Adventures in Candlemaking

I’m not sure why or how I got into candlemaking recently. I guess I was in need of a new challenging and expensive hobby. Expensive, you say? But candles are expensive, so surely it must be more affordable to make your own? I’m here to explain why that might not be the case and why you might want to try it anyway.

I assumed, that making container candles was quite easy. You melt wax, you stick a wick in a container and pour. Those are, in fact, the basics but it’s so much more complicated than that, and it’s made even more complicated by a supply issue (no doubt due to pandemic hobbyists like myself) that make it difficult to obtain consistent supplies.

Things I’ve learned:

  1. There are many types of wax to choose from. And there’s no way to know which you’ll like best until you try them all. So far, I’ve tried four kinds: Some Eco Soya wax that my SIL gave me that she had from a candlemaking bout a few years ago. I assumed this was fairly old-school since I had read a little bit about wax and the gold standard these days seemed to be the Golden Brands 464. I ended up LOVING it. Each candle came out smooth and creamy and the scent held very well. It took some effort to get the right wicks that worked with it (the best ones I’ve found are the LX series – also hard to find in stock anywhere). But by the time, I cracked the code on fragrance load, container size, and wicks, I couldn’t get the wax anywhere. Currently it’s out of stock everywhere.
  2. Wicks are important, and tricky. When I first started watching “How to” videos on candlemaking, I noticed there were a lot of references to “testing.” I thought maybe testing was something you just needed to do if you were making mass produced candles to sell. What I’ve learned is that you really do need to test for a variety of things in order to find that perfect combination that works perfectly. With the eco soya wax, I tried a number of different brands and sizes of wicks before I found a good combo that didn’t burn dangerously hot, or that didn’t tunnel down and waste wax. It was even trickier because I was using various size containers so the size wasn’t consistent. Here’s my tip on testing – treat it with scientific accuracy. I downloaded a testing worksheet from Candlewic, and I record all the variables and then rate the results. I save it in my Goodnotes app on my ipad and just save each worksheet from each candlemaking session in a folder there.
  3. There will be failures. I have countless candles now making themselves at home in every room, some with wicks that barely burn (or don’t burn at all), some that burn way too hot, many that have a nice scent but they are “pillaring” down without burning to the edge of the candle. Every now and then, I scrape out all the wax from these containers for reuse.
  4. It’s hard to find pure fragrance oils. Now I remember what drove me to candlemaking! I wanted to make my own signature scents. Although I have a full regiment of essential oils in every scent imaginable, candles do better with fragrance oils – and fragrance oils tend to be blends like “lavender oasis” or “a day at the beach” (I actually just made those two up), You can still blend them together, but I haven’t delved into this too much. For now, I’ve bought a number of these fragrance oils and have just used them on their own. My one attempt at blending was trying to recreate Westin Hotels white tea and aloe scent… with poor results.

But despite these challenges, I’m enjoying it. My SIL also gave me two giant blocks of beeswax. Tonight I made beeswax container containers and did actually try it with essential oils – 30 drops of orange and 15 drops of eucalyptus. The beeswax does have a strong scent of its own, but I’m kind of liking it. The first time I melted the beeswax I recognized the smell immedietly from my childhood. My paternal grandparents’ homestead in Minnesota had an old beehouse, not used for decades, but that scent still permeated everything. I didn’t even know what it was until I smelled the beeswax! It’s earthy and a little musty, and a little sweet. Probably not for everyone but now it’s triggered a scent memory for me, and we all know how powerful those can be.

These are some suppliers I’ve been ordering from:

Procandlesupply.com

candlescience.com

lonestarcandlesupply.com

brambleberry.com

There don’t seem to be any local candle supply places in Maine and that’s unfortunately because the shipping is very expensive for wax and supplies, often a third of the cost of the order itself. I should open up my candle supply store!

Here are some photos:

These are the beeswax candles I made tonight. The jar on the left is a bonne mamame jelly jar (my favorite!) and the one on the right is from the dollar stores (I actually got a ton there and hey, they’re only a dollar, no shipping!). This time I made my own wicks too, so we’ll see how that works out. There’s a crack on the left one but I can fix that with my blowtorch.

Find-a-grave-ing – an unappreciated hobby

A few weeks ago, my sister texting me, asking “wanna go find-a-grave-ing?” I immediately replied “HELL YES!” and we made plans for the following weekend. Then I told Jon and he said “What? I’m working this weekend. Can’t you reschedule for a time I can go with you?” Ok… so we did. Then I told my mother, and she said “Oooh! That sounds like fun. I’d love to go… but I won’t bother you young people… you go on without me.” (I’m 46 btw).

Who knew that so many people loved cemeteries? But why shouldn’t they? Myself, once I got past my youthful avoidance of mortality, have come to love them. They are peaceful, interesting, and often, uncrowded. You go to a park and it’s full of kids and dogs and people and blah blah blah. A cemetery is usually deserted, with the exception of a dog walker or two and maybe a family visiting a departed relative (but dog walkers are more common).

SOOO… what’s find-a-grave-ing? My sister and my parents (and sometimes myself) like to dig into geneology and they’re often hunting for a long lost ancester or two. I find it very strange that even though my father’s side of the family is from Minnesota, and 4 out of 5 of us ended up in Maine that there is a big Maine connection to the Ebinger side of the family. Norridgewock, Bangor, Vassalboro, Augusta… our relatives are buried all over this land. We’ve found most of them, though, so now my sister has taken to finding other people’s relatives!

If you go to Findagrave.com, you can look for graves of your relatives, and you can also request that other people look for graves for you. So, for instance, if I have an ancestor buried in California, but I live in Maine, I can ask some nice Californians to look for my grave and take a photo. That way I can find out interesting info, like death date, etc. So my sister found a list of graves that needed finding in Augusta, and away we went!

I should also mention that this is a common pastime for me and Jon as well. He likes to take photos and turn them into 3D images and his favorite subject is gravestones. We’ve frequented many cemeteries from Portland to Bath to Brunswick and Augusta, so we know our way our a graveyard. But this time, we went to Riverside Cemetery in Augusta (known for being right behind the Dairy Queen, which we did take advantage of), and Mount Vernon Cemetery, part of Mount Hope Cemetery. My fitbit tells me I got 12,000 steps in that day (pretty good for this lazy gal), and we had a lovely day of walking and familiarizing ourselves with all the surnames of Maine – Clarke and Pullen and Haskell and Morse, Allen and Norcross, Kimball and Storey. I love that nearly every name I came across, I knew someone with that last name.

Here’s some photos. I was looking for James Thwing and I couldn’t read these. I thought maybe I could digitally enhance them.

I also found some Fennos. It’s a name I’d never heard before but apparently we have some in the family. Now my sister has turned me on to a mystery of the Vassalboro Farriss’es – William who was married to Elizabeth, who died in 1807 BUT he married another women in 1806!!! I’m on it. I love a good mystery.

Down the rabbit hole, and into the garden.

Down the rabbit hole…

My mind does not work linearly. I’m a “down the rabbit” hole kind of explorer and I love every minute of it. I think that’s why I’m good at trivia. Because at some point, I’ve read lightly about almost every topic after stumbling upon it from a search for something else. What I love about this way of exploring is that I get the feeling that I’m in the middle of an expanding circle that keeps getting more and more interesting. And so many things often converge that tie into each other and inform one another.

I’ve noticed this about some of my hobbies and interests. An area that I’ve been intrigued by for a very long time is related to plants and nature and medicine and fragrance and self care. I often think that if I lived in another time and place, I would be the village herbalist or a shaman or the procurer of food for my pioneer family. I’d completely be the one looking at that wild mushroom saying “I’m sure it’ll be fine! Here, I’ll just try a nibble.”

I love the idea of self sufficiency and being able to get everyone you need from the land outside your door. I’ve recently been buying things from a local herbalist. She grows or forages all of the plants and concocts them into formulas. I buy them somewhat randomly and I don’t really know if they work, but I get a kick out of it anyway, and it’s made me want to try to grow things again.

My relationship with gardening is not awesome. I love plants and flowers, and I love CREATING a garden but that dastardly maintenance kills me (and all my plants) every time. There are some hardy souls in my garden. The dogwood that really shouldn’t survive in a Maine climate, but does anyway (thought it took 10 years to blossom). The China Girl Holly that wasn’t particularly healthy when I got from Lowes or some such place, but has grown into a beautiful and healthy specimen by my front door. The bearded irises that grow and spread and bloom and are beautiful, no matter how much I dig them up and move them. The PJM rhodos that got overgrown and leggy until a few years ago, I cut them down hard and they survived and thrived.

Last year, I decided it was time for a garden rejuvenation, so I started by clearing out a very large weedy area and this year, my plan is tackle the front garden – really the most visible part of my yard. It’s about a 24 X 24 foot space with the dogwood in the middle and rhodos by the house. So I’ve been manically thinking about what to plant. A few things are on my mind:

  • Herbs and plants I can make tinctures out of so I can play medicine woman – and also use for cooking
  • Flowers, and plants that I can harvest for fragrances (tying into my new candle making hobby – maybe more on that soon)
  • Edibles other than herbs, like lettuces and greens to feed those voracious bunnies.
  • Flowers for cutting so I can always have a beautiful bouquet in the summertime.

I love the idea of mixing all these things together into something wild and beautiful like an English cottage garden. For expertise I’m relying on my mom (who proclaims “Oh I don’t know what I’m doing! I’m just dig a whole and plant it! – and comes up with the most gorgeous garden in all the land), and my good friend BH&G – with lots of garden plans that I can steal from.

But right now… it’s still March. I want to think spring is here, but it’s really not. So for now, I’ll dream and plan, and stay awake plotting and digging and smelling and enjoying the garden of my imagination. Here are some photos from last summer of areas that I plan to improve or build upon this year.

When you’re addicted to planners but none of them work for your life.

I love me a good planner. I’ve bought at 5 planners just for 2020. I bought one for content projects (yes). I don’t use it. I bought 2 daily planners – one for work, one for play. I don’t use them. I bought a digital planner from Commit 30. I used it for a while. I hacked together my own digital planner on Good Notes (an app I discovered when I bought the planner from Commit 30. And then I found a way to make a good one in Good Notes. It wasn’t that hard, and I’m actually using it, because I made it myself to meet my own needs.

Why traditional planners don’t work for me

Do they work for anyone? We all have unique lives and unique things we want to track. For me, I don’t need a planner to designate half hour increments in my day. My day is nowhere near that complex. I have Google calendar for work meetings and appointments. That’s not what I need a planner for.

Weekdays vs. Weekends

I don’t track work on my planner – I do that elsewhere. I like to keep work and “me time” separate. Otherwise it causes me stress! For Monday through Friday, I just need a small section for each day where I can put things I have to do on that particular day. Then, I need a big section for things I need to do that week, because let’s face it, most things can be procrastinated until Friday. NBD. And then I need a space for ideas, notes, and goals.

For weekends, I need the same stuff, but more of it. Why, oh why, do most planners have LESS space for the weekend? That’s absurd! Because I like to be busy on weekends! Besides, when else is there time to get shit done?

Here’s what my weekday and weekend planner looks like:

Weekday

weekday planner
Here are some examples of stickers that I don’t really use and are seasonally inappropriate.

Weekend

weekend planner
Please don’t be jealous of scintillating life.

Psst. I also just learned how to take a screenshot with your ipad. Click the home button (bit button at the bottom) at the same time you click the “sleep” button at the top. Then you can draw on it etc. and save it in your photos.

Ok, so getting your day planning is the most important step. But I want my planner to do more! Most of my “extras” were inspired by my Commit 30 digital planner, but I added some things and deleted some things. These run across the top of my custom digital planner here.

Categories
The categories are in the blue tabs at the top. I found these cute icons in Keynote. I’ve been a bit dry on the brilliant ideas lately… but they’ll come!

I chose these categories, which are just essentially blank pages that I can add content to:

  1. Brilliant ideas – because, duh, everyone needs a spot to record those.
  2. Goals – same.
  3. Stickers – I don’t use these much, though I do like the IDEA of them. So they get a spot anyway. (I’m actually more intrigued by the idea of creating stickers than actually using them.)
  4. Home & garden – because that’s my happiness. Here’s where I put my plans. I have other places I make plans too, like Remember the Milk, Milanote, and Pinterest, but I like to take notes here.
  5. Cooking, recipes, etc.  – not sure if I’ll use this or not. Might delete later.
  6. Projects. I looovveeee projects!
  7. Finances, etc. – I usually use this for my monthly budget calculations and then erase them once I’m done and reuse it. Because who wants to memorialize that shit. Best left forgotten!
  8. Gift ideas – I use this one a lot. All year round.
  9. And things to buy. I use this one a lot too. More than I probably should! I also keep track of things I’ve ordered here that I haven’t yet received.

The brilliant part of this planner is that the links work. So I just use my apple pencil and click through to whatever month I want, or whatever special page I want. I can also add blank pages wherever. And of course with the apple pencil (best invention ever – I don’t even like Apple that much, but damn I love this pencil!).

I put my months on the left and write – Jan – August on the left and September through December on the right. Because in September, you know you really need to get your shit together in order to get your goals accomplished for the year. So that’s why they’re separate. (I know that is driving some people crazy. HAHA!)

If you want to create your own planner like I did, here’s what you need to do:

Figure out your format and map it out. You’ll design it in Keynote and then import into Goodnotes, so it’s important you have all your pages mapped out ahead of time. Watch the video linked below first before you start working.

You’ll need an ipad, the keynote app (powerpoint for ipad), an apple pencil, and the Good Notes app. That’s just to do it like I did it. I’m sure there are other ways.

This brilliant video on YouTube told me how to do it all. She talks specifically about Bullet Journaling, which I did for a while, but you can follow the same instructions to do any type of planner.

What a weird summer

Such a weird a time we’re in. I know everyone is fragile. And yet, I feel like my life isn’t that different in this Covid crazy world. But I’ve been down too, and just irritated with myself for not enjoying the extra time at home that I have now. But we all know that’s not helpful, so here’s what I’ve been into.

Tunisian crochet. I’ve seen this term around (you know, in craft circles), and I always just though it was some special crochet stitch. It’s not. It’s actually a craft of its own that is a weird hybrid of crochet and knitting. I keep meaning to look into the history of it, but keep forgetting. Supposedly Queen Victoria was into it… it was called something else then though. It was popular in the early 20th century and then had a resurgence in the 60s, and now it’s having another comeback.

It’s a little better for your hands if you’re prone to carpal tunnel or RA and it produces a really cool affect. I only two stitches – the simple stitch and the full stitch, and they both produce sort of a grid like – almost masculine – pattern. Like machines. I’m working on a cowl now from a class I’m watching on Bluprint/Craftsy (soon to be called Craftsy once again).

Like everyone, I went through a cooking/baking Covid phase. I’ve since given up on bread, but I’m still cooking more than usual. It’s that perfect time of year, where nature’s abundance forces you to make wonderful things. I made blueberry cake, salsa, and grilled veggie paninis today.

The garden is a disaster as always and sometimes (always) it overwhelms me. But I keep at the game of whack-a-mole like a good dooby, pulling up the endless weeds and imagining that one day it will live up to my expectations. But I do have one corner looking good.

Work is a bit daunting. I have a new role and it’s out of my comfort zone. I prefer to know what the hell I’m doing, but I guess you can’t have anything. I pride my risk-averse self on taking it on even in this crazy time. It’ll either work out or it won’t.

Reading: I’m reading Dune. Yes, I am. Or trying to. I was going to cheat and watch the movie but apparently it’s terrible so, back to the book I go. I’ve had a craving for super light fiction so I feel like I need to balance that out with something really hard. Why? Because. My latest escape was set at a girls boarding school and involved a male PE teacher who wore skirts because all the staff was supposed to be female. Solid 4 stars says I.

I’ve been doing some writing. Just having fun really, because I realize I don’t perform well when I put a lot of pressure on myself. It’s as good a past time as any and I’ve really overdone on the British murder mystery shows, so I have to do something of an evening.

Boy, this is a bit of a downer. Well, it’s 2020. If we’re surviving, we’re doing ok. I’ll add some pictures of my cowl, and my garden when I have less ennui.

The “Cutting Edge” of Crepe Paper Flowers

Did you get the pun? Ha ha! So, in thinking about this blog and what I want to do with it, I’ve realized that my value in a blogger is in the fact that I love to try all kinds o’ crazy things. I might never be a complete expert or master/mistress of any one thing, but I want to be able to do things well enough to impress my friends, and myself. And I think I’m pretty good at figuring out how to do that.

So with that introduction, I’m going to share my exploration into crepe paper flowers!

The first thing to do when exploring a new craft (or anything) is to find the people who are really great at it, and/or have a real passion for it. Note: I have no followers on this blog right now, so don’t worry I’m being paid off for a reco!

In the United States, from my research, it seems that the queen of crepe paper flowers is Lia Griffith. Even before this research, I knew of Lia. She has some classes on Bluprint (formerly Craftsy) about paper crafts and she even has some products in her name. What I didn’t know is that she seems to be particularly into crepe paper flowers and has some amazing templates, and youtube videos that you can watch. I’ve actually become a total Lia fanatic, especially after “she” liked my instagram post of my first crepe paper rose! (made with her template and of course I tagged her, so.. yeah).

I bought this template, as well as a peony one, at Joann’s (my local craft store – I’m sure they all sell these… Michael’s.. A.C. Moore… Hobby Lobby, etc.) As instructed, I bought a low-temp glue gun (found in the floral department – yes different from a regular glue gun so now I have two and must now be part of Level 2 crafters or something), some floral wire, floral tape, and Lia Griffith crepe paper. I don’t know a ton about crepe paper but hers works great. There is stretch to it, so you can actually work it so it really does look like real flowers~

 

Ok, this is my very first crepe paper flower, and hello? Pretty amazing, right? So follow Lia’s template and instructions and you can’t lose (or else I’m kind of a savant at this).

So then… I tried her crocus tutorial. This one I had to buy a subscription to her monthly service. I didn’t do this lightly because I already have over 10 subscriptions (bluprint, skillshare, weightwatchers, milanote, rememberthemilk…. ) and I’m actively trying to downsize, but $10 a month seemed worthwhile for real expertise (and I couldn’t find it free anywhere and well..you know..artists work hard to give us stuff and should actually be paid for it) so I got the template for these crocuses and OMG they are amazing. AND easy, when you get all the stuffs…

Boom, boom, boom! Go to liagriffith.com for details (I TOLD you I’m not getting paid for this). I just love her.

So cute. Daffodils are next. My mother is totally in love with daffodils and I intend to surprise her with a big bouquet for mother’s day. Mwah!

Stay tuned for more random crafts and random insights and maybe some bunny pictures if you’re lucky!

 

Love ya!

Larisa

A new decade begins, plus lots of art resources

It’s January 1, 2020, and I just really love the way that sounds! I’m not saying it’s all going to be different this year, but I’m allowed a positive attitude this early in the year, right? Bets on how long it will last? 🙂

I have a lot I want to do and learn this year, most all of it in the creative realm. I’m not feeling a bit call toward accomplishments this year, but rather I’m wanting to explore new tools, new mediums, and push myself creatively for no reason other than I want to. I’m 45 years old, so I think I’ve reached the point in my life when I can do what the hell I want just because!

Here are some areas I’d like to focus on:

  1. Digital illustration. I got into Procreate and Adobe Fresco last year and I want to continue learning how to use both of these tools to their full capacity and to learn to draw while I’m at it. Here’s an orange I drew yesterday with the help of Lisa Bardot’s tutorial. She goes fast so I had to pause it several times to figure out what she was doing, but at least she didn’t waste my time by overexplaining (pet peeve of mine). I’m also still trying to figure out the basics of Adobe Illustrator despite numerous tutorials and practice sessions. Why isn’t it sticking? For all my creative endeavors I’ve found some great tools and teachers along the way. Here are some of my favorites:
  • Peggy Dean. I found her on Skillshare (a site I find completely worth the $120 annual fee because there are so many great courses on their for creative people). Her site is thePigeonLetters.com and she has some good freebies and a shop where she sells some of her custom goods. She teaches both digital art as well as painting the old fashioned way. I also have her book “Botanical Line Drawing” which shows you how to draw a ton of different flowers and plants in 6 simple steps.
  • Teela Cunningham. I found Teela through an email that Peggy Dean sent out. She has a very different style than Peggy (who nearly explodes with exhuberance), and she has a great style of teaching as well. Her site is every-tuesday.com She seems to specialize in lettering, fonts, and also drawing in various mediums digital and analog. I subscribe to her weekly email as well, and she has classes on Skillshare and on YouTube too.
  • I recently found Lisa Bardot. Her site is bardotbrush.com. She created “Make Art Everyday” where she creates prompts for every day of the year and provides tutorials to help you get them done. On instagram, you can tag your work with the hashtag #makearteveryday and I plan on starting this today. I was never great at drawing so it’s a basic skill that I’d like to improve on, and doing something every single day seems like a great way to do it. She is a Procreate artist and has a line of her own Procreate brushes called BardotBrushes.

Here’s an orange I drew in Procreate yesterday with Lisa’s help:

Orange

I have other areas of creative exploration on the docket from fiber arts (that’s the fancy word I use to mean “crochet”) and sewing and home decorating and all those little crafty things I love to do. Oh, I should also mention Bluprint.com. It used be called Craftsy, and like Skillshare, it’s an annual subscription. They have less content than Skillshare (which is user generated), but have some really good classes on everything from crochet to drawing and cookie decorating, curtain making and slipcovers. They don’t update the classes all that often, but I still find it useful to have a subscription and many of the classes I go back to over and over again to reference. They also have an online shop with their own brand of Peruvian yarn called Cloudborn that is very nice and they often have good sales on it.

Well that’s it for now. Do you love my list of one item? Ha ha! #2 is “work on endurance.”

 

Love,

Larisa

A new hobby takes me by storm!

Spring is coming, school is over, and I actually have some free time! Since nature abhors a vacuum (so do I!), something was bound to fill the void. And so, I’ve found a new hobby! Lettering! What is lettering, you ask? It’s basically fancy writing, and encompasses everything from calligraphy to sign design, handlettering, and the every popular brush lettering.

For anyone on instagram or pinterest, brush lettering is the ubiquitous type of writing that mommy bloggers (barf) and all those other annoying white women on the internet love to use. Like me!

Here are some examples that aren’t too annoying. 

Then, there is hand lettering, which is basically drawing letters. You see this in signs, logos, and other things. Some examples. 

There are all kinds of different alphabets to learn that form letters in different ways. Script alphabets and block letters, bubble letters, different fonts… it’s kind of a whole new world. YAY! I love a meaty hobby!

So far, I’ve basically just bought tons and tons of pens and markers, and papers, and online classes. I’m practicing every night and for the first time in my life, I’m starting to actually have good “penmanship” as they used to call it. My only “bad” grade in elementary school was in handwriting, so now it’s time to redeem myself.

Here is my first try at hand lettering.

But mostly I’ve been working on brush lettering, just finding the right pens, practicing my strokes. I’m not sure what my end goal is but i’m pretty confident it will come in handy some day.

 

 

Other than that, I’ve been sewing neck wraps for me and Jon (this is me filling one with rice – you then heat it up and wrap it around your neck and it feels really good!) , shopping for birthday presents, and reading. I just finished “Where the Crawdads Sing” and I just loved it. It was pretty much perfect. Sad it’s over. Now, on to “A Visit from the Goon Squad,” 10 years late, but I still hope to contribute to the conversation!

The office reno remains unfinished and probably will for a while at this point. Jon and I are both in creativity mode. He’s working on Virtual Reality stuff and making videos, and I’m practicing my penwomanship…. Soon (maybe) it will be nice outside and I’ll want to get our garden sort of in shape. At some point I want to do a whole “garden revisioning” like we did the “house revisioning” but I suspect this year I won’t have enough ambition or money. But still, I’d like it to look decent and to start planning for the redo.  So far, the daffodils are poking their green leaves out on the south side of the house, while the crocuses remain unseen. I think they may have croked.

 

 

 

 

Time, office redo, and a bunny butt bake-off

Winter’s coming to an end, and my dreams of cozing up with crochet projects and having a closet full of mittens have not materialized. BUT, I finished my last Creative Writing class and am not a holder of a Master’s Degree in English and Creative Writing. It’s been a 7 year journey that I nearly gave up on several times, but I’m glad I stuck it out. After all the work and money I put into it, I really wanted to say I finished! Yay.  And now more free time!

We’ve also slowly been working on our office redo. It’s coming along, but dragging out a bit. Here’s what we’ve done:

  • Ripped out the gross carpet and laid down “luxury” vinyl planking. For someone who really loathes exterior vinyl siding on houses, I actually don’t mind vinyl flooring at all. It’s easy to lay down, affordable, durable, and I think it looks pretty darn good. We got ours from Home Depot and it’s called Lifeproof Rigid Core Vinyl Plank Flooring in Essential Oak. I really couldn’t be happier with it.
  • We painted the walls in Behr “Explorer Blue” We got rid of our desks and built in a wood desktop with oak planks we’ve had laying around for 14 years. My dear mother is going to come over and sand it so it looks more finished. It’s pretty cool though. Jon, Jill and Kevin took on that project, along with…
  • A new built in cabinet for our printers and office supplies. It’s nearly done. I’m trying to get one board to unwarp using a trick I learned on the internet (spray the concave side water, lay it down in the sun or by a fire and the exposed part with dry up, unwarping it – it does appear to be working!) Then I need to poly it, put on hardware and voila!
  • My parents refinished an old dilapidated drafting table I had and it looks fantastic! My dad rebuilt the top.
  • I got some fun new decor, including a great affordable 100% cotton rug from World Market that I love.

Garfield guards all my cords. When I use my laptop, I lift up the basket and plug everything in. Jon’s done a great job of hiding cords because I hate them!

Here’s the drafting table and rug. I had some old stools in the basement that work ok for now, and do fit nicely underneath the table.

Here’s the cabinet. I’ll take a better photo one the hardware’s on. I love having the printers out of sight.

Jon and Jill in action. They did a great job.

My contribution: I stained the doors and will poly them. I was busy working on my thesis at the time… so sad.

I’ve always been intrigued by these FLOR carpet tiles. They were perfect for this weird shaped area. I used a contrasting color and cut them into 3 inch strips for the border.

 

The rug assembly in action. Once I got the blue parts cut, it was super quick to put together. It’s a nice rug to have under the office chairs and helps define the desk area a bit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So we’ve been working hard, but having fun too. Samara came over yesterday for a bunny butt bake off! Here are some of the results:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheers!

Writing, an office reno, and work, work, work

As always, we’re keeping busy. With the upstairs 90% complete, we started thinking about the office. It was a bit of a mess with old carpet, 2 matching desks that were pretty cool at first but just ended up being cluttered with crap. Once we took the funky orange chairs out and moved them to the upstairs bunny room, it became a dumping ground for all the stuff. Craft stuff, writing stuff, books, books, books, electronics, electronics, electronics.

Jon and I have an interesting way of doing things.  We often procrastinate for years, bemoaning how hard the project will be and really working ourselves up. But often, we just start recklessly, abandoning project plans and just going full force ahead. We did this with the bunny room, and we did it again with the office. I’m guilty for starting it. We decided on a paint color – Behr’s Explorer Blue – very cool – and then I just couldn’t resist putting it on the wall. “I’ll just paint a corner, just to see how it looks.” Well, then the seal was broken and we just went for it.

We painted.

And then Jon ripped out the carpet.

And then we bought some flooring. We went to HD, we looked at carpet. We went to Durfees, we looked at carpet. We brought home samples. I decided I didn’t want carpet. We went to HD, we looked at vinyl flooring.

I always feel the need to defend myself about my affinity for vinyl flooring. Yeah, I know it’s plastic. It’s probably tacky, and not ecofriendly, but the fact of the matter is, I’m on a budget, and I love the look of wood. When you can’t afford real wood, vinyl actually has come to look very, very close. And it’s easy to install and affordable. Apology over. We did vinyl, and it looks pretty awesome.

Whew. Then we started on the desk with the help of our favorite people Jill & Kevin. It would have been a helluva lot easier to just buy boards at HD, but we had some raw oak from an oak tree we cut down to build our house 14 years ago. It’s been sitting outside, looking tacky as hell for 14 years (we’ve used some of it to build the stair treads down to the basement), and I wanted to get rid of it!

So that was hard. Planing, cutting, and it was the coldest days of the goddamn year. But we’re grateful for the help and happy with the result, so there’s that. I will post photos, but I’m tired right now. It was a hard week, and I’m sick, and I don’t want to do anything that involves moving anything but my fingers.

So that’s the update on the house. The other big thing, which I won’t call a “time suck” because that’s just rude, is that I’m 4 weeks away from getting a master’s degree in Creative Writing!! (I just said that in my head like the muppet announcers). It’s been a 7 year journey and this is the hardest but final stretch. I’m working on my thesis – a book about food, but really about my family and it’s getting pretty deep and dirty. But in a good way. My professor is the best I’ve had in this whole journey and I think I’m going to be happy with the result. But mostly, I’ll be happy to be done with it. BUT I must keep writing.

That’s all for now. Will try to post more regularly. Sort of wish I could be working on fun winter cozy projects like sweaters from my cat and bunnies, but it’s all good. I’m trying to enjoy what is, because it’s all really good when I really think about it.