Dressing the nursery.

When we purchased our new home two years ago, I had the pleasure of a few solid months of decorating, followed by a long stretch of just enjoying the results (with the occasional update here and there!). It was extraordinarily satisfying and gratifying to make a space that really suited my husband and me.

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Above: IKEA LERBERG shelf in dark grey; Union 4-in-1 Convertible Crib; assorted DiY frames & prints.

 

Now, with baby boy on the way, we’re finishing up one last major room… the nursery. We began choosing colors and major pieces before we knew the sex, wanting to go with a neutral color set that focused more on design and less on gender. We purchased Valspar’s Low-VOC paint in three colors: a pretty delicate grey called Owlet, and accent colors of dark navy Gentlemen’s Grey and a sunshine yellow (this was actually another manufacturer’s, the name of which I can’t recall!). The walls were completed with the Owlet light grey, and the yellow and navy accents show up elsewhere in the room, in addition to similar colors.

Furniture and fixtures, when they can’t be matched exactly, are at least in the color families, with accents of metals like the shelf above. As is our way, we’ve purchased a lot of items from Ikea, including the above mentioned standing shelf and the yellow metal wall shelf and star wall sconce below. We’ve felt really lucky to have access to Ikea for modern-look products at a really reasonable cost, even for baby!

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Above: IKEA BOTKYRKA wall shelf; IKEA SMILA STJÄRNA wall sconce; metal basket on clearance at King Soopers; art print from artist Mike Maydak, purchased at Denver Comic Con.

 

We also love unique and fun art – the rainbow house print from Mike Maydak was a purchase we made several years before we were even planning on having a child, but the whimsy and brilliant colors lent a brightness to the room we really loved.

Of course being a nursery, everything in the room is safely secured to the walls (such as the Lerberg shelf, which includes pre-drilled holes for securing to walls), including loose cords (the original Smila lamps were actually recalled previously due to a strangle risk with the cord). Though this little one won’t be mobile for some time, getting the safety taken care of immediately is reassuring, and was made easy with cord kits also from Ikea.

 

In which I paint stuff.

We have this marvelous open stairwell and entryway in our home.  It’s filled with light most of the day and was the first thing about this model that struck us as “home.”  While we love it, the height and volume of the space begs for some control.

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In the stairwell portion, I had the idea to paint the outer wall surrounding the window with a navy-to-white ombre.  I haven’t quite had the gumption to get that project off the ground, but I wanted something in the meantime to help anchor the space.  I’ve gotten excited about painting recently and decided to do a pair of large-scale paintings to add to the space and sort of test my ombre-paint theory.

Here’s the result!  The left is the navy to white I initially wanted, but feeling I wouldn’t be able to make a quality duplicate of it, I choose to go with a similar piece in yellow and white.  The yellow ties into some yellow highlights in the living room, and the two colors play nicely off each other.

I spent very little on this fun project!  The ‘canvases’ are simply thin MDF sheets that are readily available at your local hardware or home improvement store.  I ‘primed’ them with a little of the leftover house paint and simply used acrylics to smooth on the ombre.  They’re pushed away from the wall and given some additional structure by adding 1×2″ sections of wood to the back in an I shape – this also serves as the hanging mechanism.  I used E8000 glue, but with some foresight I would screw them on through the front then lightly patch any of the screw showing through the front before painting.

Do you make your own wall art?

Millionaire’s Bacon… Delicious times a thousand. I mean, a million!

So when husband and I discovered the phenomenon known as Millionaire’s Bacon, we knew we had to try it.  I mean, it has everyone’s favorite things – sugar, salt, and spice.  It’s the kind of thing you want to eat when you want ALL THE FLAVORS and can ignore the calories.  Or are at least willing to ignore them.

I chose to forgo measuring because who does that anyway and just piled my bacon with brown sugar, freshly cracked black pepper, and red pepper (alas, I did not have cayenne pepper in the house, which was tragic but red pepper was acceptable).  In the oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees and we were treated to a gooey, sweet-and-savory delight for our breakfast-for-dinner.  Laying deliciously next to the eggs and homemade toast, there was very little argument before we decided this was the best breakfast ever.  For dinner.

For Denver diners, if you’re interested in something similar, try the Steubie Snacks at Steuben’s in Uptown.  Made with pork belly instead of bacon, you still get a delightful and sinful treat.

Doggy Dining

I’m excited to share this fun little project I did this weekend.  More modern-style raised doggie feeders are kind of hard to come by, so I decided to make a set of my own!  We have two retired racing greyhounds, and it’s recommended to feed them from elevated dishes to make them more comfortable and possibly reduce bloat, a medical condition that can be quite serious.

All the materials came from Ikea, so I suppose this could also be considered an Ikea hack!  I do apologize for the lack of progress photos – I’d just gotten the rotary cutter and I was so excited about it I forgot to take pictures. XD

I started with one $4 Ekby Tryggve shelf and four (red!) Ekby Stodis brackets for $.50 each.  Since the shelf was more than long enough, I used a circular saw to cut it in half – one half for each diner.  Then I used a newly-purchased Ryobi Cordless Rotary Cutter to cut out circles – just big enough for the bowls to fit and catch on the lip.  I added the brackets to the shelves first – normally I’d put the brackets on the walls and then add the shelf, but this made more sense as they were small and going to be low on the wall.  I anchored each of the screw holes in the wall just in case a dog gets excited and decides to step up on the little ‘shelf’, and then everything was installed!

I like these because they’re easy to clean by just wiping them off, as well as keeping messes off the floor (mostly).  Even if they do make a mess, with the open space beneath it’s easy to just swipe under there with a towel or broom (or to pick up the rug under Zelda’s because she still thinks the wood floors are lava =p).

The shelves are ‘permanent,’ but no more so than a screwdriver and a little spackle will take.  And even though they’re attached to the walls, they have a lower profile than the other raised dishes we had.

Cute, modern, and tidy raised dog dishes for just $3 each?  I’ll take it!

Review: Heroes of Cosplay, Episode 2

Here we are again!  All the drama and angst of a cosplay competition!  And some difficult conversations.  This was hard for a lot of people to watch.  Including me.  But it was neither inaccurate nor misrepresentative of the community.

Early in the show there was a dinner conversation.  Two plus hours of footage edited down to 2 minutes, natch, because this is TV and we only have so long.

Here’s what I saw: a group of cosplayers criticizing the choices of other cosplayers.  At least one cosplayer at the table feeling incredibly awkward abuot the conversation.  Like you do.

Here’s what I think: I think that at some point in all of our cosplay, other hobby, even professional careers, we’ve been responsible for needlessly and unfairly judging someone else.  Myself included.  In the past, I’d been particularly nasty, not always intentionally, but sometimes it was just none of my damn business and I thought it was.

Here’s what I say: Ye who have never secretly in your heart and mind judged another, muttered under your breath how you would have done it better, narrowed your eyes at what (to you) was an unacceptable body form, please… throw the first stone at Yaya and company.  Go ahead.

Oh, none of us fit that bill?  I didn’t figure any of us would.

I’ve heard people SCREAM (figuratively, online) that this show is ruining cosplay.  Know what ruins cosplay?  Telling people they suck.  Spewing pure hate at people willing to put themselves out there.  Being a bully.  Being unwilling to allow people to change, apologize, and come back better.  Judging people who are doing it their way.

Cosplayers are not perfect.  As I’ve grown older, wiser, quieter, perhaps a little wistful, I’ve been able to recognize my prejudices and clean them out.  It honestly didn’t happen until really recently.  It was hard.  Letting go of what I had envisioned as deep-seated, worthy platitudes that all cosplayers should follow.  But I realized… it is none of my damn business what other cosplayers are choosing to do.

It’s like I tell my elementary school kids.  “OMG, Mrs. Warner it’s an emergency!”  “Oh?  Is someone bleeding?”  “…no.”  “Is someone on fire?”  “…..no.”  “Then it’s not really an emergency, is it?”  “No, I guess not.”

I feel like we need to have that kind of come-to-Jesus in cosplay right now.  How you cosplay is how you cosplay, and it’s legit.

Additionally, on the subject of someone else working on a costume… perhaps it’s because I teach, and teachers live by the adage of “beg, borrow, and steal.”  (Obviously we don’t really steal, I mean, that wouldn’t be cool.) Maybe it’s because I’ve been dabbling in more ICG-style costuming for a few years.  Maybe it’s because I’ve worked on HUGE group projects where we all had our specialty – sewing, crafting, prop making – and we shared the fruits of those labors.  Maybe it’s because design in itself is an art, and still deserves to be recognized… even if the design isn’t for you, but for your model.

I think we need to start expanding and clarifying the rules about who can be in what costume and who has to have made it.  Create a place for a cosplayer AND a designer who can work AND compete together.  Victoria and Jinyo both deserved a lot of congratulations for creating the Tron dress (EL wire is like…. AAAAHHHHHH).  Again, it’s about the whole sum of the parts – planning, crafting, presentation, and discussion.  Having someone help you – willingly, of course – should be totally okay in competitions.  Just make a space for that person so he or she can share the credit.  Teams make powerful, incredible costumes and simply cannot happen with one person alone.  Let’s honor that.

Final note… I love Chloe so much.  She’s my new favorite person.  I love her bright, open attitude.  I love that she had fun.  I love that she reminded me how fun it is to get up on stage.  Great job, girl!

Review: Heroes of Cosplay, Episode One

(As compiled from several Facebook posts and subsequently edited to make more sense and follow some kind of grammatical logic.  Hurhur.)

I love it. I love the vast variation of skills and experience and perceptions and behaviors. All the feelings, all the experiences, all the perceptions, it was all so VALID. It honestly reminded me of my earlier days in cosplay, when competing was a priority for me.

No, it wasn’t all pretty. Anyone who’s cosplayed for any amount of time KNOWS it’s not always pretty. No, I wouldn’t have made the choices that others would have made, but that’s why it’s so awesome – it’s another perspective! And each one of them is valid. The joy of success. The tragedy of disappointment. Priorities and perspective are totally different for each person.  That’s real.  Some of it was hard to watch because I KNOW THOSE FEELS.

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My first costume, Super Sailormoon from Sailormoon, made in 1998 (Photo from NDK 1999).  I had on two wigs. For realies.

I swear I’ve been every one of the competitors shown over the last 15 years that I have been cosplaying. I felt like I got gypped, I felt like a performer, I felt successful, I felt like I swept, I felt like I had a rockin’ good time and that was all I cared about. All of those things. All of them.

And I’ve been the bitch. And I’ve been the one hurt by the bitch (or bastard, as it were). I’ve been the grown-up princess with the little girl who loved me for who SHE thought I was. I’VE been the little girl meeting a princess I love. I’ve been incomplete, overdrawn, stressed, blissful, grateful, exhilarated. I think HoC portrayed that perfectly, honestly.

And on top of that, there were any numbers of really amazing tips and tricks – costuming at a professional level!  Automotive paint, head moulds, embroidery machines.  So much to learn and try.

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Rosa of Final Fantasy IV (DS) done in 2008 for Dragon*Con.

It was inspiring. I want to go up to my studio and work. I want the back yard to be done so I can convert the garage into a shop. I want to compete again. I want to be on stage. Yaya Han & company, you should be proud. I am.  I am proud to be a part of this beautiful, fun, dysfunctional, nutty and nerdy community.  I love it.  All of it.

Also love DJ Spider’s take, and I can’t agree more.  Read it here!

Watch the show Mondays on SyFy.

Now I present to you… Mr. and Mrs. Nerdy Geek.

I recently saw a post on Apartment Therapy about a couple’s video gamed themed wedding.  I loved all their little details, and it reminded me of all the little geeky details from our wedding.  As part of our first anniversary celebration, I’d love to share them.

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My husband gifted the groomsmen with Star Wars themed cufflinks (and himself, wearing the Rebel Alliance symbol).  Adorably, he gave the Darth Vader set to MY dad.

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For my “something blue” I had a temporary tattoo of the Jedi Order symbol on my upper right thigh, also partly in lieu of the more traditional garter.

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On top of our cake (or rather, our cupcake tower… saved us a lot of time cutting cake slices, tell you what!) were the little Leia and Han peg dolls I hand painted.  I love you.  I know.

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One of the most charming moments of the ceremony was our pastor starting his sermon by saying, “Ah…. nerds in love.”  The entire building erupted into laughter.

Our parents and the wedding party entered to the Final Fantasy Crystal Theme, a consistently beautiful piece of music.

I marched to “Dearly Beloved” from Kingdom Hearts.  This song had been in my heart as my bridal march since the first time I heard it.

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Pre and post wedding ceremony, Nick was sure to constantly be in his Indiana Jones hat.

We and our closest friends appreciated the little details tucked carefully inside our beautifully handcrafted, unique wedding.  Nerdy enough to make us smile, traditional enough for everyone to enjoy!  It was the happiest day of my life, with so many more to come.

Flowers from old patterns!

I don’t know about you guys, but I hoard patterns like they’re going extinct.  I even love to find vintage treasures once in a while.  But I also love the PURGE, cleaning out patterns I don’t need to make room for new.  I could recycle those old patterns in the bin with the rest, but here’s something much more creative and lovely!

Materials and instructions on how to make DIY Paper Flowers

Sewing Patterns, Ruler, Scissors, 24-gauge floral wire, Skewers (optional)

1. Stack 10 sheets of sewing patterns cut to 10″ square
2. Fold 1-inch wide sections of the stack, working into an accordion fold
3. and 4. Pinch, loop, and secure a 12-inch length of wire around the middle of the folded pieces. Round the edges using sharp scissors
5. Carefully unfold the layers of paper, fanning into a round bloom
6. A few gentle scrunches of the bloom will create the round “hydrangea” look that you want
7. If you will be arranging the flowers in a big bouquet using floral foam, wrap the remaining wire around a skewer. You can wrap up to three blooms around one skewers

Ta-da! And there you have it, a bouquet of stunning paper flowers!

Check out the rest of the article and more gorgeous pictures over at Wedding Chicks!

Tada, jewelry!

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A few pieces I finished this morning after them sitting in my “to-do” pile for months.  The green pair were actually just purchased, but one of the earwires was broken.  A few fun new things for school, which starts in a week!

What “to-dos” have you gotten to lately?

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

But what if it is?  Can you fix it?  Is it worth the DiY?

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This rocker was left outside another teacher’s room with a sign saying it was broken.  It looked in good condition, but after sitting in it (not necessarily recommended…  Please don’t risk injury, haha!), I noted that the only flaw was a loose right armrest due to a missing screw.  An extra screw and 30 seconds later, the chair was good as new and sitting in a place of honor in my classroom!  I’d been hoping to have a rocking chair for reading, and now I got it!

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Then there was this little table, sturdy and in good condition, but the top was a mess.  Even after cleaning, it was patchy and stained.  My solution?  Paint that tabletop!  Now it’s a great extra addition for the classroom, useful for students to use as a group learning area (also it fits neatly under one of the other tables, storage win!).

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What DiY projects have really paid off for you?