Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Seadog Cemetery Decor

One of the great things about buying our Condo is that Husband and I finally have a porch and yard of our very own to decorate for the holidays. The first year we decided to decorate for Halloween, we opened a bottle of wine and after a glass or so, decided “Hey - let’s put out the Halloween decorations!” This is what we came up with. A Seadog Cemetery. Granted it's a small cemetary. We confined it to our flower beds so we wouldn't have to deal with the HOA's lawn service mowing over our holiday decorations.

This is Captain Twiggy. He’s the guy that started it all. For about 8 years, Captain Twiggy was our lone Halloween decoration because Husband and I were performing at the Ohio Renaissance Festival every weekend in October and honestly between the weekend acting job and our weekday professional jobs, a pirate skeleton on the door was about as much holiday décor that we could handle at the time. Now Captain Twiggy hangs out in our sea dog cemetery drinking his favorite brew – Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Make a Halloween Witches Parking Sign

Made this Witches Parking sign out of an old decorative sign I picked up at Old Time Pottery. I liked the painted border of the original sign but I didn’t like the saying. So I painted the center with black craft paint. After the paint was dry, I painted my own saying, “Witches Parking Only: All Others Will Be Toad” in the center of the sign with white craft paint.


I hung it on my porch next to a bamboo-handled broom. I tied the broom to the sign with raffia so it wouldn’t be tempted to fly away with any mischievous goblins or ghouls on Beggars Night.

Friday, October 24, 2008

5 Ways to Save Electricity in Summer

My goal is to reduce my home’s natural gas and electricity use by 20% this year. I also want to reduce my utilities as inexpensively as possible. In other words, I don’t want to replace every major appliance I own or install expensive alternative energy generators. Let’s see how I did this June, July, August, and September.

Natural Gas Usage for Summer

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm Featured on Apartment Therapy!

Apartment Therapy is one of my favorite decorating and design blogs. It's been a dream of mine to be featured along side what I think is the coolest, hippiest, and cleverest (Cleverest? I think I just made up a new word.) interior design ideas around. This week I got my wish because Apartment Therapy's green design page re-nest is featuring not just one, but two of my projects this week as part of their Creative Reuse 2008 series. Today re-nest is featuring the chandelier I made out of old wine, water, and sherry glasses.


But that's not all! Tuesday they featured Blitzkrieg's raised dog feeder that I made from a shadowbox picture frame and napkin rings.

How to Make Fake Horror Movie Vampire Blood

If you’re dressing up as a vampire for Halloween, chances are you will want to sport some fake blood dribbling from those vampire fangs or all over you if you’re occupying your favorite horror movie monster to a Halloween party as their favorite tasty snack latest victim. 


In that case, you’ll need some fake blood. It’s easy to make, in fact, this is the same recipe that they use to make fake blood for movies and for television shows.

How to Make Halloween Blood From Kitchen Ingredients

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Eyeball Candle Halloween Decor

Normal people put taper candles into candlesticks on their dining room tables. I decided to sidestep that tradition after finding some old decorative candles in the bottom of a box of Halloween decorations.

I didn’t like the lonely look in their eyes. I added a coven of friendly witches to keep them company.

Monday, October 20, 2008

DIY Scrubbing Bubbles!

I was skeptical about cleaning with vinegar, which is supposed to be a natural disinfectant. However, after Blitzkrieg entered my life I had to find a pet friendly floor-cleaning alternative. I was very surprised to find that a combination of vinegar, water, and a sploosh of dish soap did the job very nicely.

And it is butt cheap too - bonus!

After that, I tried a few more cleaning with vinegar experiments. I made my own green version of scrubbing bubbles to clean some baked on crud under my stovetop.

I sprinkled the crud with baking powder, then a bit of vinegar and let the foaming begin. After the foaming stopped, I easily wiped up the mess. This method worked much better than any other cleaner & loads of elbow grease I tried (and failed) on the job earlier that day.

“Hi, my name’s Lisa and I was a skeptic. Now I like to clean with foaming baking soda and vinegar volcanoes.”

Friday, October 17, 2008

I'm All a Twitter!

You think my adventures in living with big green style on a little budget are funny in my weekly posts?

Come on, I know you do.

Well now you laugh at me day to day by following me on Twitter. I guess that makes it official. I'm a Twit. Follow me, won't you?

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Turn a Fall Scarecrow into a Summer Lawn Flamingo Cozy

As I was sorting and reorganizing my craft stash, I came across an untouched quilted door panel. Definitely a UFP (unfinished project.) Originally, I was going to make it for someone as a gift but never got around to it. Therefore, it sat in my stash for several years while I took a sewing hiatus. Now, I’m back and my goal is to use as much stuff from my stash as possible. After some rooting around I realized that I already had the materials to put this guy together.

I’m not a quilter, but this product was easy to do. I cut along the dotted lines of the printed craft panel to cut out Mr. Scarecrow and his parts. Then I used the fabric cutouts as patterns to cut out a layer of batting and the plain backing fabric. Here I had to get a little creative with the layout because I didn’t have much in the way of batting and I didn’t want to go to the store and buy more. In a pinch, I used felt for the batting layer for the hands. That’s OK, because I needed to put those too-big-to-throw-away-but-not-big-enough-to-do-much-of- anything-with scraps of felt to good use.

I layered and pinned the pieces together and top stitched them together. For added interest I sewed along the printed lines/and details of the hat, shirt fabric, etc. (This, fellow nonquilters, is the official "quilting" part of making a quilt. I didn't know that either until I Googled it.) because bored and wanted to see if quilting some of the panel' s details would make any difference in it's look or not. Fortunately, my Grandmother’s button box and my gift-wrapping supplied the finishing touches of buttons and raffia sewed to the shirt to simulate straw.


Now this panel is defiantly two-dimensional. He’s supposed to hang on a door but I already have a fall door wreath that I like and don't want to swap out. What to do? Well, I made my scarecrow door hanger into a standing scarecrow decoration.

I grabbed some fallen sticks (thanks Hurricane Ike!) and sewed them to the back of the scarecrow to make sure he didn’t flop in the breeze as he did last year. Nobody likes a droopy scarecrow. Well, unless you’re Ray Bolger in The Wizard of Oz. That man’s scarecrow dance was genius.

I made my 2D scarecrow panel stand to attention by lashing him to a mental front porch flamingo with leftover bread ties and computer cable ties. Instant flamingo cozy!


Yes, he’s a little trite, but I like him better than the store bought scarecrows that are popping up in my neighbors’ yards. The best part of this project? The cost - zero dollars. Beat that Mastercard!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bruce Campbell Pumpkin Meet the Mac-O-Lantern

My brother-in-law likes, nay, is obsessed with horror movies and Halloween. In fact, most of the décor in my Evil Dead laundry room came courtesy of holiday gifts from him. I think most of these items where gifted to us under the my-wife-put-a-moratorium-on-me-buying-new-horror-movie-stuff-for-my-man-cave-so-I’m-buying-this-for-you-because-I-think-it’s-cool- and-I-know-you-like-Bruce-Campbell-movies clause of their marriage contract.

That’s why my laundry room looks like a dorm room.

BIL has a friendly competition with his neighbor on who carves the best pumpkin each Halloween. Both guys bought pumpkin carving kits at the store. After using the store bought templates, they both quickly ditched that idea the following year and have been doing their own thing every since.

As an homage to my Evil Dead laundry room, my brother in law carved this pumpkin for Halloween. Bruce Campbell as Ash in the movie The Evil Dead. On the other hand, it could be Ash in Evil Dead 2. Or possibly Ash in Army of Darkness? Anyway, here is his masterpiece.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Looking for Products or Services to Review

I like to do product reviews on my blogs. I need your help finding them. Would you like me to review your product or service? Maybe your Etsy store? On the other hand, have you ever wondered about a product or service and want me to check it out for you?

My Condo Blues readers are a varied group. They are interested in products or services that include but are not limited to:

  • Crafts
  • Dogs/pets
  • Home decorating
  • Home improvement
  • DIY
  • Green and Sustainable living

If you'd like to sponsor a contest that would be an added bonus, but it is not required.

I am also the Green contributor for the Capessa network. The readers of my Capessa blog Sustainable Style are interested in all things related to green and sustainable living, including environmentally friendly clothing and health and beauty products.

Please email me at condoblues [at] gmail [dot] com for details.

In Other Blog Buisness...

Check out my latestet post on my Capessa blog Sustainable Style about greening your pet by adopting an animal from an animal rescue organization. It's the perfect way to celebrate National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month!

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Help Me Pick a Halloween Costume!

I love dressing up for Halloween. It's the one time of year that I can please my inner child and play dress up. Because if you're an adult and if you don't have a kid, playing dress up at any other time of the year could be all shades of creepy, scary, fetishy or all three (your choice - you pick!)

Husband and I are going to a Halloween party. The theme is Scary. After rooting around what costume pieces we had around the house (not only a budget conscious costume but environmentally friendly too), I put together three options. I'm not sure which one I should do. Will you help me decide?

Option 1: Witch

These costume pieces have evolved into what you see now. Originally I bought the vest at Rag O Rama (hands down the best thrift store in the city!) and wore it with black boots and leggings for a couple of sword fighting shows. Later I needed an Elizabethan gown to do a hand to hand stage combat show and made the black skirt. A few years later I developed an on-line training course and needed a photo of an 1898 woman. I added sleeves to the vest and a walking bustle to the skirt. Then after seeing Wicked and channeling the latest Harry Potter film I added the conical hat. It’s not as good as Professor McGonagall’s (oh how I love the hats they built for the character in the Harry Potter movies!) but I didn't have to time to beef up the store bought hat with feathers et al. at the time) and was a witch. I use the broom as a decoration on my front porch. I like the texture of the bamboo handle and that it's beat up a bit. Like it's defied gravity and flown many, many miles into the night.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

EcoSMART Contest Winner

We have a winner in my EcsoSMART Natural Insect Repellent Contest. Congratulations goes to....

Rita T!
Thanks to everyone who entered the contest. This contest is the first of many more to come.

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Friday, October 3, 2008

Kitchen Décor That Only Norman Bates Could Love

Haiku Friday

Bad Idea Bears visit
while I drool at décor ideas
Look! Norman Bates’ house

I’m absent-mindedly looking around online for items that I could use to decorate The Condo for Halloween. And wouldn’t you know it, the Bad Idea Bears showed up and tried to convince me to buy a bunch of weird stuff and redecorate.

Bad Idea Bears: These items all go together; you could use them all to decorate your kitchen! Don’t pay attention to what Kenneth Brown says in his TV show Over Designed. Theme kitchens are very in this year.

Me: Well yeah, if you’re some homicidal nutcase like Serial Mom or Norman Bates from the movie Psycho! No. I’m not doing a CSI kitchen theme in the Condo.

Bad Idea Bears: (Batting their eyelashes and looking excessively cute) Pleeeeeese!

Me: Weeeell. I suppose I could blog about it. I haven’t done a design-centered post in awhile. It’s October and time to plan for Halloween. And I am feeling kinda cheeky…

Bad Idea Bears: Yaaaaaay!

So let’s take a look at how Norman Bates may decorate his kitchen if we wanted to proudly proclaim to the world that he is in fact, a psycho nut job. (And before you ask, no. I don’t seriously recommend decorating a house in this theme. I’m just trying to appease the Bad Idea Bears and my Inner Brat after having a not so great week.)

Let’s have some fun, shall we?

Scene: Day

Setting: The kitchen of the Psycho house on the Universal Studios lot. Where else?

(Norman Bates walks into the back door of his house and into the kitchen after a hard day of work at the Bates hotel. Norman fumbles in the dark for the Hanging Harry Light Pull and turns on the overhead kitchen light.)


(Then Norman puts on a manly black chef’s apron and begins to prepare a sumptuous meal for his mother.)


He decides to make stir fry. That involves chopping a lot of vegetables. Fortunately, for Norman he has a fondness for kitchen knives and the Ex Knife Holder.


In fact, Norman likes to chop things up so much that keeps around two sets of knives in his kitchen! When a situation demands a good hack, slash, or chop, he knows he can count on the knives in his Throwzini knife holder.


Norman thinks Mother may be a little peckish after sitting in the basement all day. He decides to make her some hors d'oeuvres and looks for the Pound party picks.


Norman: Oh goodness! The party picks are in the dishwasher. I can’t use dirty party picks. Mother would not approve. I suppose I’ll serve her a plate of cheese cubes instead. Now, where did I put the OUCH! Voodoo doll toothpick holder? Oh there it is!


SFX: the telephone rings. (Norman puts his cup of tea (hemlock, perhaps?) on a Splat Stan Coaster. He answers the telephone.)


(Norman grabs a pen from his Dead Fred Penholder, writes something on a piece of paper, and hangs up the telephone.)


Norman: (calling to his Mother off screen) Mother! I have to go. Janet Leigh is going to check into the hotel tonight. After I deal with her, we’ll set down to a nice dinner and watch a nice wholesome family movie like Grindhouse, OK?
End of Scene

Welcome to the inner workings of my mind. For the record, no amount of prescription medication or therapy makes the Bad Idea Bears go away. Sometimes you just gotta roll with it. That’s a fact.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Save Some Bucks – How to Seal Heating Ducts!

I am on a mission to seek out and destroy air leaks in The Condo so I can save money on my heating and cooling bills this year. According to it will be worth it too:
“EPA estimates that homeowners can typically save up to 20% of heating and cooling costs (or up to 10% of total energy costs) by air sealing their homes
and adding insulation in attics, floors over crawl spaces, and accessible basement rim joists.”

One place to look for air leaks is in the heating and air-conditioning (also known as HVAC) ducts in your home (or Condo.) Air leaks make your HVAC system use more fuel and work harder to do the job it’s supposed to do. And that can cost you money. Especially if those air leaks are in the unheated/uncooled areas of your home such as a basement, or in my case, in an unheated utility room.

There are generally two places where air leaks occur and that you need to seal: