Square Five

Fifth time's a charm.

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Going stag: I made a friggin’ DEER HEAD!

So, I spend a huge amount of time on the internet these days.  Probably 3/4 of my waking hours are spent staring at a computer - sometimes job searching, more often looking at blogs and pinterest and getting sucked into internet black holes in which I look a DIY projects and pictures of homes and daydream about what I should next in my own apartment.

I found this picture at apartmenttherapy.com duringone of those long, strange internet trips:


So I says to myself, hey, that’s pretty neat. I bet I can make it out of cardboard. I had no idea if it would actually work, but in spite of my uncertainty, I approached the project with the creativity and fearlessness of a person who is truly procrastinating. 

I started with a large moving box from Home Depot that I had laying around from our move to Philadelphia. I grabbed a pencil and an eraser, put Parks and Recreation on, and began to freehand the silhouette of a deer head using this picture above as a reference.


That shadow at the bottom left belongs to our little lime tree, Stanley Kowalstree. He sits in the living room under a grow light and he gives me moral support.  


You can sort of make out the antlers I was trying to get right. Long story short, the floor was covered in little eraser bits by the time I was finished. It took a while, but since I had no idea if I would be able to actually cut the cardboard skillfully enough to make this work, I didn’t spend too much time on the drawing. 

After I had a sketch I was happy with, I began to cut. If you attempt this, make you sure have good scissors or strong hands. I had neither. It was tough to make all the turns around the antlers, but this is what I had (besides a sore hand) after the first round of cutting:image

The edges were pretty rough, so a day or two later I took a smaller pair of scissors and trimmed and snipped to shape everything nicely.


I decided to draw a faux bois (or, fake wood) pattern on the cardboard so it would look like my inspiration picture. Why can’t we just call it “fake wood” instead of “faux bois”? I don’t know. I don’t make up the pattern names, I just doodle the patterns and hope for the best. Had I attempted faux bois before? Nope. But basically it consists of squiggly lines and little knots now and then, so it seemed pretty manageable.

After staring at images of faux bois for a while, I tried out some different markers and patterns on the back to see what it looked like. I liked the way the orange Sharpie looked (shown on the antlers) as opposed to the brown marker that i tried on the lower part - mostly because the sharpie was much thicker, meaning the pattern would look a little more bold, even though the color would be lighter. 

I knew I wanted to use the finished product to somehow disguise the hideous thermostat on the wall above the couch. The thermostat really isn’t that big of a deal, but for some reasons it is just a huge eyesore for me. There it is, minuscule yet strangely annoying. Lording over the couch and clearly mocking me:


Just when I think I can’t get anymore low-budget and jerry-rigged when it comes to hanging things, I go and do a thing like this:


Yes, that is a pencil cracked in half and duct taped on. Those were needed for stabilization, because the crease from it’s past life as a box was so strong that the deer head naturally wanted to fold in half.


Annnnd that’s an old chip clip that I snapped in half and taped over the crease on the antler to keep it from folding. The other half is on the other antler. I’d like to thank the junk drawer in the kitchen for supplying these items, this step would not have been possible without you. 

So here is the final product:


And on the wall:

The shadow surrounding him is because he is about 2 inches off the wall, with the thermostat hiding behind him!

I mean… it still kinda looks a piece of a cardboard box. But I like how it turned out and it was a fun little project. I’m considering making him a friend but I have no idea what other animal to even attempt. Perhaps, a jackalope? A gnarwhal? The possibilities for weirdness are endless!

Filed under sharpie diy diy wall decor cardboard doeadeer

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The importance of couch security!

I decided yesterday to play around with the furniture arrangement in the living room. The problem: The couch was not backed against a wall, and I began to  feel more and more like someone was going to creep up behind me and grab me by the shoulders. 

For someone who spends as much time on the couch as (a constant job hunter) do, security on said couch is very important. 

Due to the other furniture in the room, I’m not sure if this couch arrangement will be forever. But this is what I’m working with now:

Whoa, that panel of the couch next to the side table is seriously amiss.

The couch now faces the windows, which is nice. I didn’t want to push the chaise against the far wall, because the baseboard heater runs along it. So I rolled our metal typewriter table (found on the street by Max, thankyouverymuch) into the nook and placed Max’s record player on top. My turquoise slippers looked so cute and matched so well that I couldn’t bring myself to move them out of the frame. And speaking of matching… that lamp used to be much further from the couch, so the fact that they are made of nearly identical fabric was not quite so obvious before. 

The couch is super heavy and tough to move around, so I will have to wait for boyfriendly assistance to find the final furniture arrangement. And once that happens, art can be hung and then this place will feel a little more put together. But for now, I’m just satisfied that I feel much less creeped out as I sit here with my back up against the wall. 

And as for you, little coffee table — so old that Ikea doesn’t make you anymore — the time has come for a face lift.

I took a pile of these:

And after a couple of hours I had this:

It was way easier than I thought it would be. I started by making a small mark with the point of a tack on the inside corner of one of the planks, and measure out toward the other corners. I first marked .5” intervals with a pencil, but then switched to 1” intervals because the effect would be the same but with less work. Yep. Design by laziness! I was able to do all of it by hand, just by pushing the tacks in with my thumb or palm to start it and then using the flat side of a hammer to push them all the way in. I was originally going to do all four sides, but I kind of like the way it is now. 

Side table next to the couch, you’re next!

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A Very Hungover Christmas Card

So, on December 23rd, 2012, I went to my BFF’s house in Michigan for the night. It began with her getting so excited to see me that she spilled red wine on her parent’s couch and managed to simultaneously splash it on the ceiling. More friends joined us, and long story short, I overindulged. 

Fast forward to the next morning, when I experienced the worst hangover of my life. Luckily, this family is my second family, so I was able to feel the hangover without any accompanying shame. I was physically unable to get out of bed until the evening, and while I languished in a twin-sized bed feeling miserable, the family went out in search of french fries to ease my misery. Which was one of the nicest gestures you can offer to someone in such rough condition!

The fries helped, but I still felt pretty awful. And then it began to snow - which made for a lovely Christmas Eve, but considering I was still woozy and nauseous, it made driving 30 minutes back to my mom’s house much less appealing. I sat at their dinner table and barely managed a few bites, while a glass of chardonnay was positioned in front of me with promises that it would help me feel better. (Needless to say, I did not partake.)

So I stayed Christmas Eve at their house, and the story of my epic Christmas hangover is a new holiday favorite of theirs. Here is the Christmas Card I made for them this year:

Complete with an empty bottle of whiskey and some McDonald’s french fries. Thankfully this past Christmas Eve was nothing like 2012, but the memory of that day lives on. 

Filed under handmade cards hungover french fries old crow sad kitty hard lessons whiskey hurts

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Teacher says every time you use hot sauce, an angel gets its wings.

Settle in, kiddies, for a classic holiday tale. It’s about one brave little girl who needed to find a home her boyfriend’s enormous hot sauce collection. 

On a cool autumn day, the little girl stopped in a quaint-looking shop. All the vintage tables were laid by the shopfront with care, in the hopes that some bored home design dork soon would be there. After combing through piles of dusty old stuff, she found this little tray  and thought, “It’s just big enough!” 

It was twenty whole bucks, which was kind of a lot. And I’m sick of rhyming so on with the story. It was in really good condition and I loved the color so much (hello, perfect match for Bert and Ernie!) that I went for it. And before I left I spotted a canister with some old arrows in it. I decided to grab two, so I could put them in an old Ikea vase I had lying around. 

The arrows were $6 each. Which I found to be outrageous, because they were a hot mess. The feather ends were all scraggly and they did not have their sharp points anymore, rendering them completely useless in the event of a home invasion or zombie apocalypse. This was the least raggedy of the bunch:

The following is a dramatic recreation of the conversation that transpired at the register:

Me: (working up the courage to haggle)…. I will give you 30 bucks for two arrows and the tray. 

Register lady: Those arrows are are six each, right?

Me: That’s what the sign says.

Register lady: (in a really mean voice) Well. That’s the price and we don’t negotiate here.

Me: Oh really?! Well you are selling other people’s trash so you probably should just take what I’m offering.

Okay, I didn’t say that last part. But she was so rude about it! I wanted to give some of her sour grinchy attitude right back to her. Come on, lady. You are basically working in a permanent flea market, and everyone knows bargaining is the whole point of a flea market. And seriously, I’m not even good at haggling. My starting offer was only two dollars off the listed price total. She could have at least taken pity on my sad haggling skills.

So I bought one arrow just to show her that my offer was also non-negotiable! Ha. 

So that’s how the hot sauces found a home. Aww. 

P.S. - The animated movie of this story will be produced by Pixar and will be released Christmas, 2017! 

Filed under vintage hot sauce table decor arrows sobadathaggling

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Coffee table project, comin’ atcha!

I went to Lowe’s this weekend to buy a space heater. Who would have guessed that the finished attic of a building built in 1900 would be a chilly and drafty place to sleep?! Naturally, I got immediately distracted and purchased this pile of loveliness in addition to the space heater: 

9 packs of furniture nails (25 in each pack), which I plan to use to make my very old and very used coffee table (and side table, if I have enough) look a little nicer. I’m going to aim for something like this:

(via minimal-ism.com)

Stay tuned! There’s a lot of math to do between now and my next post… since I have to measure and space the nails evenly. I hereby promise to try to not have a math-related meltdown. Wish me luck!

Filed under notamathmajor diy downtobrasstacks heregoesnothing

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Meet Bert and Ernie!

As promised more finds from the warehouse sale! 

After finding my lovely table, I knew I had to find some cool chairs to go with it.  I saw these two funky guys sitting with the many chairs they had and thought they were too cool to leave behind:


I think they were $25 each, which was a good price because they are both really sturdy and in pretty good condition. Plus, the sale was run by a non-profit that supports the African People’s Education and Defense Fund, so I didn’t want to haggle on prices that seemed pretty fair to begin with. 

And now their individual shots, to be used on their trading cards:


Meet Bert. His color is maple-y, and his seat and backrest are a nice tangerine color. Bert had a few layers on grime due to being in a warehouse for who knows how long, and he has a little rip to the front corner of his seat. He is otherwise in good condition and is very happy now at his forever home. 


Meet Ernest (or as we call him, Ernie). Ernie is a very sassy fellow with a tomato-red seat and little gold shoes on his little chair feet. His seat cleaned up very nicely and he looks great under my newly installed picture ledge, sitting with his new best chair friend, Bert.


The resemblance is uncanny:


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Crazy blue orb lamp, what will I do with you?

We went to a comedy show last week and while we walked home we found this crazy piece of weirdness on the street:

What? I know. It’s totally kooky. Bright blue orb base with carved wooden pieces that look like butter knives extending up and out. It was obviously too cool and weird to leave on the street. 

There is a tiny little bit of fraying on the cord, so I’m going to wait until I figure out if that is safe before I actually use it. But I quickly tried it with a bulb and it definitely does work. 

Not sure where I will put this, or what kind of lampshade could possibly work with it, but I am totally loving the weirdness of this thing! 

Filed under vintage lamp found garbage picking

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Finally! An actual table!

Though I enjoy spending all of my waking moments on my couch, hunching over a plate of food in my lap so I can watch The Walking Dead while I eat has grown tiresome. Time for a table! 

When I was conducting high-level Google image searches using complicated search terms like “dining table,” I found these two tables that I was definitely drawn to:



I gravitated toward a simple look, tapered legs, and a rectangular shape with rounded angles. To me, these two are kinda-sorta retro looking, but more like a nod to retro instead of a full-fledged retro imitation. 

On Saturday I found myself wandering though a pretty rough-looking neighborhood in North Philly. I went there because a local used furniture store was having a warehouse sale, and even though the intersection of it’s location was unfamiliar, they promised cheap furniture! I had to make it happen. We got off the bus and walked to find the sale. Just as I started to feel that I was truly in the middle of nowhere and must have gone to the wrong place, I turned a corner and saw a fenced lot with some furniture sitting in it and an accompanying nondescript squat building.

So, they weren’t kidding when they named it a  ”warehouse”  sale. That part was definitely accurate. Non-smartphone blurry pic:


It was simply a large, dimly lit warehouse with piles and piles of used furniture. It smelled musty like an old basement, but there was plenty to look at. They had probably 30 wood table tops of all shapes and sizes leaning against each other, with their respective legs disassembled and held on a rack elsewhere.

I took this pic while I was literally sandwiched in a stack of tabletops:


After making Max and various employees move about 8 huge table tops, one emerged that reminded me of my inspiration pics and I knew it was the one. It cost $50, and they couldn’t find the leaf for it (which we only found out when it was delivered without it).


It is in pretty rough shape. And judging by the coat of scum that I am still trying to fully remove (clearly visible in the picture above), it was probably in that table pile for a long time. There are a handful of scratches and dings, especially on the corners.


In the pic above you can see how the veneer is lifting up at the corner, too.


I really like the carved border detail on the legs, but it’s not carved on the top, just a black border on the veneer. 


This is definitely not her best angle, since this edge is a bit of a hot mess. But I do love this table, and it fills up our space nicely. And it might be fun to figure out how to spruce it up a little. 

And I’m glad I found it at the warehouse sale instead of having to scour craigslist to find something affordable that I like. And anyways, when I use craigslist and happen to find something interesting, I send out emails but then inevitably assume everyone on craigslist is a scam artist and give up altogether, only to start the process over again in a few weeks. So the warehouse sale was much simpler. 

We picked up some other cool pieces at the warehouse sale, so more on those later! 

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Watercolor for children (and adults like me with no painting skills)

A couple years ago at an office holiday lunch, there was a gift exchange and everyone got things like cheap bottles of wine and marshmallow guns (!!!), but I got a small notebook of watercolor paper, which I had absolutely no use for. I eventually bought a set of Crayola watercolor paints about a year ago and played around with them once or twice to see how the paint worked (since I hadn’t used it since I was a kid), but I decided last week it was time to actually try to paint something.  

A very good friend had a wedding shower this past weekend, and I wanted to make a card for her (in addition to the sweet raptor card for her bachelorette party). I was inspired by the invitation to the shower, which had some subtle watercolor flowers and illustrations on it. So I googled “watercolor flowers” and looked for something that I could try to reproduce. 

I found this project, which also happens to be designed for children and therefore seemed like a good option for me, a total beginner:

I also found this picture, and I loved the ink-on-watercolor look:

This seemed easy enough for me, since the colors are just vague approximations of flowers, with petals and other details drawn on. 

So I channeled myself as a 7-year-old in art class and went to work:

I knew I was going to wrap the present in leftover wood grain pattered paper left over from the bar cart makeover and that I was going to make some tissue paper flowers out of some old pink tissue paper I had (to add to the traditional ribbon bouquet that is always made at wedding showers!) so I chose to paint with colors that would go with that scheme. 

So I painted color blobs using pink, red, yellow, and orange of varying intensity, and then added some green and yellow-green leaves and stem.:

IAnd then it was time to doodle some petals, flower middles, and leaf/stem definition using a black pen. 

Looking at the picture now, I like the little orange one on the lower left of the picture above, but alas, it was only my tester flower before I drew on the actual page. I cut the page from the journal and glued it to some white card stock, and then cut the card to size. The whole project probably took an hour.

And the finished product, perched upon a real plant:

It also looked a little better from further away, but the camera died after these pictures and I couldn’t find the battery charger. But in general, I like the way it turned out and I am happy to know I can at least handle a watercolor project meant for children!

Bonus blurry photo taken on my low-quality non-smart phone of the fully wrapped present with the tissue paper flowers: 

Filed under handmade cards watercolor child skills crayola flowers gift wrap