Thursday, July 29, 2010

How To Make Your Room Feel Larger

I get SO many emails a day about how to make a room feel larger.  Paint ONE wall red, mix up textures, pull all the furniture OFF of the walls so you feel the room behind them (yeah, that one only works if your resulting furniture configuration doesn't leave every piece TOUCHING because your room is so small), etc. etc.
I have a GREAT tip that REALLY works:

Open up your ironing board and put it right in the middle of your office/bedroom/dining room/living room.  Leave the iron on it for a couple of days. (You can actually iron something on it if you want, but it isn't neccessary.)  Make sure to pile up anything you can't find a place for that you happen to be carrying as you walk by.  Make sure it is good and covered.  If you are feeling REALLY energetic, you can pile of a couple of boxes under and around the ironing board.

Leave it all there for at LEAST a week, longer if you really want this to work.

Now, as soon as you get a call that someone is coming for a visit/playdate/they-are-on-the-porch-NOW run into THE room, and grabbing as much as you can carry, shove it all into ANOTHER room, preferably one with a door.  Close the door.  Walk back into the original room, AND:

Take a spin in your NEW GIANT room!!  Who Knew you had so much space?!
Great, right?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Things That Really Make Me Mad.

And since I'm in the ranting mood (I mean, did I just post about Angelina Jolie for crap sake?!), I thought this would be a good time to kick off a series I've been thinking about.  I'm not together enough to do it on the same day of every week like lots of bloggers, but I was thinking about some great titles:
Bad Design Mondays,
Crap Idea Tuesdays,
Pisses Me Off, Wednesdays.
Wait, those all suck, so I'll post randomly like I always do.

My first "how on earth did this get passed the design team" product is baby cereal. Every brand I've seen has the same opening sequence:
Peel off the sticker,
Jam your thumb into that tiny little hexagon at the top, without ripping through the attached "spout": 
Then pull the "spout" out without ripping through the entire box (I actually use a knife to score through the outside perforations without cutting through the bottom layer.  I'm serious.):
Revealing the fish food "cereal" inside:
The entire system relies on perforated and overlapping layers of THIN CARDBOARD.  I mean, REALLY?  This series I've shown above is after almost SEVEN YEARS of practice.  You can see in the last photo that I also cut the top of the wrapping plastic off of only the top because the floofiness is not relegated to the silly opening, but shoots out of every corner of the crappy box.  Leaving the plastic wrapper on the rest of the box contains it a little.

As horrible as the opening is, it doesn't hold a candle to what a disastrous mess this box is for the rest of the time you have to spend with it.  It is like the WORST laundry detergent box of old.  Every time you pour out the dry flaky nastiness, the same amount that hits the bowl floofs out into the air.  Some pours out the sides, some gets trapped in the ridiculous cardboard spout, and some clings to the remnants of the "sticker" that held the contraption closed.

Here is a challenge to all of you unemployed industrial majors out there:  MAKE A BOX THAT CAN BE OPENED AND USED.  Just an idea...

Angelina Jolie

Does anyone detest this woman as much as I do?  Or maybe I should point this at her publicist who is a genius.  How did this home wrecking, "I respect women too much to touch another woman's man", blood wearing, mess of a woman become the uber mother of the world?  And she looks like a crazy alien, not like the most beautiful woman in the world / "American Royalty".  What a farce.  And don't get me started on her "my daughter WANTS to dress like an 80 year old man" crap.

Just a little Friday morning rant.....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Come see us in Person!!

Cat in an Apron will be joining some GREAT local artisans at the Portland Nursery THIS sunday, July 25th.
Here are the details:
July 25th, 2010 from 2-8p
'Summer Soiree'
Portland Nursery
9000 SE Division St.

There will be an amazing Silent Auction benefiting My Voice Music! "My Voice Music is a nonprofit organization based in Portland Oregon that engages marginalized youth in music and performance in order to promote self-esteem, social skills and emotional expression."

Check it out on Facebook.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A "You Choose" Giveaway!

My 20 year reunion is coming up in the next couple of years.  I'm not sure I'm ready.  Alright.  It is next month---! I am incredibly excited to go home.  Here and there my vanity gets the best of me and I wish I looked more like the 18 year old who drove out of Valdez, Alaska - minus the 6 inch tall bangs, cut off jean shorts, and blue eyeliner - but mostly I'm just really, really excited.  Sometimes I cry because I'm so excited.  I. Know. That. Place.  You know how everything just seems right in the place you really, really know?  That is Valdez to me.  I know the rocks.  I know the trees.  I know the bugs.  (Thank God there aren't as many up there...)  I've never really felt the same anywhere else, and I'm so glad I get a short little hug from my home.  And even more I'm happy I get to spend a little time with my dear friends I started this life with.

I'm so excited I'm going to do another giveaway. This time YOU choose what you want. YOU choose whether it is for you or your babes. Win this one and we'll send you a $40 gift certificate to use as you wish!!  You could get this adorable Hatched Egg'rs Melville Elephant Chair for FREE:
Or only pay $10 for these super cool WallCandyArts Dyno-MITE Removable Wall Decals:
Or, you can splurge and get $40 off of this ducduc Parker Playtable with Paper Roll!! 
Or if your week has been like mine, maybe you will choose a new Blomus Lounge Shaker (mine is bent and leaks with every pour) for after the kids go down.
 mmmmm.... cocktails.  

*shakes self back to the present*

Right.  So you know the drill just leave a comment here on this blog to enter. 
-  "like" Cat in an Apron on Facebook. and get an additional entry.
-  follow Cat on twitter and tell me you did - and get an additional entry.
-  tweet this giveaway and tell me you did - and get an additional entry.
-  link this post to your blog and leave the link - and get an additional entry.

Happy browsing!
** update!  The last day to enter is Wednesday, July 21st at midnight Pacific time. **

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Voodoo, Vodka, and a Van Ride Home.

The biggest fundraiser of the year at my son's elementary school is the auction.  Each family donates an item that will go on the auction block.  This year we teamed up with 4 other families and auctioned off a Voodoo, Vodka, and a Van Ride Home party.  The entire event started with a surplus of vodka (terrible, terrible luck, I know) and instead of drinking it all down, we tailored our party to it.  We infused the vodkas with five different flavors: pepper (as in habenero, jalapeno, and others), ginger, coffee, raspberry, and a quadruple citrus.  Voodoo Doughnuts is a famous doughnut joint here in Portland, and no one can drive themselves after a night of combining the two, and thus: Voodoo, Vodka, and a Van Ride Home.  I found these gorgeous apothecary bottles and the taller bottles behind them online:
After studying the various types of Voodoo (Haitian, African, New Orleans, etc.) we decided to take bits from each and make our own: North Portland Voodoo or, NoPoVooDoo.  The entire story has been written.  If you have any interest, I'd be happy to share it. 

We assigned a characteristic and an element to each flavor to flesh out the graphics and lore behind the Voodoo:
Pepper = radiance = sun
Ginger = grounding = earth
Coffee = focus = universe
Raspberry = passion = wind
Citrus = cleansing = water

We paired a delicious cocktail with each infusion and set a table to match.  Guests could mingle around, taste the infusions straight or have a cocktail made for them.  Each table was manned by one of us.
The Coffee Table:
The Raspberry Table:
The Ginger Table:
The Citrus Table:
The Pepper Table:
The spread:
We hired a Henna tattoo artist to adorn our guests:

Each guest was lucky enough to take home an original handmade voodoo doll (with our school uniform colors pinned in!), a potion of their own, recipes for all the drinks, the NoPoVooDoo legend, and of course, a rubber chicken.
The party was a blast - we had SO much fun!  Check out more photos on my flickr account.

A Fun Little Summer Incentive

I've been stewing an idea for a summer "incentive" chart and wondering how to draw swirly lines and how many steps I would need to get us through the summer, when inspiration hit.  Okay, my husband hit - as usual (and not in the "he only hits me when I deserve it" creepy kind of way from Natural Born Killers that I'm still too afraid to watch) - he said, "oh, you mean like an old Chutes and Ladders game board?"  Genius!  Chutes and Ladders turned out to be way too rectilinear and in fear of his head growing *too* large, plus the idea of having to hit a chute and slide back to the beginning after working so hard to get ahead defeating the purpose, I thought Candy Land would be the perfect path for our summer to follow.  I found this image of the original board online, and thought it was exactly what I was looking for.  I edited it up a bit, replacing the dancing kids with ours, and adding our prizes along side the yummy candy spots.

We have a Lego fanatic in our house which translates to giant abandoned piles of the little plastic shards around our house like the churned earth tailings that are left after gold mining.  This Lego fanatic is now old enough to handle cleaning it all up himself, but could use the help of a goal or two.  We are also working on speaking nicely to each other, not interrupting, focusing and a myriad of other typical child / parent issues that could be smoother.

LeapFrog® Didj Custom Learning Gaming SystemThe apparently now defunct Didj is a *huge* obsession with our kids, still, and during one of Leapster's ginormous sales, I scooped up a bunch of 75% off games and cases and covers and have them in a basket as the incentives.  These along with a movie out, an ice cream shop visit and the "big, big surprise" (which means I couldn't think of the final goal) will hopefully entice the kiddos into perfection.  No, I'm not holding my breath, but it will give us a goal!  The kids will move their markers along the customized Candyland gameboard every day as they clean up, or do something without being asked, or will have to move backwards if they slip up.  Hopefully it will be fun, and we'll all be cleaner and nicer by the time school starts.

*update* sorry for the spelling mistakes.  I really did fix them once - somehow they were lost in cyberspace - thank God for spell check!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

THE Garden - Week Nine.

I came  home from a week away to this:
A giant overflowing garden is in place of the sad little water soaked one I left behind.
We lost the basil, but planted a bigger plant (from Trader Joe's!)  The dill isn't looking very well and is being attacked by the fennel - this is AFTER I hacked at the fennel...  I'm pretty sure I'm trimming it wrong, though, because I just got a giant fennel bulb complete with fronds from our beloved CSA, Sauvie Island Organics, and it looks nothing like ours.  Yes this is my gardening technique: look at the vegetables at the store, look at other people's gardens as I drive by them, and compare them to mine...
That giant tall thing is CORN!  I'm supposed to thin the onions, I think.  And the ONE sad little pea plant that made it through our wet spring is hanging on for dear life.  It even made 3 sweet little pea pods that the kids ate.  I'm going to leave the remaining 3 to dry for seeds.  NONE of our beans made it, so I'm going to plant more today in the graveyard of dead pea plants.
The tiny little guys in the middle of this photo are golden beets that are being over shadowed by zucchini plants.  I thought the zucchini would do more draping over the side than they are, and the golden beets are seriously stunted.