Good humor makes all things possible.
-Charles Schultz-

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.
-Shakespeare-The Merchant of Venice-

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mom, she's copying me!

Recently I was wasting time looking at one of my favorite DIY blogs.  A lot of Jillee's ideas are downright dopey, but I have to hand it to her: she keeps rolling out the posts.  As I hopscotched through her archives I landed on a clever item (which she borrowed from someone else)  about making grocery bags out of  T-shirts.  As clever as that project sounds, I'd never thought of it, and it was ridiculously easy.   Believe it or not, I can't think of everything.

God, my carpet looks grimy.  Might be about Bissell-time again.  Disregard.

I'm willing to bet that you have far too many "event" T-shirts.  (Until now, one = too many.)  They multiply almost as fast as plastic grocery bags.  If you're like most women (and some men), you never wear them after the event because, let's face it, those boxy crew-neck Hanes tees are woefully unflattering.  I understand; they have sentimental value so you don't get rid of them or anything else.  
See where I'm headed with this?

I had already cut the crew neck and sleeves off this one: nope--still dorky 

First, I turned one inside out and cut a U-shape out of both sides of the neckline (I traced a plate and pinned it together, but I think you could just free-hand it.)  Next, I cut off the sleeves.  I used my old pinking shears only because Lillian's boss Martha Stewart  scissors were hidden in her room and I didn't have all day to  am reluctant to dig around in there.  Knit fabric doesn't ravel;  the edge rolls over nicely and looks finished.

I measured down about 12" (you could go longer if you wish, of course) from the armholes, and sewed straight across the bottom with a double row of stitching; nice and sturdy. I trimmed that seam.   Since I prefer box corners I folded the bottom corners into points and sewed across, about two inches in. 
See where I'm pointing up there?   

Still with me? You can do this!

Here's how those box corners look from the outside.  Deluxe!

 I trimmed that seam  and turned my new grocery bag right side out.  It almost couldn't be any easier.

Bam!  Done.

I'm thinking about Santa Claus right about now, aren't you?

And there's my new bag pretending to hold groceries.  A medium-size T-shirt makes a bag about the size of a regular plastic grocery sack.  Man-size shirts will logically make deeper sacks.  You could sew those a little shorter, to keep you from stuffing in too many  wine bottles  fruits and vegetables.  
I sincerely love my stash of cloth bags and don't shop without them, but these are softer and cuter.  
Move over, bougie Old Navy stuff-'n-save bags!  You've been out-greened.

These took about five minutes each and cost nothing.  I've used them already!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Obey the rocks

"The ship that will not obey the helm will have to obey the rocks"  --old English proverb

I may have mentioned that I -sort of- collect rocks.  Not valuable, portable things like hundred dollar bills.  Nope; it's rocks.  I am descended from dedicated rock-hounds, my adventurous maternal grandparents, and just can't help admiring pretty or unusual rocks.  I lug them home and pile display them all over my house and yard.  I have only one box-full of my grandparents'  beautiful, carefully labeled specimens because, in a rare flash of insight years ago, I realized that it was truly unwise to own more special rocks than I could carry.  Besides, if I ever want to look at the rest of them I can since my brothers have them, which makes their wives extremely happy, because I mean really, wouldn't you want your spouse to bring home half a ton of rocks?  Don't you want to live right where you do now, (because who moves a thousand pounds of freaking rocks), until you die?  

At least if either sister-in-law ever wants to bash my brother's head in frustration, there are hundreds of lethal weapons within easy reach.

When I bought my house, it hadn't been built yet, but alone on the lot stood an old fireplace, hand built of native stones.  Patiently waiting for me to come along and build a house with this view out my front window.  The Dowager Countess of Grantham had Downton Abbey; but I have 
The House With the Fireplace. 

I don't believe in fate, but if I did, then this was meant to be.

If I stand in my yard and look west I can see this pile of rocks heaped in my neighbor's side yard next to the street.  It's been there for years--there are weeds and lizards in the pile--and when I  go past on my morning stroll power-walk sometimes I look to see if any of them are pretty or remarkable in some way.  They are just garden-variety boring old landscape stones, but one day I spied an attractive tiger-striped one and rationalized that if I replaced it with several similar-but-plain stones from my yard, I wouldn't feel bad about bringing the stripey one home.  After all, her net rock volume would be twenty pounds higher than it was before, which seemed more than fair.  Generous, even.

So that's what I did.

Apparently she saw me.

I'll never eat lunch in this town again.

"Next time do it in the middle of the night!"

He tried to tell me.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The cat and I have divergent talents

Yes,  I neglected to photograph everything before I started, but you've seen plenty of old furniture before.  
Insert your own appropriate memory here.

Last week I finally dragged my dowdy old dresser into the garage and took off the handles.  See how the unfinished wood inside the drawers looks nice and dark?  Hold that thought.

Is it really the safest?  Well, 3M makes Post-Its, and they're pretty safe, so yeah--probably.

I lightly sanded and primed everything, filling in a few dings with Dap spackle first.  I decided to strip the  top entirely and stain it, or just seal it if I liked the color.  This 3M stripper did a fine job--it took a few coats with scraping in between, and all that Navajo White paint came off.  But instead of nice dark bare wood, it was really light; almost like maple or ash.  I remember it originally being dark so it must have had walnut stain on just the top so the whole thing would match.  Whose idea was that?  

My groovy DeWalt hand sander looks apprehensive about all my projects.  Lillian refinished that little drop leaf table.

Anyway, since I had already chosen to paint rather than replace the brass hardware, I elected to sand the top smooth and stain it with some leftover black Minwax stain.  It took three coats to darken the pale wood, and then I sprayed it with clear sealer, painted the body and drawers with my special not-quite-white blend Rustoleum Ultra Cover,  reassembled the whole thing, and dragged it back inside. 

Anyone see a little smoochy-face there?  Just me?  God, I'm such a romantic.

Later we hefted the ugly television on top, but here's how a dresser should look.  No old tv anywhere.  
The dresser lives in the corner of the room, so I can push the bulky tv back further. 
Nobody sees it but me, and I like to watch for a while until I fall asleep, so I deal with it.

That's Annie, Sam and Lillie in a picture taken almost twenty years ago.

I'm very happy with the result.  I can (and probably must) live with it for another few decades.  I actually painted my pine bookshelves first (purchased unfinished when Annie was born and stained golden oak), and also a humble gray end table that was most recently Lillian's (one of a pair from a neighborhood garage sale twenty years ago) but I haven't taken their picture yet.  

My poor bedroom is a wrecking yard these days.  Be patient.

Kitty demonstrates the Y in DIY:  She has to catch her own lizards.

Not to be outdone by my species-specific skills, Lottie sneaked another big cranky lizard into the house while I was occupied.  I intercepted them before she could turn him loose in Lillian's room.  I did let her admire him in his plastic prison for a while before I dropped him in some ivy across the street; but she was miffed for the rest of the afternoon.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Forever or until I forget

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.[1

Please do not get me started on curly bulbs

My mother (age 89) recently asked me how many Forever stamps it took to make 65 cents.  I told her two Forever stamps would do, because I knew she didn't have any twenty centers.  (I'll bet you did not know that the second ounce needs twenty cents.)  Why did she need 65 cents of postage?  Because her mail-in ballot needed that much.  I said I couldn't remember ever needing extra postage for my ballot--in fact I was pretty sure most ballots were postage-paid, but I'd go home and check.  Of course then I couldn't find my ballot.  I finally unearthed it from a large pile of unrelated crap--no doubt segregated from the regular mail so I could spend time reading and deciding.  I admit there are a lot of issues about which I am confused and candidates for all the various seats with whose politics I am completely unfamiliar.  

At any rate (postal humor-lol) the enclosed purple envelope indeed required 65 cents postage. The instructions stated that purple envelopes needed postage, but green envelopes were free.  Do some elections have green envelopes?  If so, why?

I'm trying to use up all my old stamps;  I overestimated how many I'd need before the last rate hike and have to mail everything with an obsolete 44 cent stamp and a leftover 2 cent stamp; of which I also have too many.  It seems ridiculous to buy a sheet of 1 cent stamps, after all, rendering the 2 centers useless.  If I were rich and/or smart I'd buy a lot of Forever stamps to send the occasional birthday or thank you card.  I might save a dollar or two each year.

But then if I were rich and/or smart, I'd do a number of things differently.

Three movies cowboys you remember, and one you don't

William Hart was actually my uncle, and a cowboy, just not that William Hart.  
Rest in peace, Uncle Bill. 

There is a section of Interstate 80 named the Alan S Hart Freeway, but not for my dad, Allan S Hart.   

When I was little that same dad told me that Jenny Creek behind my house was named for me and for years,  I told everyone who would listen. 
It was not named for me.