Saturday, June 13, 2015

I Dyed Wool Today!

Hey, folks!

I was fortunate enough to receive some wool roving, a corriedale/rambouillet/finn cross, in a lovely cream color. I thought it would be fun to try dying it green, so I pulled out my food coloring and followed the directions from this Instructables post: Wool Dying.

I left the wool in the water/vinegar mix for about 10 hours.

My food coloring didn't want to dissolve, so I had to whisk it in, and it turned the water a nice light Kelly green.

I microwaved for the first 3 minutes, and the water was still green. No big deal, it was supposed to go for a second set. After the second 3 minutes, the water was still green, and I thought, "Hmm, maybe I just ruined some wool?" But after the third 3 minutes, the water was clear! I had to take some of the water out in a drinking glass to look at just because I wasn't really sure.

I can't believe the wool basically turned the exact same color as the water!

Next project: Dye some more wool! I have two more similar sized roving pieces, but I didn't want to attempt to dye it all at once in case something went horrifically wrong.

Anyway, when that's done, I'm going to ball each one up to make dryer balls, but I'll save that project for another post. :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I'm Back!

Vacation was great! While I organize myself for the rest of the summer, here are some pictures of a bumbleberry pie I made while visiting my parents, pictures courtesy of my sister's phone. :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mini-Piggy Bank

It seems like I never have any spare change when I need it, and I have nothing but when I don’t! I’ve found this to be particularly true when I’m at work. It seems like once or twice a month, there’s some need for spare change: a penny drive or space change collection or similar. Well, my purse is not usually convenient, my slacks don’t have pockets, and while I often have change in my desk, who knows where it is under the broken pencils and half-used sticky pads.

I decided to something about it. I’ve had this little Grey Poupon jar that I’ve been itching to used more effectively.  It usually houses thumb tacks, but it’s sort of a waste of space since I don’t have that many thumb tacks. It was perfect to make a mini bank out of so I’d always be able to find change quickly.

First, I wanted to cut a change hole in the top. The jar is so old, I think it originally sold for a dollar seventy. This means the lid is a pretty heavy metal. I looked online for how to safely cut it and couldn't find much. I did read that a chisel would work, but we didn't have one. I also didn't have a block of wood to pound a nail through the lid into ten times to create a slit, and frankly I'm not sure how well that would have worked, anyway.

My husband ended up using his Dremel to cut me a hole. I was going to do it myself, but I chickened out at the last minute because I was afraid I either wouldn't grip the lid tight enough and send it flying, or I wouldn't press with the blade hard enough and bounce it off and catch myself in the hand. Anyway, the Dremel worked great, but there were sparks involved, so I recommend wearing safety goggles and not letting children do this part of the project.

I suppose you don't really need the hole in the top, but I think it makes it less likely to get into to take the money if you're using the jar as a way to save up for something special.

On to decorating! Next, I cut up some scrapbook paper leftovers into even smaller pieces. I started with about 1" squares and found that 1/2" squares were better because of the small size of the jar and getting around the rounded curve at the top. My squares weren't perfect, either, because I thought that made a more interesting pattern on the jar.

Then I got out my trusty Mod Podge. I only have Shimmer Mod Podge, which means it made my paper darker, with a silver glittery tint. It was really dark when first applied, but dried nicely. Follow the instructions to paint a small section of the jar with Mod Podge, put down a piece of paper, spread more Mod Podge over that, and repeat with all the pieces of paper until the jar is covered.

To break things up a little, I used plain white paper for the lid. See how silver it is now?

After all of that was thoroughly dry, I used a spray sealant over it all. Some people will say this is optional, but I've had trouble with my Mod Podge getting kind of sticky in high humidity, even months after it was painted.

It wasn't intentional, but I think it's kind of nice how the outside of the jar resembles money now, which is what it will hold. I really just went through my paper box and pulled out the first strips of paper I found, about 12" x 1", which I never got around to throwing away in the hopes I could still use it. Seems like I could!

Alternative Containers and Lids!

I read some online tutorials that suggested using empty plastic jars (such as peanut butter jars) for kids because the lids are easier to cut through and they can't break. I'm not sure how well Mod Podge sticks to plastic, but you could decorate some other way. Other people have suggested using Mason or canning jars, then instead of the regular metal lit, cutting a round piece of cardboard with a slit in it and then using the regular jar ring to secure it. I've also seen the small cardboard oatmeal containers used, and I think that would be really fun to decorate, and easier than a jar because it doesn't have the rounded edge at the top, which I found annoying to get around.

Have you ever tried to make your own piggy bank? If so, what did you use as a container? How did you choose to decorate it?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Just Relax!

A while back, I blogged about my adoration with making lists. Well, a few days ago I suddenly realized just how compulsive it really is. We're planning a vacation to visit family on the West Coast, and we've decided to lay off the organization. Normally, we visit at Christmas and because there are so many holiday things to do and people to coordinate, meals and where we're going when tends to be more structured. Not this time. I promised my husband a relaxing vacation where we can anything or nothing or a little bit of both.

Well, I've started thinking about things I want to do (read: places I want to eat) that I don't have the opportunity to do here. Suddenly, I began to wonder whether my brother would want to come, and what his work schedule is and how to work around that, and then there is my sister and her family, and taking into consideration how many days we'll be there...

I cannot tell you how hard it was to not get up and grab some paper to make up a day-by-day calendar (subcategorized by morning/afternoon and meals) to sort out when we could do what and see whom. Fortunately, I resisted. I called my mom and asked her to make a list of everything I wanted to do and places I wanted to eat, and when we come, we can just look at the list each morning and decide if we want to do anything on it or not.

I think that's a fair compromise, right?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Birdhouse Cake

A good friend in my department at work recently retired, and I made the cake for the party. Just thought I'd share how it turned out! Yes, it's a birdhouse! I cut off the corners to make the peaked roof, but after trying to put frosting on a newly sawed off cake edge, I don't think I'll be trying it again anytime soon! That bit of chocolate you see in the middle is a hole I cut out of the top cake layer (it's a two layer cake) and is supposed to represent the entrance. I was going to also add the silhouette of a bird and maybe some chocolate "branches" made out of hardened chocolate, but I ran out of time.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Big Sky Artworks

Who's a Black Sheep?
Today's Friday Feature is on Kate and Big Sky Artworks on Etsy! Kate lives in Colstrip, MT, which I think I almost drove through once on my way from Missoula to ND.... Anyway, you've got to check out the awesomely quirky mugs she makes!

I'm particularly enthralled with her animal mugs. I've never seen anything like these anywhere else. She throws all the pottery personally and then sculpts the faces, but don't think that you won't find anything if you don't want to drink from a sheep. Kate also has traditional mugs, sculptures, and more.

Funny Bunny Rabbit

Isn't this a cute bunny? It reminds me of being a little kid and drinking hot cocoa out of mugs with two handles for maximum safety. :) I can just imagine it being the go-to mug in the morning.

Better yet, take him to work to show off to your co-workers how much cooler you are (and to stop that darn John Doe from two floors up from using your personal mug. Drinking from a big bunny head is not considered stealthy).

Dragon's Head
Now here is an amazing piece of art! This dragon's head mug is crazy and unique and perfect for people who don't want to step in line.

Just as an FYI, this mug holds a full pint of whatever beverage you think is appropriate to be drinking out of a dragon's head. You know, things like a mild caffeine-free herbal tea or some such thing. ;)

Lucky Duck!

This little guy isn't so lucky, after all - he used to have feet! But his accident is to your benefit, because it means he's considered a "second": the same cute face and functionality at a lower price. I love the eyes looking a little bit off to the side and the expression on his beak.

I also kind of think these mugs are the sort of thing people really, really want, but have a hard time buying for themselves. Do them a favor. Make it a gift. :)

*Note* I am not compensated for any of my Friday Features. I am currently approaching shops I particularly like and offering to share them so that my readers may discover new shops.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Super Easy Hair Clip Organizer

Is a two item project simple enough? ;)

As you've read, I've been really interested in hair clips recently. I don't wear them to work, but I do wear them every weekend and any other time off I have (have I mentioned I'm also growing my hair out?). Well, I ended up with hair clips on my nightstand, on the kitchen table, end table, coffee table, and bathroom counter. Really? How did that happen?

Anyway, I needed a quick and easy way to store them in one place, but not in a box, because then I'd forget about them. It had to be somewhere obvious, but couldn't take up a lot of space, because let's face it: space is sort of at a premium at my house.

After some thought, I came up with an easy solution. All I needed was some grosgrain ribbon (found in a drawer leftover from another project) and a suction cup (found at Ace Hardware for about $0.53). I decided on the larger suction cup, which was 3cm in diameter (a little over 1").

I cut about 2' of ribbon, tied it with a nice little bow to the suction cup, and put it on my bathroom mirror. If you're worried about humidity, a dresser bureau mirror would work, too, but since I don't do my hair in the bedroom, I opted for the bathroom.

How was that? What do you use to keep your hair accessories organized?
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