Monday, June 30, 2008

Favorite Things Party Continued

My friend Lisa always has a fun project or theme connected to her birthday party, but this year she outdid herself!

To celebrate her own abundant year, she played Oprah and had a giveaway party!

After dining on her good china we all gathered in her living room to be showed with great recommendations and quite a few wonderful gifts!

1. Neutrogena Hand Creme

2. Neutrogena Micro Mist Spray Tanner - Deep
Lisa recommends using the deep no matter how pale you are for faster results. She typically sprays this on everyday until she gets the color she wants. I must say she does have an even and natural (not too dark) tan.

3. A nap kit: Lisa is an expert at catching a few zz's during the afternoon, here is her advice:

-The Bucky 40 Blinks eye mask Concave spaces make this mask super comfy. I know because Lisa gave us all one! (Cheers! Applause! The party goes wild!) Cliff calls it my "face bra."

-Nap Socks
Super soft and warm, but not too warm. Again, I know because we all got a pair! Whoo Hoo! More cheering!

-ear plugs
Lisa wrapped our earplugs in a teeny tiny Chinese take out box. Too cute! Definitely worthy of some more cheering.

4. Lisa works her Tivo like a pro and thus she is an expert TV viewer. This is one gal who doesn't watch reruns or junk! She gave us the TV Guide Summer line up issue and a promise to text us when the Fall preview issue comes out on news stands.

5. Mary Kay lipstick in Amber Suede- Lisa says that when she wears this she feels better and gets more compliments. People ask her if she just got a haircut or something! A lips stick that gives you a good hair day, I'm in! We each got a sample!

6. Karen Drucker Songs of the Spirit II. We all got a cd! Mine has been on heavy rotation in the Scion. "Thank You For This Day" and "Healed, Whole and Healthy" kept me going during the last week of school.

7. CVS Brand Exfoliating Cleansing Cloths- Isn't nice to know the store brand works as well as the major brands! We each got a pack! Yippy!

I may be forgetting some things, but these were the major recommendations and gifts.

After Lisa shared, we all went around and had a show and tell of our items too. Some favorite things included lip balm, homemade bath salts, and a CD of hot romantic songs!

I took Murphy's Oil Soap and Goop which are my favorite stain removal products. Laundry isn't one of my favorite things, but together these products once saved my brand new jeans from a tar splatter. Thus, I am forever preach'n their healing ways.

After show and tell we each drew a number and selected our new favorite thing to try. I was especially delighted to get The Cake Mix Doctors Cookbook! By the way, the good "Dr," has a great blog where she doctors a lot more than just cakes.

So there you have it! A lot of info about the greatest adult birthday party I have been to. Now, if only Oprah would read this and invite us all on the show to talk about it!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things

I have been so busy finishing up the 207-2008 school year I forgot to blog about my friend Lisa's amazing birthday party! Better get on that before the 2008-2009 school year starts on Tuesday!

You might remember I was debating what to put into this basket?

Well, no soon after I finished the basket, Lisa furnished all the inspiration I could ever need. In her words:

My Favorite Things Birthday Party

This idea was inspired by Oprah's Favorite Things show. She always has so much fun sharing (and giving away) cool things and I wanted to do that too, with my closest friends!

Part I - Lisa's Favorite Things

So many times I am using an awesome lipstick or reading a good book and I want to tell everyone about it (and sometimes do). I also have fantasies about giving everyone one just because (when I feel abundant). This year I am revealing Lisa's Top 10 Favorite Things... and maybe I will gift you with some of them. At the very least, you will leave with some fun recommendations.

Part II - Your favorite Things

Think of something you love that you would want a cool group of women to know about and bring 1 with you to give away. Here are some ideas to get you started: beauty/make-up product, book, music album (burn your own copy), kitchen gadget, clothing item (i.e. slippers), candy/dessert item, journal/stationary, office supply item (i.e. fun pen, cool paper) or any other inexpensive item that is fun to use or makes your life easier. You know, those simple things that make a big difference. If a "thing" doesn't come to you, you could also recommend a service-based recourse and bring their business card or brochure and/or purchase a gift certificate. You DON'T need to wrap it.

It was easy and fun to come up with some of my favorite things to fill the basket! I made tags for each item with a little description...

1. Sewing is my favorite "drug of choice" right now. It completely relaxes me after a long day of teaching. I made the bag, and also a small crayon roll.

2. The Paint Buddy- I blogged here about this device that enables me to change up my picture frames and touch up my wall paint in seconds flat.

3. Regifting-truly I love passing things on to friends and family who will enjoy them more. Makes me feel all environmentally responsible! I had a vintage board book that was too babyish for my 4th graders, but perfect for Bella.

4. 4th of July dishtowel - I love to display holiday/ seasonal dishtowels. Even if I can't muster the time or energy to do any other decorating, my kitchen chores will be festive!

5. Clips! My love for office binder clips knows no limit! Have you seen the clip buffet at Staples? Seriously, clip heaven. It deserves it's own blog post.

6. Crayola 24 Count Crayons! How could I leave these out? The colors all lined up! The sharp, pointy tips! The new box smell! Symbolically, is there a better birthday gift to represent the possibilities of a new year?

Soon I will blog about the fantastic recommendations and gifts Lisa gave us! Yes, it was very much a mini Oprah giveaway show. Lots of gifts and the appropriate amount of screaming in response!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sometimes Crafty Means Smart

Getty Center Hill

Summer is here and I know I will be taking my new students on many field trips. Today we had an incident in the park that I think is a cautionary tale to all parents and teachers.

You can never be too careful when out in public with children.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Happy 40th Mom & Dad

MG Wedding Poleroid

When I was small our church held a parenting class and my parents went. The leader told them that the best gift you can give your children is to love their mother/father. My parents have put that advice to practice for 40 years today! Happy Anniversary! Thanks for putting each other first on our behalf!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Taking Care of Business

Not too long ago we got Cliff a new desk.

I had been out shopping with a friend and found a beautiful desk for $500. It was marked down from $700. I was determined to talk Cliff into giving up his old wobbly desk. On the rainiest of rainy days we went to look at the sale desk. He agreed that it was beautiful and that it was time he had a new desk, but he felt that this desk was a bit too big and a bit too feminine.

I would have liked to get something on Craigslist, but without a truck a desk is a challenging thing to move. So I looked online. That very day I found him an even better desk online at Staples and we had it delivered within the week. The reviews give it five stars and I have to say that we agree. The quality and construction are very nice.

The happy problem is that the new desk brought some serious class to our office. The old futon and the Ikea book cases were suddenly more shabby than chic.

Case in point: This is my picture book collection. These are the ones that go to school and come straight home. Some are mine from childhood. Some are the ones I am saving for my grandchildren. Some are out of print gems that I must preserve. I have weeded and whittled this collection a few times and these are the ones I need. I am constantly borrowing from this library o' mine and it's constantly a bit disheveled. I would call it "visual clutter."

Visual clutter no more. After a fruitful trip to Big Lots I got a Waverly curtain for $12 and a curtain rod for $5. I find that Big Lots is a go to place for curtain rods.

For months I had been planning to go downtown and get some $2 a pound fabric to make a curtain. But, when I saw this and knew it was the right length, I saved myself the trip.

By the way, we got this new office chair for a steal off of Craig'slist! And, even better it was only a block away. (In a building I had been curious about for a while!) We walked there and walked it on home.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Boo Mama said it "would be just like HGTV without the TV" and that was enough for me to jump!

I don't really need to do much in the apartment. It's decorated within an inch of it's life. Heck! I even wallpapered my refrigerator! ( And I love it more and more each day!)

So, I'm sticking to a small project. Not too long ago I was at my local GoodWill when I saw this
little table.
June 012

It spoke to me because it was real wood and it was only $9.99! I began to think of Chef Bella. Would she want it? Would her mother want it? Did she already have a table?

On two different visits to thrift I admired the table. Twice I resisted calling Lisa. I should just mind my own business!

Well, at Lisa's party I did ask and for ten bucks she thought what the heck. I informed her that it would need some love as it had seen better days.

June 014

Who were the naughty kids who sat at this table? There are no fewer than five pieces of chewed gum stuck to the bottom! Am I doomed to a life time of scraping gum from the bottom of tables?

The top is cute enough, but it doesn't match the pink kitchen and that simply will not do!

Tune in on July 25 for the reveal!

In Case You Were Wondering...

The kitchen up close!

The Pink Kitchen continues to delight me. It is very much beloved. On a recent visit I enjoyed "Bubble Soup" and "Barrette Soup" with a side of fish. Each dish was expertly prepared by Chef Bella and her trusty assistant Max. The soup and the company were wonderful. Definitely Soul Food.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

She's Not Just Another Old Sock Monkey

This reminds me of the time my bad dog Nikki tore off Lady Monkey's legs.

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It happened shortly after this picnic. Notice how I am not too thrilled to be sharing Lady Monkey with my cousin Eric?

Later that afternoon,when we got back to my Grandma Mary's house, our bad dog Nikki went crazy and chewed both her legs off!

Lady Monkey was made for me by a woman my parents barely knew, yet she is my favorite toy. I believe that she is part leisure suit. I know (because of the dog attack) that she is stuffed with fabric scraps and pantyhose. She is heavier than normal stuffed animals. She has a good solid construction. She has swung from every corner of my childhood and lived to tell about it.

I truly think she is beautiful, although I did enter her in an "Ugly Stuffed Animal" contest. I knew she would win because she is so often misunderstood. Cliff thinks she looks like a lizard? My mother is amazed I would tolerate a comment like that. Oh, the things we do for love.

Lady Monkey is my Velveteen Rabbit.

My little monkey up there is certainly a lightweight by comparison. She's a rough draft so to speak. I obtained the perfect polyester pants at the Jet Rag Sunday Sale for when I perfect the pattern.

Thankfully, after the dog attack, my mother made her a pair of permanent bloomers to hold Lady Monkey's legs on.

Eventually I will make another run to Joanne's for more stuffing. Then Lady Monkey 2.0 can get a pair of legs too.

Monday, June 16, 2008

From Lemon to Lime-Aide

Still trying to get a good pic of the color
One of the blogs I read everyday, Like Merchant Ships, is all about practicing "cheerful frugality."

Wrapping my fridge has been one of my most cheerful and frugal projects to date.

The old and mismatched fridge had been bothering me for a while. It's the kind of thing that made me unhappy with apartment living. When you rent, there is so little you can change.

Wrapping it was so easy. It added a splash of color and turned a negative into a creative opportunity. There is no way I would do this with a new fridge. I am happy to have had the chance to play around and do something really different.

We have no natural light in the kitchen so it was hard to capture the true color in a photo. The checks are bright and light apple green. They just so happen to match Cliff's store brand cereal box from Smart & Easy up there.

We both love the clean look of no handles, but I think the wallpaper will hold up better if we use handles. Currently they are wood and the freezer and door handles don't match. I suspect somewhere down the line one was swapped out with another old fridge. Someday I may spray paint the handles. Someday I might change out the paper too. Lots of options!

changed out the art too
Wallpaper roll from Big Lots -$3
Big can of rubber cement- $3.99
Feeling better about my cookie cutter apartment kitchen- priceless!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Imperfect, But Beautiful Weekend

The Nester is having an "It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful" Carnival today. As luck would have it I had the most imperfectly beautiful weekend ever! You can click on the pictures to enlarge the reality of my kitchen situation.

Saturday my dear friend for the ages had her birthday party down in Orange County. For my desert contribution, I made something that I have been wanting to make forever... Bakerella's Cake Pops!

My imperfect version had several changes because I ran out of time to bake the cake that starts the recipe. So, I made Bakerella's Mint Oreo Truffles into pops!

Only I used store brand mint cookies because they didn't carry the real deal and I didn't have time to drive anywhere else.

I cut the cream cheese by half to make up for the smaller package of cookies.

Also, I couldn't get the chocolate bark that she calls for. So, I used half a bag of dark chocolate kisses. Next time, I would use regular Hershey's Kisses.

While the kisses were melting and the dough was chilling, I decided to shower. I threw on an old t-shirt and got back to work.

I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story...

Chilling Pops

Pretty eh? I think the mess was worth it.
Transporting Pops

This is a ceramic colander turned upside down in a soup pot. I devised this clever scheme to get the pops through the two hour drive in the blazing sun to the OC. Even with the AC blasting two of the pops melted and fell apart before the party. It didn't matter.

The party was wonderful. There really is nothing more beautiful than friendships! I'll write more about Lisa's amazing party theme and all the favors!

Also, see that ugly fridge up there? I guess it doesn't look too bad in the photo. This is one case where bad lighting hides a multitude of sins. Also removing the faux wood handle helped a lot too. Anyway, my plans to wallpaper the fridge came together very nicely. Pictures and details tomorrow!

More beautiful imperfection here...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

That's Unfair!

You know how boys get the long eye lashes and it's so unfair. Well, my brother has crazy long lashes, bluer than blue eyes and this...

It's not the first time I have said, "That's so unfair!"

Actually, he has said that it's mine for the taking. I'd have to have it shipped from NJ. I think a loving brother might hold on to it until his sister bought a house...?

Do you think it would be possible to retro fit something like that so that it was more energy efficient?

If I had this and could get it to work well, I would take it to an auto body shop and have it professionally painted Jadeite green or pink.

In the meantime, armed with this online tutorial, some wallpaper ($3 at Big Lots) and my beloved power screwdriver I am getting the job done on my budget.

By the way, I peeled off that stupid Whirlpool label with my cute little cheese spreader. Come to find out it's only attached with an adhesive mounting square. I will never have one of those labels again!

After removing the label, I also learned that my fridge is actually more off white than I thought.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Gabbing for the Goodness Girls

Whenever those Goodness Girls host a swap I jump. I just love the creative themes they come up with! Today I am playing along with their 20 questions.

1. What is your favorite Summer Drink(s)?

Alcoholic: Margaritas- on the rocks, no salt
Non- Alcoholic: Snapple Ice Tea

2. What is your favorite Summer Activity?

Believe it or not...working! I really like being in the Crayon Box over the summer. And, that is a really good thing because I work at a year round school! Last year we had the "Pool at School" program and I will never forget it. We also went to the Getty and the Getty Villa. My principal takes a vacation for a couple of weeks in the summer and the pace is a bit more laid back. Of course, here in sunny So Cal nearly everyday is summer-like weather so I am not missing out by being at work.

3. If you could spend a lazy afternoon reading, what would be in your hands?
I love decorating magazines- Domino, Better Homes & Gardens, and Martha (however due to the amazing blogs I read, I canceled most of my magazine subscriptions.
Annie Lamott- Traveling Mercies was my favorite
Dog stories- Marley & Me had me at hello
Southern Lit- I could read the Ya Ya Sisterhood books over and over again
David Sedaris- Cliff reads his books to me as a bedtime story. I fall asleep laughing.

4. What is your favorite type of craft/art medium?
Right now it is sewing. It takes a lot of concentration and takes me away from my job stress.
5. What is one art/craft supply you absolutely have been dying to have or try?
My absolute dream is to have a woodworking shop one day. I want to look at the Pottery Barn catalog and say, "I can make that!" I used to watch Christopher Lowell and would love to make bookcases the way he does. Until then, God Bless Billy!

I also would like to make Bakerella's cupcake lollipops. I tried once and well... not so good. Maybe I need to get the real supplies rather than "wing it."

6. What are your favorite colors in our 'rainbow sherbet' theme? Pink, lime green, yellow, orange, aqua (or blue) Oh, I like them all. Mmm, now I'm thinking about sherbet. Yum!

7. What is your favorite sweet treat?
My favorite summer sweet treat is Twizlers. They are the perfect summer treat because they taste better a little warm and soft. Also, I have found that sand doesn't stick to them which is handy at the beach!

8. Are there any craft or art supplies you would NOT be interested in receiving?
I do not want to knit. Well, I would like to knit, but I have to draw the line somewhere! Small apartment, big fabric stash!

9. What is your favorite song today?
The Crayons and I have been singing "Pay Me My Money Down" by Bruce from this album. I have been playing the album a lot as part of our Storytelling Unit. It's an inside joke for me since we have had so many payroll problems this year. Bruce just makes the day go better, no?

10. How do you 'pamper' yourself during the hot summer days?
Fudge pops, swingy skirts, and lots of water! I also turn all the AC vents on me in the car so my hair flies around while I am driving. It's a look.

11. Do you have any kidlets or pets?
Sniff. No. I saw a litter of pittbull pups up for adoption last Saturday and I can not shake the cuteness. It was all I could do to pull myself away from their soft, warm, wiggly, love'n. Our building doesn't allow pets. Sniff.

12. What is your best potluck dish for summer get togethers?
I wish I had more summer get togethers. I really miss picnics. City apartment living changes the vibe of summer get togethers a lot. Makes me miss NJ. Now we picnic at the Hollywood Bowl and I usually pack sushi.

13. If you could take a summer vacation anywhere, where would it be?
Surf City or Beach Haven on Long Beach Island, NJ

14. Describe your decorating style. Does that say anything about your personality?
I guess you could call it "Thrifty Chic" -colorful, comfy, vintagey. My favorite end table is an old wooden office file cabinet that I found on the side of the road and restored. It says truthfully, that I believe in second chances and long term relationships.

15. What are your initials? I post at my other blog about my beautiful Crayons and to protect both the innocent and the guilty, I use a pen name.

16. Why do you like to join swaps?
I like to make stuff and give it away. I also like mail. Swaps fit that bill so nicely! I like the creative challenge of the themes too.

17. You have 25 dollars to spend just on you for a little treat. What do you buy? (you can list more than one thing) Probably something thrifted or fabric. The thrill of the hunt is what I love about thrifting. I love all the colors and patterns in fabric as much as the thoughts about what to make with it.

18. What's one craft supply or art supply you absolutely can not live without?
Thread. It's amazing how many spools of thread I have used up in my short sewing life. Too bad they are no longer wooden.

19. Who's the last person you hugged? Cliff. He's gives a*great* hug!

20. What's your favorite number and why?
It used to be four. Not sure why. I guess I like even numbers because they are easy to work with. Now, however it is three. We got married on July 3, 2003. Also, Ms. Jone's Multiplication Rap "Counting By Threes" is most often stuck in my head.

Here are some pics of some of my Sweet Goodness Swap Packages!

Sweet Goodness! I wrote a lot!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Trying to Turn Cold to Gold


1. Inspiration Photo, 2. '59 Frigidaire, 3. Is Your Refrigerator Running?, 4. Untitled, 5. new refrigerator, 6. Common Reader Refrigerator

These are some fun refrigerators on flickr. How I would love the light blue vintage fridge!

This apartment didn't come with a refrigerator. Our former building manager hooked us up with a free fridge. The metal shelves were rusted on the inside. I spray painted the shelves red just to make it more cheery than dreary. When another tenant left a better fridge behind, she gifted us with it. She was so cool like that. I miss her so much!

I hate this fridge too. It's white and all of our other appliances are almond color. Still, I can't really look a gift fridge in the mouth, so to speak. Truly, I am grateful for the savings. And, I remind myself of this gratitude each time I find another broken off piece inside. It's so old it's crumbling. The egg holders have holes in them. Who knew that eggs caused so much wear and tear?

My kitchen***
Originally uploaded by hippyxic.

More than a year ago I saw red and white spotted fridge on Flickr. Since then I have been looking for the perfect remodel for my ugly mismatched fridge.

Some of my ideas include:
-painting ( So far I am too chicken.)
-decoupage scrap book paper or wrapping paper
-laminating some wrapping paper to tape on with super sticky double sided tape
-using a vinyl tablecloth
-using iron on vinyl and some fabric
-creating a full sized French memo board for the freezer part which is most visible

Last night while Cliff was at his poker game, I tried out the wrapping paper idea.

Trying out a new idea

Cheap- this is actually from the $ Spot at Target
Variety- I don't love this print. It's too busy for my vintage kitchen, however I have no doubt that I could find one I do like.
Easy to install- this is so light it's just held on with magnets!
Easy to waterproof- I could have it laminated or use contact paper
No Commitment- I could even change it seasonally if I wanted?!

The only con I can think of right now is that it might not be the most polished finish compared to painting. But then again, painting could go horribly wrong. Frankly, there is no way to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse. I just want to change my perspective. If I had a nicer fridge, I would never want to get creative with it. It's not just an eyesore, it's an opportunity!

Wrapping paper on freezer

I was very surprised that Cliff liked it when he came home.

My vertical file cabinet

No matter what, I have to find a better look for my coupons, school schedule and "fun" magnets.

Any thoughts? Love it? Hate it?

Thursday, June 5, 2008



Just a sneak peek of my artsy ambition for this weekend.

Happy Friday!

Breaking News

This morning I woke up to the breaking news that there is a major fire in one of my favorite LA neighborhoods.

Maple Street LA

One huge garment district building is absolutely consumed and is pouring black smoke in all directions. It makes for compelling TV. I should be getting ready for work, but I can't look away.

Ribbon Store LA

Cheif Doug Berry is talking about how dangerous this fire is. He doesn't have to tell me. Every time I go down there I think about fire. Wall to wall, floor to ceiling the goods are piled high. The aisles are narrow and the paths between bolts of fabric or shelves of notions are crooked. The buildings are old and crowded together.

Fabric Distric Downtown LA

Thankfully this is not a residential neighborhood.

A Part of the Amy Butler Section

Thank you firefighters!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A Tisket, A Tasket, What to Put in My Basket?

One of my girlfriends has a very special girls night each year for her birthday. For weeks I had been debating what to make her. Last year I made her these mother daughter bags. Then I made her daughter the pink kitchen. Boy did I set the bar too high! No, just kidding.

I knew all along that I wanted to use photos for her gift. For a while I had been playing with picnic and thinking of making something using the photos on zazzle. The search was over when I saw the fabric basket at Pink Penguin and this fabric basket, made using photos.

I printed the photos onto muslin using wonder under as the paper backing. I still want to try using freezer paper to do fabric printing. Ralphs did not have freezer paper and I am *really* trying to use what I have anyway.

By the way, I heard on the news that while other retail stores are showing slow sales, Joanne's Fabric had better than expected earnings this quarter. I could have told them that. Troubled times call for craft therapy.

First Fabric Basket
I have always been a "divergent learner" so naturally, I did not follow the tutorial exactly. I wanted the pictures to be bigger so I used 3" squares instead of 2" squares. Now, my bigger basket is also floppier.

Also, I got so excited when I figured out "boxed corners" that I became overly zealous and forgot to attach the fleece interfacing. To fix that, I put the fleece in the basket lining and did some quilting around the pictures-after the whole thing was assembled.

Have I mentioned that I may be a bit A.D.D?
Photo Fabric Basket

All is well that ends well, right? I think it looks pretty cute. I like the colors and the overall impression. But what do I put in it? I thought it would be good for holding mail and I was going to fill it with a note pad and some stationary. Now, it's sort of too floppy for that function. I thought about a lot of ways to stiffen it, but since I quilted the whole thing together, it's done. And, frankly, I am done with it.
Photo Fabric Basket

Now it's more gift bag than gift. Spa goodies maybe? Snacks? Any ideas are welcome!