27 November, 2012


I may not be the kind who holds onto things for their sentimental value, but I am cheap. I'm not going to shell out for something I already have, especially if all my current one needs is a little facelift. So when I pulled my 6 year old angel tree-topper out of the Christmas box this weekend, and her wings fell off, I figured I'd spruce her up a little, and fit her into my Christmas tree color scheme before I glued her wings back on.

I learned a few things in this process; first of all, sewing a Victorian style gown in size DOLL is a lot harder than I anticipated. Also, real (or at least soft/moveable) hair is far easier to work with than painted hair. (I would have preferred a higher neckline, but her hair prevented that.) And last but not least, when you leave feathers laying about, your cat will feign sweetness in order to sit in your lap and try to eat the feathers.

Anyway, let me show you a few before and afters of her (minus her wings, I'm trying to add some different colored feathers to them but am not too sure of how to proceed with that...) Also, I'm not too sure why she had a wand. As far as I know, angels don't typically have wands. So she's not getting it back.

I painted her face, darkened her hair, and brought her forward a few centuries, fashion-wise.

And for comparison purposes, a side-by-side.

I think she looks great. :) I love being able to take something I paid less than $10 for and make it uniquely mine.

(You like how I got completely distracted and haven't even touched the new/old table and chairs?)



and also:

25 November, 2012


Well it's been a busy, fun, and exciting holiday weekend, and it's not looking like things are going to slow down anytime soon! My in-laws brought me the table and chairs I wanted (!!!) along with another chair (and ottoman) I completely forgot about asking for. They're both in great condition, but have been sitting in a warehouse for...a few years at least, and have more than their share of dust and mud wasp houses on them. I hope to have at least the table done by Christmas; cleaned, stripped, stained, and sealed. The chair I absolutely love (the style/size are perfect), but since I'm supposed to get a couch in a few weeks, I'm going to wait so that I can pick a similar fabric to re-upholster it with.  

Here's all the chairs in our carport immediately after they unloaded them from the truck:

And you can see part of the table (the leaf is upside down on top of it) in the background of this picture of me after I smashed my phone with a hammer.

It's really gorgeous, I'll take better pictures soon, it's got a lot of detail in it, and it's the perfect size, but for the moment I'm just enjoying spending time with Josh and my mother-in-law. (The men went home Friday.)

Today (which for me, is still Saturday) we went to restore (I KNOW.) where I got three sweaters for re-purposing, and one for wearing. (I have to say, though, I actually have plans to make gifts for everyone this year, and so all these sweater are going to be made into matching accessory sets for various loved ones.) We also went to Michael's, where I got a few more Christmas things (ugghh 50% off), and out to see the Christmas lights at Garvan Gardens. I came home inspired and put up some lights around our front window (on the inside.)

Well, I'm pretty tired from all the adventuring we did today (probably should have worn better shoes for walking at the Gardens, but oh well) so I'm going to leave a few pictures of the lights here and get to bed. I hope everyone has had a great holiday!

21 November, 2012


Since I'm sitting here at the computer and putting off cleaning and organizing anyway, I figure I might as well talk a bit about Thanksgiving; won't have time tomorrow, I'm going to have to be in OMGGETSTUFFDONENOW mode all day if I expect the house to be ready for company by Thursday morning!

First of all, let me give you a bit of a (personal) history lesson...

Growing up we (my parents, older brother, and I) lived in South Texas, while most of my extended family (on my dads side, anyway) lived in the general Houston area. We'd made the trip up there approximately once every two or three months. I can remember a few times that we made it for Thanksgiving, but it just wasn't a top priority. My dad worked the kind of job that can't exactly shut down for a holiday, no matter how spectacular; he was a prison guard. And he was never the kind to try and get holidays off. I remember how irritated he'd get at other people, right around the time the holiday schedule would come out; he'd call them names and say how ignorant and childish it was to be fighting over something like that. And so, over the years, it was just accepted that we celebrated life itself, when we could, and where we could. We made the trip for weddings, quinceaƱeras, and funerals, but holidays typically took a backseat to the stuff that really mattered.

As a result, I am not the kind to go crazy over holidays. I like Halloween because it's the time of year that I can find my favorite kinds of macabre decor a lot easier than usual, and I like Christmas because...well, it's Christmas! It is the only holiday that we really had any traditions for. Midnight mass was my favorite growing up! But, I digress, this is supposed to be about Thanksgiving, and I've already gone off on like 17 tangents.

Anyway, what I am trying to get at is that since it wasn't all that big of a deal, there wasn't any kind of 'everyone gather in the kitchen while mom cooks' kind of tradition, and as a result, my having to facilitate Thanksgiving kind of snuck up on me.

Our first year in Austin, my friend Sarah came up. I don't remember all the details, but I'm assuming that having company helped to remind me that preparations were necessary. A turkey was purchased, along with lingonberry AND cranberry sauce, potatoes, a can of green beans, and a pie from Marie Callendars. We drank sparkling grape juice that we workers got for free at Ikea when an entire pallet of them arrived with the labels half-scratched off. The next morning we woke up to find that Jefferson Marlowe, our Maine Coon at the time, had helped himself to the remainder of the turkey. Somehow that cat had pulled the whole tray off the stove onto the floor and hadn't spilled a drop!

The next year we went to Joshs aunts house, where he got wasted and took a bunch of pictures with Kenny Chesney.

Since then our Thanksgivings have taken place in various places between Texas and Arkansas, but they're always packed with adventure. I'm still working on getting the hang of having to bake more than usual, and hosting, in general, but it's gotten considerably better over the past 6 years.

And in conclusion, the point is that I am really bad at getting to the point. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, whether it's spent surrounded by family eating a huge meal, or with just your significant other eating frozen turkey dinners off of TV trays. Remember to make the most of every day, don't wait for a holiday to come around just to cook good food and spend time with loved ones and be thankful for what you have...and last but not least don't act too crazy if you go out on black Friday. The end.

18 November, 2012

Storage solution; branch edition

After seeing how Ivania incorporated a branch as a sort of closet extension, I was enthralled. I knew that I wanted to do something similar, but I didn't necessarily need more clothing storage; I wanted mine to hold accessories. So last week I went into the woods and found a branch that had a few smaller branches that seemed like good options for making this work. Luckily I have a giant dog who actually proved quite useful in helping me drag it out of the woods and into our yard.

I broke off a couple of good pieces, spray painted them (along with a good solid chunk of my yard) silver, and left them overnight. Repeated this for a few days (I had to do one side each day because of how cold it was; then I had to go back and touch-up.)

Finally, yesterday evening I brought the larger one inside...and then drilled a few too many holes in it trying to figure out how to get it to do what I wanted. First I tried hanging it, but it's weight is kind of oddly distributed and it kept flipping around. I needed it to not move, at all, so I finally found a few really long screws and just attached it directly to the wall. I drilled holes through the branch in the two places that made contact with the wall, and then, with Joshs help, finally got it up! I have never been more pleased. I just think it looks so cool. :)

How awesome does my Marc Jacobs collection look just hanging out here?! Ugh, I amaze myself some days. :P

This was so easy to do, absolutely free (well, besides the spray paint), and I seriously cannot get over how awesome it looks!

Oh, also, one of my favorite tumblrs featured some of my photos for American Guide week! I feel insanely honored. Today is a Really Good Day. I'm going to go make some hot chocolate and celebrate!



and also:

and entering:

Self: realization, appreciation.

I spent so many years of my life trying to repress pieces of myself, depriving myself of things I wanted, or wanted to do, in order to try and seem 'normal' or fit in better. Not always, really, because my family, God bless them, is full of weirdos and crazies, and it's part of what makes them so spectacular, but when we were apart and I was with other people, I wanted to fit in. To seem cool.

And even though I grew out of it years ago, I think, at times, there are still little things I do without even noticing. Like it became almost second nature to me, to adopt these habits and make them my own because it's what the normal people did.

It irks me when I notice them. I get mad at myself, because knowing what I know now, how little all those things really matter in the grand scheme of life, I'd take them back if I could. I'd be my weird, crazy self, every single day of every single year. I'd wear what I wanted, and cut my hair strange, and dance like an idiot in public...more than I already did. I mean, I couldn't hide my true self all the time. I can think of some really awesome moments in time that probably would have embarrassed normal people, that are treasured memories to me. Like the time I dressed as an old lady and sat in a wheelchair in a Fredericks of Hollywood.  Or the fact that I took my 6th grade school picture with bells in my hair.

There were also things I had no control over, that may have bothered others, but did not faze my family one bit. Like when our house flooded? We lived in a hotel for a week, then came home, pulled up the carpet, and lived with concrete floors. We also put everything (literally, y'all; EVERYTHING) into huge plastic bins, and the next time it flooded, we were fine. (Well, minus the fact that turning on a light or fan would lead to being shocked. That was an adventure in itself, though.)

I can't say that I was ever embarrassed, though. I think it was more of a feeling that I should be. I can remember one incident in particular; I was in second grade, and we had just moved from Edinburg to Eagle Lake. I had started school not knowing anyone, and not ever having attended a public school. A cousin of mine was in the same class, but I still didn't really know him, only that we were related. Anyway, one day in the first week of classes, we had music class. Our teacher played some music and we were instructed to dance. Now, I had been taking ballet classes from the time I was 2½, so I danced. Almost immediately I noticed that everyone else was just standing in place and kind of...shaking. After almost kicking the kid next to me in the head, and realizing that even the teacher was staring, it occurred to me that no one was actually expected to dance. I think that was one of the first times there was a full on realization that I was different.

Now that I look back at it, I know that it wasn't just the dancing that made me different; it was how self-aware I was, even at seven. I know I've talked before about how it can be hard for me to differentiate between the knowledge I possessed at the time of particular incidents, and the knowledge I have now, but that memory is quite clear. I remember feeling like I should be embarrassed, but I wasn't. I was sad for everyone else, because I thought to myself, "they've never had ballet lessons!" I didn't dance like that again, not because I cared what anyone thought but because I was worried about crashing into someone else, since they didn't seem to move.

And it is that sentiment that followed me for years; I'd do something, act a certain way, or say something, and then realize that I was getting funny looks. And so, I learned what kind of actions are normal, and acceptable, and what kind will lead to people thinking you're weird. What's strange to me, though, is that it was public schools that were harder to fit into. You would think that private schools are full of snobby kids, but honestly, that's where I thrived. It was second grade, fifth grade, and junior high that really threw me for a loop. By high school, though, I'd found my niche (theater), and the kids who accepted you as you were.

I am really glad, though, that I can appreciate all the random adventures that I had growing up. Like the time the 'Poop Lady' was trying to open our screen door, yelling for matches, and my mom and I had to hide behind the (open) front door until she left. Or the time my aunt almost got bit by a rattlesnake because my dad brought a live one home (in a bag) and she didn't believe him. Getting attacked by a baby cougar...in my own living room; that's one of my favorites, actually, strange though it may seem. The time I had a friend sleeping over, and we ate cereal in the dark, and when I went back to the kitchen I realized that the cereal was full of ants. (They still don't know, to this day.) Falling through a chair while I was chasing a chicken crocodile and pretending to be Steve Irwin. 

So this is me. Strange. Bi-polar. Addicted to expensive sunglasses, but won't pay full price for clothes. I'm bad at geography, but I love Egyptology, paleontology, forensic psychology, and nutrition. I'm messy but I like structure and for things to be even. Apparently, my pronunciation of 'Charlotte' is weird. I can't click my heels but I insist on trying anytime I jump off a curb. I like love classical music. I don't cuss. I'm about 85% sure I have Misophonia, which I believe makes my social anxiety and going out in public that much worse. I have been known to collect random animal bones I find in the woods. (Or you know, anywhere.) I cry for no reason sometimes. I cry for every reason other times. My brother is my hero; always has been, always will be. I'm scared of crickets and vacuum cleaners, but will pick up any spider without a second thought. I have what I call an audiographic memory; in that it is eidetic as far as sounds are concerned. I love animals, but also enjoy wearing real fur. I used to be tall for my age; that stopped around 4th grade. I wore a vintage, non-prom-like dress to prom. I talk to my pets, and treat them like my kids. I don't want kids. Not any, not ever. I don't like settling. Some days I want to buy a house, but it's mostly because I want to paint, and decorate. I really prefer the freedom of being able to move wherever, whenever I want. When I like a song, really like a song, I can listen to it over and over and over and over without getting tired of it.

Here are documentations of some of the aforementioned ventures, along with a couple of other treasures...enjoy!

And proof that it runs in the family...

The End. Have a great Sunday!

17 November, 2012

Midnight Confessions

There is a pile of rose petals under the kitchen table that have been there for approximately a month. I have yet to vacuum them up because there is a piece of tissue paper directly in front of them that I can't risk vacuuming. Clearly I could just pick up the tissue paper, and the problem would be half solved, but...I just haven't.

On top of my kitchen table (which, by the way, is actually a folding table...but a fairly nice one) is our humidor, the bag that holds all the pet treats, and Orion's travel backpack. Under the table are two coolers and three empty cardboard boxes.

It's been close to two months since the trash can lid has actually been on the trash can.

The living room fan is pretty extremely dusty.

We finally, a year and a month (to the day) after moving here, went and got our Arkansas drivers licenses. We did not get the car registered, though, because my dad is the co-signer and the title says 'AND' instead of 'OR' which means he has to sign stuff. Luckily he'll be here in three weeks. I feel slightly less bad about it not being done now.

We typically eat meals off our TV trays, even if we're not watching TV...because of the table situation. Also, because we're low on chairs.

Sometimes I like living like this. We have a lot of open space because we don't have much furniture, and since it's just us two we don't really ever miss it. I'm not too sure about Josh, but I grew up with a brother who worked evenings, and a dad who worked nights, so my mom and I usually ate alone or everyone ate at a different time. No one ever made a big deal about eating together, or family meals or anything. It's not that we weren't close or didn't spend time together, it just didn't center around meals when we did. And now that Josh and I are on vastly different sleep schedules (his due to work, mine due to insomnia) it's even less reason to try and get the table back up to table standards.

Despite the fact that I got through part one of The Plan (for putting away my fabric) my craft room floor is still not visible. I really do need to get on it, though, since the in-laws will be here this week for Thanksgiving.

I hate that I get overwhelmed so easily. I hate it. I would love to hold down a full time job, and have a clean, organized house. I wish I could go shopping and browse through things normally, without panicking and losing my focus if too many people get near me. I would love to wake up and face every single day knowing that I was going to get stuff done, without having to worry that I might have an anxiety attack at any given point, and shut down for anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

No matter what I do to keep it clear, my counter constantly piles up with useless, non-counter related stuff. And it's typically my stuff, so I can't even blame anyone else.

I have, however, gotten better at making sure I go outside, play with the dog, and run around and get some fresh air every day. Even while I was sick I would at least go walk the perimeter of the yard and get the mail.

I really need to do something about my hair. It's terribly uneven, and bulky because the short part underneath is kind of puffy, and sometimes it sticks out through the longer strands. (Although it's not that obvious here, but you can at least see how uneven it is. Also, please excuse the post mini-anxiety attack face and smeared eyeliner.) I think I need to make Josh take pictures of the back and write a whole post on what I did to it.

I'm really bad about 'liking' and commenting on people's stuff on facebook. And then I feel bad when they like stuff I post because I'll remember that they posted something neat four days ago, but I forgot to 'like' it then, and if I go back and do it now it'll look like I'm only liking it to compensate for them liking my thing. Or whatever. I don't know if that even made sense. But if anyone from facebook is reading this, and thinking to themselves 'that Amanda, she's such a horrible person who expects everyone to like her stuff but she never likes my stuff' - I'm sorry. I just...it's just like everything else in my life. I have good intentions, but I get distracted, or, for whatever reason, just don't do things when I should.

That kind of does make me a horrible person, though, huh?

Some days I want to just delete my facebook and twitter profiles entirely, but I did that once and it did not end well. The repercussions are still being felt. On one hand I feel like it's stupid, so stupid that something that...trivial as a facebook page could really cause so much drama, but on the other hand maybe things would have just been simpler if I had just...not done it. It was hard enough adding people again once (I actually deleted my page and made a new one, rather than just reactivating the one I had) and I don't want to go through all that again.

I feel constantly as though nothing I do is ever good enough. The sensible part of me knows that that is my depression talking, but the sensible part of me is quieter and less aggressive than the non-sensible, self-punishing, depressed part of me. Unfortunate, because on those rare days when my head is clear and my heart is free, I really feel like I could do something spectacular.

Lately my depression has been affecting my eating...as in I'm never hungry. I know it's bad, but I haven't tried to do anything about it. When I get into these weird, transitional funk periods, the last thing I'm worried about is food. I'm just trying to keep it under control as best I can, not stress myself out, and hopefully get through having company without having an anxiety attack in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner.

I am often conflicted, in many areas of my life. I have lots of ideas, and I want lots of things, but at the same time I want different things...does that make any sense? Take, for example, the living room situation. Some days I want a nice couch, and a matching ottoman, and more bookshelves, and a new, bigger DVD shelf. Other days I don't want anything but my ratty old wing-back chair back, just as ratty as the day I threw it away. Some days I want a mansion, a castle preferably, rooms for days, and other days I want a simple house with just a fireplace and enough room for us and a few guests. It even goes for my style; sometimes I want to dress up really nice, wear designer clothes, and make-up, and go out in style, and other times I just want to throw on some 90s grunge.

We have way too many magazine subscriptions. Josh gets Details, Sports Illustrated, Time, and Cigar Aficionado. I get Lucky, Vogue, Whole Living, Better Homes & Gardens, and Guideposts. Plus we get two monthly local magazines. They really add up before you know it, and I rarely have time to read them all before the next one (three) are in the mail. I have a huge magazine archive in my craft room. I...I can't even look at it some days. There are SO. MANY. They partially contribute to the counter-clutter situation.

I really don't miss Austin. I never felt quite...right there. I mean it was a lot of fun, we had some crazy adventures and met a lot of people. I definitely miss the people; my brother, our friends, even the people I worked for. (I was a nanny.) But not Austin itself. I feel much more at home here in Hot Springs. It's just a better fit for my personality.

Well, I don't really know why I felt like confessing all of this to the internet, but it's done, and it's nearing 5 o'clock which means that the murderers are headed home for the night, and I'm tired so I'm going to wake up my dog and make him potty (he's not going to be happy; he's currently barking/running in his sleep, huddled under his comfy blanket) and then head to bed myself.

16 November, 2012

Friday fun

No, my craft room is not organized yet, so I've been spending my time crafting outside. Yesterday we were at Lowe's to pick up some hooks for the Mystery Branch Project (that I'm about 80% done with now!) and I saw a can of frost paint. I got it and tried it out today on an empty liquor bottle. I also managed to find a use for some of the stickers I get constantly in the mail from different organizations asking for money.

Not that I'm against donating money to charity, but my rule is if you're spending money trying to get my money, then I'm not going to donate to you. So I have approximately 50 sheets of name stickers that I never use because I rarely mail things, and when I do I go to the post office and forget the stickers anyway. Sorry, tangent.

Anyway, I used my maple leaf cut-out thing-a-ma-gig and made 12 stickers, then put them on an empty Pyrat bottle, then turned it upside down and frosted it. After it was dry I peeled the stickers off. 1 or 2 of them left some sticker residue but it came off pretty easily with my nail, and no damage to the frost around it. It was incredibly hard to photograph the finished product though, so sorry if you can't really see it that great.

Here's the process:

I don't know whether I want to use it as a vase or shove a candle in there. At the moment it's a vase, but I think it can also be used to hold a candle. Either way, I think it came out pretty good. :)

I also made threw together this cute little arrangement.

Just filled a vase with pine cones, then stuck in a few pine branches. Really, really easy, considering all it took was a walk around the perimeter of my yard.

I'm really excited about the branch thing. Like, really excited. I keep going outside and touching them, but since it's cool outside they're not drying as fast as I want them too. It may be Monday before the entire project is complete, but it's going to be so worth it. (Well for me anyway. You might just think I'm crazy and weird.)

15 November, 2012


Yesterday evening I had a slight relapse of sick, just enough to make me delirious enough to think that it was necessary to pull out and inventory all of my fabric. Less than 5 minutes later Josh heard me moaning and walked into my craft room and witnessed this state of affairs:

It was nearly enough to send me into an anxiety attack. So I walked out and haven't really gone in there today. BUT I do have a plan. The plan is to go through and start with all the super special fabric that I'm saving for as of yet unplanned projects. Those will go in the bottom of the bin. Then I'll put away stuff that I do have a (sort-of) plan for, or a summer-clothing related plan for. That should fill up one bin, which will subsequently be placed Out of Sight.

Once that's done, I should start to get back some of my sanity, and can then designate what I want to continue to use for projects I've already started, and what I want to use in the immediate future for other fall/winter related crafting projects.

In the meantime, I spent today not thinking about any of that, playing outside with my dog, spray painting a giant tree branch silver for a project that may or may not work out, and driving around in the cold taking pictures. Also, my newest sunglasses arrived, and they are very awesome. (I kind of have an addiction to Marc Jacobs sunglasses. Today's addition brings the grand total to six...for the time being.) I spent a little time reconfiguring my bedroom, too. I have this huge mirror that...really is more trouble than it's worth. At the moment it's sitting on the floor because I don't have a way to hang it (it's seriously huge, and wayy heavy), but if I leave it uncovered the cat will just sit in front of it and scratch at it (I don't know if she's trying to fight the 'other cat' or free her, but it's annoying.) Anyway, I moved the mirror from one side of the room to the other, and am still trying to work out how to make it so I can use it without having to hang it, and without Belle having a way to reach it. So far...I have nothing.

Tomorrow I will most definitely put The Plan into action, and will also work a little more on the branch related project (which I'm really hoping works out!). And by tomorrow I mean later today, for all you people with normal schedules and what not...

13 November, 2012

Christmas things

I kind of went crazy at the Dollar Tree today. I love cheap decorations! It's so easy to just grab one (or four!) of everything because it's only a dollar! I got some giant felt ornaments to go in the craft room and office windows, a pack of sparkly snowflakes, four pieces of silver and iridescent tinsel garland, a Santa hat for Orion, a stocking for Orion, a pack of dark silver glitter ornaments, and a big sparkly Christmas tree shaped ornament. I think that was all.

I also worked on the shirt for my mom some more last night, and made her a coaster. I always give her something tea or coffee related because she likes both, especially trying new kinds. So I figured I'd make her a special coaster mostly because I saw this idea on pinterest (it didn't lead to anything though, so I'm not going to post the inspiration photo because I couldn't source it.)

But, as you can (hopefully!) tell, it's supposed to be a coffee/tea cup! I thought it was super cute, and experimented with a few ways before settling on the one that worked; cutting out my pattern, sewing it right sides together around 3 sides, making sure the 'handle' was in there (totally left it out in one of my three failures), then turning it right side out, and putting a felt piece cut in the same shape inside (to absorb any liquid/make it thicker and more coaster-like). Then I folded in the last side that was left and top-stitched all the way around it. I think it's cute! I think you could also make one using leather and denim, and not have to double up the fabric. I wanted to use the polka dots, though, and it frayed too easily so I couldn't do anything that only used one layer of it.

As for the shirt, it's still not done, but I was extremely pleased with how well the tree came out so I'm going to post a progress picture. I drew the tree onto my heat-bond paper, bonded it to the burlap first, then cut around the edge of it. I think that helped keep the burlap from unraveling while I worked with it. Then I immediately bonded it to the shirt, and did a zig-zag stitch all the way around the edge of the tree. (Very time consuming, but also very worth it.) I think I may do a few pearl ornaments, and leave it at that; I'm kind of loving the rustic look it has right now. 

Pictures! First up, the teacup coaster (this could also work as a ornament for a tea/coffee lover!)

And here's the shirt.

And you can file this one under 'pictures that happen accidentally when you're messing with your camera settings and don't notice your dog walking towards you with an entire tree in his mouth'