Category Archives for "Creativity"

Paper pinecone ornament a/k/a the last time I got my Martha Stewart on in 2010

I know, I know … you’re saying For shit’s sake, what the hell, Andy? Another craft? Is Martha Stewart binging eggnog and throwing up all over your blog or what?

I’m not sure what has happened to me this December but if creativity were akin to sex, I’d be a short, uptight, quasi-OCD nymphomaniac in dire need of a twelve step program. One with all the chairs lined up just so.

Every year, we make a family ornament for Christmas. Nate came up with the idea years ago, soon after Helena was born and it’s become a holiday tradition ever since. It usually starts at the beginning of December with me singing Hey guys, what should we make for our ornament this year? Hello? Anyone? This is usually followed by a cacophony of chirping crickets and then it culminates three weeks later with me shrieking FOR GOD’S SAKE, SOMEBODY GOOGLE A FREAKING IDEA. WE CAN’T CELEBRATE JESUS’ BIRTHDAY WITHOUT SLAPPING GLITTER ON SOMETHING.

The rules are:  (1) the ornament must be relatively simple and easily completed within an hour; (2) during ornament hour, nobody is allowed to complain about anything like dinner, the color of Mom’s hair or SINCE WHEN DOES AN HOUR LAST 193 MINUTES? (3) everyone must participate in making the ornament; (4) everyone includes only those who supervise Ollie’s bowel movements so unless your friends clean up poop behind the coach, they are not participating as this is family bonding time; (5) does your cell phone clean up poop? No? Then stop texting and put it away; (6) family bonding time consists of smiley, happy faces with no hand to hand combat; (7) we all take turns completing a step in the ornament; (8) so as to avoid fainting spells or aneurysms, Mom gets as many turns as she wants if there is any threat of anything remotely resembling asymmetry about to happen anywhere on the ornament; and finally (9) no matter how crappy the ornament may turn out, it gets hung on the tree every single year, even if it means hanging it right next to Nate’s Buffalo Bills ornament on the back of the tree.

This year, we created a paper pinecone ornament and I have to say, it’s my favorite of all of our ornament so far.

Want to learn how to make one?

Too bad, you’re going to learn anyway.

You will need:

  • A three inch styrofoam egg. Make sure to ask your ten year old where they get styrofoam chickens from. When she sighs and walks away, tell her Daddy wants to know.
  • Patterned paper. We used almost two full sheets of this paper from Hobby Lobby:

  • A box of pins. We used almost an entire box of 225 ct bridal and lace pins with a simple, flat top on them. I think they’re also called dressmaker pins? Then again, I hem with desperation and duct tape so don’t listen to me because I have no idea what I’m talking about.
  • Ribbon

Now go inhale a bunch of the Christmas cookies that your eldest made with her father and which you shoved into the freezer in a futile attempt to get them out of your sight so that you would not feel compelled to instruct total strangers to go inhale a bunch of them.

Yay for cookies and futile attempts!

Ready?

Cut your paper into one inch strips. Then cut those strips into one inch squares. I happened to have a one inch square punch so I simply punched a few thousand squares out of the paper while telling myself how smart I was and giving myself carpal tunnel in the process.

Place each square, pattern down, on your table and then fold the top corners in. When you turn your square over, it will be in the shape of a little house, like so:

Do this 3,574,391 times and make sure you stop periodically to call out to the slugs in the living room GOSH, THIS IS HARD and IS THE ROOM COVERED IN PAISLEY OR IS IT JUST ME and SOMEBODY BETTER BE DVR’ING REAL HOUSEWIVES FOR ME. IS DVR’ING A VERB?

Kidding!

Sort of.

Now, take four of these shapes and pin them to the bottom, narrow end of your egg so that the top points are all touching. You will pin each of the four shapes in three places: top point, bottom left and bottom right, so that they are all laying flat on the egg.

It should look something like this except … hey! I know! Let’s pretend we live in a world where this photo is only of the bottom four pieces and not of the first two rows of pieces as well?

Hey, while we’re at it, can we pretend we live in a world where gravity is my friend and not some bitchy, vindictive hag?

You will now begin to pin the rest of your pieces onto the egg, pinning each one in two places: bottom left and bottom right. Do not pin the top points or your pinecone will simply wind up looking like a crazy patterned egg and people will ask why a chicken shit out a big blob of scrapbook on your tree.

Begin pinning your first row of pieces around the bottom four. Start them about 1/4 inch below the first four and stagger each piece so that its middle overlaps where the bottom two pieces underneath it come together.

That probably makes no sense at all but I don’t know how else to describe it and you can’t see all my frantic hand movements over here because I have no idea how to use my webcam.

Pity. I look particularly awesome today.

It should look something like this. I like to call this photo Study in DéJà Vu.

Continue pinning rows of pieces around the egg. Because the egg gradually gets wider, you will gradually use more pieces per row until it starts getting narrower again. When you are about half way down the egg, attach a long piece of ribbon which will be used to hang the ornament. Pin one end of the ribbon to one side of the egg with two pins and then do the same with the other end. I want to say that our piece of ribbon was about a foot long?

I also want to say that hot flashes suck big, fat, rancid orangutan balls.

Continue with your rows, making sure to pin them in such a way that the ribbon is eventually covered up completely.

It should look something like this.

Don’t worry if you get to a point where your rows are confusing and there is asymmetry happening EVERYWHERE and you have to slather cortisone cream all over your body and staple your left eyelid open so that it will stop twitching. Your family won’t notice and will continue on their merry way, pinning amuk all over the place, because they are sadists.

To all living creatures.

Just keep telling yourself that no one will care if anything is lopsidey and that you are most certainly going to Heaven because you have done your time in Hell down here on Earth.

When you get to the top of your egg, make sure to pin the last few pieces right up to the ribbon, cinching it so that it forms a perfect loop. Then tie another piece of ribbon around the bottom of the loop and …

Voilà!

I want to make a whole tree of these to plant in our front yard so I can have a reason to yell VOILÀ every time I leave my house. It sounds so much nicer than my typical MAKE SURE YOU TAKE OLLIE OUT TO POOP WHILE I’M GONE.

Wouldn’t an entire Christmas tree of these look just gorgeous?

In fact, I may just hang them all over my body, then roll around in some Christmas lights myself.

Then I’d be gorgeous!

In all seriousness, I cherish this tradition. We’re a blended family so it was really important to me that we have a tradition that started with “us.” Creating our family ornament has become one of the things I look most forward to at Christmas and the ornaments themselves, together with those made by my kids in school, are my very favorite things that adorn our tree.

What are some of your holiday traditions?

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This year’s cookie mix jars – who knew OCD tendencies could taste so good?

Last week I posted that I woke up crafty one morning and made some personalized hand sanitizer bottles for teacher gifts.

I woke up crafty quite a few mornings this month because I also made thirteen cookie mix jars.

As a side note, I think my husband secretly likes it when I wake up crafty because that means I’m actually excited about something and it’s morning and I’m in bed. Half the work is already done for him.

I made cookie mix jars last year too but this year, I was more color coordinated. And much more anal retentive.

Cookie mix jars are probably not the best gift to make if you are prone to OCD tendencies because truth be told, the whole process is messy and lopsided.

Just like me!

Which is weird, don’t you think? I mean, you would think that someone who likes to fold her towels with a straight edge and who, after running over a pothole with her left tire, will immediately run over another with her right to establish equilibrium, wouldn’t be messy or lopsided, right? But I drive around in an eleven year old Honda with nine month old bird poo on the window and my left boob is bigger than my right.

God has a weird sense of humor sometimes.

Or I’m just an enigma!

I tried out a couple different recipes and just so you know, it was all in the name of science and had nothing to do with it being the week before my period. I wound up using a recipe from the Launder, Fold, Repeat blog because biting into the twelfth first cookie was pretty much like Christmas in my mouth.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 cup Craisins
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • Recipient will need to add 1/2 cup butter (melted), 1 egg lightly beaten and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour cookie mix into large bowl and stir to combine. Beat in the butter, egg and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate thirty minutes. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until slightly browned. Cool and enjoy!

As Zoe and I layered the ingredients, we quickly discovered two things: (1) A rolled up piece of paper in the mouth of the jar worked just as well, if not better, than our plastic funnel because it was more flexible and it wasn’t covered in dog saliva and hidden under the couch with Oliver and his stash of seventeen left gloves and three pair of dirty underwear; and (2)  it was a lot easier to line up the ingredients in assembly line fashion and have one person constantly ask “You added the sugar? Are you sure? How about the baking powder? You didn’t just add the baking soda twice? Because they look exactly the same. You know that, right? So, you’re absolutely sure it was baking powder? SWEAR TO GOD ON THE LIVES OF MY FUTURE GRANDCHILDREN” and have the other respond “Please tell me I’m adopted.”

At one point, I had to take a turkey baster, a piece of cardboard and my glue gun and unleash my inner McGyver all over them to construct a device that we could use to pack down each layer to ensure everything would fit snugly into the jar.

I never felt so resourceful in all my life! And that’s coming from someone who once defrosted a chuck roast with nothing but her armpit, a butane lighter and sheer will.

This is where cookie mix jars and OCD tendencies do not mesh.

Because apparently, the Internet could not care less about middle-aged, uptight, premenopausal, lopsided women who make Christmas gifts while wearing aqua yoga pants from the eighties cinched at the waist with safety pins. Nowhere online could I find miniature levels that could be inserted into canning jars to ensure that all layers of ingredients were at precisely 180 degrees and parallel to one another.

What?

My jeans were dirty. Stop being judgy.

WARNING: The following previews have been rated TWITCHY! MY EYE IS TWITCHY! and should not be viewed by people who octuple check the alarm on their clocks, organize their cheese according to color and height, or who are prone to anaphylaxis and do not have epi pens readily available.

I don’t add the swatch of material at the top of the jar under the lid like most people do because that looks a little too homespunny for me and I’m about the farthest thing from homespun you can find because I don’t live in a little house on a prairie nor do my kids call me Ma and the last thing I churned was a stream of profanity when I discovered last week that the Whiskey River BBQ Chicken Wrap sandwich at Red Robin has 62 grams of fat in it.

WHAT.THE.HELL.

Instead, I like to just plop pretty bows on top of the jars and call it a day.

DAY!

I also attached a tag with curling ribbon to each jar.

I didn’t like how the tag looked when it was attached directly to the ribbon because hello? Have we met? So I used a jump ring instead. I happened to have a bunch of them on hand and I liked the way they allowed the tags to hang neatly and gently alongside the jars instead of sticking out at a 43.7934 degree angle.

Hello. I’m Andrea and I like protractors.

These are the tags I designed in Photoshop, printed out, trimmed and mounted onto red cardstock:

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I used the Peace on Earth kit from Sweet Shoppe Designs. Three years later and a few thousand smidges to the left, nudges to right and teensy-weensies in all sorts of different directions, I was done.

Smidges, nudges and teensy-weensies are the lot in life for those with OCD tendencies. It’s a burden but we manage.

By the way, would you mind inching over to the left a teensy-weensy? You are not viewing this in the absolute center of your monitor. Don’t ask me how I know. I just do. Even from way over here.

And here are the finished jars!

All in all, I’d have to say I’m pretty happy with them.

OH MY GOD, SOMEONE SHAKE A JAR OF PENNIES AT IT AND MAKE IT STOP.

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If we’re going to kill germs for Christmas, let’s at least do it in an attractive manner, shall we?

I woke up crafty the other day and I’m here to tell you that waking up crafty is like a gift from God, kind of like waking up with the ability to do fifth grade math without a calculator. You just feel smart. And sort of skinny. It’s just a nicer way to start the day than waking up, say, feeling bloated and stupid.

I immediately decided to work on Christmas presents for Helena’s teachers because that is what I do every time I wake up crafty during the second week of December. This involves me agonizing, fretting, worrying and biting my cuticles until they bleed. That’s what I do with gifts from God – I go all Twilight on them and suck out all of their fun and joy, leaving their withered, rotting carcasses in my wake.

What do you do with gifts from God?

Every year, I follow the same routine:

  1. Ask my kids for ideas.
  2. Listen to their ideas which typically consist of  (1) gift card; (2) gift card; (3) gift card; and finally (4) lottery tickets.
  3. Ignore their ideas.
  4. Post the same question on some online boards.
  5. Read their ideas which typically consist of (1) gift card; (2) gift card; (3) gift card; and finally (4) early retirement.
  6. Ignore their ideas too.
  7. Google for a couple of days hours.
  8. Settle on something 47% artsy and 49% percent crafty with a margin of error of ±4%
  9. Go out and buy three times as many supplies as I need because I’m me and as such, I’m on a first name basis with my quasi-OCD tendencies.
  10. Let my quasi-OCD tendencies have their way with me. Especially that Henry one! He’s smoking hot.
  11. Finish the gifts and call it a week day.
  12. The process, I mean. Not the gifts. I’m calling them something else. Not sure yet. I’m thinking Inglorious Bastards but Henry’s giving me grief. God, why can’t he just shut up and look hot?

I followed this tutorial from The Idea Room and can I just say how much I love that site?

I love that site!

Apparently, I can.

Don’t you hate it when people ask if they they can do something and by asking, they’ve already done the very something they’re asking to do?

I think I’ve posed that question before. But that’s OK. I probably didn’t listen to your answers.

This is what I started with. I bought four of these at Wegmans for $1.25 each. I did this three different times.

Stupid quasi-OCD tendencies.

By the way, Wegmans is now selling these for $0.88 a piece. OF COURSE THEY ARE. I should hire myself out to do Christmas shopping for people. Just think about it. If I do all the shopping for you, I can pretty much guarantee that you will get the best price in the history of ever because everything I buy on sale will go on an even bigger sale two days later. All you have to do is grab your receipts, get your price adjustments and *bam* you’ve saved yourself a boatload of time, a wad of cash and a possible herniated spine from body slamming little old people to the floor so you could score the last Snuggie in the tri-state area.

On second thought, maybe I should just hire myself out to think up more awesome ways to get rich.

The front label came off easily but the back label was apparently affixed with supersonic cement. Amy’s tutorial mentioned Goo Gone so I ran right out to Lowes and bought some and it worked like a charm. Oh, and Lowes? Why must you put this stuff up high on the shelf? Hello? Are only tall people allowed to wrestle with sticky residue? I think not. So I don’t want to hear any flak about the clean up in aisle two because if you had placed this stuff at a reasonable height, I wouldn’t have had to stack tubs of joint compound on top of each other to reach it. Just an FYI.

I took the front label from this bottle, stuck it onto a blank sheet of paper, trimmed around it with some scissors and got myself a template to use for my new label.

I are smart!

Rather than using a monogram design on my bottles like the tutorial, I opted to use some word collages that I created at wordle.net and can I say how much I love that site?

I love that site!

On the wordle.net homepage, click on “Create” and enter all the text you want to use in your wordle and then click “go.” Use the “~” symbol between any words that you want to keep together. You can control the size of specific words by how many times you use them. The more often you use a certain word, the bigger that word will appear in relation to the other words in your wordle. Oh, and here’s a helpful hint. Save your list of words in a separate word document. That way, if you’re not happy with your wordle, you can edit your words as you please and then simply copy/paste them back into the wordle.net site. Beats having to re-type all your words from scratch. Over and over and over. And over. This will save you so much time, not to mention your larynx which can be severely strained by screaming SHIT SHIT SHIT ON A STICK too many times in a ten minute period.

So I’ve heard.

On a side note, say wordle ten times fast. It’s fun, isn’t?

I obviously have too much time on my hands. Maybe I should spritz a little Goo Gone on them.

Is time sticky?

Anyone?

Here’s one of the wordles I created. See how “New York Rangers ” is bigger than “hockey” which is bigger than “slapshot?” That’s because I entered “New~York~Rangers” into my wordle six times,” hockey” five times and “slapshot” four. I chose a white background with a black font and four hours later, when I was finally happy with the configuration, I clicked “print” and saved it as a pdf file which I then brought into Photoshop and scaled down to fit my template. After I did this with all of my wordles , I copied and pasted all four of them into one blank 8.5 x 11 document, saved it as a jpg, burned it to a CD and then took it into my local Staples for printing onto a transparency with a laser printer.

Gosh, I’m out of breath from typing all of that. But trust me, it sounds a lot harder than it actually was. And I don’t say that lightly. I’m all about exaggerating how hard I work around here. It’s one of the ways I make myself sound important.

For the record, I am not a hockey aficionado or a fan of the New York Rangers. However, one of Helena’s teachers is. I’ve only seen one hockey game in my life and that was back in college and I watched it only because I was trying to impress a guy. I tried impressing until my fanny turned into an ice sculpture and then I focused my efforts into rubbing my bottom with my hands to get the blood flow circulating. I actually wound up impressing the guy but for all the wrong reasons.

I used scissors to cut around my wordle and then I rolled it up backwards so that the text was still facing frontwards (does that make sense?) and then gently pushed it into the bottle of sanitizer. It was a little tricky trying to maneuver the label against the front of the bottle without getting weird air bubbles and I’d be lying if I said that those air bubbles did not wreak havoc with Harry and his crew. But Zoe helped me smoosh them out (the air bubbles, not Harry and the gang) using her fingers and the meat thermometer that I had grabbed to stab myself in the eye and then she gave me a plastic bag to breathe into, shoved some Xanax down my throat, rubbed my back and told me I was pretty.

Thank God I have responsible kids.

Here’s the finished bottle! The other three I made have wordles with Helena’s teachers’ names on them so I thought it best not to post them in the interest of privacy. I may air our dirty laundry in public but I do have some boundaries. Sometimes they’re far away and you have to squint to see them but they’re there.

Do I even have to get into how tedious it was to tie these bows so that they were all perky and uniform?

I didn’t think so. Suffice it to say that glitter and tears were flying and Oliver ate sparkly wet dog food that night.

I love the way these turned out. I think they make great teacher gifts and now I wish I homeschooled my kids so that I could give one to myself.

Go check out the tutorial from The Idea Room and if you’ve got any questions about my take on it, let me know and I’ll try to answer them as best I can!

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Mod Podge isn’t just for gluing mammary glands together, you know

The problem with having a creative burst is that it’s just, well, that … a burst. A brief respite from the daily grind, coupled with momentary surges of inspiration and imagination that build up into something monumental in your brain but, for whatever reason, are not translated into reality. They’re temporary and fleeting, lasting only until such time as the entire process *bursts* and then deflates because it’s no longer fun and has become something approximating work with a capital UGH.

Then you either wind up with painted but unadorned walls for months or a husband who complains ARE WE EVER GOING TO HAVE SEX AGAIN, depending on what your creative burst was all about in the first place.

A couple of months ago, I had a creative burst for Helena’s recently painted bedroom and by recently, I mean sometime back in January. The term “recently” is relative, just like the phrase “in a minute, honey” which really means “whenever the hell I get around to it, I don’t care what the big hand and little hand say.”

This past week I finally managed to bring my creative vision into fruition:

This is now the only wall decor hanging in Helena’s bedroom but it’s huge and made up of six separate pieces so really, it’s like having a whole bunch of art stuffed in the room, albeit in one spot. And bonus! If you stare at it long enough, you don’t even notice the floor, desk and bookcase decor which is best described as Dirty Laundry Art Deco.

This is what you’ll need to use if you ever find yourself suffering from a similar creative burst:

  1. Letters. I used large and extra large paper mâché letters from Jo-Anns. That aisle is, by far, my favorite of Jo-Anns as it never fails to get the creative juices gushing around my brain. If it were up to me, I’d have Roget himself come over and throw up his synonyms all over my walls but I’m married to a man who seeks therapy whenever we veer from the beige paint strips at Sherwin Williams so I have to confine such innovative thinking to the lesser viewed, non-common areas of the house. Currently, I’m waiting for Jo-Anns to restock their “S” because otherwise, when my kids walk into the vestibule from the garage and come face to face with a wall yelling at them in blue and brown paisley to TAKE OFF YOUR _HOES. BECAUSE I _AID _O, they’re bound to ask “Since when do we wear hoes? Who’s O? And why are you helping him?”
  2. Spray paint. I use Krylon because it has an awesome nozzle which is easily engaged and requires only a light touch. No need to walk around for days afterward with my pointer finger up in the air so as to lessen the throbbing waves of pain that come with having to exert bionic force to depress a nozzle. With any other kind of spray paint, I’ll use my middle finger on the nozzle because if I have to walk around with my finger up in the air, I might as well have some fun with it.
  3. Mod Podge. Did I ever tell you the story about how I once glued my boobs together with Mod Podge? I hope I don’t have to clarify that it was by accident? Fine. Consider yourself clarified.
  4. Patterned paper.
  5. Whatever embellishments you want to use. This is a 12×12 scrapbook overlay of black random numbers.
  6. Sealer. I used Painter’s Touch because it’s what I had on hand at the time but since very little is required, I did not have to walk around flipping anyone the bird for three days afterward.

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And this is what you will do with all this stuff:

First, spray the front and sides of all the letters with black spray paint. It took three coats to get the kind of coverage I wanted. Make sure you do this outside in a well ventilated area and only after you’ve gone grocery shopping. Why? Because when you almost asphyxiate yourself on the fumes, the only response you’re going to get when you stumble into your kitchen and choke out a barely discernible “I can’t breathe” is most likely going to be “Chicken again for dinner? Can’t you make lasagna? Mom? Why are you sleeping on the floor? Can I go to Katie’s tonight instead? Mom?”

Then trace out the letters onto the patterned paper. The easiest way to do this is to the lay your patterned paper upside down on your table and then lay the letter upside down on top of it.

Lay? Lie? OH MY GOD, WHICH ONE IS IT?

Trace around the letter and then cut out your pattern using sharp scissors, but only after screaming at the top of your lungs FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, WHERE THE HELL ARE MY SCISSORS? CAN I JUST HAVE ONE THING IN THIS HOUSE TO CALL MY OWN? BESIDES THE WASHER AND DRYER?

Then Mod Podge the paper onto the letter. Of course, I don’t have a photo of that step because no way was I going to have my brand new Nikon D90 anywhere near Mod Podge. Let’s review, shall we? Did I ever tell you the story about how I once Mod Podged my boobs together? Exactly.

When it comes to Mod Podge, you need a light hand and you need to work quickly. Using a sponge brush, lightly cover the back of the paper as well as the front of the letter you are adhering it to. Do not slop the stuff all over the place. Mod Podge has a tendency to migrate to places unknown. Remember … UNIBOOB. Quickly position the paper on top of the letter and press down and out to smooth out any wrinkles or bubbles. I use a credit card for this. Just make sure it’s a canceled one lest your husband grabs it, hops on line and buys up the earth on eBay, hollering defensively WELL, THEN? WHY’D YOU GLUE THE MASTERCARD TO MY HAND?

Then, using a light hand, apply two or three thin coats of Mod Podge on top of the letters, allowing the coats to dry in between. This will give the letters a nice matte finish. Remember … a light hand. UNIBOOB TO THE TENTH POWER.

For the “A” I painted the front of it white and then, using the same steps as above, simply Mod Podged sections of the numbered overlay to fit on its surface. I say “simply” because it sounds a lot better than saying “Son of a bitch. Shit. Dammit. Shit on a stick, why won’t this work? It’s too long here. It’s too short there. Why can’t I get the “6” where I want it? Hey! Who the hell took the 8? YOU ARE DEAD TO ME.”

When you are all done Mod Podging and have determined that no part of your anatomy is glued any other part of your anatomy, go ahead and seal your letters. All this means is that you spray them with at least two light coats of the sealer in a well ventilated area. As with the spray paint, it’s a good idea to make sure your pantry is stocked beforehand.

And there you have it!

See? You can’t even tell where I went all Smoky Robinson on it and stained it with the tracks of my tears, can you? It’s a miracle!

Get it?

Nevermind.

I kept the “L” just plain black because I felt the whole piece needed a bit of simplicity in the middle to “ground” it.

Actually, I just didn’t feel like being crafty anymore. But that doesn’t make me sound as smart.

The “H” was done exactly the same way as the “A” except I used circles cut out of black cardstock and a whole lot less profanity.

Oh, and you can see that the top of the “E” bears the scar from where I ripped the price tag off of it before I painted it. I am rather proud of myself for conquering my OCD and anal-retentive tendencies by not spending 4.5 hours sanding the utter crap out of it. Go me!

Yes, this photo sucks because I still don’t know what settings to use on my Nikon D90 when I’m shooting indoors in this kind of light but you get the idea, right?

Now, I’m just waiting for a few more bursts of creativity to hit me so that Helena can get some decorative throw pillows for her bed, stuff for her three remaining naked walls and some cornice boards for her windows. And then, because I’m pretty much over my quota of crafty cussing for the year, we need a big honkin’ burst to hit Nate square in the head so that he can build her a new black bed.

But first we have to catch him and get him to hold still to make him a better target so if anyone wants to help me chase Nate around the yard for a few months, Helena and her room would greatly appreciate it.

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How to make over your dining room with one boob tied in front of your back

Remember my old dining room?

The one from six years ago, when we first moved into our house? With the dark green walls and the stained carpet and a wallpaper border straight from the clearance section of www.we-sell-ugly.com? Did I mention that the previous owners kept a bird cage in there? With a real, live bird in it and everything? And by everything, I mean feces?

For the first couple of months we lived here, we used this room as a set design for a show called Hoarders which hadn’t even been invented yet. Of course, it helped immensely that Helena had been born with her umbilical cord attached to Toys ‘R Us.

This was the next phase in the evolution of our dining room, after one spouse yelled to the other spouse HOW CAN I POSSIBLY BE IN THE MOOD WHEN OUR DINING ROOM IS BEYOND HIDEOUS?

I won’t bother telling you which spouse I was. I like to keep you guessing!

So we ripped out the carpeting, installed hardwoods and painted. Of course, Helena needed convincing before she would relocate her life up to her bedroom where it belonged but all it took were a few popsicle bribes, mixed in with the occasional Do you want Santa to trip over your Polly Pockets and fall and get a concussion and cancel Christmas? And then she was good to go. It’s amazing what a little positive reinforcement will get you.

Our dining room looked like this for years. A deep, rich, empty red shrine to the echo. Every December, we’d drag the folding tables up from the basement, clamp them together, throw some tablecloths over them and feed fifteen or more people for Christmas Eve dinner. One year, we even kept the tables up and fed eighteen more people for Christmas dinner the next day and then hosted New Year’s Eve to boot! I like to refer to that particular year as OH MY GOD, WHY ARE THERE PEOPLE STILL IN MY HOUSE?

This is what our dining room looks like today, after one spouse yelled to the other spouse HOW CAN I POSSIBLY BE IN THE MOOD WHEN OUR DINING ROOM IS BEREFT OF SOUL? AND I USED A BIG WORD. I WIN.

Guess which spouse I was?

All it took was painter’s tape, one can of gold-tinted primer, one can of gold paint, a trip to IKEA and one entire morning of climbing up and down chairs because God forgot to include height in my DNA. Of course, if you’ve got a husband who thinks it’s a good idea to wake up at 11:30 a.m., four hours after you started priming, only to comment This is all you’ve got done? Hey, you missed a spot while he’s sipping his coffee? Well, then, you’ve also got a husband who must remove the paint brush from his esophagus and finish up the entire room by himself if he ever wants to have sex again.

With me, anyway.

Figuratively speaking, of course! Because it’s not like your husband would want to have sex with me!

Would he?

My newly recovered dining room chairs look phenomenal with the new paint, if I do say so myself!

Which I do. This reminds me …

*TOOT TOOT TOOT TOOT*

That’s me, tooting my own horn! If I waited for Nate or my kids to do it for me, I would be tootless for a long damn time.

Being tootless sucks, in case you weren’t aware.

The paint came from Sherwin Williams (it’s called mannered gold), the table and chairs from IKEA and the wall art from … yours truly!

I couldn’t find anything anywhere that I liked well enough to hang up. You know, with nails? On our walls? Our brand spankin’ new, pristine walls that were freshly painted less than forty-eight hours prior?

*THUD* <———— Nate, passing out from the desecration of it all.

I used something called particle board from the lumber aisle at Lowes. It was less than $4.00 for one 1 x 6 board. I bought two boards and Nate cut them into one foot squares for me. Then I sanded them which was a colossal waste of time because particle board is rough all the way through and I sanded until the cows came home and all I got for my efforts was a nose full of sawdust and a garage full of cows.

Then I painted them black. The squares, not the cows.

Then I used three coats of Mod Podge to glue patterned paper on them. Again, the squares, not the cows.

Then I accidentally dripped Mod Podge down my shirt and glued my mammary glands together and invented the mono boob.

Then I sealed them with two coats of Rust-Oleum’s Painter’s Touch Crystal Clear Matte sealant.

The squares, not my boobs.

I love how they turned out! Again, that would be the squares, not my boobs.

By the way, I have no idea what that whitish rectangle thing is to the left of the wall art. I got all excited, thinking I was witnessing some paranormal activity, like maybe a ghost-wife was inspired to show her ghost-husband how she could do the same exact thing on their walls in purgatory! How cool would that be? But Nate said Calm down, it’s only a glare from the window and I said Well, excuse me, Mr. Killjoy, for not being a pragmatist like you. And I just used a big word so I win. And he said Win what? And do you even know what pragmatist means? And I said I know you are but what am I? And he said You are weird.

And I said Hello? I have a mono boob. TELL ME SOMETHING I DON’T KNOW.

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