Find of the Week – July 30, 2013…Marc Jacobs & Tadashi

Find of the Week – Tuesday, July 30, 2013

OK, I confess. I have not been listing a “find” every single week. Sometimes there are no finds, or they are just not worthy of being listed. ( I DO go to the thrift store every week) Perhaps I should change the name. Hmmmm…anyway, here is the “Find of the (almost every) Week”

Yesterday at my favorite Goodwill I found: a very nice Marc by Marc Jacobs leather bag (new retail around $450), and a gorgeous black silk crepe Tadashi Collection dress (new retail around $350) both in excellent, near new condition. Grand Total? $14. Starting to understand why thrifting is so friggin’ awesome? Here they are on my mannequin Tallulah.

findoftheweekjuly30

I love the Marc Jacobs bag, but green is not my color, so I have listed it for sale on Ebay. Here it is if you’d like to see it: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=121152321944  I’m definitely keeping the dress, it fits great 😉

What awesome thrift store finds have you made recently? I’d love to hear about them! Tell me in the “Leave a Reply” section.

Perhaps the Best Outdoor Garden Lighting Idea Ever…DIY High-End Looking Glowing Orbs for about $3

yardlights3

This is one of the Best Outdoor DIYs Ever. I mean it. So simple, so high impact, so freakin’ awesome. When I first saw this one, I had one of those smack-on-the-forehead moments of “Why didn’t I think of that?!?” But it wasn’t me. I stole the idea from this brilliant lady, http://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/glowing-orbs/ and I am giving her all the credit here. It’s just way too great an idea to share, so here we go:

What you need:

Those “ugly” round opaque glass globe light covers, a string of lights, preferably LED (less electricity and heat), and an extension cord. (I used regular white string lights I already had, but I do plan to eventually replace them with LED strings)

Note: When I saw this idea, I ran right out to the Habitat for Humanity Restore and found 2 round globes and 2 larger flatter globes for $2 each. (FYI this place is a DIY goldmine! I also scored handles for a dresser redo for $1 each, post coming soon!) You can also often find them at thrift stores. I will be getting more as I find them, I’m so in love with this look I want to do up the front yard as well, maybe with colored lights to match the house…

How-to:

Just put the string of lights inside, plug it into your extension cord, and bury the edges of the globe and the extension cord under dirt or mulch. (I used mulch, as it was already on the ground, a total no-brainer). That’s it! I did four of these in about 20 minutes.

yardlightsglass  yardlightsparts  yardlightsstring  yardlightsday3

yardlightsday2  yardlightsday

Nighttime is when the magic happens…I plugged them into the dawn/dusk timer I already have in the backyard. Works great.

yardlights  yardlights2

yardlights4  yardlights3

I can’t wait to add more of these! What amazing outdoor DIYs have you done? I’d love to hear! Tell me about them in the Leave a Reply section.

A (Cheap) Fun Faux Taxidermy DIY for the Great Laundry Room Make-over of 2013, Part 3

A Faux Taxidermy DIY using a Foam Form, Magic Sculp & Paint

headdone3

You may have noticed that Faux Taxidermy is all the rage right now. I’ve always had a weird thing for taxidermy (I have a taxidermy peacock, not faux, in my entry. Found it at a yard sale about 10 years ago…) I like the look, it’s a fun decorative element, but overall pretty pricey. (the larger ones at places like Anthropologie run about $200)  I’ve been dying to play with the taxidermy forms they sell at places like www.vandykestaxidermy.com,  but even those are out of my budget at the moment. As luck would have it, a friend who sold with me at my last yard sale had one to sell, and I grabbed it. (Just $10. Thanks Lauri!) It is a Reebok, and small African mammal with an elegant neck. Alas, I have no Reebok horns, but I did have a small set of deer antlers I acquired from Goodwill for $4. So what if the antlers are all wrong? I like things to be a little weird and funky, and the antlers do at least fit the top of the head. (I could have sculpted any sort of antlers or horns, but wanted to save some time, and to show another way to use found antlers.)

headbefore

I started by screwing the antlers onto the form (There were holes already drilled in the head when I bought it) I used Magic Sculp (a two-part epoxy clay used by many taxidermists) to fill in and create the rest of the head, eyes and ears. OK, I know this part requires some sculpting skill, but it wasn’t difficult, and the clay has a couple hours working time before it dries so you have time to get it looking good. This was my first time using the Magic Sculpt, and I like it! It air dries with no shrinkage and was easy to use. It also sands well and takes paint beautifully. I’m going to try my hand making some jewelry with it, but we’ll save that for another post…

headready  headsculpt  headsculpt2

When the clay was completely dry, I sanded a bit to get it smooth, and then painted it with ultra cover gloss white spray paint. (I used the whole can, three coats) Note: I should have sanded the form itself better, and filled in the small holes and imperfections on the form as well. Next time…

headreadytopaint  headpainted_edited-1

When the head was dry, I was able to mount it to the wall with a single long screw, as it weighs very little, less than 2 pounds. I got a little kitschy I know, but I put one of necklaces I haven’t worn in years on it, now it’s a “she” 😉 I really liked it, but there was still something missing…

headdonebeforebacking

I decided to give the head a black background, as my laundry room is mainly black and white. I started by using an existing mirror as a template. It was the perfect size oval, so I traced it onto some heavy paper.

headtemplate

Then I cut it out, centered it, taped it up and traced it lightly onto the wall with a pencil. I filled in the oval with 2 coats of black gloss paint by hand ( luckily I already had some on hand.)

headtemplatetaped  headpaint1coat  headpaintdone

And voila! My fabulous new faux taxidermy head for the laundry room. Yes, it’s trendy as hell, but I love it. And it only cost me about $30 total.

headdone3  headdone4  headdone2  headdone

You can see the DIY for the ceiling graphic here: Funky Cool Custom Ceiling Graphic

I hope to get the laundry finished this weekend. Just one project left to go!

Funky Cool Custom Ceiling Graphic (Medallion) & Light for the Great Laundry Room Make-Over of 2013, Part 2 (plus: How to Install RTA Graphics)

ceilingdone

Well the Laundry Room Make-over is coming along nicely, just a couple small projects left to go. Over the weekend I finished up the ceiling with a “new” (well, new to me anyway) light fixture and custom graphic, and I love it!

I knew I wanted to do something fun and graphic on the ceiling around the light, and thought about all the great new adhesive wall designs out there. I looked at whatisblik.com, dezignwithaz.com,  Amazon, Target, and a host of others, but didn’t find something I liked. Then it hit me. Customize! I turned to RTA and it hit the spot. What is RTA? RTA stands for “Ready to Apply”, and is a rub-on vinyl product usually used for lettering, but also for graphics. I had used it in the past at art galleries to put show names and artist’s names on the wall for an exhibit, so I knew it would work great. It is easy to apply, and removable (hello renters!). Still, I had to find the right graphic, so I turned to my old standby for images, istock.com,  and found just what I wanted. At istock, you purchase the image as well as the legal rights to use it. They have a fantastic selection. So I purchased my image, and chose Fastsigns to print it for me (competitive pricing and close by). I was able to easily email them the design, and they had it ready to go in a few days for $35.

The light fixture came from my favorite Goodwill (surprise surprise) for $12, and I’ve had the vintage black beaded necklace for years. It has seen better days. I don’t wear it much anymore, so I decided to “retire” it into decorative use.

Now for the How-To: RTA Graphics

First I picked out the design, measured the ceiling to see how big I wanted to have it, then emailed the file to Fastsigns. This is how it looks when it comes:

ceilingrta

It is basically 3 layers: 1 layer of backing and 1 layer of adhesive with the vinyl design in between.

I cut out the center with an exacto knife to fit over the light outlet.

ceilingholecut

The next part was a little tricky, centering it over the hole. Once I had it where I wanted it, I used masking tape to firmly attach it to the ceiling, forming a sort-of tape “hinge” on the straightest side to hold it in place when I start to peel off the backing layer.

ceilingreadytoapply

Starting at the hinge side begin peeling off the backing slowly while pressing down (or since it’s on the ceiling, “up”) the sticky layer. Slow and smooth is the key, you don’t want any air bubbles or wrinkles.

ceilingpeelunderlayer

Once the backing is off and it’s good and stuck in place, it’s time to “squeegie” on the design by rubbing firmly over the graphic, especially well over the fine lines. (Fastsigns gave me a squeegie with my order)

ceilingsqueegie

Then it’s time to peel off the sticky paper and reveal the graphic. Again, moving slow and steady does it, watching to be sure all the design adheres to the surface (if not, you can stop, move the paper down on the surface again and squeegie it some more)

ceilingpeel2

That’s it! The whole process took less than 20 minutes, and it looks great! I love knowing that no one else has a ceiling design like mine 😉 There are endless possibilities for RTA. Come up with your own design, your own words and styled lettering, anything you can imagine!

ceilingrtadone

And here it is done, with the new light installed and the necklace added for some drama…(I know, I’m missing a light bulb. Back to the hardware store I go!)

ceilingdone  ceilingdone2

Next Project: A fun faux taxidermy experiment…

The BEST Cup of Coffee Ever…and YOU Made it! Here’s how. Plus WIN FREE COFFEE FOR A YEAR From Pablo’s Coffee!

Ah Java, that elixir of the Gods. If you’re a fellow devotee of the mighty bean, then you feel me. Life is simply too short for a crappy cup of coffee. But there is hope. You can actually make the best coffee you’ve ever had, yourself, at home, with just a little guidance. Not only does it taste great, but it’s also way cheaper than going to your local Starb#@ks.

Awesome Coffee 101

#1. Toss your automatic coffee maker in the trash, (or rather, recycle it) and get a French Press. I know it may seen drastic, but they are simply incapable of creating a tasty cup of joe. Why? The main reason is the water temperature. Most machines do not get the water hot enough and cannot regulate the temperature as it pours through the grinds. (It is also my humble opinion that the filter alters the taste of the coffee.)

#2 The Beans. Quality beans are of the utmost importance. Always choose freshly roasted beans. This means you may have to make an extra stop at your local roasters, but it is oh so worth it, trust me. No more stale old bags of grocery store coffee for you! Always get whole bean coffee, and grind it yourself, right before you brew. Buy only a pound at a time (unless you have a huge coffee-swigging family) and store your beautiful beans in an airtight container, no need to freeze them. (Denver-Alert! See below for my favorite source of great beans, and how to get them at a big discount! For you out-of-towners, they ship, too)

#3 The Grind. The most important purchase you can make for great tasting coffee is a burr grinder. Be sure and grind your beans fresh, right before you make your morning cup. Why a burr grinder? Frankly, blade grinders suck. They provide an inconsistent grind, and tend to over-heat and even burn the beans. The more even the grind, the better the coffee. I know, burr grinders are more expensive, but essential. You can find good deals on them used on Ebay, and if you’re lucky like me, you’ll find a good one at the thrift store for $7.99…

#4 Good water. Use filtered water, it really does make a difference.

Now that you have the Awesome Coffee Basics, let’s get brewing…

First, gather what you need. French Press, fresh beans, burr grinder, filtered water, tablespoon measure, and a timer. (there are fancy coffee timers out there, but a decent kitchen timer will do the trick)

coffeestart_edited-1

Start your water to boil on the stove, then grind your beans in your burr grinder. Be sure and double-check that it is set to the “french press” setting.

coffeegrind

Measure about 8 tablespoons of fresh grounds for a typical 32 oz French Press. (you can adjust this to your taste)

coffeegrounds

When your water starts boiling, turn off the burner and let it sit for just a second. Don’t pour boiling water over the grounds. (and don’t let it sit longer than a few seconds or it will cool off too much). Pour the hot water steady, slow and even to fully saturate the grounds. Don’t fill to the top, but to the bottom of the “ring” on the press. (Otherwise you’ll just make a big mess when it’s time to plunge).

coffeewater  coffeesit

Start your 4-minute timer. After about a minute, stir it gently and put the top on. Don’t push the plunger down just yet, you have 3 minutes to go…

coffeetimer  coffeestir

At four minutes, it’s time to push down the plunger. Move slow and steady until it reaches the bottom.

coffeeplunge

Now it’s time to pour and enjoy your delicious coffee however you like. (I like it with a little agave and half n half, my man drinks it black) Be sure and pour right away, don’t let your coffee sit in the press or it will turn bitter. If you are not planning to drink it all right away, pour the extra into a carafe to keep it warm.

coffeepour  coffeedone

Now it’s time for our DENVER-ALERT! The Best Beans in Town (in my opinion) at the Best Price. PABLO’S. Pablo’s has two Denver locations, one at 6th and Corona, and the newest location at 13th and Pennsylvania. I’ve been getting all my beans there for about 3 years now. Both locations sell their awesome fresh-roasted beans, roasted daily less than a mile away. (www.pabloscoffee.com)

Here’s the Secret to getting a great deal on beans at Pablo’s. Two things. One, Tuesday is 20% off pound o’ beans day. That makes it about $12 instead of the usual $14 for a full pound of bean-y goodness. Two, ask for a bean punch card (you have to ask, they don’t have them out on the counter) When you buy 6 pounds, you get the seventh pound FREE. (they also have cup punch cards, if you just can’t resist getting a brewed cup, or my favorite, the Americano, while you’re there.) If you buy all your beans on Tuesdays (I do!) and use your punch card, it comes out to roughly $10.30 per glorious pound of beans after you average in the freebee. Can’t beat that for fresh roasted beans. They have many great varieties of beans. I’ve tried many of them and have not ever been disappointed, but I do usually go back to the Danger Monkey blend. It’s a good one, I highly recommend it. And speaking of Pablo’s…

WIN FREE COFFEE FOR A YEAR!! (Denver-area Only)

Pablo’s has generously offered an awesome prize. One pound of coffee per month for a year, FREE! (that’s about a $168 value!)

WE HAVE A WINNER!! Congratulations Anna Newell Jones! You’ll be enjoying fabulous Pablo’s Coffee for the next year, gratis! Enjoy, and thank you all who entered the contest!

NOTES: There are many other ways to make a good coffee, including the Aeropress, Chemex, and of course good ‘ol espresso. If you want to explore these other methods, try the Stumptown website for some great tutorials: http://stumptowncoffee.com/brew-guides/ or ask the folks at Pablo’s or your favorite local roaster for their recommendations. For good notes on methods and equipment, check out : www.home-barista.com and www.coffeegeek.com

Disclaimer: Marie Vlasic and the Year of Living Fabulously are receiving NO COMPENSATION from Pablo’s Coffee for this blog or the contest. (I actually just really love their coffee). Denver has several good coffee roasters, you can check them out here: https://www.google.com/search?q=Denver+coffee+roasters

The Great Laundry Room Make-Over of 2013, Part 1: Paint and Floor (Plus a Great Trick for Sealing Peel and Stick Tiles…)

The washing machine finally passed away. It died a slow, agonizing death, grinding obstreperously to a permanent halt, it’s last load on Earth washed (but sadly not quite finished), just a few weeks ago. After 2 weeks of not-so-pleasant “discussions” about replacing the ol’ girl, the man broke down and bought us a new washer/dryer, on sale of course. (The old dryer was “vintage”, from the early 80’s. I kid you not. The new pair was $798 from Home Depot, thank you Honey!) The laundry room was, to put it mildly, a Screaming Disaster (exposed stained and warped wood sub-floor, really bad paint job with 3 different shades of “white”, and dirty as Hell) It’s been a constant embarrassment for years, so I took this as my chance to make-over the laundry room, on an extreme budget as usual.

The laundry room is also the back porch, and the only pass-through to the backyard and garage, so I want to make it pretty as well as efficient. Part One here details the first steps, the floor and walls.

BEFORE:

laundrybefore laundrybefore3 laundryfloorbefore

Yikes. Just seeing the pictures again makes me cringe. Note the cheap zebra rug attempting to hide the ugly wood floor. This decorating idea NOT recommended.

It took 3 coats of Ultra White paint-n-primer on the walls and ceiling and 3 coats Ultra White Gloss on the brick and trim to erase all the badness.

laundryinprogress  In Progress…just look at the filthy door! Yuck.

laundryinprogress2

Next came the floor. We went with good ol’ peel and stick vinyl flooring because it is cheap and easy, but there’s a trick to getting it to look good. More on that later… First we nailed down the loose and popping-up edges of the wood, and prepped it with Levelpro, which helps the peel-n-stick tiles adhere. After this cured overnight, the tiling began. I measured to find center, which was not an easy task as the room is more akin to to a trapezoid than a rectangle (oh the joys of 100+ year-old houses), then started sticking down the tiles. The edges of the room were a real challenge (again because there are no straight lines in that room) but careful measuring got the job done. Then I got on my hands and knees with my marble rolling pin to help the tiles adhere (I’m sure that was quite a site, we really should have taken pictures of that part). There is one more very important last step. “Grouting” the tiles. Bet you didn’t know you could grout these things, but not only does it look great and cover a world of tile-laying sins, but creates a water-tight seal. (no more damage to the wood sub-floor!) The answer is caulk. Simple latex caulk in a color that goes with your tiles. (in my case, a medium gray) You just run a thin bead of the caulk along the edge and literally smush it into the crack with your fingers, then wipe off the excess with a damp sponge (keep a bucket of warm water next to you for rinsing out the sponge). Then I went around the entire outside edge of the tiles with the caulk. No more worrying about damage from leaking pipes or snow dragged in on the boots. And, it looks great! A hearty thanks to my favorite handy man, Bob Bigum, for teaching me this trick. (Thanks Bob!) FYI, the whole floor took about 5 hours.

laundryfloorin2 laundryfloorinlaundryfloorcaulk

Then the new washer/dryer arrived, hooray! There’s nothing more exciting than clean clothes when you’ve gone without for 2 weeks.

laundrymachinesarrive laundrymachinesleft laundrymachinesright laundryrightwall

As you can see, I’ve started in a little bit on the decorating, but there is a ton more to come, including a funky ceiling design, a fabric cover-up for the washer/dyer, and a weird and wild sort-of faux taxidermy thing for over the washer/dryer. I’m just getting started! Subscribe to the blog so you won’t miss a thing.

Notes: As you can probably guess by now, I’m going with a black-n-white theme in here. You may recognize the black stacking shelves from this post: My new FREE Nightstand!, which I have since replaced and re-purposed the shelves here in the laundry room. The signed limited edition black and white Edward Gorey print on the wall came from another room, and originally came from Goodwill for $5.99. Those neat old hooks holding up the bags of dog supplies were in the house when it was purchased, I just moved them here.

What projects are you working on this weekend? I’d love to hear about them in the Leave a Reply section. Hope you’re having a fun DIY weekend!

Big Showy Glamorous Orchid Arrangement for only $30! (Retail over $100)

orchidfinished

It was one of those emails I live for…Orchids Half Off! Today Only (Wednesday, July 17) Whole Foods has stunning orchids for only $9.99! (if you missed it, they usually do this sale 2-3 times a year, just sign up for their weekly emails, or my facebook page and twitter will always have the announcement) Let me tell you, these are high quality orchids, not those little piddly ones you usually see at the supermarket. They even come in nice clay pots, which I’ll save for another project.

I couldn’t get orchids this nice at the floral wholesaler for less than $16-20 each! Most florists would charge $30-35 each for these beauties. I went to Whole Foods this morning and grabbed four of these stunners. I should have gotten more. Did I mention I am obsessed with orchids?

First, we’ll start with how to pick out a nice orchid. They should have strong bright green leaves free of mold, spots, and dead/brown areas. Here’s some healthy leaves:

orchidleaves

Then, pick out a plant with a few unopened bloom “pods” on the end, it will last much longer than one with all it’s blooms fully opened. Blooms should be bright and strong, without any wilting, deformities, or spots.

orchidblooms

OK, now that we have some nice orchids, let’s display them. For this project I picked my old chipped Haviland soup tureen. It can no longer be used for soup, but it makes a great place for plants. I grabbed some rocks to fill out the bottom of the tureen and help provide some stability and drainage, some sheet moss, heavy floral tape (this is the strong tape, not the stretchy type floral tape. You can find it at most craft stores) and three of the orchid plants. I removed the orchids from their clay pots, and took out the care tags.

orchidsupplies

The next step was getting the three plants in the tureen, which took some finagling, as they would not stand up straight. I used the heavy floral tape to  attach them to each other by their plastic containers, and ran tape across the top to steady the threesome. Then I filled in with the rocks around them.

orchidtape  orchidtape1

I know it looks messy now, but here’s where the sheet moss comes in to cover the tops and sides. Just finesse a little over the edge as well to cover the tape. Fresh green moss would be best. I used moss that was a little dried out because it’s what I had on hand.

orchidmoss  orchidmoss2

All done! I love it. So glamorous and classy on the dining room table, and it only cost $30! (I had the other materials on-hand) Any floral shop would charge over $100, not even including the container. And the best part, it will last at least a month. Ah, the beauty of orchids…

orchiddone2

Orchid Care: Orchids prefer filtered light, avoid direct sunlight. They like a temperature between 65-80, and high humidity. Here in dry dry Denver, I mist the plants once a day (especially the moss on top, it will evaporate slowly and raise the humidity around the plant. Don’t mist if you are in a humid area, or the plant may rot). Water thoroughly (or take out and soak it for a bit if you prefer) when the potting medium is almost dry. Don’t let them dry out completely! And don’t let them sit in water, or the roots will rot. When the blooms are spent, cut the spike as follows: You’ll see a series of beige-ish bands (called bracts) that encircle the spike about 5″ apart . Look for where the beige bract widens and becomes kind of shield-shaped. Beneath that protective bract is an inactive bud. Cut the spike just above this bract with a sharp razor at an angle (don’t use scissors, they crush the spike). Continue to care for your orchid plant the same as when it was blooming (no direct sun, water when almost dry, 65-80 degrees) and it will flower again, especially if you use an orchid fertilizer (just follow the package directions).

What happened to the 4th orchid? That one I saved for my bedside table. The plant fit perfectly in the top of a black vintage ceramic vase I have. I used the floral tape to hold it secure in at the top, and used Spanish moss this time as a topper. It looks great in the bedroom! I love seeing flowers upon waking in the morning. What a great way to start the day!

orchidbedroom  orchidbedroom2