When I was a wee thing, there weren’t a lot of strong women on TV for me to look up to. Sure, Sabrina was pretty cool on Charlie’s Angels, but she still had to answer to some faceless dude who always seem to be sitting next to his phone a la Commissioner Gordon.
But there was Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman. She was smart. She was strong. She was a career woman with super powers. She had mad skills in crime fighting, and she had dark hair – like mine – in a sea of sun-bleached blonds.
I loved Wonder Woman. I had a pair of Wonder Woman Underoos that I wore under my regular clothes for YEARS. I wore those suckers until they were full of runs like a pair of stockings, until they could no longer contain my growing body.
While the physical Wonder Woman tank and panties I wore is nothing more than polyester pieces long buried in a landfill, I don’t think I ever really took it off. I think the strength and bad assery that is Wonder Woman kind-of sunk beneath my skin through those years of wearing that secret superhero uniform underneath my everyday duds.
Next week, I’m attending a blog conference where I will be surrounded by 4000 Wonder Women. It’s my first BlogHer conference, and being a newbie can be pretty intimidating. I know I’ll be inspired by all of these amazing women, and when I feel my anxiety beginning to try to take hold, I’ll remember my own special powers, emblazoned on my soul like a soaring, golden eagle – and a pair of starry underwear.
It's amazing how a quick update can totally class up a hallway (or two). It all started with an oops purchase at Target a couple of months ago. I picked up a couple of lampshades for a mix and match lamp collection I have in the living room. I thought they'd be perfect, but womp womp, they didn't fit on the lamps the way they were intended.
So, I put them back in their Target bag with the receipt and planned to take them back in the next couple of weeks. Now, our closest store is 45 minutes away, so it's a trip we have to plan for. The plan never arose, and there sat two gorgeous shades upon our living room floor. Then I hit upon an idea -- I thought I might just be able to use them in our hallways and replace two super-awesome (not!) 70s era glass shades.
This could have been the second womp womp of our story. The hole to screw the lampshades on were much too large, but I'm nothing if not crafty. I cut out large circles from the lids of our favorite gelato -- let's hear it for some tasty Talenti! -- cut a hole in the middle for the screw, and voila -- two pretty new fixtures that hung just so from the exis. There's room above the shade as well as it being open at the bottom, so there's no need to fear the bulb will get things too hot. An added bonus is that the hallway is now bright. We can actually see when we walk through it instead of dealing with the dusty, diffused light of our old, glass shades. No more dog toys hiding in the shadows. Hooray!
When Our Little House was built, some corners were cut. As we've improved our spaces, we've corrected a lot of those issues, but there are still minor things that are slightly annoying. One of those minor things -- the poorly cut spaces around our light switches. I've been looking at switch plates for a long time -- basically, as long as we've owned the house.
Recently, I stumbled across some leather switch plates online. I thought they were the perfect solution for our cabin in the woods. They're rustic but still feel a little fancy. The colors are in the palette we've been using. It was one of those synergistic things. What wasn't synergistic? The price. They were listed for $200 a plate, which is way too rich for our blood. So, I decided to make them myself.
I made a trip to our local craft and fabric store and bought a bag of scrap leather for $10. The bag was filled with thick leather in browns and blacks, more than enough for every switch plate in the house. Creating a switch cover was as easy as tracing the existing switch plate, marking the switch opening, and drawing triangles on the top and bottom to create an irregular hexagon. To cut the leather, I used our kitchen shears for the outside and an X-ACTO knife for the inside. For the interior spots, I used a metal ruler and slowly cut on the same line until the leather was cut through.
I found that even though the leather was stiff, when it was screwed onto the switch, it didn't stay flat. I solved the problem by putting the leather over the original switch plate. It actually gives it a bit more depth as well as keeping the leather flat. Maybe the best part -- as we use the switch, the leather will become more and more weathered, looking better and better.
For 10 bucks and some craftiness, I was able to solve an eyesore, create something beautiful, and save hundreds of dollars. How about that for a weekend project?
I love the summer fog of the North Coast but not so much the fog of a fatigued mind. After a year of the occasional three day weekend, my Charles and I finally got a real vacation. While we reveled in the gray chill of the coast of Northern California followed by the windy, sunny beaches of Oregon, our minds began to clear. By the time we stopped by Crater Lake on our journey back home, creativity was beginning to return, and promises of blogs to come began to bob inside my mind.
There's been a lot of work in my life as of late. I even went to the Midwest for a conference and experienced what Milwaukee had to offer. Travel, and the subsequent lack of sleep, require a great deal of recovery for me. Though I was surrounded by fellow high-functioning introverts at the marketing conference, being "on" for ten to twelve hours a day is taxing. And then the work that you come back to... oh the work!
Needless to say, there haven't been any projects tackled lately. There's only been much in the way of rest and the way of reading. I figured now was a perfect time to share what I've been enjoying so you can fill up your e-reader, visit your local bookstore, or the one closest to my heart, your local library. The links provided are Amazon affiliate links. Don't feel like you have to use them, but if you're so inclined, I thank you in advance for helping to support my comic book habit.
I'm on Jane Yolen's New Poem a Day email list and am obsessed! Here's a wonderful collection of her magical poetry.
Loved, loved, loved this beautifully written, complex take on the Snow White story.
Such a fantastic read! Nicola Griffith made seventh-century Britain come alive, and I want more stories of Hild. I can't wait for her next installment.
Ummm... my favorite childhood film, my obsession with the Goblin King, my love of all things magical finally laid out in book form? Yes please!
My favorite author's work illustrated by one of my favorite modern artists. Need I say more? I will. They're beautiful in every way.
Haunting and gorgeous, even if you don't usually go for graphic novels, go for this.
New art (finally). This is "Lichen," a 16X16" acrylic painting on canvas. It's the first in my "Nature in Abstract" series that will be in a show in December. I'll eventually get it scanned and up on my Society6 page, but for now, it's making its debut -- along with "Lonely" -- in our annual Employee Art Show. This baby is bright, with lots of texture, and is actually based on a lichen-covered rock in the White Mountains we encountered during our vacation last year.
After getting the platform nice and level and letting the paint dry, it was time to assemble our shed. We traveled down to The Home Depot in Auburn a few times, looking at the models. We even stopped and chatted with the local Tuff Shed folks. In the end, our choice came down to price and ease of assembly.
We chose the Rubbermaid Big Max. Not only was it affordable, it had good online reviews. Plus, my mom has had a Rubbermaid shed for quite a few years, and it's still holding up nicely. It has a window in the back and two in the door, so it gets light during the day, which is nice. It's not a lot, but you can see in there. Since the shed is 7X7 feet, this project, just like the platform, is a two person job.
The shed came in a large box that wedged perfectly between the wheel wells of our pickup. Each piece was clearly marked, and the instructions were pretty easy to follow. The whole thing went together like a gigantic puzzle. We followed the instructions exactly, but I'd recommend not screwing in the door hinges until everything else is complete. I had to do some hinge adjustment after the fact to get the doors to close, and that could have been avoided if we had saved them for the last step.
The only really difficult part of the whole process was the roof. I had to use every bit of upper body strength I possess to fold that peak down and hold it while Charles fastened it down. All in all, the whole project took around six hours to complete, so it was a good Saturday project.
We're really happy with how everything turned out. We have a ton of room for our tools, the door locks for added security, and the color even coordinates with the house. We still need to secure it to the platform so it won't have a chance of blowing down in a strong storm, but we're almost ready to fill this baby with equipment and turn Charles' office back into... an office. How's that for a few days' work?
We'll choose square -- a perfect square to be exact. I've mentioned probably close to a hundred times (maybe more?) that the only level land on our property is where the house and leach field for the septic system sit. Everything else is sloped, which is great for our view. No McMansion will ever steal our sweeping vista of the hills and Tahoe peaks beyond, but it sure makes for a challenge when it comes to usable space.
And usable space is desperately needed. We don't have a garage, so as our DIY skills -- and the needs of maintaining the house -- have grown, so has our tool collection. Our motley assortment has been living in my Charles' office. I don't think it's been a usable space for well over a year now, and something needed to be done. We finally committed to buying a shed, but where would we put it?
The very end of our driveway has a more level area than most of our property, so we chose there. As you can see, it's not really that level, but it was workable. We began by placing four cement blocks at each corner, measured out to be just wider than our shed. We dug until the land was mostly level, added sand, compacted it (and then a snow storm helped settle them even more), and checked for level with each block. Once they were perfectly adjusted, pressure treated 4X4 posts were added, and cut to the lengths required for the platform to be level. You can ascertain what's straight by using 2X4s. Use your level to see where everything is even, mark that, and get to cutting. As I go through this step-by-step, the word "level" is going to show up quite often. That's what needed for this sort of project, and your tools, squares and levels, will be essential to each part of the build.
Then it was time for our perfect square. At this point, the level no longer left our reach. Pressure treated 2X4s were cut to reach around the 4X4 posts, making a square. As each 2X4 was attached to the post, we made sure it was level. Then came the art of making the base a true square. Measuring on the diagonal, from corner to corner, we adjusted each cement block ever so slightly until the diagonal of one set of corners was exactly the same as the other set of corners. This step took about an hour, as it was adjust, check for level, adjust, check for level, and over and over again until it was perfect.
We decided to build a mini deck as our platform support. We've had a heck of a lot of practice with deck supports the last few years, so why not? Plus, we wanted something that would be as solid as possible. We don't want all of our tools someday rolling down the hill. We added more cement blocks, following the same leveling procedure we used for the four corners, until we ended up with nine supports.
We then cut more pressure treated 2X4s to fit the inside expanse of our square, screwed them in place, and got the hangers ready. I would squeeze each hanger so it fit snugly around each 2X4, holding it in place while Charles fastened it to the frame with deck screws. We repeated this step 11 more times and had ourselves a square mini deck.
The hard parts done, we were on to building the platform, which was a piece of plywood cut to the outside dimensions of the supports. Then everything was primed and painted. We flipped the plywood over so it was primed and painted on both sides for more weather resistance. The next step involves putting a shed on top of this, so weather exposure to the top of the plywood will be minimal, but it's still good to be thorough. That's a lesson we've had to learn the hard way a few times, and we want this shed to last for the long haul.
All in all, the platform build took most of the weekend, with lunch and water breaks and finishing a little early on Sunday in order to watch Game of Thrones. The weather was beautiful, and it was a pleasant way to spend a weekend -- especially when we factored in the excitement of finally attaining our dream of a shed.
I've been jealous of everyone's bar carts for such a long time. They're so stylish! They free up space in the cupboards! They scream, "Party!"
IKEA's new RASKOG kitchen cart was the perfect excuse to finally fulfill my drink cart craving. It's the perfect size for our small space, and it's a nice way to show off our pretty bottles of booze.
We're mostly wine and craft beer people, but occasionally, I enjoy a refreshing gin and tonic. (Hence the row of gin bottles on the left.) Charles is fond of a martini every blue moon. In college, I had quite the reputation as a mixologist, so I still make it a habit of keeping some mixing options on hand. To be perfectly honest, though, that Amaretto you see on the close-up image on the bottom is more for baking than for drinking.
This was a little project I did in between working on another, larger project with my Charles. That exciting (at least for us) project will be shared next week, and probably the week after as well.