Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween 2012: Medusa

My criteria for choosing a Halloween costume are somewhat unusual.

The primary consideration is temperature; more specifically, what I can wear without being miserably hot. Many of the best costumes, such as Pixel Pixie’s utterly fantastic Jareth, require multiple layers of clothing. Sadly, I am freakishly hot-blooded, and I cannot tolerate the layers.  :(

The secondary consideration is what to do with my hair. I have a LOT of hair, and it’s difficult to hide. With effort, I can stuff it under a wig… but then my head looks misshapen. (And, of course, wigs make me too warm.) It’s better if my costume either incorporates my hair or works around it.

This year’s costume worked perfectly with both considerations. The outfit is a loosely wrapped piece of cotton muslin (worn over a cotton tank dress for modesty) and sandals. Even I won't overheat in that!
head removed for safety ;)

I put my hair in a messy braid and clipped it up, leaving the loose ends to stick out wildly. Then I wove the snakes through, using bobby pins to hold them where needed.
looking a bit ragged... it was the end of the day and my snakes were tired
more snakes would have been better

Lastly, I used green eyeshadow to create a hint of snakeskin on my face.

While Medusa is not a very original idea for a costume, it was appropriate for work and very comfortable to wear all day. I got loads of compliments from my coworkers. Considering this costume was super easy to assemble, I was rather surprised to win the "Most Elaborate" costume award at work. :D

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween Skirt Madness Part 2

The madness continues!

I made two more skirts with Simplicity 2449 view B.  One has a purple print background, with pumpkins and ghosts.

The second has a checkerboard-type background of purple and black, with skulls, spiders and spiderwebs. Though the fabric was sold in the Halloween section, it will be suitable for year-round wear. :)

I used another fabric suitable for year-round wear with McCalls 5681. It's purple with owls and spooky branches.

Will the madness ever end?  :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Halloween Skirt Madness

I have a strong preference for cool colors - purples, blues and greens. Very rarely do I wear red, and never pink, orange or yellow. However, when October hits, I get a sudden and overwhelming craving for orange. Maybe it's the autumn leaves or the pumpkins... something makes me want to decorate with orange and wear orange.

This year, that's been combined with a mood for sewing. I've been on a sewing frenzy, and in addition to my favored purples, greys and blacks, orange is making a strong showing in the Halloween fabrics I've been choosing. As usual, I've been making skirts. Lots of skirts.

I made two skirts with Simplicity 4138 view G. One is made of a purple cotton which has a scattered print of pumpkins, ghosts, bats and other Halloween icons.

The second is a bit more garish colorful.

I also made two skirts with my go-to pattern, Simplicity 2449 view B. One is made of a cotton which has a fun print of pirate ships, spooky trees, etc. in black, white and grey with silver glitter.

The second is a bit more garish colorful.

During the other 11 months of the year, I would never wear this much color or this much print. But in October, it's Halloween skirt madness for me! :)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Nothing Goes Quite Right the First Time

The most consistent aspect of my home improvement projects is that nothing goes quite right the first time.

On Friday, an electrician installed a new fixture to replace the ceiling fan in the dining room. It's not quite right. Actually, I hate it. :( I'll have to choose a different one.

The electrician also installed a bathroom light/fan in place of the empty box in the ceiling. That didn't go quite right. The duct isn't long enough to reach the roof, so the fan exhausts the air into the attic. (Maybe that's why the previous homeowners never finished installing a fan.) I'll have to hire someone to run a new duct.

In addition, the new light isn't quite big enough to cover the (badly cut) existing hole. I'll have to patch the ceiling.

But the light/fan looks nice, and it's great having additional light in the bathroom. :)
The electrician also replaced the vanity light fixture in the bathroom. That didn't go quite right. My first choice fixture was too wide, so I had to go with my second choice. I wasn't thrilled with the way it looked, plus it cast odd shadows.

So I bought a smaller version of my first choice fixture and installed it myself. That didn't go quite right. The mounting plate would not work with my outlet box. Luckily I was able to use the mounting plate from the fixture I'd just removed.

With the fixture finally attached to the wall, I added the glass globes. That didn't go quite right. The globes are too short to cover the light bulbs. I'll have to get different globes.

I'll also need to repair and paint the portion of the wall which was behind the old fixture.
new (still needs globes, of course)

In the midst of all the not-going-quite-right events, inspiration hit unexpectedly.

When I unpacked the second-choice vanity light fixture, I saw that the glass globes used the same kind of plastic nut attachment as IKEA light cords, several of which I had bought but never used because I didn't like any of IKEA's shades.

The globes fit the IKEA cords, and I decided to hang three of them on existing hooks in the dining room ceiling. That didn't go quite right. The hooks were ancient, and snapped off when I touched them. Fortunately, replacement hooks were easily attached.

I wanted to plug the lights into a power strip with a switch so I could easily turn them on and off. That didn't go quite right. The cord from the furthest light was too short to allow the power strip to sit on my desk.

As a second option, I decided to plug the lights into a "magical" outlet controlled by a switch. That didn't go quite right. The outlet is on the other side of the room - typical - and the 15-foot extension cord I had on hand wasn't long enough. Purchase of a longer cord solved the problem.

The lights are almost directly over the dining room table, providing plenty of light exactly where I need it. Perfect! :D The cords are visible, and the switch is across the room, but I can live with that for now.

Now I can look for a replacement overhead fixture without having to consider light output as the main criteria. I should be able to install it myself... though it won't go right the first time.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Must Choose a Lighting Option!

Tomorrow it's finally time to get rid of the gold UFO hanging from my ceiling!

But what to replace it with?!  It's important that the new fixture provides sufficient light.  It's the only overhead light in the dining room/living room area, plus the table below it is where I sew and craft.

I would love a chandelier, but it wouldn't work with the 8' ceilings. :(  Ceiling fan styles are limited; I didn't find a single one that I really liked.  They're all so blah and... fan-like.  :P  Despite all my searching, I couldn't find exactly the light that I was looking for (typical for me).  Here are the options I did find...

Semi-flush mount fixture in oil-rubbed bronze with silver accents.
Pros:  Very attractive
Cons:  I am not sure bronze would work with all the brushed nickel doorknobs, curtain rods, etc. in the house (though it does have silver accents).  Only holds two light bulbs.

Semi-flush mount fixture in white.
Pros:  Attractive.  White would be unobtrusive on the ceiling.
Cons:  Only holds two light bulbs.

Track fixture in oil-rubbed bronze.
Pros:  Five bulbs spread over a larger area would light up the room really well. Swirly style is kind of cool.
Cons:  Again, I'm not sure bronze would work.  I'm not totally in love with the style of the center light.

White ceiling fan.
Pros:  Four bulbs.  Is a ceiling fan.
Cons:  Not very pretty.  Is a ceiling fan. 

So, my stylish readers whose opinions I value, which would you choose?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Autumn Decorating

October arrived feeling much like September; that is, feeling too much like summer. On Wednesday the 3rd, it was 82F (28C). Then apparently October realized it was October... on Friday the 5th, there was a light snow. Today's high was 39F (4C) .

I'm sure it will become less fascinating to me over time, but I still find the Denver area's tendency for bipolar weather to be entertaining.

Anyway... in celebration of the cool weather, I lit nearly every candle in the house. I added some autumn decor to the bookshelves behind the sofa.
I also added some lights to what is now in danger of becoming an over-the-top display of pumpkins and leaves.  :)

On the other side of the room is this awesome black tree with purple lights, which my camera REFUSES to take a decent picture of, flash or no flash...
It's delightfully twisty and spooky!  But I can't quite figure out how to integrate it into the room. I need something to cover the bare wire base, and maybe some other thing(s) to make it look complete. Suggestions?