to cut it to get rid of split ends. He is skeptical, so we're still working on that.

And, of course, she is incredibly opinionated and not willing to take any shit from anyone. She hates it when people (or the dogs) walk behind her, she hates it when Noah sings, she hates it when Elijah repeats lines from her shows, etc etc. In short, her brothers annoy her the same way they annoy each other. Sibling love. B and I don't escape the annoyance, either. This is the look I get for most pictures now.

Sometimes she throws me a bone, though.

Happy birthday, Baby Girl.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The very very late Christmas photo post

I thought I had more Christmas photos than this, but...I do not. I mean, I have more, but they're either of Yaya so they will be staying on my hard drive, or they're pretty terrible so they will be staying on my hard drive. Potato, potahto.

I helped a little with decorating the tree, which is probably why there aren't many pictures; this was after my surgery but not by much so I wasn't terribly useful. Mr. Man was very very helpful, as you can see.

As was Baby Girl. She was probably taking this off the tree rather than putting it on, because that's pretty much how the season went. If it wasn't her taking them off, it was the cats.

I bought a cute Target gingerbread house kit, but it did not work out well. We built it too fast (this is what happens when you have kids: do it fast or not at all) and it collapsed. The upside is that the gingerbread still tasted good because it hadn't sat out for a month. As you can see, Baby Girl was right there to act as cleanup crew.

Christmas morning! I don't have many good pictures of this. Oh well, I lived it.

The boys each got a DS. They were used, because you cannot buy a new DS anymore (I don't think you can, anyway) and Mr. Man got pink because that's what the game store had. He could care less.

The kids also each got a tablet for Christmas. It was the year of electronics. The tablets were only $55 each and work well for the kids, although it seems like the screens scratch if you even look at them. Still, for $55, you can't ask for much more. I think it was this tablet (I didn't really pay attention; I let B take care of all that) and this case.

We went up to my parents' house on Christmas day to open gifts. Baby Girl actually held still long enough for me to do her hair. It was little buns on either side of her head, but her hair is so fine it was coming loose by the time we even got to my parents' house. She ended up in pigtails. Still cute.

And one last picture of Mr. Man, getting a Lego kit. Yay Lego. We stopped buying him big kits because he tends to throw things when he's mad, but these little kits are perfect.

I know this is more than a little late, but I hope everyone had a good Christmas! I actually have at least two more posts planned, I just need to focus up and get them written. Maybe it'll be two weeks between posts this time instead of three.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Fall 2014 photo dump

Not to be confused with the ostensibly upcoming "Christmas 2014 photo dump."

Time did not stop while I was off my feet with a herniated disk, and even though B made it sound like most days it was a miracle he got everyone to school and they ate way too much fast food, there were some fun activities.

This might have been taken before I hurt myself; we did quite a lot of basement cleaning the week before that. You can't tell we were cleaning from this picture, of course.

A clean toy room. I was wrong; I'm pretty sure this was all B. This was during the very brief time where he switched his game room and the toy/sewing room. Now his game room is up where the living room is supposed to go, the living room is downstairs, and our bedroom is in the semi-finished part of the basement, to the right in this picture.

It snowed!

She was wearing a coat under there, I promise. Knowing B she's probably got four layers of clothing on, too.

You'll have to trust me that this is Yaya.

I had a hard time finding pictures of Mr. Man that weren't blurry. That's a problem I have a lot with him.

He had a pretty chapped face for a while there; so far we haven't had a repeat.

OK, so maybe not much happened for those few months. Or at least, nothing B took pictures of. There are more from Christmas stuff. A few, anyway.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Happy holidays; I hope everyone is having a great season!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ambitious but rubbish

A few weeks ago, B and I were bemoaning the fact that we couldn't use a lot of our Christmas stuff because there just wasn't room in the living room for it. I've wanted to set up a village for the longest time, but don't have the space, and last year we bought a train on after-Christmas clearance at Toys 'R Us but the living room was too small for it. This isn't even considering all the space we can't use in regular decorating because of the open railing. While we were talking, we were in our bedroom--the biggest room in the house--and I said, "I wish that when we were switching everything around way back when, when this was still a toy room, that we had gone ahead and made this a family room so we could have room for stuff like that."

We talked about it a little more over the next few days, then suddenly we had worked out all the "but what room will go where" questions and we--well, B and a friend--were moving furniture. B's game room is now in the living room, and it can function as a formal dining room if we need it to. Our bedroom is in the back, in the former toy room. The toy/sewing room is kind of thrown into the space that used to be B's game room; there's definitely lots of organization to come there.

We've switched rooms around a lot in this house, far more than I ever remember doing anywhere else I've ever lived, but this is by far the most ambitious rearranging project we've ever taken on. In addition to all this, we will be switching Baby Girl's and Mr. Man's rooms around. We will need to do more finishing in the basement (we've spray foamed about half of the rim joist and it's helped a lot, which kind of surprised me), paint the new living room, paint both kids' rooms, and finish up all the other miscellaneous projects I've started in each of those rooms but not finished.

The space we're focusing on right now is the new living room, formerly our bedroom. This is what it looks like right now, first from the door.

This is what it looks like behind the couch.

Facing toward the door. New thrift store desk is too tall to go behind the couch, boo.

It's a pit, and I can't really do much to straighten things out--I was moving little things like magazines and knick knacks this weekend and ended up having to take an anti-inflammatory and two pain pills so I won't be doing that again. B is very motivated to get it done, though, because we want to have the Christmas stuff set up again as soon as possible. But it's going to be a slow process anyway. I really want to have all the decor projects done by Baby Girl's birthday so that maybe for once we can actually have room to have a party here. Judging by my past record, and by the fact that every bit of progress I've made in being less lazy has apparently gone out the window, I'm not super duper hopeful.

On the plus side, I found some pretty awesome toe socks I forgot I had.