Condo Blues: June 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Make Patriotic Hair Bow Barrettes

I’m reliving my high school glory days and twirling flag in a parade with a local marching band this summer. It’s amazing how some things come back to you after *cough* years – just like falling off a bike!

Parade day is always the hottest day of the year without fail. It’s like marching across Vulcan’s anvil. I’m definitely wearing my hair up in a ponytail.

Since I am the only girl on the line (unlike high school) and my uniform is ever so butch (cargo shorts and a polo shirt) I wanted some little doodad for my hair that’s girly. The only one I have is this hair bow I bought from Lucky Kat.

Twisted and totally me but not fitting the Celebrate Our Families theme of the parade (unless you do not like your family I suppose.)

Oh and it has to be subtle because the band director has a strict “no bling” policy for band members even though we are all adults.

Maybe that’s because we are all adults :)

I found some ribbon in my craft stash that matches my uniform and a bare barrette from my professional jester days. I sewed clippie barrette thingies to the inside of my jester hat to staple it on to my head when I danced or did cartwheels. I decided to make my own hair bow barette instead buying one from Etsy because I've already shelled out some bucks for a uniform shirt and shorts I may never wear again.

How to Make an Easy Hair Bow Clip

You will need:
Ribbon (I used two colors of ribbon you can you more or less if you like)
Straight pin
Barrette Clip (check your local craft store)

1. Wind the ribbon around your hand at least two times for a small bow or several times for a larger bow.

2. Cut the ribbon with the scissors, pin the front and back sides together.

3. Stitch the front and back sides together with the needle and thread.

Hand stitching is fine for this project.

4. Gather the ribbon in the center, stitch/wind the thread around the center, and tie it off to hold it into place.

5. Stitch a second piece of ribbon to the back of the bow.

I used pinking shears to cut my ribbon. If you don't have pinking shears don't worry about it.

6. Wind the ribbon around the front of the blow, clip the end and stitch it into place on the back of the bow.

7. Sew the bow to the barrette.

Almost done!

8. Fluff the bow.


9. Wear it and look cute!

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Chalkboard Paint Outlet Covers

After I painted my kitchen backsplash with black chalkboard paint I looked at my white plastic outlet covers – they just would not do. The white plastic was just too high contrast with the black chalkboard wall.

Keep reading! I'll teach you how to paint shiny plastic outlet covers with chalkboard paint.

I wonder if I can save a few bucks and reuse what I have (very green BTW) and paint those cheap plastic outlet covers with chalkboard paint to match the wall?

White plaste builder outlet covers.

I took off the gloss with steel wool. Sandpaper works too. I used steel wool because it was only two steps to my right under the kitchen sink instead of six steps to my left in the garage. You know I am all about saving energy, fossil fuels as well as my own.

I grabbed a variety of items from the recycling bin to use as risers to make painting and priming the outlet covers easier. I primed the outlet covers using the same grey colored primer I used for the walls. Using a colored primer under a dark top coat reduces the number of extra coats of paint you will need to get nice even coverage.

Gray primer.

Once the primer was dry, I painted the outlet covers with two coats of chalkboard paint.

Black chalkboard paint outlet covers!

When everything was dry, I screwed them into the wall with the original screws and dabbed a bit a black paint on the black screws so they would match.

They blend nicely into the wall. I can draw on them too.

Ta Da! The matching chalkboard outlet covers was the final addition to my chalkboard backsplash that appears in the July/August 2010 issue of This Old House Magazine!

I'm in the July/August 2010 issue of This Old House Magazine.

I’m kinda of hooked on chalkboard paint. What shall I do next? I’m eyeing the refrigerator…

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chalkboard Paint Kitchen Backsplash

Husband and I couldn’t agree on what type of tile we wanted to use on our kitchen backsplash. I wanted something sleek like recycled glass or stainless steel tile. He wanted a Byzantine pattern in travertine tile.

In the meantime, when I wiped the walls with nothing more than water, paint came off on my damp sponge because the builder used cheap watered down paint to paint our house. The wall needed something to protect it as we fought over what tile to use.

As a temporary fix, I broke out the chalkboard paint.

Chalkboard kitchen backsplash!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My No Impact Day Experiment Sucked

 The sky went dark as if turning off a light switch.

The rains came suddenly. BOOISH!

The thunder. CAR-RACK!

The lights went out.

“WHIRRR-EEEEEEEEE!” The nearby tornado siren screamed.

Husband, Blitzkrieg, and I holed up in the laundry room – our safe room since we do not have a basement.

Blitzkrieg knows my Blackberry takes pictures and he barked until I took his photo as we waited for the all clear. Even in a crisis, my dog is a diva and comic relief.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

How to use a Rototiller

My in laws do a big garden every year. Husband says that they have had a garden for as long as he can remember.

Father in law had a heath situation. He is recovering and on physical restrictions for the rest of the year. (Since I did not ask if I could write about it, I am not going to mention the details, only to say things got scary and surgery was involved.) My in laws did not think they would put in a garden this year because Father in law should not till the garden bed with the rototiller. Husband is still recovering from his running injury, so he is out too.

While farming and country life is not for me because I am allergic to everything that is green (oh the irony!) it is Mother and Father in law’s Little Slice of Heaven. I will do everything I can to make sure that they keep it for as long as they want.

I volunteered to till their garden with this monster.

Told you the garden was big!

What I don’t have in rototiller knowledge, I make up for in enthusiasm.

I was very enthusiastic.

I took off my safety equipment for the photo.

Have I mentioned I have never actually used a rototiller before? But I have gardened with a jackjammer how hard could this be?

I needed help getting the big thing started because it has a pull cord like a lawn mower and I have arm muscles made out of macaroni. There are two hand controls on the rototiller I used one for forward and other is for reverse. Each control has a safety feature - if you let go of either control the rototiller stops so you are less likely to chop off your feet if the thing backs up into you too fast.

My plan was push it in front of me like a lawn mower and let the rotating blades churn up the soil. Then we could easily hand pick the weeds and Mother in law could start planting.

Mother in law called these carrot seeds imbedded in paper strips “stripper carrots.” Husband got mad because he thought I was using salty language in front of his Mom because she is a saint (she is.) They cost a little more than loose seeds, but you do not have to thin the plants out later like with planting loose carrot seeds. They are worth the extra money.

My plan worked well until the farmer who rents Mom and Dad’s fields for extra planting stopped by and watched as I tried to churn up the soil and avoid some volunteer lettuce, a row of growing garlic and rhubarb. The obstacle course made this Advanced Rototilling when I clearly was supposed to be in the Beginner’s Course. No pressure trying to learn how to use a tiller in front of a professional farmer!

A few things I learned:
  • Wear ear protection because gas powered rototillers are LOUD!
  • You may need to do one than one pass with the tiller in your garden. I did the first pass just walking through the garden with the tiller in front of me to break the soil into bigger chunks. Those are the photos you see here. I did a longer second pass to break the big dirt chunks into little chunks the next day. 
  • If we wanted to add soil amendments like compost it is best to add them after the first full pass with the tiller and work them into the soil with the rototiller on the second pass. I didn’t do this because well, look at that naturally dark, rich soil! (And their compost heap is still composting.) 
  • To break the big dirt clods into wee little dirt clods, I pushed down slightly on the rototiller handles so the tiller was at a slight angle. This way, the blades are working the dirt clods I tilled on the top of the soil and the blades are not digging deeper into the soil and making a deeper ditch. 
  • If you have adjustable blades on the rototiller you are using, you can set them to till deeper on the first pass and shallower in the second pass to avoid the angle thing I had to do. Shut the machine down when you reset the blades for safety’s sake please! 
  • To turn corners in tight spaces (and to avoid the garlic) I found it better to put the tiller in reverse, take a few steps back, and then do a pivot turn in the direction I wanted to go instead of trying to heft the tiller with brute force – which I lack. 
  • If you are in a situation where someone wants to micromanage or Armchair Quarterback you through a project like Father in Law and the farmer were trying to do, use a very loud tool so you cannot hear them! As Mother in law and the Mennonite lady neighbor (who was duly impressed I took on such a task), commented, “Like they did it perfectly the first time.” Nah. Solidarity my sisters! Girl Power!
Why yes I AM pretty darn pleased with myself!

Mother in law rewarded my efforts with some rhubarb that I miraculously did not till under.

Rhubarb crumble hot from the oven and plopped on vanilla ice cream!

I used the rhubarb to make The Green Phone Booth’s Rhubarb Crumble. While it was baking Husband insisted that we serve it over vanilla ice cream and ran off to the store to buy Ohio made ice cream. He was right. The ice cream was the perfect compliment to a very delicious end. I love it when a plan comes together!

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Boon Grass Drying Rack – Not Just for Babies!

I use the dishwasher for washing most things. I keep a kitchen dish rack in one side of my sink for those few items I do not want to ruin by putting them in the dishwasher like kitchen knives. Those I hand wash.

My kitchen knives don't fit in the utensil cup in my dish rack and often fall out – very dangerous. The dish rack gets gunky easily and requires a good scrub with an old toothbrush often. Let’s face it; dish racks by and large are not cute.

OK maybe it is just my dish rack that is not cute.

I am looking for low cost ways to spiff up my kitchen until I decide how to renovate it.

I’m a sucker for good modern design and quickly became a fan of Boon’s blog, Facebook page, and follow them on Twitter: even though I am more than a little jealous that every green, affordable, and well-designed doo-dad Boon makes is for kids. Like adults don’t count or want to pay a king’s ransom for this stuff?

Except for this one. The Boon Grass drying rack. Its BPA free plastic and made to hold all those little fiddly bits you use to feed babies and toddlers that fall through a regular drying rack. I wondered if I could use it to hold hold my kitchen knives and all those little fiddly bits I use to feed adults and dogs that fall through my regular dish drying rack?

Me likey.

The blades of green 'grass' in this drying rack keep my kitchen knives from falling out of the dish rack while they air dry. The grass lifts out of the white drip tray and makes it easier to clean than my regular dish rack.

Why yes, that IS chalk board paint on my kitchen back splash! I will blog more on that in a later post.

Somehow, I do not feel the need to shove it out of sight under the sink when I have guests over either, unlike my other drying rack.

The modern design makes it a keeper.

Disclosure: Boon provided me with a sample to facilitate this review because I can’t write about my experience in using the product without trying it, now can I? Boon did not pay me to say nice things about their product. This post contains an affiliate link, which helps me move toward making Condo Blues a self-hosted blog at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own. Long time readers know I am very opinioned and would not give something a positive review just to fake you into buying it. In other words, I really think it is a stinking cute dish rack.