As is often the case with my crafting adventures, I blame Martha. In general, I'm not a jewellery person. I have a weird contact allergy that causes me to break out in a horrible rash when most metals touch my skin and the older I get, the worse it gets. I wear a few basics - small gold earrings on a french hooks (bridesmaid gifts from my sister's wedding), my own vintage wedding band, and on fancy occasions, I sometimes rock a brooch. That's it.
But then, in March, I saw this DIY pearl necklace project
in Martha Stewart Living...
I went into a pearl-coveting trance and a few hours later I'd spent $50 on freshwater pearls and other jewellery supplies. Because I'm crazy like that.
I still haven't attempted the Martha necklace, because I'm a little unsure about the pearls I bought. They're a little big. Also, the silk cord I found is white rather than grey and I'm not certain it will look right. I might dye it. Nonetheless, in the meantime, I've been trying my hand at some other simple pearl jewellery projects. Mostly earrings. Here's what I've made:
These earrings couldn't be more simple. You just thread the pearl beads onto straight pins, then make a loop at the top of the pins, then hook that loop to the pre-made loop on the bottom of the french hook earwires. Done.
Truthfully, though, I'm not sure about these earrings. They're a little juvenile, right? Maybe single pearls look better than stacks? I dunno. I can't wear these anyway since the wires are stainless and/or silver plated. They were just for practice. Anyone want 'em? Should I try the necklace project? Gimmie feedback, you craft-lovers you.
Hey guys. Have any of you seen The Listings List
? It's basically a Tumblr blog filled with curated picks from Toronto's Craiglist and Kijiji offerings.
I've been following it for a few weeks and here's what I think: There are pros and cons. Sure, the curation is good. The items featured on The Listings List are basically the coolest, most designer-friendly things available on Craigslist/Kijiji (in the area) and following the TLL is therefore fun and could be a serious time saver. No more slogging through mountains of crap to find the best stuff, right?
Isn't slogging through mountains of crap kind of what online garage sale-ing is all about? I mean, if someone else does the work for you, is the hunt compromised? Is the find as satisfying? Isn't it better to earn a deal rather than having one handed to you?
I'm not sure.
Besides that, TLL might not be as practical as it seems. Great items worth curating have a tendency to go fast, and once something has been featured on the site, it goes even faster. I've already experienced seeing more than one great thing on TLL, only to find it already sold.
Anyway. Here are some of my favourite finds, found on TLL just today. At the time of this posting, I think they're all still available.
Anyway, what do you think? Do you love The Listing List or would you rather do the hunting all by yourself?
In honour of spring (and because I purchased a package of Marshmallow Peeps for the first time in my life) I made a cake. Sadly, much like this spring itself (so far, anyway), it did not turn out as hoped.
Whatever, right? The cake TASTED great. It was a moist chocolate and the icing was a classic butter cream. The Peep, as it turns out, was disgusting, so we threw him and his family away.
Ah well. So I'm not much of a baker. Or cake decorator or whatever. I mean well, I swear.
The Door Store
keeps popping up in my life lately. A few weeks ago, some friends bought a pair of doors there and fashioned them into a headboard. (See a photo of their project at the end of this post.) Then, someone emailed me asking about knocker hardware for their front door and I sent them a link to my own front door update
(which included a Door Store knocker). Finally, just today, while flipping through the Latest issue of Style at Home I saw a little thing about fun, animal-shaped hooks (for hanging coats and whatnot) and a few of the options were Door Store picks at excellent prices. Anyway, I think the universe is trying to tell me to write something about The Door Store, so here I am, writing something.I've got to plug the aforementioned coat hooks. They're adorable, and I believe they're only about $10 a piece.
Cute, no? And these prices are much better than the ones at Anthro. (And besides, screw Anthro. They are so annoying.)
As for actual doors, the shop's selection is huge and worth checking out in person, but here are a few of my personal favourites I plucked from the currently-available mech photos on the website.
Front and back of the same door. LOVE that green.
More colourful vintage choices. More love.
A couple of international choices, from Paris and Egypt respectively, I think.
Finally, check out the headboard I mentioned in the first paragraph - the one my friends Josh and Megan made with two doors they snagged at The Door Store. (They paid $375 for the pair.) I think these were outhouse doors once upon a time, but I'm loving their second life.
I really wish I had an inch of space or that I needed a replacement door... ANY real excuse to buy some stuff, frankly. I'd be off to The Door Store immediately. Alas, I must live vicariously. If any of you have some DS finds you want to share, I'd love to hear about 'em in the comments.
Alright you guys, I'm back. Back with a new craft project, just in time for easter.
It did not turn out well. (In other words, I think you'll like it!)
So, if you read the blog you know that I'm not big into religious holidays. But if, like me, you like crafting, then I'm sure you've noticed that a lot of the projects and ideas out there revolve around such holidays. Maybe because it's just too hard to justify this sort of thing without some spiritual stamp of approval. (Like if I said, "Hey you guys! I made this insane craft! It took a million hours and was a pain the ass! But isn't it cute? ISN'T IT CUTE?" you'd probably think I was weird, right? AND YOU WOULD BE RIGHT. A lot of crafting is pointless and strange and results in things that have no real purpose. But somehow, if you do a craft because it's a holiday, then God approves and everyone gets it. Right? Anyway. I digress.)
I made a craft. For easter. Dyed eggs. No big deal. Kind of a classic. Martha approved. Before today, I hadn't dyed an egg since about third grade, but what could possibly go wrong?
Sigh. Anyway, I used this project for inspiration: Marbled Eggs. Looked easy. Food colouring and oil. That's it. I was sure I could do it.
Things started to go wrong right off the bat. First off, I only had brown eggs. (So what? I thought. The colours might not look the same, but I don't mind brown. It'll be fine. It was NOT fine, but more on that later.)
Knowing my eggs would be beautiful and worth keeping for generations to come, I decided to blow them out rather than boil them. No big. All you need to do to blow out an egg is to make a little hole on either end, poke something inside said hole to break up the membrane/yolk, then blow through one of the holes to expel the egg from inside the shell. Alas, somehow I couldn't manage to make a smooth, round hole. I used an awl, then a nail, then a pin. Not one egg came out perfectly. I don't know if brown eggs have tougher shells or what, but it didn't work well and the results were annoying.
Gaze upon the ugly holes I made, friends. GAZE.
But whatever, right? Plenty of egg remained intact and while the holes were less than perfect, I decided to continue. I rinsed and dried the blown out shells and set about mixing my dyes. I followed the food colouring instructions. The water was hot. I didn't forget the vinegar. The mixtures LOOKED good. I figured I'd start with yellow to amplify the brown base, then marble with the blue. And blue and yellow makes green, so if they went a bit greenish that would be fine. Green is pretty. Emerald, dudes. Colour of the year and whatnot.
Didn't work. The yellow dye had no effect on the shells at all. I tried the blue as well, pre-marbling, but it just made the eggs look dirty. CURSES.
Not wanting to waste my efforts, I mixed the dyes together (to form a green) then I added a bunch more dark green food colouring to deepen it. MORE DYE, I thought. This will solve all my problems. I popped the eggs in the new mixture and... they floated. Of course they floated. Hollow, they were. So I devised a really silly weight made of stacked, inverted pot lids to hold the eggs down under the water. It looked like this:
After 20 minutes, the dye was taking, but it didn't look great. I decided to move on to the marbling stage anyway. You put olive oil in a different batch of dye and mix the eggs in that. IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE EASY.
Again, it didn't really work. Well, no, that's not fair. It sorta worked, but the green on brown was 'effing ugly and I hated it, but I didn't want to abandon the project, so this is where things got messy. I took the eggs out of the oily water and just started dripping straight, undiluted dye all over them. I made a mess.
Red dye dripped on green egg. Actually, they don't look too bad at this stage. They got worse.
In addition to the mess that now covers my kitchen, my fingers ended up dyed too.
Look at those fingers! AND THIS WAS AFTER 12 WASHINGS. My digits might look this way forever, you guys. I just don't know.
But in the end, I guess the eggs aren't HORRIBLE. Are they? Are they sorta ugly/beautiful? Or just ugly? I don't know.
Hey y'allyall. I know I've been remiss. I haven't posted anything new to the Chic or Reviews blogs in AGES. I promise I'm working on a plan to get back into it on a regular basis, but in the meantime, I just had to tell you about a couple of bad ass deals I spotted this very afternoon at Toronto's own Honest Ed's.
First up: A kelly green trench coat. Brand: Ann Taylor. Original price: Around $180. Ed's Price: $12.99. Sizes: XS to XL and some variety of petites as well. It's looks kinda, but not exactly like this:
I seriously love this coat. I have no idea why the original Ann Taylor merchant had a problem with it. The whole lot I saw seemed fine. The buttons are a lovely tortoise colour, but could possibly use some reinforcement stiching (but I've had that problem even with garments from The Bay). The fabric - heavy and cottony, not unlike a light denim - seems to be in great shape and the green colouring is vibrant. This is one chic coat, my friends. AND IT'S ONLY $12.99.
Also, I nabbed a little pair of classic yellow rain boots. They look just like Tretorn Skerry Boots, which were designed for sailing (so chi chi). Tretorn Boots cost about $70. These look-a-likes? Ed's Price: $9.99. Ed's is carrying women's sizes 6 to 9 only. Here's how they look:
The boots are lined with a thin layer of cozy flannel or felt, so they're pretty comfy. I am not sure how they ended up at Ed's but I will say that I notice they have one irregularity: with this style of boot, at the top back, you usually see a little tab meant to help pull the boot on and off. At Ed's these tabs have all been cut off. This doesn't affect functionality or style, but it's worth noting.* SEE UPDATE BELOW!
There are lots of other fun finds at Honest Ed's right now. I had forgotten how much I loved the place. When I lived in the Annex, it was a go-to shopping haunt.
Now, I warn you, there's lots of junk to sift through if you want to find gems like these, but it's fun and so worth it. And if you don't believe me, I invite you to consider my favourite-ever Honest Ed's find: a vintage-style one-piece bathing suit. Classic black and white stripes. It looked like this and I got it back in 2008:
How much did I pay? $2.99. Two dollars and ninety-nine cents, people. Chic and cheap. My favourite.
Anyway, guys. If those yellow rain boots or that kelly green trench appeal, I advise you to hop on down to Honest Ed's before they're gone.
As for blogging on the Chic page, like I said, I'm going to try to get back into it soon. Hang tight.
* UPDATE: Just 3 weeks into wearing the yellow boots, the rubber was torn in multiple places. They now suck up water better than they keep it out. So that's ten bucks down the drain. The green coat however, is awesome. I hand-stitched a little button reinforcement and the thing is wearing great.
In my last post about holiday decorating, I mentioned that I'm not so into the religiosity of the holiday season. Nonetheless, I have a teeny weenie nativity scene up in my apartment at the moment.
I've never put one up before, but my parents downsized from a house to a condo awhile back and I inherited what was left of the nativity scene my mother used to put out when I was a little girl. I think she got it from her mother-in-law, my grandmother, in the late 70s or early 80s. The pieces were made in Italy, from papier-mâché, and over the years, most have broken. This is probably for the best. (I was never all that comfortable with the set. It featured a snow-white Mary, Joseph and Baby Jebus, three "arab" styled worshipful wise men, and a variety of location-inappropriate livestock.)
Only five pieces remain: Mary, Joe and baby, plus one three-legged sheep and a grumpy looking horned cow, whose horns have seen better days.
So why did I set these aged pieces out? I don't know. I considered tossing them, or donating them to Goodwill, but somehow, when the time came, I felt strangely attached. I like their vintage flavour, the careful paint job on the papier-mâché, the retro colouring, the delicate nature of each handmade piece. I even like the grubby old bits of browned cotton they came wrapped in. They're wonderfully retro, if little else.
I figure, I'll put the last remaining pieces out for nostalgia's sake, and most likely, seeing as how I'm a big klutz, they'll break one by one, until I have no nativity at all. And then my natural instincts will take over and the Kalman-Selk home will be nativity-less forevermore.
So, 'tis the season and all of that. I've been trying to decorate my apartment for Christmas, since those who worship Martha do that sort of thing and we're already five days into the month. (20 days to go, santa-lovers!)
Anyway, there are several issues to contend with at my house when it comes to holiday decorating:
1. Neither Nate nor I feels all that comfortable with religiously-themed holiday decor. (In other words, I'm into Santa, not so much the Baby Jesus. Sorry, mom.)
2. I'm cheap! I hate spending too much money on seasonal stuff and prefer things I can use year after year. But even then, I don't really want to spend/invest too much.
3. I am bored easily and like to mix things up a bit, but (as per #2) I don't want to have to spend money on new decor every year.
4. Space is an issue. We don't have a lot of free surfaces, spaces or walls.
Enter Dollarama! My not-so-secret shame. It feels like their xmas stuff gets better every year and when you go with little pieces, you can place them and style them in different ways if you get bored. Here's some of the stuff I snagged last week:
The clear plastic trees and the clear plastic reindeer are my favourite pieces so far. The trees LOOK cheap on the store shelf, but clustered in a bunch at home, they're surprisingly elegant. The reindeer are plastic, but look like high end glass or lucite. They work as ornaments, or as table top figurines. I bought eight - you know, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, etc. No Rudolph. I'm a purist.
I'm playing around now with placement. Where should these babies live? On the buffet? The coffee table? Should I surround them with fake snow? It's all up in the air.
Another thing I'm doing that falls under the category of "super cheap" is building a little holiday village of white buildings. This is an ongoing mini DIY project. Basically, every time I see one of those little hideous collectable houses for sale at Goodwill or the like, I snap it up. I never pay more than a buck or so per house. Then, I paint the houses with white primer. I've collected several over the last year, and have more still that I need to paint, but haven't gotten around to. Maybe one of these nights while I watch TV...
Anyway, folks. Those are the cheapo holiday things going on at my house at the moment. Got any cheapo ideas of your own?
Okay, friends. So remember earlier today
when I declared that I was determined to make a last-minute DIY advent calendar? Well... I did it. It's done. The results aren't exactly amazing, but it worked.
Basically (my super cheap, super last minute) DIY advent calendar is made of 25 little wedding favour ring bags made of some sort of shiny poly muslin, with ribbon drawstring closures that I got at Dollarama. (Each packet contains 6 bags. You can probably find them in the party section, near the cards, napkins, plastic plates, etc.) To made the calendar, cinch the bags, tack them to a cork board, and number each one with a little slip or square of paper. I stamped the numbers on mine, but you could just as easily hand-letter them. The bags are decorated with little bits and bobs from around my house and yard - sprigs of evergreen, buttons, little scrolls of kraft paper, etc. I just improvised with what I had around. Like I said, the project was super cheap, and ultimately, very simple, though I will warn the perfectionists out there that you'll likely find it irritating and finicky if you want the bags to line up perfectly (I didn't, so it was no big deal).
I wanted to get this post up quickly, so I took these photos before actually filling the bags with treats or favours. Nate and I don't have kids yet, so we might put in notes to each other, or just a series of little candy treats. I haven't decided yet.
Considering that as of this morning, November 30th, I had no ideas, no plan, and no advent calendar, I'm calling today a success. What do you think? Good project?
Guys... I don't know if you are aware of this, but tomorrow is December 1st. TOMORROW.
And gosh darn it... I want an advent calendar. I don't know why. I've never really had one before and I've certainly never made one, but this year, I just wanna. BUT DECEMBER STARTS TOMORROW so I'm in a bit of a rush. I woke up this morning determined to come up with something good. I even started a project. See? I made these little clay disks stamped with numbers.
And then it occurred to me that this was a dumb idea. The disks are going to take 24 hours to dry. I DON'T HAVE 24 HOURS! So forget the disks. I am going to come up with something else. Something good. Something before the end of the day. Are you with me, folks? Say you are. Will post the results of this silly last minute idea later.
P.S. I've already made the number disks, so what should I do with them?! I don't want to waste my crafty effort. Shameful hint: I used my wedding band to cut them out. It was sharp and the right size. That's not weird, right?