Monday, November 23, 2015

Christmas Decorations

When I was in Hobby Lobby buying the glass paint I got sucked into the Christmas section. There is something about a brand new house and the first Christmas that drags a person in. I watched my friends experience it and I'm no different. My family Christmas is at my place on December 3rd and I wanted ALL the things.

I wander the aisle trying to decide my decoration budget. What is appropriate? $100? $10. More? Less?

Where would the funds come from since Christmas decorations wasn't even on my radar until that moment. It sure wasn't coming from my pocket money since, almost ironically, I had spent it this month on a new budget program, YNAB, to replace the spreadsheet I've been using for years. I'm really enjoying it. But, anyway, are decorations more important than the funds I've saved for presents, the Christmas feast, my emergency fund?

Then if I do buy decorations what is my new home's style. This years choices in the store are seashore, peacocks, silver and gold glam, candy land, or woodland creatures. I don't know. None felt right. Not right for me. Not right for this house. I walked out of the store with just the glass paint.

I spend a bit of time online looking at ideas and I don't see anything I like there either. Everything is either too Martha and Better Homes or too Hipster and Industrial or way too DIY Rustic.

I did find a DIY Danish blog I like that was all red and white, sunshine and plants and yarn, with a hint of Christmas and not a trace of burlap rustic. Then there was also the family photos of Christmas in the 60s with the tree, the lights, the tinsel and little else. Finally, Christmas that looked like Home.

Ok. Simplicity and a bit retro is my style and I decide to set my decorating budget at $0. It's not that I won't buy anything. I have my Amazon points, I have some gift cards, there is no reason they can't be enough. What I can't buy I'll make with what I have. My box of art supplies is nice and full.

First up is baking soda ornaments.
I found a recipe online. Like all the recipes I find online it was horrible and I changed everything about it before I could get it to work.
I gave away all my cookie cutters years ago because all the gluten free cookies I've made have been gross. Perhaps, because I found the recipes online.
However, free form stars are pretty cool.

My version of Baking Soda Ornaments
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 2 cup baking soda
  • 3 cup water
Cook over medium heat, boiling a bit but don't let it brown, until it thickens to a firm pudding. Think the texture of flan. Turn out into a bowl and cover with a damp cloth so it doesn't dry out.

Dust working area and a pan with baking soda so they don't stick.

Shape into ornaments keeping it about 1/4 inch thick. Rolled dough and cookie cutters is the easiest but do whatever you want.

Bake at 175F until completely dry. About 2-3 hours. Turning the pans every 30 min.

It makes more stars than you will care to cut out by hand. 

There. Now that it's posted online the recipe is guaranteed to be horrible. Even so, it was a fun way to spend a morning.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Stash Enhancement

I went to the Creative Hand sale today to support my friends and buy spinning fiber.

Yarn is almost ubiquitous, even locally hand dyed yarn isn't hard to come by. However, spinning fiber takes some effort to track down. I usually take a fiber vacation and travel to a convention or a festival but that didn't happen this year. Creative Hand is local and filled the need. With only three or four fiber artist featuring spinning fiber it's a smaller selection but still ample.

First, an art batt that comes with corresponding beads to either spin into the yarn or use to embellish the project. 100g of Divine Fibers by Spellspun Yarns.
Art batts must be my theme of the day since I also bought 5oz of Mulligan Stew by Bonkers.

Perhaps a small haul but enough to keep me busy for a few months.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Colored Glass

My guest bath has a window that looks out onto the front porch. It's not that it just looks out onto the front porch but it's right next to the doorbell so that if anyone is at the door they can't help but look in at the facilities.

To make the room usable the window needs to be dealt with. A curtain might be the easiest but the window is narrow and deep and would need a custom curtain. Glass etching is also an option, however, I wanted something less boring and glass etching a window in patterns is more than I'm ready to take on.

After looking at ideas online I decided on glass paint for a stained glass look.

Some glass broke in the move and made a perfect palette for testing colors. I used it while still in the frame so I wouldn't need to worry about sharp edges. I also practiced my brushwork since the examples online showed that glass paint isn't very forgiving.

Once I picked my colors I cut then out of the sampler. It makes opening the pots easier and eliminates the chance of using the wrong color. I thought about drawing out a color diagram but was too impatient and will pick color placement as I go.

I'm using thin coats for a neater application and letting them dry for several hours between coats.

It's going to be a ongoing process. The amber pane has five coats already and I think is a bit more than half done. The dirty looking pane on the left is one coat of purple. The pane on the right is seven coats of frost. I think the frosted pane is finished but will reevaluate as the rest of the window fills in.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


The house is a modest ranch home built in the 50s and yet it’s the most beautiful house I’ve ever seen. I’m, perhaps, a bit biased but I figure anything that costs the equivalent of 767 hand dyed sweater quantities of yarn should illicit a little pride

I’m starting with the closets since there is something compelling about KonMari closets. Also because I HAVE CLOSETS! Where my apartment had one for my clothes and one for the vacuum, this house has one for coats, and another for linens, and another for my clothes, and two for yarn, and yet another that I don’t even have enough stuff to put in it.

The coat closet. All the coats and accessory and daily shoes.

Basket on the floor for the accessories I’m keeping. They will need a better method at some point.

Tote of gifts on top.

Also, all my cleaning supplies. I hope once the garage is empty of boxes I can make a place to keep them there.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


I'm going through all my possessions using the KonMari method. It's taken the internet like a plague and I read it for the first time last December. The whole time I was reading it I keep thinking this is so quaint, this is so Japanese, however I like quaint and Japanese so there we go.

My favorite part is to do it all at once in a big push. To make the home you want now with what you have and to not dither over it endlessly. As someone with an obsessive nature and a short attention span this is my kind of philosophy.

The other part that I was doubtful about but turned out to be true, is the sentiment that you already have everything you need to have the place of your dreams. I was doubtful since I aspire to have nice things but my apartment was full of crap, champagne taste on a beer budget and all that.

Last December I did over my whole apartment keeping just the things (as best I could. It was really really hard) that sparked a joyful response. Once most of the things I didn't like were gone I realized that I did have nice things but they had been hidden from sight by all the drek. It was so satisfying to be left with a beautiful apartment.

Now it's time to do it again. I hope it will be easier this time since gone are all the things I was keeping because I thought I should. However, I wasn't able to get rid of everything because of the Just-in-case. As a renter the biggest is "it doesn't work now but I'll keep it just in case it works in the next place," so no more of that.

Even so, my natural inclination is keep everything forever and what I'm striving for this time through is keeping what works right now along with a few things to represent the past. Not every single thing.

The book gives an order to work and starts with the clothes as being the easiest emotionally. I've already sorted and folded all my clothes getting rid of anything that didn't fit, was stained, or just didn't please me anymore. The only thing worthy of pictures is the knitwear since it's a bit monumental.    
Fifteen years worth of knitted accessories.

I have five coats ranging from a light jacket down to one suitable for hours outside in an arctic blast
I laid them out on the floor and matched up accessories that look good with each
There wasn't any thoughts about how many was the right number or if I was keeping too many or too few.
It was just finding and keeping the ones that I would feel good wearing together.
The remaining tote of ones that don’t match that are never worn to be gifted this Christmas.

The photos of the pile that is so worn out they were thrown away and the one of the pile to frog and reknit the yarns are too blurry to post, but they were substantial.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


I volunteer at Wayside Waifs two or three days a week to walk and socialize dogs.

This big boy came home with me.

His head it bigger than my foot. Bigger than both of my feet together.

He is so shy and quiet, just like Joey was.

Finn rarely gives voice but when he does his coon hound bay is so loud and deep it shakes the glass in the windows and the rawooouooouwoofrouuuu makes me laugh and call him Finn-a-roo

Monday, November 16, 2015

Home Sweet Home

I've closed on the house!  I've finally been released from housing limbo and it feels so good.

The only way I’ll be leaving this place is feet first so it’s time to go through all my stuff again and only keep what belongs to this space. I’ll be free to move out all the things that “maybe will work in the next place I rent”. I’m super excited to begin the process!