Browsing articles from "October, 2012"
Oct 16, 2012

Jar Jar Bling

What mysterious objects are these?A few weeks ago, I left work early on a Friday afternoon. I had been slowed down by a bad cold all week, and finally realized that staring at my computer, considering my immanent death was actually not very productive. I went home and threw myself down on the couch with the intention of reading DIY blogs until I fell asleep.

As I flipped through the blogs, catching up on Young House Love and Yellow Brick Home and some others, I wondered if Make a Wish granted wishes for people with very bad colds and if Mindy Kaling and Emily Henderson would cooperate with them to grant my wish and we could all spend the day together antiquing in LA and then become the very best of friends and I’d miraculously recover from my cold and but we’d already be best friends and promise to reunite every fall for a good ol’ girls weekend. I actually have this day dream quite often.

I opened a post from Emily Henderson. In it, she had to figure out how to fill a giant shelving unit in a cohesive, inexpensive way. (As I write this, I understand that it might not sound very exciting. I think it probably sounds that way to you because you don’t read enough interior design blogs. You should really adjust that.) To fill these shelves, she decided to paint the insides of dozens of mason jars in gradient shades of blue and spray paint the tops gold. Instant (almost) art installation. “Hey, it’s like a cross between the tomato soup guy and the guy with the gold statue things!” I thought to my sick-self. (My sick-self is even worse than my well-self with names.)

I lay on my couch in my stuffy-headed stupor. I wished that I had a giant antique shelving unit that needed to be filled with painted jars. Alas, there was no room in my tiny apartment for even a small shelving unit that needed to be filled with painted jars. I pulled my afghan over myself and started to burrow into the couch.

There is only one window in my living room. It’s tall and narrow and faces south, so the room gets direct light for only a few hours a day. At the moment I was settling in to sleep, a shaft of light hit the shelf above my couch. I had hung the thrift-store shelf back in March, but never really knew what to put on it. I had filled it with odds and ends, but was generally annoyed with the placement and that I couldn’t get anything to be the right scale, and I knew that when Emily Henderson came over to hang out, she would see it and it would put a dark mark on our friendship. When the light hit that shelf, a light went on in my addled brain. I knew that this was deeply significant. “Tomorrow,” I said to myself, “tomorrow I will feel better and paint jars.”

Lookit that unstyled shelf. Don't you feel bad for it?

The next morning, I still felt terrible. Terrible and determined. In my attic, I had a box of old lab bottles that my uncle gave me when the chemistry plant where he worked was remodeled. They were all sorts of shapes and sizes, but whenever I tried to arrange them on a shelf, they just looked blank. But never again: my muddled mind had made the connection between Emily Henderson’s jars, my uncle’s bottles, and this post from Yellow Brick Home, and my muddled mind was ready to get some work done. I collected my strength and shuffled into the attic. I found the bottles, sorted, and washed them, taking breaks to throw myself dramatically on the couch.

See, they're pretty, but bland. Not bad, but you wouldn't necessarily go out of your way to hang out with them.

This was about all I could manage on Saturday. Well, this and fevered proclamations to Roommate that I was going to gold leaf everything in the apartment. I alternated between watching episodes of Secrets from a Stylist online and imagining each individual thing in our apartment gold-leafed. It was highly therapeutic.

By the time Sunday rolled around, I was done being sick–at least psychologically. Around 4pm I dragged myself out of bed and to the craft store. This might not have been the smartest thing I’ve ever done. Have you ever been to a craft store just before Halloween when you are sort of dizzy with the flu? I felt like I was having a bad trip and I don’t even know what that means.

The actual painting process only took a few minutes. I was going for a “dipped” look, so I eyeballed different paint heights for the three identical cylindrical jars. I thought painting a straight line on the super-cool triangley flask one would be boring, so I grabbed a dry erase marker and traced a sort of cock-eyed shape onto it. (I just rubbed the dry erase mark off with my finger when I was done painting.) I just painted the little stopper of the red jar. (I propped it up in my empty box of Gypsy Cold Care Tea. Nothing makes you feel better than tea made by Gypsies.)

Bottles and Gypsy magic.

I let the jars dry and did a second coat. The paint was really fumey, so I kept them by an open window until they stopped stinking up the place. (I try not to give Roommate cancer.)

My Three Jars! This is actually a really boring show.


This was only a very small project, but the reason it felt blog-worthy was that it was the first time in ages that I felt compelled to do something with my hands. This summer I felt like I didn’t have the brainspace to keep myself fed and watered, much less make cute things. The fact that I just had to get these jars painted felt like a return to myself. It was a decided end to my stressful summer. It was nice.

So…takeaways from this blog post include:

1. Read more DIY blogs.
2. Don’t go to craft stores unless you’re feeling at 100%.
3. Make time to do the things you love to do.
4. Paint everything gold. For real. It’s so pretty.

All done. Emily Henderson might approve.

I didn't paint the one with the sticker on it because that sticker is from science and science is cool.

Once again, I have instagrammed all the photos. I’ll stop when I get all the coffee grounds out of my real camera.

Oct 5, 2012

In Which I Reward Myself for Surviving a Second Year

Ya da da dAAA! *musical interlude* *curtain rises*

Welcome, welcome, welcome to the second annual post in which I reward myself for surviving a year as a grown up. Each year, I try to set aside some time to pat myself on the back for not completely failing at being an adult.

Two years ago today Wednesday, I moved into my own little apartment. This was shortly after getting my firsts real grown up job and shortly before calling my mother in a panic because there was a bug in my apartment and would some one please come and remove it?


I do very well with award-based systems. I like concrete rewards for a job well done. (You should see my box of Awana trophies.) One thing I noticed when I hit adulthood was that you stop getting things like stickers as rewards. Instead you get intangible things like “self-respect” and “confidence” and “not being evicted from your apartment.” That’s dumb. I want stickers.

Since I have now spent a total of 732 days living on my own, I thought I should give you an update.


Last year, we covered a wide variety of grown up activities, including such diverse topics as Customer Service Purgatory and Baby, It’s Character Building Outside. This year, we have a full round of awards, but for the most part, they’re in different categories. (It’s like I’m growing as a human being or something.)

This year, I performed honorably in the following categories and earned the following rewards:

The My Love for Minnie Mouse Does Not Extend to Other Mice award

Make Love, Not Mouse Poops

By far, my greatest trial this year was my mouse infestation. I became a prisoner in my own home. The war waged was dramatic. I used traps, chemicals, and prayer. The wee mouses? Their weapons were more psychological. And also they ate a whole bag of chocolate chips. Who won this war? Currently, we’re at a stalemate. They recently threatened me with a can of tomato paste.

Next year I hope to go for the No One Lives in My Apartment Unless They Contribute to the Rent award.


The Looks Like I’ll Have to Import Someone from the Internet award

Our Balanced Diet. You know, as grown ups.

I lived all by myself for just over a year. Throughout that year, I developed the habit of calling Twitter my roommate. I made Twitter pay attention to me when I was bored. I watched television with Twitter. Sometimes I sang to Twitter. It was only appropriate, then, when I actually got a roommate, that I got her from Twitter.

Roommate, as I call my roommate, is great. We live in this harmonious world where we share a room and trade meal-making duties and she shakes her head at me whenever I refuse to watch a movie that wasn’t written by Nora Ephron.

Next year I’m going for the Whoops! Austin Disappeared! Guess You’ll Have to Stay in Chicago! award. Don’t tell Roommate that it’s a hoax.


The It’s a Bed with a Ladder–You Can’t Beat That! award

Hullo down there! My bed sways in the wind! Like a skyscraper!

You may remember that I live in a tiny apartment. You may wonder how I fit myself and my new roommate into this apartment. Here is how: loft beds. A loft bed is like a bunk bed, but instead of a bottom bunk, there’s a space to store your stuff. Instant room-for-roommate. The only drawback is that if you live in an older apartment, you might only have eight-foot ceilings. Loft beds, at least the ones from Ikea, really need ceilings that are at least nine feet high. This means that you might never be able to sit up in your bed again, and getting in and out of it every day is sort of like that one scene from Entrapment only even more ridiculous.

Upon setting up your too-tall loft bed in your too-short apartment, you might sit down and cry a little bit because you’re 26 and you thought sitting up in your bed was a given and you’ve just spent four hours setting up that stupid loft bed and you haven’t eaten dinner yet, so your roommate suggests Chipotle and you arrive just before closing and Chipotle gives you free chips and salsa and suddenly the whole world is brighter and Catherine Zeta Jones is kinda ok, too.

Let’s not bring up the two dozen cans of spray paint it took to make the loft beds look less like prison furniture. At least not without a Chipotle run first.



Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor. (I'm so totally worthy.)

I’ve said this before: when I was little, I went to Harry Potter book release parties, but I didn’t dress up. When I said this, what I meant to convey was something like “Yeah, I’m a fan, but not a crazy weirdo who owns Hogwarts robes and and a custom wand.” This is because I didn’t want people to be able to guess how enthusiastic I was.

Here is what I am learning as a grown up: not only is enthusiasm not something to be ashamed of, it’s something to be celebrated. It’s also pretty contagious.

So when my roommate said she wanted to dress up for the premiere of The Avengers, I said “is that that one British show?” Then I said “Can we make our costumes out of cardboard and construction paper?” Then I gave an enthusiastic “yes.” It was a pretty fantastic night with two of my favorite people, and I got a few compliments on my GIANT HAMMER from some little girls who might just remember us when they’re older and trying to decide just how enthusiastic they want to be.

Oh, and I recently acquired a wand: 8 inches, holly. I keep it next to my sonic screwdriver.

Next year’s award? It’s the usual toss up between the award for “The Age of Not Believing is a Scam” and “Is that a TARDIS in My Backyard?”


The Reading Rainbow award

Take a look. In a book. Reading rainboooowwwwwwww...

Last year, I had something quite strange happen to me: I no longer enjoyed reading. It’s not that I didn’t have time to read, or that I didn’t read. In fact, according to GoodReads, I read 32 books in 2011. That’s not bad for someone who’s not enjoying herself. But in that whole year, I never found a book I connected with. I tried reading different genres and different formats, but I couldn’t shake my horrible book ennui.

I did get to say things like “book ennui,” though, so it wasn’t all bad.

There is more that I want to say on this subject, so I’m going to stop here and save my material, but I just wanted to say, glory hallelujah, I can read again.

Next year? I might set myself some sort of reading goal. Probably “I Can Read 50 Books!” Not because that’s a difficult number of books to read, but so that I can make Cool Hand Luke references all year long.


That’s all. Show’s over, folks. These things used to be longer but it’s hard to find sponsors and all the kids on the Internet don’t have attention spans like they used to. I’d like to thank everyone who made this year possible, including my parents, my sisters, the Roommate, my employer, the fine coffee roasters at Intelligentsia, Instagram, Twitter, people who shared baked goods, and you.


Once again, all award badges were drawn by me and run through an Instgram filter on my iPhone. We only use the highest forms of technology here on Staircase Wit the Blog.