Monday, April 23, 2012

The one in which I sell out. Holla!

So have you guys heard of I hadn't either! But check it out. You can go there and buy, like, anything. It's like Costco on your computer.

Except better.

They use some kind of advanced cutting-edge search engine technology so you find exactly what you're looking for, without all the spam and junk. Like distressed cowboy boots. Because, hello, like I can be bothered to distress my own cowboy boots? Um, no. It's not like I'm going to wear them anywhere more distressing than the mall or dropping my kids off at school. So they really need to bring the stress with them.

Or if you're shopping for somebody who's not me (I'm not sure why you would do that, but just go with it), you might be interested in some really nice hiking and outdoor gear (again, please note: not me). They've got some really good prices on guide series clothes. Were I the hiking type, I might really need this vest.

Or if you are shopping for me (yay! You shouldn't have!), you might like these jean jackets for juniors. What?? I can still shop in Juniors, right? Right? LOOK HOW CUTE.

OK, fine. I'll just take one of these.

What I really love about this site is how huge the selection is, comparing prices and items from all over the web, and how well organized it is, with categories like "Top Deals" and "Hot Products." They have helpful Top 10 lists, like Top 10 Motivational Posters to get a Coworker (you know, to passive-aggressively tell him what a loser he is and that you wish he'd do his job properly), and Top 10 Gifts for Expectant Moms (slightly less pass-aggressive).

You may have figured out that I was paid actual cash money to write this post (holla!). But of course, all words and opinions and sentences and typos are 100% my own. That's how I roll. Go visit so they don't regret working with me.

Friday, April 20, 2012

House of Germs

So. I've been M.I.A. all week because I'm siiiiiiiiick. My kids were sick first, and then I was sick, and now they're better and I'm still sick which is somehow worse because OH MY GOODNESS WHY CAN'T THEY JUST PLAY QUIETLY SO I CAN REST?

Also my dogs are making me insane. I mean, they're worse than the kids, quite honestly. Right now the Princess is at school (where she might be annoying somebody, but it ain't me), and the Monster is very nicely playing in the backyard (which I can see from where I'm sitting, shut up), and one of the dogs (it's India) is standing at the back door WHINING to be let in. She's practically screaming. If dogs could scream. I mean, really, India? It's a beautiful day. You're an animal. Go lay in the dirt and revel in your dirty animalness. I don't want to get up and let you in.

This all started when the Princess randomly woke up Monday morning with the dreaded pink eye. That's what her pediatrician calls it. "The pink eye." "Yes, she does have the pink eye."

She'd been on spring break all week, so I can only assume she picked up The Pink Eye during her day trip to the Academy of Sciences museum in San Francisco with her father. She had a wonderful time at the museum, and we highly recommend it if you're visiting the Bay Area with children. Unless you don't like communicable diseases. I'm kidding. Maybe.

I'm pretty sure this exhibit was called "DIY Bacterial Eye Infection."
So I called in sick, took her to the doctor. "Yes, she does have the pink eye," he told me. "That is one bright pink eye." Yes, yes it is, thank you.

"Also her ears and throat are infected." Say what? Yeah. So we came home with eye drops AND delicious refrigerated amoxicillin.

Note: Children do not like eye drops. Have you ever tried to pry open the eyes of another person when that person is determined to keep them shut? It is surprisingly difficult. Who knew eyelids were so strong?

I spent Monday and Tuesday sanitizing everybody's hands and toys and screaming at reminding her not to TOUCH her BROTHER but sure enough, he woke up Wednesday with his own case of The Pink Eye. Princess was ready to go back to school at this point, so I took her to school, then took Monster back to Kaiser. Thankfully we didn't have to see the doctor again, I just shot him an email to say "Yup, the other kid has it, too" and he called in the prescription. But I did have to drive 20 minutes to the Kaiser pharmacy, and sit there with a toddler.

Meanwhile I was feeling pretty icky myself, but not really paying attention to it because I was busy being a caring and nurturing mother. By Wednesday night I was sitting on the couch in a cold sweat, shivering and dizzy, my throat on fire and my head spinning.

Yesterday is a blur.

Today I'm still fairly miserable but maybe only like, 85% as miserable as yesterday? So that's a good sign.

In other news, I opened an etsy shop. You should check it out. Or maybe wait a couple weeks and check it out when I'm not sick and have had a chance to actually produce some art and list it there. Or check it out now out of pity. I sell vinyl wall decals and soon will be adding some hand-painted wall art (kinda like this).

Thanks for hanging around even when I'm neglectful and contagious.

I have to go let my dog in.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Instagram Friday. I just made that up.

So have you heard of this Instagram? Or as I call it, one more tool to support my obsessive need to observe and measure exactly how much complete strangers like me?

According to the very useful (not) website:
It’s a fastbeautiful and fun way to share your photos with friends and family.
Snap a picture, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram. Share to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr too – it's as easy as pie. It's photo sharing, reinvented.
It's as easy as PIE, people. Actually what does that even mean? I've made pie. It's not easy.

Moving on.

I have found it (Instagram, not pie) is relatively easy, and of course I enjoy pretending to be artistic by applying fuzzy sepia toned filters over photos I snap with my phone. Who wouldn't. We've all spent hundreds of dollars on the highest quality phones and digital cameras we can get, we're obsessed with HD and megapixels and digital vs. optical zoom. But what we really want is to have photos that look like they were taken with a Polaroid circa 1974.

If you know all this, you may also have heard that Instagram became available for Android recently. Androids users rejoiced. iPhone elitists wept and also threw up a little bit in their mouths. Mark Zuckerberg spent a billion dollars because, why not.

It's all very exciting.

As Android riff-raff myself, I'm a late Instagram adopter. I've now taken exactly 8 photos on my Instagram account, including this one:

You may view it at Instagram here.
The Princess skinned her knees. Climbing a tree. In her Easter dress. This photo was cute to begin with, but when I added the "Low-Fi" filter, it became FABULOUS, right??

Are you on Instagram? Do you know what it's for? Could you let me know?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

DIY Wall Art Tutorial

Today I'm going to pretend to be a cool, crafty DIY blogger and offer you a tutorial. Mostly because I totally made that awesome piece of art up there and I'm feeling a little full of myself right now, and want to share my creative genius with the world. 

So. To make your own distressed wall art, you will need:
  • Wood. I used a pair of very old shelves that I've had in my garage forever, the hardware long since lost. Mine were each 9" x 40" (so side by side the piece is 18"x40") which was perfect to fill the huge, high-ceilinged empty spot above my mantle, but you can use whatever size you want to fit the space you need to fill. You can use old wood or new wood. Either way, you're going to beat the crap out of it before you're finished.
  • Paint. I used cheap acrylic paint. Like the kind you can get at Wal-Mart for 97 cents a bottle? That kind. Use whatever paint you like to use. Maybe spray paint would have been easier; that did occur to me somewhere around my 4th coat. Also, possibly primer would have helped.
  • Tools. Like, a hammer, some nails, or a drill and some screws or something. And a sander, or just sandpaper if you want to do this the hard way.
  • A stencil. If you're like me and have a Silhouette Cameo, then you're cool and we can be friends. And also you can cut whatever kind of stencil you want. Mine is a shape I bought from the Silhouette Store. I used my Silhouette to cut it on regular old Con-Tact paper, the kind you line shelves with. My paper is patterned just because I had some laying around but clear would work too.

    You can also buy a stencil, or cut it out with an X-Acto knife, or whatever other stuff peasants without Silhouettes do. (I'm kidding. You're not a peasant. This Silhouette is going to my head. You should get one. Or just visit my Etsy shop and order a stencil. Seriously. I would do that for you.)

UPDATE: I cannot sell THIS exact shape, because I purchased the file way back when this post was new, long before I was in the decal business, and it's for personal use only. However, I have many other birdcages (and lots of other awesome stuff!) in my Etsy shop. Most are listed as vinyl decals, but any of them can be used as a stencil just like this! 

Con-Tact paper stencil

OK. So.

Step 1. I took the two old shelves and sanded them down. They had previously been stained so I had to sand all that off. I don't have a picture of that. Sorry. I mean, it's some wood being sanded. Use your imagination.

Step 2. I painted both boards turquoise. This is the color I want the shape to turn out, and it's the first color to go on the wood. Paint the edges, too.

I white-washed over my turquoise to weather it and dull it down a little because it was a little darker than I wanted.

Like this. Except imagine the boards are still two separate pieces, and the stencil isn't there yet.
Look, I'm not really a DIY blogger, ok? I forgot to take photos.

Bonus Step: Be sure to get some paint on the garage floor, your husband will love that.

Step 3. Next I nailed the boards together on the back with some scrap MDF we had in the garage. You could use screws if you want to get fancy like that.

They didn't line up perfectly, because they're old junky boards, but that's ok. 

Step 4. Next, I applied my contact paper stencil. You use the positive image, not the negative space, if that makes any sense. Because I want to cover the part I want to keep turquoise. Press down every edge very firmly. This part is important because you don't want paint to bleed under.

Step 5. I failed to photograph this part, but the next step is important: paint over the stencil with more turquoise. This is so if you DO get any bleeding edges, the color that bleeds under is the color you want under there. It seals the edges so the next color can't get under.

Step 6. Paint the entire thing white, or whatever color you want the background to be. This took several coats, and this is the point where I kind of wished I had spray paint. Honestly though it doesn't matter if it's perfect, as you're going to distress it later anyway. Just make sure the stencil in particular is well-covered, so you have a nice contrast when you peel it off.

The stencil is still under there.
Step 7. Remove the stencil. This is the point where I may have panicked a tiny bit. I could barely see the stencil, and it's a very intricate shape, so I was concerned about getting it off. But I dove in and found an edge, and it came off pretty easily. You should do this BEFORE it completely dries, so the paint doesn't peel up with it. It's messy. You can do it.

If the paint does peel a little, you can probably touch it up. I didn't bother because the sander would take care of it anyway. It's distressed, people!

Step 8. This is the fun part. Finally, after the stencil is up and the paint is totally dry, it's time to distress the entire thing. Take your sander and go at it with some fine-grain paper, concentrating on the edges. You've got that nice turquoise layer underneath the white, so when you go over it with the sander it reveals the color, and if you sand a little deeper it reveals the wood.

I also used a hammer to mar the wood, and pressed the sander down hard in a few spots to make it look nice and beat up.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Let Alone." Use it right.

"Let alone."

I keep seeing it used wrong and it. is. driving. me. nuts.

PSA: "Let alone" does not mean "not even."

Here is a wrong usage: "I wouldn't follow you across the country, let alone down the street."

You could replace "let alone" here with a version of "not even": "I wouldn't follow you across the country, or even down the street." That would be correct.

That's not what "let alone" is for.

"Let alone" means "certainly not" or "especially not" or, perhaps most clearly, "much less." MUCH LESS. In other words, it's exactly the opposite of the above uses.

If you say "I wouldn't follow you across the country, much less down the street," what does that mean? I wouldn't follow you all the way across the country, probably, but I'm much less likely to follow you down the street? That's not what you mean to say, surely. You mean to make a contrast for emphasis...

"Why would I follow you all the way across the country? Dude. I wouldn't even follow you down the street!"

Correct usage: "I wouldn't follow you down the street, let alone across the country."

See? The first thing is minor...the second thing is major. It's a contrast. I wouldn't do the first thing, so I would be MUCH LESS likely to do the second, bigger version of that thing. I wouldn't EVEN follow you down the street...LET ALONE all the way across the country.

Stop using it backwards. It makes me crazy. I know you don't want to make me crazy, Internet. So stop it.

I'm here to help you stop making me crazy. You're welcome.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I hope those bubbles are nontoxic.

Spring has sprung. Happy April, everybody. 

May your bubble solution taste every bit as hilarious as ours.