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Posted by on Jul 23, 2013 | 2 comments

Making New Soap from Old Soap

Making New Soap from Old Soap

These are all the remnants of soap I’ve been setting aside for almost two years. Some of the artisanal soaps hail from Wessex Soap which we profiled a while back, and from Truly-Life, the home-based business of Del Ray resident, Mellenie Runion, who also grows and sells loofah. Although I’ll keep buying handmade soap, it makes sense to whip up some upcycled soap bars from those odds and ends that otherwise end up in the trash. It’s really easy too. First, I broke up the pieces into small chunks. Then, with help from my youngest daughter, Nadja, I grated a few pieces that serve as the “base” and get the whole melting process going on the stove. You can use a double boiler or make the equivalent, like I did, by resting a bowl inside a pot filled with water. The soap pieces went into the pot over the boiling water. Part way through the melting process, I added some boiling water to the mixture and stirred. From what I...

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Posted by on Jun 28, 2013 | 1 comment

Very Phara’s Furniture Rescue

Very Phara’s Furniture Rescue

In her charming Del Ray cottage, with a front porch surrounded by gorgeous flowering vines and ornamental perennials, Phara turns curbside castaways into beautiful works of art. She’s a talented DIYer with a keen eye for furniture rescue and rehab, a skill she learned from her grandmother. I visited Phara to check out her collection. Most of her pieces were either found on the street or purchased at yard sales and thrift stores. Classic older furniture is usually built well, so while the finish may be damaged, the pieces themselves are structurally sound with many more years of use ahead of them. For example, take a look at this dresser Phara found on the street. She cleaned out all of the cob webs and sanded and re-stained the top in a dark walnut finish. For a one-of-a-kind fresh look, she painted the bottom portion in a vintage blue chalk paint and sanded the edges. Now she uses it as a sideboard and bar in her dining room. This dining table was...

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Posted by on May 13, 2013 | 0 comments

In Praise of 1970s Crafts: The Tin Can Lantern

In Praise of 1970s Crafts: The Tin Can Lantern

I often head for the children’s craft section at the library and find the old 1970s craft books with the coolest projects. The tin can lantern is a project from one of the very best books from that era — Making Things — that you might remember if you grew up then. My neighbor remembers making them in cub scouts. You gather some tin cans of varying sizes, wash them and then take off the paper. Then, you fill them with water and put them in the freezer for a day. The idea is to pound holes of varying sizes into the can to make a design, but if you don’t have frozen water in the can, the nail bounces off or else dents the can. Don’t worry about the swelling at the bottom. It doesn’t affect the working of the lantern. Next, you mark a design on the cans with a Sharpie. Then, you find nails of varying thicknesses. And hammer nails into the cans. The kids loved doing this part. When...

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Posted by on Apr 23, 2013 | 0 comments

Super Simple Mason Jar Lanterns

Super Simple Mason Jar Lanterns

Nothing says rustic patio lighting like a good old-fashioned mason jar lantern. A quick and inexpensive project, these will bring instant charm to your outdoor living area. If you live in or near Del Ray, you can buy all the supplies at the Del Ray Variety Store (or other variety or hardware type store in your area): mason jars, picture hanging/craft wire and wall-mounted plant hooks. For my project, I selected the special anniversary edition blue Ball mason jars. You can sometimes find the real vintage ones at yard sales and antique stores. Any old jar will do. I wrapped the picture hanging wire twice around the bottom lip of the jar, leaving excess for the handle, then looped it back to the other side and secured with a twist. I installed plant hanging hooks on the two posts flanking our back gate, then waited for dusk to arrive. The blue tint really comes out at night, providing a cool twinkling glow. Next I plan to hang a few smaller jars...

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Posted by on Mar 19, 2013 | 5 comments

Creating a Wedding Anniversary Gift with Maps

Creating a Wedding Anniversary Gift with Maps

This past weekend my husband Matt and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. For a gift, I wanted to make him something meaningful and got the idea to use city maps from an old atlas to mark landmark moments in our relationship. I found an Umbra frame with three openings that looked perfect for the project. The only other supplies I needed were photos of us from the old days, a pencil, ruler, scissors, and a black Sharpie — things we already had around the house. Our story starts in Seattle, where we met through a mutual friend in the “music scene” way back in 1995 and started dating soon after. Here we are about to go to the famous Seattle music festival, Bumbershoot. So, for Seattle, I wrote our initials (LS from my maiden name + MD) in a heart. Our story continues a few years later, in 2000, in Chicago, where we got married on March 17 at the justice of the peace at Daley plaza. We...

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