Thursday, December 27, 2012

Kitchen Resuscitation

Most of my four-day Christmas holiday was spent in the kitchen. That's not unusual in itself; however, I wasn't cooking or baking. I was working on my kitchen re-... hmmm, it's more than a redecoration but less than a remodel... let's just call it a resuscitation because goth knows the kitchen has been on life support. :P It won't be the complete renovation I was hoping for (more on that later), but I hope to make some substantial changes. I'll document my projects and progress, and later, I'll do a series of posts.

In the meantime, be astounded by the price of kitchen faucets (I was). Sure, I could get a basic chrome faucet similar to the one I currently have for about $39. But it's boring. (Not to mention the finicky lever handle makes it nearly impossible to get water the right temperature. "Warm" occupies a one-millimeter space between "frigid" and "scalding.")
not very exciting

Snazzy faucets are considerably more expensive. Here are some of the options I found while searching for a Victorianesque style. 
Moen Waterhill in a really cool wrought iron = $550
Delta Victorian in stainless steel = $370

Moen Vestige in a unique pewter finish = $358

Danze Opulence in polished nickel $433

This is the faucet I ended up purchasing. It typically sells for $180, which is a good price. But I really lucked out and found that the seller was offering a "used-like new" one for $130. It had been bought and returned; the packaging was a little beat up, but the faucet had not actually been used. Score!
Premier Charlestown in brushed nickel

I am SO EXCITED to finally be resuscitating my kitchen! :D

Friday, December 21, 2012

Bat Pediment Completed

A while back, I installed a bat pediment that I made out of MDF. I liked the result, but it didn't look quite finished. Based on some great suggestions from my readers, I played around with paint and molding ideas. Ultimately, I decided to trim the pediment with egg-and-dart molding along the bottom and a simple molding along the top, and to keep it all white. I think the molding was just the little touch it needed to look finished.
no molding
with molding
plinth blocks, fluted casing, and bat pediment - very grand for a closet door ;)
both doors now have their fancy trim

Saturday, December 15, 2012

An Incomprehensible Tragedy, Poorly Reported

Yesterday morning, a man murdered more than two dozen people, 20 of them young children. After such a horrifying event, I struggle to hang on to that last bit of hope for humanity. After the irresponsible reporting of the event, I have no hope left for most American news media. In their lust for ratings, their rush to throw the sharpest hook to grab viewers, they got nearly everything wrong. They spent half the day releasing all sorts of rumors and hearsay (conveniently called "unconfirmed reports" as if that eliminates their culpability). The stories contradict each other, and in many cases, themselves.

Whenever I hear about senseless acts of violence like yesterday's rampage, I react like any decent human being would - with sadness, disbelief, and questions of "why?". But ever since the Columbine school shooting, when the killers were wrongly labeled goths, I also can't help but think, "Please don't say the killer was wearing black." Because if he was, some uninformed person is likely to call him a goth, and the American media will once again seize upon the opportunity to demonize goths.

Early in the afternoon, I read a story that began, "A teacher's son, clad in black..." Oh, no.

Then, with a map of the school and pictures of guns, "Before 9:30 a.m. gunman, wearing all black..."

And then I read exactly what I was hoping not to read - some totally uninvolved person calling the killer a goth. Some random woman said her son knew the killer; she said her son said he was "very thin, very remote and was one of the goths."

Does it matter to the media that this woman was not even involved in the situation, that she was just a random person attending a vigil? Does it matter that her words are second-hand hearsay? No, all that matters to the media is that her words make for a jucier story.

All that's left is to fervently hope that the media do not seize upon her statement to issue condemnation of goths. It might restore the tiniest bit of hope if they instead focus on the issues that really matter; say, efforts to prevent yet another such tragedy.

It would be great if goths don't have to once again defend themselves from misinformed people who believe that black clothes = goth and goth = evil. But if they do, I hope they will do so with the intelligence, maturity and class that I know them to possess.

I understand that when something like yesterday's tragedy happens, people try to find a way to make sense of it. They want some explanation of how a human being could be so cruel and unfeeling. It's comforting when they can use a stereotype to explain a killer's behavior and say, "Oh, THAT's why he did it." It's hard to blame traumatized people for believing what the media is feeding them.

But it's harder to bear the unfounded animosity that is too often heaped on goths. Goths are people, and they're just as horrified as anyone by a heinous crime such as yesterday's. (Having been in bed sick all morning, I first learned of the shooting via pained posts on an online goth community.) No one - whether dressed in black, sporting on orange spray tan, or dripping with diamonds - no one wants to see children murdered. I hope that is never questioned.

To anyone who might happen to stumble upon this blog post, I would like to say that I don't judge all Christians by the actions of Jim Bakker and I don't judge all coaches by the actions of Jerry Sandusky. I would ask that you not judge all goths by the actions of one black-clad man.

My deepest sympathies are with those who lost a loved one yesterday.

This is the article containing the quote I referred to.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Gothidays 2012: Shiny Things

It's the penultimate day of the Gothidays 2012 blogging event at Professor Z's Cabinet of Curiosities. My autumn-to-winter decorating change was completed with the exchange of the decor on the bookshelves. I used candleholders, a glittery ornament, glittery pinecones and a couple of picture frames. This display isn't as robust as my usual bookshelf decorating, but limiting the color scheme meant I had fewer appropriate items on hand. About half of what's here was purchased in the last two weeks. :)

I especially like these white candleholders with silver glitter. I bought them retail (half off, with an additional 20% coupon) but it would be very easy to transform some thrift store candleholders into something similar by using glitter glue. The silver ornament is sitting on a glass candlestick from Dollar Tree.

Thus concludes my series of posts on Gothidays decorating! Considering this is the first year I have ever decorated for the holidays, I think I did okay. Thank you all for the wonderful compliments you've left in the comments. :D

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gothidays 2012: Glittery Decor

The Gothidays 2012 blogging event at Professor Z's Cabinet of Curiosities continues! I changed out my autumn decor for winter decor in glittery black, silver and white. I used large round ornaments, white and silver poinsettias and silver leaf garland intertwined with white lights and topped with a pair of sequined, feathered birds. It's hard to capture just how pretty the lights are reflected off the glittery ornaments.  :)

with flash
no flash
The decorations and small white tree flank the painted wardrobe in my living room. Hopefully next year I will have a better place to set the tree. Poor thing looks sort of puny here.

I still have a couple more shiny things for tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Gothidays 2012: White Tree

The Gothidays 2012 blogging event at Professor Z's Cabinet of Curiosities continues! Keeping with my black, purple, silver and white color scheme, I decorated a small white tree with silver and black. The silver ornaments were purchased, but the black ornaments and garland were pulled from my jewelry collection. :) I still need a tree topper of some sort.

The tree is sitting on the metal stand I showed in my Black Friday post. The scale is off, but I have limited horizontal surfaces on which to put decorations.

Check back tomorrow for more Gothidays decorating... with glitter!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Gothidays 2012: Black Tree Phase Two

It's day two of the Gothidays 2012 blogging event at Professor Z's Cabinet of Curiosities. I continued my Christmas decorating by adding presents under the tree. In keeping with the color scheme of the tree (and my entire house), I used paper and bows in black, purple, silver and white.

The tree has purple LED lights which are very pretty reflected off the silver ornaments. Alas, my camera isn't sophisticated enough to get a good photo.
More Gothidays coming soon! 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gothidays 2012: Black Tree Phase One

It's day one of the Gothidays 2012 blogging event at Professor Z's Cabinet of Curiosities. I began my Christmas decorating with the black tree in my living room, hanging black, purple and silver ornaments.
Phase two coming soon!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

December Theme Post: Maxi Skirts

The December 1 theme on Sophistique Noir is Maxi Skirts. My first forays into goth fashion were in the tradgoth, romantigoth and similar styles, and I wore long skirts frequently. I pulled a couple from the depths of my closet to feature here. But first, let's look at the practical side of maxi skirts - warmth!

Maxi skirts are great in the winter because you can pile on layers underneath for warmth. Of course, if you've spent more than five minutes on my blog, you've heard me complaining that I get hot too easily (particularly at work, where my office is holding steady at about 80F every day). Nonetheless, I do have an idea to share: bloomers made of flannel-back satin. Satin is great for bloomers because your skirt will slide freely over them, not get bunched or twisted, and the flannel side will keep you toasty warm!

Bloomers are not hard to sew. Bloomer patterns are available; you can also modify a pant pattern by cutting it shorter and adding elastic to the bottom. Elastic-waist pants are often included in sportswear patterns, which will also give you other pieces such as a jacket or dress.

And now, let's look at two maxi skirts from deep within my closet!

My mom made this black and silver velvet skirt for me many years ago when I was first discovering goth fashion. She lengthened it significantly so it would be ankle length. She deserves extra credit for that task - with the swirly seams, it must have been a challenge! I wore this skirt so many times that it began to stretch out and hang wonky. It no longer fits me well (darn hips), so a hanger photo will have to suffice.

Someday, I will replicate this skirt. I don't know what pattern Mom used; I'm sure it's long out of print. I have two similar patterns in my stash - Butterick 5042, which I just discovered is out of print :( and Simplicity 2416, which has a similar swirl style and is currently available.
Butterick 5042: Out of print :(
Here's another skirt Mom made me. It's purple satin with a black lace overlay and additional purple "wings" on the sides. As usual, my camera refuses to photograph purple properly and does no justice to this beautiful skirt.

Again, I don't know what pattern Mom used, though I know it included a top. I wore the outfit at Convergence 6 in Seattle, where I saw Peter Murphy perform. :) I discovered later that someone snapped a photo of me while I was waiting to get into the club. (I have a bandage on my neck because I'd been "decapitated" as part of the costume.)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday

Today was Black Friday in the US. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and the official beginning of the Christmassault. It's when many people begin shopping for Christmas gifts, and retailers feed the frenzy of consumerism. People mob the stores and apparently lose their minds. They shoot, pepper spray, and trample each other (usually at Walmart). It might just be the day of the year when Americans are at their absolute worst. Selfishness, greed, violence... all supposedly in the name of the peaceful, loving holiday of Christmas. Ugh.

Well, I have a different take for this Black Friday. It's Friday, and here's a look at some of the things I have painted black. Yes, shopping was involved, but with a lot less insanity. :)

This wrought iron wall decor was sort of a rusty brown color when I purchased it from Hobby Lobby. I painted it with a "hammered" finish black spray paint.

This pile o' stuff was purchased from a thrift store.

The red candleholder is now black.

The orangey gold container is now a black dog bed.

The brown frames are now jewelry displays.

To hold more jewelry, a thrift store box...

that is now black.

This small white display case with a glass door...

is now black. I haven't decided yet what I'll put in it. (The bubbly-looking back is paper that will be removed.)

This formerly pale green stand...

is now black.

These two owls are different sizes, colors and materials but apparently came from the same mold.

They're both black now. One sits on my bookshelf at work and one at home.

Finally, a thrift store shelf and candle holders.

I painted the shelf black, but decided on silver for the candle holders... but with black candles, of course. :)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Tonight, I Laughed

It's not often that I write about my life in detail because… well, frankly, it's no fun to read about. I don’t get out much or do anything exciting. And lately, I have been lonely.

I have very little family; just my parents, who live 2,000 miles away. I talk to them on the phone every couple of months. I have no siblings. My grandparents all died before I was born. As for friends, I have none. Other than a few lunches with a co-worker, I haven't had a social engagement in more than two years. Outside of work, I spend all my time alone. I'm used to being alone and even like it sometimes, but this is getting to be a little too much alone time even for me.

I don’t reveal this because I’m looking for pity. It was my own choices that shaped my life. I reveal this to explain what “I’ve been lonely” really means for me.

My life in general hasn’t been great lately. The new job that I was so hopeful about has turned out to be absolutely wrong for me. My 14-year-old dog – my only companion – is losing her vision and has begun to fall frequently, which worries me immensely. My own health hasn’t been the best. So it was difficult to feel thankful on Thanksgiving today.

Tonight, like most nights, I checked my blog list for new posts. Natalie of Gothy Two Shoes, who has excellent taste in music, had posted some videos. One was for the “literal version” of Billy Idol’s White Wedding. This piqued my interest. ‘80s videos are already pretty literal, after all. Turns out this version actually replaces the words to the song. Not what I was expecting, and quite funny. When the kitchen scene came on, I immediately thought of my own falling-apart kitchen ("And the sink is also not working"), and I burst out laughing. Really, truly laughing. I laughed so hard I cried. I laughed so much that my abs started to ache.

I cannot remember the last time I laughed like that. I’ll snicker sometimes, and even laugh for a few seconds on occasion, but it’s been ages since I really LAUGHED.

At the end of Thanksgiving Day, I was reminded of something I am very thankful for – our little virtual community. I love reading your blogs and seeing your photos (and sometimes even living vicariously through you), and I am grateful for the nice comments you leave on my blog. Thanks to you all, I can feel connected even when I'm sitting home alone. And special gratitude to the awesome green-haired lady on the other side of the planet. Natalie, thanks to you, tonight, I laughed. :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dining Room Lighting

Time for a belated update to my dining room lighting situation. The hanging lights that I mentioned in a previous post continue to be an ideal solution for brightly illuminating the space. With those guys handling the actual light production duties, I was able to choose an overhead fixture without having to consider light output. I looked for a brushed nickel fixture to match the window and door hardware, but couldn't find anything in a style I liked. Finally I decided to go with basic black - you can never go wrong with black. :)
Hardware House Tuscany semi-flush ceiling light from Amazon

Naturally, the installation didn't go quite right the first time. The mounting plate included with the fixture did not fit the 37-year-old box in the ceiling (which is, by the way, tilted). Luckily I had on hand the plate from the fixture that had previously donated its glass globes. I was able to make it work despite the tilted box. (Let me just say I'm glad I've installed light fixtures before because the instructions included with the fixture were USELESS.)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November Theme Post: Hosiery

The November 1 theme on Sophistique Noir is Hosiery. This is an easy one for me. I love legwear, especially funky socks and leggings in stripes and prints. :)

My love of funky socks began in Catholic school, where wearing bright red socks beneath my dress code khaki pants helped me feel more like an individual and less like a clone. In my early 20's, I became enamored with striped tights and wore them nearly every day. I’m a little more conservative now, often wearing opaque black or solid color tights.

Though I love the fashion of hosiery, I'll try to keep with the spirit of GIY and make this post more about the practicalities of hosiery, such as organization and laundering. :)

I have an embarrassingly large collection of hosiery. It's shameful, really. Being a neat freak, I keep everything very organized. Three dresser drawers are dedicated to socks – one for ankle socks, one for crew (mid-calf) socks, and one for knee socks. Yes, I separate my socks by style. No, I do not color-code or alphabetize them. (Yet.)

I keep pairs paired by rolling them together. I never thought much about this – it’s what Mom always did – until a couple of college friends laughed at my sock rolling. Clearly it’s not as universal as I’d imagined.

Three drawers in this small chest house tights and leggings. The drawers are the perfect size for tights, and it turns out that the boxes from Converse Chuck Taylors are the perfect size for drawer dividers. I have one drawer for black (leggings on one side, tights on the other), one drawer for colors, and one for stripes and fishnet/open weave patterns.

If left loose in a drawer, tights will inevitably knot themselves together. (Or is it just me that they do this to?) To avoid this problem, I fold/roll my tights. (Except fishnets, which don't fold well.) Seems like overkill even for an organization nut like me, but I prefer spending a few extra seconds when putting the tights away instead of fighting to untangle the mass when I'm short on time in the morning.

Part of the reason my horde is shamefully large is that I buy new items every now and then, but rarely have to throw any away. I've had those white striped tights since 1998. :o The key to longevity is proper laundering.

Loose in a washing machine, tights tend to get wrapped around the agitator, caught on zippers, and/or tangled up with other clothes. Hosiery washed in a mesh bag enjoys a much safer laundering experience. You can get mesh wash bags in a variety of styles and sizes. I prefer small bags with a zipper closure (2 for $1 at the dollar store).  I keep them near the laundry hamper so that when I take off tights/leggings, I can immediately put them into a mesh bag and then into the hamper. That way, I don't need to later sort through the laundry and pull out all the hosiery before it goes in the washing machine.

Heat from a dryer can degrade the elasticity of hosiery. After a few rounds of tumble drying, you might find that your tights have become "looses." Hosiery will last much longer if hung to dry. Drying racks are available in several styles. I have a folding rack similar to this one:

Finally, no hosiery post would be complete without mention of my holy grail of tights: stripey tights that fit. Stripey tights are always too short for me. I have to cut off the top, turning them into socks/stockings, or cut through the toe seam, turning them into leggings. It will be a glorious day if I ever find stripey tights that are long enough!

EDIT: Here's a photo of tights-turned-leggings. Sometimes I cut the bottoms straight, along a stripe; sometimes I just snip off the toe seam, retaining as much length as possible. The fabric stays intact, so I don't bother finishing the cut ends. They're hidden under my socks and boots anyway.