Thursday, September 30, 2010

Joybird's Studio: the Wedding Gift

I don't know if I would call myself an artist or not, but I know that I flourish most when I am allowing my creative juices to flow.  In most creative areas I am seasonal.  I get deeply into a medium for a year or so and then take a break for little while.  This last year I have been unable to practice many of my favorite art forms due to injury.  Thus this blog was born. 

So this wedding was coming up and I had no money for a wedding gift.  Then inspiration struck.  All I needed was a chunky wooden frame. 

I found this black frame for the grand price of $3.50.  Sorry I forgot to take the before picture of the front of the frame before I painted the first coat. 

As you can see I painted the frame with a light grayish beige color.  It took two coats to cover the black.

After each coat of paint I gently sand the frame smooth with a fine grade of sand paper.  After the last "greige" coat I rubbed the edges and corners, pretty much the areas where the paint would wear over time, with a white wax candle.

Then I painted the frame a few coats of my very favorite shade of white, again sanding in between coats.  After the final coat I gently sanded the edges and corners, the same places I had waxed.   The wax stops the white paint from adhering to the brown paint.  So it sands off much more easily.  This is a gentle distressing technique, more a rubbed finish than extremely weathered.  I love this effect.  And I actually think that the bits of black peeking through under the greige give the frame more dimension. 

Now for the coup de grace.  Using my trusty HP color printer, I printed out one of the couple's engagement pictures.  I tore the outside edges rather that using an exacto knife.  Then I cut the square out of the middle.  Using a rough grade of sandpaper I distress the edges. 

Rather than purchasing decoupage medium (which I don't love), I mix up my own decoupage medium with 3 parts of Elmer's Glue to 1 part water.  I find this both less expensive and easier to work with than the stuff you can buy at Michaels.  I paint the back of the picture with the glue mixture and paste it onto the frame.

Finally, I paint the frame with a clear varathane, sand and repeat, many times.  This protects the decoupage and leaves a smooth, satiny final coat. 

So this has nothing to do with how I made the gift but didn't the wrapping turn out cool?  I braided the pearl strands.

Overall it was a great gift.  My friends loved it and since I had all of the paint on hand it only cost the price of the frame and some sponge brushes.  And it gave me a creative release in a physically manageable dose.  Yippee!
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thunder Rolls

We had the weirdest weather this summer.  We've had a mild, cool summer and then this week arrived.  Monday was the hottest temperature ever recorded in downtown Los Angeles.  Tuesday the clouds began to creep in.  And this evening the lightning flashed and the thunder rolled.

A real live summer thunderstorm!  We never get this.

It was raining on me when I took these pictures.  I love it.

My mom used to wake my brother and I up to watch thunderstorms so I have no fear of them.

Although I was standing in the middle of the street when the thunder roared so loudly

that I screeched and skittered back home.

No actual pictures of lightning

and the raindrops didn't last too long

but I did get to use my sweet, new umbrella.
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I'm Hungover

Hee hee.  Did that get your attention?  Well, I am.  I feel as if I spent the weekend drunk.  I was drunk on time with friends (new and old), fun, great food and the incredible, awesome beauty of God's creation which is like the sweetest wine to my soul.  It was an intimate wedding and at the end of five days, more than ever, not just my BFF but her family felt like family to me.  I'll get my trip pictures together to share with you as soon.  I can't wait.
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I Love L.A.

You know how I was talking about my BFF's wedding?  Well, I have set aside this month for the Esther Treatment. Who is Esther and what is her treatment, you ask? 

Around 483 BC much of the known world was under the control of the Persian Empire.  The king of this empire, Artaxerxes, fired his wife after a drunken party ended in a domestic conflict.  Funny how some situations are predictable regardless of what century you live in.  Anyway, over time he begins to feel the consequences of his rash decision (translation, he was lonely.)  So he held an empire wide beauty pageant to find a new wife.  Now this was no Miss America, the details were much more sordid, but like a modern beauty pageant there was at least a year of intense preparation.  Dieting and many beauty treatments were on the menu.  It was the original Extreme Makeover.  A young Jewish woman, Esther, totally caught the king's eye and the smitten man made her queen immediately.  She then went on to risk her life to save her people.  The rest of her story is told in the Bible, in the book of Esther.  But the part that concerns this  named post is the year of beauty treatments. 

I don't have a year; I'm just taking a month to get ready for this wedding.  I want to look and feel as cute as possible.  And I am having so much fun.  This may sound silly to you, but I feel God smiling on me this month.  Every appointment I've had has been so much fun.  I've actually gone to some salons that are not on my normal route and met the most interesting people. 

Yesterday, I realized that I've also traveled all over the city this month. 

I started out with highlights (and a couple of days later) a haircut in La Canada Flintridge, which is an upscale bedroom community nestled in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.

My hair has been cared for by Marian Gotanian who is now working out of Nuovo Studio.  I'm really picky with my hair.  She's a good friend of mine and an amazing stylist.  In fact Marian used to own a salon and I was her receptionist when I first moved back to the area. I watched clients go in and out of her chair and they all looked terrific and uniquely themselves.  She's not a cookie cutter stylist.

Next I headed all the way across town, which took a bit of planning.  Now it's not that far, only about thirty miles, but in LA, going across town can take two to three hours at the wrong time of day.  So I headed on down to pricey striking Santa Monica.

There I was introduced to Jordana Lorraine at Dino Clark Salon.  She changed my life, at least my hair life.  Jordana specializes in the Brazilian Blowout and, I love it.  The frizzy bouffant is gone and my flat iron has gone on vacation.  I can still wear it wavy and straight is so easy. 

Yesterday, I made my first visit to Stark, a waxing studio in hipster haven, Silverlake.

I've had waxing done at salons and spas but never at a studio that specializes just in waxing.  It was wonderful:  relatively painless and my esthetician, Sara, was so cool.  I really enjoyed our conversation about local hiking trails and discovered that we are practically neighbors.  Seriously, she lives within walking distance of my home.  By this point in my Esther Treatment I'm just feeling divinely favored.  It's odd that each appointment has both accomplished my goals relatively hassle free and allowed me to meet people I like.

Since I was already on Sunset Boulevard I decided to take a quick jaunt over to Angelino Heights.

There I gave the Esther Treatment to my poor, neglected car.  Honestly, I probably wash my car once every 6 months, and it's dark red which totally shows dirt.  Tut, tut, tut.  This is my favorite car wash.  It's not fancy, just hardworking guys with hoses, shammies and towels.  But it's the best $10 ($8 on Wednesdays) car wash I know. 

It was at the carwash where I realized that this little journey has led me all over Los Angeles.  It's been nice to leave my normal stomping grounds.  I'd like to expand my horizons and explore this beautiful city more often.

Right after I go to Carmel and get a mani/pedi.

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Disclaimer: No one paid me to recommend any of these businesses. But I am open to store credit.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Coming soon...a post that is not about humidity

I have been running around like crazy this month getting ready for my best friend's wedding.

My hairstyle

I can't wait.

It's next weekend, in the artsy village of Carmel, CA.

My dress, but in navy blue

I will have to drive (in the Bull Gator's cute red convertible - she'll have fun, fun, fun, till her daddy takes the T-bird away) about 6 hours north of here along one of the most breathtaking highways in our country.

Almost my shoes, just add a little bling

So I'll bring some Big Sur pics, maybe some wedding pics, and I'll share my cool and economical wedding gift.

Most importantly, the BRIDE and GROOM

can't wait,
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Go Gators! or Why do I keep traveling to steamy places?

Warning, random ramble ahead:  Hi y'all, I'm saying y'all again because I spent the weekend in Florida and when you are wilting in the Southern sun with 83,000 close personal friends

and 7,000 stinky adversaries,

you must say y'all, attempt to cool yourself by frantically languidly waving a fan, and sip sweet tea if you have it.  Check out that scoreboard.

At noon on Saturday it was 93 degrees with a heat index of 100+ and 110% humidity.  I had to swim to my seat, the air was so humid.  But the incredibly accurately named swamp is where the Ol' Gators play, so that's where this West coast girl went.

My Dad, our very own Bull Gator, is University of Florida alumnus and to celebrate my Gram's 83rd birthday my family flew out to a Gator game.

Albert the Gator filling in for the retired Mr. Two Bits
So once again, humidity here I come.  (I promise this whiny streak will end soon.  As soon as my body temperature returns to normal.)  At least I expected it this time, resigned myself to dripping with sweat, brought extra sunscreen and wore waterproof mascara.  It snuck up on me when I visited the Northeast.

But the weekend was nice.  We got to hang out with one of the Bull Gator's cousins.  Also we toured the neighborhood where my parents want to move to when they retire.  (I have warned them that in this weather i.m.o. the planes will only be able to fly West.  So I will be unable to visit them.  I will, however, welcome visits in my air conditioned and appropriately dry home.)  It's a picturesque community which I will not insist is full of snakes and alligators although I have my suspicions.

Additionally, my fresh Brazilian Blowout held up pretty well in the moist weather.  Sure it turned wavy underneath but I expect that when I'm drenched in sweat.  Overall I'm super pleased.

And as hot as it was, the sky was gorgeous.

Look at those puffy, white clouds.  They even look 3D in my pic.

Most importantly the Gators won, although not in a pretty way.

In fact the first quarter was downright pitiful.  Although the beautiful third quarter may have made up for it.  It seems like this may be a "rebuilding year".

On a random note to a rambling post, I wonder if a "rebuilding year" is the same as a very long bad hair day.  More like a bad hair year.  Maybe they could use a Brazilian Blowout, cause it must be the humidity y'all.

drying out,
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P.S.  Check out this picture I took at the Gator volleyball game we watched after the football game.

These little girls were so confident and free, I just had to celebrate them.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Candle Heaven

While I was whining down the Mohawk Trail I was actually headed somewhere specific.  I was driving to the scenter of the universe.

Allow me to introduce you to candle heaven.

Deerfield, Mass. is the home of the Yankee Candle Company factory. 

I love Yankee Candle Company candles. They smell so genuine. The Peach isn't just sweet and peachy but you smell the slightly woody scent of fresh picked fruit.

And the scent you smell in the jar is the same scent that you smell when they burn.  Most other candles I've tried don't actually smell when they burn and these do.  So I've been a fan for years.

And finally I've made it to the mother ship and found that I am home...and that the candles are more expensive here than at Bed Bath & Beyond...but the variety is incredible.  I found stuff there, that I couldn't find anywhere else, even at my fail safe resource,

It is actually a giant store that sells much more than candles but I had to race back drive safely and responsibly through the mountains to Albany to pick up DBB at the airport.  But I'd love to go back and explore the Christmas store at the very least.

So if you are ever anywhere near Deerfield, Mass. run to my candle heaven, take lots of pictures and send them to me so I can see what I missed.  I am glad I got to see what I did. 

Oh, and I love the pretty candle plate that I bought. 

Oops, gratuitous puppy shot.  Where did she come from?  Anyways, here's my plate.

Doesn't it remind you of this blog?

love, a happy songbird,
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