Friday, July 31, 2015

Bigfoot's Cryptid Cocktail Hour

Bigfoot's Blackberry Mojito! A few sips taken befoe the shot, because it would be irresponsible for me to offer up to you an untested cocktail. You're welcome.

My friend, Tiffany of Fizzy Party, came for a visit and we did a fun party styling shoot: Bigfoot's Cryptid Cocktail Hour! We each made lots of things and spent months adding pins to a secret pinboard, now open for all pinners' perusal! One of my favorite of the projects was etching rocks glasses to serve in which to serve the signature cocktail. I doubled the rum as we found them a tad bland.

I wrapped paper around one of the glasses to make a base on which to draw the mountain and tree patterns.

We used some dollar store Contact Paper that I had left over from my refrigerator makeover to make the resist using the pattern I'd drawn and Bigfoot silhouettes I found online, carbon paper, and an Exacto knife.

Then applied the etching cream, following directions on the bottle.

We had grand ideas of varying the intensity of the etching to create different degrees of translucency. That pretty much failed; luckily we did one glass at a time since we didn't know how it was going to turn out. After that, we just tried different processes on each glass. I think that overall the set is even cooler for all the various scenes.

One can find a lot of things they are looking for in the bottom of a whiskey (or mojito) glass... even Bigfoot.

Of course, a cocktail party is not complete without cocktail napkins! Tiffany is a lover of party decor details and that includes special napkins for each event. I am a lover of cloth napkins; we use them for our daily meals and snacks at home and I have made sets just for Thanksgiving and winter holiday celebrations. These used the same method of making pretty mitered corners as the aubergine linen set I made for Thanksgiving.

We were able to use one of my thrifted, vintage trays to display the napkins.

I was able to use 2 different faux bois prints I had in my stash from other projects and then one fat quarter from the fabric store in a woodsy-looking green. I added a quick tutorial for mitered hem napkins.

There were so many fun details and projects for Bigfoot's Cryptid Cocktail Hour that you'll definitely want to see, so hop over to Fizzy Party for a look!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tables, I Got Ya' Covered

The tops on my beloved Ballard Designs Cafe Tables have become discolored by water and heat. BOO! They are supposedly powder coated and I am not sure I want to "fix" them with rattle-can spray paint.  But I am sure I want them looking nicer right now.

I went off to the fabric store in search of some basic cotton prints that would coordinate with the outdoor fabric that I made for the chair backs last month.  This stripe is about as close as I could get and I am pretty pleased with how they go together, even if not quite just right.

The last covers I made were oilcloth with hook and loop closures. That really didn't work out very well. One reason I decided to go with cotton was so I could make these like fitted sheets. The other reason was so I could just throw them in the washer.

Hopefully you can see the very faint blue mark.

I turned a table upside down on the back side of the pre-washed fabric in order to mark the corners. I cut the fabric with about 2.5" extra on each side. That was the most I could get with 44" wide, pre-shrunk fabric, but it worked since the tables are steel with a rolled edge less than 1" deep.

Then, I sewed the corners to make box shape, then cut it off to make about a 1/2" seam allowance & sewed down the seam allowances so pulling the elastic through would be easier.

Next, I pressed a hem/elastic casing to easily fit 3/8" elastic. I originally wanted to use 1/4" elastic, but the fabric store was out of 1/4" elastic by-the-yard. I didn't feel like I had enough material to do a nice, finished hem, so I just zigzagged over the cut edges.

Then I ran the elastic through the casing, pinned it to itself at about where it came out and tried it on the table. It was just the right amount of gather to easily fit over the table as well as hold the cover snugly on the table. And at last, sewed the elastic into a loop and closed the casing.

All ready for dinner! We eat on the deck just about every night when the weather and the smoke allow it, after all.

We enjoy a cocktail out there of an evening, too.

I think mojitos might be the best looking drink for the new table covers.

UPDATE: I was able to finish fixing up the last two patio chairs! I had to find a coordinating outdoor material to do the backs of the slipcovers, but the fronts, tabs, and buttons are the same as the others.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Easier Green?

A few months ago a new grocery store opened in a neighboring town. The building had been a grocery before, but had closed before we got here. The owner is the son of the owner of the previous store (if I remember correctly) who has a successful market in Missoula - it's where we got our Hutterite turkey for Thanksgiving. They are trying to focus on more local, higher quality and organic items which is cool and they seem to be getting into the swing of things. YEY!  We do some of our standard shopping there and Eric does most of his weekend meals shopping there.

I don't know if this is an accurate representation of either the Bitterroot Range or the Sapphire Range, but it's neato and changes everything*.

We moved from a place where every single week, right at the curb, you could recycle most metals, most non-film plastics, most glass, most paper, and most cardboard. Also used motor oil as well as yard debris and kitchen waste. Recycling was SO EASY. And several things beyond that were fairly easy to recycle with a trip to a center or event. Not so in the Bitterroot. You can recycle, but fewer types of things and you need to take them to a center. They'll pay you for some things which is cool, but let's face it; if it is even slightly inconvenient, most people won't do it, at least not regularly.

We'd already been saving and recycling our aluminum for a contest for the local 3rd or 4th graders in the spring, as we had the last 2 years. But either they didn't do it this year or they didn't mention it in the monthly school newsletter delivered to all the local mailboxes. We have a WHOLE YEAR'S worth of aluminum. That won't be going to the recycling bin at this spot, but will instead be put into a collection bin located at another local grocer & supplied by a pet food charity. That said I am SUPER excited about being able to recycle our steel and some paper there.  

Tiffany was visiting and gamely tagged along on this errand, even helping me dump at least 8 bags of cans into the bin. Bags of cans are always kind of sticky-gross, but I bet these would have been a lot worse and stinky, too, if they weren't mostly plain seltzer. THANKS!

There's more in there than it looks like. Blech.

*In this case "everything" means "some things."

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Cutting A Rug (Or Two)

A happy and hot dog.

In the warm, dry months we spend a good deal of time on the front deck. It's where the front door is, it's where the hot tub is (unfortunately those are the same place), it's where the good views are (hence the first two items on the list). But it's also in pretty poor shape. The last owners spruced up the dilapidation by applying barn-red paint (to a lot of things), but it doesn't look like they primed first or really did much preparations at all so it's coming off where it gets the weather. They also painted around the old hot tub and so when we got a new one and moved it just a bit to maximize square footage it got even worse looking.  Still, we have bigger plans than just replacing the deck boards, so those plans will have to wait a few years while other projects take priority.

Yeah. Ugh.

Another legacy of the last owners was this braided runner rug on the part of the deck from the stairs to the door. That first summer I was going to get rid of it, but Eric pointed out that the Beastie Grrrlz liked to lay on it in the sun beam, so it stayed. Later I realized just how much dust and dirt it caught and kept out of the house, so it stayed even longer.

Harsh sunlight was probably a bad photography chose, but that's what I had when I decided to take a before shot. Trust me, the rug looked even weirder in good light.

I started shopping for outdoor rugs to replace the runner and to help disguise the deck until we are ready to tackle redoing and expanding it. But HOLY CATS you can pay a lot for an outdoor rug! That's even at off season prices last autumn and winter. And the less costly ones are in colors that just aren't our style. At all. Then through the Magic of Pinterest, I learned that I could get an affordable, but unattractive option at the big box home centers and make it more attractive with stencils. Hey, I know how to stencil and paint!

I forgot to take a true "before" photo of the rugs before stenciling, but I do have a photo that shows how cheap they looked and at the same time sort of tells you what these rugs will endure.

You can see how Delia's Sticks go from being big sticks to small sticks. Betty chews them, too, but not nearly so much.

I used two different tutorials, combining what I thought were their best/easiest processes. I bought 6' wide indoor/outdoor carpet by-the-foot (or maybe it was by-the-yard) at one of the big box stores and I actually don't remember which one, because they're practically right across the street from each other in Missoula. The runner is a 3' length and the bigger rug is about 9'.  I wish I'd used the 12' material and made it 7' for this space, but I'd lost my measurements on one of my phone replacements over the last several months and so was guessing. Oh, well.

Obviously this is a cheater picture I made after the fact for inaccurate illustrative purposes. (BOO!) 

I didn't want to dive right in to the time-consuming stenciling, so I started with a simple 2.5" border using painters tape. It's 2.5" because that's the width of my long, clear ruler and the proportions seemed fine.  I chose black paint rather than a bold color, because even though I love the colors in the slip covers on the chairs, the (stupid) barn red deck boards really clash with them. Plus, the new resin wicker chair seats are brown with black, so it seemed like a classic and safe bet. I am all for experimenting, but I really didn't want to do this twice or live with a color we didn't like: if I wanted to do that, I could've bought a cheap one at World Market and kept that rag rug.  Plus, the real show around here is the forest and the view across the valley.

Just adding that border made a huge difference in the appearance of quality; even Betty (above) thinks so. That pile on the right is Delia's Sticks which she likes to bring up to the house from the property when it's time to come in.

I had been mulling over a couple of themes that I have been digging on lately, both trendy, but still appropriate for our mountain life: arrows and feathers. I eventually choose arrows, looked at various clip art images of them online, and then drew up a few options to later make into a stencil. I even looked at pre-made stencils, but they were not the right scale or the right price. Luckily, I've cut a few stencils in my day and even had mylar in my stash!

Of course, I measured then made design decisions and made the stencils.

Shafts, arrow heads and fletching.

Then I measured and marked the rugs with a fabric-marking pencil.

I have a drywall square which makes measuring and marking larger surfaces easier.

Finally I started applying the paint!  WOO! I started with the shafts, three different styles of heads and then fletching.

The stencil does 3 arrow shafts at a time. I used a sharpie to mark the center of the stencil and a chalk pencil to mark the center of the rug, There are chalk marks across the center that mark the center of the "top" shaft for each impression.

I should have left a bit more mylar around the cut out stencil and/or dug up a smaller brush to applying the paint to the arrow heads and fletching pieces.

The pattern was one style of arrow head every third shaft, switching ends every other third. I did the same with the fletching pieces.

I cut a second set of arrow shafts, this time 4" longer, for the larger rug.

Now I need new table covers for the patio tables and to reweave and slip cover the last two chairs!

~ ~ ~

Since I was going to all this trouble with the rugs it seemed like a good idea to deal with the side effects of one of the bird feeders: seed shells and poop on the deck and railing. I know whose poop that is, anyway, it's a whole bunch of freeloader birds' poop!

Yes, the feeder is empty in this photo. Eric's biologist friend at work pointed out how feeding wildlife, even birds, is enabling "the weak and the stupid" which doesn't help the gene pool at all. We just couldn't bring ourselves to quit feeding them altogether, so instead we let a few days lapse between refills so the birds have to keep finding wild food sources, too. Flawed logic? Very possibly.

So I got a plant hanger at the hardware store and moved the feeder from just over the railing to about a foot out. We can still easily reach it to refill, but the poop is gone from the railing and the shells and poop on the deck greatly diminished. Woo!