Friday, December 30, 2016

Repurposing Kitchen Cabinets

My kitchen looked like this when I bought my house:
Yes, I bought the house anyway. ;)
I gave it a makeover, and it now looks like this:

As you can see, I removed all the upper cabinets. I like to repurpose or upcycle when possible, and four of the cabinets are now performing new duties.

I turned one into a trash bin (shown in the photo above) and one into a dog bed.
Two more went in my little workroom. They happened to fit perfectly under the window, on either side of the vent, between the table and wall. I added a board across the top to make a work surface.

Of course, it wouldn't be a GIY project if I didn't paint everything black.  XD

I added black adhesive shelf paper to the board so it's a more durable work surface. I put a power strip on each end, one for the lamps and one for my power tool battery chargers. The cabinets hold my paint and painting supplies.

There are two cabinets left. They're currently storing things in the basement, but maybe I'll find them a more glamorous job in the future. :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Simple DIY Necklace Hanger

Needing a place to hang necklaces that were too long for my velvet jewelry display, I made a simple DIY necklace hanger... bat-shaped, of course. ;)

I used a wood bat shape, same as the ones I used for my door pediments. I hammered in a few short nails, ensuring that the nails didn't poke out through the back.

I spray painted bat and nails black.

The bat already had a pre-drilled hole, so I simply put a screw through that to attach the hanger to the wall. Then I tapped two of the nails into the wall a little so the bat won't shift under uneven weight of the necklaces. And it was done!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Secondhand Dogs

A few days ago was my dogs' one year "adoptiversary." They have both undergone quite a transformation in the year since I adopted them from the animal shelter.

Indigo, a Miniature Pinscher, was painfully skinny. You could see every rib.

She weighed only 5.5 pounds. She was listless and lethargic.

One year later, she has fattened up to a healthy 7.2 pounds. She is perky and insistently cuddly.

EDIT: Adding a little about Indigo.
Indigo had been placed in the shelter's night drop (where people can drop off animals anonymously). She was horribly skinny and clearly needed help, and I didn't think very highly of someone who would just leave her in the night drop.

Her behavior showed that she must have had a reasonably good home. She's affectionate, she is well behaved, she walks nicely on leash, she does well riding in the car... clearly someone took time with her. How could her owner, who appeared to be a decent person, just get rid of her?

But I realized I may have been judging that person too harshly. Indigo had obviously gotten sick somehow, and maybe her owner did not have money for vet bills, so he/she dropped Indigo at the shelter knowing that someone would take care of her. Maybe he/she was too embarrassed to drop her off in person, so used the night drop. Certainly dropping her at the shelter was better than letting her suffer.

Whatever the circumstance, the end result is that I got Indigo... which makes me happy. :D

Nook, a Chihuahua mix, was extremely fearful. She was afraid of anything new or different, even an object brought in from another room. I had to be very careful not to make loud noises, which would send her running to hide in her kennel.

She has made great progress. Though she will probably always be a timid dog, she is quite comfortable at home. The other day, I accidentally dropped a spoon on the floor, and she didn't even flinch. :)

Adopting these two little ladies was the best decision I have ever made. They make me laugh and they enrich my life immensely.

As you may know, I am a big proponent of buying secondhand. In no case is this more true than with pets. There are animal shelters and rescue organizations full of dogs and cats of all types and ages. Many of them list their adoptable animals online, so you can easily search for your ideal pet. That's how I found Indigo and Nook.

If you must buy a new "firsthand" pet, please buy from a reputable, pet-loving breeder... one who truly cares about the animals and keeps them in a comfortable living situation. I implore you to never, ever buy a puppy from a pet store because you are almost certainly supporting puppy mills, which are appalling places. I'm not going to say more on that topic because it makes me violently sad.

This post is about celebrating secondhand pets and the happiness they bring. I think adopting a pet is actually a two-way, mutual rescue; it certainly was in my case. I rarely make bold statements advocating one choice over another because circumstances vary and life is not one size fits all. However, I unequivocally advocate for secondhand pets.

As I finish up this post, my secondhand dogs are enjoying their secondhand bed, which is a repurposed kitchen cabinet fitted with cushion, blanket, and heating pad. Usually it is Nook's nook, but Indigo is welcomed any time she wants to visit. :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Wardrobe Nemesis

When building our dream wardrobe or just shopping for everyday clothes, many of us encounter obstacles. Clothes are out of our price range, they are not within a dress code, they don't fit properly... or they're not black. ;)

Issues with fit have plagued me all my life. My particular banes (not to pun my own name) are my wide shoulders and extra-long arms.

To accommodate my wide shoulders, I wear stretchy knit tops. In shirts with no stretch across the back, I feel like my shoulders are locked in place. Blazers and coats feel like straitjackets.

To accommodate my extra-long arms, I buy tall sizes. Alas, ladies' talls are not readily available like petites or plus sizes. They're available only online from a few stores, such as Old Navy and JCPenney, and only in limited styles.

I must pause here to showcase one style which, as a tall woman who has spent her entire life trying to find sleeves that actually touch her wrists, I find hilarious: the tall size 3/4 sleeve top.
from JCPenney
So unnecessary. If I want a 3/4 sleeve top, I'll just buy a regular size long sleeve top. XD

Anyway... combine the need for stretchy knit tops with limited styles in tall size, and I wear a lot of t-shirts and cardigans. In fact, I have been wearing t-shirts and short sleeve cardigans almost exclusively for ages. I'm stuck in a style rut.

I want to get out of this rut, but I encounter an insurmountable obstacle... my absolute nemesis:


I get too hot too easily. I don't know why, but my temperature tolerance is very different from most people. Except maybe Elsa; like her, "the cold never bothered me anyway." ;)

In summer, I'm too hot outside (of course), but also too hot inside because there's not enough air conditioning. In winter, buildings are heated to what normal people consider comfortable temperatures, and they feel like an oven to me. People are comfy (or even chilly!) wearing sweaters and layers... and I'm roasting in a t-shirt.

Layers and sleeves aren't the only factors that determine whether I'm going to suffer or not - fabric type makes an enormous difference. Almost all of my clothes are cotton, with a few in polyester/cotton blends. Nylon makes me too hot, and I absolutely cannot wear acrylic without roasting.

So... I am left with few options other than cotton knit t-shirts and cardigans. One possibility is woven button-up shirts. I picked up a few from the thrift store...

And removed the sleeves.

This past weekend, the temperature outside was about 5F / -15C, and I was removing sleeves from shirts. What a bizarre scenario. :P

Not all the shirts are 100% cotton, so I'm not sure if they'll work for me. I will just have to give them a try. I really want to wear something different!

Do you have a wardrobe nemesis?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Little Black Dog

Today I walked into my bedroom and said hello to my black shirt, thinking it was my black dog Nook on the bed. XD
(I should have known she was actually in her nook, the cabinet under the chest of drawers on the right. You can just barely see the pointy white tips of her ears there.)

Nook constantly makes me laugh. She's playful and energetic and absolutely hilarious. Whatever she does... she does with great enthusiasm.

Here she is enthusiastically settling down for bed. :D

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Patchwork Bag

Continuing the patchwork fun, I made a grocery bag from scraps of two black and gray bat fabrics.

It's a fold-up tote which rolls/folds up and is secured with a button and elastic. (I previously posted a tutorial for these.)

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thoughts on Blogging

I follow a number of bloggers. In the last year or so, some have stopped blogging. Some have made comments about declining readership. Some have written increasing numbers of sponsored posts.

This has me wondering about the status of blogging as a communications medium.

Web sites/services/apps generally have a limited lifespan before their popularity plummets and/or they become commercialized and infested with ads. I'm old enough to remember AIM buddy lists, ICQ instant messaging, forums such as alt.gothic, and Geocities personal webpages that were little more than lists of links.

Then came Friendster, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram. And no doubt there are other sites and apps ready to burst into popularity.

So I wonder...
Is one of these (or some other site or app) replacing blogs?
Do people still enjoy reading blogs, or do they prefer other media?
Do people enjoy writing blog posts, or do they prefer to publish elsewhere?
Do bloggers now blog only (or mostly) for money?

I've read the news stories and trend reports. But I'd love to know your thoughts.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Black and White Patchwork Curtains

If you sew, you generally end up with fabric scraps. I had amassed quite a large pile of scraps, many of them in black-and-white prints. I decided to use these to make patchwork curtains for my workroom.

Wanting an easy pattern for my first foray into patchwork, I opted for a subway tile type pattern using 3" x 6" rectangles vertically (3" wide x 6" long). To cover my window, I would make two curtain panels 36" (twelve 3" rectangles) wide and 60" (ten 6" rectangles) long. Thus I would need 120 rectangles per panel; 240 rectangles total. I cut 240 rectangles.

I used what may seem like an unorthodox process to sew the panels because I was using a serger rather than a regular sewing machine. It's quick and easy to serge in an assembly line fashion with little stopping and starting, and I took advantage of that. The general idea was to sew the rectangles/patches into vertical strips and then sew those strips together to make a panel.

For each panel, I began with 120 patches.

First, I sewed 104 of the patches into pairs. I selected two fabrics more or less randomly and stitched them together at one short end. This gave me 52 pairs.

I set aside four of the pairs. I sewed the other 48 pairs into quads. This gave me 24 quads.

Next, I sewed the 24 quads into... er, is there a word for sets of 8? Octos? We'll go with octos. I was just making this up as I went along anyway. ;) This gave me 12 octos.

On four of the octos, I added a pair, giving me four strips of 10.

On eight of the octos, I added a single patch, giving me eight strips of 9.

I had eight single 6" long patches remaining. I cut each of these into two pieces: one 4" long and one 2" long.

On four of the strips of 9, I added a 4" long patch at the top and a 2" long patch at the bottom.

On the other four strips of 9, I added a 2" long patch at the top and a 4" long patch at the bottom.

I now had four strips with a 6" patch at the top, four with a 4" patch at the top, and four with a 2" patch at the top. I laid these out 6-4-2-6-4-2, etc. to form a subway tile type pattern.

I stitched the 12 strips together to form a panel. Then I called my regular sewing machine into duty to hem the sides and bottom of the panel.

The final step was to add a pocket for the curtain rod. I cut a piece of fabric 4.5" x 35" (the finished width of my panel). I folded up .75" along one long side, then hemmed the short sides.

With right sides together, I sewed the unfolded long side of the strip to the top of the panel.

Then, I folded the strip over to the back of the panel and stitched it down along the folded long side. This created the bottom of the rod pocket. I then stitched a seam about 1" below the top to form a header above the rod pocket. The seams are difficult to see in the photo, so I added blue marks to show where they are.

I repeated the process for the second panel... and ta-da! Patchwork curtains. :D

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Mutant Hair

My hair has been black for several years.

Wanting a change, I decided to try for purple. I opted to go to a professional because I did not want to ruin my hair. Unfortunately, the attempt to change my hair color from black to purple went profoundly wrong.

The sad tale began in July. The stylist bleached the bottom part of my hair, and the process went well; my hair lightened up nicely with minimal damage.

The stylist then applied the purple (Pravana ChromaSilk Violet)... and my hair turned out essentially black. How is it possible to apply bright purple dye onto bleached hair and have the hair look black? I can only speculate.

Four months later, the hair had faded to a brownish color.

I returned to the stylist for round two. She applied the bleach... but this time, there was an extreme reaction. Within three or four minutes, the foils in the back of my hair got very warm. The stylist immediately pulled them out and rinsed out the bleach, but the damage was done. My hair was pale yellow and... I don't even know how to describe it. It's like my hair melted. It felt like soggy, stretchy spaghetti noodles.

The stylist said the damage was only on the very bottom part of the back of my hair, and that a trim should take care of it. So we went ahead with the purple dye.

The result was horrible. The purple was very uneven. When I got home, I could see that far more of my hair was damaged than the stylist had said. The back of my hair didn't even feel like hair. I could barely get a comb through it, and it broke off in little pieces like crumbles of steel wool.

There was no salvaging the situation. I had the severely damaged hair cut off, then put on black dye to cover the uneven remnants of purple.

Of course, I wanted to find out what had happened during that second visit. Online research provided a lot of conflicting information. None of the likely explanations, such as metallic buildup in the hair, seemed to apply to me.

Whatever the cause, the kind of extreme reaction my hair had is apparently pretty rare. Some hair stylists have never seen it, and some say they've seen it once or twice in their careers.
That does not surprise me. I have mutant hair.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Decor and Boots

Catching up on happenings from the last few weeks...

First, decor. We hardly had an autumn here. The weather stayed very warm day after day, feeling like extended summer instead of autumn. Nonetheless, I decorated for Halloween/autumn. I used some orange and purple plaid fabric and added lots of pumpkins because I seem to go crazy for orange every October.

(Today, we finally had a change in the weather... in typical Colorado fashion, a BIG change. Yesterday it was  yet another warm, sunny day (77F / 25C); today the high temperature was 38F / 3C and snow was falling.)

Second, boots. I have liked the look of John Fluevog boots for ages. Fluevog opened a store in Denver three years ago, and I finally took myself there. Though I had low expectations of finding anything to fit my wide feet, I discovered that the men's 7th Heaven Derby Swirl boot fit perfectly. So I bought my first pair of Fluevogs. They are super comfortable.

Photographing the black-with-white-swirls boots against the black-with-white-swirls rug was entirely fortuitous. :)

Monday, November 14, 2016


Didn't mean to disappear... I had a couple of very hectic weeks at work, and some stuff going on at home. I'm getting caught up now, and I'll have new posts up shortly. :)

In the meantime, here's a picture of yoga dog Indigo. ;)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Laundry Closet: Damask and Labels

During my laundry closet makeover, I decided it was only fair for the hardworking occupants to get a makeover as well. I dressed up the washer and dryer by applying black and white damask shelf liner.

The laundry baskets were adorned with goth-appropriate sorting labels. XD

And the laundry closet makeover was complete!

Laundry Closet: Decor

As I've mentioned before, I like cottage style decorating... but with black and dark colors in place of the white and pastels. Gothic Cottage style, if there is such a thing. Befitting that look, I wanted to add black lace trim to the new shelves in my laundry closet. I pulled some venise lace from my stash.

Thumbtacks seemed like an appropriate way to attach the lace. I had plenty of thumbtacks; alas, they were white. No problem! That's what spray paint is for. I stuck the tacks into a piece of foamboard and spray painted them...

The newly black tacks worked perfectly to attach the lace along the edge of the shelves.

To hide the plumbing and electrical, I hung a piece of black jacquard fabric on a tension rod under the bottom shelf.

On the top shelf went some new black baskets for laundry and storage.

Just a few finishing touches, and the laundry closet makeover will be complete!