Random note category

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Hotel Monaco entrance

In case you haven’t noticed, my day job has been eating up my blogging time for the last year and a half. So, I thought I’d share a little of my day job with you. Recently, I took a business trip to Salt Lake City, and I stayed in a lovely hotel, Hotel Monaco. Always on the lookout for great DIY and decorating ideas, I snapped a few pictures of the trendy decor with my mobile phone.

This white leather cocoon loveseat was one of my favorite pieces—and it makes a statement right inside the front door of the hotel.

Hotel Monaco fireplace

This reminds me of decorating walls with empty picture frames and and ceiling medallions, but on a grander scale. Notice that the starburst mirrors are actually all one piece. And I’m always a sucker for decorative moldings and big white fireplaces.

More photos after the jump. Read more »

To DIY, or not to DIY, that is the question.

One of the comments I often see on blog posts describing particularly difficult or time-consuming DIY projects is something to the effect of “Why?”

For example, recently Raine @ Bucilla asked in regard to my mini side table, “This is a cool idea, and very ingenious, but wouldn’t be easier and simpler to just buy a mini side table right from the start ? :)”

That’s a good question, Raine. I’m glad you asked. (BTW, thanks for the compliment.) Read more »

Crafts for sale

The reason I haven’t been blogging lately is because I’m up to my elbows in moving boxes. I’m moving in less than two weeks. And you know what a move means? You got it. Time to purge stuff.

I’m selling a bunch of old Crafty Nest projects at my Etsy shop. With the exception of the poster, everything is one of a kind, so now’s the time to snag it. I’ve priced them low because I’m hoping they sell before I move so I don’t have to take them with me.

I only offered shipping to the U.S. and Canada because shipping elsewhere was outrageously expensive. If you live in another country, and you have to have something in my shop, convo me, and I’ll quote you the shipping cost.

As always, thank you for your support. Your purchases will help me buy supplies to make more Crafty Nest crafts.

I’m moving from the Peninsula to the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area. Basically, I’m relocating from one college town to another (Stanford to Berkeley). Why I’m moving: 1) Much shorter commute to my day job—which means more time for crafting. 2) Bigger apartment—and bigger craft room. I’m so excited. See you on the other side!

Paper lantern making

Fabric flower brooches

Duct tape wallets, cases, and purses

I’m excited to share the news that I’m teaching my first craft workshops next spring at Sharon Art Studio in San Francisco! I’ll be teaching three classes in February/March: 1) Paper Lantern Making, 2) Duct Tape Wallets, Cases, and Bags, and 3) Fabric Flower Brooches. Click here for more information on the workshops. So, if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and you want to learn these crafts, please sign up early. You can register for the classes here. By the way, craft classes make great Christmas gifts. I look forward to meeting some of you in person and making crafts together!

UPDATE 2/3: Unfortunately, these classes were canceled for health reasons. Not to worry, though. I will post my instructions to make the tissue paper lanterns (bottom three lanterns in the photo) and some of my duct tape crafts here on Crafty Nest.
See below for the rest of the tutorials:
Paper star lanterns (or you can buy gorgeous ones here)
Duct tape wallet
Wired ribbon flower pin (the pink one in the photo)
Felt dahlia corsage
(the red one in the photo)
Melted fabric flowers
(the white one in the photo)

What is your Scoop?

Effects by Stacey

Cañada College Multimedia Art

Sorry for my long absence! I’ve been busy building websites. First, I built the Scoop website at WhatIsYourScoop.com. It’s a T-shirt business I helped start with two friends. Tell me: What is your Scoop? Comment here or go to the contact page to suggest a Scoop.

Second, I created a website for my hairdresser, Stacey, at EffectsByStacey.com. (Be sure to roll your mouse over the scissors, picture frame, and phone!) Originally I built Stacey’s site entirely in Flash with Frank Sinatra crooning “Too Marvelous For Words” in the background. Loved it. But practicality and the iPhone necessitated the final HTML/Flash version.

And third, I’m nearly finished with Cañada College’s Multimedia Art website. (Soon to be live at canadacollege.edu/multimedia.) It’s the biggest website I’ve tackled so far. Psst…that photo that I shot of the campus is actually three pictures put together.

Thanks for letting me share my news. Oh, and if you haven’t seen my portfolio site yet, check it out here. New craft coming later this next week!

This post is a departure from the usual, but please bear with me.
Dedicated to Mack Lundstrom, who taught me to write from the heart.

Victoria magazines

I feel like I’m saying goodbye to an era.

In a recent attempt at simplicity, I’ve been cleaning out extraneous belongings that have cluttered up my apartment—and thus my life. But one collection I vowed to eliminate has proven hard to part with: my 13-year accumulation of Victoria magazines.

The Brown House

The brown and beige house (that's me dressed as a Native American for Halloween)

My grandmother first introduced me to Victoria when I was a teenager in the early 90s. She kept recent issues in a basket on the floor next to her chair. Every Sunday when my family visited her, I’d curl up at her feet and pour through those pages over and over again. I never got bored of them—or my grandmother’s stories. We bonded over our mutual affection for that magazine. And Victoria opened up a whole new world to me, albeit a world that was decidedly un-cool for a girl my age.

Victoria brought the promise of beauty, luxury, and grace into my otherwise drab existence. To my mother’s dismay, the home in which I grew up was decorated in a distinctly masculine aesthetic: wall-to-wall solid oak with numerous mounted deer heads and antlers. The only two colors found in that house were brown and beige. Even the outside was painted beige and brown! I shared a small bedroom with my two sisters, sleeping in oak platform beds that stacked on top of each other during the day and rolled out at night. Love was there, but beauty—at least my kind of beauty—was nowhere to be found. Then Victoria showed me a wealth of romantic fashions, white furniture (hallelujah!), bright linens, and lush gardens. I was hooked.

Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L'Engle, best known for her book A Wrinkle in Time

For better or worse, Victoria informed my taste for the next 13 years. I grew to admire Nancy Lindemeyer (founding editor of Victoria), her vision, and words of wisdom. One of Victoria‘s Writers in Residence, Madeleine L’Engle, became a favorite author. I savored each photo taken by Victoria‘s most prolific photographer, Toshi Otsuki. (I even tried to hire Mr. Otsuki when I worked for Real Simple magazine, but he had retired because his eyesight was failing.) Victoria magazine was one reason I chose to major in magazine journalism in college. In fact, I secretly hoped to work for Victoria someday.

“We do not observe the world around us without in some way changing it, and being changed ourselves.”
-Madeleine L’Engle

Nancy Lindemeyer

Nancy Lindemeyer, founder and editor in chief of Victoria from March 1987 to October 2000

Victoria wasn’t just about a style. It was a way of life. A way of life epitomized by Jane Austen’s world, in which her protagonists enjoyed afternoon tea, rambling walks in sprawling gardens, picnic-lunch excursions, beautifully handwritten letters, and an overall refinement that’s generally lacking today. It’s a way of life, I’m sorry to say, I may never achieve.

I gradually outgrew my infatuation with Victoria‘s pretty but cluttered world. (My Real Simple tenure was probably to blame.) Still, when Victoria folded in 2003, I was heartbroken because my dream of being a part of its staff was over. Four years later, I received a postcard in the mail announcing Victoria‘s relaunch. Nostalgic for the memories we shared together, I subscribed immediately. When the new issue arrived, nothing in it held my fancy. Maybe it was the absence of Nancy Lindemeyer’s touch. Or the dearth of Toshi Otsuki’s photographs. But in truth, nothing was exactly wrong with it. Victoria seemed the same. I had changed.

“When I began Victoria magazine, I always said that it was for the women who loved their grandmothers as I did. And who would never forget the legacy of womanhood they gave them. It was much more than appreciation of a gracious time. It was a sense of what was beautiful in life—of what to hold on to that expresses the best we have to give.”
-Nancy Lindemeyer

It was time for me to let Victoria go. Before boxing up the magazines to sell on eBay, I felt impelled to take one last look—at every page of every issue. It took me weeks. When I got down to the last few issues, I didn’t want it to end. Leafing through them, I recalled the power they once had to transport me and stir a longing for that life. Though I hadn’t opened most of the magazines for at least a decade, I vividly remembered how certain photos had enthralled me. But my fond memories of Victoria are just that: memories. And one cannot live in memories.


My grandmother

Perhaps not coincidentally, this journey down memory lane started just before I heard my grandmother was sick with terminal cancer. Though I still loved her and held no grudges, we hadn’t spoken in years. I visited her in the hospital recently. I wouldn’t say fences were mended during those visits, but with Victoria memories fresh in my mind, I at least kept the bad from blotting out the good memories we once shared. The person I knew and loved during those precious Victoria years is how I will choose to remember my grandmother.

So, with a heavy heart and tears on my cheeks, I pack up Victoria and prepare to say goodbye to my beloved grandmother. With their passing from my life, an era comes to an end. One I will not forget.

This is the first of a three-part series. Please come back in the following weeks for a Victoria-themed wish list and a Victoria-themed craft.

Wine cork sealant test

For the record, I’m against sealing my wine cork bath mat. I mean, corks are exposed to the moisture of wine for decades and seem to hold up fine, right? But several readers insisted cork needed to be sealed, so I did some research on sealing cork. It seems the best option is probably a sealant that’s made for protecting the cork footbeds of sandals such as Birkenstocks. I bought a 2oz. jar of Sure Foot’s Cork Renew for $5 at my local shoe repair shop. Other brands include Birkenstock Cork Life, Kelly’s Cork Renew, or U-40 Cork Seal, which is designed to prolong the life of cork fishing rod handles.

Today I started applying the sealant one row at a time. I didn’t like the glossy, tacky feel of the sealant, so I was hesitant to keep going. My compromise: I painted the cork sealant on only half the bath mat, and I’ll compare the results in a few weeks. After letting it dry for a day, I’ll start the test on Monday and keep you posted with the results.

Wine cork bath mat sealant test results

UPDATE 4/2010: It’s four weeks later, and the unsealed side of the bath mat looks and feels like new. The sealed side started out quite sticky. Gradually, the tacky feel went away—only because everything stuck to that side. It acted like a giant lint roller. The sealed side isn’t sticky anymore, but it’s darker than the unsealed side (the difference is more noticeable in person). Btw: This photo was taken after I vacuumed as much of the stuck debris away as I could. I rotated the bath mat halfway through the trial to be fair to both sides.

UPDATE 8/2010: Still going strong. One cork popped off the corner. Hot glued it back on. Good as new.

UPDATE 9/2011: I recently tossed out the bathmat because the sealed side got too gross (with lint and debris sticking to it) and because the corks started popping off more frequently. No sign of mold. It lasted 18 months. Not bad. I plan to make another (unsealed) cork bath mat with better glue soon.

CONCLUSION: Unless you are in the habit of creating a swamp of your bathroom floor every time you shower (and you know who you are), unsealed wine cork bath mats can be expected to hold up as well as most store-bought bath mats. Because common sense isn’t as common as one might hope, I’ve put together a mini tutorial for keeping your bathroom floor dry, and thus lengthening the life of your bath mat. Read more »

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