November 24, 2012

Appa & Momo Costumes

I'm not trying to make a tradition of dressing like Anime characters, I swear. Ivy just happens to love anime, and right now she loves Avatar: The Last Airbender (I'm not gonna lie. I think it's pretty cool too--the cartoon, not the movie). So, I made Appa and Momo costumes for Ivy and Maren.

I've never sewn clothes, so I wasn't sure if I could do it. I certainly didn't do it perfectly, but the costumes worked out well enough, I think.

I used these pictures to make the costumes as accurate as I could. For those who haven't seen the show, Appa is supposed to be a flying bison. Momo is a flying lemur.

We really should have gotten better pictures, but we were too interested in candy.

July 31, 2012

French Chair Upholstery

Like I said, I'm kind of in project mode now. I saw this French Louis (or bergere) chair for sale nearby for only $20, so how could I resist?

Except it looked like this first, with a broken leg and all. It took a bit of work to fix the previous hack repair job, but it seems good and sturdy now.

In progress . . .

I was inspired by Jenny's posts from Little Green Notebook to do a chair like this. Having done several other upholstery jobs, I wondered how one like this was done (the piping, specifically). The trick: strong glue. I used Magna-tac, the same one she recommended, and it worked great.

I used a simple natural linen to make it versatile since I didn't know where it would go yet. I love bright colors and patterns, but I figured my house has a lot of that right now.

This was pretty quick, too. I got the chair Monday night and finished by Saturday. That may not sound fast, but when all you've got is nap time to work, it's not so bad.

The only problem is that I don't really know where to put it. I intended to use it at a desk, but it's a little bigger than I expected so it's not ideal. I was debating selling it. I only put $40 into it, so I could make a good profit, but I'd like to keep it. What would you do?

July 29, 2012

Hollywood Regency Buffet Transformation

It seems I'm back in home project mode again. I go in and out of being interested in it, but when I am, I'm itching for furniture makeovers and changes around me.

Here's a buffet/hutch/dresser/credenza/whatever-you-call-it that I painted recently:

I found it on KSL Classifieds and was able to buy it and have it delivered for only $125. It's an old, very heavy, solid hardwood piece from Japan. I don't know how old it actually is, but it has that definite old Hollywood Regency vibe about it, which I loved.

The greek key pulls pretty much sold me on it, though. When I told the girl I was buying it from that I loved them, she seemed a little surprised. I could tell she wasn't crazy about it. Nor was Jared, by the way. When he saw it, he looked at me pitiably and said, "I'm sorry, but I hate it. What did you see in this?"

Well, let me tell you. For practical reasons, we really needed a place to put away the toys that inevitably end up in our living room. For looks, I loved the shape of it: the turned in legs, the shape on the doors, the hardware. But I wasn't in love with the color. It could have been pretty for someone else's house, but the wood didn't fit into mine.

First, I painted it black. (At this point, Jared said he actually liked it a lot and that I should leave it, but I wanted to go through with my vision.)

I took off the hardware and scrubbed it (hard) with Barkeeper's Friend to get off all the grime and shiny brass finish. It ended up being more of a brushed light brass, which I liked much better.

I taped it off, but let me tell you, painter's tape does NOT stick to oil-based paint very well. Does everyone know that? Well, I didn't. I used Rustoleum's oil-based high gloss paint, which is supposed to be more durable than latex. Anyway, that led to a lot of touch-ups with a very small paint brush, which was kind of a pain.

But after all the work (and after the oil paint smell finally faded), I'm happy with it!

P.S. I created a Pinterest board for ideas before I painted this. I was debating between mint green or black/white, but Jared vetoed the green, which is probably a good thing.

April 20, 2012

Recife, Brazil

Jared served his LDS mission in the beautiful city of Recife, Brazil about 12 years ago. He was lucky enough to go back a few years later to visit. 

2004 Vacation

I love the atmosphere and energy of this one.

The beautiful Nany Felipe and her cute son

Recife LDS temple

Jared in Porto de Galinhas (Chicken Port)

Jared's Mission

My favorite (the picture and the guy)

A Beatles hat and a monkey . . . what more could a guy want?

Looks like an Instagram filter, but it's just good old-fashioned film.

Look how skinny he was! A little malnourished, perhaps?

I want to go. Doesn't it look like fun?

April 19, 2012

The Quack Who Traumatized Me

When I was about thirteen, my mom went through a health-obsessed phase. Like many well-meaning but naive people, she began venturing into the questionable world of alternative medicine. Now, before you go and get offended on me, let me say that I don't think all alternative medical practitioners are quacks . . . just a whole lot of them. She dragged me along to see a few of these bizarre quacks. Let me share one experience with you.

Image Source

Quack #1: I can read your eyes.

When a neighbor raved about how an iridologist cured almost all her ailments, my trusting mother decided to try it for herself. Since I was always saying I felt sick (mostly as an attempt to avoid the misery of eighth grade), she thought I should go too. So, I was reluctantly dragged along.

We walked into the side door of a house. An older woman with bloody hands greeted us, saying, "I'll be with you in a minute! I just delivered a baby!" Now, she may have had decent midwifery skills; I can't vouch for that. But I'm pretty sure her iridology (eye-reading) skills weren't quite up to par.

When she came back, she led us into a small room and asked my mom what was wrong with me.
"Well," my mom told her, "she's always tired, she says she's sick a lot, she's often angry. . ." I sat there glaring at my mom as she spoke.

"Alrighty then! Let's have a look at those eyes of yours." The gray-haired woman pulled her chair right up in front of me, pulled out a little flashlight, and stared intensely into my eyes. I remember thinking that I had never seen such clear blue eyes; I wondered if she really did have some eye magic.

"Oh wow. Oh my goodness. You are not healthy at all!" She sat there shaking her head and clucking over my poor health. "Look at those flecks of green in her eyes. This is one sick girl."
My mom looked worried. I suddenly felt very afraid.
"You've got a stupid ovary. You might be infertile." She stated these points very matter-of-factly, as if it wouldn't affect me at all. "You have bad kidneys. Your digestive tract doesn't function properly . . ." On and on she went. I can't possibly remember all the ailments I had. My eyes began to fill with tears. How could she keep reading them if I was crying? I don't know. But she kept pretending to.

". . . Your biological age is 52. AND, you have depression."
My mom was horrified at my condition. She then asked the question that all quacks want to hear: "What can we do to make her better?"
"Today's your lucky day! I've got every herb she needs. Come this way!" She sounded so upbeat. My poor mom was sold. And so were a few hundred dollars worth of herbal crap remedies.

I walked out of the room into a waiting area where a large woman sat on a couch. She saw me crying my eyes out and ordered me to come sit by her. Since my will to live was pretty much gone at this point, I did as I was told.

When I sat down, she put both her index fingers up to my temples and started trembling. "Oh honey! You have so much negative energy inside you. It's actually making my fingers shake!" Her fingers were indeed shaking. For several minutes, she shook and trembled with her fingers shoved into my temples. Finally, the trembling slowed and eventually stopped.
"There," she said sweetly, "I drew it out of you." She pulled me in for a big pillowy big hug as the iridologist looked on in approval.

I was still crying when we got home. My dad and sister were in the kitchen.
"What's the matter?" my dad asked.
"I'm half dead!" I shouted furiously. My mom tried to explain it to my dad, but he (rightly) thought it sounded ridiculous, especially the part about the "stupid ovary."
"Great," my dad said optimistically, "that means you're half alive!" Then my dad and sister laughed. I was dying and they laughed.
Another burst of tears and a slammed door later, I was beginning to think that maybe I would be okay. It took a while to get over the damage the eye lady caused, but time heals all wounds. Or maybe herbs do. I can't remember which.

I love this Seinfeld clip about the "holistic healer" because it's eerily true to life and completely hilarious.


I'm curious. Have any of you experienced quacks like this?

One more thing: Donna from My Write Spot was one of the winners of a blog header designed by me. It's on her blog now if you want to see it. She's a writer and is doing a unique theme of 10 sentence flash fiction posts for the A to Z challenge.

April 12, 2012

Interview with a Kilt Lover

When I see a man in a kilt, I can't possibly keep back my curiosity. I have a great love for originality and fearlessness in character. So naturally, when I found myself sitting next to Ari in church, I had to ask him if I could interview him for my blog. He very graciously accepted.

Q: Why do you wear a kilt?

There are a lot of reasons that I wear a kilt, actually. I like to be different and stand out from a crowd. I like to wear the kilt to honor my Celtic heritage. I grew up going to family reunions and hearing about my Scottish ancestors, so I developed a lot of love and respect for them from a young age. I also love to wear kilts because they are simply more comfortable than pants!

Q: When did you start?

I got my first kilt a little more than three years ago. I would have purchased one sooner if I had found a way to.

Q: Where do you wear it?

There isn't a place that I won't wear a kilt. I have different kilts to replace pants in every situation from formal attire to back packing, and from a professional look to pajamas. I wear my kilt to work.

Q: How often do people you meet ask you about it?

I get asked about my kilt on a daily basis. It is a great conversation starter, and it is a fun way to meet new people.

Q: How do people treat you compared to before you started wearing it?

I get mostly positive responses. It is sort of like being a small time celebrity. Everyone looks and a lot of people ask about it. Before I started wearing a kilt I blended in to the crowd and usually didn't get noticed. Now everyone notices.

Often I meet people with Scottish heritage who own kilts that they wear only on special occasions like weddings or to highland games. This gives us an instant kinship and many of them have said that I inspire them to wear their kilt more often.

Q: Have you ever been treated rudely because of your unique attire?

Really only once that I can think of has any one said a negative comment about it to me.

Q: Have you ever felt embarrassed wearing it?

No actually. When I first decided to wear a kilt, I had to make the decision to "own it." I knew that if I was going to wear a kilt as everyday clothing I would have to wear it with pride. So I do.

Q: How many kilts do you own?

I have 8 kilts right now and I am always working on getting the next one. I have different styles of kilts. Most of them are the traditional kilts that you would think of, but I also have a Utilikilt which is a modernized kilt made here in the US that is made in a solid color and has pockets etc. I also have a feilidh mor or great kilt, which is a style of kilt that was worn in the 1600's and 1700's and is essentially 4.5 yards of double width tartan fabric that is hand pleated and belted on each time it is worn.

Q: What other Scottish accessories do you wear?

I wear kilt hose, a sporran (the pouch worn over the front apron of the kilt), flashes (garters to keep my kilt hose up), a sgian dubh (small knife traditionally worn in the top of the right sock), a Balmoral tam (Scottish hat).

Q: Can you play the bagpipes? Any other instruments?

I have started learning but I don't know much yet. I love bagpipe music though, I think its in my blood. I play bass guitar, and guitar.

Q: What Scottish clans are your ancestors from?

I have ancestors from many different Scottish clans. The two that I have the closest ties to, are Clan Gunn and Clan MacTaggart. On my Dad's side I am a Robinson, and Robinsons are a sept or family from Clan Gunn. My mother's maiden name is Taggart and the Taggarts came from clan MacTaggart.

Q: How is your name pronounced and what does it mean?

My name, Aryeh, is pronounced like you are reading the names of the letters R, E, A. It is a Hebrew name that means Lion. [He goes by Ari.]

Q: Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

Q: How do you feel about the typical conformity of Utah culture?

I feel that every one should be free to choose whether to conform to the crowd or stand out from it. Do whichever makes you feel happy. Accept everyone for who they are.

It does make me a little sad when I read in the newspaper about high school students who are banned from wearing kilts from their proms, etc. I see this a few times each year across the country. It happened a couple of years ago here in Utah, from what I recall the school eventually apologized and let the student wear his kilt in the end. I think that kilts should be acceptable as everyday clothing for men in this country, and I am thankful that I haven't run into anyone who has judged me negatively for it yet.

Q: Your wife seems to be proud of your originality. How did she respond to your kilt when you met her?

Kaelin and I are both creative people and we are a little eccentric. We met in an art class and my kilt helped her to see my originality right off the bat. It was a great ice breaker.

Q: Has Kaelin ever been embarrassed by your kilt wearing habits?

Not yet.

Q: What do your parents think?

My parents tolerate it pretty well. They love and support me, and have gotten used to me being a little eccentric but I think they still hold out hope that I will "grow out of it."

Q: What do your in-laws think?

My in-laws have been great about accepting me for who I am and how I express myself.

Q: What do your kids think?

My kids think I am a little crazy at times but all in all they are supportive of my kilt habits.

Q: What advice do you have for others on being brave and secure with yourself?

You have to be proud of who you are. Don't stress too much about what others might think of you. Wearing a kilt every day constantly reminds me of my choice to be proud of who I am and where I come from. I have learned that as long as I am proud of wearing my kilt and I project that mentality, people around me will accept me, kilt and all.

Q: If you could be a character in a book or movie, who would you choose?

That's a tough one, but my inner nerd would have to pick Charles Bartowski from the TV series Chuck.

Don't you want to be his friend?

What I admire most about Ari's attitude is that he seems to expect the best from people. Rather than believing that others will be judgmental of his differences, he is proud and unafraid. In response, people respond positively and kindly to him.

What could you learn from Ari? What would you do differently if you didn't worry about being judged? Share it in the comments!
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