Monthly Archives: March 2014

Adventures in Dumpster Diving: Jewelry Display Shutter

A few weeks ago, when I was writing that series on de-cluttering, one of the items on which I put an expiration date was a single window shutter I’d picked up off the street almost six months ago. It was wood, it was in very good shape, and I was going to “do something” with it. Honest. I was.

Pinterest, that saucy minx, tempted me with projects like this one:

Or this one:

Or this one:

I was crippled by indecision. And so the shutter sat in the garage. Waiting. JUDGING ME.

Last weekend I decided I wanted to use it to organize and display my non-fancy necklaces. Many of them are rather chunky, and take up a lot of space in my jewelry box (if they fit at all!).

On Sunday I cleaned the shutter thoroughly and gave it a single coat of white gloss spray paint, which I had left over from another project. Jason attached some spare picture hangers on the back, and I bought three packs of small S-hooks from Home Depot at $1.18 apiece.

And now it hangs on a narrow wall in my bedroom:


It’s pretty, it’s functional, it’s DONE. And the total cost was less than $4.00. Victory in our time!




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Five Minute Makeup

In my ongoing quest to spend a few more minutes under the covers in the morning, I decided to pare down my makeup “routine.” As with most things, this involved searching Pinterest for “five minute makeup.”

Surprisingly, most of the results were “Five Minute Makeup for Busy Moms” or “Mommy Makeup” or some other nonsense. Seriously, WHO AMONG US HAS MORE THAN FIVE MINUTES TO PUT ON MAKEUP, whether or not you have children?


My previous makeup routine involved foundation, powder, and then many wasted minutes deciding on an eye makeup combination that went with my outfit. Or did I want to try something new entirely? Or maybe I should not wear makeup because I’m not very good at it? I DON’T KNOW. FLAILING. DESPAIR.

One of the best tips I found was to put your “everyday” makeup in a separate small bag. It seems dumb, but it eliminates a lot of digging around and waffling over Too Many Choices.

So what’s in my bag?

1. Base layer: I have rosacea, so going without foundation is not something I’m comfortable with. I am currently finishing a bottle of Clinique’s Redness Solutions makeup (SPF 15):

But when that is done I will be switching to Clinique’s CC cream (lighter formula, higher SPF):

2. Concealer

I’ve gotten old enough, and tired enough, that undereye concealer really does help. I’m currently using and adoring Maybelline’s Fit Me Concealer in Light:

3. Eyeshadow

After that comes a fat crayon eyeshadow in a neutral brown. This is Clinique’s Chubby Stick Shadow Tint for Eyes, which I love:

4. Eyeliner

I’ve recently mastered the dark arts, by which I mean pencil eyeliner. I alternate between a dark brown and a dark purple (I have green eyes). I got both of them at the drug store, and neither requires a sharpener, and otherwise I couldn’t tell you what brand they are to save my life.

Like I said, I’m tired.

5. Mascara

I was a long-time devotee of Maybelline’s Great Lash mascara (I’m a sucker for “cult favorites”) but in the last year I’ve switched to this one:

Big fan. I don’t have problematic eyelashes, so I don’t need a miracle in a tube. This one is perfect.

6. Lip

Usually I just swipe on some Rosebud salve and call it a day.

But if I’m feeling really crazy, I’ll add a sheer berry gloss or gloss-balm, like this one from Cover Girl (I have Jam Twist):

And that’s it! It’s the makeup equivalent of laying out your clothes the night before.


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Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Minivan

I am a serial monogamist when it comes to cars.

My very first car was a 1988 Acura Legend with 148,000 miles on it. It also featured a DIY purple tint job (thanks, previous owner!) and a few quirks. For example, if you unlocked the car from the driver’s side, the alarm went off. Fun! My parents bought it for me and my brother in 1995, when I was 16 and he was almost 15.

Sharing is not my strong suit, and driving was not my brother’s strong suit. After about a year and several dings, my parents decided he would continue to drive the Acura and I could be upgraded to a 1997 Honda Accord.

I freaking loved that car, and the moment it’s feasible for us to downsize vehicles, I’m getting another Accord.

I drove that car until 2005, when I sold it and bought a new Honda CR-V, which is kind of like an Accord but with all the awesome sucked out. It’s a versatile, reliable car with good cargo space and decent gas mileage, but it’s about as exciting as plain waffles.


Twenty years of driving. Three cars.

When I got pregnant with Kate the Chicken, we realized we’d need a bigger ride. And because I am a T-U-R-B-O  N-E-R-D, I exhaustively researched this topic. The verdict was clear: as long as you could stomach the stigma, the minivan is far and away a better choice for a big family. Lucky for the minivan industry, I could not care less what people think about my selection of vehicle.

We started saving our dollars as soon as the stick said baby. We knew we’d be buying a used van, but I had a short-but-important list of critical features: 1) Honda, 2) sunroof, 3) Aux jack for plugging in my iPhone.

Why Honda, you ask? Other than simple brand loyalty, the Odyssey consistently ranks at the top of minivans for interior comfort and features, as well as safety. While the Toyota Sienna offers all-wheel drive as a big selling point, we live in Florida and wouldn’t make much use of that feature. Also, I have a certain level of comfort with Honda’s instrument array – the windshield wiper controls are always in the same place and function the same way, for example – and I like the familiarity. The other two requirements were kind of frivolous – I decided that if I was going to drive a minivan, it would be a nice minivan.

After way too many hours on the internet, and a few test drives, we bought (with cash, Dave Ramsey!) a 2009 Honda Odyssey EX-L with 53,000 miles on it.

And, to quote Indiana Jones, I even like the color.


I’ve been driving it for almost 4 weeks now, and I like it a little bit more every time I get in. Two weekends ago we took it on its first road trip, to Atlanta, and it performed admirably. Not only did its gas mileage rival that of my CR-V, it was MUCH quieter on the highway, and far more comfortable. Jason and I are able to independently control the A/C on each side of the vehicle, and we turned off the rear A/C altogether to help fuel economy. And when we decided to adopt two armchairs from the Westside Market, they snuggled up in the back like it was nothing. Jason is a big fan of the sound system. I’m a big fan of the heated seats.

The kids are big fans of ALL THE BUTTONS. Sigh.

I think it was a perfect choice for our expanding family, and I look forward to driving it another 100,000 miles. Now, if only I can find the button for the limo-style divider between the driver’s seat and the passenger compartment….

Incidentally, we are trying to sell the CR-V. Despite its lack of sheer awesomeness, it’s been a very good car and would make a perfect vehicle for a student or small family. I wish we could keep it another few years and let the kids have it, but there’s just not room in our driveway.


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Done is the Only Virtue

It would appear that our caterpillar of a guest room has completed its transformation into a butterfly of a nursery.


If you set the Way Back machine to Way Back, this is how the room looked when we moved in:


After the fire, things looked better, though it was still a snoozefest:


And now, the details.

The to-do list was pretty simple:

1. Paint
2. Trade full-size bed for twin bed
3. Rug
4. Curtains
5. Baby furniture – crib & glider

Everything else would be re-used from Tyler’s babyhood or procured from within the house.

We did spring for the best paint we could get, and it was worth it. The color is just beautiful, and the paint went on like a dream. The dresser (pictured in the first photo) is a family piece, and the changing pad and cover were Tyler’s.


The crib and mattress we bought on Craigslist, and the bedding was Tyler’s. The art above the crib was made by the kids.


The twin bed and bedding was bought from a friend, and the quilted white shams came from HomeGoods. The glider is being borrowed from a friend. The large art piece on the right hung in my nursery when I was a baby, and the other two pieces were already in our house.


Jason and I also made art for the nursery. Mine is on the left, Jason’s is on the right. The text on mine is “On Children,” by Kahlil Gibran. The landscape was made by Tyler for an art class, and yes, that’s my Amherst diploma. The mat is a deep purple silk that goes nicely with the landscape.


The curtains are my favorite project. I bought a cheap pair of white rod-pocket panels from Target, adjusted the hem so that they just skim the floor, and added a leading edge out of some fabric that coordinates with the rug.  They’re hung on a rod with drapery clips.


And that’s it! Bring it on, Kate the Chicken. We’re ready.







Filed under Home, Kate the Chicken, Projects

T-Shirt Throw Pillow Tutorial

Last week during my series on hoarding, I mentioned that I’d turned one of Tyler’s old t-shirts into a throw pillow. Here’s how I did it:


Since I was working with a well-worn knit fabric, I decided to use a pillow form. Not only does this make the finished product look nicer, the form can be re-used with a different t-shirt later. I already had an old sheet I picked up at Goodwill, as well as a bag of stuffing.

You could, of course, buy an inexpensive pillow form – 12″ x 12″ is probably best for this project.

If you are stuck making your own, you’re going to want to measure and cut out a roughly 12″ x 12″ square and sew it up, leaving a 6 inch gap so you can turn it inside out and stuff it later.


Nope, I didn’t even iron it.

It doesn’t matter whether you put the right sides together or not – again, this is going inside another pillow. If your cover fabric is light, you may want to put wrong sides together so the finished form is lighter, but in my case it didn’t matter.


So once you’ve got your form sewn (but not turned or stuffed), flip your t-shirt inside out, lay the form over the t-shirt, and pin it down. I’d already clipped the corners of the pillow form, which will give you nice clean corners when it’s flipped right-side-out. Nope, I didn’t iron my t-shirt, either.


Using a flake of soap, or a fabric pencil, or whatever, draw an outline around your pillow form. Using a soap flake is my favorite – it makes a nice bright line and washes out easily. (By “soap flake” I mean “the tiny sliver of soap that ends up getting tossed out of the shower.”)


Remove the pillow form and pin the front and back of the t-shirt together. See how the seam on the pillow form is about 1/2 inch from the soap line? That’s about where you want to sew. Again, be sure to leave a pretty big opening on the fourth side so that you can put your pillow form inside your cover.

Move the pillow form to an undisclosed location, and pin the shirt front to the shirt back. Sew inside the soap line, leaving a big gap to insert the pillow form.


Remove the pins and cut away the excess t-shirt just outside the soap lines.


Now you’re ready to finish your pillow form. Stuff it to your heart’s content. I used a mixture of fabric scraps and polyfil. I didn’t need it to be super-stuffed. Then slip stitch the opening on your pillow form closed. I used this tutorial, which was very helpful.


“Oh, hai!”

Finally, clip the corners on your pillow cover, flip it right side out, shove the pillow form inside, and slip-stitch THAT opening closed.

Shazam. You’re done.


I’ve already received requests from the other two kids to turn old t-shirts into pillows, so I will call this project a success.

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