VaxGirl -- thanks, too, for sharing the tidbit about the cats in your neighborhood. We just started getting the vet to clip our stray/feral's ears, and I gotta say, I was kinda of horrified when I went to pick up Sophie after her big day at the vet two weeks ago. About a third of her ear was gone, and it looked like a messy cut, but I may have just been traumatize by the sheer quantity of flesh missing. Is this normal in your neck of the woods? We were really upset at first, but Sophie is kind of an average-looking gray tabby (though she has such sweet eyes, like an old, kindred soul), one of several here. Now we know right away if it's her or not on the back porch. Though if we ever catch those other punks, we'll be back at square one!
OMGits: I'm a bit mad at myself -- I didn't save the package. But I did a quick image search online and found it! Woohoo!
It's called EnviroTex Lite Pour On High Gloss Finish. I've never used this stuff before, but given the name ("Lite") I think it's geared toward crafters, maybe not something you'd want to use on your boat for bouyancy, but who knows?? I picked it up at Michaels or AC Moore, for about $10 here in NJ. It's a two part kit -- a bottle of resin and a bottle of hardener. You combine equal parts epoxy with the resin in a separate bowl/cup, stir it vigorously for a few minutes and then pour it over whatever it is you're trying to preserve. I was really impressed -- it takes a few days to thoroughly cure, but I had never used it before, but I can never leave well enough alone, so I poked at it a few times in the immediate hours that I poured it, and it does harden up pretty quickly.
Hope this helps! Chrissy
PS the project they use to demonstrate -- covering a table -- seems particularly challenging to me. While the stuff is pretty thick, it is liquid, and runs. I think it's perfect for something like what I did: pour it IN to something with sides. If you use it to finish a tabletop, it will require a lot of patience, and attention to keep it from dripping off the edge, but I'm sure it's possible. It's a nice, thick, glossy finish. It looked like glass in my tray.
It was a lot more work than I expected, but it was a lot of fun too.
First, I painted the tray (I actually used a shadow box frame; the unfinished trays at my craft store are LAME, weak, pathetic these days), and let it dry. I used my glue gun and "drew" the squiggles all over the sides of the tray, and when it dried, I gave the whole thing another coat of blue paint.
I read recently about crayon batiks -- I forget where. Basically, you scribble all over a piece of paper, with crayon. Dense coverage. And then you crumple the paper up, hard. And then flatten it out, and paint over the whole thing. Sponge up the extra paint, and you've got a really cool looking batik. I've done this a few times with lazy susans and light switch plates, but I wanted something REALLY striking, that didn't look like crayon, so I REALLY scribbled on my paper, and then put it in the oven, just for a minute or so, to give the crayon a more "painterly" look, but I wouldn't do that again, if I could do it over -- when I crumpled my paper, some of the crayon was so thick, it cracked and simply fell off the paper! But I liked it well enough anyway. I used a lot of blues and purples, and for the paint resist, I used silver. I decided to cut the crayon resist batik paper into smallish chunks and slivers and decoupage them at the base of the tray, like a mosaic. I chose, roughly a sunburst kind of a pattern, though it's a little hard to see the design, as well as the colors in the design, with the glare. But in person, you can see the blues, and see the bursty pattern.
I let it dry, and I varnished the whole thing, but focused mostly on the painted/scribble glue part. For the bottom of the tray, I used one of those mix-at-home resin kits, and dumped the resin over my batik-mosaic. Before it dried, I added some glitter and glitter beads...not totally thrilled with the way the small glitter beads settled -- they kinda coagulated, so I probably wouldn't use them again. OR -- I'd add them on a layer of glue and then add more glue, to lock them into place before I added the resin.
If you haven't worked with resin, it's not hard, but kinda stinky, so make sure you're in a well-ventilated area, and set your project out of the way to cure for a few days.
Once the whole thing was cured, I added a couple of cool squiggle handles that I knew would match my friend's kitchen, as well as the squiggles of my glue designs. If you use a real tray, you can probably skip this, but the shadow box-cum-tray was slightly unfinished, and not totally recognizable as a tray until I added the handles.
Karen likes to drink espresso, and serve it to her guests, so I figured this would be a nice way for her to carry the cups out to her living room, or back porch, etc. It was SO hard to give it away! My husband loved it too! I almost forgot to get some pictures, but I'm glad I did. It might be the coolest thing I've made so far (not to toot my own horn...), so I might make one for myself. Anyway, Karen loved it too, so I'm happy!
Hi, it's been a couple of years since I posted, but do poke around here regularly, and just wanted to say thanks so much for the inspiration.
My husband and I bought a fixer-upper in Trenton, NJ, and while we're in a pretty good neighborhood, it is still Trenton, and so, it can be a challenge, at times. One of the most heartbreaking issues we've encountered directly is the problem with the stray cats. It's endless here, absolutely endless. We've been here a few years, and have taken in/adopted out/trapped-sterilized-released a large number of cats, and there are days I wonder why the hell I'm doing it, because it seems to never make a freakin' dent in the problem. And I'm not specificallly cat person by nature or by birth, though I do love animals: the cats came to me, perhaps knowing more about me than I knew myself. Anyway, I'd like to say we currently have 5 cats inside, as pets, but it's a lie, or will soon be one. My sister asked us to watch her cat for awhile, last year, and now, he's lived with us longer than he lived with her. So that's 6. And then -- I am not making this up -- a stray kitten we call Garbage Juice walked in my back door last month, and basically demanded a better life. We got her fixed last week, and she's disease- free, and enjoying the good life in my office. We'd love to get her adopted, if you know anyone who's looking for a spirited tortoiseshell kitty, but I suspect she will join my indoor tribe, as she's very curious about my gang outside the office door. And yesterday, we trapped Sophie, one of our more social ferals, and she too (hallelujah) was disease-free, she had a tough time with the spaying, and needs to recuperate comfortably for a few days before we can release her again. So that's, what, 8 cats currently in my house? Sophie will go back outside, here, if we can't find a home for her -- she would make a lovely barn cat/mouser, if you need one. In the meantime, there are at least 8 more cats outside who come to us for food every day, and one by one we try to catch them, fix 'em up, but it seems for every one we catch, another two show up...sigh.
Anyway, you can imagine how much we spend on food and litter and vet bills...it's crazy (though we just found a fantastic agency who will pay for the sterilization and testing and basic vaccines...what a godsend!). We tried, when we were just at 3 cats, to use more environmentally friendly litter -- it's important to me -- but we have a couple picky cats, and I'll be honest, it's expensive tending these sweet monsters, so we look for deals, and often wind up relying on the 30 pound litter buckets. And some of the food manufacturers started selling kitty chow in the same buckets as well. As a result, we have a zillion litter/food buckets. Their recyclability is questionable here in Mercer County, so I've been repurposing them: they make handy garbage pails; they're great in the yard while weeding; they're great for bird seed, fertilizer, etc. And I've been able to give them to neighbors and friends to repurpose as well. But I still have a load of these things, and will likely always have a load of them.
So. I'm crafty, you know? Why have a "Fresh Step" bucket when I can paint it, mosaic it, glue beads to it, and so forth. So, a couple of months ago, I made a fancy-schmancy bucket to match our new bathroom, and got to use up some extra paints and do-dads, which makes me happy, because I have way too many supplies!
If you have some of these cat litter buckets around, I'm sure you can do whatever you'd like to them, but just to give you an idea of what I did, I used a wee bit of dark primer to cover up the litter logo and info; I chose a dark primer because I knew I wanted to paint it a rich golden orange to match the bathroom, and figured I'd wind up using fewer coats of paints with the dark primer (I ultimately went for a distressed look with the paint, though). After priming it, I used my glue gun to "draw" a bunch of swirls and squiggles all over it. When the glue set, I painted it orange with some copper highlights. When the paint dried, I gathered up my little mirror pieces and mosaic gems and used E6000 epoxy to randomly attach them to the bucket. And at the end, I took a yard of bead fringe and wrapped it around the perimeter at the top (I used the E6000 to attach it, but I'm not sure if that was necessary...it holds though!). I was short by about an inch (dammit!!) on the fringe, but used a big pink flower to hide the gap.
I went back and forth on whether or not to paint the inside, and opted, in the end, not to bother, since usually, it has a garbage bag in it anyway.
If you need any of these buckets (they hold approximately 30 pound dry weight, and 5-8 gallons of liquid) and live in the area, I am more than happy to spread the joy. If you happen to be in the market for a kitty, I can help you out there as well. Of all the outdoor, visiting kitties, we have a huge assortment: male, female, fluffy, tabby, gray, orange, black, so there's quite the choice. I try to tell myself when I wonder what's the point, that at least for every single individual we bring in, fix up, get adopted, our efforts mean everything. Hope that doesn't sound pompous...just hoping to bring some attention to this dilemma!
Thanks for reading and best wishes to you! I look forward to your feedback and/or other ideas on what to do with the multitude of buckets.
Thanks everyone! Thanks for the feedback, as well as the advice, I appreciate it! We bought a fixer-upper last summer...it needed SO much work, and still does. We REALLY, REALLY thought we'd be able to have a house warming party in the fall. Now we're thinking, we can still have the party, but the house won't be done!
Raina: you asked about the cabinets. Yep, we pulled the doors off and painted them a BRIGHT blue! It was a bold decision, we hemmed and hawed for awhile, but once we made the decisions, we were so happy we did it! Before we painted, the cabinetry was dark and gloomy, and way too grown-up, Old World, for the small kitchen we have! The blue really worked well with the mango yellow walls! The whole house is filled with mouldings around the doors, windows, ceilings, and as nice as they look, they are a colossal pain in the buttocks to treat, either with paint, or stain. I've been painting the trim in the kitchen a fire engine red, so we have this funky primary color thing going on. Glen found some awesome kitschy Indian (India Indian) dolls and accessories at a thrift store yesterday, so we put them up, and they look awesome with some of the other international posters/art etc.
The place was build in 1914ish, and it's tough sometimes to find the right balance of funk and respect for the history of the house. But I think we're doing okay, for the most part. The kitchen is slightly more funky than the other rooms!
I have some before and after pictures of the house on my website at: http://www.ottseetotsee.com/ardmore.html if you want to peek. I created the (simple) photo galleries in the fall of 2004; we had a massive burst of renovation energy in January, which continued on and off through March, so there's A LOT more that's been done since I originally uploaded. I'll have to get some new pictures up soon!
I agree with elleshellmo -- the more tactile, the better for a Tauran! Actually, I think Taurans are a bit easier to shop for than men born under different signs, because they love luxury. Think about how you would like to be pampered, and put a masculine spin on it, and it will help you come up with ideas that suit your particular Tauran.
Speaking of astrology, maybe you can do something horoscope-y? Rob Brezney (http://www.freewillastrology.com) writes some kickin' weekly horoscopes, funny, irreverant, and inspirational, too. Maybe you can copy/paste some of Rob's words of wisdom for Taurans, and make your man a card with his horoscope? Or if you find the advice really inspirational (Rob's stuff usually is, without being cheesy), maybe you can print it out, embellish it with whatever craft supplies you have and then frame it.
I have a Tauran too, and the great thing about them, is that if the gift comes from your heart, they'll love it!
When you say you have a bunch of arts and crafts supplies, can you elaborate? When you say he likes the outdoors, do you mean that he likes the sporty stuff, or is he happy sitting on the porch, using the grill, or both kinds of activities? If he's a yard-y type of person, maybe you can make him some backyard party/garden-y/ambiance-y things. Do you have candle making supplies? Or a bunch of candles you can decorate with say, special lovey-dovey messages? Make some paper labels and affix them to the candle. Similarily, maybe you can make him some candle holders: punch some aluminum cans, or make something funky with beads, or whatever materials you have around. You say you don't have a regular-sized sewing machine, but if you come into one before your man's b'day, maybe you can make him some killer grill mitts/pot holder, boxer shorts, a roll-up thingy for his toiletries (there are instructions all over craftster for that project). My boyfriend loved the boxer shorts I made for him the first year we were together (he too, was great -- he encouraged me to do more crafty things, and now I'm able to work from home -- anyway the boxer shorts I made for him were really lame, since they were one of my first projects, but he just loved them, and still wears them...sometimes...like, only to bed, and only if all of his other undies are in the wash!)
Do you cook? Does he cook? Can you make him a special treat for dinner? Or, maybe you can make a jar of a spice blend for the fish he catches (I'm sure there are recipes out there, involving lemon salt, pepper, etc.).
He's a photographer, and if you're not into the scrapbook thing, maybe you can decorate some frames for him -- or if you have all the supplies, maybe you can make some frames from scratch. Or some other sort of photo display -- have you seen those accordian-fold book/frames? If you have some nice cardstock, you could make something like that, filled with some of his favorite prints (you could scan and print them, if you're afraid to use his actual photos). Does he have a lot of his old photos just sitting around that maybe he'd like to use on a website, or be able to email to people to show off his work? Maybe you can scan his pre-digital photos, if he doesn't have them on the computer.
Maybe you can make him a box for his trinkets? Decorate a coin jar/can for him (so he'll put all his coins in the jar, instead of in piles all over the house!)
Do you live together? Do you own the home? Can you tackle a renovation project one day while he's out? Maybe paint the bedroom? Hang the new curtains? Maybe you can reorganize a room or area for him, for his tools, or whatever? Speaking of organizing, if you live together, or have access to his bureau, maybe you can make one of those cool sock/undie drawer organizers. Have you seen them? Basically, they look like that cardboard insert you'd see in a case of wine (or the one inside a photographer's bag). You'd stick a pair of sock in each compartment, keeps everything tidy.
Sorry to ramble! I guess I'm working out ideas for myself -- my boyfriend's birthday is at the end of this month!
Good luck, and I hope you'll let us know what you wind up doing, and how much he loves it!
supercraftytx: the outlets are actually a teeny bit of an issue. I had hoped to paint the switchplates the same screaming yellow as my wall and stick 'em back on. However, I screwed up a little bit and now not all of them fit properly. I am not sure yet if I'm going to try to scrape away some of the grout; maybe pull a tile piece off (or two, or three) and re-set them after I fit the plates a bit better.
I thought I was being so smart -- I used a bit marker and traced outside of the original plates, which left a bit of breathing room. I REALLY thought it was going to be enough, but it wasn't.
Also, the original plates were decoupaged...the former owner left a hodge-podge of really ugly metal (all mismatched, too!) plates. We were spending so much money, I thought that I'd just decoupage them with some handmade paper.
Then when I started making the mosaic, I realized that the decoupaged plates looked kinda crummy with the tiles, so I figured I'd paint -- right over the paper -- them yellow. And blech, they look really crappy anyway.
SOOO...I'll probably go out in the next couple of days and just buy new plain plastic switchplates -- I saw at Home Depot, there were some that were a smidge bigger than the standard. I might get the bigger ones, along with some longer screws and just set them right on top of the tile. Once I get that squared away, I'll take a picture for you. It might be the best option under my circumstances. If you decide to do this for yourself, really give yourself A LOT of clearance around the outlets...there's really no way to easy remedy even the slightest boo-boo. If you give yourself too much room, you can take a cake decorating icing piper and load it up with grout and squeeze a bit into those areas with extra space and smooth it out (that's what I used for a couple of those spots where the outlet had a little extra space above it.
Oh -- and for those of you who rent or are worried about what your parents/significant others are going to allow/want...you can do a less-permanent version of this, by making a mosaic on a board that roughly fits the space between the cupboards and the counter (or make several smaller ones and space them out). Work in the basement, or out back, or where ever (as to not disrupt the flow of life in the kitchen), and frame it up to give it a finished look. You can add some hooks on top or on the back and hang them. You can also hot glue the floral marbles all over a slick backsplash surface, and they're relative easy to pop off when you have to take them down (and sometimes they fall on their own...) I did that in my rented apartment...it was pretty satisfying and looked okay, too.